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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday October 19, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 167)

NBC: U.S. Nuclear "Overkill"; Sad for Clinton; GOP Doesn't Care About World

1) CBS's John Roberts portrayed Clinton as trying to rise above petty politics on the budget: "The President has appealed to Republicans to put aside politics for the sake of the American people. NBC wondered if the U.S. nuclear arsenal is "overkill."

2) Good Morning America's Democratic campaign consulting service. On Monday Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos strategized about how Hillary Clinton can win by running to the center. On Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos sighed: "Oh, I think he's a little sad."

3) Washington Week in Review host Gwen Ifill asked about the defeat of the CTBT: "Are people laughing at us?" Referring to the GOP Senate leadership, ABC's Martha Raddatz declared: "I think what it showed is they don't really care about the world at all."

4) Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, a daily quote countdown to Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on November 1 as co-host of CBS's The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page.

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Other Ways CBS Is Pushing The Envelope."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Monday night ABC and CBS led with the budget showdown, NBC went first with the stock market, FNC began with Hurricane Irene and CNN made the oddest top story choice. The October 18 World Today opened with Surgeon General David Satcher's complaint about how more guns are used to commit suicide than to kill others  CNN's Jeff Flock explained: "Experts say the solution is more treatment, fewer guns."

     All the networks briefly noted the departure of Ken Starr and replacement as independent counsel by Robert Ray, but only CNN provided a full story as Bob Franken included clips from his live afternoon interview with Starr. Larry King Live also featured Starr.

     ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News stories on the budget emphasized Clinton's attacks on Republicans over their rejoinders. Bringing back memories of the 1980s, NBC Nightly News presented a story wondering, as Tom Brokaw put it, whether America's nuclear arsenal is "overkill." Reporter Jim Miklaszewski argued: "Arms control advocates claim the U.S. could save billions of dollars a year and still defend itself with far fewer nuclear weapons."

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. John Cochran explained how Clinton invited congressional leaders to the White House and accused them of "trying to isolate America from the rest of the world." Cochran backed up Clinton's point about how refusing to approve the CTBT means Republicans are isolationists:
     "Republican refused to ratify that treaty and the President is still furious. He says the Republicans are now refusing money to help the Russians destroy some nuclear weapons and safeguard others from being stolen, refusing to implement the Arab-Israel peace accord in the Middle East, and refusing to help the poorest countries pay their debts."
     After allowing House Majority Leader Dick Armey to say that more foreign aid would have to come out of Social Security and letting Clinton claim Republicans already are spending the Social Security surplus, Cochran declared:
     "In fact, both parties have used Social Security money to balance the budget in the past. What's different this time is that both want to use Social Security to bash the other guy in next year's election. So when both sides sit down tomorrow, for the first time in three months, the atmosphere will be even more poisonous than usual -- and that makes it even harder to reach agreement."

     Next, Linda Douglass looked at gimmicks Republicans are employing to get around spending limits, such as calling "emergency" spending the Census, heating aid and normal operations at Pentagon. Plus, spreading payments over 13 months. "Some are calling that thirteenth month, Spenduary." But she did also hit Clinton: "President Clinton loves to mock Republicans' gimmicks, yet his budget proposal uses some of the very same tricks. He too would put off some spending to an imaginary thirteenth month in the fiscal year. Call that one, Spendtember."

     -- CBS Evening News. John Roberts began: "With the specter of another government shutdown looming, the President will meet here tomorrow with leaders of Congress in an attempt to work out their differences over the budget. No one wants to see a repeat of 1995's Christmas-time shutdown, and neither side wants to be the Grinch that steals the Social Security surplus."
     Following battling soundbites from Clinton and Armey about the Social Security surplus, Roberts relayed Clinton's complaint:
     "Republicans are calling for across the board budget cuts, which the President says will gut his spending priorities. He has already vetoed two bills that fell short of his mark and has threatened to send back more....While Republicans have agreed to meet with the President on his turf tomorrow, they are wary of walking into a budget trap and have laid down some ground rules."
     Armey: "What we're not willing to do is to discuss either raiding Social Security or raising taxes."
     Roberts concluded by portraying Clinton as trying to rise above petty politics: "The President has appealed to Republicans to put aside politics for the sake of the American people, but in a battle which centers around an issue so crucial to aging baby boomers -- and on the eve of an election year -- the budget and the process is all about politics."

     -- NBC Nightly News. More than halfway through the newscast Tom Brokaw briefly mentioned the budget showdown. Then, noting how Republicans turned down a test ban treaty, he got to how NBC's Jim Miklaszewski obtained "exclusive access behind the scenes of America's nuclear arsenal, a close-up look at this country's nuclear policy. Is it overkill?"

     While Miklaszewski gave time to both sides, his premise, as suggested by Brokaw, was clearly that the U.S. has more nuclear weapons than necessary. He began by showing Minuteman missile warheads in Wyoming being changed from three to one warheads each, part of an arms control deal with Russia. That still makes them one hundred times more powerful than bombs used on Japan, Miklaszewski stressed. Major General Tom Neary of U.S. Air Force explained how now the U.S. must worry about deterring rogue nations like Iran, Iraq, North Korea.
     Miklaszewski countered: "But how much nuclear deterrence does the U.S. really need? The military has over 500 underground missile silos scattered in five Western states -- nuclear bombers and ballistic missile submarines -- all armed with a total of 12,000 nuclear warheads. Arms control advocates claim the U.S. could save billions of dollars a year and still defend itself with far fewer nuclear weapons."
     Joseph Cirincione, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "In most instances, one is plenty, ten is a lot, a thousand is overkill."
     Miklaszewski: "Opponents argue you can never have too much nuclear deterrence."
     Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy: "I would rather have too many nuclear weapons, even if it costs us somewhat more, than discover we have too few because the costs of that could be horrific."
     Miklaszewski concluded: "But today, even as the U.S. takes warheads off missiles, its overwhelming nuclear arsenal remains on ready alert, hidden away out of sight but every bit as deadly."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Good Morning America's Democratic campaign consulting service. On Monday's show, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, co-host Diane Sawyer and Clinton-Gore enabler turned GMA independent political analyst George Stephanopoulos, spent a segment strategizing about how Hillary Clinton can win by running to the center. Asked about Bill Clinton in the wake of the test ban treaty loss, Stephanopoulos lamented, "Oh, I think he's a little sad." Of course, with GMA refusing to air views from a conservative analyst no one was on the show to offer an critical comments about Bill Clinton's cheap shots at Republicans last week.

     Here are some excerpts from the October 18 Sawyer/Stephanopoulos session:

     Stephanopoulos on Hillary's recent campaigning: "No more listening, I'm going to fight. What's interesting about this is the Senate race is becoming much more traditional. Hillary's now coming up here. She's trying to turn Rudy Giuliani into a Republican. As the mayor of New York, he's been a bipartisan mayor. That union local that you saw Hillary at, they endorsed Rudy Giuliani last time around. But she's trying to say, align him to the hardcore Republican issues: against the minimum wage, for Reaganomics."
     Sawyer: "But Reaganomics, I mean, to invoke Reagan is not always a bad thing, and is she risking getting too far out on the liberal side?"
     Stephanopoulos: "I don't think so, not yet. The issues she's focusing on now are minimum wage, economics, health care, education, while she's trying to align Giuliani with the more conservative Republicans. Where she can get into trouble, and watch for Rudy Giuliani to attack her here, are on issues like crime, welfare reform. That's where he'll try to make her more of a liberal."
     Sawyer: "But what does she have to do to track her way back to the moderate center, where she has to run?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Well, she'll have to see. We haven't seen yet, she hasn't said too much about President Clinton's signing of the Welfare Reform Act in 1995. She's kind of skated on that so far. She'll probably say she supports it. She'll have to be for issues like school uniforms, discipline in schools. That's how she can blunt the liberal attacks."
     Sawyer: "So she starts out liberal and then tracks over to the center. That's the classic mode?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Very classic mode, especially in New York. Chuck Schumer, who won the Senate race last time, really had to come out as a centrist, not a traditional liberal Democrat."

     Let's pause to soak that in. Charles Schumer is a "centrist."

     Then they moved on to Bill Clinton's plight, as if he's some kind of poor victim:
     Sawyer: "Here in the Washington Post this morning, 'His Term Fading, a Wistful Clinton Loosens Up.' So what do you see in here about this President heading into his last year?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Oh, I think he's a little sad. He's losing, he sees Al Gore running for President, he sees his wife running for the Senate, and this is the first year since, I think, 1974 where he's not running for something. And I think it's, you have that on the one hand. On the other hand, his legislative agenda has kind of died. With the fall of the Comprehensive Test Ban last week, he knows he's not going to be able to get a lot more done in next year, and he's wistful about it."
     Sawyer: "So how well do you know your man? What will he do this next year for himself in the spotlight?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Oh, he'll, he's going to have to hold himself back because he knows the most important thing to secure his legacy is to make sure that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton get elected. The only way they can get elected is if they're not too closely tied to him, so they're going to have to chain him to the White House."
     Sawyer: "Is there something in here about waking up in a bad mood?"
     Stephanopoulos: "Yeah, he's talking, you know, these are late night talks, not the kind of talks he gives before the cameras. They're more in intimate, fundraising settings. And he's been very open about how sometimes he wakes up in foul moods and has to fight his dark side. We're all mixes of light and dark, and it's almost as if he's reliving the experience of the last year and a half, and trying to put it into perspective himself."

     A more independent analyst might have suggested that the foul, mean-spirited Clinton which is now emerging is the true Clinton which people like Stephanopoulos spent years hiding. And still is, just in a new TV job.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) "TV's Voice of Reason Has a New Face," a PBS newspaper ad for Gwen Ifill as the new host of Washington Week in Review (WWR), preposterously claims. The ad, which I've seen in The Washington Post, Washington Times and New York Times, insists: "For 33 years, Washington Week in Review has spoken for depth and fairness in TV news analysis." (When you stop laughing, read on.)

     It didn't take long for the show to disprove that theory. Last Friday night, instead of explaining to viewers the best arguments for and against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and why Republicans found it risked national security, or how Clinton didn't do enough to convince people of its value, the WWR team denounced the Republican position, insisted the GOP did it just because of their hatred of Clinton, relayed pro-treaty arguments as if they were beyond dispute, and laughed about how the world was laughing at the U.S.

     ABC's Martha Raddatz declared as fact: "So the United States no longer can say, 'look everybody, you've got to ratify this treaty, we did.' The moral leader, the leader in nuclear security around the world is no longer." Later referring to the conservative Senate leadership she asserted: "I think what it showed is they don't really care about the world at all."

     New moderator Gwen Ifill asked the Washington Post's T.R. Reid, who was in London: "I'm just curious, are people laughing at us?" Reid eagerly explained how Europeans said "the Senate vote was irresponsible. It was disgraceful."

     Here's how it went last Friday night, October 15, on PBS in a transcript confirmed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson:

     Gwen Ifill: "Martha, the question to you is pretty simple: What happened this week on the nuclear test ban treaty and why?"
     Martha Raddatz, ABC News: "Well, President Clinton was humiliated, not only at home but internationally. What happened was the President wanted the vote set aside because he knew he was going to lose. He wants the nuclear test ban treaty ratified; he didn't get it. The Senate refused to delay the vote, went ahead. There was a lot of talk about it being delayed. But in the end, they took a vote. He lost. So the United States no longer can say, 'look everybody, you've got to ratify this treaty, we did.' The moral leader, the leader in nuclear security around the world is no longer."
     Ifill: "How big a blow was this for the President?"
     Raddatz: "I think it was a huge blow, certainly, internationally. Because, I think, and you'll see it around the world, who's going to be the moral leader now? Who's going to say, 'look, we want you people that haven't ratified this yet, haven't even signed it -- the Indias, the Pakistan, Russia, China -- we want you to sign this.' They can't really say that anymore."

     Ifill: "Tom, excuse me. Tom Reid is with us in London, and I'm really curious about the degree to which in London and abroad you're hearing whether, I'm just curious, are people laughing at us?"
     T.R. Reid, The Washington Post: "You know, I think they are. The tone, actually, is very harsh: You call this leadership? The Senate vote was irresponsible. It was disgraceful. It was dangerous. But you know, at some level, I think they actually loved this."
     Ifill: "What do you mean?"
     Reid: "Because, well, you know, every country has stereotypes about America, and they just love it when we do stuff that confirms their stereotypes. Like there was a really good example, this funny example in Britain this week, a big American story in all the British media. You guys probably haven't even heard about this. But evidently, some school board in South Carolina wants to ban the Harry Potter books because the young hero, Harry Potter, goes to a school of witchcraft. And they love this in the British media because it portrays Americans as kind of, you know, humorless fanatics, and they kind of believe that about us, anyway.
     "And the Senate vote serves exactly the same purpose; it confirms what they already knew. Because the conventional wisdom here has been that our political process is completely stalemated by this mutual hatred on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue. And the Senate vote just fits the script. It was a grudge match.
     "Last night on ITN Evening News here in Britain, the presenter -- that's British for anchorman, you know -- the presenter said, 'They're letting their petty political infighting endanger the entire planet.' That's the tone."

     Ifill: "That's the sort of thing which is gonna make everyone here respond, perhaps. But not really, Martha. Trent Lott called the President at 5:00 in the afternoon the day before the vote and Trent Lott said to the President, that's too little, too late, or the other way, it happened the other way around."
     Raddatz: "I think it was the other, right, it, that's right, it was the other way around. I think Tom Reid's point is really interesting when you look at the allies, first of all. They're talking about, 'well, isn't this pretty funny,' behind the back. But China, for instance, did you hear what was coming out of China? They're saying, you know, 'listen, we'll keep fighting for this.' India gets very frightened of their neighbor Pakistan, which had a little military coup this week. I think Trent Lott may, I mean, Trent Lott talks about, well, we don't care, you know, what the allies are saying. We don't trust the nuclear test ban treaty anyway. I think what it showed is they don't really care about the world at all."

     Fortunately, Raddatz didn't get any airtime on ABC News to promote her liberal take as ABC instead relied on White House reporters John Cochran and Terry Moran for its TV reports.

     Washington Week in Review's continued left-wing slant under Ifill is no surprise given her record of reporting for NBC News. For instance, live on MSNBC on September 9, 1998, the day Starr's report was delivered to Congress and two months after a shooting inside the Capitol building, Ifill labeled Starr's decision to send a report "a very violent action." She announced:
     "Already, some of the more thoughtful members of the House and Senate have admitted, yes, they expect to be overwhelmed. There's very little they can do about this, when someone drives, as one House Judiciary Committee member put this some weeks ago, a truck bomb up to the steps of the Capitol and just dumps it on them. Now this is probably not the most advisable comparison when you consider what happened on these very steps not so many weeks ago, but it is in some ways, politically, a very violent action for Ken Starr to leave this on them weeks before an election when they're trying to decide how to deal with it."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, a daily quote countdown to Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on November 1 as co-host of CBS's The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page. MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey picked the quotes which are being posted in RealPlayer format each weekday morning by Webmaster Sean Henry.

     Quote Number 10, from the May 10, 1994 Today: "We've got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, it's a little tough to figure out who's really being harassed."

     Quote Number 9, Gumbel to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters on April 15, 1993, a year after the LA riots: "If I'm a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washington's promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the court's inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn't I vent my anger?"

To watch these quotes and to see Number 8, which will be posted Tuesday morning, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/gumbel/gumbelvideos.html


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) On last Wednesday's CBS drama Chicago Hope, which airs in the middle prime time hour, a doctor told a patient whose surgery did not turn out well: "Shit happens." It was the first time a broadcast network has aired the word in a pre-taped program. Commemorating this breakthrough, on October 14 the Late Show with David Letterman featured the "Top Ten Other Ways CBS Is Pushing The Envelope," which included some references to news shows. Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Every week on "60 Minutes," Morley holds up a gas station
9. CBS Football hires Chippendale dancers to recreate groin pulls
8. "The Young and the Restless" now 20% more restless
7. Our Top Ten list has four funny entries instead of three
6. On a very special "60 Minutes," Morley Safer gets a "Lewinsky"
5. Surprise endings: like sometimes diagnosis isn't murder
4. On "The Price Is Right," Bob Barker neuters losing contestants
3. Martha Stewart teaches Pat Buchanan how to build stenciled clapboard wall to keep out foreigners
2. On slow news days, Dan Rather just makes shit up as he goes along
1. A Gumbel for every show whether they need one or not

     And, from the Late Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- New version of "The Beverly Hillbillies" in which everyone has Tourette's syndrome
-- "Judging Amy's Wet T-Shirt Contest"
-- Mark McEwen does first half of "This Morning" show in the shower
-- Dan Rather signs off every newscast with "That's the news, now where the ladies at?"
-- "60 Minutes" with 60 nude chicks
-- The famous "Master of My Domain" episode of "CBS Evening News"
-- Dan Rather ends each newscast by challenging Ted Koppel to knife fight

     Isn't Rather already doing #2? -- Brent Baker


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