CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday February 20, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 29) |
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Malaria, Drought & Drowning; No Estate Tax, No Food for Poor; New Clinton Whopper Omitted; FNC Noticed Media Interest in Homeless

1) The end is near. Dan Rather led Monday's CBS Evening News by hyping a UN report on the dire impact of global warming, "the forecast from Hell" of droughts, drowning and malaria. Peter Jennings focused on fear "there will be potentially enormous loss of life, greater risk of disease and the extinction of entire species."

2) No estate tax, no food for the poor. CBS highlighted a soup kitchen, "exactly the kind of faith-based service President Bush sees reducing government's role as a safety net. But Father Bill says while the President is asking charities to do more, he's proposing they do it with less by eliminating the estate tax."

3) ABC's Good Morning America dedicated a segment Friday morning to giving time to William Gates Sr. to make the case for why the estate tax should not be repealed.

4) The CBS and NBC evening shows let Bill Clinton get away with the whopper in his New York Times op-ed about how three Republican lawyers "reviewed and advocated" the Marc Rich pardon.

5) Larry King, who appears in the frequently-played video showing Denise Rich handing a saxophone to Bill Clinton, explained he was just hosting a charity event for cancer research.

6) When Bill Clinton wanted to vent to a member of the media last week he naturally chose Geraldo Rivera who dedicated his CNBC show to relaying Clinton's anger. Rivera seriously maintained: "The only lie he told was to his wife and to us about it."

7) CBS changed Bill Clinton's statement by correcting his grammar. Clinton stated "any suggestion...are false." Reporter Phil Jones's correction still allowed Clinton to avoid the word "is."

8) Two Fox News Channel shows picked up on how the MRC pointed out the media's sudden re-discovery of homelessness since a Republican re-entered the White House.

9) Jack Quinn suggested raising the dead to lobby Clinton. From an e-mail by a lawyer working to get Clinton to pardon Marc Rich: "Having Leah Rabin call is not a bad idea. The problem is how do we contact her? She died last November."


>>> Polling bias. New RealPlayer video up on the MRC home page, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul. It's of Fox News chief Roger Ailes joking, during the February 14 House hearing into election night coverage, about how the reaction of Republicans and Democrats to exit and regular pollsters differs: "When Republicans come out of polls and if you ask them a question they tend to think it's none of your business and Democrats want to share their feelings, so you may get some bias there that's inadvertent just because it's a cultural thing and unless you send the Republicans to sensitivity training you're not going to get them to do that." To view the exchange with committee chairman Billy Tauzin, go to: <<<


Let's not move on. Let's continue to enjoy Bill Clinton's troubles while we are still alive. After all, if you believe Dan Rather and the United Nations, we'll all be dead soon anyway from wild fires, floods, thirst, drowning or malaria caused by global warming. Rather led Monday's CBS Evening News with "the forecast from Hell," a UN report which offered "dire predictions...about the future of our planet." ABC's Peter Jennings also highlighted the fear "there will be potentially enormous loss of life, greater risk of disease and the extinction of entire species." Despite the supposed impending misery for homo sapiens, NBC Nightly News didn't consider the report worth hyping -- at least not yet.

     Neither CBS or ABC provided a second of any second opinion from any of the many scientists who don't buy the scare-mongering. As always happens after these scary UN reports on global warming, a few days later several major groups will release reports discrediting the fear-mongering. Monday's USA Today, in a story with the calm headline, "UN Study: Global Warming is Evident Now," at least ended with a note of caution: "'No one say we can predict the weather next year,' says Roger Pielke Sr., an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University. 'So why do we think we have better skills for 50 years in the future?'"

     A good question for Rather and Jennings.

     Rather ominously teased at the top of the February 19 CBS Evening News: "The forecast from Hell: Why America may see more killer tornadoes and floods, hurricanes and wild fires in the years ahead."

    He opened the semi-holiday night broadcast: "Good evening. There are new and dire predictions tonight about the future of our planet. Around the world glaciers are in full retreat. Some, like the ancient ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, could be gone in a decade or two. It's a dramatic symptom of the warming of the Earth detailed in a new thousand-page United Nations report, Climate Change 2001. It predicts the new century will bring, and I quote, 'Large scale, and possibly irreversible, changes affecting every last person on Earth.'"

     Reporter Byron Pitts began with dire warnings: "Imagine a Texas-type heat wave in Toledo Ohio, wild fires year-round in California, that 500-year flood that devastated Grand Forks North Dakota occurring every five years. It is doomsday scenario detailed in a report sponsored by the United Nations and researched by 700 of the world's leading experts on global warming."

     After soundbites from UN report co-author James McCarthy and global warming promoter Rafe Pomerance, identified on screen as a "climate expert," Pitts intoned: "This is punishment, say scientists, for sins of the past. The end result of years of pollution."

     Pitts relayed the vague prediction that temperature will increase 2 to 10 degrees during the next century and spelled out the damage:
     "In the Southeast, severe coastal flooding, water-borne illnesses like malaria, wild fires in the everglades. Similar problems out West along with a massive influx refugees from Mexico and Latin America. In the Midwest, deadly heat waves and severe droughts. And in the Northeast, what is now precious waterside property could one day be under water. Scientists say it's no longer a matter of if, but when."

     On the up side, maybe the sea rise will put Manhattan under water and submerge Bryant Gumbel and The Early Show as well as Dan Rather.

     ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News led Monday night with the death of race car driver Dale Earnhardt, but before the first ad break ABC anchor Peter Jennings warned:
     "The United Nations has issued a very tough report on global warming today and because it's a sensitive issue government representatives went over it line by line before saying the following: Man-made climate change will lead to more freak weather changes, including cyclones, drought and floods; massive displacement of populations, the poorest countries will suffer the most; there will be potentially enormous loss of life, greater risk of disease and the extinction of entire species. Scientists have been warning about this for years. The UN says today that the economic loss alone has gone from $4 billion a year in the 1950s to $40 billion a year in 1999 and going up."


CBS isn't usually so slow in picking up on the latest liberal crusade, but Monday night it finally ran its first story presenting the case against ending the estate tax. (ABC and NBC ran pieces last week relaying the viewpoint of opponents.) The CBS Evening News highlighted an Episcopal Father who is practicing what President Bush wants -- helping the poor -- but is afraid people will help less without the incentive of reducing their estate tax.

     Reporter Jim Axelrod focused on a minister who matches President Bush's wishes, starting his February 19 story: "Father Bill Greenlaw does the Lord's work and sets the President's example."
     Episcopal Father Bill Greenlaw: "Anyone who is hungry is welcome here."
     Axelrod explained: "His soup kitchen at New York's Holy Apostle Church serves 250,000 meals a year, exactly the kind of faith-based service President Bush sees reducing government's role as a safety net. But Father Bill says while the President is asking charities to do more, he's proposing they do it with less by eliminating the estate tax."
     Greenlaw: "This is crazy in my judgment, to think about eliminating that so that the most wealthy in our society can become still more wealthy."

     Axelrod outlined how the IRS estimates it collects $14 to $16 billion a year from taxpayers trying to avoid the tax of up to half their estates. After a philanthropist argued the high tax encourages the rich to make charitable donations, Axelrod allowed Republican Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn to contend that she thinks without the tax the rich will have more money and will therefore have more to give. Greenlaw complained that dropping the tax will make it harder to raise money.

     Viewers then heard from Dunn again: "I think you should tell him not to be fearful, that just because things have been done in that way for years, that doesn't mean the dollars won't come from people who care about what he's doing."
     Axelrod concluded with Greenlaw's fear: "Father Bill will pray she's right, but on the soup lines and on the front lines he won't take it as an article of faith."


ABC gave opponents of eliminating the estate tax a trifecta of promotion Thursday night and Friday morning as Friday's Good Morning America featured segment dedicated to the effort by a few of the super-wealthy to keep it. Thursday's World News Tonight focused a story on their arguments followed by an entire Nightline.

     ABC's Antonio Mora hardly challenged Bill Gates's father in giving the senior Gates a forum for his crusade, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed. Jack Ford set up the February 16 taped segment:
     "This week President Bush finds himself doing battle with some of the nation's richest people who are, perhaps surprisingly, fighting part of his $1.6 trillion tax cut plan. They want to stop Bush's proposal to end the inheritance tax, which they argue would cost the government $236 billion over the next 10 years and benefit just 48,000 of the nation's wealthiest people each year. One of those battling Bush's proposed cut, the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Antonio Mora talked with Gates's father just yesterday."

     Mora began: "This is the ad that will run next Sunday, a manifesto from 120 of the richest people in America -- George Soros, a couple of Rockefellers and William Gates Senior, father of the richest man in the world, Bill Gates -- billionaires whose combined bank accounts dwarf the GNPs of many Third World countries. Their message: We may be rich, but we want to pay our estate taxes."

     Mora asked Gates: "Supporting the estate tax would be something that would seem to be against your self-interest. Not only are you supporting that it stay, you are actually, have been quoted as saying that you're angry about the attempts to repeal it. Why?"

     Mora then outlined the tax provisions and gave a clause to a reason to repeal it without raising its impact on small businesses: "Anything you inherit is subject to Uncle Sam's estate tax. The IRS won't touch the first $675,000, but above that you're automatically taxed 37 percent; above $3 million and you pay 55 percent. President Bush calls this a death tax that hurts middle class Americans the most. He'd like to eliminate it by the year 2009. Bill Gates Senior says don't repeal the estate tax, just reform it.

     Gates then heard this tough question: "What exactly do you propose?"
     Gates replied: "I think that, certainly, that the amount exempt from estate taxation could be increased without great harm to the program. You know, if the exemption level were to be increased to, you know, two, three million dollars per person, I wouldn't see any problem with that at all."
     Mora: "A lot of people disagree and point out that all this is easy for Gates Senior to say because even a small percentage of his son's $43 billion will be enough to keep the grandchildren in style.
     Mora to Gates: "What do you think your grandchildren should inherit?"
     Gates: "What do I think my grandchildren should inherit?"
     Mora: "If you'll pardon the personal question, but in the context of what you're saying, that the wealth should not be inherited, what do you think they should inherit?"
     Gates: "I think, I think the notion of their inheriting a modest amount is fine. I'm for that and that's why we have exemptions in the estate tax scheme."
     Mora: "But what would a modest amount be?"
     Gates: "Haven't thought about that."
     Mora: "Bill Gates Senior, our thanks for joining us and talking about this important issue."
     Gates: "You bet, Antonio. Thank you."
     Ford, back on live: "I suspect President Bush would be thinking these are not the opponents he thought he'd have when he says, 'I'm going to cut taxes for all you folks.'
     Diane Sawyer: "Yeah, unlikely, really got attention."

     Flattering attention the networks chose to give them even before their paid media ads ever appeared.


The broadcast network evening shows largely let Bill Clinton get away with the whopper in his Sunday New York Times op-ed about how three Republican lawyers "reviewed and advocated" a pardon for Marc Rich when all three have denied doing so during their time representing the fugitive.

     On Sunday morning, John Podesta on NBC's Meet the Press and Joe Lockhart on ABC's This Week, were asked about the denials by William Bradford Reynolds, Leonard Garment and Lewis Libby. CNN and FNC focused Sunday and Monday on the Clinton misstatement, but Clinton's holiday timing significantly reduced broadcast network coverage, with only ABC's evening news show touching the topic. (Because of the holiday I don't know how the subject was addressed on the morning shows on Monday.)

     During a piece on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, reporter Bill Redeker raised the controversy: "In fact, Clinton writes, 'the applications' for the pardons 'were reviewed and advocated by three distinguished Republican attorneys.' But last night and this morning all three flatly denied that. William Bradford Reynolds told ABC News: 'I was not involved in the pardon and I think it's improper to suggest that I was.'"

     But Sunday night Clinton's false justification didn't make it onto CBS or NBC and neither bothered with it Monday night. Golf reduced the Sunday CBS Evening news to a five-minute show in the ET and CT zones which dealt only with the submarine accident. No NBC Nightly News aired anywhere because NBC carried a NBA double-header. Monday night, neither ABC or CBS even mentioned the pardon and while NBC ran a full story, it didn't touch the misstatement. Andrea Mitchell explored Clinton's claim that Israel pressured him to pardon Rich. While she asserted several high-level Israelis did favor the pardon, she pointed out that Clinton never consulted his foreign policy team about the idea and that leaders of U.S. Jewish groups believe Israel is be being made the "fall guy."

     As for the part-time news network MSNBC, it sent everyone home for the holiday weekend to allow for repeated showings of the Headliners & Legends episodes on Tom Cruise and about Heather Locklear's dynamic career, from T.J. Hooker to Spin City, and so didn't even air a News with Brian Williams on Monday night. But that means MSNBC has a chance to fill in its viewers on Tuesday.


Larry King explained why he's in the frequently-played video showing Denise Rich, next to a podium, handing a saxophone to Bill Clinton as Hillary looks on. Last week FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume showed a longer than usual clip of the event to illustrate how the CNN host was the emcee and embraced and kissed Denise Rich.

     In his Monday USA Today column King assured readers that it was not a political event but a dinner to raise money for cancer research:
     "I know you've seen my picture with the Clintons and Denise Rich just about everywhere by now. My duty that night last November was serving as emcee at Rich's annual Angel Ball, which raised more than $1 million for cancer research. I have no knowledge of anything else in this current brouhaha."


When Bill Clinton wanted to vent to a member of the media last week he naturally first thought of NBC's Geraldo Rivera who dedicated his CNBC show on Thursday night to relaying the former President's anger. Rivera agreed with Clinton that "90 percent of his problems come from partisan hacks who have hated him from the day he was born."

     Rivera also insisted there is no liberal bias, complained "too many people" have "been silent" about lies told about Clinton and dumbfounded guest John Fund by asserting: "The only lie he told was to his wife and to us about it."

     Rivera opened the February 15 show, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "Bill Clinton, speaking to me during his commute from Chappaqua up in Westchester County down to Manhattan, was indignant over the entire controversy. Quote, 'I was blindsided by this. I have no infrastructure to deal with this, no press person. I just wanted to go out there and do what past Presidents have done but the Republicans had other ideas for me.' The former President seemed particularly disturbed by what apparently he believes is the hypocritical nature of much of the criticism he's receiving. Quote, 'It's terrible! I mean, he [Marc Rich] had three big time Republican lawyers, including Dick Cheney's chief of staff.' He's referring to I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, whose Chief of Staff now for the Vice President. Marc Rich himself, the President went on to say, is a Republican. And Mr. Clinton confirmed what some have been reporting that part of his motivation for the pardon is the information he received from Israeli sources, including outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Quote, 'Now I'll tell you what did influence me,' the President told me, 'Israel did influence me profoundly.'"

     Rivera soon argued to Republican Congressman David Dreier: "But he [Clinton] believes that is the source of this, really Congressman, with all due respect. He thinks that 90 percent of his problems come from partisan hacks who have hated him from the day he was born."

     Rivera added this shot: "I think that people who pretend the media has a liberal bias aren't really listening or reading."

     Later, Rivera took on Wall Street Journal editorial page writer John Fund, seemingly becoming flustered as he suggested Reagan lives in Japan: "Did you, did you do a story about Ronald Reagan's $2.5 million home in Japan or the $2 million he got in Japan for those speeches? Did you do stories about that?! He [Clinton] does, he does the same thing these other guys do and he doesn't even do it as well as the Republicans or as big time and you cut him down as if he was giving cancer to children. It is, it is, it is so essentially unfair! And, and you know the problem has been that all throughout Whitewater too many people like me have been silent! And too many-"
     Fund: "You were silent?!" [Laughs]
     Rivera: "Silent enough, no, silent. In this, in this sense Congressman Dreier, no, before you laugh at me. Here you have a situation where The New York Times is running with a Whitewater story every other day. It turns out what was Whitewater? Whitewater was a bunch of baloney, had nothing to do with Bill Clinton or his wife the Senator from New York."
     Fund: "Twenty Clinton associates were convicted, 20."
     Rivera: "He was convicted of nothing!"

     Rivera soon insisted: "The only lie he told was to his wife and to us about it."
     Fund: "The only one? Oh please."
     Rivera: "What's the other one?"
     Fund: "Let's get started. Campaign contributions-"
     Rivera: "What? What? What about, what lie did he tell about Chinese? That was the, that was Al Gore at the Buddhist Temple, that wasn't Bill Clinton."
     Fund: "Go on and on."
     Rivera: "Alright, on and on. See if you say on and on that doesn't mean. I want to build up particulars. Tell me his lies other than, 'I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.' Unfortunately that sticks in our craw and it sticks in our heads."


CBS News changed Bill Clinton's February 15 statement defending his pardon of Marc Rich so it became grammatically accurate. The February 16 CyberAlert pointed out how, on Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Hume noted that Bill Clinton's statement said "any suggestion...are false." Hume jokingly raised the possibility that Clinton was trying to avoid the word "is."

     On Friday, MRC analyst Brian Boyd alerted me to the fact that on the CBS Evening News the night before Phil Jones made Clinton grammatically correct without resorting to employing the word "is." Jones simply decided to pluralize the word "suggestion" as he read this statement with matching words on screen: "Any suggestions that improper factors including fundraising for the DNC or my library had anything to do with the decision are absolutely false."


Two Fox News Channel shows, one on Friday night and another on Saturday night, picked up on how the MRC pointed out the media's sudden interest in homelessness since a Republican re-entered the White House.

     Friday night on Special Report with Brit Hume, anchor Tony Snow read this "Grapevine" item: "Back in October, Mark Helperin predicted in The Wall Street Journal that the so-called mainstream press would greet a Bush presidency by reviving an issue that went relatively un-remarked during the Clinton era: Homelessness. He was right. In recent days, ABC News, The New York Times and now, The Washington Post, have rediscovered the homeless. During the first Bush administration, the major networks aired an average of 53 homeless stories per year, compared with 23 per year during the Clinton presidency even though homelessness fell in the Bush years and rose during the age of Clinton."

     On Saturday's Fox News Watch host Eric Burns set up a segment: "Last Sunday ABC's World News Tonight reported that homelessness is up and the Media Research Center, a conservative media monitoring group, was not happy about the report. Why? The MRC charges that ABC ran the report to make a Republican President look bad. And it provided some numbers about past reporting on this subject. During the four years that George Bush the elder was President, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN did an average total of 53 pieces per year on homelessness. During the eight years of the Bill Clinton administration the average total was 16 and a half."

     The February 12 CyberAlert first detailed the February 11 ABC story. For more on it, go to:

     Picking up on ABC's rediscovery of the homeless, last week MRC analyst Jessica Anderson updated the MRC's 1999 Media Reality Check about the number of homeless stories -- on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening shows as well as CNN's prime time newscast -- and the MRC's Rich Noyes provided the numbers to FNC's Burns.

     That 1999 Media Reality Check reminded readers of a ludicrous prediction from CBS's Charles Osgood on This Morning, back in 1989 when the networks were still using homelessness as an excuse to push for more spending: "It is estimated that by the year 2000, 19 million Americans will be homeless unless something is done, and done now."


Finally, a little humor from "Hearsay: The Lawyer's Column" in the Business section of Monday's Washington Post. In the February 19 column Post reporter James Grimaldi recounted excerpts from the subpoenaed e-mails amongst lawyer Jack Quinn and others around Marc Rich working for his pardon.

     The players, in the excerpts below, in addition to Quinn: Washington lawyer Robert Fink and Avner Azuley, Executive Director of the Rich Foundation in Israel. Plus, "DR" -- Denise Rich. Of course, HRC is the then-Senator-elect from New York and POTUS is the then-President of the United States.

     First, an entry from Dec. 30, 12:41 [am or pm not listed]: "From Quinn to Fink. Re: Mrs. Rabin. 'Wonder if you can inquire whether there is a possibility of persuading Mrs. Rabin to make a call to POTUS. He had a deep affection for her husband. P.S. I continue to think it most likely HRC would be at least informed before anything positive happens, given the possibility of a Giuliani/NY press reaction. Wish we had a way of solving the Rudy problem. I wasn't able to connect with Eric [Holder] yesterday. Will try again on Tuesday.'"

     Second, the entry from 3:47pm later the same day: "From Fink to Azulay. 'Jack asks if you could get Leah Rabin to call the president; Jack said he was a real big supporter of her husband. He also thinks HRC will hear about this anyway and still wants to contact her. I will call him today in Colorado and go over what DR said.'"

     Third, from 2:29am the next morning: "From Azulay to Fink. 'Bob, having Leah Rabin call is not a bad idea. The problem is how do we contact her? She died last November -- on the 5th anniversary of her husband's murder.'"

     Oops. And people pay Quinn $500 plus an hour? -- Brent Baker



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