"Dangerous" Summer; Coelho's Ethics Skipped; Fruit or Prescription; Judd Rose's Rants
1) "The summer could be
especially dangerous," Dan Rather warned in opening Thursday's CBS
Evening News by conveying dire warnings about rising temperatures, price
gouging oil companies, brownouts, "hell fires" and an
"ultra-drought" spreading across the nation.
2) ABC, MSNBC and NBC Thursday
night noted Tony Coelho's departure from the Gore campaign but didn't bother
to mention his ethical problems, including a criminal probe. CBS made a vague
3) PBS's Jim Lehrer talked to Al
Gore for 18 minutes but didn't ask about missing subpoenaed e-mail or Gore's
inaction on his decrepit rental house. Gore claimed "we had a miserable
economic performance in the 1980s." Leno joked about the Gore rental
4) More advocacy, via anecdote, of
another entitlement. Thursday night ABC's Linda Douglass showcased a woman who
claimed she must choose between buying fruit and paying for her prescription.
5) NBC's Tom Brokaw remarked that
"we haven't heard about him in awhile." Indeed, NBC never showed the
photo of Elian in the Young Pioneers uniform. Dan Rather claimed Elian
"has enjoyed far better treatment than most" kids who arrive in the
6) ABC and CNN reporter Judd Rose,
who passed away on Saturday, once denounced the MRC as "narrow,
neanderthal." He also slandered the 1988 Bush campaign, claiming David
Duke was "sending the same coded messages that the Horton ads did...for
the Bush campaign."
end is near! Global warming means more warming than ever, gas prices are
soaring because of price gouging oil companies, power outages are
everywhere, but even if you can afford the gas you can't escape because
freeways are breaking up. And where would you go since there are
"hell fires" all around and an "ultra-drought" in the
West. And the Southwest. And the Midwest. And the Southeast. Welcome to
summer, CBS News style.
Here's how Dan
Rather greeted CBS Evening News viewers on Thursday night, June 15:
"Good evening. This could be a summer to
survive. CBS News has been told the government will officially report
tomorrow that temperatures in this country, so far this year, are the
warmest since they started keeping records. This is one reason the summer
could be especially dangerous. It will also be expensive. Gasoline prices
are so high the government is looking into possible gouging. Heat waves
are forcing up power prices, forcing rolling brownouts and hot enough to
buckle freeways in California. The hell fires in the West are getting
worse, whipped up by near hurricane force winds as an ultra-drought builds
in the West, Southwest, Midwest and Southeast. CBS is going to take you
around the nation tonight to look in depth as summer is, by the calendar,
officially about to begin."
Tony Coelho's ethical problems consistently ignored by the networks, round
three. They did not raise questions about his ties to corrupt S&Ls
when he was named Gore campaign Chairman in May 1999, they skipped the
revelation in March of this year about a criminal investigation by the
State Department's Office of Inspector General over charges of improper
spending in 1998 when he was head of the U.S. expo at the World's Fair in
Portugal and, rounding out the troika, Thursday night ABC's World News
Tonight, MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News
didn't mention Coelho's ethics in reporting his resignation from the Gore
campaign. The CBS Evening News offered a vague sentence about how
"federal investigators have been probing Coelho's private financial
dealings lately." CNN and FNC did alert viewers to Coelho's problems.
June 15 World News
Tonight viewers only heard this from ABC anchor Peter Jennings:
"Presidential candidate Al Gore has made another major change in his
campaign. Commerce Secretary William Daley, seen with him here, will take
over the job of running the operation. Tony Coelho has resigned abruptly
citing his health."
announced on the NBC Nightly News: "In presidential politics tonight,
a big change at the top for the Gore campaign, Chairman Tony Coelho
stepping down for health reasons. He's been struggling with epileptic
seizures and an inflamed colon. His doctors advised him to leave the
campaign because of the high cost of stress. His replacement: Commerce
Secretary William Daley of the legendary Chicago political dynasty."
provided the "Real Deal" on Coelho for the CBS Evening News and
did at least go beyond health problems: "While Coelho left because of
illness insiders said it was also a convenient excuse in bring in Daley,
son of the legendary Chicago Mayor and perhaps the best politician in the
administration at a time when Gore's campaign seems stalled."
After soundbites from Gore and Daley, Schieffer
touched on ethics: "And Daley brings the campaign something it's been
sorely missing, an articulate spokesman on television. Federal
investigators have been probing Coelho's private financial dealings lately
and since then he's tended to avoid the cameras."
Not that he really
had much to worry about since the networks have displayed a lack of
interest in telling viewers anything bad about Coelho.
As reported in the
May 20, 1999 Media Reality Check:
The Gore campaign drew little media
attention with their May 11 announcement of a new campaign chairman:
ex-Rep. Tony Coelho, a media darling before he resigned in 1989. The
Washington Post found Coelho failed to report on his financial disclosure
forms a $50,000 loan from S&L executive Thomas Spiegel to buy $100,000
in junk bonds from Drexel Burnham Lambert. As head of the Democrats' House
campaign committee, Coelho specialized in soliciting corrupt S&L
barons. CNN reporter Brooks Jackson's book Honest Graft noted Coelho had
free use of the yacht of top S&L crook Don Dixon with free food and
drinks to entertain contributors.
Try to imagine how the network news would
cover a politician who resigned rather than face ethics probes by the
House or the media if they were named to head a GOP campaign. Or if they
named one of the top check-bouncers of the House bank (Coelho made the Top
22 with almost $300,000 in hot checks). A non-story? But the Coelho news
did not merit an evening or morning news story on ABC, CBS, or NBC,
although it did appear on CNN and MSNBC.
To read the rest
of this Media Reality Check, go to:
The March 28
CyberAlert this year relayed:
The chairman of Al Gore's presidential
campaign is under criminal investigation, the National Journal disclosed
on Thursday [March 23], leading to Friday [March 24] newspaper accounts,
but the broadcast networks and MSNBC ignored it and CNN gave it a few
seconds. Only FNC provided a full report Friday night.
The March 24 Inside Politics included a
short item on the probe of Tony Coelho and during the 8pm ET The World
Today anchor Jim Moret read this item, which MRC analyst Paul Smith timed
at 19 seconds: "Gore's campaign chairman Tony Coelho is under a
criminal investigation by the State Department. Law enforcement officials
say the investigation is based on an audit of Coelho's financial
transactions while he was in charge of the U.S. pavilion at the 1998
World's Fair. Vice President Gore said today Coelho is doing a quote,
Not a word about it appeared Friday night
on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams and nothing aired Friday night or
since on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News.
FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report on Friday only gave
the development a brief mention, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, but
the 6pm ET/9pm PT Special Report with Brit Hume led with the news. Regular
Friday anchor Tony Snow began the March 24 show with an understatement:
"It may not have gotten page one coverage in major newspapers, but
the continuing investigation into the financial dealings of Vice President
Al Gore's campaign manager Tony Coelho could complicate Bill Clinton's
quest for a legacy and Al Gore's drive for the White House. A year-long
State Department inquiry has gotten more serious and, as Fox News's Rita
Cosby tells us, the Vice President is having to deal with it."
For details about
Cosby's FNC story, go to:
Speaking of Gore team members not having to worry about tough questions,
in a PBS NewsHour interview Thursday night Al Gore himself was not asked
about either his missing e-mail or the poor condition of his rental
property. The 18-minute interview occurred just a day after Gore told the
Fox News Channel that he didn't know what happened to his subpoenaed
e-mail as "I'm not an expert on computers," but PBS's Jim Lehrer
failed to pursue the matter. Instead, viewers learned from Gore about how
"we had a miserable economic performance in the 1980s."
Lehrer asked Gore
several questions about the departure of Tony Coelho and arrival of Bill
Daley, and Lehrer did mention the investigation of Coelho's activities at
the World's Fair. Lehrer moved on to inquiring about why Bush is ahead in
the polls, then asked: "You talked about prosperity, are you not
getting the credit you believe you deserve for the good economic
Gore that George W. Bush said the prosperity began in 1980s with a 25
percent tax cut, asking: "Has he got it wrong?" Gore replied:|
"Oh yeah, of course. Because we had a miserable
economic performance in the 1980s and you don't have to take my word for
that, just ask anybody on the street who went through it. We had the worst
recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We had a quadrupling of
our national debt. We had $300 billion budget deficits stretching out as
far as the eye could see. Crime rates soared, social problems got worse.
There was no plan to do anything about it..."
I broke off my
transcribing at this point as he was getting beyond preposterous.
Other questions from
Lehrer touched on the size of Gore's tax cut, how concerned he is about
mistakes with the death penalty, if Bush is correct to allow more
executions in Texas and whether reconciliation between North Korea and
South Korea lessens the need for the U.S. to pursue missile defense.
The network news
divisions may continue to refuse to tell their viewers about Gore the
slumlord, but their late night comedy show hosts know a story that hits
home when they see one. And they realize how their viewers can identify
with this one.
MRC news analyst
Geoffrey Dickens passed along a joke cited in Hotline as uttered by Jay
Leno on the June 12 Tonight Show on NBC. Referring to Money magazine's
best and worst places to live lists, Leno joked: "Among the best
places: Bend, Oregon, Fort Collins, Colorado...The worst place to live,
anybody know? One of Al Gore's rental properties....No running water and
no working toilets, you know what they call that in Tennessee? The Four
Last week, David
Letterman provided the "Top Ten Al Gore Tenant Pet Peeves." To
read the list, check the June 6 CyberAlert:
Liberal network advocacy through anecdote. ABC's Linda Douglass on
Thursday night pushed the Republican Party congressional leadership from
the left to catch up with liberal Democrats and their effort to create
another entitlement paid for by taxpayers. Her tool to promote
prescription drug coverage in Medicare: relaying the plea of an elderly
lady who claimed she has to choose between paying for her drugs and buying
At least the woman
picked by ABC wasn't as much of a jerk as the woman featured by John
Roberts in his May 10 push for more federal spending. That woman showed no
gratitude for all the money workers have extracted from their paychecks to
take care of her: "America is the only country that is mean to their
senior citizens where medicine is concerned."
Douglass began her
June 15 World News Tonight liberal advocacy in the form of a news story:
"Katharine Roberts barely gets by on Social Security benefits and she
struggles to pay for the medication she needs every month."
Roberts, identified on-screen as being from New
York: "I very often have to choose whether, for example, to buy fresh
fruit and vegetables and use canned beans and things of that sort because
if I don't I can't buy my prescriptions."
Douglass explained the political benefits of
further burdening taxpayers: "Roberts and many other seniors say the
political party that has a plan to pay for their prescription drugs may
get their votes in the fall. Democrats have been touting their proposal
for months. The Republicans, with no plan in place, have been forced to
scramble. They've been warned by their pollster, in a memo obtained by ABC
News, that Democrats enjoy a 'huge advantage' on the prescription drug
issue. Moreover the pollster told the party, 'it is more important to
communicate that you have a plan than it is to communicate what is in the
plan.' Within days of hearing from their pollster, Republicans unveiled
After noting how
Democrats are concerned that Republicans may snatch the issue and a
soundbite of Clinton saying the Republican plan doesn't go far enough,
Douglass returned to Roberts, as if her demands should triumph: "What
worries Katharine Roberts is more talk but no action."
A very demanding Roberts insisted: "I don't
see anything changing very rapidly. I hear there's a lot of legislation. I
want to see it happen."
Douglass ruefully concluded: "It is not
likely to happen anytime soon because in an election year neither party
wants the other side to get credit for doing something voters want so
wouldn't want it so much, if they really do, if the networks focused their
anecdotes on burdened taxpayers instead of on never-satisfied greedy
elderly citizens who already get huge money transfers from workers.
In reporting how the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez filed an appeal
Thursday to the 11th circuit, NBC's Tom Brokaw remarked that "we
haven't heard about him in awhile." Indeed, if "we" means
Brokaw's viewers he's correct as he never bothered to inform Nightly News
viewers back in May about the photo taken at Wye River showing Elian in
the uniform of the Young Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth group. Thursday
night CBS's Dan Rather proclaimed that "Elian Gonzalez has enjoyed
far better treatment than most" kids who arrive in the U.S.
Introducing a June
15 NBC Nightly News story, Brokaw asserted: "We haven't heard about
him in awhile but now the ongoing saga of the young Cuban refugee Elian
Gonzalez. The latest legal maneuvers by his Miami relatives to keep him in
this country. NBC's Pete Williams tonight on their 11th hour plea."
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather used the basics of the appeal as the hook for another
story: "This slow court process is not unusual in immigration cases
involving children. But as Cynthia Bowers dug out in this Eye on America
investigation, Elian Gonzalez has enjoyed far better treatment than
Bowers looked at
how many children who arrive in the U.S. illegally, from places like
Jamaica, spend months in detention centers isolated from their families.
Well, Elian will
soon be able to spend the rest of his life in a detention center called
Judd Rose, an ABC News correspondent who joined CNN a couple of years ago,
passed away on Saturday at age 45 a few years after being operated on for
a brain tumor. His passing reminded me of an angry letter he sent the MRC
back in 1988 after we gave him our Janet Cooke Award in MediaWatch for the
most distorted story of the month, in his case a piece about Dan Quayle,
then the just-selected Bush VP nominee.
squeaky-clean watch-dogs at MediaWatch are so concerned about our conduct,
I wonder why you aren't more conscious of your own," he spewed before
he complained: "I'm not as accustomed as some of my colleagues to
your narrow, neanderthal, and slanted perception of what you see in the
Rose also abused
his position as a reporter to relay left-wing vitriol as fact and imply
the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 employed a racist appeal and four
years later to rebuke the 1980s as the "greed is good" years.
Below is an
excerpt from the MediaWatch article to which he objected, his angry retort
and his comments about Bush as a racist and castigating the values of the
-- From the
September 1988 MediaWatch "Janet Cooke Award," the portion about
Ted Koppel launched the August 18 Nightline
with more than just a factual account of the day's events: "Why did a
hardline conservative and Vietnam hawk choose the National Guard over
service in Vietnam? And did family connections make that choice
possible?" Rose then dismissed Bush's acceptance speech, declaring:
"The convention and nomination were his, but it didn't matter. Once
again George Bush was being overshadowed by someone else." A short
time later, he reported -- erroneously -- that an ex-National Guardsman
called the Guard on behalf of Quayle to get him "ahead of the waiting
Next, Rose allowed liberal Washington Post
columnist Haynes Johnson to deliver the final blow to Quayle: "He's a
person who presents himself as an ardent anti-communist, strong on
defense, an expert in all these areas, strong defender of the Vietnam War
who it appears got out of service in the war by favoritism, power,
privilege, and political advantage." Rose gave time to Senators Bob
Dole and John McCain to defend Quayle, but not to rebut Johnson's powerful
image of an elitist draft-dodger.
In his conclusion Rose was already spelling
doom for the two day old Republican ticket: "George Bush leaves New
Orleans to the sounds of cheering, but it may have a hollow ring soon
enough. History's shown when a candidate becomes an issue it can be
damaging and even fatal to a campaign. Well Dan Quayle has become an issue
and he's made Bush an issue too. This, after all, was Bush's first and
biggest decision on his own. And the way it turned out has hardly enhanced
his image as a leader."
Both Koppel and Jeff Greenfield continued
the rampage. Greenfield characterized the debate over Quayle as one of
"elitism." Koppel added: "Jeff Greenfield used the term
elitism, let me use another term, how about 'hypocrisy.'"
Less than one week later, conclusive proof
showed that the Indiana Guard was not operating at full force at the time
and that Quayle in fact used no special privilege to enter the National
Guard. But Judd Rose, in a conversation with MediaWatch defended his
segment, claiming: "I don't think the facts have borne out yet. But
that's a political judgment... There was a frenzied atmosphere that day.
In that atmosphere sometimes things go into extremes. In my case, though,
I don't think that was the case."
Asked whether the Quayle focus might be
created by a media unsympathetic to the conservative cause, Rose excused
himself but indicted some of his colleagues: "You say a lot of
reporters are trying to crucify George Bush and conservatives. That may be
true. But that's not this reporter."
After Quayle was vindicated on all counts,
most media outlets called it quits. ABC's Richard Threlkeld even delivered
a half hearted apology for the media's over-indulgence. On August 24, he
admitted that reporting had been "inconsistent" and that
"there were in fact vacancies in Quayle's National Guard unit when he
joined and no waiting list, suggesting favoritism played no crucial part
in Quayle's enlistment." Added Threlkeld: "Some of the reporting
has involved things about Quayle that seem less than front page news: what
about that weekend with some golfing buddies and the female lobbyist, how
low were his grades in college, did he have to talk his way into law
school, is all of this getting to be too much. Maybe so."
To read the entire
article, go to:
response, as well as a more encouraging one from another ABC News reporter
we criticized, as relayed in the November 1988 MediaWatch:
Two ABC reporters received the September
Janet Cooke Award for stories on Sen. Dan Quayle's background. Each,
however, reacted far differently to the honor.
In a letter to MediaWatch, Nightline
correspondent Judd Rose agreed "the depiction of what I said and who
I spoke with was, by and large, accurate," but complained "the
comments that I made to [MediaWatch] on the phone were out of context and
certainly not faithful to the spirit of what I was saying."
Rose cited several examples before
concluding with this colorful rebuke: "Taking a quote out of context
is something that has happened before, and no doubt, will happen again.
But since you squeaky-clean watch-dogs at MediaWatch are so concerned
about our conduct, I wonder why you aren't more conscious of your own...
Again I'm flattered that your publication would honor me with this dubious
award. But forgive me, gentlemen. Having only been in Washington for a bit
under one year, I'm not as accustomed as some of my colleagues to your
narrow, neanderthal, and slanted perception of what you see in the news
media. Consider me educated."
ABC News colleague John Martin noted what
he felt was one omission in our story, but felt the article was balanced
and fair: "I've just read your piece giving me the Janet Cooke Award.
While I don't relish receiving the award, and don't believe I deserve it,
I wanted you to know I felt you did a good job. You took the time to ask
my views; you obviously spoke with [former Indianapolis News Editor M.
Stanton] Evans at length; you attempted to assess both sides; you included
my side of the story. That's all a journalist asks."
You can find this
-- Rose's rants:
The next fall Rose
told viewers of ABC's Prime Time Live on November 2, 1989: "In a way,
you might say that David Duke is the son of Willie Horton. Duke is more
overt, of course, but he's really just pushing the same buttons and
sending the same coded messages that the Horton ads did so effectively for
the Bush campaign last year."
Four years later,
on the May 13, 1993 Prime Time Live, Rose looked back with scorn on the
Reagan '80s: "With power comes the abuse of power. And where there
are bosses, there are crazy bosses. It's nothing new -- Louis B. Mayer,
George Steinbrenner, Leona Helmsley. The past is full of crazy bosses.
So's the future. From burger joints to board rooms, there seem to be more
crazy bosses out there more than ever. Maybe it's part of the price we're
paying for the Greed is Good '80s, when calling someone an S.O.B. was a
compliment and bad behavior was mistaken for charisma."
It's sad that Rose
died so young, but let's not forget what he was in life, a liberal
advocate who delivered biased reporting.
-- Brent Baker