CyberAlert -- 06/16/2000 -- "Dangerous" Summer

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"Dangerous" Summer; Coelho's Ethics Skipped; Fruit or Prescription; Judd Rose's Rants

1) "The summer could be especially dangerous," Dan Rather warned in opening Thursday's CBS Evening News by conveying dire warnings about rising temperatures, price gouging oil companies, brownouts, "hell fires" and an "ultra-drought" spreading across the nation.

2) ABC, MSNBC and NBC Thursday night noted Tony Coelho's departure from the Gore campaign but didn't bother to mention his ethical problems, including a criminal probe. CBS made a vague allusion.

3) PBS's Jim Lehrer talked to Al Gore for 18 minutes but didn't ask about missing subpoenaed e-mail or Gore's inaction on his decrepit rental house. Gore claimed "we had a miserable economic performance in the 1980s." Leno joked about the Gore rental home.

4) More advocacy, via anecdote, of another entitlement. Thursday night ABC's Linda Douglass showcased a woman who claimed she must choose between buying fruit and paying for her prescription.

5) NBC's Tom Brokaw remarked that "we haven't heard about him in awhile." Indeed, NBC never showed the photo of Elian in the Young Pioneers uniform. Dan Rather claimed Elian "has enjoyed far better treatment than most" kids who arrive in the U.S. illegally.

6) ABC and CNN reporter Judd Rose, who passed away on Saturday, once denounced the MRC as "narrow, neanderthal." He also slandered the 1988 Bush campaign, claiming David Duke was "sending the same coded messages that the Horton ads did...for the Bush campaign."


The end is near! Global warming means more warming than ever, gas prices are soaring because of price gouging oil companies, power outages are everywhere, but even if you can afford the gas you can't escape because freeways are breaking up. And where would you go since there are "hell fires" all around and an "ultra-drought" in the West. And the Southwest. And the Midwest. And the Southeast. Welcome to summer, CBS News style.

Here's how Dan Rather greeted CBS Evening News viewers on Thursday night, June 15:
"Good evening. This could be a summer to survive. CBS News has been told the government will officially report tomorrow that temperatures in this country, so far this year, are the warmest since they started keeping records. This is one reason the summer could be especially dangerous. It will also be expensive. Gasoline prices are so high the government is looking into possible gouging. Heat waves are forcing up power prices, forcing rolling brownouts and hot enough to buckle freeways in California. The hell fires in the West are getting worse, whipped up by near hurricane force winds as an ultra-drought builds in the West, Southwest, Midwest and Southeast. CBS is going to take you around the nation tonight to look in depth as summer is, by the calendar, officially about to begin."


Tony Coelho's ethical problems consistently ignored by the networks, round three. They did not raise questions about his ties to corrupt S&Ls when he was named Gore campaign Chairman in May 1999, they skipped the revelation in March of this year about a criminal investigation by the State Department's Office of Inspector General over charges of improper spending in 1998 when he was head of the U.S. expo at the World's Fair in Portugal and, rounding out the troika, Thursday night ABC's World News Tonight, MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News didn't mention Coelho's ethics in reporting his resignation from the Gore campaign. The CBS Evening News offered a vague sentence about how "federal investigators have been probing Coelho's private financial dealings lately." CNN and FNC did alert viewers to Coelho's problems.

June 15 World News Tonight viewers only heard this from ABC anchor Peter Jennings: "Presidential candidate Al Gore has made another major change in his campaign. Commerce Secretary William Daley, seen with him here, will take over the job of running the operation. Tony Coelho has resigned abruptly citing his health."

Tom Brokaw announced on the NBC Nightly News: "In presidential politics tonight, a big change at the top for the Gore campaign, Chairman Tony Coelho stepping down for health reasons. He's been struggling with epileptic seizures and an inflamed colon. His doctors advised him to leave the campaign because of the high cost of stress. His replacement: Commerce Secretary William Daley of the legendary Chicago political dynasty."

Bob Schieffer provided the "Real Deal" on Coelho for the CBS Evening News and did at least go beyond health problems: "While Coelho left because of illness insiders said it was also a convenient excuse in bring in Daley, son of the legendary Chicago Mayor and perhaps the best politician in the administration at a time when Gore's campaign seems stalled."
After soundbites from Gore and Daley, Schieffer touched on ethics: "And Daley brings the campaign something it's been sorely missing, an articulate spokesman on television. Federal investigators have been probing Coelho's private financial dealings lately and since then he's tended to avoid the cameras."

Not that he really had much to worry about since the networks have displayed a lack of interest in telling viewers anything bad about Coelho.

As reported in the May 20, 1999 Media Reality Check:

The Gore campaign drew little media attention with their May 11 announcement of a new campaign chairman: ex-Rep. Tony Coelho, a media darling before he resigned in 1989. The Washington Post found Coelho failed to report on his financial disclosure forms a $50,000 loan from S&L executive Thomas Spiegel to buy $100,000 in junk bonds from Drexel Burnham Lambert. As head of the Democrats' House campaign committee, Coelho specialized in soliciting corrupt S&L barons. CNN reporter Brooks Jackson's book Honest Graft noted Coelho had free use of the yacht of top S&L crook Don Dixon with free food and drinks to entertain contributors.

Try to imagine how the network news would cover a politician who resigned rather than face ethics probes by the House or the media if they were named to head a GOP campaign. Or if they named one of the top check-bouncers of the House bank (Coelho made the Top 22 with almost $300,000 in hot checks). A non-story? But the Coelho news did not merit an evening or morning news story on ABC, CBS, or NBC, although it did appear on CNN and MSNBC.

END Excerpt

To read the rest of this Media Reality Check, go to:

The March 28 CyberAlert this year relayed:

The chairman of Al Gore's presidential campaign is under criminal investigation, the National Journal disclosed on Thursday [March 23], leading to Friday [March 24] newspaper accounts, but the broadcast networks and MSNBC ignored it and CNN gave it a few seconds. Only FNC provided a full report Friday night.

The March 24 Inside Politics included a short item on the probe of Tony Coelho and during the 8pm ET The World Today anchor Jim Moret read this item, which MRC analyst Paul Smith timed at 19 seconds: "Gore's campaign chairman Tony Coelho is under a criminal investigation by the State Department. Law enforcement officials say the investigation is based on an audit of Coelho's financial transactions while he was in charge of the U.S. pavilion at the 1998 World's Fair. Vice President Gore said today Coelho is doing a quote, 'terrific job'"

Not a word about it appeared Friday night on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams and nothing aired Friday night or since on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News.

FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report on Friday only gave the development a brief mention, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, but the 6pm ET/9pm PT Special Report with Brit Hume led with the news. Regular Friday anchor Tony Snow began the March 24 show with an understatement: "It may not have gotten page one coverage in major newspapers, but the continuing investigation into the financial dealings of Vice President Al Gore's campaign manager Tony Coelho could complicate Bill Clinton's quest for a legacy and Al Gore's drive for the White House. A year-long State Department inquiry has gotten more serious and, as Fox News's Rita Cosby tells us, the Vice President is having to deal with it."

END Excerpt

For details about Cosby's FNC story, go to:


Speaking of Gore team members not having to worry about tough questions, in a PBS NewsHour interview Thursday night Al Gore himself was not asked about either his missing e-mail or the poor condition of his rental property. The 18-minute interview occurred just a day after Gore told the Fox News Channel that he didn't know what happened to his subpoenaed e-mail as "I'm not an expert on computers," but PBS's Jim Lehrer failed to pursue the matter. Instead, viewers learned from Gore about how "we had a miserable economic performance in the 1980s."

Lehrer asked Gore several questions about the departure of Tony Coelho and arrival of Bill Daley, and Lehrer did mention the investigation of Coelho's activities at the World's Fair. Lehrer moved on to inquiring about why Bush is ahead in the polls, then asked: "You talked about prosperity, are you not getting the credit you believe you deserve for the good economic times?"

Lehrer reminded Gore that George W. Bush said the prosperity began in 1980s with a 25 percent tax cut, asking: "Has he got it wrong?" Gore replied:|
"Oh yeah, of course. Because we had a miserable economic performance in the 1980s and you don't have to take my word for that, just ask anybody on the street who went through it. We had the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We had a quadrupling of our national debt. We had $300 billion budget deficits stretching out as far as the eye could see. Crime rates soared, social problems got worse. There was no plan to do anything about it..."

I broke off my transcribing at this point as he was getting beyond preposterous.

Other questions from Lehrer touched on the size of Gore's tax cut, how concerned he is about mistakes with the death penalty, if Bush is correct to allow more executions in Texas and whether reconciliation between North Korea and South Korea lessens the need for the U.S. to pursue missile defense.

The network news divisions may continue to refuse to tell their viewers about Gore the slumlord, but their late night comedy show hosts know a story that hits home when they see one. And they realize how their viewers can identify with this one.

MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens passed along a joke cited in Hotline as uttered by Jay Leno on the June 12 Tonight Show on NBC. Referring to Money magazine's best and worst places to live lists, Leno joked: "Among the best places: Bend, Oregon, Fort Collins, Colorado...The worst place to live, anybody know? One of Al Gore's rental properties....No running water and no working toilets, you know what they call that in Tennessee? The Four Seasons Hotel."

Last week, David Letterman provided the "Top Ten Al Gore Tenant Pet Peeves." To read the list, check the June 6 CyberAlert:


Liberal network advocacy through anecdote. ABC's Linda Douglass on Thursday night pushed the Republican Party congressional leadership from the left to catch up with liberal Democrats and their effort to create another entitlement paid for by taxpayers. Her tool to promote prescription drug coverage in Medicare: relaying the plea of an elderly lady who claimed she has to choose between paying for her drugs and buying fruit.

At least the woman picked by ABC wasn't as much of a jerk as the woman featured by John Roberts in his May 10 push for more federal spending. That woman showed no gratitude for all the money workers have extracted from their paychecks to take care of her: "America is the only country that is mean to their senior citizens where medicine is concerned."

Douglass began her June 15 World News Tonight liberal advocacy in the form of a news story: "Katharine Roberts barely gets by on Social Security benefits and she struggles to pay for the medication she needs every month."
Roberts, identified on-screen as being from New York: "I very often have to choose whether, for example, to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and use canned beans and things of that sort because if I don't I can't buy my prescriptions."
Douglass explained the political benefits of further burdening taxpayers: "Roberts and many other seniors say the political party that has a plan to pay for their prescription drugs may get their votes in the fall. Democrats have been touting their proposal for months. The Republicans, with no plan in place, have been forced to scramble. They've been warned by their pollster, in a memo obtained by ABC News, that Democrats enjoy a 'huge advantage' on the prescription drug issue. Moreover the pollster told the party, 'it is more important to communicate that you have a plan than it is to communicate what is in the plan.' Within days of hearing from their pollster, Republicans unveiled their plan."

Oh, joy.

After noting how Democrats are concerned that Republicans may snatch the issue and a soundbite of Clinton saying the Republican plan doesn't go far enough, Douglass returned to Roberts, as if her demands should triumph: "What worries Katharine Roberts is more talk but no action."
A very demanding Roberts insisted: "I don't see anything changing very rapidly. I hear there's a lot of legislation. I want to see it happen."
Douglass ruefully concluded: "It is not likely to happen anytime soon because in an election year neither party wants the other side to get credit for doing something voters want so much."

Maybe voters wouldn't want it so much, if they really do, if the networks focused their anecdotes on burdened taxpayers instead of on never-satisfied greedy elderly citizens who already get huge money transfers from workers.


In reporting how the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez filed an appeal Thursday to the 11th circuit, NBC's Tom Brokaw remarked that "we haven't heard about him in awhile." Indeed, if "we" means Brokaw's viewers he's correct as he never bothered to inform Nightly News viewers back in May about the photo taken at Wye River showing Elian in the uniform of the Young Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth group. Thursday night CBS's Dan Rather proclaimed that "Elian Gonzalez has enjoyed far better treatment than most" kids who arrive in the U.S. illegally.

Introducing a June 15 NBC Nightly News story, Brokaw asserted: "We haven't heard about him in awhile but now the ongoing saga of the young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez. The latest legal maneuvers by his Miami relatives to keep him in this country. NBC's Pete Williams tonight on their 11th hour plea."

CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather used the basics of the appeal as the hook for another story: "This slow court process is not unusual in immigration cases involving children. But as Cynthia Bowers dug out in this Eye on America investigation, Elian Gonzalez has enjoyed far better treatment than most."

Bowers looked at how many children who arrive in the U.S. illegally, from places like Jamaica, spend months in detention centers isolated from their families.

Well, Elian will soon be able to spend the rest of his life in a detention center called Cuba.


Judd Rose, an ABC News correspondent who joined CNN a couple of years ago, passed away on Saturday at age 45 a few years after being operated on for a brain tumor. His passing reminded me of an angry letter he sent the MRC back in 1988 after we gave him our Janet Cooke Award in MediaWatch for the most distorted story of the month, in his case a piece about Dan Quayle, then the just-selected Bush VP nominee.

"You squeaky-clean watch-dogs at MediaWatch are so concerned about our conduct, I wonder why you aren't more conscious of your own," he spewed before he complained: "I'm not as accustomed as some of my colleagues to your narrow, neanderthal, and slanted perception of what you see in the news media."

Rose also abused his position as a reporter to relay left-wing vitriol as fact and imply the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 employed a racist appeal and four years later to rebuke the 1980s as the "greed is good" years.

Below is an excerpt from the MediaWatch article to which he objected, his angry retort and his comments about Bush as a racist and castigating the values of the Reagan years.

-- From the September 1988 MediaWatch "Janet Cooke Award," the portion about Rose's story:

Ted Koppel launched the August 18 Nightline with more than just a factual account of the day's events: "Why did a hardline conservative and Vietnam hawk choose the National Guard over service in Vietnam? And did family connections make that choice possible?" Rose then dismissed Bush's acceptance speech, declaring: "The convention and nomination were his, but it didn't matter. Once again George Bush was being overshadowed by someone else." A short time later, he reported -- erroneously -- that an ex-National Guardsman called the Guard on behalf of Quayle to get him "ahead of the waiting list."

Next, Rose allowed liberal Washington Post columnist Haynes Johnson to deliver the final blow to Quayle: "He's a person who presents himself as an ardent anti-communist, strong on defense, an expert in all these areas, strong defender of the Vietnam War who it appears got out of service in the war by favoritism, power, privilege, and political advantage." Rose gave time to Senators Bob Dole and John McCain to defend Quayle, but not to rebut Johnson's powerful image of an elitist draft-dodger.

In his conclusion Rose was already spelling doom for the two day old Republican ticket: "George Bush leaves New Orleans to the sounds of cheering, but it may have a hollow ring soon enough. History's shown when a candidate becomes an issue it can be damaging and even fatal to a campaign. Well Dan Quayle has become an issue and he's made Bush an issue too. This, after all, was Bush's first and biggest decision on his own. And the way it turned out has hardly enhanced his image as a leader."

Both Koppel and Jeff Greenfield continued the rampage. Greenfield characterized the debate over Quayle as one of "elitism." Koppel added: "Jeff Greenfield used the term elitism, let me use another term, how about 'hypocrisy.'"

Less than one week later, conclusive proof showed that the Indiana Guard was not operating at full force at the time and that Quayle in fact used no special privilege to enter the National Guard. But Judd Rose, in a conversation with MediaWatch defended his segment, claiming: "I don't think the facts have borne out yet. But that's a political judgment... There was a frenzied atmosphere that day. In that atmosphere sometimes things go into extremes. In my case, though, I don't think that was the case."

Asked whether the Quayle focus might be created by a media unsympathetic to the conservative cause, Rose excused himself but indicted some of his colleagues: "You say a lot of reporters are trying to crucify George Bush and conservatives. That may be true. But that's not this reporter."

After Quayle was vindicated on all counts, most media outlets called it quits. ABC's Richard Threlkeld even delivered a half hearted apology for the media's over-indulgence. On August 24, he admitted that reporting had been "inconsistent" and that "there were in fact vacancies in Quayle's National Guard unit when he joined and no waiting list, suggesting favoritism played no crucial part in Quayle's enlistment." Added Threlkeld: "Some of the reporting has involved things about Quayle that seem less than front page news: what about that weekend with some golfing buddies and the female lobbyist, how low were his grades in college, did he have to talk his way into law school, is all of this getting to be too much. Maybe so."

END Excerpt

To read the entire article, go to:

-- Rose's response, as well as a more encouraging one from another ABC News reporter we criticized, as relayed in the November 1988 MediaWatch:

Two ABC reporters received the September Janet Cooke Award for stories on Sen. Dan Quayle's background. Each, however, reacted far differently to the honor.

In a letter to MediaWatch, Nightline correspondent Judd Rose agreed "the depiction of what I said and who I spoke with was, by and large, accurate," but complained "the comments that I made to [MediaWatch] on the phone were out of context and certainly not faithful to the spirit of what I was saying."

Rose cited several examples before concluding with this colorful rebuke: "Taking a quote out of context is something that has happened before, and no doubt, will happen again. But since you squeaky-clean watch-dogs at MediaWatch are so concerned about our conduct, I wonder why you aren't more conscious of your own... Again I'm flattered that your publication would honor me with this dubious award. But forgive me, gentlemen. Having only been in Washington for a bit under one year, I'm not as accustomed as some of my colleagues to your narrow, neanderthal, and slanted perception of what you see in the news media. Consider me educated."

ABC News colleague John Martin noted what he felt was one omission in our story, but felt the article was balanced and fair: "I've just read your piece giving me the Janet Cooke Award. While I don't relish receiving the award, and don't believe I deserve it, I wanted you to know I felt you did a good job. You took the time to ask my views; you obviously spoke with [former Indianapolis News Editor M. Stanton] Evans at length; you attempted to assess both sides; you included my side of the story. That's all a journalist asks."

END Reprint.

You can find this online at:

-- Rose's rants:

The next fall Rose told viewers of ABC's Prime Time Live on November 2, 1989: "In a way, you might say that David Duke is the son of Willie Horton. Duke is more overt, of course, but he's really just pushing the same buttons and sending the same coded messages that the Horton ads did so effectively for the Bush campaign last year."

Four years later, on the May 13, 1993 Prime Time Live, Rose looked back with scorn on the Reagan '80s: "With power comes the abuse of power. And where there are bosses, there are crazy bosses. It's nothing new -- Louis B. Mayer, George Steinbrenner, Leona Helmsley. The past is full of crazy bosses. So's the future. From burger joints to board rooms, there seem to be more crazy bosses out there more than ever. Maybe it's part of the price we're paying for the Greed is Good '80s, when calling someone an S.O.B. was a compliment and bad behavior was mistaken for charisma."

It's sad that Rose died so young, but let's not forget what he was in life, a liberal advocate who delivered biased reporting. -- Brent Baker

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