Backs Hillary; Kessler PR; Hiss Through the Years
Seven items in today's holiday
weekend edition. I apologize for the length, but I want to get it all out
before it gets too old.
1) CBS White House
reporter Rita Braver agreed with Hillary Clinton that criticism of her
getting involved in fixing welfare reform shows a First Lady just can't
2) A Reuters story
referred to welfare reform as "draconian."
3) NBC's Robert
Hager delivered a glowing review of David Kessler's years in the charge of
the FDA, never explaining how many thought he over-reached in his zeal to
4) Referring to
Stuart Taylor's article on the evidence for Paula Jones, Tim Russert asked
"how big of a political story and a media story is this going to
be?" So far, not much.
5) Meet the Press
showed that reporters in 1948 were as skeptical as they were this year
about Alger Hiss's guilt. And Tim Russert gave NBC's first mention of the
6) The Top Ten list
from Wednesday's Late Show with David Letterman: Top Ten Clinton Family
7) A Boston Globe
reporter can't tell the difference between a U.S. cable channel and
1) On Monday's CBS Evening News
(November 25), Rita Braver reviewed First Lady Hillary Clinton's
activities while accompanying the President in Asia. Braver relayed that
"Her theme has been equality and opportunity for women, whether
speaking to thousands or to just a few. In Bangkok, she comforted a former
prostitute now dying of AIDS. And later made the point that if women are
educated they are not forced to turn to prostitution."
Following a clip of Mrs. Clinton, Braver continued:
"But even abroad, Mrs. Clinton still stirs
up controversy at home. In a Time magazine interview, she talked about her
plans to travel the U.S., monitoring the administration's new welfare
reform policies. The White House immediately denied that the First Lady
will have any formal role. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton best expressed her own
awkward situation when she told an Australian audience that the only way
for a First Lady to escape criticism is never to express opinions or
Hillary Clinton: "So it's a kind of
difficult position and I think the only answer is to just be who you are
and do what you do and get through it and wait for the first man to hold
the position and see how that turns out."
Braver: "And sources close to the First Lady
say she is still struggling to define exactly what her role will be in her
husbands next term. How to do work that is important but not
controversial. Rita Braver CBS News, Bangkok, Thailand."
Hmmm. Maybe it's not that she
expresses ideas, maybe it's the socialist ideas that she expresses that
people don't like.
2) A CyberAlert recipient alerted
me to a November 25 Reuters story on the same topic that he saw in Yahoo,
from where I downloaded the story headlined "Hillary's Role on
Welfare Played Down."
piece, datelined Manila, began: "Hillary Rodham Clinton was at the
center of a new controversy on Monday after she suggested she wanted a
'formal role' in shaping policy on U.S. welfare reform."
paragraphs later the Reuters dispatch asserted:
"A draconian welfare reform measure passed
by the Republican Congress and signed into law by Clinton at the height of
the U.S. presidential campaign in October ends a 60-year guarantee of
federal aid to the poor. It is expected to deprive at least a million
people of public assistance over the next few years."
3) Monday's resignation by FDA
Commissioner David Kessler received full stories on all the evening
newscasts November 25. But NBC's Robert Hager provided the most glowing
assessment of the man who fought to expand the agency's regulatory power.
transcribed by MRC intern Joe Alfonsi, here's Hager's NBC Nightly News
"Kessler was controversial from the start,
loved going after the big guys, set the tone immediately six years ago by
telling Proctor & Gamble to get the word 'fresh' off its frozen orange
juice. When the company ignored him, Kessler began seizing the product.
P&G backed down. Later Kessler reformed the way we label all foods,
developed a whole new system for listing fat, cholesterol, and nutrients.
Kessler had a law degree from the University of Chicago and an MD from
Harvard Medical. And he was bipartisan too, appointed by the Republican
Bush, kept on by the Democrat Clinton."
continued: "But all this was prelude to his landmark decision to go
after big tobacco, some of the nation's wealthiest corporations. Call
cigarettes a drug, he said, and regulate them. It had been assumed that
Kessler would stay in office to defend the new regulations from tobacco
companies and see the regulations implemented, perhaps some, by next
spring. But he's reportedly being pursued by several universities and his
wife, once a Manhattan lawyer, is known to have tired of Washington
politics. Also there was recent flap over some of his expense accounts
uncovering dozens of errors and forcing Kessler to write an $850
reimbursement check to the government. And all along Kessler had no
shortage of detractors."
Following a soundbite from Newt Gingrich on how Kessler was too cautious
in approving drugs and praise from Congressman Henry Waxman, Hager
concluded: "So Kessler will move on, leaving history to judge the
difference he may have made in American health."
spent so much time hyping Kessler's activities as accomplishments that NBC
viewers never learned the other side from those who thought Kessler
symbolized the worst of the nanny-state. As a November 27 Boston Herald
editorial argued: "He thought -- he said -- the brand name 'Fresh
Choice' was misleading. Never mind that right under the name it said 'made
from concentrate.' With no evidence of harm but anecdotes spread by
plaintiffs lawyers so cherished by the Clinton administration, Kessler
ordered silicone breast implants off the market. After the publication of
two impeccable studies that demolished the case against implants, Kessler
has declined to end the ban, condemning thousands of women to inferior
4) Discussing politics with
husband and wife team James Carville and Mary Matalin on the November 24
Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked Matalin:
"A week before the inauguration in January,
the Supreme Court's going to hear arguments about sexual harassment
charges filed by Paula Jones. Stuart Taylor in the American Lawyer, a long
piece where he lays out the charges by Paula Jones against Bill Clinton,
Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas and says the evidence involving Jones
is overwhelming compared to that of Anita Hill. Mary Matalin, how big of a
political story and a media story is this going to be?"
far it hasn't been much of one. As far as I've seen it still hasn't been
mentioned on Nightly News or Today. In fact, the only broadcast network
coverage it's gotten was in a late October World News Tonight story in
which ABC's Jeff Greenfield used the lack of coverage given the
blockbuster article as an example of why conservatives see liberal bias.
5) Later in the same Meet the
Press (November 24) Russert played a tape of Whittaker Chambers on the old
Meet the Press radio show during which he accused Alger Hiss of being a
points here. First, reporters were as skeptical about the guilt of Hiss in
1948 as they were this year when he died. Second, after the clip, Russert
actually laid out the evidence, something Nightly News never did.
Friday, August 27, 1948 at 10pm Meet the Press radio show, here are some
of the questions posed to Chambers:
Finney, Cowles Publications: "I thought you left it a little unclear
as to whether you are certain in your mind, now, whether Alger Hiss is now
a member of the Communist Party or not."
Chambers: "I would not presume to say
whether Mr. Hiss is or is not a member of the Communist Party."
Finney: "You mean to say that you have not
made a check to find out whether he, as you, has recanted."
Chambers: "I have no possibility of making
such a charge. The House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed me
to tell what I knew about the Communist Party at the time that Mr. Hiss
was a member. I have testified on that, I have not presumed to testify
what he is now."
Tom Reynolds, Chicago Sun-Times: "Are you
prepared at this time, to say that Alger Hiss was anything more than, in
your opinion, a Communist? Did he do anything wrong? Did he commit any
overt act? Has he been disloyal to his country?"
Chambers: "I am only prepared, at this time,
to say that he was a Communist."
Reynolds: "It seems to me then sir, if I may
say so, that in some respects this may be a tempest in a teapot. You say
that you think he was a Communist, you say he was a Communist but you will
not accuse him of any act that is disloyal to the United States."
Chambers: "I am not prepared, legally, to
make that charge. My whole interest in this business has been to show that
Mr. Hiss was a Communist."
1996, Russert explained that "Hiss sued Whittaker Chambers for
slander, for what he said on Meet the Press" and Hiss was later
convicted of perjury for his congressional testimony "because the
statute of limitations on espionage had expired."
then explained: "For the last 40 years until he died last week at age
92, Alger Hiss proclaimed his innocence. But this year, the CIA
declassified and released the so called Venona files, translations of
actual intercepts of messages sent from the Soviet Embassy in Washington
back to Moscow. One, dated 30 March, 1945, talks about the activities of a
high level State Department official, turned Soviet agent, code named
A-L-E-S, ALES. His travel schedule matched that of Alger Hiss. At the
bottom of the cable, there's a notation by an officer at the National
Security Agency saying ALES, A-L-E-S was probably, quote Alger Hiss."
saw in past CyberAlerts, when Hiss died Tom Brokaw said he was
"caught up" in a spy scandal. NBC Nightly News made no mention
of the Venona files. In fact, when they were released this past Spring, of
the broadcast networks, only the CBS Evening News did a story (by David
6) From the November 27 Late Show
with David Letterman, a pretty humorous politically oriented Top Ten List.
Downloaded from CompuServe's E-Drive it is, of course, copyright 1996 to
Wide World Pants Inc.
Top Ten Clinton Family
10. Stuffing the turkey with
shredded Whitewater documents
9. Bill flip-flops for hours over whether he wants white meat or dark meat
8. They break the wishbone and Hillary wishes to stay out of prison
7. George Stephanopoulos scampers around under the table begging for
6. After the meal, the President unbuttons his pants, and also those of
several female staffers
5. At least a dozen people pass out from too much "Hillbilly
4. They fill the oval office with mashed potatoes, and Bill has to eat his
3. Instead of slaughtering the turkey, they have Al Gore bore it to death
2. At about 3:00 A.M., Bill places a call to "The Happy Pilgrim"
1. They all thank God they're not the Doles
7) Under the heading "Conan
goes to Canada...early" in the November 30 Boston Globe "Names
& Faces" column, reporter M. L. Montgomery wrote: "Add
Canada to Yogi Berra's list of places where it gets late early: Late Night
with Conan O'Brien will air on CNBC at 10pm, giving the lad his first
non-insomniac audience. It'll air a month after U.S. broadcasts, but hey,
those Turkey Jokes will recycle nicely for Boxing Day."
back to the copy desk. CNBC is a U.S. cable channel and it will air
O'Brien repeats nightly at 10pm ET (that's 7pm in British Columbia).
Reporter Montgomery has confused CNBC, the Consumer News & Business
Channel, with the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
the Boston area for a few days visiting my family. We have snow! Monday
it's back to the warmth of D.C. Expect the next CyberAlert (with the
December 2 Notable Quotables) in the middle of the week.
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