Castro's "Luxurious" House for Elian; Helping Elian "Readjust"; Dangerous Global Warming
1) NBC marveled at how the house where Castro will put Elian is "a mansion by Cuban standards" while CNN marveled at how "even by American standards" it's "luxurious." Both portrayed the placement as benign. Only FNC raised the issue of communist re-education.
2) GMA and Today benignly played clips showing the Havana home, but both shows were more interested in focusing on the letter from a pediatrician claiming Elian is in "imminent danger" in Miami. Only FNC noted the doctor once served on a Hillary task force.
5) "Climate experts are saying...there are new and ominous signs that global warming is generating drastic and dangerous weather changes," declared Dan Rather. ABC's Ned Potter saw "calamitous" results, but neither had time for even one scientific doubter.
Castro's propaganda operation hit a home run Tuesday night when CNN and NBC, in full stories featuring attractive Cuban TV video of the house in which Castro plans to place Elian, characterized the purpose of the placement as making time for a proper "transition" so Elian can "readjust" to life on the island. Neither network broached any more sinister reason behind the decision to not allow Elian to return to his hometown of Cardenes.
Only FNC's Orlando Salinas relayed predictions from
Miami Cubans that Elian "will be re-trained as a young communist
commando." After his taped piece ended at just past 6pm ET, Salinas told
FNC's Brit Hume:
Very prescient. Eastern and Central time zone viewers didn't have to wait long for confirmation of the fears picked up by Salinas. Less than an hour later on the NBC Nightly News Jim Avila marveled at how the house has a swimming pool and is "a mansion by Cuban standards." Avila passed along how "psychiatrists consulting the Castro government" maintain Elian's home town "is not the best place for his immediate transition." CNN's Martin Savidge gushed at how "even by American standards" the house is "luxurious." Savidge favorably compared the house's amenities to where Elian is now living in Miami, showcasing the Havana home's bigger pool and "specially built playground."
Tuesday night, April 18, the CBS Evening News avoided the Havana house video while ABC's Peter Jennings gave it just a few seconds. Over video of an empty pool, a bedroom and a playroom, Jennings announced: "Cuba showed reporters the house where Elian will spend a few months with his family and some of his classmates during a transition back to life in Cuba if he gets home."
-- CNN's The World Today. Anchor Jim Moret noted how the UN's Human Rights Commission voted to condemn Cuba's record, but that Cuba is now focused on how to treat just one boy.
From Havana, CNN's Martin Savidge began the story,
which Moret introduced, by playing video of a white house alongside a busy
road as he explained:
That comparison aired first over video of the inside of the Havana house, with a shot of four single beds covered with colorful bed spreads in a room with yellow walls and a well-worn tiled floor and a small refrigerator-like looking white thing in a corner and a toilet in an empty bathroom. It looked closer to the barren feel of a U.S. summer camp cabin than any luxury home. CNN's footage then contrasted that with video from inside the cramped but full of stuff Miami home with two adults, Elian and another kid near a sofa as Elian lifted a large plastic Mickey Mouse figure, followed by a clip of Elian on the sofa hugging a big teddy bear.
Next, over video of Elian splashing in a small above-ground pool, Savidge described the scene: "Elian's pool in Miami." CNN then cut to a shot of an empty underground pool in a concrete courtyard as Savidge contrasted the settings: "The one waiting for him in Havana, minus the water."
Continuing his back-to-back comparisons, Savidge pointed out "Elian's swing set in Miami" as viewers really saw video of Elian crawling head first down the pool-side slide. The contrast: "The specially built playground in Cuba." Playground? Viewers saw a see-saw and a swing set. Later in the story Savidge displayed an angle which included a slide and showed that the three things were in the concrete courtyard next to pool. And, none had any padding beneath. So much for putting children's safety first.
Savidge proclaimed: "Cuba says it's just not a
place Elian can play and rest, but also readjust to his homeland, a process
one psychologist says could take no less than three months."
Without raising the possibility of communist
"re-education," Savidge moved on to run clips from a man and woman
who were swimming in the ocean behind the house. The man found Elian deserving
of the luxury accommodations while the woman said
Elian would adjust better in his home town. Savidge concluded:
During this last line viewers got a quick shot of the house from the ocean and saw a chain link fence in front of tennis court-sized area of broken up concrete. Quite "luxurious."
++ See for yourself what CNN considered "luxurious." Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the first part of Savidge's World Today story. Go to: http:\\www.mrc.org
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw declared: "In Cuba tonight special preparations are being made for Elian's return. The government of Fidel Castro announced that he will not be going directly home, not right away at least."
Jim Avila, in Havana, eagerly relayed: "Tom, a source close to Juan Miguel Gonzalez tells NBC News that American psychiatrists are telling the father that he should bring his boy back to Cuba as soon as possible. And here in Havana the government is putting the finishing touches on a combination school and living quarters for Elian and his Dad."
Cutting to the same video shown by CNN, Avila played
tour guide: "This is the state-owned guesthouse where Elian will stay
when and if he returns to Cuba. It's a mansion by Cuban standards, but
psychiatrists consulting the Castro government tell NBC News the boy's home
town, Cardenas, is not the best place for his immediate transition into island
Without casting any doubt upon the motivation behind the claim of a communist government's "therapist," Avila plowed ahead: "Today, members of the Cuban Ministry of Construction, painting and plastering the house owned and donated by the Youth Communist Party. Two stories, eight bedrooms, [video of the barren bedroom] four-car garage in the upscale Miramar neighborhood -- a section of Havana busy with new foreign companies and renovations. A far cry from most Cuban homes, it has a swimming pool in the backyard, satellite TV, air conditioning, a playroom [video of a room with four of five things that looked like big footrests].
Avila showed a classroom
where Elian will receive his communist indoctrination, but offered a more
benevolent description: "Specially built: a classroom and dormitory to
accommodate twelve of Elian's Cardenas classmates, who will live with the
Gonzales family, and a medical team including psychiatrists. Cristobal
Martinez heads the Cuban mental health team in charge of Elian's transition.
He says Cardenas was ruled out because Elian is too big a hero to simply
return to his family home."
Avila concluded by saying that after he gets Elian Juan Miguel plans to return to Cuba with his son immediately.
-- FNC's Special Report
with Brit Hume. Over in FNC's parallel universe,
where communists are not assumed to be altruistic resort hosts, Orlando
Salinas reported from Miami:
Salinas then highlighted a worry ignored by CNN and NBC:
"But the anti-Castro crowd in Miami wants none of it, saying Fidel
Castro's cabana is where Elian will be re-trained as a young communist
After his piece, Salinas told Hume: "One thing that I've been hearing from some Miami Cubans out here is they say they are worried about this: When Americans in other parts of this country see those pictures they might think to themselves 'hey that doesn't look all that bad.' But what these Miami Cubans say is many people don't realize is these children, Elian's age, usually get sent to child labor camps and they say once the cameras are gone and off of Elian that's exactly where he will be sent."
At CNN and NBC the cameras might as well already be off.
Tuesday morning ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today played brief clips showing the Havana home to which Elian is destined, but both programs were much more interested in highlighting the conveniently-released letter from pediatrician Irwin Redlener claiming Elian is in "imminent danger" at the Miami home where he's being "psychologically abused." Today brought him aboard for an interview and GMA talked about it with a lawyer for the Miami family. CBS's The Early Show picked up on the pediatrician's charge but skipped the Havana home.
Matt Lauer opened NBC's Today, as caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "Good morning. The pediatrician advising the U.S. government on the Elian Gonzalez custody battle said last night the boy should be removed immediately from the Miami house where he's staying. Citing imminent danger the doctor says federal officials should go get him today, Tuesday, April 18, 2000."
In the evening, the CBS Evening News, CNN's The World
Today and NBC Nightly News all ran full stories on the pediatrician's
assessment and the reaction to the letter, including the observation that he
has never talked to Elian, but only FNC's Rita Cosby mentioned a tie between
Redlener and Hillary Clinton. On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Cosby
On the Havana home revelation in the morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this benign reference to it from Karla Davis on Tuesday's Good Morning America: "In another development, Antonio [Mora], new pictures aired on Cuban television showing the residence where Elian and his immediate family are to live once they return to Cuba. The large, seaside house is being prepared for the child, his family, schoolmates and teachers for a transition process that could last more than three months. However, if the Miami family here has its way, that will not happen anytime soon."
Catching up with another tribute to Cuba's advancements from NBC's Jim Avila, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed that on Saturday's NBC Nightly News Avila showcased as some kind of success a family able to serve meat. The reason? Dollars can be earned legally as Castro allows "more freedom of thought and speech" and "rarely mentions communism anymore."
Anchor John Seigenthaler led into the April 15 piece: "The thought of Elian going back to Fidel Castro's Cuba horrifies the people of Miami's Little Havana, but as NBC's Jim Avila reports, today's Cuba is different from what many remember."
Avila began: "Dinner at the Pinnella family home in
Havana. On this night, meat, bought with Cuba's favorite currency,
Avila stressed: "And Pilato says Miami Cubans hurt
themselves by attacking a Cuba that no longer exists."
If it's so great, why not just move there?
Avila elaborated on the it's not so bad theme: "Many Cubans still want to leave but those numbers have changed dramatically too. Sixteen years ago, when Lazaro Gonzalez took a plane to the United States, a mere 23 Cubans were caught rafting their way to the United States, a number that ballooned during the early '90s, Cuba's worst economic period -- 37,000 in 1994. Now fallen since the mid-'90s because the United States began returning them to Cuba, making it a less attractive gamble. U.S. intelligence sources now estimate that 80 percent of the island population would stay even if borders were open."
So, 20 percent would leave if they could. Which is a heck of a lot more than the 23 who tried rafting 16 years ago, thus contradicting his whole point that Cubans are any happier now. They're just getting caught more often by the Coast Guard.
Avila concluded: "In a Cuba, where life remains difficult but where most nights meat is back on the table."
media's favorable treatment of Fidel Castro is so blatant even a Hollywood
actor realizes it. An April 17 story on CNN's Showbiz Today, about the
American Latino Media Arts Awards ceremony which took place Sunday in
Pasadena, relayed this comment from Nestor Carbonell, an actor born in New
York to Cuban exile parents, who is now a star of the NBC sit-com Suddenly
Hey, the people have access to meat and Castro will put Elian and his father in a "luxurious" ocean-side house with a see-saw. What more do you want?
++ If you don't recognize the name you might recognize
Carbonell's face, so the MRC's Kristina Sewell will locate a shot of him
that Webmaster Andy Szul will post alongside this item in the online version
of this CyberAlert. After 11am ET, go to:
If you were dreaming about some network balance in the reporting of Earth Day issues, Tuesday's coverage of a report, on record high temperatures in the first three months of the year, showed you can forget about it. CBS and NBC led with it while ABC provided a full story. In all that network time devoted to impending weather disasters not one doubter, who holds a position contrary to the liberal environmental demands for more regulation or who does not believe warming causes extreme weather, appeared -- even though ABC's Peter Jennings acknowledged that only "some scientists are putting the blame on global warming."
-- ABC's Ned Potter intoned on World News Tonight:
"Scientists and environmentalists warned for years that if the world
became warmer the result could be calamitous: hurricanes, tornadoes, heat
waves. The government used today's numbers to say some of those warnings are
already coming true."
Potter relayed the predictions of more droughts and noted how federal disaster relief costs are up 337 percent from the '80s to the '90s before showcasing another liberal activist, Michael Oppenheimer of "Environmental Defense," who conceded the lack of proof for the theory: "It's impossible to say how many of these disasters are related to global warming, but they do present a picture of what could happen in the future, they present a picture of our vulnerability."
Potter rued how polls put public concern for global warming near the bottom and then concluded: "Climate warming may be too gradual to notice, but the administration is trying to show that its consequences are something people can already see."
-- CBS Evening News. CBS gave away its lack of concern for one-sided advocacy by listing on its Web site, under "Features," an Earth Day page with links to the liberal groups involved: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,180659-412,00.shtml
Dan Rather opened Tuesday's show by gravely intoning: "Good evening. U.S. climate experts are saying tonight there are new and ominous signs that global warming is generating drastic and dangerous weather changes short and long-term. This report comes out as this nation had its warmest January through March on record. Forecasters already believe the impact includes longer and stronger tornado seasons. Now they are predicting bigger and deadlier hurricanes that could devastate coastal cities. CBS's John Blackstone has the facts on the CBS WeatherWatch."
Blackstone also featured a dire soundbite from NOAA's
Baker before insisting: "Federal officials say we're already seeing the
impact, a significant increase in severe weather damage over the past decade.
More floods and more droughts, and now scientists say get ready for hurricanes
with more destructive power."
-- NBC Nightly News. Robert Hager opened with video of
"tornado-like winds" in California whipping up rivers. He warned: "This and other recent, increasingly intense
storms, could they somehow be linked to a bigger picture, to climate change
and rising temperatures? Today a report finds that in the midst of all the
violent weather, the year 2000 is off to the warmest start ever in U.S.
history, the months of January, February and March warmest in the 105 years
that records have been kept..."
For the scientific
assessment ignored by the networks, check out The Satanic Gases: Clearing the
Air About Global Warming, a new book from the Cato Institute by Patrick J.
Michaels and Robert C. Balling, Jr. The Web site summary:
Also, check out excerpts of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet by Ronald Bailey: http://www.cei.org/books/earthreport2k.html
On Thursday Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, will produce an Earth Day edition of MediaNomics packed with links to the most compelling answers to liberal global warming hype. I'll be sending excerpts in Thursday's CyberAlert. -- Brent Baker
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