You might have to read between the lines or, well, lies, to discover the intent of presidential candidate profiles NBC has been running lately. The intent seems to be to cast Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in a positive light, and Republican Sen. John McCain in a negative one.
“NBC Nightly News” host Brian Williams described the “profile” piece on John McCain at the end of Tuesday night’s broadcast as part of an occasional series looking at people who had forged the presidential candidates’ lives.
For a previous profile, of Obama, NBC had sent a film crew to Indonesia to interview his classmates at the Besuki Primary School, a state-run institution that taught Islamic studies as part of its core curriculum.
The subtext of the report was subtle, but clear: Obama is not and has never been a Muslim. The Obama campaign is desperate to get that message out.
NBC reporter Ian Williams opined that the fact Obama lived in Jakarta as a child “has really captured the popular imagination. It’s already working wonders for America’s battered image here.”
Introducing the McCain profile Tuesday, Brian Williams announced that NBC would tell a “formative experience in John McCain’s life, when as a young naval aviator he found himself shot down and taken captive.”
Instead of telling the extraordinary story of McCain’s five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, however, NBC played revisionist history that set a new low for broadcast journalism.
Reporter Ian Williams traveled to Hanoi to interview people who knew McCain during his POW years.
One, 81-year-old Nguyen Tietan, is introduced in stellar terms as a “nurse in a nearby clinic [who] put splints on McCain’s broken arms and legs and gave him antibiotics.”
She tells NBC that she saved McCain from an angry mob that wanted to lynch him after he was shot down on a bombing raid over North Vietnam.
“I told them I was a nurse. I had to save lives,” the heroic grandmother recalls telling her neighbors.
The subtext is clear to anyone who has “lived through the 1970s,” as Brian Williams explains: The evil American pilot, who was bombing and strafing innocent Vietnamese civilians, was treated humanely by the very victims he was trying to kill.
America, bad. Heroic North Vietnam, good.
That’s the same message that people such as William Ayers, leader of the SDS Weatherman terrorists who were shooting police officers and bombing the U.S. Capitol, were screaming in the streets of America at the same time that McCain lay broken, and at risk of dying, in Hanoi. Ayers, of course, has long since been forgiven for his murdering rampage and is now a proponent of North Vietnamese style brainwashing of American children in alternate schools.
Ayers and Obama funneled large sums of money to such schools when they worked together on the board of the Annenberg Challenge in Chicago from 1995 through 2002.
The subtext of NBC News’ profile of McCain’s POW years also was subtle, but clear, even though it mangled even the most basic facts.
After the “kind nurse” bandaged McCain and gave him antibiotics, McCain “spent six weeks in a Vietnamese hospital, and then nearly five and a half years in prison,” Ian Williams said.
But McCain wasn’t taken directly to a hospital. First, he was taken to a North Vietnamese prison camp, where he was brutally interrogated for many days without receiving any treatment for his broken, twisted limbs or the bayonet wounds in his ankle and groin.
After four days of beatings, he begged to be taken to a hospital.
A medic finally came to see him — the first time he was given any medical attention — and told McCain that his captors had decided against taking him to a hospital.
“It’s too late,” the medic said.
The only reason the North Vietnamese eventually relented and sent him for treatment was because they had discovered that McCain was of greater value to them alive than dead.
McCain was lapsing in and out of consciousness by this point, he writes in his autobiography, “Faith of My Fathers.” A prison guard he called “Bug” awakened him when he rushed into his cell and shouted, “Your father is a big admiral. Now we take you to the hospital.”
The North Vietnamese decided to save McCain only because they hoped they could exploit him for propaganda purposes, a fact missing from the NBC version.
Next, NBC News found the warden of the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous prison where McCain and other shot-down American aviators were held in barbarous conditions for years on end.
“McCain has given graphic accounts of beatings and torture,” Ian Williams told viewers. But “Tran Trong Doyet, the former prison director, remembers it differently.”
During “office hours,” he and McCain would have “fierce debates” about the war, Tran told NBC.
McCain describes these so-called debates in “Faith of My Fathers” as torture sessions. But that’s not the message NBC wants to get across.
“But after hours, we would talk as friends,” Tran said.
Why, their time together was so relaxed that McCain even had time to teach him English, a smiling Tran recalls!
This is just a pure rewriting of history, unworthy of airtime from a responsible news organization. But Brian Williams and Ian Williams apparently found the lies of a sadistic war criminal good enough for NBC.
McCain was not alone in the Hanoi Hilton. Dozens of U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force flyers drifted in and out of the dirty cells, sharing their misery through a tap code on the prison walls.
Tran and the prison guards often beat the American POWs if they caught them trying to communicate with each other.
Men such as Orson Swindle and Bud Day and scores of others all remember how McCain was beaten daily for several years. They recall the brutality of the warden, his cynicism, and his attempts to manipulate them into betraying their country in exchange for early release from the prison camp.
McCain says he was tempted to exchange the daily torture for early release, but then he remembered “the code of honor” that he and his fellow servicemen had sworn to uphold. So he refused to leave the prison camp until everyone else who had been captured before him had been released. He finally was released on March 14, 1973.
NBC News refused to interview any of the men who had been POWs with McCain. Instead, it sought out the humane nurse-hero and the happy-go-lucky prison warden who remembered playing cards with McCain but conveniently forgot beating him and other Americans to within an inch of their lives.
At the end of the segment, NBC panned out and showed pictures of the ordinary-looking “Maison Centrale” where the POWs had been kept, noting that the Hanoi Hilton now is a museum.
Few Vietnamese today even remembered the war, Ian Williams said.
That’s right, boys and girls. All this took place a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, when John McCain displayed a kind of fairy-tale courage that is beyond the grasp (and certainly the practice) of the mainstream media.
“Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams promised that NBC would continue this occasional series with other portraits from the candidates’ earlier lives.
If NBC news teams actually wanted to shed some light on Barack Obama’s much-obscured past, they might start with a portrait of Frank Marshall Davis, the man Obama calls his “mentor” while he was growing up in Hawaii.
Obama cleverly uses only Davis’ first name when writing about him in his autobiography, “Dreams of My Father.” Is that because he knew full well that Davis was a top operative of the American Communist Party, who spent most of his time in Hawaii taking photographs of the U.S. naval station there and spotting young recruits?
To find out the truth about Davis, NBC reporters could talk to Cliff Kincaid and Herb Romerstein of Accuracy in Media, who have done tremendous research on Frank Marshall Davis. (Here’s betting that Brian Williams wouldn’t dream of interviewing either of them).
They also could run a portrait of William Ayers, the former SDS Weatherman who beat a murder rap after spending close to a decade running from the police. Ayers went on to sponsor Obama on the board of the Annenberg Challenge and launched Obama’s political career at his Chicago home in 1995.
And why not profile the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the racist black nationalist pastor in Chicago who Obama says “brought me to Jesus,” and whose sermons Obama proudly asserts he listened to “every Sunday” for more than 20 years?
This is the same Jeremiah Wright whose sermons saying “God DAMN America!” have been caught on videotape and posted on the Internet, forcing Obama belatedly to renounce their 20-year friendship.
If NBC News really were interested in digging into Obama’s past, it would want to investigate his ties to Khalid Al-Mansour, the former mentor of the Black Panther Party, who later became a Black Muslim nationalist and top advisor to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
[Editor's Note: Read “Who is Khalid al-Mansour?” — Go Here Now].
Harlem political icon Percy Sutton says Al-Mansour has been raising money for Obama and asked Sutton in 1988 to write a letter to help Obama get into Harvard Law School.
Finally, NBC might want to find some of Obama’s classmates from Columbia University, where he transferred in 1981 after two uneventful years at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Fox News tracked down 400 people who had been at Columbia at the same time as Obama, and not one had any recollection of him. Isn’t that curious.
Americans know an awful lot about John McCain. For the past 26 years, he has been a public person. And scores of witnesses have come forward to tell us about his youth, especially his five and a half years as a POW in North Vietnam.
But America knows almost nothing about Barack Obama — and let’s not forget, he is running for president, too.
It’s about time the media did its job.
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