CNN Effused Over Cuba's Great Schools & Health Care; No Retort to Carter on CBS & NBC; "No Hard Evidence" for U.S. Charge Against Cuba; NBC Boosted Liberal Award Given by the Kennedys
1) On CNN's Monday night "Live from Havana," anchor Kate Snow fretted about the "hard line" views of President Bush and Cubans in Miami, as she hoped Jimmy Carter's visit might "moderate" the Cuban-Americans. She touted the "successes" of Cubans under Fidel Castro and she praised their schools and admired how "every Cuban has a primary care physician" who gets "to know their patients and even make house calls." And it's all free! "Everyone has access" to health care "and the concept of
paying is completely foreign."
2) The networks all highlighted how Jimmy Carter took Castro's side on charges Cuba is capable of making biological weapons and was assured by U.S. officials that Cuba is not tied to terrorism. ABC's George
Stephanopoulos, unlike the reporters for CBS and NBC, played a soundbite of Secretary of State Powell contradicting Carter and only FNC's Orlando Salinas pointed out that Carter's tour of the plant in question was cancelled.
3) On Saturday night, NBC's Andrea Mitchell stressed the weakness of the charge against Cuba made by "hard-liners in the Bush administration." She insisted: "U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News there is no hard evidence to back up the charge, that there is a lot less there than meets the eye."
4) NBC's Tim Russert allocated a hunk of Sunday's Meet the Press to promoting the Kennedy family's "Profile in Courage Awards" which honor liberal policies, such as imposing a state income tax and enacting gun control, but has yet to honor anyone for standing by conservative principles. Al Hunt joined Caroline Kennedy on the show to praise John McCain and Russ Feingold for the "guts" they displayed in pushing "campaign finance reform."
Correction. The May 9 CyberAlert stated: "And now liberals have a new hope in national talk radio land: Last fall ABC Radio started to distribute a daily two-hour show hosted by Sam Donaldson which is now carried by every ABC-owned radio station." I based that latter assertion on a faulty report. In fact, while the 10am to noon ET show is carried at midnight by ABC-owned WMAL in Washington, DC, it is not yet carried by other ABC-owned stations. The ABCRadio.com Web site does not list which other stations are airing Donaldson's show.
CNN allowed Kate Snow to use its hour-long "Live from Havana" show on Monday night at 8pm EDT to fret about the "hard line" policies and views of President Bush and exiled Cubans in Miami, as she hoped Jimmy Carter's visit might "moderate" the Cuban-Americans, before touting the "successes" of Cuban life under Fidel Castro.
She admired how, "according to a United Nations study, Cuba's regular schools rank at the top in Latin America" and how "every Cuban has a primary care physician" who gets "to know their patients and even make house calls." She conceded that "Cuba may not have the nicest facilities or equipment," but she noted in praising the socialist ideals, "everyone has access and the concept of
paying is completely foreign."
(Snow's admiration of Cuba's wonderful services came two days after she offered similar enthusiasm on CNN's Saturday Edition when she oozed with envy over Cuba's "safety net." For more about her May 11 "reporting," refer back to the May 13
As she stood on the Havana waterfront Monday night, Snow set up a piece from John King at the White House by bemoaning Bush's "hard line" toward Cuba: "Despite Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba and despite sharp criticism from some U.S. lawmakers and business leaders as well, President Bush shows no sign of easing his hard line policy toward this country of Cuba."
Following a story on the petition drive calling for free elections, an interview by Snow of Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, a piece on the power of the U.S. dollar to obtain good stuff and a look at reaction in Little Havana of Miami to Carter's trip, Snow interviewed Jorge Mas Santos, Chairman Cuban American National Foundation. She hoped Carter would moderate his colleagues:
"The Cuban American community in Miami, as you know, has a reputation for being very hard line against Cuba. They don't want to see a lot of opening up or lifting the embargo. Do you think trips likes this from a President who clearly, President Carter supports lifting the embargo, do trips like this force that community to moderate their views?"
Santos suggested the real question is how to bring democracy and freedom to Cuba.
Next, CNN ran a piece on what has happened to Elian Gonzalez. John Zarrella emphasized how Castro has visited him.
Getting to all of communist Cuba's great achievements, the CNN announcer opened the next segment on the May 13 broadcast by proclaiming: "Before the 1959 revolution, Cuba had 100 libraries and six museums. Today it has approximately 2,000 libraries and 250 museums."
No word on whether the libraries have any books worth reading or the museums any art worth seeing.
One wonders if CNN were around in 1939 if they would have trumpeted Germany's investment in bigger libraries.
Snow extolled: "There are a lot of stories about the struggles Cuban people face here. Stories about the lack of things, the lack of cars, the lack of human rights, the lack of certain foods. But if you go asking Cubans, and even if you look at statistics from international groups, you'll find there are some areas where Cubans have made successes."
What a perfectly rational trade-off.
CNN's on screen graphic: "Cuban Pride: Success Stories."
Snow began by looking at the Cuba's national softball and soccer teams drilling, noting that when not practicing they are in the classroom.
With "Cuban Pride: Schools Said To Be Among Best in Latin America" as CNN's on screen wording, Snow lauded Cuba's schools and how Castro found a use for those ostentatious symbols of capitalism, the big house:
"According to a United Nations study, Cuba's regular schools rank at the top in Latin America. Old mansions were converted to classrooms. Under pictures of gun-toting revolutionaries children are taught Cuban history along with computer skills, English and all the basics. For a developing nation, the literacy rate is exceptional, at 96 percent according to the UN."
Just how many Cuban kids really have access to modern computers? "Cuban history" -- a nice euphemism for Marxist ideology.
Snow moved on to another area which impressed her. With he bizarrely inaccurate claim, "Cuban Pride: Cuban Health Doesn't Cost Anything," as the on screen graphic, when obviously someone pays, Snow gushed:
"Another success Cubans point to: health care. Beginning in neighborhoods like this one, inside a house or an apartment building, you'll find a community family doctor. In this doctor's case he serves 550 patients, other doctors serve up to 800 people, but the bottom line is every Cuban has a primary care physician."
But how many of these doctors could pass a U.S. medical licensing exam given in Spanish? She didn't say. I guess no UN stats on that.
Over video of a doctor at desk with kids nearby, but no medical equipment in site, Snow continued to tout the UN statistics which are based on what the communist regime claims:
"Doctors get to know their patients and even make house calls. They emphasize prevention and follow up. Again, according the UN, 96 percent of one-year-olds are immunized. Life expectancy is just one year less than the States at 76. Cuba may not have
the nicest facilities or equipment, medicine is sometimes in short supply, but everyone has access and the concept of
paying is completely foreign."
Sort of like Marcus Welby working out of a fixer-upper?
CNN ended its hour with a story by John Zarrella on a Cuban man who has kept Harley-Davidson motorcycle going since 1947.
So, their kids get to learn on computers while their families have a local physician assigned to them, but the people must get around on a 50 year-old motorcycle?
CNN's bottom line: You need to scrimp by on the food you can get with a ration book, but it's worth it because if you get sick you have the benefit of a free Cuban government-trained doctor.
All the networks on Monday night featured pieces from Havana about how former President Jimmy Carter had taken Castro's side and rejected the U.S. charge that Cuba had facilities capable of making biological weapons as he maintained that before he left for Cuba U.S. officials had assured him the charge was baseless. On the broadcast networks, only ABC's George Stephanopoulos bothered to show a soundbite of Secretary of State Colin Powell contradicting Carter as he said he did not know what briefings Carter was referring to and that he stands by the assertion that Cuba is capable of producing biological weapons.
Only FNC's Orlando Salinas, however, pointed out that Carter's tour of the plant in question was cancelled.
ABC and CBS cast doubts on the U.S. claims by couching them in the loaded phrases of "political appointee" and "Bush administration hard-liners." ABC anchor Peter Jennings noted how "one of President Bush's political appointees to the State Department said that the Cuban government was involved in producing biological agents." NBC's Andrea Mitchell asserted: "Tonight Jimmy Carter rejected claims by Bush administration hardliners that Cuba is exporting germ warfare technology to Iran and other terrorist states, and Fidel Castro treated the charge as a joke."
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Orlando Salinas checked in from Havana: "When Carter arrived in Havana Sunday, Castro invited him to tour any facility and talk to any scientist about the alleged bio-weapons. On Monday, Carter seemed to throw that challenge back to the White House."
Carter: "My presumption and hope is that anyone who does have evidence of this kind would take advantage of this offer."
Salinas uniquely pointed out: "But even Carter himself failed to take advantage of Castro's offer. A science presentation at the bio-tech center ran so long it scuttled the tour. Carter told a Cuban audience that U.S. intelligence experts briefed him before his trip and told him that Cuba was not a terrorist threat."
Carter: "I asked them specifically, on more than one occasion, is there any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information with any other country on Earth that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts on intelligence was no."
Salinas: "Secretary of State Colin Powell responded saying he didn't know what briefing Carter may have received, but he stood by the administration's assertions on Cuba."
Powell: "We do believe that Cuba has a biological offensive research capability. We didn't say it actually had such weapons, but it has the capacity and the capability to conduct such research."
On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings announced: "Former President Carter made news in Cuba today. Mr. Carter is the first President to go to the island since the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro more than 40 years ago now. And after all these years, Cuba is still a sensitive subject for some Americans. Just before Mr. Carter got there, one of President Bush's political appointees to the State Department said that the Cuban government was involved in producing biological agents. ABC's George Stephanopoulos reports from Havana tonight where Mr. Carter was bound to make news."
Stephanopoulos explained, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Peter, I don't think Fidel Castro could have asked for a better start to this trip. President Carter surprised people here by publicly backing the Cuban government in its rhetorical battle with the Bush administration over biological weapons. After touring Cuba's top biotechnology lab, Carter took up the charge of bioterrorism saying that his sources in the State Department and White House supported Castro's defense."
Jimmy Carter: "I asked them specifically on more than one occasion, 'Is there any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on Earth that could be used for terrorist purposes?' And the answer from my experts on the charges was 'no.'"
But unlike the reporters on CBS and NBC, Stephanopoulos noted: "From Newfoundland the Secretary of State responded:"
Powell: "I don't know what briefings the President, President Carter may have received. I'm sure we made ourselves available to him. As Undersecretary Bolton said recently, we do believe that Cuba has a biological offensive research capability."
Stephanopoulos: "The State Department added that releasing the evidence was out of the question because it would jeopardize sources in the intelligence community. Less comforting to Castro was Carter's first meeting of the day. It was with leaders of a movement called the Varella Project, which has collected more than 11,000 signatures for a national referendum on political and economic reform...."
Jim Axelrod began his CBS Evening News piece: "Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba's Biotechnology Institute got a last minute shakeup when Fidel Castro decided to change his schedule and join the tour. Today's visit was originally designed to showcase Cuba's success producing vaccines. But Mr. Carter's visit here rocketed in profile and importance after U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton made charges about a dual purpose for the labs."
John Bolton: "The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort."
Axelrod: "Speaking 10 feet from Castro this afternoon, former President Carter seemed to side with the Cubans as he shared details of pre-trip briefings with the Bush administration."
Carter: "One purpose of this briefing was for them to share with us any concerns that my government had about possible terrorist activities that were supported by Cuba. There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised."
Axelrod recalled: "Jimmy Carter wasn't in Cuba 15 minutes Sunday before Castro addressed the charges with an invitation."
Castro on Sunday, through translator: "You will have free access to every place you want to go."
Axelrod: "And the President of Cuba's national assembly addressed Bolton with contempt."
Ricardo Alarcon, Cuban National Assembly President: "He knows very well that he's lying from the first to the last word."
Axelrod: "That response was familiar Cold War rhetoric, but Mr. Carter voicing his displeasure with the charges was startling."
Carter: "These allegations were made maybe not coincidentally just before our visit to Cuba."
Without allowing any retort from the Bush administration, Axelrod concluded by stressing the unprecedented nature of a former President contradicting his own government: "From the outset, Jimmy Carter's trip here was billed as unprecedented. A former U.S. President has now publicly picked a fight with the current administration over Cuba, and he has done it here in Havana. Unprecedented? To say the least."
NBC's Tom Brokaw was also amazed by Carter's gumption, opening the NBC Nightly News: "Jimmy Carter is the first American President since Calvin Coolidge to visit Cuba. And today he had a lot more to say than Silent Cal. Carter, who was briefed by the Bush administration before leaving, was not happy that on the eve of his trip, other administration officials were accusing the Castro regime of developing biological warfare. As NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports from Cuba now, Cuba remains a flashpoint in American politics."
Mitchell began with a label for the Bush team: "Tom, tonight Jimmy Carter rejected claims by Bush administration hard-liners that Cuba is exporting germ warfare technology to Iran and other terrorist states, and Fidel Castro treated the charge as a joke. Jimmy Carter with Fidel Castro as his tour guide today challenged a U.S. government claim that Cuba is developing germ weapons. In fact, he said White House, State Department, and intelligence officials briefing him for this trip told him they had no evidence of it either."
Carter: "I asked them specifically on more than one occasion, 'Is there any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on Earth that could be used for terrorist purposes?' And the answer from my experts on the charges was 'no.'"
Mitchell ignored the Powell retort shown by ABC and FNC and alluded to by CNN on its Live from Havana show: "Castro in his only comments today laughed off the charge. What about this charge of germ weapons from the U.S.? What do you think? He said, 'Let's look for them, let's look for them over there.' Are there weapons here? 'You've lost your sense of humor,' he replied. 'Who gave you permission to interview me? This is an ambush.' Carter specifically asked the Cubans today about exports to Iran, Libya or Iraq. The Cubans told him they have biotechnology contracts with Iran. Would this institute welcome inspectors, international inspectors, to look at what you're doing?"
Woman at the facility: "Of course. The doors of this institute and other scientific institutes in Cuba are open."
Mitchell: "How open is Cuba? When Carter arrived, Castro promised full access even to dissidents. So today Carter had breakfast with two leading activists who have been petitioning for more freedoms and later explained the U.S. view of human rights to Cuban college students...."
After showing dissident Vladimiro Roca hoping Carter will help improve relations with he U.S., Mitchell concluded: "Tonight, top Cuban officials say they're delighted with the controversy and the attention that Carter is generating, and that in fact the controversy over their biological research might help their sales for the drug industry."
Catching up with an item from Saturday night, NBC's Andrea Mitchell stressed the weakness of the charge against Cuba made by "hard-liners in the Bush administration."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this in a May 11 NBC Nightly News piece by Mitchell: "As Carter prepares to travel, hard-liners in the Bush administration have raised another hot button issue, accusing Castro of producing germs for biological weapons."
John Bolton, State Department: "The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort."
Mitchell countered: "But U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News there is no hard evidence to back up the charge, that there is a lot less there than meets the eye."
NBC's Tim Russert allocated a hunk of Sunday's Meet the Press to promoting a book about an award which regularly honors liberal political "courage," for such things as imposing a state income tax and enacting gun control, but has yet to honor anyone for standing by conservative principles. The May 12 show featured a segment with Caroline Kennedy, who compiled a book, "Profiles in Courage for Our Time," about the recipients over the past ten years of her "Profile in Courage Award," an award picked by a panel which includes the former President of CBS News.
Joining Kennedy on the show, Al Hunt, who wrote the book's chapter on 1999 recipients Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold who won for their efforts to further regulate campaign speech, and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who handled the chapter on Gerald Ford who won in 2001 for pardoning Richard Nixon.
Russert opened the May 12 segment by turning to Kennedy: "You have your new book Profiles in Courage for Our Time and in 1989, you began to present an award to politic leaders all across the country."
Kennedy outlined her goal: "That's right. At the Kennedy Library Foundation, we thought a wonderful way of honoring my father's commitment to public service would be to present an award in his name named after his book that would really recognize people at all levels of government, across our country, Republican and Democrat, who really are standing up for what they believe in. And I think a lot of times people get cynical about politics and politicians, but there are so many courageous people that we thought it was really worth recognizing them."
Russert soon highlighted the media's favorite "courageous" politicians: "You have award winners from 1999, John McCain, the Republican; Russ Feingold, the Democrat. We'll show them on the screen there at their press conference, and after the campaign finance reform bill had passed the Senate and the House. There was not a signing ceremony at the White House, Albert Hunt, but you wrote about John McCain and Russ Feingold. Tell us about them and why you think they belong in Profiles in Courage for Our Time."
Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, enthused: "...What McCain-Feingold did, over the course of five or six years, was they just, they were incredibly persistent and they said, 'We're going to change the system.' And if it were left to a private vote, rest assured that the vast majority would have voted against them....They had the guts to continue and they were ultimately successful. They didn't get a White House signing, but they did change the law. I don't know if it's going to be any panacea, but it took tremendous guts to do that."
How much "guts" did it take to pursue a policy favored by the media which made you into heroes?
This year's recipients of the Profile in Courage Award were United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dean Koldenhoven, the Republican Mayor of Palos Heights, Illinois "who condemned religious intolerance toward an Islamic community that had hoped to convert a local and vacant Christian church into a mosque," and "the thousands of selfless public servants who demonstrated extraordinary courage and heroism in response to the tragic events of September 11." For more about this year's winners:
A review of previous honorees shows quite a few awarded for liberal policies but none applauded for standing up for conservative policies. Some examples as recounted on the Kennedy Library Web site:
-- 1992. The Honorable Lowell Weicker, Jr.: "In 1991, after a careful, first-hand examination of his state's deteriorating fiscal condition, Governor Lowell Weicker of Connecticut shocked many residents of the state by proposing a first-time-ever personal income tax as part of his fiscal year 1992 budget package..."
-- 1993. The Honorable James Florio: "On May 30, 1990, under Governor Florio's leadership, New Jersey passed the strictest gun control law in the nation, banning the sale and severely restricting the possession of assault weapons in the state. The action was a significant legislative victory for Florio, who was then engaged in a public and political battle over his reforms to the state tax and education systems. Despite legislative attempts to override his vetoes and tireless efforts by gun lobbyists, who spent nearly one million dollars to defeat the assault weapon ban, Governor Florio succeeded in mobilizing the people of New Jersey into an unprecedented counter force against the NRA and in support of the ban, demonstrating, as Florio said, that 'the state of New Jersey will not be held hostage by the lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association.'"
-- 1995. The Honorable Michael Synar: "....As a leader of the antis-moking forces in Congress, Synar introduced legislation to restrict advertising of tobacco products and to include tobacco in the list of products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration ....In addition, Synar single-handedly challenged the 1985 Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction plan and the legality of key provisions of the bill, which were later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court."
-- 1997. The Honorable Charles Price: "Judge Charles Price, a Circuit Court Judge in Montgomery, Alabama, was honored for his devotion to the principles of the American Constitution that compelled him to rule that a fellow Circuit Court Judge's courtroom display of the Ten Commandments for religious purposes was a violation of the First Amendment...."
-- 1999. "Senator John McCain, a conservative Arizona Republican, and Senator Russell Feingold, a liberal Democrat from Wisconsin, received the Award for their persistent crusade to curb their respective party's fundraising excesses and pass legislation that ends the widely abused process by which election campaigns are financed...."
For the complete list of award winners:
Notice that no one won for fighting to roll back taxes or to enact a concealed weapons law or to promote abstinence education or to ensure parental notification before abortions or for fighting to provide inner-city kids with an alternative to the public school monopoly or for trying to reduce ever-spiraling spending which robs hard-working Americans through taxes -- all positions which take real courage since they get you demonized by the media.
The awards NBC's Russert chose to showcase are selected by a panel featuring several liberal Democrats and two, at best, moderate Republicans. It also features two prominent media figures. The panel is chaired by former Gannett executive John Seigenthaler, father of the NBC News anchor of the same name, and the panel includes David Burke, identified as the "former Executive Vice President of ABC News and President of CBS News." Indeed, he ran CBS News from 1988 to 1990 and was Ted Kennedy's Chief-of-Staff in the late 1960s through early 1970s.
Others on the selection panel:
- The Honorable Thad Cochran, United States Senator (R-MS)
- Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund
- Antonia Hernandez, President and general counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Elaine Jones, Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
- The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy, United States Senator (D-MA)
- Caroline Kennedy, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation
- Paul G. Kirk, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation (and former DNC Chairman)
- David McCullough, historian and author
- The Honorable Olympia Snowe, United States Senator (R-ME)
> Tonight, another al Qaeda plot on CBS's JAG, this time with civilians killed in an attack on some of the terrorists.
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