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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday June 28, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 108) |

Printer Friendly Version

2-for-1, Hillary & Bill?; Reno Ignored; Geraldo's Viagra; Bill Maher's Liberal Diatribe

1) Bryant Gumbel hoped he and his fellow New Yorkers get a two-for-one deal: Hillary, plus her husband's "expertise." An audience member placed Hillary and Lazio on the Survivor island. And Tom Brokaw insisted Hillary is "a very skilled campaigner."

2) Janet Reno appeared before a Senate committee Tuesday for the first time since it was learned her deputy Robert Conrad urged a special probe of Al Gore's fundraising. FNC and CNN ran stories, but not a word on the ABC, CBS, NBC and MSNBC evening shows.

3) The Supreme Court "refused to undo what an earlier court established as a constitutional right against self-incrimination," ABC's Jackie Judd insisted in blurring the Miranda mandate to inform suspects of that right with the Bill of Rights protection.

4) Today focused on Sam Ciancio's attacks on his fellow Elian rescuer, Donato Darymple. NBC reported that he claimed Darymple was alerted to the raid and that "influential Cuban Americans promised there would be rewards for anti-Castro comments."

5) Geraldo Rivera: "The death penalty is like Viagra in middle- aged men. Texas uses the death penalty to remember what it was like in those good old cowboy days."

6) Latest Media Reality Check, "Changing the Subject to Big Oil-Bashing: Networks Turned on Oil Companies After EPA Declared Itself Innocent on Midwestern Gas Price Hikes."

7) Reuters reported that at a DNC fundraiser Bill Maher, host of ABC's Politically Incorrect, took "below the belt" shots at George W. Bush and praised Bill Clinton's "fortitude" in overcoming his opponents who are jealous of his success.

8) How is it best to assess ABC's "Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus"?

>>> Now online, the June 26 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "This Summer, The End Is Near!"; "Clarence Thomas = Aunt Jemima"; "Republican Fairy Tales and Lies"; "More Federal Funding for Tubas"; "Making Excuses for Albert"; "Making Trouble for George W." and "We Don't Have a Vacation Czar?"
    A quote in the NQ which did not previously appear in a CyberAlert, Peter Jennings introducing a June 13 World News Tonight story: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at the plans for an anti-missile defense system. The one that has never been proven to work and may never work."
    To read this issue online, go to:
    To see it as the hard copy looks, in Acrobat PDF format:
    For previous issues from this year:
    For the archive of issues going back to 1988:
http://archive.mrc.org/news/nq/archives.html <<<


Bryant Gumbel asked Hillary Clinton on Wednesday morning "if we vote for you" do we "get two for the price of one" and benefit from Bill Clinton's "expertise"?

    Bryant Gumbel hosted CBS's The Early Show on June 28 from WTVH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Syracuse, where he moderated a town meeting with Hillary Clinton for most of the first hour. About 45 minutes into the show he raised the issue of independent counsel Robert Ray's report on how Hillary did have a "role" in the travel office firings. After she dismissed the relevance of the report and claimed it matched what she's said all along, New York resident Gumbel hoped he'd get a two-for-one deal if she wins, just like in 1992:
    "When your President, when your President ran for husband, I'm alright [laughs]. When your husband ran for President eight years ago, it was often said you get two for the price of one, meaning if you elected him they got your expertise. Does the same now apply? Do we get two for the price of one? If we vote for you do we get his expertise?"

    She answered that "he has a lot of expertise on important issues" and will try to help. Gumbel followed-up: "So he will be a kitchen adviser?"

    Gumbel went onto press her about whether she wants to run for President. She insisted she does not and will not.

    +++ Watch a clip of this exchange. Later today the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    The wackiest question of the morning came from an audience member a few minutes earlier:
    "My name is Lindsay and I live right here in central New York and I'm going to be a freshman next year in college. I've kind of a different type of question for you. You're familiar with the TV show Survivor, correct? Okay, well, picture this: It's me, you and your opponent Rick Lazio. We're the last three people on the island and it's my turn to decide who gets thrown off next. Who do I choose to remove and why?"

    That question must have made fellow central New Yorkers proud. And she didn't even get the rules correct as all left on the island get a vote. Personally, I'd vote Lindsay off, but Hillary called it a "very interesting question," arguing she brings more experience to the table.

    That question was a bit unusual, but not much wackier than Tom Brokaw's assessment of Hillary's campaigning skills. On Tuesday night's Late Show he acknowledged to David Letterman that many refuse to consider her, including many Democrats, as "she doesn't get over 50 percent" in the polls, but he then insisted: "Now she's a very skilled campaigner. She's demonstrated that already."

    When and how?


Last week pundits speculated about the impact on Al Gore's campaign of the revelation that another chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section, Robert Conrad, had concluded a special investigator should be appointed to probe Gore's 1996 fundraising activities. But how much impact can it have if the networks don't show up to the story?

    On Tuesday afternoon Attorney General Janet Reno appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was grilled about intransigence on appointing anyone for the first time since the disclosure of Conrad's position. But not a syllable about Reno's testimony ran on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News or MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams.

    FNC's Fox Report, in contrast, led with it at 7pm ET and CNN's 8pm ET The World Today ran a full story, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed. On Special Report with Brit Hume FNC's David Shuster revealed: "This week Reno is scheduled to meet with prosecutor Robert Conrad, the fourth administration official to recommend an outside investigator take charge of the fundraising probe. According to investigation sources, Reno cut off weekly meetings with Conrad in April after he interviewed Gore and concluded that the Vice President had been misleading."

    So what did broadcast network and MSNBC viewers learn about instead?

    ABC led with an AAA report on how 8,000 car crashes a day are caused by distracted drivers. Anchor Kevin Newman warned: "ABC's Tom Foreman tells us about the growing danger of Americans driven to distraction." CBS and NBC began with a report from the Department of Transportation's Inspector General about how airline service has not improved six months after the airlines promised to correct their practices.

    All four networks carried full stories on a FEMA report which claimed coastal erosion will destroy one of four homes, 90,000 of them, over the next 60 years. ABC's Ron Claiborne tied the problem to a liberal cause: "Some erosion is natural, the result of the surf pounding the shore day after day. But the pace of erosion has accelerated, primary from rising sea levels due to global warming."

    MSNBC viewers were treated to an excerpt from Dateline about the "claymation" production of the movie Chicken Run and NBC Nightly News watchers got a Dateline excerpt about the dangers of driving while sleep-deprived. A promo at the end of a NBC Nightly News ad break promised: "Gore versus Bush. Decision 2000. Only on NBC." The next story: a look at a new immunization for chicken pox.


Not until the late 1960s did Americans earn "a constitutional right against self-incrimination," ABC's Jackie Judd insisted in confusing the Fifth Amendment right of a person to not "be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," with the Miranda decision mandating that the police inform those they arrest of that right.

    In a June 26 World News Tonight story Judd explained a Supreme Court decision: "They are the most well-known and the most controversial words in law enforcement today. Critics have long argued that the guilty have gone free because they were not read their Miranda rights before confessing to a crime. But the Supreme Court, despite its conservative leanings, voted seven to two to uphold Miranda. Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, 'Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture.'"

    So far, so good. But in concluding her story, Judd asserted: "The majority did concede that sometimes Miranda does lead to the guilty going unpunished, but they refused to undo what an earlier court established as a constitutional right against self-incrimination."

    That "earlier court" would be the authors of the Bill of Rights.


The morning before what will likely be Elian's last morning in the United States, NBC's Today featured a story recounting fisherman Sam Ciancio's attacks on his cousin and fellow rescuer of Elian from the ocean, Donato Darymple. NBC reporter Kerry Sanders asserted: "Sam Ciancio says it was more than a love of publicity that caused his cousin to take up the fight to keep Elian in the United States. Ciancio claims influential Cuban Americans promised there would be rewards for anti-Castro comments."

    As transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, Sanders announced: "Ciancio has taken a low profile while his cousin Donato Dalrymple enjoyed taking credit for the rescue at sea last November. In fact that was Donato's first fishing trip ever. The two spotted an inner tube in the water. Something was inside."

    Intermixed with comments from Ciancio, Sanders told his story on the June 27 piece: "After the rescue Sam ignored most reporters while his cousin, Donato, became known as the fisherman, the boy's savior....But now this New York native, owner of a Florida roofing company, is setting the record straight. This after an ugly falling out with his cousin, Donato."
    Ciancio: "As far as I'm concerned we are no longer cousins. We're done. Bottom line is he went against what I believe. I don't believe you use the kid for your, for your glory. I really just don't believe that."
    Sanders: "Sam Ciancio says it was more than a love of publicity that caused his cousin to take up the fight to keep Elian in the United States. Ciancio claims influential Cuban Americans promised there would be rewards for anti-Castro comments."
    Ciancio: "I know one thing for sure. Donato told me, a couple different occasions that he has a place, that as soon as Castro falls he has a place over in Cuba. That's a guarantee. 'I got a place over loft, over in Cuba, right on the ocean. That's guaranteed Sam.'"
    Sanders: "A claim Dalrymple denies....Then there is the raid in April when federal agents forcefully took Elian away from the Miami relatives. Donato's cousin still doubts the spontaneity of those events....A set up? According to Sam Ciancio, Donato got a call the night before the predawn raid from a mysterious caller, telling him to spend the night at the house."

    Sanders added: "Today Sam says he is secure in his belief that what's best for Elian is to be with his father Juan Miguel even if that means growing up in a communist country. Sam is a father of two children himself, 17 year old Brandon and his youngest Juliana, four years old. Adopted from Romania."

    Sanders concluded: "This morning a simple question from the real fisherman who wonders if Elian heads home to Cuba as early as Wednesday what will be the lasting impact of this fight that began 216 days ago?"


Monday night Geraldo Rivera called for a national moratorium on the death penalty, slipped and referred to Gary Graham's execution as a "murder" and wrapped up his CNBC show by comparing the wish to impose the death penalty to a middle-aged man's desire to use Viagra.

    Introducing a June 26 Rivera Live interview with Jesse Jackson, Rivera opined: "The late Gary Graham, now being called the new martyr of the anti-death penalty movement. As you know he was executed by the state of Texas last Thursday. Nearly two decades after he was convicted of fatally shooting a man in a Houston parking lot. The two eyewitnesses that never testified at his trial insist he was not the shooter. No physical evidence ever tied him to the crime. The gun found in his possession was not the murder weapon. His legal representation was a bad joke. And to his final moments Graham consistently swore that he was innocent. As he took his last breath Gary Graham was looking at my next guest, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has bitterly described what he witnessed as state organized murder while calling for something I endorse with every bone in my body, a national moratorium on the death penalty." At one point, in following up a question about what Graham told Jackson, Rivera queried: "No, not that day, I want to know the day he was being murdered, killed, sorry."

    And MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this odd analogy espoused as Rivera wrapped up the show:
    "Alright I have, I have an analogy. This came to me the night I saw this. The death penalty is like Viagra in middle-aged men. Texas uses the death penalty to remember what it was like in those good old cowboy days. If you want to send me your hate mail, go ahead, 'cause that's the way I see it. This thing is insane!"

    What's "insane" is for NBC News to use Rivera as a reporter, as they did last week on Today when Rivera checked in from the execution site.


From June 13 to June 26, after the White House began blaming "price gouging" for high gas prices in the Midwest, only two network evening stories on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC focused on EPA-mandated reformulated fuel as the cause, "compared with 16 that promoted the idea that 'price gouging' was at fault," Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, determined. His analysis of network coverage appears in the latest Media Reality Check fax report, "Changing the Subject to Big Oil-Bashing: Networks Turned on Oil Companies After EPA Declared Itself Innocent on Midwestern Gas Price Hikes."

    You can view the June 27 Media Reality Check as fax recipients see it by clicking on the Adobe Acrobat PDF version posted by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul:

    For the HTML version, and a link to Adobe's free download page for the Acrobat reader, go to:

    Otherwise, here's the text of the Media Reality Check:

For most people, higher gas prices are a nuisance. For TV reporters they're an opportunity for hyperbole and finger-pointing. "All across America these days, a fill-up can seem more like a stickup," announced CBS's Cynthia Bowers on the June 7 Evening News. "Drivers in Chicago feel their pockets are really being picked."

"Helping fuel the rise, new EPA guidelines went into effect last week requiring 16 cities with poor air quality to sell cleaner-burning reformulated gas," reported Bowers. "It costs more to refine and, with supplies tight, prices are soaring."

Three weeks ago, that was also common knowledge in Chicago and Milwaukee, where it cost more than $2.00 a gallon for a government-mandated cocktail of gasoline and ethanol not sold anywhere else in the U.S. But rather than face the music, the Clinton administration began promoting the idea that the higher prices were really an oil company scheme to rip-off consumers.

"These prices that are currently out at the pumps are not acceptable, and that is why we want to meet with the oil industry to determine what are the causes of this," the EPA's Robert Perciasepe told CBS's Bowers on June 9.

While oil industry officials continued to protest their innocence in soundbites, reporters stopped suggesting that regulations were to blame and started looking for government to find the real culprits. "The EPA suspects price gouging," ABC's Dean Reynolds warned on June 12, "and agents were out looking for it today." In the same vein, "The White House has now put the oil industry on notice," stated CBS's Bob Orr on June 12. "If any evidence of price gouging surfaces, regulators will come down hard."

From June 1 to June 12, four stories on the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening newscasts spent more than 30 seconds discussing the EPA's rules as a probable cause. From June 13 to June 26, only two such stories appeared, compared with 16 that promoted the idea that "price gouging" was at fault.

The assumption that business, not government, was to blame for motorists' misery took hold at all of the networks. "Who are the gougers?" wondered ABC's Bob Jamieson on June 21. "Gasoline station operators say they are not. The oil companies say they are not. It is now up to the Federal Trade Commission to decide who's telling the truth."

Who needs an investigation? According to Jerry Taylor, director of natural resource studies at the Cato Institute, "We know exactly who's responsible for these prices."

"[The Clean Air Act] forces refiners to dedicate their facilities to distilling one kind of gasoline or the other. It's very costly and time consuming to retool refineries...so it's extremely difficult for refiners to react quickly to shortages. Today, gasoline supplies in the Midwest are about 25 percent below normal, and refineries are having a hard time making up the difference," Taylor wrote on June 22. "Hence, the price increase." That's what Bowers and most other journalists were reporting before the EPA offered up its unproven "price gouging" theory.

Should reporters have been so accepting of the Clinton administration's version of events? "Al Gore's best shot at being elected President is to have people think the economy is in wonderful shape," argued ABC's Cokie Roberts on June 20. "One Democratic Congressman said to me today, 'This administration has got to turn over every stone to fix this.'" Maybe someone should ask whether the investigation of Big Oil is really a political fix-it job.

    END Reprint


At a Democratic fundraiser last weekend featuring Bill Clinton, Bill Maher, host of ABC's very politically correct Politically Incorrect, uttered what Reuters described as "below the belt attacks" on George W. Bush and claimed Clinton's opponents are "jealous" of him and he "'had the strength to fight the battles that this country needed to have fought' with one hand while he 'beat off the harpies who hated him succeeding with the other.'"

    The aforementioned Rich Noyes alerted me to a Reuters story dispatch about the June 23 event in Los Angeles and I could not find any other stories anywhere about Maher's liberal diatribe.

    Here's an excerpt from the June 24 Reuters report by Steve Holland, which began with a questionable premise:

Democratic fundraisers featuring President Clinton are typically polite affairs with plenty of criticism of Republicans but not usually below-the-belt attacks.

Then along came comedian Bill Maher of ABC's Politically Incorrect show.

Republican George W. Bush, Maher said on Friday night, was "drunk until he was 40."

"This guy is not that bright. I asked him recently, 'Have you ever had an SUV?' And he said, "No, but it's a good idea to get tested.'"

All this was by way of raising $75,000 for the Democratic National Committee in one of 10 money-raising events Clinton is attending in three days to bring in about $4 million....

Maher usually dishes it out to all sides in his comedy routine, but on Friday night, as the headline act for a DNC reception, he gave high praise to Clinton and blasted Republicans for pursuing various scandals against him and his wife, Hillary.

"History will show itself to be grateful for the effort and the fortitude and, I hope, mindful of the sacrifices that he has made," Maher said.

"I know politics is rough for everybody's who's in it, but this man has taken more crap and been more gracious about it than anybody who has nuclear weapons should ever be asked to," he said.

"I mean, we know they're jealous of him. I like him and I'm jealous of him. But you know, you can imagine what it's like for some pencil-necked freshman Republican geek from East Nowhere?" Maher asked.

Clinton, he said, "had the strength to fight the battles that this country needed to have fought" with one hand while he "beat off the harpies who hated him succeeding with the other." The crowd roared its approval....

    END Excerpt


Final note: I haven't forgotten about Monday's two-hour ABC special, Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus. I'll try to put something together on it for the next CyberAlert as I try to decide how to approach it, especially since we'd like to encourage the networks to spend more time on religious issues. Is it best to argue that network news should not undermine religious faith by holding it to modern scientific standards and thus declaring as false gospel stories about Jesus's life that are at the foundation of Christian faith, in which case the show was out of bounds.

    Or, should we accept ABC's premise that it is proper to scrutinize the tenets of religious faith and treat the program just like any other news show and thus analyze it against whether it delivered a fair and balanced presentation of the range of views espoused by credible Biblical and historical scholars.

    The more reactions to it I see from those familiar with Biblical scholarship, the more I'm coming to believe it also failed on the latter standard. -- Brent Baker


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