Rather's Warming Mantra; Hillary Quiz Scandal; A&E's 224 Year Old Bias
1) Global warming "is real and it is underway" Dan
Rather announced for the third time this week on Thursday night as John
Roberts featured a liberal activist who warned we all might die if we don't
follow Clinton's policy to reduce greenhouse emissions.
2) Jeffrey Toobin denigrated Linda Tripp as "very
odious," but Today's Matt Lauer relayed how in his book he wrote that
Clinton's friends said they believe Clinton "would never have admitted
his relationship with Lewinsky had [Monica] not kept genetic proof."
3) Did Hillary have help answering Letterman's quiz? Her
aide says yes, then no. FNC says yes. On Letterman, Hillary declared: "If
I can make it here I can make it anywhere." CBS's Diana Olick agreed:
"And that was the real truth."
4) A debate bias test. Last Saturday Democrats got set-up
questions and were never pressed from the right. This Saturday the same
sponsors and moderator will host a Republican debate. Will they be as easy and
will they avoid pushing from the left?
5) In an A&E movie on George Washington crossing the
Delaware he is persuaded that just like the hired-gun Hessians, his opposition
to British taxes means he too is fighting "for profit."
6) Friday night on NBC's Law & Order: SVU drama: a gay
man, "whose father heads a conservative watchdog group," is
>>> Now online on the MRC's Web site: The MagazineWatch
reviewing this week's news weeklies. The items in the issue put together by
the MRC's Paul Smith:
1. Newsweek and U.S. News suggested George W. Bush was endangering his
political future by "walking on the wild side" and endorsing tax
cuts and supply-side economics.
2. U.S. News and Time seem ideologically confused about who's on the extremes
and who's in the center. McCain's a "hard-edged conservative," Gore
and Bradley "trundle down the center."
3. Only Newsweek gives a paragraph to Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile's
gaffe that Republicans would rather "take pictures with black children
than feed them."
4. While the AOL Time Warner merger may create a seeming capitalist behemoth,
Sports Illustrated couldn't help but step in (and step on) Republican dark
horses in Campaign 2000.
To read these items, go to:
Corrections: The January 13 CyberAlert cited
how Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank "explained in her January
12-datelined dispatch." In fact, Milbank is a he. The same issue also
detailed an ABC story about schools in France which give out "morning
after bills." That should have read "pills."
the third time this week, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News ran a story
on the fresh "news" that global warming "is real and
underway." Thursday's story gave a seven word clause in one sentence to
noting that there are doubters -- just before running a soundbite from a
liberal activist who warned that warming may cause some societies on the
planet to die off.
Let's review how CBS anchor Dan Rather stretched the
same "news" into three days of news by reciting his CBS Evening News
Monday, January 10: "U.S. government climate
experts tell CBS News that they now believe global warming is real and
Wednesday, January 12: "CBS News has dug out new and
exclusive information about just how seriously the U.S. government now regards
global warming. Sources tell Jim Axelrod that President Clinton will soon
commit more money to understand it and fight it. This follows Axelrod's
report Monday disclosing that U.S. climate experts now believe global warning
indeed is real and underway."
Thursday, January 13: "On the subject of global
warming, U.S. climate experts now believe it is real and it is underway and
President Clinton says he will seek funding to fight it."
For this latest effort to legitimize the political
position of Al Gore, CBS Reporter John Roberts began:
"Spurred on by the strongest evidence yet that the
Earth is getting hotter, the Clinton Administration will seek a 50 percent
increase in funding, $1.6 billion, to combat global warming."
Roberts cited no "evidence" before putting on
White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, who insisted: "This is one of
the biggest challenges the country and the world face over the course of the
Roberts ran through the same old litany, but offered
nothing new: "Around the globe, the evidence is there: shrinking ice
sheets in the Arctic, drought in America, the spread of tropical diseases to
regions once immune. While some scientists believe it's a natural cycle, many
blame industrial and auto pollution -- so-called 'greenhouse gases,' which
trap heat from the sun -- for the rapid increase in temperature."
Michael Oppenheimer of the Natural Resources Defense
Council predicted the world might end: "If greenhouse gas emissions are
not reduced soon then life will become increasingly difficult for most
societies and for much of nature there may be no future at all."
Roberts continued: "And America, the world's
biggest polluter, is stuck on what to do about it. An international treaty,
which would cut greenhouse gas emissions to pre-1990 levels, has not been
ratified by Congress. Industry groups have lobbied that the only way to
achieve those targets is to cut energy use; a move they say would strangle the
Glenn Kelly of the Global Climate Coalition: "We know
that 2.5 million workers will be out of work for little environmental
Indeed, the Kyoto treaty has not been ratified because
the Clinton administration has yet to submit it to the Senate. After that
distortion, Roberts bore in on Republicans:
"Republicans have held up any attempts at legislating
reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, complaining that developing nations
wouldn't be held to the same standards. And that position is not likely to
George W. Bush: "We want to make sure that we think
clearly and carefully before we implement any plan that puts the onus on the
Roberts concluded his advocacy piece: "In his upcoming
State of the Union address, the President will announce new initiatives to
reduce emissions and make alternative fuels more widely available as well a
program to help curb greenhouse gases in developing nations. But senior
administration officials admit they expect a tough fight with Congress."
Over on Thursday's NBC Nightly News reporter Robert
Hager also raised global warming. After reporting on how Boston finally got
snow after a record snow-less 303 days while Southern California is having a
drought and the Northwest has more snow than normal, Hager asserted: "All
this against a general backdrop of global warming, which some say upsets
normal weather even more."
James Baker, NOAA: "A slow increase in the amount of
wacky weather is something that is consistent with this idea of global
Hager agreed: "Wacky. Good way to describe today's
storm so long in coming."
legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who maintains in his new book that Hillary
Clinton was "more right than wrong" about the vast right-wing
conspiracy, told Today's Matt Lauer how if it weren't for Linda Tripp's
prescient advice to Monica Lewinsky to save the dress, Clinton would never
have conceded he and Lewinsky had any type of sexual activity.
As noted in the January 13 CyberAlert, Toobin's
January 12 Good Morning America appearance concentrated on his disgust for
conservatives and how impeachment was overkill. To see a video clip of this
discussion, go to:
Thursday's Today appearance covered that material as
well, but Matt Lauer also raised some material in Toobin's book, A Vast
Conspiracy, which shows how Linda Tripp really is the hero of the whole
scandal, though Toobin denigrated her as "odious."
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed this illuminating
Lauer: "When the Monica Lewinsky aspect of this
scandal broke and we first heard the name Monica Lewinsky the President made
that famous statement, 'I never had sexual relations with that woman.' You say
in this book that had it not been for one key piece of evidence he may be
sticking, he may have been sticking to that story even today."
Toobin: "Absolutely. One of the most damning things I
learned about Bill Clinton in writing this book is that even his own friends
said to me, 'You know if that dress never came out, if that dress didn't exist
with the DNA on it that was depositive proof he wouldn't be admitting the
affair to this day.' And I think that's, You know I don't think it's
impeachable but I think it's a pretty shameful judgment."
Lauer: "Right from the book. Quote, here's what you
wrote, 'Many of Clinton's own friends regarded him as so untrustworthy on
sexual matters that they believe the President would never have admitted his
relationship with Lewinsky had she not kept genetic proof. In such a fight
Clinton's advocates would not have hesitated to attack Lewinsky's credibility.
Another unstable behavior would have provided them plenty of ammunition. But
the dress made Lewinsky bullet-proof.'"
Toobin: "And you know who was right about that?
Someone who, I regard as a very odious person, but you gotta give her credit
when she's right, and that's Linda Tripp. And there's one of these amazing
tapes that I quote in the book where Linda Tripp says, 'You know don't dis
everything I say. I'm gonna tell you something, now listen.' You know it's a
great Tripp moment. And she says, 'Keep the dress. Keep the dress you don't
know what they're gonna do to you.' And she was absolutely right."
Wrapping up the interview, Lauer picked up a more scary
anecdote in the book: "You drop another bomb in the book. Just quickly as
we leave. Hillary Clinton, if she wins the Senate seat in New York, you say
she's running for President."
Toobin: "You betcha. Her good friend Linda Bloodworth-Thomason
likes to say that when Bill and Hillary Clinton are dead each one of them are
gonna be buried next to a President of the United States."
she or didn't she? Did Hillary Clinton get help beforehand with the quiz
answers she went five for five in answering from David Letterman Wednesday
night? It seems to be a evolving story with her spokesman telling a different
story to different reporters while Letterman's staff coyly avoids providing
a definitive answer. Meanwhile, Hillary earned rave reviews from the media for
Below, in order of occurrence, are the varying answers I
saw as to whether Hillary got a preview ahead of time of the quiz questions
about the New York state bird, state tree, highest mountain range, Great Lakes
which border the state and number of counties.
-- Adam Nagourney's news story in the January 13 New
"There were some of what might have seemed to the
uninformed viewer to be challenging moments for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Letterman
presented her with a pop quiz about New York arcana, asking whether she could
name the state bird (the red-breasted blue bird), the state tree (the sugar
maple) and which Great Lakes bounded on New York (Erie and Ontario). She
answered all the questions correctly.
"Mr. Letterman's staff members said the quiz had been
a surprise. Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, allowed that Mrs.
Clinton might, in fact, have been given a sneak peek at the questions before
she went on."
-- Wolfson appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America
in the 7am half hour, allowing Diane Sawyer to pick up on that concession, but
Wolfson changed his story, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed.
Sawyer: "We were laughing about the fact and talking
about the fact that she got all six of those state questions right, but I
noticed that you said in the New York Times this morning that Mrs. Clinton
might in fact have been given a sneak peek at those questions beforehand,
Wolfson: "Well, we told them that we had a Top Ten
list, and they said they had a pop quiz for us, and we're glad that it went
Sawyer: "Did they say a pop quiz on the state and
state issues? Did they show the actual questions?"
Wolfson: "They said a pop quiz, and, you know, I don't
think anybody is gonna make an election decision based on who knows the state
bird, but I think it went very well."
Sawyer: "But did they tell you the questions
Wolfson: "They gave us a sense that she'd be asked
some tough questions on the state."
Sawyer: "Just in general..."
Wolfson: "Mmm hhmm." [nods]
Sawyer: "...but not specifically? [brief pause] Not
If only we had some "genetic" evidence.
-- Rick Leventhal in a story on FNC's 6pm ET Special
Report with Brit Hume: "But it turns out Hillary had a little extra help.
She was told about the quiz in advance. Letterman's producers explained
they'd never ambush a guest because it's an entertainment show."
Seemingly alluding to this controversy, on Thursday's
Late Show Letterman repeatedly referred to Executive Producer Rob Burnett as
"H.R. 'Bob' Haldeman."
No matter what the deal on the quiz, she certainly had
help with the Top Ten list she read, "Top Ten Reasons I, Hillary Clinton,
Finally Decided to Appear on the Late Show." Kimberly Izzo of the Late
Show told Scripps Howard News Service reporter Thomas Hargrove: "The
'Top Ten' list was a collaboration between her people and some of our
Hillary's appearance earned the approval of CBS's
Diana Olick, who gushed on Thursday's The Early Show: "Yes, the very
serious candidate for the New York Senate was funny."
Letterman to Hillary on his show: "Somebody's been
writing material for you haven't they?"
Olick: "Even if some of it did sound a little
scripted, the fact was the First Lady turned candidate had taken the
challenge. She even took a test."
Letterman: "Name New York's state bird."
Hillary: "Bluebird, I know that one."
Olick: "And passed. So why did she do it? Did it have
to do with that poll this week where 58 percent of New Yorkers said she should
Man on street: "If she does well on Letterman she'll
be doing fine anywhere."
Olick: "Or was it Dave and his producer Rob Burnett
whining about it every day for the last month?"
Burnett: "She finally had to take pity on us."
Olick: "No, it was simpler than that."
Hillary reading her Top Ten list, Top Ten Reasons I,
Hillary Clinton, Finally Decided to Appear on The Late Show: "And number
one, if I can make it here I can make it anywhere."
Olick: "And that was the real truth. Hillary Clinton
needed to prove a point. The same poll this week showed that less than one
half of New Yorkers asked had a favorable opinion of her. The campaign clearly
needed to play a little PR and Letterman of course was the best game in
Back from the taped piece, co-host Jane Clayson asked:
"Does a stunt like this change your image?"
Olick: "Well, it can't change your image entirely
but she's been so serious on the issues she needed to show that she had
another fun side to her."
viewer's guide for Saturday's Republican presidential debate in Iowa
sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public TV. As recounted in
previous CyberAlerts, as moderators of recent GOP debates NBC's Tim Russert
and Brian Williams have demanded the candidates answer hostile questions from
the left, but since neither man has moderated a Democratic debate it's not
been possible to see whether they would have treated Democrats any
Saturday's Iowa debate presents an excellent
opportunity to compare and contrast two identical events sponsored by the same
two entities. Last Saturday, Des Moines Register Editor Dennis Ryerson
moderated a Democratic debate. On Saturday he takes on the Republicans.
So below, thanks to some help from MRC intern Ken
Shepherd, are all the questions Democrats were asked on January 8 which you
can compare to the types of questions posed to Republicans. As you'll
notice, most are set-up questions, without an agenda, just prompting the
candidates to address an issue. No controversies were raised, such as the Gore
and Bradley statements days earlier about gays in the military and Gore was
not asked about his past fundraising efforts. Keep that in mind if McCain or
Bush are pressed about fundraising and/or McCain's FCC letters.
The Democrats were explicitly pressed from the left
twice. An audience member asked about human services versus military spending
and, reading a letter, the moderator asked about the supposed gender gap in
pay. But neither candidate got a question from the right. Therefore, if the
debate hosts follow the same standard, Republicans will not be asked any
question from the left side of their party and should be pressed twice from
Here are all the questions posed to the two Democrats
-- Ryerson: "One of the questions we received is
from Margaret Rooney (sp?) of Des Moines. And here's what she wrote to me:
'My entire Social Security check, $702 a month, goes for health care
expenses. $470 is spent on supplementary insurance -- I'm sorry, on
prescription drugs; $182 is spent on supplemental insurance; and the last $50
is owed to an ambulance company which charged me $378 for a five-mile trip to
the emergency room. Now, Medicare refused my claim, in spite of my doctor's
writing two letters stating that my injury was a medical emergency. What are
you prepared to do to help me?'"
-- Ryerson: "Here's an agriculture question from
David Schoenbaum (sp?), who lives in Iowa City. He writes: 'Candidates from
both parties have told The Des Moines Register that they support genetic
engineering, something Iowa agriculture is heavily invested in. We're also
heavily dependent on exports, as both of you know. But, genetically engineered
products meet heavy resistance in European countries and in Japan. Now a
century ago, we could deploy our ships and threaten to shoot if other nations
didn't open up their markets. What can we do today?'"
-- Ryerson: "Let's go to another question from a
reader now. This one's from Roger Sitterly (sp?) from Des Moines. And he wants
to know, 'Under what circumstances should U.S. armed forces be used for
international peacekeeping, and under whose command?'"
-- Question from a female community college students in
the audience: "I'm studying for a position in the human services field,
and this is one of the first areas to be cut when money gets tight. If we beef
up the military, as many candidates are suggesting, where will we get money
for human services and other important areas?"
-- Ryerson: "Here's a question from Ken Shy (ph).
He's a retired school superintendent from Nevada, Iowa. 'If elected
President, what would you do that would result in improved learning for all
students in public school classrooms?'"
-- Male college student: "What would you intend to
do about the increase in school violence, particularly the lack of guidance at
home for children regarding what they see and hear?"
-- Ryerson: "Here's another question from a reader,
Liz Gilbert (sp?) of Iowa Falls, and here's what she wrote to me.
'Regardless of who is President, monied corporate special interests still
will lobby for and receive special favors where the so-called little guy is
ignored. Why should the average American care what happens in this
-- Ryerson: "Here's one more question from a
reader, and we won't have time for a rebuttal on this one. As you know, the
U.S. Census Bureau has reported that, for every dollar a man makes a woman
makes something like 73 cents. Kathy Neale (sp?) of Ankanee (sp?) is president
of the Business and Professional Women of Iowa. And she asks: 'As President,
what would you do to ensure that working families do not suffer as a result of
the gender wage gap?'"
Saturday's GOP debate in Iowa is at 1pm CT, 2pm ET,
and will be carried live by CNN, C-SPAN, FNC and PBS.
imagine how the Revolutionary War might have been portrayed each night
by Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News? Well, a new A&E movie run Monday
night and set to repeat Saturday night, offers a troubling projection.
Bottom line: Hired Hessian soldiers were no different in
what they were fighting for than George Washington and the Continental
Army's soldiers. But that spin is no surprise when you learn that the
screenplay was written by a communist. Really. A man who regularly wrote for
the Daily Worker and once penned a book titled, Being Red.
Before we get to the bias in question, a little history
to catch everyone up. Here's how the A&E Web site describes their two
hour movie starring Jeff Daniels as George Washington, which first ran Monday
"The Crossing recalls Washington's legendary evening
attack against the British Army's German mercenaries, the Hessians, which
changed the course of the Revolutionary War. It is December 17, 1776.
Suffering from relentless attacks by the British Army and their German
mercenaries, the Continental Army is exhausted. Due to death and desertion,
General Washington's troop of ten thousand men has dwindled to a meager two
thousand. Word has reached Washington that his demand for more military
support has been denied by Congress. He must retreat. The general feels
abandoned, cold, alone. Washington realizes that if he retreats the
revolutions will be lost and so embarks upon the defining moment of his life.
On Christmas Eve, Washington crosses the Delaware River and his troops launch
a surprise attack on the Hessians. During the Battle of Trenton, the Germans
are routed, the British Army stunned, and new life is given to the
A CyberAlert reader alerted me to an incredible scene
which I confirmed actually was shown in the movie. In the battle the Hessian
commander, Colonel Rall, is shot. Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene is
sent to tell Washington he should see Rall before he dies.
As the two sit on horseback beside each other, viewers
hear this exchange between actor David Ferry as General Greene and Jeff
Daniels as Washington:
Greene: "General Washington, Colonel Rall is dying.
General Mercer says you cannot let him die without speaking to him. It's a
courtesy of war."
Washington: "Courtesy? There are no courtesies of war,
Nathaniel. This is not a parlor game where I must pay my respects to that
stinking mercenary who killed five hundred of my men in Brooklyn. Slaughtered
them when they tried to surrender, skewered them in the backs with bayonets.
You want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?"
Greene: "Our own cause is, at its heart, a fight
against British taxation, is it not? In the end sir, we all kill for profit --
the British and the Hessians, and us."
Washington nods and is convinced by the argument, saying
after a long pause: "Very well, Nathaniel. We must not let them think
That's right, a rag-tag army fighting for freedom from
onerous British taxation is really seeking "profit" on par with
those hired to travel the world to fight wars. Who sees American history this
way? Check out the bio on A&E's Web site for the movie's screenwriter,
"In the '50s, Fast was blacklisted, and in May 1952
The New York Times reported intimidation of librarians across the nation by
Legionnaires, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, and Minutemen in
Texas and California. Fast's books were purged from school libraries. Citizen
Tom Paine, formerly used as a school text, was banned from use in New York
City schools. His 1990 memoir Being Red goes more deeply into the issue. You
can read Fast's angry response to the injustices of the McCarthy era in his
own Crisis Papers (1951). He also wrote a poetic eulogy, 'Never to Forget:
The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto,' as well as pamphlets, journal articles,
and columns for the Daily Worker, Masses & Mainstream, and other radical
For the complete bio, go to:
The two hour movie, The Crossing, will run twice on
Saturday night, January 15, at:
9pm and 1am ET
8pm and 12am CT
7pm and 11pm MT
6pm and 10pm PT
+++ Friday afternoon the MRC's Andy Szul will post a
RealPlayer clip of the above movie exchange between Washington and Greene. Go
while on politics in entertainment, check out this plot synopsis for
tonight's (January 14) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as listed in
the Washington Post's TV Week:
"Detectives Benson and Stabler hunt for the killer of
a gay man whose father heads a conservative watchdog group."
Hmmm. Not "ripped from today's headlines" I
Law & Order: SVU is a weekly drama on NBC focused on
New York City police detectives who deal with sex crimes. It airs Friday's
at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT. --
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