Perry Smith Denounced Turner & Arnett; ABC Castigates Itself on Global Warming
1) All but ABC Tuesday night
covered Harry Thomason's grand jury appearance; CNN's Bruce Morton
observed that "Clinton expresses regret well for things he wasn't
involved in," but not those he was.
2) Perry Smith, the CNN
military affairs analyst who quit over the false nerve gas story, thinks
Floyd Abrams was wrong in blaming the fiasco on "honest
mistakes" and complained that Ted Turner, who "did major
damage," never placed promised phone calls to apologize.
3) Time online joins Gore's
global warming crusade. An ABC reporter corrected Ned Potter, putting
science before politics.
The August 11 CyberAlert stated that Carl Bernstein is a free-lance
reporter. As the MRC's Tim Graham and Jessica Anderson reminded me,
he's also a consultant to CBS News who appears on CBS's morning shows
to analyze the Starr case. He made the same points about Starr's probe
on the August 2 Sunday Morning as he did on Sunday's Meet the Press.
The five evening newscasts led with four different stories Tuesday night
and all but ABC gave at least a few seconds to a Monicagate update.
ABC's World News Tonight opened with the bombing investigation, CBS
began with the sentencing of the Jonesboro school shooters, the stock
market drop topped CNN and NBC while FNC led with the grand jury
appearance by Harry Thomason.
CBS, CNN and FNC
all noted the Thomason appearance, how Clinton lawyer David Kendall
watched the video of Clinton in the Jones deposition and how Hillary
Clinton blamed attacks on her husband on prejudice against Arkansas.
CNN's Bruce Morton noted how "Clinton expresses regret well for
things he wasn't involved in," but does not apologize for his
actions, so Morton suggested it's unlikely he'll apologize next week.
CBS warned that a ban on homosexual marriages by United Methodists will
drive members from the church.
Tuesday night, August 11:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather introduced a report by Scott Pelley by declaring:
"Special prosecutor Ken Starr pushed his investigation of President
Clinton deeper today, into Mr. Clinton's inner circle of friends and
aides, reaching all the way to Hollywood producer Harry Thomason..."
Before getting to the appearance by Thomason,
Pelley reported that Clinton's lawyers are preparing for six hours of
precise questioning and that David Kendall spent much of the day at the
courthouse watching the video of Clinton in the Jones deposition "so
he could gauge Mr. Clinton's credibility and persuasiveness."
united or divided? Later in the show Dan Rather asserted: "The
judicial council of the United Methodist Church issued a new ruling today
against gay marriages, a ruling that may prompt some of the church's
eight and a half million members to quit."
Reporter Cynthia Bowers explained how the church
issued its ruling via the Internet following controversy which erupted
after a Nebraska minister married a lesbian couple. Viewers heard from a
minister who thought the ruling would keep the church from falling apart,
another minister with many gay members who criticized the ruling and a
lesbian who argued it shows they are no longer valued by the church.
Bowers cutely concluded: "And many of them may leave, unable to stay
in a church that won't accept their unions. No one expects a major
split, but not since the days of slavery has a single issue so divided a
church, by name, united."
-- CNN's The World Today ran three stories on
Monicagate and Clinton's day.
Up first, Bob Franken on Thomason: "It
lasted just an hour and a half. A source who was in the grand jury room
said Thomason was asked what you expected: about Thomas's
month-long-plus stint at the White House early on in the Monica Lewinsky
controversy; about advice he shared with other advisers and friends of the
President; about private conversations he had with his old friend Bill
Clinton, which, Thomason testified, shed no particular light on the
Franken added that Clinton lawyer David Kendall
spent the day at the courthouse watching video of the Jones deposition and
that White House lawyer Cheryl Mills also made a grand jury appearance.
Second, John King
checked in from Clinton's fundraising swing in California: "The
President's high-stakes testimony in the Monica Lewinsky investigation is
but six days away, but no signs of stress here, and not exactly risky
Clinton before a crowd: "Safe water for our
children is something all Americans agree on."
Morton examined how "President Clinton expresses regret well for
things he wasn't involved in. This semi-apology for slavery came on his
recent African trip. Or take this apology for the infamous Tuskegee
Experiment, in which blacks with syphilis were left untreated."
After clips of both apologies, Morton asserted:
"But he's never apologized for himself much," illustrating out
how he failed to apologize for Flowers, Whitewater or the travel office
firings. Concluded Morton: "Washington pundits have been arguing for
days: should he apologize? If he does, what should he say? And so on. But
the President's history suggests an apology is unlikely. He is more likely
to talk to the grand jury, and move on."
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report led with David
Shuster's update from Monica Beach in front of the federal courthouse.
He ran through the day's activities: Thomason, who had coached Clinton
on his "that woman" denial, testified for 90 minutes and denied
that Clinton had confided anything to him; Cheryl Mills of the White House
counsel's office, who is close to Bruce Lindsey, also testified; Kendall
reviewed the video of the Jones deposition; and how Hillary Clinton blamed
attacks on prejudice against Arkansas.
-- NBC Nightly News. During the "Hot
Spots" segment Tom Brokaw took 16 seconds to update viewers about
Thomason, making NBC the only network to not air a full story on
Monicagate either Monday or Tuesday night. Brokaw announced:
"In Washington President Clinton's long
time friend, Hollywood producer Harry Thomason, testified before the
Lewinsky grand jury. Sources tell NBC that he was asked if the President
confided in him. He said no, that he's always believed the President is
telling the truth about his relationship with Lewinsky."
CNN's former military analyst, retired Air Force Major General Perry
Smith, appeared Monday night on the Late Late Show with Tom Snyder and
issued what I think are his first public comments since he quit CNN in
mid-June. About a week after the NewsStand: CNN & Time story on
Operation Tailwind initially aired he quit in protest when CNN refused to
retract the story. (See the June 18 CyberAlert for details on his
departure back when CNN was standing by its story about how U.S. forces
used nerve gas in Vietnam to kill U.S. defectors.)
The hook for his
appearance was the publication of a new book by Perry, so you may now see
him frequently as he begins a book tour. But Snyder and Smith never
discussed his book, Rules and Tools for Leaders: A Down-to-Earth Guide to
Effective Managing, sticking instead to CNN and Saddam Hussein. Once you
see his picture (up today on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Web Manager
Sean Henry and the MRC's Snappy snapper Bonnie Goff), you'll recall
Perry from his days on CNN during the Persian Gulf War.
Perry told Snyder
he warned CNN Chairman Tom Johnson that CNN was "about to make a big
mistake;" that CNN producers didn't believe him because he was too
close to the Pentagon; that CNN's military access has been hurt; that
Floyd Abrams, the lawyer brought in who wrote a big report on how the
story was wrong, was wrong himself in attributing the fiasco to
"honest mistakes;" that Peter Arnett was more involved than he
maintains and lied about it; and that Ted Turner, who "did major
damage" to those involved in Operation Tailwind, never placed
promised calls to apologize.
Here are his most
interesting comments from his August 10 appearance on CBS's Late Late
Show With Tom Snyder, as transcribed by MRC intern Carrie Hale in one of
her last duties before abandoning us in a few days to return to college:
Journalism Ever: "They just didn't have the story right, and they
should never have gone on camera. It was the biggest mistake in the
history of CNN, and it's the worst piece of television journalism in the
history of American television journalism. It's that bad."
-- Tried to Warn
CNN Chairman Tom Johnson: "He was brought in toward the end, and he
had some serious reservations about it. And he wanted to check with me,
but he was talked out of it. There was a fear on the part of the producers
that I would screw up the story in one way or another, so he decided he
that would go with this team because they had been on it for a period of
eight months and they would cut me out of the pattern."
"I heard about the promos and I did a little
checking ahead of time and finally on Sunday afternoon, just before the
show went on, I called him, he was in California at the time driving to
Santa Barbara, and I said 'Tom, I don't know much about this story but
it sounds terribly wrong to me and I think you're about ready to make a
big mistake,' but by that time the story was really moving and they had
all the promos out so they went ahead and ran the story."
-- Perry Not
Trusted Because of Ties to Pentagon: "About a year ago they ran a
story about area 51, a secret base in northern Nevada. We used it for many
years to test our very secret programs like our stealth fighter in its
early stages. And they ran a story that was really way off base. I
complained very strongly to Tom Johnson on the 7th of July last year that
it was a really bad story. And as a result of that a number of producers
thought that I was maybe too close to the Pentagon and therefore could not
Military Access Hurt: "I talked to Jamie McIntyre today, who is a
correspondent for CNN in the Pentagon. He says already a number of people
are being very cold toward him and not giving the information he needs. So
there will be a lack of trust for a while where people will say, 'I'm
not going to give this to CNN, because they may turn it into another
Tailwind.' So the access that CNN had to the military through Jamie and
through me and through others is very seriously diminished. It probably
will be years before it's repaired."
-- Floyd Abrams
Report Wrong in Insisting Producers Only Made Honest Mistakes: "I
have problems with the Abrams report, not in its conclusion and that was
the story was wrong, but in the early part of his report, and I just read
it again tonight, he indicates that these people who put the story
together were very honest journalists who just made a number of mistakes,
when in fact they had been told by dozens of people who were knowledgeable
that story was dead wrong. And I think he was much too kind. I think he
was protecting CNN in the early part of that report."
-- Peter Arnett
More Involved Than Claimed and He Lied to Johnson: "Peter Arnett was
a respected journalist in the sense that he won a Pulitzer Prize and was
in Vietnam for ten years. He should have known better from day one. He had
visited most of those bases. He knew there was no nerve gas in theater,
yet he reported it. Now he said he didn't do anything but read the
script, and that is just flat wrong. He interviewed three of the key
players, and when you do an interview and prepare for an interview and do
follow-up as you are doing with me, Tom, you have got to be prepared as
you have been. And so he was into that story big time and he lied about
that to the CEO of, Tom Johnson of CNN, and a lot of other people. There
are a lot of people at CNN who are very angry that Peter Arnett is still
in the employ of CNN."
-- Ted Turner Did
Major Damage But Never Called to Apologize: "Ted Turner was set up to
apologize to all the people on the ground. They were all waiting for the
phone call a couple of Tuesdays ago, and he never called any of them. And
so even in that area they have done very poorly."
"He [Turner] did major damage to those
folks. He said it was the worst experience in his life. The least he could
do was personally apologize to people who were involved in that mission.
He has not done that. He's done it by letter, a pro-forma xeroxed type
letter, but he has not done it anymore than that, so I have to fault Ted
Turner on this also."
-- Cannot Work for
CNN Again: "I was not trusted before this show. I was not trusted
afterward when I told them it was wrong. So I could never go back. I
can't work for an organization that's not willing to trust me."
I bet now they
wish they had trusted Smith.
Another media outlet endorsed Gore's link between high temperatures and
global warming, but it's really just a localized pattern caused by El
Nino. And an ABC News reporter Tuesday morning denounced the political
hype tying the current heat wave to global warming -- just what ABC News
did Monday night.
Air-Conditioned Nightmare: It's hotter than ever, and that's good news for
the Veep," announced a crusading headline over an August 10 Time
Daily (www.time.com) story caught by the MRC's Clay Waters. Time
magazine online reporter Chris Taylor asserted:
"July 1998 didn't just feel like the hottest
month the world has known since records have been kept; it really was. New
data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association puts the
average global temperature at 61.7 degrees (not all that hot, but remember
this includes Antarctica), which is half a degree higher than anything
we've ever seen."
After noting how
Gore used the NOAA numbers to advocate government action against global
warming, Taylor urged the Senate to fall in line: "There's more than
just the Veep's enviro-mania and the 'gee, isn't it hot' factor at
work here. Higher temperatures are cited as evidence of global warming,
which equals a good reason for the Senate to pass the meager emissions-cut
treaty hammered out -- with Gore's help -- at Kyoto."
+++ REALITY CHECK. From
Candace Crandall of the Science and Environmental Policy Project:
"Vice President Albert Gore took to the
podium again on August 10 to announce -- again -- the hottest month in the
history of the Earth. Actually, most scientists haven't had a chance to
examine Gore's July data yet, but last month his claim that June was the
hottest ever fell somewhat flat. Dr. John Christy of the Earth System
Science Laboratory, University of Alabama, Huntsville, took a look at the
June temperatures in the United States. It turned out that, despite the
heat wave in Texas, June was COOLER than average, as many people across
the country have noticed. Summer temperatures here in Washington, D.C.,
were typical. According to Bob Ryan, local NBC weathercaster and former
President of the American Meteorological Society, D.C. temps are running 2
degrees F cooler than average for this time of year....
satellite data show, the warmer temperatures are virtually all in the
tropics, between 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude,
or roughly between San Antonio, Texas, and Santiago, Chile. If the Earth
were experiencing greenhouse warming, as the computer models forecast, the
tropical temperatures would remain relatively steady and most of the
warming would be at the higher latitudes, such as over D.C. Warmer
temperatures in the tropics point to the waning effects of the recent El
To read more the
SEPP analysis posted on August 11, go to: http://www.sepp.org/weekwas/1998/aug3_9.html
Monday's World News Tonight, as highlighted in the August 11 CyberAlert,
ABC's Ned Potter focused on scientists who "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."
Good Morning America co-host Kevin Newman delivered the same line about
the heat wave: "Scientists are blaming the weather phenomenon for new
outbreaks of some very old diseases around the world and some are calling
this a preview of what global warming might do to the entire planet."
But GMA viewers
soon heard a more circumspect analysis that put science before liberal
political advocacy. GMA science editor Michael Guillen explained to Newman
that global warming is over-hyped, explaining that the Earth works in
cycles: "We were in an ice age not so long ago. And what we've been
doing for the last 10,000 years, if you take a really big picture, is
warming up since then, rebounding from that ice age, so this might just be
part of that."
of doom on 120 years of temperature records (as NOAA, Gore and a compliant
media largely are, I'd note) Guillen suggested, is like monitoring a
person's vital signs for 70 seconds in order to predict their health for
the rest of their lives. Guillen lamented: "Unfortunately there's a
lot of political hype. It's complicated enough scientifically without
adding the politics."
Like ABC News did
Monday night? -- Brent Baker
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