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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday June 27, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 103)

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CBS Took Up Case Against Rove; Today Highlighted Claim Clinton Was First "Real" President; Supreme Court "Treason"; Stossel Impugned

1) Though Senate Democrats have demurred on any investigation against Karl Rove over supposed stock ownership conflicts, that didn't dissuade CBS News. John Roberts complained: "Republicans in Congress, who spent eight years investigating President Clinton, today refused to look into Rove's dealings." But, as FNC reported, Dan Burton pointed out the committee had not pursued stock ownership conflicts involving several Clinton officials.

2) Today featured a New York City high school student who got Bill Clinton to address her graduating class. Katie Couric prompted her to read from her letter to him: "You are the first President who was a real person. Honestly, it might be good for you too, to be in a place where you are adored, respected and appreciated no matter what the latest media reports."

3) Geraldo Rivera: "Should five of our nation's nine Supreme Court Justices be imprisoned? That's the opinion of famed former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He says the Justices who supported George W. Bush in the election dispute are almost treasonous white-collar criminals. He'll explain why."

4) Far-left environmental activists complained about an upcoming John Stossel special on ABC and several major papers cooperatively jumped to run stories on the effort to discredit his effort to dare to question liberal environmental orthodoxy.

5) Personal animosity for conservatives conceded by a reporter on ABC. On ABC's prime time The Beast, that it. A reporter named "Alice" screeched: "If you think a woman doesn't have the right to control her own body, if you think that freedom means that you can carry an assault weapon with armor piercing bullets, then yes, yes, yes, [shouting] I think you're a fascist."

Though Senate Democrats have demurred on pursuing any investigation against top White House aide Karl Rove over having a meeting with officials with a company whose stock he owned, that didn't dissuade CBS News from trying to incite a controversy, as Dan Rather lectured about how "before, during, and after the campaign, candidate and now President Bush promised zero tolerance for even the appearance of impropriety by any of the people around him."

     John Roberts noted up front Rove was advised by the White House Counsel's office not to sell his stocks, but nonetheless pursued the story, even allowing House Democrat Henry Waxman, who wants the House Government Affairs Committee to launch an investigation, to make his case for one. Roberts scolded: "Republicans in Congress, who spent eight years investigating President Clinton, today refused to look into Rove's dealings."

     But, as FNC had reported the night before, committee chairman Dan Burton pointed out the committee had not pursued questions of stock ownership conflicts involving several Clinton administration officials.

     Dan Rather intoned on the June 26 CBS Evening News: "Before, during, and after the campaign, candidate and now President Bush promised zero tolerance for even the appearance of impropriety by any of the people around him. This is part of what's fueling questions now about why top presidential advisor Karl Rove was meeting with big business leaders about issues that could affect his own investments positively. CBS's John Roberts has been digging deeper into this."

     Roberts then reported, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "White House sources tell CBS News tonight that the President's top political advisor first offered to sell his stocks in early January before President Bush took office. Karl Rove was told he should do nothing until the White House Counsel's Office reviewed his investments and signed off on the sale. That wasn't until May 30."
     Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary: "The counsel's office was not able to get him a certificate of divestiture in a timely enough fashion. As soon as he received it, he fully divested his holdings."
     Roberts outlined the case against Rove: "But it's what happened during those four-and-a-half months that has focused intense scrutiny on Rove. Holding more than $100,000 in Intel stock, Rove held meetings with company officials who were seeking White House approval for a merger. Rove also had thousands of dollars in energy and pharmaceutical stocks at the same time the President was developing his energy policy and threatening to veto a patients' rights bill he said would harm the health care industry. Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman has called for investigations."
     Henry Waxman, D-CA: "But he is the key person in the White House on a whole range of decisions, and if he's making decisions that affect the companies where he has a financial holding, we ought to know about it."
     Roberts picked up the liberal spin: "Republicans in Congress, who spent eight years investigating President Clinton, today refused to look into Rove's dealings. Government Reform Chairman Dan Burton mocked Waxman's sudden interest in government ethics issues and reminded Democrats of their own problems, releasing an FBI document that quotes a Democratic donor as saying he once paid $20,000 to guarantee access to the Clinton White House."

     That's the first and so far only broadcast network reference, if vague, to the charge by Charlie Trie that he twice handed Clinton aide Mark Middleton an envelope containing $10,000 in cash.

     Roberts concluded: "White House officials say tonight they saw no ethical problems with Rove's dealings because he had already indicated that he was going to sell the stock. Democrats in the Senate say there's no reason for investigations at this point, but tell us tonight they haven't closed that door."

     At least CBS News hopes they haven't.

     Viewers of FNC the night before learned how the House Government Reform Committee had previously avoided stock ownership conflict charges. In a piece aired on the June 25 Special Report with Brit Hume, David Shuster relayed:
     "Dan Burton, the Republican Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, responded to Democrat Henry Waxman by saying, 'No comparison can be made between the Bush administration and the ethical lapses during the Clinton years.' In a letter to Waxman, Burton points out the committee never investigated stock holdings of Clinton officials. 'I must note, however, my surprise at your sudden interest in government ethics issues. During the preceding five years, you were noticeably silent.'"

     Shuster elaborated: "Burton details several instances when the committee took no action. President Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, who agreed to pay $23,000 in civil penalties for failing to immediately sell $90,000 in stock in the Amoco Corporation; Richard Holbrooke, former Ambassador to the United Nations, who paid a $5,000 fine for a South Korean investment deal involving a firm paying Holbrooke a million dollars a year; and former Defense Secretary William Perry. He reportedly held investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense companies doing business with the Pentagon.
     "Burton goes on to argue that Waxman went on the offensive against Karl Rove and his Intel stock holdings the very week Waxman learned about new allegations involving former Clinton aide Mark Middleton. According to FBI documents, Middleton is alleged to have received $10,000 in cash on two separate occasions from former Clinton fundraiser Charlie Trie. According to Trie, who pleaded guilty in the campaign fundraising investigations, the cash payments were for physical access to the White House."

     Offering balance, unlike CBS, Shuster also included Waxman's case: "In response, Waxman says the civil penalties paid by some Clinton officials underscore the serious nature of Karl Rove's conduct. And he scoffs at Burton's suggestion that the committee has ever exercised restraint. He points out that Burton has issued more than a thousand subpoenas for documents and testimony, with 98 percent directed at the Clinton administration or the Democratic Party."

     Shuster concluded: "Waxman maintains that he still expects answers from Karl Rove and the White House. Burton seems to make it clear that the committee will not be pursuing the matter. And in a sign of the politics all around, both sides accuse the other of using logic that is 'hilarious' and predicted that more letters are on the way."


Rehabilitating Bill Clinton. On Tuesday's Today NBC brought aboard a New York City high school student who convinced former President Clinton to address her graduating class. While Katie Couric noted there's controversy over Monica Lewinsky and Marc Rich, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that Couric prompted the student to read from her letter in which she told Clinton: "You are the first President who was a real person. Honestly, it might be good for you too, to be in a place where you are adored, respected and appreciated no matter what the latest media reports."

     Couric set up the June 26 Today segment: "We all remember our high school graduation but our next guest has a special reason to remember hers. This afternoon Sophia Velez will graduate from the Professional Performing Arts High School right here in Manhattan. And thanks to her efforts former President Bill Clinton will be the speaker."

     After asking why she chose Clinton and how she managed to get her letter to him, Couric got to the letter itself: "I've got a portion of the it here that I'm going to read. Because obviously it was something that really struck a chord in him and it was a very effective communique as they say. It says, 'It may sound corny but you would love my school, Professional Performing Arts School. My school is a very special public school. The teachers try to the best of their abilities to reach and touch every student and usually succeed. They did with me. They've always taught tolerance and respect no matter who won is or where they came from. They truly believe that every student there can make a contribution and succeed and should reach for his or her dreams, I'm reaching for mine, writing this is part of it.' I realize how silly it is that I'm reading your letter on television. Why don't you continue?"
     Velez: "Okay. 'It would be such an honor if you would come speak at my school. Lately it seems you were attacked at every corner. But in this school you are loved by students and teachers alike. You are the first President who was a real person. Honestly, it might be good for you too, to be in a place where you are adored, respected and appreciated no matter what the latest media reports. And if the time is right that you are lonely in Chappaqua come on in to the city where you'll be greeted and treated the way you deserve.'"

     Couric then at least noted: "Well that sort of raises a point I think, Sophia, and that is that President Clinton is pretty controversial. I mean not only with the Monica Lewinsky situation but of course with the Marc Rich pardon. Did you have any trepidation at all or any second thoughts as to how he might be received and that everybody at your school would be as enthusiastic as you are about him?"

     Velez assured Couric that everyone is excited about seeing Clinton. Couric said goodbye by passing along her admiration: "Well I think it's great that you were able to convince him to do it and it teaches a lot of people good lessons about persistence and as you said reaching for your dreams and going forward."


Geraldo Rivera's CNBC show is the first stop for anyone with a book impugning Supreme Court justices for their presidential election decision in favor of Bush. Last week, as detailed in the June 20 CyberAlert, Rivera praised Alan Dershowitz's new book, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Rivera boasted it "makes a point that I firmly believe."

     This week he brought on Vincent Bugliosi, author of Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President. Rivera plugged the June 25 segment, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, with some hype: "Should five of our nation's nine Supreme Court Justices be imprisoned? That's the opinion of famed former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He says the Justices who supported George W. Bush in the election dispute are almost treasonous white-collar criminals. He'll explain why."

     Rivera introduced the segment: "Listen to what Vince writes when he suggests the Justices may be traitors to our country. Quote, 'While the conduct of the five conservative Justices doesn't fall within the strict language of treason, the essence of treason clearly, is an American citizen doing grave and unjustifiable damage to this nation, which the Justices surely did by stealing the office of the Presidency for the candidate of their choice.' Did you set out to be inflammatory?"

     Rivera did at least wonder: "Let me ask you this, though. The motive, presumably ideology or party politics however you want to characterize it, but what, what do you make of the fact that some of these recounts indicate that Bush would have won in Florida. Does that not eradicate the motive?"

     But he wrapped up with an enthusiastic endorsement: "Well here it is folks. It is a scathing indictment of the high court of the United States, at least these five conservative Justices. And I really, really, I urge law students especially but anyone whose interested in the machinations of the court to check this out. Vincent Bugliosi's The Betrayal of America."


Far-left environmental activists complained about an upcoming network news special and several major papers jumped to run stories on the attack. Conservatives, who have documented the myriad of network distortions in the past few weeks in coverage of global warming and the National Academy of Sciences report, can only dream of such mainstream newspaper stories discrediting a TV news report.

     The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today all ran stories on Tuesday about complaints from parents about how for an ABC special this Friday on, amongst other things, how kids are only learning one-side on environmental issues, John Stossel had manipulated their kids in order to get the answers he wanted.

     Stop the presses! Put down the video camera! That never occurs with anyone but Stossel, whom liberal environmentalists hold in contempt for daring to challenge their orthodoxy.

     An excerpt from Elizabeth Jensen's Los Angeles Times story, headlined, "Parents Lash Out at ABC, Stossel." Subhead: "Producers are accused of misleading participants in the special 'Tampering With Nature.'" Jensen reported from New York:

A group of parents, most of them from Santa Monica's Canyon Charter School, charged that producers for ABC News' John Stossel misled them and now they are revoking the permission they granted for ABC to use interviews with their children in Stossel's Friday special, Tampering With Nature.

The special deals with everything from genetically modified foods to global warming and human cloning, making the point that humans have "tampered with nature" for centuries, with generally beneficial results, including longer life spans.

The children, whose parents thought they would be interviewed by a producer, were taped in April about their environmental education and what they believe about various environmental issues, such as the use of solar and nuclear power; Stossel later sharply questions some of their educators about whether the children are being fed one-sided information.

In a group letter sent to Stossel on Monday, the seven parents said they are "disturbed by the way your staff withheld your involvement with the segment and misrepresented the nature of the piece," adding that ABC's controversial correspondent "asked leading questions to get them to say what you wanted." They said they wanted ABC to remove all footage that involves their children's voices and images....

The parents' reaction was coordinated by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington nonprofit group that was also responsible for raising the controversy over Stossel's special last year, which questioned the safety of organic food. ABC was forced to apologize for an error in that story, and Stossel was reprimanded; the show's producer was suspended. The Environmental Working Group, which has posted the parents' letter on its Web site, http://www.ewg.org, also led an attack earlier this year on the chemical industry, in conjunction with a controversial PBS documentary by Bill Moyers....

Brad Neal, a Venice Beach real estate investor and the children's father, said he gave permission for Samantha, 8, and Brandon, 10, to participate in the children's panel ABC producers assembled, without knowing that Stossel was involved in the program. Parents were told that ABC was doing a special on Earth Day and wanted to know "what your second- and third- and fourth-graders feel about the environment," Neal said.

But when questioning began, Neal, who said he is planning to open organic juice bars, says he recognized Stossel as the anchor of last year's program attacking organic foods, "and I had this bad feeling inside." He is most bothered, he said, that "ABC hid Stossel's involvement, because some of us would have been less inclined to let our children participate." And once the interviewing began, he said, "it was not about sharing our children's thoughts on the environment with this guy, it was about getting the response he wanted."

"It was clear from the very first couple minutes that the questions were not leading, they were misleading," and at one point, Stossel tried to lead the children in a chant to the effect that "all scientists agree that there is a greenhouse effect," he said. "They manipulated our children for their own agenda."...

     END Excerpt

     For all of Jensen's piece, go to:

     To read the story by Howard Kurtz in the June 26 Washington Post, go to:

     ABC News has decided to cut the interviews with the kids in question, Kurtz noted in a follow up story on Wednesday.


Journalists at the networks may continue to deny any personal liberal bias, witness the hostile reaction to Bernard Goldberg, but last week an ABC prime time entertainment show highlighted the liberal ideology of one fictional reporter who lashed out at Republicans as "fascists" as she resisted airing a story which would hurt a liberal Senate candidate.

     The plot line occurred on ABC's The Beast, about the workings at the World News Service, a California-based cable news channel.

     The reporter, named "Alice," not only blasted conservative views ("If you think a woman doesn't have the right to control her own body, if you think that freedom means that you can carry an assault weapon with armor piercing bullets, then yes, yes, yes, [shouting] I think you're a fascist"), she gushed to a liberal Senator-elect before interviewing him on air: "I've always admired you. You know. I remember when you were a freshman Congressman and they blew up that abortion clinic in San Diego. I saw you on TV and you walked those doctors back into the clinic and I was thinking 'there goes a very brave man.'"

     In the June 20 edition of the show, reporter "Alice Allenby," played by actress Elizabeth Mitchell, enthusiastically pursues charges that workers for the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, in a special California election which is too close to call even a day later, committed vote fraud to steal the election. She soon learns, however, that the Democratic candidate, "Hansen," who is named the winner, really committed more vote fraud. At a nursing home she discovers that a Hansen-backer who owns many nursing homes used the names of dead and living residents to file absentee ballots.

     Walking down the driveway outside the nursing home this exchange takes place between Alice, who wants to not report her discovery, and her cameraman, "Ryan." MRC intern Lindsay Welter transcribed the scene:

     Ryan: "Hey, what's wrong? That was prime time, blow the roof off brilliant."
     Alice: "Do you know what kind of a man Bill Hansen is? He is honorable, he is courageous. He is closest thing that my generation has to Bobby Kennedy."
     Ryan: "Ah, that's a bloody myth. You're confusing reality with great hair."
     Alice: "Excuse me."
     Ryan: "Bobby Kennedy was a hatchet man for his brother, they were both ruthless."
     Alice: "Listen, we're not saying anything to anyone, understand?"
     Ryan: "Why not?"
     Alice: "Because, because we don't have enough proof."
     Ryan: "Proof? You've got proof that a dead woman voted for Hansen by absentee ballot."
     Alice: "It's still not enough. Somebody organized this. I need to find someone in the Hansen campaign who, who will go on record, even anonymously, before we can run it." [after getting into their van, Ryan puts video camera up to her window] "What are you doing?"
     Ryan: "Why don't you tell the camera why you're willing to bitch slap a Republican and roll over for a Democrat."
     Alice: "Put the camera down, Ryan."
     Ryan: "No, come on, tell me."
     Alice: "Look, we don't have enough proof, alright? When we have enough proof, we will run it."
     Ryan: "Yes, we do. Every T may not be crossed, but we have a boatload. You're so infatuated with Hansen you're afraid to hurt him."
     Alice: "That is not true."
     Ryan: "Then what, you just hate Republicans?"
     Alice: "Just, just get in the car, alright Ryan. Just get in the car and drive."
     Ryan: "Go on, go on and say it."
     Alice: "I don't hate Republicans Ryan. I just think that most of them are [screaming] fascists."
     Ryan: "Like me, then?"
     Alice: "If you think a woman doesn't have the right to control her own body, if you think that freedom means that you can carry an assault weapon with armor piercing bullets, then yes, yes, yes, [shouting] I think you're a fascist."
     Ryan: "That's what I thought."

     Alice is convinced by Ryan and goes with the story.

     This afternoon the MRC Web team will post on the MRC home page a RealPlayer clip of this scene.

     The Beast will air again tonight on ABC at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT.

     Here's how the ABC Web site describes the show:

Jackson Burns is an iconoclastic media mogul who has built a 24-hour broadcast news organization like no other. Jackson's (Frank Langella) unique team of reporters not only cover the stories but are covered as part of the story. Cameras in the halls, in their cars, and behind closed doors document the inner workings of World News Service (WNS) -- a.k.a. The Beast -- and the images captured are broadcast live to the world via the Internet.

From Jackson's perspective, journalists have lost all credibility. He believes that he must turn the cameras on his reporters to ensure their veracity and guarantee that the public gets the whole truth. For magazine reporter Alice Allenby (Elizabeth Mitchell),

WNS is a frightening product of technology that crosses the line of propriety into voyeurism and sensationalism.

Jackson entices Alice with promises of more freedom, access, and resources than she could ever dream of. But Alice is torn between her desire to report the news and the organization's desire to make her a part of it.

Diverse and driven, the WNS staff shares a mutual need -- to feed The Beast.

      END Reprint from plug posted at:

      After watching two episodes, I'd say this is definitely not "must see TV." I'd bet it's cancelled before the end of July. -- Brent Baker

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