CyberAlert -- 10/23/1998 -- Liberal Rhetoric Not Blamed for Eco-Terrorism

Liberal Rhetoric Not Blamed for Eco-Terrorism; "Kneepad" Nina Is Back

1) Some real media diversity: No uniformity in what the network evening shows led with this week. CBS acknowledged that NASA "inadvertently added fuel to the argument that Glenn's presence on the mission has little real scientific purpose."

2) Instead of blaming liberal environmentalists for incendiary rhetoric that encouraged eco-terrorists, the networks worried that they "are afraid their cause will be tainted by the violence."

3) Killer soda, bad weather caused by global warming and too many black men can't vote. CBS and NBC jumped on reports from liberal activist groups.

4) Nina Burleigh is back. The Time reporter who wanted to do what Lewinsky did is out with a book on a mistress to President Kennedy and the "allure" of "these powerful men." After all, "on the other side we've got 12 years of theocracy behind us."

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Arafat and Netanyahu Are Warming Up To Each Other."

>>> "It's Not Sex! It's Clinton Policy, Handing Over Technology to the Chinese Military! But Networks Yawn: No DNA, No Cigars, No Berets, No Story." The latest MRC Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. In the report the MRC's Tim Graham documents how the networks ignored Monday's New York Times story on how Clinton's elimination of export controls, at the request of high-tech companies which contributed to the DNC, allowed China's military to obtain U.S. technology.<<<

Correction: The announcement in the October 20 CyberAlert between the <<< >>> referred to the availability on the MRC home page of the October 19 CyberAlert. That should have read the October 19 Notable Quotables -- which is indeed up. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) There's been a lot of interesting network bias in a week I thought would be quieter given the lack of activity on the impeachment/Lewinsky front. So I'll try to give a quick rundown of the top stories since the last CyberAlert on October 20 and then instead of going day by day as usual, to make things less confusing, I've put patterns of noteworthy coverage and bias into two categories: the eco-terrorism and picking up on reports from liberal activist groups. (In the next CyberAlert I'll have more on coverage this week of Microsoft and the budget deal, but I'm pressed for time now.)

Up front, who went first with what. As on Monday night, for the rest of the week two networks rarely went with the same lead story the same night. On Thursday, October 22, ABC's World News Tonight led with the stock market rebound through seven straight sessions, the CBS Evening News and CNN's The World Today began with the status of the Israel-PLO peace talks, FNC went first with the eco-terrorism in Colorado and NBC opened with the latest on the floods in Texas.

Wednesday night, October 21, ABC and CNN led with the peace talks, FNC with the meeting between the White House and Judiciary Committee (CNN and CBS also ran stories on this planning meeting, but not ABC or NBC), NBC with the pork in the budget deal and CBS with the mystery over why John Glenn was been disqualified from an aging study back in August, a decision just now revealed. Sharyl Attkisson concluded her story: "Whatever Glenn's medical problem is NASA insists he is still fit to fly, but by keeping quiet on his removal from one experiment the space agency has inadvertently added fuel to the argument that Glenn's presence on the mission has little real scientific purpose."

Tuesday night, October 20, a peace talks update topped CBS and CNN while FNC went first with the Paula Jones appeal and NBC led with the flooding in Texas.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) When the Oklahoma City building was bombed some in the media tied it to anti-government rhetoric from conservative talk radio and Newt Gingrich. Last week, as detailed in CyberAlerts, more than one media figure linked the murder of a gay man in Wyoming to anti-gay rhetoric from conservatives. But in Thursday night stories on the environmental terrorists who burned down several building atop a ski mountain in Vail, Colorado, the networks failed to blame the incendiary rhetoric of environmentalists and instead actually allowed environmentalists to defend the act or explain why some were naturally driven to such an action.

All the networks ran full reports Thursday night, October 22:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. After explaining how the Environmental Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility, wants to save the lynx and is upset by the expansion of the ski resort, ABC's Tom Foreman allowed an eco-terrorist expert to declare the group dangerous, but then gave equal-time to the pro-terrorism side:
"But militant environmental groups such as Earth First! say it is fair game to attack property."
Karen Pickett, Earth First! "I think when things that are lifeless are damaged I think that's vandalism and I think when life is lost through violence, that's terrorism."
Foreman: "Many environmentalists here in Vail are frankly terrified that environmental extremists are taking credit for these fires. They are afraid their cause will be tainted by the violence."
Jonathan Staufer, environmentalist: "Radicalism and violence is not something that I believe that the majority of environmentalists believe in."
Foreman concluded: "Indeed, they say, jail is the only place for the people responsible for this."

-- On the CBS Evening News Bob McNamara reported: "On the Internet a shadowy group called the Earth Liberation Front claimed it set the fires to protest Vail's ski run expansion into a national forest, threatening endangered wildlife. Urging a skier boycott of Vail, the group threatened more trouble, saying 'putting profits ahead of Colorado's wildlife will not be tolerated.'"
Katie Fedor, Animal Liberation Front. "So I would believe that it is valid, that it is a genuine statement from the Earth Liberation Front."

-- On NBC Nightly News reporter George Lewis explained how the Earth Liberation Front claimed they burned down several buildings, then read from their e-mail: "'Putting profits ahead of Colorado's wildlife will not be tolerated.'"
Lewis then emphasized how many share the same concerns, treating the perspective as reasonable:
"The storm clouds over Vail this summer weren't just bad weather. The biggest ski resort in the country wants to get bigger with new ski runs into this rugged back country, but numerous mainstream environmental groups say no. Rocky Smith says this is vital terrain for the elusive lynx, even though the animal hasn't been seen here for 30 years."
Smith, unidentified on-screen: "Why can't we set aside a small area, 15,000 acres for nature. How much is enough? If we're not going to stop their expansion desires then when? When is this going to end?"
Lewis: "Just two weeks ago a federal judge refused to stop Vail from starting the expansion. The FBI is now investigating the Vail fires. The Earth Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for other acts of eco-terrorism: fire bombings of federal and private buildings in Washington and Oregon, the release of mink from fur farms in Wisconsin and Canada. No one claims to know who belongs or who heads ELF but other radical environmental groups today defended their acts of sabotage."
Katie Fedor, Animal Liberation Front: "Federal prison time, jail sentences, any type of conviction or arrest is not a deterrent for compassionate, committed people who want to see this habitat preserved for the lynx."

Now imagine post-Oklahoma City or Matthew Shepard murder a reporter allowing someone labeled "mainstream" to defend those actions. (CNN and FNC also ran full stories Thursday night. FNC refrained from the rationalization in its piece, but did then interview in-studio a member of Earth First! CNN's report included a soundbite from Fedor.)


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Liberal activist groups speak, CBS and NBC jump. Three examples from the last two nights.

-- Killer soda. Wednesday night CBS anchor Bob Schieffer introduced a story: "The same diet researchers who blew the whistle on high calorie takeout foods and movie theater popcorn came out today with a new health alert today. This time it is soft drinks." Elizabeth Kaledin proceeded to outline the demand from the left-wing Center for Science in the Public Interest that high schools remove soda machines.

Soda may not be good for teens or anyone (apologies to the Soft Drink Manufacturers Association), but CSPI hardly "blew the whistle" on Chinese food and popcorn: They made ludicrous assertions that were later discredited.

-- The same night NBC Robert Hager picked up on a PIRG report about how the level of severe weather and its costs are rising. "Why? Many scientists believe it's partly because global temperatures are warming which loads the atmosphere with moisture and causes more storms to develop. But the high cost is also the result of more people living along the coast...."

-- CBS became a repeat customer for liberals Thursday night. Jim Stewart delivered a full story on a report from the Sentencing Project and Amnesty International on how "13 percent of black males have lost their right to the ballot box" because they are now in jail, prison or live in a state which bars voting by convicted felons. Stewart concluded by relaying the ominous spin of the study authors:
"...The impact appears likely to only get bigger, especially among African-American men. If current crime trends continue the study found, in some states up to 40 percent of the next generation of black men may permanently lose their right to vote."

My solution: Instead of allowing felons to vote, figure out how to have fewer black men committing crimes.


nburliegh1023cap.jpg (22952 bytes)cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Remember Nina Burleigh? She's back. She's on a book tour promoting her book called A Very Private Woman, about Mary Meyer, one of John Kennedy's mistresses. (Warning: This item features slang terminology for oral sex.) To remind you, she's the former Time reporter who wrote a piece for Mirabella magazine recalling how she ogled Bill Clinton while on an assignment for Time magazine and traveling with him on Air Force One. Called about the article, she told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz: "I would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs."

For more on what she said at the time in Mirabella and to Kurtz, go to:

And, to see her recollections of the events and what she told Kurtz on the phone, plus a comment about the MRC, go to:

Now, for the latest. Steve Allen, VP for communications at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, alerted me to Burleigh's appearance on CNBC's Hardball last week. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens went back and transcribed some of her comments as host Chris Matthews asked her on the October 15 show about her kneepad needs:

Matthews: "I've got to ask you about this amazing quote of your's which I have been savoring and waiting for. Everybody who watches this program and can remember way back when there was a certain reporter, Nina Burleigh, who said that she would give the President the kind of sex that he got from Monica Lewinsky, according to all the documents because he is so good on the abortion rights issue. That was you Nina."
Nina Burleigh: "That was me."
Matthews: "Expand, so to speak, on that topic."
Burleigh: "I'd rather not expand on it. I can just explain that it was meant in jest. Sort of an exaggerated comment that I was, used to sort of, you know Howard Kurtz the reporter. He's a Washington Post reporter. And he was on the phone and he's a kind of dry guy and I just thought."
Matthews: "You were trying to wake him up. Put some wind in his sails."
Burleigh: "Yeah, and I could hear him sort of hyperventilating after I said it. And I knew he was going to print it but it was not meant in earnest. Obviously it was a joke. However, well that's it. That's all I'm gonna say about that."

Later, Matthews raised the issue again by asking Burleigh about Clinton's affect on women, which led into a quiz about the hearts card game she had recalled in Mirabella:
Burleigh replied: "Well I covered him for a number of years before that event and always, had never even, never really thought of him as. I mean I heard the stories, but I never thought of him as particularly attractive. I've interviewed him."
Matthews: "What do you find off-putting about him physically that you find not attractive. I'm just curious, since we are getting into this conversation."
Burleigh: "I can't answer that. Let me just tell you how that came about. I was writing this book about Mary Meyer, okay. And Mary Meyer, one of the things that baffled me about her was how could this carefree, wind blown character, this wild person, go for a guy who was surrounded by men with weapons. Who was married, who had, she had to be ferried in and out of the White House at night, secretly, you know. And I didn't get that. And well, you know, a year later I was still working on the book. I was on the plane and I was playing cards with Clinton and it was a casual setting. And I was thinking about this what I had been writing about. And I realized that, what it is, there is an allure to these powerful men."
Matthews: "So when he asked you to fill out a hearts game?"
Burleigh: "He did not ask me anything. He did not, I mean he knew I was a reporter."
Matthews: "Well he sent one of his people up to you to fill out the hearts game."
Burleigh: "No, no, he was looking, I believe I was picked randomly."
Mathews: "You believe that?"
Burleigh: "Yes I do."
Matthews: "What effect did you feel that you were sharing a moment with him. In the card game?
Burleigh: "Well there were other people there but once I got up to leave and I felt that he looked at me in a certain way I thought that's a very flattering thing. To have the most powerful man in the world, or the most powerful man in the United States look at you. You know I think that would affect any woman. It's the flattery, it's the attention, the interest of powerful men that is itself seductive. And that's, the reason I wrote that article was to sort of make clear, because I thought it was topical that you know here we are now in the situation where there are all these women. He's gotten himself in all this trouble with these women and all I was trying to say was here is how it might be set up. Not to defend him taking advantage of that. That was not part of this article."
Matthews: "How is that any different than being Mick Jagger or Elvis Presley or any rock star or Warren Beatty? Is it in any different?"
Burleigh: "I don't know that it is. I don't know that it is. I don't know that it is. I haven't been around Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty. You know, so I don't know. Maybe it is just celebrity. But I think you know it has to do with power."
Matthews: "Why do women give him a free ride? Women from the sort of left of the feminist sort of argument. Why do you give him a free ride? Say you don't care how he behaves as long as he defends your right to an abortion?"
Burleigh: "Well because look what's on the other side. I mean on the other side we've got 12 years of theocracy behind us and what's gonna, you know, it's sad that this is the only, that this, you know, you know, these men, I mean go back. Kennedy, Packwood, Hart, Clinton. You know why is it that these men who are you know supposedly on the side of the feminists are behaving this way. I don't know. That's something that, you know, you could write volumes about. And I assume there's some psychology there. I'm not a psychologist, I'm just a journalist. But it's something you know we can talk about and you know it's sad, it's very sad."

It may be sad, but it didn't stop Nina from offering to drop to her knees.

(To see what Burleigh looks like, go to the MRC home page where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted a video clip from Hardball. After the next CyberAlert is distributed the photo will move with this CyberAlert to the CyberAlert archive.)


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) From the October 21 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Arafat and Netanyahu Are Warming Up To Each Other." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc. (Spellings as presented on CBS.)

10. Over the weekend, the two created a "Dawson's Creek" web site
9. Yassir asked Bibi to throw out first rock at next Palestinian riot
8. They're wearing matching "I'm With the Stubborn Bastard" T-shirts
7. Cracked up Secret Service with their "Roxbury guys" routine
6. They have come to a crucial agreement: Ally McBeal is way too thin
5. Netanyahu agreed to hand over recipe for his delicious potato salad
4. Word is they may finally be "getting back in the studio" with Lyndsey Buckingham
3. Arafat shaved Bibi's name into his stubble
2. They watched "Pink Floyd's The Wall" after devouring some of Yassir's famous "magic humus"
1. They exchanged interns

And, from the Late Show Web page, some of the "extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- The two exchanged heart-shaped car bombs.
-- Been so busy laughing, they've barely had time to threaten to blow each other to kingdom come.
-- Just standing next to Clinton made them both realize they had a lot in common -- not screwing interns, for instance.
-- Every time Clinton enters the room, they both pull out cigars and start laughing like hyenas.
-- During U.N.-sponsored karaoke night, traded verses on "Endless Love."

I'll be back next week with, I hope, more frequent and timely CyberAlerts. -- Brent Baker

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