CyberAlert -- 06/11/2001 -- Global Warming Report Distorted

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Global Warming Report Distorted; "Have to" Have Price Caps?; Washington Post Ombudsman Scolded Paper on Civil Rights Leak

1) CBS's Bob Schieffer advocated electricity price caps as the only rational policy, telling Tom Daschle: "Don't you just almost have to do that as a short-term solution?" Face the Nation co-host Gloria Borger also pushed from the left, demanding: "Democrats are going to revisit this tax cut at some unspecified point in the future. What are you waiting for? Why not do it now?"

2) Freedom of speech is vital, but only for members of the media. On Sunday, Bob Schieffer delivered an impassioned defense of the media's First Amendment protections. But back in March Schieffer cheered on McCain's campaign speech regulatory bill.

3) Catching up with ABC and CBS, on Friday night NBC ran a story distorting the NAS global warming report. While NBC's David Gregory declared that it found "humans are playing a large role" in global warming, on the same day the Reason Public Policy Institute contended: "The real news in the NAS report is their admission that there isn't enough scientific data to unequivocally link humans and climate change."

4) The Washington Post "didn't distinguish itself" in how it handled the leak of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Report, ombudsman Michel Getler concluded. Getler noted how, unlike the Post, the New York Times pointed out that the Republican members hadn't seen the draft, "quoted one of the Republican appointees as saying the evidence does not support the conclusions" and that he tied to findings to the chairwoman who supported Al Gore.

5) Eight days after ABC's Good Morning America devoted a prominent 7am half hour segment to the drinking by the Bush daughters, GMA's Diane Sawyer scolded People magazine for putting Jenna and Barbara on its cover: "Give them a break, give them a life."

6) "I want them to get into big trouble," the Austin restaurant manager told police when asked what she wanted them to do about underage drinking by the Bush daughters, the Austin American-Statesman discovered.

7) Though John Danforth averaged only a 61 percent conservative rating and a 29 percent rating from a liberal group, New York Times reporter Richard Berke maintained: "Former Senator Jack Danforth, who's a pretty respected conservative, told me 'I'm worried that the party is becoming too narrow.'"

8) A new suggested sign off announced Friday night by Dan Rather: "I'm Dan Rather. And I made up the last three stories."


"Don't you just almost have to" impose price caps on California electricity prices "as a short-term solution?" So argued CBS's Bob Schieffer in advancing the liberal thinking as reasonable and inevitable in an interview with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Sunday's Face the Nation.

Schieffer's assertion came after Daschle suggested that instead of having the Senate pass a price caps bill, the Senate should pass the Feinstein bill, which says to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), 'look, do what you're supposed to do.' Come in and regulate this in a way that allows adequate supply and some price relief."

Schieffer followed up: "I want to go back to this price caps. As Gloria pointed out, you have said this is not a panacea, but if FERC, if the energy regulatory agency does not do something in the meantime in between time, don't you just almost have to do that as a short-term solution?"

Daschle agreed: "Well, Bob, I don't think you probably have much choice at that point, but I do think that we've got to force FERC to do its job. That's what they're there for. Why have a FERC if it doesn't do its job in crises like this? But certainly if that fails, I really don't know if there's much other choice."

Co-host Gloria Borger's next question also pushed Daschle from the left to do something liberal sooner: "There's a lot of talk that Democrats are going to revisit this tax cut at some unspecified point in the future. What are you waiting for? Why not do it now?"


Freedom of speech is vital, but only for members of the media. Or so it seems that is Bob Schieffer's reasoning. Compare his impassioned defense of media rights against any infringement with how just two-and-a-half months ago he praised the Senate for taking up McCain's campaign finance reform bill which would put restrictions on who could run television ads before elections.

He concluded the June 10 Face the Nation with his tribute to the First Amendment:
"Finally today, this summer marks some important anniversaries for free speech that should not go unremarked. It was 30 years ago this week that the Supreme Court told the Nixon administration it could not stop The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. To rule otherwise, the court said, would give the government the ability to block, or at least delay, publication of anything it found offensive or even unflattering. A month later, Harley Staggers, the Democratic chairman of the House committee, ordered CBS News to turn over film clips it had not used in a documentary called 'The Selling of the Pentagon.' Staggers said that was the only way he could determine if the documentary had been fairly edited. Frank Stanton, the president of CBS News, said he'd go to jail before he'd comply with Staggers' subpoenas, and allow the government to go rooting around in reporters' desks. The House of Representatives agreed, turned on one of its most senior chairmen, and backed Stanton.
"I thought of all this as I was reading how one of the first actions the government of Nepal may take in the wake of those brutal murders of its royal family is to court-martial a witness to the shooting who gave an unauthorized account of how it happened. In America, of course, such shenanigans couldn't happen thanks in part to the courage of people like Frank Stanton and Arthur Sulzberger, the Times publisher in the Pentagon Papers era. My great teacher, Eric Sevareid, once told me, 'Always remember, freedom of speech is the one freedom we need to defend all of the others.' That's really all I need to know about it."

Except, apparently, when the powerful congressional leader in question is just trying to silence those outside the media.

Back on March 25 Schieffer cheered on the efforts to pass McCain's campaign finance regulatory scheme:
"Republican leaders have always blocked campaign finance reform from coming to a final vote, but in a Senate divided 50-50, that's no longer possible. So with a filibuster no longer a question, individual amendments are being debated and voted on. No one knows which amendments will be considered until they're introduced on the floor. So the debate has been spontaneous and compromises are being struck and legislation is being written, well, like it's usually portrayed in the movies. What has surprised the Senators is that they love it. It's been so long since they've had a real debate, they had forgotten how much fun it can be. I'm with them. I don't know how this one is going to come out, but campaign finance is finally getting the airing it deserved and the Senate has never looked better."


With an over-hyped and distorted take on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) global warming report, on Friday night the NBC Nightly News caught up with ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News which had run similarly exaggerated stories on Thursday night that advanced the liberal environmentalist spin.

While NBC's David Gregory declared that the report concluded "humans are playing a large role" in global warming, on the same day the Reason Public Policy Institute (RPPI) announced that it "applauded a report by the National Academy of Sciences for its willingness to go against the tide of political correctness and point out the many weaknesses in the current scientific understanding of climate change." Dr. Kenneth Green, Director of Environmental Programs at RPPI, contended: "The real news in the NAS report is their admission that there isn't enough scientific data to unequivocally link humans and climate change. The NAS report is the first mainstream report that doesn't soft-peddle uncertainty."

But none of that uncertainty made it into NBC's story. To read the analysis from the RPPI, which the MRC's Rich Noyes brought to my attention, go to:

To refresh yourself about the liberal environmentalist line espoused on June 7 on ABC and CBS, go to:

Tom Brokaw introduced the June 8 NBC Nightly News piece of propaganda:
"Extreme weather is just one of the dire predictions contained in a report out this week from the National Academy of Sciences which was requested by the Bush White House. It says that global warming is real. This message comes on the eve of the President's first trip to Europe, where many are critical of his environmental views."

David Gregory laid out the dire prediction in a one-sided story: "The President's latest environmental headache -- what to do about global warming -- proving to be a migraine. This week's report shows the dramatic climate change caused by the emission of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide from cars and industrial sites is worsening. And scientists conclude humans are playing a large role. The potential effects daunting, including more severe weather from excessive rain and flooding to severe drought, which could affect agricultural production and food prices."
John Wallace, National Academy of Sciences: "Global warming is real and it's something that needs to be taken into account very seriously in policy decisions."
Gregory helpfully pointed out a factor he was simultaneously making happen: "And it's an issue that provides more fodder for Bush's environmental critics. The President withdrew from the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, mandating a reduction of the so-called 'greenhouse emissions' that contribute to climate change. Bush broke a campaign promise to limit carbon dioxide emissions. And critics charge the Bush energy plan, with an emphasis on energy production, could make global warming worse. Bush will face angry reaction from European leaders during his visit next week."
Philip Clapp, National Environmental Trust: "What he's going to face is a group of leaders who have strong political pressure at home to act on global warming. And he's likely to face demonstrations all across Europe."
Gregory: "But Monday, advisers say, Bush will announce a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His likely policy? Only voluntary limits, because he believes mandatory caps, as in the Kyoto accord, could hurt the U.S. economy. Why all the concern over environmental policy? Recent polls show it's an issue hurting the president's job approval ratings. And advisers fear the criticism may hurt him most with key swing voters, like independents and particularly women. What aides call an effort to neutralize the damage -- a recent green offensive -- takes Bush from California's Sequoia National Forest to the Florida Everglades, where he promised new protections. But these photo-ops have not changed his environmental image, an image he'll spend much of his first overseas trip defending."

An image he wouldn't have to defend but for this kind of ongoing distorted reporting.

National Review Online has posted an illuminating piece by Paul Georgia in which he expressed concern about how the NAS analysis has been reported: "It is 23 pages of linguistic trickery that when parsed says little. It is likely to alarm those who don't understand scientific methodology or the nuances of the global warming debate, i.e., most of the public. Judging by the way it has been reported in the press, this is clearly an area of concern."

Georgia concluded: "There is no smoking gun here. The best available evidence still suggests that the amount of warming likely to occur over the next 100 years will be trivial."

To read Georgia's analysis, go to:


The Washington Post's ombudsman took the newspaper to task for how it advanced the political agenda of liberals on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission by running a front page story based on a draft report about the Florida election. Michael Getler noted how, unlike the Post, the New York Times pointed out that the Republican members hadn't even seen the draft, "quoted one of the Republican appointees as saying the evidence does not support the conclusions; he linked the findings to the political agenda of the chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry, who supported former Vice President Al Gore."

Getler, who even acknowledged that the Washington Times wasn't as gullible as the Post, concluded the "Post didn't distinguish itself" in how it handled "the stupid and destructive leak."

For a rundown of television network coverage of the report's premature release, along with excerpts from the Washington Post and New York Times stories, refer back to the June 6 CyberAlert:

Now, an excerpt from Getler's June 10 ombudsman column:

....Last week the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and The Post demonstrated the pitfalls of leaking and reporting on leaks....

On Tuesday's front page, The Post reported that the commission had concluded, in its "167-page final draft report obtained by The Washington Post," that Florida's electoral conduct was marked by "injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency" that unfairly penalized minority voters, and that Gov. Jeb Bush and State Secretary Katherine Harris had allowed disparate treatment of voters.

As it turns out, The Post "obtained" the draft report along with the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. But readers in the Washington area who looked at the New York Times found a different treatment of the report. The Times, under a headline noting that this was a "divided" civil rights panel, reported that not all members of the eight-member commission were involved in putting together the report and that the two Republican-appointed members had not been consulted. The Times quoted one of the Republican appointees as saying the evidence does not support the conclusions; he linked the findings to the political agenda of the chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry, who supported former vice president Al Gore. The other Republican described the timing of the leak -- before consultation with other commissioners -- as "a procedural travesty."...

In case you missed the New York Times, you could have read the Washington Times. Its reporters didn't obtain the report but, not surprisingly, knew of the budding controversy.

The next day, while The Post was catching up, but not on the front page, with the dissident Republican-appointed members of the commission (which has a majority of four Democrats, with the others Republicans and independents), the New York Times had moved on to Gov. Bush's scathing letter to the commission denouncing its findings. Not a word in The Post. By Wednesday, the handling of the report was also front-page news in the Washington Times and the subject of a critical editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

The cynical reader might say: "Well, what else is new about that line-up?" But that is way too cynical. The question of what really happened to Florida's minority voters is one of the most important and profound issues still lingering from the unprecedented confusion of the 2000 election. This was a stupid and destructive leak, no matter where it originated. It undermines the credibility of the commission and politicizes and diverts attention from what should have been an authoritative and inclusive final report. It also may diminish and distort the coverage that comes after the official release.

The Post didn't distinguish itself either. It should have done more reporting about this certain-to-be controversial report and, in a case like this, should not have been a party to nondisclosure about who did the leaking.

END of Excerpt

For Getler's column in full, go to:


We can publicize the underage drinking of the Bush daughter, but you shouldn't. Eight days after ABC's Good Morning America devoted a full and prominent 7am half hour segment to the Bush daughters, complete with interviews with two guests, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer scolded People magazine for featuring Jenna and Barbara on its cover. Sawyer bemoaned how People "put presidential daughters on the cover and I always think, give them a break, give them a life." Colleague Charles Gibson agreed.

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this exchange on the June 8 broadcast:

Sawyer: "People magazine, talk about 'Oops! They Did It Again,' which is what they call the cover of the magazine on the Bush daughters. Oops, People magazine did it again and put presidential daughters on the cover and I always think, give them a break, give them a life, and you?"
Gibson: "I disagreed with you heartily about, when People magazine put Chelsea Clinton on the cover because I thought she had become a story when her parents -- I don't want to use the word used her because that sounds negative."
Sawyer: "Injected her into the-"
Gibson: "Injected her into the story when they walked with her out to the plane after the affair became public. In this case, I don't think they should."

Rewind the videotape to Thursday, May 31, a morning when Elizabeth Vargas was filling in for Sawyer. Vargas announced just minutes into the show:
"For the second time in two months, President and Mrs. Bush are dealing with a problem many parents know all too well: a teenager, their daughter, in a brush with the law involving alcohol. With this second incident, Jenna Bush's story is moving beyond the tabloids into mainstream media. The question this morning is, is this really anyone's business?"

For Vargas the answer was an emphatic yes as she proceeded to outline what happened before interviewing Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater about it as well as Lisa Caputo, the former Press Secretary to First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Sawyer should be looking closer to home for someone to criticize if she thinks common teenage activities by the Bush daughters should not be news.


Speaking of the case of the Bush daughters, the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to a story in Friday's Austin American-Statesman which revealed that when a police officer asked the restaurant manager, who had already taken the unusual action of calling 911, what she wanted the police to do about Jenna and Barbara, she responded: "I want them to get into big trouble."

The disclosure is buried deep within a lengthy June 8 story by Jonathan Osborne. An excerpt:

....According to police reports obtained Thursday by the Austin American-Statesman, the party sat down at a table on the lower level of the bar. The bartender recognized Jenna Bush and told the waitress to ask everyone at the table for identification.

The three women -- the Bush twins and 20-year-old Jesse Day-Wickham -- handed their driver's licenses to the waitress, the reports said. After the waitress questioned the license presented by the girl in the halter top -- later identified as Jenna Bush -- she asked [Mia] Lawrence, the restaurant manager, to double-check the identification. Lawrence told Jenna Bush she would not be served alcohol....

The waitress brought three margaritas and three tequila shots to Barbara Bush, Day-Wickham and an unidentified man with them, according to police reports.

The bartender told police he kept "vigil on the make sure they did not slip parts or all of any drink to Jenna Bush."

After other patrons pointed out that Jenna Bush's twin sister, Barbara, was at the table and was drinking, Lawrence called 911.

By the time the first officer was dispatched at 10:34 p.m., "the tequila shots were all gone and...each of the three margaritas were at least partially consumed," the waitress told police.

[Clay] Crabb and fellow officer Clifford Rogers met Lawrence at the entrance to the restaurant and were headed inside when the Secret Service agent tapped Crabb on the shoulder and asked "if there was a disturbance that they needed to know about," the reports state....

He [a Secret Service agent] brought the group out the front door of the restaurant, and they were getting into the Jeep when the officers told them to stop.

Rogers asked Jenna Bush for the identification she used when she attempted to purchase the margarita. The report says she handed it over and started crying.

"She then stated that I do not have any idea what it is like to be a college student and not be able to do any thing that other students get to do," Rogers wrote in his report.

[Austin police sergeant Rodney] Keene wrote in his report that he asked Lawrence what she wanted police to do.

"She said, 'I want them to get into big trouble,'" Keene wrote.

Keene wrote that he told Lawrence "we would handle the situation the same way we would for any person under those circumstances, which was to confiscate the fake ID and turn them loose."...

END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to:

For the raw text of the Austin Police Department reports:


Former Republican Senator John Danforth a "respected conservative" authority? He is from the perspective of New York Times Washington Bureau Chief Richard Berke.

On Friday's Washington Week in Review on PBS, Berke held up Danforth as an expert on where the GOP should go: "Former Senator Jack Danforth, who's a pretty respected conservative, told me I'm worried that the party is becoming too narrow."

Just how "conservative" was Danforth in the Senate? In his last year in office, 1994, he earned mere 48 percent rating from the American Conservative Union while the group assessed Missouri colleague Kit Bond at 83 percent. ACU does not have a lifetime average for Danforth on its Web site, so I totaled his ratings from 1989 to 1994, divided by six and determined his average stood at 61 percent over his last term, hardly a conservative score.

While his successor, John Ashcroft, earned a measly rating of 3 percent from the left-wing Americans for Democratic Action, the group approved of Danforth's voting 29 percent of the time over his Senate career.


Appearing on CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn on Friday night, Dan Rather read aloud some suggested "Ratherisms" and uttered another wacky one himself before Kilborn got him to announce a possible new sign-off about making up stories.

Rather read aloud these Ratherisms proposed by Kilborn:

-- "This election is tighter than Al Roker's cummerbund."
-- "As they say in Texas, big dogs make big messes."
-- "The NASDAQ is dropping faster than my wife's dress after three mi tais."

Kilborn wondered: "Which one would you use?"
Rather replied with his own Ratherism: "Well I tell you, I wouldn't use that last one. I'd be so far back in the dog house you'd have to ship me daylight by FedEx."

Kilborn soon reminded Rather how he once signed off with the word "courage." Rather updated Kilborn, explaining he now ends the CBS Evening News: "And that's part of our world tonight."

Off of a card, Rather then enunciated this recommended sign off: "I'm Dan Rather. And I made up the last three stories."

On some nights that's not far off. -- Brent Baker

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