Clinton as Internet Pioneer; Bush’s Oil Ties; "Murder" of Gary Graham; Dennis Miller Raw
1) By using the Web to make an
announcement, President Clinton cracked a great barrier "and now joins
JFK, the first President to hold a televised press conference, and FDR, the
first to use radio to chat with an entire country," gushed CBS’s Lee
2) Friday night, of the broadcast
networks, only CBS felt compelled to relay the White House spin on how Robert
Conrad "was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1989 by a man with ties
to Republican Jesse Helms" and in 1996 Conrad contributed to Helms.
3) CBS dedicated a whole story to
how "If oil prices are a sticky issue for anybody, it's Texas
oilman-turned-Governor George W. Bush," but the network skipped over
Gore’s stock ownership of an oil company which pays him $20,000 a year.
4) Bush may "look
bloodthirsty" to some, NBC’s Norah O’Donnell suggested after twice
referring to Gary Graham’s execution, "with one eye shut and one eye
open," as a "murder."
5) Geraldo Rivera turned his CNBC
show into a diatribe against the "obscenity" of how the death
penalty is applied in Texas, wailing live from outside the prison: "Gary
Graham is dead!....The worst has happened." Then he teared-up.
6) Newt Gingrich’s new book will
"be available through the Mein Kampf of the Month Club," joked new
Monday Night Football commentator Dennis Miller back in 1994. Friday night he
alerted HBO viewers: "Every time I say ‘golly’ I really mean
JFK, and now in CBS’s pantheon of pioneering Presidents, WJC, as in
William Jefferson Clinton. Saturday night CBS News took President
Clinton’s announcement, via an Internet video-delivered speech, of a
federal Web site, and turned it into an historic event. "Never before
has a President addressed the nation using the Internet. This morning
President Clinton cracked that barrier and now joins JFK...and FDR"
in making a communications breakthrough, trumpeted Lee Cowan on the June
24 CBS Evening News.
Anchor Russ Mitchell
introduced the promotional piece:
"And there is big Internet news from Washington
tonight. The White House today went on the Web for what may be the wave of
the future and promised a new service that could change the way most
Americans do business with the federal government."
"It’s being billed as a presidential first."
Clinton in an Internet site video: "Here in
America a revolution in technology is underway."
Cowan celebrated: "Never before has a President
addressed the nation using the Internet. This morning President Clinton
cracked that barrier and now joins JFK, the first President to hold a
televised press conference, and FDR, the first to use radio to chat with
an entire country. But it’s not just the method of the announcement, but
what it promises that makes history -- relief for citizens tired of the
long lines of bureaucracy, the long waits to speak to their
Cowan reported how
Clinton announced the creation of a new Web site which will consolidate
the information provided through 20,000 existing federal sites. "If
it works," gushed Cowan, "citizens will be able to track their
Social Security benefits, apply for mortgages, for grants -- even find a
car -- all in one user-friendly page."
What in the world the
federal government is doing in finding cars for people, Cowan did not
explain. To see Clinton make this tremendous unveiling of a site address
Cowan didn’t even mention, go to: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,209245-412,00.shtml
Oh, the address for the
"historic" site: http://firstgov.gov
night all the networks, fueled by Al Gore’s release of his April 18
interview with federal investigator Robert Conrad, ran stories for the
second night in a row on Conrad’s recommendation that Gore be probed by
a special prosecutor.
Of the broadcast
networks, however, only CBS relayed the Democratic spin machine effort to
discredit the revelation. John Roberts reported:
"Sources close to the investigation tell CBS News
that potentially false statements made by Gore about the Buddhist temple
fundraiser and White House coffees during an April interview with Justice
Department prosecutors led to the recommendation of an outside counsel.
Racing to defuse the potential for damage in an election year, the Vice
President today ordered the release of the interview transcript.
Democratic sources pointed out the investigator who made the
recommendation, Robert Conrad, was appointed Assistant U.S. attorney in
1989 by a man with ties to Republican Jesse Helms, and in 1996, Conrad
contributed to Helms' election campaign."
Roberts did go on to
inform viewers of some developments CBS had skipped over when they
occurred: "This is the fourth time investigators have recommended the
appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Gore. Three times
Attorney General Janet Reno has turned down the request."
up on a Democratic counterattack on George W. Bush over gas prices, Friday
night the CBS Evening News devoted a whole story by Bill Whitaker to how
"Democrats say, 'Hold on a minute.' If oil prices are a sticky issue
for anybody, it's Texas oilman-turned-Governor George W. Bush, a
self-proclaimed friend of the industry." But in highlighting how much
more Bush has received from the oil industry than has Gore, CBS didn’t
bother to tell viewers about Gore’s financial interest in an oil
company. He "controls at least $500,000 worth of stock in Occidental
Petroleum," arranged for the sale of valuable public land to the
company and receives $20,000 in royalties each year from the firm, The
Washington Times reported Friday morning.
Ending with a playful
play on words, Dan Rather set up the tilted June 23 story:
"In the presidential campaign, the volatile mix of
oil and politics carries a special dimension for Governor George Bush and
his own ties to Texas oil, plus campaign contributions from many oil
interests elsewhere. As CBS's Bill Whitaker reports, playing the gasoline
card is a slippery business for Bush. It's light and sweet in some ways,
but crude in others."
Whitaker noted how the
GOP has been attacking the Clinton team on the issue: "High gas
prices aren't just pushing frustration levels up. They've uncorked a
gusher of political accusation, too. From Capitol Hill to the campaign
trail, Republicans have been drilling the Clinton White House for sitting
idle while drivers fume."
Bush: "The Clinton-Gore administration has been
there for seven years. We're more dependent now than never before on
energy from foreign sources."
Whitaker: "Bush even says Vice President Al Gore
is getting what he wished for when he wrote about the environment."
Bush: "He writes in a book that he thinks we ought
to have higher fuel prices."
Whitaker then switched
to the counterattack: "But Democrats say, 'Hold on a minute.' If oil
prices are a sticky issue for anybody, it's Texas oilman-turned-Governor
George W. Bush, a self-proclaimed friend of the industry."
Gore: "You know the old song, 'Whose side are you
on?' I am now, as I have always been, on the side of the consumers."
Whitaker: "Both candidates have gotten campaign
contributions from big oil, but Bush has pulled in 15 times more."
An on-screen graphic
showed how Bush has received $1.5 million compared to $100,000 for Gore.
"He started his business career in the Texas oil fields and keeps
tapping those reserves. Many of his top fundraisers and campaign officials
are tied to the industry."
Charles Lewis, Center for Public Integrity, then
asserted: "He has helped the oil industry repeatedly as he took their
millions of dollars. And to me, they're two peas in a pod."
Senator Tom Harkin also got a chance to take a shot:
"I'd just like to hear him go after the oil companies a little bit,
make them own up to what they're doing. But he won't do it, because the
oil companies are his best friends and he's gonna do everything he can to
Bush: "There seems to be an effort out of
Washington to blame me for rising energy prices. The American people
aren't gonna buy that."
Whitaker concluded: "No one knows what's going to
happen with gas prices, but now that they've become a campaign issue, it's
certain the rhetoric will get pumped up before pump prices come
Way back on March 6
ABC’s World News Tonight devoted "A Closer Look" segment to
taking on Gore from the left by relaying a complaint from far-left
environmentalists about how they claimed that because Gore controls his
father’s estate, which includes $500,000 in Occidental Petroleum stock,
he is not taking the side of Indians in Colombia who are fighting plans by
the company to drill on their land.
And the morning of
CBS’s story the Washington Times provided a front page story on Gore’s
connection to Occidental. Reporter Bill Sammon also quoted Charles Lewis,
though criticisms of Gore not Bush. Sammon highlighted what CBS News would
not, writing in a June 23 piece:
Vice President Al Gore, who is trying to
link George W. Bush to soaring gasoline prices by emphasizing the Texas
Governor's ties to the oil industry, controls at least $500,000 worth of
stock in Occidental Petroleum.
The stock came from Armand Hammer, an
oilman with communist ties who served for decades as financial benefactor
to Mr. Gore and his father, Sen. Albert Gore Sr. Mr. Hammer, who used to
brag that he kept the elder Gore "in my back pocket," is
believed to have helped recruit Soviet spies to infiltrate the U.S.
The Bush campaign said Thursday it is
hypocritical for Mr. Gore -- who controls between $500,000 and $1 million
of Occidental stock and is paid $20,000 a year by the firm -- to portray
the Texas Governor as a tool of Big Oil....
Since becoming vice president, Mr. Gore has
gone out of his way to help Occidental. From 1995 through 1997, he
engineered the sale of an oil-rich expanse of publicly owned land -- known
as the Elk Hills field in Bakersfield, Calif. -- to Occidental. Elk Hills
had been zealously guarded since 1912 as a strategic resource by the Navy.
In 1922, oilmen bribed President Harding's interior secretary for secret
drilling leases, the subsequent exposure of which resulted in the Teapot
Congress resisted privatization attempts by
Presidents Nixon and Reagan, but relented when President Clinton pushed it
through as one of Mr. Gore's "reinventing government" reforms.
The sale of Elk Hills to Occidental was a
dramatic departure for an administration that has walled off huge expanses
of private land for public preserves. "It was the largest
privatization of federal property in U.S. history, one that tripled
Occidental's U.S. oil reserves overnight," wrote Charles Lewis of the
nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity in his book, "The Buying of
the President 2000."
The Energy Department normally assesses the
environmental impact of such a sale, but in this case, it allowed a
private firm, ICF Kaiser International, to do the assessment. One of ICF's
directors is Tony Coelho, who managed Mr. Gore's presidential campaign
until stepping down this month.
"There is clear hypocrisy here because
the company that Al Gore is closest to in the United States today is an
oil company -- Occidental Petroleum," Mr. Lewis told The Washington
Times yesterday. "Politically, in terms of things he's done for them
and things they've done for him, they're two peas in a pod."....
Occidental's founder and chief executive
officer, Mr. Hammer transformed Mr. Gore's father -- a financially
struggling freshman Congressman from rural Tennessee in the 1930s -- into
the millionaire CEO of an Occidental subsidiary who was paid $500,000 a
year by the time he retired from the Senate in 1971. Mr. Hammer died in
1990 and the elder Gore died in 1998.
Mr. Hammer, who was classified in Soviet
KGB files as an "agent of influence" for Moscow, also bestowed
his largess on the younger Gore. For decades, Occidental has paid the Vice
President $20,000 a year for mineral rights to zinc-rich land held by the
Gore family in Carthage, Tenn. The firm continues to make the payments
even though it has never mined the land. Occidental loaned $100,000 to the
committee handling the Clinton-Gore inauguration.
And, according to a White House memo,
Occidental gave $50,000 to the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign after
being solicited by Mr. Gore from his White House office in a phone call he
said was covered by "no controlling legal authority."....
Graham was "murdered" by the State of Texas, NBC News reporter
Norah O’Donnell insisted twice before she caught herself. A Freudian
slip? Her other comments clearly betrayed how she disagrees with Bush’s
position on the death penalty.
During a special second
live edition of Hardball on CNBC at 11pm ET Thursday night, June 22, after
the execution of Gary Graham had occurred, O’Donnell warned:
"I think Governor Bush’s advisers tonight, as
they huddled awaiting this decision through, from the attorney generals,
as all these appeals went on that watching then this execution, his
advisers must have been hoping that nobody was listening to those
Associated Press reporters who came out afterwards and described in what I
think is the most chilling detail how Gary Graham was killed. His final
words being just that, ‘They’re killing me tonight, they’re
murdering me tonight.’ And then him dying, staring at the Reverend Jesse
Jackson with one eye shut and one eye open. A very chilling description of
that murder and the 134th murder, or excuse me, execution that has been
presided over by Governor Bush."
O’Donnell went on to
argue, or was it a hope, that Bush will be hurt by the issue if he
"looks bloodthirsty." In another comment caught by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens, O’Donnell contended:
"But where it does become an issue, is because
someone, a reporter, could come up with a case in which one of these
people is in fact innocent and prove Governor Bush wrong. There are also,
it may persuade people. For instance Michigan, a state by Governor John
Engler, close ally of Bush. There is no death penalty in Michigan. There
are a lot of Catholic voters there who don’t support the death penalty.
Does it become an issue with Catholic voters like that? They don’t rate
it as number one but could it persuade them in a way? Bush has already had
problems with Catholic voters. Someone could certainly make that argument
if this continues to plague Bush in a way where he looks bloodthirsty and
an executioner. Tonight though he appeared compassionate and restrained,
saying at the very end, ‘God bless Mr. Graham.’"
But that’s not an
outcome which pleased O’Donnell, who soon scolded Bush: "We talked
about the culpability of Governor Bush. Does this continue to plague him?
I think one of the things that certainly Sheila Jackson Lee brought up is
the Governor has yet to acknowledge in any way that there is a failed or
broken system. And there are numerous academic studies, by Columbia
University that suggest many of these people on death row get very poor
representation. People who are drunk. Lawyers who are drunk, who fall
asleep. Who are later suspended or barred and the Governor has yet to
acknowledge as did Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois, that this
is a problem."
Rivera turned his Thursday night Rivera Live show on CNBC into a one-hour
diatribe against the "obscenity" of how the death penalty is
applied in Texas, wailing live from outside the prison in Huntsville,
Texas: "Gary Graham is dead! The witnesses are coming out. They are
coming, walking out. The worst has happened." Graham’s execution
occurred about 45 minutes into Rivera’s 8pm CT show, prompting him to
wrap up the hour with tears in his eyes.
Near the top of the
hour, Rivera complained, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"So you add to this emotional rollercoaster. To the obscenity of this
process. This, yet another stay, his case now at the Fifth Circuit Federal
Court of Appeals based in New Orleans. But it is extremely unlikely that
they will grant him the relief that his attorneys are so desperately
He told guest Dan
Lungren: "Let me ask Dan Lungren, the fine attorney, the former
Attorney General of the great state of California. I know that you,
general, like me have always been a supporter of the death penalty. But
this process seems obscene sir."
Rivera did remind
viewers of how Bill Clinton had presided over a controversial execution in
1992, an event the MRC’s Media Reality Check on Friday showed was
largely ignored by the networks at the time: "In 1992 a man running
for the White House from the other party, William Jefferson Clinton,
interrupted his campaign to return to Arkansas to oversee the execution of
a person thought to be mentally retarded. Making the statement without
saying it, that although I’m a Democrat I can be tough on crime. I
believe that to suggest Josh, that there is no such thing as death penalty
politics when we see judges and district attorneys cutting television
commercials in which they brag of how many men they have sent the last
mile is disingenuous and inaccurate."
Rivera later warned:
"And if he is innocent than a terrible deed has been committed not by
a criminal’s hand but by the state of Texas."
And as the witnesses
walked out, Rivera bitterly proclaimed: "They are coming out! The
witnesses are coming out! I just saw Jesse Jackson, I just saw the
Reverend Sharpton. It is obvious ladies and gentlemen Gary Graham is dead!
Gary Graham is dead! The witnesses are coming out. They are coming,
walking out. The worst has happened."
Rivera added: "This
case will not help the proponents of the death penalty. I think there will
be a bad taste in the belly of American public opinion. Polls already
showing the lowest level of popular support for the ultimate punishment
since 1981. I don’t think however you cut this that this helps people
who believe the death penalty is appropriate."
Near the end of the hour
Rivera conceded Graham wasn’t such a great guy, but pressed Barry
Scheck, will worked to let OJ get away with murder, to denounce the
execution: "The man who went kicking and screaming to his death but
who, Barry Scheck, he may not be a very nice, may not have been a very
nice fellow. Gary Graham was not a charismatic nor likable person. He had
a hideous youth. He committed horribly violent crimes. He spent 19 years
on death row. Now he is gone, you believe unjustly. Not as a lawyer, but
as a man Barry."
"I’m very troubled by this. It doesn’t speak well for our
system," because of the doubt about Graham’s guilt which will lead
to a "profound challenge to see whether this machinery of death can
After Scheck finished
his point CNBC went live to Rivera in Huntsville, who after a long pause
turned to the camera and appeared to be tearing up. Kerry Max Cook, a
former death row inmate, asserted that Graham was executed for being a
17-year-old juvenile criminal, and judged: "Tonight, all Americans
An emotional Rivera
appealed to Cook to rejoice in what living has meant: "Kerry, tell me
about the baby growing in your wife’s belly right now."
Rivera soon cut off Cook
as the show ran out of time. With Rivera inset in small frame in the
corner of the screen and the large frame showing the crowd, a tearful
Rivera put two fingers to his lips in a peace sign and lamented:
"Ladies and gentlemen it’s been a long and troubling day. Thank you
+++ Watch Geraldo Rivera
show signs of tears on CNBC over the execution of serial criminal and
murderer Gary Graham, who shot several others with the intention of
killing them. Monday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a
RealPlayer clip of the last few minutes of the June 22 Rivera Live. Go to:
Miller. As noted in the June 23 CyberAlert, comedian Dennis Miller was
named by ABC to fill one of three broadcast booth spots on ABC’s Monday
Night Football this season. CyberAlert passed along some of Miller’s
past liberal rants. Here’s some more if his invective, a collection of
his angry comments on the GOP takeover of Congress, courtesy of MRC
entertainment analyst Tom Johnson.
From the February 1995
edition of the MRC’s now defunct newsletter, TV, etc.:
Gingrich continues to take his lumps from
talk-show hosts, with Miller being the most vituperative by far. On his
weekly HBO half-hour Dennis Miller Live he warmed up in November by
calling the Speaker "a pain-in-the-ass demagogue." More
recently, he's been nasty to the point of vendetta:
-- December 9, 1994 as Gingrich: "Once
we get them to the orphanages, we see if they're sickly. If they are...we
hold their little heads in our hands...and crush them like walnuts."
-- December 16, over a photo of Gingrich
and Bob Dole standing beside a model of the Capitol dome: "What you
can't see here is the sign on the back that says, ‘Whites Only.'"
-- December 23: "[Gingrich's book]
about his political vision for the future of America [will be] called The
Philistine Prophecy... [It will] be available through the Mein Kampf
of the Month Club."
-- December 30: "We're all free to
[express our opinions], at least for the next couple days until Gingrich
takes over and straps the ratcage to our collective face."
-- January 13, 1995: "This week,
Gingrich admitted it was a dumb idea to suggest the government provide tax
credits to poor people so they could buy laptop computers. Gingrich
explained that what he meant to say was that poor people should be rounded
up and exterminated."
Miller has also trashed the GOP more
broadly. On December 16, he said, "The new Republican Congress has
moved quickly to bring down homeless statistics. They passed legislation
reclassifying dumpsters as mobile homes." On December 30, he defined
a moderate Republican as "someone who refers to blacks as
And what type of color
commentary can we look forward to on Monday nights? On Friday’s Dennis
Miller Live at 11:30pm ET on HBO he alerted his audience as to what one
word will really mean [Warning, this is an unedited joke featuring a
vulgarity for a punchline]: "I’ve been working on my delivery since
I learned I got the new gig and a little clue if you watch: Every time I
say ‘golly’ I really mean ‘fuck.’"
What a sophisticated
addition to the ABC Sports broadcast team.
Final Notes: On a
lighter side, a scheduled guest Monday night on the Late Show with David
Letterman on CBS: Tom Brokaw.
And don’t forget the
two-hour ABC News special Monday night, Peter Jennings Reporting: The
Search for Jesus. It will air from 9 to 11pm ET/PT, 8 to 10pm CT/MT.
Should be interesting to see how Jennings handles a topic he knows is
sensitive and will be scrutinized.
-- Brent Baker