CyberAlert -- 04/24/1998 -- Peter Backs Jane

Peter Backs Jane; Fox Conspiracy; Education IRAs Hurt Poor; Miss America Missed

1) Peter Jennings defended Jane Fonda's charge about starving children and he misses the homeless shanty towns in New York.

2) Fox goes conspiracy. All the networks highlighted conspiracy theories about Martin Luther King's death but all except FNC emphasized the lack of evidence.

3) Only NBC's Lisa Myers explained Susan McDougal's importance. Only ABC and CBS mentioned how George Bush denounced attacks on Starr.

4) CBS and CNN contended that the education savings accounts are a sop to the rich, but in reality all incomes would benefit.

5) Dateline NBC will interview former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen, but so far only FNC touched her admission of sex with Clinton.

6) Only men commit adultery? But then with whom?


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)ABC News anchor Peter Jennings told Tom Snyder that Jane Fonda was on target in her comments about children "starving to death" in North Georgia and he complained about how New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's policies have eliminated the shanty towns of homeless men. He doesn't want anyone to be able to avoid them.

Appearing on CBS's Late Late Show with Tom Snyder on Thursday night April 23/Friday morning April 24 Jennings defended Fonda. Here's the exchange with Snyder after Snyder asked about the kind of poverty Jennings has seen abroad:

Peter Jennings: "I was thinking about what Jane Fonda said the other night about North Georgia and how she thought North Georgia was not unlike parts of the developing world and some politicians in Georgia jumped all over her."

Tom Snyder: "When was she in North Georgia? Well yes she lives in Atlanta."

Jennings: "She lives in Atlanta. And the truth of the matter is there are parts of America which are just as bad as some of the worst parts in the rest of the world and that's desperately sad."

New York Mayor Giuliani has tried to get the homeless off the streets of New York City, but that has hardly pleased Jennings. Raising Jennings' volunteer work for the Coalition for the Homeless, Snyder observed that he saw fewer homeless on Manhattan's streets. Jennings lamented the change:

"What you really don't see, when I first started volunteering for the coalition -- by the way there are a lot of people who volunteer a lot more diligently and more seriously than I do -- in the feeding program we used to feed under the Brooklyn Bridge, under the Manhattan Bridge. And this is only seven or eight years ago there were communities of homeless there, of men primarily who did not want to be in the shelter system. There are none of those little shanty towns anymore, they've all been pushed away. Some people may think that's a good thing but I always thought it was sad that we hide the homeless because, because it's a fact of life and I also think it's incumbent upon the rest of us to recognize the homeless and see the homeless and look the homeless in the eye because there's no lower status in life than to be without a place to live."

Just as Giuliani is trying to make New York look less like the Third World Jennings demands it look just like it.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Thursday night (April 23) all the networks led with the passing of James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King. ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC highlighted how many, including King's family, either believe Ray had help or was just a patsy in a larger government-directed conspiracy. But only FNC treated the theories as credible and failed to show their weaknesses.

-- On ABC's World News Tonight Forrest Sawyer explained Ray's theory about a man named "Raoul," adding: "The evidence of a government conspiracy actually came from Ray's last attorney, William Pepper, who claimed there was not only a sniper on the ground across from King's hotel, but also a team of military assassins set up nearby."

But then Sawyer knocked down the theories, reporting that a military memo ordering the killing, offered up by Pepper, was proven fake. In addition, Pepper claimed the leader of the military assassination squad was supposedly killed to keep quiet but, Sawyer pointed out, he's alive enough to be suing Pepper.

Sawyer charged: "To date William Pepper has still not offered a single witness or verifiable piece of evidence to support his claims..."

-- Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News dismissive of the conspiracy theories: "Though the evidence against him was overwhelming and he confessed to the King murder, he later changed his story and spent most of the past 30 years telling one different tale after another." The subsequent story relayed the views of King's family and of Jesse Jackson about a wider plot, but also noted that author Gerald Posner and the Memphis DA's office have reviewed all the evidence and maintain that Ray fired the fatal shot.

-- Tom Brokaw topped the NBC Nightly News by giving equal weight to the conspiracy theory: "James Earl Ray is dead but conspiracy theories live on. Was he really the only killer of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior?" But in his story Pete Williams also explained the conclusion drawn by Posner.

-- FNC's Fox Report was in WackyWorld. Co-anchor Jon Scott asked at the top of the 7pm ET broadcast: "Liver failure killed James Earl Ray but did Ray kill Dr. King?"

Reporter Juliet Huddy (sp?) concluded her story: "James Earl Ray goes to his grave convicted of a murder he and others say someone else may have committed."

Up next, reporter Bret Baier zoomed in on doubts by family and friends: "Reverend Joseph Lowery, King's close friend and fellow civil rights leader, says America lost today, lost a chance for the whole truth..."

Neither story gave a second to anyone who thinks Ray is solely responsible, but FNC only went deeper into conspiracy. Later in the show they dedicated the in-depth "Fox Files" segment to the conspiracy theories, treating them as credible. Co-anchor

Jon Scott declared: "His death now does not bring the story to a close for people who say the truth has yet to be uncovered."

Reporter Eric Shawn began with the King family claim that Ray was merely a "a patsy." Next, how Earl Caldwell saw puff of smoke in bushes from a second gunman. Third, Shawn relayed the claim that black detectives were pulled from King's protective detail that day. Fourth, Shawn summarized the allegations of William Pepper, the man ABC's Sawyer effectively discredited, about how the Mafia carried out a government contract to kill King.

Shawn noted that the theories had been ruled out by Congress, but concluded with the insistence of conspiracy theorists that we don't know what really happened:

"The House Assassinations Committee ruled out the Mafia, the military and the government, concluding that Ray was probably the killer and if there was any conspiracy it may have been by a bunch of racists who put up a $50,000 bounty on Ray's life. Now, Ray's death robs him of a new trial but not the hope of others that the full truth will one day be told."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Susan McDougal's refusal to say anything to the grand jury in Little Rock generated full stories Thursday night on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. FNC held it to a brief item summarized by co-anchor Catherine Crier. All but FNC showed at least one clip of a family member denouncing Starr and of Starr aide Charles Bakaly enunciating a variation on this bite aired by ABC: "Judge Starr believes that a witness should have a last clear chance to come forward and provide truthful and complete answers to the questions."

Only NBC gave Lisa Myers enough time to explain what Starr thinks McDougal knows about Clinton and while every network either Tuesday or Wednesday night highlighted George Bush's memo asserting that Secret Service officers should not be made to testify, only ABC and CNN's The World Today cited the cover letter Thursday night in which the former President denounced attacks on Starr. In the morning, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC Today featured stories on the controversy over Dan Burton calling Clinton a "scumbag," but in the evening only FNC mentioned the matter. Some notes about April 23 coverage:

-- On ABC's World News Tonight Peter Jennings noted: "Today we learn of another letter in which Mr. Bush defends Mr. Starr. He writes 'on this occasion I am furious about the mindless attacks on him.'"

-- "The Clinton's former Whitewater partner is taken in chains to the Ken Starr grand jury," Dan Rather announced at the beginning of the CBS Evening News. Introducing the story Rather intoned: "Again today she said Starr is ideologically motivated and out to get the Clintons."

Playing into the White House spin that Lewinsky is personal and not related to obstruction of justice, after noting that a new CBS News poll found that 48 percent want the Whitewater investigation to continue, Rather asserted: "But as for the President's personal life, 60 percent said they want Starr to end the Monica Lewinsky investigation."

-- Only Lisa Myers, on the NBC Nightly News, provided a full account of why Susan McDougal is so important, explaining: "The key question for McDougal: Did the President tell the truth when he said he did not know about an illegal $300,000 loan to her which benefitted their Whitewater partnership? The man who made the loan, David Hale, claims then Governor Clinton did know and in fact pressured him to make the loan. Jim McDougal, Susan's ex-husband, changed his story before he died to also claim that Clinton had lied. Both Hale and McDougal are convicted felons. That leaves Susan McDougal. Her testimony is doubly important because sources say the possibility that Clinton lied under oath about the loan remains the most serious potential charge against him from Starr's four year investigation in Arkansas..."

-- Network reporters seem incapable of separating an investigation of how campaign laws were broken from the quest to "reform" those laws. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught the latest example on Thursday's Today. In a story on Burton's "scumbag" remark and how Democrat Henry Waxman denounced Burton, NBC's Gwen Ifill propounded: "As Waxman spoke Republican leaders were beating a hasty retreat on the very issue Burton is investigating, campaign finance practices. Quieting a revolt among Democrats and moderate Republicans House Speaker Newt Gingrich revived campaign finance reform that he killed last month without debate."

Her conclusion echoed the view that everyone but a few extremists is all for liberal reform: "A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly twice as many people blame Republicans as Democrats for the failure of campaign finance reform. But at least today it's not as quite as dead as it used to be. Gwen Ifill, NBC News, the Capitol."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Don't get between a network anchor and an opportunity to paint any tax break as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. The latest target for the networks: the proposal to create education savings accounts.

Instead of giving a sentence to both sides, on the April 21 CBS Evening News Dan Rather relayed just Clinton's class warfare atack on the idea:

"President Clinton today attacked a Republican proposal in Congress. This Republican proposal would let people set up education savings accounts that earn tax free interest. The President said this GOP version benefits the rich and private schools at the expense of already decaying public schools."

The next night, on the April 22 The World Today, CNN anchor

Martin Savidge gave the GOP view, but then endorsed the Democratic argument:

"The Republicans say 14 million families with twenty million children would benefit and half he children would have kids in public schools. Democrats are worried about the percentage of families that would invest in private schools. The argument: that tax breaks for private tuition would benefit the wealthy at the expense of public education. And Democrats have numbers on their side. A Treasury Department report says 70 percent of the benefits would go to just the top 20 percent of income earners. Overall the education savings accounts would cost the government $1.6 billion in tax revenues."

Obviously, the more you make the bigger the same percentage is to you dollar-wise. But as a March 17 Heritage Foundation "Executive Memorandum" demonstrated, middle and lower income families would appreciate the benefits of the plan:

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 1995 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES), over 9 million families with children and annual earnings of less than $95,000 have demonstrated that they can save for an A+ Account. Even those who earn less than $25,000 per year have a mean savings of $2,689. Furthermore, the survey notes that approximately 17 million children could benefit from these accounts; 6.6 million of these children live in households earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. Nearly 60 percent of the children whose families qualify for these accounts are from households making less than $50,000 a year."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)NBC is running this promo: "Dateline Friday. Did this former Miss America once have an affair with Bill Clinton? What really happened? Now she's talking to Jane Pauley."

Lost in the April 1 dismissal of the Paula Jones case was the admission by Elizabeth Ward Gracen that contrary to her 1992 aversions she did have sex with Bill Clinton and the campaign asked her to deny it. One more example of how Clinton denials are meaningless and how he will mislead investigators.

Back on March 31 only FNC's David Shuster told viewers about the development broken by the New York Daily News, reporting that Gracen "is now willing to testify she had a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton fifteen years ago when Clinton was Governor of Arkansas and according to Gracen's publicist she is also prepared to state that the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign urged her to deny it. Gracen says she did but now wants to set the record straight by saying she had a one time affair with Bill Clinton, that it was consensual and she wasn't awarded with any state or federal jobs..."

In the April 1 Washington Post reporter Peter Baker recalled the 1992 deception:

"Gracen was first linked to Clinton in a lawsuit filed in 1990 by a disgruntled state employee who claimed the then- Governor had affairs with six women, including Gracen and Gennifer Flowers. The suit was dropped for lack of evidence, but became an issue during the 1992 presidential campaign. 'It was thoroughly investigated and it's not true,' Clinton said then, while his spokeswoman, Dee Dee Myers, insisted that 'every single charge has been proven to be a lie.'

"Yet Gracen soon posed nude in Playboy and coyly declined to say whether she had slept with the candidate. With the critical New York primary just weeks away, the Clinton campaign contacted her and obtained permission to issue a denial in her name of a 'romantic relationship.' Shortly afterward, she told a news conference, 'I did not have sex with Bill Clinton.'"

In the April 10 Washington Times Greg Pierce reported that Gracen "got her big break in show business just a week after her manager huddled with two of Bill Clinton's closest pals six years ago, the New York Post reports." The Post discovered that a week after Harry Thomason and Mickey Kantor met with her manager and at about the time she landed a mini-series role, Gracen, Pierce summarized, "held a press conference in Little Rock to deny a story in Star magazine that she and the presidential candidate were lovers."

If any of this makes it onto Dateline it will be a network first, but don't count on it as Gracen is a big Clinton defender. Dateline airs an hour earlier than normal tonight, at 8pm ET/7pm CT.


cyberno6.gif (1081 bytes)From Thursday's This Morning on CBS, MRC analyst Clay Waters caught this from co-host Jane Robelot: "This morning in our series, 'Lie, Cheat, Steal,' we turn to the deception of adultery. It seems that more and more women are doing something that used to be considered pretty much men only."

So, until now all those men have only been fooling around with unmarried women?

-- Brent Baker

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