Stop the "Madness" of Starr's Probe; Embracing Gore's Global Warming Jihad
1) CBS and NBC skipped
Monicagate Monday night. Subpoenaing Harry Thomason will "have a
chilling effect," ABC warned. CNN asserted the White House has
rejected spreading dirt about Lewinsky.
2) Woodward and Bernstein
dismissed the Starr probe for revolving around "a dress" and
demanded an end to "the national madness" over Clinton's sex
3) CNN's Bruce Morton argued
that common sense is "taking a beating" as courts side with
Starr against the national interest.
4) ABC and CNN jumped on Al
Gore's claim that July was the hottest month ever. ABC warned of a rise
in infectious diseases; CNN insisted "most" scientists agree
with Gore. Facts show otherwise.
The CBS and NBC evening shows went Monicagate-free Monday night as every
network began with multiple stories on the aftermath of the embassy
bombings. ABC, CBS and CNN picked up on Al Gore's claim that July was
the hottest month ever, but though only CNN ran a soundbite from Gore both
CNN and ABC delivered stories pushing his global warming theory despite
evidence July actually was not the hottest month ever. More on the global
warming stories in item #4 below.
ABC featured a
story on Hollywood producer Harry Thomason being subpoenaed by Starr and
how Starr has come across a discrepancy in Secret Service testimony. CNN
devoted full stories to how aides are encouraging Clinton to pull out of
his deal to testify and the role Thomason has played. While CNN's Wolf
Blitzer emphasized how Clinton aides had rejected the notion of spreading
dirt about Lewinsky, FNC's David Shuster asserted that Clinton lawyer
David Kendall is gathering it.
Here are some
highlights of Monday night, August 10 Monicagate coverage:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Jackie Judd began by reporting that Harry Thomason, the man
behind the "that women" damage control statement, had been
subpoenaed to appear as soon as Tuesday. Judd suggested: "That could
have a chilling effect on any plans to have Thomason help the President
prepare for his testimony next Monday, because it serves to remind
Thomason he could always be brought back again and questioned about such
conversations with Mr. Clinton."
After noting that the Arkansas federal judge had
given Kendall approval to review the video of Clinton in the Jones
deposition so he could see the President's body language and suggest
changes, Judd relayed this unique item:
"On another front, sources tell ABC News
that Starr is faced with a significant discrepancy in what two Secret
Service officers told government lawyers. One says the other officer told
him he saw Mr. Clinton and Lewinsky in a compromising position. But
sources say the officer never admitted to that alleged eyewitness account.
Now Starr wants to know whether the officer ever told the story to Justice
Departments lawyers who had first interviewed him."
-- CNN's The World Today. Wolf Blitzer
highlighted how Clinton will not pull out of testifying though he's been
urged to by top advisers who suggested he could use the bombings as an
excuse. Blitzer added:
"Presidential aides are also rejecting, for
now, two other strategic moves proposed by some outside supporters: Start
releasing the so-called dirt they've collected on Lewinsky, to undermine
her credibility, and warn Republicans on Capitol Hill that their sex lives
also will be fair game if they go after the President's."
Next, Bob Franken
explored the role of Harry Thomason, explaining his importance: "For
more than a month, right after the Monica Lewinsky matter erupted in
January, Harry Thomason moved into the White House. Now, sources familiar
with Ken Starr's investigation say the independent counsel has subpoenaed
Thomason to find out just what he did while he was there. According to
White House insiders, one thing he did was coach the President on how to
clench his jaw while delivering his strongest denial."
Clinton in January: "I did not have sexual
relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
Franken: "Thomason feels the President
actually flubbed one of the lines. The President wasn't supposed to refer
to Lewinsky as that woman...."
Showing that Brill's Content isn't the only
magazine article causing legal trouble, Franken found: "Sources have
told CNN that Thomason can thank a July New Yorker magazine article about
the Monica Lewinsky image-managing machine for his grand jury appearance.
Apparently it raised a number of questions for prosecutors: did he have
any telling conversations with his old friend, the President, some
reportedly in the wee hours of the morning walking the grounds of the
White House? And did any of the advice he batted back and forth with other
top Clinton hands cross the line into lawbreaking?"
-- FNC's Fox Report. David Shuster asserted
that Starr is preparing an impeachment report for Congress that looks only
at charges "stemming from the Paula Jones lawsuit." The
Whitewater investigation is not as far along, partly because of Susan
McDougal, and Starr will report to the three-judge panel separately on
filegate and the travel office, Shuster claimed. He concluded:
"Meanwhile, the President's personal attorney is collecting
information that could harm Monica Lewinsky's credibility."
Some veteran Washington media players just want the whole Lewinsky story
to go away, the sooner the better, as they see it not as a matter of
perjury and other criminal violations but just of sex.
Sunday's Meet the Press, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate
fame, insisted Starr's probe is not nearly as important as what they
uncovered during Watergate. A citation Monday by Washington Times
"Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce reminded me to retrieve
these statements, which are run below in fuller form.
Woodward, who is
still a Post reporter, dismissively asserted: "Monica Lewinsky is
allegedly the chief accuser of Clinton. If you go back to Watergate, it
was John Dean, the White House counsel, and when Dean left the White
House, he spirited away evidence. And if you go back to what that evidence
was, they were top-secret documents in which President Nixon essentially
said, 'We're going to use the FBI and the CIA to break into people's
homes and offices, wiretap and open their mail.' In other words, he
authorized a police state. Now, 25 years later, the issue turns on not
something of that magnitude, but a dress."
who I think is now in the free-lance world, agreed: "This is about
the private consensual sexual life of the President. Watergate, as Bob
notes, was about a vast and pervasive abuse of power by, really, a
criminal President of the United States, who ordered break-ins, who
ordered fire bombings, who ordered illegal wiretappings, who took the
agencies of government and used them for his own political purposes and
then who tried to thwart the electoral process itself through illegal
means. I mean, there's just no proportionality here."
added: "I think there are thoughtful people, and, hopefully, the
President is the most thoughtful of these people who if, indeed, he has
been less than truthful, that he, through his lawyers, will look to find a
way to come up with some kind of statement of the facts in some kind of
very basic way and, perhaps, talk to the country, I don't know, but move
back from this idea of a legal confrontation involving the presidency of
the United States over a consensual sexual affair. I mean, I think in 10,
20, 30 years, people are going to look back on this episode as, perhaps, a
kind of national madness."
Meet the Press was not the only Sunday show used as a platform to denounce
the legitimacy of Starr's subject matter. In his "Last Word"
segment for CNN's Late Edition of August 9 Bruce Morton argued that
"common sense may be taking a beating" as the courts side with
Starr's efforts to learn what really happened.
"The judges, from the Supreme Court on down, presumably got the law
right, but common sense may be taking a beating. For instance, okay,
there's no legal reason Secret Service agents shouldn't testify about the
Presidents they guard, but it's a bad idea. Presidents get investigated
these days -- Jimmy Carter over farm holdings; Ronald Reagan over
Iran-Contra; now Clinton. And if his successors think the agents are also
spies, they'll keep those agents at a distance."
Next, Morton used
language right out of the anti-Starr handbook: "Investigators asking
bookstores what we read is presumably legal, but it's ugly. Exploring
whether a Monica Lewinsky might wear a wire when talking to a President is
ugly. And bright young people aren't going to want to work at the White
House if they think they'll have to hire expensive lawyers as a routine
part of the job."
But they'll only
have to if the boss gets involved in a scandal and then uses every legal
maneuver to avoid telling the truth. As for books, Starr was just trying
to match up events Lewinsky recounted to Tripp, such as buying a
particular product, with store records.
his diatribe: "But worst of all, maybe, was the Supreme Court ruling
-- legal, of course -- that sure, a President could handle a civil suit --
Paula Jones' -- and not be distracted from his job. All of the Lewinsky
stuff, of course, grew out of Jones' suit. And if you think that hasn't
distracted the White House, the President, his staff, you just haven't
been watching lately...."
Of course, he
could have settled and avoided the whole thing.
by echoing the thoughts expressed hours earlier on Meet the Press:
"And one other effect: this isn't about politics and government, as
Watergate was. This is about sex, lies and audiotape. It has lowered the
tone of this place. Reporters don't like writing this stuff. Many of us
long for a little good, old-fashioned graft and crookedness."
Like the campaign
finance scandal the networks are largely ignoring?
"July Was World's Hottest Month on Record: High Temperatures Fuel
Global Warming Debate," announced an August 10 Washington Post
headline. As usual, the networks delivered plenty of heat but no debate.
Al Gore held
another press event Monday to push his global warming theory and, as
always, a couple of networks jumped. When Gore held an event back on July
14 to blame hot weather in the summer on global warming caused by man, ABC
and NBC ran ominous stories backing up Gore's warning. (See the July 15
Or August MediaNomics: http://www.mediaresearch.org/fmp/medianomics/1998/199808pg1.html)
CBS, CNN and NBC all presented one-sided stories
back on the April 22 evening shows.
Monday night NBC
did not air another piece and CBS displayed the most restraint. ABC
focused on how global warming will encourage disease and while CNN
pretended to be balanced its reporter came down on Gore's side. Here are
some excerpts from each, followed by some Reality Checks.
-- Dan Rather
declared on the August 10 CBS Evening News:
"Measurements by U.S. climate experts
confirmed it today. Worldwide July was the hottest month ever on record.
Once more, it was the seventh month in a row that global temperatures hit
an all time high. Researchers suspect an El Nino connection not only in
the global heat, they also traced El Nino to changes in disease patterns
Rather noted an increase in the Hantavirus in the
Rockies, Malaria in Africa, and cholera on three continents.
REALITY CHECK on the hottest July, as asserted by ABC, CBS, CNN
and The Washington Post. As pointed out in an August 10 "Issue
Highlight" from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (http://www.cei.org):
"The numbers that Gore's camp keep
pointing to are derived from ground-based thermometers in various
locations around the world. These thermometers, however, cover at most 18
percent of the earth's surface. They are extremely localized and many
are subject to the heat fluctuations created by large cities.
Satellite-based climate studies, however, which are able to survey the
entire globe, have shown no warming trend over the last 20 years."
A bulletin last
week from the National Center for Public Policy Research pointed out:
"The heat waves in the south and west are not particularly unusual,
nor have the high temperatures this year been record-breaking. Los Angeles
hit 109° on July 12, 1891, ten degrees warmer than this year's high;
Little Rock broke 112° in July 1986, eleven degrees warmer than this
year's top temperature; and Death Valley hit 134° on July 10, 1913, five
degrees warmer than this year's high." To read the entire report, go
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charlie
Gibson asserted as beyond debate: "You may have already sensed it,
but this past July was the hottest month ever, at least since reliable
record keeping began more than 100 years ago..."
Gibson attributed part of the warming to El Nino
which heated the oceans and impacted the amount of rainfall and that, a
government report stated, has led to outbreaks in diseases around the
world. Suggested Gibson: "So, El Nino may be providing scientists
with a laboratory of the effects of global warming."
environmental advocate/ABC reporter Ned Potter then illustrated how more
rain in New Mexico brought more vegetation which led to more deer mice
which spread more cases of the deadly Hantavirus to humans. In other parts
of the world moisture created more mosquitos to spread malaria, Potter
insisted, and more rainfall led to more cholera. And, Potter added,
drought in Southeast Asia caused fires which led to lung ailments.
Viewers then heard this from Dr. Paul Epstein of
the Harvard Medical School: "We have seen many more El Ninos in the
last two decades than in records since the 1800s."
Potter elaborated: "Some scientists, like
Harvard's Paul Epstein, take the issue further. There's plenty of
argument over this but they say we're getting a taste of global warming,
the changes in world weather caused by industrial pollution trapping heat
in the atmosphere. That could bring more heat waves, droughts in some
places, more floods in others with more infectious rodents or insects as a
Epstein: "They are symptomatic that extreme
weather events and warming can give us conditions favorable to population
explosions of these pests and nuisance species."
Potter ominously concluded: "Here in the
U.S. people are mostly protected by modern medicine and sanitation, but
around the world billions of people may be at risk for diseases worsened
by the weather."
CHECK: An article in the November issue of Science magazine, the
journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
begins: "Predictions that global warming will spark epidemics have
little basis, say infectious-disease specialists, who agree that public
health measures will inevitably outweigh effects of climate." The
2,400 word article specifically takes on the claims made by Epstein. The
Science and Environmental Policy Project has posted the article titled
"Global Warming: Apocalypse Not" on their Web site. Go to: http://www.sepp.org/controv/apocnot.html
-- CNN's The World Today. Anchor Jim Moret
intoned: "As anyone in Dallas can tell you the month of July was
unbearably hot. In fact, experts say it was the hottest month ever
recorded on earth."
Then, reporter Sharon Collins played a clip of
Gore claiming "July wasn't just the hottest July on record, it was
the hottest month on record, period."
Collins amplified: "Vice President Al Gore
says the hottest month on record isn't the only reason to worry. From El
Nino rains to lethal tornadoes to drought that dried up Texas and set much
of Florida ablaze -- this year's extreme weather adds to the body of
evidence that climate change is not only real -- it's already here."
In a second soundbite Gore demanded: "At
what point do we face up to the fact that the pollution we're putting into
the atmosphere of the earth, is in fact, thickening that blanket of
Collins then appeared to give time to the other
side: "But hold everything, say some conservatives. Not only is it
too soon to know if climate change is for real; they say the Vice
President's playing politics with the weather report. Critics say Gore
wants to win Senate approval of last year's Kyoto, Japan agreement which
limits emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, and they say he's also
preparing for a White House run in two years."
Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise
Institute got a few seconds to explain how Al Gore is anti-industry and is
in the pocket of the environmental lobby, but Collins failed to offer
counter scientific information. Instead, she portrayed Gore opponents as
self-interested: "Those positions also draw industrial strength
opposition. The oil and coal industries bankrolled a multi-million dollar
campaign to throw cold water on predictions of a warming earth."
As for balance, Collins didn't bother. She came
down decisively on Gore's side, maintaining the science is on his side
and then bemoaning how Senators are not:
"Most climate scientists agree with Al
Gore's general assessment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
a worldwide gathering of more than 2,000 climate scientists, says we can
expect the earth to warm by up to six degrees Fahrenheit in the next
century. That would affect crops and human health and cause sea levels to
rise by as much as three feet. They say human activity bears at least some
of the blame. But even if scientists tend to side with the Vice President,
the Senate does not. Few believe there's much chance of the Senate acting
on the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty anytime soon, leaving Al Gore and his
opponents accusing each other of being major emitters of political hot
CHECK: As noted in a May 4 MediaWatch article about how 15,000
scientists signed a petition contending there is no link between
"greenhouse gasses" and warming: Frederick Seitz, a past
President of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a statement urging
rejection of the Kyoto treaty: "The proposed limits on greenhouse
gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and
technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind." Seitz
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 complete fabrication."
To read the
petition and see who signed it, go to: http://www.sepp.org/pressrel/petition.html
availability of information on both sides of the argument, the one-sided
reporting on this issue shows that network reporters, producers and
executives are putting their personal political views ahead of
journalistic professionalism. -- Brent Baker
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