Harver and Marybeth Go Left
Cagney and Lacey, the CBS show
about two New York City women detectives regularly mixes trendy liberal
causes with entertainment. So it's no surprise that a two-part season
finale probed the evils of a conspiracy to cover-up the true depth of
the Iran/Contra affair.
The May plot went like this: "Mary
Beth Lacey," played by liberal political activist Tyne Daley and
her partner, "Christine Cagney," are told "Mr.
Wright," a bank president, was part of a scheme to embezzle
hundreds of millions for the Mafia. They are asked to escort him back
from upstate New York for trial. In the car, "Wright" explains
how "at the request of our government" he loaned Argentina
money to buy missiles for the battle over the Falkland Islands, but the
FBI didn't catch on to his secret money transfers until "the
Iran/Contra thing" exploded.
"Wright" becomes afraid for his
life after a local sheriff tries to kill him. He then explains he's
actually FBI agent "Thomas Duggan," set up as a decoy for
those, presumably CIA agents, out to kill the real "Wright"
because of all he knows.
Men driving an evil looking black car
chase them, leading to a farm yard shoot out where "Duggan" is
killed. The duo return to New York and are told the real
"Wright" committed suicide. But "Lacey's" not
fooled. She tells her partner: "We're into some cover-up here that
makes Watergate look like a fraternity prank." "Lacey"
whines about how they were used by the government: "Nobody said
CIA, Christine. Nobody said, hey, we're in the spy trade, weaseling our
way around the Congress of the United States of America. Nobody said
what we were doing pays for bombs to kill innocent little
Sound like a script written by Daniel
Sheehan of the far-left Christic Institute, the group promoting charges
that a CIA old boy alliance has been running an international drug and
terrorist network? Well, that may not be far off the mark. In an episode
originally aired in January and repeated June 6, "Lacey's"
husband "Harvey" praises his work and calls Sheehan "my
Carolyn Gorman, who ran
broadcast and satellite services for the Senate Democratic
Policy Committee, is now Chief of the just opened H&C
Communications Washington bureau, owner of network TV affiliates in six
cities, including Houston, Nashville, Des Moines and Orlando.
The "H" in H&C stands for
Democrat Bill Hobby, Lt. Governor of Texas, and co-owner of the stations
with Henry Catto Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense for public affairs
from 1981-83 under Caspar Weinberger.
Harrison Rainie, briefly
the top aide to Senator Patrick Moynihan,
(D-NY) in 1987, promoted from Senior Editor for political news at U.S.
News & World Report to Assistant Managing Editor. Now he
oversees all national news coverage.
In late May Nicaraguan Interior Minister
Tomas Borge charged that a Sandinista "counterintelligence
agent," Maria Lourdes Pallais, infiltrated the
CIA. From August 1978 to November 1979 Pallais worked for the Associated
Press New York bureau and as a Latin American service editor.
Bob Ferrante, Director
of Communications for the Democratic National Convention Committee let
go "amid complaints from the news media about inadequate
preparation for July's convention," the United Press International
reported. Before joining the Democratic Party staff in
1986 Ferrante ran the CBS News election unit in 1984.
Leslie Gelb, Deputy
Editor of The New York Times editorial page since 1986 takes
over responsibility for the Op-Ed page. Between earlier Times
jobs, Gelb served the Carter Administration as
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
Janet Cooke Award
Frontline: Joining the Christic Cause
It's an historic case and is now set to
go to trial in Miami on June 27. It's not landmark in nature because of
the whopping $23.8 million sought by the plaintiffs, but because of what
it could mean to the national security interests of our nation. The
radical left Christic Institute, an "inter-faith" non-profit
organization filed the case on behalf of radical pro-Sandinista American
journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey.
Their conspiracy theory: the CIA and
several government agencies teamed up with an "old boy secret team
network" to engage in 25 years of global assassination,
international terrorism, drug smuggling, and gun running. Specifically,
the institute claims the 27 defendants, including Contra supporters
General John Singlaub, Rob Owen, former CIA deputy director Ted Shackley,
planned and financed the attempted 1984 assassinations of Contra
military leader Eden Pastora and U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis
The Christic case is wrought with
innuendo, hearsay, and the testimony of convicted drug dealers, but
thanks to a sympathetic press tremendous harm has already been inflicted
on the anti-communist movement. Since the filing of the suit in May of
1986, the Christics have received mention in 99 articles in The
Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
and the two major wire services. Newsweek's Robert Parry and
Rod Nordland, UPI's Brian Barger, ABC's Richard Threlkeld, and PBS' Bill
Moyers have led the fight to discredit covert operations and support for
the Contras. But recently, PBS went to the forefront in endorsing the
left-wing conspiracy theory. Two recent one-hour programs earn its
series Frontline the June Janet Cooke Award.
"Murder on the Rio San Juan,"
aired on April 19, mirrored Christic claims that a secret network and
the CIA were responsible for the assassination attempt on Pastora, which
killed nine and injured Avirgan. Featured throughout the program were
Avirgan, Honey, Christic general counsel Daniel Sheehan, and liberal
Democratic Senator John Kerry. Only five minutes of the show were
dedicated to any rebuttal of the unsubstantiated claims. Less time was
given to what even program producer Charles Stuart admitted to MediaWatch
was "the most logical theory" -- that the Sandinistas, through
the international communist terror network, wished to see Pastora dead.
Stuart claimed that all possible theories
were "unearthed," but former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica
Curtin Winsor, one of the few sources allowed to dissent from the
scenario, saw it another way: "The show was violently distorted and
gave far too much credibility to the Christics." Indeed, Barger is
listed as a reporter. Barger told MediaWatch
he has nothing to do with the lawsuit, but Christic spokesman Rob Richie
confirmed that he supplied information for the complaint and may be
called as a witness.
The May 17 program, produced by Leslie
Cockburn, a long-time foe of U.S. Central America policy, took the
conspiracy theory one step further, linking support for the Contras to
drug running. In fact there exists a strong link between Cockburn and
the Christics. As a West 57th producer and in her book, Out
of Control, Cockburn used a number of key Christic sources to
further her scenario, including convicted criminals Jesus Garcia,
Michael Tolliver, George Morales, Peter Glibbery, and Ramone Milan
Rodriguez. As well, Cockburn championed Sheehan in her book. Sheehan, in
a conversation with MediaWatch, touted her
investigation as "independently affirming what our case has set out
to prove." In a November 1987 eleven page report, the Christic
Institute cited Cockburn's "independent" account 12 times.
Cockburn will also be called as a witness. The Christic case links
Contra drug running back to the Vietnam War. Curiously, Cockburn also
begins there. Without concrete evidence, Cockburn claimed the same
network began operating in support of the Contras: "By 1981, six
years after leaving Laos, the CIA was fighting another secret war, this
time in Central America. The secret army were the Contras--fighting to
overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. Once again they were
trained and equipped by the CIA. It was time for the old hands to go to
work again." According to Cockburn, the Colombian drug cartel
laundered millions to support the Contras by using "banks (and)
obscure fish companies located in out of the way Miami shopping centers
or in provincial port towns of Costa Rica." The 1987 Christic
document is strikingly similar: "Contra narcotics smuggling
stretches from cocaine plantations in Colombia, to dirt airstrips in
Costa Rica, to pseudo-seafood companies in Miami...."
Two Congressional committees -- notably
the Democrat-controlled House Select Committee on Narcotics and the
Iran-Contra Committee -- have cleared the Contras and U.S. agencies of
any involvement in drug running. Cockburn preferred to feature the
allegations of Senator Kerry. She failed to mention that Kerry has been
accused of illegally aiding or bribing several key witnesses in Costa
Dismissing the undeniable link between
Cockburn and the Christics, Frontline Senior Producer Mike
Sullivan declared: "We certainly view it as legitimate journalism.
Leslie Cockburn is one of the most independent thinking producers I've
ever run into." So critics of Contra support and covert action can
rest assured they have an ally in the media. Some leftist
"journalists" will undoubtedly continue to give credence to
this left-wing conspiracy theory under the guise of objectivity and
ABC'S Anti-Bush Campaign.
Three days before the June 7 California primary ABC's Jim Wooten
declared that George Bush's close connection to conservative Reagan
Administration policies means big trouble for the Vice President.
Wooten's evidence: the views of two
liberal Democrats. "San Francisco's former mayor, Diane Feinstein,"
Wooten stated, "doubts Reagan's current muscle and insists Bush's
environmental record will hurt him here."
Then Wooten found Democratic House
Speaker Willie Brown who "says Bush isn't helped by his past."
Brown charged Bush's "almost servant-like attitude toward the
Reagan policies on civil rights and what have you, doesn't play well in
California." Wooten failed to mention Brown was Chairman of
Jackson's California campaign.
On June 6 ABC's Joe Bergantino described
Michael Dukakis, who has a well established record of promoting liberal
policies as Governor of Massachusetts, as a "seemingly moderate,
passionless, East Coast politician." Bergantino credited his
"finely crafted combination of issues and image-making" for
These issues include the economy.
According to Bergantino "California's lingering unemployment
problem makes the Dukakis message of economic opportunity especially
appealing here." Since California's unemployment rate has been
hovering around five percent all year, well below the national rate,
it's a little difficult to understand what "problem" so
Not Posted. Talks
between the Sandinistas and Contra leaders broke down on June 9. The
following day Contra leader Adolfo Calero held a press conference to
condemn the Sandinistas for violating the Sapoa accords. The Post
ignored the news. On Sunday June 12 the Post carried a front
page story from Managua describing how Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega
blamed the U.S. for the collapse.
Two days later Contra leaders Calero,
Alfredo Cesar, Ernesto Palazio and Enrique Bermudez held a press
conference at the National Press Club. They offered evidence of
Sandinista intransigence, describing how they were intimidated and
harassed by negotiators. Cesar recounted how Defense Minister Umberto
Ortega threatened their lives.
The Washington Times and New
York Times carried the Contra side of the story the next day. But
not the Post. The only mention of the Contras was a one
sentence "Personalities" column reference to Calero attending
the same book party as a Nicaraguan Embassy official.
One Reporter Tells on Ortega.
Last month's MediaWatch Study revealed how TV
network viewers have seen more than five times as many stories
portraying the Sandinistas as trying to develop a pluralistic society
than more frequent instances when they reaffirmed their totalitarian
One example of what all the networks
ignored: In a May Day speech, Nicaraguan dictator Ortega threatened to
put the Contras before "a firing squad." Just as MediaWatch
went to press, an ABC News reporter broke the media's self-imposed
embargo on such developments. On the May 19 World News Tonight
Peter Collins summarized the May Day speech and reported: "The
Sandinistas are arresting strikers and imposing restrictions on news
media, despite promises of freedom of the press." So far, however,
no other network reporter has followed Collins' lead.
Rambling Ridicule for Rambo.
Sylvester Stallone has released his third "Rambo" movie. And,
once again, Big Media reviewers haven't been satisfied just to criticize
the excessive violence or make fun of Rambo's superhuman exploits. They
also ridiculed the anti-communist theme of "Rambo III" in
which "John Rambo" travels to Afghanistan in order to rescue a
friend captured by a sadistic Soviet Colonel. The movie portrays the
freedom fighters as noble warriors and shows the Soviets machine-gunning
innocent peasants and torturing prisoners, both well documented
Writing in the May 30 Time,
Richard Schickel complained about the film's "ludicrous cold war
stereotype--the Soviet as gibbering sadist." Hal Hinson of The
Washington Post went even further in disparaging its political
"Having an Afghan rebel speechifying
about the barbarism of the Soviets just as their troops are pulling out
has its downside, as does the film's idealization of the mujaheddin (who
are characterized here as 'freedom fighters'). To claim that Rambo films
have a political attitude is to dignify what is essentially a kind of
To Russia With Love.
"Oh, Mr. Gorbachev! You are so different from all the other boys! I
think I'm falling in love with you!" The Hungarian pop singer
featured on the May 26 NBC Nightly News couldn't have better
summed up the media view of Mikhail Gorbachev and glasnost. On June 1
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw described Gorbachev as "once again a
masterful example of the new Soviet politician." Here are a few
examples of media attempts to foster an image of Gorbachev as a true
On Abuse of Dissidents in Psychiatric
Hospitals (ABC, May 23) -- David Ensor outlined charges that
dissidents are held in psychiatric hospitals, but still concluded:
"Opening up the psychiatric wards to Western reporters and more
importantly to Western doctors is a major concession for this secretive
society. It could go a long way to clear up one of the main human rights
grievances against the Soviet Union."
On Freedom of Speech (ABC, May 27)
-- Peter Jennings portrayed Sergei Grigoryants, editor of underground
magazine "Glasnost" as symbolic of the new openness in both
the state and underground press. Jennings concluded: "Both [are]
beneficiaries of the new mood in Soviet society. They both say they need
Mr. Gorbachev. Because of him, they can go on sparking the Soviet
imagination. Because of him, they can give their fellow Soviets a closer
look at the truth." (But as Dan Rather noted the same evening,
Grigoryants was recently jailed for "resisting authorities."
Also omitted by Jennings: Soviet authorities confiscated Grigoryants'
production equipment to put "Glasnost" out of business.)
On Human Rights Criticism (NBC, June
2) -- Sandy Gilmour covered several American disarmament and
homeless activists who visited Moscow to praise Gorbachev. Gorbachev
used the spectacle to defuse Western criticism of his human rights
abuses; Gilmour went even further: "These scenes clearly satisfied
Gorbachev and they indicated the extent to which his policies and
personality have been able to attract not only his own people but
foreigners as well."
Providing and Afghan Cover?
It should have been seen as a victory for the brave mujaheddin freedom
fighters in Afghanistan. After eight and one half years of occupation,
one million civilian deaths, and millions of displaced citizens, the
Soviets were finally withdrawing some of their 115,000 troops and
getting out of Afghanistan. But most in the media viewed the event in a
different light -- praising the Soviets as peacemakers and condemning
the rebels for continuing their struggle.
ABC's David Ensor did his best to rally
behind the Soviet cause. Reporting on May 15, Ensor legitimized the
eight year occupation: "Some say the Soviets are retreating because
they cannot win the war in Afghanistan, but they got a hero's welcome
from the Afghan regime in Kabul today and they certainly seemed to feel
like departing heroes." Reporting from Moscow, NBC's Garrick Utley
singled out Mikhail Gorbachev as the true peacemaker in the Afghan
situation. While Gorbachev in November 1987 reaffirmed his dedication to
communist domination throughout the world, Utley misleadingly declared:
"We should note again that the decision to pull out of Afghanistan
was a major one for Mikhail Gorbachev and a clear signal...that
Gorbachev's number one priority here is not foreign adventures but
solving problems here at home."
Only Desmond Hamill of British TV,
appearing on CNN, and CBS' Allen Pizzey actually visited mujaheddin
areas. Hamill clearly outlined the only demand the resistance has,
saying: "They do not want a communist government in Kabul, whether
or not the Soviets are there." The Soviet government clearly wished
to save face and manipulate U.S. press coverage of the withdrawal. So
the Kabul regime denied CBS News access to ceremonies there. CBS
Evening News foreign editor Don DeCesare suspects that it was
because of the coverage CBS News has given the resistance over the
years. A recent congressional study shows that in 1986 CBS Evening
News gave twice and three times as much attention to Afghanistan as
NBC or ABC did, respectively.
Disregarding the Truth. Regardie's,
a small-circulation publication which bills itself as "the magazine
for Washington business" is rapidly gaining a reputation as sloppy,
dishonest, and biased against conservatives. A recent cover story,
"Messing in Action," illustrates the point. Andrew Messing,
Executive Director of the National Defense Council Foundation, took
free-lancer Alicia Mundy on a trip to El Salvador to cover his
humanitarian aid efforts. When the article appeared in Regardie's,
Messing documented 41 factual errors in the piece. Some resulted from
sloppy reporting. Others resulted from the article's effort to distort
the truth. Still others were total fabrications. An example: Mundy opens
the story describing a vicious firefight between Marxist guerrillas and
Salvadoran soldiers who were escorting Messing and her. According to
Messing, no such battle ever occurred -- a total lie.
Forced Wright. On
February 19 conservative Congressman Newt Gingrich called for an
investigation of ethical violations by House Speaker Jim Wright. All the
TV networks ignored the story. Exactly three months later the liberal
"citizens lobby" Common Cause called for the same thing.
Suddenly, the issue became newsworthy. ABC's Ann Compton delivered a
lengthy report that night and CNN PrimeNews gave it a brief
mention. Five days later, on May 24, CNN's Pam Olson provided viewers
with a full length story.
But the first peep from NBC didn't occur
until May 26 when anchor Tom Brokaw devoted ten seconds to over 70 House
Republicans demanding an official investigation. Though the CBS
Evening News found time for six stories about the problems of
Attorney General Ed Meese during the month of May, they waited until May
28 before broadcasting anything on the growing controversy surrounding
When the House Committee on Standards of
Official Conduct agreed on June 9 to launch an investigation, Wright
charged the Reagan Administration with trying to distract attention from
Meese. Within a couple of days some reporters were dutifully aboard the
bandwagon, portraying Wright as the victim of the Reagan Administration
"sleaze factor." The best example came from Candy Crowley
during the June 11 PrimeNews:
"If Attorney General Ed Meese were
not under investigation for alleged unethical behavior, if Reagan
intimate Mike Deaver had not ben convicted of perjury, if former
Reaganite Lyn Nofziger had not been convicted for ethical violations,
House Speaker Jim Wright now be the
subject of a preliminary House investigation into some of his
activities? A lot of Wright supporters say no, and some experts
Let Freedom Sing?
"It will be remembered as an unprecedented international political
spectacular," boasted NBC's Peter Kent on June 11. He was speaking
of the star-studded "Freedomfest" concert in London, a ten
hour 70th birthday tribute to jailed African National Congress (ANC)
leader, Nelson Mandela. The TV networks quickly glorified Mandela
without exploring the terrorist activities of his communist-controlled
ABC's Jim Hickey described the concert as
"perhaps the most spectacular tribute of its kind to a living
political figure." ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC all featured celebrities
saluting the "moral and just cause." CBS' Martha Teichner
trumpeted: "The who's who of the world's most famous rock stars
glorified Nelson Mandela -- as political prisoner and hero of the
Of the five stories on the day of the
event, none explained that South Africa has offered to release Mandela
as soon as he renounces violence. None mentioned that more than half of
the ANC leadership belong to the Communist Party. Nor did they document
any of the ANC's terrorist activities, including car bombings and "necklacing,"
a fire torture tactic used by militant blacks on those considered
sympathetic to the government. Teichner dismissed such concerns, making
passing reference to how the South African government "brands him
as a terrorist." Kent gave a British MP a few seconds to denounce
the ANC, but a CNN and two ABC stories failed to raise the issue.
Playing Up Economic Gloom
"History," explained NBC
business correspondent Irving R. Levine one night in May, "tells us
the pocketbook issue should prevail" in determining the winner of
the 1988 presidential election.
Nearly eight years of Reaganomics have
created 67 months of consecutive growth, a modern peace-time record, as
inflation and interest rates rest at half their 1980 level, creating 15
million new jobs in the process. So, just what kind of verdict have the
TV networks rendered on Reaganomics?
Study has determined that network stories relaying good news about the
economy never credited Reagan's policies. In contrast, 75 percent of the
reports focusing on negative economic news blamed Reagan's policies and
suggested these bad economic conditions would help Democratic
To conduct the study, MediaWatch
examined all ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News,
CNN PrimeNews and NBC Nightly News stories of at least 30
seconds which dealt with economic issues. The study ran from February 1,
a week before the Iowa caucuses, through California primary day, June 7.
The four networks ran a combined 35 stories. Seventeen focused on the
health of the economy, of which 13 were prompted by the release of
government figures showing good news, like falling unemployment which
hit 14 year lows. Six stories included a mixture of good and bad news,
or tempered the good news with warnings of an imminent downturn. Another
12 stressed perceived economic weaknesses.
CNN most closely reflected reality,
running seven positive stories and refraining from airing any purely
negative ones. ABC followed a similar pattern. Serving as partisan
cheerleaders for Democrats trying to disparage Reaganomics, CBS and NBC
ran more than twice as many negative than positive pieces.
Anchor Peter Jennings' February 15 look
at booming New Hampshire stood out as the only such positive story aired
before a primary. Other good news stories included a May 6 Levine piece
telling of a New York town where unemployment remained so low that
businesses were concerned about the possibility of labor shortages. On
the same day, CNN's Deborah Marchini reported that even formerly
depressed areas, such as Texas, are rapidly creating new jobs. Mixed
news stories included an April 30 ABC story by reporter Chris Bury who
found both the "winners and losers of Reaganomics" in
Not by coincidence, when it came to
reporting on the economic status of regions facing presidential
primaries, CBS and NBC political reporters found only sour economic
news. CBS chief political correspondent Bruce Morton weighed in with
stories on weak regional economies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York,
each timed to air shortly before their primaries. Before the April 15
New York primary, Morton traveled to Buffalo to find the state's highest
unemployment rate and union members "talking Dukakis."
From Clareton, Pennsylvania, on April 22,
Morton began: "Clareton is a dying town with dying steel
mills." Morton focused on a small, chronically depressed population
and endorsed the Democratic agenda, declaring: "This election is
about their lives." He then showed a series of laid off steel
workers praising Jackson and Dukakis. One explained: "We've
suffered a lot in the valley. Three Republican regimes, and they just
forgot about us." Referring to past heavy union votes for Reagan, a
local Democratic leader said he believed "they learned their
lesson." But Morton neglected to note the state unemployment rate
rested at 4.8 percent, below the already low national average.
A week later, as the Ohio primary
approached, Morton reported from the state: "Reminders of jobs lost
twist slowly in the wind." Again, Morton ignored the big picture:
Ohio's unemployment rate fell a whopping 1.4 percent in April alone. Two
days before the "Super Tuesday" southern primary, NBC's
Douglas Kiker, called 1988 a "hard times election." On March
7, Tom Brokaw profiled Georgia textile workers "hurt" by the
Reagan years. Just before the March 13 Illinois primary, NBC's Tom Petit
was in East St. Louis and Hillsboro, Illinois, towns described as
"urban ruins" with voters eager to vote for Jesse Jackson and
Paul Simon. Petit then moved to western Pennsylvania on April 24, where
he found steel workers "down and out." Reporting from Erie the
next day, Ken Bode made a clear dig at the GOP. "Morning," he
announced, "is not what came to Erie."
CBS and NBC political reporters hunted
out pockets of bad economic news, giving viewers an overall impression
that Reaganomics failed, a conclusion that flies in the face of reality.
If reporting so far serves as a preview of what's to come, expect at
least NBC and CBS to become active partners in Mike Dukakis' effort to
distort the economic boom of the past five years.
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