CyberAlert -- December 9, 1996 -- CNN Buys Buddhist

Now informing over 1,100 recipients in at least three countries and eight time zones.

Bryant Gumbel Countdown Calendar: 25 Days to Go

1. The Media Research Center Web site highlighted in USA Today.

2. CNN's Brooks Jackson didn't see a cover-up as he bought the new Democratic line of the Buddhist temple fundraising.

3. The Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times said the 10th Amendment challenge to the Brady bill "sounds like a sort of outlandish argument."

4. A former Washington Post reporter insisted that "What every conservative press critic preaches, and almost every reporter denies, is largely true: the mainstream press is liberal." For that, he's gang-banged on CNN.

5. Gumbel may have only 25 days to go at NBC, but he might end up in prime time on ABC.

1) In Thursday's (December 5) weekly "Net: New and Notable" column USA Today Web reporter Sam Vincent Meddis cited the MRC:

"If you think the media are too liberal, you've got company. The conservative Media Research Center site is the home of the Notable Quotables, a compilation of the 'latest outrageous, sometimes humorous quotes in the liberal media.'"

I'll use this opportunity to remind you that the MRC site also contains an archive of CyberAlerts , plus all of our other newsletters. Go to the Free Market Project page to see a study about the liberal agenda of women's magazines. And, the Parents Television Council page will soon offer highlights of the "1995-96 Family Guide to Prime Time Television."

2) CNN's Brooks Jackson is usually one of the most balanced and least gullible reporters on TV, taking on the campaign rhetoric of both sides. But on Friday's (December 6) Inside Politics he seemed to have let down his guard.

Sitting beside substitute anchor Charles Bierbauer, he told viewers: "Well, Charles, one of the more bizarre episodes may have gotten a little less bizarre today. Back in October, attention focused on the Buddhist temple in California where Democrats raised $140,000 in an event attended by Vice President Al Gore. The Wall Street Journal, back then, quoted a Buddhist nun who had given $5,000 as saying the money was not hers, that it had been given to her by the real donor who did not want to be identified. But that would be illegal, so that was news, embarrassing to the Vice President and to the Democratic Party. Now, that Buddhist nun has changed her story and is saying the money was hers all along. We are told she has filed a statement with the Federal Election Commission, which is investigating, saying the money came not from some secret donor but from her own savings and from offerings of persons who supported her work at the temple, Charles."

Charles Bierbauer: "And, why do we suppose Brooks that she might have once told the Wall Street Journal the money was not hers?"

Jackson: "We are told in this statement that she didn't know quite how to handle a call from this national news reporter and told what she hoped, or thought, was a harmless lie just to get him off the phone. Turns out it was not so harmless."

How about a more logical scenario: When called by the reporter she innocently told the truth. After DNC lawyers panicked they came up with a legal explanation. Indeed, the December 2 Wall Street Journal reported that "Democratic lawyer Peter Kelly" became "closely involved with" allegations "that fraudulent contributions may have been made to the Democratic Party during a fundraising event at a Buddhist temple in California.

"Mr. Kelly is a prominent Democratic fundraiser himself and attended the temple event. After the controversy broke, he emerged as the temple's lawyer...On the day that this newspaper published a front page article quoting a Buddhist monk, Man Yah Shih, saying she gave $5,000 at the fundraiser with money that wasn't hers, Mr. Kelly called the woman and questioned her and was told subsequently the same thing. Ms. Shih then left her temple for a 'retreat' overseas, from which she didn't return until after the election. She now won't talk to reporters, referring all calls to Mr. Kelly."

3) Here's a sentence apparently thought "outlandish" by New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

That's the 10th Amendment. Here's her take on the Supreme Court's review of the Brady gun control law. From the December 6 Washington Week in Review on PBS:

"The Brady gun control law has been challenged, on of all things, not on gun control grounds, but on federalism grounds, on states rights grounds, because the bill has a provision that requires local Sheriffs, the local law enforcement officials, to do the background checks during the five day waiting period to make sure a prospective gun purchaser is not a convicted felon. And the local Sheriffs, backed by the National Rifle Association, are arguing that this violates states rights because it in effect is a commandeering by the federal government of the processes of local government to make the locals officials do the Fed's work. And on the face of it, it sounds like a sort of outlandish argument, you know, what local law enforcement officials do is background checks, it's a very common kind of procedure. But this argument has a lot of force these days because this case is part on an ongoing review at the court and in the federal courts generally about the whole relationship between the state and federal government. So it's quite a potent argument, actually."

4) Sunday's Reliable Sources showed how the CNN program, which is supposed to critique the news media, does anything but as panelists pounce on anyone who dares draw attention to bias.

The December 8 guest panelist: former Washington Post reporter William Powers, fresh from his inaugural New Republic piece on the media. He's now a Senior Editor of the magazine. Regulars Marty Schram of Scripps Howard, Bernard (I only own rust colored ties) Kalb, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post as well as Jane Shaw of the Los Angles Times spent an entire segment attacking Powers. One by one they argued how preposterous they found his thesis.

And what did Powers assert? In his December 16 New Republic piece he showed how the networks underplayed the Clinton character issue during the campaign. After explaining how Clinton staffers convinced network producers to not air some stories, Powers explained:

"Why, besides the skill of its practitioners, has the White House 'outreach' worked so well? Simply put, because Clinton and his people are, to most journalists, culturally sympathetic. What every conservative press critic preaches, and almost every reporter denies, is largely true: the mainstream press is liberal. Most Washington reporters share with the Clinton aides a language, a value system, a set of buttons. Outrage at, say, 'partial birth infanticide' is not one of the buttons of this class. Outrage at 'right-wing abortion activists' is.

"When conservatives huff about the cabal of liberal journalists that is constantly plotting to slant coverage, they are right about the effects but wrong about the cause. There is no plotting at all: liberal bias flows from principles so deeply held they're mostly unconscious. All of which means that, had a Republican President been up for re-election this year, facing the same array of ethical problems Clinton faced, the scandals would have gotten more ink. Recall the alacrity with which the journalism establishment seized on the sexual allegations against Clarence Thomas, John Tower and Bob Packwood."

Of course the MRC has never seen a plot, but it would be nice if some media people of influence would realize this "unconscious" bias before we put "former" before their name.

5) Thought you could escape from Bryant Gumbel after January 3, his last Today day? Friday's New York Post brought bad news. The Post's Josef Adalian reported:

"There's an increasingly hard-to- ignore buzz among ABC News staffer that a deal between soon-to-depart Today show anchor Bryant Gumbel and ABC could be a match made in Nielsen heaven....Over the last few days speculation among ABC News insiders has become commonplace execs are more than willing to guarantee Gumbel a 10pm Thursday newsmagazine showcase on ABC."

Another reason to watch E.R.

-- Brent Baker