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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday May 18, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 85)

ABC: Lanny Davis a Truth Teller; Media "Help" GOP Correct Gun Error

1) Dan Rather tagged Ehud Barak as "less conservative" than Netanyahu. All the evening shows ran pieces on an Indian tribe's whale hunt and in one ABC referred to Greenpeace as "mainstream."

2) "So the thing to do as a spin-meister, get the facts out, and then try to put the best possible interpretation on them with the press," ABC's Charlie Gibson prompted Lanny Davis who absurdly replied: "That's what we tried to do in the Clinton White House."

3) During a flight in a Blue Angels jet ABC's Diane Sawyer passed out. When she awoke she recalled: "I'm smiling because I thought I had just interviewed Mahatma Gandhi."

4) In another slanted story which assumed Republicans were wrong to reject more gun control, MSNBC's Brian Williams conceded some Senators flip-flopped "with the help of the news media."

5) May 14 Updated Edition of the MRC's Special Report. "All the News That's Fit to Skip: Network Apathy Toward Chinese Contributions and Espionage."

6) A bewildered Larry King asked: "I can't figure out how religious leaders can support the National Rifle Association."

>>> MRC's New York Times ad now viewable online. Webmaster Sean Henry has put a likeness on the MRC Web site of the full page May 16 ad the Media Research Center purchased in the New York Times. The ad asks: "ABC, CBS, and NBC...Why are you not reporting THE IMPORTANT NEWS? If the Fox News Channel and the nation's most prestigious newspapers -- the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times -- can report story after story over the past year about important dates, facts, people, hearings, testimonies, documents, evidence, and events involved in the Chinese espionage case...Why can't you?" To see the whole ad and an image of a C-SPAN host holding it up on Sunday Journal, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nytimesad.html
     To help the MRC pay for the ad, you can make a tax deductible donation. To contribute by credit card online or to get a form to fax or mail with a check or your credit card info, go to: http://www.mrc.org/contribute/contributeonline.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Some odd labeling Monday night: In a story on a tribe's whale hunt in Washington state ABC referred to Greenpeace as a "mainstream" environmental group and CBS's Dan Rather tagged Israel's new Prime Minister as "less conservative" than Netanyahu.

     Otherwise, it was back to a pre-war and pre-Littleton list of story subjects Monday night on the broadcast networks without a word about China. (Nothing Monday morning either about China.) ABC's World News Tonight featured two stories about growing incivility and one about allergies, the CBS Evening News delivered an Eye on America about those hurt in the switch by companies to "cash balance" pension plans and a story on how airbags in old Chrysler minivans are too powerful. Dan Rather intoned: "CBS News correspondent Bob Orr has the maximum facts on the minivan story." The In Depth segment on NBC Nightly News looked at all the accidents caused by sleep deprived people.

     ABC and CBS led on Monday, May 17, with the Israeli election while NBC went first with arrests of four students in Port Huron, Michigan for planning to kill many classmates with guns and bombs. All three ran pieces on the controversy over the Makah tribe in Washington being allowed, after 70 plus years, to resume whale hunting as agreed to in a treaty they signed last century.

     -- Whale hunt. Dan Rather displayed his pro-whale bias: "CBS's Bill Whitaker has the clash of culture in the harpoon death of a beautiful titan of the sea."

     Over on ABC reporter Deborah Wang lamented how "the hunt has pitted some environmental groups against their traditional allies in the native community. Protestors say native traditions are not as important as protecting the whales. Many mainstream environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, have stayed on the sidelines...."

     -- Israeli election. Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News:
"Good evening. Israel has chosen a new leader and a new direction. Prime Minister Netanyahu is out, swept away in a big victory for the less conservative Labor Party challenger Ehud Barak...."

     I don't know much about Barak and have no doubt he may not be very liberal, but he's normally described as a moderate. Calling him "less conservative" certainly continues the CBS tradition of seeing Israeli politics from the left. As detailed in the June 1996 MediaWatch, when Benjamin Netanyahu won in May, 1996 CBS applied extremist labels:
     "On the May 30 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather suggested 'Serious questions about the future of Middle East peace as Lebanese terrorists attack an Israeli army convoy and the Israeli government appears headed for a major shift to the hardline right.' The next night he announced, 'Right-wing hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu is declared Israel's new Prime Minister.'"

     Only Martin Fletcher on the NBC Nightly News noted on Monday that the "less conservative" Barak hired James Carville as a campaign consultant.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The entire Clinton team lied about Lewinsky for months, but in interviewing Lanny Davis on Monday's Good Morning America, co-host Charlie Gibson suggested: "So the thing to do as a spin-meister, get the facts out, and then try to put the best possible interpretation on them with the press." Davis, on to promote his book about his time on the White House staff and afterwards when he went on shows to repeat the President's lies about Lewinsky, actually maintained that you help reporters when they are writing negative stories because then "the reporter helps you get your characterization, some would call spin, into the story and then the story is out completely and accurately. That's what we tried to do in the Clinton White House."

     "Completely and accurately"? But Gibson did nor burst out laughing.

     Gibson opened the May 17 interview by questioning how Davis in his book, Truth to Tell: Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell It Yourself, claims you should never mislead the press:
     "Let me show you a clip here, which you say in the book was perhaps one of your worst moments. This was when you were on Nightline, and you were denying that the coffees given by the White House were really fundraisers. Let's take a look."
     (Davis, in Nightline clip from February 25, 1997: "The President has clearly said that there was absolutely no requirement, no price tag. These were friends and supporters of his, coming to his residence to stay overnight, and there's..."
     Ted Koppel: "No, no, no, wait a second, hold on a second, there you go again with 'friends and supporters.'")
     Back to Gibson on Monday: "Now, you say that was your worst moment. Did you know that was not true?"
     Davis: "Well, truth is different from inference. I had already said that people invited to the Lincoln Bedroom included financial contributors. Ted Koppel wanted me to say that there was something wrong with that, that having people associated with money, inviting them to the White House to motivate them to give money was wrong. What I should have done is been right up front and said, 'Look, Ted, of course we wanted people to give money, and we invited them to the White House in order to motivate them.' Instead I was trying to interpret, I think, implausibly that money was not a major factor, but the fact that they were invited and that they were contributors, we had admitted that right up front."
     Gibson: "You just could say there was no quid pro quo involved."
     Davis: "Exactly, I was trying to be too coy and I learned an important lesson that night."

     I don't know why since Davis has paid no penalty for all his lying. He repeatedly lied on GMA about Lewinsky throughout last year, yet when he writes a book about the importance of the truth the show gives him a platform to publicize it. Amazing.

     So much for doubting Davis's honesty. As the rest of the interview below transcribed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson shows, instead of pointing how he was not being truthful now Gibson sat meekly as Davis offered more bizarre spins.

     Gibson: "If the facts had been put out, as you say they need to be, right away, could the Monica Lewinsky scandal had been prevented?"
     Davis conceded that Clinton might have been forced to confront the truth earlier, but there was that evil "renegade prosecutor."
     Gibson: "But Lanny, if the blue dress hadn't existed, the President would still be denying it, and probably would have gotten away with it."
     Now try to follow this Davis spin of the truth: "Well I think actually that blue dress saved President Clinton and the country because ultimately the circumstantial facts were so overwhelmingly that there was some kind of relationship that he should never have even been tempted to deny it and I think it helped him see his way through to a very, very difficult personal decision to tell the truth about a personal relationship."
     Gibson, instead of jumping on that bizarre historical revisionism, replied with a question about how truth is most important: "So, the thing to do as a spin-meister, get the facts out, and then try to put the best possible interpretation on them with the press."
     Davis: "The counter-intuitive rule is the worse the story is the more you help a reporter write it. You surround it with facts. The reporter helps you get your characterization, some would call spin, into the story and then the story is out completely and accurately. That's what we tried to do in the Clinton White House."
     Instead of laughing at the preposterous assertion, Gibson just said good-bye: "Lanny Davis. Good to have you with us. The book again, Truth to Tell. Thanks for being with us."


sawyer0518.jpg (11731 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Watch Diane Sawyer "conk out." As noted in the May 17 CyberAlert, on Friday Good Morning America allocated just ten seconds to a New York Times front page story about how "China is close to deploying a nuclear missile with a warhead whose design draws on stolen American secrets." The show broadcast on Friday from Pensacola, Florida as part of its week-long trip across the South.

     Among the features viewers of the May 14 program did see: a taped piece at 7:35am of co-host Diane Sawyer's flight in the back seat of a Navy "Blue Angels" team jet.

     During the flight, when the pilot's maneuvers increased the G-forces Sawyer employed the recommended counter-measures of grunting and squeezing her legs, but when one move generated 7.5 Gs, she passed out briefly. When she came to she remarked: "I'm smiling because I thought I had just interviewed Mahatma Gandhi."
     MRC Webmaster has posted a RealPlayer clip of part of GMA's piece on Sawyer's flight, including the portion when she passes out. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
     And remember, all the video clips posted by the MRC can be accessed at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) "With the help of the news media," MSNBC's Brian Williams observed Friday night, the Republican Senators realized they had done wrong in not further regulating gun sales at gun shows. It's nice that Williams, in the midst of another slanted gun story, pointed out how the media were playing an activist role in helping one side over another in a political argument that a professional media would portray even-handedly.

     MRC news analyst Mark Drake caught how Williams characterized the debate on Friday's News with Brian Williams. He opened the May 14 show not by giving equal time to those on the right upset at Republicans for going left, but by assuming the original Republican vote against more rules was wrong:
     "The fire on the right. The Senate explodes: [from] the left, from the right as the issue of gun control once again goes off squarely in the face of the Republican Party. Tonight, the damage and it's not pretty."

     Introducing a story by NBC's Gwen Ifill, Williams intoned: "The issue here has been a loophole. Buy a gun at a gun show, in most cases, there are no questions asked. You can take your purchase and walk away. Remember, three of the weapons used at Columbine were purchased originally at gun shows. Well, a majority of the U.S. Senate liked that just fine. They voted to keep it that way. Then after realizing what they did, with the help of the news media, the President and constituents, they said they'd changed their minds. And today they voted on those changes, creating some new loopholes in the process however."

     Ifill then forwarded one of he oldest fallacious arguments: "A stand off today in the United States Senate as gun control advocates tried to force the Republican controlled Senate to enact tougher laws. An unseen player in today's acrimonious debate, the powerful and influential National Rifle Association. The Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington based research group, says money is driving the debate, reporting that lawmakers who voted against imposing background checks on buyers at gun shows, received, on average, $10,000 in contributions from gun rights groups between 1991 and 1998. While those who favored gun restrictions received an average of about $300 apiece over the same period. But Republicans put that formula on its head, arguing that Democrats are the ones squandering an important issue over politics. Republicans warn that disagreements about how to proceed may end up scuttling the entire juvenile justice bill. Democrats, still hoping to present as many as 30 amendments to the bill before a final vote Tuesday, rejected Republican compromises. Senate leaders say time is running out for this juvenile justice bill. Both sides seem to hope that over the weekend, cooler heads will prevail and some kind of compromise can be reached."

     Of course, the same could be said for those favoring gun control: They get more money from gun control advocates than from opponents. But this kind of reasoning assumes the Senators ran for office with no fixed view and then went with whichever side donated more money. Advocates on both sides give to those who support their view. On an ideological issue like gun control, the money follows the position, not the other way around.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) An updated and revised May 14 edition of the MRC Special Report by Tim Graham, "All The News That's Fit to Skip: Network Apathy Toward Chinese Contributions and Espionage," is now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry. The report details over 20 newspaper disclosures ignored by all or most network evening and morning shows. Below is the text for the cover page which summarizes the report:

     Updated Edition
     All the News That's Fit to Skip: Network Apathy Toward Chinese Contributions and Espionage

May 14, 1999, updated from April 26 edition: If TV anchors regularly suggest viewers should worry about everyday threats like spoiled hamburgers or "monster" sport utility vehicles, why can't they report on the threat posed by the Chinese theft of secrets that may make their nuclear missiles arrive with better aim and increased deadliness? The nation's most prestigious newspapers have published scoop after scoop detailing the connections between Chinese contributions and espionage efforts, and ABC, CBS and NBC have aired next to nothing about them on their morning and evening shows. The Media Research Center found the networks' shocking pattern of non-coverage in four areas:

-- 1. China's Army Funds the Democrats. On April 4, the Asian fundraising scandal culminated in a Los Angeles Times report: Johnny Chung told Justice Dept. investigators that the chief of Chinese military intelligence gave him $300,000 to donate to the Clinton campaign. None of the broadcast networks touched this bombshell until Chung appeared before Congress on May 11, but even then the ABC and NBC morning shows and the CBS Evening News ignored him.

-- 2. China Acquires U.S. Missile Technology. Beginning in April 1998, The New York Times reported the Chinese government had been given technological expertise that "significantly advanced Beijing's ballistic missile program," and the head of one of the offending defense contractors was the largest individual contributor to Democrats in 1996. The number of evening news reports on this story since April 1998? ABC: 7. CBS: 3. NBC: 2. ABC outnumbered these 12 pieces in a 24-hour period highlighting their Monica Lewinsky interview.

-- 3. China Acquires U.S. Warhead Technology. One year after that discovery, The New York Times found that the Chinese government had stolen technology from U.S. nuclear labs that would help them miniaturize their nuclear warheads. In the first ten days the Big Three aired only 11 evening stories and six morning stories, then dropped the issue. The networks have since ignored several significant revelations and conducted only one morning show interview.

-- 4. Clinton's Denials Exposed. When pressed by print reports about whether he knew Chinese espionage was occurring on his watch, President Clinton claimed in two press conferences that he was told nothing about espionage occurring during his term. When new print reports revealed him to be lying, the networks again refused to give viewers the evidence.

The MRC report concludes by noting this blackout would seem less irresponsible and unfair if the networks hadn't doggedly pursued GOP foreign-policy scandals from Iran-Contra to Iraqgate, and recommends the networks pursue this story not simply to compare Clinton's record to other Presidents, but to his own promises in his 1992 manifesto Putting People First.

     END Reprint

To read the entire report, go to:

     This link will bring you to the above cover sheet. At the bottom of the page you can jump to the full report or watch the video contrast between how Dan Rather grilled Bush in 1988 about Iran-Contra but stayed soft with Clinton this year, avoiding Chinese espionage and contributions. The direct address for these video clips: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/rathervideos.html


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) From Larry King's Monday, May 17, column in USA Today, another gem of insightful reasoning from the CNN star:
     "I can't figure out how religious leaders can support the National Rifle Association. One would think that guns and God don't mix."

     By that reasoning, God opposes the efforts of all soldiers to protect people from the evil aggression of others who are also armed. -- Brent Baker


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