CBSís Hanssen-Reagan Link; Arsenic Rule Distorted; Bush "Doesnít Play Well with Others"; CBS Found Scandal in Ashcroft Not Condit
1) Leave it to CBS News to link spy Robert Hanssen to
Ronald Reagan. CBS highlighted Hanssenís role in a 1980s effort to
monitor U.S. citizens for ties to Moscow: "It was former President
Ronald Reagan who beefed up the FBI initiative against Soviet subversion
in the U.S."
2) Over video of a little girl drinking from an outdoor
fountain, CBSís Diana Olick distorted Bushís arsenic in water
decision: "This week the House voted against his plan to ease
restrictions on arsenic in drinking water..."
3) Bushís foreign policy grade from USA Todayís Susan
Page: He "doesnít play well with others." CBSís Bob
Schieffer argued that backing away from treaties "is going to leave
the United States looking as if it is somehow contemptuous of the work
that has gone before and that we are somehow sort of an isolationist
4) CBS tried to create a scandal about Attorney General
John Ashcroft. On last Thursdayís CBS Evening News Dan Rather demanded
to know "why is the Attorney General of the United States doing all
his air travel by specially chartered jet at taxpayer expense?" Jim
Stewart relayed the FBIís insistence that threats against Ashcroft
justify the policy, but he then showed how Ashcroft and others could not
identify the threats.
5) Not even a fourth interview with Congressman Gary
Condit (D-CA) prompted the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather to touch the
topic. And as for identifying Condit as a Democrat, ABC did and NBC did
6) Tip OíNeill was Charles Gibsonís favorite interview
subject because he was one of those who "thinks outside the
Editorís Note: Jeans or not? The July 26 CyberAlert highlighted an
op-ed from Roger Ebert in which he ridiculed Presidentís Bushís
foreign policy. He started the column by criticizing Bush daughter Barbara
for wearing "denims" to visit the Queen: "The British have
a useful word, Ďyob,í which the dictionary defines as an Ďuncouth,
ignorant, loutish youth.í" As several readers have noted, in
interviews last week, First Lady Laura Bush denied the British newspaper
reports that her daughter wore jeans and a denim jacket. She told
Todayís Matt Lauer last Monday, July 23, for example: "She wore a
dress, of course, to meet the Queen, and the Queen and Prince Philip were
very generous with their time, and very nice to invite us and to invite
our daughter as well."
Leave it to
CBS News to link admitted spy Robert Hanssen to Ronald Reagan. Sundayís
CBS Evening News led with a "CBS News exclusive" with the Los
Angeles Times about how, ironically, spy Hanssen was the number two man in
an FBI effort in the 1980s to monitor Soviet activities in the United
States and any connections between U.S. citizens and Moscow.
Reporter Randall Pinkston summarized the
discovery: "Hanssen, who earlier this year confessed to selling
secrets to the Soviets, was also second in command of the FBIís
ĎSoviet Analytical Unití that included spying on American citizens,
part of a broad program to counter KGB disinformation campaigns..."
After a clip of David Major, Hanssenís boss
on the project who defended the rationale behind it, viewers saw a 1983
soundbite from then-President Ronald Reagan: "To ignore the facts of
history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire-"
Pinkston picked up: "It was former President
Ronald Reagan who beefed up the FBI initiative against Soviet subversion
in the U.S. Among the unitís discoveries, a flyer with a racist warning
from the Ku Klux Klan was actually written by the KGB, an effort to
disrupt the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But critics say the problem with
the FBI operation is that it monitored thousands of U.S. citizens. For
example, files with the names of Americans who attended a 1987 womenís
convention in Moscow..."
Pinkston went on to report that even letters
from Congressman Barney Frank were in the unitís files.
More tonight on this from Dan Rather in a CBS
Evening News "Eye on America" series.
night CBS also distorted President Bushís decision on arsenic in
drinking water. CBS reporter Diana Olick reported the House on Friday had
"voted against his plan to ease restrictions on arsenic in drinking
water," making it sound like the House blocked an easing of current
standards. In fact, the last-minute Clinton executive order to reduce the
current parts per billion levels, which Bush had suspended to study
further, would not have gone into effect until 2006.
On the July 29 CBS Evening News fill-in anchor
Scott Pelley noted how Bushís agenda is "being held hostage by
members of his own party."
Olick outlined how "moderates" are
"delaying the Presidentís education and faith-based initiatives,
refusing to pass the Patientsí Bill of Rights he wants and reversing his
environmental policies. [over video of little girl drinking from an
outdoor fountain] This week the House voted against his plan to ease
restrictions on arsenic in drinking water and many moderates are now
planning to join Democrats in opposing oil drilling in Alaskaís Arctic
Bush "doesnít play well with others," USA Today White House
reporter Susan Page scolded when asked on CNNís Late Edition to assess
Bushís first 180 days in office. CBSís Bob Schieffer listed treaties
Bush has backed away from as he demanded of Condoleezza Rice: "Are
you concerned that this is going to leave the United States looking as if
it is somehow contemptuous of the work that has gone before and that we
are somehow sort of isolationist country."
-- CNNís Late Edition, July 29. Asked by
substitute host John King during the roundtable to grade Bush at 180 days
on international policy, USA Today reporter Susan Page replied with a
critique offered by the left which assumes Bushís conservative policies
have been misguided:
"If you were in elementary school, you might
say Ďdoesnít play well with others.í There are a series of issues --
global warming, arms control, national missile defense -- in which Bush
has really been at odds with some of our allies as well as our
adversaries. And you can succeed as President with that kind of stance,
but itís harder. You talk to Condoleezza Rice, for instance, about
sanctions against Iraq. The administration was unable to get the rest of
the world, even our allies, to go along with the new regime, a different
kind of sanctions against Iraq because he hasnít built the kind of
relationships that would enable him to force the allies to do what he
wanted to do in that case. So I think thatís a risk for the President as
he looks out at the next three and a half years of his term."
King later followed up with the kind of
question you probably would not have heard from Wolf Blitzer: "You
say Ďdoesnít play well with others,í but isnít it part of
leadership if you disagree with the others, whether itís missile defense
or global warming, to perhaps not play so well to bring them along?"
Page conceded: "Well, and thatís what
heís chosen to and, of course, it takes a test of a little more time
before we know whether that turns out to be the right thing to do..."
-- Face the Nation, July 29. Bob
Schiefferís lengthy argument in the form of a question to National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice: "Miss Rice, the New York Times in
an editorial this morning makes the point that the United States just
seems to be either withdrawing or showing no interest in any number of
treaties that have been negotiated in recent years -- the Kyoto treaty,
the ABM treaty, watering down the UN agreement to resolve illegal
trafficking in drugs, the non-proliferation treaty. Are you concerned that
this is going to leave the United States looking as if it is somehow
contemptuous of the work that has gone before and that we are somehow sort
of an isolationist country thatís willing to go it alone no matter what
the other countries of the world think?"
After Rice answered that
"internationalism" should not be defined as signing treaties not
in Americaís interest and that some of the treaties were not even
supported by the previous President, Schieffer returned to his thesis:
"But do you worry that perhaps weíre creating the impression that
we simply want to go it alone?"
As opposed to liberals who are against free
to create a scandal about Attorney General John Ashcroft. On last
Thursdayís CBS Evening News Dan Rather demanded to know "why is the
Attorney General of the United States doing all his air travel by
specially chartered jet at taxpayer expense?" Jim Stewart relayed the
FBIís insistence that threats against Ashcroft justify the policy, but
he then showed how Ashcroft and others could not identify the threats --
as if anyone should announce them to the news media.
Stewart pointed out how "former Attorney
General Janet Reno routinely flew commercial," but he did concede
that "the Justice Department insisted that it wasn't Ashcroft who
wanted to fly leased aircraft. That plan they said was strictly the idea
of Ashcroft's FBI security detail."
Rather set up the July 26 hit on Ashcroft
caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "There are unanswered questions and
secrecy tonight on another government matter. The core question in this
case, why is the Attorney General of the United States doing all his air
travel by specially chartered jet at taxpayer expense? CBS' Jim Stewart
has been looking into this for you."
Stewart began: "Fishing rod in hand
Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri this
afternoon aboard a chartered government jet. In response to inquiries from
CBS News over why Ashcroft, who is traveling exclusively by leased jet
aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what
it called a threat assessment by the FBI and said Ashcroft has been
advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.
'There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting
under the guidelines,' an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the
Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it
was detected or who made it. A senior official at the CIA said he was
unaware of any specific threats against any cabinet member and Ashcroft
himself, at a speech in California seemed unsure of the threat."
Unidentified reporter to Ashcroft: "What can
you tell us about the nature of that threat?"
Ashcroft: "Uh, you know, I don't do threat
assessments myself and I rely on those who uh, who uh, whose
responsibility it is to in the law enforcement community, particularly the
Reporter: "Do you know anything about it or
who might have made it?"
Ashcroft: "Uh, I think it's, frankly, I
Stewart detailed the plane usage:
"Earlier this week the Justice Department leased this NASA owned G-3
Gulfstream for a six day trip to western states. Such aircraft cost the
government more than $1,600 an hour to fly. When asked whether Ashcroft
was paying for any portion of the trips devoted to personal business a
Justice Department spokeswoman declined to respond. All other Bush Cabinet
appointees, with the exception of Interior and Energy with remote sites to
oversee, fly commercial. The Secretaries of State and Defense
traditionally travel with extra security on military aircraft. Former
Attorney General Janet Reno routinely flew commercial and the Justice
Department insisted that it wasn't Ashcroft who wanted to fly leased
aircraft. That plan they said was strictly the idea of Ashcroft's FBI
security detail. The FBI had no further comment."
a fourth interview with Congressman Gary Condit (D-CA) about Chandra Levy
prompted the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather to touch the subject Friday
night after finding time the night before for trying to generate scandal
about Ashcroft. The CBS show hasnít mentioned Condit/Levy since its
first story on it back on July 18. And as for identifying Condit as a
Democrat, ABC did and NBC did not.
On the July 27 World News Tonight anchor Peter
Jennings announced: "Democratic Congressman Gary Condit of California
has given a fourth interview to investigators about the missing intern
But over on the NBC Nightly News anchor Brian
Williams avoided any party ID: "In the nationsís capital,
Congressman Gary of California has now been interviewed for a fourth time
by investigators looking into the disappearance of Washington intern
The Dan Rather-anchored CBS Evening News found
several less than timely stories more newsworthy, including Bishop
Tutuís activities in the Congo, charges that Viagra use has led to heart
attacks, an anti-immigrant attitude in Iowa and an "Everyone Has a
Story" piece about sisters in Oregon. Nothing wrong with these
"Everyone Has a Story" reports from Steve Hartman, but this same
one also ran on the Saturday Early Show and on Saturdayís CBS Evening
catch-up. On this fairly slow political news day, an opportunity to catch
up on an item I didnít have space or time for earlier: Charles Gibson
praised Tip OíNeill as a man who thought "outside the box."
In the July 6-8 USA Weekend, Gannettís Sunday newspaper supplement,
"Whoís Who" columnist Lorrie Lynch answered a readerís
request for more information about Gibson, co-host of ABCís Good Morning
America. She replied, in part:
"The Chicago native caught the reporting bug by watching the
Huntley-Brinkley Report with his father and has interviewed every
President since Richard Nixon. Still, his favorite interview subject was
then-Speaker of the House Tip OíNeill: ĎI love people who think
outside the box.í"
OíNeill thought "outside the box"? Other than some
occasional sympathy for the pro-life position, OíNeill defined
conventional big government liberalism.