Ratherís Tears; Elian "Brainwashed?"; Stars Came Out for Gore
1) Dan Rather near tears. Referring to the video of Elian
saying he does not want to go to Cuba, Rather demanded: "Did you
weep?" After Elianís father replied that heís "run dry" of
tears, a choked up Rather mumbled: "Ah, but a father never dries
2) After playing the tape repeatedly of Elian saying he does
not want to go to Cuba, an MSNBC anchor asked a psychologist: "Do you
think this young boy was brainwashed?"
3) ABC and NBC morning show stars treated Juan Miguel
Gonzalezís statement as "very passionate words," but a week later
were quick to question if Elian were "coached" and to impugn the
Miami relatives by accusing them of "child abuse" over the video.
4) Bryant Gumbel rejected the idea that Cuban-American civil
disobedience is analogous to the civil rights movement and noting how
Cuban-Americans charge Castro with exploiting Elian, demanded if thatís
"any less reprehensible" than what they have done.
5) Gumbel also called the Elian video "the most
disgusting thing I've ever seen," rued how a kid from Haiti would have
been returned immediately and charged that the Miami relatives "don't
care about" Elian. But few Early Show viewers heard the comments.
6) CBSís Randall Pinkston acknowledged that Cubans are not
free to speak, but he insisted the Cuban "people appear untroubled by the
lack of modern conveniences" and believe "that President Castro is
responsible for all good things."
7) At a fundraiser featuring Clinton and Gore, Hollywood stars
and moguls, including Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey, Ron Howard and Jay Leno,
donated $2.8 million.
8) NBCís 4,223 "children" killed each year by guns
"Little Havana vs. Seattle," the latest Creators syndicate column by
MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell, is now online. Using some media quotes collected
by the MRCís Tim Graham, the column contrasts the mediaís condemnation of
those marching in support of Elian Gonzalez with how those same outlets
praised the efforts of the far-left protesters in Seattle. To read the column,
who saw Dan Ratherís interview with Juan Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday nightís
60 Minutes know Leonardo DiCaprioís upcoming Saturday appearance on ABC
wonít be the first time this week a little acting occurred in a network news
show. Barely more than two minutes into the CBS interview Rather showed a clip
of the video of Elian saying he does not want to go to Cuba, then queried:
"I want to ask you something man to man. After you saw that videotape for
the first time, did you weep?" Gonzalez replied that "I have no
tears left...I've run dry." Following a long pause, with voice breaking
and upper lip quivering, Rather mumbled: "Ah, but a father never dries
Rather conducted the interview on Saturday and the CBS
News Web site assuringly noted: "When the interview was conducted, there
were no Cuban government personnel in the room, in the house, or on the
grounds -- only Juan Miguel and the CBS News crew. Consistent with CBS News
practice, no questions or areas of questions
were submitted in advance."
Early in the interview Rather asked Gonzalez if he
considered his son to have been "kidnapped," but Rather also asked
if heís a "puppet" of Fidel Castro. Journalist Ann Louise Bardach
served as Ratherís expert on the case and she told Rather that Elianís
mother only tried to come to the U.S. in order to join her boyfriend, not for
political freedom. As for Gonzalez, Bardach insisted that "what happened
here is that a kind of regular normal guy who's fairly unpolitical has been
politicized by this drama." Sure enough, later in the interview, when
Rather asked about enjoying freedom in the U.S., Gonzalez shot back with the
communist propaganda line:
"I ask you what's
freedom? Well, freedom is for example, in Cuba, where education and health
care is free. Or is it the way it is here? Which of the two is freedom? For
example, here when parents send their children to school they have to worry
about violence. A child could be shot at school. In Cuba, things like that
don't happen. So you can go to work and not worry. Which of the two is
Sounds like the Cuban propaganda ministry watches U.S.
cable news all day.
Rather began the 13-minute-long 60 Minutes piece by
asking, "How is your son? How is Elian?" and then: "Do you
consider that he has been kidnapped?" After Gonzalezís affirmative
response Rather moved to the Elian video released on Thursday: "I know
you've seen this videotape, but with your permission I want to show it to you
again. Have you watch it, and tell us your reaction to the videotape
Gonzalez complained, as voiced by a translator:
"This is child abuse and mistreatment what they're doing to this boy. And
it is something that has been induced because these aren't the boy's true
feelings. That's not the way this boy feels. And I know I'm right in saying
that we have to take him back immediately because what they're doing is making
this child suffer. The way they're abusing him, turning him against his
Rather inquired: "Tell me what you felt, not just in your head but also
your heart when you saw and heard on that videotape your son say, ĎPapa, you
can stay here but I don't want to go to Cuba.í"
Gonzalez: "Well, I
can tell you that above all, despite everything I was feeling, and everything
I was suffering at that moment, I saw the betrayal inside my boy -- that they
made him do these things. Actually, he's suffering more here amongst them than
he suffered in the sea."
Rather: "I want to
ask you something man to man. After you saw that videotape for the first time,
did you weep?
going to tell you the truth. I don't have any tears left. I've cried too much.
During this whole period of time, I've cried a lot and suffered greatly and
I'm still in pain. To tell you the truth, I have no tears left. I have, I
don't know, I've run dry."
Rather, after a long
pause, seeming to approach tears with a breaking voice and quivering lip:
"Ah, but a father never dries up."
++ Watch this portion of
the interview and judge for yourself whether Rather engaged in a little
dramatic play-acting. Monday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a clip
in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
To read CBSís transcript of the 60 Minutes story, go
anchors and reporters didnít hesitate to condemn the Miami relatives for
releasing video of Elian saying he does not want to go back to Cuba -- just
before they all played it. And played it again and again all day Thursday. You
donít have to agree with the Cuban-Americans who want Elian to stay put to
think itís going a bit far to accuse the relatives of
"brainwashing" Elian, but thatís just what one MSNBC anchor did
last Thursday afternoon.
At about 1:20pm ET on April 13, Mika Brzezinski, one of
three anchors of MSNBCís womensí issues-focused Home Page show,
interviewed psychologist Robin Goodman. Goodman was not pleased with the
public relations move by the Miami family, insisting, "The thing thatís
also worrisome: Is he afraid of his father or these old women and these other
people who heís talking about that would be the people taking him to Cuba,
not his father."
Brzezinski jumped in:
"It really raises a lot of questions, and I know the question a lot of
people are asking is do you think this young boy was brainwashed?"
Goodman answered, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth: "Well, you know, itís hard to say exactly what brainwashing
would be, but what we know is that six-year-olds will try desperately to do
what they think the grownups around them want them to do and say because he
doesnít want to jeopardize his position with, right now, the only people
that are taking care of him and loving him. Itís a terrifying position for
him to be in."
and NBC morning show stars didnít see anything propagandistic or
disingenuous in Juan Miguel Gonzalezís statement read at Dulles airport live
during their April 6 broadcasts, but a week later reporters on both shows were
much more discerning about Elianís video, repeatedly wondering if he had
been "coached" and if having him tape the video made him a victim of
Back on April 6 NBCís Katie Couric referred to Juan
Miguel Gonzalezís "very passionate words" and ABCís Jack Ford
insisted "these are his words," as neither raised the likelihood
that communist officials wrote the words for him.
Obviously the motivations behind the expressed wishes of
a six-year-old are hard to assess and so questioning what led to Elianís
words was reasonable, though linking the video to "child abuse"
seems extreme, but the two networks betrayed their bias in the case when they
failed to raise questions about the legitimacy of the words from Elianís
father. (See the April 7 CyberAlert for details on how they assessed his
-- Thursday morning, April 13, ABCís Good Morning
America picked up the video as broadcast by Univision. After showing it,
co-host Charles Gibson warned: "This was a home movie made by the family.
You don't know to what extent the boy may have been coached, and as I say,
this may be an end game strategy by the family to try to influence this. That
videotape given to Univision, played this morning, we recorded it, played it
back for you."
-- The next day, Friday, NBCís Today caught up with
GMA and showed the video, but not before co-host Matt Lauer questioned the
motive behind it: "And then what about that videotape of Elian that the
family released on Thursday? Was that proper? The last ditch effort of a
loving family or was it a desperate manipulative move bordering on child
abuse? We'll talk about that as well."
The video really upset Katie Couric. She introduced an
interview segment: "Now more on this home videotape that the Miami
relatives released of Elian on Thursday. Was that a proper or a desperate
manipulative move bordering on child abuse? Maxine Waters is a Democratic
congresswoman from Los Angeles and Lincoln Diaz Balart who was born in Cuba is
a Republican Congressman from Miami. Good morning to both of you.
Congresswoman Waters, let me start with you. After watching the home video
that Elian's relatives released Senator Tom Harkin said the family should be
charged with child abuse. Do you agree?"
Couricís next question: "Congressman Diaz Balart
how do you defend their actions?"
Couric then queried:
"So you think making and airing this video is perfectly acceptable, in
She did at least
wonder: "Congresswoman Waters shouldn't the little boy's feelings or
desires be known if in fact this is the case?"
Interviewing INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, Lauer
"I'd like to ask
you about the videotape that was released on Thursday, Commissioner Meissner.
It showed Elian sitting on his bed saying things like, 'Poppa I don't want to
go back to Cuba. You can go back or you can stay here but I don't want to go
back.' Do you think that tape is exploiting this young boy?"
As picked up by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, he took
the same angle with Spencer Eig, lawyer for the Miami family:
"Let me ask you
about this videotape that was released yesterday showing Elian sitting on the
bed saying, 'Poppa I don't want to go back to Cuba.' Is that not exploiting
this six year old boy?....But this young boy is obviously being coached by
someone behind the camera, isn't that exploiting him?"
-- Friday Good Morning
America viewers also heard the "child abuse" charge. MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson caught this lengthy question from GMA co-host Charles Gibson
to Lazaro Gonzalez's attorney Roger Bernstein:
"Let me turn to
this issue of the videotape that was released yesterday morning, in which this
boy, a lot of people feel looking coached, says he does not want to go back to
Cuba, 'Father, if you'd like to stay here, that's alright, but I don't want to
go back.' Some impartial parties, Roger, who have no stake in this case one
way or the other, and who are very eminent in the area of child psychology --
Dr. Alvin Poussaint, for instance, at Harvard, says this [quote onscreen] 'is
going to make a reunion with his father much more difficult for him, and it is
just a shame.' And Poussaint went on to say, 'They have successfully convinced
Elian to abandon his father, and that's brutal.' And then on the political
scene, someone like Senator Tom-"
interrupting: "Well, may I-"
Gibson: "Let me
just quote one other, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, again, who has no part in
this case, but said [quote onscreen with elipses], 'the family is flouting the
law...they ought to be charged with child abuse [because] that's what it
is...flagrant child abuse.'"
Crossfire-like shouting match erupted Friday morning on CBSís The Early Show
over Elian, for once making the program a bit interesting. Bryant Gumbel,
naturally, took the liberal side, rejecting the idea that Cuban-American civil
disobedience is analogous to the civil rights movement and asking if
exploitation of Elian the by Cuban-Americans is "any less
reprehensible" than what they claim Castro has done.
For the April 14 segment
Gumbel first went to former independent counsel Joseph DiGenova: "In a
legal sense, there any legal justification for what's going on in Miami right
"No, none whatsoever, Bryant....This is a tragic situation. The boy has
been exploited and that terrible videotape that was shown yesterday is an
example of why that community is not enjoying public support."
Gumbel followed up with
a leading question: "Do you think that community is now out of control on
Turning to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Gumbel
demanded: "The Cuban-American community has been supporting clear
disobedience of the law. How do you justify that?"
"This is just incredible. Now it's become fashionable and okay to slander
the Cuban-American exile community when we have shown through 41 years of
exile here in the United States that we
are a very patriotic community, that we're very thankful that the United
States has given us an opportunity to express free ideas. And I think that
that's what we have shown, and we are showing this with the Elian case."
Gumbel engaged in an argument with her about whether the
family has broken the law. Ros-Lehtinen contended at one point: "We
should remember that when slavery was the law in the United States, some
people acted with civil disobedience against that. And when women were denied
the right to vote, some people acted in civil disobedience against that."
"I'm, I'm not, I'm not sure those are legitimate analogies."
Gumbel soon went to Professor Pam Falk, a CBS
consultant, and charged: "Cuban-Americans, Ms. Falk, have been quick to
point fingers at Castro for exploiting the little boy. Are their actions any
She corrected Gumbel on
the law-breaking: "This is a family battle in which both sides have
passions. And I think the idea that the Cuban-American community is violating
the law is wrong. What they're trying to do is say, 'We won't be party to
this, but we will obey the law.'"
The discussion soon became a shouting match between
Ros-Lehtinen and DiGenova over the motives of Cuban-Americans.
Gumbel called the Elian video "the most disgusting thing
I've ever seen," rued with Mark McEwen how a kid from Haiti would have
been returned immediately and charged that the Miami relatives "don't
care about" Elian, but few Early Show viewers heard the discussion.
Thatís because it occurred just after 7:55am in "co-op time," a
time used for local news by virtually all but the puniest affiliates.
Fortunately, Early Show transcripts on Nexis include
what CBS is sending out during the local news time and I came across this on
Fridayís show, as provided by Burrelleís to Nexis. After arguing about
whether the situation would be different if it were Elianís mother trying to
get custody, this exchange took place:
Gumbel: "...I don't know -- I don't know if all of
those -- all those people would be out there screaming if it was reuniting a
boy with his mother. I really don't know that. I -- I'm not sure."
"This is about Fidel Castro. This is about Cuban-American politics."
Clayson: "This is
not about a mother and a father."
Mark McEwen, weather
guy: "The gentleman who sat over there said if the kid was from
Gumbel: "You know
as well as I do..."
back there -- would have been back there the next day."
Gumbel: "You know
as -- it -- yeah. I mean, they wouldn't have even let him set foot."
Gumbel: "But I do
think there's a lot of outrage among -- among Americans about what's going on
down there. I mean, the number..."
Clayson: "Oh, I
numbers are frightening..."
non-Latin whites. I think it's something like 77 percent. And among
African-Americans, it's, like, 93 percent."
News reader Julie Chen:
McEwen: "It's the
kid's father. It's not the neighbor coming to get the child."
right. That's right."
McEwen: "It's his
father. And these people who didn't know the kid six months ago know best? I
don't get that. I don't buy that."
Gumbel: "And they
don't care about him."
Gumbel: "I mean,
they really don't."
Clayson: "Oh, they
care somewhat about him."
Gumbel: "Oh, I
disagree. I think they care about him as -- I'll tell you, this tape is the
most disgusting thing I've ever seen."
Clayson: "Well, I
agree with you on that."
Clayson: "But I
don't think that's..."
Gumbel: "That tape
And on it went, at least according to the Nexis
transcript. It makes me take pity on small market viewers who must endure this
chatter every morning.
ahead to Elianís life back in Cuba, CBSís Randall Pinkston on Thursday
morning acknowledged that Cubans are not free to speak, but Pinkston insisted
"people appear untroubled by the lack of modern conveniences" and
believe "that President Castro is responsible for all good things."
He spent most of his piece touting or letting Cubans trumpet the Castro-line
about educational achievement and free medical care.
MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed Pinkstonís piece on the
April 13 Early Show. It also appeared in a slightly different form on
Saturdayís CBS Evening News. Pinkston began the Thursday Early Show story:
"We've been taking
a look at what life will probably be like for Elian Gonzalez when he does come
back. You know, Cuba is a communist country, free speech doesn't exist here,
but people will talk to you and if you listen between the lines you can get a
sense of how it will be for Elian when he does return. In Cuba living is
unhurried, people appear untroubled by the lack of modern conveniences. In
small towns like Cardenas, no running water indoors, open drainage, horse
Woman as translated by
Pinkston: "Life is very good, we have everything in this country.
Education is free, so is medical care. Housing is good thanks to our commander
testimonial reveals a bedrock of government-fostered belief that President
Castro is responsible for all good things. One achievement: life expectancy.
Surprisingly Cuba is nearly equal to the United States, due in part to an
extensive health care system. Cuba also has one of the highest literacy rates
in the Western Hemisphere. Education through college is free, but there are
Another woman as
translated by Pinkston: "Just like everybody, I would like to visit other
why haven't you gone?"
Woman: "Well, I imagine, I don't know, there are no
few exceptions Cubans aren't free to leave the country. Yet many have the same
dreams for their children as Americans. What do you want your daughter to be
when she grows up?"
"Whatever she wants."
system may change by the time this little girl and Elian are adults, but for
now most jobs are government controlled. Salaries are fixed and very low.
Everyone depends on government subsidized food allowances and low cost
housing. In Cardenas, Elian's hometown, I met a retired boat builder. His
pension, approximately $8 a month. Compared to life before Castro, how is it
Man through Pinkston:
"Life wasn't good in the other government but we had everything. Now
things are very different. You have to see and hear and keep quiet because you
can't do anything about it."
"And because they don't want to get in trouble with their government,
they won't say what their government should do about it. One thing we do know
is that the focus here is on what the American government is going to do about
getting Elian out of Miami. They're saying that the US government should use
all authority, all federal force to do that. And they're also saying that they
will not, whenever Elian comes home, they will not be having a big celebration
because they don't want to be accused of doing what the Miami relatives have
done. Which is to use Elian as a lighting rod for political purposes."
Gore has won over the hearts and wallets of Hollywood moguls and stars, just
as Bill Clinton had in 1992. Transferring his Hollywood popularity onto his
Vice President, Bill Clinton chose a Saturday night Democratic fundraiser in
Beverly Hills to make his first joint campaign appearance with Gore in over a
month. Among the celebrities in attendance pitching in donations totaling $2.8
million were, according to Reuters and AP: Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey,
Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Ron Howard and Jimmy Smits. In an unusual
decision, the press was allowed to cover the event.
And for those who thought David Letterman treated George
Bush poorly earlier this year, Al Gore has a friend on NBC in the same time
slot. Another name on the guest list: Jay Leno.
An early morning Reuters dispatch on April 16 by Thomas
Hollywood celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Kevin
Spacey donated $2.8 million at a Democratic fundraiser on Saturday night that
featured President Clinton and Vice President
Gore suggested it would be a mistake to turn the reins over to Texas Gov.
George W. Bush, his Republican rival, who favors using the record surplus to
fund what the Vice President said would be "a risky tax scheme."
"It would be like a bunch of investors saying, 'Let's get rid of the
team that made (Academy Award-winning movie) 'American Beauty' and get the one
that made 'Howard the Duck,í" Gore said, drawing laughter and applause.
Clinton got another round of applause and laughter when he went to the
microphone and said, "I loved 'American Beauty,' ... but I actually loved
'Howard the Duck.í"....
Other entertainment figures at Saturday's gala included Melanie Griffith,
Antonio Banderas, Ron Howard, Jay Leno and Jimmy Smits.
In an April 16 AP story, Scott Lindlaw filled in some
....The two men came together later in Beverly Hills for a Democratic
National Committee fundraiser that netted at least $2.8 million.
Music mogul and Democratic superdonor David Geffen was hosting the event
with DreamWorks SKG co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Singers Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow attended, as did Jay Leno actors Kevin
Spacey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney, Rene Russo, Edward James
Olmos and Antonio Banderas.
The politicians and the stars mingled on the balcony of Greystone Mansion,
a gothic castle overlooking downtown Los Angeles and, for a night, a knot of
protesters. It is reputed to be the largest home
ever built in Beverly Hills.
The April 13 CyberAlert cited an April 12 NBC Nightly News story by Roger
OíNeil, who in a report from Denver promoted a misleading publicity gimmick
as he walked among thousands of little shoes: "This week at the State
Capitol, 4,223 pairs of shoes were laid out, pressure on lawmakers to pass
more gun control legislation. Why 4,223? That many children are killed in a
year by guns."
CyberAlert suggested that most of those annual deaths
were not the accidental type the word "children" conjures up, but of
Indeed, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens alerted me to a
March 3 NRA report, which explained:
On March 2, 2000, President Clinton tried to persuade the public to support
so-called "Triggerlock" and "smart" gun laws, by falsely
claiming that 13 children are killed with guns every day. (NBC "Today
Show") The claim is commonly made by anti-gun politicians and
The statement is simply untrue. To reach the fraudulent "13
children" figure (alternately and even more dishonestly expressed by some
"gun control" advocates as "5,000 per year" or "one
every 90 seconds"), the President and those with the same agenda count
anyone under the age of 20 as a "child." The reason is simple: There
are relatively few firearm-related deaths among children, but a much greater
number among juveniles and young adults ages 15-19. Add both age groups
together, call that total "children," and the number of deaths among
"children" is dishonestly increased 569%....
To read the report, go to:
In case you were wondering,
Patriotís Day is a holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
commemorating the April 19, 1775 battle of Lexington and Concord -- back when
Bay Staters still cared about high taxes and liberty and realized it might be
beneficial to have armed citizens. --