Cronkite Cautioned Letterman; Global Warming
Jellyfish; More Toobin
1) Walter Cronkite warned David Letterman not to mistreat
guest Hillary Clinton. The audience didn't laugh when she took a shot at Rudy
Giuliani and while she delivered a Top List of reasons she decided to appear,
the real reason was a poll supported it.
2) CBS's donation to Gore's campaign: A night of dire warnings
about global warming. The latest evidence: More jellyfish. NBC's David Bloom
mischaracterized 1994 GOP ads as "anti-immigrant."
3) Good Morning America featured ABC News legal analyst
Jeffrey Toobin as Charlie Gibson noted how in his book he wrote that
"Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle" while
conservatives were "were willing to trample...the Constitution in their
effort to drive him from office."
4) ABC showcased a French program for the U.S. to emulate:
"Morning after" pills in school. As for abstinence, "no one
here argues that is realistic. In France, they believe young people must learn
how to protect themselves."
5) Last week the CBS Evening News ran a one-sided story
bemoaning the lack of "diversity" on a police force after a quota
system for women ended.
was a line written for him, but former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite's
admonition to David Letterman about being nice to Hillary Clinton matched
his liberal political inclinations. In the midst of Letterman's opening
monologue Wednesday night Cronkite walked out on stage and warned
"David, you're really a dear old friend, so
could I suggest, tonight you're interviewing Hillary Clinton, the First
Lady of our nation. Try not to be a jackass, will you?"
During her subsequent appearance the jokes and
one-liners someone wrote for her went over well. All but one, that is. Asked
by Letterman about Rudy Giuliani, Clinton earned groans from the audience with
this shot: "He's done a lot of stuff as Mayor, but I think being Senator
is a different kind of job. You know as Senator you can't go arrest a homeless
person, for example."
Letterman's staff provided a Top Ten list for her
to announce: "The Top Ten Reasons I, Hillary Clinton, Finally Decided to
Appear on the Late Show." Amongst the items, Number 8: "If Dan
Quayle did it, how hard could it be?" Number 5: "I needed an excuse
to get out of dinner with Donald Trump." Number 4: "When they threw
in a Late Show tote bag, I said 'Gas up the Taurus Bill, we're going to
Dave's.'" Number 1: "If I can make it here I can make it
anywhere." A RealPlayer video clip of her reading the list is featured on
the Late Show Web page and should remain up until about 7pm ET Thursday. Go
But Thursday's Washington Post provided the real
reason she showed up, a reason which proves she operates just like her
husband. Post reporter Dana Milbank, fresh from The New Republic, explained in
his January 12-datelined dispatch:
"The Marist poll of 621 registered New York
voters found that, by a margin of 58 percent to 24 percent, New Yorkers
believed that Clinton should accept Letterman's invitation. Clearly, she had
no choice. The poll was completed Monday. She announced her acceptance
Tuesday. And tonight she pulled up at the Late Show studios on Broadway at
West 53rd Street, accompanied by a 10-vehicle motorcade -- and joined by her
For the second time this week, on Wednesday night the CBS Evening News
delivered an "in kind" contribution to the Al Gore campaign which
the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill would do nothing to prevent. The
January 12 CBS Evening News led with more dire news about global warming and
how the Clinton administration will soon allocate more money to exploring the
impact. A second story warned that "a global explosion of jellyfish"
is, Dan Rather suggested, "a possible sign of coming climate changes that
could have even more impact on people."
On the NBC Nightly News David Bloom looked at how
the GOP is reaching out to Latino voters as the RNC has just launched TV ads
in Spanish. Bloom noted how Bush leads Gore nationally 52 to 41 percent, but
in California Gore is ahead 59 to 33 percent because "Mexican-Americans
especially remember here former Republican Governor Pete Wilson's divisive
1994 campaign with its anti-immigrant ads."
Ad announcer: "Enough is enough."
Antonio Villaraigosa, California Assembly Speaker:
"That bad taste in the mouth, if you will, on the part of Latino voters
is not something that they're going to get over quickly."
Hispanic perceptions helped along by this kind of
distortion. Wilson's efforts were not "anti-immigrant" but anti
Back to CBS's crusade to legitimize Gore's dire
global warming warnings. Opening the CBS Evening News, anchor Dan Rather
"CBS News has dug out new and exclusive
information about just how seriously the U.S. government now regards global
warming. Sources tell Jim Axelrod that President Clinton will soon commit more
money to understand it and fight it. This follows Axelrod's report Monday
disclosing that U.S. climate experts now believe global warning indeed is real
and underway. Axelrod has fresh scientific evidence of it tonight on the CBS
Axelrod cited a new National Research Council
report which claims "the warming trend....during the last twenty years is
undoubtedly real." After again playing a soundbite from NOAA's James
Baker, the same man he hyped Monday, Axelrod actually conceding not all agree
as George Taylor, an Oregon State climatologist, asserted: "The global
warming problem has been overstated by quite a few people."
Axelrod: "It is still easy to find critics of
the theory that man-made gases are overheating the atmosphere and creating
violent weather swings."
Taylor: "Even if we controlled every ounce of
human emissions we would still have significant change in the climate over
short time scales and long time scales."
Axelrod then built on CBS's theme that everyone is
coming around: "But President Clinton seems to be convinced, joining the
swelling chorus of the concerned."
Following a Clinton soundbite Axelrod predicted
that the Clinton Administration will soon unveil an "ambitious
budget" to fight warming.
Viewers then heard these ominous words from Rafe
Pomerance, identified as "former State Department official." He
cautioned: "It won't stop. Sea levels will rise, forests will move, water
resources will be shifted all over the Earth. It's a very unpredictable and
dangerous future and there is all the rationale in the world to act and act
Axelrod concluded: "That kind of thinking used
to be called doom and gloom. Tonight, a growing number of scientists are
hearing the critics but looking at the data and saying it's a forecast that
can't be ignored."
So much for global warming doubters. But if
"it is still easy to find critics of the theory that man-made gases are
overheating the atmosphere," where have these people been? Certainly not
in any one of several global warming stories CBS has reported over the last
couple of years which have been uniformly one-sided.
Instead of challenging the political and
government claims about warming, CBS eagerly hyped them. Rather introduced the
second story of the night:
"Some of the world's top ocean life experts are
now meeting in Alabama about one possible impact of global warming: It's a
global explosion of jellyfish ruining tourism, stinging swimmers, and a
possible sign of coming climate changes that could have even more impact on
people. CBS's Maureen Maher has the hard facts on a squishy problem."
Maher cited global warming as a theory offered for
the growing number of jellyfish along Alabama's coast and elsewhere. After
talking with a supposed marine expert Maher listed areas with increased
jellyfish: The Black Sea and Baltic Sea, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf
of Alaska and the Bering Sea. She also noted that the run-off of farm
chemicals could be a contributing factor, but she never elaborated on how her
list of impacted areas includes Alaska, which is much colder than the Gulf of
She ominously concluded: "With half the
nation's population already living along the coastline, perhaps this silent
creature is sending a loud and clear message that we should not ignore."
Appearing on Wednesday's Good Morning America, New Yorker writer and ABC News
legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin again reiterated how he considers Hillary
Clinton's claim about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to be
"more right than wrong" since "this scandal existed solely
because the conservative wing of the Republican Party...decided that they were
gonna try to bring down Bill Clinton from practically the first day of his
Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson read
from Toobin's book: "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this
struggle. The President's adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred
Despite that kind of reasoning, Random House,
publisher of Toobin's book, Vast Conspiracy, described him as
"unbiased." Here's how their Web site plugs the book:
"In A VAST CONSPIRACY, the best-selling author
of THE RUN OF HIS LIFE casts an insightful and unbiased eye over the most
extraordinary public saga of our time -- the Clinton sex scandals. A
superlative journalist known for the skillfulness of his investigating and the
power of his writing, Jeffrey Toobin tells the unlikely story of the events
that began over doughnuts in a Little Rock hotel and ended on the floor of the
United States Senate with only the second vote on presidential removal in
American history. A VAST CONSPIRACY unravels the three strands of a national
scandal -- those leading from Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth Starr -
that created a legal, personal and political disaster for Bill Clinton."
You can access an excerpt from the book by going
Though Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson
repeatedly challenged Toobin's notion that nothing Clinton did was
impeachable, he never came to the defense of the conservatives Toobin
impugned, nor did he raise Toobin's revelations about how Clinton's lawyer
abused Paula Jones during her deposition by prying into her sexual history.
Toobin noted that behavior when he appeared on Tuesday's Nightline. See the
January 12 CyberAlert for details on that and what he said on Imus in the
Gibson began the January 12 interview, which was
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by recalling: "It was almost
two years ago today, on our rival television show, that Mrs. Clinton,
defending the President in the emerging Lewinsky scandal, said it was part of
a vast right-wing conspiracy against her husband. You name your book A Vast
Conspiracy. You say that charge has an unmistakable ring of truth.
Toobin charged: "I do. I think Mrs. Clinton
clearly underestimated her husband's culpability in this, so she's not
entirely right, but I think she's more right than wrong, and I say that
because this scandal existed solely because the conservative wing of the
Republican Party, or individuals, not so much the party, decided that they
were gonna try to bring down Bill Clinton from practically the first day of
his administration, and they were gonna use the legal system to do it. First
in the Paula Jones case and then in the independent counsel."
I don't think conservatives wanted to
impeach Clinton in 1993, they just wanted to defeat his policies in Congress
and then beat him in the next election -- just like all opposition party
activists have throughout American history.
Gibson challenged Toobin: "The independent
counsel was out to 'get' the President?"
Toobin: "I think by the time we got to the
Lewinsky investigation, absolutely they were. That was an unfair, unwise
Gibson: "And part of a conspiracy to do
Toobin: "Conspiracy, I think, is one of those
words that, it's probably, is pretty colorful, but I think it is true that
this was not a normal criminal investigation, not a sound criminal
investigation, but one that was designed to get him."
Gibson then read a Geraldo-like excerpt from
Toobin's book: "All right, I'll get to that, whether it was a sound
criminal investigation, in a moment. But you say, and this has surprised a lot
of people, you say, 'The most astonishing fact in this story may be this one.
In spite of his consistently reprehensible behavior, Clinton was, by
comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The President's adversaries
appeared literally consumed with hatred for him. The bigger the stakes, the
smaller they acted. They were willing to trample all standards of fairness,
not to mention the Constitution, in their effort to drive him from
Toobin explained: "One of the main insights I
felt that I drew in this story was that the public was right on this story,
which is that there is a distinction between the personal and the political.
Between public and private. Clinton's behavior was horrible. I mean, I, as you
know, you'd read the book, I don't spare any invective on how bad his behavior
was, you know, so consumed with self pity that he kept what he called the
Richard Jewell file in his desk. But he didn't commit impeachable
Gibson again challenged him: "Jeffrey, maybe it
shouldn't have come out. Maybe you can argue that you have a right to privacy,
but once it did, if he lies about it, and you said he did..."
Toobin, jumping in: "Absolutely."
Gibson: "...then is there not an impeachable
offense in there? Can you not argue that he was trampling the justice
Toobin: "You certainly can argue that, but I
believe that when the Founding Fathers created the idea of impeachment, it was
designed to punish acts of wrongdoing against the public, against the office,
misuse of office. Lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky did not
involve his use of office. It was a solely private matter."
Gibson moved on: "If there's a hero in the
book, in your view, it is Judge Susan Webber Wright down in Arkansas, and you
say at the end, 'One person saw the case for what it was, Judge Susan Webber
Wright. The judge found Clinton in contempt of court for lying about his
relationship with Monica Lewinsky. After a brief sober review of the facts,
Wright concluded that there simply is no escaping the fact that the President
deliberately undermined the integrity of the judicial system.' Someone who
undermines the integrity of the judicial system, is that not
Toobin: "Absolutely not, because what he did was
per-, it related to his private conduct, and Susan Webber Wright punished him
privately, fined him, made him pay a fine. But you don't undermine the
constitutional systems of government, an election, the only election in which
all the people of the country vote. That behavior is personal. He should be
punished personally. He shouldn't be punished because of his, in his role as
Gibson: "You say it was not the country's
finest hour. It was not the President's, it was not the judicial system's, it
was not the legislative system's finest hour. But basically this all came down
to sex and that we were wallowing in sex."
Toobin: "We sure were."
Gibson: "Do we need another book to wallow in
Toobin: "Well, you know, this was, I mean, this
was a perfect story for me, I have to admit, because it's a combination of
high and low. I mean, the fact is, you can't tell this story in a world with
the Starr Report, in a world with, you know, Congressman Bill McCollum, who's
one of the House managers, going on the floor of the United States Senate,
saying that Bill Clinton should be impeached because he touched Monica
Lewinsky's breasts eight times. I mean you can't tell this story without
talking about sex, but this was also an important cultural and political and
constitutional moment. The second impeachment in the history of the United
States. That's worth a book to me."
Gibson wrapped up the interview by worrying:
"Have we established a zone of privacy now, do you think, for
politicians, or are we still in the same situation where everything's free
Toobin: "I think we're in a moment, I think, as
you said in your introduction, where people are kind of frozen in shock, and
they don't wanna go there. There was a moment a great moment early in the
campaign where George Bush was starting to be questioned about whether he had
cocaine use, and the press started to get all exercised, and the public, again
in my view, quite rightly, said 25 years ago, who cares. I think that's the
view that the public holds. I think the news media is bound for the gutter yet
++ See what Toobin looks like, if you can't
conjure up a picture in your mind, and hear him denigrate conservatives. Late
Thursday morning the MRC's Eric Pairel will post a RealPlayer clip of a
portion of this GMA interview. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
If only the U.S. could be more like France and give out "morning after
pills" in schools. As for the American idea of teaching abstinence, ABC's
Sheila MacVicar found the French care more: "In France they believe young
people must learn how to protect themselves."
Over the years the networks have run quite a few
stories admiring France's "free" day care system. Monday night, MRC
intern Ken Shepherd noticed, ABC's World News Tonight gave approving attention
to another French government program.
Anchor Peter Jennings introduced the January 10
story: "In France today, the government began a new drive to further
reduce teenage pregnancy. They are already the levels much lower than they are
here in the United States. And although the latest idea does not sit well with
some French parents, it would be politically impossible here."
From Paris reporter Sheila MacVicar began:
"Go to the nurse's office in any French high school and now along with
the aspirin and the bandages, the nurse has the morning after pill: an
emergency contraceptive that is 95 percent effective if taken within 24 hours
of intercourse. This helps us with something we see everyday says this nurse.
Every day we are confronted with the possibilities of unwanted
Anne-Sophie Lampe, a student, through a translator:
"The fact you can have someone to talk about it and to support you and to
give you some more information and if you can't talk to your parents at least
you can talk to someone."
MacVicar found not even France isn't liberal
enough to not have controversy over the idea: "It's the part about
parents that has caused the controversy because in France, the schools do not
have to tell parents what their children have been up to. French law gives
teenagers who seek advice or prescriptions for contraceptives an absolute
guarantee of confidentiality. Teenagers are encouraged to talk to their
parents but in the end doctors and nurses must respect their right to privacy.
Monique Saucier heads a conservative association representing French
MacVicar relayed the concerns of Saucier, who must be
lonely as a conservative in France: "These are difficult decisions she
says, and they should not be made without the involvement of family."
A relieved MacVicar concluded:
"But there is no organized effort to get the
pill out of schools and everyone agrees more has to be done to reduce the
number of teenage pregnancies. Every high school in France already has a
condom machine. Birth control pills are free at family planning centers. And,
by age 16, every student has been taught about contraceptives and how to use
them. As for the American idea of teaching abstinence to teenagers, no one
here argues that is realistic. In France, they believe young people must learn
how to protect themselves."
Catching up with a one-sided CBS story from last week, on January 5 the CBS
Evening News aired a piece lamenting how the demise of a female quota system
for the Pittsburgh police has led to fewer women officers and thus a decline
in vaunted "diversity." Reporter Cynthia Bowers grieved that for
young girls "who want to do police work when they grow up," without
quotas, "the future may not be as fair."
Anchor Dan Rather set up the story: "Law
enforcement is among many fields nationwide where the 20th century brought
women a better shot at equal opportunity. But that could be changing back here
at the starting line of the 21st century. Case in point: a big city where
CBS's Cynthia Bowers found the ranks of women are thinning fast on the thin
Bowers began: "When there is a police
emergency in Pittsburgh, chances are a woman will be the first officer on the
Officer John Webster: "I had some females back
me up quicker and better than some males."
Unidentified female police officer: "We can't
match the men in physical strength, but sometimes you've got to use your head
instead of your stick."
Bowers recalled the bad old days: "There were
no women on this force and not many minorities until a court-ordered quota
system took effect in 1976. It wasn't easy back then for pioneering
policewomen like Gwen Elliot."
Commander Gwen Elliot: "And they'd say 'We want
the real police,' or 'We want some men here.'"
Bowers admired the department's diversity:
"Today, Commander Elliot is part of a police force that is among this
country's most diverse. One in four officers is female, compared to only one
in 10 nationwide. But the women in blue may be a dying breed here. The
affirmative action program that helped put so many females on the force was
struck down in 1991. Since then, more than 90 percent of the Pittsburgh police
officers hired have been males."
Sergeant Carmen Robinson claimed: "And when
you have either all males or all whites, you're limiting your view, and that
does a disservice to the, to the city of Pittsburgh."
Bowers: "Sergeant Carmen Robinson makes no
apologies for being hired during the era of affirmative action."
Robinson: "It gave everybody an opportunity, and
it, and I thought it was a fair opportunity for that period of time."
Bowers then claimed that without a special program
to give women an advantage, the system will no longer be "fair" to
girls dreaming of becoming cops. Over video of young girls, she Bowers
asserted: "But for these young girls, who want to do police work when
they grow up, the future may not be as fair. Like many cities today,
Pittsburgh's police testing system awards bonus points to recruits who are
military veterans, and they are overwhelmingly male."
Sergeant Lavonnie Bickerstaff, police recruiter:
"If I made 100 percent and I'm competing with guys who got 97, the 10
points would give them 107, you can see how that will work against me."
Of course, nothing is stopping women from joining
the armed forces where they can serve alongside men as MPs.
Bowers: "Even so, Bickerstaff is hoping she
can find qualified women to eventually replace the many now nearing retirement
age, among them Commander Gwen Elliot."
Elliott: "It would make me sad to think that
here I am, and I don't want to have to work forever just so we have women
Concluding the polemic in the guise of a news
story, Bowers bemoaned: "And it is also very likely that as their numbers
on the force continue to diminish, tomorrow's women may find themselves
fighting yesterday's battle for equal opportunity all over again."
I guess "equal opportunity" doesn't mean
equal treatment but special quotas so you achieve an "equal" result.