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 CyberAlert Weekend Edition

The 1,273rd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
Friday May 3, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 72)

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Arafat as Mr. Rogers and Bob Vila; "Massacre" to "War Crimes"; Terry Moran Smeared Dick Armey as Favoring Ethnic Cleansing; CBS News Can't Afford Clinton; CBS's Balanced First Monday

1) Yasser Arafat, man of the people. ABC's Gillian Findlay and NBC's Martin Fletcher bubbled with excitement Thursday night in describing Arafat's photo-op staged events. Findlay relayed how when "he noticed a home damaged in the fighting" he picked up a trowel and "was soon helping to repair the walls." Fletcher related how "the children made him smile."

2) Now that the "massacre" charge against Israel has fallen apart ABC's Peter Jennings moved on to the new line of attack: Israel committed "war crimes" in Jenin.

3) ABC News reporter Terry Moran smeared Dick Armey. Moran claimed at Thursday's White House briefing that the House Majority Leader had called for the West Bank to be "ethnically cleansed" of Palestinians. When Ari Fleischer doubted Moran's characterization, Moran shot back: "That's the way Milosevic said it, he never said ethnic cleansing either."

4) MSNBC anchor Rick Sanchez was so rattled by Dick Armey's suggestion that Palestinians find a home outside of the West Bank that he jumbled Armey's name: "House Majority Leader Dick Leader Armey."

5) Forget about any talk of Clinton replacing the $5 million-a-year Bryant Gumbel on the Early Show. CBS News can't afford him. As first revealed Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Clinton met on Wednesday with representatives of NBC about a day time talk show. His price: $50 million per year.

6) The season finale of the Supreme Court drama First Monday airs Friday night on CBS. The show which debuted mid-season proved that it is possible to produce a prime time entertainment show which gives equal weight and credibility to both sides of political policy disputes. Case in point: The last episode which looked at a town's gun ban.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways Saddam Hussein Celebrated His 65th Birthday."


Yasser Arafat: A combination of the best of Mr. Rogers and Bob Vila. ABC's Gillian Findlay and NBC's Martin Fletcher bubbled with excitement Thursday night in describing Arafat's photo-op staged events during his first day in months outside of his Ramallah headquarters. Findlay relayed how at "a hospital he comforted the wounded" and when "he noticed a home damaged in the fighting" he picked up a trowel and "was soon helping to repair the walls." Fletcher related that "Arafat called the Israeli military a Nazi army" before noting how "the children made him smile."

     In his CBS Evening News piece, Tom Fenton managed to avoid gushing over Arafat's photo-ops.

     Findlay began her May 2 World News Tonight story: "He emerged to the cheers of his people and then Yasser Arafat wanted to be everywhere. He met with school children, with old friends. This one couldn't hold back his tears. At a hospital he comforted the wounded, said prayers for those who had died. At one point he noticed a home damaged in the fighting. With television cameras rolling, Mr. Arafat was soon helping to repair the walls..."

     ABC certainly made Arafat's staged wall repair a worthwhile stunt, showing for nine seconds video of Arafat rubbing a trowel against a wall.

     Martin Fletcher led his NBC Nightly News dispatch: "After 103 days confined to his headquarters, today Yasser Arafat finally emerged into the sunlight. Blinking hard, looking frail, but a free man again. Seeing for the first time the damage to Palestinian government buildings, Arafat called the Israeli military a Nazi army. And seemed moved in front of the hospital, praying for more than twenty corpses that were buried in the parking lot because Israeli troops had prevented proper burials. But the children made him smile even if this little girl burst into tears when Arafat kissed her..."

     The little girl had more sense than the network correspondents.

     Neither ABC or NBC on Thursday night, nor CBS, chose to show Israeli Defense Force aerial video of Palestinians staging their victimology for the cameras. In video I saw played by FNC's Brit Hume and during Alan Keyes' show on MSNBC, but which I'm sure also aired elsewhere, a group of Palestinians walk along holding aloft a body wrapped in a flag. They accidentally drop the supposedly dead body, whereupon the dead guy gets up, lays down in the middle of the flag and the group wraps him up and carries on.


The massacre charge didn't pan out, so let's claim Israel committed "war crimes."

     On Thursday's World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings found the new "war crimes" spin newsworthy:
     "One item today about the Jenin refugee camp to which Mr. Arafat referred: The international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, said today the evidence suggests that the Israeli Army committed war crimes in the military operation there, but the group, which has been studying in the camp for several days, found no evidence to support claims that the army massacred hundreds of Palestinians."

     Now that's damning with faint praise.


Dick Armey smeared by ABC's Terry Moran, who claimed at the White House briefing on Thursday that the House Majority Leader had called for the West Bank to be "ethnically cleansed" of Palestinians. When White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer questioned Moran's characterization, Moran shot back: "That's the way Milosevic said it, he never said ethnic cleansing either."

     On Wednesday's Hardball on MSNBC Armey had simply suggested that "there are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land and soil and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian state." He soon elaborated: "I am content to have Israel occupy that land that it now occupies and to have those people who have been aggressors against Israel retire to some other arena and I would be happy to have them make a home. I would be happy to have all of these Arab nations that have been so Hell-bent to drive Israel out of the Middle East, to get together, find some land and make a home for the Palestinians. I think it can be done."
ABC's Terry Moran smeared Dick Armey, claiming he advocated "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians

     From that, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, this exchange occurred at about 12:30pm EDT Thursday:

     Terry Moran: "One more on a different subject, the House Majority Leader, Mr. Armey, suggested on an appearance on Hardball that it would be preferable for Israel to keep the West Bank and for the Palestinian people there to be transferred, ethnically cleansed. What does the President think of this? He [Armey] didn't use those words."
     Ari Fleischer: "Yeah. Did the Majority Leader use those words?"
     Moran: "He said that they should leave."
     Fleischer, answering his own question: "He did not."
     Moran impugned Armey: "That's the way Milosevic said it, he never said ethnic cleansing either. And I wondered what the President felt about this high official of the United States government calling for the forcible transfer of-"
     Fleischer: "Well, Terry, given your characterization of it I think it's only fair to go back and read the words with precision before I would give you a comment on something based on the way you've asked the question."
     Moran: "If you would take a look at the transcript I'd appreciate your [unintelligible]."

     Actually, Moran's whole approach was unintelligible. Armey's suggestion may or may not be a good one, but he was not calling for ethnic cleansing and certainly not of the type practiced by Milosevic who did it through mass murder. If anyone has been guilty of ethnic cleansing it has been Palestinian terrorists over the years in trying to drive all the Jews into the sea.


"House Majority Leader Dick Leader Armey." MSNBC anchor Rick Sanchez was so disturbed by Dick Armey's suggestion that the Palestinians be moved from the West Bank that he jumbled Armey's name in setting up a replay on Thursday morning of Armey's remarks on Hardball. Sanchez's summary of Armey's comments: "Palestinians be damned is essentially what he's saying."

     Just before 9am EDT on May 2 Sanchez and his co-anchor, Alex Witt, made clear how odd they found Armey's idea:

     Sanchez: "And last night on Chris Matthews -- Dick Armey-"
     Witt: "Oh my gosh."
     Sanchez: "He basically went to town saying that-" 
     Witt: "Israel: Grab the entire West Bank. He's saying go for it."
     Sanchez: "Palestinians be damned is essentially what he's saying."
     Witt: "You go for it. You take it all and then we'll let the Palestinians have a state of their own. He said real close to Israel and Chris Matthews came back and said, 'What, Norway?' I mean, it's great."

     A bit less than an hour later, at about 9:52am EDT, in a quote first caught by Hotline which offered an inaccurate transcript hat I've corrected, Sanchez announced: "For weeks President Bush has called on Israeli forces to withdraw from the West Bank hoping that will pave the way for a cease-fire. But House Majority Leader Dick Leader Armey -- ah, Dick Armey says that Israel should continue to hold that land. In fact, he says that Israel should grab the entire West Bank."


CBS News can't afford Bill Clinton. Forget about any talk of Clinton replacing the $5 million-a-year Bryant Gumbel on the Early Show. As first revealed Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, Clinton met on Wednesday with representatives of NBC about a day time talk show. His price: $50 million per year.

     Los Angeles Times reporter Sallie Hofmeister noted in her May 2 story: "One rumor circulating Hollywood last week was that Clinton was a candidate to replace CBS news anchor Bryant Gumbel. But one network source said that job wouldn't pay enough." Indeed, that job possibility was highlighted last Friday by the syndicated TV show Extra. See the April 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020430.asp#7

     An excerpt of Hofmeister's story:

Former President Bill Clinton met with NBC executives Wednesday in Los Angeles to discuss hosting his own talk show, according to several television sources.

Although the talks are only preliminary, one source said Clinton's interest was serious and said he was demanding a fee of $50 million a year and had aspirations "of becoming the next Oprah Winfrey."...

Television industry sources say chances are slim that Clinton would commit to such a plan once he understands the demands of the job. The 55-year-old former president has told some Hollywood executives who have asked about a potential TV career that the rumors are untrue.

Television executives doubted that Clinton would sign up for a demanding regimen of daily tapings for 39 weeks that such a show would require....

If Clinton proceeds with his plans for a talk show, it probably would be produced by his close friends Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason, sources said. The husband and wife team are playing a role in pitching Clinton's show to the networks. The Thomasons are best-known as the executive producers of the 1980s CBS hit "Designing Women," but their production company, Mozark Productions, has had several other prime-time series, including "Evening Shade" and "Hearts Afire."...

They are working on a movie documentary based on Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' book, "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton."

     END of Excerpt

     For the entire story: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front

     The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes followed up on Friday:

     "'Yesterday's informal meeting was one of many meetings President Clinton has had with many people over the past year,' Julia Payne, spokesperson at the Office of Former President William J. Clinton, said today [Thursday] in a statement.
     "'President Clinton did not demand a talk show. He went to listen. The President is gratified by the range of opportunities that have been presented to him.'...
     "The meeting took place yesterday in the Studio City offices of Mozark Productions, the production company of television producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who are longtime friends of Clinton.
     "'Yes, President Clinton, as he has over the years, visited our offices yesterday and we were glad to let him use them for a meeting with several of his acquaintances from NBC,' Harry Thomason said today through an aide."

     That story in full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22009-2002May2.html


The Supreme Court drama First Monday, which has its season-finale tonight on CBS, proved this season that it is possible to produce a prime time entertainment show which gives equal weight and credibility to both sides of political policy disputes. Produced by Donald Bellisario of Belisarius Productions, which also produces JAG, the show demonstrated since its mid-season debut that not every program must be as one-sided as NBC's The West Wing.

     First Monday stars Joe Montegna as a middle-of-the-road "Justice Joe Novelli" who struggles to make the proper decision on every case. Using this plot device, the producers are able to have him forward and counter the major arguments on both sides of any controversy as he interacts with his law clerks, a conservative man and a liberal woman, as well as with other justices who cover the spectrum, including the conservative Chief Justice played by James Garner.

     (Asked about his role, on ABC's The View in March Garner said he's "anything but" a conservative. He also stated that he refused to read a book by the real Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, "because I don't like the man." See the March 18 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020318.asp#4)

     An excellent example of how the show gives equal weight to both sides of a controversial issue came in its last airing, a special Monday night broadcast on April 22. The topic: The constitutionality of a town's law banning gun ownership.

     MRC analyst Patrick Gregory went through the show and took down illustrative scenes.

     The episode opened with a flashback scene of Novelli as a kid shooting a man about to rape his aunt in their store.

     -- Exchange amongst justices at breakfast:
     "Justice Esther Weisenberg": "My nephew David, 7 years old, has to pass through a metal detector to get to first grade."
     "Deborah": "That is disturbing, Ester, but it still doesn't tell us whether or not the town of Ashton has the right to ban all guns."
     Weisenberg: "The people voted for it."
     Deborah: "Not all the people, and if one man in that town wants to own a gun, doesn't he have the right?"
     Weisenberg: "It depends what the Framers had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment."
     "Justice Snow": "Fear of lobsterbacks...that's what the good people of Boston called the Redcoats. After what our forefathers went through with the British, they wanted to protect themselves from an oppressive central government."
     "Jerome": "Arms were intended for use by a well regulated militia for that purpose, not by individuals against each other."
     Snow: "Those weapons -- pistols, muskets, the ones familiar to the Framers were most effective to militias firing against the front lines of an army." 
     "Justice Novelli": "Rewriting history, Justice Snow?...The point was to allow citizens to defend themselves. That's why Jefferson said 'no free man'-"
     Jerome: "He owned slaves too."
     Novelli: "May I please finish? 'No free man shall be barred the right to bear arms.'"
     Snow: "I'm curious Joe, how do you think Thomas Jefferson would have interpreted the Second Amendment living in an age of Mach-10s and semi-automatics?"
     Novelli: "'Resistance to sudden violence not only for the preservation of my person, my limbs, my life, but of my property, is the undisputable right of my nature.'"
     Snow: "Thomas Jefferson didn't say that."
     Novelli: "You're right, John Adams did."

     -- A bit later:
     Michael: "You know Teddy is right. We're not talking about muskets here. What if my neighbor gets himself a bazooka, do I get a bazooka Joe?"
     Novelli: "Well I'm not against imposing reasonable limits Michael."
     Michael: "Good. Then let's think of the Ashton ban as a reasonable limit, one that allows you to bear all sorts of arms, except for those that fire bullets."
     Novelli: "Will the criminal abide by that limit, use a slingshot to rob me?"
     Michael: "Does the sheep no good to rule against eating meat unless they get the wolf to agree."
     Novelli: "Exactly. It boils down to this. Do I have the right to defend myself against anyone who would threaten my life and property?"
     Michael: "Joe we're interpreting the law of the land here, not the law of the jungle."
     Novelli: "We are, but if we deprive citizens of keeping arms to defend themselves, don't we also expose them to the risk of having their property taken without a trial by jury?"
     Michael: "A sword never kills anyone? It's a tool in the killer's hand."
     Novelli: "I'll take that as a vote to overturn the ban."
     Michael: "Take it as a 'maybe I'll vote to overturn the ban.'"

     -- At a party for the Chief Justice, amongst groups of justices and spouses, "Snow" declared: "Did you know that most kids who are killed in gun accidents are shot in the head?" To which Novelli countered: "Disarming responsible people isn't the answer."

     -- On the TV show "Curveball," hosted by the real Charles Bierbauer formerly of CNN, arguments from two real-life advocates:
     Alan Dershowitz: "...and here you have one town that wants to make its citizens safe, and the Supreme Court should not stand in its way if this is a reasonable regulation." 
     William F. Buckley: "The right to bear arms has a constitutional sanction, and under the circumstances you just don't let a town proceed to do something simply because it's pleasant to the people who are sitting around there to make rules."
     Dershowitz: "I personally wish there were fewer guns in our society, but I do take the Constitution seriously. It does provide for some right to bear arms, but it's the only amendment that explains why it grants that right, and it talks about a well-regulated militia. Look, let's remember the Framers had in mind single-shot muskets. Now we're talking about semi-automatic and automatic pistols, we're talking about guns in the hands of children. We're now the most dangerous gun-toting country in the world."
     Buckley: "To talk about the frantic nature of gun activity today isn't really useful unless you simultaneously bring up the number of people who use guns to diminish our liberties and threaten our lives. People want to keep a gun, and many people do."

     -- At oral arguments:
     "Mr. Gelb," a lawyer before the court who represented those wanting the ban to be overturned: "'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' 'The people.' Now to interpret those two words to mean anything other than individual citizens is both disingenuous and dishonest."
     Justice Esther Weisenberg: "What about the words, 'a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state?' Surely those words don't conjure up the rights of individuals."
     Gelb: "That might be true Justice Weisenberg, if we still had citizen soldiers. But today the so called militia is the National Guard, a federal agency. The Framers amended the Constitution to protect us against encroachment from these kinds of agencies."
     "Justice Bancroft": "Are you saying, Mr. Gelb, that it is this court's responsibility to guess how the Framers would have changed what they'd written had they been alive today?"
     Gelb: "No, Justice Bancroft, the Framers always intended the Second Amendment to guarantee the right of law abiding citizens to own weapons. Why should this amendment be interpreted any differently than the First, Fourth, Ninth, or Tenth Amendments? Amendments in which the people, individuals are guaranteed freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly? Why the double standard?"

     "Mr. Harley" represented supporters of the gun ban: "Chief Justice Brankin...each year in the United States, more than thirty thousand Americans are killed by guns, roughly a hundred thousand more are injured. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine-"
     "Branken," played by James Garner, cut him off: "The court is not here to determine whether private gun ownership is safe or even desirable Mr. Harley, just whether it's meant to be an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution."
     Harley: "Yes, Mr. Chief Justice. We believe the Framers never intended the colonists to bear arms against the fellow citizens, but to protect themselves against the enemies of the state."
     "Justice Chandler": "Mr. Harley, sixty million law abiding Americans own guns. For hunting, sport shooting, self-defense, and as collector's items. Guns used for criminal purposes make up less than one half of one percent of all firearms. Do you think that we should punish all gun owners for the actions of so few?"

     Harley: "Unless they're part of a well-regulated militia, Justice Chandler, the answer is yes. Grant an individual the right to bear arms, where does it stop? Bazookas, missiles, nuclear warheads?"
     Novelli: "Mr. Harley, the rights guaranteed in the Constitution are far from absolute. I have the right to privacy, except when the police show up at my door with a warrant. I have the freedom to pray as a Mormon if I choose, but I can't have more than one wife. Can't you place the same limits on bearing arms, and leave me the ability to defend myself and my family?"

     -- Discussing the case later, Weisenberg is appalled that Novelli could oppose the gun ban:

     Weisenberg: "I don't understand you, Joe. You issue a stay for every juvenile on death row. But then when it comes to the thing that put them there in the first place-"
     Novelli: "Even Lawrence Tribe concluded that the Constitution ensured each American the right to possess and use firearms in defense of themselves and their property. And he's not only one of our most influential constitutional scholars, he's a liberal for God sakes."
     Weisenberg reminded Novelli that a gun he once owned was stolen and used to kill someone: "What about your gun? Who did that protect?"
     Novelli: "It was a horrible thing that happened, something I have to live with."
     Weisenberg: "Something we all have to live with. And in fear of, now more than ever."
     Novelli, over a replay of the flashback to his youth: "They save lives too, Ester...They saved mine, and my aunt Zena's....I was ten, I was living with my ant Zena and uncle Willie. After school I used to help them out in the store. One day I was there alone with my aunt Zena, and a guy came in to rob us. He ignored me and pulled a knife on my aunt. He forced my aunt to her knees, put the knife to her throat. My uncle Willie kept a gun under the counter. When I realized he was gonna rape her, I picked up the gun, and shot him..."
     Weisenberg: "You must have been a tough kid."
     Novelli: "No, a scared one."

     -- In conference:

     Jerome: "My argument is this. If citizens decide they want to live in a safe community that bans guns, I find nothing in the Constitution that precludes it." 
     Chandler: "Jerome, suppose a community decides to bring back flogging, should we allow that?"
     Jerome: "No, Justice Chandler because it would violate the Eighth Amendment."
     Chandler: "And banning guns violates the second."
     Novelli: "A complete ban, yes. But the state can impose reasonable regulations such as licensing and registration."
     Snow: "That's fine for those law abiding citizens who would be bothered to go into a store and purchase a firearm, the rest will have to come by them anywhere they can. I dissent."

     After Esther Weisenberg votes to overturn the ban, Jerome exclaimed: "Esther, you hate guns!"
     Weisenberg: "I do, but I can't deprive other people of their right to protection...There's a catch...I'm going to write a concurring opinion that encourages more Second Amendment cases favoring laws that restrict the private ownership of automatic firearms, teflon coated bullets, and assault weapons."
     Novelli: "And I'll join you in that opinion."

     Ah, the perfect compromise. End of the show. The ban was struck down 5-4.

     The plot for the May 3 season finale, to air at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT, as listed on the CBS Web site:
     "When the publication of a book threatens to compromise classified information involving the U.S. and foreign governments, the Justices must choose between the First Amendment and national security.
     "Lt. Col. Oliver North and Attorney Gerry Spence make cameo appearances as themselves."

     CBS's Web page for the show: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/first_monday/


From the April 30 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Saddam Hussein Celebrated His 65th Birthday." Late Show Web site: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Played "Pin the Electrode on the Imprisoned Dissident"
9. Passed out custom-made "Happy Birthday" berets
8. 65 shots of yager, dude!
7. Opened millions of identical "Happy Birthday Saddam" cards from citizens forced to buy and mail them
6. Got an ugly tie from his son-in-law. Had him executed
5. Wolfed down one mother of a free omelet at Denny's
4. Hired Sammy Hagar to perform "I Can't Drive 55"
3. Blew out candles on his "Fudgie The Goat" cake
2. Nice quiet dinner with his new wife, Liza Minnelli
1. Reflected on being a year closer to spending eternity in hell

     Didn't he already do #6? -- Brent Baker


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