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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday June 7, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 98) |

Printer Friendly Version

More on Freeh/Reno Ignored; No Interest in Nashville; Shirtless Gumbel & Drag Queens

1) Dan Burton released long-suppressed Justice documents and the key officials in the controversy, over whether Reno was pressured to drop fundraising, appeared before Burton's committee. NBC gave it 35 seconds, FNC a full story. Zilch on ABC, CBS and CNN.

2) George W. Bush was clueless about the identity of DNC Chairman Joe Andrew, FNC's Carl Cameron pointed out. Bush: "I don't know who Joe Andrew is." Cameron added: "With Democrats questioning Bush's overall smarts, Andrew could not resist a jab."

3) NBC actually slipped in a 17-second mention of the Gore rental property situation, sans any video. GMA spent over a half hour with Gore but did not mention his rental house. FNC's Brit Hume revealed that the Nashville Tennessean has run only a wire story on the situation and has no plans for further coverage.

4) National Enquirer headline: "Matt Lauer and Bryant Gumbel's Wild Night with Drag Queens." But it's not made up. They published photos of a bare-chested Gumbel getting a lap dance from a he/she.

     >>> Watch the appearance by the MRC's Tim Graham Monday night on FNC's The Edge with Paula Zahn when he discussed Elian coverage. The six minute segment, during which he appeared with a woman from Salon.com, has now been posted in RealPlayer format by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul. It's in two places. First, at the bottom of the executive summary for the MRC's special report on Elian:
    And second, on the MRC's Media Bias Videos page:
http://archive.mrc.org/news/biasvideo.html <<<


House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton on Tuesday released documents the Justice Department had long suppressed about conflicts in Al Gore's statements and three FBI and Justice Department officials who participated in a 1996 meeting, in which two of the three maintain Justice's Lee Radek conceded Janet Reno was under pressure not to pursue fundraising, appeared before Burton's committee.

    The ABC and CBS evening shows ignored it all Tuesday night, June 6. ABC led with productivity growth and a new diabetes treatment topped the CBS Evening News. CNN's Inside Politics delivered a brief item about the document release but skipped the hearing. The World Today ignored both developments.

    NBC Nightly News gave the document release 35 seconds, but only after devoting over two-and-a-half minutes to Robert Hager reciting a Washington Post story about how a United Airlines flight, from Washington Dulles to San Jose, diverted to Denver for an early landing when the airline realized they'd put a dog in the unheated baggage department with limited air. The move saved the dog. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume ran a full story on the hearing.

    Anchoring from the National D-Day Museum New Orleans, Tom Brokaw felt compelled to taint the source of the latest disclosure:
    "In Washington tonight the release of a secret memo written by FBI Director Louie Freeh back in 1997 that could have political ramifications now. In it, Freeh said there was compelling evidence that cast doubt on Vice President Al Gore's accounts of his fundraising activities in the 1996 campaign. It's long been known that Freeh wanted an independent counsel to investigation the Clinton-Gore fundraising operation, but Attorney General Janet Reno said no. The Freeh memo was released by one of the Clinton administration's fiercest critics, Republican Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana."

    On FNC's Special Report, anchor Brit Hume reminded viewers:
    "It has been known for some time that the FBI strongly urged the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the Clinton-Gore campaign finance scandal from the 1996 election, but further details on that tumbled into public view for the first time this day when internal documents long known about but never released became public. As Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler reports, it was a contentious hearing."

    Goler, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, explained: "House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton released a number of documents he said the Justice Department had tried to keep secret by warning Burton he himself was the target of an investigation."
    Dan Burton: "Well this about the most transparent attempt to intimidate a member of Congress that I've ever seen, and it ain't gonna fly."
    Goler picked up: "A 1997 memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh accuses the Justice Department of ignoring reliable evidence that conflicted with Vice President Gore's accounts of his fundraising activities in the 1996 election. Three of the four principals in a December 1996 meeting testified together for the first time. The FBI's general counsel Neil Gallagher and former Deputy Director Bill Esposito say the head of the Justice Department's public integrity section, Lee Radek, told them he was under pressure to save Janet Reno's job by not appointing an independent counsel to investigate the President and Vice President's fundraising efforts."
    William Esposito, Former FBI Deputy Director: "I remember specifically her job could hang in the balance now, I'm not, because it's been three and a half years, convinced of whether it was the word 'pressure' or 'stress.'"
    Goler: "Radek and a deputy say it couldn't have happened that way if it happened at all."
    Lee Radek: "I do not remember this meeting in any way, and Mr. Gengloff (sp?) does not either, as he testified this morning in front of Senator Specter."
    Goler: "Republicans also point to a memo Director Freeh wrote to Esposito in 1996 in which he mentioned telling Reno about the incident. Freeh said he 'stated that' these 'comments would be enough for me to take him and the Criminal Division' of the Justice Department 'off the case completely.' Freeh asked Reno several times to appoint an independent counsel, but Democrats noted he also testified several times after writing the memo he didn't think her refusal to appoint one stemmed from pressure from the White House. The ranking Democrat on Burton's committee says the title of today's hearing should have been 'Beating a Dead Horse.' He says there are innocent explanations for why Reno's aides felt she was under pressure. She had, after all, already asked for five independent counsels to investigate the Clinton administration, but Republicans say the most reasonable explanation for her not wanting to give up control of the campaign finance investigation is that she felt something was there."

    Hume followed-up: "Wendell, what exactly was Burton talking about when he said he was intimidated. What did he mean by that?"
    Goler answered: "Well Burton was notified last night that he was the subject of what may be an ongoing investigation. He says Justice Department officials would not tell him whether it was an ongoing investigation. He fired off a memo to Janet Reno just a short while ago saying if it's an effort at intimidation, it won't work."


How much or little does George W. Bush pay attention to political news? Both CNN's Inside Politics and FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume ran stories on how the DNC will start airing pro-Gore TV ads paid for with soft money and how that seemingly contradicts Gore's promise to not allow the DNC to use soft money for ads until after the Republicans did first on behalf of Bush.

    But only FNC's Carl Cameron alerted viewers to how when asked about Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew's claim that Bush had benefitted from ads placed by secretive section 527 groups, Bush clearly never heard of Andrew.

    Cameron played a soundbite of a clueless Bush: "I don't know who Joe Andrew is, I'm sorry, I don't think I've ever heard of Joe Andrews." [second time he got name wrong by making it plural]
    Cameron then pointed out: "With Democrats questioning Bush's overall smarts, Andrew could not resist a jab."
    Joe Andrew: "For a guy who says he wants to reach out to Democrats, you'd think that George W. Bush at least might know who the chair of the Democratic Party is."
    Cameron: "Bush aides say the Texas Governor's ignorance of Andrew's role at the DNC only shows that he's focused on policy, not partisan attacks by Gore operatives."
    Bush: "Is that the game where some guy I never heard of gets to lay out something and I have to respond?"
    Cameron led into another Andrew soundbite: "Andrew was happy to explain his position," before noting: "Republicans on Capitol Hill merely laughed it off."
    Trent Lott: "I didn't know who he was, either. I don't think it shows anything. I'd rather that our candidate for President to be focused on important domestic substantive issues."

    After the taped piece, Hume asked Cameron: "Back on this Joe Andrew business, Carl, do you expect much fallout from Bush's not knowing who the guy was?"
    Cameron suggested: "Well, Democrats obviously are trying to make a big deal out of it. Republicans say it's not a big deal, but for the Bush campaign anything that raises questions about George W. Bush's intellect or knowledgeability is the last thing they want in the last few months of this fall campaign."

    Let's hope he's at least heard of Jim Nicholson.


NBC actually slipped in a 17-second mention on Sunday's Today of the Gore rental property situation, but sans any video; Gore appeared on Tuesday's Good Morning America for over a half hour but was not asked about his rental house; and Tuesday night FNC's Brit Hume revealed that the Nashville Tennessean, edited by a Gore friend, has run only a wire story on the rental house and has no plans for further coverage of the local story. Meanwhile, tenant Tracy Mayberry and her husband have moved into their pick-up truck and dumped their kids in a trailer.

    -- The June 5 CyberAlert accurately reported how none of the broadcast network Sunday morning interview shows or evening shows on Saturday or Sunday had mentioned the Gore rental house problems. And ABC, CBS and NBC didn't touch on it in the morning or evening on Monday or Tuesday either. But, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed that during the news update on the half hour on the June 4 Today, over a picture of Gore, news reader Hoda Kotbe took 17 seconds to relay:
    "A woman who lives in a house owned by Vice President Gore is accusing the Vice President of being a slumlord. She contends the $400 a month four-bedroom home in Carthage, Tennessee has plumbing problems. Gore says he wasn't aware of them but has promised to fix the backed-up toilets and sink."

    Since Today ran no video, it remains true that only CNN, in a 38-second Inside Politics item Monday, and the Fox News Channel have shown video of the condition of the home. See the June 5 CyberAlert for a RealPlayer clip of FNC's story:

    (One caveat, Washington's WUSA-TV did not carry CBS's Sunday Morning on June 4 so I cannot rule out a mention on that show, though neither Face the Nation or the Evening News that day touched it.)

    -- The June 6 Good Morning America had Al Gore on for over a half hour for a roundtable on women's issues, but apparently working toilets and sinks are not of concern to women as the rental home was never mentioned by ABC's hosts or guest questioners.

    The roundtable took place at 7:30, but toward the end of the 7am half hour ABC's Charles Gibson posed two questions on other topics to Gore, including pressing him about breaking his promise to not spend soft money first. Gibson's questions, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
    First, "ABM Treaty. The President in his summit with President Putin of Russia this weekend didn't get agreement on modifying the ABM Treaty to allow the U.S. to construct a limited missile defense system. If President Putin does not modify his position, are you prepared to pull us out of the ABM Treaty?"

    Second, "Soft money. Let me play you something you said on this broadcast March 15th, money and politics. Take a look."
    Gore: "Last night I asked the Democratic Committee to set aside any soft money and don't spend it on any issue ads unless and until the Republican Party does."
    Gibson: "Your pledge was they'd have to go first before you spent soft money on issue ads. They haven't. You're about to launch a $25 million campaign. Are you breaking your pledge?"

    Elizabeth Vargas moderated the subsequent roundtable and Marie Wilson, President of the Ms. Foundation, got the first question:
    "Well, one of the most important things, I think, about child care, having had five children and worked on it for 30 years trying to get this stuff together, is not only what you're proposing, Mr. Vice President, but the public's attitudes toward child care because all of these policies are terrific, but we're still ambivalent in America about whether Americans really deserve and need help for our children, whether these folks who take care of our children are workers or are they part of our families, because they are. And I'd love to know what you'd do as the president to really create a kind of cultural change, not just policy change, but a cultural change about child care as a part of extended families that everybody needs."

    The second question went to Good Housekeeping magazine Editor-in-Chief Ellen Levine: "Our Good Housekeeping readers tell us they're seriously worried about the quality of education, and it was a shock to some of us that the top three spots in the National Spelling Bee were taken by home schooled kids....What would you fix first in our public school systems that would help give parents back faith in the quality of our school education?"

    The third and final question from the panel actually hit Gore from the right. Melody Hobson, Senior VP at Ariel Capital Management, wondered: "You have opposed Governor Bush's proposal to privatize Social Security, whereby an individual could take just 10 percent of their annual contribution and contribute that to stock or bond investments, and for someone like me, young people who have another 35 years to work -- a long time -- that sounds like a great opportunity to create wealth. Yet you have been opposed to this opportunity to create wealth in a way that would also offset the funding shortfall that we know we have looming out there. Why is that?"

    Next, pre-selected audience members got to pose a few questions, such as asking about the plan for an NRA restaurant in Times Square, but none asked about the rental house. Of course, if they rely on ABC News for their information they don't know about it.

    -- In a larger piece on Gore's day spent in part with Rosie O'Donnell at an event promoting Gore's day care plans, FNC's Jim Angle picked up on how Letterman's Top Ten list Monday night was the "Top Ten Al Gore Tenant Pet Peeves." Before playing a couple of them Angle showed a clip of Letterman explaining the tenant's complaints: "Busted septic system, crumbling plaster, missing linoleum. Ooh, had linoleum floors!"

    Letterman delivered more information about the situation in setting up his Top Ten than has CBS News so far.

    Later, in the "political Grapevine" segment of the June 6 Special Report with Brit Hume, the anchor of the same name noted how Gore has promised repairs, but Hume added:
    "If you want to find out more, don't bother reading the Nashville Tennessean. It may be the largest local paper, but it has published only one story on the subject -- a wire dispatch story two days ago. Gore, of course, used to work there and the paper is staunchly Democratic. A spokeswoman said the paper has no plans to assign a reporter to the story. The editor, Frank Sutherland, an old Gore friend, recently appeared in one of Gore's campaign ads."

    -- It's not only the Tennessean. The print media in general have shown no more interest in this story than have the networks. The New York Times and Washington Post have run only one AP story inside and USA Today ran the AP dispatch on Monday as well as another paragraph on Tuesday. Only the Washington Times, New York Post and Weekly Standard have sent reporters to talk to the Mayberry family, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon pointed out in a June 7 story.

    In a June 6 story filed from Carthage, Tennessee, the New York Post's Vincent Morris disclosed:
    "A tenant of Al Gore says she's so fed up with her rundown house -- and her landlord -- she'd rather live in a pickup truck.
    "Tracy Mayberry, who first vented her frustration with Gore on Saturday, yesterday told The Post that her home's backed-up toilet, mildewed walls and general disrepair are too much to cope with.
    "'Me and my husband will go live in our Ford,' Mayberry said. 'I'll drop the kids off at my momma's house. She lives in a trailer. This is too nerve-wracking.'"


CyberAlert usually skips, actually, always has skipped over National Enquirer stories. But I came across one too good to ignore. And since it is accompanied by pictures, it has the added advantage of appearing to be accurate. Here's a sentence I bet you thought you'd never read: Matt Lauer "participated in a 'sandwich,' between the dancers' gyrating bodies, squashed along with bare-chested Bryant."

    The June 13 issue features a two-page spread of four illuminating photos under the headline: "Matt Lauer and Bryant Gumbel's Wild Night with Drag Queens."

    One photo caption, which matches what you see in the color photo, read: "Bare-Chested Bryant has the time of his life as he gets his own personal lap dance."

    The National Enquirer Web site does not post current articles, so you'll have to go to the store to see the pictures, but MRC intern Michael Ferguson typed up the text of the accompanying unbylined story:

Morning star Matt Lauer had a WILD night out -- at a drag queen bar!

That's where Matt's wife Annette Roque gave him the surprise of his life -- a sexy lap dance by a trio on transsexuals!

Joining the fun were Matt's buddy "Early Show" host Bryant Gumbel and his girlfriend Hilary Quinlan.

As these exclusive ENQUIRER pictures show, modest Matt and a shirtless Bryant enjoyed every kinky minute!

"Matt was grinning from ear to ear," an eyewitness told The ENQUIRER. "Bryant was having the time of his life. And Annette and Hilary cackled like two hens."

The couples had dinner on Friday, May 19, at Lucky Cheng's, known as "New York's original Drag Queen themed restaurant."

After the foursome was seated, three scantily clad performers -- Desire, Sparkles, and Mayoko -- surprised Matt and Bryant and led them to the back of the dining room.

"The ladies had prearranged a special treat," explained nightclub manager Tommy Bolski.

Mayoko unbuttoned Bryant's shirt. "He was eager and it came right off," said Bolski. Wearing only a black lace body stocking, Mayoko squirmed on Bryant's lap.

Matt refused to part with his shirt, but participated in a "sandwich," between the dancers' gyrating bodies, squashed along with bare-chested Bryant.

The dancers were so stunning that a baffled Bryant had to ask one "her" real gender. The performer relied: "What do you think, Bryant?"

Afterward, Matt, 42, and Bryant, 51, signed autographs and feasted on filet mignon and a $40 Belgian chocolate dessert.

    END Reprint

    The June 13 "double issue" costs $2.69 and it's definitely worth it just to see these photos. Or, you should at least go to your local grocery store and take a peek. The story runs across pages 2 and 3 of the issue featuring a photo of O.J. on the cover, with a blonde putting a sombrero on his head. The headline: "O.J. Attacks Lover: 'You'll Die Like Nicole.'"

    Maybe if The Early Show played this kind of video of Gumbel's wild nights out a few more people would tune into his low-rated program. -- Brent Baker


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