"Slumlord" Al Able to Slide; Craig Pressed on Elian's Freedom; Vintage CNN Bias
1) "If this had been a Republican, people would have been crying 'slumlord'," observed Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday in discussing a story the networks skipped over the weekend about Al Gore's tenant complaining about never-fixed backed up toilets.
2) On CNN's Capital Gang Mark Shields castigated the press for labeling Robert Casey "conservative" just because he was pro-life: "The litmus test to be a liberal by contemporary press standards is simply to be an unqualified supporter of legal abortion."
3) Al Hunt ridiculed conservatives over concern for Elian: "This has brought a commie back. They've got Castro. They feel good." But NBC's Tim Russert pressed Greg Craig about demanding "set Elian free" when he'll go to Cuba with an authoritarian regime.
4) "Half a million mothers and grandmothers...flooded Havana's main highway today, demanding" Elian's "immediate return," Tom Brokaw announced as if it were a true outpouring of feelings. ABC and CBS pointed out how Castro orchestrated the protest.
6) A federal judge cleared Ken Starr of pressuring Julie Hiatt Steele to lie. That's amongst the latest Clinton scandal developments skipped by the networks as detailed in the MRC's June 1 Media Reality Check.
Al Gore, Slumlord? Friday night, Nashville's CBS affiliate, WTVF-TV, ran a story on how a family renting a house for $400 a month on Al Gore's property in Smith County, Tennessee had been evicted by a management company employed by Gore, after complaining about backed up toilets and clogged sink drains that were never fixed. "If this had been a Republican, people would have been crying 'slumlord'," observed a liberal pundit Sunday morning.
The AP picked up on the TV news story on Saturday and the revelation became Kate O'Beirne's "Outrage of the Week" on CNN's Capital Gang Saturday night. Fox News Sunday panelists discussed it Sunday morning, but otherwise the broadcast networks ignored it: Not a word Saturday or Sunday night on the ABC, CBS or NBC evening shows, nor on their Sunday interview shows, even after an embarrassed Gore on Saturday satisfied the family by cancelling the eviction order, agreeing to fix the problems and inviting them over to his neighboring house for dinner.
[Web Update: Monday night, June 5, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report both carried full stories by David Shuster on the condition of the Al Gore-owned rental home occupied by a family and Gore's promise to resolve the situation without evicting them. Monday's CNN Inside Politics gave the subject 38 seconds.]
On the June 4 Fox News Sunday, The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes suggested: "I think he's going to basically get away with this. If this had been a conservative Republican, however, who had done this -- George W. Bush say had some farm, he does have a ranch -- and we had the same story, the press would never let go. On this one, with Gore, they'll let go."
The liberal Juan Williams, formerly of the Washington Post and now a National Public Radio talk show host, agreed: "If this had been a Republican, people would have been crying slumlord. That would be the headline -- 'Slumlord' -- and a man who doesn't take care of little people...."
"Gore Promises Repairs to Tenant" read the headline over a Saturday night AP dispatch from Nashville by Phil West which appeared on an inside page of Sunday's Washington Post. He reported:
Tracy Mayberry thought Vice President Al Gore was a slumlord, until Gore called her Saturday and promised to repair overflowing toilets and backed-up sinks in the apartment her family rents from him.
Mayberry and her family pay $400 a month to rent the four-bedroom house within sight of Gore's home in Carthage, about 50 miles east of Nashville. "Before, I was really upset with him. I considered him a slumlord," she said Saturday. "Right now, my opinion varies. If he'll uphold his end of the bargain, that's OK."
After repeated complaints to Gore's property managers, Mayberry said she was told her family -- including her disabled husband, a mentally retarded daughter and another daughter with a seizure disorder -- were being evicted. They live on $1,536 a month in Social Security from her husband's disability.
Frustrated, Mayberry contacted a Nashville television station, WTVF-TV, which aired a story on her situation Friday. By Saturday afternoon, Gore was on the phone to Mayberry, promising to fix the problems and pay for a new place for the family to stay. Republicans were already circulating the TV story to national news organizations.
"He said he'd heard I'd called him a slumlord, and I said I did. I said if you want to run for President, you ought to behave like a landlord should," Mayberry said. "He agreed with me. He said he's going to come in and do a complete renovation...He kept apologizing. He said he's not what you'd call a hands-on landlord. I said I understand he's got a lot of obligations being Vice President and campaigning. But I said I've got a lot of obligations to my family."
Spokesman Doug Hattaway said Gore was not aware of the house's condition until his staff was contacted by WTVF. Plumbing repairs would be so extensive the water would be turned off for quite some time, and the family likely would need to leave while the work was done, he said.
Since the Mayberrys are on a month-to-month lease, the property managers had asked the family to vacate the home while the repairs were made. "I should emphasize for the record they're not being evicted," he said Saturday.
Gore overruled his property managers and instructed his Carthage lawyer to find a place for the family to stay. They will not have to pay rent while the repairs are made, Hattaway said....
The MRC doesn't tape local news in Nashville, but thanks to WTVF-TV providing its news shows to broadcast.com you can view the station's stories via RealPlayer.
To watch the station's
original story by reporter Jennifer Kraus, complete with video of an
overflowing toilet and sinks that won't drain, go to the "NewsChannel
5" video archive page:**
Direct address to watch
this newscast, if you already have RealPlayer installed:
follow-up story on Gore promising to make repairs, a story which
humorously featured Mayberry's ten-year-old son saying he didn't think
Gore should be President but now does, scroll down to "Saturday"
and click on "NewsChannel 5 at 10:00." Like Friday, it's the
lead story. The direct address:
The sound for both shows sputters in and out at first, but by the time the actual Gore pieces begin the sound is solid.
The broadcast.com site only provides access to WTVF-TV news shows for a week, so watch them now if you want to see them. Last Friday's story will be gone as of this coming Friday morning.
Juan Williams wasn't the only usually liberal pundit to make a conservative, anti-liberal media point over the weekend. For his "Outrage of the Week" on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, liberal columnist Mark Shields took his media colleagues to task for how they labeled the late Robert Casey as "conservative" just because the true liberal opposed abortion.
Bob Novak went first on
the June 3 show, noting:
Shields then took his
shot, praising Casey's liberal achievements and rebuking the media:
Indeed, as noted in the June 1 CyberAlert, on the May 30 The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC the host of the same name asserted: "Bob Casey has died tonight, word just in to us. The former two-term Governor of Pennsylvania, a Democrat but a devout Catholic and thus was ultraconservative on the topic of abortion. In fact, his name will forever be attached to a landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion."
An AP obituary by Peter Jackson, carried in the May 31 Washington Post, included this sentence: "Casey, a Catholic and conservative, berated his party and its 1992 presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, for what Casey called an abortion-on-demand philosophy."
Tim Russert raised genuine concerns about Elian Gonzalez's communist indoctrination while Al Hunt sarcastically made fun of conservatives who would "go to a theme park in Albania to find a communist" and now Elian makes them feel good because it lets them bash a "commie," Fidel Castro.
Sunday's Meet the Press featured the first showing on an NBC News program of the photo of Elian in the uniform of the Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth group, a photo picked up from the Miami Herald by the Fox News Channel way back on May 17. ABC's Good Morning America showed it the next morning, but all the other broadcast network shows avoided it.
On the June 4 program, moderator Tim Russert asked Greg Craig, the lawyer for Elian's father: "Many critics have said, Mr. Craig, when you say 'set Elian free, set him free to go back to Cuba,' the most authoritarian government in the world? How can you use those kinds of words?"
Then, over the Pioneers photo, Russert pressed: "He put this uniform on here in the United States and people say 'my God, here we are fostering his re-indoctrination into communism, his re-education into communism. How could we allow him to do such a thing?'"
The night before on
CNN's Capital Gang Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall
Street Journal, was more interested in ridiculing conservative concerns
for freedom and opposition to communism:
"Half a million mothers and grandmothers' spontaneously, on their own, took to Havana's streets Friday to demand Elian's return. At least that's how NBC's Tom Brokaw portrayed what took place, but both of his broadcast network competitors pointed out how Fidel Castro orchestrated the protest.
Over video of a large crowd, Brokaw intoned on the June 2 NBC Nightly News: "Just one day after an appeals court ruled against an asylum hearing for Elian Gonzalez, half a million mothers and grandmothers, waving Cuban flags, flooded Havana's main highway today, demanding the boy's immediate return to his homeland."
ABC's Charles Gibson, anchoring World News Tonight, offered a bit of insight into how Cuba really works: "In Havana, Cuba today one of the largest demonstrations yet demanding the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. The Cuban government decided there should be 500,000 mothers and grandmothers out in force and says there were. Fidel Castro arranged the march to object to the length of time it's taking for the American courts to let Elian come home."
To drive home the point, as Gibson mentioned Castro ABC's video zoomed in for a close-up of the dictator in the crowd.
Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer gave full credit to Castro: "Fidel Castro pulled out all the stops today to vent Cuba's frustration over the latest turn in the Elian Gonzaelez case. Castro summoned hundreds of thousands of people, most of them women, to march on Havana's main coastal highway in Cuba's biggest Elian rally yet. They demanded the boy's immediate return and protested yesterday's U.S. court ruling that the boy must remain in the United States at least two more weeks."
This is CNN's Liberal Bias. Plugging This is CNN: Twenty Years of Stories, a Thursday-Friday 9-11pm ET review of CNN's history on its 20th anniversary, CNN's Inside Politics replayed a vintage clip which happened to display labeling bias in referring to conservatives as the "far right."
Inside Politics first
aired in January 1988 as Inside Politics '88 and so on the June 1 show
CNN picked a clip from a January 1988 edition, possibly the first one.
Viewers saw and heard Bernard Shaw report: "Mississippi, Florida, and
his home state of Tennessee, stops along the way for Democrat Albert Gore,
the man does have a Southern strategy, and CNN political analyst Frederick
Allen followed him every step of the way."
CNN then jumped back to
more of Shaw: "Here at Inside Politics day and night we analyze and
try to figure out what these candidates are up to and why, and so does our
respected guest, William Schneider." The playback then jumped to this
question from Shaw: "Say if I'm a conservative Republican on the far
right, where do I go between Dole and Bush?"
The two 2-hour specials
were hosted by Larry King. Amongst the guests reminiscing with him on
Friday night: Anita Hill. One of King's questions showed how he
considered her to be the victim:
And it wasn't political for Hill and the liberals who pushed her forward in order to prevent a black conservative from getting onto the Supreme Court?
"Little 'Sleaze Factor' Coverage of Clinton: Major Networks, News Magazines, Even Newspapers Ignore Potentially Embarrassing New Stories," announced the headline over the MRC's June 1 Media Reality Check by Tim Graham. The fax report ran through several developments largely, if not totally, skipped by the media, including how a federal judge found "absolutely no evidence" that Starr's office pushed Julie Hiatt Steele to offer false testimony.
The text of the report
follows below, but you can also read it online in either HTML format or as
an Adobe Acrobat PDF document by going to where Webmaster Andy Szul has
Here's the text of the June 1 Media Reality Check:
As Ronald Reagan wrapped up his second term in 1988, there was no scandal fatigue. Each new scandal, such as controversies over Attorney General Ed Meese, led to reporters decrying ever_ increasing evidence of a "sleaze factor." But the media tend to yawn past the latest Clinton scandal news.
-- Saving Reno's Job? On May 18, Associated Press reporter John Solomon dropped a bombshell: "FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo in the earliest days of the Democratic fund-raising investigation suggesting a top Justice Department official was under pressure not to proceed with the probe to save Attorney General Janet Reno's job." Coverage? Just 20 seconds on the ABC and NBC morning shows.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing on May 24, FBI Assistant Director for National Security Neal Gallagher corroborated Freeh's recollection about top Justice Department official Lee Radek making it clear that Reno was in peril if she named an independent counsel. Radek told the Senators that Freeh was mistaken. Coverage? Only FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume aired a story on the hearing. All the other networks were absent.
-- Starr's Not a Liar? On May 19, Associated Press reported that former Kathleen Willey friend (and Geraldo Rivera favorite) Julie Hiatt Steele, who joined a lawsuit alleging Ken Starr pressured her to offer false testimony, was rebuffed by U.S. District Judge John Nangle, who found "absolutely no evidence that [Mr. Starr] ever directly or impliedly asked her to lie." Coverage? Not only did all the networks miss it, but the Washington Post was the only national newspaper or news magazine to come up in the Nexis database, on May 21.
-- Tripp's Good Week. On May 24, Maryland prosecutors dropped their attempt to indict Linda Tripp for illegal wiretapping in the taping of Monica Lewinsky. Coverage? All the networks were there in July of 1998, when the grand jury investigation began (and none mentioned that the prosecutor, Stephen Montanarelli, was a Democrat). When the probe ended, it drew anchor briefs on NBC, CNN, and a full story on FNC, but nothing on ABC or CBS.
Tripp also received good news the next day, when the Pentagon's Inspector General found that the release of her personnel file to The New Yorker in 1998 "constituted a clearly unwarranted invasion of her privacy" and a violation of the Privacy Act. Defense Secretary William Cohen slapped the wrists of his press people Ken Bacon and Cliff Bernath. Coverage? On ABC, Peter Jennings gave it an anchor brief and worked in nine words on the dropped Maryland case. CNN also carried briefs on Inside Politics and The World Today. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume aired a brief, then a discussion the next night. Time gave it a sentence at the front of the magazine, adding "Now pleeeze disappear."
-- Juanita Broaddrick's Audit. On May 30, AP reported that Clinton rape accuser Juanita Broaddrick received notice of an audit from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is focusing especially on 1998, when Broaddrick first became known as a potential Clinton accuser. "I believe it's not a coincidence. I am clearly being targeted because I came forward," she told Fox News. Coverage? Only AP, FNC, and The Washington Times have reported the story so far.
END Reprint of Media Reality Check report
Now online from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), the latest edition of MediaNomics, which relays "what the media tell Americans about free enterprise." Articles in the June 2 edition, compiled FMP Director Rich Noyes:
Presidential Winners: Is It the Economy or the Media?
-- Kudos...to The New
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Finally, the MRC's Tim Graham is scheduled to appear Monday night, June 5, on FNC's The Edge with Paula Zahn to discuss Elian coverage. Normally as soon as I plug a TV appearance for an MRCer it's cancelled, but assuming this low key plug doesn't lead to that, I'll distribute a reminder late this afternoon. -- Brent Baker 
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