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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday September 15, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 153)  

Too Much Press Scrutiny of Hillary?; Global Warming's "Killer Mosquitos"

1) "Hurricane Dan" Rather in place in Savannah to get blown around by the "intense and immense" Hurricane Floyd.

2) Dan Rather delivered a one-sided story on the attitude toward illegals as he skated over how the Governor of California subverted the will of the people.

3) Poor Hillary Clinton, a victim of too much press scrutiny. On Nightline a New York Daily News reporter sympathetically suggested "Mrs. Clinton has had no opportunity to road test her act."

4) ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer allowed Al Gore and George W. Bush to proclaim their religious faith, but while Gore claimed he doesn't want to advertise his beliefs, he boasted of having done so.

5) ABC blamed "killer mosquitos" on global warming, claiming supposed experts hope "tropical disease cropping up in northern climates will be a wake-up call to the consequences of global warming." In fact, environmentalists may end up killing more.

    Correction: The September 13 CyberAlert stated that "The $300,000 loan by Bob Dole to Newt Gingrich upset the media, but a loan four times larger given to the Clintons by a political operative deep in fundraising scandals has yet to arose media concern." I was a letter short. That should have read "...has yet to arouse..."1 

rather0915.jpg (8673 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Hurricane Dan. Over half of Tuesday's three broadcast network evening shows were devoted to the impending east coast hit of Hurricane Floyd. At the end of the CBS Evening News Dan Rather, live from Savannah, promised viewers: "Stay with this CBS station for CBS News's traditionally strong hurricane coverage." Opening the show on Monday night an excited Rather boasted of how this hurricane is "intense and immense."

     There's nothing like seeing Dan Rather gripping a pole as hurricane winds blow him around, so over the next days and hours the MRC will post still shots and/or video clips of Rather when we see some entertaining stuff. Shortly after this CyberAlert is sent we'll post a shot from CBS's This Morning of Rather in a rainy though pre-hurricane Savannah, but decked out in his hurricane windbreaker. As the storm hits, the Rather video should only get better.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Anchoring the CBS Evening News from Los Angeles on Monday night, Dan Rather delivered a one-sided story on the attitude of legal residents toward illegals as he skated over how the Governor subverted the will of the people.

     Rather hooked his story on how low unemployment has supposedly quieted anger at illegal immigrants. Recalling the attitude during Governor Wilson's years, an immigration lawyer got the first soundbite of the piece to bemoan: "It was an awful period." Rather attributed the success of Proposition 187, which was to deny state aid to illegal residents, to dark forces, specifically, "hostility to illegals." Rather added:
     "As California's unemployment dropped from eight percent to just more than five percent [on screen: 5.9], much of the fear and anger toward undocumented workers dropped too."
     Robert Rubin, attorney for immigrants: "It was a product of the politicians cynically playing on the people's fears about their economic security."

     Without ever airing a counter to Rubin's left-wing spin, Rather later added: "Nearly 80 percent of Californians of Hispanic heritage voted for California's new Governor, Democrat Gray Davis. In July Davis agreed to essentially scrap Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant law."

     Actually, Davis refused to pursue an appeal of a ruling by a liberal activist federal judge striking down parts of 187. So Davis failed to follow the will of the people, but that didn't concern Rather.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Thirty-three days after President Clinton announced his decision to pardon the Puerto Rican terrorists, ABC's Nightline finally got around to the subject. At about 1am ET, after Monday night football. Those in the Mountain and Pacific time zones saw it on time, but not New Yorkers.

     While none of the three reporters who discussed the situation with anchor Chris Bury believed Hillary Clinton's story that she never talked about the offer with her husband beforehand, she was still portrayed as a victim by one New York reporter. As noted by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, on the September 13 show Bury got a very sympathetic answer when he asked:
     "At the same time, Joel, it seems to be part of the problem for Mrs. Clinton that she failed to consult the Puerto Rican politicians and it was that, as much as the clemency position, which seems to have angered them."
     Joel Siegel of the New York Daily News replied that the problem is not the pardon decision but how much scrutiny Hillary must endure:
     "Well, that was a problem. New York clearly is a very difficult state to run in. There are lots of different ethnic groups, religious groups. All of them are significant blocs that you have to put together to win an election. But I think another thing going on here is that Mrs. Clinton has had no opportunity to road test her act. From the minute she became a possible candidate, she's gotten saturation coverage. When she announced that she was seriously exploring a race in Senator Moynihan's farm, there were 250 reporters and photojournalists up there, and while the number of people has declined somewhat, there's a huge horde following her at every turn and anything she does is being looked at under a microscope. Four or five months before Chuck Schumer had election day, his election, there was maybe a bus load, I mean a van load of people following him. That's not the case with Mrs. Clinton. Everything she does is being looked at very, very carefully."

     Later, Siegel seemed to be implying that the controversy was improperly fueled by her political enemies: "Well, also one of the beauties of this race is not only does the First Lady have a powerful platform, but so does Mayor Giuliani. And let's not overlook the fact that he had a role in fomenting criticism to this whole clemency issue. He had his police commissioner, an appointee of his, out there almost every day with victims or relatives of victims of the FALN bombings, you know, criticizing the Clinton decision on this. Vito Fossella, a very close political ally of the Mayor and a Congressman from Staten Island, took the lead down in Washington in having press conferences and criticizing the Clintons on this, so there's..."
     Bury jumped in: "You also had Ed Koch, though, who's a sworn enemy of Rudy Giuliani and a backer of Hillary Clinton, criticizing her on it."
     Siegel: "Oh that's, no. Oh, that's absolutely true. I'm just point out that there's another dynamic at work here, that there are people who are willing and are eager and are able at ever misstep to jump in and make it worse."

     Well, without them those outside New York City might never have learned about the release plan. After all, initially all but FNC skipped the story. ABC's World News Tonight didn't get around to reporting it until September 5.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Al Gore and George W. Bush got an opportunity on Monday's World News Tonight to proclaim their faith, as ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer noted how Gore now backs traditionally Republican ideas to "create church-state partnerships." Gore claimed he doesn't want to advertise his beliefs, but then he boasted of having done so.

     Wehmeyer began her September 13 piece by playing a clip of Gore saying he considers himself born again:
     "It's very personal and I don't want to be advertising all of the particulars and details, but yes, when I was a young man I had an experience that would come under that heading which was a very intense awareness of the presence and meaning of Jesus and the message of God through Jesus. And I do believe that the purpose of life is to glorify God, to live your life in a way that adds to God's glory."
     Wehmeyer asked him: "Some skeptics or critics have said, we haven't heard Al Gore talking about God in the last eight years. Why now?"
     Gore: "Well first of all that's not the case. I have talked about my religious faith over and over and over again. I've delivered sermons in churches, I've given speeches on any variety of topics invoking my religious faith."
     So much for not "advertising all of the particulars."

     Wehmeyer continued: "That is true, but now Gore appears to be talking about it a lot more. He's even promising that if he becomes President he'll expand a popular Republican plan to create church-state partnerships...."

     After explaining the idea of using federal money to help the poor through church groups, Wehmeyer moved to Bush and noted how he turned over a Texas prison unit to a Christian ministry. Bush told her how God turned his life around a decade ago and that "faith is my anchor."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Sooner or later a network reporter will find a way to blame global warming for whatever bad is occurring in the environment. You knew it had to happen with the mosquitos in New York City, and ABC News hasn't let us down.

     Sunday night ABC's World News Tonight was the first network show to link the "killer mosquitos" to supposed global warming. In an unusual move, reporter Jami Floyd actually allowed a soundbite from a scientist who doesn't see a link, but Floyd quickly dismissed her view by concluding that climatologists hope the outbreak of tropical diseases in the north "will be a wake-up call to the consequences of global warming."

     Carole Simpson introduced the September 12 story: "A strange sight amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan today, spraying for killer mosquitoes. The number of suspected encephalitis cases jumped to 89 today and three people have died. Some scientists are now pointing to a surprising suspect behind the scare. Here's ABC's Jami Floyd."
     Floyd began: "This weekend, New York City continues to wage war on a deadly enemy. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has ordered the entire city sprayed with the insecticide Malathion. It's a full-scale effort to exterminate mosquitoes spreading encephalitis.... As baffled health officials scramble to learn how New York City's first-ever outbreak of the deadly St. Louis encephalitis started, some experts think they have the answer: global warming"
     Paul Epstein of Harvard University: "The U.S. is experiencing climate change and this instability may be the most important aspect in terms of its consequences for disease."
     Floyd: "Global warming leads to extreme weather events, droughts followed by tropical downpours, and provides an ideal breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes."
     Epstein: "Mild winters and warm, dry summers are a set-up for this disease."
     Floyd: "A set-up because mosquitoes thrive in hot, humid weather, while their predators like birds, frogs and ladybugs, die off in drought. But it's not just encephalitis. This summer New York also had two rare cases of malaria, and it's not just tropical disease. Last week in upstate New York, two people died and hundreds fell ill when E. coli spread after heavy rains at the state fair, rains scientists say caused by rapid global warming."
     Eptein: "Heavy, intense rains, lots of flooding run-off and this can flush contaminated water or farm waste into clean water supplies."
     Floyd: "But other scientists are not yet willing to make the link."
     Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA climatologist: "You can't say this, that the climate is causing this outbreak. We cannot, as scientists, say that. We are studying those linkages and relationships."
     Dismissing Rosenzweig's scientifically mainstream perspective, Floyd concluded: "Still, those who study climate changes hope the incidents of tropical disease cropping up in northern climates will be a wake-up call to the consequences of global warming."

     Reality Check: The Earth is not warming, New York City is not warmer now than 100 years ago, and efforts to reduce energy use will only kill more. Check out this analysis in an excerpt from August 3 column by Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and science advisor to the Greening Earth Society in Arlington, Virginia:

Let's get one thing straight. There is no warming trend in U.S. summer temperatures over the last 80 years. It did warm a bit from 1900 to 1930, but that change surely wasn't because of a greenhouse effect; we hadn't put much new carbon dioxide in the air by then. Further, current planetary temperatures measured by satellites and weather balloons are considerably below their average for the last two decades.

In addition, heat-related mortality is going down. In 1995, Chicago saw several hundred deaths in a July heat wave. But there were 885 heat-related deaths in the Second City in 1955. Want to see true carnage? Go back to 1900, when 10,000 Americans perished in the heat. (The globe was one degree cooler then!)

What's the difference here? Two words: air conditioning.

Air conditioners use more electricity than any other home appliance. On a hot day, they create such demand for electricity that, sometimes, the power fails. After this, the county coroner isn't far around the corner. In fact, it was a power failure that magnified the 1995 Chicago tragedy. Normally in a heat wave, the poorer South Side experiences more deaths than the North Side. But a power outage in the affluent side of town resulted in a pretty equal distribution of fatalities across income classes.

In this summer's heat, Mayor Richard Daley has been exhorting citizens who feel they cannot afford to run their air conditioners to take advantage of a federal program designed to subsidize payments in just that eventuality. Somehow I do not believe that every 80 year old has gotten this message and fear that some will die today.

Which brings us back to global warming. It should be self-evident that the very technology that enhances the greenhouse effect--the production of electricity -- is what saves our lives in the heat of a normal summer. Thousands more would die, as did in 1900, without air conditioning in a world where the enhanced greenhouse effect and dreaded global warming did not exist.

The risk of power failure can be averted by installing new generation capacity. But every time a new power plant is proposed, someone squawks "global warming." When lack of power causes an outage on a hot day, that well-intended protest becomes a lethal weapon.

Therefore, it is somewhat ironic that all proposals to fight global warming drastically raise the price of energy and power. The Kyoto Protocol on climate change requires us to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases (read: use of energy) by 30 to 45 percent by 2008 compared with where we would be if we just went on as we are. If the price of electricity more than doubles (a likely scenario according to most experts), how many more of our elderly will hesitate to turn on the air conditioner until it is too late? The Kyoto Protocol is a killer.

     END Excerpt

     So much for "killer mosquitos." The greater threat to human life are "killer environmentalists" aided by crusading reporters who don't care about accuracy or balance. -- Brent Baker


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