TV Networks Underline Anti-Bush Protests in Indonesia, Sanitize Out Calls to Kill Bush

The network morning shows noticed Indonesian Muslims protesting President Bush, but sadly, once again, they tended to sanitize out the extremists. In this case, protest leaders called for the execution of Bush, but the networks mostly offered Americans quotes from protesters saying they loved America, just hated the president. They left out what Agence France-Presse reported: a protest leader declared through a loudspeaker: "Kill him, kill him...the blood of George Bush is halal," meaning it was not a sin under Islam to kill him. "Not only is it halal, it is obligatory to kill him."

The networks seem to want the American audience to bite on the Democratic line that conservative policies make us unpopular around the world, when people would be much more agreeable under the sorry-we-didn’t-mean-to-be-a-superpower poses of a Gore, Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. Showing protesters who want to execute our president tend to ruin the line of the day. On NBC’s Today on Monday, Matt Lauer led off the show with a plug for their "Hello, Go Home" segment on Bush's visit. MRC’s Justin McCarthy found reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s selected protesters who stressed their love for America, and their hatred for Bush:

Unidentified Man: "We love America but we hate Bush."

O’Donnell: "Protestors reveled in mocking President Bush. Signs flashed harsh and angry words. Many upset by the Iraq War accused him of humiliating Muslims."

Unidentified Man #2, speaking into microphone: "We, the Indonesian people, love American people. We highly appreciate their friendship, but we don't like and we reject their foreign policies."

A very similar soundbite represented the protesters on The Early Show on CBS, according to MRC’s Mike Rule:

Bill Plante: "And when he got here to Indonesia, he got a warm official welcome but considerable hostility in the streets. Angry demonstrators in Jakarta Sunday denounced the U.S. invasion of Iraq and American policy in the Middle East."

Indonesian Protestor: "We love Americans, but we hate Bush."

Plante: "More protests today as tight security surrounded the hill top town where Mr. Bush is meeting with Indonesia's president, a key ally in the war on terror. But, this is also the world's most populous Muslim nation and the president and U.S. policy are deeply unpopular here."

On CNN’s American Morning, MRC’s Scott Whitlock found, reporter Atika Shubert didn’t quote a protester, but outlined their grievances as an expression of "Muslim solidarity," without any kill-Bush talk:

"Hundreds of protesters, more than 1,000, tried to march towards the presidential palace to deliver a message to President Bush. They didn't get very far. Riot police were there to stop them about a mile away from here. What they said is they wanted to tell President Bush that he was not welcome in Indonesia for a variety of reasons: human rights abuses, they said in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. They also cited civilian deaths in Iraq. They also cited the issue of Palestine. All of these, they say, hurt the world's the Islamic community. And Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation. And this was certainly an expression of Muslim solidarity on their behalf and a clear message to President Bush."

ABC’s Good Morning America came the closest to capturing how overwrought the protesters were, as Jessica Yellin interviewed one who blamed Bush for killing 650,000 people:

Yellin: "Even as President Bush touched down in Indonesia, thousands of enraged protesters called on their leaders to cancel the visit. The fear of violence is so high, the President is staying for just six hours. Why are you protesting today?"

Unidentified male protester: "Because I know George W. Bush is a liar. He killed more than 650,000 peoples around the world."

Yellin: "The town around the tightly secured presidential palace has been on lockdown for days. At this protest, just a few blocks from the meeting sight, they're calling the President a pig and a war criminal, all because of the war on terror. Protesters here think the U.S. is unfairly targeting Muslims around the world. The U.S. says al-Qaeda linked extremist groups operate in Indonesia and the man believed to be the nation's terrorist leader is being held at Guantanamo Bay. He's accused of coordinating the Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people."

Agence-France Presse reported that some protesters in Indonesia stated that they wanted our president dead:

A storm of protests greeted the US president upon his arrival here, with thousands of people in the world's most populous Muslim nation expressing their anger at Bush's policies.

Leaders of the Alliance of United Muslim Mass Organisations, which groups scores of Islamic groups, called for Bush to be put to death and denounced him as a "war criminal" and a "terrorist" at a rally of some 2 000 people.

"Kill him, kill him," said one protest leader through a loudspeaker, adding that "The blood of George Bush is halal" - meaning that it was not a sin under Islam to harm him.

A second AFP dispatch added more detail:

During a mass rally in Jakarta on Sunday, the head of the militant Front for the Defender of Islam, Habib Rizieq, called on Muslims to kill Bush if they had the chance to do so.

“His blood is halal (permitted under Islam) to be shed. Not only is it halal, but it is obligatory to kill him,” Rizieq told thousands of cheering demonstrators.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis