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CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday April 27, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 73) |
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INS Psychiatrist Without Rebuttal; Cuba Not Communist; Judge Judged Reno; DiCaprio/Clinton

1) To bolster the drive to add another entitlement, Families USA released a study on soaring drug prices. ABC cited how "the White House released a study today," but NBC’s Lisa Myers referred to the "liberal advocacy group" and told viewers the other side.

2) Sans rebuttal CBS’s Byron Pitts relayed the INS psychiatrist’s analysis of Elian, how he "was not traumatized during Saturday’s raid." ABC’s Linda Douglass remarked how Elian "likes to cuddle" with his father, but at least noted a retort from Cuban-Americans. NBC’s Jim Avila promoted Cuba’s "honor" and need for more visas.

3) Cuba is a "nationalistic" nation, "not primarily a communist country," Jim Avila insisted to Don Imus, though he simultaneously claimed that Elian comes from a family of "true communists."

4) She ripped him from his house at gunpoint and won’t let him see those who cared for him for five months, but Today’s Katie Couric told INS Commissioner Doris Meissner she’s gone "to extraordinary lengths" to make Elian "comfortable."

5) Geraldo: "Republicans who invoked family values and the rule of law in their attempts to impeach Bill Clinton" are "now blasting the President for upholding both those ideals."

6) Former judge Andrew Napolitano in the WSJ: "A review of the affidavit on which the warrant was based shows that the raid was constitutionally flawed, unlawful and repugnant to the...spirit of the then three-day-old decision" of an appeals court.

7) Few watched ABC’s special in which Leonardo DiCaprio asked Bill Clinton "why do you think people don't take" global warming "seriously enough?" But ABC plans to distribute it to schools.


1

ABC and NBC led Wednesday night with the White House release of a study from the left-wing group Families USA bolstering the Democratic effort to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs, but only NBC’s Lisa Myers referred to the source of the numbers as "a liberal advocacy group." ABC just cited how "the White House released a study today" and "today’s survey shows." Unlike ABC’s John Martin, she also provided viewers with an explanation for why drugs cost more in the U.S. than in Canada.

    Peter Jennings opened the April 26 World News Tonight:
    "We’re going to begin tonight with the cost of prescription drugs and the growing realization that it’s going to be a very significant issue in this year’s election campaigns. The White House released a study today which says that the cost of 50 drugs most often used by senior citizens is rising faster than inflation...."

    John Martin began: "This is America’s newest political battleground. Today’s survey shows that of 39 drugs used by seniors, 22 rose at twice the rate of inflation, six rose five times he rate of inflation."
    After soundbites from Clinton and Senator Tom Daschle, Martin noted how Democrats "reminded citizens drug prices are lower in Canada." Viewers then saw Al Gore at a pharmacy acting shocked at the price of one drug. Martin observed: "Republicans are so worried about losing control of the House that they are easing their long-standing opposition to government solutions."
    Martin showed a clip of Speaker Dennis Hastert announcing the GOP’s plan on April 12 as he went on to give an overview of what the two parties have proposed and concluded it will take a bi-partisan effort to pass a bill.

    NBC Nightly News also promoted the liberal group’s agenda, but at least acknowledged the ideological tilt. Lisa Myers asserted:
    "Confirmation today that you aren’t alone. The price of nearly everyone’s prescription is going up. A new study finds the price of fifty drugs most popular with seniors jumped, on average, almost four percent last year, nearly twice the rate of inflation. Over the last six years, prices soared more than thirty percent, again double inflation. Democrats seize on the report by a liberal advocacy group as still more evidence seniors urgently need help."
    Bill Clinton: "More than three in five American seniors today lack affordable and dependable prescription drug coverage. Today’s report shows that the burden on these seniors is getting worse."
    Myers: "In fact, the report finds the prices of some popular drugs are skyrocketing..."

    Myers ran through some examples of prices of specific drugs before turning to Tom Daschle: "You almost have to take a nitroglycerine tablet just to read this report. Some of the numbers are truly shocking."
    Myers then provided time for another point of view, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "A spokesman for drug companies charges the study is politically motivated and exaggerates cost."
    Alan Holmer, pharmaceutical trade group: "The price increases by the manufacturers over the course of the past six years have been relatively modest."
    Myers: "Still, as prices go up, many seniors in border states now go to Mexico or Canada to buy drugs made in America. One government study finds the very same prescriptions cost an average of 43 percent less in Canada than in this country...So why do people in other countries pay much less than Americans for drugs?"
    Holmer: "Because of price controls that exist in Canada and Mexico."
    Myers: "As a result, drug makers say Americans end up paying most of the cost for research and development of new drugs."
    Senator Slade Gorton: "These other countries are getting a free ride on the backs of American citizens, on the backs of American purchasers."
    Myers: "Frustrated lawmakers in Maine are taking matters into their own hands, passing legislation to require that drugs sold in Maine cost no more than in Canada. The governor has not yet signed the bill, but a state senator says politicians have to do something."
    Myers concluded: "Tonight senior Republicans, clearly feeling the political heat, predict Congress will at least help low income seniors this year to ease, though not cure, the pain."

    Political heat fueled by a media excited about highlighting victims more government spending can save.

2

The media have not had any independent verification of Elian’s well-being since he was seized Saturday morning, but instead of demanding access the networks simply pass along the spin delivered by his government captors.

    On Wednesday, April 26, the INS released the assessment for a psychiatrist and CBS’s Byron Pitts simply relayed her analysis of how "peace and quiet...is what this family needs most" and that Elian has "warm" feelings for his step mother. Pushing the claim of an interested party, Pitts gave credibility to how INS Commissioner Doris Meissner is sure "Elian was not traumatized during Saturday’s raid."

    A group of Cuban-American psychologists and pediatricians denounced the government assessment and demanded access to Elian, but Pitts ignored them. ABC’s Linda Douglass at least mentioned their retort after relating how the government psychiatrist "found that he treats his father with admiration and pride and likes to cuddle with him," but she also dismissed Marisleysis’s mother role: "The psychiatrist found that his feelings toward her seemed more like a crush a small boy would have on a teacher."

    From Havana, NBC’s Jim Avila highlighted Fidel Castro’s complaint about not getting more visas and in explaining what is keeping Elian in the U.S. gave credit to the Cuban regime: "The Cubans say honor is involved, too."

    -- CBS Evening News. Over video from a helicopter looking down at Juan Miguel and Elian, Byron Pitts began:
    "With the media kept at a distance, Elian, his father, step Mom and half brother spent their first full day in their new hideaway, a simple pleasure made possible by a private citizen who volunteered to pay for the Gonzalez’s stay at the spacious and secluded Carmichael farm along Maryland’s eastern Shore. Peace and quiet, says the government psychiatrist who interviewed Elian and his father together, is what this family needs most."
    Doris Meissner, INS Commissioner: "She found him to be very playful, teasing, very warm toward both his father and his stepmother."
    Pitts: "INS Commissioner Doris Meissner was briefed by the psychiatrist. According to Meissner, Elian was not traumatized during Saturday’s raid, a raid that according to the INS agents on sight, was far more dangerous and hostile than they’d ever imagined."

    After a clip of Meissner claiming her agents met resistance outside the house, Pitts noted how Miami Cubans traveled to Washington, DC for a protest and showed Marisleysis thanking them for "supporting the most precious thing I have which is Elian." Pitts warned: "For now, the psychiatrist says, that reunion should not take place. The one that will be is between Elian and his cousin and a teacher from Cuba who traveled to the United States today."

    -- ABC’s World News Tonight. Linda Douglass reported how Juan Miguel Gonzalez has requested that the court allow him to make decision’s in Elian’s asylum claim. His Greg Craig-prepared brief took on Lazaro: "His treatment of Elian, particularly during the final weeks, was shocking and abusive."

    Noting how Elian and his father are in seclusion at the Wye River Plantation compound, Douglass announced: "Yesterday the boy was seen by a psychiatrist retained by the government, who found that he treats his father with admiration and pride and likes to cuddle with him. The psychiatrist reported that Elian calls his step mother ‘momma’ and advised that he should not see his Miami relatives right now because they are too angry. Psychologists and psychiatrists representing the Miami relatives came to Capitol Hill to lash out at those findings."
    Dr. Jose Carro, pediatrician: "Every moment that Elian remains forcibly separated from his adopted family in Miami represents further emotional abuse."
    Douglass concluded: "Juan Miguel Gonzalez’s lawyer said today the Miami relatives have not actually called him to arrange a meeting with Elian. As for Marisleysis Gonzalez’s claim that she is Elian’s surrogate mother, the psychiatrist found that his feelings toward her feel seemed more like a crush a small boy would have on a teacher or a little girl."

    -- NBC Nightly News skipped the psychiatrist’s report in favor of passing along Castro’s concerns and assurances. From Havana, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Jim Avila trumpeted:
    "New pictures released today of a smiling Elian Gonzalez and his baby brother, til now his only playmate on the grounds of Maryland’s Wye Plantation. But another friend now on the way, his eleven-year-old cousin on route from Havana to Washington, with his Cuban kindergarten teacher. The State Department has granted four more visas for other Elian classmates, but late this afternoon, Fidel Castro complains that’s not enough. He wants twelve Cuban first-graders, friends of Elian, in the United States as long as the Gonzalez family has to stay."
    Fidel Castro, through interpreter: "We thought there were no obstacles for the twelve kids and the doctors and the rest of the team to travel."
    Avila: "The State Department says the other visas requested by the Cubans are under review. In the U.S., lingering questions about how the INS extracted Elian, can he go back to Cuba right away, and can a six-year-old really apply for asylum? First, was the government’s late night search warrant valid? Some scholars say it’s questionable to use a criminal warrant in a civil matter where no crime has been committed, but the Justice Department says the INS regularly raids homes to return undocumented aliens, and a judge signed the order to remove Elian."

    Following a long soundbite from Steve Saltzburg of George Washington University Law School, Avila pumped up Castro’s integrity: "Next, what keeps Elian from leaving the United States now? Two reasons: The Atlanta federal court order demanding he stay until the appeals process is over and paperwork Juan Miguel the father signed before the INS turned him over. The Cubans say honor is involved, too."
    Ricardo Alarcon, Cuban National Assembly President: "We will not violate our, our, our commitment and ensure that Juan Miguel has the same, the same attitude."
    Avila: "And finally, can Elian, a six-year-old, successfully claim asylum? The Miami family and their attorneys say yes, but most immigration experts say there’s no way a young child can prove the required well-founded fear of persecution for religious or political beliefs."
    Anthony D’Amato, Northwestern University Law School: "He would have to show that if he went back he could be jailed, arrested, tortured, etc."
    Avila concluded by campaigning for Castro’s request for more visas: "The bottom line, the Cubans say it all means Elian will be in the United States until at least mid-May, and he needs more Cuban friends. Some in the United States predict it could be even longer than that before he returns to Cuba, but most agree the law in America says he must go home."

3

But at least Elian will not be returning to a communist country, just a "nationalistic one." So maintained Jim Avila in an appearance by phone on Wednesday’s Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast by MSNBC. MRC analyst Paul Smith caught Avila’s evaluation of Cuba in which Avila seemingly contradicted himself by stressing how Elian comes from a family of "true believers... true communists" while insisting Cuba is "not primarily a communist country." Avila argued on the April 26 show:
    "Everybody you talked to here who are true believers, and all evidence is that Juan Miguel comes from a family, a father and a mother, of true believers, true communists. What you hear from them is it matters not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside and there is, the one thing that most that I’ve learned about Cubans in the many times that I have visited here in the last few years, is that it is mostly a nationalistic country, not primarily a communist country."

    Avila explained how Juan Miguel will return to resume his "fulfilling" life: "Juan Miguel says he will come back and I believe he will come back because he is Cuban. He believes you know that the life he lives in a small village eighty miles outside of Havana is fulfilling life. He has, because he works with dollars in a tourist area. He has enough to get along and he has a sense of community there that, it is going to be hard to dissuade him. Somebody has already offered him millions of dollars there in the United States. He has turned it down. I don’t think that money in the culture that these folks have grown up in is, means the same thing that it does to many Americans. Remember there is that other baseball pitcher who’s here who turned down 50 million dollars to come play baseball, do something he loves and turned it down in order to be the community hero here in Cuba."

4

Forget about demanding access to Elian for the media or any non INS or Cuban government operatives. Never mind denouncing the INS for keeping Elian secluded from those who took care of him for five months. Wednesday morning NBC’s Katie Couric praised INS Commissioner Doris Meissner for going to "extraordinary lengths" to make sure Elian is "comfortable."

    Couric’s last question to Meissner on the April 26 Today:
    "And what about visits from his friends, his classmates. I know that his kindergarten teacher, pediatrician and cousin are flying from Havana today. But there have been discussions about, pardon me, having four of his playmates come up as well. It seems to me you're going to extraordinary lengths to make sure this little boy feels comfortable. Do you fear that you might be going overboard here?"

    Just how "comfortable" did Meissner make him when one of her agents had an automatic weapon inches from his head?

5

Geraldo Rivera is thrilled by the seizure of Elian, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens found in watching his two CNBC shows from Tuesday night, his first broadcasts since the event. Wednesday night he did actually bring aboard Alan Dershowitz, who denounced Janet Reno’s legal reasoning. (See the April 26 CyberAlert for Dershowitz’s take.)

    Here are some of his comments uttered on the April 25 Rivera Live on which both Senator Bob Smith and fisherman Donato Darymple appeared as guests:
    -- "The President isn’t the only who approves of Janet Reno’s smash and grab operation this past weekend. If it had been my kid the only difference is I would have led the charge. And what the hell was the fisherman doing in that house at five in the morning?"
    -- "But the resilient little boy had barely begun his joyful family reunion when the potshots from pious politicians began flying. In fact the Monday morning quarterbacking from Republican leaders started well before Monday morning with House Majority Whip, Tom DeLay calling the immigration agents who seized Elian, jack booted thugs."
    -- "The debate has largely become partisan with Republicans who invoked family values and the rule of law in their attempts to impeach Bill Clinton now blasting the President for upholding both those ideals. That, at least, in my constitutionally protected opinion."

6

"Reno's Raid Was Based on a Tissue of Lies" declared the headline over an April 26 Wall Street Journal op-ed by former New Jersey Superior Court judge Andrew P. Napolitano, the FNC legal analyst who took on Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder live on the cable channel Saturday morning.

    The April 23 CyberAlert quoted the exchange and featured a RealPlayer clip of it. To read or watch, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.orgcyberalerts/2000/cyb20000423.asp#7

    In his Journal piece Napolitano, who teaches constitutional law at Seton Hall Law School, further detailed the deceitful methods he believes Reno and the INS employed to justify the raid and obtain a warrant. Here’s an excerpt:

....The agents who assaulted Lazaro Gonzalez's house early Saturday morning did have a search warrant. But a review of the affidavit on which the warrant was based shows that the raid was constitutionally flawed, unlawful and repugnant to the language and spirit of the then three-day-old decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered Ms. Reno to keep Elian in the U.S. and denied her request for an injunction requiring Mr. Gonzalez to turn the boy over.

True to form, the administration lied to the American people. The first effort to hide the truth was the application for a search warrant. The Immigration and Naturalization Service didn't present it to Judge Michael Moore, the federal district judge in Miami handling the case. Rather, the INS waited until after 7 p.m. on Good Friday, when a federal duty magistrate, not familiar with the case and notoriously pro-government in his rulings, was available to hear warrant applications.

The affidavit presented to the magistrate was signed by Special Agent Mary Rodriguez of the INS. Ms. Rodriguez told the magistrate that Elian was being "concealed" at Lazaro's home, that the boy was "unlawfully restrained" there, and that INS Deputy Director of Investigations James T. Spearman Jr. had already ordered the arrest of Elian because the boy was "an illegal alien." In response, the magistrate issued a search warrant.

Thus the power that the government invoked to invade the house was that conferred by Congress when contraband or evidence of a crime is being hidden. That was hardly the case with Elian, who was often present, for all the world to see, in Mr. Gonzalez's front yard....

What the affidavit omits is as revealing as what it says. Ms. Reno justified her agents' use of tear gas, guns and violence by claiming a fear of weapons in Lazaro's house. Ms. Rodriguez's affidavit says nothing of the kind. Ms. Reno claims she seized the child for his own best interests. There is no allegation in Ms. Rodriguez's affidavit of mistreatment or likely harm to Elian by his Miami relatives. Ms. Rodriguez also didn't tell the magistrate that Aaron Podhurst, a well-respected Miami lawyer and a longtime friend of Ms. Reno, was feverishly mediating negotiations between lawyers for the government, Elian's father and Lazaro Gonzalez even as the affidavit was being filed....

    END Excerpt

    Wall Street Journal online subscribers can read the whole piece by going to:
http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB956710589311679622.htm

7

Saturday night at 8pm ET/PT, 7pm CT/MT ABC aired its Planet Earth 2000 special featuring Leonardo DiCaprio’s interview with President Clinton which ABC News President David Westin spent a week denying was really an interview. Westin initially maintained: "We did not send him to interview the President. No one is that stupid."

    Westin also insisted in the e-mail to upset staff that "all roles of journalists must be played by journalists (duh!)," but DiCaprio had an even greater journalistic role in the one-sided special than anticipated. He opened the show, introduced each segment and then concluded the program with a call to action matching the liberal agenda of the Earth Day 2000 celebration on Washington’s Mall which he chaired.

    On the bright side, the show was little watched, but a New York Times story, brought to my attention by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, reported ABC will soon foist the liberal advocacy upon school kids. In an April 24 story, Jim Rutenberg related how ABC News spokeswoman Su-Lin Nichols "said the program would have a broader reach in May, when it would be distributed to 12,000 high schools and middle schools." On Saturday night it drew 3.9 million viewers according to Nielsen numbers in the April 26 USA Today, fewer than CBS’s Early Edition, Fox’s Cops or NBC’s Pretender. For the week, it finished 92nd out of 93 shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, though well ahead of most UPN and WB shows.

    ABC employed MTV-like production techniques, with angled shots, frequent jumps and music, in hopes of holding onto teens tuning in to see DiCaprio. But a piddling 168,000 teens tuned in, The Washington Post’s Lisa deMoraes noted Wednesday.

    And what did those who watched see and what will school kids soon have to endure? An hour of advocacy topped off with about two minutes of DiCaprio’s interview with Bill Clinton. Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC’s Free Market Project, watched the whole hour featuring anecdotal tales, told by ABC correspondents Chris Cuomo and Elizabeth Vargas, about global warming’s impact on Alaska and coral reefs and how cars are warming Atlanta. Noyes counted a grand total of 41 seconds casting doubt on ABC’s dire scenarios. All 41 seconds came from two soundbites from Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute.

    Now to the Clinton segment, including what didn’t air. Bill Clinton told DiCaprio how "we started a project here at the White House called the greening of the White House. Just by changing the lighting in this whole building, we lowered our electric bills by $100,000 a year." DiCaprio’s response: "Wow."

    DiCaprio’s first question as shown: "Mr. President, I want to thank you very much for your time, and as you know, I'm neither a politician nor 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 that I couldn't pass up."

    His second: "Why do you think this issue is so constantly overlooked and why do you think people don't take it seriously enough, and for you, is it as important as something like health care or education?"

    DiCaprio also inquired: "What do you think the best course for American citizens is, within the next 20 years, as far as helping the environment is concerned?" And finally: "Do you think we can eventually become a role model?"

    +++ Watch the portion of Leonardo DiCaprio’s interview with President Clinton shown by ABC News. It's introduced by ABC's Elizabeth Vargas. Thursday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post it in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    The full transcript of the 30 minute interview, conducted at 1:15pm ET on March 31, is available on salon.com’s site. Go to:
http://www.salon.com/politics2000/feature/2000/04/22/leo/

    From there I gleaned these two insightful questions ABC decided not to air:
    -- "Many people have said in the past that the American dream was to buy a car and live in the suburbs. But it has created massive problems that have made us more reliant on our cars. Since it is so difficult for us to convince people to use mass transportation, how can we promote hybrid vehicles and convince people to give up their SUVs? For instance, if it only costs $575 a car to make them cleaner, why can't you make it a law, like seatbelts?"
    -- "Now, Louisiana is the second largest consumer of fossil fuels and the city most at risk for sea level rise. Can't something be done like in Atlanta where the government withheld highway funds, making it the model city for environmental responsibility?"

    Yes, in his mind Louisiana is a "city."

    Planet Earth 2000 concluded with this message from DiCaprio as butterflies flew around him while he sat in the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History:
    "As the debate surrounding global warming continues on, a recent study by government scientists suggests that the Earth's climate is in fact warming at an unprecedented rate. But it may be decades before we know the full impact of global warming. And by then, it may be too late for us to do anything about it. Now, there's a concept in the scientific community that goes something like this: Complex systems or large phenomena like El Nino can be started by a fluctuation as gentle as the flapping wings of a butterfly. It's a metaphor called the butterfly effect. Now, if we take that a step further, that means that the slightest action could have a negative effect on the planet or in turn, it might result in something positive. Simple fact is there's nothing to lose if we take preventative measures right now to save our planet, but there's a whole lot to lose if we don't."

    Nothing to lose but freedom from more government regulation. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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