CyberAlert -- 01/13/2000 -- Cronkite Cautioned Letterman

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Cronkite Cautioned Letterman; Global Warming Jellyfish; More Toobin

1) Walter Cronkite warned David Letterman not to mistreat guest Hillary Clinton. The audience didn't laugh when she took a shot at Rudy Giuliani and while she delivered a Top List of reasons she decided to appear, the real reason was a poll supported it.

2) CBS's donation to Gore's campaign: A night of dire warnings about global warming. The latest evidence: More jellyfish. NBC's David Bloom mischaracterized 1994 GOP ads as "anti-immigrant."

3) Good Morning America featured ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin as Charlie Gibson noted how in his book he wrote that "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle" while conservatives were "were willing to trample...the Constitution in their effort to drive him from office."

4) ABC showcased a French program for the U.S. to emulate: "Morning after" pills in school. As for abstinence, "no one here argues that is realistic. In France, they believe young people must learn how to protect themselves."

5) Last week the CBS Evening News ran a one-sided story bemoaning the lack of "diversity" on a police force after a quota system for women ended.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)It was a line written for him, but former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite's admonition to David Letterman about being nice to Hillary Clinton matched his liberal political inclinations. In the midst of Letterman's opening monologue Wednesday night Cronkite walked out on stage and warned Letterman:
"David, you're really a dear old friend, so could I suggest, tonight you're interviewing Hillary Clinton, the First Lady of our nation. Try not to be a jackass, will you?"

During her subsequent appearance the jokes and one-liners someone wrote for her went over well. All but one, that is. Asked by Letterman about Rudy Giuliani, Clinton earned groans from the audience with this shot: "He's done a lot of stuff as Mayor, but I think being Senator is a different kind of job. You know as Senator you can't go arrest a homeless person, for example."

Letterman's staff provided a Top Ten list for her to announce: "The Top Ten Reasons I, Hillary Clinton, Finally Decided to Appear on the Late Show." Amongst the items, Number 8: "If Dan Quayle did it, how hard could it be?" Number 5: "I needed an excuse to get out of dinner with Donald Trump." Number 4: "When they threw in a Late Show tote bag, I said 'Gas up the Taurus Bill, we're going to Dave's.'" Number 1: "If I can make it here I can make it anywhere." A RealPlayer video clip of her reading the list is featured on the Late Show Web page and should remain up until about 7pm ET Thursday. Go to:

But Thursday's Washington Post provided the real reason she showed up, a reason which proves she operates just like her husband. Post reporter Dana Milbank, fresh from The New Republic, explained in his January 12-datelined dispatch:
"The Marist poll of 621 registered New York voters found that, by a margin of 58 percent to 24 percent, New Yorkers believed that Clinton should accept Letterman's invitation. Clearly, she had no choice. The poll was completed Monday. She announced her acceptance Tuesday. And tonight she pulled up at the Late Show studios on Broadway at West 53rd Street, accompanied by a 10-vehicle motorcade -- and joined by her pollster."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) For the second time this week, on Wednesday night the CBS Evening News delivered an "in kind" contribution to the Al Gore campaign which the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill would do nothing to prevent. The January 12 CBS Evening News led with more dire news about global warming and how the Clinton administration will soon allocate more money to exploring the impact. A second story warned that "a global explosion of jellyfish" is, Dan Rather suggested, "a possible sign of coming climate changes that could have even more impact on people."

On the NBC Nightly News David Bloom looked at how the GOP is reaching out to Latino voters as the RNC has just launched TV ads in Spanish. Bloom noted how Bush leads Gore nationally 52 to 41 percent, but in California Gore is ahead 59 to 33 percent because "Mexican-Americans especially remember here former Republican Governor Pete Wilson's divisive 1994 campaign with its anti-immigrant ads."
Ad announcer: "Enough is enough."
Antonio Villaraigosa, California Assembly Speaker: "That bad taste in the mouth, if you will, on the part of Latino voters is not something that they're going to get over quickly."

Hispanic perceptions helped along by this kind of distortion. Wilson's efforts were not "anti-immigrant" but anti illegal-immigrant.

Back to CBS's crusade to legitimize Gore's dire global warming warnings. Opening the CBS Evening News, anchor Dan Rather intoned:
"CBS News has dug out new and exclusive information about just how seriously the U.S. government now regards global warming. Sources tell Jim Axelrod that President Clinton will soon commit more money to understand it and fight it. This follows Axelrod's report Monday disclosing that U.S. climate experts now believe global warning indeed is real and underway. Axelrod has fresh scientific evidence of it tonight on the CBS Weather Watch."

Axelrod cited a new National Research Council report which claims "the warming trend....during the last twenty years is undoubtedly real." After again playing a soundbite from NOAA's James Baker, the same man he hyped Monday, Axelrod actually conceding not all agree as George Taylor, an Oregon State climatologist, asserted: "The global warming problem has been overstated by quite a few people."
Axelrod: "It is still easy to find critics of the theory that man-made gases are overheating the atmosphere and creating violent weather swings."
Taylor: "Even if we controlled every ounce of human emissions we would still have significant change in the climate over short time scales and long time scales."
Axelrod then built on CBS's theme that everyone is coming around: "But President Clinton seems to be convinced, joining the swelling chorus of the concerned."

Following a Clinton soundbite Axelrod predicted that the Clinton Administration will soon unveil an "ambitious budget" to fight warming.
Viewers then heard these ominous words from Rafe Pomerance, identified as "former State Department official." He cautioned: "It won't stop. Sea levels will rise, forests will move, water resources will be shifted all over the Earth. It's a very unpredictable and dangerous future and there is all the rationale in the world to act and act divisively."
Axelrod concluded: "That kind of thinking used to be called doom and gloom. Tonight, a growing number of scientists are hearing the critics but looking at the data and saying it's a forecast that can't be ignored."

So much for global warming doubters. But if "it is still easy to find critics of the theory that man-made gases are overheating the atmosphere," where have these people been? Certainly not in any one of several global warming stories CBS has reported over the last couple of years which have been uniformly one-sided.

Instead of challenging the political and government claims about warming, CBS eagerly hyped them. Rather introduced the second story of the night:
"Some of the world's top ocean life experts are now meeting in Alabama about one possible impact of global warming: It's a global explosion of jellyfish ruining tourism, stinging swimmers, and a possible sign of coming climate changes that could have even more impact on people. CBS's Maureen Maher has the hard facts on a squishy problem."

Maher cited global warming as a theory offered for the growing number of jellyfish along Alabama's coast and elsewhere. After talking with a supposed marine expert Maher listed areas with increased jellyfish: The Black Sea and Baltic Sea, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. She also noted that the run-off of farm chemicals could be a contributing factor, but she never elaborated on how her list of impacted areas includes Alaska, which is much colder than the Gulf of Mexico.

She ominously concluded: "With half the nation's population already living along the coastline, perhaps this silent creature is sending a loud and clear message that we should not ignore."


toobin01132.jpg (14872 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Appearing on Wednesday's Good Morning America, New Yorker writer and ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin again reiterated how he considers Hillary Clinton's claim about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to be "more right than wrong" since "this scandal existed solely because the conservative wing of the Republican Party...decided that they were gonna try to bring down Bill Clinton from practically the first day of his administration."

Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson read from Toobin's book: "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The President's adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred for him."

Despite that kind of reasoning, Random House, publisher of Toobin's book, Vast Conspiracy, described him as "unbiased." Here's how their Web site plugs the book:
"In A VAST CONSPIRACY, the best-selling author of THE RUN OF HIS LIFE casts an insightful and unbiased eye over the most extraordinary public saga of our time -- the Clinton sex scandals. A superlative journalist known for the skillfulness of his investigating and the power of his writing, Jeffrey Toobin tells the unlikely story of the events that began over doughnuts in a Little Rock hotel and ended on the floor of the United States Senate with only the second vote on presidential removal in American history. A VAST CONSPIRACY unravels the three strands of a national scandal -- those leading from Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth Starr - that created a legal, personal and political disaster for Bill Clinton."

You can access an excerpt from the book by going to:

Though Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson repeatedly challenged Toobin's notion that nothing Clinton did was impeachable, he never came to the defense of the conservatives Toobin impugned, nor did he raise Toobin's revelations about how Clinton's lawyer abused Paula Jones during her deposition by prying into her sexual history. Toobin noted that behavior when he appeared on Tuesday's Nightline. See the January 12 CyberAlert for details on that and what he said on Imus in the Morning.

Gibson began the January 12 interview, which was transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by recalling: "It was almost two years ago today, on our rival television show, that Mrs. Clinton, defending the President in the emerging Lewinsky scandal, said it was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy against her husband. You name your book A Vast Conspiracy. You say that charge has an unmistakable ring of truth. Really?"
Toobin charged: "I do. I think Mrs. Clinton clearly underestimated her husband's culpability in this, so she's not entirely right, but I think she's more right than wrong, and I say that because this scandal existed solely because the conservative wing of the Republican Party, or individuals, not so much the party, decided that they were gonna try to bring down Bill Clinton from practically the first day of his administration, and they were gonna use the legal system to do it. First in the Paula Jones case and then in the independent counsel."

I don't think conservatives wanted to impeach Clinton in 1993, they just wanted to defeat his policies in Congress and then beat him in the next election -- just like all opposition party activists have throughout American history.
Gibson challenged Toobin: "The independent counsel was out to 'get' the President?"
Toobin: "I think by the time we got to the Lewinsky investigation, absolutely they were. That was an unfair, unwise investigation."
Gibson: "And part of a conspiracy to do that?"
Toobin: "Conspiracy, I think, is one of those words that, it's probably, is pretty colorful, but I think it is true that this was not a normal criminal investigation, not a sound criminal investigation, but one that was designed to get him."

Gibson then read a Geraldo-like excerpt from Toobin's book: "All right, I'll get to that, whether it was a sound criminal investigation, in a moment. But you say, and this has surprised a lot of people, you say, 'The most astonishing fact in this story may be this one. In spite of his consistently reprehensible behavior, Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle. The President's adversaries appeared literally consumed with hatred for him. The bigger the stakes, the smaller they acted. They were willing to trample all standards of fairness, not to mention the Constitution, in their effort to drive him from office.'"
Toobin explained: "One of the main insights I felt that I drew in this story was that the public was right on this story, which is that there is a distinction between the personal and the political. Between public and private. Clinton's behavior was horrible. I mean, I, as you know, you'd read the book, I don't spare any invective on how bad his behavior was, you know, so consumed with self pity that he kept what he called the Richard Jewell file in his desk. But he didn't commit impeachable offenses."
Gibson again challenged him: "Jeffrey, maybe it shouldn't have come out. Maybe you can argue that you have a right to privacy, but once it did, if he lies about it, and you said he did..."
Toobin, jumping in: "Absolutely."
Gibson: "...then is there not an impeachable offense in there? Can you not argue that he was trampling the justice system?"
Toobin: "You certainly can argue that, but I believe that when the Founding Fathers created the idea of impeachment, it was designed to punish acts of wrongdoing against the public, against the office, misuse of office. Lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky did not involve his use of office. It was a solely private matter."

Gibson moved on: "If there's a hero in the book, in your view, it is Judge Susan Webber Wright down in Arkansas, and you say at the end, 'One person saw the case for what it was, Judge Susan Webber Wright. The judge found Clinton in contempt of court for lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. After a brief sober review of the facts, Wright concluded that there simply is no escaping the fact that the President deliberately undermined the integrity of the judicial system.' Someone who undermines the integrity of the judicial system, is that not impeachable?"
Toobin: "Absolutely not, because what he did was per-, it related to his private conduct, and Susan Webber Wright punished him privately, fined him, made him pay a fine. But you don't undermine the constitutional systems of government, an election, the only election in which all the people of the country vote. That behavior is personal. He should be punished personally. He shouldn't be punished because of his, in his role as President."

Gibson: "You say it was not the country's finest hour. It was not the President's, it was not the judicial system's, it was not the legislative system's finest hour. But basically this all came down to sex and that we were wallowing in sex."
Toobin: "We sure were."
Gibson: "Do we need another book to wallow in sex?"
Toobin: "Well, you know, this was, I mean, this was a perfect story for me, I have to admit, because it's a combination of high and low. I mean, the fact is, you can't tell this story in a world with the Starr Report, in a world with, you know, Congressman Bill McCollum, who's one of the House managers, going on the floor of the United States Senate, saying that Bill Clinton should be impeached because he touched Monica Lewinsky's breasts eight times. I mean you can't tell this story without talking about sex, but this was also an important cultural and political and constitutional moment. The second impeachment in the history of the United States. That's worth a book to me."
Gibson wrapped up the interview by worrying: "Have we established a zone of privacy now, do you think, for politicians, or are we still in the same situation where everything's free game?"
Toobin: "I think we're in a moment, I think, as you said in your introduction, where people are kind of frozen in shock, and they don't wanna go there. There was a moment a great moment early in the campaign where George Bush was starting to be questioned about whether he had cocaine use, and the press started to get all exercised, and the public, again in my view, quite rightly, said 25 years ago, who cares. I think that's the view that the public holds. I think the news media is bound for the gutter yet again."

++ See what Toobin looks like, if you can't conjure up a picture in your mind, and hear him denigrate conservatives. Late Thursday morning the MRC's Eric Pairel will post a RealPlayer clip of a portion of this GMA interview. Go to:


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) If only the U.S. could be more like France and give out "morning after pills" in schools. As for the American idea of teaching abstinence, ABC's Sheila MacVicar found the French care more: "In France they believe young people must learn how to protect themselves."

Over the years the networks have run quite a few stories admiring France's "free" day care system. Monday night, MRC intern Ken Shepherd noticed, ABC's World News Tonight gave approving attention to another French government program.

Anchor Peter Jennings introduced the January 10 story: "In France today, the government began a new drive to further reduce teenage pregnancy. They are already the levels much lower than they are here in the United States. And although the latest idea does not sit well with some French parents, it would be politically impossible here."

From Paris reporter Sheila MacVicar began: "Go to the nurse's office in any French high school and now along with the aspirin and the bandages, the nurse has the morning after pill: an emergency contraceptive that is 95 percent effective if taken within 24 hours of intercourse. This helps us with something we see everyday says this nurse. Every day we are confronted with the possibilities of unwanted pregnancies."
Anne-Sophie Lampe, a student, through a translator: "The fact you can have someone to talk about it and to support you and to give you some more information and if you can't talk to your parents at least you can talk to someone."

MacVicar found not even France isn't liberal enough to not have controversy over the idea: "It's the part about parents that has caused the controversy because in France, the schools do not have to tell parents what their children have been up to. French law gives teenagers who seek advice or prescriptions for contraceptives an absolute guarantee of confidentiality. Teenagers are encouraged to talk to their parents but in the end doctors and nurses must respect their right to privacy. Monique Saucier heads a conservative association representing French families."
MacVicar relayed the concerns of Saucier, who must be lonely as a conservative in France: "These are difficult decisions she says, and they should not be made without the involvement of family."

A relieved MacVicar concluded:
"But there is no organized effort to get the pill out of schools and everyone agrees more has to be done to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies. Every high school in France already has a condom machine. Birth control pills are free at family planning centers. And, by age 16, every student has been taught about contraceptives and how to use them. As for the American idea of teaching abstinence to teenagers, no one here argues that is realistic. In France, they believe young people must learn how to protect themselves."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Catching up with a one-sided CBS story from last week, on January 5 the CBS Evening News aired a piece lamenting how the demise of a female quota system for the Pittsburgh police has led to fewer women officers and thus a decline in vaunted "diversity." Reporter Cynthia Bowers grieved that for young girls "who want to do police work when they grow up," without quotas, "the future may not be as fair."

Anchor Dan Rather set up the story: "Law enforcement is among many fields nationwide where the 20th century brought women a better shot at equal opportunity. But that could be changing back here at the starting line of the 21st century. Case in point: a big city where CBS's Cynthia Bowers found the ranks of women are thinning fast on the thin blue line."

Bowers began: "When there is a police emergency in Pittsburgh, chances are a woman will be the first officer on the scene."
Officer John Webster: "I had some females back me up quicker and better than some males."
Unidentified female police officer: "We can't match the men in physical strength, but sometimes you've got to use your head instead of your stick."

Bowers recalled the bad old days: "There were no women on this force and not many minorities until a court-ordered quota system took effect in 1976. It wasn't easy back then for pioneering policewomen like Gwen Elliot."
Commander Gwen Elliot: "And they'd say 'We want the real police,' or 'We want some men here.'"

Bowers admired the department's diversity: "Today, Commander Elliot is part of a police force that is among this country's most diverse. One in four officers is female, compared to only one in 10 nationwide. But the women in blue may be a dying breed here. The affirmative action program that helped put so many females on the force was struck down in 1991. Since then, more than 90 percent of the Pittsburgh police officers hired have been males."

Sergeant Carmen Robinson claimed: "And when you have either all males or all whites, you're limiting your view, and that does a disservice to the, to the city of Pittsburgh."
Bowers: "Sergeant Carmen Robinson makes no apologies for being hired during the era of affirmative action."
Robinson: "It gave everybody an opportunity, and it, and I thought it was a fair opportunity for that period of time."

Bowers then claimed that without a special program to give women an advantage, the system will no longer be "fair" to girls dreaming of becoming cops. Over video of young girls, she Bowers asserted: "But for these young girls, who want to do police work when they grow up, the future may not be as fair. Like many cities today, Pittsburgh's police testing system awards bonus points to recruits who are military veterans, and they are overwhelmingly male."
Sergeant Lavonnie Bickerstaff, police recruiter: "If I made 100 percent and I'm competing with guys who got 97, the 10 points would give them 107, you can see how that will work against me."

Of course, nothing is stopping women from joining the armed forces where they can serve alongside men as MPs.

Bowers: "Even so, Bickerstaff is hoping she can find qualified women to eventually replace the many now nearing retirement age, among them Commander Gwen Elliot."
Elliott: "It would make me sad to think that here I am, and I don't want to have to work forever just so we have women here."

Concluding the polemic in the guise of a news story, Bowers bemoaned: "And it is also very likely that as their numbers on the force continue to diminish, tomorrow's women may find themselves fighting yesterday's battle for equal opportunity all over again."

I guess "equal opportunity" doesn't mean equal treatment but special quotas so you achieve an "equal" result. -- Brent Baker

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