CyberAlert -- 04/17/2000 -- Rather's Tears
Rather's Tears; Elian "Brainwashed?"; Stars Came Out for Gore
1) Dan Rather near tears. Referring to the video of Elian saying he does not want to go to Cuba, Rather demanded: "Did you weep?" After Elian's father replied that he's "run dry" of tears, a choked up Rather mumbled: "Ah, but a father never dries up."
3) ABC and NBC morning show stars treated Juan Miguel Gonzalez's statement as "very passionate words," but a week later were quick to question if Elian were "coached" and to impugn the Miami relatives by accusing them of "child abuse" over the video.
4) Bryant Gumbel rejected the idea that Cuban-American civil disobedience is analogous to the civil rights movement and noting how Cuban-Americans charge Castro with exploiting Elian, demanded if that's "any less reprehensible" than what they have done.
5) Gumbel also called the Elian video "the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," rued how a kid from Haiti would have been returned immediately and charged that the Miami relatives "don't care about" Elian. But few Early Show viewers heard the comments.
6) CBS's Randall Pinkston acknowledged that Cubans are not free to speak, but he insisted the Cuban "people appear untroubled by the lack of modern conveniences" and believe "that President Castro is responsible for all good things."
"Little Havana vs. Seattle," the latest Creators syndicate column by
MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell, is now online. Using some media quotes collected
by the MRC's Tim Graham, the column contrasts the media's condemnation of
those marching in support of Elian Gonzalez with how those same outlets
praised the efforts of the far-left protesters in Seattle. To read the column,
Those who saw Dan Rather's interview with Juan Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday night's 60 Minutes know Leonardo DiCaprio's upcoming Saturday appearance on ABC won't be the first time this week a little acting occurred in a network news show. Barely more than two minutes into the CBS interview Rather showed a clip of the video of Elian saying he does not want to go to Cuba, then queried: "I want to ask you something man to man. After you saw that videotape for the first time, did you weep?" Gonzalez replied that "I have no tears left...I've run dry." Following a long pause, with voice breaking and upper lip quivering, Rather mumbled: "Ah, but a father never dries up."
Rather conducted the interview on Saturday and the CBS News Web site assuringly noted: "When the interview was conducted, there were no Cuban government personnel in the room, in the house, or on the grounds -- only Juan Miguel and the CBS News crew. Consistent with CBS News practice, no questions or areas of questions were submitted in advance."
Early in the interview Rather asked Gonzalez if he
considered his son to have been "kidnapped," but Rather also asked
if he's a "puppet" of Fidel Castro. Journalist Ann Louise Bardach
served as Rather's expert on the case and she told Rather that Elian's
mother only tried to come to the U.S. in order to join her boyfriend, not for
political freedom. As for Gonzalez, Bardach insisted that "what happened
here is that a kind of regular normal guy who's fairly unpolitical has been
politicized by this drama." Sure enough, later in the interview, when
Rather asked about enjoying freedom in the U.S., Gonzalez shot back with the
communist propaganda line:
Sounds like the Cuban propaganda ministry watches U.S. cable news all day.
Rather began the 13-minute-long 60 Minutes piece by asking, "How is your son? How is Elian?" and then: "Do you consider that he has been kidnapped?" After Gonzalez's affirmative response Rather moved to the Elian video released on Thursday: "I know you've seen this videotape, but with your permission I want to show it to you again. Have you watch it, and tell us your reaction to the videotape please."
Gonzalez complained, as voiced by a translator:
"This is child abuse and mistreatment what they're doing to this boy. And
it is something that has been induced because these aren't the boy's true
feelings. That's not the way this boy feels. And I know I'm right in saying
that we have to take him back immediately because what they're doing is making
this child suffer. The way they're abusing him, turning him against his
++ Watch this portion of the interview and judge for yourself whether Rather engaged in a little dramatic play-acting. Monday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a clip in RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
To read CBS's transcript of the 60 Minutes story, go
Network anchors and reporters didn't hesitate to condemn the Miami relatives for releasing video of Elian saying he does not want to go back to Cuba -- just before they all played it. And played it again and again all day Thursday. You don't have to agree with the Cuban-Americans who want Elian to stay put to think it's going a bit far to accuse the relatives of "brainwashing" Elian, but that's just what one MSNBC anchor did last Thursday afternoon.
At about 1:20pm ET on April 13, Mika Brzezinski, one of
three anchors of MSNBC's womens' issues-focused Home Page show,
interviewed psychologist Robin Goodman. Goodman was not pleased with the
public relations move by the Miami family, insisting, "The thing that's
also worrisome: Is he afraid of his father or these old women and these other
people who he's talking about that would be the people taking him to Cuba,
not his father."
Goodman answered, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, you know, it's hard to say exactly what brainwashing would be, but what we know is that six-year-olds will try desperately to do what they think the grownups around them want them to do and say because he doesn't want to jeopardize his position with, right now, the only people that are taking care of him and loving him. It's a terrifying position for him to be in."
ABC and NBC morning show stars didn't see anything propagandistic or disingenuous in Juan Miguel Gonzalez's statement read at Dulles airport live during their April 6 broadcasts, but a week later reporters on both shows were much more discerning about Elian's video, repeatedly wondering if he had been "coached" and if having him tape the video made him a victim of "child abuse."
Back on April 6 NBC's Katie Couric referred to Juan Miguel Gonzalez's "very passionate words" and ABC's Jack Ford insisted "these are his words," as neither raised the likelihood that communist officials wrote the words for him.
Obviously the motivations behind the expressed wishes of a six-year-old are hard to assess and so questioning what led to Elian's words was reasonable, though linking the video to "child abuse" seems extreme, but the two networks betrayed their bias in the case when they failed to raise questions about the legitimacy of the words from Elian's father. (See the April 7 CyberAlert for details on how they assessed his comments.)
-- Thursday morning, April 13, ABC's Good Morning America picked up the video as broadcast by Univision. After showing it, co-host Charles Gibson warned: "This was a home movie made by the family. You don't know to what extent the boy may have been coached, and as I say, this may be an end game strategy by the family to try to influence this. That videotape given to Univision, played this morning, we recorded it, played it back for you."
-- The next day, Friday, NBC's Today caught up with GMA and showed the video, but not before co-host Matt Lauer questioned the motive behind it: "And then what about that videotape of Elian that the family released on Thursday? Was that proper? The last ditch effort of a loving family or was it a desperate manipulative move bordering on child abuse? We'll talk about that as well."
The video really upset Katie Couric. She introduced an interview segment: "Now more on this home videotape that the Miami relatives released of Elian on Thursday. Was that a proper or a desperate manipulative move bordering on child abuse? Maxine Waters is a Democratic congresswoman from Los Angeles and Lincoln Diaz Balart who was born in Cuba is a Republican Congressman from Miami. Good morning to both of you. Congresswoman Waters, let me start with you. After watching the home video that Elian's relatives released Senator Tom Harkin said the family should be charged with child abuse. Do you agree?"
Couric's next question: "Congressman Diaz Balart
how do you defend their actions?"
Interviewing INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, Lauer
As picked up by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, he took
the same angle with Spencer Eig, lawyer for the Miami family:
-- Friday Good Morning
America viewers also heard the "child abuse" charge. MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson caught this lengthy question from GMA co-host Charles Gibson
to Lazaro Gonzalez's attorney Roger Bernstein:
A Crossfire-like shouting match erupted Friday morning on CBS's The Early Show over Elian, for once making the program a bit interesting. Bryant Gumbel, naturally, took the liberal side, rejecting the idea that Cuban-American civil disobedience is analogous to the civil rights movement and asking if exploitation of Elian the by Cuban-Americans is "any less reprehensible" than what they claim Castro has done.
For the April 14 segment
Gumbel first went to former independent counsel Joseph DiGenova: "In a
legal sense, there any legal justification for what's going on in Miami right
Turning to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Gumbel
demanded: "The Cuban-American community has been supporting clear
disobedience of the law. How do you justify that?"
Gumbel engaged in an argument with her about whether the
family has broken the law. Ros-Lehtinen contended at one point: "We
should remember that when slavery was the law in the United States, some
people acted with civil disobedience against that. And when women were denied
the right to vote, some people acted in civil disobedience against that."
Gumbel soon went to Professor Pam Falk, a CBS
consultant, and charged: "Cuban-Americans, Ms. Falk, have been quick to
point fingers at Castro for exploiting the little boy. Are their actions any
The discussion soon became a shouting match between Ros-Lehtinen and DiGenova over the motives of Cuban-Americans.
Bryant Gumbel called the Elian video "the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," rued with Mark McEwen how a kid from Haiti would have been returned immediately and charged that the Miami relatives "don't care about" Elian, but few Early Show viewers heard the discussion. That's because it occurred just after 7:55am in "co-op time," a time used for local news by virtually all but the puniest affiliates.
Fortunately, Early Show transcripts on Nexis include what CBS is sending out during the local news time and I came across this on Friday's show, as provided by Burrelle's to Nexis. After arguing about whether the situation would be different if it were Elian's mother trying to get custody, this exchange took place:
Gumbel: "...I don't know -- I don't know if all of
those -- all those people would be out there screaming if it was reuniting a
boy with his mother. I really don't know that. I -- I'm not sure."
And on it went, at least according to the Nexis transcript. It makes me take pity on small market viewers who must endure this chatter every morning.
Looking ahead to Elian's life back in Cuba, CBS's Randall Pinkston on Thursday morning acknowledged that Cubans are not free to speak, but Pinkston insisted "people appear untroubled by the lack of modern conveniences" and believe "that President Castro is responsible for all good things." He spent most of his piece touting or letting Cubans trumpet the Castro-line about educational achievement and free medical care.
MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed Pinkston's piece on the
April 13 Early Show. It also appeared in a slightly different form on
Saturday's CBS Evening News. Pinkston began the Thursday Early Show story:
Woman: "Well, I imagine, I don't know, there are no
Al Gore has won over the hearts and wallets of Hollywood moguls and stars, just as Bill Clinton had in 1992. Transferring his Hollywood popularity onto his Vice President, Bill Clinton chose a Saturday night Democratic fundraiser in Beverly Hills to make his first joint campaign appearance with Gore in over a month. Among the celebrities in attendance pitching in donations totaling $2.8 million were, according to Reuters and AP: Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Ron Howard and Jimmy Smits. In an unusual decision, the press was allowed to cover the event.
And for those who thought David Letterman treated George Bush poorly earlier this year, Al Gore has a friend on NBC in the same time slot. Another name on the guest list: Jay Leno.
An early morning Reuters dispatch on April 16 by Thomas Ferraro reported:
Hollywood celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Kevin Spacey donated $2.8 million at a Democratic fundraiser on Saturday night that featured President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore....
Gore suggested it would be a mistake to turn the reins over to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, his Republican rival, who favors using the record surplus to fund what the Vice President said would be "a risky tax scheme."
"It would be like a bunch of investors saying, 'Let's get rid of the team that made (Academy Award-winning movie) 'American Beauty' and get the one that made 'Howard the Duck,'" Gore said, drawing laughter and applause.
Clinton got another round of applause and laughter when he went to the microphone and said, "I loved 'American Beauty,' ... but I actually loved 'Howard the Duck.'"....
Other entertainment figures at Saturday's gala included Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Ron Howard, Jay Leno and Jimmy Smits.
In an April 16 AP story, Scott Lindlaw filled in some details:
....The two men came together later in Beverly Hills for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser that netted at least $2.8 million.
Music mogul and Democratic superdonor David Geffen was hosting the event with DreamWorks SKG co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Singers Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow attended, as did Jay Leno actors Kevin Spacey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney, Rene Russo, Edward James Olmos and Antonio Banderas.
The politicians and the stars mingled on the balcony of Greystone Mansion, a gothic castle overlooking downtown Los Angeles and, for a night, a knot of protesters. It is reputed to be the largest home ever built in Beverly Hills.
Update. The April 13 CyberAlert cited an April 12 NBC Nightly News story by Roger O'Neil, who in a report from Denver promoted a misleading publicity gimmick as he walked among thousands of little shoes: "This week at the State Capitol, 4,223 pairs of shoes were laid out, pressure on lawmakers to pass more gun control legislation. Why 4,223? That many children are killed in a year by guns."
CyberAlert suggested that most of those annual deaths were not the accidental type the word "children" conjures up, but of older teens.
Indeed, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens alerted me to a March 3 NRA report, which explained:
On March 2, 2000, President Clinton tried to persuade the public to support so-called "Triggerlock" and "smart" gun laws, by falsely claiming that 13 children are killed with guns every day. (NBC "Today Show") The claim is commonly made by anti-gun politicians and activists....
The statement is simply untrue. To reach the fraudulent "13 children" figure (alternately and even more dishonestly expressed by some "gun control" advocates as "5,000 per year" or "one every 90 seconds"), the President and those with the same agenda count anyone under the age of 20 as a "child." The reason is simple: There are relatively few firearm-related deaths among children, but a much greater number among juveniles and young adults ages 15-19. Add both age groups together, call that total "children," and the number of deaths among "children" is dishonestly increased 569%....
To read the report, go to:
In case you were wondering, Patriot's Day is a holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts commemorating the April 19, 1775 battle of Lexington and Concord -- back when Bay Staters still cared about high taxes and liberty and realized it might be beneficial to have armed citizens. -- Brent Baker
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