CyberAlert -- 12/09/1999 -- ABC Decried Giuliani on Homeless; Stahl: Hillary "Knocked My Socks Off"

ABC Decried Giuliani on Homeless; Stahl: Hillary "Knocked My Socks Off"

1) Homelessness. CBS blamed "the booming economy." ABC blamed Rudy Giuliani, crusading against his crackdown with a one-sided story tilted four-to-one soundbite-wise against protecting citizens.

2) CBS's Lesley Stahl on Hillary: "She's so smart. Virtually every time I've seen her perform, she has knocked my socks off." Plus, Stahl claimed Hillary showed "dignity and grace" during Lewinsky.

3) ABC and CBS stuck to Clinton's foreign policy comments at his press conference. Of the broadcast evening shows only NBC's David Bloom showed Clinton again disparaging others: "The mistake I made was self-inflicted and the misconduct of others was not."

4) Fidel's media friends. Bryant Gumbel accused anti-Castro Floridians of making the boy who escaped Cuba a "political pawn" while Geraldo Rivera said not returning him is "unconscionable."

5) Once again, no broadcast network evening show coverage for a presidential debate. Two CNN analysts clashed on whether Bush was "more thoughtful, more substantive" or "shallow, unserious."

6) Dan Rather used the Oklahoma school shooting to lobby for gun control: "So what...does this latest school shooting mean for prospects of getting even modest new gun control measures?"

7) NBC repeated the West Wing in which the President told members of the Religious Right: "You can all get your fat asses out of my White House."

>>> What was the most biased reporting in 1999? You make the call. Cast your vote by using our just-posted "Special Web User Ballot" for the "Best Notable Quotables of 1999: The Twelfth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." At the end of every year since the late '80s a panel of about 50 leading media observers have served as judges to select the MRC's year-end awards. Again this year they are voting in 14 categories, but now you too can participate thanks to MRC Web manager Andy Szul.
Web voting is open until 9am ET on Thursday, December 16. The next day we'll post both the winners and top runners-up as picked by Web-voters as well as our judging panel. To make your picks, go to: <<<

Corrections: Although the subsequent item was correct, the table of contents list in the December 6 CyberAlert referred to how Andy Pargh "was arrested Saturday for buying 250 ounces of cocaine." It should have read 250 "grams." The same CyberAlert quoted Rich Lowry of National Review as saying Bush's tax plan would take "six million off the roles...." That should have read "rolls."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Offering soundbites by four-to-one opposed to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's crackdown on homelessness, Wednesday night ABC's World News Tonight crusaded against Giuliani's effort to improve the city. Reporter Kevin Newman stressed how "most New Yorkers are finding the crackdown a little harsh" as he featured soundbites from Rosie O'Donnell and a woman who was pleased a court has blocked Giuliani's plan "to take children from the arms of their mothers."

Over on the CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather also snidely took a shot at Giuliani as he summarized a HUD study of homelessness: "Overall, this study found that programs to help the homeless do work even as New York City has begun arresting some of the homeless."

But instead of blaming Giuliani CBS blamed capitalism. Reporter John Blackstone focused on how booming cities have led to higher rents and the demolition of low-income housing. He began: "Even with a booming economy and low unemployment, the homeless remain as prominent as ever on America's city streets. But the booming economy may be part of the trouble."

Of course, he didn't explore the role of rent control in reducing the housing stock.

Back to ABC, anchor Peter Jennings introduced the December 8 Kevin Newman piece by highlighting how the HUD study found that three-fourths supposedly leave shelters when offered help. Newman started by reporting that since Giuliani ordered the crackdown, 2,400 have been told to move along under threat of arrest.

After allowing a homeless man to claim Giuliani is "trying to do away with homeless people," Giuliani got a clip to explain how only those committing crimes are arrested. But that was the last viewers heard of Giuliani's side as you can see from this transcript of the rest of the story:
Newman: "Public opinion polls say most New Yorkers are finding the crackdown a little harsh."
Woman: "Giuliani needs to hear from people who are so outraged at his treatment of the homeless."
Rosie O'Donnell, on her TV show: "He is out of control, this guy. He cleaned up New York. He made it better, he thinks he like runs the world. News flash Rudy: It's not good to arrest the homeless people."
Newman: "The mayor says the crackdown is also getting the homeless the help they need. Police say they've escorted 86 people to hospitals in the last two weeks, 500 to city shelters. Advocates for the homeless dispute those numbers and point out that as of next Monday city shelters will refuse to help parents who won't participate in the city's work for welfare program."
Father Bill Greenlaw, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen: "We're in the midst of a massive contradiction. On the one hand we're saying you cannot have city shelter if you refuse to work and if they are on the streets we now say that we're going to arrest them."
Newman: "And the mayor had also planned to allow the city to send children to foster homes if their families were expelled from shelters. But late this afternoon a court ordered a one month delay in that policy."
Mary Brosnahan, Coalition for the Homeless: "Essentially what the court is saying is that it is in no one's interest to take children from the arms of their mothers."
Newman: "That court decision may provide some comfort to the hundreds of people living outside in New York tonight as the temperatures dip near freezing."

The mayor's crackdown probably already has provided "some comfort" to law-abiding New Yorkers afraid of out of control homeless people, such as the homeless man who prompted Giuliani's action by seriously injured a woman a few weeks ago when he threw a brick at her head. But ABC didn't bother mentioning that incident.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)The media may not have much respect for Giuliani, but one top network star sure likes his potential Senate race opponent. Under the Wednesday headline "CBS's Lesley Stahl finds Hillary fascinating, blunders and all," Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister relayed how, "when it comes to Hillary Clinton, CBS's Lesley Stahl makes no pretense of objectivity."

Indeed, the 60 Minutes correspondent and former White House reporter told Shister: "I'm endlessly fascinated by her...She's so smart. Virtually every time I've seen her perform, she has knocked my socks off."

Below is an excerpt from the rest of Shister's December 8 story in which Stahl expressed admiration for Hillary's action during the Lewinsky scandal and boasted of her sexist bias in favor of women candidates. Comments from me appear throughout the excerpt indented [in brackets]. (Intra-paragraph ellipses are as they appeared in the Inquirer.)

"She's deeply complex and hard to predict, hard to understand.... She defies packaging. Every time you think you've figured her out, you learn something that takes you in a completely different direction."

Those directions haven't always been positive, says Stahl, a 27-year CBS survivor who turns 58 (58!) on Dec. 16.

As a politician, the First Lady has made several blunders in her presumed Senate campaign in New York. (Ditto, Stahl adds, for Clinton's presumed Republican opponent, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.)

[Nice of Stahl to add that dig in defense of Hillary.]

Clinton "has been overestimated as a politician. We're watching what's clearly a novice make those early mistakes," such as being photographed kissing Yasir Arafat's wife or donning a Yankees cap. (She's a lifelong Cubs fan.)

The gaffes have surprised Stahl and others "because we've been told so often this is the woman with the exquisite political instincts who has been helping her husband all these years. And she's not showing that to us."

[And agreeably gullible media figures like Stahl misled the public for years about Hillary's skills.]

What Clinton did show was extraordinary "dignity and grace" when President Clinton's extracurricular sexcapades hit the fan last year.

As a woman, and, like Hillary Clinton, the mother of an only daughter, Stahl had "enormous sympathy" for the First Lady.

"What do you do when you know your only daughter's happiness is tied up in the fact that you and your husband have stayed together all those years? The impetus to keep that family unit a threesome is enormous."

Stahl also respects the way Clinton "never lost sight of the fact she was First Lady. She had a public responsibility to the country to be dignified and to continue carrying out the role he [Bill Clinton] gave her.

"She didn't want to embarrass the office of the President, either. I feel that poor woman was under unbelievable emotional pressure, and that she walked through an impossible time with grace."

[Note no concern for how Hillary lied to the media and has covered up for her husband for decades, putting her personal power ahead of the nation's interests. Stahl puts personal politics ahead of being a journalist.]

Before you start invoking the Equal Time rule, Stahl says she knows and respects Giuliani, too, and that he's been a good mayor.

[Translation: I've revealed my true liberal feelings so I better pretend to say something nice about the Republican before those media-bashers cite my views. Too late.]

In fact, Stahl says she hasn't decided for whom she'll vote, if indeed it becomes a Clinton-Giuliani dogfight. "I've never been a straight party-line voter in any election. I'm a person who goes for the person."

[Okay, stop laughing about her claim that she's undecided.]

Personally, Stahl goes for female candidates. It's a woman thing.

"I've often felt that no matter what the politics of the woman candidate, there's some part of me that's rooting for her. I want her to do well. I don't want her to look sloppy or ill-prepared or make silly mistakes.

[Imagine the reaction if a male network star said he only votes for men. I guess anti-male sexism is to be admired.]

"I felt the same way about Liddy Dole. Women want women to do well, even if you disagree with every single thing that comes out of their mouth.

[Note how "even if you disagree with every single thing" comes in the sentence after the Republican.]

"You don't want to see another woman fall on her face. You fear it's a statement about all women. That the country at large will say, 'See, women can't do it.'

"So every time a woman pops up on the national screen, I think most women say, 'OK, let's show the guys we can do this.'"

When the pedal hits the metal in November, Stahl predicts a Clinton victory.

"I think it will have a lot to do with national politics. I think it's the year of the Democrats. I think people in New York will be conflicted, but in the end, a lot of voters who aren't sure about her will say, 'New York should have a Democratic Senator.'"

[Let's be honest and make that "Lesley Stahl and her CBS colleagues think New York should have a Democratic Senator."]

END Excerpt


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Wednesday night ABC and CBS led with Clinton's press conference announcing progress on Middle East peace while NBC Nightly News went first with the controversy over the Cuban boy. Only NBC's David Bloom, however, touched on a scandal question raised during the 2:30pm ET press conference. ABC's John Cochran stuck to Clinton's comments on the Middle East, Chechnya, and Elian, the Cuban six-year-old. CBS's John Roberts covered those topics plus Clinton's plans for a lawsuit against gun-makers.

NBC's David Bloom didn't show FNC's Wendell Goler posing the question, but he did note on Nightly News how Clinton talked about "his own infidelity and impeachment." Bloom introduced a Clinton soundbite in which Clinton took another shot at his opponents: "On his affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment trial."
Clinton: "Most of life's greatest wounds, for individuals and for countries, are self inflicted. The mistake I made was self-inflicted and the misconduct of others was not."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Fidel's media friends. Bryant Gumbel and Geraldo Rivera this week took up the Cuban regime's cause of having Elian Gonzales, the six-year-old who survived a boat trip to Florida during which his mother drowned, returned to Cuba. Gumbel accused anti-Castro Floridians of making the boy a "political pawn" while Rivera claimed the U.S. "snatched" the kid.

-- Wednesday night from Havana reporter Byron Pitts delivered an unusual media angle on the CBS Evening News, pressing a Cuban about how life in the U.S. might be better. "In Havana's central park most believe he is better off in his homeland with his father," Pitts asserted before asking a man in the park: "But what if he can get, he can live a better life in the United States?" The man answered: "I think that the children in the U.S. cannot have lives similar to the one in Cuba because we have seen on television, for example, there have been many shootings in schools even. So I think the education here in Cuba is good."

School shooting hyped on TV? All the Cuban government has to do is show CBS News.

-- Tuesday night, December 7, ABC's World News Tonight ran back-to-back pieces on the kid. Morton Dean traveled to Cuba and dutifully relayed their claims: "Free Elian the headline says. The people in the streets and Cuba's most influential politicians today were making the same argument, that the U.S. position is morally and legally absurd."

Gee, maybe the government had some role in organizing those protests.

Next, Deborah Amos looked at the law and argued that under a 1996 treaty with Cuba the boy should be returned as he would have been if he were from any other country. Amos then treated as some kind of exclusive the obvious point that the State Department is always on the left: "ABC News has learned that the State Department is furious with immigration officials. They say that pressure from the anti-Castro Miami Cubans is the only reason this young boy remains separated from his only living relative."

News flash for Amos: His father is not his "only living relative." As virtually every print story has noted, he has a cousin and a great uncle in Florida, never mind other relatives beside his father in Cuba.

-- Making Fidel's case to an anti-Castro leader. Tuesday morning Ninoska Perez of the Cuban American National Foundation got grilled by an argumentative Bryant Gumbel on CBS's The Early Show.

Gumbel insisted on the December 7 program: "As you know, under normal circumstances, a child's biological father is granted custody. Why to your mind in this instance should that be secondary to politics?"
Perez: "No, no, it is not secondary to politics."
Gumbel: "Well, of course it is."
Perez: "In any other case this would be decided in a court and we would have to see the father fix the right conditions for the child to be returned. This is what's going to be happening in a Florida court."
Gumbel: "But Miss Perez you know as well as I do there are no conditions that are necessary in this case. Child custody is normally granted to the closest biological relative."

After Perez suggested the father just read a Castro-prepared script and that it's bad to grow up without freedom, Gumbel conceded her point, but quickly offered moral equivalence: "Eleana's being used as a political pawn in Havana. Will you allow that he's also being used as one here in Florida?"

-- The Elian Gonzalez case really upset Geraldo Rivera on the December 6 Upfront Tonight on CNBC, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noticed:
"I tell you. You can hate Castro and hate his government but if this father was not abusive and all four grandparents say they want the child back, then every time you have an unpopular government that we object to, children can be snatched from that country and we'll defend it on patriotic grounds. It's just unconscionable. As an attorney it just, it's not law, it's politics, it stinks."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)What Republican presidential debate? If you watched the CBS Evening News Monday and Tuesday night, at least the East Coast versions, you would not have heard a word about it. Ditto for The Early Show Tuesday morning, the day after the 8pm ET debate aired live from Phoenix on CNN.

As noted in the December 6 CyberAlert, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows ignored the December 2 debate, the first to feature George W. Bush, the next night. This time, the same thing occurred without any debate stories on the December 7 ABC, CBS or NBC evening shows. The night of the debate, December 6, ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News did feature stories on the rise of John McCain and mentioned the upcoming debate.

The morning after the debate, CBS, as noted above, ignored it -- preferring to focus in the first half hour on the Oklahoma shooting and the Cuban kid. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today, MRC analysts Jessica Anderson and Geoffrey Dickens reported, got to the debate only after segments on Oklahoma. GMA featured only analysis from former Clintonista George Stephanopoulos while Today went to Tim Russert.

MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed quite a contrast in how two CNN analysts assessed Bush's Monday night performance and how well he answered a question about the price of oil.

On CNN's The World Today at 10:15pm ET after the debate Bill Schneider asserted:
"I think the impact of last week's debate was to raise concern among the Republican elders about Bush. Does he have gravita, substance, the authority to be President? You could hear the fear melding, my God, we're the establishment. What have we wrought? I think tonight's debate did something to allay those concerns.
"Bush tonight was more serious, more thoughtful, more substantive, more in command of the answers, in part because he got lucky. Forbes asked him a question about energy policy, how to hold down oil prices. He knows that subject. John McCain asked him about his differences with the Clinton administration on education policy. He was able to elaborate that very skillfully. And I think you can hear a great sigh of relief around the country going right through the Republican establishment, thank God, it's not as bad as we feared."

But in an analysis posted Tuesday morning on CNN's AllPolitics Web site, Tucker Carlson of The Weekly Standard and a regular on CNN's Inside Politics, was much less impressed:
"His performance at the Republican primary debate in Arizona last night was particularly uncomfortable. At times, Bush seemed intent on confirming all the worst stereotypes about him -- that he is shallow, unserious, and out of his depth on questions of policy.
"Consider the colloquy between Bush and Steve Forbes. During the second half of the debate, Forbes asked Bush a wonky but fairly clever question: How would you, as President, reduce the domestic price of oil? Bush's initial answer -- 'more exploration' -- was convincing enough (and, as important, non-threatening to his many supporters in the oil industry). But when Forbes pushed him to explain how, precisely, his administration would respond to rising oil costs, Bush fell apart. His answer: 'We'd keep plans in place to say to our drillers, 'Keep on exploring.'
"Read that sentence again. Try to figure out what it means.
"Stumped? That's because the sentence doesn't mean anything...."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)Reporting on the Monday shooting at an Oklahoma school, ABC and NBC managed to restrain their calls for gun control as the solution. But not CBS, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed.

Just after the December 6 lead story on the shooting, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather interviewed Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, demanding: "Governor, it's my understanding you are unalterably opposed to any kind of additional gun control, including handgun control. Is that correct?"

Next, Rather announced:
"So what if anything does this latest school shooting mean for prospects of getting even modest new gun control measures through Congress? CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer's been working this part of the story on Capitol Hill. Bob, after Columbine it looked for a while like Congress might do something about new gun control efforts. What happened?"
Schieffer identified the culprit: The Senate passed a bill, "but then the National Rifle Association really stepped up the pressure on Congress. The House passed a much weaker bill."

On MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams the same night Williams took an approach to Keating similar to Rather's. MRC analyst Mark Drake caught this question: "Of course, people watching may be saying to themselves, 'Well, you can affect one thing. You can make hand guns less available.' Do you buy that?"


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes)Wednesday night at 9pm ET/PT NBC repeated the season premiere of West Wing, a drama about the White House staff in which Martin Sheen plays a Democratic President. As outlined in the September 29 CyberAlert, the plot exposed how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry "President Josiah Bartlet," played by Sheen, indignantly telling ministers: "You can all get your fat asses out of my White House."

For more details and to watch a RealPlayer clip of the scene in question, go to the September 29 CyberAlert: -- Brent Baker


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