Million Mom March Hype; Media's "Great Failing"; Today Hit Hillary from the Left
1) NBC Nightly News profiled two
women planning to attend the Million Mom March who are "compelled by one
powerful cause: protecting their families."
2) FNC's Brit Hume picked up on
how the media have mis-portrayed Million Mom March founder Donna Dees-Thomases,
a Senate aide and Hilary donor, as an apolitical mom, reporting NPR's Mara
Liasson asserted reflected a "great failing on the part of the
3) NBC's Matt Lauer declared:
"I'd love to be more opinionated about guns." If he could ask
President Clinton two questions: "I'd ask, 'What are you going to do
about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?'"
4) "Few, if any, decent
people like reporting" on Rudy Giuliani's marital problems, Dan Rather
maintained before a story. FNC and CNN noted an FBI agent's revelation that
some foreign reporters at are State spies. ABC relayed claims for two left
5) Today promised a diverse
audience for Hillary's town meeting, but 61 percent of questioners were from
New York City and 73 percent of the questions hit her from the left or very
6) Bob "Sherlock"
Schieffer: "Democrats will tend to vote for the Democrats, Republicans
will tend to vote for the Republican."
Corrections: The May 11 CyberAlert listed Governor
Pataki's first name as John, it's really George. The same issue quoted Million
Mom March organizer Donna Dees-Thomases as saying in a CBS News story:
"We are at a crossroads right now, if we don't do something now, in 25
years am I going to have to send my grandchildren to nursery school in flap
jackets." No, she's not afraid of them having to wear pancakes. That
should have read "flak jackets."
Nightly News ended Thursday night with anecdotal stories about two women who
plan to attend Sunday's so-called Million Mom March. Instead of looking at a
woman in favor of the march's liberal gun control agenda and another opposed,
such as one who is part of the Second Amendment Sisters counter event, NBC
decided balance was achieved by profiling a gun control advocate and a woman
who thinks she has a right to own a gun but, nonetheless, supports the Million
Under the banner
of its "Women to Watch" series, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell began:
"At home in Wilmington Delaware, 37-year-old Brenda Jaskolka (sp a
guess), working mom, wife, with a new role she never expected, could
imagine: gun control activist."
Brenda: "I think I'm doing it for everyone,
for everyone out there who is sick and tired of all this gun
showed Janet Hoffman of Sarasota Florida, a single mother of four who
maintained: "We're not marching to ban, we're marching to control
Back to Brenda,
O'Donnell explained how her 13-year-old son was disabled after being shot
in the head by a New Year's Eve celebrant. O'Donnell added: "His
father Greg, former police officer, former NRA member, no longer owns any
Back to Janet in
Sarasota, viewers saw video of her watching her 17-year-old son, who is on
a rifle team, clean his weapon. O'Donnell noted that Janet first bought a
gun as protection against her ex-husband.
concluded: "What these mothers have in common: Both say they don't
believe in banning guns, but do want to see licensing and registration for
gun buyers, child safety locks and more responsible gun ownership. Two
mothers, two views on owning guns. But both women will march this Sunday,
compelled by one powerful cause: protecting their families."
Fox News Channel's Brit Hume picked up on an item in Thursday's CyberAlert
about how the media have mis-portrayed Million Mom March founder Donna
Dees-Thomases as apolitical and NPR's Mara Liasson asserted "it was a
great, great failing on the part of the press" that Thomases's
political background "wasn't pointed out."
In the May 11
Special Report with Brit Hume's "Political Grapevine" rundown of
short items, Hume relayed: "More information you haven't heard from
the rest of the media on Donna Dees-Thomases, organizer of that women's
march for gun control here this weekend. NBC News says she's quote, 'a
mother who's never been politically active,' but, in fact, she once worked
for retired Louisiana Democratic Senators Russell Long and Bennett
Johnston. And the Media Research Center says she's been giving to Hillary
Clinton's Senate campaign since last year."
For more about
Dees-Thomases's background and the NBC quote cited by Hume, which came
from Tom Brokaw, go to the May 11 CyberAlert:
Up next on FNC,
reporter Catherine Herridge discovered Dees-Thomases doesn't like to deal
with facts that undercut her cause. Herridge noted how march
"organizers say twelve kids die every day from gunshot wounds, but
according the Centers for Disease Control it is not the leading cause of
death in this age group. Traffic accidents are. Raising the point with the
march's founder seemed to anger her."
Donna Dees-Thomases after a press conference on
the march: "Guns have one purpose -- for killing others. So yes I
think it clearly calls for a distinction and I think it's almost
ridiculous and absurd that these other statistics are thrown in. It's just
smokescreen to cloud the issue."
CDC numbers from 1997 showing that for children ages 0-19 motor vehicle
deaths totaled 8,130 while firearm deaths stood at 4,223. (And that
firearm number is really misleading since it includes teens killed in
Later, during the
roundtable segment, Hume raised the subject of how the media have
"Let's talk a bit about this upcoming event
which has generated so much attention, the Million Mom March. It's
expected to not generate a million moms, maybe something like a seventh of
that, but there's a lot of excitement about of it, a lot of publicity, and
this character has emerged, Donna Dees-Thomases, who is leading it and is
widely described in quite favorable media accounts as a mother who was
simply there watching television at home one day, while tending to her
children one presumes, and she saw horrible scenes of a shooting at a
youth center where kids were killed and she had to do this. So what are we
to make of all this?"
Fred Barnes contended, as transcribed by the
MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Of course all that's fakery. I mean this is a
woman who is a contributor to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. She's the
sister-in-law of Susan Thomases, who is a hard-nosed liberal operative and
one of Hillary's best friends. She's a New York City PR woman who's worked
for Dan Rather. I mean this is not some stay-at-home mom who's mad about
Columbine. It's just ridiculous, and, Brit, when you talk about all this
excitement over this thing, what there is is inordinate media attention
because, not because there's a huge groundswell against, in favor of gun
control around the country. Far from that, it's because the media is
biased in a liberal direction, and they like this issue, so they're
pretending like this thing is much bigger than it is."
defended the march's cause and argued you can be both politically active
and be a concerned mom, an idea NPR's Mara Liasson picked up upon, though
she soon scolded her media colleagues: "I just wanna say I agree with
Mort about Susan [actually Donna] Dees-Thomases. You can be both, a
concerned mother and a Democratic activist. However, I think it was a
great, great failing on the part of the press that this wasn't pointed
out. I mean, you know, on the New York Times editorial page today they
called her a New Jersey suburban mom with no additional, you know,
references or identifiers."
Indeed, the May 11
New York Times editorial concluded:
"The idea for the march originated with
Donna Dees-Thomases, a New Jersey mother who says she was energized by the
televised images of terrified children being led from their day camp to
escape a gunman's shooting rampage in Granada Hills, Calif., last August.
The tactic of invoking the moral authority of mothers to gain progress on
a pressing social issue is not new. It worked remarkably well for Mothers
Against Drunk Driving, for example, which played a big role in shifting
attitudes on drinking and driving. We suspect, and strongly hope, that mom
power can work similar magic for the gun control movement."
A May 11 USA Today
news story similarly linked the march to apolitical "moms." In a
story headlined "Moms set policy goals for Sunday's rally,"
Alison Gerber reported:
"The Million Mom March started as the idea
of one woman in her New Jersey living room. It's now an army of volunteers
and a public relations team. Celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and
Melissa Etheridge will march. Rosie O'Donnell will be master of
ceremonies. Antonia Novello, the first female surgeon general of the USA ,
will be the keynote speaker."
A May 8 CNN
allpolitics.com story by Amy Paulson, caught by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth,
also failed to note the political activism of Dees-Thomases: "The
march is the brainchild of a New Jersey mother, Donna Dees-Thomases, who
conceived of the idea as she watched footage of shootings at an area day
camp. 'This started in my family room and has grown to a mantra across the
nation,' said Dees-Thomases. 'There is nothing more powerful than a
mother's drive to protect her children. Mothers across the country are
harnessing that energy, and it is their passion that will have the impact
Their passion plus
the passion of the news media for her political agenda.
Speaking of journalistic passion for gun control, NBC's Matt Lauer
conceded in a magazine article a couple of weeks ago that he wishes he
didn't have to appear objective about guns.
In a profile of
the Today co-host, Jeffrey Zaslow revealed in the April 28-30 edition of
USA Weekend, the Gannett-produced Sunday weekend newspaper supplement:
"When Lauer has to report stories such as
the recent first-grade shooting in Michigan, he says, a part of him wishes
he weren't a journalist. Then he wouldn't have to appear objective. 'I'd
love to be more opinionated about guns.' He fears historians will describe
turn-of-the-21st-century America 'in just two words: gun violence.' He
tells of attending a party where friends discussed their office layouts --
which closets they'd hide in to save their lives. 'People at cocktail
parties now talk about their personal safety. There's something really
A sidebar item
asked Lauer: "If he could ask President Clinton just two questions:
'It wouldn't be about [Monica Lewinsky]. I'd ask, 'What are you going to
do about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?'"
Thursday night the three broadcast networks and CNN all led with the fires
around Los Alamos and all but ABC ran full stories on the Elian hearing in
federal court. Of the broadcast networks, only CBS followed-up on Rudy
Giuliani's marital problems, a subject Dan Rather maintained "few, if
any, decent people like reporting." An FBI agent's revelation to a
congressional committee that some foreign reporters at the State
Department are really spies, was ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC, but
generated full stories on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and CNN's
The World Today.
It was liberal
cause night on ABC's World News Tonight. The show ran full stories on a
claim from Physicians for Social Responsibility, which ABC failed to
identify as left wing, that common household chemicals harm children and
ABC dedicated it's "A Closer Look" segment to the cause of the
National Committee to Prevent Wrongful Executions.
On the CBS Evening
News Dan Rather set up a story on Giuliani by insisting: "Few, if
any, decent people like reporting the details of this story, but because
it has such potential, far-reaching political ramifications, Diana Olick
has it for you."
Olick began by looking at how Giuliani spent a
press conference "attacking the media for harping on his personal
life." She concluded by suggesting some Republicans are getting tired
of his problems:
"At first the feeling was New Yorkers could
stomach the separation since Giuliani and his wife haven't appeared
together in years, they could even take the girlfriend, but then the
mayor's wife accused him of previous adultery with this woman, a former
press aide. Now, some Republicans we spoke to are saying enough's enough.
They're still waiting for the Mayor to make his own decision, and they say
they'll back him if he stays in, but they're also admitting they're very
worried. For a family values party with a heavily Catholic New York
constituency, Giuliani may not be the ticket."
Fortunate for Bill
Clinton that Democrats don't hold him to such a standard.
On spies at the
State Department, a story also reported by CNN's Andrea Koppel, FNC's
Special Report with Brit Hume aired a piece by reporter Brian Wilson, who
relayed: "The testimony before the House International Relations
Committee was unexpected, catching many off guard."
Congressman Benjamin Gilman (R): "Are there
foreign press representatives who are intelligence officers now serving in
the State Department?"
Timothy Bereznay, FBI Section Chief: "Mr.
Chairman, yes there are."
Wilson: "That means that lurking in the
midst of the legitimate journalists who cover the State Department are a
few who also report to foreign intelligence organizations. Fox News State
Department producer Terri Shultz says that was a bombshell."
Terri Shultz: "My mouth involuntarily
Wilson: "Others were surprised, like the
State Department inspector general who conducted her own security
assessment in 1998 but was denied access to FBI information...."
"We're gonna be taking questions from New Yorkers we've gathered from
all over the state," Today co-host Katie Couric promised in
introducing Thursday's 7-8am hour-long town meeting with Hillary Clinton.
In fact, of the 13 audience members who asked questions, and who
identified their home towns, eight (61 percent) were from New York City
and three more were from immediate suburbs. One came from a few miles
away, but only one, a man from Saratoga Springs, resided beyond the New
York City media market.
questions came overwhelmingly from the left. In total, 15 audience members
managed to pose questions during the hour. Of those, 11 (73 percent) came
from the left or far left. Just four were either from the right or
displayed no agenda. Questioners from the left demanded government money
to pay for nursing education, attacked the insurance industry for
"killing" mental health patients, blamed diesel fuel for
"killing" people in poor neighborhoods and denounced the
"national frenzy of standardization and high-stakes testing that's
robbing our students of their childhood." Just another day with
average New Yorkers.
Couric and co-host
Matt Lauer challenged Hilary a few times, such as asking about standing
during Cardinal O'Connor's funeral when the speaker praised him for being
"unambiguously pro-life." But, they let some whoppers pass
without comment, such as when Hillary claimed to have "favored
welfare reform" and when she said she only sent Chelsea to a private
school because of security concerns.
Couric and Lauer
also failed to pick up the latest news of the day involving Hillary: a
filing the day before by her lawyers that she and her husband were
claiming "spousal privilege" and would not answer questions
about the release of Kathleen Willey's letters, a move a federal judge
ruled had violated the Privacy Act. Instead, they opened by pressing her
to comment on Rudy Giuliani's personal situation, which Hillary declined
Here's a rundown
of the questions posed on the May 11 show between 7 and 8am, compiled with
input from the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:
-- Question #1,
from the left. A woman Episcopal priest from the South Bronx complained
about the "lack of resources" in the public schools, demanding:
"With the new emphasis on standardized tests our kids are woefully
unprepared. What would you do to level the playing fields so that our kids
don't become the victims of these tests?"
Hillary said she
back government-paid scholarships and bonuses for teachers, prompting
Lauer to follow-up: "With the scholarships and the bonuses how do you
pay for that?" Couric wondered: "What about merit pay for
teachers based on how students do on standardized tests? That's something
that Mayor Giuliani has suggested."
-- Question #2,
from the left. A woman who did not identify where she lives, asked:
"Welfare reform has been very successful in moving families off the
welfare rolls. It's been, however, less than stellar in moving them into
economic self-sufficiency. What specific policies would you put forth to
take those families to that next critical step?"
Clinton replied: "I favored welfare reform
because I though we had to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty
Of course, she
really opposed it and served on the board for many years of the
anti-welfare reform Children's Defense Fund, only coming around when her
husband found it politically advantageous to sign a bill.
-- Question #3,
from the left. A Registered Nurse from Staten Island argued: "There's
already a nursing shortage in this country. The current nurse workforce is
aging and enrollments in nursing programs are declining. But the health
care system cannot function without an adequate supply of nurses. What can
the government do in the way of student scholarships and financial aid to
nursing schools to address this critical problem?"
answer, Couric asked about Elian: "Elian Gonzalez's case, obviously,
continues today in court. But asking you a broader question about
U.S./Cuban relations and Fidel Castro. Do you agree with your husband that
the trade embargo against Cuba should be kept in place or with Congressman
Charles Rangel of New York who believes the trade embargo should be
When Clinton said the embargo must continue,
Couric followed up from the left: "But then why trade with communist
China, given all their human rights violations? Isn't that a double
Clinton actually said Castro is a threat and is
the "only remaining dinosaur dictator of the communist era."
-- Question #4,
from the left. A Rabbi from Hebrew Union College in New York City:
"Israeli public opinion and Prime Minister Ehud Barak have made it
clear by this point that a Palestinian state is a necessity in the Mideast
for final status peace talks. As we move forward, what is your opinion?
Where do you stand? Do you stand with the vocal minority or do you stand
with the majority of American Jews in the support of the establishment of
a Palestinian state and ultimately in the move toward final status peace
-- Question #5,
the first from the right. A man who did not say where he was from,
queried: "Many of us admired the way that you and the President have
raised Chelsea and we understand that you had the choice to send Chelsea
to a good private school. Why would you deny that choice that you
exercised and the President exercised to many poor parents throughout
state of New York, many of whom happen to be black and Latino. And I'm
talking about the issue of vouches, school choice."
Clinton called it "a decision based more on
security and privacy."
-- Question #6,
from the left. A principal from a Harlem school, who agreed with Hillary
that vouchers are bad, derided the "national frenzy of
standardization and high-stakes testing that's robbing our students of
their childhood" as "raising standards" is
"millennium's buzzword for exclusion." His eventual question:
"In the Senate will you be supporting Senator Paul Wellstone who is
asking the Senate to pass measures that would not allow the educational
life, that life decisions about students to be based on high-stakes
testing, but to based on multiple forms of evidence involving their
families, their parents and their teachers."
That ended the 7am
half hour. Opening the 7:30am segment, Lauer inquired: "I'd like to
ask you a question before we go back to the audience. Something that
happened Monday, here in New York. You attended the funeral mass for John
Cardinal O'Connor and during the homily delivered by Cardinal Law of
Boston he said and I'm quoting, 'What a great legacy he has left us,'
talking about Cardinal O'Connor, 'in his constant reminder that the Church
must always be unambiguously pro-life.' And the congregation rose as did
the President, you rose, the Vice President, Mrs. Gore, Rudolph Giuliani
and you stood there for this standing ovation. Standing for something that
is in opposition to what you believe. And I'm curious what was going
through your mind at that point?"
Clinton: "It was a sign of respect...."
Lauer: "But you had already shown your
respect by attending the funeral and didn't it lend to the image that
politicians will stand in almost any group that is politically beneficial
and march in any parade?"
-- Question #7,
from the left. A woman from the South Bronx: "I'm wondering if it's
going to politics as usual...There are a lot of promises that are made.
The promises of smaller class sizes, no smaller class sizes. Reneged by
the Governor. He said yes smaller class sizes then when it came after he's
elected, then it was shoved under the carpet. On a number of issues.
Police brutality, is it gonna be politics as usual?"
-- Question #8,
from the left. A woman who identified herself as President of the National
Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers, but only vaguely
listed her residence as "Long Island," denounced the insurance
industry, complaining that Hillary was a supporter of "managed care
and managed competition. This system has denied citizens needed treatment,
killing many people that we could have saved and causing others
unnecessary pain. It's frustrated and angered citizens by denying them
choice and control over their own health care decisions. It's almost fully
destroyed mental care and its demoralized and depressed a nation of
clinicians. We're now seeing some of the same intimidating techniques
being used by our single payer Medicare. People need to make own
healthcare decisions in private with their own chosen clinicians...Are you
willing to say your support of the managed care system was a mistake and
what would you be willing to do to help us devise a better system without
the heavy handed control of either corporations or the government?"
Lauer followed up
by worrying about how a regulation might be skirted: "You are in
favor of allowing people access to low cost prescription drugs, for
example the drugs that are sold in Canada. Doesn't that fly in the face of
consumer protection laws that were established in this country some ten
years ago by Democrats, as a matter of fact, that are designed to protect
us against low cost drugs that may not have been tested as thoroughly as
we test drugs here?"
Clinton assured him her plan would only cover
-- Question #9,
from no agenda. A man who owns an e-business development firm in Saratoga
Springs inquired: "What are your views, where do you stand government
incentivization, taxation and regulation in the Internet and e-commerce
-- Question #10,
from the left. A woman from Mt. Vernon, which borders New York City, posed
this convoluted and inarticulate question: "Are you convinced that
racial profiling exists in the police departments in the major cities of
New York. And also, if so, do you see a way of confronting the practice of
many generations in this state as a female Senator in Congress?"
-- Question #11,
from the left. A woman from the "Lesbian and Gay Community Services
Center" in NYC: "My partner and I are considering becoming
parents. And if we do that, we will do so without the rights, benefits and
responsibilities of marriage because, as you know, lesbians, gay men, bi
and trans people don't have that right. Recently, the state of Vermont
passed legislation that will afford us similar benefits and
responsibilities as heterosexual couples. Would you support such
legislation in New York state?"
-- Question #12,
from the right. A woman from New Rochelle, just north of New York City:
"Do you believe that your recent gun control proposals in any way
violate the 2nd Amendment or are they constitutionally permissible and do
you believe an individual has the constitutional right to own and purchase
whatever types of guns they desire?"
-- Question #13,
from the right, sort of. A man Couric identified as "a
Republican," said he's a public school teacher from Blooming Grove, a
far outer suburb, but still in Southern New York: "If elected to the
United States Senate you'll be put in a position of public trust. I was
wondering, any personal reassurances you can give to us as New Yorkers and
specific legislative action you would like to take to ensure integrity in
government and that no elected official is above the law?"
Clinton responded by saying she favors campaign
finance reform, prompting the audience to clap.
-- Question #14,
from the left. A woman who called herself a "Latina from the
Bronx," demanded: "In reference to your supporting the
legislation on hate crimes, being the Democratic senatorial candidate,
what do you plan to do to fight against hate crimes and how would you
bring people together to get that accomplished?"
-- Question #15,
from the left. A woman from East Harlem asked about pollution from busses
burning diesel fuel and how bus depots are all in poor areas: "The
diesel fuel is really killing us."
Bob "Sherlock" Schieffer. You can always count on CBS's Bob
Schieffer to relay the conventional wisdom, but on Tuesday he outdid
himself. On May 9 C-SPAN showed the Bush-McCain press conference in
Pittsburgh and then turned its camera on reporters in the audience to get
some reactions. Here's what Schieffer offered when asked for a campaign
"This is going to be an interesting election
I think. It's going to be an election where Democrats will tend to vote
for the Democrats, Republicans will tend to vote for the Republican and I
think right now it's really too early to say what these independents are
going to do."
insight. -- Brent Baker
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