2. CBS's Smith Pounds Snow With Pullout 'Majority' -- But Is There?
3. Brokaw Notes Tenet 'Frustrated' Reno Blocked Plan to Kill Laden
4. ABC Hypes DC Hooker, But Scorned Morris as 'Nasty Little Scandal'
5. Post-Imus Fallout? NBC News Promotes NABJ Member to VP
6. Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs Your Newspaper Is In Trouble'
Less than a week after Havana-based CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum trumpeted on CBSNews.com how "thanks to the socialist island's free health care system -- which emphasizes preventive medicine -- Cubans enjoy a very high life expectancy," Monday's CBS Evening News salivated over the anticipated May Day return of Fidel Castro as Lara Logan confidently relayed the views of "Cubans" and "people here" in the repressive totalitarian state supposedly "enraged" by the U.S. release of a man convicted of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976.
Anchor Katie Couric heralded: "In Cuba tonight, a lot of anticipation. Reports there say Fidel Castro may lead tomorrow's May Day celebration." From Havana, Lara Logan asserted: "Just as Cubans are hoping that Fidel Castro will make his first public appearance since falling ill nine months ago, people here have been enraged by the re-emergence of one of his oldest and most hated enemies. Luis Posada Carriles is to Cubans their Osama bin Laden." Speaking for all Cubans, Logan insisted that "Cubans want him to face terrorism charges. Outraged, they've taken to the streets here in silent protest day after day." After video of those protesters of supposed free-will, Logan issued another generality: "People here accuse the U.S. of hypocrisy, asking how America can condemn countries who harbor terrorists while refusing to hand over Cuba's most wanted terrorist." She offered no soundbites or names to support her assumption.
[This item was posted late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In fact, Castro did not appear at Tuesday morning's May Day parade in Havana.
ABC's World News Sunday ran a similar story from Bob Woodruff about Cubans who accuse the U.S. of hypocrisy over the Posada case.
Posada, convicted in Venezuela for masterminding the 1976 destruction of a Cuban airliner with 73 aboard, was released from U.S. custody last week pending trial for entering the U.S. illegally in 2005. He escaped from prison in 1985. I couldn't find much about him in online news sources over the past couple of weeks, other than from Cuban and socialist sources, but this April 25 McClatchy story, "U.S., Venezuelan officials clash over alleged terrorist Luis Posada," provides some of the basics: www.realcities.com
And so does this AFP dispatch with a bit of an edge, "US seeks to bar anti-Castro extremist to speak of CIA ties," online at: news.yahoo.com
Fidel Castro, 81, is not the only Cuban who is aging.
Thanks to the socialist island's free health care system -- which emphasizes preventive medicine -- Cubans enjoy a very high life expectancy. The average life span in Cuba is 77.08 years. As a result, the island's population is one of the oldest in the Americas, surpassed only by Uruguay....
"We've had to turn our lives inside out because my father-in-law, Victor, who lives with us, suffers from advanced Alzheimer's," Matilde Velazquez, 54, told CBS News.
Velazquez and her husband both work, as do their two grown sons and one daughter-in-law, all of whom live in the house with them -- along with a grade school-age grandson. Because there are no fancy gadgets, no electronic monitoring systems to be had on this island, the family had to come up with a "Cuban solution" five years ago when Victor first began to show signs of memory loss.
"We hung a handmade sign around his neck with his name, address and phone number on it. Strangers and neighbors were always bringing him home," she explains. "People who lived in the neighborhood began to recognize him and would invite him into their homes, then call us."
But as her father-in-law's condition worsened, her husband retired and then took a job as an airport security guard working the night shift. Velazquez got a job as a secretary in a night school. They use their meager savings to pay a neighbor to watch Victor when everyone has to be out of the house. The emotional strain on the family is great.
Fortunately, Cuba's universal, free cradle-to-grave health care system means Alzheimer's patients do not add an additional financial burden to the family. But the shortage of state-and church-run facilities for the elderly mean there is no relief for most families confronting this situation....
The sociologist [Diaz Tenorio], who heads a family study group at the Psychological and Sociological Research Center in Havana, says that while they have found isolated cases of persons who have been sidelined or excluded from family life, the predominant trend is for even those at very advanced ages to be integral and useful, productive members of the family.
A case in point is Laura Clark, a very healthy 73, who was born in Banes, the same town as Fidel Castro. She lives with two daughters, a son-in-law and four grandchildren in the working-class Havana neighborhood known as Pogolotti. It's the kind of neighborhood where family life spills out into the streets, music blares and conga lines form at the slightest excuse. But inside their modest crowded apartment, Laura runs a tight ship....
Her 12-year-old daughter Rachel depends on her grandmother for meals, for help with her schoolwork, for ironing her school uniform. Asked who does more for her, her mother or her grandmother, Rachel doesn't hesitate: "In reality, my grandmother. She has more time to pay attention to me. My mother's work doesn't leave her with practically any time for me."
Another granddaughter, Leidy Laura, a 21-year-old, fourth-year medical student, said her mother Ileana is always so busy with work that only her grandmother has time for her.
"She's there when I get up in the morning, when I come home from school. She wants to know how my day went. She makes sure my uniform is washed and ironed."
Free education and free universal health care take the financial burden off the family....
The island's low birth rate -- 11.89 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2006 -- can be linked to the economic crisis that began in the 90s. At the same time, its already-high life expectancy continues to grow, with Fidel Castro's personal physician Dr. Eugenio Selman heading the "120 Years Club" designed to promote longevity among the population....
END of Excerpt
For the posting in full: www.cbsnews.com
Now, to the April 30 CBS Evening News story transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
Katie Couric: "In Cuba tonight, a lot of anticipation. Reports there say Fidel Castro may lead tomorrow's May Day celebration. He has been out of the public eye since he had intestinal surgery nine months ago. Our chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan is in Havana."
Lara Logan: "Just as Cubans are hoping that Fidel Castro will make his first public appearance since falling ill nine months ago, people here have been enraged by the re-emergence of one of his oldest and most hated enemies. Luis Posada Carriles is to Cubans their Osama bin Laden, accused of blowing up this plane in 1976 when all 73 people on board were killed, and for a string of other hotel bombings that claimed innocent lives in what was supposed to be a fight against Fidel Castro.
# Many more examples of journalists admiring Castro's accomplishments: In
February, the MRC's Rich Noyes put together a Special Report with many examples
of how the U.S. media have gushed over the communist dictator, "Fidel's
Flatterers: The U.S. Media's Decades of Cheering Castro's Communism." The report
features more than 20 videos, going back to 1988, culled by Michelle Humphrey
from the MRC's archive, divided into four categories:
Co-host Harry Smith hammered returning White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on Monday's edition of The Early Show. After discussing Snow's cancer treatment, Smith said "let's go to work" and Snow stated what many believe, that House and Senate imposed timetables for an Iraq pullout are a stunt. An astonished Harry Smith interrupted and harshly inquired: "So the White House regards this, their, their insistence on troop withdrawals as a stunt?" Snow, who previously accused Harry Smith of sounding like a partisan (see: newsbusters.org ), immediately backpedaled, but pointed out that the current bill is "something [the Democrats] knew was never going to get passed." After Snow mentioned that Democrats "exhausted nearly three months doing this," Smith retorted "with the support of the American people by the way." Although it is true that, according to CBS's own poll, 64 percent of Americans do support a timetable for withdrawal, when asked if Congress should allow continued troop funding without a timetable if it comes to that, 56 percent said yes.
Tony Snow responded to Smith's "majority" poke:
Snow: "Well, you know, I think if you ask the American people, do you want to bind the hands of our troops, do you want to put in a timetable that military advisers think is inadvisable-"
But Smith left out the following CBS poll question: "The Democrats in Congress have proposed to fund the Iraq war only if the U.S. sets a timetable for troop withdrawal, too. George W. Bush has stated he will veto that proposal. If George W. Bush does veto it, what should the Democrats in Congress do next: should they try to withhold funding for the war until George W. Bush accepts a timetable for troop withdrawal, or should they allow funding for the war, even if there is no timetable?"
By a margin of 56 to 36 percent, those surveyed said "fund war anyway." That's a finding even highlighted in the CBSNews.com summary of the poll: www.cbsnews.com
[This item is adapted from a posting, by Justin McCarthy, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The relevant portion of the April 30 interview:
Harry Smith: "The President's chief spokesman, Tony Snow, goes back to work today as White House press secretary after a month of cancer treatment. He joins us now. Good morning, Mr. Snow.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw gave a sentence to a criticism of the Clinton administration, by former CIA Director George Tenet, not mentioned in broadcast network evening newscast stories last week, Monday morning, Monday night on ABC and CBS, nor on Sunday's two-part 60 Minutes interview -- all of which focused on Tenet's attacks on Bush officials. Brokaw relayed: "He said that he was frustrated during the Clinton administration because, he said, Attorney General Janet Reno had ruled that a CIA plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden was illegal." Brokaw didn't raise that subject during his live Monday Today show session with Tenet about Tenet's book, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, but it could come up in part two set to air Tuesday morning on tape.
Brokaw had ridiculously implied on Friday's NBC Nightly News that conservatives who have cited former CIA director George Tenet's "slam dunk" comment about Iraq possessing WMD had, in fact, claimed that the comment was a prediction that the war itself against Iraq would be a "slam dunk." Brokaw relayed how Tenet insisted "he was talking about assembling a stronger case to take to the public so it would have a better understanding of what the CIA believed to be true. He was not, he says, saying that a war against Iraq was a slam dunk."
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Monday night, before mentioning Tenet's criticism of Reno, the NBC Nightly News ran excerpts from Brokaw's session with Tenet in which Brokaw asked Tenet about being "too easy please" the administration, about the Department of Defense's intelligence operation "working at opposite ends" from the CIA, whether Iraq is "lost," whether there are al-Qaeda sleeper cell inside the U.S. and if there was a plan to attack the New York City subway.
Brokaw's April 30 NBC Nightly News remarks at the anchor desk, next to Brian Williams, after the highlights ran from his sit-down with Tenet:
On the heels of his award-winning destruction of Congressman Mark Foley over inappropriate instant messages to teenaged House pages, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross is on the sex beat again. On Monday's Good Morning America, Ross highlighted ABC's plans to rummage through a D.C. madam's list of prostitution clients for "people in the Bush administration." But in 1996, when the tabloid newspaper The Star found Bill Clinton's chief political guru Dick Morris had a relationship with a prostitute, ABC News (and especially anchor Peter Jennings) found it ugly, distasteful business. As President Clinton prepared for his convention's acceptance speech, Jennings began with a complaining tone about how the revelation distracted from a lot of good news for Clinton: "Then along comes a nasty little scandal to take the edge off the good news at least for the day."
Jennings led the August 26, 1996 World News Tonight:
The August 30, 1996 CyberAlert summarized the coverage:
Jennings then almost boasted: "This story is uncorroborated by us. But it has certainly been a jolt to the White House." Brit Hume's story spent most of its time on the Morris-Clinton relationship. All it described from the Star story was that it alleged "a year-long relationship with a Washington prostitute whom he allegedly allowed to listen on to calls with the President."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Jennings also pounded home the pro-Clinton points that there was "certainly good news for the President" with new economic growth numbers, and that "The President, by the way, does continue to expand his lead over Bob Dole" to 17 points. From the floor, ABC's political reporters also downplayed any negative effect on the Clinton juggernaut.
Cokie Roberts insisted: "In the long term, as one Senator who talked to the president said to me today, the President asked him do you think it will cost me votes? And the senator said, if Dick Morris were running for office it would cost him votes, he's not the guy running. And I think that's right."
Jim Wooten was asked how the convention attendees were feeling: "Oh, I think they're energized. I think with the exception of this Morris story, this convention has gone exactly as the Democratic planners and the campaign planners wanted it. I thought it was a nifty strategy to have the president out there winding his way along the railroad through three states, three key states while there were events here. I don't think that anybody here is disappointed with much of anything except that supermarket tabloid story."
ABC pounded the word "tabloid" in all of their coverage (even though Hume noted no one in the Morris or Clinton camps denied the Star story). But now ABC is the "tabloid" outlet on the Call Girl beat. Ross touted his scoop on Monday's Good Morning America about a State Department official who resigned in disgrace, even putting on a prostitute's lobbyist to denigrate him:
ABC went on to dangle the prospect of other prominent Washington names in the madam's records, including "other people in the Bush adminstration," and noted Ross's report will swallow up the entire Friday night edition of 20/20.
Robin Roberts: "Of course. So who else is on the list?"
This was not the position ABC News pushed in 1996. On the September 2, 1996 World News Tonight, liberal PBS host and former New York Times correspondent Hedrick Smith complained that these kinds of tabloid stories compromised journalism, and Charles Gibson thought they obscured the real issues in America:
Hedrick Smith: "We have a problem, though, I think, in the mainstream media, and that is the influence of the tabloids. I mean, here we are, we just had the Dick Morris story, it came out of a tabloid. I mean, go back four years, Gennifer Flowers came out of a tabloid. And then there's the struggle, and I was fascinated, some of your folks let us in on some of your decision-making processes at ABC on how to handle that Gennifer Flowers story. Did you know if it was right? Didn't you know if it was right? When do you run it? How long do you hold? What kind of proof do you have to have? And I think we have a terrible struggle ourselves."
MRC awarded Hedrick Smith our "Janet Cooke Award" in the October 1996 MediaWatch newsletter for devoting an hour of his four-hour PBS series on The People and The Power Game to "his claim that Bill Clinton has been abused by an uncivil news media." See: www.mrc.org
In the wake of NBC's and MSNBC's embarrassment over the firing of Don Imus for his racial insensitivity to black women on the Rutgers basketball team, NBC News promoted Lyne Pitts, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), to be Vice President of NBC News. Pitts, the wife of CBS correspondent Byron Pitts, has ascended rapidly since she arrived to produce the weekend Today programs in February 2006.
It's not hard to imagine this has a lot to do with assuaging the roiling internal rage over Imus that boiled over in that meeting NBC News President Steve Capus had with Al Roker and the gang before Imus was canned. Don't miss this sentence in her job description: "She also serves as the division's point person on diversity issues." See the announcement: www.maynardije.org
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
When Byron Pitts was chosen as 2002 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, he said he met his wife at the 1997 NABJ convention in Chicago.
Mrs. Pitts worked as senior broadcast producer on the CBS Evening News from July of 2003 to some time in 2004, but her name doesn't seem to surface in connection with Dan Rather's implosion over the phony memos about President Bush's military service.
From the April 30 Late Show with David Letterman, inspired by a new Audit Bureau of Circulation report on continued declining newspaper circulation, the "Top Ten Signs Your Newspaper Is In Trouble." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Covers all news that happens within one block of the office
9. Today's exclusive -- "Nixon Dead!"
8. Reporter sent to jail for refusing to divulge a source... Oh, and he also killed a dude
7. All horoscopes: "Now would be a good time to get out of the newspaper business"
6. Paper's motto: "Suck it"
5. Every "hot" gossip item is about Jack Klugman
4. Managing editor and guy who wheels around breakfast? Same guy
3. Under "Weather," it just reads "Yes"
2. Instead of "Garfield," has a comic strip called "Garfunkel"
1. You endorsed Dennis Kucinich
-- Brent Baker