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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday June 15, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 102) |

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Gore Conceded He's No Computer Expert; FNC: Baptists Blast Clinton; NYPD Can't Win; "Prosperity Tour"

1) Al Gore, who last year boasted how he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," denied any knowledge of how many of his subpoenaed e-mails were lost, conceding, during a Fox News Channel interview, "I'm not an expert on computers."

2) Al Gore's tenants complained the repairs haven't been made and that he reneged on the promise of other housing, FNC's Brit Hume relayed. Time, Newsweek and U.S. News all refused to inform their readers about the condition of Gore's rental property.

3) CBS focused on how the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions "critics say" show them "bent on exclusion." But FNC noticed the keynote sermon: "We have a Southern Baptist in the White House with the morals of an alley cat."

4) Wednesday night ABC featured Texas death row poster boy Gary Graham; CBS's Jim Axelrod acknowledged the belief that police "were too lax" at the Puerto Rican Day parade because they did not want "to appear heavy-handed" with an ethnic crowd; and NBC noted how Gore wants to shake up the race with early debates.

5) CBS and NBC on Tuesday night spotlighted Gore's "progress and prosperity" tour, though CBS's John Roberts noted how Gov. Pataki "claims Al Gore had little to do with the economic turnaround; it was old-fashioned American hard work, fueled by tax cuts."

6) NBC's Tom Brokaw described a court decision to not create a new right as a ruling which "further restricts" rights.


As Sergeant Schultz always deflected on Hogan's Heroes, "I know nothing!" On Wednesday Al Gore, who last year boasted about how he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," denied any knowledge of how his subpoenaed e-mails were lost by conceding, during a Fox News Channel interview, "I'm not an expert on computers."

    The background: Late last week, in a disclosure bannered across the front page of the June 9 Washington Times, but which was nearly completely ignored by the television media, the White House claimed that a problem with its computer back-up system meant e-mail sent to Gore's office between March 1998 and April 1999 could not be retrieved. No network show touched the revelation on Thursday or Friday. On Sunday, Tony Snow raised the development with Dan Burton on Fox News Sunday and Burton mentioned it on Meet the Press, but Tim Russert did not pursue the comment.

    Now back to Wednesday, June 14: On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume reporter Wendell Goler narrated a piece which provided excerpts from his interview earlier in the day with Gore. Following a report on nuclear data missing from Los Alamos, Hume segued to Goler's re-cap of an earlier interview:
    "Vice President Gore meanwhile has had some missing data of his own to deal with, that year's worth of e-mails that were somehow not preserved and that investigators would like to see. Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler asked him about that and other things in an interview from Scranton, Pennsylvania where Gore was campaigning. Well Wendell, what did you get?"

    Goler relayed live from Washington, DC: "Brit, the guy who says he helped invent the Internet says he's not a computer whiz, at least not enough to have picked up on the fact that e-mails to his office weren't being saved in 1998 and 1999. Congressional investigators say those e-mails might have shed light on Gore's involvement a number of their investigations, but in his first broadcast comments on the subject Gore told Fox News that all he knew was that the system briefly broke down."
    Gore, hemmed and hawed on tape via satellite: "The problem I asked about was three days of e-mails that disappeared [nervous chuckle] and computers crash and that's what happened and I asked them to make sure it didn't happen again. [pauses and shrugs] And I don't know about the back-up tapes. I read about that in the papers recently. I don't know anything about why that happened or, [hesitating and shaking his head] or how it happened. I'm not an expert on computers."

    Goler moved on to other subjects Gore is more used to talking about, such bashing Bush's tax cuts and the Los Alamos mess, but Gore was clearly uncomfortable in responding to the question about e-mail -- probably because no other reporter has queried him about the matter.

    CNN, for instance, avoided the topic in its interview with Gore replayed on Wednesday's Inside Politics. Early in the show CNN showed Gore responding to a couple of questions from Jeanne Meserve about his campaign having to move a Pennsylvania event out of a Catholic hospital because a local Catholic leader objected to Gore's abortion stand. Later, viewers saw a nearly six-minute long excerpt of the interview, but not a word from Meserve about e-mail or his rental house. Instead, she asked about his efforts to gain credit for the good economy, if the surplus provides a rationale for Bush's tax cut, if the Los Alamos mess means Bill Richardson is off the VP list, and if he considers Ralph Nader a threat.

    +++ Watch Gore's nervous chuckling, hesitation, head shaking, frowning and odd pauses in his answer. Thursday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post, in a RealPlayer format, an excerpt from FNC's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    Gore's Internet invention claim came during a March 9, 1999 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition/Prime Time. Blitzer didn't offer any challenge when Gore bragged: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." To watch this exchange via a RealPlayer clip, go to the March 12, 1999 CyberAlert:


Al Gore has yet to complete his promised repairs to his tenant's home, WTVF-TV reported, but only FNC noticed. On the June 14 Special Report with Brit Hume, the anchor of the same name related an item highlighted in Hotline:
    "Vice President Gore's Tennessee tenant says her toilet still won't flush and her kitchen floor isn't fixed either despite a visit from the plumber last week and Gore's promise that repairs would be made immediately. Tracy Mayberry, who rents a house on Gore's farm in Carthage, Tennessee, told Nashville's channel 5 that Gore also reneged on his promise of other housing while the work was done. Gore's office said it's had troubling finding people to do the work but that it will be done this week."

    Meanwhile, the rest of the media continue to make sure as few people as possible ever hear about how far Gore let his neighboring house deteriorate.

    This week's MRC MagazineWatch, about the June 19 issues, discovered: "All three news magazines completely ignored any reference to a renter on Gore's family property calling him a 'slumlord' over inattention to the house's crumbling condition. At least U.S. News did mention, albeit briefly, the disappearance of more than a year of subpoenaed Gore e-mails announced last week."

    Other items in the MagazineWatch complied by Ken Shepherd and Tim Graham:
    -- U.S. News and Time's Internet edition decried the "cascading perversions" of campaign-finance law. Both condemned advertising by groups the media have dubbed the "527s," and lobbied for Congress to close these latest legal loopholes.
    -- Time's Jessica Reaves explored the meaning of approving estate tax cuts: "The rich may be poised to get a whole lot richer -- and congressional Democrats could be staring at an election year gold mine."
    -- The news magazines could be worse. In the June edition of Vogue, Julia Reed smothered Al Gore with affection: "When Senator Gore lost anyway, he famously vowed that 'the truth will rise in Tennessee,' and it did, in 1976, when the 28-year-old Al Gore ran for and won his father's old seat in the House of Representatives."

    To read these items, go to:


"Critics say it's one more sign this gathering of believers is bent on exclusion," declared CBS's Byron Pitts in a Wednesday night story about how the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) passed resolutions on how only men can be pastors and condemning homosexuality. FNC sent a correspondent to the Orlando gathering and he also reported on the same resolutions, but only after pointing out how Baptist leaders condemned Bill Clinton and Al Gore for not being faithful to their religion.

    CNN's The World Today also carried a full story on the convention by Mark Potter. He didn't mention the condemnation of Bill Clinton, but in relaying the resolutions on women as pastors and homosexuality he avoided CBS's loaded language about intolerance.

    Byron Pitts began his June 14 CBS Evening News report:
    "Their theme this year, Partners in the Harvest, but [when] the Southern Baptist Convention voted, however, there was not room in their field of faith for women pastors."
    After a clip of a pastor saying only men can be ordained, Pitts continued: "It's a limitation Reverend Julie Pennington-Russell calls outrageous. She's one a handful of pastors of a Southern Baptist Church."
    Following a soundbite from Pennington-Russell, Pitts highlighted the views of a gay activist: "Today's resolution also included a statement on homosexuality. The SBC calls it a sin, critics say it's one more sign this gathering of believers is bent on exclusion."
    Reverend Mel White of "Soul Force" got a clip before Pitts gave the other side some time, but he challenged the assessments of an advocate of the two resolutions: "Police arrested gay rights demonstrators outside the convention. Still convention leaders, like Reverend Paige Patterson, make no apologies."
    Patterson, former President Southern Baptist Convention: "Sin is sin and whenever we-"
    Pitts: "Murder?"
    Patterson: "Certainly."
    Pitts: "Stealing?"
    Patterson: "Certainly."
    Pitts: "You equate those two things with homosexuality?"
    Patterson: "In terms of the fact that they all fall in the category of sin, yes. You know if you fall in a swimming pool it doesn't matter if you fall in the deep end or the shallow end, you're still wet."
    Pitts gave time to a third critic: "Reverend Daniel Vestal, who started an organization of former Southern Baptist churches, sees a problem in the SBC's theology."
    Vestal, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship: "Baptists look like they are no more because of what they are against, rather than because of what they're for."
    Pitts concluded: "With 15 million members nationwide, the SBC concedes it could lose more followers over its new policies. 'We are here to win souls,' said one member, 'not a popularity contest.'"

    Viewers of FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume got a much different take on the convention. Hume marveled:
    "The President of the country's largest protestant denomination is denouncing President Clinton and Vice President Gore for not honoring their religious beliefs in office. Mr. Clinton has been criticized before for his actions in the Monica Lewinsky case but rarely in terms as strong as those used at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting."

    FNC's Bret Baier opened his piece by showing Reverend Bailey Smith, in the "keynote sermon," exclaiming from the stage: "We have a Southern Baptist in the White House with the morals of an alley cat."
    Baier also played this from Smith: "Everybody said 'Oh isn't it great to have a Southern Baptist in the White House.' I'm ready for a Christian myself."
    Viewers also heard the SBC's President, Reverend James Merritt, tell Baier: "Clinton and Gore are Southern Baptists at least in name only."


Wednesday night ABC featured clips from an interview with Texas death row convict turned anti-Bush/death penalty poster boy Gary Graham; a day after NBC Nightly News ran a story CBS picked up on the "wilding" in Central Park as Jim Axelrod actually acknowledged that some think the police "were too lax with those gathered" for the Puerto Rican Day parade because they did not want "to appear heavy-handed with such an ethnic crowd"; and NBC reported on how the Gore camp wants early debates in order to shake up the race because they are "supremely confident that when debates finally happen their candidate will prevail" on "maturity and experience."

    The stock market scheme arrests of organized crime figures topped the June 14 World News Tonight on ABC and the NBC Nightly News while the CBS Evening News went first with the talks between North Korea and South Korea. For the second night in a row, all ran full stories on the nuclear data missing from Los Alamos.

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Mike von Fremd narrated a piece about his interview with Gary Graham, though he did point out that Graham, supposedly falsely convicted for a murder at a grocery store, was also convicted of shooting two people in other robberies, and he let Diane Clements of Justice for All warn that if Graham is let out Texans better lock their doors. Von Fremd concluded:
    "Gary Graham is one of the most activist inmates on death row. He's calling for 10,000 people to gather outside the death chamber to protest his execution. He's become part of the great debate."

    Only because the national media have taken up his cause.

    "Death Penalty Study: A Left-wing Scam," declared the headline over a frontpagemag.com piece, brought to my attention by a reader, on the death penalty study promoted by all the networks Monday night. In the June 12 Web site piece David Horowitz undermined the premise of those stories recounted in the June 13 CyberAlert:

On the front page of your paper this morning (June 12) you will find the latest left-wing academic-political scam, a Columbia University "study" of the death penalty which purports to show that "the system is broken."

Naturally the left-wing media (the New York Times, the LA Times, etc.) is presenting this political scam as solid evidence that 1) there are vast miscarriages of justice in death penalty cases and 2) George Bush is a heartless Republican. The New York Times' headline goes like this: DEATH SENTENCES BEING OVERTURNED IN 2 OF 3 APPEALS. WIDE REACHING STUDY. REVERSALS ARE ATTRIBUTED TO ERRORS BY DEFENSE LAWYERS, POLICE AND PROSECUTORS.

Nonsense. What the report actually does is to take the record of anti-death penalty appeals court judges who overturned sentences mainly for political reasons and then to present these statistics as though they reflected what would have been actual miscarriages of justice had the sentences been carried out.

For example, the Report records that 87% of the death penalty cases in California between 1973 and 1995 were "reversed." The implication is that the death sentences were wrongly imposed. But this is far from the truth. What these reversals represent is a political campaign by the left to subvert the death penalty - the law be damned. No one was executed in California after 1973 (Governor "Moon Beam" Jerry Brown was elected in 1972), until the anti-death penalty chief justice of the California Supreme Court (appointed by Brown) was removed....

    END Excerpt

    To read the rest, go to:

    -- CBS Evening News. Tuesday night CNN's The World Today and the NBC Nightly News ran pieces on the Central Park "wilding" and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani discussed it on Wednesday's Today. CBS caught up Wednesday night, but ABC's World News Tonight has yet to air a story on the incident which is filling hours on the cable news channels.

    Anchor Dan Rather introduced the CBS story: "Police here in New York City, criticized in the past for overreacting in tense situations, are now under fire for allegedly under-reacting, being too blase, too passive. An investigation is underway to determine if police did ignore pleas from victims of a so-called 'wilding,' savagery in which thugs went on a rampage in Central Park."

    Over amateur video, Jim Axelrod opened by focusing on complaints about police inaction when told men were tearing the clothes off innocent women in the park. He linked that to killings: "So once again New York's police department is under fire. This video joins a recent catalog of images surrounding allegations of police brutality and insensitivity towards minorities. But this time there's a twist. Some New Yorkers are wondering if the police were too lax with those gathered here in Central Park for the Puerto Rican Day parade -- not wanting to appear heavy-handed with such an ethnic crowd."
    David Grandison: "Their reaction was no reaction. They really just stood there"
    Axelrod: "David Grandison was there Sunday shooting this home video."
    Grandison, who himself is black, recounted: "It seemed to me like, 'hey they're minorities, let them do what they want, let them go wild. You know we don't care, we're just going to let them do their thing.'"
    New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir countered: "That's just nonsense. We police all our parades exactly the same."
    Axelrod concluded: "Tonight the police commissioner says the focus belongs on the thugs who did this. Some victims say police should have done more to stop it and some cops on the beat say they're damned if they do, damned if they don't."

    -- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers used Ted Forstman's promise, of $500,000 each to Gore and Bush for the charity for their choice if they agree to a debate on education, as a hook for a look at how each camp views debates. Bush wants to wait until the fall and then look presidential while Gore wants to debate during the summer in order to shake up the race and to get debates in before the Olympics and World Series crowd out politics. Myers concluded: "Tonight, Bush advisers say they've not totally ruled out early debates. The Gore camp claims to be supremely confident that when debates finally happen their candidate will prevail -- not necessarily on charm, but on maturity and experience."


NBC and CBS picked up Tuesday night on Al Gore's "progress and prosperity" tour. NBC's Claire Shipman did not challenge the premise that Gore deserves credit for the economy and in a list of Gore campaign problems she skipped e-mail and his Tennessee tenants, which I guess really aren't problems since the networks have made sure no one knows about them, but she did admit that "with big government surpluses predicted it's tough...for Gore to argue against a Bush tax cut."

    CBS's John Roberts allowed Gore to tout himself, but unlike Shipman, Roberts raised questions about how much credit Gore deserves: "New York Governor George Pataki claims Al Gore had little to do with the economic turnaround; it was old-fashioned American hard work, fueled by tax cuts."

    Anchor Tom Brokaw introduced the June 13 NBC Nightly News story: "And the new, kinder, gentler Vice President Al Gore tonight is starting a new phase of his campaign, promoting the economic record of the last eight years. His series of speeches coincide with the news that the federal surpluses are greater than ever."

    Claire Shipman agreeably began: "After a year of fits and starts, wardrobe changes and personality makeovers, today, Al Gore comes back to the obvious: the economy. Standing with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, he claims prosperity as his major campaign advantage."
    Gore: "None of this happened by accident. It happened because, together with the American people, we put in place a brand new economic strategy."
    Shipman: "Gore aides brag they've spent, quote, 'a fortune' on polling and research to figure out how Gore can make the economy a winning issue."
    Bill Carrick, Democratic strategist: "They're trying to make a case that the stewardship of the economy for the last eight years has been pretty strong, and 'Stick with us, and we'll make even more progress.'"
    Shipman rued: "Sounds simple, but experts say prosperity helps George W. Bush, too. With big government surpluses predicted, it's tough, for example, for Gore to argue against a Bush tax cut. But in an interview today, the Vice President still calls Bush fiscally irresponsible."
    Gore: "Well, he has overshot even the largest estimates of what the surplus will be."
    Shipman: "Gore and his advisers are hoping that focusing on the booming economy will put his campaign back on firm ground. A lot of this spring was marred by internal sniping, clumsy moves on Elian Gonzalez, a negative campaign style that the Vice President now calls a mistake and a drop in the polls. In fact, Gore's been so frustrated that in the last two weeks, he's shaken up his campaign team yet again, adding a new high-level manager, tripled the size of his staff, hired Clinton's record-breaking money man Terry McAuliffe to run the convention and launched a $25 million DNC-sponsored ad campaign."

    Shipman concluded: "Gore will spend the coming months pitching his theme of economic prosperity to a public that everyone agrees isn't paying much attention yet. And he's well aware if he can't get people to focus on their wallets, he'll have a hard time coming up with a better theme."

    Over on the June 13 CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather announced the Gore strategy: "The U.S. economy has run so strong for so long, some Americans may take it as a given. And the Gore for President campaign feels the Vice President is not getting any of the credit and that he deserves some. So the Gore campaign is making this its latest selling point in what could be make-or-break industrial states on Election Day. CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts has more on the Gore strategy and the Bush camp's reaction to it."

    Roberts explained: "It brought him the vice presidency in 1992, yet it was only this week that Al Gore's campaign woke up and realized, despite unprecedented economic growth, it's still the economy, stupid."
    Craig Crawford, Hotline newsletter: "The good news for Al Gore is the economy's booming. The bad news, he doesn't get the credit for it."
    Gore in speech: "America has done well. But I'm here today to tell you, you ain't seen nothing yet."
    Roberts elaborated: "So today, he kicked off a cross-country prosperity tour in key battleground states to throw a spotlight on his administration's economic record. Over the next three weeks, he'll detail new proposals to save Social Security and Medicare, but most importantly, Gore will talk about how he would keep the prosperity going."

    After another Gore soundbite Roberts allowed Bush backers to respond: "For their part, the Bush campaign is ridiculing Gore's tour, saying he is now laying claim to having invented prosperity. And in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Republican governors complain the Vice President is bragging on himself just a little too much."
    Gore: "We turned this great state around."
    New York Governor George Pataki: "You know, I don't take offense so much as it makes me kind of laugh."
    Roberts: "New York Governor George Pataki claims Al Gore had little to do with the economic turnaround; it was old-fashioned American hard work, fueled by tax cuts, a formula embraced by George W. Bush."
    Pataki: "I think to continue this prosperity, we have to have additional tax cuts in Washington. We can't just sit back and go on a victory tour, as Al Gore is doing, and say, 'Look at how prosperous we are.'"
    Roberts concluded: "It is crucial for Gore to capture some of the credit. Recent polls show the majority of Americans think George W. Bush would take better care of the economy. And if history is any guide, the candidate who wins on the economy wins the White House."

    But, of course, winning the economy really means winning the media to your side to portray the economy as booming and give you credit for it, and Gore's got a lot better chance of doing that than does Bush.


Wacky spin of the week. Here's how Tom Brokaw introduced a June 12 NBC Nightly News story: "And from the U.S. Supreme Court tonight a ruling that further restricts patient rights as they attempt to deal with their HMOs."

    The court just refused to expand rights by rejecting a call for creating a new right to sue HMOs in federal court, so hardly a "restriction" of anything since, as Yogi Berra could have said, the status quo remains unchanged. -- Brent Baker


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