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CyberAlert -- 01/10/2001 -- Stephanopoulos Tied to Chavez Hit?

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Stephanopoulos Tied to Chavez Hit?; Unlabeled Anti-Ashcroft Groups; "Long Live Hillary" Proclaimed ABC's Carole Simpson

1) CBS and NBC relayed the Bush team spin that Linda Chavez had to go because she had lied about "harboring an illegal immigrant." As for Chavez bringing along to her appearance some people she's helped, NBC's David Gregory denounced that as "an extraordinary display of defiance."

2) The lawyer for the neighbor who squealed on Chavez is former Clinton lawyer Neil W. Eggleston who, FNC's Brit Hume pointed out, is a "close friend of George Stephanopoulos...now a quote, 'correspondent,' unquote for ABC News."

3) No liberals in sight. CBS's Phil Jones referred to Ashcroft-bashers as those "fighting over civil and human rights, the environment, gun control and, especially, woman's rights." NBC's Lisa Myers: "An unprecedented coalition of some 45 interest groups representing women, gays, minorities, labor."

4) "Long Live Hillary" read the headline over a tribute to Hillary Clinton by ABC's Carole Simpson. She revealed how a dinner with Hillary turned into "a discussion among the reporters on whether she could do more good on the international stage speaking on behalf of women and children" or as a Senator. She gushed about Hillary's great work: "Just wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet."

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Things That Bill Clinton Has To Do Before Leaving Office."


1

ABC News first reported the charges against Linda Chavez, but two days later when she withdrew her nomination the network delivered the softest treatment of her supposed misdeeds. Her 4:15pm ET withdrawal announcement led all the newscasts Tuesday night as CBS and NBC took Chavez on by relaying the Bush team spin against her. Dan Rather intoned: "Some on Team Bush are said to be relieved she gave up as questions grew about whether Chavez knowingly broke U.S. labor laws by harboring an illegal immigrant."

NBC's David Gregory asserted that because they were "convinced that Chavez had lied both to members of the new administration and the FBI," Bush's team told her to get out. As for Chavez bringing along some people she's helped, Gregory characterized that as "an extraordinary display of defiance."

Some highlights from Tuesday night, January 9, broadcast network coverage:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass relayed how "Chavez said she is proud she tried to help a woman in trouble and said she would do it again."
Chavez: "I don't check green cards when I see a woman who is battered and who has no place to live and noting to eat and no way to get on her feet."
Douglass: "Chavez brought with her other immigrants who said she helped them, but it was too late for that. She made it clear she is bitter, a victim of what she calls the politics of personal destruction."

On an ominous note for conservatives, Douglass later passed along what she learned about the Bush transition team's thinking: "ABC News has learned that this time around they are considering some more moderate choices and this time they are running those names by the Democrats."

If that's true, score one for the media and liberal groups.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the broadcast by assuming Chavez was guilty of something quite nefarious and then adding a sleazy shot at Ashcroft:
"Linda Chavez is out tonight as President-elect Bush's Labor Secretary designate. She withdrew under fire. She blames Washington's quote, 'search and destroy politics.' But some on Team Bush are said to be relieved she gave up as questions grew about whether Chavez knowingly broke U.S. labor laws by harboring an illegal immigrant, paying that person to do housework and then not being fully truthful about it. Now there's organized and growing opposition to Bush's nominee for Attorney General on, among other things, the question of race."

John Roberts acknowledged: "Today Chavez chastised the media for overblowing the story and paraded before the cameras a group of people she claims have benefitted from other acts of compassion."

Roberts soon contradicted one of her claims: "Chavez blamed the politics of personal destruction for her withdrawal, but the FBI has been looking into allegations that she actively sought to avoid any connection to Mercado in her background check. Law enforcement sources say she telephoned a former neighbor she thought would be interviewed and told her I may not bring this up. Marta Mercado isn't the only problem for Chavez. Her controversial views, from saying a hike in the minimum wage is bad policy to charging that sexual harassment lawsuits make America a nation of crybabies, had enraged liberals and labor unions."

-- NBC Nightly News. David Gregory started with the Bush team spin: "Convinced that Chavez had lied both to members of the new administration and the FBI about her housing and employment of Mercado, Bush sources say that Chavez was told today she had no other option but to bow out. She agreed to do so, but only after a fight..."

Gregory soon scolded her: "In an extraordinary display of defiance Chavez, before actually withdrawing her name, presents the testimony of several other immigrants who she says she's helped over the years. Bush's choice for Labor Secretary blaming news media coverage and political opponents for her failed nomination."

2

Only FNC on Tuesday night dared to raise the connection between the trial lawyer neighbor who sold out Linda Chavez and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, the outlet which first reported how Marta Mercado once lived with Chavez. Brit Hume brought it up during the roundtable on his show. The broadcast networks certainly never raised the connection and I did not hear it mentioned on either CNN or MSNBC Tuesday night, but I did not see every second of MSNBC and CNN coverage.

A January 9 Wall Street Journal story reported how Chavez had telephoned former neighbor Margaret Zwisler, a trial lawyer, to possibly influence her recollections. As quoted in item #1 above, CBS's John Roberts picked up this charge as he asserted "the FBI has been looking into allegations that she actively sought to avoid any connection to Mercado in her background check. Law enforcement sources say she telephoned a former neighbor she thought would be interviewed and told her I may not bring this up."

The Wall Street Journal identified Zwisler's lawyer as Neil Eggleston. On drudgereport.com on Tuesday Matt Drudge reminded readers that Eggleston was "Bill Clinton's former White House Associate Counsel. During his time at the White House, Eggleston worked closely with George Stephanopoulos, who now works at ABC, the network that first reported the Chavez troubles on Sunday."

Back to FNC, Hume, on his Special Report with Brit Hume, pointed out during the roundtable that the neighbor who squealed on Chavez is "represented at this point in these proceedings by Neil W. Eggleston, formerly of the Clinton legal team. Close friend of? George Stephanopoulos, late of the Clinton White House and now a quote, 'correspondent,' unquote for ABC News."

"Correspondent" definitely belongs in quotes.

3

A bunch of far left Democrats came together Tuesday to denounce John Ashcroft, but a viewer would have been hard-pressed to realize they were all well to the left as CBS and NBC avoided applying any ideological label until late in their stories. Instead, up front they delivered benevolent descriptions. CBS's Phil Jones referred to "groups who've been on the front lines for years fighting over civil and human rights, the environment, gun control and, especially, women's rights." NBC's Lisa Myers saw "an unprecedented coalition of some 45 interest groups representing women, gays, minorities, labor -- all condemning Ashcroft as too extreme." But they aren't?

-- CBS Evening News. "This is the worst executive branch nomination I have ever seen," declared Ralph Neas of People for the American Way in a soundbite featured at the top of the January 9 story. Reporter Phil Jones announced:
"At a jam-packed Washington news conference, the stop Ashcroft battle was launched. There were all the familiar faces from groups who've been on the front lines for years fighting over civil and human rights, the environment, gun control and, especially, women's rights."
Kate Michelman, NARAL: "Ashcroft has spent his entire public career trying to undo one of the most important and fundamental rights that women have, the right to choose."

Jones proceeded to explain how Ashcroft is avoiding the media, but the Bush team put out "a 12 page defense of Ashcroft's record on minorities, abortion and civil rights." Without citing anything in it, Jones played a clip from transition press secretary Ari Fleischer: "I've never been around a confirmation process where one side decided to go and the other side decided not to respond."

I assume he was defending the release of the report, but of course that's exactly what happened with Chavez and there really has been no defense so far for Ashcroft.

After playing a clip from a pro-Ashcroft radio ad, a pretty pathetic plea from an unidentified group to end bickering in Washington, Jones concluded with a label for the liberal groups but only in the context of balancing it with a label for conservatives: "The President-elect avoided a fight with his right wing by picking Ashcroft. But in the process he may have picked an even bloodier battle with left wing Democrats."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw followed up the lead Chavez story: "At the same time today a number of groups took aim at President-elect Bush's choice for Attorney General, John Ashcroft, the former Missouri Senator who's an outspoken conservative and Christian activist."

Brokaw made sure viewers knew Ashcroft is conservative and Lisa Myers soon made sure they realized some groups consider him "extreme," but on NBC there wasn't a liberal in sight as Myers began her piece: "Today a declaration of war on Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft by an unprecedented coalition of some 45 interest groups representing women, gays, minorities, labor -- all condemning Ashcroft as too extreme."

Following soundbites from Ralph Neas of People for the American Way and Elizabeth Birch of the Human Rights Campaign, Myers made the case for how Ashcroft is an extremist: "The son of a fundamentalist minister, Ashcroft doesn't drink or dance, even at his own inauguration as Governor of Missouri. As Senator, Ashcroft said: 'There are voices in the Republican Party today who preach pragmatism, who champion conciliation, who counsel compromise. I stand here today to reject those deceptions.' He opposed most civil rights laws and his proposal to outlaw abortion is so sweeping it could even ban some contraceptives. Ashcroft once used a sonogram of his own grandson to make his case."

Following a matching clip of Ashcroft at a Christian Coalition convention, Myers finally issued a mild ideological label: "Liberals who sense blood in the water after Chavez are putting heavy pressure on Senate Democrats to derail Ashcroft."

Myers did at least give a few seconds to the defense of Ashcroft: "Supporters claim he's been vilified, that as Governor he appointed the first black judge to an appeals court and the first woman to the state Supreme Court."

4

"Long Live Hillary" announced the headline over an incredibly sycophantic tribute to Hillary Clinton by Carole Simpson, an ABC News reporter and anchor of World News Tonight on Sundays.

In her online column posted over the weekend, Simpson revealed how a dinner with reporters during Hillary's 1999 trip to Africa turned into "a discussion among the reporters on whether she could do more good on the international stage speaking on behalf of women and children or becoming a New York Senator and concern herself with mundane things like highway funds."

Despite this kind of fawning attention from journalists, Simpson recalled Hillary "was very leery of us reporters."

Simpson complained that Hillary "didn't seem to deserve all the derision, investigations, scorn, nasty gossip she was subjected to" during her White House years. Celebrating her ascension to the Senate, Simpson asserted: "There, for all the nay-sayers to see, was the woman who had finally come into her own, free at last to be smart, outspoken, independent, and provocative." Simpson gushed: "She was voted one of America's most admired woman. Just wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet."

(Last month, as noted in the December 22 CyberAlert, Simpson trashed Clarence Thomas for voting "against black voting rights." She endorsed the attacks on him as "the beneficiary of the biggest example of unmerited affirmative action" and the "cruelest" justice "because he has consistently voted against human rights." If Bush names more like him, she groused, "God help us."

Now an excerpt from her January 7 "On My Mind" posting titled, "Long Live Hillary: A Reflection on the Mission and the Mettle of the Senator-Elect," picking up as she recounted covering Hillary Clinton during her March 1999 trip to Africa:

She was very leery of us reporters, and in the early days kept her distance from us. But before we had left the States, there had been rumors and we were dying for her to answer the major question on all our minds: Will you run for retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat? All we got was, variations on this theme: "Some people want me to think about it, and I am."

During the trip I was amazed to see firsthand what I had heard about, her worldwide popularity. Whether in Cairo or some remote village in Tunisia, people turned out in large numbers to see the "American first lady." You would have thought she was Madonna. People shouted "Hee-lary, Hee-lary!" They wanted to touch her and her to touch them....

As she became more comfortable with her traveling press corps, she invited us one night to have dinner with her in an elegant restaurant in Marrakesh. It was to be off the record. The perfect time we thought -- since we couldn't report it -- to feel her out on the Senate run.

It turned out to be a discussion among the reporters on whether she could do more good on the international stage speaking on behalf of women and children or becoming a New York Senator and concern herself with mundane things like highway funds.

She smiled listening to us and finally wondered out loud, why she couldn't do both as a Senator. Ah-hah! When she said that it seemed a foregone conclusion that she would seek the Senate seat....

So last week, as she smiled with her right hand in the air, I recalled all that she had been through. This was the woman who, for the entire eight years of her husband's presidency, was the object of cruel jokes. Yes, she could be aloof, demanding, tough, and arrogant. But she didn't seem to deserve all the derision, investigations, scorn, nasty gossip she was subjected to. And worst of all she suffered the humiliation and embarrassment of caused by her husband's sexual dalliances with a White House intern, under her and daughter Chelsea's very noses.

What an exhilarating moment it must have been for her -- the first First Lady in history to be elected to public office. There, for all the nay-sayers to see, was the woman who had finally come into her own, free at last to be smart, outspoken, independent, and provocative, all qualities she had been forced as First Lady, to "hide under a bushel." Still she was voted one of America's most admired woman. Just wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

END Excerpt

To read Simpson's entire gushing tribute, go to:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/WorldNewsTonight/onmymind010107.html

5

From the January 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things That Bill Clinton Has To Do Before Leaving Office." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Remove protective padding from underside of desk
9. Tell post office where to forward the subpoenas
8. Get gravy stains out of the Constitution
7. Take down all the photos of him and Hillary pretending to be in love
6. Pass new law: every time phrase "George W. Bush" appears in a document, Congress has to add word "sucks"
5. Pack "World's Greatest Impeached Dad" mug
4. Unchain despondent Al Gore from White House desk
3. Change name to George W. Bush -- get ready for four more years of grab-ass
2. Take Air Force One over Ken Starr's house, empty the lavatory tank
1. Shred like a hyperactive monkey

#2 may have given him an idea. -- Brent Baker


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