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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday March 12, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 45)
"Poster Boy for Betrayal"; CNN Accepted Claim That Gore Created the Internet

1) ABC skipped China for the third night in a row, but NBC aired its second story of the week, focusing on how no one thinks Wen Ho Lee is guilty. Zilch again on Today and Good Morning America.

2) "This is dead serious," NBC's Tim Russert declared of Chinese espionage, but NBC Nightly News has aired only two stories and Today hasn't mentioned it three out of four days this week.

3) One journalist put words into action: CNN's Lou Dobbs anchored the Moneyline NewsHour from Los Alamos.

4) Instead of castigating George Stephanopoulos for failing to reveal what he knew until he got a $3 million book deal, three network pieces so far have scolded him for, as Diane Sawyer told him, being "the poster boy for betrayal" of the Clintons.

5) Geraldo Rivera said he thinks Clinton really loved Lewinsky "for a second" and pumped his fist while proclaiming "Free Susan McDougal."

6) "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," Al Gore preposterously claimed, but that didn't faze CNN's Wolf Blitzer who just kept tossing softball questions.

>>> "Monica and George Are Hot, Not Juanita: Despite Continuing Developments, Networks Stick to Ignoring the Juanita Broaddrick Cloud." The latest Media Reality Check fax report by Tim Graham will be posted on the MRC home page by 10am ET Friday morning by Webmaster Sean Henry. Go to: http://www.mrc.org or http://www.mrc.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990312.html <<<

Clarification: In a March 11 CyberAlert item about the lack of coverage of Chinese espionage Wednesday morning I added: "(I believe GMA conducted an interview Thursday morning, its first. More in the next CyberAlert.)" In fact, my generosity toward ABC was not matched by the program which did not air an interview on China Thursday morning. See item #1 below for more details.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) CBS and FNC didn't forget about Chinese espionage Thursday night, but CNN skipped it after running three stories on Wednesday night, ABC ignored it for the third night in a row and NBC got around to running only its second piece in four weekday evenings this week, though NBC's story focused not on Clinton administration misdeeds in delays in addressing the breach but on how no one thinks Wen Ho Lee is guilty.

     In the morning on Thursday, nothing on NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America offered only a few seconds from the news anchor about how Sandy Berger defended the administration's handling of the matter. CBS's This Morning finally got around to the subject. MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted that the show carried an update on Clinton's trip to Central America in which Bill Plante summarized the story and predicted Clinton would be asked about it at an end of the day press conference. Morning tally so far this week: One full news story on each network (Tuesday for ABC and NBC, Thursday for CBS) and one single interview segment: Sandy Berger on Tuesday's Today.

     Some highlights from the Thursday, March 11 evening show:
     -- ABC's World News Tonight led with a story about a report on Internet scams. The show ended with a look by Aaron Brown at the unbeaten season of the Division 3 basketball team at Connecticut College, an institution of higher learning he described as a "sleepy little school in Northeastern Connecticut." Actually, it's in New London on the ocean, making it Southeastern Connecticut.

     -- CBS Evening News opened with the new uniform label style required for over-the-counter drugs which will supposedly prevent "deadly mistakes."

     From Guatemala Bill Plante played a clip of Clinton denying malfeasance on the nuclear lab espionage and defending the continuation of the current policy toward China. Plante added:
     "Now despite the fact that two years elapsed between the discovery of those stolen secrets and the administration's new security policies, Mr. Clinton says he acted in a timely fashion. He also noted that the secrets were stolen in the 1980s, but CBS News has been told that there were serious acts of espionage during the Clinton administration as well."

     -- FNC's Fox Report began with the Dow's record high and later Brian Wilson highlighted how Richard Shelby said there were also leaks at the Laurence Livermore lab and that the scientific exchange programs are at the root of the problem.

-- NBC Nightly News also started with the soaring Dow. After anchor Brian Williams played a soundbite of Clinton in Guatemala defending his administration's handling of the situation and arguing the spying does not justify changing the relationship with China, Anne Thompson provided the show's first story since Monday. With "Wrong Man?" the on-screen graphic she talked to co-workers and neighbors who defend Wen Ho Lee and don't believe he is a spy. She elaborated: "The doubts expressed here are also being voiced in Washington. Senior law enforcement and intelligence officials tell NBC News neither the CIA nor the FBI is at all sure Lee is the source of the leaks, if there are any leaks at all. And they are a long way from being charges." Thompson did allow the Director of the Los Alamos to defend the firing.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Though NBC's Today has only touched on Chinese espionage on one day this week and Nightly News avoided it on Tuesday and Wednesday, just after the story broke NBC News VP Tim Russert labeled it "dead serious." Explaining why he invited Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Shelby onto Meet the Press, on Monday's Hockenberry on MSNBC he explained, as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake:
     "Paul Redman (sp?), the Nazi spy hunter for the CIA, said that this was worse than Aldrich Ames, and as you said, as bad as the Rosenbergs, bells went off in my head. I said, 'This is dead serious. Why aren't people reacting to it?' Front page on the New York Times on Saturday. I assumed by Sunday the country would be aghast by it and talking about it. And that's why we reached out to Senator Shelby."

     Russert bore in on the importance of the disclosure:
     "This is dead serious. This is the Commander in Chief. This is the President of the United States who is responsible for our national security. And the suggestion is -- when the Clinton administration learned that our national security had been breached, they were inactive and slow off the mark to take corrective steps and probably even the most serious charge, John, is that the then Secretary of Energy ordered the chief man at the Energy Department, who is responsible for security, not to tell Congress what had happened because she did not want Clinton critics to criticize the policy of engagement with China."

     Too bad morning or evening NBC News viewers don't know about this charge, about hiding bad news from Congress, made by sources cited in the New York Times. Neither Monday or Thursday's Nightly News stories or Tuesday's Today piece or interview mentioned the allegation. (There was no Nightly News on Sunday in the east because of NBA basketball.)


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) One network VP this week did make the Chinese espionage a big story on his show. As noted in the March 11 CyberAlert, CNN VP Lou Dobbs anchored Tuesday's Moneyline NewsHour live from Los Alamos. Since the MRC does not normally tape or watch this 6:30pm ET CNN business news show we are indebted to CyberAlert reader Dev Anand of California for bringing it to our attention.

     The transcript of the show available on CNN's Web site (http://www.cnn.com/transcripts/) reveals Dobbs devoted the first half of the show to five stories about the subject plus interviews with Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

     Dobbs opened the show: "Good evening. This is the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is also ground zero in what is arguably the most alarming nuclear espionage scandal in nearly 50 years, certainly since the Rosenbergs. What has been stolen is a sophisticated miniaturized warhead technology. And this is the building, this building behind me -- the administration complex here at the national laboratory -- where the Taiwanese-born Chinese-American worked, who has been fired under suspicion for years of passing on the design of that sophisticated technology. But the growing scandal involves more than one man suspected of betrayal and espionage."

     In the first story of the show Bill Dorman played a soundbite of Al Gore insisting the administration vigorously pursued the security problem, but countered: "But that pursuit was neither immediate nor vigorous. A report by the Government Accounting Office, obtained by CNNfn, laid out security questions surrounding national laboratories long before the Clinton administration took action last year. In September 1997, the GAO wrote in 61-page report, quote 'The risk that classified or sensitive information may be compromised through foreign espionage is real and has been longstanding.' The report goes on to say there have been espionage activities against Department of Energy labs in the 1980s and the 1990s. Details of the incidents remain classified. But even after learning of that history, the Clinton administration was not quick to act...."

     Later in the program reporter Casey Wian examined the close relationship between lab officials and the Chinese government, revealing: "In fact, documents show Los Alamos officials took 11 trips to China in 1995 and 1996. Several took place during the time when then Energy Secretary Federico Pena assured Congress there were no ongoing discussions about nuclear weapons matters."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) George Stephanopoulos, it could be argued, disingenuously defended Clinton while on the White House staff and on the air for ABC, failing to inform ABC viewers of what he knew were lies by Clinton. Not until given $3 million by a book publisher did he come clean on how Bill Clinton regularly threw child-like temper-tantrums and Hillary Clinton cried in meetings, or how he knew he was forwarding to the public false information and denials and had concluded Clinton should not have been elected President. As Howard Kurtz summarized in the March 11 Washington Post:
     "On Gennifer Flowers, on the draft controversy, on Whitewater, on Paula Jones, Stephanopoulos came to doubt what he was paid to tell reporters, but kept quiet about those doubts until now."

     So, in interviewing Stephanopoulos about his new book, All Too Human, have the media taken Stephanopoulos to task for not delivering this information and these assessments while being paid several hundred thousand dollars a year by ABC News? Are reporters angry at his admissions that he deliberately misled them while he worked for Clinton? Or, are reporters at least staying neutral and just passing along his inside info on the Clintons as they did when Don Regan dished on the Reagans?

     Some of the latter, but more none of the above. Instead, three network pieces so far have castigated Stephanopoulos for how the book, as Diane Sawyer told him, "made you the poster boy for betrayal." ABC's Charles Gibson demanded he respond to the charge of disloyalty. NBC worried he wrote a book that's "too honest." Check out the approach taken by Today on Wednesday, 20/20 Wednesday night and GMA on Thursday morning:

     -- March 10 Today. Ann Curry introduced a story from David Bloom: "There's a new book out this week detailing one former White House loyalist's change of heart. It's a brutally honest account. Some say, too honest."
     Bloom relayed how Stephanopoulos now concedes he didn't believe Clinton on Lewinsky and in Newsweek said "if I knew everything then that I know now of course I wouldn't have worked for him." After showing 1992 video from the War Room movie of Stephanopoulos threatening a Perot worker out of releasing a list of Clinton girlfriends, Bloom warned:
     "Now it is Stephanopoulos accused by some of disloyalty and betrayal."
     Jack Valenti, former Johnson aide: "Inherent in every conversation or every meeting with the President is an unspoken belief that what you hear and what you see and what you feel is locked in your breast."
     Bloom: "Where does he come off ratting on the President asked one former Clinton adviser. James Carville adds he's my friend but he said some things I wouldn't have said."
     Paul Begala: "Part of being loyal is sticking by your friends when they do something you disagree with. And you know I stuck by the President when he made mistakes and I'm going to stick by George even though I think that this book is a mistake."
     Bloom: "In the eyes of the President's defenders, some would say apologists, All Too Human is simply all too candid. For example, Stephanopoulos writes that his first impression of Clinton was of an overgrown boy. He describes the President's White House temper tantrums as a 'physical force, like a tornado,' compared to the First Lady's quote 'calculated chill that would descend over time.'..."
     Bloom concluded my noting how Stephanopoulos feels the Clintons betrayed him.

     -- ABC's 20/20, March 10. Diane Sawyer introduced her interview: "Since so many former members of the White House team have criticized Clinton, you have to ask this question: Do aides have a duty to remain loyal to the President? Does the answer change based on his loyalty to them?"
     During the interview Stephanopoulos got opportunities to praise as well as criticize Clinton. At one point Sawyer highlighted White House criticism of him for inadequately defending Clinton on ABC when the Lewinsky story broke: "Something in Stephanopoulos snapped. On TV, he seemed to be leading the attack against Clinton. The White House branded him a turncoat, betrayer."

     Stephanopoulos explained why he didn't automatically defend Clinton on ABC in January 1998: "You know, for six years, I had been his character witness. And after all this, I felt like a dupe."
     Sawyer scolded him: "But as you write, it made you the poster boy for betrayal."
     Stephanopoulos: "And you know, and I'm sorry about that, and I didn't want that to happen."
     Sawyer: "You are the first person to mention impeachment."

     When Stephanopoulos explained that all he said was that if the charges were true Clinton could be impeached, Sawyer retorted: "The word 'impeachment' is a hand grenade."
     Stephanopoulos: "In retrospect, I didn't know when I was saying it that it was going to be a signal."
     Sawyer: "People have said, this guy gave him his career, and when the chips are down, instead of saying, I can't talk about this, he joins the enemy....What about silence out of respect for what you were to him and he was to you?"

     Better to protect the liar than reveal the lies?

     -- ABC's Good Morning America, March 11. The show devoted two lengthy segments before and after the 7:30am news to Stephanopoulos and there's too much to adequately summarize. Co-hosts Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer began by asking Stephanopoulos "Should Bill Clinton have been elected President?" Stephanopoulos replied: "Well, he's done so much good, and this is a tough question to answer straight, and that's why you keep asking it. He's done so much good, but knowing everything we know over the last year, and seeing the recklessness that the President was able to engage in after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, I think if people knew that, no he wouldn't have been elected and he probably shouldn't have been elected."

     The hosts opened the 7:30am segment by asking about the FNC/New York Post story that the Clintons are fighting, but soon pressed him repeatedly about his supposed disloyalty, as transcribed at length by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson.
     Gibson: "George, let me ask you about writing this book, because when you go into the White House to serve a President, there has to be a sense, on his part, that he can be absolutely frank with you, that discussions here, no holds barred, and you write a book before the end of his presidency, and you tell some, I mean, there's disarray in the White House, you tell some very personal stories. Are you being disloyal?"
     Stephanopoulos: "I don't think so. I mean, I can understand why people who, if you have that kind of absolutist position, books should not be written, you know, I'm not probably going to persuade anybody on that point, but there's also a pretty long history of books being written. There were four written in the Reagan White House. I think the test is the book itself, and is the book honest and fair and balanced?....

     Sawyer: "But are you really saying that never once in your room alone at night, did you say to yourself, am I doing the right thing while he's in office, making money on a book with what was basically happening? Did you have a contract of some sort of loyalty while you were there?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Sure, and I think I fulfilled that contract. I, and I'm not saying I don't struggle with it. I think it is a fair question, Diane, but I think I served him loyally and well, and I don't think that by writing an honest book that is honest in all aspects, I am walking away from that. Now at the same time you have to look at things in context, as well. Over the last year, a lot of people who worked for the President were put in the position of seeing him break the contract."
     Sawyer: "Yes, but I understand it's honest for you, but it's hurtful for them. I mean, you are hurting people you were once close to."

     Attention early risers and readers: Stephanopoulos will appear on Friday's Today and This Morning.


geraldo0312.jpg (9759 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Wednesday night Geraldo Rivera offered how he thinks Clinton really loved Lewinsky "for a second," asked a guest to rate the relative evil of Goldberg, Tripp and Starr, and pumped his fist while proclaiming "Free Susan McDougal."

     Some CyberAlert readers have complained that Rivera isn't a real journalist so should not be chronicled in CyberAlerts. Well, check Friday's NBC network schedule: As part of his deal with NBC News, at 9pm ET/PT; 8pm CT/MT NBC will carry a one-hour special hosted and produced by Rivera on the evils of how the mentally ill are dealt with in the U.S.

     Now back to Geraldo's wackiness on the March 10 Rivera live on CNBC as caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

     -- "See, I believe, and you know I love the President, obviously. Anyway. But I think the President really did love her for a time. Maybe it was only a minute. Maybe, you know, and I know that he gave Leaves of Grass, whatever the Hell it's called to other people. But I think he did for a second there love."

     Well, for at least as many seconds as it took him to...

     -- "Dante in the Inferno, Andrew [Morton], has you know sinners more and more evil progressively as you get lower down. In your pantheon who is the worst? Is it Ken Starr, is it Linda Tripp, is it Lucianne Goldberg? I mean how do you rate them for relative evil?"

     -- "There is another woman who is being hounded and harassed unmercifully by this Kenneth Starr. She is Susan McDougal, her trial has begun."

     -- going to commercial, while pumping his fist: "Free Susan! Free Susan! Free Susan! We'll be right back. Free Susan!"

     Watch Rivera flail away. To see this "free Susan" chant, go to the posted CyberAlert on the MRC home page where a brief RealPlayer video clip will be placed next to this item on Friday morning.


gore0312.jpg (12468 bytes)cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Al Gore created the Internet and CNN's Wolf Blitzer created a new standard in journalism: avoid the tough questions the interviewee would like to escape.

     Catching up on a Tuesday event, CNN's Late Edition/Prime Time featured a 15-minute or so interview with Vice President Al Gore conducted earlier that day which was also excerpted on Inside Politics. Wolf Blitzer asked about Chinese espionage and whether Gore really thinks Clinton is a "great" President, but as close as he got to any specific scandal questions was wondering if there's "any specific strategy you plan on engaging" to deal with "the scandal issue, the impact potential spill over effect on you." Imagine an interview with George Bush in 1987 which never pressed him about Iran-Contra.

     "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," Al Gore preposterously claimed at one point without challenge or follow-up from Blitzer. This exchange is run below (highlighted by **) in full to show the claim is not taken out of context and that it didn't faze Blitzer.

     To illustrate how Blitzer never really challenged Gore on anything from Broaddrick to what he knew and when he knew it about Clinton's fraudulent use of privileges and appeals to suppress the truth about Lewinsky, here are all of Blitzer's inquiries:

     -- "You're going to be going to Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming days. Less than a year from now, we probably will know who the Democratic nominee is, who the Republican nominee is for the President. Why do you want to be President?"

     -- "You've created an exploratory committee, though. When do you make the formal announcement?"

     -- "Are you looking at some precedents, some previous examples? When Vice President Bush, for example, made his announcement?"

     -- "Some people have suggested that you will try to emerge from Bill Clinton's shadow during the course of the coming year. Others say you don't want to emerge from his shadow. The question to you is: do you want to emerge from the President's shadow?"

     -- "And the Al Gore vision will not be necessarily completely the same as the Bill Clinton vision?"

     **-- "I want to get to some of those substantive domestic and international issues in a bit, but let's just wrap up a bit of the politics right now. Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination, the process, support you instead of Bill Bradley -- a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate -- what do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?"
     Gore: "Well, I will, I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins, and it'll be comprehensive and sweeping, and I hope that it'll be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be. But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.
     "I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth, environmental protection, improvements in our educational system. During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during that experience is an emerging future that's very exciting, about which I'm very optimistic and toward which I'm -- I want to lead."
     Blitzer "On this political front: the polls currently show Governor George Bush of Texas, and even Elizabeth Dole, ahead of you in this hypothetical race nearly two years away from today. Why do you think that's the situation?"

     [A RealPlayer video clip of this exchange will be placed on the MRC home page on Friday morning by MRC Webmaster Sean Henry. Go to: http://www.mrc.org]

     -- "Although there is one poll that recently came out that did show 45 percent of the voters -- 45 percent of the American people -- say they've already ruled out voting for you."

     -- "You know, several of your potential Republican challengers, including the former Vice President Dan Quayle, have slammed you for saying on that day the President was impeached that Bill Clinton will go down as one of America's greatest Presidents. Do you still feel that way, knowing today what you know -- what you knew then?" [Answer: yes]

     -- "So even though the President was impeached, and by his own admission did engage in reckless conduct with an intern here at the White House, you still stand by that basic statement he will go down as one of America's greatest Presidents?"

     -- "Is there any specific strategy you plan on engaging in during the campaign to deal with this issue, the impeachment issue, the scandal issue, the impact potential spill over effect on you, from the President's behavior?"

     -- "Trent Lott, the Senate Majority Leader, Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House, are refusing at this point to say they trust the President and to engage in the kind of kind of bipartisan cooperation necessary to move on issues like education, Social Security, Medicare. Is there any window of opportunity now to get some of these programs off the ground? Or is there going to be deadlock, gridlock right now for the foreseeable future?"

     -- "But there are some philosophical differences. On the education issue, the Republicans want local communities to be in control. They accuse the Democrats and you of wanting the federal government in Washington to dictate to local school districts the kind of education policy they should be using."

     -- "Let's move on to a key international issue on your agenda today, namely the situation with China. China's been accused of human rights abuses. It's been accused of engaging in unfair trade practices, a record trade deficit with the United States. It has made bellicose statements against Taiwan in recent days, threatening Taiwan. And now there are allegations that the Clinton administration under your watch, that the administration was negligent in dealing with an allegation of espionage of nuclear secrets at the Los Alamos nuclear facility, research facility. Do you continue to engage in your policy, as you call it, 'constructive engagement' with China, in the midst of all of these allegations?"

     -- "But you heard Senator Lott and Senator Shelby say over the weekend that this administration was negligent, was lax in dealing with the threat that some people thought really existed at that time because of the overall need to engage China."

     -- "In the midst of these allegations, do you continue this engagement policy with China, or do you pause and reassess where the United States should be going with China?"

     -- "I know you have to go, but a quick question on your becoming soon a grandfather. Is this going to change your life?"

     -- "Are looking to some other grandfathers for grandfatherly advice?"

      Reality Check: Steve Allen of the Progress & Freedom Foundation alerted me to a www.wired.com story which rips apart Gore's claim about "creating" the Internet. Here are some excerpts from the March 11 post by Declan McCullagh:

WASHINGTON -- It's a time-honored tradition for presidential hopefuls to claim credit for other people's successes.

But Al Gore as the father of the Internet?

That's what the campaigner in chief told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview Tuesday evening....

Preliminary discussions of how the ARPANET would be designed began in 1967, and a request for proposals went out the following year. In 1969, the Defense Department commissioned the ARPANET.

Gore was 21-years-old at the time. He wasn't even done with law school at Vanderbilt University. It would be eight more years before Gore would be elected to the US House of Representatives as a freshman Democrat with scant experience in passing legislation, let alone ambitious proposals....

END Excerpt

     To read the full story which goes on to cover Gore's erroneous plans in Congress for how the Internet would develop, go to: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/18390.html

     It looks like Gore is about as accurate in his claims as is Clinton. -- Brent Baker


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