Hsia Shunned; "Gun Control Roaring Back"; Jay Nicer Than Dave?
1) Democratic fundraiser and Al Gore friend Maria Hsia was
found guilty of funneling money through straw donors, but NBC and MSNBC
ignored the verdict; ABC and CBS gave it only a few seconds.
2) Fresh shootings are bringing "gun control roaring back
as a big issue in this country," insisted NBC anchor Brian Williams.
Andrea Mitchell pointed out: "Among the states with the most lenient gun
laws...George Bush’s Texas and John McCain’s Arizona." CBS’s Dan
Rather held the "gun lobby" accountable for the latest deaths.
3) Good Morning America commiserated with Congresswoman
Carolyn McCarthy about the failure of Congress to pass more gun laws. NBC’s
Today gave Bill Clinton a live forum to push his gun agenda, but Katie Couric
challenged him several times from the right.
4) A reporter suggested to Eric Holder that the Clinton team
could pass gun control if they took "pictures of these kids who are
killed every day" to Congress to show "exactly what's
5) "John McCain and George W. Bush are practically trying
to morph themselves into Ronald Reagan," observed ABC’s Peter Jennings,
because in California "riding the Reagan legacy can be powerful."
6) Al Sharpton got the first question at a Democratic debate.
"What would the press do if there were a debate at Bob Jones University,
and Bob Jones III...got the first question?" Fred Barnes answered:
7) Did John McCain get softer treatment from Jay Leno than
George Bush got from David Letterman? FNC compared the video.
federal jury convicted Maria Hsia on Thursday on five counts related to the
illegal funneling of over $100,000 to Democrats and the 1996 Clinton-Gore
campaign. Recalling how she directed the infamous Buddhist temple money
laundering event featuring Al Gore, CNN’s Charles Bierbauer suggested that
"may be an albatross on" Gore’s "campaign neck." Well,
if it does become one it won’t be because of network TV news.
While CNN’s The World Today ran a story and a half of
Hsia and her ties to Gore and FNC’s Fox Report gave it half a story,
following a full one on Special Report with Brit Hume, ABC’s World News
Tonight allocated a piddling 19 seconds and the CBS Evening News devoted a
mere 23 seconds to the story. But at least ABC and CBS noticed the verdict.
Not a syllable about it appeared Thursday night on the NBC Nightly News or
MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams.
Instead, NBC’s newscast ran full stories pushing gun
control, on flooding in Mozambique and explaining "phased
retirement" in which workers toil part time and simultaneously get a
pension and a paycheck. MSNBC’s hour featured six minutes of the "God
Squad," and full stories on the late night appearances by McCain and Bush
and John Rocker’s return. Plus, an eleven minute re-run of a Dateline story
on how two murderers were inspired by hate Web sites.
Here’s the totality of March 2 broadcast network
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Peter Jennings took 19
seconds to tell viewers: "In Washington today, Maria Hsia, a key figure
in the fundraising abuses in the 1996 Democratic campaign, has been found
guilty of lying to prosecutors about more than $100,000 in illegal campaign
contributions. Much of it came from the famous campaign event which Al Gore
attended at a Buddhist temple in 1996."
-- CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather consumed 23
seconds in relaying: "A federal court jury in Washington today convicted
Democratic Party fundraiser Maria Hsia on all five felony counts of funneling
illegal donations to Democrats, including the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. Hsia
is a long-time friend and political supporter of Al Gore. Asked for comment
the Vice President said it was, and I quote, ‘A sad day’ for his friend
shooting, another media effort to push gun control without regard to whether
any of the proposed new regulations would have had any impact on preventing
the latest tragedies. On Thursday morning and evening the broadcast networks
promoted the cause high on the liberal agenda, though ABC’s evening story
approached balance. (See item #3 below for details about the morning shows.)
Picking up on how Clinton
"blamed the current stalemate on heat from the NRA," CBS’s Dan
Rather blamed the NRA for three shootings, asserting "the heat being
reflected back on the gun lobby now includes" three killers he cited. CBS
reporter Jim Stewart highlighted the idea of banning handguns before lamenting
that like after past shootings, there will be a close vote in Congress,
"but there won’t be any new gun control laws passed." CBS played a
taped interview with Clinton in which Rather painted the NRA and gun owners as
the impediment to rational action.
NBC anchor Brian Williams insisted the latest shootings
are bringing "gun control roaring back as a big issue in this
country." Andrea Mitchell asked and answered: "Why won’t Congress
act? Critics say the NRA outspends gun control advocates fifty to one."
Mitchell tied the story to the campaign, gratuitously asserting: "And
among the states with the most lenient gun laws, gun control supporters say
George Bush’s Texas and John McCain’s Arizona."
Thursday night, March 2, ABC, CBS and NBC all put gun
control into their news agenda, but their coverage ranged from balanced on ABC
to one-sided liberal advocacy on NBC with CBS somewhere in between:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight followed the liberal
agenda in running story on the status of gun control, but at least provided a
comparatively balanced report with soundbites in favor of gun control by
two-to-one. As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, John Cochran
"It has become a
familiar pattern: tragedy by gunfire, followed by a presidential call for
tougher gun controls, this time after the killing of a six-year-old Michigan
"That child would be alive today if that gun had had a child trigger lock
on it that the other six-year-old child could not have fired."
Cochran: "The gun
lobby says the President ignores the fact that the boy was living in dangerous
home full of illegal guns."
"The idea that the solution to this crack house is the federal government
knocking on the door and delivering them a safety lock and saying that would
have prevented it, I think is crazy."
Cochran then outlined how Clinton wants to make
manufacturers provide trigger locks, ban the importation of large capacity
ammunition clips and impose background checks for purchases at gun shows, all
proposals bottled up in Congress. Cochran continued:
"Today after a new
round of tragedies, gun control advocates tried again."
Senator Diane Feinstein:
"This is the real world. This is what's happening out there. How can we
stand by and not do anything?"
Cochran offered an interesting take on why some Republicans favor gun control
and then uniquely pointed out how Democrats really don’t want to pass
"But chances are
slim for new gun laws. A few House Republicans do favor gun control because it
is popular with women voters. But most Republicans do not want to do anything
that might upset gun owners, and the National Rifle Association points out
there are already 22,000 gun laws on the books around the country. And most
Democrats do not want to do anything because they would rather accuse the
Republicans of running a do-nothing Congress."
"At first glance it seems that gun control is held hostage to election
year politics. It looks that way on the second and third glance, too."
-- CBS Evening News. With an on-screen graphic declaring
"Armed America," Dan Rather opened the show:
President Clinton challenged the Republican-led Congress today to approve new
laws aimed at reducing gun crimes. The President blamed the current stalemate
on heat from the NRA. The heat being reflected back on the gun lobby now
includes this: In Michigan a 19-year-old man was arraigned today for
involuntary manslaughter. His gun was allegedly used by one first grader to
kill another. Her funeral is tomorrow. The suspect is yesterday’s suburban
Pittsburgh shooting spree is being charged with two homicide counts and may
also face hate crime charges. In Hiawatha Kansas last night a teenager shot
and killed a deputy sheriff, then died in a shootout with police. CBS’s Jim
Stewart reports tonight on the push and the prospects for even modest new gun
Stewart began: "The dead aren’t even buried yet
in the nation’s latest gun tragedies and already the same urgent cries are
being heard in Washington. President Clinton today said he would call a
congressional summit meeting at the White House next week to try to get some
sort of gun control legislation passed while Republican leaders insist many on
both sides see no need for any new laws at all."
Stewart played a clip of Congressman Henry Hyde saying
laws don’t stop gun violations and a soundbite of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre
complaining that the Clinton administration won’t enforce current laws.
Stewart ran through Clinton’s proposals before he took on Clinton from the
"But with gun
sales and manufacturing on the decline and public opposition to guns on the
rise, some analysts wonder if now isn’t the time for even bolder
Kristen Rand, Violence
Policy Center: "The President is talking about trigger locks and
so-called smart guns when what we really need to be talking about is
regulating America’s unregulated gun industry and banning handguns."
From Capitol Hill Stewart concluded by lamenting the
uphill struggle for gun control: "Every time a co-worker goes crazy or
someone shoots up a schoolyard they have that debate up here and every year
the vote to tighten up gun control laws gets a little bit closer. And most
experts believe that’s what will happen again. It will be close but there
won’t be any new gun control laws passed this year either."
CBS then played a tape of Rather interviewing Bill
Clinton. Rather’s three questions:
"Is or is it not
your contention Mr. President the basic problem has been the Republican-led
the National Rifle Association pours a lot of money into a lot of campaigns to
beat just this kind of legislation that you have proposed, but is it or is it
not reality that what you have are tens of millions of Americans who own guns
and whatever their party affiliation, however they feel about you, are just
adamant about not controlling guns any further and that’s the real
"With, as you’ve
mentioned, at least 200 million guns out there, what about the argument that
says ‘listen, there’s really no chance that we’re going to have
meaningful gun control in this country unless you go out and get those guns
back and that’s simply not practical’?"
-- NBC Nightly News.
Anchor Brian Williams trumpeted, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"The killing of the six-year-old by another first grader, yesterday’s
shootings spree in the state of Pennsylvania, it’s all combining to bring
gun control roaring back as a big issue in this country."
Reporter Andrea Mitchell complained: "Polls
consistently show a strong majority of Americans want gun control, but for
eight months legislation has been stuck in Congress going nowhere. After the
latest tragedies, the President this morning on the Today program."
Bill Clinton: "I
don’t think most Americans have any idea what a strangle hold the NRA has
had on this Congress."
White House wants Congress to close the gun show loophole that permits gun
sales with no background check, impose mandatory child safety locks on
triggers, make parents legally responsible if their children commit crimes
with guns, forbid gun sales to anyone convicted of a juvenile crime, ban
multi-round ammunition clips, but again today the Senate refused to take quick
action despite threats from gun control advocates."
Senator Diane Feinstein:
"You either vote our way, or we’ll defeat you at the polls."
won’t Congress act? Critics say the NRA outspends gun control advocates
fifty to one, and not just in Congress, but in every state legislature. Even
after Columbine, Colorado’s legislature refused to close the gun show
Joseph Sudbay, Handgun
Control Inc: "You still have a lot of entrenched legislators who, for
years and years and years, have never had to think about the gun issue.
They’ve always done what the NRA wanted."
Mitchell tied the debate to the campaign, citing the two
leading Republican candidates: "And among the states with the most
lenient gun laws, gun control supporters say George Bush’s Texas and John
McCain’s Arizona. McCain today."
John McCain: "I
don’t control our state laws because I am a United States Senator, and I
know that our governor and our legislature are reviewing all of these
Finally allowing the
other side to speak, but not to make a substantive point. Mitchell warned:
"As the campaign heats up, the gun lobby is ready."
Wayne LaPierre of NRA:
"It’s gonna be a hot issue because for some reason certain politicians
have decided they want to eliminate firearms in America."
Mitchell concluded by
fuming: "So no matter how many deaths few people expect a new federal gun
law in an election year."
opposite from Thursday evening, Thursday morning NBC offered the least
imbalanced coverage while ABC delivered one-sided advocacy for gun control.
Though NBC’s Today gave Bill Clinton a forum to promote his gun control
lobbying effort, dedicating all of the 7am half hour after the news update to
a live interview with him, at least Katie Couric challenged him several times
with anti-gun control arguments.
ABC’s Good Morning America, in contrast, gave itself
over to a gun control advocate, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, making her
their only guest on the subject. Charles Gibson fretted: "What does it
say about the United States Congress and your colleagues that you can’t even
pass childproof locks on the guns?"
-- Good Morning America, March 2. Previewing the 7am
half hour, co-host Diane Sawyer anguished over how Congress won’t pass more
"And in the midst
of all this, we decided that we would search for the voice which could best
tell us why Congress takes so long, stalls so long on measures for the
simplest safety devices to make guns childproof. And this morning we decide to
pose that question to a woman who has lived violence from both sides,
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, whose own husband died in a shooting rampage,
and she’ll give us her answer."
Setting up the subsequent interview, co-host Charles
Gibson, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, promoted McCarthy:
"And we’re going
to turn, Diane, very briefly, to a lawmaker whose very presence in Congress is
part of her crusade for gun control. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy launched
her political after her husband was killed and her son was injured in a
shooting rampage in a New York commuter train six years ago. And she has been
at the center of gun control efforts in Washington since she got there and she
joins us from Washington this morning. Congresswoman, good to have you with us
as always. I know when incidents like that which occurred yesterday and which
occurred on Tuesday occur, I suspect your phone starts ringing not only from
people who want to talk about gun control bills, but from family members who
want some explanation and what to say -- and we were just listening to Ms.
[Joyce] Ambrose [one of the freed hostages in yesterday’s shooting] say how
she talked to her kids -- what do you say to people when they call your
Gibson offered up a mild challenge: "If the laws of
Michigan had been fully enforced, that gun that the young boy picked up on
Tuesday and took to school and shot that little girl, that gun wouldn’t have
been there for him to pick up. So do we need new laws or just work on the old
GMA held her through the 7:25am break, with Gibson
posing this leading question as his only one in the 7:30am segment:
"There have been so many shootings by children of other children in a
series of schools that culminated in Columbine, that terrible tragedy there;
then on Tuesday, a six-year-old boy kills another. What does it say about the
United States Congress and your colleagues that you can’t even pass
childproof locks on the guns?"
-- NBC’s Today.
Interviewing President Clinton in the 7am half hour, co-host Katie Couric
actually challenged his assumptions on several occasions. Here are the
questions she posed, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"Let me ask you first of all when you heard the
story of a six year old boy in Michigan, a first grader, bringing a gun to
school and shooting to death his six-year-old classmate, what was your
like this happens politicians often jump on it as an excuse for more gun
control but I know that Mr. President you're very proud of pointing out that
gun deaths have dropped to their lowest levels in more than 30 years in this
country. So should we view this more as a tragedy than a reason to call for
more gun control?"
"Well why is it
locked in committee? Why has it been stalemated and when would you like them
to come to the White House?"
"Let me deal with
some of those issues that you just raised Mr. President. What about
registering guns? All Americans are required to register their cars why not
require them to register guns?"
"When it comes to
licensing, Mr. President, Wayne LaPierre who you know is the Executive Vice
President of the NRA said, quote, 'Criminals aren't going to stand in line to
get their photos taken. Their not going to stand in line, stand, rather for
licenses.’ You're walking way out on a limb."
"But meanwhile is
it practically possible to check every gun owner in America to see if he or
she is carrying a license?"
"Mr. President why
haven't you publicly asked gun manufacturers to produce these so called smart
Couric went back and forth with Clinton for a bit over
whether the Republican presidential candidates favor trigger locks. Her last
substantive question: "An NRA spokesman actually told us last night that
this isn't about making guns safer it's about prosecuting criminals and that
your Justice Department hasn't done enough in that area."
-- CBS’s The Early
Show brought aboard Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America. As noted by MRC
analyst Brian Boyd, co-host Jane Clayson treated him as a hostile witness,
"In light of these two shootings this week, isn't
there a point when you must admit that stricter gun control would help put an
end to this violence?"
"So what do you
suggest to do to keep guns out of the hands of six year olds?"
"Let me ask you
quickly about the Brady Law which now requires background checks before you
can buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer, but anyone without a background
check can buy a gun at a gun show. Why should we make it so easy for
criminals, especially, to obtain guns this way?"
lefty reporter. Waiting to appear on MSNBC just after 9:30am Thursday morning
to discuss coverage of John McCain, the MRC’s Tim Graham watched MSNBC’s
live coverage of a press briefing being held by Deputy Attorney General Eric
Holder in which he commented on gun control. Before MSNBC cut away Graham
noticed that they broadcast the first question from a reporter at the Justice
Actually, more than a question. The reporter, whose face
was not shown and whose name was not displayed, offered some policy advice on
how to scare Congress into passing gun control:
"Mr. Holder, these
tragedies happening fairly regularly and every time they do, there's an
impetus in this country to do something, to have some kind of common-sense gun
control laws. But each time, as you know better than any of us, the power of
the gun lobby on Capitol Hill frustrates whatever impetus you have, and that
impetus is lost on Capitol Hill. Have you ever thought about changing your
tactics, taking pictures of these kids who are killed every day, taking them
up to Capitol Hill and showing the committee exactly what's involved
Certainly a frustrated liberal.
presidential campaign front Thursday night, CBS held its coverage to a brief
item by anchor Dan Rather on what the candidates did during the day followed
by a forecast from Bob Schieffer about which states McCain and Bush are
favored to win on Super Tuesday.
On the NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers provided a story on
how Bush is pushing his education plan in order to show a contrast with McCain
while McCain is angry at a Bush radio ad in New York on how McCain opposed
funding breast cancer research. She confirmed that McCain’s Web site lists
two research centers as pork barrel recipients he opposed, but she countered
that he voted for major breast cancer research funding bills. Myers ended by
showing an ad, which attacks McCain’s environmental record, from a
"mysterious new group" named Republicans for Clean Air.
Anne Thompson got about a minute to look at how
McCain’s aides admit he’s gotten off message as he’s received a backlash
from his attacks on the Religious Right.
ABC’s World News Tonight ignored the day’s events
and marveled at the hold Ronald Reagan still has on Californians. Peter
Jennings announced: "It is sad, in a way, that former President Reagan is
so ill that he can't enjoy all the flattery that he's getting from this year's
Republican candidates. John McCain and George W. Bush are practically trying
to morph themselves into Ronald Reagan, too, because they know, as California
does, that in that state, riding the Reagan legacy can be powerful
Jim Wooten showed how McCain and Bush are both claiming
Reagan’s legacy, concluding: "Bush enjoys broad popularity among
Latinos and Asians. And his firm grip on Republicans who see more of Ronald
Reagan in him than in Senator McCain puts California well within the grasp of
Governor Bush. For the moment here, the Gipper still counts for
did not react with outrage at how Bill Bradley and Al Gore, in responding to a
question from Jeff Greenfield at Wednesday’s Democratic debate, defended the
character of Al Sharpton. But on Thursday’s Special Report with Brit Hume on
the Fox News Channel, the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes pointed out the
media’s bias when it comes to condemning racial extremists linked to each
party. (See the March 2 CyberAlert for Greenfield’s question and excerpts of
how Gore and Bradley responded.)
Barnes wondered: "What would the press do if there
were a debate at Bob Jones University, and Bob Jones III, the President of Bob
Jones, got the first question."
Host Brit Hume
interjected: "Which is what happened in the debate in Harlem." (See
the February 22 CyberAlert.)
"What happened in the Democratic debate, with Al Sharpton getting the
first question. I mean, what would the press do? They’d riot, is what
they’d do. They wouldn’t stand for that. They would pillory any Republican
that went there, and they’d never let him forget it, that’s for
Commenting on Gore’s defense of Sharpton at this
week’s debate, Barnes argued: "When Al Gore talks about redemption,
it’s fine to give redemption. This guy hasn’t asked for redemption. He
hasn’t apologized. He hasn’t said he was sorry. He hasn’t apologized to
that, those police in upstate New York who he knowingly accused of raping a
woman, knowing that they didn’t do it, in the Tawana Brawley case. He
hasn’t apologized for any of that stuff."
McCain receive softer treatment from Jay Leno on Wednesday night than Bush got
from David Letterman? At the end of Thursday’s Special Report with Brit Hume
FNC showed a video contrasting how each were treated the night before by the
two hosts. "There have been charges the media have been soft on McCain
and tough on Bush," Hume observed, challenging viewers: "See if you
think that’s true when it comes to the late night TV hosts."
Judge for yourself. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy
Szul will post, in RealPlayer format, the video of clips from both shows
compiled by FNC. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
In Thursday’s CyberAlert I described Bush’s Late
Show appearance as "painful" to watch. New York Times critic Caryn
James came to the same conclusion. "Bush Muffs Letterman's Late-Night
Opportunity," read the headline over her March 2 review.
Letterman’s staff realized it didn’t go well and
like me attributed some of the problem to Bush appearing via satellite. In the
Thursday edition of The Wahoo Gazette on the Late Show Web page, a daily
chronicle about Letterman’s show, Michael Z. McIntee admonished:
finalize your thoughts about George W., realize it is
not an easy task to be interviewed via the satellite. I think with
the other news shows that use a satellite, there is a monitor
for the interviewee to watch as he is being interviewed. This simplifies
things. George W. didn't have one. Also, with a satellite I think there is
sometimes a split second delay between what Dave says and when George W. hears
it. I think that occurred here last night. It seemed so, at least. Plus, with
a satellite, the interviewee does not have the visual cues to know when it's
his turn to talk and therefore often speaks when the interviewer is not done.
It makes for a messy interview...."