Gun Control Too Late; Cox Talks to Fox; Selleck vs. O'Donnell
1) Soundbites advocating the
Senate's gun control bill beat opponents by 3-to-1 on ABC, 2-to-1 on CBS
and 3-to-2 on NBC, but unlike ABC at least CBS and NBC relayed how
Republicans say the answer is "not more laws but enforcing current
ones." NBC gave a Democrat time to say a Hillary Senate run would
"make a difference ...on issues that she cares about -- children,
2) The Senate's agreement
for more gun control, ABC's Ann Compton lamented, "comes too late
to be of much comfort to Littleton."
3) FNC's Carl Cameron
interviewed Chris Cox and learned that "the threat to the United
States is not years, but just months away."
4) The Tom Selleck-Rosie
O'Donnell gun control spat: Guest actor hit with O'Donnell's
vitriol. FNC raised how O'Donnell is a paid spokesperson for a huge gun
dealer. Plus, we have video clips.
5) "Anyone who thinks the
media has nothing to do with this [Littleton] is an idiot." Was that
Gary Bauer or a network Prez?
>>> "Is Tony Coelho Still
Immune from Scrutiny? Gore Names Ex-Congressman Who Resigned Over Ethics
To Head Campaign, But Reporters Go Soft." The latest Media Reality
Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. The MRC's Tim Graham
opened the report: "The Gore campaign drew little media attention
with their May 11 announcement of a new campaign chairman: ex-Rep. Tony
Coelho, a media darling before he resigned in 1989....Try to imagine how
the network news would cover a politician who resigned rather than face
ethics probes by the House or the media if they were named to head a GOP
campaign. Or if they named one of the top check-bouncers of the House bank
(Coelho made the Top 22 with almost $300,000 in hot checks). A non-story?
But the Coelho news did not merit an evening or morning news story on ABC,
CBS, or NBC..." To read the issue on coverage of Coelho, go to:
Every network led Thursday night with the high school shooting in Conyers,
Georgia, and the one-month anniversary of the Columbine shooting, followed
by the Senate vote for more gun control.
In ABC's piece
on the Senate vote reporter Linda Douglass featured soundbites from three
supporters but just one opponent of what passed. CBS reporter Bob
Schieffer delivered a two-to-one soundbite advantage for the pro-gun
control side but at least led into a blast at Janet Reno from Senator
Larry Craig by relaying the conservative argument that the answer is
"not more laws but enforcing current ones." NBC Nightly News
viewers saw a three-to-one pro-gun control soundbite ratio in Gwen
Ifill's story, but she also highlighted the argument about current lack
of enforcement and uniquely passed along how "the powerful National
Rifle Association...called today's Senate action in a statement 'a
charade' that 'won't stop the crisis in our schools.'"
Counting her recitation of the NRA's take would bring NBC to a 3-to-2
Kirtz provided a fairly even-handed piece on the Fox Report and Bob
Franken's story for CNN's The World Today uniquely went beyond just
guns to explain other aspects of the juvenile justice bill.
The other big news
of the night: Speculation that Hillary Clinton is leaning toward a run for
the Senate from New York. CBS anchor Dan Rather talked to Gloria Borger
about it and it was the subject of the In Depth segment on NBC Nightly
News. NBC's Andrea Mitchell did not air the views of any detractors, but
did provide Democratic operative Mandy Grunwald a soundbite to express how
great her run would be for the children: "I think the most important
plus is that she would be able to make a difference for New Yorkers on
issues that she cares about -- children, families."
Here's how the
three broadcast networks, on Thursday night May 20, handled the Senate
vote in favor of background checks at gun shows and for guns reclaimed by
owners at pawn shops:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Linda Douglass relayed how Vice President Al Gore went to
the Capitol to break a tie vote. After battling soundbites from Democrat
Charles Schumer and Republican Orrin Hatch on the need for more
regulations, Douglass briefly outlined the provisions of the bill and
noted how all but six Republicans opposed it and all but one Democrat
Douglass explained: "All week Republican
leaders scrambled to come with a plan that would bring Republican
defectors into line, but to no avail."
ABC then showed freshman Republican Senator Peter
Fitzgerald of Illinois, who voted for the additional rules: "I made
it clear I wasn't inclined to switch my position on this, that I was
going to vote my conscience."
In other words, he
voted the same way Senator Braun, the liberal Democrat he beat last year
with support from conservatives, would have.
provided the most generous interpretation of why a Democrat switched sides
to back the bill: "Georgia Democrat Max Cleland, who had vote against
his party's strict gun show rules, today voted for them. He was swayed
by new details in the proposal but pushed over the top by this morning's
Cleland: "It was a high school shooting in
my own backyard in Georgia that really made me convinced that that was the
right thing to do."
Douglass concluded by recalling how the week has
brought passage of several new gun laws.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather, anchoring from
in front of Columbine High School, intoned:
"Against the backdrop of that Georgia school
shooting today and the much more serious shooting here in Littleton last
month, there was at least a minor setback today for the gun lobby and its
allies in Congress. The Senate reversed course and approved a modest gun
Bob Schieffer began by showing Gore announcing
his vote which gave the gun control side 51 votes, saying: "It was a
dramatic moment as the Vice President broke a tie vote. To Democrats it
meant the grip of the National Rifle Association had finally been
Schieffer played a bite of Senator Tom Daschle
calling it a victory for the country and then relayed the view of most
Republicans: "To the last, Republicans argued the answer was not more
laws but enforcing current ones."
Senator Larry Craig, on the floor, asserted:
"Janet Reno your record of law enforcement is dismal. You winked and
nodded at the law and now it's time you wide-eyedly moved to the street
and arrest the criminal who uses the gun."
Schieffer picked up: "But it was the Georgia
shooting which brought new urgency to the debate."
Senator Charles Schumer: "This morning while
we're compromising with the gun lobby, ambulances are rushing to
Heritage High School to save children from another shooting."
up by showing pictures of those who defected from each party. The one
Democrat: Max Baucus. The six Republicans: Warner, Voinovich, Lugar,
Fitzgerald, Dewine and Chafee.
-- NBC Nightly News. Gwen Ifill opened by
reporting how it was only the fourth time Gore has broke a tie vote. She
then played a lengthy soundbite of Gore afterward in the Senate press
gallery claiming it showed the Senate finally turning the corner to
protect children. Ifill added a comment from Max Cleland about how that
morning's shooting pushed him to join the Senate to "stand
tall" on the issue.
Ifill then moved to the GOP perspective:
"Even in defeat, Republicans arguing that new controls at gun shows
will be pointless unless existing laws are enforced."
Senator Orrin Hatch: "The biggest loophole
for criminals is the lack of enforcement of our criminal laws that
currently exist by our Attorney General and this administration."
Ifill: "An argument embraced by the powerful
National Rifle Association which called today's Senate action in a
statement 'a charade' that 'won't stop the crisis in our
schools,' an argument dismissed by Democrats."
Daschle: "What you just saw is the NRA
losing its grip on the United States Senate at long last."
Too little too late to "comfort" those in Littleton.
"Comfort," not effectiveness, is apparently what ABC's Ann
Compton thinks should be the goal of legislation.
Check out her
preview of Clinton's trip to Colorado as transcribed from Thursday's
Good Morning America by MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson:
"In those agonizing days right after the
shooting, President Clinton wasn't able to go to Littleton, but today he
is able to go, bringing more than just comfort. In private he will console
the victims and families, in public the entire Littleton community. But
the President is also going as the U.S. Senate is poised to pass gun
control legislation that was just unthinkable a month ago. The Republican
leadership now supports background checks for private gun buyers at
otherwise unregulated gun shows and checks on guns reclaimed at pawn
shops. President Clinton wanted more, and this all, of course, comes too
late to be of much comfort to Littleton."
FNC's Carl Cameron delivered another first Thursday night, the first
evening show interview with Congressman Chris Cox, days before his special
committee's report is to finally be released. (Cox appeared on last
Sunday's This Week on ABC but has not made it onto any of the network
evening shows recently.)
FNC's 6pm ET/9pm
PT Special Report with Brit Hume led with Cameron's report and a
condensed version aired on the 7pm ET Fox Report. Cameron ominously began:
"The principal author of a congressional
report on Chinese nuclear espionage says the threat to the United States
is not years, but just months away."
Cox explained: "We can look forward for
example to the testing later this year of a new intercontinental ballistic
missile and we can look forward to that missile being mated with a warhead
that is built upon United States nuclear weapons secrets."
Cameron asked: "Have we as a nation enabled
China to rip us off blind?"
Cox confirmed: "No other nation has stolen
from the United States what the People's Republic of China has gotten
away with, neither has any nation having stolen such significant
information used it to development weapons systems aimed at us. In
addition to nuclear warheads themselves, missile technology is something
that the United States has seen stolen repeatedly of late and over the
past several years and decades....." Cox also cited submarine,
aircraft and stealth technology.
Cameron noted how
600 "super computers" have been exported to China and
"China violated export terms and used them for nuclear weapons
Cox elaborated: "Our concerns were both with
diversion of high performance computers to unlicenced locations and quite
frankly with their delivery to the intended locations in several
circumstances because they should never have been sold to places they were
Cameron picked up: "U.S.
counter-intelligence knew that, but the Commerce Department kept approving
exports. Cox blames a communications breakdown." Cox asserted that
the Secretary of Commerce was never briefed about the misuse.
Wen Ho Lee is one
of two principal suspects, Cameron reminded viewers, adding: "The
other suspect, first identified by Fox News, is Peter Lee who admitted
passing secrets to China but plea-bargained to lying about his Chinese
Instead of making an example of Lee who gave
secrets "to the largest communist government on Earth," Cox
complained, "we sent him to a half-way house in Garden Grove
California for a year. That's exactly the opposite message that we
should be sending."
As for who is
culpable, "the Cox Report blames the Justice Department among others,
on several levels," Cameron relayed. Cox told Cameron that his
committee got more cooperation from agencies like Defense and the CIA.
Asked why he told Cameron that Justice put confidentiality of its
investigations ahead of national security.
by reporting that the Cox Report is expected to be released on Tuesday.
+++ Hear all of
what Cox told FNC. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post a
RealPlayer clip of Cameron's story. Since the Selleck/O'Donnell feud
will bring in more visitors to the MRC site than this kind of policy story
in my judgment, the MRC home page will feature an O'Donnell video. So,
we'll post this alongside this item in the posted version of this
CyberAlert. Go to the MRC home page and under "Our Newest Stuff"
click on the May 21 CyberAlert. It will also be accessible on our video
Daytime TV talk show host Rosie O'Donnell's pouncing on
guest Tom Selleck on Wednesday for his support of the NRA
generated a bit of a buzz on Thursday with stories in many
newspapers and on entertainment news shows. Selleck went on her
show to promote his movie, The Love Letter. The MRC does not
tape her show, but we have posted on our home page the two
longest clips from the exchange that we found on other shows.
Details below. USA Today and the New York Post provided the most
complete accounts of what transpired and they are excerpted
& ABC stories
replaced by actual show clip
Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood led with the controversy, but
of news shows only Good Morning America and FNC's Fox Report touched the
subject, plus CNN's Showbiz Today. Of those three, only FNC, in picking
up an argument made in a publicity stunt by Howard Stern, pointed out how
O'Donnell appears in ads for K-Mart which is a huge seller of guns. She
holds the NRA culpable for making the school shootings possible. Applying
her own logic to herself, then as a paid commercial promoter of K-Mart she
is part of an enterprise which enables kids to get guns to kill other
On the May 20 Fox
Report Bill McCuddy showed Stern outside of the NBC/GE building where
O'Donnell does her show. In the midst of a big crowd as he broadcast his
radio show live Stern blasted away: "Why's she confronting Tom
Selleck when in fact she's a gun saleswoman....This is a joke. This is
again Rosie O'Donnell being a hypocrite. She is not willing to debate
someone because I would bring up a few things like her K-Mart connection
and she doesn't want that on the air."
McCuddy explained Stern's reference: "That
connection would be Rosie's role as K-Mart spokeswoman which just
happens to be one of the country's largest gun dealers."
unfamiliar with O'Donnell, she rose to prominence as one of the woman
baseball players in the film A League of Their Own, produced by her friend
Penny Marshall who co-stars with her in ads for the nationwide gun dealer
known as K-Mart. Her syndicated daytime show, produced by Warner Brothers
and taped at NBC's Rockefeller Center, is now in its third season.)
Web site features a "Fight Gun Violence Now!" link to a page
with links to the office of gun control crusading Congresswoman Carolyn
McCarthy and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. O'Donnell's Web
And now to what
happened on Wednesday. Below are excerpts from two newspaper stories
followed by descriptions of clips you can watch.
-- New York Post,
May 20. "Ragin' Rosie Ambushes Selleck" by reporter Michael
"Queen of Nice" Rosie O'Donnell
ripped into guest Tom Selleck on live TV yesterday -- taking potshots at
the hunky heartthrob for supporting the National Rifle Association.
A shocked Selleck called Rosie's rant
"absurd" during the tension-filled segment -- which crashed to a
halt when O'Donnell apologized for ambushing the appalled actor.
The bearded Selleck, whose face appears in
a current print ad for the NRA, had gone on "The Rosie O'Donnell
Show" to plug his movie "The Love Letter," which opens
But soon after sitting down, he was
attacked by O'Donnell -- who last month used a guest-hosting appearance on
"Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" to blast NRA President
Charlton Heston after the Columbine HS massacre.
"There's no reason, in my opinion, to
have [guns]," O'Donnell said as Selleck sipped his tea. "You
want to have a hunting rifle, great! A hand gun, great!" An angry
Selleck shot back: "Do you really think the Second Amendment is in
the Constitution to guarantee hunting and target shooting? Do you really
O'Donnell, to applause from her studio
audience, replied: "I think [the Second Amendment] is in the
Constitution so we can have muskets when the British people come over in
1800 -- I don't think it's in the Constitution to have assault weapons in
the year 2000.
"This is the problem -- people with
opposing views, there is no compromise. You feel attacked, I feel
"I haven't attacked you," Selleck
retorted, adding: "I disagreed with you. I haven't mentioned assault
weapons once. I didn't come on your show to have a debate. I came on your
show to plug a movie -- that's what I'm doing here...I think you're being
stupid....This is absurd! You're calling me a spokesman for the NRA? Don't
put words in my mouth...You're questioning my humanity."
-- May 20 USA Today. "Rosie guns down
Selleck's 'Love' talk" by Life section columnist Jeannie Williams:
....It began well with a hug. Selleck
quipped cutely that he and wife Jillie Mack will have to screen a Love
Letter print in the parking lot this weekend because the local cineplex is
showing only that lightsaber epic.
Then O'Donnell promised a polite discussion
on NRA-related issues. Selleck has appeared in an NRA ad promoting
responsible gun ownership. He once was a junior member learning gun safety
and rejoined three months ago.
O'Donnell, a passionate gun-control
advocate, pressed him on issues of safety locks and a ban on assault
rifles. But Selleck wouldn't address them, denied he is an NRA spokesman
and accused her of "moral vanity" in seeing only one side.
Referring to the Bill of Rights, he said,
"Are we responsible enough in our society to be this free? My answer
is 'probably not,'" but "I am going to go down with the
Selleck grew visibly more unhappy as
O'Donnell pressed him, insisting he must be an NRA spokesman. "This
has not gone the way I hoped," she finally said. "I apologize if
you felt insulted."
I had been scheduled to talk to Selleck
right after Rosie, and he told me, "I wasn't real happy with the
show. It was pretty unprofessional." He declined to talk about it
further but added, "I found it enormously striking, the subject
matter she chose, as there are all these tiny action figures holding
weapons and war machines on her desk." O'Donnell is doing a Star Wars
-- See clips of the O'Donnell show. Friday
morning by 10:30am ET MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post two RealPLayer
a) A Thursday Good Morning America segment from
just after 8am that MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught. Charlie Gibson
and Diane Sawyer briefly discuss the controversy and played two bits of
video from the show. Introducing a clip of Selleck complaining that
O'Donnell has a one-sided point of view and keeps cutting him off,
Sawyer insisted it showed how "things really got inflamed."
b) CNN's Showbiz Today story on Thursday. Host
Jim Moret referred to the "heated exchange" as he introduced a
clip of Selleck and O'Donnell arguing over whether he's a spokesman
who must defend the NRA. At one point O'Donnell sarcastically asks him
if he's read his "I'm the NRA" ad.
Actually, not to
dissuade you from watching these video excerpts, but it is only
"inflamed" and "heated" by daytime talk show standards
where interviewers normally kiss-up to guests. They do get angry with each
other, but it's a lot milder than the average Crossfire.
To see these
clips, go to this item in the posted CyberAlert or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
CBS President Les Moonves is sounding like Gary Bauer. Moonves has put a
hole in the entertainment community's wall of denial about having any
impact on people's behavior. FNC's Bill McCuddy noted Thursday night:
"CBS President Les Moonves today pulled a
Mafia-themed show, calling it too violent, and saying quote 'Anyone who
thinks the media has nothing to do with the bloodshed is an
referring to the decision to not schedule a new drama this fall called
Falcone. The AP's David Bauder provided more details in a May 19
"CBS left a drama about mobsters off its
fall prime-time schedule because of concerns about violent programming in
the wake of the Littleton school massacre.
"'It's not the right time to have people
being whacked on the streets of New York,' CBS President Leslie Moonves
"Moonves said he screened the pilot for a
new drama, Falcone, the week after 13 people at Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colo. were killed by two teen-aged boys who later killed
themselves. The massacre happened on April 20.
"'It did affect us. It really did,' he
"While it's not fair to blame the media for
the rampage, Moonves said that 'anyone who thinks the media has nothing
to do with this is an idiot.'"
"'We felt a responsibility not to put it
on now,' he said. 'It just didn't feel right.'"
"CBS announced its prime-time schedule on
Wednesday and included six new series. Falcone is still being considered
as a mid-season replacement, Moonves said."
Personally, I wish we'd see more focus on the
responsibility of the perpetrators than on finding others to blame, but as
for Moonves putting this show on mid-season, hey, you can't expect
principle in Hollywood to last more than a couple of sweeps periods. --
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