Titanic Song for Clinton; Father's Words "Passionate"; Castro in Control?
1) The Washington media elite made fun of ABC News over the
Leonardo DiCaprio interview: Bill Clinton was introduced with the playing of
the "Love Theme from Titanic" at Thursday night's Radio and
Television Correspondents' Association dinner.
2) ABC's Leo-Gate. The Fox News Channel reported that Joe
Lockhart won't back down on insisting ABC wanted an interview session, noted
that ABC sent four camera crews with DiCaprio and relayed how the White House
is now accusing ABC of "parsing" words.
3) GMA and Today hosts and reporters treated the airport
comments by Elian's father as genuine. NBC's Katie Couric called them
"very passionate words." Only CBS's Early Show raised the
possibility it was "written by somebody in Havana."
4) Thursday night ABC and CBS realized Castro's control over
Elian's father. NBC's Jim Avila provided an account of how Greg Craig had
to convince Castro to allow Gonzalez to leave Cuba. Dan Rather seemed to blame
the U.S. for keeping Gonzalez from his son.
5) NBC's Today spent the morning worrying about the
whereabouts of Elian, quizzing guests about a "bundle" carried into
6) Dan Rather asked Bill Clinton about his wife's complaint
about a "right-wing venom machine" out to get her and if he thinks the "'wealthy hate
Hillary campaign' will in the end sink her?"
7) Actress Cybill Shepherd contemplated a presidential run so
she could "veto all this ridiculous legislation that's introduced in
Congress every week trying to control women's bodily integrity."
8) Letterman's "Top Ten Things Elian Gonzalez's Dad
Said His First Day in the United States." #6: "I will only be
interviewed by respected ABC newsman..."
Correction: A reporter's name changed
three-fourths the way through a transcript in item #3 in the April 5
CyberAlert. It recounted a World News Tonight story by ABC's John
Quinones in which he asserted: "In Miami it's impossible to
over-estimate how everything here is colored by a hatred of communism and
Fidel Castro. It's a community with very little tolerance for those who
might disagree." Later in the CyberAlert article Quinones was
inadvertently referred to three times as "Avila," the last name
of NBC News reporter Jim Avila who was quoted in another article in the
Washington media elite are now making fun of ABC News for its Leonardo
DiCaprio's interview, or whatever news division President David Westin
maintains occurred, with President Bill Clinton. As Clinton approached the
podium Thursday night at the Radio and Television Correspondents'
Association dinner, those in the room heard a CD of Celine Dion singing
"My Heart Will Go On," also known as the "Love Theme from
Titanic." DiCaprio was the co-star of the movie Titanic.
Reaching the podium, Clinton dead panned:
"Usually I go for Hail to the Chief, but this week I can't seem to
get that song out of my head."
Clinton's aides prepared several DiCaprio/ABC News
jokes for him to tell at the annual dinner held this year at the
Washington Hilton and shown live at about 9:30pm ET on C-SPAN. Clinton
began his comments by running through the barbs directed at Westin and/or
ABC. Amongst them:
-- "ABC doesn't know whether Leo and I had an
interview, a walk through or a drive by. But I don't know if all their
damage control is worth the effort. I mean it's a little bit like
rearranging the deck chairs on the set of This Week with Sam and Cokie."
That drew groans and boos from the audience.
-- "Don't you news people ever learn, it
isn't the mistake that kills you. It's the cover-up."
That one generated loud cheers and laughter.
-- Clinton even impersonated DiCaprio, repeating his
famous line from the movie as he spread his arms wide and shouted the
ending phrase: "I just want to say this to David Westin. You know,
I've been in a lot of tough spots. Don't let this get you down. You
may not be America's news leader, but you're King of the World!"
++ See and hear how the media organization ridiculed
ABC News Thursday night by playing the Titanic song to introduce Clinton.
Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip from C-SPAN's
live coverage of the RTCA dinner. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
Leo-Gate update: The Fox News Channel reported that White House Press
Secretary Joe Lockhart warned ABC News President David Westin they won't
back down in denying his claim that ABC never wanted an actual interview
session, just a White House tour; FNC's Jim Angle also learned ABC sent
four camera crews for the non-interview and humorously relayed how the
White House is now accusing ABC of "parsing" words; FNC's Brit
Hume revealed that ABC re-shot DiCaprio posing his prepared questions.
Plus, the MRC's Media Reality Check pointed out
some hypocrisy in Westin's record and looked at DiCaprio's political
knowledge; and an E! Online trivia page noted that DiCaprio, chairman of
Earth Day activities on Washington's Mall, has purchased two SUVs.
-- FNC's April 6 Special Report with Brit Hume
featured a piece by Jim Angle on the DiCaprio controversy. Angle reported:
"Spokesman Joe Lockhart has warned ABC News that if it continues to
deny that it sent movie star Leonardo DiCaprio to interview the President
for a news segment, the White House will be forced to keep saying that ABC
is not telling the truth."
Nice to see the White House holding a network
accountable for the truth, a service the networks rarely provided in
Providing further evidence ABC planned to have
DiCaprio interview Clinton, and didn't just get forced into it at the
last minute by Clinton, Angle disclosed: "On a patio just outside the
doors leading to the Oval Office about twenty ABC crew members showed up
with three cameras to shoot the interview. A fourth camera was ready for
Angle humorously passed
on to Hume: "One official said that ABC has 'given lawyerly answers
to simple questions.' 'They're parsing their words,' the official
continued, 'and we know what that's like.'"
-- Later in the same show, Hume revealed: "When
the interview was over and the President had left, sources say some of
DiCaprio's questions were revised and re-shot at an ABC News
producer's suggestion so that the questions and he would sound
-- "Leonardo: ABC's Liberal Laughingstock:
25-Year-Old Movie Star/Teen Idol/Earth Day Activist Hired as White House
Correspondent For a Day." The April 6 Media Reality Check fax report
by Tim Graham begins:
ABC News President David Westin fired 21-year veteran Bob Zelnick
because of the "appearance problem" caused by Zelnick writing a
biography of Al Gore for Regnery, a conservative publisher. Last year,
Westin strongly objected to the hiring of "reckless" Internet
star Matt Drudge as an ABC Radio host. So Westin looks a little funny
trying to deny ABC intended President Clinton to be interviewed by
25-year-old movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, now promoting a big liberal
Earth Day rally in Washington.
Does DiCaprio have the gravitas to be White House correspondent for a
day? In the March 1995 issue of Details magazine, DiCaprio asked,
"Who's Newt Gingrich? Oh, wait a minute, I've seen Newt on TV.
He's that funny-looking guy. I haven't really been following politics
A look at DiCaprio's current talents on the official Earth Day Web
site is not encouraging. In the kickoff press conference, DiCaprio
interviewed Earth Day organizers with multiple insertions of
"wow," "cool," and "scary stuff." (DiCaprio
has endorsed Al Gore for President.)
In a separate Yahoo! chat, DiCaprio's answers suggested he hasn't
exactly hit the books to determine his political positions. "I
watched a lot of television programs, documentaries, and movies on wild
life[sic] and the environment and was shocked to find out what we were
doing to Earth. Now I am in a position to make a difference, and I really
Nice that ABC News gave him an opportunity "to
make a difference."
To read the rest of this fax report, go to:
-- DiCaprio, an
environmental hypocrite? Keith Appell of Creative Response Concepts
forwarded a circulating e-mail making note of a trivia page on E! Online,
"50 Things You Might Not Have Known About Leonardo DiCaprio."
The two illuminating facts: "#11:
His first car was a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he bought for himself when
he turned 18." And: "#12: He now drives a black Chevy
To see this page, which also features photos of
DiCaprio for those of you not familiar with the teen heartthrob, go to:
three morning programs delivered live coverage to their ET affiliates
Thursday of Juan Miguel Gonzalez'z angry statement read at Dulles
Airport at about 7:15am ET. But ABC and NBC hosts and reporters treated
his comments as the genuine feelings of an aggrieved father. Only CBS's
Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson raised the possibility it was "written
by somebody in Havana."
Instead of considering the likelihood that a Castro
aide wrote the written out words and the dictator approved them, Good
Morning America co-host Jack Ford pressed a Miami family lawyer about
charges leveled in "his statement." NBC's Katie Couric
referred to Juan Miguel Gonzalez's "very passionate words"
while reporter Jamie Gangel relayed without skepticism the Cuban claim
that Gonzalez "is free in the United States to come and go as he
-- Good Morning America, April 6. Immediately after
the Dulles statement was shown via a translator, Jack Ford returned to an
interview with Roger Bernstein, one of the attorneys for Elian Gonzalez's
Miami relatives." Ford pressed:
"Let me ask
you for your reaction to some of the comments made. Mr. Gonzalez said that
he is hopeful that his son Elian will be returned to him, as he said, 'as
soon as possible' and his plans then would be, in his words, 'to go back
to Cuba immediately.' What's your reaction to that statement?"
Ford insisted "these are his words" in
asking: "What about his statement where he claims that his son Elian
has been, again these are his words, 'submitted to cruel psychological,
psychological pressure' and that he has been paraded before a variety of
individuals and institutions in order to derive some political advantage
from his personal tragedy?"
Ford kept up the "his words" mantra, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "His father also
complained about the fact that, according to him, his son has been
subjected to, his words, 'politicians, journalists, lawyers, all pursuing
Later, from Dulles Linda Douglass treated the
statement as a genuine reflection of the father's attitude: "It was
a fascinating spectacle here because clearly the father is not only
defiant, he seemed to be very angry, he seemed to be very frustrated. He
spoke as a father who had lost his child to family members who the child
doesn't know, according to the father."
-- NBC's Today. Katie
Couric assessed the statement: "Well he gave quite an angry
statement, angry and passionate." At another point Couric repeated
her "passionate" evaluation and also claimed the senior Gonzalez
"is free to come and go as he pleases." She asserted, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"He will be
staying with the chief diplomat in the United States in the Washington
suburbs. The Cuban government announced it had lifted diplomatic immunity.
He is free to come and go as he pleases. He is accompanied as you see by
his wife and their six month old son. He had some very passionate words to
say about the situation. He appeared angry at the relatives in Miami who
have been caring for his son for the last four months saying that he had
repeatedly tried to reach him and had been, had great difficulty in doing
so. And claims that they have used his son as a political pawn."
From Dulles Airport Jamie Gangel offered the same
assurance about Juan Miguel Gonzalez's freedom to do whatever he wants,
as if Castro has no control over him when members Gonzalez's family
remain in Cuba: "I think the point they made about lifting the
diplomatic immunity is very important. I think that, that is a statement
by the Cuban government saying look Juan Miguel Gonzalez came here. He is
free in the United States to come and go as he please, do as he please.
But he wants to come back to Cuba and bring his son back of his own free
-- CBS's The Early Show. Things were so bad
Thursday on GMA and Today that Bryant Gumbel provided the balance. MRC
analyst Brian Boyd caught this exchange:
of a strange speech that Mr. Gonzalez made. One thing that we have not
made mention of by the way is the extent of Juan Miguel Gonzalez's
education. We don't really know if he is a very educated man or not. But
certainly the speech would suggest that either he has a great deal of
education or that it was written by somebody in Havana."
"Sounds like it was written by somebody in Havana."
certainly does, but we don't want to characterize it as that until and
unless we know."
He backed off there at the end, but at least he
raised the issue. In the 8am hour Jeffrey Kofman, from in front of the
Miami house, related skepticism about whose words Juan Miguel Gonzalez was
Miguel started speaking this morning on television they watched with rapt
attention hanging on every word, trying to interpret, trying to understand
just whether it was Juan Miguel speaking or Castro. And let's just say,
they were skeptical."
April 6 evening show teams brought more rationality to the Juan Miguel
Gonzalez coverage Thursday night with ABC and CBS both noting Castro's
control over him and NBC's Jim Avila providing an "insider"
account of how Greg Craig had to personally convince Castro to allow
Gonzalez to leave Cuba. So much for blaming the father for not traveling
to the U.S. sooner. He couldn't leave if he had wished to.
Dan Rather wrapped up the CBS Evening News with a
bit of commentary which seemed to blame America's "free
society" for the delay in Gonzalez being reunited with his son.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass ran
without comment a soundbite of Gonzalez at the airport followed by a clip
of Thom Fassert of the United Methodist Church, which she reported is
paying Greg Craig's legal fees, claiming Gonzalez can go anywhere and is
not in the custody of Cuban government. But, in a look at the possibility
of defection, John McWethy noted how his family has been moved into a
government compound in Cuba, so "he is far from a free agent."
-- CBS Evening News.
Byron Pitts declared: "Cuba's President did not make the journey,
but Castro's thumb print seemed evident in the twelve minute speech
delivered by Juan Miguel, a security guard back in Cuba who spoke from a
written statement." (Two nights earlier, NBC's Jim Avila said he
was a cashier at a park.)
Rather ended the show by putting the blame for
father-child separation not on a nation from which citizens are barred
from leaving, but on the U.S.:
four months ago a little boy was nearly lost at sea. Ever since we have
watched young Elian Gonzalez carry on with his life as six-year-olds will,
while grown-ups near and far cooked his simple, tragic story into a thick
stew of politics, legalities, ideology and raw emotion. Today's irony is
that to get close to his son, this boy's father had to travel more than
a thousand miles to a foreign capital and even then, even now, he must
wait for the long-sought reunion. Such are the ways of politics and the
law in a free society."
-- NBC Nightly News.
From Havana Jim Avila related an "insider" account of a meeting
amongst lawyer Greg Craig, Fidel Castro Juan Miguel Gonzalez and Cuban
assembly chief Ricardo Alarcon (sp?):
greets the idea of Juan Miguel leaving with anger. It's not his strategy
and sends his best leverage to the United States. The insider describes
the meeting as going badly, Castro entirely opposed. He calls it a matter
of Cuban dignity and refuses to let Juan Miguel return with Craig on the
plane, complains it would look too much like an American rescue mission.
The compromise that turns the tables, Craig returns to the United States
alone and Juan Miguel waits til morning to return with a top Cuban
Today staff appeared paranoid Thursday morning, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed, about the whereabouts of Elian, pressing several guests
about who they saw carrying what in or out of the house.
-- Jamie Gangel to Juan Miguel Gonzalez lawyer Greg
Craig: "There was some concern last night that the son was away from
the house very late and then no one really saw him come in. Someone
carried in a blanket in a bundle but no one saw him. Are you concerned
about where he may be?"
-- Matt Lauer to Linda Osberg-Braun, Miami family
attorney: "A couple of points I
think are important Ms. Osberg-Braun and that is Elian, right now in the
home of Lazaro Gonzales?"
Lauer pressed again: "Well we are watching some
pictures here that were taken late last night of a relative from Miami
carrying what appears to be a young child in a blanket into that home.
There is no way to see the face of that young child. Can you tell me then
is Marisleysis in that home?"
And again: "Just to clear up though you're
telling me there is a possibility that Elian Gonzalez is not in the home
where the crowds have gathered in Miami?"
-- Katie Couric sought assurance from NBC reporter
Fredricka Whitfield: "And that he is inside the home Fredricka?
Because there was some question as to Elian's whereabouts."
least according to one of the members of the Cuban American National
Federation. He said that Elian inside is sleeping. Of course we saw last
night, late last night Lazaro Gonzales, the great uncle of Elian. His wife
Angela did go into the home late last night carrying a bundle, presumably,
Elian inside the home, that was the last that we heard or even saw
anything of Elian. But family representatives assured that Elian is
Rather asked Bill Clinton about his wife's complaint about a
"right-wing venom machine" out to get her and if he thinks the "'wealthy hate Hillary campaign'
will in the end sink her?"
Rather was in Washington Thursday to present an
award at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner to
CBS colleague Bob Schieffer, so CBS arranged for an interview with
Clinton. Instead of an actor, the White House got Rather and he sprinkled
excerpts of his interview throughout the April 6 CBS Evening News
Deciding to highlight a poll showing Giuliani behind
Hillary, Rather announced: "There's a CBS News/New York Times poll
out tonight about the U.S. Senate race in New York. It suggests that, for
the moment at least, Democrat Hillary Clinton may have a clear lead over
Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani. This poll indicates voter approval of Mrs.
Clinton is rising, but as CBS's Jim Axelrod reports, there may be other
factors at work."
Axelrod asserted that "for six years New York
City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been the man with the golden gut, a former
prosecutor who trusted his law and order instincts to cut crime and used
his own rough edges to sand a new shine onto a city. But now many
Republicans are wondering if the mayor is losing his touch."
The supposed problem:
Giuliani's decision to release the record of a victim of a police
shooting. Axelrod focused on how "former supporters like the Reverend
Michael Faulkner were disgusted and started calling for the mayor's
After Axelrod's piece, Rather slipped in a couple
of his questions to Clinton, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed. Rather
subject of the First Lady's Senate campaign against Mayor Giuliani, I
asked the President today about his recent comment that she is up against
a big money, quote, 'right-wing venom machine,' that's collecting,
again quote, 'double tons of money,' to defeat her. So on reflection,
does the President think that that was too strong?"
Clinton stood by
her: "Using the same old standard hard-core right-wing stuff, the
kind of stuff we saw Governor Bush do to Mr., Senator McCain in South
Carolina, that kind of thing. You know, beating Hillary or beating the
Vice President is another way of going after us for what we've tried to
do on issues like gun safety, and vetoing the big tax cuts to keep a
balanced budget and a surplus, other things we've fought for. They see
that as a way of continuing the battle."
with a blast at Hillary's opponents, though he didn't say from which
newspaper the negative attack emanated: "You don't think that what
one newspaper has called the, quote, 'wealthy hate Hillary campaign,'
will in the end sink her?"
we missed when actress Cybill Shepherd decided not to run for President.
Watching Thursday's Today MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught her
paranoia about any infringement on "reproductive freedom."
Matt Lauer: "You also write in the book about
wanting to become President of the United States or at least seriously
considering it, in this year 2000. Why did you think you'd be a good
Cybill Shepherd: "Well I seriously considered
it, in order to bring attention to reproductive freedom because we are
approaching a crisis particularly with the presidential election. The next
President will appoint at least three Supreme Court justices and we are
gonna rely on this President to continue to veto all this ridiculous
legislation that's introduced in Congress every week trying to control
women's bodily integrity. Trying to keep women, force women to bear
unwanted children, keep contraception from us, and to curb spending for
research into contraception. And so I wanted to speak out because the only
woman that was going to run for President was anti-choice. And it's a very
important. We are approaching a crisis here in terms of women's
the April 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Elian
Gonzalez's Dad Said His First Day in the United States."
Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "You people are some Starbucks-lovin' sons of bitches."
9. "I want to thank your great land for not turning my young boy into
a political football."
8. "Something's wrong with this television -- the picture's in
7. "Elian can wait -- first I visit the grave of Ricky Ricardo."
6. "I will only be interviewed by respected ABC newsman Leonardo
5. "Does anyone know who shot J.R.?"
4. "I don't care if you are from the Yankees -- I can't pitch."
3. "I have just heard a shocking story about your President Clinton
and our cigars."
2. "As long as I'm here, I also want to take back Jennifer
1. "What's a Regis?"
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