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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday August 11, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 129)

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 life.

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.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) 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."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) 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.

     Appearing on 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."

     Carl Bernstein, 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."

     Later, Bernstein 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."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) 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.

     Morton began: "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.

     Morton continued 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.

     Morton concluded 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?


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)rat2cap.jpg (26289 bytes) "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 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19980715.asp 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 worldwide..."
     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 to: http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA206.html

     -- 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."

     Liberal 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 result."
     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."

     +++ REALITY 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 greenhouse gases."
     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 air."

     +++ REALITY 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

     Given the 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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