Flashback: Reporters Who've Soft Peddled Hezbollah's Terrorist Past

July 14th, 2006 2:57 PM
Surely, no one in the U.S. media could have a kind word to say about Hezbollah, the radical Palestinian terrorist group that decades ago seized southern Lebanon as a base for anti-Israeli operations — including the rocket attacks now indiscriminately harassing Israeli towns and cities — and which has killed hundreds of Americans in various hijackings, kidnappings and bombings over the years.

Well, in fact there have been those in the American press who’ve tried to downplay Hezbollah’s perpetration of terrorist acts, including the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Marines. Even since September 11, 2001, a few journalists have tried to argue that Hezbollah could plausibly be seen as freedom fighters resisting Israeli authority.

In 2002, then-ABC anchor Peter Jennings would only go so far as to say that “the Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” as if ABC News wasn’t nearly so sure. Jennings reported from Beirut for the March 27, 2002 World News Tonight where he recounted a meeting with Hezbollah’s chief:

“Yesterday, I went to see its 38-year-old leader, Hassan Nasrallah. He is a popular member of the political establishment. The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.” Jennings interpreting for Nasrallah: “‘Hezbollah was proud to resist the Israeli occupation,’ he says. ‘We gave our lives. We are not terrorists.’” Video can be found here.

Later in the same story, Jennings distanced the group from their most infamous anti-American acts. At the site of the demolished U.S. embassy in Beirut, Jennings blamed only “a man” for the murder of numerous Americans: “This is where the U.S. experienced the first suicide bomber. In 1983 a man simply drove his truck to the front door and blew himself up. Sixty-three people died. Later that year, the Marine barracks here were destroyed in much the same way, 241 Marines died.”

But Jennings’ sugarcoating of Hezbollah’s terrorist record actually pales in comparison to the ridiculous assertions made by left-wing columnist Julianne Malveaux on CNN on October 9, 2001 — less than a month after 9/11.

As Media Research Center’s Brent Baker noted the next day, Malveaux tried to portray the terrorists in Hezbollah as far more reasonable than those working for Osama bin Laden: “It’s a group that has dealt with territory and Israeli occupation and invasion, and this is very different from the kind of terrorism that Mr. bin Laden has imposed on the world.” She maintained they “are simply defending their land.” In fact, she charged that the U.S. is supporting terrorism by aiding Israel: “We cannot say that we don’t like terrorism but then we support Israel’s terrorism against Palestinians, that is a double standard that is unacceptable.”

An excerpt from the MRC’s October 10, 2001 CyberAlert:
Some terrorist groups have their defenders in America. Tuesday morning on CNN syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, whose work once appeared regularly in USA Today and who once had a talk show on Pacifica Radio, defended Syria’s inclusion on the UN Security Council, despite its harboring the Hezbollah terrorist group....

Malveaux declared of Syria: "They were the unanimous choice of their region, it’s a non-permanent seat. I think that in the spirit of the cooperation that the United States is asking from moderate Arab states, Syria belongs on the Security Council, it was a mistake for 38 members of Congress to oppose it. I think Jewish groups are playing hard-line when they say they don’t want them there. They are part of the world and we have gone to them and asked them to be part of this coalition against terrorism, how can we then turn around and say they don’t belong on the Security Council?"

Zahn interjected: "Well, Julianne, you may think they deserve a part on the Security Council, but you heard what Sen. John McCain says, in a prolonged campaign against terrorism, Syria could very well wind up being targeted."

Malveaux: "Paula, Syria is one of about 30 groups, 30 countries that the United State has listed as having harbored terrorists, I think that there’s a question about the United States definition of terrorism. The groups that Syria has harbored, the main one is called Hezbollah, I believe. It’s a group that has dealt with territory and Israeli occupation and invasion, and this is very different from the kind of terrorism that Mr. bin Laden has imposed on the world, so I think that if the United States wants to talk about this new world cooperation, they’d better look at the difference between hard-line terrorism and people who are simply defending their land."

Malveaux is most notorious in conservative circles for this hateful outburst, about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on the November 4, 1994 To the Contrary on PBS: “The man is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that’s how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person.”

"Reprehensible"? As opposed to Malveaux who accuses the U.S. of supporting terrorism?
END of CyberAlert excerpt.