Anything for 5 Minutes of Reno; Helms = Castro; Knocked Down Cameraman Ignored
1) At the White House Correspondents'
Association dinner Jay Leno showed video of CNN's Wolf Blitzer dancing with
three women who ran their hands through his hair and started to disrobe him.
2) People in lawless nations like Russia
and Colombia would give anything "for five minutes of Janet Reno,"
effused Thomas Friedman on PBS Friday night. He insisted the Miami Cubans had
"kidnapped" Elian. Time's Michael Duffy argued Reno should have
3) Looking at the gun held by the SWAT team
member in the infamous photo, ABC News reported "you see the safety is in
the off position." And ABC reported the photo shows "the safety is
4) On Senator Bob Graham's charge that
Clinton promised not to seize Elian at night, ABC relayed how "Lockhart
also made an off the cuff remark that 5am may be considered early in the
5) Jesse Helms "is just as much a
dictator as Castro," upchucked liberal columnist Mary McGrory from her
featured spot in the Washington Post.
6) They shout "Pioneers for communism
will be like Che!" but a Washington Post reporter was unwilling to state
as fact that the Castro youth group "imparts communist ideology."
Instead, he attributed the charge to what "Cuban exiles claim."
7) Deroy Murdock investigated how the media
don't care about how two NBC cameramen were prevented from taping the raid.
Cal Thomas argued coverage proves "today's media have abandoned the
watchdog role, becoming lap dogs to this administration."
8) CBS's Jim Stewart: "The real irony
for Republicans, say some analysts, is that if they had acted months earlier
when Elian's status was truly in doubt, they'd be the heroes now."
9) On the Microsoft breakup request, NBC's
Pete Williams stressed how "some industry experts think a breakup could
actually be good for Microsoft." ABC's Betsy Stark found: "There was
no consensus today that a breakup of Microsoft would be good for
Correction #1. The last item in the April 28 CyberAlert
listed an incorrect date for CBS reporter Russ Mitchell saying that in the
first three months of the year the economy grew over five percent,
"triggered by a boom in consumer spending not seen since Ronald Reagan's
first term." Mitchell's report aired the night before, on the April 27
CBS Evening News, not on April 17.
Correction #2: Recent CyberAlerts have misspelled the
names of two players in the Elian case. It's "Marisleysis" Gonzalez,
not Marisleysia. And it's Donato "Dalrymple," not Darymple.
Gettin' down with the Wolf-Man. Saturday night's White House Correspondents'
Association dinner featured a video of Joe Lockhart interacting with the West
Wing cast in character as well as the much highlighted White House video of
Bill Clinton showing how he has nothing to do all day but make lunch for
Hillary, mow the grass and buy smoked ham online with "Stuart," the
disheveled guy in the Ameritrade ads.
But Tonight Show host Jay Leno
also brought along his own video spoofs for the dinner broadcast live by
C-SPAN, including a clip of CNN's Wolf Blitzer boogieing on the Tonight Show
stage with three women who run their hands through his hair and start to
remove his clothing. Leno set up the clip:
"You've all picked on President Clinton, but how
do White House correspondents behave?....Suppose he doesn't know the camera's
on him, suppose he stopped by the Tonight Show. How would he behave?"
+++ See Blitzer dancing with
the ladies, go to the MRC home page later this morning where the MRC's Eric
Pairel and Kristina Sewell will post a RealPlayer clip from C-SPAN's coverage
of the April 29 dinner. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
The people of Colombia and Russia, "no rule of law societies," would
give anything "for five minutes of Janet Reno," proclaimed New York
Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Friday's Washington Week in Review. In an
April 25 column headlined "Reno for President," Friedman professed
how "that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an
automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the
U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart." His
reasoning? It demonstrated that "America is a country where the rule of
law rules." See the April 26 CyberAlert for a column excerpt:
Having taken such an
impassioned stand on the issue didn't prevent PBS from selecting him to assess
the Elian situation for the roundtable show. Friedman is now a foreign affairs
columnist for the Times after many years as a reporter. On the April 28
program Friedman reiterated his siding with Reno, accused the Cuban-American
community kidnapping Elian and declared the Cuban people, who showed
"sincerity" in their protests, "won." He also conceded
"only the criminals have guns in Cuba and they're all in power." In
the same discussion, Time's Michael Duffy maintained that Reno's only mistake
was not taking action sooner.
Asked by moderator Alan Murray
why the Elian case generated such passion, Friedman explained:
"You've got the Miami Cubans who believe
Castro's the devil -- he's taken their property, he's evicted their family --
and they see absolutely no compromising or truck with him and it was, the
Elian case was a way to get at the devil. You had other people, who sided with
Janet Reno, I was one of them, who believed this is about the rule of law and
believed very passionately that that is the foundation upon which our country
rests. You had other people who thought [smirking] this was the Evil Empire,
the last Evil Empire Cuba meets the Evil Administration [probably meant
"Evil Empire," voice rising as he gets to this part] of the Clinton
Administration, black helicopters, conspiracy and doctored photos! And you had
other people who felt legally Janet Reno was wrong and they felt passionately
on that side too and you don't go in with guns the way she did."
Friedman asserted that "I
don't buy Castro won" because Cubans in Cuba "know his regime is
floundering. It's a regime, you know, that has had to depend on everything
from Thomas Cooke tours to prostitution to stay alive. They know that when
Castro says 'oh if this has happened in Cuba, police wouldn't have had to use
guns.' That's because only the criminals have guns in Cuba and they're all in
The real winners were the Cuban
people, Friedman argued: "The people I do think won in all of this were
the Cubans who said, who were out there demonstrating, I think there was a
sincerity there, demonstrating for Elian, I think they were saying two things:
One is, don't tell me just cause I'm stuck living here under this lunatic that
I can't be a good father or mother just cause I'm stuck here. And the other
thing I think they were saying is look we got to live here. Got no Big Macs,
got no McIntosh, got no Windows, got no job, got a ration book that takes me
through half the month. Got my family. Give me that at least."
On the declining power of
Cuban-Americans, Friedman charged: "I think the American public really
got a taste of the degree to which not only Elian had been, in my view, you
know kidnapped by these people, but American policy on Cuba has been kidnapped
by a very active, vociferous minority."
Did Reno use undue force?
Michael Duffy, Washington Bureau Chief of Time magazine, insisted she should
have used force much sooner: "Well, I think any raid where no shots are
fired and no one is hurt is a success....I think where Reno is to blame is not
that she should have talked longer or kept the negotiations going but that she
should have cut them off much sooner and she was criticized all week long I
think for the wrong thing -- not that, you know, she should have kept it going
as the family suggested but that just should have stopped it earlier."
The people of the world yearn
for Reno, Friedman contended to "uh-has" from Joan Biskupic, the
Washington Post's Supreme Court reporter. Friedman effused: "You know, I
just came from a trip from Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia to Moscow. I got to
tell you, what people in Bogota, Colombia would give for five minutes of Janet
Reno. What people in Russia today in these lawless, no rule of law societies,
would give for five minutes of Janet Reno."
They can have her.
Did the INS SWAT team member caught in action in the infamous AP photo, as he
held an MP-5 while reaching for Elian, have the safety on the gun in the
"on" or "off" position. "On" according to ABC
News. And "off" according to ABC News. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
caught conflicting information reported by ABC News on April 22 and then five
-- ABC News reporter John Miller on
the April 22 World News Tonight, the day of the raid:
"This was a very standard, dynamic entry, is
what they would call it professionally, and that of course, if you look at
that photo, that is the photo opportunity that the U.S. Department of Justice
wanted to avoid, the ninja-suited SWAT member tearing the child away from the
loving surrogate family. But if you look at the photo closely, you see the
safety is in the off position, that means the gun is ready to fire -- that is
normal during a dynamic entry -- the finger is not on the trigger, it's
outside the trigger guard -- that is how those teams are trained -- and the
gun is pointed down and to the right of the two subjects in the photo, which
shows that that SWAT team member is using caution in that entry."
-- ABC News reporter Chris Bury
on the April 27 Nightline:
"In explaining that frightening photograph, the
INS officials make a couple of points. One, that the finger of the border
patrol tactical officer is not on the trigger. Two, that the safety switch on
the gun, known as an MP-5, is on the safe position. The agents tell us they
were under orders, because of the extreme volatility of the situation, to have
their safety mechanisms on. Nightline has shown the photograph to an
independent firearms expert and editor at James Infantry Weapons and he
confirms what the INS says, that the safety is on."
5am ain't night, ha-ha. The April 26 CyberAlert noted how neither ABC's World
News Tonight nor GMA had yet picked up on Democratic Senator Bob Graham's
charge made on ABC's own This Week that Bill Clinton had made a commitment to
him not to seize Elian at night. That lack of coverage remains true, but
Thursday's Nightline did relay Graham's charge as well as White House Press
Secretary Joe Lockhart's flippant response, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
On the April 27 Nightline
Michel McQueen reported: "Perhaps the most disturbing charge about a
broken promise comes from Florida Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, who insists
that the President made a firm pledge that there would be no nighttime raid on
Bob Graham on This Week:
"The President of the United States made that commitment to me that there
would be no taking of this child at night. I felt that my, the promise made to
me had been abrogated. I don't know if the President knew that the decision
was being made by lower echelons within his administration, but it was a clear
commitment which was violated."
McQueen: "Knowledgeable sources told Nightline
that Senator Graham told a member of the Miami family's legal team about his
conversation with the President. But it is not clear whether that lawyer
passed on that information to the family."
ABC reporter Chris Bury then relayed: "The White
House, not surprisingly, insists things did not happen exactly as Senator
Graham remembers. A senior White House official tells Nightline the President
did not make any hard commitment to Senator Graham about rejecting a nighttime
raid. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters that the President did
tell Mr. Graham that he preferred not to use force. Lockhart also made an off
the cuff remark that 5am may be considered early in the morning and not the
middle of the night."
Amazing. Now we have parsing of
the meaning of "night." Just because it's dark doesn't mean it's
To read in full what Senator
Graham recalled of his Oval Office conversation with Clinton, and to watch a
clip from This Week, go to the April 25 CyberAlert:
Senator Helms "just as much a dictator as Castro." National Review's
Washington Bulletin alerted me to the paragraph below from an April 27 column
by Mary McGrory which appeared on page A3 of the Washington Post. McGrory
isn't just any old liberal columnist in the Washington Post. She's featured
twice a week on page A3 and on Sundays on the front page of the Outlook
Complaining about how Senator
Helms said his committee would not take up SALT II, passed by the Russian
parliament, until the next President takes office, McGrory spewed:
"On the Senate floor, Jesse Helms, chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is just as much a dictator as
Castro, from whom many Republicans want to save Elian, announced that there
would be no hearings on this wicked nonsense from Putin."
As National Review's Ramesh
Ponnuru and John J. Miller commented: "Right, except for that bit about
jailing or killing opponents."
To sign up for NR's Washington Bulletin, go to:
They shout "Pioneers for communism will be like Che!" but a
Washington Post reporter was unwilling to state as fact that the Castro youth
group "imparts communist ideology." Instead, he attributed the
charge to what "Cuban exiles claim."
Steve Allen of http://www.conservativehq.com
alerted me to this paragraph from an April 24 Washington Post story from
Cardenas, Cuba, headlined, "Elian's Hometown: Little Changed Since
Revolution." To put it in context, here's what reporter John Ward
Anderson wrote in the paragraph before the graph in question followed by the
graph in question:
"In a small park, a group of boys lean on their
bikes and talk about their daily activities -- school, baseball, reading
comics, playing Nintendo. There is a general consensus that, in circumstances
similar to Elian's, they would want to be wherever their fathers were. A
10-year-old said, however, that his father and stepmother live in Miami. He
looked around to see who was listening, and said with a snicker: 'I'd stay in
"Starting in the first grade, all Cuban children
are members of the Young Pioneers -- a group that Cuban exiles claim imparts
Communist ideology, but which parents say also teaches social skills and
responsibility. Although they begin each day reciting, 'Pioneers for communism
will be like Che!' few children give it much thought, parents said."
"Jackboot Reno Stomps NBC News Crew...while the media snooze,"
declared the headline over a piece for National Review Online by Deroy
Murdock, Senior Fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. (A shorter
version of his piece appeared in Friday's New York Post.)
Murdock pursued what happened
to the NBC cameraman and sound man knocked to the ground by INS agents, thus
killing video of the raid. As Murdock noted in using coverage information and
quotes provided by the MRC, other than some mentions on MSNBC and an
appearance on Dateline, the broadcast networks and CNN have ignored the story
of what happened to Tony Zumbado and Gustavo Moller, though Zumbado has gotten
some air time to recount what he saw agents doing inside the house without
mention of his situation. Here's an excerpt from Murdock's piece, which
includes what he learned directly from them:
...."We got Maced, we got kicked, we got roughed
up," Cuban-born NBC camera man Tony Zumbado told MSNBC. He said that as
the incursion began, federal agents kicked him in the stomach and yelled,
"Don't move or we'll shoot." Zumbado added on NBC's Dateline:
"My sound man got hit with a shotgun butt on the head, dragged outside --
he was halfway in -- and he was dragged out to the fence and left there and
they told him if he moved they'd shoot."
Zumbado explained that federal gunmen also disabled his
camera and yanked out its audio cable. By the time Zumbado and sound man
Gustavo Moller stood back up, Elian had been whisked away in a white van.
NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley told the AP,
"we believe that the agents went further than they had to and prevented
him [Zumbado] from taking pictures." NBC News President Andrew Lack wrote
INS Commissioner Doris Meissner April 26 asking for an explanation.
Gustavo Moller called the raid "the unjust way of
gaining justice." The Cuban native -- who fled Castro in 1960 at age 11
-- told me the agents, "did a terrific job. Their purpose was to scare
the s**t out of everybody, and they did."
Meanwhile, an ambulance took Zumbado from his home to
Miami's Baptist Hospital on April 26 after he fainted from back spasms. He
suffers chronic back trouble, and thinks "the roughing around didn't help
it." As he spoke to me by phone from his hospital bed, he was awaiting
further spinal tests. Earlier, he said, "my muscles were too swollen to
get a clean MRI."
Zumbado said that the federal officers were behaving as
he would expect. "They're trained to be forceful and intimidating. The
media is not excused, especially when you're trying to video tape them."
Zumbado, however, disputed the Justice Department's
post-raid claims that they welcomed news coverage. "We were definitely
not invited in like Janet Reno has stated we were," Zumbado said.
"If we were, we would have had a head's up. We would have been inside and
In would not have been kicked."....
As if the beating of American journalists on American
soil by American government officials were not outrageous enough, consider the
reaction from the establishment media. "Yaaaaawn."
According to the Alexandria, Virginia-based Media
Research Center, NBC's Zumbado was interviewed on his own network and its
sister-channel, MSNBC. However, he has yet to appear on either ABC, CBS or
CNN. While the AP has followed the story, the Nexis news database and three
on-line search engines indicate that Zumbado's and Moller's manhandling was
only covered by the New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post, but
just early and briefly.
Elian's abduction and its aftermath are huge, ongoing
stories. One might have imagined that reporters and commentators would have
unleashed unrelenting facts and fire on a physical attack upon two fellow
journalists by taxpayer-funded federal agents.
What could be more maddening than a government that
stomps on the First Amendment? When those it protects know of such an atrocity
Indeed, they are shrugging.
Through Friday night, not a word about this incident had appeared on the ABC
or CBS morning or evening shows -- and not even on NBC's-own Nightly News or
Imagine if a conservative President had injured
journalists and prevented coverage. We'd be hearing charges of cover up.
To read Murdock's piece in
full, go to:
Also, be on the lookout for an
excellent column by Cal Thomas which utilizes many media quotes from coverage
of the Elian raid to illustrate how "today's media have abandoned the
watchdog role, becoming lap dogs to this administration." The column
appeared in Friday's Washington Times and I'm sure ran in many other papers
over the weekend. When the column is a few days older, so I don't step on the
syndicator and papers paying for the column, I'll include an excerpt.
CBS's Jim Stewart hit Republicans from the right for screwing up their
response to Elian. In a Saturday CBS Evening News story on how Senate
Republicans have postponed any hearings on the raid, Stewart observed:
"The real irony for Republicans, say some analysts, is that if they had
acted months earlier when Elian's status was truly in doubt, they'd be the
Marshall Wittman of the Heritage Foundation got air
time to make a conservative point: "If the Republicans wanted to have the
strongest hand in criticizing this administration's actions, they should have
granted the child permanent residency status months ago."
Stewart concluded: "In the end, however,
Republicans can read a poll as well as the next guy. And what the polls tell
them on this one is that Americans think Janet Reno did the right thing. She
upheld the law and she stood up for family values, respondents say and what
Senator wants to be seen attacking two institutions as powerful as those.
Friday night, of the broadcast networks, only NBC Nightly News led with the
Justice Department's announcement of its request that Microsoft be broken into
two companies -- one for the Windows operating systems and one for
NBC's Pete Williams stressed
how "some industry experts think a breakup could actually be good for
Microsoft, and that no matter how this antitrust ends, the company ought to
divide itself up." ABC followed a story on the breakup request with a
piece by Betsy Stark, who suggested: "There was no consensus today that a
breakup of Microsoft would be good for consumers." CBS gave equal time to
those on both sides.
-- NBC Nightly News, April 28.
Pete Williams contended a bit into his lead story: "While some economists
say breaking the company up into more pieces would actually create even
greater competition, government lawyers decided it would cause too much
confusion for consumers to have different versions of Windows in the
marketplace. Microsoft is already denouncing the plan, but some industry
experts think a breakup could actually be good for Microsoft, and that no
matter how this antitrust ends, the company ought to divide itself up."
William Whyman, industry Analyst: "Microsoft
could be more effective and more powerful, and more a powerful earnings
generating machine, if they broke themselves up into a number of more focused
-- ABC's World News Tonight.
After a run down by reporter Bob Woodruff of the points made by Bill Gates and
Justice's Joel Klein, anchor Peter Jennings allowed for doubt about the
government's case: "So the government has won its first battle to prove
that Microsoft's size and power are a problem, but it's not clear at all if
breaking up the software colossus would make things any better for
Betsy Stark began: "There
was no consensus today that a breakup of Microsoft would be good for
consumers. For one thing, they could end up paying more for Microsoft
products. Two companies means two of everything, including two manufacturing
Joe Clabby, technology consultant: "If you run
two separate distinct companies, you're going to lose your economies of scale,
and that's going to increase costs for running the company that are ultimately
going to be passed to the consumer."
Stark: "There's also no agreement on whether
breaking up Microsoft would improve the quality of products available to
consumers. Some say if Microsoft is forced to share the unique code that
operates Windows, competitors will be able to make better products to go with
Michael Murphy, Editor of Technology Investing:
"What there will be though is a lot of companies deciding to write
competitive products, because they now think the playing field is level."
Stark argued: "Others claim that progress on
bringing new products to market will slow if the Microsoft brain trust is
split in two."
Clabby: "There is a lot of cohesion that takes
place by working as one solid entity, rather than a separate and distinct
group of companies."
Stark: "As for competitors eager for a breakup,
they will still find themselves facing formidable foes."
Murphy: "It's by far the number one company. If
you split it in two, it will be the number one and the number two software
company in the world."
Stark concluded: "Bottom line, plenty of reason
to wonder if the government's proposal to break up Microsoft would solve the
problems it is designed to fix."
-- CBS Evening News. Sharyl
Attkisson noted how "consumer advocates are split on the government's
drastic remedy." She asked Ralph Nader: "Would a breakup of
Microsoft be good or bad for consumers?"
Nader answered: "It would be very good. A
breakup of Microsoft into several companies will unleash natural competitive
forces with the minimum of regulation."
Attkisson then amazingly identified a guy with a
conservative group as a "consumer advocate," observing: "Not
so, according to consumer advocate Erick Gustafson."
Gustafson, Citizens for a Sound Economy: "Well,
it's bad for consumers."
Attkisson elaborated: "He says a breakup will
convert a simple buying experience into chaos, where customers won't get their
operating system, browser and software all together."
Gustafson: "It'll make this much more confusing
and complex for consumers who will have to go out and assemble, if you will, a
product that was able to be delivered to them by Microsoft Corporation."
I can't resist noting that
while Gustafson may be on target with the big picture, the soundbite chosen by
CBS actually undermines Microsoft's position. The pro-Microsoft argument was
always that while they denied Netscape and competing applications, like the
Lotus and Corel office suites, access to computer buyers through OEM deals
(software installed by computer equipment manufacturers), it was no big deal
since anyone could just download Netscape or go to the store and buy
WordPerfect and install it on their own. So the current situation is full of
"chaos" and is "confusing and complex for consumers" who
want to use something other than a Microsoft product? --