CyberAlert -- 03/26/1999 -- Grand Jury Forewoman: Would Have Indicted Clinton; Gumbel's Blast

Grand Jury Forewoman: Would Have Indicted Clinton; Gumbel's Blast

1) Thursday night CBS reported that Clinton "personally reviewed targets." NBC relayed that Clinton insisted "we wold be a lot better off" if the Kosovars "didn't have as many arms as they do."

2) The New York Times disclosed Wen Ho Lee was assigned to run a "sensitive new nuclear weapons program" even though he was already under investigation and a research assistant from mainland China that he hired has now disappeared, but the networks don't care.

3) The grand jury forewoman in the Lewinsky case spoke publicly Thursday night on a DC TV station. She revealed that she would have voted to indict Clinton and rejected the attacks on Starr.

4) On his HBO sports show Bryant Gumbel used concern over the Holyfield-Lewis boxing match to malign "right-wing newspapers that care little for social injustices suffered by millions."

5) CNN's Cold War series has made it to Ronald Reagan, claiming he "crushed Latin American revolutionary dreams" and blaming his use of civilian-looking aircraft for spying for confusing the Soviets, thus leading to the shootdown of KAL-007. Plus SDI blocked peace.

6) Another plea from me. Plus, Elton John and Henry Kissinger.

>>> Al Gore: The Embarrassing Video. Watch him as he asks, during a tour of Monticello, about some busts: "Who are these people?" Answer: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette. Prompted by the latest MRC fax report on Gore gaffes we dug out this classic from the MRC video archive and now you can see it on the MRC's video page. It's from C-SPAN, live at about 8:48am ET on Sunday, January 17, 1993 during a stop in Charlottesville on the Clinton-Gore buscapade trip to their Inauguration three days later. To see the RealPlayer video, go to:

Also now online, the new MRC Media Reality Check fax report: "Which Vice President is the King of Gaffes? Gore Has a History of Silly Flubs and Boasts, and the Networks Have a History of Ignoring Them." The MRC's Tim Graham runs through a dozen Gore flubs from Monticello to "creating the Internet." To read the fax: <<<

Correction: The March 24 CyberAlert stated that "the March 2 CyberAlert pointed out that Annette Bening was notably not standing...." Actually, it was the March 22 CyberAlert.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Thursday's evening shows revealed two noteworthy bits of information about the war and Clinton: First, CBS reported that he "personally reviewed targets" and second, NBC relayed that Clinton insisted "we would be a lot better off" if those in Kosovo, who are the ones helplessly being massacred, "didn't have as many arms as they do."

Clinton's comment came during a March 25 NBC Nightly News story which briefly noted how Republicans want to arm those in Kosovo so they can defend themselves, an idea ignored Thursday night by ABC and CBS. NBC Nightly News also uniquely reported that "U.S. forces used a top secret warfare system to temporarily knock out power grids."

Not letting a war get in the way of an opportunity to rhyme, Dan Rather declared: "When CBS comes back here: The closest you'll probably ever get to the super high-tech B-2 bomber, combat newcomer over Yugoslavia."

Now to the items plugged above, as reported on the March 25 evening shows which focused almost entirely on the NATO action:

-- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley checked in from the White House: "Dan, today the President personally reviewed the targets, told his Generals quote, 'that looks good,' and three hours later the bombs were falling again..."

Think that one over. Bill Clinton is picking the targets.

Dan Rather next relayed how a CBS News poll determined 50 percent approve of the airstrikes, but 20 percent had no opinion, and 52 percent don't think the operation is worth losing American lives.

-- NBC Nightly News. Jim Miklaszewski outlined NBC's exclusive: "NBC News learned that in the first round of airstrikes U.S. forces used a top secret warfare system to temporarily knock out power grids and jam Serb military computers that run their air defenses..."

Later, from the White House, David Bloom reported how Bob Dole said ground troops cannot be ruled out. Bloom then noted: "Now some in Congress want to supply the Kosovo Liberation Army with machine guns, grenade launchers, rifles and other arms to better fight the Serbs themselves."
Senator Mitch McConnell: "This would give these folks a chance to defend themselves."
Clinton in the Oval Office: "I think that would be a terrible mistake. We would be far better off if they didn't have as many arms as they do."

Worldwide gun control. I thought we were bombing the Serbs BECAUSE the Kosovars can't defend themselves since they don't have adequate weapons. Now Clinton says they have too many arms? And if the "they" he is referring to are the Serbs, then arms control hasn't quite worked.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee was assigned to run a "sensitive new nuclear weapons program" even though he was already under investigation for espionage and a research assistant from mainland China that he hired has now disappeared, but the networks don't care. Wednesday morning the New York Times advanced the Chinese espionage story with a front page piece headlined: "Though Suspected as Spy, Scientist Got Sensitive Job."

The NATO war action commenced later in the day and took over the evening news shows, but that morning before anything was announced the network morning shows didn't care about China. Zilch on the March 24 Good Morning America, though the show had time for a story on cherry blossoms, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted. Nothing on China on CBS's This Morning, but MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that the show devoted its second interview segment to tips on buying a used car. Not a word on Today, which MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented devoted its entire 7:30 half hour to an interview with Bill Gates promoting his new book and an interview with the mother of a Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting victim who has taken up the cause of gun control.

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the March 24 New York Times exclusive by James Risen that failed to gain any network traction:

In spring 1997, Los Alamos National Laboratory chose a scientist who was already under investigation as a suspected spy for China to run a sensitive new nuclear weapons program, several senior Government officials say.

The scientist, Wen Ho Lee asked that he be allowed to hire a research assistant, the officials said. Once in the new position, in charge of updating computer software for nuclear weapons, Lee hired a post-doctoral researcher who was a citizen of China, intelligence and law-enforcement officials said.

Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation had said that a wiretap on Lee, a computer expert born in Taiwan who is an American citizen, would allow the bureau to keep close tabs on him in the new position, the bureau never won approval for the monitoring, the officials said.

Now, two years later, Lee has been fired for security breaches at Los Alamos and senior government officials say he remains a suspect in the F.B.I.'s continuing investigation of allegations that China stole nuclear secrets from America's weapons laboratories. He is under suspicion of having stolen the data for one of America's most advanced nuclear warheads.

China has denied that it engaged in nuclear espionage.

And the research assistant has disappeared. Even as the bureau tries to find him to question him, government officials say they are wondering whether he played a role in a Chinese intelligence operation at the heart of America's nuclear weapons program....

END Excerpt


forewoman0326.JPG (9974 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Starr's grand jury forewoman spoke publicly for the first time Thursday night, appearing on a local Washington, DC network affiliate. She revealed that she thinks Clinton lied and would have voted to indict him and she rejected the White House attacks on Starr, saying he and his deputies were just doing their jobs. How much coverage do you think this exclusive interview will generate?

The exclusive ran on WUSA-TV's Eyewitness News Tonight at 11pm. WUSA-TV, channel 9, is a Gannett-owned, CBS affiliate. Reporter Mark Lodato talked with grand jury forewoman Freda Alexander who for 18 months oversaw the Washington, DC group of federal grand jurors which heard the Lewinsky case. He described her as "a 46-year-old hospitality worker."

On Clinton she declared: "I believe he lied."
Lodato asked: "Enough so that you would have voted to indict him on those charges."
Alexander responded: "Yes, but please understand in a grand jury situation you're not finding guilt or innocence. You're saying it probably did happen."
Lodato proceeded to summarize what she told him: "Grand jury forewoman Freda Alexander says Ken Starr was right to investigate the President for perjury and obstruction of justice, it's a matter of law. But, she says, that doesn't mean the public has a right to know all about a President's sex life."

Alexander expressed sympathy for Betty Currie and said she "felt undertones on jealousy" from Linda Tripp.

After Lodato's report anchor Gordon Peterson asked him about whether she agreed with the White House claim that prosecutors were heavy-handed. Lodato explained that Alexander will go into Starr in part two of his report on Friday night, but: "Bottom line, she felt they were given a mission, a job to do, and they did the best they could." Lodato added that the "only people who really bothered her, I have the impression, were Linda Tripp and Sidney Blumenthal who both seemed to have altering agendas in this case."

See and hear the grand juror. Between WUSA keeping the tape to themselves -- maybe giving it only to CBS -- and the expected lack of media interest, I doubt you'll see her elsewhere. So, late Friday morning WUSA-TV's story featuring Alexander will be posted, in RealPlayer format, on the MRC home page by Webmaster Sean Henry. After 11am ET go to:


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) He's paid $5 million a year by CBS, but never appears on the network. At HBO he just does sports. Yet keeping him to sports didn't prevent Bryant Gumbel this week from maligning "right-wing newspapers that care little for social injustices suffered by millions." The topic which prompted this attack: the controversy over the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis boxing match which ended in a draw when most thought Lewis won.

At the end of his monthly HBO show, Real Sports, which originally aired this past Monday at 10pm ET/PT, Gumbel delivered a diatribe which Mark Honig of the MRC's Parents Television Council alerted me to. I taped the Thursday repeat and took down what Gumbel spewed:
"Finally tonight, a word about Holyfield and Lewis. Not about the decision, but instead about the ridiculous over-reaction of those who have no right to suddenly claim outrage or expertise. Since the fight assorted gadflies who wouldn't know Sugar Ray from Doris Day, are now claiming the bout signals boxing's demise. Legislators who can't or won't address problems in the real world, are staging hearings to assuage their own egos. And right-wing newspapers that care little for social injustices suffered by millions, are suddenly claiming outrage over the sporting injustice suffered by poor Lennox Lewis.
"Look. Lewis won, Holyfield lost. But the judges didn't see it that way. Bad decision? Yes. Worst decision boxing's ever seen? No. Potential sea change for the sport? No. Easy opportunities for grandstanding? You betcha. When people who've never worn a jock want to claim what's best for those who do, it's time to step back, regain some senses and check the hidden motives of those doing the carping."

Not very gender-sensitive. Are the female sports announcers at the networks unqualified in Gumbel's view because they've "never worn a jock"?

This edition of the hour-long show airs again this Sunday at 11:30am ET/PT on HBO.

Race is never far from Gumbel's mind. Here's how he plugged the next edition of his HBO show: "Be sure to join us again on April 20th for our next installment of Real Sports when we'll look at NASCAR, the increasingly popular spectator sport that remains virtually all white on the track and in the stands."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) CNN's 24-part weekly Cold War series got to Ronald Reagan late this Winter, arguing that he "crushed Latin American revolutionary dreams" and blaming his use of civilian-looking aircraft for spying for confusing the Soviets, thus leading to the shootdown of KAL-007. The 22nd episode, on Reagan and Gorbachev as well as KAL, premiered last Sunday and will run again Friday and Saturday night, March 26 and March 27.

The February 20 episode on Central America blamed Reagan for driving the Sandinistas to communism. Noting how the U.S. mined its harbors, narrator Kenneth Branagh asserted: "Nicaragua's precious stock of oil went up in smoke; the economy was reeling. And, all the while, ways had to be found to contain the U.S. backed Contra invasion. The Sandinistas asked the Soviets for help." Later Branagh insisted that "to help pay for the continuing bloodshed in Nicaragua, Reagan's men secretly sold arms to Iran. The American dollar, and the failures of the armed left, crushed Latin American revolutionary dreams." An El Salvador guerrilla leader and KGB officer agreed, balanced only by one comment from a former U.S. Ambassador.

Last Sunday, March 21, Cold War got to U.S.-Soviet relations through the 1980s and the misguided Strategic Defense Initiative. Instead of showcasing the Soviet shootdown of the KAL-007 passenger jet in 1983 as an example of Soviet brutality, CNN managed to implicate Reagan and exonerate the Soviets:

Narrator Kenneth Branagh: "Leonid Brezhnev died in November 1982. The ailing KGB chief, Yuri Andropov, succeeded him. Andropov was frightened by SDI and Reagan's anti-Soviet speeches. Convinced that the West was plotting war, Andropov ordered a worldwide alert. The KGB monitored every aspect of life in the West."
Oleg Gordievsky, KGB/British double agent: "The banking system was to be closely watched, as were the hospitals and road building programs. Were the banks attempting to convert their system to a war footing? Were hospitals preparing new beds and setting up blood banks for massive numbers of wounded?"
Narrator: "The Americans stepped up spy flights in sensitive areas along the Soviet Union's long borders. Aircraft packed with electronic surveillance gear looked like civilian airliners and often flew close to passenger routes."
Col. Gennadi Osipovitch, Soviet Air Force pilot: "In this period '81, '82, and especially '83, how did it feel on the front line? Well, we were flying more often as there were more spy planes provoking us. We were in a constant state of tension."
Narrator: "On August 31st 1983, a South Korean airliner left Anchorage for Seoul. Unaccountably, Flight KAL 007, with 269 people on board, deviated into Soviet air space, more than 300 miles from its normal route."
Lt. Gen. Valentin Varennikov, chief of Soviet Ground Forces:
"I received a phone call informing me that an unidentified plane had been spotted over Kamchatka, and that our attempts to contact it had been unsuccessful. I ensured that all the forces at our disposal were immediately put on alert. I said, 'Take all measures so that it is either forced to land on Sakhalin or, if it will not cooperate, shoot it down!'"
Gennadi Osipovitch, Soviet Air Force pilot: "I could see two rows of windows which were lit up. I wondered if it was a civilian aircraft -- military cargo planes don't have such windows. I wondered what kind of plane it was but I had no time to think. I had a job to do. I started to signal to him in international code. I informed him that he had violated our airspace. He did not respond."
Lt. Gen. Valentin Varennikov, chief of Soviet Ground Forces: "Despite the signals from our planes including warning shots with tracers, the pilot failed to react, simply continuing on his course."
Col. Gennadi Osipovitch, Soviet Air Force pilot: "My orders were to destroy the intruder. I fulfilled my mission!"
Narrator: "The Korean airliner came down off Sakhalin Island, killing everyone on board."
George Shultz, U.S. Secretary of State: "The United States reacts with revulsion to this attack. Loss of life appears to be heavy. We can see no excuse whatsoever for this appalling act."
Sergei Tarasenko, Soviet Foreign Ministry: "We came to the conclusion that we simply needed to be honest and admit, 'An unfortunate incident has occurred. There was a pilot error, bad weather, one thing led to another. It was not a pre-planned action -- no one wanted this. It was a tragic mistake.' We went to Kornienko, the deputy foreign minister, who agreed with us. But he was not able to convince the leadership. This was a question of prestige and the military don't like to admit mistakes."

Getting to SDI, CNN played vintage footage of Dan Rather from the March 24, 1983 CBS Evening News: "Good evening, this is the CBS Evening News -- Dan Rather reporting tonight from Washington. President Reagan today followed up last night's defense policy speech. He gave the go-ahead to develop a space-age system designed to neutralize an enemy nuclear missile attack. A system domestic critics today called 'too high-cost, too high-tech, too pie-in-the-sky.'"

"Many American politicians and scientists campaigned against what they saw as Reagan's expensive folly," Branagh declared on the March 21 episode, adding: "Reagan's critics said that SDI was hugely expensive and would never work. They were appalled by the deep cuts in welfare programs that would be needed to pay for it." Of course, in reality social welfare spending soared in the 1980s.

Gorbachev came to power about two years later and wanted peace, or so CNN portrayed it. But Reagan's Star Wars stood in the way at their first summit: "Gorbachev left Geneva without agreement on his main objective: curbing the arms race." CNN let Gorbachev explain his agenda for the second summit in Iceland: "I think that my principal position was and remains the same. The nuclear arms race should never be taken into space." Eventually, the Soviets rose above Reagan's stubbornness before their third meeting: "Ronald Reagan still pursued his Star Wars vision. The Kremlin now believed that it would never happen and therefore should not delay agreement on arms reduction."

In the end, CNN allocated equal credit to Gorbachev and Reagan for ending the Cold War, as Branagh concluded: "Together, the two leaders had seized their chance."

This episode on Reagan and Gorbachev is scheduled to run four more times, Kosovo war allowing, at 10pm and 1am ET the nights of Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27. The next to last episode of the 24 in the series, on the fall of the Berlin Wall, will premiere Sunday, March 28 at 8pm ET/5pm PT, repeating at 12am ET/9pm PT.


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Only in America, or maybe only in New York City. The guests Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman: Elton John followed by Henry Kissinger. -- Brent Baker


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