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The 1,207th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday January 11, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 6) |
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Enron as "Bush’s Whitewater"; And "Worse" Than Whitewater; To CNN, Arafat is the Victim; Kinsley Insulted Goldberg as "Dense"

1) The networks added a "who knew what and when did they know it" scandal motif to the Enron story while ignoring or downplaying how Democrats also benefitted from Enron donations. "The story some are already calling Bush’s Whitewater," charged MSNBC’s Brian Williams. "Enron’s connections to the Bush administration, wide and deep," warned ABC’s Peter Jennings. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman revealed the White House press corps were "like a pack of bloodhounds on the first day of hunting season."

2) NBC’s Pete Williams noted: "A lawyer for Enron, Bob Bennett, predicts that many of the allegations against the company will turn out not to be true." Doesn’t that sound like a familiar denial?

3) "The Enron debacle won't be President Bush's Whitewater. It will be much worse," argued David Callaway, Executive Editor of CBS.MarketWatch.com. Callaway, however, revealed his liberal agenda, as he condemned how Bush "rammed through an expensive economic plan that wiped out the budget surplus."

4) CNN anchor Aaron Brown fretted that the expected U.S. decision to tie Arafat to an intercepted arms shipment "will not exactly help get the peace process back on track." CNN’s Andrea Koppel portrayed Arafat as the victim: "For Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, this is the absolute worst kind of news for him." Reuters asserted that the U.S. "gives Israel about $2 billion a year in weaponry used to kill Palestinians."

5) On NBC’s Law & Order: SVU the prosecutor put abortion rights ahead of charging a man with murder for extracting a seven-month-old fetus and killing it. "I will not charge for murder in the death of an unborn child."

6) Microsoft’s Michael Kinsley insulted Bernard Goldberg as "remarkably dense" and wondered if "his glorifiers are just as dense," but next week Goldberg’s book will rank number one on the New York Times best-seller list.


     >>> MRC President Brent Bozell’s take on FNC hiring Geraldo Rivera and Greta van Susteren, "Storm Clouds at Fox?" He opened his January 10 column by asking: "Should conservatives start worrying about the Fox News Channel?" For his answer:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/BozellColumns/newscolumn/2002/col20020110.asp <<<

1

President Bush and other administration officials clearly have ties to Enron -- received donations, solicited advise of Enron executives or once worked for the company -- but on Thursday night, in reporting on Bush’s comments about the case and Attorney General John Ashcroft’s recusal, the networks, especially ABC and CBS, did their best to add a "who knew what and when did they know it" scandal motif while either ignoring, or only mentioning as an afterthought, how many Democrats also benefited from Enron contributions.

     CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts turned the Bush cabinet’s lack of any action to help Enron into a scandal itself, asking: "Who knew what about the Enron fiasco? The White House now acknowledges members of the Bush Cabinet were contacted about the energy giant’s financial troubles." CBS’s Bill Plante relayed how much Enron donated to Bush and Ashcroft, but ignored their donations to Democrats.

     "Enron’s connections to the Bush administration, wide and deep," warned ABC’s Peter Jennings. Only at the very end of a subsequent story did Linda Douglass acknowledge: "Ken Lay did play golf with then-President Clinton, and Enron has contributed to Democrats."

     Indeed, in offering specific names not uttered by the other networks, on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Wendell Goler noted: "Fleischer points out Enron executives also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and New York Senator Chuck Schumer. And Ken Lay was one of Bill Clinton’s golfing partners."

     MSNBC’s Brian Williams referred to Enron’s collapse as "easily the most under-covered news story of the past few weeks" and warned that "before this is all over it could be a major pre-occupation, if not a danger, for the Bush White House." Though Clinton was a personal investor who controlled a large percentage of the Whitewater project, while Bush had no financial stake in Enron, Williams likened it to a Clinton scandal: "For more on the political ramifications of the crash, and resulting mushroom cloud from Enron, the story some are already calling Bush’s Whitewater, we are joined now by Howard Fineman, Newsweek magazine senior political correspondent."

     Williams asked Fineman on the January 10 News with Brian Williams: "Is that overstatement? Just how big is this thing going to get?" Fineman reveled the Washington press corps certainly doesn’t think so: "Well, it’s hard to tell, but judging by the press room at the White House today Brian, that was like a pack of bloodhounds on the first day of hunting season..."

     More detail about January 10 evening show coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, all of which opened Thursday night with multiple stories on the Enron situation:

     -- Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, the criminal investigation of the energy company Enron, which cost so many people their retirement savings. Enron’s connections to the Bush administration, wide and deep."

     Jennings set up the first story: "Enron was a company with deep political connections to the Bush administration, and so there are political issues to be dealt with."

     Terry Moran outlined how the case presents "tough questions about regulatory policy and political influence," before he ran through Bush’s comments and promise of an investigation, how Ashcroft’s campaign received $50,000 from Enron CEO Ken Lay and how last fall Lay had called Treasury Secretary O’Neill and Commerce Secretary Evans for help, but they had turned him down.

     Jennings then announced: "Enron has very extensive connections to the President and other officials in his administration."

     Linda Douglass outlined the ties, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "President Bush seemed to downplay his long political relationship with Enron CEO Ken Lay, pointing out that Lay supported his opponent when he first ran for Governor of Texas."
     George W. Bush: "I got to know Ken Lay when he was the head of what they call the Governor’s Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards."
     Douglass countered: "But during that campaign, Lay contributed twice as much money to Mr. Bush as he did to Ann Richards. Over Mr. Bush’s career, Lay and Enron became his most generous supporters, giving or raising more than $500,000 since 1993."
     Craig McDonald, Texans for Public Justice: "If you had to choose one individual and one corporation, clearly Ken Lay, the CEO of Enron, and the resources of Enron, would be the number one supporter or promoter of George Bush’s political career."
     Douglass: "All the while, Enron lobbied for legislation to open up markets for its energy trading business. As Governor, Mr. Bush signed a law championed by Enron and others deregulating power in Texas. When Mr. Bush became President, Lay weighed in on energy issues. He and Enron officials met privately six times with Vice President Cheney or his staff, four times as they were drafting the administration’s energy policy."

     Douglass concluded: "The ties between Enron and the White House are deep and wide. The President’s chief economic advisor, his trade representative, his secretary of the army, his choice to head the Republican Party, all worked for Enron. Ken Lay did play golf with then-President Clinton, and Enron has contributed to Democrats. But a Senate committee led by Democrats will scrutinize Enron’s ties to the current White House in hearings later this month."

     -- John Roberts teased the CBS Evening News: "Who knew what about the Enron fiasco? The White House now acknowledges members of the Bush Cabinet were contacted about the energy giant’s financial troubles. And Enron’s auditors reveal a significant number of documents have been destroyed."

     Roberts opened the broadcast: "Just as the Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the collapse of the Enron corporation, Enron’s auditors revealed today that documents related to the company have been destroyed. More about that in a moment, but first, what did the Bush Administration know about Enron’s financial troubles? The White House acknowledged for the first time today that Enron contacted members of the President’s Cabinet, telling the Treasury Secretary the company was heading for bankruptcy, a collapse that cost many investors and Enron employees their life savings. We begin our coverage tonight with Bill Plante at the White House."

     Plante reported: "President Bush moved to distance himself from the bankrupt Enron corporation, one of his largest campaign contributors, even as the White House revealed that Enron’s chairman sought administration help as his company collapsed. Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay is an old friend of the President’s, but Mr. Bush says he hasn’t talked to Lay in months, and never talked business."
     George W. Bush: "I have never discussed with Mr. Lay the financial problems of the company-"
     Plante: "But as Enron failed, Lay did contact two Bush Cabinet members, possibly seeking support for a bailout. Lay made two phone calls to Treasury Secretary O’Neill and one to Commerce Secretary Evans expressing concern about the effect Enron’s problems might have on the economy. The Cabinet secretaries declined to help, but they never told the President about the calls. Their spokesmen say they had no information that wasn’t already public. Bill Allison for the Center of Public Integrity has been tracking the Enron bankruptcy."
     Bill Allison, Center for Public Integrity: "And to just sit on the information and do nothing is really hoping a problem will go away rather than dealing with it."

     Plante noted how Bush has ordered an investigation of the crash which "cost thousands of employees their pensions while Enron executives cashed in for big profits."

     Plante relayed donation numbers, but skipped contributions to Democrats: "Enron Chairman Lay has been a generous contributor. Lay donated more than $166,000 to Mr. Bush’s various campaigns. The company and its employees have given Bush a total of $623,000. Lay also gave $25,000 to the John Ashcroft Victory Committee in October 2000 when Ashcroft was running for the Senate. The ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee sent Ashcroft a letter today suggesting conflict of interest, and Ashcroft and several members of his staff announced they would not take part in the Enron investigation."

     -- Tom Brokaw began the NBC Nightly News by explaining: "Enron chief executive Kenneth Lay and his company have been some of the most generous contributors to President Bush during his political career. And Enron executives met six different times with Vice President Cheney or his staff as he was shaping the administration’s energy policy last spring. So the White House today was working hard to put distance between the President and this company’s troubles."

     Following pieces by David Gregory from the White House, in which he pointed out the donations to Bush, a story by Pete Williams on the charges against Enron, and a piece by Jim Avila on those who lost all their retirement funds, Brokaw turned to Tim Russert who reported that White House staffers realize they have a problem on their hands, though they maintain the Bush team did nothing wrong. Russert added: "Congress also understands, Tom: 40 percent of the House of Representatives, 70 percent of the United States Senate also took contributions from Enron."

     For a list of who in both parties benefitted from Enron’s political donations, check the Center for Responsive Politics Web site: http://www.opensecrets.org/alerts/v6/enron_cong.asp
http://www.opensecrets.org/alerts/v6/enron_totals.asp

     While the GOP got more than Democrats, Al Gore and Bill Clinton received some Enron money, the Center for Public Integrity noted:
http://www.opensecrets.org/alerts/v6/enron_pres.asp

2

Guess who is working for Enron and insisting the allegations against the company are untrue?

     In his story on the case which ran on both the NBC Nightly News and MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams, Pete Williams observed: "A lawyer for Enron, Bob Bennett, predicts that many of the allegations against the company will turn out not to be true."

     Isn’t that the same line he used in January 1998 to deny the Monica Lewinsky story?

3

In an online commentary, David Callaway, Executive Editor of CBS.MarketWatch.com, argued that "the Enron debacle won't be President Bush's Whitewater. It will be much worse." Callaway contended the case goes "straight to the heart of exposing what is wrong with the way the Bush administration is conducting itself these days."

     Callaway, however, revealed his liberal political agenda, as he condemned how Bush "rammed through an expensive economic plan that wiped out the budget surplus but to date hasn't had any positive effect on the economy."

     An excerpt from Callaway’s January 10 commentary brought to CyberAlert’s attention by Keith Appell of Creative Response Concepts:

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- The Enron debacle won't be President Bush's Whitewater. It will be much worse.

Unlike the financial sideshow over a 20-year-old failed land deal that dogged the Clinton administration, the collapse of the nation's largest energy trader into the nation's largest bankruptcy last month is set to go straight to the heart of exposing what is wrong with the way the Bush administration is conducting itself these days....

Don't expect to see either Bush or Vice President Cheney directly linked to the financial shenanigans that brought Enron down. They won't be. This is not about finding a smoking gun, as much as some Democrats might wish it were.

What it is about, and what the public will get to hear and read about in wrenching detail over the coming months, is how business gets done down in Texas. How a small group of business leaders exert enormous clout over Bush and his team in getting the rules changed to their benefit.

It will explain why Bush has locked up presidential records, locked out any voices opposed to his pro-business agenda and rammed through an expensive economic plan that wiped out the budget surplus but to date hasn't had any positive effect on the economy.

It will explain what influence Enron Chief Executive Ken Lay and his advisers had with Cheney and his energy task force when they met six times last year while the vice president was putting together the administration's energy policy.

And it will explain why Bush is now thinking about acting on a proposal from that very task force that seeks to roll back a key provision of the Clean Air Act that helps keep factory pollution down by requiring new controls when old plants are upgraded....

     END of Excerpt

     To read Callaway’s piece in full, go to:
http://cbs.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B903B88E7%
2D7C09%2D4FC6%2DB706%2D49697A5B66F1%7D&siteid=mktw

     FYI, CBS.MarketWatch.com is not part of CBS or CBS News. It’s a separate San Francisco-based company in which CBS is a minority investor and in exchange for having "CBS" in the name CBS News agreed to use them as a source for business news.

4

Israel intercepted 50 tons of weapons and explosives on its way, they determined, to Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority. But to CNN Arafat is the victim. And to Reuters, it is the U.S. which is fueling deaths since the U.S. "gives Israel about $2 billion a year in weaponry used to kill Palestinians."

     On Wednesday night, CNN anchor Aaron Brown fretted that the expected U.S. decision to link the shipment to Arafat "will not exactly help get the peace process back on track." As if Palestinians bringing in more weapons to kill Israelis would help. CNN’s Andrea Koppel lamented how "for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, this is the absolute worst kind of news for him." Probably would have been worse news for those the weapons would have killed.

     Brown, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, set up the January 9 NewsNight story:
     "Four Israeli military men died today in an attack that Hamas is claiming responsibility for. But even before this incident, the tension has been growing over the last several days between Israel and the Palestinians, stems from something that happened last week. A massive shipment of Iranian weapons seized by Israel at sea, the Israeli government quick to point the finger at Yasser Arafat. And now the United States may be willing to do the same thing, which will not exactly help get the peace process back on track."

     CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel began her report: "For Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, this is the absolute worst kind of news for him. For the first time since this story broke last week, now the Bush Administration is saying that it has seen compelling evidence linking Yasser Arafat and some of his senior aides to that shipment, that intercepted shipment of 50 tons of weapons that Israel intercepted last week near, in the Red Sea near its territory..."

     James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com’s "Best of the Web" column (www.OpinionJournal.com/best), highlighted the negative way Reuters characterized U.S. support for Israel and that nation’s use of U.S. aid. The line came in a January 9 dispatch by Washington bureau reporter Jonathan Wright in a story headlined, "Powell Tells Arafat U.S. Wants Quick Explanation."

     Referring to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, Wright asserted: "Boucher said the United States, which gives Israel about $2 billion a year in weaponry used to kill Palestinians, objected to the $100 million shipment to the Palestinians on the grounds that it contributed to the escalation of violence."

     More like $2 billion in weapons to defend itself against never-ceasing terrorist acts.

     To read the entire Reuters story, go to:
http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=search&StoryID=503620

5

Can’t let anything interfere with the right to abortion, not even prosecuting a man for murder who cut into his wife to remove and kill a seven-month-old fetus who he thought was fathered by another man.

     Last Friday’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit presented the conundrum for a pro-abortion detective and prosecutor, both women. The prosecutor sent up a red flag: "You want to charge for homicide with the fetus as the victim you give the fetus rights. Do you want to go down that road?" A detective who was initially in favor of charging the man with murder, sees the light, realizing "this is very dangerous territory" which could impede on abortion rights.

     MRC intern Donald Goodman transcribed the scene from the January 4 episode which starred John Ritter as a psychiatrist who attacked his wife, cut into her and removed and killed her seven-month-old fetus which he believed was fathered by another man. During the hour-long NBC drama, the prosecutor, "Alexandra Cabot," played by Stephanie March, explains to three detectives why she does not want to charge him with murder:

     Alex: "Arrest him, we’ve got him for attempted murder and assault one for the attack on the mother, plus abortion one."
     "Detective Elliot Stabler," played by Christopher Meloni: "And murder, he killed that baby."
     Alex: "Warner’s [the medical examiner] certain of that?"
     Elliot: "Baby was alive, now it’s dead. What’s the problem?"
     Alex: "The problem is whether or not we can establish if the baby was legally a person."
     "Capt. Donald Cragen," played by Dann Florek: "And how do we do that?"
     Alex: "Prove the baby was born alive according to New York State law. Something that indicates it took a breath, moved. If it died while it was still in its mother’s womb it technically wasn’t a person, so it’s not murder."
     "Detective Olivia Benson," played by Mariska Hargitay: "If that baby had been born in a hospital it would have lived."
     Alex: "It doesn’t matter. Neonatalcides are notoriously difficult to prosecute because the medical evidence is almost always inconclusive. Without a witness stating unequivocally the baby was a live birth, I’m just not certain we can get a murder conviction through. Best we can do is illegal third trimester abortion."
     Cragen: "That’s a D Felony, we’ll get more out of the assault charge."
     Elliot: "At seven months a baby moves inside of the mother. The only reason that baby is dead is because he bashed its skull in. Now I don’t care if you call it a person or not, that’s murder."
     Alex warned: "That argument can also be used to condemn legal abortion. Do you want me to charge every doctor who performs an abortion with murder?"
     Elliot: "Abortion is different, it’s the mother’s choice."
     Alex: "We’re not talking about the mother’s rights. You want to charge for homicide with the fetus as the victim you give the fetus rights. Do you want to go down that road?"
     Elliot: "It’s not the same thing."
     Alex: "In the eyes of the law, it is."
     Elliot: "The law needs to change."
     Olivia comes around: "I don’t know Elliot, you can’t have it both ways: the fetus is either a life, or it’s not."
     Elliot: "You saw that baby, Olivia, you saw that baby. This guy’s going to walk."
     Olivia: "And I don’t like it any more than you do, but this is very dangerous territory."
     Alex: "And I’m not prepared to dismantle reproductive rights on an inconclusive case."
     Elliot, yelling: "We’re going to let a murderer get away to preserve a political ideal. I don’t even know what I’m doing here."
     Cragen: "Take a break detective."
     Alex: "Your ME comes back with solid medical evidence the baby was born alive, we’ve got something to work with. But I will not charge for murder in the death of an unborn child."

     In the end, though the defense lawyer undermines the evidence the baby did breath outside the womb, the show implies that the Ritter character is convicted of murder because in the very last scene, after being confronted with a paternity test suggesting he really was the father, he concedes that after he removed the baby boy from his wife’s body, he "only cried a little."

     To learn about the NBC show, go to:
http://nbc.com/Law_&_Order:_Special_Victims_Unit/index.html

     Another episode airs tonight at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST.

6

Today another liberal columnist has denigrated Bernard Goldberg, this time Michael Kinsley insulted him as "remarkably dense," but next week Goldberg’s book, Bias: A CBS News Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, will rank number one on the New York Times best-seller list.

     As detailed in the January 8 CyberAlert, in an Electronic Media column, Washington Post TV reviewer Tom Shales described the former CBS News correspondent at a "full-time addlepated windbag" and "a no-talent hack." For more, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020108.asp#3

     In a column in the January 11 Washington Post, Kinsley, Editor of Microsoft’s Slate.com, mocked Goldberg’s thesis of liberal bias:
     "The point is that this dumb book adds nothing to the argument, and it is the accusers who are offering it as evidence.
     "Like a stopped clock, Goldberg isn't always wrong. He's probably sincere. But he's remarkably dense. And you have to wonder whether his glorifiers are just as dense, or deeply cynical, or living on a different planet. Do they really think it is devastating evidence of bias that a TV producer would decide to label a full-time ideologue such as Phyllis Schlafly as ‘conservative’ but not feel obliged to label avocational activist Rosie O'Donnell as ‘liberal’?"

     For the entire column, go to:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28775-2002Jan10.html

     Meanwhile, the MRC’s Tim Jones alerted me that Thursday’s New York Times reported that Goldberg’s book will be number one on their January 20 list. Martin Arnold conceded: "I was startled to learn that five books appealing to political conservatives, a third of the total, will be on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list on Jan. 20 and that one of them will be No. 1."

     Arnold characterized Goldberg’s "climb to the top of the list" as "perhaps the most astonishing publishing event in the last 12 months."

     For the New York Times article in full, those registered can go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/10/books/10BOOK.html

     Yes, "astonishing" especially for those, like Kinsley, who dismiss Goldberg’s "glorifiers" as "dense." -- Brent Baker


 

 


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