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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday June 10, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 103)

"Gun Lobby" Puppets; Only FNC Noticed Richardson; CNN's McGovernite

1) ABC and NBC picked up Clinton's charge that House Republicans are "taking orders from the gun lobby." ABC devoted a story to how the NRA ominously lobbied to put "loopholes" in the Senate bill.

2) Energy Secretary Richardson condemned new lab security rules and a top Democrat castigated a Richardson deputy for pushing Clinton spin, but only FNC's Carl Cameron took note. He revealed FBI agents accused Justice officials of "deliberate incompetence."

3) Countering the Clinton spin holding Reagan and Bush as equally culpable, Investor's Business Daily determined "the vast majority of the leaks over the past 20 years have sprung on Clinton's watch." And that's not counting recent cases kept suppressed.

4) A New York Observer story revealed that Lou Dobbs had urged Ted Turner to fire Rick Kaplan and Tom Johnson. With Dobbs gone a McGovernite will now oversee the Moneyline show.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Energy Secretary Bill Richardson appeared at an open hearing held by a Senate committee on Wednesday, providing a hook for the networks to catch viewers up on the Chinagate scandal, but only FNC noticed. (Details in item #2 today.) The only scandal which interested the networks: How the Republican House is pushing a weakened gun control bill ominously written by the "gun lobby."

     Clinton denounced the NRA on Wednesday and ABC and NBC jumped.
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw introduced a bite from Clinton: "President Clinton's increasingly bitter battle with the gun lobby heated up again today. He accused House Republicans of trying to push a watered-down version of a gun control bill through Congress, a bill the President said was ghostwritten by the National Rifle Association." Following Clinton's comments disparaging the NRA, NBC ran a story about how talk of gun control is driving up gun sales.

     ABC's World News Tonight devoted a full story to Clinton's complaint and though it included soundbites from a Republican and a NRA official, its angle matched the liberal agenda -- assuming less restrictive gun rules are bad and that there's something wrong with a group, which represents millions of Americans, having input into legislation.
     Anchor Kevin Newman led into a full story by relaying how Clinton charged Republicans with "taking orders from the gun lobby."
     Linda Douglass began her June 9 story: "Democrats charge that the Republican gun control legislation is riddled with loopholes crafted by the National Rifle Association."
     Clinton: "It is a bill plainly ghostwritten by the NRA. I think it is wrong to let the NRA call the shots on this issue."
     Douglass: "One NRA official told ABC News 90 percent of the measure was quote 'our stuff.' The House proposal would weaken some of the restrictions on gun shows passed by the Senate just two weeks ago. For example, the Senate bill required background checks for sales at gun shows where 50 or more guns are for sale. The House would require such checks only on shows with ten or more vendors, no matter how many guns are for sale. The GOP sponsor of the measure insists he was just trying to make it palatable to pro-gun Republicans."
     Henry Hyde asserted the NRA was not involved in writing the bill followed by Wayne LaPierre of the NRA who ABC showed saying: "What you're seeing on the House side is bipartisan rejection of what the Senate passed."
     Douglass outlined the NRA's sinister activity: "Since the Senate passed its gun measure the NRA has had a chance to marshal its forces. It has sent letters to its 2.8 million members warning of the 'cradle-to-grave massive federal regulatory scheme' and urging them to call their Congressmen. Some key targets are Democrats, like Michigan's Bart Stupak."
     After a soundbite from Stupak, Douglass concluded:
     "Gun control groups are also turning up the heat, lobbying their Democratic allies. But party lines are blurred in the House. Some Democrats will fight for gun owner's rights, some Republicans want more gun control. One Republican aide told ABC News tonight it will be a miracle if anything passes."

     ABC News is so far in the tank with liberals that they ignored how conservatives perceive the maneuvering by the House leadership to pass a gun control bill. House leaders are bringing the bill to the floor directly, bypassing the House Judiciary Committee where committee conservatives could tie up the bill. Once again Republican leaders tried to gain good press by appeasing liberals, in this case by cutting a conservative power base out of the loop in order to make sure a gun control bill passes, only to still be portrayed as pushing an extremist agenda.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) A week-and-a-half after he promised to fire Energy Department officials whose incompetence exacerbated the espionage, a promise he has yet to fulfill, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson appeared before the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. It was an open hearing with cameras taping footage any network could use, but only one bothered.

     Richardson denounced the Senate-passed rules clamping down on security and the committee's top Democrat castigated a Richardson deputy for trying to falsely impugn others with language that sounded like it was written at the "political shop over at the White House." I only know this because of Carl Cameron's FNC story which also revealed how FBI agents have accused Justice officials of "deliberate incompetence" in ignoring evidence of espionage.

     On the June 9 Special Report with Brit Hume, Cameron began by pointing out how Richardson told Senators he opposes new security proposals because they "undermine and micro-manage him."
     Cameron moved on: "The chief of Energy Department counter-intelligence, Ed Curran, accompanied Richardson and found himself under fire for claiming several days ago that the Senate knew about China's spying in 1996 and failed to act. The Vice Chairman of the committee, Democrat Bob Kerrey, scolded Curran for being both inaccurate and too partisan."
     Kerrey: "It carried a tone that sounded as if it was written by the political shop over at the White House."
     Cameron: "Curran sat by and watched as his boss acknowledged that the comments and the facts were wrong."

     Cameron explained how the House unanimously passed new security measures proposed in the Cox Report and then concluded with exclusive information about more malfeasance:
     "In rare closed door testimony, Fox News has learned that frustrated rank and file FBI agents told lawmakers that they found ample evidence of Chinese espionage but felt thwarted by senior Justice Department officials. Now sources say law makers will look into the possibility of what's called quote 'deliberate incompetence' by Justice Department officials to sweep it under the carpet."

     FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report culled all this down to 38 seconds, but that's still 38 seconds more than allocated by ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC which all ignored these events of the day. CNN devoted virtually all of The World Today to Kosovo and breaking news of a peace deal wiped out Inside Politics. The other networks, however, found time on June 9 for plenty of other stories:
     -- ABC's World News Tonight looked at the boom in summer jobs for teens and mental health treatment.
     -- CBS Evening News dedicated pieces to the health dangers of cigars, the "smoldering facts on cigars and health" as Dan Rather put it, and "the weather team extreme," meteorologists who check extreme weather claims. The Eye on America story examined racial profiling by police.
     -- NBC Nightly News, prompted by the launch of drkoop.com, devoted the In Depth segments to online health information followed by the efforts of a woman raising money to pay for an experimental operation.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Bill Richardson keeps claiming the espionage spanned from Reagan to Clinton so Clinton should not be blamed more than previous recent Presidents, but a Wednesday Investor's Business Daily article proves the Clinton administration does deserve most of the blame. "A '20-Year' Security Breakdown? In Fact, Leaks To China Ruptured On Clinton's Watch," announced the June 9 headline.

     IBD Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry determined that "the vast majority of the leaks over the past 20 years have sprung on Clinton's watch and nearly all the old leaks have shown up then." Plus, the Cox Report "doesn't disclose the full extent of Chinese espionage in the Clinton years. Citing 'national security' reasons, the White House censored roughly 375 pages, including several recent cases."

     Here's an excerpt of Sperry's illuminating expose in which he did what so few in the Washington media have actually done: Read the Cox Report and then called experts for their analysis and recollections of what policies each administration followed:

Say it enough and it becomes common wisdom.

Two days before a special House report detailed Chinese espionage at U.S. nuclear weapons labs, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said: "There was lax security at the labs in the '70s, '80s and '90s."

On May 25, the day of the report, Richardson said blame should "start in the '70s and '80s."

Five days after the report, he said it "points out some very serious lapses at our national laboratories in the '70s, '80s and the '90s."

He added: "We need to focus on correcting a problem that spanned Republican and Democratic administrations."

That's now the standard press line on Chinese espionage: It spanned 20 years and included both GOP and Democratic administrations.

"From Reagan to Clinton, a spy scandal hard to match: Report details 20 years of laxity as China stole nuclear secrets," echoed USA Today's lead editorial on May 26.

Yet the scandal is anything but seamless. In fact, it bunches up hard around the Clinton administration.

Nearly two weeks ago, Richardson vowed that heads would soon roll. As of press time, he still hasn't said who's on the way out.

The declassified version of the House report identifies 11 cases of Chinese espionage since the late 1970s. Eight took place during President Clinton's years in office. Two of the three prior cases were first learned in 1995 and 1997.

In other words, the vast majority of the leaks over the past 20 years have sprung on Clinton's watch and nearly all the old leaks have shown up then.

That's not all. The House report doesn't disclose the full extent of Chinese espionage in the Clinton years. Citing "national security" reasons, the White House censored roughly 375 pages, including several recent cases.

At least 24 times, the declassified version of the report states: "The Clinton administration has determined further information cannot be made public." Left out are details about Chinese espionage that took place in the "mid-1990s" or "late 1990s."

"Some of the most significant thefts occurred in the last four years," said Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., who headed the House panel.

Former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger says he's not surprised.

"Every existing roadblock inhibiting (China's) nuclear progress has been removed over the past six years," he said in a foreword to an abridged book version of the Cox report.

He also cited the administration's "apparent reluctance to block or punish espionage."

It's now plain that the administration, which still sees China as a "strategic partner," departed from long-standing national security policies.

It relaxed security at the labs, particularly when it came to Chinese visitors and workers. It balked at prosecuting suspected Chinese spies. And it removed controls on dual-use exports to China.

Of course, the end of the Cold War looms large in the security meltdown.

For nearly half a century, the U.S. had been on 24-hour guard against the Soviets' Evil Empire. When it imploded, a new "openness" was born -- especially among defense lab scientists, who saw the chance to turn their fortresses into international science fairs.

This is a "very different time," said a former assistant Energy secretary under Bush. The period of lab openness "began in some form after the demise of the former Soviet Union."

Congress also shares some blame. It was briefed about lab security lapses and spying as early as 1997, Energy officials point out. Yet it failed to take action until this year.

That's scapegoating, argues Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., one of the Cox panel members.

"In the first couple years of this administration, they tore down what had been established practices for security at the labs," he said in an interview.

In fact, the administration took several steps to open up the labs to foreigners, including:

-- Getting rid of color-coded security badges, which guards had used to clear workers for access to classified areas.

-- Stopping FBI background checks -- which the law requires -- on foreign workers and visitors at two of the Energy Department's most sensitive weapons labs -- Los Alamos and Sandia.

Checks ended in the fall of 1993. The next year, Chinese visitors to the two labs more than doubled to 329.

In 1997 -- two years after a Chinese spy was found at Los Alamos -- the labs did background checks on only 2% of visitors from China, the General Accounting Office found.

-- Slashing the lab-security budget 40% since 1992.

-- Declassifying millions of papers about the U.S. nuclear program.

Of course, GAO found security lapses at the labs in the 1980s, too -- but mainly because existing procedures weren't followed.

In fact, previous administrations beefed up counterspying efforts.

"This doesn't say there wasn't spying on my watch, but we spent $1.5 billion covering counterintelligence operations when the Reagan administration came in and acknowledged security problems at the labs," said Frank Gaffney, Reagan's assistant secretary of Defense for international security policy.

Clinton argues, reasonably, that past administrations opened the door to satellite exports to China.

But he also claims he was just following suit. Here, he's at odd with the facts.

Though Reagan and Bush allowed exports of commercial satellites to China, they still worried about the Chinese military getting its hands on dual-use technology. So they maintained export licensing safeguards.

The same can't be said for Clinton.

If satellite technology were a present, the degree of gift-giving among the three Presidents can be compared like this:

Reagan provided the box. Bush provided the paper. Clinton put the technology in the box, wrapped it up, tied a bow and shipped it FedEx to Beijing....

     END Excerpt

     That's only the first half of the story, but space prevents further excerpting today. Unfortunately, the IBD Web site only features that day's stories and has no archive. So, if space permits, on Friday I'll excerpt the rest. You can see Thursday's Investor's Business Daily by going to: http://www.investors.com


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Lou Dobbs has denied that his feud with CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan prompted his resignation, a reason suggested in the June 9 CyberAlert which detailed a battle the two had a couple of weeks ago over putting a Clinton speech on live and thus bumping Moneyline. A New York Observer story about Dobbs revealed that he urged Ted Turner to fire Kaplan as well as CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson.

     With Dobbs now gone a McGovernite brought aboard by Kaplan will oversee the Moneyline show on CNN: Jeff Gralnick.

     -- Why he resigned:

     The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz and Lisa DeMoraes relayed in a June 9 story:
     "'There was an ongoing series of frustrations in dealing with Atlanta,' said one CNN insider. 'There wasn't any big explosion. This has been building for a while.'
     "But financial incentives may have played a larger role. Dobbs, said by a colleague to have caught 'Internet fever,' will become Chairman of Space.com, a Web site that takes off July 20 (the anniversary of the 1969 landing on the moon) and in which he will have a substantial equity stake....
     "Dobbs has privately maintained that he is not quitting because of the difficulties with other CNN executives, and he said last night that the decision comes with 'some pain for all the blood and sweat I put into this place.'...."

     USA Today's Peter Johnson in a June 9 item:
     "Kaplan is said to have viewed Dobbs as entrenched within CNN but past his prime. Dobbs resented that Kaplan, a former ABC News producer, has been able to get tens of millions of dollars for his start-up CNN NewsStand newsmagazine, with negligible ratings results.
     "Yet the recent spat between the two men is said to have nothing to do with Dobbs' leaving. His new venture, Space.com, is a Rockefeller family-financed Web site with news, entertainment and education about space, his pet interest."

     -- A Dobbs diss to Kaplan and how he had urged that all overseeing Tailwind be fired. The MRC's Tim Graham caught a very informative New York Observer piece about Dobbs' tenure at CNN. Jim Rutenberg relayed a few paragraphs in:
     "Mr. Dobbs, reached the evening of June 8, said, 'I called Ted last night at the ranch. We've been friends for nearly two decades and he was good enough to give me the opportunity to pursue my dream.' He added that his dream was to put more information on outer space on the Internet. Asked if he left because of his fight with Mr. Kaplan, he said, 'It has absolutely nothing to do with it. Moments of passing tension in the newsroom are nothing new or unique.' Asked if he had called Mr. Kaplan to say goodbye, Mr. Dobbs said, 'Why would I?'"

     A revealing reply.

     Rutenberg on the Kaplan months at CNN:
Rick Kaplan was hired from ABC in Aug. 1997 in an effort to bring to the scrappy CNN more of a network appeal. "Appointment viewing," they called it. The idea was that CNN had become the station you turned to when there was a war, but not the channel to watch if there wasn't some huge breaking story....

Mr. Kaplan immediately started hiring talent from ABC -- Willow Bay, Jeffrey Greenfield -- for a new, hour-long magazine show called NewsStand. Its first big story is now known, simply, as

Tailwind -- in which hotshot correspondent Peter Arnett got before a camera and said that the U.S. military had used nerve gas on U.S. defectors during Vietnam. The story, it turned out, was indeed too good to be true: It had not been thoroughly nailed and it had to be retracted. Mr. Kaplan had mud on his face and Mr. Dobbs wanted him out.

"He and Dobbs had a major public break over Tailwind," said an ex-CNN executive. "Dobbs was screaming that Johnson and Arnett and Kaplan should all be fired."

Besides the direction of the network, Mr. Kaplan's friendship with the Clintons became an issue between them. (Mr. Kaplan is golfing buddies with the President.) And that was what was simmering beneath Mr. Dobbs' displeasure over allowing the CNN cameras to cut to Littleton, Colo.

     End Excerpt

     To read this whole story, go to: http://www.observer.com/pages/frontpage4.htm

     -- McGovernite now in charge. The June 9 Post story by Kurtz and DeMoraes disclosed:
     "....Rather than name a new President, the network said the two next-highest CNNfn officials would run the operation and report to Johnson.
     "Jeff Gralnick, Executive Vice President for Moneyline and other financial programming, will continue in that role, as will CNNfn's Executive Vice President, David Bohrman. Gralnick joined CNN this year from ABC, where he was a producer and executive for 23 years, and is a former Executive Producer of NBC Nightly News. Bohrman was hired last year after a long career at ABC and NBC, where he oversaw special events.

     The Post left out one noteworthy resume item for Gralnick: Press Secretary to Senator George McGovern in 1971. Gralnick had been in charge of ABCNEWS.com through last year. After his stint with McGovern he joined ABC News, rising to Executive Producer of World News Tonight by 1979 and Vice President in 1985. He jumped to NBC in 1993 to serve as Executive Producer of NBC Nightly News. ABC lured him back in 1996 to run their later-scuttled all-news cable channel.

     The New York Post's Jon Elsen noted that both Bohrman and Gralnick "will report to CNN boss Tom Johnson."

     So, this is who runs CNN: Former McGovern aide Jeff Gralnick oversees financial news and reports to CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson, who toiled in the Lyndon Johnson White House with Bill Moyers. Rick Kaplan, a Clinton buddy and one-time campaign worker in Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential bid, runs the CNN domestic network and reports to Johnson.

     Looks like CNN needs a little diversity. -- Brent Baker


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