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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday December 16, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 188)

Huang Skipped; NBC's "Paternal" Castro; Bradley: Diane Sawyer's Boyfriend

1) John Huang offered his first ever public comments before a House committee. ABC and NBC ignored him Wednesday night. CBS gave him 32 seconds and CNN 27 seconds. Only FNC provided a full story.

2) NBC's gift to Fidel Castro: A story delivering his spin about how whether Elian Gonzalez can "readjust to life" in Cuba is his chief concern. Andrea Mitchell warned Castro the boy might be "seduced" Disney World. As for Castro, Mitchell found him "old-fashioned, courtly -- even paternal." A nice grandpa.

3) Ted Koppel: "The problem with William F. Buckley Jr. was that you could dislike him, but could never dismiss him as a crank or a right-wing nut." Unlike how the media dismiss most conservatives.

4) Diane Sawyer, former Nixon aide and....Bill Bradley girlfriend. The Washington Post revealed Sawyer once dated Bradley and was so serious she spent a Christmas with Bradley's family in Missouri. But she failed to reveal his hidden history as an evangelist.

5) NBC News versus the "far right" Gary Bauer: Tom Brokaw insisted that if GOP is pro-life "you're going to lose women in America and you're going to lose in the fall."

6) Geraldo on prosecution of Linda Tripp: "It sickens me now, where suddenly people on the right side of the aisle discover compassion in the law. Where the hell was that compassion when our President was under assault?!"


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) John Huang, the former DNC fundraiser and Commerce Department trade official who made suspicious visits to the Washington office of James Riady's Lippo Group and arranged payments from Riady to Web Hubbell, provided his first public testimony Wednesday, but the networks yawned. Only FNC offered a full report on an evening show with CBS giving it 32 seconds and CNN allocating a mere 27 seconds.

     Huang testified for much of the afternoon before the House Government Reform Committee which granted him immunity for anything he said. Instead of mentioning this development, ABC's World News Tonight ran full pieces on the rising divorce rate in the South, concerns about whether the stock market can sustain its growth and ended with Sam Donaldson on a horse relating his participation in a New Mexico cattle drive. NBC Nightly News looked at alternative medicine for women and, as detailed in item #2 below, relayed Castro's spin on the Elian Gonzalez case.

     On the December 15 CBS Evening News Dan Rather used his 32-second item to stress Huang's defense of Clinton and Gore and denouncement of Republicans:
     "In his first ever comments on the matter, Democratic fundraiser John Huang told Congress today he regrets his own illegal fundraising activities in the Clinton presidential campaigns. Huang testified that the President and Vice President were not in any way involved and that he was never, as some have claimed, a spy for communist China. Huang took a thinly veiled swipe at Republicans in Congress who compelled him to testify and others for what he called quote 'demonizing me and other Asian-Americans' unquote."

     CNN's Inside Politics ran a full story in that 5pm ET hour, but the prime time The World Today offered only this 27-second item read by anchor Wolf Blitzer just after a story about a hearing which featured an Olympic official:
     "Also appearing today on Capitol Hill: former Democratic Party fundraiser John Huang. He told the committee he had no knowledge of any personal wrongdoing by President Clinton or Vice President Gore during the last election campaign. And he denied ever acting as a spy for China. But Huang did say he was sorry for his role in the fundraising scandal. Several months ago he pleaded guilty to arranging illegal contributions to Democrats from the Indonesia-based Lippo Group."

     Both FNC's 6pm ET Special Report with Brit Hume and 7pm ET Fox Report newscast featured David Shuster's full report on the day's testimony. Shuster reminded viewers of the Buddhist Temple event and James Riady's personal contact with Bill Clinton. After noting how Huang denied being a spy and charged lawmakers with trying to demonize Asians, Shuster noted how committee Chairman Dan Burton "asked Huang about a 1996 fundraiser put together for Vice President Gore at a Buddhist Temple in California. Impoverished nuns gave tens of thousands of dollars."
     Huang: "I was told some of these nuns were very wealthy. It was their money."
     Burton: "So you believed the eleven nuns gave the $5,000 themselves?"
     Huang: "Yes I did."
     Burton: "You had no doubt about that?"
     Huang: "I did not."
     Shuster: "Committee Republicans were just as perplexed by Huang's testimony about James Riady, his boss at an Indonesian banking conglomerate. In 1992 Riady rode in a limousine with then-Governor Clinton and offered to raise a million dollars for the presidential campaign. Huang and Riady put together a scheme to funnel the money from foreigners....Democrats tried to establish though that Huang and his associates were acting on their own."

     Shuster played an exchange between ranking Democrat Henry Waxman and Huang about how neither Clinton or Gore did anything illegal, before he concluded:
     "Democrats charge Republicans with conducting a partisan witch hunt. Republicans responded by alleging that Democrats had stonewalled the investigation. In any case, it seemed to be just the site of John Huang that had so many lawmakers in the hearing room intrigued."

     But broadcast network producers were clearly not intrigued, as they never have been by this story.

     Huang's testimony will continue Thursday morning and should be carried live at 10am ET by C-SPAN.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) What concerns Fidel Castro the most when it comes to Elian Gonzalez, the six-year-old Cuba wants returned who is now in Florida after his mother died while fleeing with him from Cuba? Whether child psychiatrists think he could safely "readjust to life" in Cuba, NBC's Andrea Mitchell seriously suggested in an "exclusive" interview with Castro aired on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News.

     Mitchell's story sounded more like a promotional spot for Castro as caring grandpa and protector of a nation than a report from a supposedly hard-edged reporter. Mitchell worried that the boy might want to stay in the United States if he's "seduced by all of these toys and trips to Disney World."

     "What's astounding is how much Castro is personally micro-managing the Elian case. He's not just the country's head of state, he's the CEO," oozed an awed Mitchell after her 2am dinner with the dictator she described as "old-fashioned, courtly -- even paternal."

     Here's a nearly complete transcript of Mitchell's eager delivery of Castro's spin:
     "Fidel Castro, deeply suspicious of the American press, takes us for a rare inside look at how he views the crisis with Elian Gonzalez. We go to his offices, then he takes us for a ride in his bulletproof Mercedes, for four hours of conversation. Without doubt he is taking personal control of the case of the six-year-old, even to the point of calling child psychiatrists to ask about the effect of all this on the child's mind. His chief concern: Could the boy readjust to life here?"

     Yeah, that's his chief concern.

     Viewers then heard Castro via a translator: "Why do they want to delay the return of the child? To be able to change the child's mentality? To destroy his identity?"
     Mitchell to Castro: "Are you concerned that the child will say that he wants to stay in the United States, that he will be seduced by all of these toys and trips to Disney World?"
     Castro: "They're trying to simply dazzle the child with all these things. According to the father, the boy has been coerced, they feel their boy is not acting naturally."
     Mitchell: "You know that some people in the United States say that the father is coerced by the government and can't speak freely."
     Castro: "And how could we prove that that is false? Would we have to take the father to Miami to prove that he's not being coerced here?"

     Not a bad idea.

     Clearly impressed by her hours with Fidel, Mitchell gushed:
     "What's astounding is how much Castro is personally micro-managing the Elian case. He's not just the country's head of state, he's the CEO, tracking every political development back in the U.S., even to the point of personally transcribing U.S. officials on the Sunday talk shows. Our meeting with Castro began in the middle of the night. He sizes us up by calling us to his palace. A dinner that lasts seven hours. The next night a second dinner even later, a call to be ready at midnight, a five-course dinner that doesn't begin until two in the morning. He ate little and talked a lot. He seemed old-fashioned, courtly -- even paternal. But while appearing to be less confrontational, make no mistake: When it comes to ideology, he is still a communist."

     But a nice one, apparently, most concerned about a child's welfare.

     Castro asserted: "I don't accept that we're the only country where there's no free elections."
     Without commenting on that, Mitchell concluded by relaying how Castro says everything is just great in Cuba: "And tonight, despite all its economic problems, Fidel Castro says Cuba is stronger than ever, that Cubans have been drawn into a cause together. They say the little child belongs here at home with his father."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The "problem" was we couldn't just "dismiss" William F. Buckley Jr. as we did with most conservatives "as a crank or a right-wing nut." Ted Koppel's reflection of common contempt for conservatism slipped through in his admiration for Buckley on Tuesday's show about Buckley taping the last edition of Firing Line after 33 years.

     MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed Koppel's slip as he praised Buckley in the opening of the December 14 Nightline:
     "I suspect that there are people who've been tuning into Firing Line for years, awed and admiring of Bill Buckley, who for all that, have barely understood a word the man has said. They just like to watch. Then, of course, there are those of a more liberal persuasion who tuned in for the simple pleasure of listening and loathing. That tended to be a visceral thing, having much to do with Buckley's staunch cold war, anti-communism, which even in the '60s never wavered. The problem with William F. Buckley Jr. was that you could dislike him, but could never dismiss him as a crank or a right-wing nut. He has always been a brilliant debater who has taken the trouble to think through his own arguments."

     Later, CBS's Mike Wallace made clear that he was no conservative when Buckley rose in prominence, referring to conservatives as "them" in a soundbite Koppel played:
     "He legitimized the conservative movement in America because he was the first one of them to make a really interesting, rational case for conservative politics. This was long before Goldwater, long before Ronald Reagan. He was a lonely figure."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Diane Sawyer once Bill Bradley's girlfriend? As if to prove she can't be guilty of liberal bias, liberals love to remind people how Diane Sawyer once worked for Richard Nixon, but now the Washington Post has revealed a bit of background information ABC didn't bother telling viewers when she interviewed Bradley on Tuesday's Good Morning America: She and Bradley once dated. They were so serious that she spent one Christmas with Bradley's family.

     During the interview Sawyer failed to raise a part of Bradley's history that he's trying to hide but that she surely had firsthand knowledge of from their dating: In the 1960s Bradley was part of the "Religious Right," a born again evangelist who tried to convert people to believe in Christ.

     In a December 15 "Reliable Sources" item the Washington Post's Lloyd Grove and Beth Berselli disclosed:

ABC News star Diane Sawyer and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley managed to get through the entire half-hour of yesterday's "Good Morning America" Times Square Town Meeting without mentioning that they once seriously dated each other. Sawyer, who questioned her former boyfriend on health care and religion, was attending Wellesley and Bradley was playing basketball at Princeton when they began seeing each other in the mid-1960s.

According to The Post's Barton Gellman and Dale Russakoff, their romance was so strong that Sawyer and her parents spent Christmas 1966 with Bradley's family in Missouri and their friends speculated that they might marry. During a trip to Russia on his Rhodes scholarship, Bradley bought her a fur hat (which we hear Sawyer didn't much like).

Today neither wants to discuss their old romance, and ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told us it wasn't necessary to inform viewers about it: "We believe you get a pass on a college romance."

     END Excerpt

     I bet we'd have known this bit of bio info long ago if she had dated a conservative candidate.

     On the December 14 GMA Bradley declared: "I think on religion, I think that that is an extremely private matter for people, and you know, different politicians have handled it different ways, but from my standpoint, I'd prefer to draw that line and say, no."

     Ex-girlfriend Sawyer inquired: "Last night on the Republican debates, a number of the candidates said that Jesus Christ was the philosopher who had most influenced them. What do you think about their saying that, then, and whom would you choose?...But does it, listening to them do it, does it make you uncomfortable? Do you think it's wrong?"

     Bradley begged off again and, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reported, she failed to use the opportunity to tell viewers of Bradley's history of religious activism, a subject addressed the next morning in a Washington Post profile of Bradley. Reporters Barton Gellman and Dale Russakoff reviewed his activities in the 1960s and early 1970s on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Citing the notes of one minister, the reporters quoted Bradley as telling him in 1964: "I'd give anything to know I had helped just one person commit his life to Jesus Christ."

     But on this aspect of Bradley's life the Washington Post was playing catch-up with The American Spectator. In its December issue, out a few weeks ago, Investor's Business Daily Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry uncovered Bradley's largely unknown religious activities during his pre-political years.

     Here's an excerpt of Sperry's American Spectator piece:

Unborn Again Bill Bradley
Well into his twenties Bill Bradley was a member of the Religious Right.

"Show me the way not to fortune and fame," starts one of Bill Bradley's favorite poems. "Not how to win laurels and praise for my name, but the way to know the great story that Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory."

At least that was a favorite of his in 1968, when the bible-thumping (that's right) pro hoopster was bringing other jocks to Jesus. It's not clear if Bradley the politician -- pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and running left of Al Gore in their White House race--can still recite the poem.

But as a 25-year-old New York Knick, Bradley lived by it. "These words seem to clearly express the real choice each of us must make in life: To follow the ways of the world--the way of fortune and fame and praise -- or the way of God revealed through Jesus Christ," he said.

"I've made my choice," Bradley added. "I love Jesus Christ and I try to serve Him to the best of my ability."

You won't hear Bradley profess such faith on the hustings in New York or California. His speeches rarely find room for the word "God," let alone exhortations. If you ask operatives in Bradley's camp about his religious views, they'll point you to Time Present, Time Past, the memoir he penned in 1996, as he was leaving the Senate. Specifically, chapter 18. "The best guide to his views on this subject are in that chapter," said campaign spokesman Eric Hauser. "That's going to be your most substantial grounds."

But not necessarily the most candid, it turns out.

Bradley spends much of the chapter disavowing what he calls the narrow-minded religious beliefs of his youth and assuring readers -- and future presidential voters -- that he's all the wiser now.

Except Bradley's Christian faith wasn't youthful fancy. Left out of his book are at least two occasions in which Bradley, as a pro basketball player in his mid-20's, "witnessed" to other athletes in powerful and passionate testimony about his deep, unswerving faith in Jesus Christ. Omitting such memorable personal experiences in an autobiography is disturbing enough. But Bradley appears to have also resorted to a bit of revisionism. Dates just don't line up.

He claims to have started to outgrow the beliefs of his youth in 1964, yet four years later he was still talking about the importance of the "application of the pure gospel in the life of every person," according to one published testimony. In 1968, he also said he was itching to share his faith in Christ with his New York teammates. In another longer testimony that year, he pours his heart out for Christ.

Of course, few people know this....

     END Excerpt

     A few more would have learned if Sawyer acted more like a reporter and less like a protective ex-girlfriend.

To read the entire article, go to:


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Tom Brokaw kept hitting from the left even after the debate ended, a debate which not even his own network touched the next night. As noted in the December 14 CyberAlert, the December 2 and 6 Republican debates generated no broadcast evening show stories until an ABC piece on December 12. The December 13 Republican clash on MSNBC earned a piece on the December 14 CBS Evening News, but not a word or ABC's World News Tonight, nor even on the NBC Nightly News.

     The December 14 CyberAlert also detailed how debate co-moderator Tom Brokaw pressed the Republicans from the left during the debate, a trend MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed continued after the debate ended. Colleague Brian Williams joined in the liberal spin, referring to how Gary Bauer represents the "far right."

     Just after the debate ended, Brokaw talked live on MSNBC with Bauer, asking him: "Mr. Bauer, you did go right after Governor Bush as to whether or not he would have as a vice presidential candidate someone who is pro-life. Do you think that will become ultimately for the Republican Party a cutting edge issue come the summer of the year 2000?"
     Following that straight question, Brokaw hit Bauer twice from the left:
     "But a lot of people, including members of your own party, say if you make that the primary issue [abortion] once again, you're going to lose women in America and you're going to lose in the fall."
     "Don't you think it's possible that women don't like abortions, in fact, abhor the idea of abortions but they also the treasure the idea of choice, which is their legal right?"

     Brokaw did at least later challenge John McCain with a conservative argument against his campaign finance "reform."

     In a question to Tim Russert, Brian Williams applied some extremist labeling to one GOP candidate:
     "Fascinating moment as if to go ahead and face the enemy to many on the far right, Gary Bauer, who we just heard, trying to get a commitment out George W. Bush not to choose New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, who is of the pro-choice wing of the Republican Party. An interesting moment, especially among Republican politicos, to watch."

     The next morning on Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, Russert agreed that Bush must NBC "reassure American women that he is open minded to the issue of abortion," telling Matt Lauer:
     "Well it's a dual strategy for George W. Bush, Matt. He wants to win the nomination but he also wants to win the general election and he believes that if he espouses the views of abortion as articulated by Gary Bauer that makes him unelectable in the fall. He has to reassure American women that he is open minded to the issue of abortion. He may personally be opposed but he is not going to take their right away."


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) Complaints about prosecuting the whistle-blowing Linda Tripp for violating an unusual and stupid state law against taping your own phone calls, a law never really enforced, sent Geraldo Rivera into an apoplectic rage Tuesday night over how Bill Clinton was so selectively abused.

     MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens had to type fast to keep up with Rivera's rant on CNBC's Rivera Live:
     "I only wish that everyone now suggesting that this is a horrible selective, vindictive, unconscionable prosecution would have said the same things about creating a constitutional crisis to get a man who cheated on his wife and then lied about it. I only wish that the same disgust that we evidence at what Maryland is doing to poor Linda Tripp we had shown to the President of the United States, for God sakes, where the country was on the ropes, where we suffered through a constitutional crisis, where the Congress was divided in a way that I do not believe that rip will ever be healed, not in our lifetimes.
     "And I just, it sickens me now, where suddenly people on the right side of the aisle discover compassion in the law. Where the hell was that compassion when our President was under assault?! Being assailed by, I, sorry. [slaps his own face] Get on vacation! [To himself] Shut up! Shut up! [laughter] Joe Conason. Are you pleased that Linda is getting her just desert?"

     Later, Rivera recalled how Clinton was "ambushed" by Starr and claimed the President was treated worse than a dog:
     "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. They go to Ken Starr in the evening hours of the 16th after they have ambushed poor, have they ambushed Monica yet? Or is that the next day, that was that day, the 16th, that's right. Alright, they ambush Monica, they get the tape, they go running to Newsweek magazine, they brief the Paula Jones attorneys, they ambush the President of the United States the next day and people on the right can suggest that morality favors their side. I want to know how. I want to know how they can look themselves in the mirror because this stinks rotten, this stinks! You wouldn't do this to a dog and you do it to the President."

     I wouldn't make a dog watch Geraldo Rivera, but at the MRC humans can't avoid him. -- Brent Baker


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