CyberAlert -- 08/13/2001 -- Scientists Disappointed

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Scientists Disappointed; Bush's Speech Was "Clintonian"; An Authority on Stem Cells: An 11-Year-Old Actor; PBS's Liberal Chief

1) Scientists fear "the strict limits on funding may forever damage the research," argued CBS's John Roberts as CBS and NBC portrayed a near-uniformly disappointed scientific community. NBC's Robert Bazell relayed how "many worry that Bush's restriction will make the effort" to find cures for diseases "much more difficult."

2) Bob Schieffer again transformed his personal opinion into what "some" think. A week after he concluded Face the Nation with a commentary denouncing those in the embryonic stem cell debate as like those "who refused to look through Galileo's telescope," he demanded of Pat Robertson: "Does it bother you...that some would equate this to back in the days when Galileo built his telescope and there were those who refused to look in it..."

3) Bush's speech was "Clintonian," declared Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, because "there was so much compromise and 'on one hand' and 'the other hand.'"

4) Time's Jack White: "Any decision that leaves Jerry Falwell feeling pleased and happy is a decision that you need to be skeptical about." Newsweek's Howard Fineman lamented: "We keep forgetting this guy is a conservative. I thought he was going to go further than this." Bush's pledge to protect human life, the Washington Post's Tom Shales contended, "invited the scorn of critics who would castigate him for having presided over so many executions while governor of Texas."

5) An 11-year-old expert on stem cell research? Concluding an Entertainment Tonight story on celebrities who support embryonic stem cell research, co-host Bob Goen asserted: "Other celebrities who have come out publicly to support stem cell research are Kevin Kline and young Jonathan Lipnicki."

6) PBS CEO Pat Mitchell castigated the media from the left. Noting the hot weather, she complained: "What's troubled me is that the press hasn't gone beyond the headline very much. This was such a great opportunity to talk about global warming and climate change."

7) The Washington Post quoted Senator John Edwards: "You have to be yourself. You cannot fool people." But he fooled the Post, which referred to "his centrism." In fact, Edwards is just as liberal as Senators Boxer, Harkin and Kennedy.

8) Job Opening at the Media Research Center: Assistant Archivist for Media Conversion.

President Bush's decision on embryonic stem cell research is just too limited, CBS and NBC declared on Friday night. While both gave air time to a soundbite or two from conservatives, the two networks devoted whole stories to the upset scientists.

On the August 10 CBS Evening News John Roberts noted how "the first barrage came from the right, conservatives denouncing the plan to fund embryonic stem cell research as wrong -- morally, scientifically and politically." He soon cautioned: "There are deep concerns among scientists tonight that the strict limits on funding may forever damage the research." CBS then ran a full story from Elizabeth Kaledin about the disappointed scientific community.

Over on the NBC Nightly News, Robert Bazell began by implying cures are right around the corner: "To understand the potential for stem cells, you can visit the lab of Dr. Evan Snyder at Children's Hospital in Boston. The cures so far with mice, only but amazing nonetheless. These animals, called shiverers, born with a nerve cell defect in their brain that causes them to shake constantly."

After showing a video how stem cell implantation improve the mice, Bazell declared: "These results indicate stem cells might cure many nerve diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. What effect will President Bush's new regulations have on the effort to translate these and similar animal results to humans? Dr. John Gearhart, a pioneer in the field, fears they will be severe."
Dr. John Gearhart, Johns Hopkins University: "The limitations that the president has put on this is going to delay, I believe substantially, the progress that we need to make to bring these types of therapies to the bedside."
Bazell elaborated: "Under the President's rules, scientists will be able to use only existing cell lines. Scientists create a stem cell line by first removing cells from an embryo and then putting them in dishes where the cells continue to multiply. But scientists worry there may not be 60 usable lines despite administration reassurances, so there may not be enough cells for critical experiments. What about stem cell research in private companies like Advanced Cell Technologies? Its CEO says federal money is crucial."
Dr. Michael West, Advanced Cell Technology CEO: "Well, if this was all on our shoulders in the private sector, we could do maybe 1 percent of all of the applications that these cells could do in our lifetime."
Bazell concluded: "That's why, despite disappoints, many scientists are grateful for at least some government support. Across the country, hundreds of researchers are waiting to begin human experiments to find out whether stem cells as are valuable as many hope, but many worry that Bush's restriction will make the effort much more difficult."


Schieffer again on Sunday transformed his personal opinion into referring in a question to what "some" think. A week after he concluded Sunday's Face the Nation with a commentary in which he contrasted two types of people, those who want to cross mountains and those who are afraid of what is on the other side -- the type "who refused to look through Galileo's telescope," he demanded of Pat Robertson:
"Does it bother you, Mr. Robertson, that some would equate this to back in the days when Galileo built his telescope and there were those who refused to look in it because they said we already know all we need to know about the sun and the moon and the stars. Is this kind of a latter day version of that?"

(Robertson showed he can insult conservatives as well as any journalist, responding: "I'm not in the camp with the Luddites on the so-called right who want to shut this whole thing down...")

Schieffer had concluded the August 5 Face the Nation by opining: "Finally today, some thoughts as the President decides whether or not the government should back stem cell research. History's longest argument has been over what to do about the mountain. One group has always wanted to cross the mountain, to explore and see what is on the other side. The other group, no less sincere, has always been willing to let well enough alone. That group worries there might be things on the other side of the mountain we didn't want to know. They were the ones who refused to look through Galileo's telescope. They already knew all they needed to know about the moon and the sun and the stars."

For the rest of the commentary, in which Schieffer argued, that if Bush "reads history he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown," refer back to:

This isn't the first time Schieffer has transformed his personal opinion expressed one week into what "some" think a week later. As noted in the July 23 CyberAlert: "A week after he made the suggestion, Bob Schieffer cited how 'some people' back a McCain presidential bid. Just after the House failed to vote on a 'campaign finance reform' bill, Schieffer had asked: 'Doesn't this give him the perfect excuse?' Yesterday on Face the Nation he told Trent Lott that 'some people' are pushing the idea that the House defeat justifies a McCain run." For details, go to:


Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, who covered Al Gore during last year's campaign, declared that she found President Bush's speech last Thursday night on embryonic stem cell research to be "Clintonian."

On PBS's Washington Week on Friday night she expounded:
"When I heard he was giving his first national prime time address on this, that perhaps this was going to be the bold, defining moment of his presidency -- Nixon goes to China -- I have to say I came away from it, and after also re-reading the transcript, feeling more Clintonian in its nature. There was so much compromise and 'on one hand' and 'the other hand.'"

But no one has parsed his words to derive the opposite policy implication from what it appeared they meant.


Much of the post-speech and weekend analysis dwelled on the politics of Bush's Thursday night announcement on embryonic stem cell research, but at least a couple of reporters expressed their personal disappointment.

On Inside Washington, Time magazine national correspondent Jack White argued: "Any decision that leaves Jerry Falwell feeling pleased and happy is a decision that you need to be skeptical about and he was very happy with this decision."

Thursday night on MSNBC's post-speech Hardball, Newsweek's top political reporter, Howard Fineman, betrayed his feeling: "This was a political catscan of George W. Bush's mind, both the decision-making process and the result. And it shows him to be a true-blue conservative. We keep forgetting this guy is a conservative. I thought he was going to go farther than this."

And in his Friday Washington Post piece, TV reviewer Tom Shales, the MRC's Tim Jones pointed out to me, contended: "When he said human life is 'something special to be protected,' he invited the scorn of critics who would castigate him for having presided over so many executions while governor of Texas."

Of course, those executed were not "innocent" human life.

Shales added: "Bush's speech seemed like something people might look back on in 50 or 100 years as a quaint sign of simpler times, before cloning became common and stem cell research had helped cure many of humanity's most pernicious diseases."

Unable to let go of his anger over who assumed the presidential office, Shales opened the August 10 review: "A man purporting to be President of the United States appeared on national television last night to announce and discuss his decision on human embryonic research. Yes, the man was none other than George W. Bush, who is indeed the President of record, but this chief executive has used television so little during his first seven months in office that he could hardly be called a familiar sight to viewers. Some may have thought they were looking at Dick Cavett, to whom Mr. Bush bears a certain facial and physical resemblance."

To read the entire Shales "Style" section piece, go to:


An 11-year-old expert on stem cell research? No matter how bad network news gets, Paramount's syndicated Entertainment Tonight shows it could always be even more shallow.

Concluding a story on celebrities who support embryonic stem cell research, such as Michael J. Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Christopher Reeve, Jason Alexander, David Hyde Pierce, Billy Baldwin, Richard Kind, Lyle MacLachlan and Michael Boatman, ET co-host Bob Goen wrapped up the August 10 item: "Other celebrities who have come out publicly to support stem cell research are Kevin Kline and young Jonathan Lipnicki."

Jonathan Lipnicki? He's a lot closer to being an embryo than most actors since he was born on October 22, 1990, making him not even quite 11.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Lipnicki had roles in the movies Stuart Little 2, Stuart Little, Doctor Doolittle and Jerry Maguire, in which as a five-year-old he played the role of "Ray Boyd." He's also made several guest appearances on WB's Dawson's Creek.

For more on him, go to:,+Jonathan

For pictures of him to see if you recognize Entertainment Tonight's expert authority, go to:,+Jonathan


The President and CEO of PBS castigated the press from the left for not taking advantage of "the great opportunity" presented by the hot weather last week "to talk about global warming and climate change."

The liberal advocacy from Pat Mitchell came on Friday's Greenfield at Large on CNN after Jeff Greenfield asked his three quests to suggest "stories that we should have covered better, or more of, or that may have lasting impact."

Mitchell, who has worked for several networks and moved to PBS from CNN, responded: "Well, certainly the weather has been the headline, but what's troubled me is that the press hasn't gone beyond the headline very much. This was such a great opportunity to talk about global warming and climate change. I mean, it couldn't have been on our minds more as we were perspiring through the heat, and no one, at least I didn't see it mentioned, of the fact that this is the fifth hottest year, decade since the 15th century. You know, there have been five hottest decades, and this last decade, five hottest years in this last decade, and that would have been the starting point to talk about why we are in this place, why do we have 100 degree temperatures and what can we do about it?"

Like it wasn't ever hot 200 or 300 hundred years ago. And what about the colder than usual temperatures earlier this summer? Her liberal assumptions about the hottest years have been debunked by many scientists, though I don't have immediate access to that analysis now, and don't even take into consideration that we only have solid temperature readings for a small fraction of Earth's history.

Mitchell is not, however, just some bureaucrat overseeing PBS. She's a veteran on-air reporter and off-air producer for other networks. Her bio posted at summarized her career:
"Pat Mitchell joined PBS in March 2000 as its fifth president and chief executive officer and is the first woman and first producer to serve in that capacity. Before coming to PBS, Ms. Mitchell was president of CNN Productions and Time Inc. Television. She has worked for three major broadcast networks, as well as cable, serving as a news reporter, anchor, talk show host, producer and executive. Long active in community and nonprofit organizations, Ms. Mitchell serves on the advisory board of Radcliffe College's Schlesinger Library on the History of Women and the Women's Leadership advisory council of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also sits on the board of trustees of the Sundance Institute and is one of the founding members of Global Green, USA, the American chapter of Mikhail Gorbachev's international environmental organization, Green Cross."

Imagine the howls if a network made a founder of a conservative group its chief.

For a photo of her as shown in the PBS annual report, go to:


Senators Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy are centrists? By the reasoning of the Washington Post they must be. In a profile last week of Democratic Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who is running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, Washington Post reporter Richard Leiby referred to "his centrism." But Edwards earns about the same vote ratings as Boxer, Harkin and Kennedy.

In the August 7 "Style" section profile, in the same portion of the piece in which Leiby cited the "centrism" of Edwards, the Post reporter acknowledged the Senator's fawning media coverage (ellipses as in Post):
"Detractors regard the boyish-looking Edwards -- there's no gray to be seen in his light brown mop and just a hint of crow's feet when he squints -- as a yuppie lawyer who leveraged his fat fee awards and anchorman presence into a Senate seat. But look into those blue eyes and there's something else.
"A warmth, a connection, a certain...well, okay, charisma. Listen to this recent lead-in by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America: 'He is said to have the combined political skills -- are you ready for this -- of Clinton and Kennedy. Kennedy and Clinton together!'
"He is said to have...
"Wait. Said by whom? 'Probably by the guy who sold her her paper that day,' Edwards says, unable to stifle a guffaw. Senator John Edwards
"It's not just a media love fest, though. Important party operatives and contributors are getting aboard Edwards '04. Asked for his view, former President Bill Clinton said: 'Senator John Edwards is gifted with substance and style, a fine mind and a good heart....I expect his service in North Carolina and America to grow dramatically.'
"Edwards's slight drawl, his centrism, his humble origins as the son of textile workers, his populist ideals (slogan: 'The People's Senator'), his skill at simplifying things without seeming patronizing -- all this stirs memories of Clinton without the seamy side. So, with Gore playing the invisible man, Edwards is basking in all the attention and speculation. He seems more comfortable in his skin than Gore, and stresses in interviews: 'You have to be yourself. You cannot fool people.'"

Well he fooled the Washington Post into portraying him as something he's not. He's no centrist.

In 2000, he earned an 85 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. That year Boxer got the same rating and Kennedy earned 90 percent approval. In 1999, Edwards matched Kennedy with a 90 percent rating for the freshman Senator's rookie year.

The American Conservative Union assessed Edwards at 12 percent in 2000 and 8 percent in 1999 for a 10 percent career average. Compare that to a nearly identical careen 9 percent for Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, a well-established liberal. On the conservative side, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, at 89 percent lifetime, and Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, at 92 percent over his career, are about as conservative as Edwards is liberal. Can you imagine the Washington Post ever referring to the "centrism" of Smith or Burns?

The above ratings numbers were culled from these Web pages from which you can link to descriptions of the votes the liberal and conservative groups assessed:

For the entire Washington Post profile, go to:


Job Opening: Assistant Archivist for Media Conversion. The Media Research Center (MRC), a non-profit foundation in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia, has an opening for an Assistant Archivist. The Assistant Archivist will help facilitate the conversion of the center's extensive video archive to DVDs. This involves reviewing the tape library, database entry, and burning, reviewing, and labeling the DVDs.

The media archive is the basis for all the Media Research Center's research and publications. Therefore, candidates must have an exacting eye for detail, be organized, able to maintain meticulous logs, and keep dependable hours. Familiarity with the news media a plus. This project is cutting-edge, so experience with computers is a must and an interest in technology is preferred.

Candidates must work at the MRC's Alexandria, Virginia, offices eight blocks from the King Street Metro stop on the Yellow and Blue lines. This is an entry-level type of position. Approved flex hours are possible with a weekend day included. Salary: Low $20s.

To apply, fax your resume to the attention of Kristina Sewell, the MRC's Research Associate: (703) 683-9736. Or, e-mail your resume to

Get this job and you can watch 14 years' worth of Dan Rather and Bryant Gumbel. What could be more enticing than that? -- Brent Baker

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