CyberAlert -- 04/13/1998 -- Big Tobacco Should Go Out of Business

Big Tobacco Should Go Out of Business; Al Gore, Please Save Us

1) CBS News reporter Jim Stewart doesn't understand why the tobacco companies don't want to go out of business.

2) ABC gave Peter Jennings a prime time forum to promote Al Gore as a visionary out to save us from global warming and junk science "reminiscent of the tobacco industry's efforts to persuade Americans that cigarette smoking didn't cause lung cancer."

3) Only FNC reported the "psychic" history of the woman making the Hale accusation. CNN and NBC ignored the dirt digging threat from a Democratic official while ABC used its airwaves to relay some.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)The Question of the Weekend, from Sunday's Face the Nation. CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart to Steven Parrish, Senior VP of Philip Morris:

"That's the trump card you've been playing all these days, saying we could go out of business. You went into the negotiations with the state attorneys general because you said all these lawsuits could drive you into bankruptcy. Let me ask you, why would that be such a bad idea if a few of you guys did go out of business?"

Stewart's follow-ups showed he really doesn't see why a business would be upset by being forced to shut down. Next he asked:

"Let me make the question more specific to you. Would if be bad for Philip Morris if RJR Reynolds went out of business.... Wouldn't your market share just go up?"

And then: "If you go out of business somebody else just takes over and the industry continues. What's the premise of the threat?"

Following his own logic, he shouldn't be upset if CBS tanks because then ABC, Fox and NBC get bigger and "the industry continues."

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)"The Apocalypse and Al Gore," an ABC News Saturday Night hour hosted by Peter Jennings delivered a one-sided diatribe about how Al Gore is trying to save us from a disaster we're all too short-sighted or selfish to realize. The plug on the Web site accurately reflected what ABC aired on April 11:

"The ferocity of this year's El Nino, which spawned deadly tornadoes in Florida, devastating storms in California, and brought the fury of Hurricane Pauline to Acapulco, may be an omen of a more permanent climatic disaster -- global warming. In a new ABC News special, Peter Jennings reports on one man's 30-year crusade to put global warming on the national agenda."

Another page showed maps displaying Miami, New York and San Francisco, suggesting: "Click a city to see a video simulation of what would happen in these three cities if the sea level rose one meter -- as many scientists predict the sea level may if global warming persists."

This page continued: "Forecasts can't be proven accurate until the weather starts to change. But scientists who've studied the evidence of global warming warn that the winds of apocalypse are stirring, and unless we act soon, we face a climate catastrophe.

"There is mounting evidence that we have begun changing Earth's climate: increased water vapor in the atmosphere; accelerated shrinkage of glaciers and polar ice caps; more frequent and severe floods and droughts; the spread of tropical diseases like malaria; and rising sea levels-between 4 and 10 inches since 1900...."

(To see these pages go to, pick "on air shows," and then select ABC News Saturday Night.)

The show assumed Al Gore's fears are correct and disparaged contrary views when they were even mentioned. The one-hour 10pm ET/PT program consisted of four parts. First, a presentation of the evidence for how man causes global warming and how Al Gore has been out in front confronting the issue. ABC highlighted the summit of TV meteorologists at the White House last year, allowing them to discuss how global warming "could be devastating," but did not mention contrary views.

Second, how self-interested industry corrupts science, just like the tobacco industry did for years. Third, how the recent weather in the Midwest proves global warming has a disastrous impact. Fourth, how union members in industrial areas have joined with industry to fight any effort to limit greenhouse gasses because they are scared more by the loss of jobs than by climatic change, but that's a very short-sighted view.

Here are some highlights from the April 11 show:

-- Explaining that what Al Gore "fears most is how unstable" the Earth is becoming, Jennings cited the 1995 Chicago heat wave, the 1996 fires in the Southwest and floods in Eastern Europe and the 1997 typhoon in China. Jennings asserted:

"Many scientists fear that global warming will cause these record-breaking disasters to become more frequent and even more extreme. However, scientists cannot say yet with any certainty that any single weather disaster is in fact caused by global warming....Vice President Gore's critics exploit this scientific uncertainty."

Jennings didn't bother presenting the case from critics. Instead he discredited them by portraying them as self-interested, a conflict of interest perspective he never raised with global warming advocates. Jennings intoned:

"Bill O'Keefe is a lobbyist for a coalition of oil, coal, and car companies. They call themselves the Global Climate Coalition, but they are some of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses."

Jennings to O'Keefe: "Why do you think it is that the industries most responsible for global warming are the most skeptical about the science?"

O'Keefe made the correct point that most CO2 comes from natural sources, to which Jennings shot back while smirking: "Are you suggesting that the climate change is effected by the plants rotting and us breathing?"

Jennings proceeded to ridicule the scientists cited by the coalition, using Gore as the expert at defining junk science:

"University of Arizona climatologist Robert Balling (sp?) is the kind of scientist the fossil fuel industry likes to fund and Balling concedes that some of his financial backers have an agenda."

After a soundbite of Balling saying a coal company can't control his science, Jennings insisted:

"But the work of some industry-funded scientists is sometimes used to create what amounts to propaganda. Listen to this coal industry video which claimed that a doubling of carbon dioxide is a good thing."

Video: "Crop plants will continue to grow more productively, forests will extend their ranges, grasses will grow where none grow now and great tracks of barren land will be reclaimed."

Jennings: "Al Gore calls this junk science, reminiscent of the tobacco industry's efforts to persuade Americans that cigarette smoking didn't cause lung cancer."

-- To illustrate the impact of global warming and how the public just isn't smart enough to realize how Gore is trying to save them, Jennings looked at Smith Island in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay:

"On Smith Island we find two of the most common effects of global warming. One, the sea level is rising, in this case causing Smith Island to drown. And two, the residents here, like most Americans, refuse to believe that global warming is the problem."

Following clips of two residents saying they don't believe global warming is making their island smaller, Jennings scolded:

"This kind of indifference drives Gore crazy and is why many people think the United States will never solve the problem of global warming. Influenced by industry, or perhaps just resistant to change, Americans are reluctant to confront an environmental problem where no one can tell them precisely how or when disaster will strike."

-- Concluding a segment that included some rare criticism of Gore, from the left for compromising too much at Kyoto, Jennings declared:

"Which is not bad news for the fossil fuel industry. More debate, more opportunity to delay action. 1997 was the hottest year on record."

-- Jennings concluded the show with this dire warning of impending doom:

"We leave you with one additional thought. More greenhouse gasses are being spewed into the atmosphere than ever before, particularly from the developing world and it takes the Earth more than a hundred years to recycle every pound of carbon dioxide that man puts up there. So if the world puts off doing something until all the scientists agree, it may be too late to fix the problem."

If only we would realize that Al Gore is trying to save us.

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Friday night the broadcast networks again skipped any scandal update, but FNC did note the psychic background the woman claiming Scaife and the American Spectator paid-ff David Hale. Saturday's Washington Times story on how a Democratic official threatened to spread dirt about Republicans generated a few seconds on CBS and a neutral story on Sunday on ABC. Here are some highlights from weekend coverage:

-- Friday, April 10:

On CNN's The World Today at 10pm ET Bob Franken looked at the Hale charge: "The question is can independent counsel Ken Starr fairly investigate his own operation." Franken outlined the charge about how money supposedly flowed from the "staunchly conservative American Spectator magazine" to Hale. A CNN/Time poll, Franken noted, found 54 percent say Starr's report will be biased.

Over on FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report David Shuster added something new to his piece on the DOJ asking Starr to investigate Hale who "is accused of receiving twenty and fifty dollar bills while a government witness from a fishing buddy of his who was on the payroll of American Spectator magazine. The magazine has received financial help from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a conservative and a Clinton critic who is also the key backer of a public policy school at Pepperdine University where Starr plans to teach after the investigation..."

Pointing out that all involved deny the allegation, Shuster continued: "The only eyewitness against Hale is a young man with a police record. His accusations were repeated, however, by his mother who once worked in Arkansas as a psychic and fortune-teller..."

-- "Clinton Backer Digs Dirt on GOP: DNC Official Gets Goods on Divorces," announced a Saturday headline on the front page of the Washington Times. Donald Lambro disclosed:

"A Democratic National Committee official is investigating the personal life of GOP members on the House Judiciary Committee and will disseminate the information if they begin impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

"'Many of the House Judiciary members are divorced, and their divorce papers contain a lot of interesting information, and we'll be sharing that with the American people,' said Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committeeman from California and chief spokesman for the state party..."

Saturday night ABC, NBC and CNN's The World Today failed to pick up on the story. CNN anchor Laurie Dhue did find time to mention that Marcia Lewis, Monica's mother, got married. On the CBS Evening News Paula Zahn took 18 seconds to report:

"A top California Democrat said today he is looking for skeletons in the closets of Republican House Judiciary members. If the panel begins impeachment proceedings against President Clinton Democratic Committee Chairman Bob Mulholland says he will use the information he finds. The White House says it disapproves of his effort."

Bill Plante then checked in with an update on Paula Jones, reporting that she'll announce Thursday whether she will appeal. Plante observed: "According to sources, if Jones continues her legal fight, these three judges from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals would more than likely hear her case. They are all Republicans appointed by Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush...."

-- Sunday night the Master's golf tournament bumped the CBS Evening News in the east, NBC did not air a word about any Clinton scandal, but ABC caught up with the Mulholland threat.

Anchor Carole Simpson offered this judgment-free announcement:

"A Democratic Party official warned this weekend that if Republicans open impeachment hearings on President Clinton, he'll expose their own moral failings."

Reporter Mike Von Fremd explained: "Mulholland says he's doing it all on his own to expose the moral hypocrisy of some of those who would be holding impeachment hearings."

Mulholland: "Republicans are not members of the College of Cardinals, getting ready to pick the next Pope. I mean these Republicans have as bad behavior in many cases as many people in Hollywood."

Noting that Mulholland has his sights on Bob Barr, Von Fremd let Mulholland assert: "He's on his third family and I find it ironic that Bob Barr would be making a lot of accusations against the President of the United States on morals."

Von Fremd did run a defiant soundbite from Barr and let RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson denounce "ugly smear tactics," but ABC's story hardly painted Mulholland as a mean-spirited smear artist since Von Fremd let Mulholland denounce Barr.

From Mulholland's point of view, mission accomplished. -- Brent Baker

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