CyberAlert -- November 30, 1996 -- Braver Backs Hillary
Backs Hillary; Kessler PR; Hiss Through the Years
Seven items in today's holiday weekend edition. I apologize for the length, but I want to get it all out before it gets too old.
1) On Monday's CBS Evening News (November 25), Rita Braver reviewed First Lady Hillary Clinton's activities while accompanying the President in Asia. Braver relayed that "Her theme has been equality and opportunity for women, whether speaking to thousands or to just a few. In Bangkok, she comforted a former prostitute now dying of AIDS. And later made the point that if women are educated they are not forced to turn to prostitution."
Following a clip of Mrs. Clinton, Braver continued:
Hmmm. Maybe it's not that she expresses ideas, maybe it's the socialist ideas that she expresses that people don't like.
2) A CyberAlert recipient alerted me to a November 25 Reuters story on the same topic that he saw in Yahoo, from where I downloaded the story headlined "Hillary's Role on Welfare Played Down."
The piece, datelined Manila, began: "Hillary Rodham Clinton was at the center of a new controversy on Monday after she suggested she wanted a 'formal role' in shaping policy on U.S. welfare reform."
paragraphs later the Reuters dispatch asserted:
3) Monday's resignation by FDA Commissioner David Kessler received full stories on all the evening newscasts November 25. But NBC's Robert Hager provided the most glowing assessment of the man who fought to expand the agency's regulatory power.
transcribed by MRC intern Joe Alfonsi, here's Hager's NBC Nightly News
Hager continued: "But all this was prelude to his landmark decision to go after big tobacco, some of the nation's wealthiest corporations. Call cigarettes a drug, he said, and regulate them. It had been assumed that Kessler would stay in office to defend the new regulations from tobacco companies and see the regulations implemented, perhaps some, by next spring. But he's reportedly being pursued by several universities and his wife, once a Manhattan lawyer, is known to have tired of Washington politics. Also there was recent flap over some of his expense accounts uncovering dozens of errors and forcing Kessler to write an $850 reimbursement check to the government. And all along Kessler had no shortage of detractors."
Following a soundbite from Newt Gingrich on how Kessler was too cautious in approving drugs and praise from Congressman Henry Waxman, Hager concluded: "So Kessler will move on, leaving history to judge the difference he may have made in American health."
Hager spent so much time hyping Kessler's activities as accomplishments that NBC viewers never learned the other side from those who thought Kessler symbolized the worst of the nanny-state. As a November 27 Boston Herald editorial argued: "He thought -- he said -- the brand name 'Fresh Choice' was misleading. Never mind that right under the name it said 'made from concentrate.' With no evidence of harm but anecdotes spread by plaintiffs lawyers so cherished by the Clinton administration, Kessler ordered silicone breast implants off the market. After the publication of two impeccable studies that demolished the case against implants, Kessler has declined to end the ban, condemning thousands of women to inferior substitutes."
4) Discussing politics with
husband and wife team James Carville and Mary Matalin on the November 24
Meet the Press, host Tim Russert asked Matalin:
Well, so far it hasn't been much of one. As far as I've seen it still hasn't been mentioned on Nightly News or Today. In fact, the only broadcast network coverage it's gotten was in a late October World News Tonight story in which ABC's Jeff Greenfield used the lack of coverage given the blockbuster article as an example of why conservatives see liberal bias.
5) Later in the same Meet the Press (November 24) Russert played a tape of Whittaker Chambers on the old Meet the Press radio show during which he accused Alger Hiss of being a spy.
Two points here. First, reporters were as skeptical about the guilt of Hiss in 1948 as they were this year when he died. Second, after the clip, Russert actually laid out the evidence, something Nightly News never did.
From the Friday, August 27, 1948 at 10pm Meet the Press radio show, here are some of the questions posed to Chambers:
Finney, Cowles Publications: "I thought you left it a little unclear
as to whether you are certain in your mind, now, whether Alger Hiss is now
a member of the Communist Party or not."
Back to 1996, Russert explained that "Hiss sued Whittaker Chambers for slander, for what he said on Meet the Press" and Hiss was later convicted of perjury for his congressional testimony "because the statute of limitations on espionage had expired."
Russert then explained: "For the last 40 years until he died last week at age 92, Alger Hiss proclaimed his innocence. But this year, the CIA declassified and released the so called Venona files, translations of actual intercepts of messages sent from the Soviet Embassy in Washington back to Moscow. One, dated 30 March, 1945, talks about the activities of a high level State Department official, turned Soviet agent, code named A-L-E-S, ALES. His travel schedule matched that of Alger Hiss. At the bottom of the cable, there's a notation by an officer at the National Security Agency saying ALES, A-L-E-S was probably, quote Alger Hiss."
As you saw in past CyberAlerts, when Hiss died Tom Brokaw said he was "caught up" in a spy scandal. NBC Nightly News made no mention of the Venona files. In fact, when they were released this past Spring, of the broadcast networks, only the CBS Evening News did a story (by David Martin).
6) From the November 27 Late Show with David Letterman, a pretty humorous politically oriented Top Ten List. Downloaded from CompuServe's E-Drive it is, of course, copyright 1996 to Wide World Pants Inc.
Top Ten Clinton Family Thanksgiving Traditions
10. Stuffing the turkey with
shredded Whitewater documents
7) Under the heading "Conan goes to Canada...early" in the November 30 Boston Globe "Names & Faces" column, reporter M. L. Montgomery wrote: "Add Canada to Yogi Berra's list of places where it gets late early: Late Night with Conan O'Brien will air on CNBC at 10pm, giving the lad his first non-insomniac audience. It'll air a month after U.S. broadcasts, but hey, those Turkey Jokes will recycle nicely for Boxing Day."
Send M.L. back to the copy desk. CNBC is a U.S. cable channel and it will air O'Brien repeats nightly at 10pm ET (that's 7pm in British Columbia). Reporter Montgomery has confused CNBC, the Consumer News & Business Channel, with the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
I'm in the Boston area for a few days visiting my family. We have snow! Monday it's back to the warmth of D.C. Expect the next CyberAlert (with the December 2 Notable Quotables) in the middle of the week.
-- Brent Baker