CyberAlert -- 05/03/2000 -- Drugs for Elian?

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Drugs for Elian?; Clift Stands By "Better" in Havana; Nostalgic for Clinton

1) ABC and CBS ran stories Tuesday night highlighting the White House's conference on teens and relaying Clinton's big government solutions of mandated parental leave and a government Web portal.

2) The broadcast networks ignored Charles LaBella's appearance before a Senate subcommittee while CNN gave him a few seconds and FNC offered a full story.

3) FNC's Brit Hume picked up a Miami Herald story on how a Cuban pediatrician on his way to see Elian was caught by Customs agents with "phenobarbital, a sedative, and Miltown, a tranquilizer."

4) Pressed by FNC's Bill O'Reilly, Eleanor Clift stood by her assertion that "to be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than being a poor child in Miami." It's "rational" to opt for Havana with its "access to free medical care."

5) "Some Americans," CBS's Richard Schlesinger insisted Monday night, "say they're starting to feel nostalgic about the Clinton years." But the same night FNC relayed how a new poll determined more think impeachment was the right thing to do than not.

6) Hillary Clinton was the divorce lawyer in 1988 for GMA's Nancy Snyderman, the medical reporter revealed Monday. Charles Gibson wondered: "What did she say to you about a philandering husband?"

7) Bryant Gumbel: "As the former head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev was widely hailed as the man who brought an end to the Cold War....These days he is...trying to find solutions to the world's environmental problems."

8) After some dialogue backing school vouchers, NBC's West Wing went left wing on campaign finance and gays in the military.

9) Reaction to ABC being taken off some cable systems: One guy called not being able to watch Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? "complete devastation." A flustered woman: "People are gonna miss the second part of the Arabian Nights!"


ABC and CBS delivered full stories Tuesday night highlighting the White House's conference on teenagers. Both relayed Clinton's big government solutions as ABC gave a sentence to those decrying the "nanny state" while CBS didn't allow a dissenting word.

On ABC's World News Tonight John Cochran began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "A White House aide did tell ABC News that we had to do something for parents who were scared by the recent rash of violent incidents involving teenagers, and this conference was that something, but instead of a dramatic change in policies, what parents got was advice from a panel of experts and other parents who were worried themselves and most of the advice sounded very familiar."
Cochran showed panelist Danny DeVito, the actor, saying teens get in trouble if they have too much free time. "The President pointed to a new White House report that again offered what sounded like just plain common sense," Cochran noted before Clinton suggested teens who have dinner with their parents are less likely to smoke, use drugs or be violent.

Cochran puffed up the Hillary campaign as he stressed how she "was here today to address a problem of concern to parents everywhere, including New York state." Cochran outlined her latest federal government spending plan: "Mrs. Clinton said the government is starting two new Internet portals where teens can find inoffensive material and where parents can find advice on raising teens."

Cochran concluded: "To many conservatives, today's conference was another example of the 'nanny state,' the government interfering in private lives. The White House's response: no one is forced to follow our recommendations."

Just as long as Janet Reno doesn't think you're violating "the rule of law."

Over on the May 2 CBS Evening News, John Roberts graciously relayed: "In convening this first ever summit on raising teens, the President and Mrs. Clinton spoke about an issue with which they are intimately familiar." Following a clip of Hillary joking about surviving Chelsea's teenage years, Roberts noted: "The conference was called as part of the administration's ongoing response to the Columbine tragedy, the main message supported by a lengthy White House study: Parents need to spend more time with their children."

After soundbites from Bill Clinton and a man successfully raised by a dedicated single parent, Roberts concluded by passing along Clinton's big government solution: "With a quarter of the nation's teens at risk of heading in the wrong direction, the President today urged Congress to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow parents more time to meet their family responsibilities, but with American parents working longer hours than any other parents in the world, it will take more than an act of Congress to tip the balance."


Charles LaBella's Tuesday appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on administrative oversight and courts, generated 27 seconds on CNN's The World Today and full story on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume as the broadcast networks and CNN's Inside Politics ignored it.

FNC's Brit Hume set up his network's May 2 report: "It has been known for some time that the man Janet Reno brought in to lead the campaign finance investigation wanted her to name an independent counsel, but the Justice Department refused to make public the memo the man wrote on the issue. Now though, some of its contents tumble into public view on Capitol Hill, and Brian Wilson has the story."
Wilson began: "Fact: In 1996 the Loral Corporation gave $1.5 million to the Democratic National Committee. Fact: A short time later, the Loral Corporation was granted government waivers allowing the company to do satellite business with China. Coincidence, quid pro quo? We now know that former Justice Department prosecutor Charles LaBella felt there was enough evidence on that question to warrant the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate both Loral and President Clinton."
LaBella before the Senate subcommittee: "If hypothetically you're going to investigate the person who gave the contribution because you think something was wrong with that, because they were seeking a quid pro quo, then it seems to me that part of the area of investigation would be the person who received the contribution."

Wilson later noted how "Senator Arlen Specter was finally allowed to review the document on Monday night and, for the first time, actually quoted from it during a hearing."
Specter: "You raised the issue of further investigation, quote, 'the Vice President may have given false statements,' closed quote."
Wilson: "That refers specifically to Vice President Gore's claim that he had an incomplete memory about White House efforts to collect hard and soft money campaign contributions in 1996. LaBella said after reviewing the evidence:"
LaBella: "It was inconceivable to me to rule out that it was an issue that he knew nothing about."


Castro's agents tried to sneak drugs into Elian's current Wye River home. Monday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume the host of the same name picked up on a Friday print report:
"It turns out that Customs officials at Dulles airport caught those doctors sent from Cuba to be with Elian Gonzalez with drugs, which they seized. The Miami Herald reports the drugs included phenobarbital, a sedative, and Miltown, a tranquilizer. It was not clear whether the drugs were intended to be given to Elian."

Friday's Miami Herald had related a complaint from the Cuban regime: "The statement also complained that Customs officials at Dulles International Airport in Washington on Thursday seized several medications carried by Elian's pediatrician, Dr. Caridad Ponce de Leon, citing 'a last-minute demand' that no foreign 'medical personnel may practice their profession in [Maryland].'
"The confiscated medicines were listed as amikacin sulfate, used for treatment of bacterial and staph infections; aminophyllin, a bronchodilator for treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema; cefazoline, for treatment of respiratory, urinary, skin and other infections; meprobamate, better known by the trade name Miltown, for treatment of anxiety; and phenobarbital, a barbiturate used as a sedative."

You can read this and many other Elian stories via the Miami Herald's index of Elian coverage:

Tuesday's Washington Times played the drug seizure on page one.


Newsweek's Eleanor Clift Monday night stood by her assertion that "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."

The quote, uttered on the McLaughlin Group of the April 7-9 weekend, was first put into play through its citation in the April 10 CyberAlert and has been picked up repeatedly since by many conservatives, including at the top of a Wall Street Journal editorial on Friday. Prompted by that quotation, Monday night, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, FNC's Bill O'Reilly invited Clift aboard his O'Reilly Factor show to explain herself. Clift, who is also a Fox News analyst, defended it, arguing: "I can understand why a rational, loving father can believe that his child will be protected in a state were he doesn't have to worry about going to school and being shot at...where he has access to free medical care." She insisted Elian had "a pretty good life in Cuba" with an air conditioned bedroom.

On the May 1 The O'Reilly Factor O'Reilly read Clift's quote to her and gave her a chance to back off: "So Eleanor, is this right, is this accurate, is it out of context, what is it?"

Clift didn't feel embarrassed, responding, as transcribed by MRC analyst Ted King: "It's absolutely my words. I uttered the sentences several weeks ago on the McLaughlin Group in the midst of the controversy over whether Elian should be returned to Cuba. And I said that in the context of emphasizing that first the father deserved custody of his child. And second the notion that sending Elian back to his childhood in Cuba was so horrific that we should violate the natural laws in this country of family bonds in order to save him from this horrendous experience and I pointed out that to be poor in Cuba was probably a better existence than to be poor in Miami."

An astounded O'Reilly replied: "You can't believe that Eleanor. Now come on, you're just trying to be provocative. You're just playing into that McLaughlin trap."
Clift: "No I believe it Bill."

O'Reilly wondered: "Would you cede that Cuba is a police state?"
Clift: "I would cede that Cuba has a repressive political system that I do not agree with. However, if I were the father of this boy I can understand why a rational, loving father can believe that his child will be protected in a state were he doesn't have to worry about going to school and being shot at, where drugs are not a big problem, where he has access to free medical care and where the literacy rate I believe is higher than this country's."
O'Reilly: "So that is more important?"
Clift: "I think there are some conditions that are worthy of bringing up a child-"
O'Reilly fired back with a historical analogy: "Alright Eleanor look, in Nazi Germany there were many favorable conditions on many social fronts under Hitler. There was no crime in the streets. The trains ran on time, people had jobs in the Weimar Republic. So you're making the same argument in a totalitarian regime that a boy is better off losing all freedom and all hope for the future. Because as you know Eleanor the annual per capita income in Cuba is 1,500 bucks. These people are living in abject poverty. So you are saying to the American people it is better be there and not have to undergo the temptations of Miami in a free society?"
Clift avoided the point: "I am talking about a father entitled to custody of his son. And also a father who happens to work in the tourist industry and who is a dedicated Fidelista and probably has a pretty good life in Cuba. I have read about Elian's existence that he had an air conditioned bedroom, that he had lots of toys this is obviously, I think, a well adjusted child to have charmed all of us and to have withstood what he did."


"Some Americans," CBS's Richard Schlesinger insisted Monday night, "say they're starting to feel nostalgic about the Clinton years even though he's not gone yet." But the same night FNC relayed how a new poll determined more think impeachment was the right thing to do than not and those who believe the Senate should have convicted him top those who agree with the acquittal.

The May 1 CBS Evening News ended with a piece by Schlesinger on Clinton's well-received video at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner which illustrated how he has nothing to do all day, a point inadvertently made by the fact he had the time to make the video. The video showed him doing laundry, washing a car, mowing the lawn and shopping online for a smoked ham. CNN's Inside Politics and FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume both played the five-minute plus video in full Monday night.

Concluding his piece, Schlesinger contended, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "The tape was done for a tough audience, a group of White House reporters, who have been writing a lot lately about how little the President has to do in his last months in office. Remember the kid from the online brokerage ad? He makes an appearance with the leader of the free world teaching him how to shop online in the Oval Office. The President can afford to laugh; some Americans looking at his two possible replacements say they're starting to feel nostalgic about the Clinton years even though he's not gone yet. Once an actor became President, with this performance Mr. Clinton could do the reverse, maybe. And the performance shows one side of the President most commanders in chief lack [clip from the video showing Clinton riding his bike in an OEOB hallway]. I mean could you see Richard Nixon doing this?"
Dan Rather added: "Or for that matter Jimmy Carter."

Schlesinger cited no evidence for his claim that anyone other than journalists are "starting to feel nostalgic about the Clinton years," but FNC's Brit Hume had numbers to show more think impeachment was proper than not. On Special Report with Brit Hume he summarized findings from a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll:
"Public attitudes toward President Clinton's impeachment seem to have shifted. 49 percent of those asked in a Fox News poll now say it was the right thing to do, 44 percent say it was wrong. And by a single point, 47 to 46 percent, those responding said Mr. Clinton should have been convicted" by the Senate.


A small world. Hillary Clinton handled the 1988 divorce for ABC's Nancy Snyderman, the ABC News medical correspondent and frequent fill-in host for Good Morning America revealed Monday morning on the show in an interview about her new book, Necessary Journeys.

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the revelation on the May 1 Good Morning America. After talking about her discovery in 1988 that her second husband had squandered their money and that he was cheating on her, this exchange occurred between Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Charles Gibson:
Snyderman "So I spent a very restless night and then I did what I think lot of young women do the next morning: I called mom."
Charles Gibson: "Who said?"
Snyderman: "Who said...go down to bank and get safe deposit box. If there are things you need to know, they're always in safe deposit boxes."
Gibson: "And you found a string of unpaid bills, tax liens, everything else."
Snyderman: "Former lives. I dumped that safe deposit box into a cardboard box and called a very good friend of mine, Connie Failles [sp?] in Little Rock and said, 'I'm in trouble and I think need an attorney and I don't know what to do.'"
Gibson: "Who was your divorce lawyer?"
Snyderman: "Hillary Clinton."
Gibson: "What did she say to you about a philandering husband?"
Snyderman avoided the implication: "Well, that's a great question. Life was so complicated at that time. One of the funniest things was Connie called Hillary and said, 'Nancy's in trouble. We need to find the best divorce attorney in town. Who is that?' And Hillary said, 'I am.' [laughs] And you know what? She's a great attorney. And she said bring down everything. She sat me down with one of her partners who did tax law and this man, as I walked in with this box of stuff from the IRS and unpaid bills and accounts I didn't know existed, he sort of developed this very sweet smile and I said, 'Are you smiling at me because I'm stupid?' He said, 'No, I'm smiling at you because if I had a dime for every woman who's walked into my office in circumstances like this, I'd be a millionaire.' And with that, the legality of dealing with the IRS and unpaid bills and Hillary helping me start to separate myself from this, it wasn't just a husband with another life, it was a series of layers of things."

As noted in the February 27, 1997 CyberAlert, Snyderman was amongst the 831 people the Clinton administration listed as overnight White House guests during its first term.


Bryant Gumbel spent most of his Monday interview of Mikhail Gorbachev asking about Russian President Putin's policies, but he opened with tributes to Gorbachev for ending the Cold War and for trying to solve environmental problems. He closed by claiming "Americans have fond memories" of Raisa.

Gumbel introduced Gorbachev on the May 1 The Early Show on CBS, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, by asserting: "As the former head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev was widely hailed as the man who brought an end to the Cold War. He won a Nobel peace prize for those efforts, but he has since moved from politics. These days he is involved with Green Cross International, trying to find solutions to the world's environmental problems."

Gumbel's last question, in the form of a tribute: "Your late wife, Raisa, was the first glamorous First Lady we had seen in the Soviet Union. Americans have fond memories of her, she passed away. How difficult has it been for you, personally, to replace the void she left?"


NBC's West Wing went a little right wing, but now it's back to going left wing. As detailed in the March 22 CyberAlert, an episode early this season featured a candid admission of how liberals don't trust people to spend their money correctly. In an early April episode, the character played by Rob Lowe argued for school vouchers, but in the first of a five-week run of fresh episodes for the May sweeps, on the April 26 edition characters advocated allowing gays to serve openly in the military and supported liberal campaign finance reform.

The episode ended with a re-energized "President Josiah Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, telling his staff he's tired of compromise and wants to fight for liberal causes.

West Wing airs Wednesdays at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT, so another new episode will air tonight and should pick up where last week's show, titled "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," left off.

-- On the April 5 episode "Sam Seaborn," the George Stephanopolous character played by Rob Lowe, gets into an argument with "Mallory," a public school teacher and twenty-something daughter of the Chief-of-Staff. Here's some of the dialogue as taken down by MRC intern Ken Shepherd:
Mallory: "School vouchers provide help for only a few students."
Sam: "We're offering a solution for that."
Mallory: "You're offering a lifeboat to the select few for whom vouchers will make any kind of difference."
Sam: "Mallory, everything you're saying makes sense. I just think that the state of urban schools is such that if you can save even one kid."
Mallory: "You can save more than one kid."
Sam: "Tell me how."
Mallory: "By asking Congress to approve not just a little but a lot more money for public education."
Sam: "Public education has been a public policy disaster for forty years, having spent around $4 trillion on public schools since 1965 the result has been a steady and inexorable decline in every measurable standard of student performance to say nothing of health and safety. But, don't worry about it cause the U.S. House of Representatives is on the case. I feel better already!"

Sam even hit the stand of Clinton and Gore: "Liberals have no problem with rich kids going to expensive private schools, that doesn't undermine public education, and liberals have no problem with middle-class kids going to parochial schools that doesn't undermine public education....But the idea that letting poor public school students choose private alternatives would destroy public education is simply contrary to our experience. Boston Latin, the oldest public school in America is still the best secondary school in New England."

Later, however, her father tells Mallory Sam doesn't really believe what he said: "It's opposition prep. When we're gearing up for a debate we have the smart guys take the other side."
Sam butters her up: "Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive to government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens just like national defense. That's my position."

-- April 26 episode. Upon learning that two FEC commissioners had resigned, "President Bartlet" demands: "Two candidates who back aggressive campaign finance reform." Later, Deputy Chief-of Staff "Josh" tells his boss he's come up with two names, including "Patty Calhoun" who "is the Director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. She worked in the White House OMB under two Republican Presidents." Josh insists she favors "aggressive overhaul" of campaign finance, a position only Hollywood could think someone at the Heritage Foundation would take.

Talking with Senate aides, Josh makes clear they want liberal overhaul as he lectures: "Soft money contributions render the 1974 Campaign Reform Act toothless. Soft money contributions which were ostensibly designed for party building, whatever that might mean, do nothing but eviscerate any meaningful election controls. We are by definition corrupt."
Senate aide: "I wouldn't say that."
Josh: "I know you wouldn't, Steve, but this money isn't coming in fives and tens and twenties it's coming in denominations of 100, 200, 500,000 dollars. It's coming from special interests. It's coming from special interests whose interests aren't the same as those who don't have a half a million bucks lying around. And it's not going to party building, it's going to issue ads it's going to candidates."
Another aide: "Yeah, it's called free speech, Josh."
Josh: "If the insurance industry wants to buy ad time in 64 major markets, they are free to do so. If the airplane manufacturing industry wants to back a candidate, they are free to shout from the rooftops. If Big Tobacco wants to wave a sign or put a bumper sticker on their car, they're free to do so. That's free speech. Money isn't speech."

In another subplot transcribed by MRC intern Michael Ferguson, "Sam Seaborn" has a meeting with some military officers to denounce "don't ask, don't tell." In the midst of this argument in walks the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a black [race relevant as you'll soon see] Admiral played by John Amos. He summarizes their position on gays serving, telling the Major: "You just don't want to see them serving in the armed forces."
Major: "No sir, I don't."
JCS Chairman: "Because they pose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion?"
Major: "Yes sir."
JCS Chairman: "That's what I think, too. I also think the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change."
Major: "Yes sir."
Taking the opposite position of the real-life Colin Powell, the JCS Chairman argues: "Problem with that is that's what they were saying about me fifty years ago. Blacks shouldn't serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an Admiral in the U.S. Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Beat that with a stick."


Ever hear of an antenna? Monday night all the networks led with the since settled, at least temporarily, dispute between Disney and Time-Warner which led to Time-Warner taking ABC stations off their cable systems in several major cities -- or from the Time-Warner perspective, led to their inability to show ABC because the network withheld retransmission consent.

The May 1 NBC Nightly News, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, featured "man on the street" reaction from some pretty pathetic people unable to cope with the concept of not being able to see ABC shows on cable, something the third of Americans who don't pay for cable manage to do every day. NBC reporter Mike Jensen rued: "Caught in the middle, viewers angry at Time-Warner, at ABC and at its parent Disney."
An older white woman screeched: "Makes me not want to buy any Disney products, not bother go to Disneyland! Anything that has to do with Disney!"
A twenty-something white guy: "In not being able to watch Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? is going to be almost a complete devastation."
A thirty-something black woman, shaking her hear head: "And tonight people are gonna miss the second part of the Arabian Nights!"

+++ Late Wednesday morning MRC Web man Eric Pairel will post, on the MRC home page, a RealPlayer clip of these soundbites.

How do these people manage to get through the day? How do these people think you got a TV picture before cable? Thank God there was a settlement Tuesday before these people had to figure out how to use an antenna.

Or an A/B switch. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers ran a soundbite from a twenty-something guy reacting to the news ABC stations had been restored to the cable systems: "That makes me very happy that I don't have to go in there and spend the money that I was going to spend on the A/B switch."

Nothing worse in life than having to shell out four bucks at Radio Shack. -- Brent Baker

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