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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday July 15, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 111)

Not a Lot on Lott; Pumping Up Global Warming; Shriver Gushes Over Hillary

1) ABC and NBC skipped Trent Lott's charges about technology transfers to China. Dan Rather again decried Ken Starr's focus on Clinton's "personal life."

2) Heat in the South: "The government says it's all an indication that global warming is real," declared NBC's Bob Hager. Neither he or ABC's Ned Potter bothered with the view of scientists who disagree.

3) All the morning shows skipped the indictment of Pauline Kanchanalak, but Maria Shriver gushed over Hillary Clinton.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Ken Starr's subpoenaing of Secret Service agent Larry Cockrell, head of the President's personal protective detail, was treated as a major "escalation" by CBS, CNN and NBC. It even led the CBS Evening News and CNN's The World Today, but ABC gave it just a sentence. The sighting in North Carolina of abortion clinic bombing suspect Eric Rudolph topped the ABC and NBC evening shows Tuesday night.

     Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on Tuesday delivered a floor speech contending satellite technology was improperly transferred to China and calling for an independent counsel to look into how illegal Chinese money made it into U.S. campaign coffers, but ABC and NBC ignored Lott. CBS, CNN and FNC aired stories, but CBS reporter Bob Schieffer dismissed Lott's charges as unsubstantiated.

     "U.S. Technology Builds 'Bridge' for China Missile," revealed the headline over a front page story in the July 14 Washington Times that no network picked up Tuesday morning or evening. Reporter Bill Gertz disclosed:
     "China's new rocket stage developed for a U.S. satellite contact created a 'technology bridge' that could help the Chinese deploy multiple warheads on strategic missiles, according to a classified Air Force intelligence report.
     "The new Chinese upper-stage booster, called a 'smart dispenser,' was built in 1996 for the Long March 2C/SD rocket as part of a contract with Motorola to handle double satellite launches needed for a new global telephone network, according to a report by the Air Force National Air Intelligence Center.
     "A copy of the report, labeled 'secret,' was obtained by The Washington Times from Pentagon sources. The intelligence center, where the government's top missile specialists work, conducted a detailed study of whether the satellite dispenser could be adapted by the Chinese for a first-generation, three-warhead 'post-boost vehicle' for the CSS-4 and other intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
     "'The overall conclusion of this initial feasibility study shows that a minimally modified smart dispenser could be used to deploy multiple re-entry vehicles' -- nuclear warheads, the December 1996 report states...."


     The heat wave led FNC's Fox Report, but FNC refrained from liberal sermonizing about how the heat is the result of man-made pollution leading to global warming. But not ABC and NBC which both ran stories portraying Al Gore's claim as a uniform scientific consensus. See item #2 today for details.

     Here's how the July 14 evening shows handled the Secret Service and China issues:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings gave a sentence to noting Linda Tripp's fifth day of testimony and devoted 17 seconds to the latest on the Secret Service front:
     "In Washington today the Justice Department has appealed a federal court's decision compelling Secret Service officers who guard the President to testify before the independent counsel Kenneth Starr's grand jury. And the head of the President's security detail has been subpoenaed to testify."

     -- CBS Evening News. What Jennings considered worth a sentence Rather considered ominous and the most important story of the day. "A major escalation tonight of Ken Starr's demand for Secret Service testimony," Rather teased before promising: "And Eye on America, our special investigation into the silence of the frogs. Does their death on a global scale mean humans may face the same fate?"

     Rather opened the broadcast by, for he second night in a row, claiming Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life." Rather breathlessly declared:
     "Good evening. A late-breaking and major escalation tonight of special prosecutor Ken Starr's aggressive push to make the Secret Service tell him what it knows about the President's personal life. Starr is now demanding testimony directly from the head of the President's own security detail."
     Scott Pelley got 48 seconds to explain how seven Secret Service officers were served with subpoenas for appearances before the grand jury on Thursday. One, Larry Cockrell who directs Clinton's detail, Pelley explained, was with Clinton before and after he gave a deposition on Paula Jones.

     On China reporter Bob Schieffer explained that Lott had put together a task force to look at technology transfers. "Well today Lott went to the Senate floor to give what he called an interim report and it sounded serious."
     Lott: "In violation of stated U.S. policy, sensitive technology related to satellite exports has been transferred to China. We know that is the case."
     Schieffer: "But as serious as allegations of illegal aid for China's missile program sounded, even some key Republicans seemed unsure where Lott got his information. The Republican head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had come to no such conclusions yet and politely distanced himself from Lott."
     Senator Richard Shelby: "The Majority Leader is the leader of the Senate and he's entitled to his judgment. He might know information that a lot of us don't know."
     After a clip of Democratic Senator Tom Daschle denouncing Lott, Schieffer noted that Lott wants an independent counsel to investigate donations from China but, Schieffer cautioned in his conclusion, "judging from the initial reaction to his other disclosures Senators may want more information before they join that call."

     -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET led with a live report from Bob Franken on the subpoenas issued to the Secret Service and the Justice Department's decision to appeal the latest court ruling denying there's a protective service privilege. Next, Candy Crowley examined Lott's charges and though she allowed time for Daschle, Senator Bob Kerrey and Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry to denounce Lott, she at least, unlike Schieffer, summarized his charges:
     "The Republican findings, at this point: that sensitive technology was transferred to China, which resulted in military benefit for Beijing; that U.S. export controls were wholly inadequate; and that there is new information, which Lott would not reveal, on charges the Chinese tried to influence U.S. politics."

     -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report featured a story from David Shuster on the Justice Department plan to appeal the Secret Service ruling, though Justice lawyers give their appeal little chance, as well as noting Tripp's fifth appearance and the subpoena issued to top agent Larry Cockrell.
     Next, Carl Cameron ran down the charges issued by Lott and provided reaction from McCurry and the State Department before relaying how Lott wants another independent counsel. Viewers then saw a soundbite from Senator Daschle in what must have been an editing room mix up since Cameron concluded:
     "Kerrey's criticism stings particularly because he is the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee leading the Senate's China investigation. Still, Lott is not backing down and aides say allegations that the Majority Leader in engaged in partisanship where national security is concerned is quote, 'poppycock.'"

     -- NBC Nightly News. Though relaying the same information as every other network, Claire Shipman began her story: "NBC News has learned that for first time Ken Starr is reaching inside the inner circle" of the Secret Service.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) ABC and NBC Tuesday night highlighted liberal Al Gore's warnings about global warming, as if he is an expert worthy of heeding. ABC at least acknowledged disagreement about whether global warming explains the current heat wave and drought in the South, but didn't bother with devoting even one second to any view contrary to the politically-charged line espoused by VP Al Gore.

     World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings announced: "Some of the government's top weather analysts have concluded that this past June was the hottest in recorded history and the first five months of the year were also the hottest. Vice President Gore said today he thinks global warming is a likely culprit, but is it the only explanation? Here's ABC's Ned Potter."

     Potter failed to match Jennings' promise of a look at other possible explanations. Potter began by explaining how normally clouds reflect sunlight back to space, but without clouds things dry out so there's less moisture to make clouds so less heat is reflected away from the Earth. Potter then contended:
     "Many scientists, and some politicians as well, say something larger is happening. They say we are seeing early signs of global warming -- the trapping of heat in the atmosphere caused, in part, by pollution from cars and industry. Even last night's flooding in Tennessee fits the pattern, though it would seem the opposite of Texas drought. At least two people died in eight inches of rain. Scientists say extra heat in the atmosphere makes thunderstorms stronger. And unless patterns change scientists say we will see more extremes, more flood, more drought, more heat."
     Tom Karl of the National Climatic Center predicted higher temperatures more often before Potter concluded his diatribe:
     "Naturally the debate over these predictions is as hot as the actual temperatures, but many Americans say something about the weather is amiss and the question is: how seriously?"

     "Many Americans." Now there's a bit of solid scientific evidence. This is only a news show so why bother with letting viewers know anything about the debate.

     Robert Hager handled the In Depth segment on the July 14 NBC Nightly News, opening: "Worldwide it's been the hottest first half of a year ever recorded, hottest in the 120 years they've kept track."
     After a soundbite from Tom Karl, Hager continued to advocate the liberal argument:
     "The government says it's all an indication that global warming is real and not only brings heat but also brings more heavy rain because of the evaporation of water into the atmosphere which comes back down in storms. The government says today that nine Midwestern states have been the wettest in 70 years, seven Northeastern states wettest in 26 years. Vice President Gore with a warning."
     Al Gore: "The future holds significantly higher temperatures still unless we do something about it."
     Hager: "Gore wants cutbacks in pollution suspected of promoting global heating. Policy aside, scientists who have ways of studying temperatures even before records were kept, had a startling observation today. From tree rings they can estimate conditions centuries ago."
     Tom Karl: "The 1990s are warmer than any decade that we've seen since 1400."
     Hager concluded: "Warmest than since just after the Middle Ages, with hotter to come."    

Really? The George Marshall Institute (www.marshall.org) recently released an analysis putting the current temperatures in better perspective. Some excerpts:
     "A spate of recent newspaper articles about the dangers of global warming followed a report indicating that 1997 was the warmest year since 1400. But why stop at 1400? Because that is just about the farthest back in the recorded past for which this statement is true. Go back just a few hundred years more to the period 1000-1200 AD and you find that the climate was considerably warmer than now. This era is known as the Medieval Warm Period.
     "A 1996 Science article showed that the temperature in around 1000 AD was about 1 degree C warmer than it is today. And a 1994 report in the journal Climate Change shows that this warm period was global in extent....
     "No one knows what caused that warm period in the middle ages. But one thing we do know is that carbon dioxide from cars and fuel burning was not altering global climate in 1000-1200 AD...."

     See the April 23 CyberAlert for details on how 15,000 scientists signed a petition saying there is no evidence human activity is leading to global warming.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Total time on Tuesday's morning shows devoted to the Monday indictment of Pauline Kanchanalak? Zilch. Not a syllable on ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's This Morning or NBC's Today, MRC analysts Clay Waters, Jessica Anderson and Geoffrey Dickens informed me.
     Today, Geoffrey insightfully observed, didn't even bother with a significant exclusive aired the night before in a taped interview on CNBC's Hardball. On the July 13 show Lucianne Goldberg told host Chris Matthews: "It will pan out to be true that the President told Monica he was going to lie in the deposition about the Kathleen Willey incident. That she should lie and subsequently that Linda should lie, I mean Monica is telling Linda to lie. Which is where I think those talking points come in."

     Instead, Tuesday Today viewers were treated to 16 minutes straight with Hillary Clinton at the Thomas Edison Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey. During the segment in the 7:30am half hour to promote the First Lady's National Treasures Tour to raise private sector money to restore landmarks, GE Chairman Jack Welch appeared to announce a $5 million gift to restore an Edison site building.

     Maria Shriver handled the interview for Today and stuck strictly to the issue of landmark restoration. While Today reasonably agreed to avoid other subjects in order to land the live exclusive with a First Lady latched on to a good cause, Shriver delivered at least one overly effusive "question."
     First, Shriver posed some set up questions that allowed Clinton to explain her new cause:
     "Ten different sites over these next four days. Why is this tour so important to you Mrs. Clinton and to us as a country?"
     "The President has asked the government to pony up some money, you've also asked private enterprise. What will happen if people don't step up to save these things?"

     Before walking around the museum so Hillary Clinton could deliver her fun facts about some of the displays, including a phonograph and motion picture camera, Shriver gushed:
     "Now I know you a little bit and I know the way you prepare when you go out to tackle something. So no doubt you probably read everything ever written about Thomas Edison and since we're here in his library what's the most interesting thing you came across in all your reading?"
     Answer: Thomas Edison once uttered "one of the great quotes about hard work," which was, Hillary Clinton offered, "Hard work is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

     To Shriver, Hillary Clinton is 99 percent inspiration. -- Brent Baker

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