Monday, March 28, 2005

Stop Lying, ABC's Terry Moran Is No Liberal

One of the characters in my play - "The Rules of Embedment or Why Are We Back In Iraq?" - is named Terry Moran but I didn't specifically name him after the ABC White House correspondent. My character, an unembedded Australian journalist covering the invasion of Iraq, was a little bit based on Alexander Cockburn, Robert Fisk and (my idol) Norman Mailer. But I named him after two journalists killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom: Paul Moran and Terry Lloyd (Journalists killed or missing in Iraq).

Unreality-based Republicans such as L. Brent Bozell, III and Ari Fleischer pretend that ABC's Terry Moran is a part of the vast liberal media conspiracy. But he's not. He sucks.

This is from a Bozell the Clown article about former Press Secretary Ari's new pile-of-crap book (link):

"One of the juiciest anecdotes in the book concerns ABC White House reporter Terry Moran, whose sharply opinionated questions make him look like he's auditioning for the role of the next Helen Thomas. On April 28, 2003, President Bush made a speech to Arab-Americans in Dearborn, Mich., proclaiming his confidence in the ability of the Iraqi people to create a new democracy and his commitment to helping build that vision. The crowd went wild in an emotional response. But ABC only gave the speech two sentences."

"Fleischer asked Moran: Why so little coverage? "I couldn't get it on the air," Moran tells him, adding: "If they had booed him, it would have led the news." That's the national media we see too often. Arrogant, tendentious, partisan, unbalanced, unfair -- and in denial."

Um. Would a liberal tell Bush's Press Secretary, "I couldn't get it on the air. If they had booed him, it would have led the news." I don't fucking think so.

Here's another right-wing take on Terry's "liberalism." Fair Press, which is anything but, attacks Terry for this exchange with Ari Fleischer on May 2, 2002:

Moran: "One more on a different subject, the House Majority Leader, Mr. Armey, suggested on an appearance on Hardball that it would be preferable for Israel to keep the West Bank and for the Palestinian people there to be transferred, ethnically cleansed. What does the President think of this? He [Armey] didn't use those words."

Fleischer: "Yeah. Did the Majority Leader use those words?"

Moran: "He said that they should leave."

Fleischer, answering his own question: "He did not."

Moran: "That's the way Milosevic said it, he never said ethnic cleansing either. And I wondered what the President felt about this high official of the United States government calling for the forcible transfer of -"

Fleischer: "Well, Terry, given your characterization of it I think it's only fair to go back and read the words with precision before I would give you a comment on something based on the way you've asked the question."

Hell, even I'd admit that Terry went a little too far in bringing up Milosevic, but this conservative for "Fair Press" omits the fact that Terry said it tongue-in-cheek. If you check the White House transcript, you will see that Mr. "Fair Press" left out the reaction of the press corps: (Laughter.)

But maybe Terry took Ari's line to heart: "based on the way you've asked the question." There's been a huge difference in his questions since.

At the Jeff Gannon blog (which I linked to once, but never will again), Mr. Plagiarist posts questions that he would ask his buddy Scott McLellan if he weren't "on hiatus from the White House briefing room."

The questions are scary. The latest one is a complaint about Bush's use of the word "vigilante" to describe vigilantes who are "monitoring the southern stem the tide of illegal immigrants and possibly terrorists that stream into the United States from Mexico." The one before it basically asked when the hell are we going to start invading Latin American countries to promote "democracy."

On March 11th, Jeff's question was about the only story that matters in the world right now (not): "Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman in Florida is due to be starved to death now that a judge will allow her husband to remove the feeding tube that has been keeping her alive. The President's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush has been trying to prevent this from happening. The President has the absolute power to grant pardons. Will he intervene to save Terri Schiavo from what is essentially a death sentence?"

On March 17th, Jeff gave credit to ABC's Terry Moran: "But ABC's Terry Moran asked my 3/11 question about Terri Schiavo. Well done. Somebody named Jessica suggested that the President's support for Terri might set a precedent for "federal intervention into a matter already decided by a state court."

This is Terry's question from the transcript of the March 17th press briefing: "All right. On another subject, the United States Congress is -- seems poised to pass a piece of federal legislation in the case of Terri Schaivo to try and save her life. What is the President's position on it?"

Would a liberal ask "to try and save her life"? Fuck no. And the second part of that question is so fucking stupid that it boggles the mind. Fucking Terry Moran knows damn well what the "President's position on it" is. This is the same kind of softballs that Jeff liked to toss.

Now, I'm not certain that Terry got the idea for the question from Jeff's blog, but I am pretty darn certain that he got it from the same place that Jeff probably plagiarized his question from.

But many folks on our side are also fooled by Terry Moran. The Village Voice gave a "gold star" to Terry for a question he asked at an earlier press briefing about the President's position on torture (Terry asked a similiar question just before the one about Terri, as well).

But these questions aren't about getting at the Bush Administration for advocating torture, many of these fine folks (including folks on the left) actually believe that America should do whatever it takes to stop the "evil-doers." Another Jeff question "not asked" yet: " "A government report says that a detainee at Guantanamo claims to have helped Osama bin Laden escape coalition forces at Tora Bora. Should we accept this to be factual when critics of our interrogation techniques say that information obtained in this manner is coerced and unreliable?"

Before ABC, Terry Moran wrote for The New Republic (the magazine that people pretend is liberal) and achieved some level of fame covering O.J. for Court TV. No. I don't believe Terry Moran is a right-winger or a neo-con or even a Christopher Hitchens/Zell Miller. He's just not a liberal.

Perhaps the de-certification of the press (see Jay Rosen's Press Think for more on de-certifying) under the Bush Administration has led Terry astray.

Guess who gets to ask the first question at most Bush press conferences? Nope, not Helen Thomas. Good old Terry Moran. I guess to keep getting the opportunity to ask that first question, Terry doesn't push too hard, and his follow-up questions are pathetically meek. The only good thing about Terry at the Bush press conferences and the press briefings is that other journalists sometimes follow-up with better and more pointed questions.

Terry to Bush on January 26, 2005 (link): "Mr. President, the insurgents in Iraq are threatening to kill anyone who comes out to vote on Sunday. Do you think they'll succeed in killing or scaring away enough people so that the elections will be rendered seriously flawed or not credible?"

No point in posting Bush's response. You already know the answer, so did Terry. Did he think Bush was going to say that the insurgents would succeed?

Terry to Bush at the same conference: "Can I ask a follow-up, sir? What would be a credible turnout number?"

No point in posting Bush's response. You already know the answer, so did Terry. Did he think Bush was going to toss out a figure that might make him look bad? How many months did we know before the Iraqi "election" that we would never get an answer to that question? Millions of Iraqis weren't allowed to vote, and the Bush Administration and their right-wing supporters (and douchebags like Thomas Friedman at The New York Times) don't care.

At first glance, a question that Terry Moran asked Bush on March 2, 2003 (before his days of getting to go first) appears to contain harsh criticisms (link): "Thank you, sir. May I follow up on Jim Angle's question? In the past several weeks, your policy on Iraq has generated opposition from the governments of France, Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, the Arab League and many other countries, opened a rift at NATO and at the U.N., and drawn millions of ordinary citizens around the world into the streets in anti-war protests. May I ask, what went wrong that so many governments and people around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power?"

But, again, how was Bush supposed to respond to that question? "Yep, you're right I'm an arrogant S.O.B." Well it didn't work. Instead, Bush hit that question out of the ballpark with a bunch of mumbo jumbo about freedom and security. Again, no point in posting it, you've all heard it before a gazillion times.

(I would like to commend Terry for mentioning the "millions of ordinary citizens" who marched and protested because that's about the size of the media coverage we got, there sure-as-shit wasn't much coverage on ABC)

I could go on and on giving examples of Terry Moran questions and showing you how they are all cannily crafted to show that he's a tough critic, but are mostly about getting Bush off the hook.

Terry Moran is just like Jeff Gannon. Jeff Gannon asked questions that attacked the left so that the Press Secretary (and Bush at least once) could respond to criticism. While Terry Moran does the same but under a different guise. His "tough" questions aren't really questions, they're just designed that way to trick us.

Don't let the "lying liars" fool you, ABC's Terry Moran is the Bush Administration's best friend. That's why he gets to go first. It's all about access to today's White House correspondents. The access overrides everything else, even their souls.


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