Just Seconds for E-Mail; Catholics & the Holocaust; "I Hope We Kill Bush"
1) White House e-mail scandal brought front and center by
House hearing. CNN, CBS and FNC jumped on it Thursday night, ABC gave it 20
seconds, NBC a mere 16 seconds. MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams ignored
it, spending 11 minutes with the Ramsey’s.
2) The Washington Times reported the e-mail scandal weeks ago
and Sam Donaldson actually brought it up on last Sunday’s This Week.
3) FNC’s Brit Hume uniquely relayed how in the case of
Democratic fundraiser Pauline Kanchanalak "the Clinton-appointed judge
pushed the trial back until after the elections in November."
4) On FNC Fred Barnes pointed out how McCain’s attack on
Gore over campaign finance went largely unreported. "The networks, now
that he’s attacking left, treated it as non-news."
5) ABC and CNN used Speaker Hastert’s compromise pick of a
Catholic priest as House chaplain as a chance to once again bring up George W.
Bush’s visit to Bob Jones University.
6) In the midst of praising the Pope, CBS raised, in Dan
Rather’s words, "the heavily chronicled accusation that the war-time
Pope, Pius the 12th, turned a blind eye to what was going on in the
concentration camps." That followed a 60 Minutes piece Sunday.
7) Reporters for major media outlets, The Weekly Standard’s
Tucker Carlson relayed, slipped "into the habit of referring to the
McCain campaign as ‘we’ -- as in, ‘I hope we kill Bush.’"
8) NBC reported the gun in an Ohio school incident was stored
with a trigger lock. But the kid unlocked it with a key.
>>> MagazineWatch, about the March 27 editions, is now online. This latest
issue compiled by the MRC’s Tim Graham examines these topics:
1. Newsweek reported that a still-secret memo by FBI Director Louis Freeh
argued Justice Department lawyers went soft on Al Gore. U.S. News &
World Report arrived late with a report on former Justice investigator
Charles LaBella, and was the only magazine
to give a report on independent counsel Robert Ray’s investigations of
the White House.
2. Time and Newsweek deplored National Rifle Association leader Wayne
LaPierre for claiming President Clinton exploits school shootings, but
ignored Clinton’s March 2 claim that other countries have fewer gun
deaths "because they don't have an NRA in their country." U.S.
News revealed "The administration is refusing to fund a Secret
Service program to help educators and local cops identify potential school
3. Time and Newsweek offered a more balanced assessment of the state of
education policy. Time’s Eric Pooley listed pluses and minuses of the
George W. Bush approach, while Newsweek’s Lynette Clemetson explored
both sides of the school-voucher debate.
4. Newsweek film critic David Ansen’s political take on the Oscars:
"The likely triumph of ‘American Beauty’ -- the Al Gore of the
race -- bodes well for the Democrats."
To read these
items, go to:
Corrections: A table of contents listing in the March 22 CyberAlert
plugged an item on how "NBC’s The West Wing delivered scenes
linking census sampling advocates to the Constitution’s definition of
blacks as 3/5ths a person...." That should have read "linking
census sampling opponents to..." Thursday’s CyberAlert Special
misspelled the first half of Northrop-Grumman with a u, as in Northrup.
(CNN’s on-screen graphic Thursday night misspelled it as
latest White House-related scandal to arise didn’t interest ABC, MSNBC
or NBC very much Thursday night. The House Government Reform Committee
held a hearing on Thursday with current and former Northrop-Grumman
employees, who oversaw maintenance of White House computers, about how
they discovered e-mails which were not handed over in response to
subpoenas and that they felt threatened by officials to not alert anyone
to the problem. The same day the Justice Department announced a probe of
ABC’s World News Tonight ignored the hearing but
gave the Justice Department announcement 20 seconds. Ditto for NBC Nightly
News which managed to squeeze the Justice announcement into 16 seconds.
But those shows at least mentioned the subject. MSNBC’s The News with
Brian Williams, an hour-long program, spent 11 minutes replaying a Katie
Couric interview with the Ramsey’s but couldn’t find any time for the
ABC’s Peter Jennings anchored from Jerusalem with
Kevin Newman back in New York, who took 20 seconds to announce: "The
Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into accusations the
White House hid some electronic mail from Justice Department
investigators. The e-mails may have concerned the campaign finance and
Monica Lewinsky scandals. The White House says they were accidentally
lost, but Republicans say the White House used intimidation to cover up
Similarly, Tom Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News from
Jerusalem before throwing the show back to Brian Williams in New York who
consumed 16 seconds in relaying: "The Justice Department announced
today it has opened a criminal investigation into White House e-mails.
Specifically this, did the administration withhold any e-mails that were
requested by Ken Starr or the congressional investigators looking into the
ABC and NBC dedicated much of their shows to the
Pope’s visit to Israel, but both still put a higher priority on some
less than pressing stories. ABC, for instance, spent more than two minutes
on a piece about Sacramento and California other school districts where
teachers visit parents at home. NBC devoted 2:30 to how Chelsea Clinton is
"getting rave reviews" in India. Bob Kur relayed: "She’s
the one everybody’s talking about. From day one, off on her own at a
festival, India’s people and press praise the 20-year-old’s poise, her
grace and reverence and her affection for her father, even that she’s a
vegetarian..." Kur featured this from Lisa Caputo, the former Press
Secretary to the First Lady and one-time flack for CBS: "Chelsea
Clinton’s privacy protection has been one of the great untold success
stories of the Clinton administration and it’s a testament to great
parenting on the part of both the President and Mrs. Clinton."
On the e-mail story, the CBS Evening News ran a
piece by Bob Schieffer, and CNN’s Inside Politics led with a story on
the Justice Department angle from Pierre Thomas followed by a live
discussion with reporter Bob Franken who filed a taped piece for the 8pm
ET The World Today. The piece by Thomas did not air at 8pm, but
Franken’s story ran up top just after reports on the Pope.
Rita Cosby filed stories for FNC’s Special Report
with Brit Hume and Fox Report. In concluding her Special Report piece,
Cosby uniquely raised the possibility that the Justice probe could shut
down public disclosure: "Meantime, in addition to launching its
criminal inquiry, the Justice Department filed a motion asking a federal
judge to block the production of all e-mail related documents in a
separate civil suit. The independent counsel’s office agreed with the
Justice Department’s move, saying the civil investigation could also
interfere with its own inquiry."
We wouldn’t even know about the whole matter if it
were not for the Judicial Watch civil suit on behalf of one of the former
Jim Moret, anchor of CNN’s The World Today, set up
Franken’s story: "A new round of ethical questions for the Clinton
White House. This time, the focus is a batch of e-mails subpoenaed by
Congress several years ago, including some which belong to Vice President
Gore's own e-mail account."
Franken began: "These missing e-mails cover a
period of time that has been under close scrutiny, 1996 to 1999, when
investigations into campaign finance abuses and the Monica Lewinsky affair
were in full gear. By all accounts, the problem began in August 1996 as a
mundane computer foul-up.
the White House apparently typed an entry using upper-case keys when lower
case should have been used. This typo, in turn, caused tens of thousands
of incoming e-mails to bypass the system that would have recorded their
contents, and they were not turned over when subpoenaed. Now accusations
are flying that the White House took advantage of the glitch to withhold
important evidence and is delaying recovery of the material from backup
tapes. The first congressional hearing on the subject featured testimony
from Northrop Grumman employees charged with fixing the problem. They
allege White House officials told them to keep the topic quiet."
Betty Lambuth, Northrop-Grumman: "They did tell
me that if any of us did talk about
this, they basically threatened us that my staff would be fired, would go
"Some of the private employees said they had not heard the threat,
and White House officials denied making it."
Director, White House Management and Administration Office: "I can
state to you quite emphatically and quite clearly, it's not something that
I did, it's not something that I would condone, and it's not something
that I would ever permit to happen."
"Republicans repeated accusations the White House may have illegally
withheld the information."
Rep. Dan Burton:
"The White House counsel's office has known since sometime in 1998
that they were not in compliance with subpoenas from us, the Justice
Department and the independent counsels."
"In prepared testimony, White House counsel Beth Nolan said, ‘We
have found no evidence that anyone in the executive office of the
President attempted to withhold or hide responsive e-mail records.’ Her
actual appearance before the committee was postponed."
++ See what witness Betty Lambuth looks like and
watch Franken’s story. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post
a RealPlayer clip of it. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
So what did viewers on the March 23 News with Brian
Williams on MSNBC learn about instead of the e-mail scandal? Here’s a
rundown of the show:
-- Pope in Israel,
followed by interview of Pope biographer Carl Bernstein.
-- 12-year-old who
held class a gunpoint in Lisbon, Ohio.
-- Andrea Mitchell
on the costs of Hillary’s air travel, plus condemnations of Giuliani for
his defense of the police in the latest police-involved shooting (Hillary
part of this story also aired on NBC Nightly News.)
-- 5:20 for an
interview with Congressmen backing Giuliani and Hillary.
-- 1:50 for a story
on how the Coast Guard is using speed boats to catch drug smugglers.
-- 11:00 for a
replay of the fourth daily installment of Katie Couric’s week-long
series of Today interviews with the Ramsey’s. The topic, in the words of
anchor Brian Williams, "what it’s like to be considered murder
-- 4:00 for an
interview with an AAA spokesman about gas prices and tips for using less
-- 3:50 for a taped
story on people in the LA area and elsewhere who rent their homes to
movie-makers for shoots.
Thursday only the Washington Times was tracking the e-mail story, though
ABC’s Sam Donaldson did raise it last Sunday on This Week.
Back on March 10 Washington Times reporter Jerry
Five Northrop Grumman employees were so intimidated by White House
threats of jail that one was nearly fired when she refused to tell her own
bosses about the administration's failure to turn over thousands
of e-mail messages under subpoena.
Newly obtained information shows the White House threatened to have the
five employees jailed after they found -- and reported -- a glitch in the
White House computer system that prevented the discovery of more than
100,000 White House messages involving campaign finance abuses, Monica
Lewinsky, "Chinagate" and "Filegate."
The threat came from Laura Crabtree, White House customer-support
branch chief, during a June 15, 1998, meeting in her office after the
discovery by Northrop Grumman of the computer glitch, according to lawyers
and others familiar with the growing scandal. She told the employees the
matter was "extremely sensitive," warned them not to tell anyone
about it without explicit authorization and said the consequences would be
a "jail cell."...
The glitch was first discovered in May 1998 when Northrop Grumman
employees traced a programming error on one of four White House servers
back to August 1996. The error involved e-mail to and from 464 White House
computer users. The problem was not fixed until November 1998....
The Northrop Grumman employees discovered that because one of the
e-mail servers was named "Mail2" instead of "MAIL2"
and because some components of the system were case-sensitive, the
incoming messages to the users of "Mail2" were not collected
between September 1996 and November 1998....
This past Sunday, March
19, Sam Donaldson raised the subject with independent counsel Robert Ray:
"One more question on this, Judicial Watch claims you would not meet
with its whistle blowers who say that there were thousands of e-mails that
might contain evidence of criminal activity in this matter that have been
suppressed by the White House?"
e-mail issue is an important one to our investigation, and we will take
appropriate action with regard to the remaining aspects of our
jurisdiction. We will consider it in that light. But with respect to the
FBI files matter, I thought it important once we made the judgment that no
prosecutions would be brought, that it was appropriate with regard to that
aspect of our jurisdiction that we inform the country and we close that
the e-mail matter is still open?"
wasn’t the only Clinton-related scandal development this week, as
FNC’s Brit Hume uniquely updated viewers about a figure involved in 1996
Democratic fundraising. On the March 23 Special Report with Brit Hume he
Democratic fundraiser involved in the 1996 campaign finance scandals
won’t have her day in court until after the 2000 presidential election.
A federal judge in Washington has postponed the trial of Pauline
Kanchanalak, who was indicted in 1998 for fraud, conspiracy and other
charges, after allegedly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in
illegal contributions to the Democratic National Committee. Documents
obtained by Fox News indicate the head of the Justice Department’s
campaign finance task force asked for a delay until September, but the
Clinton-appointed judge pushed the trial back until after the elections in
ABC, CBS and NBC, as noted in the March 22 CyberAlert, Tuesday night FNC
and CNN reported how John McCain attacked Al Gore on campaign finance
reform. Wednesday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume
roundtable panelist Fred Barnes raised the issue of how the media skipped
McCain’s attack. As transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Hume asked
on the March 22 show:
"We talked on
this broadcast last time about the question of whether when McCain turns
his guns on campaign finance on Vice President Gore, whether the megaphone
that, which seemed to, to magnify everything he said on the campaign trail
when he was hitting out at George W. Bush and others would be present.
Barnes replied: "As predicted, and contrary to
what Mort [Kondracke] said last night, now that McCain is attacking Al
Gore on campaign finance reform the mainstream press has decided to ignore
it. Nothing on ABC, NBC, CBS, one paragraph buried in a New York Times
story, one paragraph buried in a USA Today story, zip in the Los Angeles
Times. There was a story in the Washington Post. They covered it. And what
was obviously the news from McCain’s return to the Senate, all of a
sudden, it was almost man bites dog. This was the first time he started
attacking Gore. He did vigorously attack Gore, and the networks, now that
he’s attacking left, treated it as non-news."
Barnes later added: "My point was, strictly,
that while McCain was attacking to the right and attacking Bush, he got
even attacking Clinton he got publicity."
attacking Gore, which is an attack to the left, yesterday zip, or
practically zip. The Washington Post did fine."
the Washington Post was on page 10."
they beat everyone else, practically, covering it."
Yes, at least they mentioned it.
chance to portray Republicans and conservatives as anti-Catholic. ABC and
CNN used House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s Thursday announcement that
he’d picked a Chicago priest as the new House chaplain, thus ending a
controversy over the House leadership’s selection of a protestant over
another Catholic priest, as an opportunity to remind viewers of Bush going
to Bob Jones University.
Neither story pointed out how past Democratic
Speakers had not picked a Catholic chaplain either, not even the Catholic
Tip O’Neill, nor did ABC and CNN mention questions about the
qualifications of the passed-over Catholic priest.
Thursday’s World News Tonight, which dedicated 20
seconds to the e-mail controversy, allocated 1:38 to the chaplain pick.
Linda Douglass asserted: "Father Daniel Coughlin’s appointment was
meant to diffuse a growing political crisis in the Republican Party, which
has been battling charges of anti-Catholic bias on several fronts."
Douglass explained how a search committee late last
year recommended a Catholic priest but House leaders instead picked a
Presbyterian minister. Douglass drove home: "Catholic groups were
outraged, their fury grew after George W. Bush’s controversial speech to
Bob Jones University whose leader has called Catholicism a cult. Today, a
visible angry Hastert said he deeply resented suggestions that he and his
party are anti-Catholic."
After a soundbite from Hastert, she concluded:
"Catholic groups say the whole episode remains troubling, but GOP
leaders think they may have solved their problem with the target audience,
the 25 percent of voters who are Catholic."
Over on CNN’s The World Today, reporter Chris
Black also recalled Bob Jones: "Charges of Republican
anti-Catholicism grew louder after GOP presidential candidate George W.
Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, a school whose President compares the
Catholic Church to a cult."
Last month CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer Justin
Torres discovered there may have been good reasons for House leaders to
have picked someone other than the finalist Catholic priest. He reported:
controversy has generated arguments focusing on qualifications for the
post and charges of religious bias, but an investigation by CNSNews.com
into Father O'Brien's background reveals a profile of a political
professional with long ties to Capitol Hill and Washington's lobbyist
community whose experience in politics greatly eclipses his pastoral
To read the story
in full, go to:
is really anti-Catholic, conservative politicians or network producers who
keep trying to implicate the Catholic Church with the holocaust? ABC
avoided the subject, but both CBS and NBC raised it Thursday night, though
in the midst of glowing tributes to the Pope’s efforts at reconciliation
Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News from
Jerusalem: "It was the most solemn moment of Pope John Paul’s
pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today he became the first Pope to see
Israel’s holocaust memorial and honor the memory of the millions of Jews
who suffered and died under Nazi persecution. His words could not, did not
heal all wounds but the Pope’s presence in that dark place was
After showing some of the Pope’s remarks and the
positive response fro Israeli Prime Minister Barak, Rather ran this
soundbite from "chief rabbi" Ysrael Meir Lau: "We have to
say more. I’m a little bit disappointed that there was no condemning of
"The silence the chief rabbi is talking about is the heavily
chronicled accusation that the war-time Pope, Pius the 12th, turned a
blind eye to what was going on in the concentration camps."
Reporter Alan Pizzey next talked with a Polish
holocaust survivor who thought the Catholic church had not atoned for the
holocaust, though he was saved by Catholics, but now thinks the Pope has
gone far enough.
Rather ended the show: "The quiet grace of Pope
John Paul II kneeling at the birthplace of Jesus in prayer, and his solemn
humility in the presence of a monstrous evil remembered, raised these past
few days into vivid relief, even set against such a complex and
multi-layered backdrop. The Pope’s pilgrimage could have been little
more than an elaborate tour of historical sites. Instead, John Paul made
it a worthy part of history."
From Jerusalem Tom
Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News:
"A cool and
rainy night in Jerusalem. This was a day quite unlike any other in the
history of Israel, a Jewish state born out of the holocaust. Pope John
Paul II, the 79 year-old head of the Roman Catholic church, the church
that’s been criticized by Jews for its silence on the great tragedy of
the holocaust, today Pope John Paul went to Yad Vashem, the national
holocaust memorial, and he spoke of sadness and sorrow, pain and memory.
It was for everyone a deeply emotional occasion, if not altogether
satisfying to all."
Reporter Martin Fletcher concluded his subsequent
story: "This evening Jewish leaders said Pope John Paul II is the
greatest friend Jews have ever had in the Catholic Church and they say if
only he’d been Pope during the Second World War and the Catholic Church
had spoken out against the holocaust instead of remaining silent."
I know little about debate over the Catholic Church
during World War II, so will defer to others though I know these charges
disturb many Catholics. This week MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell penned a
column taking apart a March 19 60 Minutes piece relaying the views of John
Cornwell, author of a book titled "Hitler’s Pope." The MRC’s
Tim Graham uncovered how Newsweek’s religion reporter discredited
Cornwell last year.
Here’s an excerpt from the column:
The low point came when Bradley explained: "Cornwell says that the
turning point in his research came when he found a letter written by the
future pope when he was a papal representative in Germany after the First
World War. In it, he poured scorn on the physical characteristics of a
group of Jewish socialists, describing their leader as 'pale, dirty, with
drugged eyes, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and
Then Cornwell dragged out the smears: "It was the sort of
expression that would -- one would find in Mein Kampf during the same
period." Ed Bradley underlined his emphasis: "So you're saying
that what Hitler wrote would have been similar to what Pius XII -- the man
who would become Pius XII -- wrote?" Cornwell: "Absolutely."
This was hardly the verdict of Newsweek religion specialist Kenneth
Woodward, who reviewed Hitler's Pope last fall. He not only called
Cornwell's charge of Pope Pius's anti-Semitism "bizarre," he
called the book "a classic example of what happens when an
ill-equipped journalist assumes the airs of sober scholarship...Errors of
fact and ignorance of context appear on all most every page. Cornwell
questions [Pope Pius's] every motive, but never doubts those who tell a
different story. This is bogus scholarship, filled with nonexistent
secrets, aimed to shock."
Woodward explained that Cornwell ignored how Allied planes dropped
88,000 copies of the Pope’s first encyclical over Germany hoping to get
his guarded anti-Nazi message to the people. He also noted Cornwell
acknowledges that Pius XII put himself and the Catholic Church in danger
by secretly aiding a 1940 plot to overthrow Hitler. Do these sound to
anyone like the record of "Hitler’s Pope"?
To read the entire column, go to:
saw themselves as part of the McCain team. After Super Tuesday some
readers e-mailed me about how Maria Shriver used the word "we"
in saying something like, in reference to the McCain campaign, how
"we hope he doesn’t lose." I checked and found she never said
any such thing on MSNBC on Super Tuesday. But that sentiment was held by
many reporters, The Weekly Standard’s Tucker Carlson reported in a March
27 story, "On the Road: From New Hampshire to California, a Diary of
the Real McCain Campaign."
Carlson relayed what he discovered in his travels
campaign complains that McCain’s style and personality have caused many
reporters to lose their objectivity about him. The Bush campaign is onto
reporters who call McCain ‘John,’ sometimes even to his face and in
public. And then there are the employees of major news organizations who,
usually at night in the hotel bar, slip into the habit of referring to the
McCain campaign as ‘we’ -- as in, ‘I hope we kill Bush.’"
McCain may be out of the race, but I bet the
media’s desire to beat Bush hasn’t changed.
vaunted trigger locks don’t prevent anything. In a March 23 NBC Nightly
News story on a 12-year-old boy who held his class in Lisbon, Ohio at
gunpoint, but gave the loaded gun to a teacher before hurting anyone, Jim
Avila pointed out:
says the gun was stored safely with a trigger lock, but police say the boy
found the key."
Shocking. Trigger locks won’t prevent the misuse
of guns. Let’s see how many other news stories note this fact about the
Maybe we need mandatory safes for the storage of
keys to trigger locks.