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CyberAlert -- 04/06/2000 -- Castro Succeeded

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Castro Succeeded; Economic Summit: Doom or Boom?; Freeh Memo; Leo-Gate

1) Fidel Castro thinks he's "succeeded in reducing support in the U.S. for the hardline anti-Castro Cubans in Miami," ABC's Morton Dean assessed.

2) A "Cuban exile," whom one ABC show featured to denounce her fellow Cuban exiles as intolerant people who should be ashamed of using Elian as a puppet, is really the head of an advocacy group, another ABC show revealed.

3) Geraldo Rivera's fantasy: Elian grows up to become President of a democratic Cuba.

4) Two conflicting spins on the White House economic summit. CBS: "Caution flags" were "raised about the long-term market and the new economy." ABC: "'The best is yet to come.' That was pretty much the message to come out of today's economic summit."

5) NBC Nightly News focused on complaints about how politicians welcomed Bill Gates to Washington 48 hours after he was found to have broken the law. Lisa Myers: "Nonpartisan ethics watch dogs say this says a lot about ethics in Washington."

6) Diane Sawyer wondered if the federal government will do anything to bail out day traders and those who borrowed on margin who lost money in this week's stock market plunge.

7) FNC uncovered "a second and previously undisclosed memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh again urging the Attorney General to appoint an independent counsel -- this time because Vice President Gore was suspected of lying."

8) "White House officials are deeply annoyed" with ABC News and "DiCaprio's camp" told the Washington Post he "always believed ABC News was sending him to do an interview with the President about global warming." How about "Free Leo" buttons at a media dinner?


>>> Now online, the April 4 MagazineWatch about the April 10 editions. Items in this week's issue compiled by the MRC's Paul Smith and Tim Graham:
1. Time's Tim Padgett found only the anti-communist side of the Elian Gonzalez controversy can be described with words like "hard-line," "militant," and "a heavy touch of Joe McCarthy."
2. Only U.S. News & World Report touched on Clinton scandal news, especially Judge Royce Lamberth's finding that Clinton violated the Privacy Act. Time just jibes: "Judge sez White House letter dump on Willey was illegal. Sex and lies? That's totally 1998."
3. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter surprisingly suggested that until the Democrats see the light on school choice, "give a slight edge on education to Bush."
4. U.S. News Editor at Large David Gergen gurgled over his former employer, saying we will miss Bill Clinton "trying to focus our attention on the technological and scientific revolutions that are sweeping over us." Even though his Justice Department is suing some of the revolutionaries.
To read these items, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/magwatch/mag20000404.asp <<<

1

Fidel Castro thinks his propaganda efforts have succeeded in "reducing supporting" for the pro-Elian Cubans in Miami, ABC's Morton Dean reported Wednesday night. Opening an April 5 World News Tonight story from Havana, Dean relayed:
"Elian Gonzalez has been in the Cuban public eye for 133 days now, and for much of at time Fidel Castro has ben able to use the crisis to his advantage. The Cuban government believes it has succeeded in reducing support in the U.S. for the hardline anti-Castro Cubans in Miami."

No doubt with help from the U.S. news media.

2

ABC's "Cuban exile," whom World News Tonight featured to denounce her fellow Cuban exiles as intolerant people who should be, in the words of reporter John Quinones, "ashamed for using a six-year-old boy as a puppet in its stand against Fidel Castro," wasn't so randomly chosen for air time. The next morning ABC's Good Morning America revealed that she's Executive Director of the Cuban Committee for Democracy, an anti-embargo group.

As reported in the April 5 CyberAlert, on the April 4 World News Tonight Quinones asserted: "In Miami it's impossible to over-estimate how everything here is colored by a hatred of communism and Fidel Castro. It's a community with very little tolerance for those who might disagree."
Elena Freyre with no on-screen ID: "The same people who claim to have left Cuba seeking freedom are seeking to silence voices that might not be in agreement with what they believe."
Quinones offered only this as a description of her: "Elena Freyre is also a Cuban exile who came here when she was just 12 years old. In Miami she's quite the exception, a Cuban-American publicly calling for Elian's return to his father."
Freyre: "He's publicly proclaimed his loyalty to the Communist Party. That doesn't make him a bad father, that doesn't make him an unfit father."
Quinones: "The exile community, she says, should be ashamed for using a six-year-old boy as a puppet in its stand against Fidel Castro."

But viewers of Wednesday's Good Morning America learned Freyre is really the head of an advocacy organization. Co-host Charlie Gibson introduced her as the Executive Director of the Cuban Committee for Democracy, though he failed to explain the agenda of the group.

Following Quinones's theme, Gibson first asked: "The pictures that we see of Cuban-Americans forming barricades around the Gonzalez house there in Miami, you would think the Cuban-American community from these pictures solidly, unanimously, even defiantly against the boy going back. That's not so?"

Gibson, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, did challenge her: "You believe he should go back, but the boy's mother died to bring him here. He wants to stay. He's obviously bonded with a cousin that he apparently sees now as a mother figure. Should those factors be considered?"

3

Geraldo' fantasy. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this comment from Geraldo Rivera on the April 4 Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
"I have a fantasy. Elian goes back, he grows up, he becomes the new President of Cuba and he turns it into a democracy. Wouldn't that be nice?"

Better than Geraldo's usual fantasies about the vast right-wing conspiracy to destroy Bill Clinton.

4

At the White House economic summit on Wednesday did economists forecast a dim or a bright future? Depends if you believe CBS News or ABC News. CBS anchor Dan Rather insisted that at the confab "caution flags are raised about the long-term market and the new economy." But ABC's John Cochran picked up on the assessment issued by Bill Gates and assured viewers: "'The best is yet to come.' That was pretty much the message to come out of today's economic summit, which turned out to be largely a pep rally for the American economy."

The two stories presented an excellent case study in how two reporters can go to the same event, hear the same comments and yet produce conflicting spins on what they found newsworthy from the speakers. CBS reporter John Roberts, for instance, stressed how Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that though we now have prosperity, "inflation still threatens to undo it all." Hearing the same address from Greenspan ABC's Cochran, however, picked up on how he "said even if he does have to raise interest rates again to fight inflation, the stock market will shrug it off."

Below are the two April 5 stories in full so you can see how a reporter's perceptions and interests impact the angle of a story.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's top of the show tease: "The stock market calms down. Tech stocks are up, but at an economic summit caution flags are raised about the long-term market and the new economy."

Reporter John Roberts began his story about the White House summit: "The good news about the economy came with a caveat today, that in this era of unprecedented growth and prosperity, inflation still threatens to undo it all."
Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board: "The significant uncertainties surrounding these new economic forces, counsel prudence. We need to be careful to keep inflationary pressures contained."
Roberts stressed negative predictions: "Behind those pressures is the staggering wealth created by the explosion in information technology. While it has kept the economy surging and the stock market soaring, some people see trouble on the horizon."
William Nordhaus, Yale University: "The current level of stock prices is not only unrealistically high, but I think it's also economically damaging. Inflated asset values make people feel wealthier than they are."
Roberts warned of impending doom: "And wild swings in computer and Internet-related stocks in recent days have left many economists worried if the high-tech bubble may be about to burst."
Robert Altman, former Deputy Treasury Secretary: "There's going to be a correction. It's probably going to be a sharp one, but we are already seeing all of the preliminary signs of that type correction."
Roberts then squeezed in a positive assessment: "The one person to sound wholly optimistic was Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Two days after the Justice Department won its anti-trust case against Gates, there he was side-by-side the President with a robust forecast for the future of Microsoft and the economy."
Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corp.: "We're at the beginning of what the computer can do to change our lives. The best is yet to come."
Roberts concluded by issuing a long-term warning: "The President contends that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong and the brightest economic minds in the country appear to agree with him. Most see no reason why the prosperity shouldn't continue, at least in the short term, but they caution with this new economy plying unchartered territory, the old rules don't apply."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. John Cochran opened his piece by emphasizing how the panel of economists gathered by Clinton reassured investors:
"The President had no idea months ago, when he invited Alan Greenspan and 130 of the country's best economic minds the White House, that millions of investors would need reassurance after a scary day on Wall Street. And that's what they got, Greenspan saying that contrary to what many people believe he does not want to drive down stock prices. Greenspan said even if he does have to raise interest rates again to fight inflation, the stock market will shrug it off."
Greenspan: "I doubt that investor's perceptions of equity risks would be much affected."
Cochran stressed the upbeat: "In other words, calm down. Good advice said another expert there today who only last week was urging investors to unload some of their technology stocks."
Abby Joseph Cohen, Goldman Sachs: "And for the past decade we have been enthusiastic about the outlook for U.S. stock prices in the United States and we remain so."
Like Roberts squeezed in a positive comment Cochran slipped in a negative one: "That's not quite how a former Treasury Department official at today's conference sees it."
Altman: "There's going to be a correction. It's probably going to be a sharp one, at least in terms of technology equity values."
Cochran: "But even Altman says the big boys won't be badly hurt, the Intels, the Ciscos and the Microsofts. In fact the Chairman of Microsoft was pretty chipper today, getting the VIP treatment at the White House just 48 hours after a federal judge agreed with the Justice Department that his company was guilty of abusing its monopoly. Bill Gates got a very good seat, right next to the President of the United States, where he joined the chorus of optimists."
Gates: "So we're at the beginning of what the computer can do to change our lives. The best is yet to come."
Cochran cheerily concluded by repeating Gates's remark: "'The best is yet to come.' That was pretty much the message to come out of today's economic summit, which turned out to be largely a pep rally for the American economy."

Later, World News Tonight did find a down note on the stock market boom, running "A Closer Look" at the wealth gap between blacks and whites because fewer blacks have bought stock. "Indeed," Peter Jennings intoned, "many blacks have missed out on the stock market boom, which has accelerated the inequality in wealth."

5

NBC Nightly News avoided the predictions made at the summit, but used the trip to Washington by Bill Gates as a hook for a story highlighting complaints from campaign finance reform groups, called "nonpartisan ethics watch dogs," and Microsoft competitors about improper corporate influence. So much for corporate control impacting news coverage as Microsoft is in partnership with NBC.

An astonished Lisa Myers began her April 5 piece by noting that "forty-eight hours after his company is found to have violated the law, Bill Gates arrives on Capitol Hill and is received like a visiting head of state." Myers then showed Gates sitting next to Bill Clinton at the White House economic summit as Clinton praised his charitable activities.

Myers spent the rest of the story relaying complaints from Gates detractors: "But an industry group, that includes some of Microsoft's competitors, cries foul."
Ed Black, Computer & Communications Industry Association: "I don't think someone who's been found to have massively violated law, federal and state, is normally received by legislators as a virtual conquering hero."
Myers: "Competitors claim Microsoft is flexing its political muscle to influence the courts. Since 1997 when the Justice Department targeted Microsoft, the company has become a top player in Washington, spending more than $5 million for a who's who of lobbyists, and $2.8 million in campaign money: $1.2 million for Democrats, $1.6 million for Republicans. All perfectly legal. Gates' spokesperson says he didn't ask Congress to get involved in the anti-trust case, and, in fact, came to talk generally about the needs of the computer business, but the case was topic A at most meetings, and with both parties vigorously pursuing high tech campaign money, Gates got a sympathetic ear. Many Republicans publicly side with Microsoft."
Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, R-Washington: "All of us believe it was very unfair case that the Justice Department has far better things to do with its time."
Myers: "Nonpartisan ethics watch dogs say this says a lot about ethics in Washington."
Charles Lewis, Center for Public Integrity: "I think the message it sends is politicians love money, and maybe Bill Gates isn't such a bad guy, and maybe it doesn't matter in Washington if you break the laws."
Myers concluded: "Though the ruling apparently hasn't cost Gates in Washington, it certainly has hurt him where it counts. Since Monday he has lost more than $15 billion in the value of his Microsoft stock."

6

After downplaying on Tuesday night the role of the Justice Department's pursuit of Microsoft in hurting the stock market, as detailed in the April 5 CyberAlert, on Wednesday's Good Morning America Diane Sawyer raised the issue. She also wanted to know if the government will step in to bail out day traders and those who borrowed on margin.

Here are Sawyer's two April 5 questions posed to Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
-- "A lot of people are saying, at least one of the triggers for, I guess, a lot of investors pulling the eject button yesterday and then climbing back onboard, was the Microsoft decision. Do you agree that at least one of the figures was the government's decision on Microsoft?"

-- "But whatever the overall economy is doing and how well it's doing, you do have a lot of day traders, you have people borrowing on margins, hanging on by their fingernails. Is the government going to stand by and watch, or is there more you're thinking about doing?"

But maybe that's not such a wacky idea. When stock market traders succeed and make some money the federal government takes a fourth of it in capital gains taxes so, MRC Free Market Project Director Rich Noyes joked after seeing this question, maybe they should also take one-fourth of the risk.

7

Wednesday night FNC reported a development on the temple fundraising front and disclosed how there was also a memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh urging an independent counsel, "this time because Vice President Gore was suspected of lying."

On Special Report with Brit Hume on April 5 Hume announced:
"Two Buddhist nuns have been indicted in connection with Vice President Gore's campaign fundraising woes. A federal grand jury has charged the women with contempt of court. They were given immunity in exchange for their testimony against Gore pal Maria Hsia, but the nuns failed to appear in court. Hsia was convicted last month in connection with her fundraising. She arranged Gore's visit to that Buddhist temple in 1996. And there has been another revelation about the Justice Department's long investigation into the campaign finance abuses of the 1996 Democratic presidential campaign, and our Jim Angle is standing by with details. Jim, what's up?"

Angle outlined FNC's discovery, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Brit, Fox has learned that there was a second and previously undisclosed memo from FBI Director Louis Freeh again urging the Attorney General to appoint an independent counsel --this time because Vice President Gore was suspected of lying to FBI investigators. And congressional sources tell Fox that the, that recommendation was joined by two high ranking Justice Department lawyers, one of whom had previously argued against an independent counsel.
"Now the Justice Department's former chief campaign investigator Charles LaBella had recommended an independent counsel twice, the second time saying that Vice President Gore may have provided false testimony when he was questioned by the FBI. Fox has now learned that Director Freeh later joined that argument, saying there was enough evidence to investigate the Vice President for lying. Now the sources emphasize that no one is suggesting there is anything approaching a smoking gun, but more than enough to appoint an independent counsel to make sure that the administration is not investigating itself."

8

Leo-Gate update on the conflicting stories about who asked who to do what that ended with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Chairman of Earth Day activities on Washington's Mall, interviewing Bill Clinton last Friday for an ABC News special o the environment. As noted in the April 5 CyberAlert, ABC News President David Westin claimed ABC only planned to have Clinton walk around the White House building with DiCaprio to show environmental improvements, such as low-energy lightbulbs and weatherstripping, but Clinton insisted on a sit-down interview.

Today's update items: The New York Post reported DiCaprio's people insisted "the actor was sent to Washington last Friday expressly to interview the President"; FNC's Brit Hume relayed how the White House says the questions were written out in advance; and the Washington Post elaborated on how "White House officials are deeply annoyed" with Westin "for attempting to duck responsibility for the interview," and "DiCaprio's camp" told the Post he "always believed ABC News was sending him to do an interview with the President about global warming." DiCaprio told Clinton at the start of the interview: "Being given the opportunity to sit down with you here and talk about an issue like global warming was an opportunity as a concerned citizen I could not pass up."

Nice of ABC News to give him the opportunity for air time to promote his liberal environmental agenda.
-- New York Post, April 5, in an item passed along by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul: "Leonardo DiCaprio's White House interview with President Clinton has set off a war of words with ABC News. DiCaprio and the White House yesterday insisted that -- despite what ABC News boss David Westin said this week -- the actor was sent to Washington last Friday expressly to interview the President. 'Whether he was going to be talking while walking around the White House or seated was not something that we frankly thought about,' said Ken Sunshine, a spokesman for DiCaprio. 'DiCaprio did exactly what the people at ABC told him to do.'"

-- Brit Hume on the April 5 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC: "The White House is now saying that the questions Leonardo DiCaprio asked President Clinton in his ABC News interview last week had been written out in advance. Further evidence, it seems, that the interview was not the spur-of-the-moment event that ABC News President David Westin claims it was. And DiCaprio, by the way, is said to be none too happy with Westin's assertion that ABC now may not use any of the interview."

-- Excerpt of an April 6 Washington Post story Lisa de Moraes:

On Day 5 of Leo-gate, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called ABC News yesterday and suggested it's time the news division fess up to its request that silver-screen hunk Leonardo DiCaprio sit down with President Clinton for an interview.

White House officials are deeply annoyed with ABC News President David Westin for attempting to duck responsibility for the interview. So yesterday morning Lockhart called Robin Sproul, the network's Washington bureau chief, and made it clear that it was time for ABC News to set the record straight.

Lockhart told The Post's Howard Kurtz that he called Sproul to say there had been "some statements made to the press that didn't reflect the negotiations we had over this interview," and "it's in everyone's interest to make sure we get this straight."...

For those who have been hiding under a rock since last weekend, the "Titanic" star was sent by ABC News on Friday to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to do something with the President of the United States at the White House. The White House insists ABC News requested an interview between the two men, about global warming and other environmental issues, which would be used for an ABC News Earth Day special. But over the weekend, Westin declared that ABC had not requested an interview with Clinton by the twenty-something hunk, only a "walk-through" to look at the White House's weatherstripping. Definitely not an "interview."...

Westin said the "walk-through" only became an "interview" once the President "announced he wanted to sit down and do an interview with DiCaprio."

Meanwhile, DiCaprio's camp, which knows a sinking ship when it sees one, told The TV Column that the megastar always believed ABC News was sending him to do an interview with the President about global warming....

DiCaprio showed up with cards in hand, on which were printed questions he and ABC News producers had been working on for some time, says the actor's rep, Ken Sunshine.

It's true, that's not the behavior of someone--even someone from Hollywood -- who thinks he's showing up to look at the White House's weatherstripping.

"What was not clear was whether they'd be sitting or talking -- but clearly [DiCaprio] was going to ask him questions," Sunshine said. "We were preparing questions in consultation with ABC [News] producers....It was clear it was going to be a Q&A."

And DiCaprio started out by telling the President: "Mr. President, I want to thank you very much for your time. As you know, I am neither a politician or a journalist, but being given the opportunity to sit down with you here and talk about an issue like global warming was an opportunity as a concerned citizen I could not pass up."

It's unclear whether viewers will ever see that clip. Or the interview at all. The embarrassment at ABC News has now built to the point that network suits are making noises about withholding from the nation the DiCaprio/Clinton encounter on a patio outside the Oval Office.

"For obvious reasons we are trying to make sure we know all the facts that led up to this incident on Friday," ABC News rep Eileen Murphy told The TV Column yesterday. "We also feel that a lot of time and energy has been devoted to this issue and, frankly, this is part of the editorial process. If we made a mistake along the way and the interview was conducted in a way we feel uncomfortable with, we're not going to put it on the air."

END Excerpt

Lisa de Moraes also noted: "White House insiders were devising ways to poke fun at ABC News and Westin during tonight's Radio & Television Correspondents' Association's 56th annual dinner at the Washington Hilton. One plan being considered involved handing out "Free Leo" buttons among the more than 2,000 reporters and hobnobbers planning to attend."

Assuming the House is out of session tonight (Thursday, April 6), C-SPAN should show the dinner events at about 9:30pm ET. -- Brent Baker


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