News Tonight and CNN's The World Today ran full stories Thursday
night, but neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News mentioned
the evidence which suggests there really was something to the
allegations the White House so swiftly condemned two weeks ago, though
13 days ago CBS relayed how the White House dismissed the charge as
"a deliberate political smear."
The story was
active from November 19 until November 21, when Army Secretary Togo
West effectively shut it down by listing all those who got waivers for
a burial. But, as detailed in the November 25 CyberAlert, it had
hardly become a major network story. CNN ran a couple of pieces, but
the total broadcast network coverage consisted of an 18 second item on
the November 21 Good Morning America relaying White House denial and
this 17 second declaration from Dan Rather on that night's CBS Evening
been considerable publicity lately about accusations that President
Clinton quote, 'perhaps provided burial space at Arlington National
Cemetery to major campaign donors,' unquote. Spokesmen for President
Clinton flatly and unequivocally denied this today to CBS News and
they called it 'a deliberate political smear,' unquote."
ABC led the
December 4 World News Tonight with a story on the San Francisco
basketball team player suspended by the NBA for attacking his coach,
followed by an update on the Paducah shooting. Then Peter Jennings
provided the show's first mention of the Arlington controversy:
is something of a new twist today on whether the honor of being buried
at Arlington National Cemetery was bought with political donations.
Some Republicans have accused Democrats, and the White House, of
selling the right to be buried there. There is no proof of that, but
there are certainly new questions about one prominent
Linda Douglass explained that big DNC donor Larry Lawrence was U.S.
Ambassador to Switzerland when he died. When Republicans criticized a
waiver for him, Secretary of the Army Togo West, she recalled,
"rushed to his defense." Douglass reported that the waiver
request came from then Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke
who claimed that during World War II Lawrence was thrown overboard and
suffered a severe head injury when a torpedo hit his ship.
picked up the train of events: "White House officials condemned
Republicans for questioning Lawrence's service to his country."
She showed a
clip from November 21 of White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry:
"Everyone who works here is outraged that members of Congress
would assist in the dissemination of lies, distortions, baseless
continued: "Republicans were embarrassed. But today they fired
back with a stunning new charge: Lawrence was never in the service at
all according to military records." After a soundbite from
Everett Douglass elaborated: "Not only is there no record of
Lawrence serving in the Merchant Marine in World War II, his name does
not appear among the crew members on the torpedoed ship and there is
no record of anyone falling overboard, suffering head injuries. Now it
was the administration's turn to be embarrassed. State Department
sources say officials simply took Lawrence's word for his military
a sentence from a letter issued by Lawrence's fourth wife praising his
war time service, but not offering any proof, before concluding:
"A source who knew Lawrence well told ABC News's Nightline that
Lawrence ordered research of World War II ships, subscribed to the
Merchant Marine newsletter and then suddenly announced he had been a
Merchant Marine. The question now is, if he doesn't belong in
Arlington should he be allowed to stay?"
Nightline devoted its Thursday night edition to the latest revelation
and what the administration claimed when the overall story broke two
Evening News had no time to correct its November 21 dismissal of the
Arlington story as a "smear." CBS led with two stories on
the impact of El Nino. Leading into the second one, a look at
wildfires in Australia, Dan Rather colorfully observed: "El
Nino's tripling combination punch of heat, drought, and more than
usual lightning strikes has turned the land of waltzing Matilda into
NBC Nightly News opened with Paducah followed by the impact of El
Nino. NBC devoted an In Depth segment to the value of a stay-at-home
wife in a divorce. Later, the show ran a piece on how a Tennessee
hospital mixed up the identities of two people in a car accident. But
Nightly News has yet to utter a word about the Arlington flap.
2) The very
idea that someone could dare to oppose racial preferences and not
realize that wealthy blacks actually fare worse in American society
than poor whites, angers Bryant Gumbel. And Wednesday night he used
his CBS newsmagazine as a personal soapbox to condemn the heretic.
3 Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel ran a piece by Bernard Goldberg, the
correspondent who in February of 1996 conceded that the networks
deliver liberal bias, profiling University of Texas Law Professor Lino
Graglia. A controversy erupted on campus when he observed that blacks
and Mexicans are not academically competitive with whites and Asians
so that without numerical preferences many fewer blacks and Hispanics
would be admitted. Goldberg's piece gave plenty of time for Graglia to
explain his reasoning and Goldberg also offered time to his enemies
who say he reflects "a fascist ideology and a racist
taped story finished, on the CBS set Gumbel questioned Goldberg.
Here's the complete exchange, as transcribed by MRC news analyst Steve
"Bernie, let me see if I can address this in a civil tone and
begin by assuming that Professor Graglia is an intelligent man. When
he looks at scores as a barometer of intelligence, how does he just
ignore factors of income, access, opportunity, all of which he surely
knows impact education?"
Goldberg: "Right, he says all of those things contribute to an
environment where failure doesn't mean as much in some communities as
it does in others."
"But then if you deny the opportunity at the higher education
level what you essentially do is create a permanent educational
"He doesn't want to deny, he wants this based on merit. He wants
people to be picked [Gumbel chuckles] based on how well they do on
their tests, how well they do in high school, and if they do well
enough, they'll compete. But you know what? He doesn't want race to be
"Well, look -- I mean I called the College Board today. Fact: for
all college bound seniors, there's about a 200 point difference
between privileged and poor. That's a number that cuts across all
races. Isn't it possible that when Graglia thinks he's looking at race
he's really looking at economics."
"Well, maybe, maybe. But the fact of the matter is, that there
are white people, Graglia and the other people who are against
affirmative action would say, who don't have advantage because of
economics. And he says they can't check off a box that says 'help me
out on an affirmative action basis,' but somebody who's black, even if
they are from a wealthy family, can check it off. And that's why, and
that's why the people who are against affirmative action are against
"Hard to believe that he thinks a white student doesn't enjoy
more advantages in this society than a student of color."
"Not a poor white student."
"That's hard to believe."
On the bright
side, so far this season Gumbel's show has finished in fourth place in
its Wednesday at 9pm ET time slot.
Graglia has not fared too well on network TV, though he was treated
fairly by Goldberg before Gumbel got on. For the October MediaWatch
MRC news analyst Clay Waters summarized the hostile coverage generated
by the professor. Here's the Newsbite titled, "Honesty: Not the
University of Texas (UT) law professor Lino Graglia spoke out against
racial quotas in college admissions, saying they lead to the admission
of blacks and Hispanics who "are not academically competitive
with whites," it caused an uproar among the liberal student body
and the liberal networks. Good Morning America devoted a segment to
the controversy. NBC's Today aired a debate between Graglia and a
Latino student, preceded by a Jim Cummins news story. NBC showed
Graglia in sinister-looking slow motion accompanied by Cummins:
"Michael Sherlott, Dean of the University of Texas Law School,
says Graglia's remarks are regrettable." After a Graglia
soundbite from his news conference ("I'm afraid there is no way
that I can avoid being called racist"), Cummins concluded:
"A subject for discussion, perhaps, in the course he teaches on
September 16 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather introduced the story as
"a new reminder tonight of our racial problems." Reporter
Bob McNamara opened "At the University of Texas, where a white
law professor's remarks about minority students stunned a campus,
Reverend Jesse Jackson came wading into the fray," followed by a
soundbite of Jackson urging a boycott of Graglia.
debating the substance of Graglia's remarks, McNamara focused on
student outrage and calls for Graglia's ouster, claiming "the
furor over the remarks is part of the fallout of a federal court
ruling outlawing affirmative action recruiting programs at all
colleges in Texas." McNamara warned darkly: "Administrators
promise an investigation, and until the findings are known, Professor
Lino Graglia remains 'professor non grata.'"
Weekly Standard noted Graglia's remarks matched what UT official Mark
Gergen wrote in a 1989 memo: "It is impossible to make meaningful
distinctions between Black and MA [Mexican- American] applicants
without some sort of quota as a reference, for compared to our Anglo
applicants, virtually none would get in. In prior years I could
rationalize what I did as admitting all who had a decent chance of
succeeding in law school. Experience proves many of those I voted for
could not compete."
3) With VP Al
Gore scheduled to arrive in Kyoto on Monday for the global warming
summit, a new study from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP) provides
a very timely look at how the networks have skewed coverage over the
past five years. FMP Director Tim Lamer reviewed ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC
evening show stories on global warming aired from 1993 through
October, 1997. Here's the overview from the Special Report, titled
"FACTS FROZEN OUT: Network News and Global Warming."
a Gallup Poll, only 19 percent of the members of the American
Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union think that
the climate change of the 20th century has been a result of greenhouse
gas emissions. This is news to network reporters. A study from the
MRC's Free Market Project demonstrates that over the past five years
reporters have presented a highly distorted picture of the global
warming debate. Specifically, researchers found:
Thirty-nine of the 48 network evening news stories during the study
period simply assumed that science supports global warming theories.
Only seven stories mentioned that climate scientists are skeptical of
claims that humans are changing the earth's temperature.
2) Of the
seven stories which did mention that scientists are skeptical of
global warming theories, only two brought up the actual arguments of
skeptical scientists. (There were two stories during the study period
that neither assumed climate change nor brought up arguments against
3) Only two
of the 48 stories pointed out that some scientists believe global
warming, if it did occur, would be a boon to human health and
well-being. The other 46 stories assumed global warming would be
4) Only 10 of
the 85 soundbite sources reporters interviewed opposed policies aimed
at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, while 60 soundbite sources
supported such policies. Fifteen sources were neutral.
In order for
their stories to be balanced, reporters must present the arguments of
the many climate scientists who are skeptical of claims that humans
are disastrously warming the planet. So far, such scientists have
rarely been heard from on the evening news.
Developer Joe Alfonsi has posted the full report, with many examples
of bias and references to facts skipped or distorted, at the top of
the MRC's home page. The direct address: http://archive.mrc.org/SpecialReports/1997/frozen.asp