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CyberAlert -- 02/08/2001 -- Furniture Removal Barely Noted

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Furniture Removal Barely Noted; Bush Rebuked for Hyping Bad News; Reagan's Legacy: Crack; Maher "Proud" of Harris Murder Joke

1) CBS gave 19 seconds Wednesday night to how the Clintons have decided to return furniture donated to the White House, not them personally. NBC aired a full story earlier this week, but ABC's World News Tonight and CBS's The Early Show have yet to touch it.

2) ABC, NBC and the cable networks, but not CBS, picked up on questions about Clinton's pardon of Glenn Braswell, a man presently being investigated for fresh crimes.

3) ABC's Betsy Stark rebuked President Bush for using "every new piece of bad news to promote his big tax cut" while in reality "not all the news is bad."

4) Katie Couric pressed Interior Secretary Gale Norton from the left. She wondered: "Why would you want to have a job that would force you to enforce laws you really don't believe in?" Couric also raised a liberal distortion meant to imply she's a racist: "You likened your struggle to preserve states rights to the cause of the Confederacy..."

5) On his 90th birthday the networks treated Ronald Reagan with respect they never displayed during his time in office. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski acknowledged: "Today, 12 years after leaving the White House, the Reagan legacy is still going strong."

6) ABC's Bill Maher declared that "the Cold War was so much more won by Harry Truman at the beginning and Gorbachev at the end than Ronald Reagan." Michael Moore claimed: "He gave weapons to the Ayatollah, so that he could raise money for the Contras, which then helped bring a crack epidemic into the United States."

7) Bill Maher boasted that he is "proud" that his joke, about how "America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris," had hurt her personally.

8) Letterman's "Top Ten" focused on a revelation skipped Wednesday night by ABC and NBC: "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Gore/Clinton Fight."


Correction: The February 7 CyberAlert Special quoted the lyrics to a song about emptying a litter box sung by Ted Koppel on Monday's Tonight Show. I noted I wasn't sure about the last two words in the third line and several readers have e-mailed with a more accurate sounding transcription for the third line: "Doin' it all with style and elan."

1

Dan Rather gave 19 seconds on Wednesday night to the decision by the Clintons to return furniture donated not to them personally, but to the White House. That's 19 seconds more though than allocated by ABC. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams also briefly mentioned the development, but NBC, unlike CBS and ABC, had run a full story on Monday night about the situation, a story which also ran on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams. (For details about the improper removal and coverage of it, go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010206.asp#4)

ABC doesn't have much of an excuse for its ongoing spiking of the story first revealed in Monday's Washington Post. On Wednesday night, despite multiple stories prompted by the White House shooting, World News Tonight found time for a "Medicine on the Cutting Edge" story about a new relaxation technique to ease the stress on the heart and a full report on how cold water is killing manatees off the Florida coast.

In the morning, the Clinton reallocation of furniture earned a sentence on Tuesday's Good Morning America on ABC and a full story on NBC's Today that morning. Through Wednesday morning, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, not a word about it had appeared on CBS's Early Show.

On Wednesday's CBS Evening News Dan Rather read this 19-second item: "Former President Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton today returned $28,000 worth of furnishings they took when they left the White House last month. They say they thought the sofas, rugs and other items were meant as personal gifts but decided to return them after questions were raised about whether some were actually meant for the White House collection."

2

Another pardon silenced in the morning and by CBS in the morning and at night. On Tuesday night ABC and NBC, as well as the three cable news channels, all aired full stories about another questionable pardon issued by Bill Clinton which was first exposed in this week's U.S. News & World Report. Neither the ABC or NBC story appeared the next morning on GMA or Today.

ABC's Jackie Judd on the February 6 World News Tonight and Pete Williams on the NBC Nightly News outlined the facts of the strange pardon by President Clinton on January 20 of Glenn Braswell, operator of a company which sold fraudulent herbal remedies to correct hair loss. In 1983 he was convicted of mail fraud, perjury and tax evasion and is currently under investigation for money laundering and tax evasion. The White House failed to give the Justice Department enough time to review the case so they were not able to warn of the present probe. While there are no known ties between Braswell and Clinton, his lawyer is Kendell Coffey of Gore Florida fame. Pete Williams concluded: "Tonight, government officials say the Clinton White House sent so few documents the Justice Department doesn't even have an address for where to send the pardon."

3

ABC's Betsy Stark rebuked President Bush for using "every new piece of bad news to promote his big tax cut" while in reality "not all the news is bad" and the owner of a store which he used as a venue to promote his tax cut has seen "no signs of a slowdown."

ABC anchor Peter Jennings set up the February 6 World News Tonight story caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "There was bad news for what was a dot com success story not long ago. Etoys says it will run out of cash in six weeks and Cisco Systems, the world's number one maker of computer networking equipment, is reporting slipping sales. Betsy Stark is with us today. It's the kind of news that gets the President's attention, is it not?"

Stark bemoaned: "That's right, Peter, because he seems to like to use every new piece of bad news to promote his big tax cut. The important thing to know, however, is that not all the news is bad. The President's message today at a Washington area toy store is that businesses and consumers need a tax cut right away. He has said it repeatedly....But today the owner of that toy store told ABC News she sees no signs of a slowdown in her business."

4

Katie Couric mainly pressed Interior Secretary Gale Norton from the left during a Tuesday morning interview on NBC's Today. Couric wondered: "Why would you want to have a job that would force you to enforce laws you really don't believe in?" Couric also raised a liberal distortion meant to imply she's a racist: "You likened your struggle to preserve states rights to the cause of the Confederacy saying....Do you wish now that perhaps you hadn't used the example of slavery in your defense of states rights or do you think that speech was blown out of proportion."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down Couric's February 6 questions:

-- "You describe yourself as a compassionate conservationist. What exactly does that mean?"
-- "But on the other hand you also believe in economics and, and sort of providing land owners and industry with, with some degree of protection as well, correct?"
-- "You know one of the first projects or your first projects will be to present President Bush with a plan to explore and drill for oil in the arctic national wildlife refuge. That's a place that could hold as much as 16 billion barrels according to government estimates. Needless to say environmentalists vigorously oppose this plan saying it will spoil a pristine region on the Beaufort Sea. What is your response or how do you react to the concern by these environmentalists that this is absolutely going to spoil that region."
-- "But if it threatens the environment in any way Secretary Norton will you resist drilling?"
-- "In his final weeks in office, as you well know, President Clinton made huge tracts of federal land further protected from mining and other use by making them national monuments. Do you have any plans to roll back any of these protections and if so why?"
-- "In fact you were slightly chagrined were you not that President Clinton did not consult with, with local residents before making this move?"
-- "During your confirmation hearings or during the process those who opposed you said you were too pro-industry and criticized the fact that you did once favor a change in federal law that would allow polluters to avoid legal trouble if they in fact came forward themselves and cleaned up the mess. Some would argue that puts, simply puts too much trust in industry. That they would have the courage to come forward and say, 'hey we're polluting we'd like to take care of the problem ourselves.'"
-- "It's my understanding though that the EPA overturned that law is that no correct?"
-- "During your confirmation hearing you said you felt comfortable enforcing environmental laws as they are written, even though you disagreed with some of those laws in the past. Why would you want to have a job that would force you to enforce laws you really don't believe in?"
-- "You know another thing that you came under fire for during the confirmation process was a speech that you made to a conservative group. You likened your struggle to preserve states rights to the cause of the Confederacy saying quote, 'We lost too much when the South was defeated in the civil war.' Do you wish now that perhaps you hadn't used the example of slavery in your defense of states rights or do you think that speech was blown out of proportion."

5

On his 90th birthday the networks treated Ronald Reagan with respect they never displayed during his time in office. On Tuesday night ABC's World News Tonight aired an upbeat story about Reagan's 50-year pen-pan letter writing with a woman in Philadelphia and on Monday and Tuesday night NBC Nightly News featured excerpts of an interview by Tom Brokaw with Nancy Reagan about her husband's condition and impact on America.

Tuesday's NBC Nightly News also carried a admirable piece by Jim Miklaszewski on how Reagan's legacy is alive and still having an impact. Miklaszewski suggested:
"Today, 12 years after leaving the White House, the Reagan legacy is still going strong. In fact, even today, here at the new Bush White House you can still hear the distinct political battle cries of the Reagan revolution. George W. Bush campaigned on some of the very issues Reagan first pushed twenty years ago."

Miklaszewski proceeded to list tax cuts, strong defense and missile defense as well as privatizing Social Security.

6

ABC's Bill Maher showed no such respect for Ronald Reagan during Tuesday's Politically Incorrect taped at Howard University in Washington, DC. Maher declared that "the Cold War was so much more won by Harry Truman at the beginning and Gorbachev at the end than Ronald Reagan." Reagan talked while Clinton took action Maher claimed, asserting "it was Bill Clinton who actually did" eliminate deficits and welfare.

On the same show attended by several MRC staffers, including Jessica Anderson who compiled these quotes, left-wing gadfly Michael Moore, a man who has hosted prime time shows on NBC, Fox and Bravo, spewed: "He gave weapons to the Ayatollah, so that he could raise money for the Contras, which then helped bring a crack epidemic into the United States. That's what Ronald Reagan did and that's his legacy!"

Setting up the segment on Reagan's legacy prompted by his 90th birthday, Politically Incorrect host Maher contended:
"Let's talk about Ronald Reagan. It is his 90th birthday today and this is a big event for Washington DC. And of course, the ex-President did some good things, but you know, to me, a lot of Republicans have two blind spots: their hatred of Bill Clinton and their deification of Ronald Reagan. You know, when it comes to Ronald Reagan, they're like the doting parents of an eight-year-old -- everything he does is remarkable. He singlehandedly won the Cold War, which is, that's the one that gets me the most. The Cold War was so much more won by Harry Truman at the beginning and Gorbachev at the end than Ronald Reagan."

Moore jumped in: "Personally, the problem with Reagan, as I see it, is that he was the beginning of the depleting of the political gene pool, when Americans settled for somebody who really wasn't and shouldn't have been in that office, wasn't quite there all the time. And once you settle for a Ronald Reagan, then it's easy to settle for a George Bush, and once you settle for a George Bush, and once you settle for Bush I, then it's real easy to settle for Bush II. You know, this should evolution, instead it's de-evolution. What's next?...Here's what Reagan did: He gave weapons to the Ayatollah, so that he could raise money for the Contras, which then helped bring a crack epidemic into the United States. That's what Ronald Reagan did and that's his legacy! That's his legacy!"

Maher soon returned to his original theme: "You know, usually we wait until someone is long gone, so history can make a judgment, before they want to put him on Mount Rushmore, on a coin, on a license plate. In other words, Ronald Reagan should jump ahead of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln onto the license plate....But you know what, as I said, I mean, to give credit to Reagan for ending the Cold War because he was there at the end, when it was really the Berlin Airlift, the Marshall Plan, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Gorbachev....But when it came to things he just talked about, like eliminating the deficits and eliminating welfare, it was Bill Clinton who actually did those things."

7

Pride in a murder joke. Bill Maher is "proud" that his joke, about how "America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris," had hurt her personally. His boast came during a February 2 interview on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports noticed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth.

The joke in question occurred on the November 30 Politically Incorrect on ABC. Maher's line in full: "Now earlier today, a rental truck carried a half a million ballots from Palm Beach to the Florida Supreme Court there in Tallahassee. CNN had live helicopter coverage from the truck making its way up the Florida highway, and for a few brief moments, America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris."

To view a RealPlayer clip of Maher telling it, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/2000/Fax20001201qt.html

During a January 11 Prime Time Thursday interview, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris told ABC's Diane Sawyer: "Perhaps the most difficult moment was when one person said they were disappointed the Ryder truck, that everyone was watching on TV, that O.J. Simpson hadn't murdered me, or something like that." Sawyer then played a partial clip of Maher's joke: "And for a few brief moments, America held the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris." Harris commented: "That was not pleasant."

Now to CNN last Friday night. Wolf Blitzer asked Maher: "Is it ever, do you ever go too far in your jokes on Politically Incorrect and you say to yourself: 'Well, maybe I pushed the envelop a little bit too much?'"
Maher replied: "Yes. But, you know, that's what being on the edge means. Unless you fall off a little once in a while, how do you know where the edge is? I don't know if you're referring to, I saw Katherine Harris on some, I think it was an ABC show a couple of weeks ago, complaining that what hurt her most about the whole ordeal that she went through, never mind that most of it was self-inflicted, was a joke that we did here. And I must say I was proud."
Blitzer: "What was that joke?"
Maher: "Well, it was something to do with when that Ryder truck, remember, was going up the highway to Tallahassee, and it was like the slow speed chase that we watched a few years ago with you-know-who."
Blitzer: "With O.J."
Maher: "Yeah. And it was something along the lines of hoping O.J. was gonna kill her."
Blitzer: "Oh, well, that sounds pretty rough."
Maher: "Well, Wolf, if you'd like me to come over there and hold your hand, I can. You'll get over it."

It's more like Maher can't get over Bush's victory.

Earlier, Maher admitted voting for Ralph Nader. Blitzer queried: "You know, for those of us who watch your program regularly, you obviously come across with sort of a tendency towards being a liberal. I don't know if you voted for Ralph Nader or didn't vote for Ralph Nader, but-"
Maher: "I did".
Blitzer: "But the word is that you did, obviously. Was that a mistake now that you've seen of the people who are going to be in the Cabinet? I'm sure that Ralph Nader is not happy that Gale Norton is going to be the Interior Secretary, John Ashcroft the Attorney General."
Maher: "Yeah, well, that's the party line. First of all, you know, I would object to being called a liberal. I'm a Libertarian. That's a little different. And I know Ralph Nader isn't. The point was to vote for someone who didn't make me cringe. And I felt like I accomplished that. Is the Bush Cabinet environmentally unsound? Yes."

8

Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Gore/Clinton Fight." (Neither ABC or CBS on Wednesday night touched a Washington Post story which recounted how in mid-December Al Gore and Bill Clinton had an argument over who was to blame for Gore's loss. CNN, FNC and MSNBC all ran pieces and the NBC Nightly News aired a story on it by Lisa Myers who outlined the case made by each side: Gore blaming Clinton's lying; Clinton blaming Gore for not touting Clinton's achievements and for poor performances during the debates.)

Now, from the February 7 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard During the Gore/Clinton Fight." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "What's on your mind, loser -- I mean, Al?"
9. "You cannot tell by the emotionless tone of my voice, but I am very, very ticked off"
8. "You lost to a guy dumber than my brother"
7. "Is that all you got? Hell, Hillary hits harder than that"
6. "If there were an unstained place on the carpet, I'd wrestle you there"
5. "Is your face red because you're angry or are you wearing that debate makeup again?'
4."I won't stay long -- I know you're very, very busy pardoning fugitive billionaires"
3. "Don't throw the chair -- I'm planning to steal it for my new home"
2. "So, basically I'm not President because of some fat girl"
1. "Al, take it from someone who knows -- you really, really need to get laid"

From the Late Show Web site, some of the "also ran" extra entries which didn't make the final cut:

-- "Would you please ask her to stop doing that while I'm talking to you?"
-- "I pretended to be sorry, Al -- isn't that enough?"
-- "You want a definition for 'is'? My foot 'is" gonna be up your ass!"
-- "If you could've gotten all the women you slept with to vote, I would've won in a landslide"

I especially like the last "extra" one as well as #6 and #3. -- Brent Baker


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