Echoing other media, CBS4 and "Gunny" Bob ignored GOP visit to Syria while repeating White House criticism of Pelosi trip

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Following a pattern seen in national media outlets, a KCNC CBS4 report noted White House criticism of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's official meeting with Syria's president but did not mention an earlier visit by three congressional Republicans. Similarly, Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman suggested Pelosi's trip was politically motivated but omitted mention of the GOP visit.

Reporting on President Bush's criticism of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her trip to Syria to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and other officials, KCNC CBS4 on its 6 p.m. newscast April 3 failed to note that a separate delegation including three congressional Republicans had met with Assad in Syria immediately before Pelosi's arrival.

Similarly, Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman sharply criticized Pelosi on his April 3 broadcast, suggesting that her visit was politically motivated and meant "to harm the war on terror." He also did not note that Republicans had visited Assad and that such attempts to strengthen diplomatic relations had been recommended by the Iraq Study Group. Blasting Pelosi while omitting any mention of the GOP trip, Newman claimed, "[S]he's lending a sense of credibility and legitimacy to the terrorist regime there."

The April 3 report by CBS4 co-anchor Alan Gionet repeated Bush's assertion that "[Pelosi's] visit sends mixed signals to the Syrian government," noting that Bush's criticism stemmed from his observation that "leaders there have not cracked down on militant groups." Yet while the CBS4 report noted that Pelosi was traveling to Syria "with a congressional delegation," it failed to mention that her group was bipartisan and that it had been preceded in Syria by a delegation that included three Republican lawmakers who met with Assad.

As The New York Times reported the day before Pelosi's visit, "Ms. Pelosi is leading a bipartisan delegation on a weeklong tour of the Middle East that is scheduled to include a meeting with Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad." The Denver Post further noted on April 3:

Speaking hours after arriving in Lebanon, Pelosi indicated the Bush administration was singling out her trip but ignoring recent visits by Republican members of Congress.

"It's interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday, and I didn't hear the White House speaking out about that," Pelosi said, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

Though the Post further reported that "White House spokeswoman Dana Perino stressed Monday that the Bush administration objects to all visits to Syria," neither Newman nor CBS4 mentioned the statement.

In contrast, an April 4 report on KUSA's 9News Daybreak not only noted Bush's criticism of Pelosi's visit as "giv[ing] Assad's regime standing it doesn't deserve," but also reported that "[m]embers of Congress, including three Republicans Sunday, have visited [the Syrian capital] Damascus and met with Assad with no White House comment."

CBS4 and Newman followed a trend among some national media outlets noted by Media Matters for America. Media outlets, including CNN, aired reports about White House criticism of the Pelosi-led trip without mentioning the White House's inconsistency in not also criticizing the Republican-led delegation that met with Assad on April 1.

From the April 3 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 6 p.m.:

GIONET: President Bush is also unhappy with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria. She arrived this morning with a congressional delegation. Pelosi will meet with Syria's president tomorrow, and President Bush says the visit sends mixed signals to the Syrian government. He says leaders there have not cracked down on militant groups as requested by several countries, and have not stopped foreign fighters from entering Iraq through Syria.

From the April 3 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Gunny Bob Show:

NEWMAN: Let's start tonight with White House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- your favorite and mine -- well, besides Rosie O'Donnell and John Murtha -- who, against the State Department's wishes, is conducting an official visit to the terrorist regime in Syria, which is listed by the U.S. government as a rogue government that directly supports terrorist groups that have killed hundreds of Americans. She was welcomed as a hero of that terrorist state today. And she got that welcome because she's lending a sense of credibility and legitimacy to the terrorist regime there. But she cannot be charged with any type of a federal crime, because the Bush administration is also negotiating with a terrorist regime in the neighborhood -- Iran.

[...]

NEWMAN: Should she be there at all? What do you think she's up to? This is what I think -- at 303-713-8585 -- I believe she is trying to harm the war on terror in favor of the Syrians as a means of gaining political ground here at home. That is precisely what she is doing. And I believe she is trying to set herself up for a position under Hillary Clinton -- so to speak -- as secretary of state.

[...]

NEWMAN: So what happened today, gang, the Democratic Party -- and you've gotta remember who the leadership is here of the party. Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. And of course John Murtha is a power player as well; Dirty Dick Durbin; Dianne Feinstein, who was just caught funneling one-point-five billion dollars because of a subcommittee that she was chairing to her husband's defense contracting firms. She has had to resign from that subcommittee. You know, so there are other powerful people. But they launched their concerted effort today. It started off with Nancy Pelosi, despite the requests of the State Department and the Bush administration, paying an official visit to negotiate on her level -- we don't know what she is saying to 'em -- with the terrorist regime in Syria. She is there now. That was the beginning. Then Harry Reid comes out, Senate majority leader, and says that he is going to try to stop funding for our U.S. military. What will that do? Well, that will prevent them from having the weapons, ammunition, upgraded equipment, et cetera that they need to continue the war on terror. Reid says he's going to try and stop the funding and therefore drive up our casualty count to force them to retreat. That is his plan; he stated it today.

From the April 4 broadcast of KUSA's 9News Daybreak at 5 a.m.:

GREGG MOSS: Despite the White House's objections, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is talking with top officials in Syria this morning. Pelosi began the day by talking with Syria's foreign minister, and she's also expected to meet with the country's president later today. Pelosi's visit to Syria has been criticized by the Bush administration as undermining America's efforts to isolate Syria as a hard-line Arab country and supporter of terrorism. For more on this, and the latest on the Iraq war funding bill, here's reporter Brooke Hart in Washington:

[...]

[begin video clip]

HART: In Syria, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today meets with President Bashar Assad on advice by the Iraq Study Group and others to engage Iraq's neighbors. President Bush says it gives Assad's regime standing it doesn't deserve.

BUSH: -- to believe they're part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact, they're a state sponsor of terror --

HART: Members of Congress, including three Republicans Sunday, have visited Damascus and met with Assad with no White House comment. Aides have spent days criticizing Pelosi's visit. In Washington, Brooke Hart, NBC News.

[end video clip]

MOSS: Pelosi says she hopes her visit will rebuild lost confidence between Washington and Damascus, and she says she will tell Syrian leaders that Israel will talk peace with them only if Syria stops supporting Palestinian militants.

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