CyberAlert -- 04/21/2000 -- McCain Applauded

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McCain Applauded; DiCaprio's ABC Frog Pond; SUV Dumped for Hybrid; "Oh, Mr. President!"

1) ABC's Peter Jennings insisted Columbine "shattered the nation a year ago today," but other than a story tying "rampage" killers to the availability of "high-powered guns," the networks resisted pushing gun control. CBS and NBC led with Juan Miguel's comments.

2) NBC's Matt Lauer picked up on a charge from Castro's regime "that armed gunmen are positioned somewhere in the neighborhood in Little Havana" who will prevent Elian's reunion with his father.

3) A night after CNN and NBC highlighted the "mansion" with a slide awaiting Elian in Havana, MSNBC took a look.

4) CBS and NBC welcomed John McCain's switch on the Confederate flag. Tom Brokaw prompted him to "set the record straight" and applauded him for how he did "something highly unusual for a politician today, he admitted that he compromised his principles."

5) To add "news weight" to its Saturday Earth Day special ABC made Elizabeth Vargas the anchor. Her assessment of Leonardo DiCaprio's role: "This is an important cause for him" and "gosh, if we get another million teenagers...tuning in to see" him "that's great."

6) ABC and CBS dramas this week promoted liberal environmental scaremongering. On ABC a teen warned: "Chicago's going to be a desert." On CBS a teen daughter complained about how "the Earth is burning up" and her mother traded-in her SUV for a hybrid.

7) "Guffaws and shrieks of 'Oh, Mr. President!' caromed from the kitchenette" of Air Force One as Bill Clinton "regaled the flight attendants" with "tales about favorite church experiences."


Broadcast network coverage Thursday night of the one-year anniversary of the Columbine shooting did not include calls for gun control. Only an ABC story linking "rampage killings" to the availability of "high-powered guns" even mentioned the role of guns. While ABC's World News Tonight led with Columbine, CBS and NBC went first with the plea from Juan Miguel Gonzalez for custody of his son.

Peter Jennings opened the April 20 World News Tonight by proclaiming that Columbine had "shattered the nation." He asserted: "There is something magnetic about the anniversary of tragedy, a time to review, to assess, to see in the case of Littleton Colorado how well the community has survived the school shooting which so shattered the nation a year ago today."

After a piece on the day's memorial activities, reporter Kevin Newman summarized a New York Times study of "rampage killings" which found that while only one-tenth of a percent of all murders fit the category they became more common in the 1990s. "This criminologist says there's a reason: High-powered guns," Newman declared in leading into a soundbite from Professor Alfred Blumstein of the Heinz School of Public Policy.

CBS and NBC each delivered three Columbine-related stories, but led with Juan Miguel Gonzalez. On the CBS Evening News Byron Pitts told Dan Rather: "Dan, for months now we have heard and seen the passions of Cuban-Americans here in Miami. Today, we heard a father's pain."

CBS also explored surprise at the appeals court ruling that a child as young as Elian could "make such a life altering decision." Maureen Maher asserted: "Critics from both the legal and medical field argue it's not only impossible for a six-year-old to understand the implications, it's inappropriate to expect them to be able to." After two soundbites offering matching opinions Maher did show a clip of Walter Polovchak, the guy who at age 12 back in the early 1980s won the right to stay in the U.S. and not return to the Ukraine, suggesting Elian can see the difference between life in the U.S. and Cuba.


The mainstream media rarely pick up on stories broken by conservative outlets as they complain about Drudge Report stories getting into the news cycle. But Thursday morning, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, NBC's Matt Lauer highlighted a charge promoted by a communist regime's propaganda machinery.

Wrapping up an April 20 interview with Jose Garcia-Pedrosa, a lawyer for Elian's relatives in Miami, Today co-host Matt Lauer queried:
"Before I let you go -- and this is a kind question out on a limb here -- but there are reports from the Cuban government that armed gunmen are positioned somewhere in the neighborhood in Little Havana, watching over Elian. These are anti-Castro people and that they are willing to act if the government comes to take this boy. Do you have any knowledge of something like that?"


Wednesday night MSNBC caught up with its NBC parent and featured a look at the "mansion" awaiting not Elian's re-indoctrination but for his smooth transition back into Cuban life.

As reported in the April 19 CyberAlert, on the night of Tuesday, April 18 Castro's propaganda operation hit a home when CNN and NBC, in full stories featuring attractive Cuban TV video of the house in which Castro plans to place Elian, characterized the purpose of the placement as making time for a proper "transition" so Elian can "readjust" to life on the island. Neither network broached any more sinister reason behind the decision to not allow Elian to return to his hometown of Cardenes. Only FNC's Orlando Salinas relayed predictions from Miami Cubans that Elian "will be re-trained as a young communist commando."

That night MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams did not run the story by Jim Avila which aired on NBC Nightly News with nice shots of the "mansion" with its pool and playroom. But the show caught up the next night, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed. On the April 19 program anchor Brian Williams asked Jim Avila:
"Jim, for the sake of conversation, let's say when Elian Gonzalez comes back to Cuba. Haven't they prepared some elaborate, for Cuban standards, elaborate structure for that eventuality?"

From Havana, over Cuban TV video of the house, Avila explained: "Yes they have and they have been preparing thinking that it might actually happen soon. What they've done is they've taken a, what can be considered a mansion here in Cuba of some eight bedrooms, a four car garage, two story house with a pool in the back, a playroom, some slides seen in the backyard and are preparing that freshly painted and refurbished for Elian Gonzalez, for his family, for doctors and psychiatrists and for twelve schoolmates to be brought here from Cardenas, a country town where Elian is from, some sixty miles away all to live together from anywhere from a few days to several months according to the Cuban psychiatrist who is in charge of his, of Elian being brought back here to the Cuban country."

To see the house of which CNN's Martin Savidge declared: "Even by American standards it's luxurious. By Cuban standards, almost unimaginable," go to the April 19 CyberAlert to watch a RealPlayer clip of CNN's story:


Senator John McCain proved again Wednesday he's the media's favorite Republican as his admission that he lied during the campaign brought not condemnation from CBS and NBC, but understanding. CBS's Dan Rather didn't even suggest that McCain had misled voters and NBC's Tom Brokaw actually praised McCain for how he did "something highly unusual for a politician today, he admitted that he compromised his principles."

Of course, it helped that McCain had switched from the position condemned by the media to the consensus viewpoint. The subject: South Carolina's Confederate flag.

April 19 CBS Evening News viewers heard his 13-second item from Dan Rather: "In South Carolina today Senator John McCain said he believes the Confederate flag should be taken down from the State Capitol dome. McCain also said he's sorry he didn't take that stand when he was still a presidential candidate in the Republican primary there."

ABC's World News Tonight simply ignored McCain's statement, but NBC Nightly News featured a taped interview in which Tom Brokaw failed to castigate McCain. Brokaw set up his interview clip:
"Senator John McCain did something highly unusual for a politician today, he admitted that he compromised his principles, breaking a promise to tell the truth. Specifically, when he dodged the question of whether South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol. So McCain went back to South Carolina today to say he believes the flag should come down and then we talked about his decision."

Viewers saw this soundbite from McCain's South Carolina appearance: "I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary so I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth."

NBC then played excerpts of an interview. Brokaw asked: "Senator, when did you decide that you had to set the record straight on the matter of the Confederate flag in South Carolina?"
McCain: "Several weeks ago. I'd been sort of ruminating about it for a long time."
Brokaw: "At the time when you gave the answer that you acknowledge was not an honest answer, did you go back to your room that night and say, 'McCain, why did I do that?'"
McCain: "Yes, I went back to my room and said, 'You aren't telling them the way that you said you would conduct the campaign.'"
Brokaw tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and prompted him to blame others: "Were you tempted at some point to tell the truth, from the John McCain point of view and your advisor said, 'No, John, we just can't risk it in South Carolina.'"
McCain: "No, we discussed it, the advisors and I discussed it on several occasions, but the responsibility and the decision was mine."
Brokaw: "Anything else in the campaign you'd like to clear up on this occasion, Senator McCain?"
McCain: "I think I've done enough true confessions for the day."
Brokaw: "Thank you very much."
McCain: "Thank you, Tom."

Isn't that nice, we're one happy team.

Imagine the reaction of Rather and Brokaw if McCain had moved to the right on an issue. For instance, if McCain had announced that he was wrong about his tax cut stand and decided Bush's bigger one would be better policy, do you think Brokaw's first question would have been "when did you decide that you had to set the record straight"?


Forget any hope that ABC News would deliver a balanced presentation about the debate over the extent, impact and solutions for global warming. Peter Johnson reported in the April 19 USA Today that ABC News, "stung by the furor over having actor Leonardo DiCaprio interview President Clinton for Saturday's Earth Day special, has added Elizabeth Vargas as anchor of the program. Executives say Vargas, a 20/20 correspondent and substitute Good Morning America anchor, was brought aboard to give the 8pm ET/PT special added news weight."

But far from adding "news weight," she boasted on Thursday's Entertainment Tonight about how DiCaprio's role in promoting his "cause" on the ABC show is justified because "gosh, if we get another million teenagers...tuning in to see Leonardo DiCaprio, that's great." On Friday's Good Morning America correspondent Chris Cuomo, who was originally scheduled to anchor the show, plugged the special by saying he would report on how global warming has meant "hunters dying" in Alaska by falling through the ice since temperatures have supposedly risen five degrees.

Portions of DiCaprio's interview with Bill Clinton will air and an earlier USA Today story reported that he helped "edit" the special.

On the April 20 Entertainment Tonight Bob Goen related what ABC viewers will see Saturday night in the "news" special: "Leo sits by a pond, close to where he grew up in Los Angeles, to talk about how global warming affects our environment."

Elizabeth Vargas conceded DiCaprio suggested the show: "He had come to ABC a while back saying he was interested in doing a program on this cause because it is important to him."

Goen noted: "Vargas told us Leo's fame will help to draw in more younger viewers."
Vargas then admitted ABC was showcasing DiCaprio's "cause" and boasted of how great it is that he'll bring in young viewers: "They might tune in to see Leonardo in a frog pond. And sure, absolutely, I mean this is an important cause for him. He is the Chairman of Earth Day 2000 and he wants to be involved in something like that and you know what, gosh if we get another million teenagers or young adults tuning in to see Leonardo DiCaprio, that's great."

In another clip from the ABC special, on a rock at the side of the pond, DiCaprio asserted: "We're going to challenge ourselves to find out about what we can do right now to look beyond just our limited time on this planet."

Amongst the celebrities joining DiCaprio on stage at the Earth Day "festival" on Washington's Mall, according to ET: Melanie Griffith, Ted Danson, Edward James Olmos.

Back on April 11 USA Today's Jeannie Williams reported:

Leonardo DiCaprio is in Tokyo, promoting The Beach, far from the flap over ABC's Earth Day special, due next week. But he'll be back this week and will be involved in the editing of the show, as agreed from his signing on, says his spokesman, Ken Sunshine.

DiCaprio "is shocked that there is any controversy regarding this," Sunshine says. "All he wants to do is allow millions of people who don't normally watch network TV specials to learn something about the terrible problems of global warming."...

"He doesn't take his role as chairman of Earth Day 2000 lightly. That's the only reason he did this. He has done everything ABC asked him to do," and then some. Now there's a mess, "but he's game to hang in there. He wants to make a difference." DiCaprio did parts of the show beyond the Clinton chat.

Earth Day is April 22. ABC hasn't set an airdate, and a spokeswoman said that although DiCaprio will see it in advance and may make comments, the network has final cut....

END Excerpt

Today, Friday April 21, at 3:30pm will hold a chat session with ABC News reporter Chris Cuomo about the 8pm ET/PT, 7pm CT/MT Saturday special, Planet Earth 2000. Go to:


Earth Day in prime time. By incorporating liberal environmental scaremongering into subplots on one prime time drama each, ABC, CBS and NBC all have effectively given an in-kind contribution to the political agenda behind Earth Day. This past Monday the ABC and CBS 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT dramas had teenage children characters administer a "transportation audit" to their parents, a device which allowed for some SUV-bashing.

On CBS's Family Law the daughter complained about how "the Earth is burning up" and the mother was so upset by her "D" grade that she traded-in her SUV for a Toyota Prius, a gasoline-electric vehicle not even for sale yet in the United States. ABC's Once and Again featured this exchange between 14-year-old and nine-year-old sisters (after the older had earlier warned "Chicago's going to be a desert"):
Nine-year-old: "Are we all gonna starve and be the end of civilization?"
14-year-old: "I don't know. That's the weird thing. You know, we have to depend on grown-ups to figure it out and most of them don't even know what's going on."

According to the Environmental News Network, last Friday NBC's Providence also incorporated an Earth Day theme, but I didn't get a chance to check out that show.

-- CBS's Family Law. The show's description, as listed on the Web site: "Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13) stars in a drama about an unlikely group of lawyers who band together to form a new firm after one woman's husband leaves her and takes their practice with him. Lynn Holt (Quinlan) may have lost her husband and her law firm within 24 hours, but she hasn't lost the guts that got her this far -- or her sense of humor. She also hasn't lost Dani Lipton (Julie Warner), one of her best lawyers, who's decided not to defect."

Here's some of the dialogue from the April 17 episode, as transcribed by the MRC's Brian Boyd:

Teen daughter "Cassie": "Do you know where the camera is?"
Kathleen Quinlan as "Lynn Holt": "Uh, on top of the TV. Where's Marietta?"
Cassie: "Upstairs with Rupee."
Holt: "Oh. What do you need the camera for?"
Cassie: "Everybody in our class is doing a project for Earth Day. It's so cool."
Holt: "No kidding. You know, I was at the very first Earth Day celebration."
Cassie: "Well, I'm doing a transportation audit, and I'm like a week behind."
Holt: "Oh Cassie."
Cassie: "Celia, who's my partner, is a complete flake. I mean while the Earth is burning up she's at home making collages of the Backstreet Boys."
Holt: "OK, so, what's a transportation audit."
Cassie: "It's really simple, I just survey everyone I know and see how much they're contributing to the greenhouse effect. Then I take a picture of their car and compare what they think they're polluting to what they actually are."
Holt: "You can do that?"
Cassie: "Sure, it has a Web site."
Holt: "Camera."
Cassie: "Great. Come on."
Holt: "Where are we going?"
Cassie: "To the garage. I need to get a picture of you in front of the SUV."
Holt: "Oh, OK."
Cassie: "So how much do you think you're polluting?"
Holt: "What me? Me personally?"

Later, at the law office, Holt is upset that her husband earned a "C" while she got a "D," leading her to declare: "Tomorrow Cassie's coming here after school, and I want to see car pooling."

In another scene, Julie Warner as lawyer "Dani Lipton," walks in on Holt as she's reading a brochure on which you can see the word "Toyota."
Lipton: "What's that?"
Holt: "A new car-"
Lipton: "You're not selling your SUV, you love your SUV."
Holt: "I do love my SUV. I feel so safe, I ride so high, I'm comfortable. I, I love my SUV."
Lipton: "Don't tell me it's electric?"
Holt: "No it's a hybrid. It's brand new, you never even have to plug it in. It gets 60 miles to the gallon."
Lipton: "I think the Flintstones had a car like that."
Holt, looking at picture of her children: "I really think I have to do this."
Lipton: "Lynn, get a grip. It's a science report."

Holt soon complains about her life choices: "I just grew up and I got an SUV that gets like eight miles to the gallon. But when I look at Cassie, she still feels that everything that she does matters and I never want her to lose that feeling."
Lipton: "I still think it's about you getting a 'D.'"

Jumping to near the end of the show, Holt picks her daughter up after school. As the scene opens you see Holt pulling her newly purchased small Toyota Prius around a bunch of big SUVs. She pulls in an yells: "Cassie, sweetie."
Cassie, seeing the new vehicle, stands beside the car and exclaims: "Oh my God, is, is this what I think it is?"
Holt: "That's right, first one off the lot."
Cassie: "This is so cool."
Holt: "Yes it is. And the gas engine powers the battery and it puts out 75 percent less emissions than any other car on the road. And it's pretty cute, don't you think?"
Cassie, getting into the passenger seat: "What about the SUV?"
Holt: "I traded it in."
Cassie: "You did this because of me?"
Holt, mockingly: "No, I did it because I wanted this little screen that tells you if you're on gas or battery, but they wouldn't sell me the screen without the car."
Cassie: "You loved our SUV."
Holt: "Oh well. It's just a car. So, buckle up because we're holding up all these gas guzzlers back there."
Cassie: "You are so cool!"
Holt: "Yes, I am."
Cassie: "But you should have told me. I could have put it in my report. Mrs. Shaw would have been so blown out."
Holt, disappointed, sighed: "You already turned in your report."
Cassie, as they pull out: "Oh, its even got GPS!"
Holt, seemingly suggesting that maybe her daughter could turn in a new version on Monday: "Do you think Mrs. Shaw's going to read it over the weekend?"

Quite nice product placement for Toyota and its new vehicle which really isn't available yet. Toyota plans to start selling it via the Internet in June with delivery later in the summer. You can see Toyota's promotional info for the $20,500 vehicle at:

Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, tracked down a Car and Driver magazine review of the hybrid. The "verdict" as assessed by the magazine: "A fascinating, and costly, way to save cheap gas."

No wonder why liberals want higher gas prices. It's the only way to make electric cars popular. To read the February 1999 review, go to:,1633,993_1_17,00.html

-- ABC's Once and Again stars Sela Ward (the woman with the mussed hair in the new Sprint TV ads) as separated mother "Lily Manning." The show revolves around the relationships amongst Lily and her ex, Jeffrey Nordling as "Jake Manning," her boyfriend, who is also separated, and the two family's kids.

Here is the Earth Day-related dialogue from the April 17 episode, as transcribed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson.

Sela Ward as "Lily" while at work at an Internet company: "I don't understand why I have to do this interview."
Lily's 14-year-old daughter "Grace" who has come in after school: "Because I have to interview ten people. Because global warming starts with individual decisions."
Lily: "Are you going to tell me I shouldn't be driving an SUV again?"
Grace: "Yes."
Lily: "When is Earth Day over?"
Grace: "Mom!"

Grace and her nine-year-old sister "Zoe" stay over one night with their father, "Jake," manager of a restaurant:
Grace: "You did really well, Dad."
Jake: "I bet you didn't know I walk to work, did ya?"
Grace: "Or that you made sure to turn off the restaurant equipment at night."
Jake: "Mm-hmm."
Grace: "You kicked Mom's butt."
Jake: "Oh, my goodness. When is Earth Day over?"
Zoe: "Daddy, could you help me with my puzzle now?"
Grace: "April 22nd. Mr. Peterson says that everybody's parents burned out on Vietnam and Watergate in the '70s, and now they don't care about anything but themselves."
Jake: "He did, huh? Well, I was 14 years old during Watergate. I don't remember a thing."
Zoe: "I'm sick of global warming. There's more to life than global warming."
Grace: "There may not be pretty soon."
Jake: "They say it might be accelerating."
Zoe: "Can we not talk about it, please?"
Grace: "Chicago's going to be a desert. Did you know that? The Midwest will be one big dustbowl."
A scared Zoe storms out: "Oh shut up. I'm not listening."

Later, the two girls talk again as you can see a poster titled: "Climatic Effects of Global Warming."
Zoe: "You really freaked me out about all this stuff."
Grace: "I'm sorry."
Zoe: "Are we all gonna starve and be the end of civilization?"
Grace: "I don't know. That's the weird thing. You know, we have to depend on grown-ups to figure it out and most of them don't even know what's going on."
Zoe: "I wish it could just stay now."

-- CNN and TBS get into the act this weekend, as detailed last week in an article the MRC's Rich Noyes caught on the Environmental News Network site:
"People Count: Hot on the Trail, a production of the Turner Environment Division of the Turner Broadcasting System. This program looks at climate change through the lens of photographer and filmmaker Barbara Pyle. Viewers are taken to Easter Island in the South Pacific, where scientists are trying to determine why the island's population mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the 1700s....Next, Pyle focuses on global warming in New Orleans and how the change in weather patterns may contribute to the dangerous rise of mosquito and termite populations."

People Count will air April 22 on CNN at 10pm ET and on TBS at 7:30am ET. Not mentioned by ENN: Jane Fonda will host the show. To read the entire story about television shows dealing with Earth Day, go to:


Commander-in-Chief in action: "Guffaws and shrieks of 'Oh, Mr. President!' caromed from the kitchenette" where Clinton "regaled the flight attendants."

In an April 19 Washington Post story on how seven years into his presidency Bill Clinton "seems as animated as a jumpy third-grader, traveling almost constantly, getting by on a few hours sleep night after night, and never tiring of talking," reporter Charles Babington related last weekend's activities on Air Force One:
"President Clinton had toured a national forest that day, golfed at Stanford University and keynoted a $2.7 million Beverly Hills fundraiser. But as his plane was about to depart Los Angeles for Palo Alto late Saturday night, he was far from done. He chatted up the reporters until the thrust of the plane's takeoff catapulted him into the rear galley, where he regaled the flight attendants for most of the flight.
"Guffaws and shrieks of 'Oh, Mr. President!' caromed from the kitchenette as Clinton told tales about favorite church experiences. (One involved an Arkansas man who accelerated his wheelchair down a church aisle, jammed on the brakes and soared to the altar for a special blessing.)"

Quite a skilled President, never too tired to hit on the babes and able to combine that quest with "church experiences." At least the reporter realized in this case Bill Clinton was telling "tales." -- Brent Baker

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