E-Mail Bounced Again; Judge Snubbed in AM; Liberal & Moderate VP Picks
1) Not a syllable Thursday night on ABC, CBS, MSNBC or NBC on
White House counsel Beth Nolan's appearance before the House Government
Reform Committee to respond to questions about e-mail. CNN and FNC ran full
2) Nothing on e-mail, but ABC had time for the
"conspiracy to retaliate" against Smith & Wesson and a helmet
law in Italy. CBS looked at lights in the sky. NBC relayed how Elian is
missing Cuba's "education system that is the envy of Latin
America." NBC offered an admiring profile of a gun control advocate.
3) CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today refused to mention a
judge's finding that Clinton was in "criminal violation" of the
Privacy Act. GMA gave it 29 seconds. But even Geraldo found it newsworthy.
4) Pushing moderate and liberal VP picks for Bush. Time's
Margaret Carlson recommended Christie Todd Whitman or Olympia Snowe. Bryant
Gumbel suggested Whitman, Pataki, Ridge or Elizabeth Dole.
5) John McCain demanded an investigation of Al Gore's 1996
fundraising and raised the LaBella memo, but Bryant Gumbel refused to take up
either issue and kept pressing McCain about whether George W. Bush has done
enough to cater to him.
6) On gas prices, FNC pointed out how "with taxes
reaching 50 cents per gallon, our own government drives the price up even
7) Letterman's "Top Ten Questions on the George W. Bush
Application for Running Mate."
>>> Genitalia: Seven times more of
it conveniently available on your TV. Now that I've got your attention.
New study from the MRC's Parents Television Council, "What a
Difference a Decade Makes: A Comparison of Prime Time Sex, Language, and
Violence in 1989 and '99." The report compiled by Tom Johnson
compared and contrasted four weeks of prime time programming from the fall
of 1989 with four weeks of programming from this past fall. Among the
-- On a per-hour
basis, sexual material was, overall, more than three times as frequent in
'99 as it was in '89.
-- References to
genitalia were more than seven times as frequent in '99.
-- The rate of foul
language in '99 was more than five and a half times higher than that of
'89. Words like "bitch" and "son of a bitch," seldom
used in '89, were common in '99, and words forbidden in '89
("dick"; "a-hole") were used several times each, at
-- In terms of
sexual content, coarse language, and violent material combined, the
per-hour figure almost tripled from '89 to '99.
The report was
released Thursday at a press conference featuring MRC Chairman L. Brent
Bozell, long-time TV host Steve Allen and Senators Joseph Lieberman and
Sam Brownback. To read the full analysis, go to:
e-mail hearing, another hearing bounced by the broadcast networks. White
House counsel Beth Nolan appeared Thursday before the House Government
Reform Committee to answer questions about why much White House e-mail was
not turned over in recent years in response to subpoenas. Not a syllable
about her appearance aired Thursday night on ABC's World News Tonight,
CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News or MSNBC's The News with Brian
Williams. Not even CNN's Inside Politics covered it, though that could
be because she was still testifying during the 5pm ET show.
CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET, however, did
carry a full story by Bob Franken and at 6pm ET/9pm PT FNC's Special
Report with Brit Hume ran a thorough piece by Brian Wilson. FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report held the hearing to a 25-second summary delivered by anchor
Shepard Smith. CNN's Crossfire focused on the flap.
(Last week's first hearing on e-mail at least
generated a story on the CBS Evening News while ABC and NBC only mentioned
the launch of a Justice Department probe. As detailed in the March 24
CyberAlert, on March 23 the same House committee held a hearing with
current and former Northrop-Grumman employees, who oversaw maintenance of
White House computers, about how they discovered e-mails which were not
handed over in response to subpoenas and that they felt threatened by
officials to not alert anyone to the problem. The same day the Justice
Department announced a probe of the matter. ABC's World News Tonight
ignored the hearing but gave the Justice Department announcement 20
seconds. Ditto for NBC Nightly News which managed to squeeze the Justice
announcement into 16 seconds. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams spent
11 minutes replaying a Katie Couric interview with the Ramseys but
couldn't find any time for the e-mail story. CBS, CNN and FNC all ran
The March 30 The World Today on CNN played a piece
by Bob Franken in which he showed clips from the hearing as he reported
that Nolan announced that with a new contractor the missing e-mails could
be found not in two years as she originally predicted but in 175 days.
That would put Gore's missing e-mail in play for the campaign, Franken
observed. After recalling how the White House knew in 1998 that a server
problem meant many e-mails were not produced but did not acknowledge the
problem until news reports revealed it last month, meaning the Washington
Times, he relayed Nolan's contention that former White House counsel
Charles Ruff thought it was just a glitch that had no impact. Franken
concluded by saying that the committee now plans to subpoena Ruff.
Earlier, on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume,
the anchor of the same name introduced FNC's story: "White House
counsel Beth Nolan has been on Capitol Hill answering questions, or trying
to, about those missing e-mails. She and a Justice Department lawyer
testified before the House Government Reform Committee. Nolan says the
e-mail flap was a mistake and not a deliberate action, but as Fox News'
Brian Wilson tells us, Republican Chairman Dan Burton has his
FNC's Brian Wilson, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth, began: "Dan Burton, the Chairman of the House
Government Reform Committee, has questions. Why were Ken Starr and various
congressional investigators not alerted that subpoena searches of the
White House e-mail system were incomplete when that was known at the White
House as early as June of 1998. How did at least 246,000 White House
e-mails fall through the cracks? Why were Vice President Gore's e-mail
messages never archived? And:"
Burton at the
hearing: "When did the White House Counsel's Office find out about
this mess, and what did they do about it?"
House Counsel Beth Nolan admits there are large numbers of White House
documents that have never been reviewed. But she claims it's because of
Nolan at the
hearing: "No one attempted to hide responsive information from this
committee or from any other investigative body."
"Burton and other Republicans on the committee are troubled because
they detect a pattern when it comes to White House responses to past
requests for records."
documents are withheld once, we can try to understand. If it occurs twice,
you have justifiable doubts. But when it happens over and over again, you
start to get a little skeptical."
were also continuing questions about the contents of a Zip disk like this
one [picture on an Iomega "Zip" disk], gathered by White House
contract employee Robert Haas. It is said to contain e-mails sent from
Monica Lewinsky to White House secretary Betty Curry and one of
Lewinsky's White House friends. Administration officials maintain the
information on the disk are duplicates of documents already released. But
when questioned closely, Nolan admitted officials were unable to read all
of the information on the original disk."
they opened the zip disk or tried to read some of the Zip disk material,
they couldn't read all of it. They went back to Mr. Haas' F Drive,
made another zip disk. Mr. Easley has that. They're going to try to open
it and find the file."
that means the White House contention that all of the documents inside
that Zip disk had been previously released was based on an incomplete
examination of the Zip disk. They couldn't open all the files. Burton
plans to subpoena the original Zip disk and a copy that was made. Now the
White House says they're gonna go back and retrieve all the e-mail
messages in question from hundreds of backup tapes, and that's a process
that could take, Brit, some six months."
"But does it mean, Brian, that in effect, with the existence of the
backup tapes and so on, that nothing is really actually missing now?"
that but then brought viewers back to the big picture of White House
deceit: "That's right. All the e-mail messages are on backup tapes,
but that's, it's not the concern on Capital Hill. It's easy to get
off track here. It was known at very high levels in June of 1998 that
there had been searches of e-mails that did not include these unsearched
records that were on the backup tapes. That's the key issue, and
remember there were five contract employees who said they were threatened
if they were going to reveal the existence of those unsearched e-mail
++ Watch FNC's story and see Beth Nolan. Late
Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of
Brian Wilson's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
of telling their viewers about the e-mail scandal the broadcast networks
and MSNBC focused on Elian Gonzalez (with multiple stories) as well as on
other less than pressing news Thursday night. ABC had time for a helmet
law in Italy, CBS for looking at lights in the sky and NBC to glorify a
gun control advocate.
All led with Gonzalez and MSNBC's The News with
Brian Williams devoted nearly the entire broadcast to the topic with
Forrest Sawyer anchoring live from Miami. (On the campaign front, only
ABC's Peter Jennings took a few seconds for a brief item about Bush's
$3 billion plan to recruit teachers.)
In addition to a piece on whether there's "a
conspiracy to retaliate against the gun maker Smith & Wesson because
it has been cooperating with the Clinton administration," the March
30 World News Tonight on ABC featured stories on the Census effort to
count the homeless as reporter Carla Wohl claimed "hundreds of
thousands of homeless" were missed ten years ago when the Census
counted 230,000 of them, on how the FBI investigates cyber crime and on a
new law in Italy requiring helmets for those on "scooters and
The CBS Evening News looked at the drug war in
Colombia and Clinton's Clinton plan for more aid to fight what Dan
Rather termed the "leftist" rebels, but he cautioned there are
complaints the Colombian army is tied to the "right-wing"
paramilitary. Another story examined how British winemakers may benefit
from global warming. Richard Roth predicted: "For British wine 2050
could be a very good year." CBS ended with a piece on the
"enduring mystery" of the "Northern Lights" seen in
the sky above in Alaska.
NBC Nightly News opened with multiple Elian stories,
then ran a piece on how a witness now says police told him what to say at
a trial which may have falsely convicted a man, now on death row, of
killing a police officer. For its "In Depth" segment NBC
returned to the Elian case as Jim Avila compared the life Elian has in the
U.S. with a kid in Cuba of the same age. The Cuban family, Avila relayed,
must subsist on $23 a month so they have less food and fewer toys. After
allowing the Cuban mother to assert that love is more important than
material things, Avila delivered the standard Cuban propaganda line:
"Cubans point to the good things about their country. An education
system that is the envy of Latin America, virtually everyone in Cuba reads
and while life may be hard in Cuba, child psychiatrist Bennet Leventhal
says children there can be just as happy as here."
Next, NBC viewers watched a story on efforts to kill
mosquitos in Queens before there's another outbreak of the West Niles
virus. NBC ended with a "Women to Watch" admiring profile by
Lisa Myers of Donna Dees-Thomasas, the founder of the Million Mom March
scheduled for Mother's Day. In his top of the show tease Tom Brokaw went
a little over the top in hyping her impact:
"And Women to
Watch, tonight a mother who'd never been politically active until she
saw this [video of LA kids crossing street after Jewish day care center
shooting]. What happened next would change the world." [I listened
carefully and he did not say "her" world.]
concluded her story: "This suburban mom says her mission won't end
with the march, not until the mothers of America face down the gun lobby
Judge Royce Lamberth's March 29 finding that President Clinton was in
"criminal violation" of the Privacy Act, for releasing letters
written by Kathleen Willey, was front page news in Thursday's Washington
Post and even the Boston Globe. The New York Times put the story inside
with a plug for it on page one. But the network morning shows were not
Not a word about the ruling aired on CBS's The
Early Show or NBC's Today, which both dedicated the majority of their
shows to Elian with time set aside for Texas tornado updates and looks at
the claim a man on death row in Tennessee was falsely convicted. ABC's
Good Morning America, however, managed to squeeze in a brief mention in a
larger story pegged to Clinton comments at a fundraiser in Columbia, South
Carolina the night before about the Confederate flag. MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson timed this portion of Andrea McCarren's story at 29 seconds:
the day, in a wide-ranging White House news conference, an old scandal
attracted new attention. The President disagreed with a federal judge's
ruling that he committed a criminal violation of the Privacy Act by
releasing letters which cast doubt on the credibility of former White
House volunteer Kathleen Willey. In 1998, Willey accused the President of
a sexual advance."
Geraldo Rivera has given the judge's rebuke of
Bill Clinton higher priority than have the networks. As detailed in the
March 30 CyberAlert, Wednesday night ABC gave it 19 seconds, CBS 29
seconds, CNN 28 seconds, MSNBC 23 seconds and NBC 18 seconds.
But that same night, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noticed, CNBC's Rivera Live devoted 20 minutes to the development. His
March 29 guests included liberals Joe Conason and Julian Epstein, Judicial
Watch's Larry Klayman and Linda Tripp's civil attorney. Rivera gave the
news a level a gravity not heard on the networks. Over a graphic reading
"Criminal Clinton?", Rivera intoned: "Ladies and gentlemen
stand by. The President of the United States has today, by a federal
judge, been accused of committing a crime. Details in a moment."
Rivera even challenged one of his guests: "But
a judge has said, Julian [Epstein], that the President definitively
violated the criminal provisions of the federal Privacy Act and in that
regard it is quite stunning."
Stunning that Rivera is more concerned about
Clinton's illegal actions than are broadcast network television
moderate and liberal VP choices for Bush. On CNN Time's Margaret Carlson
urged George W. Bush to pick a pro-choice running mate, either Christie
Todd Whitman or Olympia Snowe, because it would "create some
excitement for him." On CBS's The Early Show Bryant Gumbel offered
his suggestions: Whitman, George Pataki, Tom Ridge or Elizabeth Dole.
-- Carlson, caught by MRC analyst Paul Smith, on the
March 29 Inside Politics:
"By the time
we get to the summer, you know, both candidates will have nailed down
their bases and they will be fighting over the middle. Everybody has gone
to the middle practically already but I don't, I still think Bush is going
to have to work on that given how he ran the primary and also because, you
know, that Republicans need that, you know, the so-called soccer moms and
a pro-choice running mate would help with that. A woman would help even
more. Christie Todd Whitman or hey, Olympia Snowe would be good choices
for him. I don't know if he will go that far. He may feel he doesn't have
to go that far to the center, left of center, to get what he needs but it
would be the kind of choice that would create some excitement for
Yeah, for reporters.
-- Thursday morning CBS's The Early Show, MRC
analyst Brian Boyd noted, brought aboard Jack Kemp and Mario Cuomo to
assess potential VP picks for Gore and Bush.
To Cuomo, Gumbel asked for quick assessments of
Senators Evan Bayh, Bob Graham and Dianne Feinstein as well as Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson. Turning to Kemp, he started with Whitman and
then moved to New York Governor George Pataki, Pennsylvania Governor Tom
Ridge, whom Kemp called a "terrific candidate, a very progressive
conservative candidate....Vietnam veteran, Catholic, moderate on the issue
of pro-life." Gumbel's last suggestion: Elizabeth Dole.
McCain demanded an investigation of Al Gore's 1996 fundraising and
highlighted the findings of the LaBella memo, but Wednesday morning Bryant
Gumbel refused to take up either issue as he kept pressing McCain about
whether George W. Bush has done enough to cater to him. Gumbel urged
McCain to agree that Gore "has gone farther towards advancing your
reform agenda than has so far Governor Bush."
Returning to the Senate on March 21 McCain blasted
Gore and urged him to demand an investigation of what occurred in 1996,
but as noted in the March 22 CyberAlert, while CNN and FNC ran stories not
a word about it appeared on the ABC, CBS or NBC evening or morning shows,
nor MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams.
And CBS is still resisting any coverage. McCain
appeared on CBS's The Early Show on March 29 to discuss a hearing to be
held later that day, by his Senate Commerce Committee, about gambling on
college sports. Gumbel soon turned the conversation to the campaign, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
of legislation of yours that is close to your heart, the McCain/Feingold
bill aimed at campaign finance reform, on Monday Vice President Gore made
it the center piece of his pledge to make reform his top priority. How are
you viewing his recent move to your pet cause?"
"I'm glad he's doing it. I'll take him at his word that he made
mistakes, but I also believe that he should support and strongly urge a
thorough and complete investigation of the abuses of the institutions of
government that took place in 1996 by the Clinton/Gore campaign.
Outrageous things happened, we need to know what went on so we can better
shape legislation to prevent its reoccurrence."
Gumbel made Gore's case: "As I think you
know, he admits that he is the imperfect messenger."
McCain: "As am
for campaign finance reform. Nonetheless, do you think his motivation is
genuine or political?"
McCain offered some
nice words for Gore but also raised the name "LaBella," a name
not uttered on The Early Show this year: "I believe that Vice
President Gore is an honorable man, I take him at his word. But I think
his credibility would be enhanced if he demanded and received a full
investigation. We still are hearing about things that happened in 1996.
Most recently the leaked memo by Mr. LaBella who said that an
investigation had to take place, which the Attorney General obviously
ignored for reasons which no one understands."
Instead of pursuing the content of the LaBella memo,
asking what could be done to get the Justice Department to take action or
inquiring about whom McCain holds responsible for covering up Clinton-Gore
misdeeds, Gumbel responded: "Would you allow that he has gone
farther, Mr. Gore I'm talking about, he has gone farther towards advancing
your reform agenda than has so far Governor Bush, who said that you didn't
change his views on reform?"
I hope I changed Governor Bush's views on reform. I had a conversation
with him yesterday and I hope to have conversations with him in the
future. But there's no doubt that Vice President Gore has helped the cause
of campaign finance reform by making it a centerpiece and I appreciate
Gumbel proceeded to pursue questioning about how
well Bush is treating McCain: "The Governor did call you yesterday,
his camp characterized the conversation as a very productive conversation.
Did you see it that way?"
McCain: "I saw
it as a very cordial conversation."
there anything in particular that you wanted to hear him say?"
and there's really, I just think we need to have more conversations. I
think I need to fully understand exactly what his agenda is. I think I
need to have a commitment to the reform agenda. But there's no doubt, I'll
support the nominee of my party."
haven't you yet announced that full endorsement, Senator?"
"Because I want to make sure that I do not abandon the millions of
people who supported my candidacy for the sake of reform, of giving the
government back to the people, and getting rid of this corruption which
has affected the legislative and governmental process."
Gumbel: "So is
it fair to say that unless you hear what you want to hear, that
endorsement will not be forthcoming?"
I'm sure I will support the nominee. The degree of enthusiasm that I back
the nominee will be somewhat impacted by what I think the Governor's
agenda is. But I lost, he won, I'm in no position to dictate
does it seem are you in any hurry, would that be accurate?"
think that's accurate, yes."
Gumbel: "On a
personal note, Senator, how much do you miss the campaign trail and the
platform it afforded you?"
miss it a lot, I miss the enthusiasm of the young people. The most up
lifting experience of my life...."
bright side. Earlier this week an FNC reporter pointed out the role of
environmentalists and the government in making gas cost more than the
natural market price. MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth caught this conclusion to
a March 28 piece by Jonathan Serrie on the Fox Report:
unlikely the current situation would ever lead to 1970s style gas
rationing, it serves as an eery reminder of America's continued dependence
on the Middle East. But with environmental hurdles, drilling oil in the
U.S. isn't easy. And with taxes reaching 50 cents per gallon, our own
government drives the price up even more."
March 30, 2000 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions
on the George W. Bush Application for Running Mate." Copyright 2000
by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Ever been President? 'Cause that would help"
9. "Do you party?" (If "No" -- skip rest of questions)
8. "Do you have ideas for tax plans and stuff that I could copy
7. "We already have a uniter on the ticket, how are your dividing
6. "Are you stupid? We can't have two stupid people on the
5. "Will you be able to assume the presidency if Mr. Bush is really,
4. "How many lines per minute can you do?"
3. "You're not a narc, are you?"
2. "I tiped this kweschun miself! Kan u tel?"
1. "Dude, what fraternity were you in?"
Don't worry, I'll
give equal time to any Gore-bashing Top Tens Letterman ever runs.
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