CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday May 5, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 77) |
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Anti-Bush Ad Promoted; Catholic Church Too Conservative; Dr. Laura Lashed

1) Vague hype over basic facts on the ILOVEYOU virus. CBS: "The virus then infiltrates the computer's address book." No, it only infiltrates Microsoft Outlook and only on Windows computers running MS Internet Explorer. Other operating systems untouched.

2) CBS, CNN and NBC all promoted a Handgun Control Inc. ad denouncing an NRA official's boast about access to a President Bush, but none raised concerns about "coordination" with the Gore campaign as they had with a Bush ally's ad against McCain.

3) Only FNC found newsworthy Thursday night the appearance of Charles Ruff before a House committee to talk about White House e-mail. He offered "I don't recall" answers which, FNC's Brian Wilson noted, matched what he said he'd say if caught in scandal.

4) NBC Nightly News took advantage of Cardinal O'Connor's death to look at declining church attendance and how it and the lack of enough priests is "a symptom of a church losing touch with its American members" by not implementing an "update in theology."

5) Dr. Laura confronted by a hostile interviewer on MSNBC who demanded a "right to procreate" and lashed out at her: "You have been divorced....You also posed nude for photographs and then lied about the photographs....You fired your own mother...."

6) Chevy Chase declared that "sometimes socialism works" to get people out of poverty and insisted that free markets and socialism can work together "and I think Cuba might prove that."


The impact of the ILOVEYOU computer virus topped the three broadcast network evening shows Thursday night, but while ABC and NBC at least mentioned Microsoft Outlook, all three failed to inform viewers that the virus only did damage to Windows computers also simultaneously running two specific Microsoft programs. None pointed out how the virus had no impact on computers using the UNIX, Linux or Mac operating systems, or that it only sent itself to Outlook address book listings, not through other e-mail software, such as Lotus Notes or Eudora.

     The CBS Evening News delivered the vaguest and most misleading reports which did not even mention the role of Microsoft products. Dan Rather referred to how the virus is "clogging e-mail systems" while reporter Jim Axelrod misleadingly implied it is activated by any e-mail program: "Those who opened it found out the hard way that sometimes love stinks." He also asserted that "the virus needs just one person to open it on one computer at any given business. The virus then infiltrates the computer's address book, forwarding itself to everyone listed."

     As noted above, that's just not true. It does not infiltrate "the computers's address book." It infiltrates just Microsoft Outlook and then only if the computer has Microsoft's Internet Explorer installed, something Windows 98 users can't avoid but which means many Windows 95 users were not directly impacted by the virus.

      On the May 4 World News Tonight ABC's Peter Jennings warned: "As best we can tell there is no corner of the world, nor any segment of society, from PC user to the military establishment, that wasn't affected." Indirectly that may be true, but not in a direct sense. ABC's Erin Hayes at least mentioned Outlook: "Among the damage, it can dig into a computer's graphics and music files, in some cases deleting them. But the biggest damage comes when the worm crawls over to Microsoft Outlook."

     NBC's Pete Williams on Nightly News came closest to saying it only effects Outlook users: "Once opened, it quickly sends out a copy of itself to every e-mail address store on the target computer. Experts say it's designed to search the files of the world's most popular e-mail program, Microsoft Outlook, then it worms its way into computer files, destroying stored pictures and music."

     The Web site did a much better job in reporting what software must be present: "Anyone running Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, or both Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 5.0 is vulnerable, Chien said. The virus needs Microsoft Outlook to spread. Macintosh and Linux users are not vulnerable." The piece, as of when I read it, did not identify Chien or his or her first name. For the full story, go to:


CBS, CNN and NBC all jumped at the chance Thursday night to promote a Handgun Control Inc. ad denouncing an NRA official's boast about having access to a future President Bush. All three showed Al Gore picking up on the attack, but unlike when Bush allies in Texas paid for an ad attacking John McCain, none raised questions about "coordination" or other ties between the gun control groups and Gore's campaign.

     CBS's Jim Stewart buttressed the fear of NRA influence: "What makes the NRA's claim more plausible than most, however, is their intent to spend up to $15 million on this year's elections." Similarly, NBC's David Gregory asserted: "This year the NRA is more closely aligned with the Republican Party than ever before." Only CNN's Candy Crowley suggested Bush's position is the more popular one, concluding a World Today piece:
     "The Bush camp believes the Governor's emphasis on prosecution of gun crimes, instant background checks and character education has found resonance among voters. It is early yet in the campaign, but so far there is statistical evidence to back up the Bush campaign theory. As recently as Monday a poll showed when asked who is best able to handle the gun issue, Americans favored George Bush over Al Gore by six percentage points."

     Now to the CBS and NBC stories. Dan Rather set up the CBS Evening News piece by using the term "promote gun safety," a liberal spin: "The stark differences between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush over ways to curb gun violence and promote gun safety were highlighted today in a new way. A National Rifle Association NRA official explained in public a boast that he'd made in private caught on video."

     Jim Stewart began his report, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The pictures are a bit grainy, but the enthusiasm was clear when 300 NRA faithful met privately in California last February to hear what they can expect if George W. Bush becomes President."
     Kayne Robinson, NRA First Vice President in home video: "If we win, we'll have a Supreme Court that will back us to the hilt. If we win, we'll have a President, with at least one of the people that's running, a President where we work out of their office. Unbelievably friendly relations."
     Stewart continued: "The NRA has always backed Bush, but they've never claimed a relationship this close. Now a pro-gun control group has turned the tape into an ad against Bush and the NRA....It's the latest turn in what has become one of the hottest issues of the campaign -- gun control. Al Gore is for it. George W. Bush is not and made the NRA happy by signing a law allowing Texas citizens to carry concealed weapons and another that bars Texas cities from suing gun makers. But campaigning in California today, Bush pointed out he's never been a member of the NRA and sought to downplay the group's ambitions."
     George W. Bush: "Well, I don't want to disappoint the man, but I'll be setting up shop in the White House. It'll be my office. I'll make the decisions as to what goes on in the White House."
     Stewart: "While Gore, on the stump in Chicago, was quick to make the connection."
     Al Gore: "His agenda clearly and overwhelmingly reflects their influence."
     Stewart concluded by giving credibility to the gun control group's basic charge: "Access often equates to power in this town, and it's not unusual for a lobby to brag about having influence with a candidate. What makes the NRA's claim more plausible than most, however, is their intent to spend up to $15 million on this year's elections."

     Stewart said nothing about how much pro-gun control groups plan to spend.

     On the NBC Nightly News David Gregory opened by playing a portion of the Handgun Control ad which showed Kayne Robinson before the narrator demanded: "The White House is our house and it shouldn't belong to the NRA."
     Gregory then went to Nina Butts of Texans Against Gun Violence, who complained that Bush has given the NRA what it wants in Texas: concealed handguns and a law forbidding suits by cities against the gun industry. Gregory proceeded: "Today, Governor Bush made no apologies for his ties to the gun lobby, but insisted he's not beholden to the NRA."
     After a clip of Bush saying he makes up his own mind on issues, Gregrory countered: "But this year the NRA is more closely aligned with the Republican Party than ever before. The group has given the party more than $500,000 since last year, compared to under $100,000 during the '96 campaign. And just last week NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre served as a Vice Chairman of the RNC gala, pledging another $250,000. And Bush advisers are quick to point out that he supports gun control measures the NRA opposes, like a minimum age on handgun possession and a ban on the import of ammo clips carrying dozens of rounds. Still, today Vice President Gore was anxious to join the attack."
     Viewers heard Gore claim that under Bush gun lobbyists will move from the lobby into the Oval Office. Gregory concluded: "The gun debate is delicate. For Bush the danger is being too close to the NRA. For Gore, being too extreme about gun control. Polls show what voters want is middle ground."


The highest-ranking official yet to testify before the House Government Reform Committee on the missing White House e-mail appeared Thursday, but only FNC cared Thursday night about what former White House counsel Charles Ruff had to say. Not a word was uttered about the hearing on the ABC, CBS or NBC evening shows, nor on CNN's Inside Politics or The World Today. (Surprisingly, Friday morning ABC's Good Morning America did run a piece by John Cochran. More on that in the next CyberAlert.)

     FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on May 4 led with Brian Wilson's story showing how Ruff said he could not recall certain key facts, an "I don't remember" answer that Wilson recalled matched what Ruff once told Bob Woodward he'd say if ever caught up in a Watergate-like scandal. The 7pm ET Fox Report ran a one-minute item on the hearing.

     Brian Wilson began his Special Report with Brit Hume story, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, by reporting how Ruff told the committee "he is ultimately responsible for White House legal decisions made back then."
     After a matching soundbite, Wilson explained: "Documents show he was notified in June of 1998 that a large number of White House e-mails were not being properly saved, and he clearly understood at the time that this computer glitch might have larger ramifications."
     Committee Chairman Dan Burton: "Were you concerned that the problem might have affected the White House's ability to comply with outstanding subpoenas?"
     Ruff: "I was, yes."
     Wilson: "In order to find out if the search for Monica Lewinsky documents had been affected by the glitch, he ordered up a test search. Ruff seems not to know much about how that test was conducted or even who conducted it."
     Burton: "You don't remember who you asked to do the search?"
     Ruff: "I do not nor whether indeed I did any somebody to do the search."
     Burton: "You don't remember, she doesn't remember who ordered the search or how broad the search was, you know, I hope whoever's paying attention to this realizes that we have a lot of people in the White House that simply don't remember anything."

     Wilson the re-capped testimony from the previous day when the committee learned that reference to how the White House knew of the problem in 1998 was deleted by Ruff's successor from a report to Congress filed this March.

     Wilson wrapped up by recalling: "By the way, many years ago, Chuck Ruff was a young lawyer working on the Watergate investigation of Richard Nixon. He was later interview by Bob Woodward about his experiences and what he would do if he was ever called before a committee and asked tough questions. He said he would say, 'Gee, I just don't remember what happened back then, and they won't be able to indict me for perjury. I intend to rely on that failure of memory.' Brit, we assume that was said in jest."

     Sounds more like an accurate preview.


Hitting them when they're mourning. ABC's World News Tonight on May 4 didn't mention the passing of New York City's Cardinal John O'Connor and the CBS Evening News ran a brief item featuring praise for his work from the Pope, but the NBC Nightly News took advantage of his death to run an In Depth look at declining church attendance and how it and the lack of enough priests is "a symptom of a church losing touch with its American members" by being too conservative.

     Thursday night Dan Rather noted how O'Connor had died after a battle with cancer, adding: "O'Connor was a staunch defender of church doctrine, opposing abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment and the ordination of women. Pope John Paul called the Cardinal, quote, 'a deeply spiritual man and a vigorous defender of human life.'"

     NBC Nightly News devoted its In Depth segments to the Catholic Church. First, Rehema Ellis profiled O'Connor, but instead of sticking to the positive as one normally does in remembering someone who has passed away, she ran battling soundbites on his legacy: "In a city known for its liberal views, O'Connor was an unwavering supporter of the Pope's conservative positions, opposing gay rights, contraception and abortion."
     William Donohue, Catholic League: "Here's a man who gave us a moral compass, he gave us some understanding, who grounded our religion not only in the teachings of the church but in common sense."
     Ellis: "But even today, many liberal Catholics disapprove of his leadership."
     Frances Kissling, Catholics for a Free Choice: "Those of us who work on issues related to reproduction and sexuality, he was an archbishop who was both unaccessible and often quite cold in relation to us."

     (In a Today story Thursday morning, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Ellis found liberal activities of O'Connor to admire: "The soft voice and ready smile so familiar to New Yorkers masked a tough, unyielding view, of Catholic morality on sex, abortion and homosexuality. But the leader of New York's Catholics was no rigid conservative. In the '80s O'Connor offered a public apology for anti-Semitism in the Church's past. He was often publicly pro-labor and a defender of immigrant's rights. And he preached frequently about an America too quick to accept guns and violence.")

     Setting up the second Nighty News In Depth piece, Tom Brokaw promised "a look at the shortage of priests and an American church in crisis." Jim Avila, just back from Havana where he spent a month discovering the joys of "the Cuban good life," warned: "Experts say America's priest shortage is the biggest challenge facing this country's 60 million Catholics."

     He cited numbers showing that the numbers of priest in the U.S. has fallen from 58,000 in 1965 to 45,000, so now out of "dignified desperation" the Chicago Archdiocese is running TV ads and buying billboard space to promote priesthood. Avila showed the TV ad with the words on screen: "Minimize your wardrobe" followed by "Maximize your potential" followed by "Consider the priesthood."

     After Frances George, Archbishop of Chicago, explained their hope to create a climate where becoming a priest is a good thing to think about, Avila countered:
     "But critics say clever ads fail to address the real problem, the lack of priests a symptom of a church losing touch with its American members. Father Andrew Greeley, well-known liberal priest and novelist often at odds with Rome, says clergy and their followers now discouraged by church refusal to allow women or married priests or any update in theology."
     Greeley: "There have been serious attempts made to put the church back where it was 30 or 40 years ago."
     Avila: "Still, 23 percent of Americans say they are Catholic. But regular church going has declined, 150 fewer churches today than five years ago, Catholic schools closing by the thousands too. Thirteen thousand open in 1965, dropping steadily to just over 8,000 today. The one growth area: inner city schools, Hispanics and non-Catholics avoiding bad public schools."

     Avila concluded: "Schools that turn out good students but very few priests for today's Catholic church."

     Avila never addressed the seeming contradiction between how the church can be facing a crisis of not enough priests while it is simultaneously in a crisis because it's losing church-goers, churches and schools due to a lack of enthusiasm for the church's doctrine.


Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the national radio talk show host despised by liberals for dispensing conservative, morally-based lifestyle advice, was assaulted Thursday afternoon on MSNBC by an angry woman host. Schlessinger appeared live at 2:30pm ET on MSNBC's three-hour Home Page gabfest targeted at women viewers and hosted by three women, to talk about her new book, Parenthood by Proxy: Don't Have Them If You Won't Raise Them.

     She appeared on the Ft. Lee New Jersey-based show from NBC's studios in Manhattan, which was fortunate given the hostility from question number one forward displayed by Ashleigh Banfield, who handled the interview solo. In her very first inquiry she told Dr. Laura her "solutions seem a little backward."

     Then she got really hostile. Here are the rest of her questions, in the form of lectures, as transcribed by MRC analyst Paul Smith:

     -- "I think a lot of people are suggesting that the Ward and June Cleaver relationship is very difficult in this day and age. I know that you advocate that you don't necessarily need all that extra money in a dual income family, that perhaps your standards are too high. But, honestly, I look at you and the amount of money that you've made in your life. I read some statistics on you. I think you make about a million dollars a year and you sold your radio rights back in 1997 for about $71 million. Not to mention the royalties from your five bestselling books, and two children's books and your TV show that is about to come out on September 11. Correct me if I'm wrong, and I certainly don't mean any disrespect when I say this, aren't you living in a very big, beautiful glass castle and the average guy out there really needs that extra money in a dual income family?"

     -- "I am going to take you on a little personally here Dr. Laura only because I have considered in my lifetime having a child on my own without a father in the family. I know you are absolutely diametrically opposed to that saying that it is one of the most selfish things that a person can do. I do have to ask you though if me, as a single person, doesn't have a right to procreate and if I just haven't seemed to meet my special someone else, do I therefore need to be discriminated against by society because my friends have said that they want to have children just because they want to have children. I feel the same way."

     Schlessinger said you are not entitled to use or abuse other people by putting your needs first, so yes Banfield is being "selfish." She added that it's a "crime to obligate a child to the loss of either a mommy or a daddy."

     -- "On that same vein Dr. Laura, is it also a crime then to put your child in the media spotlight because the choices that you've made in your life have really put you, catapulted you into the media spotlight. You have been the object of glaring criticism in the media and that's got to be difficult for your son. Do you not think that perhaps in essence you're also a bit selfish in your career choices?"

     -- "I have to ask you, because this has been such a huge media topic lately, your views on gays and homosexuals, etcetera. You have been known to say that that behavior is deviant and that it is biologically wrong. What would you do Dr. Laura if your fourteen-year-old son Derek came home and told you he was gay?"

     -- "How would Derek feel knowing what you think about that behavior if he were to come home and tell you this?"

     -- "I'm going over a shopping list of things you are against: divorce, living together, working moms, premarital sex, lying, immoral behavior, homosexuality, family differences and day care. Now I'm going to go over the list of some of the rules that you've broken in your lifetime. You have been divorced. You lived with your current husband before you married him, Lou Bishop. You also posed nude for photographs and then lied about the photographs at first and then claimed the rights to those photographs. You fired your own mother when she worked for you and you have not spoken with her for fourteen years and you also put Derek into day care when he was three years old. You're also a working mom. I guess I just have to ask you what leg do you have to stand on to talk about suggestions for people and the way they live?"

     Schlessinger began her retort: "Well, only a few of the things that you even mentioned are accurate and this is not the purpose for my being here. Not to defend myself against inaccuracies that occur in the media regularly because it's a shoot the messenger kind of procedure where I am talking about things, it amazes me that talking about traditional values is controversial but it seems to be...."

     No wonder so few watch MSNBC. They create a daytime show aimed at attracting stay at home moms -- Home Page airs from 1 to 4pm ET/10am to 1pm PT -- and then have liberal feminist women host it who are hostile to the lifestyle chosen by their target audience.


Saturday marks two weeks since Earth Day, an Earth Day largely submerged by the Elian Gonzalez raid that morning, but now I've come across a way to unite Elian and Earth Day. On Earth Day actor Chevy Chase declared that "sometimes socialism works" to get people in the Third World out of poverty and insisted that free markets and socialism can work together "and I think Cuba might prove that."

     Marc Morano, of the syndicated TV show American Investigator, captured Chase's comments on tape during an interview he conducted with Chase as he caught the actor and his wife, Jayni, just as they hopped out of their sedan behind the Earth Day rally stage on Washington's Mall.

     +++ Watch Chase argue for the virtues of socialism. Morano has graciously provided the MRC with the raw footage of this April 22 interview and late this morning the MRC's Eric Pairel will post a clip of it in RealPlayer format. Go to:

     For more about Morano's show and Chase's comments, go to:

     Here are some of the highlights from his interview, taken from a transcript confirmed by MRC intern Michael Ferguson:
     -- Morano: "Let me give you a simple question, then. Is capitalism and development a good way to help the developing world's poor?"
     Chevy Chase: "No, not necessarily. No, not necessarily."
     Morano: "Why not?"
     Chase: "Because sometimes socialism works."
     Morano: "Socialism works to help people out of poverty?"
     Chase: "Yeah."
     Morano: "So countries in the developing world, you would say capitalism is not the answer to help them bring in wealth and prosperity?"
     Jayni Chase: "It varies."
     Chevy Chase: "I would say that's a very broad question. But I would say if you just said is capitalism the way? I would say the is answer is no, not necessarily."

     -- Morano: "How does socialism help people out of poverty?"
     Chase: "I don't want to get into that. I mean now we got to get up to the thing. I think it's conclusive that there have been areas where socialism has helped to keep people at least stabilized at a certain level. There's no middle class, there's no opportunity. There are no First Amendment rights, there certainly isn't the same as this Constitution. But when you just say capitalism versus socialism, it's too simple, I think."
     Morano: "Okay free markets-?"
     Chase: "I think free markets are important, but you know, you can do both and I think Cuba might prove that."

     Cuba just proves socialism doesn't work and you need a dose of capitalism to prevent people from starving. -- Brent Baker



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