CyberAlert -- 03/24/2000 -- Just Seconds for E-Mail
Just Seconds for E-Mail; Catholics & the Holocaust; "I Hope We Kill Bush"
1) White House e-mail scandal brought front and center by House hearing. CNN, CBS and FNC jumped on it Thursday night, ABC gave it 20 seconds, NBC a mere 16 seconds. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams ignored it, spending 11 minutes with the Ramsey's.
6) In the midst of praising the Pope, CBS raised, in Dan Rather's words, "the heavily chronicled accusation that the war-time Pope, Pius the 12th, turned a blind eye to what was going on in the concentration camps." That followed a 60 Minutes piece Sunday.
MagazineWatch, about the March 27 editions, is now online. This latest
issue compiled by the MRC's Tim Graham examines these topics:
Corrections: A table of contents listing in the March 22 CyberAlert plugged an item on how "NBC's The West Wing delivered scenes linking census sampling advocates to the Constitution's definition of blacks as 3/5ths a person...." That should have read "linking census sampling opponents to..." Thursday's CyberAlert Special misspelled the first half of Northrop-Grumman with a u, as in Northrup. (CNN's on-screen graphic Thursday night misspelled it as "Northup.")
The latest White House-related scandal to arise didn't interest ABC, MSNBC or NBC very much Thursday night. The House Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Thursday with current and former Northrop-Grumman employees, who oversaw maintenance of White House computers, about how they discovered e-mails which were not handed over in response to subpoenas and that they felt threatened by officials to not alert anyone to the problem. The same day the Justice Department announced a probe of the matter.
ABC's World News Tonight ignored the hearing but gave the Justice Department announcement 20 seconds. Ditto for NBC Nightly News which managed to squeeze the Justice announcement into 16 seconds. But those shows at least mentioned the subject. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, an hour-long program, spent 11 minutes replaying a Katie Couric interview with the Ramsey's but couldn't find any time for the e-mail story.
ABC's Peter Jennings anchored from Jerusalem with Kevin Newman back in New York, who took 20 seconds to announce: "The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into accusations the White House hid some electronic mail from Justice Department investigators. The e-mails may have concerned the campaign finance and Monica Lewinsky scandals. The White House says they were accidentally lost, but Republicans say the White House used intimidation to cover up the mistake."
Similarly, Tom Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News from Jerusalem before throwing the show back to Brian Williams in New York who consumed 16 seconds in relaying: "The Justice Department announced today it has opened a criminal investigation into White House e-mails. Specifically this, did the administration withhold any e-mails that were requested by Ken Starr or the congressional investigators looking into the Clinton-Gore campaign?"
ABC and NBC dedicated much of their shows to the Pope's visit to Israel, but both still put a higher priority on some less than pressing stories. ABC, for instance, spent more than two minutes on a piece about Sacramento and California other school districts where teachers visit parents at home. NBC devoted 2:30 to how Chelsea Clinton is "getting rave reviews" in India. Bob Kur relayed: "She's the one everybody's talking about. From day one, off on her own at a festival, India's people and press praise the 20-year-old's poise, her grace and reverence and her affection for her father, even that she's a vegetarian..." Kur featured this from Lisa Caputo, the former Press Secretary to the First Lady and one-time flack for CBS: "Chelsea Clinton's privacy protection has been one of the great untold success stories of the Clinton administration and it's a testament to great parenting on the part of both the President and Mrs. Clinton."
On the e-mail story, the CBS Evening News ran a piece by Bob Schieffer, and CNN's Inside Politics led with a story on the Justice Department angle from Pierre Thomas followed by a live discussion with reporter Bob Franken who filed a taped piece for the 8pm ET The World Today. The piece by Thomas did not air at 8pm, but Franken's story ran up top just after reports on the Pope.
Rita Cosby filed stories for FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report. In concluding her Special Report piece, Cosby uniquely raised the possibility that the Justice probe could shut down public disclosure: "Meantime, in addition to launching its criminal inquiry, the Justice Department filed a motion asking a federal judge to block the production of all e-mail related documents in a separate civil suit. The independent counsel's office agreed with the Justice Department's move, saying the civil investigation could also interfere with its own inquiry."
We wouldn't even know about the whole matter if it were not for the Judicial Watch civil suit on behalf of one of the former Northrop-Grumman employees.
Jim Moret, anchor of CNN's The World Today, set up Franken's story: "A new round of ethical questions for the Clinton White House. This time, the focus is a batch of e-mails subpoenaed by Congress several years ago, including some which belong to Vice President Gore's own e-mail account."
Franken began: "These missing e-mails cover a
period of time that has been under close scrutiny, 1996 to 1999, when
investigations into campaign finance abuses and the Monica Lewinsky affair
were in full gear. By all accounts, the problem began in August 1996 as a
mundane computer foul-up.
Betty Lambuth, Northrop-Grumman: "They did tell
me that if any of us did talk about
this, they basically threatened us that my staff would be fired, would go
++ See what witness Betty Lambuth looks like and watch Franken's story. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of it. Go to: http://www/mrc.org
So what did viewers on the March 23 News with Brian
Williams on MSNBC learn about instead of the e-mail scandal? Here's a
rundown of the show:
Before Thursday only the Washington Times was tracking the e-mail story, though ABC's Sam Donaldson did raise it last Sunday on This Week.
Back on March 10 Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper reported:
Five Northrop Grumman employees were so intimidated by White House threats of jail that one was nearly fired when she refused to tell her own bosses about the administration's failure to turn over thousands of e-mail messages under subpoena.
Newly obtained information shows the White House threatened to have the five employees jailed after they found -- and reported -- a glitch in the White House computer system that prevented the discovery of more than 100,000 White House messages involving campaign finance abuses, Monica Lewinsky, "Chinagate" and "Filegate."
The threat came from Laura Crabtree, White House customer-support branch chief, during a June 15, 1998, meeting in her office after the discovery by Northrop Grumman of the computer glitch, according to lawyers and others familiar with the growing scandal. She told the employees the matter was "extremely sensitive," warned them not to tell anyone about it without explicit authorization and said the consequences would be a "jail cell."...
The glitch was first discovered in May 1998 when Northrop Grumman employees traced a programming error on one of four White House servers back to August 1996. The error involved e-mail to and from 464 White House computer users. The problem was not fixed until November 1998....
The Northrop Grumman employees discovered that because one of the e-mail servers was named "Mail2" instead of "MAIL2" and because some components of the system were case-sensitive, the incoming messages to the users of "Mail2" were not collected between September 1996 and November 1998....
This past Sunday, March
19, Sam Donaldson raised the subject with independent counsel Robert Ray:
ABC, CBS and NBC, as noted in the March 22 CyberAlert, Tuesday night FNC
and CNN reported how John McCain attacked Al Gore on campaign finance
reform. Wednesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume
roundtable panelist Fred Barnes raised the issue of how the media skipped
McCain's attack. As transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Hume asked
on the March 22 show:
Barnes replied: "As predicted, and contrary to what Mort [Kondracke] said last night, now that McCain is attacking Al Gore on campaign finance reform the mainstream press has decided to ignore it. Nothing on ABC, NBC, CBS, one paragraph buried in a New York Times story, one paragraph buried in a USA Today story, zip in the Los Angeles Times. There was a story in the Washington Post. They covered it. And what was obviously the news from McCain's return to the Senate, all of a sudden, it was almost man bites dog. This was the first time he started attacking Gore. He did vigorously attack Gore, and the networks, now that he's attacking left, treated it as non-news."
Barnes later added: "My point was, strictly,
that while McCain was attacking to the right and attacking Bush, he got
Yes, at least they mentioned it.
Another chance to portray Republicans and conservatives as anti-Catholic. ABC and CNN used House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Thursday announcement that he'd picked a Chicago priest as the new House chaplain, thus ending a controversy over the House leadership's selection of a protestant over another Catholic priest, as an opportunity to remind viewers of Bush going to Bob Jones University.
Neither story pointed out how past Democratic Speakers had not picked a Catholic chaplain either, not even the Catholic Tip O'Neill, nor did ABC and CNN mention questions about the qualifications of the passed-over Catholic priest.
Thursday's World News Tonight, which dedicated 20 seconds to the e-mail controversy, allocated 1:38 to the chaplain pick. Linda Douglass asserted: "Father Daniel Coughlin's appointment was meant to diffuse a growing political crisis in the Republican Party, which has been battling charges of anti-Catholic bias on several fronts."
Douglass explained how a search committee late last year recommended a Catholic priest but House leaders instead picked a Presbyterian minister. Douglass drove home: "Catholic groups were outraged, their fury grew after George W. Bush's controversial speech to Bob Jones University whose leader has called Catholicism a cult. Today, a visible angry Hastert said he deeply resented suggestions that he and his party are anti-Catholic."
After a soundbite from Hastert, she concluded: "Catholic groups say the whole episode remains troubling, but GOP leaders think they may have solved their problem with the target audience, the 25 percent of voters who are Catholic."
Over on CNN's The World Today, reporter Chris Black also recalled Bob Jones: "Charges of Republican anti-Catholicism grew louder after GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, a school whose President compares the Catholic Church to a cult."
Last month CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer Justin
Torres discovered there may have been good reasons for House leaders to
have picked someone other than the finalist Catholic priest. He reported:
But who is really anti-Catholic, conservative politicians or network producers who keep trying to implicate the Catholic Church with the holocaust? ABC avoided the subject, but both CBS and NBC raised it Thursday night, though in the midst of glowing tributes to the Pope's efforts at reconciliation with Jews.
Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News from Jerusalem: "It was the most solemn moment of Pope John Paul's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today he became the first Pope to see Israel's holocaust memorial and honor the memory of the millions of Jews who suffered and died under Nazi persecution. His words could not, did not heal all wounds but the Pope's presence in that dark place was electrifying."
After showing some of the Pope's remarks and the
positive response fro Israeli Prime Minister Barak, Rather ran this
soundbite from "chief rabbi" Ysrael Meir Lau: "We have to
say more. I'm a little bit disappointed that there was no condemning of
Reporter Alan Pizzey next talked with a Polish holocaust survivor who thought the Catholic church had not atoned for the holocaust, though he was saved by Catholics, but now thinks the Pope has gone far enough.
Rather ended the show: "The quiet grace of Pope John Paul II kneeling at the birthplace of Jesus in prayer, and his solemn humility in the presence of a monstrous evil remembered, raised these past few days into vivid relief, even set against such a complex and multi-layered backdrop. The Pope's pilgrimage could have been little more than an elaborate tour of historical sites. Instead, John Paul made it a worthy part of history."
From Jerusalem Tom
Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News:
Reporter Martin Fletcher concluded his subsequent story: "This evening Jewish leaders said Pope John Paul II is the greatest friend Jews have ever had in the Catholic Church and they say if only he'd been Pope during the Second World War and the Catholic Church had spoken out against the holocaust instead of remaining silent."
I know little about debate over the Catholic Church during World War II, so will defer to others though I know these charges disturb many Catholics. This week MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell penned a column taking apart a March 19 60 Minutes piece relaying the views of John Cornwell, author of a book titled "Hitler's Pope." The MRC's Tim Graham uncovered how Newsweek's religion reporter discredited Cornwell last year.
Here's an excerpt from the column:
The low point came when Bradley explained: "Cornwell says that the turning point in his research came when he found a letter written by the future pope when he was a papal representative in Germany after the First World War. In it, he poured scorn on the physical characteristics of a group of Jewish socialists, describing their leader as 'pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and sly.'"
Then Cornwell dragged out the smears: "It was the sort of expression that would -- one would find in Mein Kampf during the same period." Ed Bradley underlined his emphasis: "So you're saying that what Hitler wrote would have been similar to what Pius XII -- the man who would become Pius XII -- wrote?" Cornwell: "Absolutely."
This was hardly the verdict of Newsweek religion specialist Kenneth Woodward, who reviewed Hitler's Pope last fall. He not only called Cornwell's charge of Pope Pius's anti-Semitism "bizarre," he called the book "a classic example of what happens when an ill-equipped journalist assumes the airs of sober scholarship...Errors of fact and ignorance of context appear on all most every page. Cornwell questions [Pope Pius's] every motive, but never doubts those who tell a different story. This is bogus scholarship, filled with nonexistent secrets, aimed to shock."
Woodward explained that Cornwell ignored how Allied planes dropped 88,000 copies of the Pope's first encyclical over Germany hoping to get his guarded anti-Nazi message to the people. He also noted Cornwell acknowledges that Pius XII put himself and the Catholic Church in danger by secretly aiding a 1940 plot to overthrow Hitler. Do these sound to anyone like the record of "Hitler's Pope"?
To read the entire column, go to:
Reporters saw themselves as part of the McCain team. After Super Tuesday some readers e-mailed me about how Maria Shriver used the word "we" in saying something like, in reference to the McCain campaign, how "we hope he doesn't lose." I checked and found she never said any such thing on MSNBC on Super Tuesday. But that sentiment was held by many reporters, The Weekly Standard's Tucker Carlson reported in a March 27 story, "On the Road: From New Hampshire to California, a Diary of the Real McCain Campaign."
Carlson relayed what he discovered in his travels
McCain may be out of the race, but I bet the media's desire to beat Bush hasn't changed.
vaunted trigger locks don't prevent anything. In a March 23 NBC Nightly
News story on a 12-year-old boy who held his class in Lisbon, Ohio at
gunpoint, but gave the loaded gun to a teacher before hurting anyone, Jim
Avila pointed out:
Shocking. Trigger locks won't prevent the misuse of guns. Let's see how many other news stories note this fact about the Ohio incident.
Maybe we need mandatory safes for the storage of keys to trigger locks. -- Brent Baker
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