LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CBS News has fired the producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of a hit crime drama with a special report on the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a network source said on Friday.
Word of the dismissal came a day after CBS apologized to viewers for breaking into "CSI: NY," one of its top-rated shows, on Wednesday night.
"An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news. We sincerely regret the error," the network said in a statement on Thursday.
The network, owned by Viacom Inc., declined comment on a report of the dismissal posted on the Web site of trade publication Broadcasting & Cable.
But a network source told Reuters that CBS fired the producer who decided to break into "CSI" with a report from "Up to the Minute" anchor Melissa McDermott.
According to the source, the producer failed to follow standard procedures that require a senior CBS News executive to be consulted before interrupting regular programming.
The fact Arafat already had been reported near death for several days also figured in the network's decision. The source said the producer disregarded explicit, advance instructions that breaking news of Arafat's death -- if it occurred during prime time -- was to be reported with a news "crawl" at the bottom of the screen.
"Arafat had been literally on his deathbed for a week. Everyone knew he was going to die. It was just a matter of when," the source said.
Neither of CBS' two biggest rivals -- NBC or ABC -- interrupted regular programming to report Arafat's death. NBC said it ran a crawl for affiliates in the Western states and Rockies, while leaving the story for local news in eastern and central time zones. ABC said it ran a crawl on the West Coast.
CBS News has been under intense scrutiny since veteran anchor Dan Rather ran a controversial report on President Bush's military record based on documents whose authenticity came under fire.
So apparently it's bad to report actual news. But to just make stuff up is okay.
He goes to France to die, where the confidentiality of medical records is secure, even after death. In fact, france is one of the only western countries where death certificates do not have a cause fo death listed on the form. Lovely sores, sarcomas, whatever, on his face-also syptomatic of full-blown AIDS. I know-the source is Israeli, so therefore...
Hospital concealment strengthens suspicion: Arafat died of AIDS
By israelinsider staff November 11, 2004
Editor's Update 11/11/04: As James Taranto wryly notes in Opinion Journal, citing this original Israel Insider report, "Yasser Arafat is in stable condition after dying in a Paris hospital. A hospital spokesman 'said there would be no details about the cause of death because of French privacy laws,' reports the Associated Press." Now why do you think there would be a need to invoke privacy laws in reporting a man's death? And why, suddenly, is it no longer a "mysterious illness" but an illness that must be concealed?
The article as originally reported on November 6, 2004:
Former White House speechwriter David Frum has joined the growing chorus of pundits, medical experts, and intelligence operatives who claim Yasser Arafat is likely suffering from AIDS.
Frum, a key figure in Republican politics and the man who coined the terms "axis of evil," writes in National Review Online that Arafat's undisclosed illness is well-known, but has been kept under wraps by the mainstream media.
"Speaking of media bias, here's a question you won't hear in our big papers or on network TV: Does Yasser Arafat have AIDS?" asks Frum, who also writes for the National Post.
"We know he has a blood disease that is depressing his immune system. We know that he has suddenly dropped considerable weight -- possibly as much as one-third of all his body weight. We know that he is suffering intermittent mental dysfunction. What does this sound like?"
Earlier, John Loftus told John Batchelor on ABC radio on October 26 that Arafat is dying from AIDS. Loftus said the CIA has known this about Arafat for quite awhile and that as a result the US has encouraged Sharon not to take Arafat out because the US has known Arafat was about done. It was deemed better to have Arafat discredited as a homosexual.
Although homosexuality is rife in the Arab world, it is at least officially considered a sin and a crime, and regarded--especially in fundamentalist circles--as a mark of great shame and depravity.
Intelligence on "the tiger" romping with bodyguards
Frum pointed to KGB evidence linking Arafat to homosexual activities, citing a 1987 book by Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania's intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
In his memoirs "Red Horizons," Pacepa relates a conversation in 1978 with Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition.
"I just called the microphone monitoring center to ask about the 'Fedayee,'" Arafat's code name, explained Munteaunu. "After the meeting with the Comrade, he went directly to the guest house and had dinner. At this very moment, the 'Fedayee' is in his bedroom making love to his bodyguard. The one I knew was his latest lover. He's playing tiger again. The officer monitoring his microphones connected me live with the bedroom, and the squawling almost broke my eardrums. Arafat was roaring like a tiger, and his lover yelping like a hyena."
Munteaunu continued: "I've never before seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man." Munteaunu, wrote Pacepa, spent months pulling together secret reports from Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian intelligence agencies as well as Romanian files.
"I used to think I knew just about everything there was to know about Rahman al-Qudwa," Arafat's real name, "about the construction engineer who made a fortune in Kuwait, about the passionate collector of racing cars, about Abu Amman," Arafat's nom de guerre, "and about my friend Yasser, with all his hysterics," explained Munteaunu, handing Pacepa his final report on the PLO leader. "But I've got to admit that I didn't really know anything about him."
Pacepa wrote: "The report was indeed an incredible account of fanaticism, of devotion to his cause, of tangled oriental political maneuvers, of lies, of embezzled PLO funds deposited in Swiss banks, and of homosexual relationships, beginning with his teacher when he was a teen-ager and ending with his current bodyguards. After reading the report, I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat, or even just shaken his hand."
"If true, Arafat would have a great deal to conceal from his people and his murderously anti-homosexual supporters in the Islamic world," writes Frum, suggesting that Arafat was airlifted to France for medical treatment because he "could trust the French to protect his intimate secret."
The medical evidence adds up
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath Monday said that all types of cancer had been ruled out, and the latest news is that French doctors have ruled out poisoning.
Medical observers note that a low blood platelet count is a sign of a weakened immune system, and indeed last week there were reports of a complete collapse of Arafat's immune system. Other than the ruled-out cancer, the low count could be attributed to bleeding ulcers, colitis, liver disease, lupus, or HIV. It is believed that ulcers and colitis have already been ruled out.
Arafat has lost a considerable amount of body weight. Hopital d'Instruction des Armees de Percy, southwest of Paris, is known to have some of France's best HIV/AIDS doctors. Other medical experts note that Arafat's activities in recent weeks and months suggest the dementia that accompanies late-stage AIDS.
Medical authorities not connected directly to his case are suggesting that he may have HIV/AIDS. One doctor reported to an Israel Insider source that his suspicions have been growing for more than a year.
"I began to see tell tale signs of kaposis sarcoma. His Parkinsonian tremor was more than just a Parkinsonian tremor and he was also showing signs of weakness. The rumor about homosexuality/bisexuality has been around for decades. So I put two and two together when they started talking about his health over a year ago. The talk of a mysterious illness in this day and age should be a tip-off. He has some of the best physicians in the world attending to him. He can be diagnosed clinically, without perfoming any tests. All the doctors surrounding him know what he has. All this cloak and dagger about tests is a ruse. They understand the implications of divulging that he has HIV. If I were Suha I would be getting a little concerned."
If Arafat has AIDS, that would also explain Suha's reticence to allow the release of significant information about Arafat's condition, and the almost ludicrously tight-lipped reports of the French hospital spokesman, and the refusal of anyone connected with Arafat to hold a press conference in recent days.