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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday April 19, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 69)

Cox Told Fox Energy Delaying Report; Arnett Axed?; ABC's Abortion Swing

1) Ken Starr blaming the independent counsel law "for his sorry record," Al Hunt claimed, is "like Madonna assailing promiscuity."

2) Chris Cox told Fox News Sunday that Clinton's Energy Dept. is delaying the release of his report by citing concerns which "are not proper in this circumstance."

3) A media rarity: Cokie Roberts approached a Republican from the right, demanding Elizabeth Dole respond to conservatives who say "that the ultimate violation of human rights is abortion."

4) Friday night, of the broadcast networks, only ABC told viewers how "the horrific scenes of carnage may well have been doctored by the Serbs for maximum impact." NBC twice showed a planted doll.

5) CNN has decided to drop Peter Arnett, two newspapers reported.

6) There are signs ABC's Monday night movie on abortion, Swing Vote, will swing to the left.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Chapter Titles in Hillary Clinton's Book on Entertaining."

Now online: The April 19 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Quote categories include "Mean Judge Ruins Clinton's Day", "Clinton Needs a Break, Like FDR", "Lucianne's Got a Gun!", "Zhu Rongji, Witty Oppressor", "Post to Hillary: Forget the Senate, You're 'Queen of the World'!", and "Brokaw's Greatest Liberals." For this issue, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990419.html

To see all of the issues published this year, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/welcome.html

Correction: The April 16 CyberAlert quoted a question posed to President Clinton at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention by Ken "Bunning" of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which is how CNN identified him. His name is actually Ken Bunting and he's the Managing Editor. (A clip of this question and answer, in which Bunting says talk radio reminds him of the "right wing conspiracy" and the editors applaud Clinton for saying he can't control talk radio, is up on the MRC video page. Go to:http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html)

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Ken Starr can't get a break from Al Hunt. Discussing Starr's Wednesday testimony calling on the Senate to not renew the independent counsel statute, on Saturday's CNN Capital Gang the Wall Street Journal's Hunt fired off this insult:
     "Ken Starr blaming the statute for his sorry record is, you know, like Madonna assailing promiscuity." A few minutes later Hunt impugned Starr: "He was a partisan zealot."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Sunday Morning Snippets I. Here's the first of two items from the April 18 interview shows. See item #3 for another. On Fox News Sunday Congressman Chris Cox charged that the Clinton administration, specifically the Energy Dept., is citing illegitimate reasons for delaying the release of the "Cox Report." He also revealed that believes the Chinese gave money not only to influence the campaign but in order acquire technology.

   Fox News Sunday, just like the week before, was the only Sunday show to devote a segment to China. Chris Cox, Chairman of the House Select Committee on China, appeared along with Norm Dicks, the top Democrat. Asked when his long-awaited report would be released, Cox said he hopes to have a declassified version out by the end of the month.

   Fred Barnes wondered: "What's been holding up this report? You all finished months ago. Who or what is holding up release of the sanitized version of it?"

   Cox diplomatically replied: "We are in extensive negotiations, literally word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. It's a very long report and when there is an administration objection based on source or method of intelligence gathering we have to walk back that claim and check out who is the source, what needs to be protected and find if there isn't a way to ride around it. More recently we've found that even though we've reached agreement, for example, with the CIA or the FBI, the Department of Energy will have an objection not based on sources or methods but based on some other ground and if declassification is in fact the legitimate aim here, if we're trying to declassify -- not just say that we could classify this if we wished to do so -- then I think those kinds of objections not based on sources and methods are not proper in this circumstance and we're trying to, frankly, turn them around on that."

   Tony Snow reminded Cox of the Los Angles Times story about the $300,000 the head of Chinese military intelligence gave to Johnny Chung to donate to the DNC. Cox told Snow that he believes the money was "for purposes, which I'm convinced, extended to the acquisition of technology, not just putting the money into campaigns."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Sunday Morning Snippets II. Over on ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts actually hit Elizabeth Dole from the right, asking her to respond to conservatives who "say the ultimate violation of human rights is abortion."

   Roberts displayed a rare approach on TV news: hitting a guest with a question from the right, from the conservative agenda, instead of the usual portraying of a Republican as too far to the right.

   Interviewing Elizabeth Dole via satellite from Rome where she had just returned from touring the refugee camps around Kosovo, Roberts posed two questions about abortion. First, from the right:

   "Another criticism we've heard from some of your putative Republicans opponents is that you're concerned about the human rights there, but they say the ultimate violation of human rights is abortion. Gary Bauer has written you a letter, which you probably haven't yet received, but asks for instance, 'would you curtail United States involvement in international organizations that promote abortion?'"

   Dole's answer: No.

   Roberts then asked whether she agreed with the Pope's view that Kosovo rape victims should not be able to use a morning after pill. Dole disagreed.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The Yugoslav government took Western journalists on a tour of the damaged convoy where civilians died and Friday night all the networks showed devastating footage. But of the broadcast networks, only ABC's World News Tonight raised the likelihood that at least some of the scene was staged.

   John McWethy relayed how "ABC News asked several analysts to examine what the Serbs allowed cameras to photograph. ABC analyst Tony Cordesman says many details do not make sense, as though the scene had been tampered with."
   Cordesman while pointing to parts of pictures: "You see objects in the middle of the crater which would have blown, been blown normally perhaps 50 to 100 feet." 
   McWethy: "John Hillen, military analyst and war veteran, had similar observations."
   Hillen: "This is not a bombing scene because the tractor is virtually untouched and yet there are bodies lying very close to it."
   McWethy: "But the clincher was this doll."
   Hillen: "On the back of a trailer in one shot and then on the back of a tractor in another shot. The same doll had been moved."
   McWethy: "So, the horrific scenes of carnage may well have been doctored by the Serbs for maximum impact..."

   Indeed, impact CBS and NBC conveyed. From behind enemy lines in Belgrade, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather asserted on April 16:

   "NATO has acknowledged that it did hit one vehicle, by accident it says, but the Serbs say there were at least three attacks. NATO denied that but declined to offer any solid additional information. Serb officials took Western journalists to the area where they say the NATO attack took place and declared today a national day of mourning for the victims."

   Later, David Martin offered the Pentagon view that if NATO were responsible it pales by comparison to deliberate Serb atrocities. Rather also narrated a piece from beside a destroyed heating plant, asking the manager: "How do you feel about all of this? What's in your heart?"

   Friday and Saturday night the NBC Nightly News showed clips with the doll at the convoy site, the doll ABC's experts said was planted, but NBC did not raise the possibility of staging. Friday night NBC's Jim Maceda declared: "This tragedy is turning into the biggest propaganda victory yet for Serbs in the undeclared war."

   One CBS and NBC are furthering by failing to bring a skeptical eye to Yugoslav propaganda.

   Editor's Note: Judging by some of the vitriolic e-mail comments I've received, some CyberAlert readers don't understand why I am tracking this kind of bias in "Clinton's war." Well, it's because I hope we conservatives can have the integrity of consistency. The elected President of our country and commander-in-chief (which is what he is after a constitutional process left him in office), with the cooperation of civilian and military leaders confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate, are carrying out this policy without an opposing vote from either House of Congress controlled by the opposition party. The U.S. is also in alliance with over a dozen other democratic governments. Yugoslavia is now the enemy of the United States, like it or not. It is just as much the enemy as Vietnam or Iraq were when we fought them. How much sympathy did conservatives have for the radical anti-war protestors and propagandists endangering the safety of our fighting men then? If conservatives now say Yugoslavia is not "our" enemy then how are we any different than the leftists we condemned who supported the Sandinistas or Viet Cong?

   Arguing the war is misguided, incompetently directed and should be ended are perfectly appropriate arguments. But when U.S. servicemen are putting their lives on the line to carry out their orders, conservatives should be standing behind them and condemning members of the news media who are eager to relay enemy propaganda which portrays errors by our side in fulfillment of a noble if misguided cause as equal with a deliberate policy of mass murder being carried out by those also trying to kill our servicemen.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Speaking of propaganda organs for the enemy, Peter Arnett may be on his way out from CNN. During the Persian Gulf War CNN enraged many for airing Peter Arnett's controlled transmissions from behind enemy lines in Baghdad. But CNN did not send him to this war and he's hardly been seen since CNN retracted his Newsstand: CNN & Time piece on Operation Tailwind, an embarrassing fiasco that after a long delay may now finally cost him his job. Monday's USA Today and Washington Post report that CNN does not plan to renew his contract.

   In the April 19 USA Today Peter Johnson reported:

....The truth, he said Sunday, is that CNN is trying to get rid of him and told his agent it plans to use a window in his contract in July to dump him, 2 years before his five-year deal ends.

Reason: the Tailwind scandal, a CNN story narrated by Arnett. It charged that the United States used nerve gas against U.S. deserters in Laos during the Vietnam War. CNN retracted the report after criticism and denials from the military. Two producers on the project were fired.

Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for The Associated Press in Vietnam and became a household name during the Persian Gulf War, was reprimanded in July by the network for his involvement in the story. "My colleagues felt the reprimand was enough, but CNN doesn't feel that way. I've become a nonentity here. They've been keeping me on the vine."

Earlier this year, Arnett says, he began to feel "a cold breeze" coming from CNN managers. But when he wasn't chosen to report on Kosovo, he really was hurt.

"This is an organization I love. But this is pretty shabby treatment," says Arnett, 64, who feels that "my legs have been cut out from under me."...

   END Excerpt from USA Today

   The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz offered the most benign recollection of Arnett's role in the Tailwind story, writing in his April 19 Media Notes column in the Washington Post:

"For a reporter who won a Pulitzer for the Associated Press in Vietnam and reported live from Baghdad when the bombs started dropping in 1991, the Tailwind story was a major embarrassment, and Arnett felt unfairly blamed. He has said he contributed 'not one comma' to the story, which aired on the debut of the CNN-Time program NewsStand, charging that U.S. troops used nerve gas in Laos in 1970. He said he participated in only a couple of interviews but read the script on the air because he is a 'company man.'"

   In fact, Arnett conducted a couple of the interviews for the piece.

   Following Smith's advice? Appearing on the January 5 Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, former CNN military analyst Perry Smith, who quit when CNN ignored his warnings about the inaccuracy of the Tailwind story, told Snyder that while CNN admitted making an error there were still four things they hadn't done. As detailed in the January 6 CyberAlert, Smith, who is now consulting for NBC News, charged:

   "They didn't say it really didn't happen. They didn't do a full retraction. They didn't get rid of Peter Arnett and Rick Kaplan, which they should have done. And they never gave the warriors a chance to full air time to explain what actually happened on that mission. So they're well short of doing all the right things, but they certainly have taken some steps."

   "Get rid of" Arnett and Kaplan. Well, it looks like one down and one to go.


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) Swing Vote swings left? Tonight, Monday April 19, at 9pm ET/PT ABC will air an original made-for-TV movie about the choice made by a Supreme Court justice who must break a 4-4 tie about whether abortion is murder. The plot summary and a preview clip strongly suggest the movie will approach the subject from the left, though producers and the network insist it takes an even-handed approach that will please and anger both sides.

   We'll see tonight, but in the meantime there are some hints that it will take a pro-abortion rights stand.

   -- First, there's the basic plot directly out of NARAL's horror book: The movie is set early in the next century at a time when Roe v. Wade has been overturned, thus leaving it up to each state to regulate abortion. It is illegal in Alabama and when a woman has one she is convicted of murder and her case is appealed to he Supreme Court.

   -- Second, actor Andy Garcia, who stars as a justice named to fill the ninth seat and who must break a tie, used "pro-choice" code phrases in saying he does not want to "impose" his views o others while he also praised the "great script" that he felt "compelled" to do. He's also the co-Executive Producer of the movie and while he described himself to the AP as "a lifer," he added: "I also believe that you can't impose your own beliefs on other people; that's not the way our Constitution reads. In protecting the rights of one side, you deprive the rights of the other."

   In the April 19 USA Today Jefferson Graham reported: "Garcia's stand on abortion is that while he supports a woman's right to choose, he wouldn't want his wife to have one."

   -- Third, USA Today's Graham noted in the April 19 edition, "while the issue of abortion is central to the film, the main point is about unwanted children who are neglected." Pro-lifers and pro-abortion people both appeal to that argument, but it's a more common argument with those who want to allow abortion. Garcia told USA Today: "The issue of the children is usually ignored. They are the forgotten people, the children who are born and put in institutional care. It's our responsibility to take care of them."

   -- Fourth, left-wing writer John Leonard, who also reviews TV shows for CBS's Sunday Morning, praised it and the soundbite he played certainly sounded like an except from a liberal justifying why abortion must be allowed. Here's a hunk of his review shown on the April 11 Sunday Morning as transcribed by the MRC's Brian Boyd.

   John Leonard: "If the Court is stacked against abortion."

   A Justice in the movie played by Harry Bellafonte: "Any restriction on how or what a woman chooses is a restriction on her freedom."
   Leonard: "So is Margaret Colin as [Andy] Garcia's wife."
   Actress Margaret Colin as a justice's wife: "You want to promote abortion in this country you want to have those babies on your conscience, well you go straight ahead. Just take it on back to work and don't do it here."
   Leonard: "And so is the movie. Micheal O'Keefe [leader at a pro-life rally] delivers its most passionate aria without ever mentioning the fire bombing of abortion clinics and the murder of doctors and nurses. All this is to set us up for Garcia's compromise decision, which is also a policy statement. Speaking for once in behalf of all those children who are born unwanted and unloved."
   Andy Garcia as a Justice on Supreme Court bench: "Each state must accept responsibility to so protect these children, it must, and belief me from this day forward it will. We are placing the suffering of unwanted children on the agenda of this court today. Right up front where it belongs."
   Leonard: "There are half a million American children in institutions and foster care, of whom only 32,000 will be adopted. Before Roe v Wade 2,000 American women died every year from illegal abortions, in 1985 three did. Swing Vote will make everybody mad, but we live in a world were children themselves are having children for whom moralizing ideologues haven't time, money or affection, we scientize parsing trimesters, we theologize counting souls like crazy goggles, and then we stand around at pep rallies waiting for a deliverance by technology, like the French pill, or a message from Andy Garcia. The latest in a long line of very important men who always know best."

   Will ABC deliver balance or liberal bombast?


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Inspired by the news Hillary Clinton will write a book on entertaining at the White House, from the April 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Chapter Titles in Hillary Clinton's Book on Entertaining." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Whoops! Never Seat Your Husband's Mistresses Next To One Another

9. Nothing But the Best When the Taxpayer's Picking Up the Tab

8. Arranging Hors d'oeuvres So They Subliminally Spell "Divorce Me"

7. Oh, Buddy, Not in the Chancellor's Salad!

6. Quiche Lorraine, Crepes Suzette and Other Dishes Bill Thought Were Hooker Names

5. Roger Clinton: An Ideal Coffee Table

4. How To Keep Willie Nelson Off Your Roof

3. "What Sort Of Drinking Game Do You Have In Mind, Mr. Yeltsin?"

2. How to Make My Famous "If-I-Can't-Have-You-No-One-Can" Poison Meatloaf

1. How I Plan to Deport Martha Stewart


   And from the Late Show Web site, some of the "extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- What To Do When Your Husband's Mistress Arrives in the Same Dress As You      -- Soups He Won't Notice If You Spit Into
-- 1001 Quick-Kills and Death-Grips for a Pushy Intern
-- When Entertaining Chinese Dignitaries, Always Bow First to The One Who's Given You the Most Cash

   Happy Patriot's Day, a holiday in my native Massachusetts. Today is the 224th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride and the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the launch of the Revolutionary War. -- Brent Baker


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