CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday June 1, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 94) |
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Nun Goes Left, CBS Jumps; Parting Shot at Casey; Broaddrick Audit; Pleasant Cuban Work Camps

1) NBC turned a comment on the death penalty by George Bush on one of its cable shows into the day’s top news. ABC ignored Elian’s move last week to DC, but Wednesday night ran a story on his cost. Peter Jennings whined about "billions of dollars some politicians still want to spend on an anti-missile defense system."

2) A few protesters at a shareholder meeting was all it took for CBS to jump, with Dan Rather announcing how they "are accusing ExxonMobil of a corporate dinosaur attitude about the dangers of global warming." Jim Axelrod picked up on the "small chorus" demanding the company realize "we need to act now."

3) A parting shot at Bob Casey from MSNBC’s Brian Williams: "A Democrat but a devout Catholic and thus was ultraconservative on the topic of abortion." Back in 1992 the networks largely ignored how he was not allowed to address the Democratic convention.

4) The IRS is auditing Juanita Broaddrick’s nursing home, an audit she thinks is in retribution for coming forward with her rape charge against Bill Clinton, but of the networks only FNC cared.

5) Today not too happy about its new neighbor, an NRA restaurant. Matt Lauer argued: "We've had a show this morning that's been filled with a murder in Los Angeles, a murder in Florida, five people were executed in a Wendy's restaurant....Doesn't seem like the time you want to be promoting guns?"

6) Dismissing what Cuban-Americans call "labor camps," CNN’s Lucia Newman insisted the "school in the countryside" instill "respect" for "hard work" and that while students "say at first they were homesick," they soon boast that they "are having a great time."

     >>> The May 30 MagazineWatch, about the June 6 issues, is now online. Continuing the CyberAlert focus on the Robin Williams routine at the May 24 Democratic fundraiser, the MRC’s Tim Graham noted how all three news magazines touched on the big soft money party, but only U.S. News, in an "In Quotes" citation of Robin Williams saying, "Whoa, there’s a child in the front row. He’s learning new words," raised his vulgarity, conveying in the attribution: "Robin Williams, in a profanity-laced comedy routine at a fundraiser honoring President Clinton." Newsweek and Time found the obscenity in the contributions, not the language. The other coverage analyzed in this week’s MagazineWatch:
-- U.S. News & World Report and Time both found George W. Bush has Al Gore on the defensive over a shield against nuclear missiles, as "missile defense seems to be an idea whose time has come."
-- Only U.S. News published a story on the latest security Clinton administration security lapses, including the General Accounting Office sting with fake I.D.s in "allegedly supersecure" buildings. Paul Bedard reported on the pile of security violations earned by ambassadorial nominees.
-- U.S. News and Time covered the Arkansas recommendation that President Clinton be disbarred with essays full of Clinton fatigue. Only Time touched Linda Tripp’s scandal wins, with the sendoff "Now pleeeze disappear."
-- In Time’s back-page essay, novelist Mark Leyner declared boys should be boys, especially our lovable lame duck: "none of us really wants our President, Bill Clinton, to change even one iota." We want him "noshing on marzipan as he steeps with a bevy of hot-tub hootchies in his Malibu compound."
To read these items, go to: <<<

Correction: The May 31 CyberAlert quoted Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow introducing a clip: "We’ll take a really short snippet of Robin Williams and his shtick before the group." He actually said "in front of the group."


"It was big news when George W. Bush said late today he’s inclined to grant a reprieve," announced Brian Williams at the top of Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News in picking up on a comment made in a taping of MSNBC’s/CNBC’s Hardball, but neither ABC or CBS uttered a syllable about what NBC pushed as "big news."

    ABC led with Peter Jennings trying to tie together, under one theme, several different stories. Amongst them: a new report on the cost of watching over Elian, but ABC hadn’t bothered to run a story last week on his move to the District where he’s now closer to Castro’s operatives.

    With Tom Brokaw in Moscow, from New York Brian Williams kicked of NBC Nightly News by turning a comment on one of NBC’s cable shows into the top news of the day:
    "There are few issues more incendiary in contemporary American life and tonight the death penalty is very much an issue where the Republican candidate for President is concerned, part of a growing life and death debate nationwide. New DNA science has tossed out a lot of death penalty cases and because the state of Texas has the highest execution rate in the nation, it was big news when George W. Bush said late today he’s inclined to grant a reprieve."

    David Gregory explained how on Hardball Bush had said he’d give a 30 day stay to a murderer who insists he did not commit an accompanying rape, a crime which triggered the death penalty.

    Over on ABC’s World News Tonight, Jennings opened the May 31 show: "Good evening. There’s a lot of money associated with the major stories tonight. The government thinks it can save a lot by changing the rules for telephone service, there’s another way to cheat the government by not paying taxes on imported goods and the country imports a great deal, and there are the billions of dollars some politicians still want to spend on an anti-missile defense system. It makes what the government is spending to keep tabs on Elian Gonazalez while he is here seem like peanuts."

    On that last item, Ron Claiborne provided a short report on how the federal government has spent $1.4 million on Elian, $724,000 of that for US Marshals, including the cost of the raid.

    Despite the negative spin displayed by Jennings, the subsequent "A Closer Look" segment on missile defense delivered a balanced presentation of the pros and cons from John McWethy and John Martin.


It’s so easy to get media coverage if you’re cause is a liberal one. Even when only a few people show up for a protest it’s good enough for CBS to justify a story pegged to a nun complaining at the ExxonMobil shareholder meeting that the company isn’t doing enough to reduce global warming.

    CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather intoned Wednesday night: "Tonight’s ‘Eye on America’ is a hard news look at a global corporate giant in fossil fuels. Protesters, including some stockholders, are accusing ExxonMobil of a corporate dinosaur attitude about the dangers of global warming that may be linked to fuel emissions. CBS’s Jim Axelrod has been sorting the facts from the smoke on this."

    Axelrod began his May 31 piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In Dallas this morning, a couple of dozen protesters tried to get the ear of one of the biggest and most powerful corporations on Earth. If there's a growing consensus that greenhouse gases are raising global temperatures, these people say executives at ExxonMobil are not about to embrace it."

    The crowd looked closer to a dozen than a coupled of dozen, but that didn’t deter CBS from promoting their cause. Axelrod brought on Sister Pat Daly, identified on-screen as an "ExxonMobil shareholder and activist," asking: "Is ExxonMobil any different on the issue of global warming than any other of the big oil companies?"
    Daly replied: "They’re incredibly different. They have absolutely isolated themselves on this."
    Axelrod vouched for her credibility, as if one could not simultaneously be an environmentalist and a shareholder: "Pat Daly is not a tree hugger. She’s a shareholder and a nun who represents clergy-based pension funds with a $15 million stake in ExxonMobil."
    Daly at the meeting: "Global warming is happening."
    Axelrod picked up: "Today she and a small chorus of critics asked ExxonMobil to join the growing number of companies says global warming is here, it’s real, and we need to act now."
    Daly to Axelrod: "They're saying that there's not enough science. They will tell you, 'We're concerned about global warming.' But they're not going to admit that it's actually happening."
    Lee Raymond, ExxonMobil CEO, at the meeting: "We’re gonna follow the science. We're not gonna follow what is politically correct."
    Axelrod expressed disappointment with ExxonMobil: "Other oil giants like Shell and BP Amoco have pledged operate more efficiently and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below their 1990 levels. DuPont Chemicals has gone even further, promising a 65 percent reduction. ExxonMobil, on the other hand, has no such targets."
    Michael McElroy, of Harvard University, piped in: "They simply leave the public with the view that 'Gee -- we don't know enough to do anything.'"
    Axelrod again felt the need to prop up the credibility of a liberal he featured in a soundbite, this time assuming you cannot be both an activist and a professor: "Mike McElroy isn’t an activist. He’s an academic and a Harvard professor of environmental studies."
    McElroy insisted: "In terms of honest assessment of the science, yeah, this is a serious problem. Time to act. Exxon is leaning to the side of inaction."
    Frank Sprow, ExxonMobil Vice President: "This is complicated. Don't believe statements that say it's clear that things are warming. It's not clear."
    Axelrod gave the company view a few seconds: "The company has taken this idea to the public in a series of ads, saying views on warming are quote, ‘just as changeable as your local weather forecast.’"
    Axelrod demanded: "Your assessment of the threat, the credibility of the threat, has that evolved?"
    ExxonMobil’s Sprow: "I’d say that’s unchanged over the last several years."
    Axelrod concluded by ruing: "Today's attempts to change the company's views on global warming were turned back, leaving a small band of critics with little to do but shout."

    Let’s get 12 or 14 people to protest outside the CBS shareholder meeting about the "corporate dinosaur attitude about the dangers" of liberal media bias espoused by CBS News. We could even recruit a nun to buy some shares and then raise the issue inside the meeting. Think we’d get two minutes of network air time?


By the reasoning of NBC’s Brian Williams, who couldn’t resist applying a loaded label in noting the death of a politician, simply opposing abortion because you are a "devout Catholic" makes you worthy of the "ultraconservative" tag. MRC analyst Paul Smith caught this brief obituary item read by Williams Tuesday night, May 30, on his News with Brian Williams on MSNBC:
    "Bob Casey has died tonight, word just in to us. The former two-term Governor of Pennsylvania, a Democrat but a devout Catholic and thus was ultraconservative on the topic of abortion. In fact, his name will forever be attached to a landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion."

    CNN’s Bruce Morton provided a lengthier review of Casey’s life, sans the loaded labeling, on Wednesday’s Inside Politics. Morton recalled how because of his pro-life views, the then sitting Governor was denied a chance to speak to the 1992 Democratic convention in New York City. That reminded me of how the networks in 1992 largely ignored that snub while obsessing about how the GOP was suppressing pro-choice Republicans. Here’s a portion of the study from the September, 1992 MediaWatch, the MRC’s since discontinued newsletter, on prime time convention coverage by ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC:

While the Democrats' decision to not allow pro-life Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey to speak in New York garnered only an interview on NBC and an interview and four mentions on CNN, in Houston [site of GOP conclave] the abortion debate became a major focus of coverage. On more than 20 occasions network analysts charged the Republicans with trying to exclude people from their party. For example, NBC's Tom Brokaw told [Pat] Buchanan on Tuesday night: "You gave the impression that if you're not a white, heterosexual, Christian, anti-abortion, anti-environment, you're somehow not welcome in the Republican Party."

CBS never mentioned in prime time how the Democrats suppressed pro-life Gov. Bob Casey's attempt to speak in New York, but in Houston Connie Chung asked Rep. Connie Morella: "Do you think the pro-choice voice has been stifled?"

    END Excerpt


The IRS is auditing Juanita Broaddrick’s nursing home, and she thinks it’s in retribution for coming forward with her rape charge against President Clinton, but of the networks only FNC cared. Tuesday night both FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report ran a story by Rita Cosby on the revelation by Judicial Watch, which is handling her lawsuit to demand the White House release its file on her.

    Wednesday’s Washington Times featured a story, but nothing yet on the broadcast networks and neither CNN or MSNBC touched it Tuesday night, nor did CNN’s Inside Politics on Wednesday night.

    FNC’s Brit Hume set up the May 30 Special Report piece: "Remember Juanita Broaddrick, the Arkansas nursing home executive who said that Bill Clinton raped her in a Little Rock hotel room back when he was Attorney General of that state? Well, not much has been heard from her or about her since that story first broke, but now she says she's now heard from the federal government, and she and her lawyer don't like it one bit."

    Rita Cosby explained: "When she received this letter from the IRS last month informing her she and her nursing home will be audited, Juanita Broaddrick said she believed right away it was payback for her publicly accusing President Clinton of raping her two decades earlier. She told Fox News, quote, ‘I believe it's not a coincidence. I am clearly being targeted because I came forward.’
    "The conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which currently represents Broaddrick in a civil suit against the White House, has filed a complaint with the inspector general of the Treasury Department calling for an investigation of the White House and the IRS."

    After a soundbite from Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman, Cosby filled in the clues to a pattern of retribution: "In addition to Broaddrick, other women who've accused President Clinton of sexual assault or harassment have been audited after they spoke out, including Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen. Billy Dale was also checked out by the IRS soon after he criticized the White House for being fired from the travel office. Judicial Watch also says 20 conservative groups have been audited in the past seven years, but when asked about the complaint, a White House spokesman said, quote, ‘We don't comment on meritless allegations.’ A Democratic supporter says the case is motivated by politics."

    Following a clip of Democratic analyst John Trichter, Cosby discounted the conservative claim of a systematic policy f harassment: "A recent study conducted by the General Accounting Office -- before these new allegations -- concluded that the IRS was not partisan in determining which groups or individuals it did audit. Regarding this latest claim, the IRS basically repeated its position and said how it audits individuals or groups is determined by computer based on certain criteria."

    Hume asked: "Is there anything about Juanita Broaddrick's financial condition that might have triggered an audit automatically?" Cosby responded that Broaddrick maintains there have been no events "that normally could possibly trigger an investigation, trigger an audit. And she also says that there were no changes basically at all. She and Judicial Watch believe this, her first audit, was only motivated by politics."


The NRA’s proposed theme restaurant in Manhattan wasn’t greeted too warmly Tuesday by its future neighbors over at Rockefeller Plaza. NBC’s Today separately brought aboard an anti-gun activist and a NRA official to discuss the idea, but the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre earned the harsher questions from co-host Matt Lauer. His second question to LaPierre came in the form of an argument:
    "But isn't it just a case of terrible timing Mr. LaPierre, I mean not coincidentally we've had a show this morning that's been filled with a murder in Los Angeles, a murder in Florida, five people were executed in a Wendy's restaurant here in New York just last week. I mean this doesn't seem like the time you want to be promoting guns?"

    Lauer set up the May 30 segment, caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, by focusing on liberal complaints: "And now to a controversy brewing in the heart of New York City. Theme restaurants are all the rage in Times Square. Now the proposal for a new one is drawing some fire."

    Lauer’s questions to Josh Sugarmann, "Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, a non-profit gun control organization."
    -- "What was your first reaction when you heard about the NRA's plans?"
    -- "You obviously don't want the NRA to open a restaurant in Times Square. Do you have any reason to believe that you have a right to stop them?"
    -- "Why do you think they're trying to get kids? Why do think this restaurant in particular is part of an effort to target children?"
    -- "Let me just first of all point out the NRI has said, the NRA has said they're not gonna sell guns at this restaurant. They're not gonna sell ammunition at this restaurant. They even say they won't have video games that show the shooting of people, so why would anything that they are going to have there encourage children to re-enter, as you say, the gun culture?"
    -- "If you think that these people will attract some kids to this restaurant, don't you also think that this restaurant will become a magnet for protestors?"

    Lauer then turned to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, live from Times Square:
    -- "Let me ask you first of all, I know there were meetings held over the weekend to determine a specific site in Times Square. Has there been any progress there?"
    -- "But isn't it just a case of terrible timing Mr. LaPierre, I mean not coincidentally we've had a show this morning that's been filled with a murder in Los Angeles, a murder in Florida, five people were executed in a Wendy's restaurant here in New York just last week. I mean this doesn't seem like the time you want to be promoting guns?"
    -- "It doesn't seem as if New York is actually rolling out the red carpet or the welcome mat here Mr. LaPierre. The Mayor himself, Rudy Giuilani, has said to a gathering of people, 'Don't worry, this won't happen.' What's your response to that?"
    -- "Do you think he has any legal grounds to keep you out of Times Square?"
    -- "If the Mayor tries to go to court, or tries to use community standards to keep you out will you go to court to fight it?"
    -- "And what about what Mr. Sugarmann said, that this restaurant will become a magnet for protestors, gun control protestors?"


Catching up with a story from last week, just in time for today’s planned announcement of a court ruling in the Elian case. Friday’s The World Today on CNN delivered an inviting portrait of what probably awaits Elian very soon in Cuba, what CNN’s Lucia Newman agreeably described as "school in the countryside." Dismissing the charge from Cuban-Americans that the weeks away from home for Cuban eighth graders to pick crops really amount "labor camps," Newman insisted the program instills "respect" for "hard work" and that while students "say at first they were homesick," they soon boast that they "are having a great time" and learning "the importance of camaraderie."

    CNN anchor Jim Moret introduced the May 26 piece which MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth had observed: "One of the legal arguments used by Elian's relatives in hopes of preventing his return to Cuba is that Elian will one day be sent to government labor camps. Most Cuban young people are required to attend the camps, which critics say weaken the relationship between parent and child."

    CNN Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman began: "From 8 in the morning until noon and then for two hours in the afternoon these eighth-graders work the fields, cutting the stalks of a kind of sweet potato called ‘bonato’ (sp?). For most of these 13-year-olds from Havana, this is the first time they've had to get their hands dirty....Once a year, starting in eighth grade, every Cuban child spends between 15 and 21 days in what's called ‘school in the countryside.’"
    An adult woman asserted, through a translator: "They learn about where the food we eat and other things we consume come from, and they learn how hard it is for farmers to produce."

    Newman then passed along the official version of the program: "Cuba's ‘school in the countryside’ is based not on Marxist philosophy, but rather on the teachings of Cuba's nationalist hero Jose Marti. Back in the late 1800s, he taught that young people had to not only learn to study, but also love and respect hard work. The theory was put into practice by Cuba's communist government 40 years ago, when students were even called on to help with the labor-intensive sugar harvest. Not anymore. Today the work is lighter, harvesting ‘bonato’, or potatoes, or picking oranges or tobacco. Sundays are special. That's when the family comes to visit. This is the first time most of these adolescents have been separated from their parents."

    A father maintained, through a translator: "It's a way for them to be free of the overprotection they get at home. They begin to learn to fend for themselves and to face life as it is, to know that not everything is a bed of roses."

    Newman dismissed any concerns about the welfare of the kids: "Still the parents, who are allowed to come twice a week, usually come laden with fresh clothes and treats for their children, who say at first they were homesick, but now are having a great time."
    A girl giggled, through a translator: "We have a discotheque. We dance. We play cards."
    Newman saw one danger, but Castro had already take action to resolve the problem: "Some parents are concerned their children may be learning more about the birds and the bees than about agriculture, perhaps one of the reasons why the Education Ministry has cut back their stay from six weeks to three."

    Over video of a building followed by a shot of happy girls singing, Newman concluded: "This sign above the kitchen reads, ‘We believe in Fidel,’ but what most students tell us is that what the farm school experience does is teach them to believe more in themselves and the importance of camaraderie."

    What a wonderful paradise, of weeks away from his father so that he can pick potatoes, awaits Elian. -- Brent Baker



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