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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday May 19, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 87) |

Non-Rudy PM Update: Freeh Memo Coverage; Elian Photo on GMA; MRC at NRA

1) AP disclosed FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo "suggesting a top Justice Department official was under pressure not to proceed with the probe" in order "to save Attorney General Janet Reno's job." Zilch this morning on CBS; 20 seconds on ABC and NBC.

2) Since FNC showed it Wednesday night, only ABC's Good Morning America has let viewers see the photo of Elian wearing the uniform of the Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth indoctrination group.

3) MRC's Tim Graham to appear at this weekend's NRA convention, on a panel about media coverage of gun control.


An AP dispatch Thursday night revealed that just after the 1996 election FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo "suggesting a top Justice Department official was under pressure not to proceed with the probe to save Attorney General Janet Reno's job."

    The news broke too late for the broadcast network evening shows, but this morning CBS's The Early Show ignored it while ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today gave it about 20 seconds each. The news broke in time for MSNBC's The News with Brian and MRC analyst Paul Smith noted that Williams talked about it with Washington Post reporter David Vise.

    The AP's John Solomon wrote in his 8:30pm ET story:

FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo in the earliest days of the Democratic fund-raising investigation suggesting a top Justice Department official was under pressure not to proceed with the probe to save Attorney General Janet Reno's job.

The memo, belatedly turned over to Senate investigators this week, also discloses that Freeh urged Reno and Justice Department public integrity chief Lee Radek to step aside from the investigation as early as December 1996 because of purported comments made by Radek.

The memo was described to The Associated Press by several government officials who have seen it since the FBI turned it over to be produced to the Senate and House Judiciary committees investigating the fund-raising matter.

In the Dec. 9, 1996 memo to Deputy FBI Director William J. Esposito, Freeh recounted, third-hand, comments Radek allegedly made to Esposito suggesting he was being pressured in connection with the investigation into Democratic fund-raising improprieties during President Clinton's 1996 re-election.

Freeh's memo quotes Radek as telling Esposito he was "under a lot of pressure not to go forward with the investigation" because Reno's job "might hang in the balance," the officials said.

Radek said late Thursday the memo's description of the conversation has "no basis in fact."....

Freeh wrote Esposito that he met with Reno and told her about Radek's purported comments and suggested "on that basis" both Radek and Reno should step aside from the investigation, the officials said....

    END Excerpt

    During the 7am news update on the May 19 GMA, news reader Antonio Mora took 20 seconds to announce, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
    "A newly disclosed memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh suggests there was pressure on the Justice Department not to investigate alleged Clinton campaign fundraising irregularities. The 1996 memo indicates a top Justice Department official said that pressure was applied in order to protect Attorney General Reno's job."

    Over on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Ann Curry used the same amount of time at 7am to read the following:
    "A memo from FBI director Louis Freeh is raising new questions about whether there was pressure on the Justice Department to drop an investigation into Democratic fundraising four years ago. The memo suggests that a top prosecutor was being urged not to proceed with the investigation in order to protect Attorney General Janet Reno's job. That memo was turned over to Senate investigators this week."


Thursday's Good Morning America briefly showed the new photo of Elian wearing the uniform of the Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth indoctrination group, but no other network show picked up on the photo run in Wednesday's Miami Herald and shown Wednesday night only on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume.

    CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today skipped it again Thursday morning. Thursday night the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening shows again failed to show it and CNN's The World Today and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams also passed over it.

    On the May 18 Good Morning America ABC displayed the photo during a portion of this item read by Antonio Mora during the 7:30am news update:
    "Officials in Miami want the federal government to reimburse them for more than $4 million spent on the Elian Gonzalez case. Those expenses include police overtime and clean-up costs. Meanwhile, Cuban-Americans are outraged over recent pictures of Elian wearing a blue scarf. They say it's the uniform of a communist youth group. Cuban diplomats say the scarf is part of Elian's school uniform."

    To see the photo as displayed by FNC, for more details on Wednesday coverage or to read an excerpt of the Miami Herald story about it, go to:


MRC at NRA Convention. Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis for the Media Research Center, will address the NRA's convention this weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Liz Swasey, the MRC's Communications Director who set up the appearance, passed along these details about the time and place:
    -- Sunday, May 21 at 9:30am at the Charlotte Convention Center, Rooms 207 C and D.

    Tim will be part of a panel in a special session titled, "For the Record: Media Commentators Speak Out."

    Geoffrey Dickens, author of the MRC's much-quoted study released in January, "Outgunned: How The Network News Media Are Spinning the Gun Control Debate," will also attend. To read the study, go to:

    So, if you will be attending the NRA convention this weekend, stop by to learn about media coverage of gun control and meet Tim and Geoff. -- Brent Baker


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