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CyberAlert -- 03/30/2001 -- Mozambique Floods Bush's Fault

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Mozambique Floods Bush's Fault; McCain's "Historic Event"; Brokaw Offered "Congratulations"; More Helen Thomas; CBS's "J. Clay"

1) For the second night the CBS Evening News treated Bush's decision to not pursue Kyoto as radical. Mark Phillips blamed U.S.-produced greenhouse gasses for flooding in Mozambique and famine in Sudan as he rued: "It's a sentiment echoed around the world: Kyoto may have been an imperfect treaty, but in an imperfect world it was the only global warming treaty we had."

2) The networks rejoiced at McCain's impending victory and worried about roadblocks. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas gushed about an "historic event." CBS's Bob Schieffer bemoaned how "DeLay has launched an extraordinary attack on McCain." NBC's Lisa Myers approved of "a giant step toward cleaning up a campaign money system." Tom Brokaw twice offered McCain "congratulations." Brokaw's first concern: "What worries you most as this bill now moves to the House?"

3) Just as he talked down the economy to sell his tax cut, ABC's Terry Moran warned that Bush is employing the term "energy crisis" in order "to sell his energy agenda, most particularly the controversial proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

4) Helen Thomas to Bush: "You have rolled back health and safety and environmental measures....This has been widely interpreted as a payback time to your corporate donors. Are they more important than the American people's health and safety?"

5) The Early Show's Jane Clayson, dubbed "J. Clay," high-fived it with MTV's "Sway" at the end of an interview about "Puff Daddy" changing his name to "P. Diddy." The high-five occurred just after "Puff Daddy/P. Diddy" expressed his hope that Bill Clinton could oversee the name-changing ceremony because "I like his style, he's a survivor, they went at him, he's still standing."


1
Blame America First taken to a whole new level. In what was apparently a real news story, but better approximated an early April Fools joke, on Thursday's CBS Evening News reporter Mark Phillips blamed the United States for Britain's "wettest winter ever," flooding in Mozambique and famine in the Sudan. Not for failing to send aid quickly enough to those latter two nations but for producing global warming gasses: "With only about four percent of the world's population, the United States famously produces about twenty-five percent of the world's harmful Greenhouse gas pollution."

The peg for this left-wing pseudo-science: Bush's decision to not seek ratification of the Kyoto protocols, a second straight night of pounding President Bush for "rollbacks" on the environment. And CBS again failed to point out how the Clinton administration never even sent the treaty to the Senate after a bi-partisan 1997 Senate resolution went 95 to zero against adopting the treaty's provisions. But that's not new for CBS since the network didn't report the vote when it occurred.

For details about CBS's Wednesday night slant, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010329.asp#1

The angle Thursday night: How leaders in Britain, Japan and Australia are angry the U.S. dropped pursuit of Kyoto. But Phillips failed to inform viewers that none of those nations had ratified the treaty. Instead, Phillips rued: "It's a sentiment echoed around the world: Kyoto may have been an imperfect treaty, but in an imperfect world it was the only global warming treaty we had."

Yes, unratified, unenforceable words are meaningful.

Anchor Dan Rather set up the March 29 Phillips piece by first reviewing what Bush said at his morning press conference. Rather reflected liberal spin in referring to Bush's "rollbacks" on the environment and "abandoning" of the Kyoto treaty:
"President Bush also defended his string of rollbacks on environmental protection policy. He argues the United States economy can't afford them right now. He told reporters this includes pulling out of the international treaty aimed at reducing industrial emissions linked to global warming."
Bush at press conference: "We will not do anything that harms our economy because first things first are the people who live in America, that's my priority."
Rather: "After a White House meeting today, German Chancellor Gerhart Schroeder would say only that he and Mr. Bush had a, and I quote, 'frank exchange' about the U.S. abandoning the global warming treaty. But overseas there's plenty of evidence of a changing climate and plenty of criticism of what President Bush is doing."

From London, Mark Phillips began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Around the world, the anger runs as deep as the flood waters being blamed on the global warming the Kyoto treaty was supposed to fight. President Bush says he's putting American economic interests first in rejecting Kyoto, and in Britain, where they're having their wettest winter ever, they sadly agree."
Michael Meacher, British Environment Minister: "This 'short term-ism' and this isolationism is profoundly flawed and misplaced."
Phillips proceeded to hold the U.S. accountable for bad weather around the world: "And that was the polite response. Others point to severe weather conditions around the planet -- flooding for the second consecutive year in Mozambique, drought and famine in the Sudan -- and they say the U.S. is substantially to blame. With only about four percent of the world's population, the United States famously produces about twenty-five percent of the world's harmful Greenhouse gas pollution."
Roger Higman, Friends of the Earth: "What we're seeing here is oil man Bush putting the interests of his particular backers --Exxon Oil Corporation and other fossil fuel producers -- over and above the interests of the U.S. economy, over and above the interests of the people of the world at large, and over and above the future of the planet."
Phillips moved on to another nation which he did not note has yet to ratify the vaunted treaty: "In Japan, the injury is compounded by insult. The rejection of the Kyoto treaty is being taken personally by a country that had hosted the conference that created it. It's a sentiment echoed around the world. Kyoto may have been an imperfect treaty, but in an imperfect world it was the only global warming treaty we had."
Robert Hill, Australian Environment Minister: "If the United States walked away from the Kyoto protocol, that would be the end of the Kyoto protocol."
Phillips concluded his diatribe: "Along with the shock and anger being expressed around the world, there is also a great sense of frustration. The European Union is sending a high level delegation to Washington next week to try to get President Bush to change his mind. But if he doesn't, there's nothing they can do about it."

Just like there seems to be nothing anyone in the U.S. can do about the bias at CBS News.

MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey went back and looked at what the Senate voted on in 1997 and who voted for it. She found this summary in the July 26, 1997 New York Times: "The Senate unanimously urged the Clinton administration today not to pursue a treaty that would limit the industrial world's emissions of greenhouse gases unless the agreement requires developing countries to control their rapidly growing emissions at the same time"

Chief sponsor of the Kyoto-killing bill? Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV). Amongst those voting with him: Tom Daschle (D-SD), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA).

But the Friday, July 25, 1997 network evening news programs were silent on the Senate vote. Instead of covering the bi-partisan rejection of the treaty, the July 28 CyberAlert reported that the CBS Evening News featured a full story about Republican fundraising misdeeds addressed by the Senate committee looking into 1996 campaign abuses.

Dan Rather announced: "Today's session of the Senate's dirty campaign money hearings was not easy listening for Republicans. It featured the spectacle of one party Chairman openly refuting the testimony of another on questions of foreign money." Bob Schieffer explained: "Barbour claimed yesterday the loan had nothing to do with politics, but that too was contradicted by Richards who said Barbour clearly had politics on his mind when he asked him to arrange the loan."

Schieffer ended with the usual everybody's equally guilty spin: "It's not clear if Barbour will be called back to the committee to re-explain all this, but John Glenn, the committee's top Democrat says, it just show the influence of foreign money on both parties and that it ought to stop."

The CBS Evening News that night did have time for a story on the environment -- on how Bill Clinton was trying to save it. John Blackstone provided a full report on Clinton's visit to Lake Tahoe to highlight efforts to clean up the lake to ensure it continues to maintain its "famous" blue color.

2

"Just a little while ago on Capitol Hill there was something of an historic event," gushed ABC's World News Tonight fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas on Thursday night. The cause of her delight: "The Senate cleared the last major hurdle to passing campaign finance reform."

The three broadcast network evening shows all celebrated McCain's seeming impending victory after he won Thursday afternoon on severability and worried not about the government violating free speech by barring certain kinds of TV ads 60 days before an election, but about any impediments still in McCain's way.

CBS's Dan Rather was ecstatic about "a big shot in the arm tonight for the McCain-Feingold campaign funding reform bill, which is designed to put serious limits on special interest money." Bob Schieffer worried about how "House Republican Leader Tom DeLay has launched an extraordinary attack on McCain himself, accuses him of being a hypocrite, and says he will do whatever is necessary to kill this legislation."

NBC's Lisa Myers portrayed the issue just as liberal advocates spin it: "The Senate is taking a giant step toward cleaning up a campaign money system that many Americans think is corrupt." Anchor Tom Brokaw interviewed McCain about "his crusade to clean up campaign finances." Brokaw twice offered McCain "congratulations." Brokaw never challenged McCain on the substance of his bill or how it is hostile to free speech. Brokaw's first concern: "What worries you most as this bill now moves to the House?"

All the stories included this soundbite from Senator Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor: "This is a stunningly stupid thing to do, my colleagues."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas gushed: "Just a little while ago on Capitol Hill there was something of an historic event: The Senate cleared the last major hurdle to passing campaign finance reform."

Reporter Linda Douglass announced: "McCain took a victory lap tonight but warned his campaign reform crusade still has a long way to go."

After some time for backers, she ran this lengthy clip from Republican Senator Robert Bennett of Utah: "If an individual is corrupt he's going to stay corrupt whether the speech police are around watching him or not. He's going to find some way to remain corrupt and to game the system to his advantage."

After noting how opponents believe the ad ban is unconstitutional, she painted them as bitter: "They tried unsuccessfully to have the entire law thrown out if any part is found unconstitutional. The opponents then warned bitterly that banning big contributions will destroy political parties."

Senator Mitch McConnell: "This is a stunningly stupid thing to do, my colleagues. And don't think there is anybody out there to save us from this."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather asserted: "In the U.S. Senate, a big shot in the arm tonight for the McCain-Feingold campaign funding reform bill, which is designed to put serious limits on special interest money. Opponents failed in their latest attempt to find ways to scuttle the measure."

Bob Schieffer explained the non-severability and how McCain's side won 57 to 43. He described the bill as proponents would have wanted: "The core of the bill Senators put final touches on tonight outlaws soft money, those unlimited backdoor contributions..."

He noted that the bill raises hard money limits and bans issue ads 60 days before election. "Reform opponents took the loss hard."
Senator Mitch McConnell: "This is a stunningly stupid thing to do, my colleagues. And don't think there is anybody out there to save us from this."

Schieffer concluded by bemoaning an actual criticism of "maverick Republican" McCain: "House Republican Leader Tom DeLay has launched an extraordinary attack on McCain himself, accuses him of being a hypocrite, and says he will do whatever is necessary to kill this legislation."

-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw observed how there was action on Capitol Hill on two items: campaign finance and taxes. He decided: "We'll begin on the Senate side and a major victory tonight for Senator John McCain and his crusade to clean up campaign finances."

Lisa Myers opened her piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by delivering the McCain spin about "cleaning up" the system: "Tom, this is a very big deal. The Senate is taking a giant step toward cleaning up a campaign money system that many Americans think is corrupt. After clearing a final hurdle this afternoon, reformers, at long last, could claim victory....On the key vote Senator Tom Daschle held together 44 Democrats who joined with 13 Republicans to support the bill, aimed at reducing the power of big money in politics by outlawing contributions of hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, by corporations, labor unions, and the rich. This so-called soft money was at the heart of recent campaign money scandals, those infamous White House coffees, sleep overs in the Lincoln bedroom, the pardon of fugitive billionaire Marc Rich."
Senator John Edwards: "The public believes this system is awash in money."
Myers: "Opponents argue that big contributions are not inherently wrong.
Senator Robert Bennett: "Corruption comes from the heart of the receiver, not the wallet of the giver."
Myers: "The bill would increase the amount an individual can give directly to a candidate to $2,000 a year and allow total contributions to parties and candidates of $37,500 a year. Opponents vow to challenge the bill in court, arguing it's unconstitutional and will destroy the political parties."
Mitch McConnell: "This issue ranks right up there with static cling as a matter of concern to the American people. This is a stunningly stupid thing to do."
Myers concluded: "The next step is the House where reformers think they have the votes but say it won't be a day at the beach. Meanwhile, both parties are raising soft money as fast as they can. Tonight the Democrats have a $3 million dinner."

Next, Brokaw interviewed McCain, whom he twice congratulated.
Brokaw introduced him: "I'm joined now by Senator McCain from Capitol Hill. Senator, congratulations first of all and what worries you most as this bill now moves to the House?"

Brokaw's other inquiries, none of which questioned the wiseness of his plan:

-- "Your prominence in this debate of course has only added to stories of bad blood between you and President Bush. Do you expect him to sign this bill if it arrives at the White House in roughly this form?"
McCain: "The President has said he wants to sign a bill, I believe that he will and we want to work with him and as you know this was one of the major themes of the campaign that I ran and lost."

Quite an admission.

-- "Senator, I talked to a White House official today who said 'as the economy grinds down do we think that this is the best way to spend the last two weeks in the Senate? No.' Do you think that the public might agree with the White House on that?"

-- Brokaw: "Would you imagine that a lot of people in the American public will say, 'look they're going to find another way to get the money no matter what laws they pass'?"

-- Brokaw: "Any meetings planned with President Bush between now and when it may pass the House."
McCain: "I'm sure we will work with the White House on this issue."
Brokaw: "Senator McCain, thank you very much and again congratulations."
McCain should be congratulating the networks for being such sycophants.

3

ABC pounced Thursday night on President Bush's description of an "energy crisis," a use of words which neither CBS or NBC found noteworthy. Terry Moran unfavorably compared the terminology to how Bush talked down the economy to sell his tax cut, warning that he's using the word "crisis...even though there are no gas lines and the price of crude oil is actually declining, in order to sell his energy agenda, most particularly the controversial proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

The March 29 World News Tonight exchange in full about Bush's comment at his morning press conference:

Anchor Elizabeth Vargas: "Terry, some were surprised to hear President Bush say he thinks we're in the midst of an energy crisis."
Moran: "He did Elizabeth. Just as President Bush used what he called the sputtering economy, what some people called talking down the economy as a way to sell his tax cut, he is now saying that the country is in an energy crisis even though there are no gas lines and the price of crude oil is actually declining, in order to sell his energy agenda, most particularly the controversial proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is something that critics say he's exaggerating."

4

Helen Thomas stood out again at President Bush's Thursday press conference for making liberal speeches in the guise of questioning. MRC analyst Paul Smith took down the two "questions" posed by the UPI veteran who is now writing a column for Hearst Newspapers:

-- "Mr. President, in the last few weeks you have rolled back health and safety and environmental measures proposed by the last administration and other previous administrations. This has been widely interpreted as a payback time to your corporate donors. Are they more important than the American people's health and safety and what else do you plan to repeal?"

"Widely interpreted" that way by liberals and therefore also by journalists.

-- Her cryptic follow-up: "How about stopping the black lung benefits for families and this is sort of to increase some of the benefits for these miners?"

Whatever.

During Bush's first press conference on February 22 Thomas lectured him:
"Why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has to led slaughter. I mean the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having this separation. Why do you break it down?"
President Bush: "Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state."
Thomas: "You wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did."

Bush should just stop calling on her.

5

Early Show viewers on Thursday morning were treated to seeing co-host Jane Clayson, dubbed "J. Clay," high-fiving it with MTV's "Sway" at the end of an interview about rap singer "Puff Daddy" changing his name to "P. Diddy." The high-five occurred just after "Puff Daddy/P. Diddy" expressed his hope that Bill Clinton could oversee the name-changing ceremony because "I like his style, he's a survivor, they went at him, he's still standing."

Only in America.

CBS brought "Sway" aboard to show clips of his MTV interview with "Puff Daddy" who just recently was acquitted on charges related to a shooting outside a New York City nightclub.

MRC analyst Brian Boyd couldn't miss this wacky sequence as the segment wound down:

Clayson: "He also is looking at changing his image a bit. On the front page of the New York paper this morning [holds up New York Post], one of them, 'Make Room for Diddy' is the headline. He's changing his name from Puffy to P. Diddy."
Sway of MTV: "P. Diddy. He's getting rid of Puff Daddy. He said it had too much luggage attached to it and he wants to clean his slate. He's going to take a break for six months, or a few months, and come back and do an official name change."
Clayson: "Let's listen to what he had to say about changing his name on tape."
Sean Puffy Combs on MTV: "Probably like the first week in June, we gonna have a name change ceremony. Clinton is probably going to change my name, Bill Clinton. I like his style, he's a survivor, they went at him, he's still standing. I'll probably have Elton John sing 'Still Standing.' You know to get it really, really spicy, you know. And um, it's going to be changed to P. Diddy, straight P. Diddy. You can call me P, or you can call me Diddy, or you can call me P. Diddy."
Clayson asked Sway: "You can change your name, but is he a changed man?"
Sway: "Definitely, I believe he's a changed man, and hopefully for the better."
Clayson: "I'd like to be there for the name changing ceremony."
Sway: "I'm thinking about changing my name, too, you know. We should all, you should change your name, Jane."
Clayson: "I'm J. Clay, what are you?"
Sway: "I'll be Sway Jane."

J. Clay then laughed and high-fived Sway to end the interview.

With scintillating topics like this it's hard to imagine why The Early Show is in third place.

If you want a flavor of the non-news which dominates much of morning network TV, check the online version of this CyberAlert early this afternoon EST. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the above exchange. Go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010330.asp#5

--Brent Baker


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