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Why Ted Koppel Shouldn’t be Compared to Murrow

by William Hughes Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 at 9:07 AM

For 25 years, the boring Ted Koppel was the anchor on ABC TV’s “Nightline” program. He toed the Establishment line! Now, David Zurawik, a media critic for the Baltimore Sun, wants us to believe that Koppel is leaving behind “a legacy of innovation and integrity.” This is pure nonsense! Koppel, among other faults, failed to challenge the serial lies of the Bush-Cheney Gang, and the Neocons, too, that led us into the Iraqi War. That is his real legacy!

    Why Ted Koppel S...
end_of_the_line.jpg, image/jpeg, 514x469

For a moment, I thought I was reading the obituary of an heroic figure who had stood fearlessly, risking life and limb for the truth, God, Motherhood and country. I was wrong! Instead, it was a local TV critic, one David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, wildly spinning, in a Barbara Walters-like fashion, about Ted Koppel’s 25-year career, as the host of that mostly boring and very predictable ABC News’ “Nightline.” Zurawik’s puff piece was entitled, “End of the Line,” and it ran on Nov. 22, 2005, the last evening of Koppel’s “Nightline” program. I found his piece claiming that Koppel was a spiritual “descendant of the legendary CBS newsman, Edward R. Murrow,” to be an egregious attempt at myth-making.

The fact is that Koppel was a highly-paid mouthpiece for the globalist schemers. He wasn’t a media hero by, of, and for the American people, as implied by Zurawik’s promotional article. Koppel never truly rocked the boat in giving his slant on what was supposedly happening in the U.S., the ongoing Iraqi War, South Africa, Central and South America, or in the Middle East. That is why Koppel, and others of his ilk-Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather included-had lasted so long pimping away for the corporately owned TV networks. Koppel was basically a “news reader” for the Wire Pullers. He slavishly toed the party line.

I remember when Koppel first started out in 1979 with his “America Held Hostage” shows about the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. What he never told his audience, however, was how the U.S. and British governments (on behalf of “Big Oil’) had plotted a coup d’etat (“Operation Ajax”) in Iran, in 1953, that unseated the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. They replaced it with their own tyrannical stooge, Mohammad Reza Shah. It was the Shah’s corrupt regime which in turn inspired the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. (1) This was critical background material that I don’t recall Koppel ever revealing. In addition, by “Nightline” playing, ad infinitum, the hostage situation, it helped to undermine Democratic President Jimmy Carter and, eventually, it led to the GOP’s Ronald Reagan, in 1980, capturing the White House. Once in office, Reagan began to systematically undercut the social justice programs enacted under FDR’s “New Deal.” He also greatly enlarged the Pentagon’s budget, assaulted Organized Labor and created national deficits of unprecedented proportions. (2)

It’s strange, too, how Koppel could spend 444 days on the Iranian “Hostage” story, where no American lost a life, and yet he couldn’t find one program to run dedicated to the survivors of the “USS Liberty” and their quest for justice. Thirty-four Americans died on the “Liberty” and 174 more were wounded as a result of a murderous assault by the Israelis on June 8, 1967. Recently, veterans of the Liberty filed “War Crime” charges against “elements of the Israeli military forces.” (3)

Can anyone imagine what those national networks would look like if you had an independent political personality, such as a Gore Vidal, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Charley Reese, Rep. Maxine Waters, “Johnny Bob” McDonagh, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Justin Raimondo and/or a Paul Craig Roberts anchoring the nightly newscasts? Truth-tellers, like those named, can’t get close to a microphone/camera controlled by or under the influence of the Establishment. This is so even when there is a so-called “fair and balanced” newsmaker program, and guest commentators are invited on to give supposedly competing views on the issues. Only Establishment-oriented types need apply for those kinds of heavily “staged” news events.

Sticking to the historical record, Koppel was an “embedded” reporter with the 3rd Infantry during the Iraqi War which the Bush-Cheney Gang wrongfully launched in March, 2003. (4) There was little difference between what Koppel had to say about that immoral and illegal conflict than what was coming out of the mouths of the half-demented Rush Limbaugh, the nearly-insane Sean O’Hannity or that ultra-sassy Ann Coulter. That alone speaks volumes about Koppel’s brand of TV journalism. Yet, Zurawik would have us believe that Koppel, “leaves behind a legacy of innovation and integrity.” Now, that kind of description is pure fiction and utter nonsense. The facts don’t support Zurawik’s off-the-wall thesis. The next big story that Koppel cracks, if he does dare to return to network TV or cable, will be his first!

America is presently involved in a war in Iraq based on a rotten pack of lies. (5) And yet, Koppel missed that story and/or he didn’t want to see it! Leading up to the conflict, warmongers, such as the repulsive Neocon, Richard Perle, orchestrated a clever propaganda campaign, after the 9/11 tragedy, calling for “regime change” in Iraq and for Washington to take out Saddam Hussein. (6) This is the same theme that Perle, and others, had hit on in their notorious “A Clean Break” policy document, that they had prepared for the Israeli government in the late-90s. (7) Did Koppel allocate one single program to challenging the hawkish Neocons, their suspect resumes, (8) strong links to a Zionist cabal and their push for war? (9) Did Koppel put on one show, or even a segment of one “Nightline” program, that attempted to rebut the lies, and massive deceptions, of the Iraqi-War-hungry members of the Bush-Cheney Gang? The answer is a resounding - no!

To his credit, Koppel did do some programs “after” the Iraqi War had begun that were “mildly” embarrassing to the White House, like the show where he read off the names of all of the U.S. military personnel, who had died in Iraq. In my opinion, he was just covering his ass with that one. And, when Koppel did have a critic of the Iraqi war on “Nightline,” like the gutsy Cindy Sheehan, he was either contemptuous of his guest, or unfair in his line of questioning. (10) This is something that Koppel would never do in an interview with a Neocon or warmonger, like William Kristol. (11)

In his swan song show of Nov. 22, 2005, a lot was made by Zurawik of Koppel’s three-part interview, in 1995, with a Brandeis U. professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was then dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now, the Schwartz episodes were all very moving, but, they were something that you would expect to find on “Oprah,” and not on “Nightline,” that Zurawik rashly praised to the heavens for setting the highest “TV news standards.” The critic for the Sun also made a big deal about Koppel’s silly interviews with those weird Christian preachers, Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.

The key question, then, in the context of Koppel’s reputed contributions to journalism, is this: What good did his interviews with Schwartz, Bakker and Swaggart do for the Republic? Wouldn’t it have been also much better for Koppel’s reputation, if he had done, at least, one no-holds-barred interview with V. P. Dick Cheney, which exposed his reasons for wanting to go to war with Iraq as damnable lies? Now, that would have been something for a Koppel’s fan, like Zurawik, to genuinely crow home about.

So, where is Koppel’s record of “unflinching coverage” of issues that generated for him what Zurawik labeled “a sense of trust and moral authority?” Let me suggest that it only exists in that Baltimore Sun’s TV critic’s vivid imagination. The Ted Koppel, who among other faults, did nothing to expose the lies that led the country into the Iraqi War, is the furthest thing from a genuine media icon. Koppel surely wasn’t in the tradition of Murrow.


1. See, “All The Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror,” by Stephen Kinzer.











© William Hughes 2005.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at

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