CNN: “Every Cuban Has a Family Doctor”; CBS: Bush’s “Hard Line” Inhibiting “Positive Moves by Castro”; ABC: “U.S. Embargo...Has Fueled a Bitter Feud”; Gun Rights View “Doesn’t Make Any Sense”; Juan Williams: Quayle “Spoke the Truth”
1) Castro’s wonderful “safety net.” From Havana on Saturday, CNN’s Kate Snow expressed awe at how youngsters get “incredible training” in athletics which leads to “all kinds of” Olympic medals. She oozed with envy over “how every Cuban has a family doctor. You cannot go without health care here because there's a system set up, a safety net, where, if you live in a neighborhood, you're covered by somebody.” She even marveled at how some have DirecTV and “get more channels than I get at my home.”
2) Bush as the impediment compared to the always helpful Castro. CBS’s Joie Chen saw “opportunities” in “positive moves by Castro, who aided the United States in its war on drugs and stayed silent as Washington put prisoners from Afghanistan at Guantanamo Bay.”
Despite Castro’s best efforts to bring harmony between the two nations, an impediment remains: Those stubborn Cuban-Americans.
3) Compared to the reporting on CBS and CNN, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos came across as an old-fashioned cold warrior. His pieces focused on petitions calling for free elections and a just-released political prisoner. But he insisted upon tagging Bush, and not Castro, as the one taking a “hard line.” ABC anchor
Carole Simpson blamed the U.S., referring to “new debate over the U.S. trade embargo that has fueled a bitter feud between the U.S. and Cuba for 40 years.”
4) Putting the Justice Department on the side of those who believe the Second Amendment ensures an individual right to bear arms strikes Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria as “constitutional fundamentalism” which “doesn’t make any sense.” On ABC’s This Week, Cokie Roberts agreed: “I completely agree with Fareed that anything that makes it easier to get guns is a bad thing.” But, Roberts conceded, the Constitution isn’t so clear.
5) Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday, recalling Dan Quayle’s 1992 condemnation of Murphy Brown: “Credit where credit is due. He spoke the truth, and especially in terms of the black family.... You expose yourself to people who will criticize you. But you know what? That's the truth.”
6) Last week NBC’s Lisa Myers asserted that Bill “O’Reilly joins a long list of talk radio hosts whose views range from conservative to more conservative.” CyberAlert noted that NPR is packed with liberals and O’Reilly made that same point on his FNC show.
7) Oops. A Survivor castaway uttered a vulgarity on Friday’s Early Show.
8) As read on the Late Show with David Letterman by ten Army soldiers at Camp Greaves in South Korea, the “Top Ten Things I Would Like to Say to the American People.”
CNN’s Kate Snow is the latest network reporter to parachute into Cuba for a few days and discover the wondrous benefits provided to Cuban citizens by their benevolent leader, Fidel Castro.
(For example, back in December of 1988 CBS’s Kathleen Sullivan declared: "[This] is a clinic, and it is the heart of a health care system which has been called a 'revolution within a revolution.' Of all the promises made by Fidel Castro in 1959, perhaps the boldest was to provide quality health care free for every citizen." And on NBC’s Today in February of 1992 Joe Garagiola promised: "Among Cuba's successes is its health care; it's progressive and it's free." Robert Bazell expressed admiration: "Cuba's health care system is world class. In a neo-natal intensive care unit; on a burn ward; or in a clinic to treat epilepsy one can find equipment and procedures equal to those in the U.S. and only a few other countries....the quality of care remains high and it is free. Health, a guarantee of socialism, billboards proclaim.”)
Co-hosting CNN’s Saturday Edition, Snow expressed awe at how youngsters get “incredible training” in athletics which leads the “small” nation to win “all kinds of medals at every Olympic Games.” She also gushed over “how every Cuban has a family doctor. You cannot go without health care here because there's a system set up, a safety net, where, if you live in a neighborhood, you're covered by somebody.”
In Snow’s Cuba you can even watch satellite TV while you wait for the doctor to drop by. She marveled: “I went to a house on Wednesday where they have DirecTV. They get more channels than I get at my home. It's not common, but if you have dollars, you can pay for that kind of access. And you really can get a lot of information from the outside world, if you've got the money for it.”
If Cubans with DirecTV use it to tune into CNN and catch Snow, if it weren’t for her blonde hair they may not be able to tell the difference from the official Cuban state TV.
Prompted by former President Carter’s then-upcoming trip to the communist nation, CNN dedicated the entire hour-long Saturday Edition at 10am EDT on May 11 to Cuba. Snow co-hosted from Havana with Jonathan Karl at the Washington, DC bureau.
At one point, at least, someone got a chance to correct Snow. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen explained that in a totalitarian nation you cannot always assume citizens speaking to you are doing so freely.
CNN opened that segment with two soundbites from Cuban citizens. A man said of Carter, through translator: “It is a very good visit. I believe in him.” A woman stated: “Jimmy Carter is a very good friend of Cuba and Fidel.”
Snow then recounted how Cubans told her they want the embargo lifted: “People here in Havana on the streets talking about the visit of President Jimmy Carter. He is going to arrive here tomorrow in Havana. We're talking about the state of U.S.-Cuban relation, and about that visits.
“I want to go to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen about what you just heard. I’ve been down on the streets of Havana, Congresswoman, for the last few days, and everyone that I’ve talked to have said essentially what you just heard, that this is the moment, that this is a visit that they think is important, they think it can open things up between the U.S. and Cuba. I know you’ve been opposed to this visit from Jimmy Carter. So why not let him come, though, and allow an opening, the beginning of a first step, if that’s what the Cuban people want?”
Ros-Lehtinen replied: “For you to think that you can actually interview people in Cuba and that people can tell you the truth -- that's the same thing that happened in Nicaragua when they did a poll and they predicted that Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista government would win in Nicaragua when he was soundly defeated. Sometimes, people don't understand that there is a totalitarian communist dictatorship in Cuba, and the people are not free to speak their minds. So be careful about your so-called free interviews. This is a police state where everyone's thoughts are controlled.”
Snow countered: “Well, these are people off camera too.”
Ros-Lehtinen mocked Snow: “Okay. Oh, sure, yeah. I'm sure. Just whisper it in my ear; it's just between you and me.”
Toward the end of the hour, Karl went to Snow: “We are here with our Cuban roundtable, and we have Kate Snow in Havana. Kate, I wanted to get a question to you. You've had a chance to spend a few days down there. And we all know about what is wrong with Cuba, and we know about the dire economic situation down there and the political repression. But you've been doing some work about what is actually going on right in Cuba right now, which might sometimes be hard to find, but what have you found?”
Snow recited Castro’s achievements: “Well, we've been looking at a few things that, I mean, if you ask Cubans, and if you ask the government particularly, they'll point to these things as their big successes. Yesterday I spent a lot of time at a sports school where they train young people, mostly teenagers, sort of late teens, and they train them for everything from softball to archery to baseball to basketball, all kinds of sports. And the interesting thing is that they catch these kids when they're so young and they put them in a system unlike anything that exists in the United States, a very regimented system, but it trains them all the way through. They're still getting school and classwork, but then they're also getting this incredible training. And it leads to Cuba, a country of just, you know -- a small island, winning all kinds of medals at every Olympic Games. They sometimes come in eighth or ninth even in the Olympic medal count.”
Snow didn’t explain why if it’s so great the best athletes regularly defect.
Snow kept on going, gushing: “The other thing we were looking at is the health care system and how every Cuban has a family doctor. You cannot go without health care here because there's a system set up, a safety net, where, if you live in a neighborhood, you're covered by somebody. There's a doctor in your neighborhood who's your family doctor.”
How much would you bet that if Snow were injured in Cuba that Snow would want to fly back to the U.S. for medical care?
On the up side on CNN coverage of Cuba, the rest of the Saturday morning hour avoided such ridiculous promotion of Castro’s regime and, in addition to flying in Snow, CNN sent down John Zarrella. The reports that I saw filed by him and Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman during the day Sunday stuck to what Carter was doing and cited Castro’s suppression of rights.
> Monday night, May 13, at 8pm EDT CNN will air “Live from Havana.” CNN chose Kate Snow to host instead of the more experienced Newman or Zarrella. Tune in to learn what new wonders about Castro’s Cuba Snow has discovered to celebrate since Saturday morning.
> For the MRC’s Special Report by Rich Noyes released last week, “Megaphone for a Dictator: CNN’s Coverage of Castro’s Cuba, 1997-2002,” go to:
To CBS News, Fidel Castro is the reasonable, moderate leader trying to reach around President Bush who “is taking an especially hard line on Cuba.”
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, Joie Chen argued “there are signs that Castro is looking for ways to reach beyond the White House to court American public opinion.” Chen also saw “opportunities” in other “positive moves by Castro, who aided the United States in its war on drugs and stayed silent as Washington put prisoners from Afghanistan at Guantanamo Bay.”
As if he complained it would have made any difference? And Castro has “aided” the U.S. war on drugs? Last I heard, he was helping to traffic them.
Despite Castro’s best efforts to bring harmony between the two nations, an impediment remains: Those stubborn Cuban-Americans. Chen rued: “But this is an election year and Cuban exiles are still an important voting block in Florida where the President’s brother faces a re-election fight.”
From Washington, DC, Chen, who was with CNN until a few months ago, began her May 11 CBS Evening News piece:
“Cuban activists carried their demands for change through the streets of Havana this week, petitions bearing the signatures of thousands who want their voices heard about their country’s future. They are the same demands -- free speech, elections and freedom from oppression that Washington has made for four decades.
“But President Bush is taking an especially hard line on Cuba. Just this week the administration accused Castro of developing biological weapons and collaborating with rogue states who are making weapons for germ warfare.”
Dan Fisk, State Dept.: “If they have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to hide and should allow the international community in and prove that.”
Chen: “On Friday, Castro strongly denied the charges. While the U.S. talks tough there are signs that Castro is looking for ways to reach beyond the White House to court American public opinion. In the wake of Hurricane Michelle, which devastated Cuba, Castro inched open the door to trade relations. Taking advantage of a change in U.S. law that allows it to buy American grain for humanitarian purposes, Cuba bought $90 million worth of rice and soybeans. That pleased American farmers, who see a chance to get into a new market. And on Capitol Hill, even some members of the President’s own party now say it is time to lift the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.”
U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Missouri: “I think that they’re, they’re just not looking at this, you know, in the big picture. Because the opportunities are there.”
Chen: “Opportunities in positive moves by Castro, who aided the United States in its war on drugs and stayed silent as Washington put prisoners from Afghanistan at Guantanamo Bay.”
Pam Falk, Latin American expert: “Today Cuba stands alone with an economy that’s in disastrous shape. As a result, they’ve been very open in their efforts to negotiate with Washington.”
Chen concluded: “But this is an election year and Cuban exiles are still an important voting block in Florida where the President’s brother faces a re-election fight. And even those who want to see change know it will have to wait until sometime after November.”
Of course, those stuck in Cuba have been waiting 43 years for a change.
The next night, CBS led with Castro’s denial of any work on biological weapons. Anchor John Roberts announced at the top of the May 12 CBS Evening News: “Good evening. Cuban officials today declared a complete lie U.S. allegations that Cuba has a program to develop and export biological and chemical weapons. Welcoming former President Jimmy Carter on his groundbreaking trip to the island nation, Fidel Castro said Carter could go anywhere and talk to anyone to see if Cuba is developing weapons of mass destruction.”
From Havana, reporter Jim Axelrod reviewed Carter’s arrival, noted it’s unclear what the former President’s goals are for the trip, reported on how 11,000 signed a petition calling for free elections and pointed out how some, specifically Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, don’t want warmer relations with Castro.
Compared to the reporting on CBS and CNN over the weekend, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos came across as an old-fashioned cold warrior. But like the others, he tagged President Bush as the hardliner.
World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Carole Simpson, however, displayed another media trait of the Cold War -- characterizing both sides are equally culpable, or the U.S. as even more to blame. She opened the May 12 newscast:
“Former President Jimmy Carter today became the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Mr. Carter’s private visit comes amid new debate over the U.S. trade embargo that has fueled a bitter feud between the U.S. and Cuba for 40 years.”
If Castro weren’t a dictator there would be no embargo.
Stephanopoulos, in Havana, then began his story by emphasizing the “hard line” taken by Bush: “The Treasury Department issued President Carter a license for his trip but the White House isn’t thrilled with it and no one believes Carter can soften President Bush’s hard line stance toward Castro. But the arrival ceremony today had all the trappings of a warm state ceremony between friends.”
Stephanopoulos proceeded to report how Castro promised Carter open access to check for biological weapons, how Carter walked around Old Havana and that 11,000 had signed the petitions.
Stephanopoulos filed his first report from Cuba on Friday’s Good Morning America. He focused on just-released political prisoner Vladimiro Roca: “After serving nearly five years in prison for publishing a pamphlet, Roca was set free this week; a small good will gesture from Castro to Carter.”
Stephanopoulos added: “To Vladimiro Roca, Jimmy Carter is a hero.”
Roca, through translator: “I wish I could meet him to speak about democracy, to have him teach me about democracy and how to promote democracy in Cuba.”
Stephanopoulos: “And Roca is not alone. Carter is also expected to meet here with the leaders of a group called the Varela Project. They've collected 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on democratic reforms and free elections. And they're expected to present it to the national assembly while
Carter is here. While no one expects Castro to accept their demands, the fact that they've been able to get that many signatures on this tightly-controlled island is really remarkable and a sign that things are changing.”
On Friday’s World News Tonight Stephanopoulos focused on the petition effort, but he cautioned: “Of course, it's no coincidence, Elizabeth [Vargas], that this is all happening on the eve of President Carter's trip. The big question here is: Will the screws tighten again once he's gone?”
Saturday’s World News Tonight didn’t run anything about Cuba, but Stephanopoulos was back for Sunday’s This Week. At the top of the May 12 show he previewed his upcoming interview with Ricardo Alarcon, President of the Cuban National Assembly: “You’ll see that he likes President Carter as much as he loathes President Bush.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Alarcon about proving Cuba is not making biological weapons and how he will deal with the petitions demanding free elections.
Putting the Justice Department on the side of those who believe the Second Amendment ensures an individual right to bear arms strikes Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria as “constitutional fundamentalism” which “doesn’t make any sense.” On ABC’s This Week, Cokie Roberts agreed: “I completely agree with Fareed that anything that makes it easier to get guns is a bad thing.” But, Roberts conceded, “it’s certainly not clear” that the amendment “only means the militia” were meant to own guns.
During the May 12 roundtable, co-host Sam Donaldson raised the subject of how the Bush Justice Department has changed the government’s position on the Second Amendment to stand with those who believe it protects an individual’s right. ABC displayed on screen the amendment’s wording: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Guest panelist Zakaria expressed concern: “It strikes me that one can become, we’ve seen religious fundamentalism, now you’re going to have constitutional fundamentalism. You can interpret this various ways. It seems to me the phrase 'well-regulated’ suggests somebody is allowed to regulate and that somebody is obviously the state. But if you go, it seems to me, beyond the constitutional issues, what is the fundamental security threat that American citizens face today it is that small groups and individuals nowadays can get access to bad kinds of weapons. In this climate, to be reversing a decades-long policy, to be reversing in effect the Reagan Justice Department, the Bush Senior Justice Department, to make it easier for people to get guns, just doesn’t make any sense.”
George Will next pointed out to Donaldson: “Well Sam, you’re reverence for that one Supreme Court decision in 1939.”
Donaldson maintained: “Which is the last one on this subject.”
Will retorted: “Right, as Plessy was until it was overturned and Dred Scott until it was made irrelevant.”
Roberts came down in the middle: “I completely agree with Fareed that anything that makes it easier to get guns is a bad thing. When you see suicides, when you see child violence, you see domestic violence where people would not be dead if it weren’t for the gun, but on the other hand, I have read through these debates in the Constitution on this subject and I don’t think it’s at all clear, it’s actually it’s not clear either way, but it’s certainly not clear that it only means the militia. And if you look at the state constitutions of the same time, many of them word it the other way around. So assuming they are all meaning the same thing, the state constitutions put the right to bear arms before the militia.”
When Zakaria warned that it’s a slippery slope that could lead to making Uzis legal, Will suggested: “Cokie said, look, anything that allows people to have more guns is a bad thing. That’s a policy judgment. The First Amendment makes it easier to have pornography. Sorry, it does.”
Indeed, those who favor a strict reading of the second amendment in order to show how it does not guarantee an individual’s right to own a gun, usually have a very loose reading of the First Amendment. It begins: “Congress shall make no law...” It says nothing about abridgements of free speech, religion, assembly or the press imposed by city councils, mayors, governors, town managers, school committees, state legislators....
Add former NPR talk show host and current NPR commentator Juan Williams to the list of those in the news media now seeing the light about Dan Quayle’s 1992 speech about how the out-of-wedlock birth on the Murphy Brown sit-com set a bad example.
During the roundtable portion of the May 12 Fox News Sunday, host Tony Snow played a clip of Quayle’s now famous soundbite from May of 1992: “It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.”
Snow recalled: “That prompted a tidal wave of response.” Citing a quote which was highlighted in Friday’s CyberAlert, Snow relayed: “One indicative response from Eleanor Clift: 'There they go again, only this time instead of Willie Horton, the GOP is making Murphy Brown the symbol of what's wrong with liberal elites.’”
As highlighted in the May 10 CyberAlert, on the May 9 Today show Katie Couric suggested: “As the debate subsided and Murphy Brown took on the challenges of single-parenting some people began to wonder if Dan Quayle was right.” For details:
For quotes of journalists mocking Quayle in 1992:
On the May 12 Fox News Sunday, Williams, who was a Washington Post reporter at the time of Quayle’s observation, acknowledged:
“Credit where credit is due. He spoke the truth, and especially in terms of the black family, in terms of the high rate of children born to single-parent, female-headed households is a real tragedy and something that, on a serious level -- you can make fun of Dan Quayle, but let's not make fun of the reality
that he was trying to deal with and what he was trying to say. It's much like what Pat Moynihan did back in the late '60s. You speak about essential problems in terms of family life and in terms of minority family life in this country, you expose yourself to people who will criticize you. But you know what? That's the truth.”
Great minds think alike? In recounting how NBC’s Lisa Myers reported that Bill “O’Reilly joins a long list of talk radio hosts whose views range from conservative to more conservative,” in the May 9 CyberAlert I pointed out: “Public radio is dominated by liberals. Every talk show now or recently carried by National Public Radio...has been hosted by a liberal or at best a liberal-leaning moderate.”
That night on his FNC show, O’Reilly made the same point, the MRC’s Patrick Gregory noticed.
O'Reilly announced at the top of the May 9 O’Reilly Factor:
"Last night the NBC Nightly News ran a short feature on the ‘Radio Factor,’ and kind of predictably, they made it out to be another right-wing show designed to compete with Rush Limbaugh.... Now, I've heard this stuff so often that I'm numb to it, but I did take issue with Lisa Myers's thesis that the right dominates the radio waves. What about our pals over at National Public Radio? They have 680 affiliates across the country, and at any given moment, you can hear a pro-Palestinian report, a pro-choice report, and environmentalists put in a favorable light, and on and on. And that's good, I enjoy hearing that stuff. But apparently Miss Myers can't hear it, because she never mentioned NPR in her story. Come on! If you want a liberal slant, it is there on the radio 24 hours a day....”
For more about the Myers piece:
Oops. The latest Survivor cast-off uttered the word “shit” on Friday’s Early Show, the MRC’s Brian Boyd noticed.
During a conversation at about 8:21am EDT on the May 10 show,
co-host Jane Clayson, mimicking a New York accent, asked ousted Survivor Marquesas contestant Robert DeCanio: "You're a New Yorker, right?"
DeCanio affirmed: "You got them, got that shit right, baby."
Clayson pretended she hadn’t heard the word and moved on: “Is it good to be back home?”
Just before the ad break DeCanio said: "Sorry about that little slip."
Maybe if the Early Show stuck to news-related guests they wouldn’t have this problem.
From the May 9 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by ten soldiers from the Army's 1st battalion, 506th infantry, 2nd infantry division at Camp Greaves in South Korea, the “Top Ten Things I Would Like to Say to the American People.” Late Show Web page:
10. "Sorry, Mom, 1-800-FLOWERS doesn't work over here"
(Staff Sergeant Mario Deleon)
9. "Would somebody please send me a meatloaf?"
(Specialist Damone Williams)
8. "Come say hi -- with the new direct flights, getting to Korea from the U.S. only takes 29 hours"
(Specialist Mike Walker)
7. "I can neither confirm nor deny that I have anything to say"
(Specialist Steven Dyer)
6. "Thanks for paying your taxes on time so we don't run out of ammo"
(Private First Class Andrew Lukies)
5. "Ozzy rules!"
(Private First Class Jeremy Bell)
4. "If anyone needs a place to crash during the 2002 World Cup in Seoul, give me a call"
(Private First Class Michael Rupert)
3. "Can somebody please tape the season finale of Friends for me?"
(Specialist Jerome Coleman)
2. "Liza [Minelli], you promised you'd wait!"
(Sergeant Christopher Blackwell)
1. "How are the Knicks doing in the play-offs?"
(Second Lieutenant Jamie Hansen)
> After this morning, only four more days left of Bryant Gumbel co-hosting CBS’s Early Show. For the worst of his bias over the years, check out the links attached to the “Gumbel Countdown Calendar” on the MRC home page:
-- Brent Baker
Sign up for
Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive
CyberAlerts via e-mail.
questions and comments about
You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC’s Web site by subscribing to the “MRC Web Site News” distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to:
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe