CyberAlert -- 06/29/2001 -- CBS's New Respect for Robertson

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CBS's New Respect for Robertson; Mitchell's Showed Castro Saying Bush "Appointed"; Stossel: "Totalitarian Left" Afraid of Critics

1) To Dan Rather, now that Pat Robertson is being oppressed by "Big Oil," he has gone from part of the "self-described religious right," to an "entrepreneur" who is a victim of "possible market manipulation in the energy business to maximize profits."

2) A day after Katherine Harris's retort to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Dan Rather picked up on it. CBS also ran a short story on a new dollars-for-pardons charge against Roger Clinton.

3) NBC's Andrea Mitchell had an amiable chat with Fidel Castro. She relayed how "he told me that the Cuban people last year were so determined to get Elian back that some extremists even wanted to send military commandos to the United States." Mitchell showed Castro mimicking Geraldo: "He was not elected. He was appointed President of the United States."

4) ABC's John Stossel lashed out at the "totalitarian left" which wants to "silence critics" and "frightened" some parents "about me" so they insisted interviews with their kids be pulled from Stossel's Friday night special which dares to question the environmental left's orthodoxy.

Pat Robertson, suddenly a noble businessman to CBS News. Now that he's being oppressed by "Big Oil." Last year Dan Rather referred to how "one issue that is sure to come up in the fall campaign that has already surfaced is Bush cozying up to the self-described Religious Right, including the Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell."

But on Thursday's CBS Evening News Dan Rather expressed new respect with Robertson transformed from part of "the self-described Religious Right" to being an "entrepreneur." Rather announced on his June 28 show: "There's a follow up tonight to CBS News investigations into possible market manipulation in the energy business to maximize profits. This could be a remarkable case in point. One time Republican presidential candidate, TV evangelist and entrepreneur Pat Robertson says just listen to what happened to him."

Reporter Wyatt Andrews proceeded to outline Robertson's claim that he's been blocked from buying a shut down California refinery because unnamed an oil company has blocked his loan by threatening to pull all its business from the bank. Andrews helpfully outlined the conspiracy: "If that information is accurate, why would big oil care? Senator Ron Wyden, who today appeared with Robertson, says Big Oil is restricting all refinery output to keep gasoline prices high."

Hmmm. Maybe Robertson's problems have something to do with how he is unqualified to operate a refinery. And why is a conservative like Robertson in bed with a left-wing Senator? CBS didn't explore those angles, though Andrews did concede that current refinery output of gasoline is at record levels.


A day after Katherine Harris's retort to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Dan Rather picked up on it. On the June 28 CBS Evening News Rather read this short item:
"On another continuing post-election political dispute, Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris, said today that she might indeed run for Congress. This came the day after Harris blasted the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for being what she called 'arbitrary and selective,' unquote in a report that was critical of her role as Secretary of State in the last presidential election."

Just before that item, CBS ran a brief story by Bob Schieffer on a new charge that Roger Clinton took $50,000 to get pardon for a heroin trafficker in the Gambino family, a charge her lawyer claimed is being made just "to embarrass Bill Clinton."


Andrea's All-Nighter with Fidel. Though the Committee to Protect Journalists in May named Fidel Castro one of the "Ten Worst Enemies of the Press" for 2001, NBC's Andrea Mitchell had an amiable chat with him Wednesday night which was featured on Thursday's Today and NBC Nightly News. Only in one sentence in her evening report did she mention the lack of political freedom in Cuba.

On Today Mitchell relayed how Castro insisted Juan Miguel and Elian were free to stay in the U.S. and how "he told me that the Cuban people last year were so determined to get Elian back that some extremists even wanted to send military commandos to the United States."

Later, on Nightly News, she showed Castro denouncing Bush: "He was not elected. He was appointed President of the United States." Sounds like Castro watches Geraldo. And who exactly "elected" Castro?

-- Today, June 28. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down her summary of her session with the dictator, though she never employed the term: "Well on this first anniversary of Elian Gonzalez's return home to Cuba the Fidel Castro government is not planning any big anniversary celebration. But during three hours of conversation with Fidel Castro that went into the early hours of this morning he told me that the Cuban people last year were so determined to get Elian back that some extremists even wanted to send military commandos to the United States. Castro met me at his offices where he typically works all night. [Clip of Mitchell shaking hands with Castro: "Thank you for seeing us."]
"During the Elian crisis that met orchestrating the campaign to get the child back. But Castro insists that the boy's father was free to stay in the United States if he had wanted to. He made the decisions about where to live and returning to Cuba."

-- NBC Nightly News. A few hours later NBC had time to put together a regular taped report with soundbites from Castro. As transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, Mitchell began by expressing her typical awe of Castro's hard work:
"It was already getting late when Castro greeted me at one of his many government offices. It is here that Castro spends most nights in meetings that usually last until dawn. This night we talked for three hours, brief by Castro's standards. About to turn 75 in August, who would replace him? Cuba's next comandante would likely be Castro's brother Raoul, head of Cuba's armed forces, but only five years younger than Fidel."
To Castro: "Have you thought, have you planned about having a younger generation of leaders to carry on your legacy?"

After some discussion about succession which Mitchell raised because of Castro's collapse at a rally over the weekend, Mitchell continued: "Castro has been in office so long, he's antagonized ten American Presidents. Now he's sizing up George W. Bush, especially because of Bush's close political and family ties to anti-Castro voters in Florida."
To Castro: "Do you see any chance of better relations? Would you see a potential crisis here?"
Castro, through interpreter: "He was not elected. He was appointed President of the United States. [some cross talk] It's not his fault he's ignorant."
Mitchell concluded: "Castro was combative when I asked why he won't hold free elections or release political prisoners as American Presidents have been demanding for 40 years. In fact, he says his revolution will outlive him. And the man I saw last night shows no signs of yielding power any time soon."

You'd think Mitchell might have wondered why Castro gave her such a free hand when he oppresses other journalists. Maybe it has something to do with how her stories don't require any censorship to comply with Castro's standards.

The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to how in May the Committee to Protect Journalists named Fidel Castro one of the "Ten Worst Enemies of the Press" for 2001. They asserted:
"Fidel Castro's government continues its scorched-earth assault on independent Cuban journalists by interrogating and detaining reporters, monitoring and interrupting their telephone calls, restricting their travel, and routinely putting them under house arrest to prevent coverage of certain events. A new tactic of intimidation involves arresting journalists and releasing them hundreds of miles from their homes. Meanwhile, foreign journalists who write critically of Cuba are routinely denied visas, and early this year Castro threatened some international news bureaus with expulsion from Cuba for 'transmitting insults and lies.' Cuba is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that currently holds a journalist in jail for his work. Bernardo Arévalo Padr'n continues to serve a six year sentence for reporting critical of Castro and the Communist Party."


ABC's John Stossel lashed out on Wednesday's O'Reilly Factor on FNC at the "totalitarian left" which wants to "silence critics" and persuaded some parents to insist interviews with their kids be pulled from Stossel's Friday night special which dares to question the environmental left's orthodoxy.

On Thursday's Good Morning America he offered a milder rebuke about how he's "upset that activists got to these parents and frightened them about me." On the June 28 GMA Charles Gibson asked him, as observed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "This special has touched off some controversy. Some people came forward and objected to interviews that had been done with their children, two months after the interviews had been done, and asked that the interviews be removed and they have been taken out. Every TV writer in the country seems to have weighed in on this. Your comment on it."
Stossel: "Well, I'm upset that activists got to these parents and frightened them about me. I'm upset that we had to take this out and we've put something in that I think is interesting, but I can understand why ABC felt that they had to because these are children and who are we to go against the wishes of the parents?"

For background on this trumped-up liberal controversy, go to:

In Thursday's Washington Post, Howard Kurtz relayed Stossel's comments on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor the night before. An excerpt from Kurtz's June 28 story:

ABC's John Stossel hit back at his detractors yesterday, accusing environmental activists of having "brainwashed" a group of California parents into insisting that the network pull his interview with their grade-school children.

Responding to his critics at the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, Stossel said on Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor: "I call them the totalitarian left. They want to silence people who criticize them."

Ken Cook, the group's president, dismissed Stossel's comments as "preposterous," saying: "If anyone's trying to limit debate it's John Stossel, by suggesting commie lefties are behind this as some sort of plot....He's a bully and he's finally been challenged."

The heated words followed ABC News's decision to yank the footage of Stossel interviewing 10 children about environmental issues after the parents, who had contacted Cook's group, withdrew their consent. The parents say they were never told that Stossel was involved in the program, which airs Friday, and that he pushed the students to give the kind of responses he wanted.

Stossel said he is "not happy" about ABC's decision to withdraw the footage but that "I see their point. These are children....If parents don't want their kids on, who are we to force them?"

But Stossel contended that the parents had been "thrilled" and changed their mind only after "environmental educators talked to them. I don't blame them for being scared after what these people probably said about me....People said, 'He's going to distort. He lies. In the past, he's faked things.' They make up stories about me and the parents get scared."...

On the footage that ABC has withdrawn, the children say yes when Stossel asks whether they thought America is more polluted and the air and water dirtier than they used to be -- which, as Stossel noted, is untrue.

Stossel then says on the tape: "What sad distortions to feed children."

In the O'Reilly interview, Stossel accused the school system of brainwashing students and, in another swipe at environmentalists, assailed "the extremists who dominate the debate." Environmental activists, said Stossel, "shouldn't be scaring people the way they are."

END Excerpt

For all of Kurtz's piece, go to:

On Thursday afternoon the MRC's President, L. Brent Bozell, issued this statement in a press release:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Media Research Center President Brent Bozell blasted the ultra-left wing Environmental Working Group for shamelessly manipulating parents of young children to attack ABC News correspondent John Stossel over his special on how scare tactics are used to perpetuate a one-sided view of environmental issues.

"John Stossel has a point of view that is vastly under-represented on networks like ABC, and his reporting is factual and honest. That's why the Left can't stand him, and will stoop to anything to get him off the air. These parents were in the room when their kids were interviewed. They saw John Stossel interview them. They said nothing for two months. If they really had concerns they could have raised them then and there with ABC, but they've instead been manipulated by this left-wing group in search of an anti-Stossel publicity splash just as his report is about to air," Bozell said.

"ABC is right to be sensitive to parents' concerns, but when parents can be so easily manipulated as part of a witch hunt to knock an honest journalist off the air, it sends a dangerous signal to all reporters who would dare question the Left's agenda -- on the environment or any other issue," Bozell said.

"Mr. Stossel's premise is absolutely true as our own exhaustive research has found: information on environmental issues like global warming are presented in almost a totally one-sided fashion. As a parent myself I find it insulting and appalling that both adults and children are consistently bombarded with advocacy journalism that misleads and misinforms the very public to which the media are responsible," Bozell said.

END reprint of press release

Stossel's special, Tampering with Nature, airs tonight, Friday June 29 at 10pm EDT/PDT, 9pm CDT/MDT in the 20/20 slot. Washington, DC area cable subscribers will also be able to watch it at 8pm Saturday night on NewsChannel 8. Today's Washington Post TV listings reports that Stossel "questions whether warnings about genetic engineering, human cloning and global warming are overhyped."

The vitriolic reaction from the environmental left is sure to be overhyped. -- Brent Baker

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