Pardon Hearing Skipped; Raisa as Jackie; Stossel's Rare Spin; Sam on Pot
1) ABC, CBS and NBC ignored
the pardon hearing. FNC noted the FALN's victims were
"insulted" by Clinton's letter defending his action while CNN
just relayed his view. ABC plugged a hearing on pensions, warning that
women "will have to work until they die."
2) CBS on Raisa Gorbachev:
"For Russians she was part Jackie Kennedy, telegenic and fashionable,
and part Hillary Clinton, criticized for being too outspoken and too
3) ABC brought George
Stephanopoulos onto GMA to analyze the race between Bill Bradley and Al
Gore, the man he once worked to elect. Stephanopoulos abandoned his
analyst role and approved of Bradley's position on gays in the military,
declaring it "right."
4) ABC's John Stossel
special, "Is America Number One?", provided a rare network
consideration of the benefits of economic freedom. He told an Indian his
"stupid" socialist rules make India poor.
5) NBC's Must See Liberal
Wednesday: Liberal record for the producer of The West Wing and Law &
Order goes after gun makers.
6) Letterman's "Top Ten
Stories Reported By Sam Donaldson After Smoking Pot."
The House Government Reform Committee convened hearings on Tuesday
afternoon to examine Clinton's pardon of the Puerto Rican terrorists,
but none of the broadcast networks noticed. Not a word about the topic on
the ABC, CBS or NBC evening shows Tuesday night, September 21, though
ABC's World News Tonight did lead with another Capitol Hill hearing -- a
Senate hearing on companies changing their retirement plans from a pension
system to "cash balance" plans, a development Peter Jennings
called a "crisis for millions of Americans." Another ABC
reporter claimed most women will have to work "until they die."
The hearing on the
pardons captured half a story on CNN's Inside Politics, paired with a
hearing about loans to Russia. Bob Franken's story included a brief look
at the 1983 FBI video showing two of those now released making a bomb.
Broadcast network evening show viewers have yet to see this video as
besides Inside Politics it's only aired on FNC and NBC's Meet the
Press. Later Tuesday night, CNN's 8pm ET The World Today did not show
any of the hearing but allocated 25 seconds to relaying Clinton's
defense of his decision. FNC's Fox Report didn't cover the hearing,
but Special Report with Brit Hume went to David Shuster for a live update.
-- FNC's Special
Report with Brit Hume. David Shuster showed ranking Democrat Henry Waxman
reading a portion of Clinton's letter in which the President denied
"political considerations" played a role in his decision. After
a soundbite from committee Chairman Dan Burton about how the terrorists
never helped identify who did the actual bombings, Shuster observed:
"The hearings also included some pretty
riveting testimony from some family members of those who were killed or
wounded during the FALN bombings. They said they were insulted that the
President would send a letter to the ranking Democrat and explain his
decision, but has yet to communicate with those who were most affected by
the claim of clemency."
-- CNN's The
World Today gave the whole matter a mere 25 seconds as anchor Wolf Blitzer
relayed only Clinton's defense:
"One note from the U.S. capital. President
Clinton today sent a letter to Congressman Henry Waxman defending his
decision to offer clemency to 16 Puerto Rican nationalists. The President
wrote he has supported clemency for the group for the past six years and
he said what he called 'political considerations' played no role in
the process. Waxman is the ranking Democrat on the House committee which
began hearings today on the clemency decision."
-- ABC's World
News Tonight skipped the House hearing on the pardons but opened with two
pieces prompted by a Senate hearing on pension plans. ABC's first story
looked at the supposed problem of companies switching from pension plans
to cash balance plans. Then ABC identified the real victims: women.
Reporter Betsy Stark opened ABC's second story with this dire warning:
"The harsh reality for millions of American
women is that they will probably never be able to retire. In order to
survive they will have to work until they die."
After a bunch of anecdotes about women who never
saved any money and assumed others would take care of them, Stark
ominously concluded: "For many women retiring to a life of leisure
has been impossible for years. Now, with pensions shrinking it can only
With analogies to Jackie Kennedy in Paris the networks on Tuesday night,
September 20, bid adieu to Raisa Gorbachev, but at least all but CBS News
acknowledged that her fashion trips to Paris made her quite unpopular at
ahead on tonight's CBS Evening News, the Russian woman who puzzled and
dazzled the world," oozed Dan Rather. In the subsequent report
transcribed by the MRC's Brian Boyd, David Hawkins announced from
"In her way, Raisa Gorbachev symbolized the
revolutionary changes her husband brought about in the Soviet Union.
Glasnost and Peristroika for openness and restructuring, she was his most
devoted supporter. For Russians she was part Jackie Kennedy, telegenic and
fashionable, and part Hillary Clinton, criticized for being too outspoken
and too influential. Whatever influence she may have had, came to an
abrupt end in 1991. After a hardline communist coup attempt against her
husband, Raisa returned from house arrest a broken woman. By the end of
that year, the Soviet Union ceased to exist and the Gorbachev's too were
history. Except for an unsuccessful presidential run in 1996, Raisa and
Mikhail Gorbachev have remained in political obscurity. Largely reviled in
Russia for their part in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But while Raisa Gorbachev may have been the wife of the country's last
communist leader, she'll almost certainly be remembered as the Soviet
Union's first First Lady."
-- On CNN's The
World Today. MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed, Eileen O'Connor forwarded
the same analogy to Jackie but added that though it made her popular with
the press it did not go over well in the Soviet Union:
"As with JFK and Jacqueline in Paris, it
could be said Mikhail Gorbachev was the man who accompanied Raisa to the
Patricia Schroeder: "It was almost like we
were babies discovering our hands. It was like, 'Wow, she's this, she's
O'Connor: "The public, the press loved
her. Official Washington wasn't so enamored."
Schroeder: "I think people wanted to pick
and snipe at her, saying, well, she thinks she's really got the look, but
she's still about ten years behind everybody else. She ruffled all sorts
O'Connor: "Her sometimes unscripted
openness was threatening to some, seen by the U.S. First Lady as courting
Nancy Reagan: "I want to say something. I
want to say something. OK, all right."
O'Connor: "And whatever she did abroad
that won praise, cost her back home."
-- On NBC Nightly
News, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Tom Brokaw gushed: "Just
as Gorbachev represented a new breed of Soviet leader: younger,
charismatic, more accessible, Raisa Gorbachev seemed more like an American
First Lady with her stylish clothes and her very public presence....Like
her husband Raisa Gorbachev was popular overseas. But just about
everything the world liked about Mrs. Gorbachev irritated ordinary
Russians. Many of them fighting for survival. They didn't appreciate a
First Lady who attended Paris fashion shows."
-- Only ABC's
Peter Jennings avoided the Western comparisons. As MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson noted, on World News Tonight he stressed her lack of popularity
amongst her people as he reported:
"She was the most public First Lady in
Soviet history. Raisa Gorbachev was articulate, intelligent and very
fashion-conscious, the kind of thing that many Russians, who had so
little, resented. She and her husband, the Soviet leader, had been
inseparable for most of their adult lives. They met in college. She was
his intellectual equal and an important advisor. Raisa, the former
professor of Marxist philosophy; Mikhail Gorbachev, who wanted to change
the Soviet Union, but wasn't daring enough. He is described tonight as
Monday morning ABC News brought aboard George Stephanopoulos to provide
the show's only analysis of the race between Bill Bradley and Al Gore,
the man Stephanopoulos once worked to elect. Stephanopoulos could not
control his personal left-wing views and at one point abandoned his
independent analyst role as he approved of Bradley's position on gays in
the military, declaring it "right."
Just a week and a
half ago, on September 8, GMA had Stephanopoulos alone interview Bradley.
As noted in the September 9 CyberAlert, Stephanopoulos used the
opportunity to asked about Bush and cocaine and to hit Bradley with
Stephanopoulos in this kind of position seems to contradict the spirit of
ABC News President David Westin's assurance to the Washington Post's
Howard Kurtz back on August 23 that while ABC is turning Stephanopoulos
into a regular correspondent, "we wouldn't have him be the beat
reporter on the Gore campaign."
GMA co-host Diane
Sawyer introduced Stephanopoulos on September 20: "Well, Campaign
2000 has begun in earnest. The candidates are beginning to stake out
positions, finally, at least in the most contested race. It's Bradley
versus Gore, the former Senator versus the Vice President. And ABC News
political analyst George Stephanopoulos is here to tell us what the
Getting to what
Bradley said on This Week, Sawyer noted, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson: "Well, he said why should you allow gay people to
be in the Cabinet and not to be in the military. How risky is this
Stephanopoulos offered his personal opinion:
"Well, it's, it's, he's right. I would say he's right, and the
President Clinton and Gore both would agree with him. What he's not taking
into account, perhaps, is how difficult it was for getting, in those early
days of the Clinton administration, to get even the Don't Ask Don't Tell
policy. The military is fully against this. So it could be risky farther
down the road. I think the one mistake Senator Bradley made, he was on
This Week yesterday, when he was asked did you consult the military on
your policy position, he said no. Well, a President can't really not
consult the military, so it tends to seem too casual."
Sunday's ABC special hosted by John Stossel, "Is America Number
One?", provided a rare network airing of some libertarian and
conservative views of economic freedom, the depressing impact of
regulation and how despite the liberal mantra about income inequality the
poor in America are much better off than those in other countries.
After the show
aired Stossel appeared in an abcnews.com chat session for an hour during
which he held his own against several hostile attacks. He suggested we
have a "health care crisis" but not a "food crisis"
because the government regulates health care and when asked how many of
his ABC News colleagues share his view of the success of economic freedom,
he replied: "Almost none of my colleagues."
In the one-hour
program Stossel compared and contrasted three places: the U.S., Hong Kong
and India. He explained how despite democracy India is poor because of
burdensome socialistic government control while few are poor in Hong Kong
because it's so easy to open a business or hire people.
highlights from the show and then some choice answers from Stossel's
post-show chat session.
-- On Hong Kong:
"You do see poor people in Hong Kong, but it's nothing like Europe
or America. Some say you see less of this in Hong Kong because here it's
so easy for everyone to become an entrepreneur. Even a clueless American
can open a business. In a day. In my home town, New York City, it takes
weeks. I'd have to go to the licensing department and get a state tax
number, a federal tax number, apply to the buildings department, the
zoning board, and more. Here in Hong Kong, handing in one form."
controls drive entrepreneurs to the U.S.: "One out of every five
companies here in Silicon Valley was founded by an immigrant. One out of
every three engineers, one out of every three scientists is an
Why? He examined the case of a French woman who
couldn't expand her business in France: "Another reason she won't
go back is that French bureaucrats, to try to protect workers, are so busy
passing labor laws that stifle entrepreneurship. One seemingly
worker-friendly law says employees may not work longer than 35 hours a
week. And so, in the past ten years, 300,000 people, many of France's
best and brightest, have left. And they're leaving Germany, Sweden,
Canada, leaving countries with lots of restrictions -- for America."
-- Taking on
income inequality claptrap. He let left-wing radio talk show host Jim
Hightower claim: "We have unprecedented economic growth. More money
being generated than ever before. But it's all going to the top. Eight
out of ten Americans have seen their incomes go flat or go down."
Stossel countered: "Federal Reserve
economist Michael Cox says it's just not true -- all these reports about
the poor being left behind, about most Americans' income being flat or
Cox: "You have to torture the data virtually
in order to get it to say that. It's playing games with the numbers.
It's telling a big lie to say that we just don't get paid as much as
we used to."
Stossel elaborated: "In fact, the Federal
Reserve's wage data that's often cited doesn't count things like
commissions salespeople make, retirement contributions, medical insurance.
When you include them, average American compensation's risen 20 percent.
Still, what about the poorest of the poor? We're told America leaves
Clip of Peter Jennings: "Nearly 37 million
Americans now live below the official poverty line."
Cox: "The government says now 13.3 percent
of households are in poverty. Let's go see what households in poverty
have. Ninety-seven percent of households in poverty have color
televisions. Two thirds have microwave ovens and live in air-conditioned
buildings. Seventy-five percent have one or more cars."
Hightower retorted: "It's the old welfare
Cadillac story. I mean, this is not a statement about an economy. This is
anecdotal B.S. I mean, and it's insulting to poor folks. I would invite
you to visit with some poor people and get out there in the in the real
Stossel took up
Hightower's challenge and went to the South Bronx where he talked to
people in a food line who admitted owning color televisions, VCRs,
microwave ovens and having cable television.
observed: "No one says some Americans aren't suffering, but poverty
in America is nothing compared to the misery and hunger you see in India,
and most of the world. These people in the South Bronx aren't here
because they've been going without food. They come because the food's
+++ Watch a
RealPlayer clip of this segment of Stossel's show. Wednesday morning MRC
Webmaster Sean Henry will post it. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
-- Confronting an Indian socialist. Stossel
talked with an Indian official who claimed socialism works better than
"Hashim Abdul Halim is political boss of the
part of India I visited. The socialists have been in charge here for
years, so it's not surprising that this is the poorest part of the
country. And despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the astonishing
success of unplanned places like Hong Kong the politician in India says
the government has to plan the economy."
Stossel to Halim: "First it needs your
Halim: "Yeah. Planning."
Stossel: "You can't just let it happen.
You have to plan."
Halim: "No, no. Of course."
Stossel: "Despite the success of immigrant
cultures like Hong Kong and America, Calcutta's leader says his people
are poor because of immigration."
Stossel: "Immigration makes Calcutta
Halim: "Yes, it does. It's a strain on the
Stossel: "Calcutta is poor because of your
Halim: "That's not right. We have risen in
the ladder. We have not gone down."
Stossel: "Socialism just works better."
Halim: "A hundred times."
Stossel, back in studio: "Millions of people
have suffered from that conceit."
To read a
transcript of the show, which is largely accurate but does include some
clauses not actually aired, go to: http://abcnews.go.com/onair/ABCNEWSSpecials/stossel990919_scriptA.html
Some interesting chat session exchanges:
-- Q: "What
about health care, our miserable disparity between rich and poor,
corporate buying of our politicians and America's policy of violently
subverting policy in countries who don't agree with us?"
Stossel: "Always refreshing to hear some
Marxist dogma. I was taught that stuff when I was a student at Princeton.
Health care is better in America. Corporations own fewer politicians than
the lawyers do. The disparity between wealthy and poor is a by product of
FREEDOM that makes all of us better off. But I do hope to report soon on
how we subvert (bomb? Wreck with failing drug wars?) other
-- Q: "What
kind of hurdles did you have to cross to get ABC to air the story? Do you
think that this story reflects the views of most of your colleagues?"
Stossel: "Almost none of my colleagues.
"ABC lets me do these things because it
believes many viewpoints should be aired, and my other specials have been
-- Q: "What
about the 43 million Americans who don't have basic health coverage. Do
you really believe they can rely solely upon emergency care? What should
they do for preventative care, prenatal care or even dental care?"
Stossel: "Why don't we have a food crisis in
America? Or a Sony Walkman crisis? Or a tennis shoe crisis? Because the
free market provides all price ranges of goods. American medicine
struggles because since WWII we have not had a free market in health care.
The customer doesn't pay (and therefore doesn't aggressively shop around)
for the service. No system will be perfect, but Medical Savings Accounts
would help. Anything that let the market work would help. But more
government interference makes things worse."
If Forbes wins he
could make Stossel his communications chief. To read a transcript of the
chat session, go to: http://abcnews.go.com/onair/DailyNews/chat_stossel990920.html
NBC's Must See Liberal Wednesday? Wednesday night NBC debuts a drama
produced by a man who wrote a liberal movie and another series returns
with a liberal theme.
-- The West Wing,
about a President and his staff starring Martin Sheen as the President,
debuts at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT. It was created by Aaron Sorkin who serves
as Executive Producer. His last story about the White House came from the
left -- the 1998 movie The American President starring Annette Bening and
Michael Douglas for which he penned the screenplay.
In one scene, Douglas as President passionately
declares his support for "White House resolution 455, an energy bill
requiring a 20 percent reduction in the emission of fossil fuels over the
next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the
fight to reverse the effects of global warming.
"The other piece of legislation is the crime
bill. As of today it no longer exists. I'm throwing it. I'm throwing
it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime
prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider
them a threat to national security and I will go door-to-door if I have to
but I'm going convince Americans that I'm right and I'm going to get
For more about the
movie's plot and script, go to the May 24 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990524.html#8
-- Speaking of gun
control, Law & Order, which devoted a show last season to disparaging
Ken Starr, returns for its tenth season at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT with a
trendy plot about suing gun makers. Here's the show plot from the
Washington Post's TV Week: "A murderer's shooting spree prompts
Briscoe and Green to trace the murder weapon's origination; McCoy makes
it his mission to punish the killer and the gun manufacturer."
As noted in the September 20 CyberAlert, when pressed by Bill Bradley on
the September 19 This Week as to whether he'd ever smoked marijuana, Sam
Donaldson replied: "I think a couple of times I've tried it. And I
Now, from the
September 20 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Stories
Reported By Sam Donaldson After Smoking Pot." Copyright 1999 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Pat Buchanan: Is That Guy a Narc
9. "Next -- An Exclusive Interview With This Dude I Met At a Phish
8. "Trouble In The Balkans What Was I Just Talking About?"
7. "Our Person of the Week -- David Crosby"
6. "Breaking News -- Look At My Hand!"
5. "Some Jerk In a Raiders Jacket Sells ABC Newsman Bag of
4. "Cool Ranch Doritos -- Yes!"
3. "The Moon Landing? Fake. Think About It, Dude"
2. "Slobodan. Slooo-Bodan. Slobo-Dobo-Dan"
1. "I'm Hungry"
With this list the
best one didn't make it onto the broadcast, so from the Late Show Web
site here are some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into
the Top Ten."
-- "What Kind of Dumb-Ass Name is 'Cokie'?"
-- "Woody Harrelson For President!"
-- "The Universe: Really Huge, Or Just Huge?"
-- "'Drove My Chevy To The Levee, But The Levee Was Dry'... Suddenly
It All Makes Sense"
-- "My Hair: It Looks Like a Delicious Sandwich"
-- "It's So Weird That 'Four' Has Four Letters, But 'Three' Has Five
-- "Madeleine Albright Is Really Kind of Hot, If You Stare At Her For
Not an experiment
I'd want to try. --
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