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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday April 8, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 63)
ABC, CBS & NBC AWOL on Chung; ABC's Right to Carry: the Anti-Gun Case

1) China's premier arrived in the U.S. and Clinton gave a China speech, but zilch on Johnny Chung on ABC, CBS and NBC. CNN previewed the premier's trip, but avoided Chung. Only FNC put Chung's testimony into a story, adding he got solicited by Gore.

2) Geraldo urged the grand jury in Little Rock to employ jury nullification in the Susan McDougal case, calling it a "spiteful prosecution" of a woman standing up to "Starr and his bullies."

3) ABC didn't bother with the NRA's case for Missouri's right to carry law and didn't let anyone answer the opponent's argument which ABC stressed, but ABC made sure viewers knew the NRA lost.

4) "The abortion issue presents a troubling complication for a Republican Party anxious to win back the White House," CNN's Judy Woodruff insisted in endorsing the premise of a NARAL ad but she questioned the purpose behind a group's ad against Al Gore.

5) Oops. When did "Daniel Cohen" become Secretary of Defense?

>>> "Dot gov dot." The MRC Web site now offers a Gore Gaffes Video page put together by Webmaster Sean Henry. It features four video clips, including a clip of a 1996 CBS News story the MRC"s Kristina Sewell dug out of our tape library showing Gore mixing up Web addressing as he tells a student the address for the White House Web page is "w, w, w, dot White House dot gov dot." Also on the page in RealPlayer format: Gore boasting about how "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," asking "who are these people" as he looked at busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, and bragging in 1988, four years after his sister died from lung cancer, about his personal involvement in growing tobacco. To watch the videos, point your browser to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/goregaffesvideo.html <<<


chung0408.jpg (11431 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday but not his arrival, nor pending White House meetings and dinner scheduled for Thursday, nor even a speech by President Clinton on Wednesday about U.S.-China relations, prompted a syllable Tuesday or Wednesday on any of the broadcast networks about Johnny Chung's allegation or about Chinese spying.

     (As the April 6 CyberAlert noted, on Monday CNN's The World Today gave 29 seconds to Sunday's Los Angeles Times scoop about how Johnny Chung told a federal grand jury that in 1996 the chief of military intelligence for China gave him $300,000 to donate to the Democratic National Committee to help re-elect Bill Clinton. CNN's Inside Politics also discussed the charge with reporter Brooks Jackson. Not a syllable about the revelation aired on the broadcast networks Monday morning or evening, nor had the networks raised the story on Sunday night.)

     In the 48 hours since Monday night, zilch on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening shows on Tuesday and Wednesday. FNC's Fox Report gave the matter a few seconds on both Tuesday and Wednesday night. Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume featured a piece by Carl Cameron, previewing Zhu's Washington arrival, which outlined the Chung charge and revealed that Chung recently received a direct mail fundraising letter from Al Gore. CNN's The World Today also looked at Zhu's visit, but though Andrea Koppel noted there's a "cornucopia of controversy overshadowing the Chinese premier's visit," she failed to cite the Chung case.

     Now, to what the broadcast networks covered instead and what CNN and FNC relayed:

     -- Broadcast evening shows. Wednesday night, April 7, all devoted more than half their shows to Kosovo, but still found time for other matters. Both ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News looked at problems with the FAA's new air traffic control system. ABC also aired full stories on the forecast of a busy June to November hurricane season and on how people are moving to Yuma, Arizona to be near Los Algoddones, Mexico to take advantage of its cheap medical services, especially dental work and eyeglasses.
     The CBS Evening News found time for a full report on record auto sales and how smoking is more detrimental health-wise the younger you start smoking. NBC's Tom Brokaw highlighted how an article in the magazine Nature reported that the rain forest in Brazil is being destroyed twice as fast as believed. NBC Nightly News also squeezed in a full report on how credit card companies make up for low interest rate come-on offers with tricky late fees.

     -- Morning shows. Tuesday's Good Morning America noted Zhu Rongji's arrival in the U.S. but did not raise any of the scandals. Wednesday morning only GMA gave even a few seconds to a New York Times story on how the Energy Department has suspended secret nuclear work on computers at its three nuclear labs pending a security review. Not a word about Zhu on Today on Tuesday or Wednesday, reported MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, but on Wednesday Today devoted the 7:30am half hour interview segments to the balloonists who went around the world and to the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.

     -- CNN's The World Today, April 7, gave Andrea Koppel time for a full story but she didn't bother with Chung and the fundraising scandal. She began by playing soundbites of Clinton from his Wednesday address defending his China policy and urging that China be allowed to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Koppel continued:
     "Meanwhile, elsewhere in Washington members of Congress raised their concerns about the veritable cornucopia of controversy overshadowing the Chinese premier's visit, allegations of Chinese spying at U.S. nuclear weapons labs, human rights abuses and a $57 billion U.S. trade deficit with China." CNN viewers then saw a clip of Republican Congressman Chris Cox before Koppel wrapped up her piece.

     -- FNC. Tuesday and Wednesday night FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report aired half minute items by anchor Paula Zahn -- Tuesday night about Zhu's arrival and how "Zhu has some tough issues to face. For starters, like accusations his country stole our nuclear secrets, a Democratic campaign contributions scandal and a weak record on human rights." Wednesday night Zahn relayed Clinton's concern that criticism of China could lead to a "campaign driven cold war."

     Earlier Wednesday, on Special Report with Brit Hume at 6pm ET and 9pm PT, Hume showcased a full story by Carl Cameron, the first prime time story about Chung's allegations aired on any network this week. And I'm being a bit generous in my definition of prime time, counting this show because its repeat airing occurs in prime time in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

     FNC's Carl Cameron told viewers how Zhu Rongji had arrived in Los Angeles before he played a clip of Clinton arguing that bringing China into the WTO is in our interests. "But there are bipartisan misgivings in Congress," Cameron noted in leading into a soundbite from Chris Cox, who told Cameron that China has "engaged in a concerted campaign of espionage."
     Cameron moved to the Chung charge: "Illegal political donations from China, like those Johnny Chung pleaded guilty to raising, are another sore spot. Chung has told a federal grand jury that the head of the Chinese intelligence agency gave him 300 grand to help President Clinton get re-elected. Congress plans to subpoena Chung and ask him about it. Just two weeks ago Chung received a fundraising form letter from Vice President Gore's campaign asking for contributions in 2000. Aides say it was a mistake. Since President Clinton visited China last year other concerns have deepened. Even Democrats now say Beijing's record on human rights repression and weapons proliferation has actually worsened."
     Democratic Congressman Nancy Pelosi got a few seconds before Cameron concluded by reporting that Clinton aides say he will raise contentious issues with the Chinese premier.

     +++ Chung hasn't been on television much the past year, so to remind yourself of what he looks like and to see a picture of him arm-in-arm with Bill and Hillary Clinton, go to the MRC home page after 10:30am Thursday morning to watch a RealPlayer video excerpt from this FNC piece. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Geraldo Rivera urged the grand jury in Little Rock to employ jury nullification in the Susan McDougal case since "Ken Starr's relentless pursuit of the President had very little to do with justice, and everything to do with putrid politics."

     Instead of heading to Albania this week Rivera traveled to Little Rock. At the end of the April 7 Upfront Tonight on CNBC Rivera blasted Starr: "After all those years, all those tax dollars, this is what the once mighty and proud Office of the Independent Counsel has been reduced to: this spiteful prosecution of one of the few people here in Arkansas, or even up in Washington for that matter, who had the guts to stand up to Starr and his bullies."

     Rivera conceded that because McDougal had refused a court order to testify she probably is guilty of the charges being pressed by Starr's office, but as her lawyer Mark Geragos showed, Starr was really on "a crusade to take down the Clintons."

     Concluding his lecture, Rivera offered his advice to the jury:
     "So now it's up to this jury of twelve Arkansans. If they follow the letter of the law Susan McDougal, tragically, could be convicted -- at least on the two counts of contempt of court. But if the jurors look at the big picture, if they see as I do that Ken Starr's relentless pursuit of the President had very little to do with justice, and everything to do with putrid politics, then Susan McDougal will finally go free. And I tell you what folks, I like her chances."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The night of Missouri's vote on Proposition B on a right to carry a concealed weapon, ABC's World News Tonight delivered a story which might explain why the proposition lost -- if it reflected the bias of the local Missouri media. ABC's Bob Woodruff focused on an argument used by opponents, failed to allow a supporter to counter that argument and never outlined for viewers the most powerful points made by advocates of right to carry laws.

     Peter Jennings introduced the April 6 World News Tonight story:
     "In other news today, a lot of attention being paid to Missouri, especially by law enforcement and other people interested in gun control. Missouri is one of the few states in the Union which does not permit people to carry a concealed weapon, namely a gun. And for the first time anywhere in the country, the voters are deciding, directly, whether that should change. The turnout has been higher than expected. ABC's Bob Woodruff reports from St. Louis."

     Actually, as the MRC's Jessica Anderson learned in consulting the NRA Web site, 31 states have right to carry laws. Missouri is among 19 states plus the District of Columbia which do not. I'd consider 19 states to be more than a "few" as Jennings claimed.

     Bob Woodruff began: "The debate has been heated. The National Rifle Association has spent nearly $4 million and its President Charlton Heston has toured the state. TV commercials appear nightly. Both the NRA and its opponents have a lot at stake here because whichever side wins can claim it has the direct support of the people -- not the lawmakers, not the lobbyists, but the people. Those who favor concealed weapons claim that lives will be saved if people carry guns."
     After a soundbite from Michael Gordinier of Missourians Against Crime, Woodruff continued by leading into a clip from a Sheriff against the proposition: "But opponents say concealed weapons will mean more crime and they point to a glaring loophole in the law."

     Woodruff elaborated on the liberal argument against the proposed law: "The law would forbid felons from getting permits, but those convicted of most misdemeanors could get them, and under Missouri law, that would even include certain types of assault, stalking, harassment and child molestation. Even supporters have a hard time defending this."
     ABC showed Gordinier being asked: "Explain to me why people who have committed misdemeanors are allowed to get concealed weapons permits?" Gordinier stared ahead silently for five seconds, then helpfully stated: "I don't know."
     Instead of providing a counterpoint to the opponents, Woodruff then concluded by endorsing the fears of those against the proposition: 
     "So allowing people to carry concealed guns will mean allowing some criminals to carry them, too. The voters decide today if that is worth the risk."

     Having refused to allow the NRA to make any of its points, the next night Peter Jennings made sure viewers understood the 52 to 48 percent no vote was a defeat for the NRA, announcing that the "National Rifle Association spent almost $4 million on the campaign and lost."

     If ABC News cared about balance they would have relayed at least one of the NRA's facts which Jessica found outlined on their Web site:

     -- "Right To Carry laws reduce crime. In their landmark study, Prof. John R. Lott, Jr., and David B. Mustard, of the Univ. of Chicago, found that 'allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths. If those states which did not have Right To Carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly.... [T]he estimated annual gain from allowing concealed handguns is at least $6.214 billion....[W]hen state concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell by 8.5 percent, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by 5 and 7 percent.' (Crime, Deterrence, and Right to Carry Concealed Handguns, 1996. See also, Lott, More Guns, Less Crime, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1998.)"

     -- "States with Right To Carry laws have lower violent crime rates. On average, they have a 24% lower total violent crime rate, a 19% lower homicide rate, a 39% lower robbery rate, and a 19% lower aggravated assault rate, compared to other states and the District of Columbia. The nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all Right To Carry states. (Data: FBI)"

     -- "Restrictive carry laws have been on the books for decades, but have never reduced crime. Washington, D.C. and Chicago (which have banned handguns), Detroit and Baltimore are four of the five major U.S. cities with the highest homicide rates. Baltimore had more murders in 1998 than in 1997. Chicago reports that it had more murders in the first half of 1998, compared to 1997. Los Angeles remains among the 10 major U.S. cities with the highest homicide rates."

     To read the complete analysis from the NRA, go to: http://nraila.org/research/rtc.html


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) CNN's Judy Woodruff endorsed the premise of a recent anti-GOP presidential candidates ad from NARAL, but questioned the accuracy of some ads running this week against Al Gore. Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, wrote up this analysis for CyberAlert about Woodruff's skewed prism:

     If the earliest ads are any indication, CNN will not be treating Democratic and Republican ads with equal doses of skepticism. On the March 22 Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff noted: "Kate Michelman's organization, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, is running ads in New Hampshire and Iowa, which it says exposes the anti-choice views held by Bush and the other GOP front-runner, Elizabeth Dole."

     On April 5, Woodruff announced another ad in the midst of a story on Vice President Al Gore's visit to Silicon Valley: "The Republican Leadership Council (RLC) prepared for the Vice President's arrival with an ad ridiculing Mr. Gore's recent comments about his childhood and the Internet."

     Both stories aired clips of the ads. Both stories sought comments from the candidates. Gore provided a 103-word soundbite defending his gaffes. A spokesman for Dole called the NARAL ads "disappointing." But after the NARAL ads, Woodruff sermonized: "The abortion issue presents a troubling complication for a Republican Party anxious to win back the White House, for while anti-abortion activists make up a large part of the GOP base, other more moderate voters, especially women, have drifted away from the party, in part because of its hard-line image on abortion." She went on to note that Pat Buchanan predicted a "civil war" within the GOP if the party tries to change the abortion platform plank.

     After the RLC ad, however, she moved right into an interview segment, without a paragraph noting that Republicans believe Gore's habit of exaggerating his life story will be a political problem. There was no talk of the growing "image" of a gaffe-prone Gore.

     Following the NARAL ad segment, Woodruff interviewed NARAL's Kate Michelman, along with Randy Tate of the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum. Woodruff began by asking Michelman: "Your organization is running these television ads. Why? What do you hope to accomplish by sticking your nose, if you will, into the Republican presidential contest?" The interview revolved entirely around the abortion positions of Bush and Dole and the GOP platform.

     After the RLC ad segment, Woodruff didn't interview an RLC spokesman or a Gore spokesman, but Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein. She began: "The last time I looked, we're still 19 months away from the election. Isn't it early to be running these kinds of ads?" But then she openly attacked the content of the spot, in comparison to NARAL's: "Well, the Republican Leadership Council ad is not so much about issues. It's just -- it's trashing Al Gore." While the NARAL segment focused on the damage the abortion issue could do to the Republicans, Woodruff suggested Al Gore's popularity in Silicon Valley was a problem for the RLC: "Does this mean that the Republicans are already sweating it out with Gore, I mean, that they're worried that he's getting too good a foothold in that area?"

     One more note: on the March 23 Today, NBC's Lisa Myers did a full story publicizing the NARAL ads. NBC has yet to mention the RLC's ad against Gore.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Former MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen, now our Bureau Chief in the Twin Cities, passed along this little goof-up from the top of the front page of Wednesday's Star Tribune. The Minneapolis daily featured a pull-out quote from the Secretary of Defense in the middle of a news story about reaction to Milosevic's cease-fire offer. It read:
     "The Serb cease-fire offer is 'not only completely unacceptable, but it's absurd.' -- Daniel Cohen, U.S. Defense Secretary."

     Cohen's first name is actually Bill. -- Brent Baker


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