CyberAlert -- 04/27/1999 -- Chung Delayed; ABC Showed Cassie Bernall's Faith; Koppel Lauded Hillary

Chung Delayed; ABC Showed Cassie Bernall's Faith; Koppel Lauded Hillary

1) Justice Dept. delays have forced a postponement of Johnny Chung's scheduled appearance this week before a House committee. A MRC Special Report documents how the broadcast nets haven't cared much about the China scandal, ignoring Chung's latest disclosure.

2) Monday night CBS focused on how three of the guns used were bought at "totally unregulated" gun shows. NBC claimed "the Internet teaches kids about hate and violence."

3) "At Cassie Bernall's funeral friends and family celebrated the strength of one young girl's faith," ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer observed in a unique look at how church straightened out a wayward girl who ABC showed proclaiming: "You really can't live without Christ."

4) Today's Jack Ford asserted on Saturday: "If you look at these shooting instances, they all seem to have taken place in areas where there is a stronger gun culture."

5) Hillary Clinton will make a "great" Senator, ABC's Ted Koppel declared, explaining: "She's focused, she's smart, and her vision of policy is a clear, perfectly legitimate one."

Correction: Though I got it right in the table on contents plug, the opening line of item #6 in the April 26 CyberAlert asked: "'Irrational' to trust George W. Bush ahead of Al Hunt as commander-in-chief?" It may be, but I got the wrong Al: It should have read Al Gore, not Al Hunt who was quoted in the item saying he finds it "irrational" that more trust Bush than Gore.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Chung Delayed. The Justice Department has caused the scheduled appearance by Johnny Chung in front of Dan Burton's House Committee on Government Reform to be delayed until the week of May 10. Chung had been subpoenaed to appear on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, April 27 and 28.

A story filed late Monday afternoon by Scott Hogenson of the MRC's Conservative News Service explained what led to the committee's decision to postpone Chung:

....Committee officials told CNS that Justice Department investigators did not brief Chung until last Friday, making it impossible for committee investigators to interview him before his testimony, which was originally scheduled for April 27.

Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) was "not thrilled by the Justice Department delay," said committee communications director Mark Corallo. According to Corallo, Chung's testimony will now be heard "hopefully in the second week of May."

Corallo said the Justice Department gave the committee no explanation for the delay in interviewing Chung, who has reportedly told investigators that he forwarded an illegal $300,000 contribution to the 1996 reelection campaign of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

According to reports of Chung's testimony, he was given $300,000 by the chief of Chinese military intelligence, with the money from Beijing to be used in the Clinton/Gore reelection effort....

END Excerpt

To read the entire CNS story, go to:

For details of what the April 4 Los Angeles Times disclosed Chung told the grand jury, go to the April 5 CyberAlert:

The MRC had been encouraging the broadcast networks to finally inform viewers of how the LA Times revealed that Chung said the head of Chinese military intelligence gave him $300,000 to funnel to the DNC, suggesting Chung's appearance as a hook for coverage. It sounded like a good idea last week, though the delay in Chung's appearance actually still presents the networks with a story angle if they really cared about the subject. So far, only FNC has aired a full report outlining how Chung's charges suggest money flowed from China to the Democratic Party. To watch FNC's April 8 story by Carl Cameron in RealPlayer format, go to the April 9 Cyber:

As part of the MRC's effort, on Monday the MRC released a Special Report put together by Tim Graham titled "All the News That's Fit to Skip: Network Apathy Toward Chinese Contributions and Espionage." The nine page report details how the broadcast networks have ignored or barely touched dozens of newspaper scoops over the past year or so which have advanced knowledge about the China scandal in three areas: "China's army funds the Democrats," "China Acquires U.S. missile technology" and "China acquires U.S. warhead technology."

To read the Special Report posted on the MRC's home page by Eric Pairel, go directly to:


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Monday night, April 27, the Colorado shooting still led the ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC evening shows. CBS focused on how three of the guns used were bought at "totally unregulated" gun shows. NBC Nightly News looked at, in the words of Tom Brokaw, "Easy access. How the Internet teaches kids about hate and violence."

Four funerals were held Monday, but only CNN's The World Today showed video from all four. With the noteworthy exception of ABC (see item #3 below), the others focused on the service for teacher Dave Sanders.

On the CBS Evening News reporter Jim Stewart pointed out how three of the four guns used were purchased "at events like this one, totally unregulated gun shows where thousands of firearms are routinely sold anonymously." After Stewart, from the White House Scott Pelley previewed Clinton's gun control initiatives set to be unveiled Tuesday, but he failed to note that the NRA backs two of the four ideas: doubling the penalty on gun trafficking and barring gun ownership for life for juvenile criminals.

Earlier in the show Bob McNamara reviewed how many warning signs about the propensity to violence by the two killers were missed. He aired this soundbite from Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis: "The first time I heard that term, Trench Coat Mafia, was after this happened, it was on television."

Can you spell clueless? As McNamara pointed out, they appeared in the Yearbook under that name and the two shooters had criminal records.


cassie0427.jpg (9829 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) "Today at Cassie Bernall's funeral friends and family celebrated the strength of one young girl's faith," ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer observed in opening a story unusual for network TV, about how church and faith straightened out a wayward teen. In an event noteworthy because it may be unprecedented, two ABC News shows on Monday aired a soundbite of someone explicitly declaring their Christian faith, as viewers heard the late 17 year-old Cassie Bernall assert on both World News Tonight and 20/20: "You really can't live without Christ. It's like impossible to really have a true life without him."

This story shows the benefit ABC gains from being the only network with a religion reporter. They are able to produce stories from angles never considered by the other networks. Monday night CNN did note Bernall's Christian faith, but only ABC brought her story to life. And though I know from comment e-mails that many CyberAlert readers wish for me to stick to politics and avoid religious issues, I urge you to read on and appreciate the value of a story about caring parents discovering the good going to church can do in turning around a young person's life.

Monday's World News Tonight ended with Wehmeyer's piece, which ABC allocated a substantial three minutes to playing. She began with the line cited above over scenes from the funeral before recounting the agonizing hours Cassie's parents waited to confirm their fears.

Wehmeyer then outlined Cassie's journey: "Cassie Bernall's story has touched the Christian community here because of how she responded when she was challenged by her killer."
Brad Bernall, Cassie's father: "When that young man asked Cassie if she believed in God, she boldly said yes."
Wehmeyer: "Students who witnessed that confrontation say Cassie paused before she answered, not because they believe she doubted her answer but because she sensed what might happen next."
After a comment from her mother, Wehmeyer continued: "Cassie's faith in God had not come easily. In her early adolescence she was angry and rebellious, dabbling in witchcraft and experimenting with drugs and alcohol."
Her mother, Misty Bernall, recalled how she and her husband felt they had to step in. Wehmeyer explained: "Cassie wasn't allowed to see her friends or use the phone. The only place she could go was to church, to an intense weekend church retreat which her parents said changed her life."
Misty Bernall: "She looked at me in the eye and she said, 'Mom, I've changed.'"
Wehmeyer: "Just two days before she died Cassie Bernall recorded these words on a video for her youth group."
Cassie in a home video: "You really can't live without Christ. It's like impossible to really have a true life without him."
Wehmeyer concluded: "Today Cassie's friends and family are determined that she will be remembered as a modern day martyr, a young woman willing to die for her faith. Peggy Wehmeyer, ABC News, Littleton Colorado."

As I said, not your usual network fare. Later Monday night, 20/20 aired a ten minute piece on Cassie by Wehmeyer with more about her time at the West Bowles Community Church.

The day began with a story on Good Morning America, meaning Wehmeyer hit the Trifecta with various forms of her story airing on every ABC News show but Nightline.

In the GMA story, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, Wehmeyer noted how Cassie Bernall's path "began not unlike her killers." After recounting her turnaround, Wehmeyer concluded with her parent's anguish: "Their comfort comes in trusting their daughter is with God now, but even that hasn't taken away pain of losing the child they had struggled so hard to save."

Maybe if the parents of the two killers had followed the path of the Bernall parents we wouldn't have this sad story to recount.

+++ Watch Wehmeyer's compelling story. Tuesday morning the MRC's Sean Henry, just back from a little time off, and Kristina Sewell will post in RealPlayer format a hunk of Wehmeyer's World News Tonight report. After 10am ET, go to:


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Now back to the usual bias about how gun control is the answer: Jack Ford on Today and Steve Roberts on Late Edition.

-- On Saturday's Today, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, co-host Jack Ford tied gun violence to places where there's a "gun culture." He asked Jesse Jackson: "Reverend Jackson, Ollie [North] mentions the prevalence of guns. If you look at these shooting instances, they all seem to have taken place in areas where there is a stronger gun culture. The sheriff himself said, the sheriff out there in Littleton said his community is awash in guns. What do we do about that?"

There are a lot more murders by gun in number and per capita in liberal big cities, which are hardly considered hotbeds of the "gun culture," where guns are virtually banned.

-- CNN's Late Edition. On Sunday's show former New York Times and U.S. News reporter Steve Roberts insisted more gun control is required, contending Japan's low crime rate proves guns are the problem:
"There are relatively few things that the public policy can do. [Earlier guest Education] Secretary Riley was absolutely right in pointing out that in the end, the main issue is parents. How much do they listen. Anyone who has gone through being a parent of a teen, as you are now, and I have, knows those are years do you have to listen. But there are things that can be done, when you do have troubled children, that gun control can matter.
"You know in Japan in 1996, which has very violent media culture, there were 15 murders with handguns. In America there were 9,200 murders with handguns so, yes, I do think there are things can be done. The Brady Bill can be -- the three day waiting period, trigger locks on guns, making parents more responsible, adults more responsible for the use of firearms by juveniles. I think there are things can be done."

And there are also many places where almost everyone has a gun but they are never used improperly. Tucker Carlson of the Weekly Standard responded to Roberts: "These were deranged individuals who committed a deranged act. It's not clear to me how public policy could have affected it in anyway. Incidentally, they were using ordinary guns that in fact are used for sporting purposes -- shotguns, so short banning all guns, it's hard to see what effect public policy could have had on this."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Ted Koppel believes Hillary Clinton will make a "great" Senator because "she's focused, she's smart." Catching up on an item highlighted by the Drudge Report last week, in the April 21 Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister relayed some laudatory comments from Koppel about the First Lady's potential senatorial skills. Here's Shister's item:

Senator Clinton? ABC's Ted Koppel says first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton would make a "great" Senator, should she decide to run in New York.

"She's focused, she's smart, and her vision of policy is a clear, perfectly legitimate one," the Nightline anchor said during a recent interview in Washington. "She'd give a lot of force to propelling that vision through the legislature in the Senate."

Like many others, Koppel initially thought Clinton's Senate tease "was so much hokum. I didn't think she'd want to subject herself to an extremely rough going-over by [probable Republican opponent, New York Mayor] Rudy Giuliani.

"I didn't think it would be worth all the pain to her, but hell, she's had all the pain, anyway....The longer [her interest] goes on, the more seriously I have to take it."

Here's why, Koppel says.

"I can envision Hillary Clinton -- a very smart, tough woman who has devoted much of her adult life to supporting her husband's career -- looking at her own life and saying, 'Would it be painful? Absolutely. Would it be tough? Absolutely. Am I entitled to go through some pain and hard times or my own career? Yeah, maybe it's time.'"

And if she doesn't run, what will she do as the ex-First Lady? "She can go out and give a lot of speeches at 50 thousand a crack, but I don't think that will satisfy her," Koppel says. "I think she'll want to do something that actually has some meat on it."

END Excerpt

Not quite an endorsement, but much more than a dispassionate evaluation.

Final note: I haven't forgotten about the ending scene from the ABC movie Swing Vote. I still intend to run it as soon as I have room, but it's about 1,100 words and needs to be read or seen in full. Now that Webmaster Sean Henry is back, allowing us to resume video clip posting, we'll be able to feature an accompanying video clip which will make the wait worth it. -- Brent Baker


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