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Peter Jennings' Unfortunate Legacy By: Debbie Schlussel
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 11, 2005

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It's sad when anyone dies of cancer, but we cant' let the human side of the Peter Jennings story obscure his real "achievements."

While the rest of the world is blindly singing Jennings' praises, here's a reality check: Peter Jennings did more for the cause of Islamic terrorism than any media figure today. And that's nothing to celebrate, honor, or even memorialize.

It is no coincidence that al-Jazeera's chief Washington correspondent praised ABC -- and Jennings, in particular -- for their "objectivity." Before there was al-Jazeera, there was Peter Jennings.

From the beginning of Jennings' career until his death, his biased coverage went beyond the pale, bending over backward in "understanding" the terrorists who hate us -- from seeing "their side" when he covered the seige and then murder of innocent Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics to honoring an al-Qaeda operative with a prized "commentator" spot during Jennings coverage of the 9/11 attacks.

Throughout Jennings' coverage of the attacks, he frequently featured a man named Tariq Hamdi (whose commentary urged understanding for the radical Muslim world), identifying Hamdi only as "journalist" on the chyron.

But, in fact, Jennings' friend Hamdi was no journalist at all. As I've written, Hamdi was an accused Bin Laden associate and employed by Sami al-Arian, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the United States.

According to prosecutors and documents in the 1998 trial of the Osama bin Laden bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa (the 7th anniversary of which was yesterday), Hamdi provided Bin Laden a satellite battery instrumental in those bombings. He's also an unindicted co-conspirator with Islamic Jihad financial head Sami al-Arian, who employed him at his Islamic "charity" fronts at the University of South Florida. Hamdi was also an employee of a Saudi-funded charity raided by Customs agents for allegedly laundering billions to al-Qaeda through the Isle of Man.

Jennings mentioned absolutely nothing about Hamdi's disturbing activities, but did note that Hamdi was his friend and repeatedly featured Hamdi in post-9/11 ABC News broadcasts. This is the type of "journalist" and "commentator" Jennings frequently employed in his so-called newscast of which he was an all-controlling editor.

Now the Washington Post repeats what I've said about Hamdi, but adds more. Days ago, Hamdi was indicted for immigration and mortgage-loan fraud. While failing to mention Jennings, the Post also adds, "ABC did not respond to a request for more information about its relationship with Hamdi." The recently unsealed indictment also mentions that Hamdi was the U.S. representative for the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights in Saudi Arabia, "a London-based organization that has embraced many of bin Laden's views," according to the Post.

That's a "journalist" in what was "The World According to Peter Jennings."

(Hamdi has now fled the U.S. Don't count on him coming back to face justice. Question for ICE press flack, Dean Boyd: Why was Tariq Hamdi allowed to leave the U.S.?)

I always say, pillow talk is the most effective form of political speech. And it apparently had its effect on Jennings early on. When developing and heading up ABC's Beirut headquarters, Jennings "dated" Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi. And it colored his insidious, anti-American, anti-Israel coverage ever since.

Then there were the sneers, the sneers of a Canadian high school drop-out for anything conservative, anything mainstream, anything pro-Western, pro-America, pro-Israel, etc. Jennings' sneers and snide comments were always evident for those who did not meet his very left-of-center point of view. A great example was his sneering during the 2000 vote recount, and after, when Bush was declared President. Another was his sneering just after the 9/11 attacks when Bush delivered his speech to a joint session of Congress. Then there was his sneering reaction and say-it-ain't-so comments when conservative revolutionaries led Republicans to capture the House of Representatives in 1994. And who can forget Jennings' sneering ABC News Special in which he decried America's bombing of Heroshima and Nagasaki, which saved American lives.

Jennings' elitist sneers will NOT be missed.

During ABC's Gulf War coverage, when ABC military expert Tony Cordesman attributed much of the success of our military forces to Israeli improvements to our weapons systems and as command and control advised by the Israelis, Jennings became enraged and argued with him.

While Jenning's death is a human tragedy, it is sad that his despicable brand of advocacy journalism -- parading as "news" -- wasn't laid to rest along with him.

Unfortunately, that will not happen. His version has spawned a thousand clones. Sadly, the female, more personable, non-toupeed version of Jennings -- Elizabeth Vargas -- is set to step into Jennings' shoes. She got off to a great Jennings-esque start in her first hosting duties at ABC's "20/20," last fall. She delivered a very sympathetic profile and interview of Hamas operative and fundraiser Cat Stevens. Expect more of this to come.

It's sad when anyone dies of cancer. I won't dance on Jennings' grave, even though he managed to justify the early graves of young, innocent athletes slaughtered at the Munich Olympics -- the way he blasphemed their murders with his shallow, understand-the-Islamic-terrorists coverage. Unlike the murdered Munich athletes he dishonored, Jennings died in peace and without pain. He got to say good-bye to his loved ones. They did not.

I will remember Peter Jennings for the less than honorable person he was -- not the emperor with no clothing that is now being memorialized.

Jennings used to end his newscasts with, "And that's a look at our world." No, it wasn't a look at our world, at all. It was Peter Jennings' slanted world, and every day he acted as if he was doing us a favor giving us his warped look at it.

Jennings' legacy is helping advance the cause of Islamic terrorists on broadcast television, parading it as news. He wrote his own epitaph with it. Unfortunately, it came with a lot more tombstones and epitaphs than just Jennings' -- and most of those buried beneath are a whole lot more innocent.

They are the victims of Islamic terrorism -- the brand Peter Jennings helped build into a network news product. That cancer, unfortunately, is still here. And it has metasticized.

(Read more on the REAL Peter Jennings.)

Visit Debbie Schlussel's website at DebbieSchlussel.com. She can be reached at writedebbie@gmail.com.

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