CBS's "Good Thought" to Restrict Free Speech; Another Spy Case?
1) CBS anchor John Roberts
lamented that "for all of the talk of campaign finance reform,"
Bush set a record. Bob Schieffer said "that's a good thought"
to McCain's case for banning soft money.
2) The national media in
Washington don't care, but an Alabama editorial writer is out in front
on the fresh revelations of an Energy agent: "Whistleblower's Tale
May Detail Another Spy Case."
3) On CNN Howard Kurtz pressed
Dan Rather about the contrast in how he approached Bush in 1988 versus
Clinton in 1999. Rather claimed Clinton had already been asked the tough
4) Joe Klein on how
impeachment will be viewed: "A hundred years from now, people are
gonna look back on that period kind of the way we look back on
>>> A Holiday Weekend Video Treat: See and hear
Dan Rather look goofy singing a train song, The Wreck of the Old
Ninety-Seven, on the Late Show with David Letterman back on June 22, 1994.
He really did try to sing and even imitated the sound of a train whistle.
Rather has not been nearly so wacky in his appearances since this one five
years ago. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry posted the video clip in RealPlayer
format and it will stay up until the middle of next week. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
Correction: The June 30
CyberAlert misspelled the name of an Energy Department
counter-intelligence agent. It's Bob Henson, not Hensen.
Prompted by George W. Bush's record fundraising CBS reporter Bob
Schieffer argued there's too much money in politics, saying
"that's a good thought" to McCain's case for banning soft
All the networks
led Wednesday night with the Federal Reserve's quarter point hike of the
discount rate, but all also looked at the predicted second quarter FEC
filings of the presidential candidates. On ABC Peter Jennings noted of
Bush's money intake: "It's a staggering amount of money to have
raised a year and a half before the election." NBC Nightly News
concentrated on Bill Bradley as Gwen Ifill explained that his $11.5
million raised, compared to Gore's $18 million, makes him a credible
opponent for the Vice President.
Schieffer's story on the need for campaign finance reform anchor John
Roberts lamented: "For all of the talk of campaign finance reform,
new fundraising figures show one Republican candidate already has raised
multi-millions more than all of his GOP rivals combined."
began: "Presidential candidate John McCain is a long-time reformer
and critic of pork-barrel politics, but this New Hampshire stop was gilded
After a clip of McCain in New Hampshire making
the case for his "reform" bill, Schieffer explained his
assertion and revealed that to him raising a lot of money is bad in
"Ironic because his plea came on the very
day campaign fundraising was breaking all known records. As powerful
Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which regulates thousands of
American businesses, McCain himself has had the clout to raise a whopping
four million dollars, more than all the other Republicans except George
Bush" who has raised $36 million, double the $18 million raised by
Gore as Bill Bradley hauled in $11 million.
his fundraising shows support for his candidacy before Schieffer continued
his case for more regulation:
"Whatever the case, modern politics with all
its trappings, has become so expensive even the reformers like John McCain
see nothing wrong with candidates raking in so much from individuals. So
McCain concentrates instead on just trying to outlaw the huge backdoor
contributions from special interests."
McCain: "What I find wrong is six figure
numbers amounts of money which then buys people nights in the Lincoln
bedroom, seats on official trade missions, all kinds of influence which is
Schieffer concluded by endorsing McCain's view:
"That's a good thought, but with Congress showing almost no
interest in reform don't expect anything to change anytime soon.
Campaign spending is through the roof, about to set new altitude records
and the election isn't until next year."
bother to explain that soft money is rising because of the $1,000 per
person donation limit which has not been raised since 1974, so with
inflation that means the amount an individual can give each cycle
effectively drops year by year. But as Newt Gingrich observed a few years
ago, liberals see the problem as too much money in politics while
conservative realize there's really too little. Major corporations spend
far more on advertising each year than all the presidential candidates
combined. In 1998, according to Advertising Age, one cable channel -- ESPN
-- earned $756 million from advertising sales. That's 21 times more than
Bush has raised so far.
If a guy hundreds of miles away in Alabama can work the phone to figure it
out why can't network producers and reporters in Washington, DC? After
reading the June 30 CyberAlert item about Carl Cameron's Fox News
Channel story on explosive secret testimony to the House Government Reform
Committee from Energy official Bob Henson, Quin Hillyer, an editorial
writer at the Mobile Register, alerted me to how he revealed the basics of
the intriguing story in an op-ed run in Monday's Washington Times.
Indeed, in the
June 28 piece for the Times on reprisals against the whistleblowers,
"Finally, there's Bobby Henson. He's the
physicist who alerted Dr. Trulock to the Chinese espionage. The Wall
Street Journal has detailed how he was twice fired despite Dr. Trulock's
protestations, and only was reinstated earlier this month after the spy
case came to public attention. His testimony to the committee was so
explosive that it had to be conducted as a classified briefing. He
reportedly outlined previously unknown examples of spying by both China
In a column in
Wednesday's (June 30) Mobile Register, "Whistleblower's Tale May
Detail Another Spy Case," Hillyer outlined what happened in
Washington, DC last week, which all the DC electronic media but FNC have
skipped, and what it might mean:
The more Bobby Henson talked, the more his
interviewers blanched. Should we get ready for the next spy scandal?
Bobby Henson is the twice-fired nuclear
physicist who first alerted his boss, Notra Trulock, to possible espionage
at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. Trulock, in turn, alerted the world.
On June 18 The Wall Street Journal ran a 1,100 word story about how Henson
had finally gotten his job back, courtesy of publicity about the spying he
had so bravely identified.
Five days later, members and staff of the
House Committee on Government Reform were debriefing Henson about
testimony he would give the next day. He was a scheduled witness in the
committee's hearing about federal whistleblowers who had been punished,
rather than praised, for their efforts. By the time he was finished, the
whole scenario had changed. It seems he had more to talk about than mere
mistreatment at his job.
The next day, the hearing began as planned,
with four other federal workers telling of being harassed or demoted for
trying to warn about national security lapses. But when Henson's turn
arrived, the hearing suddenly became classified. It was moved to a secure
room where reporters were disallowed, as were any staff without the
highest security clearance.
What Henson had started to say the night
before involved yet more security breaches, reportedly by the Chinese and
the Russians. The committee followed up with another classified meeting on
This could be big.
Indeed it could,
but you'll probably have to order a subscription by mail to the Mobile
Register or watch Fox News Channel to hear any more about it.
Hillyer's column, he filled in some details on the treatment of the
whistleblowers whose testimony last week was ignored by all the television
networks except FNC:
It comes against the backdrop of testimony
that already was chilling. I spoke with two of the whistleblowers, and
have a copy of the memorandum submitted as evidence by a third.
Edward McCallum, the director of Safeguards
and Security at the Department of Energy, was placed on administrative
leave in April, within days of testifying to the President's Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board (the Rudman commission). The department claims
that he "may have been involved in a potential unauthorized
disclosure of classified information."
The allegation involves two phone
conversations he had with a contractor at the Rocky Flats nuclear
facility. The charge is absurd. The transcript of the calls is available
on the web site of the Government Accountability Project. McCallum and the
contractor talked in only generic terms about security problems at the
site -- the supposed "unauthorized disclosure" -- but spent most
of the time discussing plans to bring the problems to light before a
"mushroom cloud" erupts over Denver.
The conversations were clearly not a
security breach, but rather an example of a concerned official trying to
ensure the public safety.
McCallum told me that he has asked the
Energy Department to let his case be decided by an impartial third party,
such as the inter-agency U.S. Security Policy Board. The department has
not yet responded.
Even Rep. Henry Waxman, the Californian
with a reputation as being among the most partisan Democrats in the House,
concluded at Thursday's hearing that DOE had badly mistreated McCallum.
Peter Leitner, a civil servant for 22
years, is a strategic trade adviser for the Defense Technology Security
Administration. He says that since 1990 he has been warning against
various technology transfers to China, and that the Bush administration
often ignored him just as the Clintonites do now. "But the Clinton
appointees are by far the most vindictive," he told me.
"I refused to approve a license which
would have allowed the Chinese to obtain an entire defense factory full of
very advanced machine tools which they can use for a variety of militarily
productive goals. [When his superiors approved the license anyway], the
tools were diverted to a cruise missile factory."
Leitner says his performance reviews
suddenly started dropping, and that he was denied bonuses and within-grade
pay increases. "I became a GS-15 before many colleagues who are now
ahead of me on the pay scale," he said. "I, my wife, and my four
children are now between $75,000 and $100,000 poorer than we would have
been if I had simply gone with the flow ... and all for just following my
job description and keeping an eye on national security."....
Making the rounds to plug his book collection of radio commentaries,
Deadlines and Datelines, Dan Rather, who gave puffball interviews this
year to Bill and Hillary Clinton, insisted that he believes in posing
Kurtz pressed him about his tough approach to George Bush in 1988 compared
to his softball approach to Bill Clinton at the end of March this year.
Rather defended his Clinton interview, maintaining Clinton had already
been asked the tough questions about the Lewinsky scandal "at news
conferences and at other forums." Putting the inaccuracy of that
aside, repetitiveness didn't matter to Rather in 1988. Defending that
interview style to CNBC's Chris Matthews, Rather maintained: "I was
doing what reporters do and that is asking the tough questions and keep
pressing it either until he answered or until it was clear he wasn't
going to answer."
Here are brief
excerpts from two recent Rather appearances:
Reliable Sources on June 26. Host Howard Kurtz asked about George W. Bush:
"Is the press giving him a pretty easy ride. Should there be tougher
questions toward Governor Bush?"
Rather replied: "Well Howard, good question.
I always believe in tougher questions..."
Kurtz later made
the MRC's point about the interview contrast:
"You were also very aggressive with Vice
President Bush when you interviewed him on CBS during the Iran-Contra
affair. But when you interviewed President Clinton a couple months ago,
after this long impeachment ordeal, you asked him such things as: 'How
is the first family holding up?' 'Did the past year have a moral?'
'What can parents tell their children about this whole episode?' Why
didn't you ask him, you know, 'Mr. President, with all due respect, you
put the country through a terrible ordeal, you lied to your friends and
closest advisers, and how can anyone trust you again?' Were you pulling
"No, I don't pull punches. I go into each interview thinking to
myself, 'How can I make this the best interview I've ever done, and how
can I make the best interview he's ever done?' But the question is fair.
First of all, he'd been asked a version of those questions at news
conferences and at other forums -- that's number one. Number two, you
know, I've learned that there are three things that every man at CBS News
thinks he can do better than any other man: one is to judge a Miss America
contest, two is coach the Knicks, and three is to do big interviews.
Everybody has their idea about how the interview should be done. I sized
up the moment -- the news moment, if you will, sized up President Clinton,
and I thought the interview was as revealing as anything he had done. On
another day he might have done it a different way."
-- CNBC's Hardball on June 28. MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens caught this illuminating exchange about the 1988 Bush
interview. Rather told Chris Matthews he didn't agree with the view that
he was too aggressive:
"Well you know I have a little different
view of that Chris. I recognize that what you just described is widely
believed. I having gone through it, I think the situation was that
President, then Vice President Bush, didn't want to answer questions
about Iran-Contra. And the reason and again there is no joy in saying this
that he was at the very least skirting the truth about his involvement in
sending some of America's best technology to the Ayatollah Khomeini. He
didn't want to answer the questions. And he was advised going in, this
is my view of things, 'well if Rather starts pressing you on that then
you need to turn to the attack.' Which he did."
Matthews: "Right, he did. He got
Rather: "And I think that part was planned.
Yeah. Now Bob Woodward in his new book says well when he launched the
attack Rather didn't have an answer. I have no argument. Bob is a friend
of mine I understand the book is great. But the fact of the matter is I
did then what I did with the Nixon thing which is to say, 'Okay let's
pause. Let that sink into the audience and can we please get back to the
subject at hand.' I did have an answer of course. You can argue it
wasn't a very good answer but I had an answer for it. But you know when
you play anywhere near the top, at or near the top in politics you expect
rough play. You better expect it because it's gonna happen and it goes
with the territory. I thought about that time, 'Look he was doing he
felt what he had to do as a politician trying to position himself to get
the presidency.' I was doing what reporters do and that is asking the
tough questions and keep pressing it either until he answered or until it
was clear he wasn't going to answer."
You can view evidence of Rather's bias by
watching RealPlayer clips the MRC has posted of three of his interviews.
-- Dan Rather
Video Bias Contrast. Compare these two interviews as noted by Kurtz.
In his infamous January 25, 1988 CBS Evening News interview an aggressive
Dan Rather grilled VP George Bush about Iran-Contra, repeatedly cutting
him off and arguing with him. Rather declared "You've made us
hypocrites in the face of the world."
But on March 31 of this year when Rather interviewed President Clinton for
60 Minutes II he avoided Chinese espionage and donations and gave Clinton
plenty of time to portray himself as defender of the Constitution against
partisan conservatives who tried to impeach him. Rather asked about
Clinton's "feelings" on Kosovo and lightheartedly wondered what
he'd do as the husband of a Senator.
Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/rathervideos.html
Click on "for
more details" to go to the CyberAlert report on the Clinton
interview. The direct address: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990401.html#1
Dan Rather slobbered all over Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes II, urging her
to run for President and gushing: "Once a political lightning rod,
today she is political lightning."
Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
and scroll down to the 5/27 entry.
Again, click on
"for more details" to go to the CyberAlert report on this
interview. Or, go directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990527.html#4
Clinton as a victim in a Salem witch trials atmosphere. On the first
edition of CNN's summer run of 8pm and 1am ET on Tuesdays of Late
Edition/Primetime, The New Yorker's Joe Klein dismissed the credibility
of the impeachment process.
MRC analyst Paul
Smith caught this on the June 29 show from the author of Primary Colors:
"I think that the impeachment process was a
culmination of a 25-year period of insanity that began with Watergate and
culminated in this. It's been a period where Washington, the public
discourse has become incredibly noxious. The public has finally, has over
the last three or four years sent a message that they're not interested
in this and I think a hundred years from now, people are gonna look back
on that period kind of the way we look back on Salem."
I'd assume Klein's reference to "that
period" means the "last three or four years," not the
Reagan or Nixon years. Klein may be on to something when it comes to the
media elite. After all, Dan Rather has already forgotten about the
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