Starr's Threat; Going Warm with Gore; Hitting Heston; Gumbel on Slavery
always thought when you talked to your lawyer it was confidential, even
after you die. But not if the independent counsel has his way." So
warned the networks of Starr's threat.
2) Al Gore speaks, CBS, CNN
and NBC jump at his ominous warning about impending "economic
upheaval" from global warming. Only FNC bothered telling viewers not
3) All three morning shows
ambushed Charlton Heston from the left, demanding he make the NRA agree to
more gun restrictions.
4) Americans won't apologize
for slavery, Bryant Gumbel complained, because many "would sooner
forget it ever existed."
Update: The June 8
CyberAlert included an item on how CBS reporter Jim Stewart highlighted
how Charlton Heston's NRA ascendency "comes at a time when the
actor's own politics is under fire. Last December Heston stunned some of
his old friends with a speech filled with bitterness for some
minorities." As noted in CyberAlert, the soundbite appeared out of
context and lifted from a larger sentence. Indeed it was. A helpful reader
guided me to the full speech, which it turns out was Heston's remarks to
the 20th anniversary celebration for the Free Congress Foundation.
Here's the full quote with the portion shown by CBS marked by the **
"Mainstream America is counting on you to
draw your sword and fight for them. These people have precious little time
and resources to battle misguided Cinderella attitudes, **the fringe
propaganda of the homosexual coalition, the feminists who preach that it
is a divine duty for women to hate men, blacks who raise a militant fist
with one hand while they seek preference with the other,** and all the
New-Age apologists for juvenile crime, who see roving gangs as a means of
youthful expression, sex as a means of adolescent merchandising, violence
as a form of entertainment for impressionable minds, and gun bans as a
means to lord-knows-what. We have reached that point in time when our
national social policy originates on Oprah. I say it's time to pull the
plug." To read the entire address, go to: http://www.freecongress.org/anniversary.htm
All the Monday night network evening shows, as well as Nightline, ran full
stories on the independent counsel's office argument before the Supreme
Court that the need of a grand jury to obtain information from a dead
witness in a criminal case outweighs the attorney-client privilege.
Specifically, that Vince Foster's lawyer should reveal what he told him
in a meeting nine days before he killed himself. But while all the stories
provided the arguments from both sides, many painted Ken Starr as a threat
to all of us. And only CBS reporter Scott Pelley took the time to explain
how Starr is pursuing the matter in order to figure out Hillary
Clinton's role in the travel office firings.
(Monday night ABC led with Charlton Heston
winning the NRA presidency, CBS and NBC began with warm temperatures and
global warming, CNN went first with nerve gas use in Vietnam and FNC
topped its show with the Starr case before the Supreme Court.)
-- Forrest Sawyer
opened the June 8 Nightline: "You've always thought when you talked
to your lawyer it was confidential, even after you die. But not if the
independent counsel has his way."
Totenberg's set up piece, Sawyer warned that if Starr wins you lose:
"Once you die, whatever you told your attorney in absolute confidence
suddenly becomes fair game. What you said may hurt your reputation, or
implicate your child in drug abuse or embarrass your family, it doesn't
matter. A prosecutor should, Starr argues, be able to make your lawyer
talk. Whatever the Supreme Court's ruling may mean to Starr's
investigation of the White House, it could profoundly affect how you deal
with your attorney from now on."
If you are
involved in criminal activity.
preposterously concluded: "The justices of the Supreme Court are
overwhelmingly conservative, Republican and might be considered
sympathetic to Starr's position. But they're also lawyers..."
conservative and Republican? Steven Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg are liberals
named by Clinton. Ford may have nominated John Paul Stevens and Bush may
have nominated David Souter, but the term "conservative" does
not apply to them. "Liberal" does. Of the other five, she's
correct about William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, but I
don't think anyone not so far left as Totenberg considers Anthony
Kennedy or Sandra O'Connor particularly conservative.
theme matched a piece aired by the CBS Evening News on Sunday night, June
7. As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, reporter Stephanie
Lambidakis highlighted the larger peril of Starr's position: "For
many terminally ill people, it is one of life's final acts: talking to a
lawyer and feeling safe that their secrets are protected, even in death,
by the attorney-client privilege."
Lambidakis explained: "Now the
attorney-client privilege is facing its biggest challenge yet here at the
Supreme Court. The case has set off alarm bells among lawyers and clients,
the worry that what they discuss in the strictest confidence may one day
be revealed." After offering a quick take on Starr's side,
Lambidakis countered: "But once the door is opened, warns the
American Bar Association, confidence in the legal system will be shaken
-- Monday night,
June 8, CBS delivered a more balanced piece from Scott Pelley. Unlike Tim
O'Brien on ABC, Charles Bierbauer on CNN and Pete Williams on NBC,
Pelley explained the relevance of the notes taken by Foster's lawyer:
"The Foster notes are important because they
may shed light on a 1993 scandal called Travelgate. In an apparent effort
to divert White House business to friends of the Clintons, the long time
travel office staff was accused of fraud and fired. The accusation was
untrue. Investigators were told Mrs. Clinton had nothing to do with the
mess, but later a White House memo on the firings was found. It said in
part, 'There would be Hell to pay...if...we failed to take swift and
decisive action in conformity with the First Lady's wishes.' Starr
believes that Foster knew whether the First Lady was telling the truth to
Right after Pelley
anchor Dan Rather turned to reporter Kristin Jeanette-Myers for what
Starr's case means to everyone else. She cautioned: "But if Starr
prevails, conceivably, anything you've said to your lawyer could be made
public after you die."
-- Only FNC's
7pm ET Fox Report led with the Starr case before the Supreme Court and
while FNC's David Shuster did not offer a reminder like Pelley, he did
observe: "The constitutional arguments ignored of course a key
factual question: What did Vince Foster really say to his lawyer about
possible criminal activity in the White House?"
Al Gore decided to hold a press conference to announce his concern about
global warming, and three networks fell in line. CBS, CNN and NBC on June
8 relayed his dire warnings without any suggestion anyone disagrees. Only
FNC bothered to tell viewers that not all agree with Gore's science.
-- On CNN's The
World Today reporter Ann Kellan declared: "Flooding and the extensive
damage from this winter's El Nino storms, could become more commonplace
according to Vice President Al Gore, who is blaming global warming for
making El Nino worse." She proceeded to run soundbites from Gore and
a NOAA scientist, but had no time for any contrary views.
-- Over on the CBS
Evening News the ominous forecast led the show. Jerry Bowen began:
"Wild fires in tinder dry Mexico, freak ice storms in Maine, the
deluge in California. All El Nino related. And today, says the Clinton
administration, you can add global warming to the list."
Vice President Al Gore: "Every month this
year has delivered new evidence of global warming and El Nino has given us
a picture of what the future may hold if we fail to act."
Bowen explained Gore's contention, reporting
that National Climatic Data Center figures show the first five months of
1998 are two degrees above normal. After a soundbite from NOAA's Tom
Karl, Bowen noted that a computer forecast for the upcoming La Nina
actually predicts colder than normal temperatures this winter.
-- Tom Brokaw
opened the NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. If it seems we're off
to an unusually warm weather start it's not your imagination.
Temperatures are up, a lot. The heat-wave will only continue through the
summer, adding to the concerns about global warming. This is not a
temporary condition. The consequences could be considerable."
Robert Hager contended: "It's the hottest
start of any year ever in the history of weather observations, the
government reporting the findings today blames that partly on El Nino and
partly on the long range trend toward global warming, thanks to
Viewers heard from Tom Karl and Al Gore before
Hager reported that an analysis of tree rings discovered we're now in
the warmest years in 600 years. Warned Hager: "If that continues it
could mean more weather extremes, violent storms and damage, changes in
agriculture, crop patterns, economic upheaval."
Hager then allowed this admonishment from Gore:
"How long does it take before these kinds of results make us sit up
and say hey, wait a minute, this is really something unprecedented?"
Hager continued: "But by next winter we
could be in for a temporary change. The Weather Service predicts today
we'll go to the opposite of an El Nino, an La Nina or cooling of the
Pacific waters." After a professor predicted more tornadoes and
hurricanes, and forest fires in the south, Hager concluded by
simultaneously tagging that as exaggerated while he offered a ominous
warning about the danger of global warming:
"But others say that's overstated and
believe the real long range threat is for more El Nino's, such as
we've just had, and that driven by global warming the worst could be yet
-- Only viewers of
FNC's Fox Report got to learn of another view. Reporter Jane Skinner ran
down Gore's case: the current high temperatures, how El Nino has made
the effects of global warming worse and how it's now the warmest it's
been in 600 years. She ran a soundbite of Gore claiming global warming
could lead to more extreme weather, before offering another perspective:
"Now that he's got your attention, what
Gore wants is for Congress to approve a $6.3 billion plan aimed at
reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses which of course some scientists
say are a cause of global warming. But others say it's all a bunch of
hot air, there's no proof global warming effected El Nino."
Sterling Burnett, National Center for Policy
Analysis: "They haven't been able to sell their global warming
scare story so they try and tie it to a really bad El Nino
Skinner: "Sterling Burnett of the right
leaning National Center for Policy Analysis claims the White House is
simply trying to further its environmental agenda."
Burnett: "It's a scare story and I don't
think the American public's buying it."
Skinner: "The American public may have to
get used to it though. With global warming one of the Vice President's
top priorities, it's likely to remain a fixture in the political
For more how most
scientists don't buy Gore's global warming line, see the April 23
CyberAlert. As noted there, a petition signed by 15,000 scientists
maintained: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human
release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing
or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the
Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate." In fact, a
former National Academy of Science President asserted: "This freely
expressed vote against the warming scare propaganda should be contrasted
with the claimed 'consensus of 2,500 climate scientists' about global
warming. This facile and oft-quoted assertion by the White House is a
Congratulations, Mr. Heston, on your election as President of the NRA.
Now, embrace liberal gun control laws and we'll praise you. If you
don't, we'll disparage you. So, it seemed, the networks decided.
Monday morning Heston made the rounds of the three morning shows and on
each was hit from the left on the irrationality of his opposition to gun
But first, a quick
look at the lead story from Monday's World News Tonight. Reporter
Antonio Mora highlighted how "Heston didn't take long to become a
lightning rod for controversy" as Mora showed a clip of Heston
suggesting there are as many gun collectors and advocates in the Hollywood
closet as there are homosexuals. Next, ABC viewers saw an excerpt from his
convention speech: "America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old
daughters. And we sure Lord don't trust you with our guns."
Mora was unimpressed by Heston's political
leadership: "The message the NRA wants to convey is that what the
country really needs to reduce crime is not tougher gun laws, but tougher
enforcement of criminal laws. Which sounds as if the NRA under Heston will
offer the same message it's always offered."
The morning hosts
ambushed Heston from the left. Here are some examples of how the June 8
shows greeted his victory, as transcribed by MRC analysts Geoffrey
Dickens, Jessica Anderson and Clay Waters:
-- Katie Couric on
NBC's Today. Two of her questions, followed by an exchange in which
Couric offered her idea for a more liberal NRA:
"Speaking of gun safety and children Mr.
Heston, as you well know and in fact as everyone in this country knows
there has been a spate of school shootings recently that have been quite
disturbing to all Americans. Given the fact that these seem to be
happening with greater frequency has it caused you to rethink your
philosophy about children and guns and the accessibility of guns for
"But Mr. Heston, don't you think that if
deep, if children are deeply disturbed, there might be another way for
them to deal with conflict if guns were not so readily available to
to kids and guns, if you will indulge me for a moment. You cannot think of
any other position the NRA could take in terms of trying to decrease the
number of school shootings? You feel like this is not your bailiwick, this
is not your problem?"
Charlton Heston: "Not at all. As I
told you the NRA spends more money, more time..."
Couric, cutting him off: "Other than education."
Heston: "Well what would you suppose? What would you suggest?"
Couric: "I don't know, perhaps greater restrictions."
-- Mark McEwen on
CBS's This Morning:
"Heston takes over at a time when the NRA is
under fire for sticking with its hardline against gun control. Criticism
of the NRA's position has only intensified after the rash of school
shootings in small towns, from Jonesboro, Arkansas to Springfield, Oregon.
Charlton Heston joins us this morning from Philadelphia. Good morning, Mr.
Heston....A new Harris poll shows almost 60 percent of Americans favor
stricter gun control laws. In the wake of recent shootings, of children
shooting children -- in Jonesboro, Arkansas; Pearl, Mississippi; and other
places -- what kind of policy will be looking to be pushing forward as
President of the NRA?"
"But Mr. Heston, a lot of parents are
concerned about the fact that people who aren't adults, let's say
they're under 21, can get guns easily. What about trigger locks, what
about gun locks? The NRA is against both of those."
"There's been a line that's come out of
this convention, that gun control is a threat to our freedom. What do you
mean by that?"
McEwen: "The Bill of Rights was
written over 200 years ago. There weren't semi-automatic weapons out
there. There weren't AK-47s out there. There were people who had
one-shot rifles, one-shot revolvers. What do you say to people who say,
'We're in a different time right now and we are awash in
Heston: "I tell you what, let's
suppose that we said, 'Okay, let's confiscate all privately-held
firearms in the country.' There are about 200 million in private hands,
legally held. Now then, of course, criminals don't buy firearms, they
steal them, that's what they do for a living. What do you do with the
armed criminal then? What do you do?"
McEwen: "Criminals didn't . .
Heston: "No, wait, wait, wait. In this hypothetical situation I've
present, presented, presented to you, what do you do with the armed
McEwen: "That's a good question. Why don't we have discussion,
discussions about that between gun control advocates and the NRA? The NRA,
it seems like, many times when people talk about gun control, the first
thing that they do, and this is what a lot of people have said, is put the
wagons in a circle, so to speak, and do not budge. Why is that?"
-- Lisa McRee on
ABC's Good Morning America:
"Is the NRA in a PR crisis?"
"But how much of a public relations crisis
have the shootings in schools across this country caused for you this
"But Mr. Heston in Jonesboro and other
school shootings children have had access to guns."
"And so guns are not a problem?"
"Mr. Heston is there no room for some
limited gun control laws in this country?"
running out of time but finally, last week former President Reagan press
secretary James Brady, who was of course shot in assassination attempt
sent you an open letter saying, 'Let's have no more of these school
shootings, let's gather together it's time for the NRA to join other
responsible gun owners in seeking to prevent future tragedies,' You have
not answered him yet what will your answer to Mr. Brady be?"
Not a word about
how guns can prevent crime.
Not sure I'll be doing a CyberAlert tomorrow, so before Public Eye with
Bryant Gumbel airs again on CBS on Wednesday night, here's a noteworthy
quote from last week's show to remind you why you are not watching it.
Beginning a June 3 story about Ed Ball, a wealthy Southerner who wrote a
book about coming to terms with "the sins of his family" which
owned slaves, Gumbel insisted:
"The idea of a national apology for slavery
has been floated regularly over the past year, but always shot down, often
by Americans who would sooner forget it ever existed."
At least we
won't have to hear Gumbel's liberal ravings much longer as CBS has
pulled the plug on his soapbox: Public Eye is not on the fall schedule due
to low ratings for the show hosted by the $5 million-a-year man. -- Brent Baker
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