top


The 1,252nd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday March 29, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 51) |
Back to Today's CyberAlert | Free Subscription

 

Jennings: Hezbollah Not Terrorist; CBS & CNN Wrong on Energy Claims; Tax Cuts Hurt Elderly; Leno: Clinton Had "Good Record"

1) If the leader of Hezbollah denies he’s a terrorist that’s good enough for Peter Jennings. While "the Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization," Jennings relayed how Hezbollah’s leader assured him that "we are not terrorists." Jennings cast no doubt on the claim as he proceeded to recount, without mentioning the role of Hezbollah, how "a man" blew up the U.S. embassy in Beirut and how 241 U.S. Marines had died in another bombing.

2) Contradicting the theme espoused Tuesday morning on CBS and Tuesday night on both CBS and CNN about how the Energy Department only consulted industry representatives in formulating energy policy, the Washington Times revealed that a group featured as a victim in the network stories, the NRDC, did have its views solicited early on in the process. Neither CBS or CNN has run any clarification despite CBS’s Wyatt Andrews having claimed there were "zero meetings with environmental groups."

3) In U.S. News & World Report David Gergen blamed problems with Medicare on greed: "How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we keep shoving tax cuts into our pockets while letting poor, elderly people go without doctors and medicine?"

4) ABC’s Diane Sawyer was a part of a small group lunch on Wednesday with Bill Clinton and Ann Richards. Robin Williams also attended and, when he appeared on the Late Show, David Letterman showed a big color photo of the lunchmates.

5) Jay Leno expressed bewilderment to Janet Reno about why former Clinton aides who are running for office aren’t embracing his policies, asserting: "He had a pretty good record." Leno also justified Reno’s Elian raid, insisting: "Legally you really had no other call did you?" She agreed.

6) An advantage of learning about media bias via CyberAlert instead of by getting Notable Quotables in the mail: CyberAlerts are timely and are not "dropped in the toilet and dried in an oven" as is mail delivered weeks late to Capitol Hill.


1

Denying you are a terrorist is good enough for Peter Jennings. Hezbollah is either a group of "terrorists" or "freedom fighters," MSNBC anchor Lester Holt suggested as he introduced a story on them, but after noting how the group was responsible for the bombing which killed 241 Marines, reporter Jim Maceda acknowledged one term is more accurate than the other as he concluded that Hezbollah spreads "terror."

     On ABC, however, Jennings stressed how Hezbollah "gets credit for liberating Lebanon from the long Israeli occupation." He refused to draw the same conclusion as did Maceda as he treated the characterization of Hezbollah as terrorist as some kind of charge for which the Bush administration is out on a limb: "The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization." Airing a piece of an interview with Hezbollah’s leader, Jennings relayed how he had assured him that "we are not terrorists." Jennings cast no doubt on the claim as he proceeded to recount, without mentioning the role of Hezbollah, how "a man simply drove his truck to the front door" of the U.S. embassy "and blew himself up. Sixty-three people died. Later that year, the Marine barracks here were destroyed in much the same way, 241 Marines died."

     Just after 5pm EST on Thursday MSNBC anchor Lester Holt plugged an upcoming segment: "Also this hour, a story that we promise is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Inside an organization some call terrorist, others call freedom fighters. We’re taking about Hezbollah. It’s a story Hezbollah does not want anyone to see." Later setting up the story, Holt asked: "So are they terrorists of freedom fighters? You be the judge."

     Holt noted that Hezbollah seized NBC’s tapes but that reporter Jim Maceda managed to get some video out. Maceda recounted how the group is popular in Lebanon because it provides services for its impoverished supporters, such as a hospital, but Maceda also stated that Hezbollah blew up the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks. He then concluded: "Admiration for Hezbollah growing at home and throughout the Arab world, making, sources say, any U.S.-led offensive against the group unlikely, even as Hezbollah spreads its brand of terror in God’s name."

     The night before, from Beirut, Jennings wrapped up the March 27 World News Tonight with a fond look at life in the city where he lived for five years in the 1970s, "a great place to live until Lebanon tore itself apart in ugly civil war."

     Jennings provided his version of the history of Lebanon: "When Lebanon came apart at the seams from 1975 to 1990 it was like the dark ages. Christians and Muslims did extraordinary violence to one another. In the middle of it, the Israelis invaded and were not forced out until 2000. It is Hezbollah, which means the party of God, that gets credit for liberating Lebanon from the long Israeli occupation. Yesterday, I went to see its 38-year-old leader, Hassan Nasrallah. He is a popular member of the political establishment. The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization."
     Jennings interpreting for Nasrallah: "‘Hezbollah was proud to resist the Israeli occupation,' he says. 'We gave our lives. We are not terrorists.' By way of contrast I wandered across the campus of the American University of Beirut founded in 1846. Talking to a couple of faculty, they remind us that in the wake of September the 11th, this school is a place where Americans can have a positive effect on another generation of Arabs and Muslims."

     Recalling how he used to live along the sea where fishermen assured a catch by throwing "a stick of dynamite in the water," Jennings pointed out: "A few hundred yards farther on was the American Embassy. Today it is an empty lot. This is where the U.S. experienced the first suicide bomber. In 1983 a man simply drove his truck to the front door and blew himself up. Sixty-three people died. Later that year, the Marine barracks here were destroyed in much the same way, 241 Marines died."

     Jennings jumped to the present day and proclaimed how he likes the city: "Today the Lebanese prefer not to focus on the past. At the best of times, Beirut has always been a place to have a good time. The Lebanese love their restaurants and their night clubs. The food is fabulous, the entertainment is world class. Real estate on the edge of the sea is astonishingly expensive. You can go to the beach in the morning and be skiing in the nearby mountains in the afternoon. In so many ways it is such a compelling place."

2

Contradicting the theme espoused Tuesday morning on CBS and Tuesday night on both CBS and CNN about how the Energy Department only consulted energy industry representatives last year in formulating the Bush administration’s energy policy, the Washington Times revealed on Thursday that a group featured as a victim in the network stories, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), did have its views solicited early on in the process. The CBS and CNN shows have yet to run any clarification.

     Washington Times reporter Patrice Hill disclosed in a March 28 story: "The NRDC yesterday conceded that the department obtained its recommendations and weighed them in drafting its energy plan. And the NRDC revealed it had three more previously undisclosed meetings with top energy task-force officials last year while the energy plan was being drafted. Two of those meetings were early in the drafting process, throwing into question the latest charge by environmentalists that they were left out until the very end."

     As detailed in the March 27 CyberAlert, on Tuesday night’s CBS Evening News Wyatt Andrews charged that "at least 36 times Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met representatives of the energy industry to discuss the policy, compared to zero meetings with environmental groups." Noting how many of the documents were "censored," Andrews relayed that "environmentalists call this a coverup" and then tried to suggest some kind of illegal behavior as he asked an NRDC official: "Do you think the amount of blackout breaks the law?"

     On CNN’s NewsNight, after reporter Kelly Wallace featured the NRDC’s complaints about being shut out, Connie Chung interviewed Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. Her first question: "Tell me, do these documents confirm the worse suspicions of influence peddling?" Milbank discussed how environmental groups were consulted, but not until late in the process when shutting them out had become controversial, the thrust of his story in the paper the next day. "Energy Task Force Belatedly Consulted Environmentalists," read the headline over his March 27 story. The subhead: "Documents Show Administration Sought Input Only After Protests." To read it:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22511-2002Mar26.html

     The March 28 Washington Times, however, cast that claim in doubt. An excerpt from the story by Patrice Hill:

Leading environmentalists yesterday backed off charges that the Bush administration did not consult them in drafting its energy plan, but continued to press their case for full disclosure of executive deliberations.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, the lead environmental group suing the administration for disclosure of its energy task-force contacts, abandoned its year-long complaint against the administration amid evidence released this week that the Energy Department reached out for advice from environmentalist groups -- and in some cases got snubbed.

The NRDC yesterday conceded that the department obtained its recommendations and weighed them in drafting its energy plan. And the NRDC revealed it had three more previously undisclosed meetings with top energy task-force officials last year while the energy plan was being drafted. Two of those meetings were early in the drafting process, throwing into question the latest charge by environmentalists that they were left out until the very end. The NRDC and other environmental groups previously complained that they didn't meet with task force director Andrew Lundquist until April 4, well after the administration consulted with industry executives.

But yesterday the NRDC said its senior scientist Dan Lashoff met with Mr. Lundquist much earlier, on March 7, when they discussed alternative-fuel technologies along with representatives from the Ford Motor Co., Environmental Defense and Union of Concerned Scientists. Mr. Lashoff met with Mr. Lundquist again on May 11 to discuss energy efficiency.

Also "early last year," the NRDC's energy expert, Patricio Silva, met with Karen Knudson, Mr. Lundquist's deputy, to discuss air-conditioning efficiency standards and energy-budget priorities, the environmental group disclosed. These contacts show not only that the group participated in the energy deliberations earlier, but more frequently than previously admitted. The NRDC contends the May 11 meeting was too late to affect the task-force report, which was released on May 17....

     END of Excerpt

     For the article in full: http://www.washtimes.com/business/20020328-13910220.htm

     So far, nor clarification from CBS or CNN’s NewsNight: Zilch on Thursday’s NewsNight. Not a word about it on CBS’s Early Show on Thursday morning nor Thursday night on the CBS Evening News which featured a story from Bill Plante, the reporter who did the energy story on Tuesday’s Early Show, about how "the President’s tough talk has upset many of America’s friends and allies."

     For more on the March 26 CBS and CNN stories:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020327.asp#1

     And no one in the media has yet to explain why who the Bush administration consulted on energy policy is such a controversy when journalists were never outraged by how the Clinton administration did not consult conservative groups when formulating its policies.

3

Medicare and Social Security spending keep spiraling ever upward, but instead of seeing the current programs as unsustainable for the increasing burden they are placing on ever fewer workers, U.S. News & World Report Editor-at-Large David Gergen blamed problems with Medicare on greed: "How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we keep shoving tax cuts into our pockets while letting poor, elderly people go without doctors and medicine?"

     "It is scandalous," he lectured, "to think we are indulging ourselves at the expense of the elderly."

     Please speak for yourself. The elderly are the age group with the most wealth.

     Gergen’s screed in the April 1 issue was prompted by a New York Times story from several weeks ago about how "for the first time, significant numbers of doctors are refusing to take new Medicare patients, saying the government now pays them too little to cover the costs of caring for the elderly."

     Gergen asserted: "As of this January, the government's projected Medicare payments for physicians' services started a steep decline -- down 5.4 percent this year and 17 percent by 2005. No wonder docs are turning away new patients."

     Instead of considering the possibility that a government-run program is more of the problem than the solution, Gergen scolded the public’s stinginess. An excerpt:

....[W]e have become remarkably stingy with our public finances. A year ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected a cumulative surplus in the federal budget over the next 10 years of $5.6 trillion. Then we seemed to have plenty of money to pay for the rising costs of Medicare, Social Security, and the like. Yet as of this January, most of the gravy had disappeared....

The common assumption was that the war on terrorism chewed up the surplus. That's flat wrong. Everyone agrees that defense and homeland security must come first. But as CBO Director Dan Crippen has testified, increased spending accounts for only one fifth of the disappearing surplus. Lowered economic forecasts account for some two fifths. The biggest cause of all is tax cuts, which account for 41 percent of the loss. And that was before the president asked for additional tax cuts of some $600 billion over the next 10 years....

As much as all of us love tax cuts, it is scandalous to think we are indulging ourselves at the expense of the elderly. But if Medicare patients are already being turned away by doctors because Washington has cut benefits, that conclusion is unavoidable. And unless we alter direction, it will only get worse. Medical costs are zooming up again, malpractice costs are ballooning, and baby boomers will begin to retire in six years!

Testifying on behalf of the Concord Coalition, an organization that promotes Medicare and Social Security solvency, former Sen. Bob Kerrey recently told the Senate Finance Committee that given the current state of public finances, it would be irresponsible for Congress to enact a major entitlement expansion such as prescription drug payments under Medicare. If we insist on keeping our current course, he is right. The point is that we ought to change course.

How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we keep shoving tax cuts into our pockets while letting poor, elderly people go without doctors and medicine?

Last week, our leaders in Washington proved that it is possible to run a war and chew gum at the same time. The Senate finally passed campaign finance reform, and the president proposed increasing foreign aid by 50 percent, both extremely welcome and responsible moves. But America has many other promises to keep, none more urgent than the vows we have made to older citizens.

     END of Excerpt

     Written like someone just a few years away from expecting taxpayers to pick up his medical bills.

     If prescription coverage is ever added to Medicare how much do you want to bet that no matter how much is budgeted it will never be enough to satisfy the likes of Gergen?

     For Gergen’s polemic in full:
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/020401/opinion/1edit.htm

4

Diane Sawyer took part in a group lunch on Wednesday with former Texas Governor Ann Richards and Bill Clinton, along with actor Robin Williams and his wife, at a Manhattan restaurant. The Washington Post’s The Reliable Sources column noted the Sawyer-Clinton lunch in an item about how both George Stephanopoulos, who hadn’t talked with his old boss in five years, and Lucianne Goldberg both separately encountered Bill Clinton at Manhattan eateries.

     During an appearance by Williams on Thursday’s Late Show, David Letterman showed a big color photo of the lunchmates, with Sawyer standing next to Williams who was beside Bill Clinton, but Williams did not explain the reason why the group had lunch together, and neither did the Washington Post.

     The March 28 The Reliable Source column, compiled by Lloyd Grove with Barbara Martinez, reported: "We hear that Stephanopoulos -- who wrote in his memoirs that Clinton ‘humiliated himself, dishonored his presidency, and deserved to be punished’ -- was lunching with journalists Michael Wolff and James Atlas as Clinton dined with Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Diane Sawyer, Ann Richards and our fellow gossip Liz Smith. Stephanopoulos decided to break the ice. We hear that Clinton -- who is said to believe his former aide was disloyal -- rose slightly out of his chair as Stephanopoulos said, ‘Great to see you.’ Clinton responded in kind."

     For what Lucianne Goldberg told the Post about her encounter with Clinton, access the rest of the item: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28114-2002Mar27.html

     Viewers of Thursday’s Late Show saw Letterman hold up a color photo of the lunchmates standing behind a table. Williams ran down the guest list, from left to right: Janet Crystal and her husband Billy Crystal, Ann Richards, gossip columnist Liz Smith, Joe Armstrong, Robin Williams’ wife, Bill Clinton, Robin Williams and, adjusting her hair, ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

     Asked by Letterman what prompted the gathering, Williams only joked: "Now that they’ve banned all that soft money you can’t buy a politician. You can only timeshare him."

     No word on whether Sawyer had pepperoni pizza and a banana milkshake for lunch. Or beforehand. On July 10 last year, after a GMA story about a study which claimed that Republicans have three times as many nightmares while they sleep as do Democrats, Sawyer volunteered: "After pepperoni pizza and banana milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton."

     The quote was a runner-up for the "Good Morning Morons Award" in the MRC’s Best Notable Quotables of 2001: The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting. To view it via RealPlayer:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/2001/best2001/bestofnq2001c.html#Good Morning

     See the photo of Sawyer and Clinton. The MRC’s Mez Djouadi will include it in the posted version of this CyberAlert. After noon EST, check:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020329.asp#4

5

Jay Leno would fit right into the average American newsroom. Interviewing Janet Reno on Tuesday’s Tonight Show, he expressed bewilderment at why former Clinton aides who are running for office aren’t embracing his policies, asserting: "He had a pretty good record. I mean, it doesn’t seem, with the exception of the personal problems, the record itself seemed pretty good." Leno also justified Reno’s Elian raid, insisting: "Legally you really had no other call did you?"

     MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down portions of the March 26 appearance by Reno, now a Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida.

     Leno: "You know it seems to me all the people that run for office now, the Democrats that worked with Clinton seemed to be distancing themselves from him. Gore was pretty evident in that. I mean he had a pretty good record. I mean, it doesn’t seem, with the exception of the personal problems, the record itself seemed pretty good. Why, why, why a lot of the candidates doing that?"
     Reno: "Well I’m not."
     Leno: "You’re not. Okay."
     Reno: "He made a mistake. But what he did in terms of the economy, in terms of bringing crime down eight years in a row to a 26 year low, in terms of giving America a sense of hope and purpose I think it was a great eight years."
     Leno: "How about your thoughts on Hillary? Were you two friends?"
     Reno: "She was the first Clinton I met. She came to the office while she was campaigning and we all sat there and thought she’d be a great President too."
     Leno: "Yeah, yeah, well it could happen, could happen. Let me ask you something else. You’re running in, in Florida. I know last year you had, or maybe it was two years ago you had to make a very difficult decision. Because the Elian Gonzalez case I know especially in Miami, the residents in Miami pretty adamant that they wanted the boy to stay. But legally you really had no other call did you?"
     Reno: "Legally and from a public policy point of view I thought the little boy should be with his daddy."
     Leno: "Yeah."
     Reno: "And that was the basis of my decision. And I understand it upset people. But every now and then you have to call it like you see it."
     Leno: "Right."
     Reno: "And that’s what I try to do all the time in government. And I did it and I know I was gonna have trouble coming home. But for the most part people have been pretty understanding.
     Leno: "Has it been good? I mean when, when you campaign in Miami do you sense some resistance?"
     Reno: "Sometimes people say mean things. Shortly after I got home we had a public protest on my street corner and they said the meanest things that anybody could say. And I felt almost triumphant because that’s the reason these people had come to this country. To have free speech. And for them to have free speech on my street corner, saying bad things about me, made me proud."

     Free speech, something Elian doesn’t have the ability to witness where Reno sent him.

6

An advantage of learning about media bias via CyberAlert instead of by getting Notable Quotables in the mail: CyberAlerts are timely and are not "dropped in the toilet and dried in an oven" as is mail delivered weeks late to the U.S. House and Senate.

     To explain, an excerpt from John McCaslin’s "Inside the Beltway" column in the March 28 Washington Times:

A senior congressional aide says that news reports that biologically decontaminated mail being delivered to offices in the U.S. Capitol is only "two weeks" behind schedule is a "crock of anthrax."

"Let's go over today's mail that I have received," says the aide, who requested anonymity.

-- An invitation from the Society of American Florists postmarked January 30 for its annual reception held two weeks ago.

-- A Cato Institute invitation postmarked January 22 to a February 5 book forum on global trade.

-- A Heritage Foundation position paper on India and Pakistan postmarked Jan 25.

-- The February 4 "Notable Quotables" from the Media Research Center.

"The mail we get looks like it's really been through the ringer," adds the aide. "You've read reports of how bad it is -- brittle, singed, etc. But you can't imagine it until you see it. Our mail looks like it's been dropped in the toilet and dried in an oven."...

     END of Excerpt

     For McCaslin’s daily column: http://www.washtimes.com/national/inbeltway.htm

     > Coming on Monday, the April Fools edition of Notable Quotables. Capitol Hill staffers should expect to receive it by snail mail in mid-May. -- Brent Baker


 

 


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314