Castro Succeeded; Economic Summit: Doom or Boom?; Freeh Memo; Leo-Gate
1) Fidel Castro thinks he’s "succeeded in reducing
support in the U.S. for the hardline anti-Castro Cubans in Miami,"
ABC’s Morton Dean assessed.
2) A "Cuban exile," whom one ABC show featured to
denounce her fellow Cuban exiles as intolerant people who should be ashamed of
using Elian as a puppet, is really the head of an advocacy group, another ABC
3) Geraldo Rivera’s fantasy: Elian grows up to become
President of a democratic Cuba.
4) Two conflicting spins on the White House economic summit.
CBS: "Caution flags" were "raised about the long-term market
and the new economy." ABC: "‘The best is yet to come.’ That was
pretty much the message to come out of today’s economic summit."
5) NBC Nightly News focused on complaints about how
politicians welcomed Bill Gates to Washington 48 hours after he was found to
have broken the law. Lisa Myers: "Nonpartisan ethics watch dogs say this
says a lot about ethics in Washington."
6) Diane Sawyer wondered if the federal government will do
anything to bail out day traders and those who borrowed on margin who lost
money in this week’s stock market plunge.
7) FNC uncovered "a second and previously undisclosed
memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh again urging the Attorney General to
appoint an independent counsel -- this time because Vice President Gore was
suspected of lying."
8) "White House officials are deeply annoyed" with
ABC News and "DiCaprio’s camp" told the Washington Post he
"always believed ABC News was sending him to do an interview with the
President about global warming." How about "Free Leo" buttons
at a media dinner?
Now online, the April 4 MagazineWatch about the April 10 editions. Items
in this week’s issue compiled by the MRC’s Paul Smith and Tim Graham:
1. Time’s Tim Padgett found only the anti-communist side of the Elian
Gonzalez controversy can be described with words like
"hard-line," "militant," and "a heavy touch of
2. Only U.S. News & World Report touched on Clinton scandal news,
especially Judge Royce Lamberth’s finding that Clinton violated the
Privacy Act. Time just jibes: "Judge sez White House letter dump on
Willey was illegal. Sex and lies? That’s totally 1998."
3. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter surprisingly suggested that until the
Democrats see the light on school choice, "give a slight edge on
education to Bush."
4. U.S. News Editor at Large David Gergen gurgled over his former
employer, saying we will miss Bill Clinton "trying to focus our
attention on the technological and scientific revolutions that are
sweeping over us." Even though his Justice Department is suing some
of the revolutionaries.
To read these items, go to:
Castro thinks his propaganda efforts have succeeded in "reducing
supporting" for the pro-Elian Cubans in Miami, ABC’s Morton Dean
reported Wednesday night. Opening an April 5 World News Tonight story from
Havana, Dean relayed:
Gonzalez has been in the Cuban public eye for 133 days now, and for much
of at time Fidel Castro has ben able to use the crisis to his advantage.
The Cuban government believes it has succeeded in reducing support in the
U.S. for the hardline anti-Castro Cubans in Miami."
No doubt with help from the U.S. news media.
"Cuban exile," whom World News Tonight featured to denounce her
fellow Cuban exiles as intolerant people who should be, in the words of
reporter John Quinones, "ashamed for using a six-year-old boy as a
puppet in its stand against Fidel Castro," wasn’t so randomly
chosen for air time. The next morning ABC’s Good Morning America
revealed that she’s Executive Director of the Cuban Committee for
Democracy, an anti-embargo group.
As reported in the April 5 CyberAlert, on the April
4 World News Tonight Quinones asserted: "In Miami it’s impossible
to over-estimate how everything here is colored by a hatred of communism
and Fidel Castro. It’s a community with very little tolerance for those
who might disagree."
Elena Freyre with
no on-screen ID: "The same people who claim to have left Cuba seeking
freedom are seeking to silence voices that might not be in agreement with
what they believe."
only this as a description of her: "Elena Freyre is also a Cuban
exile who came here when she was just 12 years old. In Miami she’s quite
the exception, a Cuban-American publicly calling for Elian’s return to
"He’s publicly proclaimed his loyalty to the Communist Party. That
doesn’t make him a bad father, that doesn’t make him an unfit
exile community, she says, should be ashamed for using a six-year-old boy
as a puppet in its stand against Fidel Castro."
But viewers of Wednesday’s Good Morning America
learned Freyre is really the head of an advocacy organization. Co-host
Charlie Gibson introduced her as the Executive Director of the Cuban
Committee for Democracy, though he failed to explain the agenda of the
Following Quinones’s theme, Gibson first asked:
"The pictures that we see of Cuban-Americans forming barricades
around the Gonzalez house there in Miami, you would think the
Cuban-American community from these pictures solidly, unanimously, even
defiantly against the boy going back. That's not so?"
Gibson, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, did
challenge her: "You believe he should go back, but the boy's mother
died to bring him here. He wants to stay. He's obviously bonded with a
cousin that he apparently sees now as a mother figure. Should those
factors be considered?"
fantasy. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this comment from Geraldo
Rivera on the April 4 Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
"I have a
fantasy. Elian goes back, he grows up, he becomes the new President of
Cuba and he turns it into a democracy. Wouldn’t that be nice?"
Better than Geraldo’s usual fantasies about the
vast right-wing conspiracy to destroy Bill Clinton.
the White House economic summit on Wednesday did economists forecast a dim
or a bright future? Depends if you believe CBS News or ABC News. CBS
anchor Dan Rather insisted that at the confab "caution flags are
raised about the long-term market and the new economy." But ABC’s
John Cochran picked up on the assessment issued by Bill Gates and assured
viewers: "‘The best is yet to come.’ That was pretty much the
message to come out of today’s economic summit, which turned out to be
largely a pep rally for the American economy."
The two stories presented an excellent case study in
how two reporters can go to the same event, hear the same comments and yet
produce conflicting spins on what they found newsworthy from the speakers.
CBS reporter John Roberts, for instance, stressed how Federal Reserve
Board Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that though we now have prosperity,
"inflation still threatens to undo it all." Hearing the same
address from Greenspan ABC’s Cochran, however, picked up on how he
"said even if he does have to raise interest rates again to fight
inflation, the stock market will shrug it off."
Below are the two April 5 stories in full so you can
see how a reporter’s perceptions and interests impact the angle of a
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather’s top of the show
tease: "The stock market calms down. Tech stocks are up, but at an
economic summit caution flags are raised about the long-term market and
the new economy."
Reporter John Roberts
began his story about the White House summit: "The good news about
the economy came with a caveat today, that in this era of unprecedented
growth and prosperity, inflation still threatens to undo it all."
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board: "The significant uncertainties
surrounding these new economic forces, counsel prudence. We need to be
careful to keep inflationary pressures contained."
negative predictions: "Behind those pressures is the staggering
wealth created by the explosion in information technology. While it has
kept the economy surging and the stock market soaring, some people see
trouble on the horizon."
Yale University: "The current level of stock prices is not only
unrealistically high, but I think it’s also economically damaging.
Inflated asset values make people feel wealthier than they are."
Roberts warned of
impending doom: "And wild swings in computer and Internet-related
stocks in recent days have left many economists worried if the high-tech
bubble may be about to burst."
former Deputy Treasury Secretary: "There’s going to be a
correction. It’s probably going to be a sharp one, but we are already
seeing all of the preliminary signs of that type correction."
squeezed in a positive assessment: "The one person to sound wholly
optimistic was Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Two days after the Justice
Department won its anti-trust case against Gates, there he was
side-by-side the President with a robust forecast for the future of
Microsoft and the economy."
Chairman, Microsoft Corp.: "We’re at the beginning of what the
computer can do to change our lives. The best is yet to come."
by issuing a long-term warning: "The President contends that the
fundamentals of the economy are still strong and the brightest economic
minds in the country appear to agree with him. Most see no reason why the
prosperity shouldn’t continue, at least in the short term, but they
caution with this new economy plying unchartered territory, the old rules
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. John Cochran opened
his piece by emphasizing how the panel of economists gathered by Clinton
had no idea months ago, when he invited Alan Greenspan and 130 of the
country’s best economic minds the White House, that millions of
investors would need reassurance after a scary day on Wall Street. And
that’s what they got, Greenspan saying that contrary to what many people
believe he does not want to drive down stock prices. Greenspan said even
if he does have to raise interest rates again to fight inflation, the
stock market will shrug it off."
doubt that investor’s perceptions of equity risks would be much
the upbeat: "In other words, calm down. Good advice said another
expert there today who only last week was urging investors to unload some
of their technology stocks."
Abby Joseph Cohen,
Goldman Sachs: "And for the past decade we have been enthusiastic
about the outlook for U.S. stock prices in the United States and we remain
squeezed in a positive comment Cochran slipped in a negative one:
"That’s not quite how a former Treasury Department official at
today’s conference sees it."
"There’s going to be a correction. It’s probably going to be a
sharp one, at least in terms of technology equity values."
even Altman says the big boys won’t be badly hurt, the Intels, the
Ciscos and the Microsofts. In fact the Chairman of Microsoft was pretty
chipper today, getting the VIP treatment at the White House just 48 hours
after a federal judge agreed with the Justice Department that his company
was guilty of abusing its monopoly. Bill Gates got a very good seat, right
next to the President of the United States, where he joined the chorus of
we’re at the beginning of what the computer can do to change our lives.
The best is yet to come."
concluded by repeating Gates’s remark: "‘The best is yet to
come.’ That was pretty much the message to come out of today’s
economic summit, which turned out to be largely a pep rally for the
Later, World News Tonight did find a down note on
the stock market boom, running "A Closer Look" at the wealth gap
between blacks and whites because fewer blacks have bought stock.
"Indeed," Peter Jennings intoned, "many blacks have missed
out on the stock market boom, which has accelerated the inequality in
Nightly News avoided the predictions made at the summit, but used the trip
to Washington by Bill Gates as a hook for a story highlighting complaints
from campaign finance reform groups, called "nonpartisan ethics watch
dogs," and Microsoft competitors about improper corporate influence.
So much for corporate control impacting news coverage as Microsoft is in
partnership with NBC.
An astonished Lisa Myers began her April 5 piece by
noting that "forty-eight hours after his company is found to have
violated the law, Bill Gates arrives on Capitol Hill and is received like
a visiting head of state." Myers then showed Gates sitting next to
Bill Clinton at the White House economic summit as Clinton praised his
Myers spent the rest of the story relaying
complaints from Gates detractors: "But an industry group, that
includes some of Microsoft’s competitors, cries foul."
Ed Black, Computer
& Communications Industry Association: "I don’t think someone
who’s been found to have massively violated law, federal and state, is
normally received by legislators as a virtual conquering hero."
"Competitors claim Microsoft is flexing its political muscle to
influence the courts. Since 1997 when the Justice Department targeted
Microsoft, the company has become a top player in Washington, spending
more than $5 million for a who’s who of lobbyists, and $2.8 million in
campaign money: $1.2 million for Democrats, $1.6 million for Republicans.
All perfectly legal. Gates’ spokesperson says he didn’t ask Congress
to get involved in the anti-trust case, and, in fact, came to talk
generally about the needs of the computer business, but the case was topic
A at most meetings, and with both parties vigorously pursuing high tech
campaign money, Gates got a sympathetic ear. Many Republicans publicly
side with Microsoft."
Jennifer Dunn, R-Washington: "All of us believe it was very unfair
case that the Justice Department has far better things to do with its
"Nonpartisan ethics watch dogs say this says a lot about ethics in
Center for Public Integrity: "I think the message it sends is
politicians love money, and maybe Bill Gates isn’t such a bad guy, and
maybe it doesn’t matter in Washington if you break the laws."
"Though the ruling apparently hasn’t cost Gates in Washington, it
certainly has hurt him where it counts. Since Monday he has lost more than
$15 billion in the value of his Microsoft stock."
downplaying on Tuesday night the role of the Justice Department’s
pursuit of Microsoft in hurting the stock market, as detailed in the April
5 CyberAlert, on Wednesday’s Good Morning America Diane Sawyer raised
the issue. She also wanted to know if the government will step in to bail
out day traders and those who borrowed on margin.
Here are Sawyer’s two April 5 questions posed to
Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, as taken down by MRC analyst
-- "A lot of
people are saying, at least one of the triggers for, I guess, a lot of
investors pulling the eject button yesterday and then climbing back
onboard, was the Microsoft decision. Do you agree that at least one of the
figures was the government's decision on Microsoft?"
-- "But whatever
the overall economy is doing and how well it's doing, you do have a lot of
day traders, you have people borrowing on margins, hanging on by their
fingernails. Is the government going to stand by and watch, or is there
more you're thinking about doing?"
But maybe that’s not such a wacky idea. When stock
market traders succeed and make some money the federal government takes a
fourth of it in capital gains taxes so, MRC Free Market Project Director
Rich Noyes joked after seeing this question, maybe they should also take
one-fourth of the risk.
night FNC reported a development on the temple fundraising front and
disclosed how there was also a memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh urging
an independent counsel, "this time because Vice President Gore was
suspected of lying."
On Special Report with Brit Hume on April 5 Hume
nuns have been indicted in connection with Vice President Gore’s
campaign fundraising woes. A federal grand jury has charged the women with
contempt of court. They were given immunity in exchange for their
testimony against Gore pal Maria Hsia, but the nuns failed to appear in
court. Hsia was convicted last month in connection with her fundraising.
She arranged Gore’s visit to that Buddhist temple in 1996. And there has
been another revelation about the Justice Department’s long
investigation into the campaign finance abuses of the 1996 Democratic
presidential campaign, and our Jim Angle is standing by with details. Jim,
Angle outlined FNC’s discovery, as transcribed by
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Brit, Fox has learned that there was a
second and previously undisclosed memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh again
urging the Attorney General to appoint an independent counsel --this time
because Vice President Gore was suspected of lying to FBI investigators.
And congressional sources tell Fox that the, that recommendation was
joined by two high ranking Justice Department lawyers, one of whom had
previously argued against an independent counsel.
Justice Department’s former chief campaign investigator Charles LaBella
had recommended an independent counsel twice, the second time saying that
Vice President Gore may have provided false testimony when he was
questioned by the FBI. Fox has now learned that Director Freeh later
joined that argument, saying there was enough evidence to investigate the
Vice President for lying. Now the sources emphasize that no one is
suggesting there is anything approaching a smoking gun, but more than
enough to appoint an independent counsel to make sure that the
administration is not investigating itself."
update on the conflicting stories about who asked who to do what that
ended with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Chairman of Earth Day activities on
Washington’s Mall, interviewing Bill Clinton last Friday for an ABC News
special o the environment. As noted in the April 5 CyberAlert, ABC News
President David Westin claimed ABC only planned to have Clinton walk
around the White House building with DiCaprio to show environmental
improvements, such as low-energy lightbulbs and weatherstripping, but
Clinton insisted on a sit-down interview.
Today’s update items: The New York Post reported
DiCaprio’s people insisted "the actor was sent to Washington last
Friday expressly to interview the President"; FNC’s Brit Hume
relayed how the White House says the questions were written out in
advance; and the Washington Post elaborated on how "White House
officials are deeply annoyed" with Westin "for attempting to
duck responsibility for the interview," and "DiCaprio’s
camp" told the Post he "always believed ABC News was sending him
to do an interview with the President about global warming." DiCaprio
told Clinton at the start of the interview: "Being given the
opportunity to sit down with you here and talk about an issue like global
warming was an opportunity as a concerned citizen I could not pass
Nice of ABC News to give him the opportunity for air
time to promote his liberal environmental agenda.
-- New York Post,
April 5, in an item passed along by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul:
"Leonardo DiCaprio's White House interview with President Clinton has
set off a war of words with ABC News. DiCaprio and the White House
yesterday insisted that -- despite what ABC News boss David Westin said
this week -- the actor was sent to Washington last Friday expressly to
interview the President. ‘Whether he was going to be talking while
walking around the White House or seated was not something that we frankly
thought about,’ said Ken Sunshine, a spokesman for DiCaprio. ‘DiCaprio
did exactly what the people at ABC told him to do.’"
-- Brit Hume on the April 5 Special Report with Brit
Hume on FNC: "The White House is now saying that the questions
Leonardo DiCaprio asked President Clinton in his ABC News interview last
week had been written out in advance. Further evidence, it seems, that the
interview was not the spur-of-the-moment event that ABC News President
David Westin claims it was. And DiCaprio, by the way, is said to be none
too happy with Westin’s assertion that ABC now may not use any of the
-- Excerpt of an April 6 Washington Post story Lisa
On Day 5 of Leo-gate, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called ABC
News yesterday and suggested it's time the news division fess up to its
request that silver-screen hunk Leonardo DiCaprio sit down with President
Clinton for an interview.
White House officials are deeply annoyed with ABC News President David
Westin for attempting to duck responsibility for the interview. So
yesterday morning Lockhart called Robin Sproul, the network's Washington
bureau chief, and made it clear that it was time for ABC News to set the
Lockhart told The Post's Howard Kurtz that he called Sproul to say
there had been "some statements made to the press that didn't reflect
the negotiations we had over this interview," and "it's in
everyone's interest to make sure we get this straight."...
For those who have been hiding under a rock since last weekend, the
"Titanic" star was sent by ABC News on Friday to 1600
Pennsylvania Ave. to do something with the President of the United States
at the White House. The White House insists ABC News requested an
interview between the two men, about global warming and other
environmental issues, which would be used for an ABC News Earth Day
special. But over the weekend, Westin declared that
ABC had not requested an interview with Clinton by the twenty-something
hunk, only a "walk-through" to look at the White House's
weatherstripping. Definitely not an "interview."...
Westin said the "walk-through" only became an
"interview" once the President "announced he wanted to sit
down and do an interview with DiCaprio."
Meanwhile, DiCaprio's camp, which knows a sinking ship when it sees
one, told The TV Column that the megastar always believed ABC News was
sending him to do an interview with the President about global warming....
DiCaprio showed up with cards in hand, on which were printed questions
he and ABC News producers had been working on for some time, says the
actor's rep, Ken Sunshine.
It's true, that's not the behavior of someone--even someone from Hollywood -- who thinks he's showing up to
look at the White House's weatherstripping.
"What was not clear was whether they'd be sitting or talking --
but clearly [DiCaprio] was going to ask him questions," Sunshine
said. "We were preparing questions in consultation with ABC [News]
producers....It was clear it was going to be a Q&A."
And DiCaprio started out by telling the President: "Mr. President,
I want to thank you very much for your time. As you know, I am neither a
politician or a journalist, but being given the opportunity to sit down
with you here and talk about an issue like global warming was an
opportunity as a concerned citizen I could not pass up."
It's unclear whether viewers will ever see that clip. Or the interview
at all. The embarrassment at ABC News has now built to the point that
network suits are making noises about withholding from the nation the
DiCaprio/Clinton encounter on a patio outside the Oval Office.
"For obvious reasons we are trying to make sure we know all the
facts that led up to this incident on Friday," ABC News rep Eileen
Murphy told The TV Column yesterday. "We also feel that a lot of time
and energy has been devoted to this issue and, frankly, this is part of
the editorial process. If we made a mistake along the way
and the interview was conducted in a way we feel uncomfortable with, we're
not going to put it on the air."
Lisa de Moraes also noted: "White House
insiders were devising ways to poke fun at ABC News and Westin during
tonight's Radio & Television Correspondents' Association's 56th annual
dinner at the Washington Hilton. One plan being considered involved
handing out "Free Leo" buttons among the more than 2,000
reporters and hobnobbers planning to attend."
Assuming the House is out of session tonight
(Thursday, April 6), C-SPAN should show the dinner events at about 9:30pm