CyberAlert -- 03/24/2000 -- Just Seconds for E-Mail

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Just Seconds for E-Mail; Catholics & the Holocaust; "I Hope We Kill Bush"

1) White House e-mail scandal brought front and center by House hearing. CNN, CBS and FNC jumped on it Thursday night, ABC gave it 20 seconds, NBC a mere 16 seconds. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams ignored it, spending 11 minutes with the Ramsey's.

2) The Washington Times reported the e-mail scandal weeks ago and Sam Donaldson actually brought it up on last Sunday's This Week.

3) FNC's Brit Hume uniquely relayed how in the case of Democratic fundraiser Pauline Kanchanalak "the Clinton-appointed judge pushed the trial back until after the elections in November."

4) On FNC Fred Barnes pointed out how McCain's attack on Gore over campaign finance went largely unreported. "The networks, now that he's attacking left, treated it as non-news."

5) ABC and CNN used Speaker Hastert's compromise pick of a Catholic priest as House chaplain as a chance to once again bring up George W. Bush's visit to Bob Jones University.

6) In the midst of praising the Pope, CBS raised, in Dan Rather's words, "the heavily chronicled accusation that the war-time Pope, Pius the 12th, turned a blind eye to what was going on in the concentration camps." That followed a 60 Minutes piece Sunday.

7) Reporters for major media outlets, The Weekly Standard's Tucker Carlson relayed, slipped "into the habit of referring to the McCain campaign as 'we' -- as in, 'I hope we kill Bush.'"

8) NBC reported the gun in an Ohio school incident was stored with a trigger lock. But the kid unlocked it with a key.

>>> MagazineWatch, about the March 27 editions, is now online. This latest issue compiled by the MRC's Tim Graham examines these topics:
1. Newsweek reported that a still-secret memo by FBI Director Louis Freeh argued Justice Department lawyers went soft on Al Gore. U.S. News & World Report arrived late with a report on former Justice investigator Charles LaBella, and was the only magazine to give a report on independent counsel Robert Ray's investigations of the White House.
2. Time and Newsweek deplored National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre for claiming President Clinton exploits school shootings, but ignored Clinton's March 2 claim that other countries have fewer gun deaths "because they don't have an NRA in their country." U.S. News revealed "The administration is refusing to fund a Secret Service program to help educators and local cops identify potential school killers."
3. Time and Newsweek offered a more balanced assessment of the state of education policy. Time's Eric Pooley listed pluses and minuses of the George W. Bush approach, while Newsweek's Lynette Clemetson explored both sides of the school-voucher debate.
4. Newsweek film critic David Ansen's political take on the Oscars: "The likely triumph of 'American Beauty' -- the Al Gore of the race -- bodes well for the Democrats."
To read these items, go to: <<<

Corrections: A table of contents listing in the March 22 CyberAlert plugged an item on how "NBC's The West Wing delivered scenes linking census sampling advocates to the Constitution's definition of blacks as 3/5ths a person...." That should have read "linking census sampling opponents to..." Thursday's CyberAlert Special misspelled the first half of Northrop-Grumman with a u, as in Northrup. (CNN's on-screen graphic Thursday night misspelled it as "Northup.")


The latest White House-related scandal to arise didn't interest ABC, MSNBC or NBC very much Thursday night. The House Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Thursday with current and former Northrop-Grumman employees, who oversaw maintenance of White House computers, about how they discovered e-mails which were not handed over in response to subpoenas and that they felt threatened by officials to not alert anyone to the problem. The same day the Justice Department announced a probe of the matter.

ABC's World News Tonight ignored the hearing but gave the Justice Department announcement 20 seconds. Ditto for NBC Nightly News which managed to squeeze the Justice announcement into 16 seconds. But those shows at least mentioned the subject. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, an hour-long program, spent 11 minutes replaying a Katie Couric interview with the Ramsey's but couldn't find any time for the e-mail story.

ABC's Peter Jennings anchored from Jerusalem with Kevin Newman back in New York, who took 20 seconds to announce: "The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into accusations the White House hid some electronic mail from Justice Department investigators. The e-mails may have concerned the campaign finance and Monica Lewinsky scandals. The White House says they were accidentally lost, but Republicans say the White House used intimidation to cover up the mistake."

Similarly, Tom Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News from Jerusalem before throwing the show back to Brian Williams in New York who consumed 16 seconds in relaying: "The Justice Department announced today it has opened a criminal investigation into White House e-mails. Specifically this, did the administration withhold any e-mails that were requested by Ken Starr or the congressional investigators looking into the Clinton-Gore campaign?"

ABC and NBC dedicated much of their shows to the Pope's visit to Israel, but both still put a higher priority on some less than pressing stories. ABC, for instance, spent more than two minutes on a piece about Sacramento and California other school districts where teachers visit parents at home. NBC devoted 2:30 to how Chelsea Clinton is "getting rave reviews" in India. Bob Kur relayed: "She's the one everybody's talking about. From day one, off on her own at a festival, India's people and press praise the 20-year-old's poise, her grace and reverence and her affection for her father, even that she's a vegetarian..." Kur featured this from Lisa Caputo, the former Press Secretary to the First Lady and one-time flack for CBS: "Chelsea Clinton's privacy protection has been one of the great untold success stories of the Clinton administration and it's a testament to great parenting on the part of both the President and Mrs. Clinton."

On the e-mail story, the CBS Evening News ran a piece by Bob Schieffer, and CNN's Inside Politics led with a story on the Justice Department angle from Pierre Thomas followed by a live discussion with reporter Bob Franken who filed a taped piece for the 8pm ET The World Today. The piece by Thomas did not air at 8pm, but Franken's story ran up top just after reports on the Pope.

Rita Cosby filed stories for FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report. In concluding her Special Report piece, Cosby uniquely raised the possibility that the Justice probe could shut down public disclosure: "Meantime, in addition to launching its criminal inquiry, the Justice Department filed a motion asking a federal judge to block the production of all e-mail related documents in a separate civil suit. The independent counsel's office agreed with the Justice Department's move, saying the civil investigation could also interfere with its own inquiry."

We wouldn't even know about the whole matter if it were not for the Judicial Watch civil suit on behalf of one of the former Northrop-Grumman employees.

Jim Moret, anchor of CNN's The World Today, set up Franken's story: "A new round of ethical questions for the Clinton White House. This time, the focus is a batch of e-mails subpoenaed by Congress several years ago, including some which belong to Vice President Gore's own e-mail account."

Franken began: "These missing e-mails cover a period of time that has been under close scrutiny, 1996 to 1999, when investigations into campaign finance abuses and the Monica Lewinsky affair were in full gear. By all accounts, the problem began in August 1996 as a mundane computer foul-up.
"Someone at the White House apparently typed an entry using upper-case keys when lower case should have been used. This typo, in turn, caused tens of thousands of incoming e-mails to bypass the system that would have recorded their contents, and they were not turned over when subpoenaed. Now accusations are flying that the White House took advantage of the glitch to withhold important evidence and is delaying recovery of the material from backup tapes. The first congressional hearing on the subject featured testimony from Northrop Grumman employees charged with fixing the problem. They allege White House officials told them to keep the topic quiet."

Betty Lambuth, Northrop-Grumman: "They did tell me that if any of us did talk about this, they basically threatened us that my staff would be fired, would go to jail."
Franken added: "Some of the private employees said they had not heard the threat, and White House officials denied making it."
Mark Lindsay, Director, White House Management and Administration Office: "I can state to you quite emphatically and quite clearly, it's not something that I did, it's not something that I would condone, and it's not something that I would ever permit to happen."
Franken: "Republicans repeated accusations the White House may have illegally withheld the information."
Rep. Dan Burton: "The White House counsel's office has known since sometime in 1998 that they were not in compliance with subpoenas from us, the Justice Department and the independent counsels."
Franken concluded: "In prepared testimony, White House counsel Beth Nolan said, 'We have found no evidence that anyone in the executive office of the President attempted to withhold or hide responsive e-mail records.' Her actual appearance before the committee was postponed."

++ See what witness Betty Lambuth looks like and watch Franken's story. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of it. Go to: http://www/

So what did viewers on the March 23 News with Brian Williams on MSNBC learn about instead of the e-mail scandal? Here's a rundown of the show:
-- Pope in Israel, followed by interview of Pope biographer Carl Bernstein.
-- 12-year-old who held class a gunpoint in Lisbon, Ohio.
-- Andrea Mitchell on the costs of Hillary's air travel, plus condemnations of Giuliani for his defense of the police in the latest police-involved shooting (Hillary part of this story also aired on NBC Nightly News.)
-- 5:20 for an interview with Congressmen backing Giuliani and Hillary.
-- 1:50 for a story on how the Coast Guard is using speed boats to catch drug smugglers.
-- 11:00 for a replay of the fourth daily installment of Katie Couric's week-long series of Today interviews with the Ramsey's. The topic, in the words of anchor Brian Williams, "what it's like to be considered murder suspects."
-- 4:00 for an interview with an AAA spokesman about gas prices and tips for using less gas.
-- 3:50 for a taped story on people in the LA area and elsewhere who rent their homes to movie-makers for shoots.


Before Thursday only the Washington Times was tracking the e-mail story, though ABC's Sam Donaldson did raise it last Sunday on This Week.

Back on March 10 Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper reported:

Five Northrop Grumman employees were so intimidated by White House threats of jail that one was nearly fired when she refused to tell her own bosses about the administration's failure to turn over thousands of e-mail messages under subpoena.

Newly obtained information shows the White House threatened to have the five employees jailed after they found -- and reported -- a glitch in the White House computer system that prevented the discovery of more than 100,000 White House messages involving campaign finance abuses, Monica Lewinsky, "Chinagate" and "Filegate."

The threat came from Laura Crabtree, White House customer-support branch chief, during a June 15, 1998, meeting in her office after the discovery by Northrop Grumman of the computer glitch, according to lawyers and others familiar with the growing scandal. She told the employees the matter was "extremely sensitive," warned them not to tell anyone about it without explicit authorization and said the consequences would be a "jail cell."...

The glitch was first discovered in May 1998 when Northrop Grumman employees traced a programming error on one of four White House servers back to August 1996. The error involved e-mail to and from 464 White House computer users. The problem was not fixed until November 1998....

The Northrop Grumman employees discovered that because one of the e-mail servers was named "Mail2" instead of "MAIL2" and because some components of the system were case-sensitive, the incoming messages to the users of "Mail2" were not collected between September 1996 and November 1998....

END Excerpt

This past Sunday, March 19, Sam Donaldson raised the subject with independent counsel Robert Ray:
Donaldson: "One more question on this, Judicial Watch claims you would not meet with its whistle blowers who say that there were thousands of e-mails that might contain evidence of criminal activity in this matter that have been suppressed by the White House?"
Ray: "The e-mail issue is an important one to our investigation, and we will take appropriate action with regard to the remaining aspects of our jurisdiction. We will consider it in that light. But with respect to the FBI files matter, I thought it important once we made the judgment that no prosecutions would be brought, that it was appropriate with regard to that aspect of our jurisdiction that we inform the country and we close that matter."
Donaldson: "So the e-mail matter is still open?"
Ray: "That's correct."


E-mail wasn't the only Clinton-related scandal development this week, as FNC's Brit Hume uniquely updated viewers about a figure involved in 1996 Democratic fundraising. On the March 23 Special Report with Brit Hume he disclosed:
"Another Democratic fundraiser involved in the 1996 campaign finance scandals won't have her day in court until after the 2000 presidential election. A federal judge in Washington has postponed the trial of Pauline Kanchanalak, who was indicted in 1998 for fraud, conspiracy and other charges, after allegedly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to the Democratic National Committee. Documents obtained by Fox News indicate the head of the Justice Department's campaign finance task force asked for a delay until September, but the Clinton-appointed judge pushed the trial back until after the elections in November."


Unlike ABC, CBS and NBC, as noted in the March 22 CyberAlert, Tuesday night FNC and CNN reported how John McCain attacked Al Gore on campaign finance reform. Wednesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume roundtable panelist Fred Barnes raised the issue of how the media skipped McCain's attack. As transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Hume asked on the March 22 show:
"We talked on this broadcast last time about the question of whether when McCain turns his guns on campaign finance on Vice President Gore, whether the megaphone that, which seemed to, to magnify everything he said on the campaign trail when he was hitting out at George W. Bush and others would be present. Fred?"

Barnes replied: "As predicted, and contrary to what Mort [Kondracke] said last night, now that McCain is attacking Al Gore on campaign finance reform the mainstream press has decided to ignore it. Nothing on ABC, NBC, CBS, one paragraph buried in a New York Times story, one paragraph buried in a USA Today story, zip in the Los Angeles Times. There was a story in the Washington Post. They covered it. And what was obviously the news from McCain's return to the Senate, all of a sudden, it was almost man bites dog. This was the first time he started attacking Gore. He did vigorously attack Gore, and the networks, now that he's attacking left, treated it as non-news."

Barnes later added: "My point was, strictly, that while McCain was attacking to the right and attacking Bush, he got lavish publicity."
Hume: "And even attacking Clinton he got publicity."
Barnes: "But attacking Gore, which is an attack to the left, yesterday zip, or practically zip. The Washington Post did fine."
Hume: "Well, the Washington Post was on page 10."
Barnes: "Well, they beat everyone else, practically, covering it."

Yes, at least they mentioned it.


Another chance to portray Republicans and conservatives as anti-Catholic. ABC and CNN used House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Thursday announcement that he'd picked a Chicago priest as the new House chaplain, thus ending a controversy over the House leadership's selection of a protestant over another Catholic priest, as an opportunity to remind viewers of Bush going to Bob Jones University.

Neither story pointed out how past Democratic Speakers had not picked a Catholic chaplain either, not even the Catholic Tip O'Neill, nor did ABC and CNN mention questions about the qualifications of the passed-over Catholic priest.

Thursday's World News Tonight, which dedicated 20 seconds to the e-mail controversy, allocated 1:38 to the chaplain pick. Linda Douglass asserted: "Father Daniel Coughlin's appointment was meant to diffuse a growing political crisis in the Republican Party, which has been battling charges of anti-Catholic bias on several fronts."

Douglass explained how a search committee late last year recommended a Catholic priest but House leaders instead picked a Presbyterian minister. Douglass drove home: "Catholic groups were outraged, their fury grew after George W. Bush's controversial speech to Bob Jones University whose leader has called Catholicism a cult. Today, a visible angry Hastert said he deeply resented suggestions that he and his party are anti-Catholic."

After a soundbite from Hastert, she concluded: "Catholic groups say the whole episode remains troubling, but GOP leaders think they may have solved their problem with the target audience, the 25 percent of voters who are Catholic."

Over on CNN's The World Today, reporter Chris Black also recalled Bob Jones: "Charges of Republican anti-Catholicism grew louder after GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, a school whose President compares the Catholic Church to a cult."

Last month Senior Staff Writer Justin Torres discovered there may have been good reasons for House leaders to have picked someone other than the finalist Catholic priest. He reported:
"The controversy has generated arguments focusing on qualifications for the post and charges of religious bias, but an investigation by into Father O'Brien's background reveals a profile of a political professional with long ties to Capitol Hill and Washington's lobbyist community whose experience in politics greatly eclipses his pastoral background."
To read the story in full, go to:\\Religion\\archive\\REL20000210b.html


But who is really anti-Catholic, conservative politicians or network producers who keep trying to implicate the Catholic Church with the holocaust? ABC avoided the subject, but both CBS and NBC raised it Thursday night, though in the midst of glowing tributes to the Pope's efforts at reconciliation with Jews.

Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News from Jerusalem: "It was the most solemn moment of Pope John Paul's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today he became the first Pope to see Israel's holocaust memorial and honor the memory of the millions of Jews who suffered and died under Nazi persecution. His words could not, did not heal all wounds but the Pope's presence in that dark place was electrifying."

After showing some of the Pope's remarks and the positive response fro Israeli Prime Minister Barak, Rather ran this soundbite from "chief rabbi" Ysrael Meir Lau: "We have to say more. I'm a little bit disappointed that there was no condemning of the silence."
Rather explained: "The silence the chief rabbi is talking about is the heavily chronicled accusation that the war-time Pope, Pius the 12th, turned a blind eye to what was going on in the concentration camps."

Reporter Alan Pizzey next talked with a Polish holocaust survivor who thought the Catholic church had not atoned for the holocaust, though he was saved by Catholics, but now thinks the Pope has gone far enough.

Rather ended the show: "The quiet grace of Pope John Paul II kneeling at the birthplace of Jesus in prayer, and his solemn humility in the presence of a monstrous evil remembered, raised these past few days into vivid relief, even set against such a complex and multi-layered backdrop. The Pope's pilgrimage could have been little more than an elaborate tour of historical sites. Instead, John Paul made it a worthy part of history."

From Jerusalem Tom Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News:
"A cool and rainy night in Jerusalem. This was a day quite unlike any other in the history of Israel, a Jewish state born out of the holocaust. Pope John Paul II, the 79 year-old head of the Roman Catholic church, the church that's been criticized by Jews for its silence on the great tragedy of the holocaust, today Pope John Paul went to Yad Vashem, the national holocaust memorial, and he spoke of sadness and sorrow, pain and memory. It was for everyone a deeply emotional occasion, if not altogether satisfying to all."

Reporter Martin Fletcher concluded his subsequent story: "This evening Jewish leaders said Pope John Paul II is the greatest friend Jews have ever had in the Catholic Church and they say if only he'd been Pope during the Second World War and the Catholic Church had spoken out against the holocaust instead of remaining silent."

I know little about debate over the Catholic Church during World War II, so will defer to others though I know these charges disturb many Catholics. This week MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell penned a column taking apart a March 19 60 Minutes piece relaying the views of John Cornwell, author of a book titled "Hitler's Pope." The MRC's Tim Graham uncovered how Newsweek's religion reporter discredited Cornwell last year.

Here's an excerpt from the column:

The low point came when Bradley explained: "Cornwell says that the turning point in his research came when he found a letter written by the future pope when he was a papal representative in Germany after the First World War. In it, he poured scorn on the physical characteristics of a group of Jewish socialists, describing their leader as 'pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and sly.'"

Then Cornwell dragged out the smears: "It was the sort of expression that would -- one would find in Mein Kampf during the same period." Ed Bradley underlined his emphasis: "So you're saying that what Hitler wrote would have been similar to what Pius XII -- the man who would become Pius XII -- wrote?" Cornwell: "Absolutely."

This was hardly the verdict of Newsweek religion specialist Kenneth Woodward, who reviewed Hitler's Pope last fall. He not only called Cornwell's charge of Pope Pius's anti-Semitism "bizarre," he called the book "a classic example of what happens when an ill-equipped journalist assumes the airs of sober scholarship...Errors of fact and ignorance of context appear on all most every page. Cornwell questions [Pope Pius's] every motive, but never doubts those who tell a different story. This is bogus scholarship, filled with nonexistent secrets, aimed to shock."

Woodward explained that Cornwell ignored how Allied planes dropped 88,000 copies of the Pope's first encyclical over Germany hoping to get his guarded anti-Nazi message to the people. He also noted Cornwell acknowledges that Pius XII put himself and the Catholic Church in danger by secretly aiding a 1940 plot to overthrow Hitler. Do these sound to anyone like the record of "Hitler's Pope"?

END Excerpt

To read the entire column, go to:


Reporters saw themselves as part of the McCain team. After Super Tuesday some readers e-mailed me about how Maria Shriver used the word "we" in saying something like, in reference to the McCain campaign, how "we hope he doesn't lose." I checked and found she never said any such thing on MSNBC on Super Tuesday. But that sentiment was held by many reporters, The Weekly Standard's Tucker Carlson reported in a March 27 story, "On the Road: From New Hampshire to California, a Diary of the Real McCain Campaign."

Carlson relayed what he discovered in his travels with McCain:
"The Bush campaign complains that McCain's style and personality have caused many reporters to lose their objectivity about him. The Bush campaign is onto something.
"There are reporters who call McCain 'John,' sometimes even to his face and in public. And then there are the employees of major news organizations who, usually at night in the hotel bar, slip into the habit of referring to the McCain campaign as 'we' -- as in, 'I hope we kill Bush.'"

McCain may be out of the race, but I bet the media's desire to beat Bush hasn't changed.


Those vaunted trigger locks don't prevent anything. In a March 23 NBC Nightly News story on a 12-year-old boy who held his class in Lisbon, Ohio at gunpoint, but gave the loaded gun to a teacher before hurting anyone, Jim Avila pointed out:
"His father says the gun was stored safely with a trigger lock, but police say the boy found the key."

Shocking. Trigger locks won't prevent the misuse of guns. Let's see how many other news stories note this fact about the Ohio incident.

Maybe we need mandatory safes for the storage of keys to trigger locks. -- Brent Baker

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