CyberAlert -- 04/10/2000 -- Poor Better Off in Havana

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Poor Better Off in Havana; Mother's Fault; Award for Schieffer's Liberal Analysis

1) Quotes of the Weekend: Most Bizarre Quote (better to be poor in Havana than in Miami), Best Exchange (Clinton's lawbreaking "common ground" with Bill Gates), and Best Insult (Reno not "the brightest bulb on the circuit."). Plus, an honest headline.

2) NBC's Jim Avila blamed Elian's mother: "An extended family destroyed by a mother's decision to start a new life in a new country." She just didn't appreciate the Cuban "good life" and her "prestigious job" as a hotel maid.

3) An association of journalists awarded Bob Schieffer's often liberal Face the Nation commentaries for delivering "solid information...with perspective that provokes further thought."

4) "We should try that," FNC showed Bill Clinton saying to a woman beside him after comedian Darrell Hammond joked that Clinton is so charismatic that he could get away with telling a woman: "If you'd only...let me see you naked, there would be no more racism."

5) MediaNomics: "TV Reporters Aghast at Stock Slide, but Not At Government Prosecution of Microsoft," "Media Mavens Are Mum on Potential IRA Changes" and "Kudos to CNN's Brooks Jackson" for noting how the rich are paying a "greater share" of taxes.

>>> Attention New England readers, check out Jeff Jacoby's column in today's (Monday) Boston Globe: "Whitewashing Castro's Crimes." Jacoby picked up on bias detailed in CyberAlert last week and gave the MRC's Web site a nice plug. Highlighting a story by NBC's Jim Avila, Jacoby relayed some of Avila's reporting from Havana: "'Elian's future here is likely to be the Cuban good life lived by Communist Party elite,' Avila gushed, 'with perks like five free gallons of gasoline a month for the family, and a Cuban tradition called 'La Jaba' -- the bag -- which includes extra rice, beans, cooking oil, and sundries like deodorant, shampoo, razors, and shaving cream; about $15 a month worth of basics.'...
"As Brent Baker of the Media Research Center -- whose treasure-trove of a Web site,, transcribed much of Avila's report -- acidly comments: 'Wow. How could anyone resist the promise of $15 worth of shampoo, deodorant, and rice in a bag?'" [For the latest from Avila, see item #2 below.]
Jacoby dug back over a decade to show the long-time network pattern of admiring Castro: "In 1988, Kathleen Sullivan of CBS spent two days broadcasting from Cuba. The lack of freedom or democracy on the island she mentioned only in passing; her reports were filled instead with upbeat paeans to Fidel Castro's supposed achievements. 'This is a clinic,' she enthused in one segment. 'It is the heart of a health care system which has been called a 'revolution within a revolution.' Of all the promises made by Fidel Castro in 1959, perhaps the boldest was to provide quality health care free for every citizen.'"
Jacoby's column is distributed by the New York Times syndicate, so this column will run in paper's around the country this week. To read Jacoby's column online, go to: <<<


Quotes of the Weekend: Most Bizarre Quote, Best Exchange and Best Insult.

-- Most Bizarre Quote of the Weekend. From Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group, a claim we couldn't have dreamed up even for our April Fools edition:
"To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously."

Fellow panelist Michael Barone's reaction: "Oh Eleanor, for God's sake, please!"

-- Best Exchange of the Weekend. From CNN's April 8 Capital Gang, after host Mark Shields opened the discussion of the judge's ruling that Microsoft violated the Sherman Anti-trust Act by showing video of Bill Gates sitting next to Bill Clinton at a White House conference on the economy.

Shields: "Kate, why does the President of the United States sit down with a lawbreaker like Bill Gates?"
National Review Washington Editor Kate O'Beirne: "Maybe he feels there's some common ground there, Mark."

-- Best Insult of the Weekend. Brit Hume, Washington Managing Editor of Fox News, during the roundtable segment on the April 9 Fox News Sunday:
"This is an Attorney General who believes, I think, that sort of stubbornness is the same thing as integrity. I hate to say this about her but I don't think she's the brightest bulb on the circuit. I don't think that she's sitting in the room with Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has the wit about her to make a sensible judgment. She seems blind to the peculiarities of his behavior, she's had no commerce whatever with the people taking care of this boy even though they're American citizens. And my sense is she either made up her mind or had it made up for her by the White House early on in his that we were going to ship this boy back to Cuba and her idea for the right thing for an Attorney General to do is to execute the plan."

-- Most Honest Headline. From the Metro section of the April 7 Washington Post: "Million Mom March Hopes for 100,000."


NBC's Jim Avila didn't blame the split in Elian's family on Fidel Castro for maintaining a prison-like island country people are not allowed to leave by safe transport and so must resort to dangerous boats if they wish to escape to freedom. Instead, he placed the blame for the family's troubles on his mother for not appreciating the Cuban "good life" and her "prestigious job" as a hotel maid where she could earn "dollar tips." Indeed, he concluded an April 8 NBC Nightly News story by declaring: "An extended family destroyed by a mother's decision to start a new life in a new country."

Going back won't be so bad, Avila contended, as Elian's life in Cuba was "relatively easy by Cuban standards."

Avila's Saturday piece aired just four days after his April 4 story from Havana, cited above in the item on Jeff Jacoby's column, promising that if Elian returns to Cuba he and his family will become part of the "Cuban good life," with five gallons of gas a month, a monthly bag full of beans and deodorant, plus tickets to discos. (See the April 5 CyberAlert for details.)

For his April 8 piece from Havana, Avila relayed concerns from those working with Juan Miguel Gonzalez's lawyer that Elian may now be alienated from his father so the Gonzalez team wants the grandfather and Elian's Cardenes classmates to be present at the turnover. Avila added that the Miguel Gonzalez team thinks Elian will have to be removed by force from the Miami home.

Avila used that as a cue to review what brought Elian to his present situation: "A frightening ending predicted for the journey that began here on Cuban soil [video of beach] in the dark of night. A 30-year-old mother, Elizabeth Groton [sp?, picture of her holding Elian], who after seven miscarriages carried her only son, Elian, to a boat off the rocky shores ten miles from her lifelong home. Why did she do it? What was she escaping? By all accounts this quiet, serious young woman, who loved to dance the Salsa, was living the good life, as good as it gets for a citizen in Cuba."
Lizbeth Garcia "I didn't know that Elisa [that's what she called her] was leaving."
Avila elaborated: "Lizbeth Garcia, maid at the Hotel Paradiso [sp?], in Cuba's specially built foreign tourist haven, Baradaro [sp?], where Elian's mother worked with her side-by-side. In today's Cuba a maid, where dollar tips are to be had, is a prestigious job. Elian's life relatively easy by Cuban standards, living with mom and maternal grandparents half of the week [video of older man and woman pointing to a picture on top of a TV], in dad's well-furnished home the rest of the time. Both mom and dad friendly to each other and caring towards their only child [home video of mom and dad with Elian]."
Lizbeth: "As a mother she was exceptional. Her life was Elian, she didn't have anything else in mind but her son. She was a wonderful person."
Avila, over home video of a clown walking with Elian in front of a group of children, concluded: "An extended family destroyed by a mother's decision to start a new life in a new country, a decision that now leaves a little boy estranged from his father [home video on mom and dad walking with Elian] and forever separated from her."

Maybe she hoped to give her son a better life where being a maid isn't considered a "prestigious" top job but a step on an upward ladder to a better life where you don't have to live in fear.

As you can see from my above transcript, I'm challenged by how to spell Spanish words and names. But in watching FNC's Fox News Watch over the weekend I realized that it's not always easy to know how to pronounce the names of reporters cited in CyberAlert. Jeff Cohen of the far-left Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting corrected conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton's pronunciation of "Avila." As a public service, so no more conservatives must be corrected by a liberal, and since I bet I'll be quoting Avila quite a bit more, here's how you pronounce his name:
"Av," as in the first syllable of avenue; "i" as in ih, then "la." Put it all together and you have Av-ih-la, Avila.


Liberal advocacy awarded by a journalistic group. At last Thursday's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner, CBS's Bob Schieffer won the group's annual Joan Shorenstein Barone Award "for excellence in Washington-based national affairs reporting." A review of the work which earned him the honor shows how the media group rewarded using a network perch to promote liberal political views.

In announcing the winner at the April 6 dinner, Dan Rather explained how a panel of three members of the group "selected a journalist who every week delivers commentaries at the end of his broadcast with style and wit that contribute to the viewers understanding of issues great and small. This from the judge's themselves, who believe that Bob Schieffer's weekly end pieces on Face the Nation stand very much in the tradition of excellence the Barone Award seeks to recognize. The judges said they were impressed with the quote, 'grace of writing and depth of insight that marked the pieces' by my good friend and CBS News colleague Bob, 'pieces that offered solid information on a variety of issues on the national agenda with perspective that provokes further thought from the viewer.'"

The three judges, as listed by Rather live on C-SPAN: CBS News White House reporter Mark Knoller, NBC News producer Carol Ann Mears (sp?), and Fox News Channel Capitol Hill producer Jim Mills.

So, just what kind of analysis is believed to provide "solid information...with perspective that provokes further thought from the viewer"? Check of some of Schieffer's 1999 end-pieces cited in CyberAlert last year:

-- January 17. Protect the Constitution, don't vote to remove Clinton from office:
"Finally, last week the House prosecutors laid out the case for removing the President. They made a compelling argument. Still, their argument did not quite do it for me. As despicable as the President's behavior was, I am not yet convinced it poses a threat to the Constitution and to me that is the only reason we should even consider overturning the results of an election.
"....Bill Clinton set a bad example and will answer to history for it. But it is not his survival as President that matters the most. It is the survival of the Constitution."

-- April 25. Quayle's wrong, Columbine should be an excuse for gun control:
"The excuses are always different [after shootings], but one thing remains constant: People who had no business with guns somehow found them. The gun lobby assures us that stricter gun laws would not have prevented them and maybe they're right. But I know one thing. If the kids who walked into that high school had been armed with baseball bats or even knives, instead of guns, most of the children who died last week would still be alive. The bodies had not yet been removed when presidential candidate Dan Quayle, among others, told Chris Matthews, 'I hope we won't use this as an excuse to go and take away guns.' No offense, Mr. Quayle, but this ought to be an excuse, an excuse to get to the bottom of things like this and see that they never happen again."

-- July 11. Schieffer's dream: Hillary as Senator, Republicans all for campaign finance "reform" and Bill Clinton as a Sheriff using a limo to pull over speeders:
"This political season has started so early I've begun to dream about politics. Like the other night I dreamed Mrs. Clinton had already won the New York Senate race. Or I guess she had. Mayor Giuliani had replaced Ed Koch as the judge on that TV courtroom show. Anyway, after Mrs. Clinton won the Senate race she ran for President in my dream but she must of lost that one because in the next part of the dream she was trading her Yankee baseball cap for a Chicago Cubs cap, like she was trying to run for something out there. I never did figure out that part of it. But that dream was full of crazy stuff. There was one part where a group of Republican candidates came out for campaign finance reform. They said it was the only way they could compete with George Bush.
"But the weirdest part was about President Clinton. As the rumormongers had predicted, in my dream he did go back to Arkansas and run for the Senate. He lost the race but he kept his cool, bided his time and was eventually elected sheriff of Little Rock. Since there was a room over the jail he got to keep living in public housing and he became the first American sheriff with lifetime Secret Service protection. I woke up during the part where he was using his big Secret Service limo to track down a speeder. Well, it all left me a little shaky until I realized it was just a dream and nothing more. After all, things like that couldn't happen in real life, could they?"

-- October 10. Schieffer warned Senate conservatives not to vote down the nuclear test ban treaty:
"If you allow this treaty to come to a vote and it dies, as it surely will, a terrible and dangerous message will go out to the rest of the world, that America no longer cares about arms control. That could be a green light to restart the arms race, and that's why France, Great Britain and all of America's allies are urging you not to kill this treaty. If you think the treaty is flawed, fine, postpone the vote and rethink it all later.
"I know beating the President at his own game would be fun for you, but some things are just too serious for partisan victories. Besides, no one will remember the Democrats maneuvered you into all of this. They'll just remember Republicans killed a treaty that, according to the polls, most Americans wanted. And that's exactly the box Democrats were trying to put you in in the first place."

-- November 21. Congress wasn't liberal enough this session:
"On issue after issue, from gun control to overhauling campaign finance law to reforming HMOs and giving seniors access to prescription drugs, polls showed the public wanted action. But Congress, feeling the hot breath of the lobby, couldn't find a way to act....This one will go into the history books as the Congress that killed a nuclear test ban treaty most of the world wanted, but couldn't figure out how to do much else."


Comedian Darrell Hammond joked that Bill Clinton is so charismatic that he could get away with telling a woman: "If you'd only...let me see you naked, there would be no more racism." As uniquely shown by the Fox News Channel, after howling in laughter Clinton turned to a black woman sitting next to him and suggested: "We should try that."

The incident took place at Thursday's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner. While C-SPAN's cameras were focused on the speaker with cutaway shots of the audience, FNC had a hand-held camera up front aimed at Clinton to get his reactions to jokes told by Darrel Hammond, the Saturday Night Live star who impersonates Clinton.

Tony Snow, anchor of Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume, ended the program by showing viewers what they caught, playing video of this joke from Hammond:
"Everyone talks about Clinton's charisma, and I believe it's a true thing. I just can't stop thinking about the possibilities of having that sort of charisma where you could actually say to a woman, if you wanted, and get away with it, [impersonating Clinton's voice] 'You know, if you'd only take your clothes off and let me see you naked, there would be no more racism.'"

Clinton immediately started howling and clapping his hands before making a comment to the woman sitting beside him that you could not hear, followed by her saying something to him.

Snow explained: "Now, if you can read lips, you saw the President said, 'We should try that.' The woman next to him, Linda Scott of PBS's NewsHour, said, 'I don't think so.'"

++ Indeed, you can make out how that's just what each said. See for yourself. Monday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of what FNC showed. Go to:


The April 7 MediaNomics, from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), is now online. The articles written and researched by FMP Director Rich Noyes:

-- TV Reporters Aghast at Stock Slide, but Not At Government Prosecution of Microsoft.
After Tuesday's market turmoil, the network evening newscasts tried to explain the frenzied selling by pointing to the usual suspects: inflated stock values, margin calls, uncertainty over the Federal Reserve's next action. Only one correspondent -- CNBC's Ron Insana -- pointed to the government's pursuit of Microsoft as a cause for the plunge in prices, even though the selling had obviously accelerated after negotiations between the company and government lawyers failed over the weekend.

-- Media Mavens Are Mum on Potential IRA Changes.
If you listen to the media, it's a "national calamity" that Americans don't save enough of their income for their retirement years. Last month, a bipartisan group of congressmen proposed boosting the amount individuals can set aside in tax-deductible retirement accounts -- but, in spite of their professed worry about national savings rates, the media have generally failed to report the story.

-- CNN's Brooks Jackson.
Among the media's most enduring myths is the one about how Ronald Reagan's 1981 across-the-board tax cuts shifted more of the burden of paying federal income taxes to the middle class. CNN's Brooks Jackson showed that the rich pay a far greater share of the nation's taxes now than they were when Reagan took office, even though the top tax rates are far lower than they were 20 years ago.

To read these articles, go to where they've been posted by Webmaster Andy Szul:

For e-mail notification of the latest Free Market Project articles and special reports, send an email to:

Can't think of any humorous last line, so that's all for today's CyberAlert. -- Brent Baker

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