CyberAlert -- 05/01/2000 -- Anything for 5 Minutes of Reno

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Anything for 5 Minutes of Reno; Helms = Castro; Knocked Down Cameraman Ignored

1) At the White House Correspondents' Association dinner Jay Leno showed video of CNN's Wolf Blitzer dancing with three women who ran their hands through his hair and started to disrobe him.

2) People in lawless nations like Russia and Colombia would give anything "for five minutes of Janet Reno," effused Thomas Friedman on PBS Friday night. He insisted the Miami Cubans had "kidnapped" Elian. Time's Michael Duffy argued Reno should have acted sooner.

3) Looking at the gun held by the SWAT team member in the infamous photo, ABC News reported "you see the safety is in the off position." And ABC reported the photo shows "the safety is on."

4) On Senator Bob Graham's charge that Clinton promised not to seize Elian at night, ABC relayed how "Lockhart also made an off the cuff remark that 5am may be considered early in the morning."

5) Jesse Helms "is just as much a dictator as Castro," upchucked liberal columnist Mary McGrory from her featured spot in the Washington Post.

6) They shout "Pioneers for communism will be like Che!" but a Washington Post reporter was unwilling to state as fact that the Castro youth group "imparts communist ideology." Instead, he attributed the charge to what "Cuban exiles claim."

7) Deroy Murdock investigated how the media don't care about how two NBC cameramen were prevented from taping the raid. Cal Thomas argued coverage proves "today's media have abandoned the watchdog role, becoming lap dogs to this administration."

8) CBS's Jim Stewart: "The real irony for Republicans, say some analysts, is that if they had acted months earlier when Elian's status was truly in doubt, they'd be the heroes now."

9) On the Microsoft breakup request, NBC's Pete Williams stressed how "some industry experts think a breakup could actually be good for Microsoft." ABC's Betsy Stark found: "There was no consensus today that a breakup of Microsoft would be good for consumers."

Correction #1. The last item in the April 28 CyberAlert listed an incorrect date for CBS reporter Russ Mitchell saying that in the first three months of the year the economy grew over five percent, "triggered by a boom in consumer spending not seen since Ronald Reagan's first term." Mitchell's report aired the night before, on the April 27 CBS Evening News, not on April 17.

Correction #2: Recent CyberAlerts have misspelled the names of two players in the Elian case. It's "Marisleysis" Gonzalez, not Marisleysia. And it's Donato "Dalrymple," not Darymple.


Gettin' down with the Wolf-Man. Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Association dinner featured a video of Joe Lockhart interacting with the West Wing cast in character as well as the much highlighted White House video of Bill Clinton showing how he has nothing to do all day but make lunch for Hillary, mow the grass and buy smoked ham online with "Stuart," the disheveled guy in the Ameritrade ads.

But Tonight Show host Jay Leno also brought along his own video spoofs for the dinner broadcast live by C-SPAN, including a clip of CNN's Wolf Blitzer boogieing on the Tonight Show stage with three women who run their hands through his hair and start to remove his clothing. Leno set up the clip:
"You've all picked on President Clinton, but how do White House correspondents behave?....Suppose he doesn't know the camera's on him, suppose he stopped by the Tonight Show. How would he behave?"

+++ See Blitzer dancing with the ladies, go to the MRC home page later this morning where the MRC's Eric Pairel and Kristina Sewell will post a RealPlayer clip from C-SPAN's coverage of the April 29 dinner. Go to:


The people of Colombia and Russia, "no rule of law societies," would give anything "for five minutes of Janet Reno," proclaimed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Friday's Washington Week in Review. In an April 25 column headlined "Reno for President," Friedman professed how "that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart." His reasoning? It demonstrated that "America is a country where the rule of law rules." See the April 26 CyberAlert for a column excerpt:

Having taken such an impassioned stand on the issue didn't prevent PBS from selecting him to assess the Elian situation for the roundtable show. Friedman is now a foreign affairs columnist for the Times after many years as a reporter. On the April 28 program Friedman reiterated his siding with Reno, accused the Cuban-American community kidnapping Elian and declared the Cuban people, who showed "sincerity" in their protests, "won." He also conceded "only the criminals have guns in Cuba and they're all in power." In the same discussion, Time's Michael Duffy maintained that Reno's only mistake was not taking action sooner.

Asked by moderator Alan Murray why the Elian case generated such passion, Friedman explained:
"You've got the Miami Cubans who believe Castro's the devil -- he's taken their property, he's evicted their family -- and they see absolutely no compromising or truck with him and it was, the Elian case was a way to get at the devil. You had other people, who sided with Janet Reno, I was one of them, who believed this is about the rule of law and believed very passionately that that is the foundation upon which our country rests. You had other people who thought [smirking] this was the Evil Empire, the last Evil Empire Cuba meets the Evil Administration [probably meant "Evil Empire," voice rising as he gets to this part] of the Clinton Administration, black helicopters, conspiracy and doctored photos! And you had other people who felt legally Janet Reno was wrong and they felt passionately on that side too and you don't go in with guns the way she did."

Friedman asserted that "I don't buy Castro won" because Cubans in Cuba "know his regime is floundering. It's a regime, you know, that has had to depend on everything from Thomas Cooke tours to prostitution to stay alive. They know that when Castro says 'oh if this has happened in Cuba, police wouldn't have had to use guns.' That's because only the criminals have guns in Cuba and they're all in power."

The real winners were the Cuban people, Friedman argued: "The people I do think won in all of this were the Cubans who said, who were out there demonstrating, I think there was a sincerity there, demonstrating for Elian, I think they were saying two things: One is, don't tell me just cause I'm stuck living here under this lunatic that I can't be a good father or mother just cause I'm stuck here. And the other thing I think they were saying is look we got to live here. Got no Big Macs, got no McIntosh, got no Windows, got no job, got a ration book that takes me through half the month. Got my family. Give me that at least."

On the declining power of Cuban-Americans, Friedman charged: "I think the American public really got a taste of the degree to which not only Elian had been, in my view, you know kidnapped by these people, but American policy on Cuba has been kidnapped by a very active, vociferous minority."

Did Reno use undue force? Michael Duffy, Washington Bureau Chief of Time magazine, insisted she should have used force much sooner: "Well, I think any raid where no shots are fired and no one is hurt is a success....I think where Reno is to blame is not that she should have talked longer or kept the negotiations going but that she should have cut them off much sooner and she was criticized all week long I think for the wrong thing -- not that, you know, she should have kept it going as the family suggested but that just should have stopped it earlier."

The people of the world yearn for Reno, Friedman contended to "uh-has" from Joan Biskupic, the Washington Post's Supreme Court reporter. Friedman effused: "You know, I just came from a trip from Venezuela to Bogota, Colombia to Moscow. I got to tell you, what people in Bogota, Colombia would give for five minutes of Janet Reno. What people in Russia today in these lawless, no rule of law societies, would give for five minutes of Janet Reno."

They can have her.


Did the INS SWAT team member caught in action in the infamous AP photo, as he held an MP-5 while reaching for Elian, have the safety on the gun in the "on" or "off" position. "On" according to ABC News. And "off" according to ABC News. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught conflicting information reported by ABC News on April 22 and then five days later.

-- ABC News reporter John Miller on the April 22 World News Tonight, the day of the raid:
"This was a very standard, dynamic entry, is what they would call it professionally, and that of course, if you look at that photo, that is the photo opportunity that the U.S. Department of Justice wanted to avoid, the ninja-suited SWAT member tearing the child away from the loving surrogate family. But if you look at the photo closely, you see the safety is in the off position, that means the gun is ready to fire -- that is normal during a dynamic entry -- the finger is not on the trigger, it's outside the trigger guard -- that is how those teams are trained -- and the gun is pointed down and to the right of the two subjects in the photo, which shows that that SWAT team member is using caution in that entry."

-- ABC News reporter Chris Bury on the April 27 Nightline:
"In explaining that frightening photograph, the INS officials make a couple of points. One, that the finger of the border patrol tactical officer is not on the trigger. Two, that the safety switch on the gun, known as an MP-5, is on the safe position. The agents tell us they were under orders, because of the extreme volatility of the situation, to have their safety mechanisms on. Nightline has shown the photograph to an independent firearms expert and editor at James Infantry Weapons and he confirms what the INS says, that the safety is on."


5am ain't night, ha-ha. The April 26 CyberAlert noted how neither ABC's World News Tonight nor GMA had yet picked up on Democratic Senator Bob Graham's charge made on ABC's own This Week that Bill Clinton had made a commitment to him not to seize Elian at night. That lack of coverage remains true, but Thursday's Nightline did relay Graham's charge as well as White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart's flippant response, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed.

On the April 27 Nightline Michel McQueen reported: "Perhaps the most disturbing charge about a broken promise comes from Florida Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, who insists that the President made a firm pledge that there would be no nighttime raid on the home."

Bob Graham on This Week: "The President of the United States made that commitment to me that there would be no taking of this child at night. I felt that my, the promise made to me had been abrogated. I don't know if the President knew that the decision was being made by lower echelons within his administration, but it was a clear commitment which was violated."
McQueen: "Knowledgeable sources told Nightline that Senator Graham told a member of the Miami family's legal team about his conversation with the President. But it is not clear whether that lawyer passed on that information to the family."
ABC reporter Chris Bury then relayed: "The White House, not surprisingly, insists things did not happen exactly as Senator Graham remembers. A senior White House official tells Nightline the President did not make any hard commitment to Senator Graham about rejecting a nighttime raid. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters that the President did tell Mr. Graham that he preferred not to use force. Lockhart also made an off the cuff remark that 5am may be considered early in the morning and not the middle of the night."

Amazing. Now we have parsing of the meaning of "night." Just because it's dark doesn't mean it's night.

To read in full what Senator Graham recalled of his Oval Office conversation with Clinton, and to watch a clip from This Week, go to the April 25 CyberAlert:


Senator Helms "just as much a dictator as Castro." National Review's Washington Bulletin alerted me to the paragraph below from an April 27 column by Mary McGrory which appeared on page A3 of the Washington Post. McGrory isn't just any old liberal columnist in the Washington Post. She's featured twice a week on page A3 and on Sundays on the front page of the Outlook section.

Complaining about how Senator Helms said his committee would not take up SALT II, passed by the Russian parliament, until the next President takes office, McGrory spewed:
"On the Senate floor, Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is just as much a dictator as Castro, from whom many Republicans want to save Elian, announced that there would be no hearings on this wicked nonsense from Putin."

As National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru and John J. Miller commented: "Right, except for that bit about jailing or killing opponents."

To sign up for NR's Washington Bulletin, go to:


They shout "Pioneers for communism will be like Che!" but a Washington Post reporter was unwilling to state as fact that the Castro youth group "imparts communist ideology." Instead, he attributed the charge to what "Cuban exiles claim."

Steve Allen of alerted me to this paragraph from an April 24 Washington Post story from Cardenas, Cuba, headlined, "Elian's Hometown: Little Changed Since Revolution." To put it in context, here's what reporter John Ward Anderson wrote in the paragraph before the graph in question followed by the graph in question:
"In a small park, a group of boys lean on their bikes and talk about their daily activities -- school, baseball, reading comics, playing Nintendo. There is a general consensus that, in circumstances similar to Elian's, they would want to be wherever their fathers were. A 10-year-old said, however, that his father and stepmother live in Miami. He looked around to see who was listening, and said with a snicker: 'I'd stay in the U.S.'
"Starting in the first grade, all Cuban children are members of the Young Pioneers -- a group that Cuban exiles claim imparts Communist ideology, but which parents say also teaches social skills and responsibility. Although they begin each day reciting, 'Pioneers for communism will be like Che!' few children give it much thought, parents said."


"Jackboot Reno Stomps NBC News Crew...while the media snooze," declared the headline over a piece for National Review Online by Deroy Murdock, Senior Fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. (A shorter version of his piece appeared in Friday's New York Post.)

Murdock pursued what happened to the NBC cameraman and sound man knocked to the ground by INS agents, thus killing video of the raid. As Murdock noted in using coverage information and quotes provided by the MRC, other than some mentions on MSNBC and an appearance on Dateline, the broadcast networks and CNN have ignored the story of what happened to Tony Zumbado and Gustavo Moller, though Zumbado has gotten some air time to recount what he saw agents doing inside the house without mention of his situation. Here's an excerpt from Murdock's piece, which includes what he learned directly from them:

...."We got Maced, we got kicked, we got roughed up," Cuban-born NBC camera man Tony Zumbado told MSNBC. He said that as the incursion began, federal agents kicked him in the stomach and yelled, "Don't move or we'll shoot." Zumbado added on NBC's Dateline: "My sound man got hit with a shotgun butt on the head, dragged outside -- he was halfway in -- and he was dragged out to the fence and left there and they told him if he moved they'd shoot."

Zumbado explained that federal gunmen also disabled his camera and yanked out its audio cable. By the time Zumbado and sound man Gustavo Moller stood back up, Elian had been whisked away in a white van.

NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley told the AP, "we believe that the agents went further than they had to and prevented him [Zumbado] from taking pictures." NBC News President Andrew Lack wrote INS Commissioner Doris Meissner April 26 asking for an explanation.

Gustavo Moller called the raid "the unjust way of gaining justice." The Cuban native -- who fled Castro in 1960 at age 11 -- told me the agents, "did a terrific job. Their purpose was to scare the s**t out of everybody, and they did."

Meanwhile, an ambulance took Zumbado from his home to Miami's Baptist Hospital on April 26 after he fainted from back spasms. He suffers chronic back trouble, and thinks "the roughing around didn't help it." As he spoke to me by phone from his hospital bed, he was awaiting further spinal tests. Earlier, he said, "my muscles were too swollen to get a clean MRI."

Zumbado said that the federal officers were behaving as he would expect. "They're trained to be forceful and intimidating. The media is not excused, especially when you're trying to video tape them."

Zumbado, however, disputed the Justice Department's post-raid claims that they welcomed news coverage. "We were definitely not invited in like Janet Reno has stated we were," Zumbado said. "If we were, we would have had a head's up. We would have been inside and In would not have been kicked."....

As if the beating of American journalists on American soil by American government officials were not outrageous enough, consider the reaction from the establishment media. "Yaaaaawn."

According to the Alexandria, Virginia-based Media Research Center, NBC's Zumbado was interviewed on his own network and its sister-channel, MSNBC. However, he has yet to appear on either ABC, CBS or CNN. While the AP has followed the story, the Nexis news database and three on-line search engines indicate that Zumbado's and Moller's manhandling was only covered by the New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post, but just early and briefly.

Elian's abduction and its aftermath are huge, ongoing stories. One might have imagined that reporters and commentators would have unleashed unrelenting facts and fire on a physical attack upon two fellow journalists by taxpayer-funded federal agents.

What could be more maddening than a government that stomps on the First Amendment? When those it protects know of such an atrocity and shrug.

END Excerpt

Indeed, they are shrugging. Through Friday night, not a word about this incident had appeared on the ABC or CBS morning or evening shows -- and not even on NBC's-own Nightly News or Today.

Imagine if a conservative President had injured journalists and prevented coverage. We'd be hearing charges of cover up.

To read Murdock's piece in full, go to:

Also, be on the lookout for an excellent column by Cal Thomas which utilizes many media quotes from coverage of the Elian raid to illustrate how "today's media have abandoned the watchdog role, becoming lap dogs to this administration." The column appeared in Friday's Washington Times and I'm sure ran in many other papers over the weekend. When the column is a few days older, so I don't step on the syndicator and papers paying for the column, I'll include an excerpt.


CBS's Jim Stewart hit Republicans from the right for screwing up their response to Elian. In a Saturday CBS Evening News story on how Senate Republicans have postponed any hearings on the raid, Stewart observed: "The real irony for Republicans, say some analysts, is that if they had acted months earlier when Elian's status was truly in doubt, they'd be the heroes now."
Marshall Wittman of the Heritage Foundation got air time to make a conservative point: "If the Republicans wanted to have the strongest hand in criticizing this administration's actions, they should have granted the child permanent residency status months ago."
Stewart concluded: "In the end, however, Republicans can read a poll as well as the next guy. And what the polls tell them on this one is that Americans think Janet Reno did the right thing. She upheld the law and she stood up for family values, respondents say and what Senator wants to be seen attacking two institutions as powerful as those. "


Friday night, of the broadcast networks, only NBC Nightly News led with the Justice Department's announcement of its request that Microsoft be broken into two companies -- one for the Windows operating systems and one for applications.

NBC's Pete Williams stressed how "some industry experts think a breakup could actually be good for Microsoft, and that no matter how this antitrust ends, the company ought to divide itself up." ABC followed a story on the breakup request with a piece by Betsy Stark, who suggested: "There was no consensus today that a breakup of Microsoft would be good for consumers." CBS gave equal time to those on both sides.

-- NBC Nightly News, April 28. Pete Williams contended a bit into his lead story: "While some economists say breaking the company up into more pieces would actually create even greater competition, government lawyers decided it would cause too much confusion for consumers to have different versions of Windows in the marketplace. Microsoft is already denouncing the plan, but some industry experts think a breakup could actually be good for Microsoft, and that no matter how this antitrust ends, the company ought to divide itself up."
William Whyman, industry Analyst: "Microsoft could be more effective and more powerful, and more a powerful earnings generating machine, if they broke themselves up into a number of more focused companies."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. After a run down by reporter Bob Woodruff of the points made by Bill Gates and Justice's Joel Klein, anchor Peter Jennings allowed for doubt about the government's case: "So the government has won its first battle to prove that Microsoft's size and power are a problem, but it's not clear at all if breaking up the software colossus would make things any better for consumers."

Betsy Stark began: "There was no consensus today that a breakup of Microsoft would be good for consumers. For one thing, they could end up paying more for Microsoft products. Two companies means two of everything, including two manufacturing operations."
Joe Clabby, technology consultant: "If you run two separate distinct companies, you're going to lose your economies of scale, and that's going to increase costs for running the company that are ultimately going to be passed to the consumer."
Stark: "There's also no agreement on whether breaking up Microsoft would improve the quality of products available to consumers. Some say if Microsoft is forced to share the unique code that operates Windows, competitors will be able to make better products to go with Windows."
Michael Murphy, Editor of Technology Investing: "What there will be though is a lot of companies deciding to write competitive products, because they now think the playing field is level."
Stark argued: "Others claim that progress on bringing new products to market will slow if the Microsoft brain trust is split in two."
Clabby: "There is a lot of cohesion that takes place by working as one solid entity, rather than a separate and distinct group of companies."
Stark: "As for competitors eager for a breakup, they will still find themselves facing formidable foes."
Murphy: "It's by far the number one company. If you split it in two, it will be the number one and the number two software company in the world."
Stark concluded: "Bottom line, plenty of reason to wonder if the government's proposal to break up Microsoft would solve the problems it is designed to fix."

-- CBS Evening News. Sharyl Attkisson noted how "consumer advocates are split on the government's drastic remedy." She asked Ralph Nader: "Would a breakup of Microsoft be good or bad for consumers?"
Nader answered: "It would be very good. A breakup of Microsoft into several companies will unleash natural competitive forces with the minimum of regulation."
Attkisson then amazingly identified a guy with a conservative group as a "consumer advocate," observing: "Not so, according to consumer advocate Erick Gustafson."
Gustafson, Citizens for a Sound Economy: "Well, it's bad for consumers."
Attkisson elaborated: "He says a breakup will convert a simple buying experience into chaos, where customers won't get their operating system, browser and software all together."
Gustafson: "It'll make this much more confusing and complex for consumers who will have to go out and assemble, if you will, a product that was able to be delivered to them by Microsoft Corporation."

I can't resist noting that while Gustafson may be on target with the big picture, the soundbite chosen by CBS actually undermines Microsoft's position. The pro-Microsoft argument was always that while they denied Netscape and competing applications, like the Lotus and Corel office suites, access to computer buyers through OEM deals (software installed by computer equipment manufacturers), it was no big deal since anyone could just download Netscape or go to the store and buy WordPerfect and install it on their own. So the current situation is full of "chaos" and is "confusing and complex for consumers" who want to use something other than a Microsoft product? -- Brent Baker

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