CyberAlert -- 01/14/2000 -- Rather's Warming Mantra

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Rather's Warming Mantra; Hillary Quiz Scandal; A&E's 224 Year Old Bias

1) Global warming "is real and it is underway" Dan Rather announced for the third time this week on Thursday night as John Roberts featured a liberal activist who warned we all might die if we don't follow Clinton's policy to reduce greenhouse emissions.

2) Jeffrey Toobin denigrated Linda Tripp as "very odious," but Today's Matt Lauer relayed how in his book he wrote that Clinton's friends said they believe Clinton "would never have admitted his relationship with Lewinsky had [Monica] not kept genetic proof."

3) Did Hillary have help answering Letterman's quiz? Her aide says yes, then no. FNC says yes. On Letterman, Hillary declared: "If I can make it here I can make it anywhere." CBS's Diana Olick agreed: "And that was the real truth."

4) A debate bias test. Last Saturday Democrats got set-up questions and were never pressed from the right. This Saturday the same sponsors and moderator will host a Republican debate. Will they be as easy and will they avoid pushing from the left?

5) In an A&E movie on George Washington crossing the Delaware he is persuaded that just like the hired-gun Hessians, his opposition to British taxes means he too is fighting "for profit."

6) Friday night on NBC's Law & Order: SVU drama: a gay man, "whose father heads a conservative watchdog group," is murdered.

>>> Now online on the MRC's Web site: The MagazineWatch reviewing this week's news weeklies. The items in the issue put together by the MRC's Paul Smith:
1. Newsweek and U.S. News suggested George W. Bush was endangering his political future by "walking on the wild side" and endorsing tax cuts and supply-side economics.
2. U.S. News and Time seem ideologically confused about who's on the extremes and who's in the center. McCain's a "hard-edged conservative," Gore and Bradley "trundle down the center."
3. Only Newsweek gives a paragraph to Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile's gaffe that Republicans would rather "take pictures with black children than feed them."
4. While the AOL Time Warner merger may create a seeming capitalist behemoth, Sports Illustrated couldn't help but step in (and step on) Republican dark horses in Campaign 2000.
To read these items, go to: <<<

Corrections: The January 13 CyberAlert cited how Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank "explained in her January 12-datelined dispatch." In fact, Milbank is a he. The same issue also detailed an ABC story about schools in France which give out "morning after bills." That should have read "pills."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)For the third time this week, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News ran a story on the fresh "news" that global warming "is real and underway." Thursday's story gave a seven word clause in one sentence to noting that there are doubters -- just before running a soundbite from a liberal activist who warned that warming may cause some societies on the planet to die off.

Let's review how CBS anchor Dan Rather stretched the same "news" into three days of news by reciting his CBS Evening News story introductions:

Monday, January 10: "U.S. government climate experts tell CBS News that they now believe global warming is real and underway."
Wednesday, January 12: "CBS News has dug out new and exclusive information about just how seriously the U.S. government now regards global warming. Sources tell Jim Axelrod that President Clinton will soon commit more money to understand it and fight it. This follows Axelrod's report Monday disclosing that U.S. climate experts now believe global warning indeed is real and underway."
Thursday, January 13: "On the subject of global warming, U.S. climate experts now believe it is real and it is underway and President Clinton says he will seek funding to fight it."

For this latest effort to legitimize the political position of Al Gore, CBS Reporter John Roberts began:
"Spurred on by the strongest evidence yet that the Earth is getting hotter, the Clinton Administration will seek a 50 percent increase in funding, $1.6 billion, to combat global warming."

Roberts cited no "evidence" before putting on White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, who insisted: "This is one of the biggest challenges the country and the world face over the course of the next century."
Roberts ran through the same old litany, but offered nothing new: "Around the globe, the evidence is there: shrinking ice sheets in the Arctic, drought in America, the spread of tropical diseases to regions once immune. While some scientists believe it's a natural cycle, many blame industrial and auto pollution -- so-called 'greenhouse gases,' which trap heat from the sun -- for the rapid increase in temperature."
Michael Oppenheimer of the Natural Resources Defense Council predicted the world might end: "If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced soon then life will become increasingly difficult for most societies and for much of nature there may be no future at all."

Roberts continued: "And America, the world's biggest polluter, is stuck on what to do about it. An international treaty, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions to pre-1990 levels, has not been ratified by Congress. Industry groups have lobbied that the only way to achieve those targets is to cut energy use; a move they say would strangle the U.S. economy."
Glenn Kelly of the Global Climate Coalition: "We know that 2.5 million workers will be out of work for little environmental benefit."

Indeed, the Kyoto treaty has not been ratified because the Clinton administration has yet to submit it to the Senate. After that distortion, Roberts bore in on Republicans:
"Republicans have held up any attempts at legislating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, complaining that developing nations wouldn't be held to the same standards. And that position is not likely to change."
George W. Bush: "We want to make sure that we think clearly and carefully before we implement any plan that puts the onus on the United States."
Roberts concluded his advocacy piece: "In his upcoming State of the Union address, the President will announce new initiatives to reduce emissions and make alternative fuels more widely available as well a program to help curb greenhouse gases in developing nations. But senior administration officials admit they expect a tough fight with Congress."

Over on Thursday's NBC Nightly News reporter Robert Hager also raised global warming. After reporting on how Boston finally got snow after a record snow-less 303 days while Southern California is having a drought and the Northwest has more snow than normal, Hager asserted: "All this against a general backdrop of global warming, which some say upsets normal weather even more."
James Baker, NOAA: "A slow increase in the amount of wacky weather is something that is consistent with this idea of global warming."
Hager agreed: "Wacky. Good way to describe today's storm so long in coming."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)ABC legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who maintains in his new book that Hillary Clinton was "more right than wrong" about the vast right-wing conspiracy, told Today's Matt Lauer how if it weren't for Linda Tripp's prescient advice to Monica Lewinsky to save the dress, Clinton would never have conceded he and Lewinsky had any type of sexual activity.

As noted in the January 13 CyberAlert, Toobin's January 12 Good Morning America appearance concentrated on his disgust for conservatives and how impeachment was overkill. To see a video clip of this discussion, go to:

Thursday's Today appearance covered that material as well, but Matt Lauer also raised some material in Toobin's book, A Vast Conspiracy, which shows how Linda Tripp really is the hero of the whole scandal, though Toobin denigrated her as "odious."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed this illuminating exchange.
Lauer: "When the Monica Lewinsky aspect of this scandal broke and we first heard the name Monica Lewinsky the President made that famous statement, 'I never had sexual relations with that woman.' You say in this book that had it not been for one key piece of evidence he may be sticking, he may have been sticking to that story even today."
Toobin: "Absolutely. One of the most damning things I learned about Bill Clinton in writing this book is that even his own friends said to me, 'You know if that dress never came out, if that dress didn't exist with the DNA on it that was depositive proof he wouldn't be admitting the affair to this day.' And I think that's, You know I don't think it's impeachable but I think it's a pretty shameful judgment."
Lauer: "Right from the book. Quote, here's what you wrote, 'Many of Clinton's own friends regarded him as so untrustworthy on sexual matters that they believe the President would never have admitted his relationship with Lewinsky had she not kept genetic proof. In such a fight Clinton's advocates would not have hesitated to attack Lewinsky's credibility. Another unstable behavior would have provided them plenty of ammunition. But the dress made Lewinsky bullet-proof.'"
Toobin: "And you know who was right about that? Someone who, I regard as a very odious person, but you gotta give her credit when she's right, and that's Linda Tripp. And there's one of these amazing tapes that I quote in the book where Linda Tripp says, 'You know don't dis everything I say. I'm gonna tell you something, now listen.' You know it's a great Tripp moment. And she says, 'Keep the dress. Keep the dress you don't know what they're gonna do to you.' And she was absolutely right."

Wrapping up the interview, Lauer picked up a more scary anecdote in the book: "You drop another bomb in the book. Just quickly as we leave. Hillary Clinton, if she wins the Senate seat in New York, you say she's running for President."
Toobin: "You betcha. Her good friend Linda Bloodworth-Thomason likes to say that when Bill and Hillary Clinton are dead each one of them are gonna be buried next to a President of the United States."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Did she or didn't she? Did Hillary Clinton get help beforehand with the quiz answers she went five for five in answering from David Letterman Wednesday night? It seems to be a evolving story with her spokesman telling a different story to different reporters while Letterman's staff coyly avoids providing a definitive answer. Meanwhile, Hillary earned rave reviews from the media for her performance.

Below, in order of occurrence, are the varying answers I saw as to whether Hillary got a preview ahead of time of the quiz questions about the New York state bird, state tree, highest mountain range, Great Lakes which border the state and number of counties.

-- Adam Nagourney's news story in the January 13 New York Times:
"There were some of what might have seemed to the uninformed viewer to be challenging moments for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Letterman presented her with a pop quiz about New York arcana, asking whether she could name the state bird (the red-breasted blue bird), the state tree (the sugar maple) and which Great Lakes bounded on New York (Erie and Ontario). She answered all the questions correctly.
"Mr. Letterman's staff members said the quiz had been a surprise. Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, allowed that Mrs. Clinton might, in fact, have been given a sneak peek at the questions before she went on."

-- Wolfson appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America in the 7am half hour, allowing Diane Sawyer to pick up on that concession, but Wolfson changed his story, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed.
Sawyer: "We were laughing about the fact and talking about the fact that she got all six of those state questions right, but I noticed that you said in the New York Times this morning that Mrs. Clinton might in fact have been given a sneak peek at those questions beforehand, right?"
Wolfson: "Well, we told them that we had a Top Ten list, and they said they had a pop quiz for us, and we're glad that it went well."
Sawyer: "Did they say a pop quiz on the state and state issues? Did they show the actual questions?"
Wolfson: "They said a pop quiz, and, you know, I don't think anybody is gonna make an election decision based on who knows the state bird, but I think it went very well."
Sawyer: "But did they tell you the questions beforehand?"
Wolfson: "They gave us a sense that she'd be asked some tough questions on the state."
Sawyer: "Just in general..."
Wolfson: "Mmm hhmm." [nods]
Sawyer: "...but not specifically? [brief pause] Not specific questions?"
Wolfson: "Correct."

If only we had some "genetic" evidence.

-- Rick Leventhal in a story on FNC's 6pm ET Special Report with Brit Hume: "But it turns out Hillary had a little extra help. She was told about the quiz in advance. Letterman's producers explained they'd never ambush a guest because it's an entertainment show."

Seemingly alluding to this controversy, on Thursday's Late Show Letterman repeatedly referred to Executive Producer Rob Burnett as "H.R. 'Bob' Haldeman."

No matter what the deal on the quiz, she certainly had help with the Top Ten list she read, "Top Ten Reasons I, Hillary Clinton, Finally Decided to Appear on the Late Show." Kimberly Izzo of the Late Show told Scripps Howard News Service reporter Thomas Hargrove: "The 'Top Ten' list was a collaboration between her people and some of our writers."

Hillary's appearance earned the approval of CBS's Diana Olick, who gushed on Thursday's The Early Show: "Yes, the very serious candidate for the New York Senate was funny."
Letterman to Hillary on his show: "Somebody's been writing material for you haven't they?"
Olick: "Even if some of it did sound a little scripted, the fact was the First Lady turned candidate had taken the challenge. She even took a test."
Letterman: "Name New York's state bird."
Hillary: "Bluebird, I know that one."
Olick: "And passed. So why did she do it? Did it have to do with that poll this week where 58 percent of New Yorkers said she should do Letterman?"
Man on street: "If she does well on Letterman she'll be doing fine anywhere."
Olick: "Or was it Dave and his producer Rob Burnett whining about it every day for the last month?"
Burnett: "She finally had to take pity on us."
Olick: "No, it was simpler than that."
Hillary reading her Top Ten list, Top Ten Reasons I, Hillary Clinton, Finally Decided to Appear on The Late Show: "And number one, if I can make it here I can make it anywhere."
Olick: "And that was the real truth. Hillary Clinton needed to prove a point. The same poll this week showed that less than one half of New Yorkers asked had a favorable opinion of her. The campaign clearly needed to play a little PR and Letterman of course was the best game in town."

Back from the taped piece, co-host Jane Clayson asked: "Does a stunt like this change your image?"
Olick: "Well, it can't change your image entirely but she's been so serious on the issues she needed to show that she had another fun side to her."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)A viewer's guide for Saturday's Republican presidential debate in Iowa sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public TV. As recounted in previous CyberAlerts, as moderators of recent GOP debates NBC's Tim Russert and Brian Williams have demanded the candidates answer hostile questions from the left, but since neither man has moderated a Democratic debate it's not been possible to see whether they would have treated Democrats any differently.

Saturday's Iowa debate presents an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast two identical events sponsored by the same two entities. Last Saturday, Des Moines Register Editor Dennis Ryerson moderated a Democratic debate. On Saturday he takes on the Republicans.

So below, thanks to some help from MRC intern Ken Shepherd, are all the questions Democrats were asked on January 8 which you can compare to the types of questions posed to Republicans. As you'll notice, most are set-up questions, without an agenda, just prompting the candidates to address an issue. No controversies were raised, such as the Gore and Bradley statements days earlier about gays in the military and Gore was not asked about his past fundraising efforts. Keep that in mind if McCain or Bush are pressed about fundraising and/or McCain's FCC letters.

The Democrats were explicitly pressed from the left twice. An audience member asked about human services versus military spending and, reading a letter, the moderator asked about the supposed gender gap in pay. But neither candidate got a question from the right. Therefore, if the debate hosts follow the same standard, Republicans will not be asked any question from the left side of their party and should be pressed twice from the right.

Here are all the questions posed to the two Democrats last Saturday:

-- Ryerson: "One of the questions we received is from Margaret Rooney (sp?) of Des Moines. And here's what she wrote to me: 'My entire Social Security check, $702 a month, goes for health care expenses. $470 is spent on supplementary insurance -- I'm sorry, on prescription drugs; $182 is spent on supplemental insurance; and the last $50 is owed to an ambulance company which charged me $378 for a five-mile trip to the emergency room. Now, Medicare refused my claim, in spite of my doctor's writing two letters stating that my injury was a medical emergency. What are you prepared to do to help me?'"

-- Ryerson: "Here's an agriculture question from David Schoenbaum (sp?), who lives in Iowa City. He writes: 'Candidates from both parties have told The Des Moines Register that they support genetic engineering, something Iowa agriculture is heavily invested in. We're also heavily dependent on exports, as both of you know. But, genetically engineered products meet heavy resistance in European countries and in Japan. Now a century ago, we could deploy our ships and threaten to shoot if other nations didn't open up their markets. What can we do today?'"

-- Ryerson: "Let's go to another question from a reader now. This one's from Roger Sitterly (sp?) from Des Moines. And he wants to know, 'Under what circumstances should U.S. armed forces be used for international peacekeeping, and under whose command?'"

-- Question from a female community college students in the audience: "I'm studying for a position in the human services field, and this is one of the first areas to be cut when money gets tight. If we beef up the military, as many candidates are suggesting, where will we get money for human services and other important areas?"

-- Ryerson: "Here's a question from Ken Shy (ph). He's a retired school superintendent from Nevada, Iowa. 'If elected President, what would you do that would result in improved learning for all students in public school classrooms?'"

-- Male college student: "What would you intend to do about the increase in school violence, particularly the lack of guidance at home for children regarding what they see and hear?"

-- Ryerson: "Here's another question from a reader, Liz Gilbert (sp?) of Iowa Falls, and here's what she wrote to me. 'Regardless of who is President, monied corporate special interests still will lobby for and receive special favors where the so-called little guy is ignored. Why should the average American care what happens in this election?'"

-- Ryerson: "Here's one more question from a reader, and we won't have time for a rebuttal on this one. As you know, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that, for every dollar a man makes a woman makes something like 73 cents. Kathy Neale (sp?) of Ankanee (sp?) is president of the Business and Professional Women of Iowa. And she asks: 'As President, what would you do to ensure that working families do not suffer as a result of the gender wage gap?'"

Saturday's GOP debate in Iowa is at 1pm CT, 2pm ET, and will be carried live by CNN, C-SPAN, FNC and PBS.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)Ever imagine how the Revolutionary War might have been portrayed each nightgwashington0114.jpg (11517 bytes) by Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News? Well, a new A&E movie run Monday night and set to repeat Saturday night, offers a troubling projection.

Bottom line: Hired Hessian soldiers were no different in what they were fighting for than George Washington and the Continental Army's soldiers. But that spin is no surprise when you learn that the screenplay was written by a communist. Really. A man who regularly wrote for the Daily Worker and once penned a book titled, Being Red.

Before we get to the bias in question, a little history to catch everyone up. Here's how the A&E Web site describes their two hour movie starring Jeff Daniels as George Washington, which first ran Monday night:
"The Crossing recalls Washington's legendary evening attack against the British Army's German mercenaries, the Hessians, which changed the course of the Revolutionary War. It is December 17, 1776. Suffering from relentless attacks by the British Army and their German mercenaries, the Continental Army is exhausted. Due to death and desertion, General Washington's troop of ten thousand men has dwindled to a meager two thousand. Word has reached Washington that his demand for more military support has been denied by Congress. He must retreat. The general feels abandoned, cold, alone. Washington realizes that if he retreats the revolutions will be lost and so embarks upon the defining moment of his life. On Christmas Eve, Washington crosses the Delaware River and his troops launch a surprise attack on the Hessians. During the Battle of Trenton, the Germans are routed, the British Army stunned, and new life is given to the revolution."

A CyberAlert reader alerted me to an incredible scene which I confirmed actually was shown in the movie. In the battle the Hessian commander, Colonel Rall, is shot. Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene is sent to tell Washington he should see Rall before he dies.

As the two sit on horseback beside each other, viewers hear this exchange between actor David Ferry as General Greene and Jeff Daniels as Washington:

Greene: "General Washington, Colonel Rall is dying. General Mercer says you cannot let him die without speaking to him. It's a courtesy of war."
Washington: "Courtesy? There are no courtesies of war, Nathaniel. This is not a parlor game where I must pay my respects to that stinking mercenary who killed five hundred of my men in Brooklyn. Slaughtered them when they tried to surrender, skewered them in the backs with bayonets. You want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?"
Greene: "Our own cause is, at its heart, a fight against British taxation, is it not? In the end sir, we all kill for profit -- the British and the Hessians, and us."
Washington nods and is convinced by the argument, saying after a long pause: "Very well, Nathaniel. We must not let them think we're savages."

That's right, a rag-tag army fighting for freedom from onerous British taxation is really seeking "profit" on par with those hired to travel the world to fight wars. Who sees American history this way? Check out the bio on A&E's Web site for the movie's screenwriter, Howard Fast:
"In the '50s, Fast was blacklisted, and in May 1952 The New York Times reported intimidation of librarians across the nation by Legionnaires, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, and Minutemen in Texas and California. Fast's books were purged from school libraries. Citizen Tom Paine, formerly used as a school text, was banned from use in New York City schools. His 1990 memoir Being Red goes more deeply into the issue. You can read Fast's angry response to the injustices of the McCarthy era in his own Crisis Papers (1951). He also wrote a poetic eulogy, 'Never to Forget: The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto,' as well as pamphlets, journal articles, and columns for the Daily Worker, Masses & Mainstream, and other radical publications."

For the complete bio, go to:

The two hour movie, The Crossing, will run twice on Saturday night, January 15, at:
9pm and 1am ET
8pm and 12am CT
7pm and 11pm MT
6pm and 10pm PT

+++ Friday afternoon the MRC's Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the above movie exchange between Washington and Greene. Go to:


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)And while on politics in entertainment, check out this plot synopsis for tonight's (January 14) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as listed in the Washington Post's TV Week:
"Detectives Benson and Stabler hunt for the killer of a gay man whose father heads a conservative watchdog group."

Hmmm. Not "ripped from today's headlines" I hope.

Law & Order: SVU is a weekly drama on NBC focused on New York City police detectives who deal with sex crimes. It airs Friday's at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT. -- Brent Baker

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