Cuban-Americans Bashed; CNN Chief Clinton’s Overnight Guest; "Stupid" ABC
1) A liberal denounced the Miami Cubans in a CBS Evening News
story before a Castro henchman asserted that the Cuban-Americans used "a
little boy just to satisfy their mean and narrow political interests."
But those impugned got no time to respond.
2) Monday night NBC’s Jim Avila finally let a dissident note
that not all is wonderful in Cuba. Avila still insisted "Cuba is proud of
its 98 percent literacy rate and free health care," but he admitted
"there are few computers and virtually no Internet."
3) Regulation night on the CBS Evening News. "There are
renewed calls for Congress to step in and rein in" the "out of
control" airlines. CBS also highlighted how a Senator claimed the
"funeral industry is poorly regulated," so "closer scrutiny may
4) Most unusual take of the night. CBS’s David Martin noted
how the Osprey "was revived" during the Clinton years. "Now the
aircraft the Pentagon could not kill has ended up killing 19."
5) ABC trumpeted how Mikhail Gorbachev is moving "from
his red past to work for a greener future" as he cleans up the
"legacy" of the Cold War he worked to end.
6) CNN President Rick Kaplan and his daughter were Clinton’s
overnight guests in the White House, but Kaplan maintained: "I do not
feel embarrassed, ashamed or compromised in any way."
7) "No one is that stupid," ABC News President David
Westin insisted in denying they had Leonardo DiCaprio interview Clinton. Now
he’s admitted they did. The NY Times revealed DiCaprio and Chris Cuomo
"introduce the segments, basically as co-hosts."
8) Paul Bedard of U.S. News pointed out how "the $52
million spent on independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr's" probes
"probably paid for itself" via taxes from books. And the media made
April 10 CyberAlert dropped Eleanor’s last name, as in
"Newsweek’s Eleanor of the McLaughlin Group." That should have
read "Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group." (She
asserted that "to be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be
better than being a poor child in Miami.") The same issue quoted
NBC’s Jim Avila on how Elian’s mother worked "in Cuba’s
specially built foreign tourist haven, Baradaro." A reader kindly
pointed out the correct spelling: "Varadero." The April 7
CyberAlert quoted CBS reporter Jeffrey Kofman, from in front of Elian’s Miami home, relaying: "When Juan
Miguel started speaking this morning on television they watched with
rapped attention..." That should have read "rapt"
Castro may indeed have won the battle for Elian and public opinion, but
CBS’s Randall Pinkston decided to use a story making that point to allow
a U.S. liberal and a Cuban communist to denounce, without rebuttal,
Cuban-Americans who fought to keep Elian in Florida. "The Miami
Cubans...handled themselves in such a questionable manner," viewers
heard in one soundbite while in another a communist asserted that the U.S.
citizens used "a little boy just to satisfy their mean and narrow
CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts introduced the
April 10 story by saying the Elian fight has given Castro a "rare
victory." From Havana, Pinkston
opened his piece by relating how no parades or celebrations are planned
for when Elian arrives. Pinkston declared: "In the battle for public
opinion Castro has already won."
Viewers then heard
from liberal advocate Wayne Smith, identified on-screen as with the Center
for International Policy: "I think Castro’s score is quite high. He
was able to use the Elian case to rally public opinion in Cuba."
Smith, but failed to note his political perspective: "Wayne Smith,
former chief of the U.S. interest section in Havana, thinks Castro’s
opponents are their own worst enemies."
think the big loser, quite clearly, were indeed the Miami Cubans who
handled themselves in such a questionable manner."
Pinkston piled on,
introducing a Cuban official: "And the Cuban government has seized
this opportunity to take aim at what has become an easy target."
President, Cuban National Assembly: "Now you see them in action,
using a little boy just to satisfy their mean and narrow political
CBS didn’t let any of those impugned to respond,
but Pinkston at least allowed: "Not that Castro hasn’t used his own
people for Cuba’s political interests. This demonstration space
[standing in front of rows of seats in an outdoor plaza] was constructed
after Elian’s rescue with seating for thousands of government-sponsored
protesters. But Castro, known for his political savvy, realizes scenes
like this airport sendoff must stop. [video of Castro with Juan Miguel] He
must take the high road when Elian comes home."
most important thing for him is to return to a normal life. That implies
privacy to mourn, to cry for his mother."
Pinkston to Alarcon:
"No big parades?"
big parade or small parade."
"While this appears to be a victory for Castro it was an easy one.
For the first time in 40 years he had support from the most unlikely
source: the U.S. government."
A proud moment for all Americans. With reporting
like this in which the anti-communists are "mean" and the
communist thug is "savvy," it’s no wonder Castro won the PR
fight. He not only has the U.S. government on his side; he has the U.S.
a week of touting the privileged "good life" awaiting Elian in
Cuba, Monday night NBC’s Jim Avila finally allowed a dissident to note
that not all is perfect in paradise. Avila, however, couldn’t stop
promoting the Cuban PR line about how "Cuba is proud of its 98
percent literacy rate and free health care," though he conceded
"there are few computers and virtually no Internet."
(And, inspired by interest in Avila’s reporting,
such as how Rush Limbaugh on Monday read several Avila quotes cited in
Jeff Jacoby’s column, the MRC has posted a video clip of Avila’s
infamous April 4 story. Details at end of this item.)
Monday’s NBC Nightly News opened with Avila’s
"exclusive" report from Havana on how an "American
source" in meetings with the father told Avila the father has offered
to go to Miami to pick up Elian. He would not go to the house, Avila
related, but be reunited at an airport and then take Elian back to
Bethesda, Maryland. Avila cautioned: "But here’s the catch: If the
State Department refuses the visas he’s requested for a support group of
Elian’s friends, teachers and psychiatrists, Gonzalez says he will
return to Cuba immediately with his son."
NBC then jumped to Avila’s taped report in which
he reported that a low key welcome home is planned in Cuba without
parades. He added that Elian’s school mates have been told to treat him
as a classmate, "not a national hero."
Avila forecast Elian’s life ahead: "But when
the excitement ends, what then for Elian? Cuban dissident Miriam Leba
(sp?) thinks Elian should return home, but warns that he will be subject
to a government convinced communism is the only answer."
you almost start walking until you finish school you are told what to say
and how to think."
while Cuba is proud of its 98 percent literacy rate and free health care,
there are few computers and virtually no Internet."
there’s a great lack of medicine, lack of books and also the facilities
are in very bad shape."
Back on live, Avila concluded by stressing:
"Tonight the Cuban government vehemently denies" Gonzalez is
willing to go to Miami as the Cuban regime wants a reunion outside of
+++ Watch Avila’s reporting from Cuba. As noted
above, on Monday MRC Webmaster Andy Szul went back and posted a video clip
of a portion of Avila’s April 4 NBC Nightly News story. This is the
piece about the "Cuban good life" quoted extensively by Boston
Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby on Monday and highlighted by Rush Limbaugh on
his radio show the same day. In it, Avila claimed:
future here likely to be the Cuban good life, lived by Communist Party
elite with perks like five free gallons of gasoline a month for the
family, a Cuban tradition called ‘La Jaba,’ the bag, which includes
extra rice, beans, cooking oil and sundries like deodorant, shampoo,
razors and shaving cream, about $15 a month worth of basics. Plus,
invitations reserved for the party elite to cultural events, sports,
discos and restaurants, access to the best medicine, expensive drugs like
heart cures not available to everyone in Cuba."
To watch a piece of
Avila’s story via RealPlayer, go to:
Or go to:
and scroll down to the "4/5/00" video.
Finally on this item, an update on the pronunciation
of Avila. The second syllable is "ih" and the third
"la," but as a reader pointed out and I confirmed by listening
again to Avila, he does not pronounce his first syllable like the
beginning the word avenue but like the first syllable in Ave, Maria. So
it’s Ahv-ih-la. Let’s say it altogether now: Ahv-ih-la.
night on the CBS Evening News. Bob Orr concluded an April 10 story on
public dissatisfaction with the airlines by highlighting how "there
are renewed calls for Congress to step in and rein in" an "out
of control" an industry. Minutes later CBS allocated a full story to
a Senate hearing on how "investigating Senator Charles Grassley says
the $12 billion funeral industry is poorly regulated, and the horror
stories he heard today suggest why closer scrutiny may be needed."
-- "Passengers don’t need a survey to know
that air travel can lead to horror stories," Bob Orr asserted in
relaying the results of a poll of airline passengers which found
complaints up 130 percent in 1999. Orr concluded:
have promised to do better. Some have added more leg room, and all have
vowed to be friendlier. But with delays already ahead of last year’s
record pace, there are renewed calls for Congress to step in and rein in
an industry some see as out of control."
-- Bob Schieffer began his story on anecdotes about
funeral experiences, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by
"It is the
experience none of us wants but most eventually face, burying a loved one,
an experience sometimes made worse, Senators were told today, by
unscrupulous funeral operators who prey on grieving relatives. Although
funerals cost more than ever -- average price is more than $7,500 --
investigating Senator Charles Grassley says the $12 billion funeral
industry is poorly regulated, and the horror stories he heard today
suggest why closer scrutiny may be needed. This one time funeral operator
testified by satellite from prison how high pressure salesmen sometimes
sell prepaid funerals by making old people feel guilty."
After another witness testified about a woman who
paid an operator $132,000, Schieffer continued: "And the high priced
coffins and other gear don’t always work. This woman broke down telling
how her grandmother’s remains spilled out of a faulty coffin into a
Following the three anecdotes, Schieffer allowed a
moment for the other side: "An industry spokesman called the
incidents isolated and reacted sharply."
National Funeral Directors Association: "We would have hoped that
these hearings today would have been a little less biased than they were.
I think it’s very unfair the funeral service is being painted with this
broad brush which is just not true."
concluded: "Whatever the case, Senator Grassley urges people to shop
around, ask plenty of questions, and be very careful what you sign."
Speaking of Republicans advocating more regulation
and/or spending, on Monday’s NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers checked in with
a piece on how seniors protested in Sacramento over having to pay for
their own prescriptions. After highlighting a couple who are paying $6,000
a year and "are outraged and frightened," she recounted a new
HHS study showing those without insurance pay 15 percent more for drugs
because they don’t benefit from the discounts arranged by insurers.
So, conservatives in Congress naturally oppose
creating another entitlement? Wrong, as Myers soon showed: "Drug
costs have become such a huge political issue that politicians, as shown
in this TV ad, sponsor bus rides to Canada where some drugs cost half as
political ad: "Across America people are beginning to listen to one
Montanan’s crusade to lower prescription drug prices."
"Finally, after months of rhetoric and prodding by the President,
Congress is beginning to move toward giving seniors some relief. House
Republicans unveiled their plan this week."
Rep. Bill Thomas,
R-California, boasted of wanting to spend more than Clinton: "We’ve
placed more dollar amounts on the table than the President has. This
Republican Congress said $40 billion over the next five years would be
devoted to this product."
What exactly is the difference between a House
Democrat and a House Republican?
unusual take of the evening, CBS’s David Martin concluding his April 10
CBS Evening News story on the crash Sunday in Arizona of an Osprey, a
combination plane and helicopter:
"During the Bush administration, the Pentagon
tried to kill the Osprey program, but it was revived by the Clinton
administration. Now the aircraft the Pentagon could not kill has ended up
killing 19 marines."
Gorbachev, "environmentalist activist." Sunday night ABC
trumpeted Gorbachev’s efforts to save the planet: "As leader of the
Soviet Union, Gorbachev worked with Presidents Reagan and Bush to end the
Cold War. Now he's working on cleaning up its legacy."
World News Tonight anchor Carole Simpson set up the
April 9 piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
President Mikhail Gorbachev has traded in his hammer and sickle for a
green cross. At a summit this weekend in Minneapolis, Gorbachev confronts
his past as a cold warrior in his new role as an environmental activist.
ABC's John Yang reports."
Yang began: "Mikhail Gorbachev used to travel
the globe meeting world leaders, discussing affairs of state. Back then he
was warning about the threat of nuclear warfare. What a difference a
decade makes. Now he's sounding different alarm. 'I feel that the
environment is the number one global problem on the agenda of the 21st
century,' he says.
became the first President of Green Cross International in 1993, nearly
two years after stepping down as Soviet President. As a politician, he had
shown some interest in environmental matters, but not much."
Pace University Law School: "It wasn't something that was at the
heart of values that motivated him. He's a political reformer. He's not an
all changed in 1986 with Chernobyl. 'Definitely Chernobyl dramatized my
understanding of environmental problems,' he says. 'There was Gorbachev
before Chernobyl and Gorbachev after Chernobyl.' As leader of the Soviet
Union, Gorbachev worked with Presidents Reagan and Bush to end the Cold
War. Now he's working on cleaning up its legacy. 'The United States and
the Soviet Union each spent trillions of dollars for the arms race,' he
says. Now they need billions to destroy nuclear weapons and clean up the
"That is one of his new projects as he moves from his red past to
work for a greener future."
ABC’s story reminded me of a "The Week"
section item which ran in the May 3, 1993 edition of Time magazine:
"What do you
do for an encore after ending the Cold War and reversing the arms race?
That’s the latest assignment for Mikhail Gorbachev, having assumed the
presidency of the International Green Cross, a new environmental
Can’t beat that for a Gorbasm, a Rush Limbaugh
term not heard recently.
President Rick Kaplan, who stayed overnight in Clinton’s White House
while at ABC News, spent another night there with his daughter last
Thursday night after the Radio and Television Correspondents’
Association dinner, USA Today disclosed. But Kaplan doesn’t see anything
wrong with it.
In his "Inside TV" column for April 10,
USA Today’s Peter Johnson revealed:
CNN president Rick Kaplan, who took some heat when he worked at ABC
News for staying overnight at the White House during President Clinton's
first term, spent another night there Thursday -- after Clinton roasted
ABC News over "Leogate."
"No, I do not feel embarrassed, ashamed or compromised in any way,
shape or form," Kaplan said Friday, after sleeping in the Queen's
Room while daughter Alexis, 21, slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Generally speaking, it's an ethical no-no for journalists to get too
cozy with people they cover. But Kaplan, a former Nightline, PrimeTime
Live and World News Tonight producer, said Clinton's gesture won't affect
CNN's coverage of him.
"Everyone has relationships," Kaplan said. "We met each
other before either of us knew we'd amount to anything. He doesn't expect
anything from me, and I don't expect anything from him."
Kaplan, a Clinton friend for 30 years,
said the president gave Alexis an "amazing" 2 ˝-hour White
House tour. "It was extremely nice of him to do it. In the waning
months of his presidency, I felt, 'What the heck?'"
Let’s examine Bill Clinton’s priorities. He
didn’t have enough time to give Leonardo DiCaprio a tour of White House
energy saving efforts, but did have enough time to spend two-and-a-half
hours with a 21-year-old woman. Shocking. The Radio and Television
Correspondents’ Association dinner did not end until 10:30pm. Factoring
in 15 minutes travel time back to home base, that puts Clinton with Alexis
until at least 1:15am.
For more on Kaplan’s
efforts to help Bill Clinton and his political activism, check out these
past CyberAlert items:
-- For how he in February 1992, while at ABC News,
advised Clinton on how to respond to the Gennifer Flowers story, go to:
-- For excerpts from a Vanity Fair profile which
detailed how Kaplan killed negative stories at ABC about Clinton, hired
Hillary, once worked for a Democratic candidate and thinks those who see
liberal bias are "liars," go to:
-- For how Kaplan once insisted of Clinton, "I
know he wasn't Slick Willie, and not a scourge," go to:
-- For how Kaplan complained that Ken Starr is
"putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation"
while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements, go to:
Kaplan’s right. The White House stay didn’t
"compromise" him. He was compromised long ago.
a week of denial, on Friday ABC News President David Westin conceded his
network did send actor Leonardo DiCaprio to the White House to conduct an
"interview" with President Clinton for an ABC special tied to
Earth Day. In an April 1 e-mail responding to a Washington Post story
about the interview, Westin had insisted: "We did not send him [DiCaprio]
to interview the President. No one is that stupid." Apparently they
are that stupid at ABC News. In that e-mail Westin maintained that
"all roles of journalists must be played by journalists (duh!)."
In Monday’s USA Today Peter Johnson relayed
Westin’s new version of events: "In hindsight, Westin said, he
erred in what he said in an original e-mail on the subject to staffers
last week. In it, Westin said ABC had planned to have DiCaprio and the
President chat while touring the White House....It turns out, Westin said
Friday, that ‘we had worked with DiCaprio to prepare some very
substantive, policy-oriented questions,’ which did, in fact, amount to
an interview. ‘It doesn't matter whether you're walking or sitting,’
Johnson added: "He said ABC should not be
judged on its editorial process with the special, but what ends up
Not quite the standard ABC applies to politicians
when the network focuses on the evils of the process of campaigns and
fundraising and not on the legislative results.
No matter who asked the questions, it looks like ABC
is putting together a special tilted to the left, maybe even totally
one-sided. DiCaprio is Chairman of the Earth Day 2000 festivities
scheduled for the Mall, so a news operation with any integrity would not
use him in a reporting role or give him an unchallenged platform. But Jim
Rutenberg reported in an April 10 New York Times article pointed out to me
by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey: "As it stood this weekend,
both Mr. DiCaprio and the correspondent Chris Cuomo introduce the
segments, basically as co-hosts."
Rutenberg also disclosed that "Paul Friedman,
Executive Vice President of ABC News, said producers ‘allowed Mr.
DiCaprio to ask the President why global warming did not get the same
attention as deficiencies in health
care.’" Rutenberg noted that DiCaprio asked Clinton "about the
Kyoto environmental accord" and outlined how:
segment, others say, Mr. DiCaprio, who has been designated Chairman of the
Earth Day 2000 celebration, was taped sitting on a rock by a pond he used
to visit as a boy, discussing the depletion of the frog population there.
The production is said to all have an MTV feel and features short segments
about global warming and related environmental issues photographed from
Alaska to Atlanta."
Rutenberg passed on a complaint from Rudy Bednar,
Executive Producer of the special: "He said the criticism, both in
the organization and outside, has been unfair. ‘It's like the Moral
Majority condemning a film and you ask them, 'Have you seen it?' and they
say 'no,’" Mr. Bednar remarked."
Okay, I’ll judge what ends up airing. If ABC News
presents a balanced and fair look at environmental issues then it will
give just as much time and credibility to global warming skeptics as to
its advocates, just as much time and credibility to those spelling out the
harmful impact of any global warming solutions pushed by liberals as to
the benefits claimed, just as much time and credibility to conservative
environmental experts to counter liberal claims of doom and just as much
time and credibility to market-oriented solutions to any environmental
problems as to advocacy for additional government regulation.
Yeah, I’m probably dreaming if I think ABC News
has the integrity to produce that kind of show. But I’ll give them a
contrarian take on the cost of the Starr investigation so often decried by
media figures: Taxpayers benefitted and the media made a lot of money off
the Lewinsky scandal. In the Washington Whispers section of the April 17
U.S. News & World Report, Paul Bedard unmasked:
Sure it was expensive, but the $52 million spent on independent
prosecutor Kenneth Starr's probe of Whitewater, Travelgate, and Monica
Lewinsky probably paid for itself and maybe scored a profit for taxpayers
via tax revenues generated from book and video sales and TV specials.
Unofficial tabulations of money made in the marketing of Whitewater and
Monicagate alone are in the tens of millions
of dollars, and the tax take should easily top Starr's budget, say tax
pros. "It's difficult to imagine that the government received less
than $52 million off private-sector spin," says Pete Sepp, vice
president of the National Taxpayers Union.
Consider: ABC reportedly made $30 million–up to 35 percent
taxable–on its Lewinsky interview; gobs of Clinton scandal books have
sold well; Lewinsky profited through sales of handbags and flacking for
Jenny Craig; lawyers made millions; cable TV fed off
the scandal; even C-SPAN sold tapes. "It's probably one of the most
bizarre public-private ventures ever," says Sepp.
END Reprint of item
Refreshing to see an effort in a mainstream
publication at countering the usual liberal media mantra on an issue.