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News ::
Ted Koppel's Spin Zone (english)
10 Mar 2003
Modified: 11:53:20 PM
How Nightline Controls What You See
For those of you who were puzzled by my appearance on "Nightline" Monday night, here is why. In the first place the show wasn't really last night, it was about 2:30 in the afternoon PDT when the tape began rolling for me in a Mountain View California studio. They told me there would be two six minute segments for a total of twelve minutes on air, and they would tape about fiftteen so that -- as Koppel said to me and my on air opponent -- that way they could "edit the tape and take out the boring spots and make you both look brilliant."

In fact, when the show appeared that night, Koppel had edited out about two-thirds of my remarks (that's why the on-screen cuts looked so abrupt) and made me look somewhat odd and my argument unsubstantiated or incoherent. Despite this, I suspect most people watching could not fail to notice how irritated he was with me from the beginning, how he interrupted me and cut me off in order to throw the discussion to my opponent, and how loaded the entire show was to make the viewer draw the conclusion Koppel wanted before it even started.

The topic of the evening was the flap at the University of North Carolina over a requirement that all incoming freshman should read an introduction to the Koran, with texts from the Koran that excluded its blood-curdling injunctions to slay infidels -- in other words, passages that might explain why Mohammed Atta carried a copy with him on his way to the World Trade Center.

(Koppel did allow me to say this.) Koppel's intention was to present the most impregnable liberal defense for the university's required course. He conceded that the selected texts did not illustrate the more aggressive aspects of Islam. He showed clips of Bill O'Reilly comparing the assigment to requiring students to read Mein Kampf on the eve of World War II and said that since a university is a place of ideas he had no objection to students reading Mein Kampf in 1940. He portrayed the Christians who filed suit against the university on the grounds that this was violation of the separation of church and state as reactionary bigots. He even made this a reasonable position by allowing me to point out their hypocrisy in requiring this religious text when they would never do the same for the Christian or Jewish Bible.

I had no objections myself to the inclusion of the Koran as a college reading. My objection was to the fact that this assigment as not part of an academic agenda but was a political agenda of the leftwing administration and faculty at UNC who shared with others on the American left the desire to paint our enemies in the best light and us in the worst. I did manage to get this in as my opening salvo, and this is what ticked Koppel off and why he cut me after my first two or three sentences not only on the tape you saw, but also before the tape was aired. Statements I made in my opening remarks which you did not see, included the fact that there had been two anti-American demonstrations led by leftist professors at UNC right after 9/11. That there had been a pro-American demonstration but with no professors leading it because there were no conservative professors at UNC or professors willing to stick their necks out by supporting America.

At other points in the conversation which got lost on the cuttting room floor, I pointed out that I had been to UNC to speak and that it was a highly intolerant institution, which is why there were so few professors to challenge the left wing line. This directly contradicted Koppel's message, which was that UNC was the very model of tolerance, and was merely attempting to introduce students to unpopular or under-represented texts like the Koran. I also pointed out that UNC's chancellor, James Moeser, whom Koppel's opening "report" from the campus portrayed as the very model of a liberal open-minded academic, was in fact a leftwinger who had personally attacked me when my ad on reparations appeared in the UNC paper the "Daily Tar Heel" and campus radicals attempted to shut the paper down. Under Moeser's guidance, I pointed out, UNC was involved in business and educational deals with the government of Qatar, the same government that controls the jihad propaganda station Al Jezeera TV. All this crucial background, as I have said, wound up on the cutting room floor.

My opponent for the evening was Professor John Esposito a professor at Georgetown and star of the leftwing Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) and former Clinton official and famous author of an NY Times article after the first World Trade Center bombing which said that we should not get hysterical about terror because it was not going to be much of a threat. I pointed this out along with the fact that Esposito was a prominent member of MESA and a leader of a boycott MESA was currently organizing against a Defense Department program to provide scholarships to students so that our intelligence agencies could have Arabic speakers. I said that America was unaware of what was going on in our educational system and of the efforts of the left to undermine our defense efforts. I repeated that there were no conservative professors at UNC to teach the Koran from a non-liberal or leftist point of view. I referred to Daniel Pipes new book Militant Islam Reaches America. If this had been assigned in the required course I said, I would then consider it a proper academic course. But without this balance it was not. I mentioned Pipes' book two or three times, and Koppel actually referred to it himself. All of this wound up on the cutting room floor.

Esposito did not respond to my accusation that he was part of a leftwing boycott of a Defense Department program to provide more Arabic speakers to government agencies. Instead he tried to make my use of the term "leftist" seem antiquated, and even bizarre. He said that he hadn't heard anyone talk about "leftists" since the cold war and we were all glad (after the fact of course) that Communism had collapsed, but he didn't know any leftists. All he knew were "liberals" and conservatives. My answer was that Joel Beinin, the head of the Middle Eastern Studies Association and his colleague was a Marxist (as he is). But since the entire discussion about the Middle Eastern Studies Association had been censored by Koppel my mention of Beinin seemed of the wall and just looked like an unpleasant McCarthy-like stab at a hapless innocent. In fact, Beinin is the organizer of the boycott of the Defense Department program.

In other segments of the Koppel "interview" I elaborated the leftwing bias and agendas of schools like the Univeristy of North Carolina. At UNC there were ten liberal Demcorat professors for every Republican and -- in a state which George Bush won by a landslide -- all of the last 10 commencement speakers at the university were Democrats and leftists. Koppel's response was that UNC was a state school and if this were really the case the state legislature which controls its purse strings would fix that soon enough."Oh no it wouldn't," I replied. "Because you would do a show portraying those legislators as launching an attack on academic freedom, and they would be toast." This really raised Koppel's hackles. "Don't tell me what I would put on my show," he said. This exchange too wound up on the cutting room floor.

Of course what Ted Koppel will put on his show is as certain as death and taxes. It's a spin zone controlled by an iron editorial hand. It reminds me of the tabloid TV shows I used to give interviews to, but don't anymore like Entertainment Tonight. They always taped me for 15 minutes and then extracted a sound-bite which represented the editor's views not mine (and sometimes the opposite of mine). Koppel hasn't descended this low yet, but he's pretty close. If you want your reporting straight, tune in the O'Reilly Factor instead.

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thanks for the laugh david (english)
10 Mar 2003
I cant understand why Koppel or anyone would want such a right-wing ass and racist on his show.