CyberAlert -- 05/11/2000 -- Elian Afraid of Cuban Jail
Elian Afraid of Cuban Jail; NBC's Tribute to Greg Craig; The Real Donna Dees-Thomases
3) CBS campaigned for another entitlement program. Reporting Bill Clinton's latest plan to expand Medicare, CBS's John Roberts anticipated that for 15 million "seniors without prescription drug coverage, relief may finally be on the way."
4) Today's tribute to Greg Craig. NBC's Jamie Gangel relayed how "friends describe him as an idealist who wears his heart on his sleeve," asserted that "Craig's professionalism has also earned him the respect of his fiercest opponents," and gushed how "if you need the impossible, call Greg Craig."
5) The media portrayed Million Mom March organizer Donna Dees-Thomases as "a typical mom," Tom Brokaw claimed she's "a mother who'd never been politically active." FNC's Brit Hume noted her family tie to Hillary, but she's also a donor to her campaign and a former Capitol Hill staffer for Democratic Senators.
"Elian is happy and adjusting well," promised NBC's Tom Brokaw Wednesday night in relaying a federal social worker's report. Peter Jennings stressed how the assessment is "very positive," but CBS and FNC disclosed how the report revealed Elian fears that jail awaits him in Cuba.
Over new happy
photos of Elian playing catch, carousing with his playmates and laughing
with his father, ABC's Peter Jennings announced on the May 10 World News
On the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw showed the same pictures and noted the impending court hearing, before he reassured viewers: "According to a social worker's report filed with the court today, Elian is happy and adjusting well."
From Atlanta, FNC's Bret Baier provided a less glowing assessment of Elian's happiness, telling Special Report with Brit Hume viewers: "The Justice Department filed sealed papers with the 11th circuit. Sources tell Fox News the paperwork is a status report from a psychiatrist and a social worker who say Elian is doing well but has some fear of being jailed if he's returned to Cuba."
Even Dan Rather
managed to pick up on what eluded ABC and NBC. As the CBS evening News
showed the new photos, he intoned:
Elian seems more aware of Cuban reality than much of the U.S. media.
Rudy Giuliani's announcement that he plans to separate from his wife, Donna Hanover, generated full stories Wednesday night on the broadcast networks.
ABC's Morton Dean concluded his World News Tonight piece by relaying how "late today members of the Mayor's inner circle were suggesting that he is reassessing his run for the U.S. Senate."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell worried on the NBC Nightly News: "But if Giuliani drops out Mrs. Clinton could face an even tougher opponent: New York's popular Governor John Pataki could change his mind and get into the race."
On the CBS Evening News Diana Olick observed: "Right from the start this race seemed to be all about her, not him. Here was a controversial carpet-bagging First Lady trying to become a U.S. Senator. But now the tables have turned. He's getting all the headlines and outshining the star candidate."
"America is the only country that is mean to their senior citizens where medicine is concerned," complained an ungrateful Rita Butler in a soundbite featured on Wednesday's CBS Evening News. But in reporting Bill Clinton's latest plan to offer another entitlement via Medicare, CBS's John Roberts proclaimed: "But for Rita and 15 million other seniors without prescription drug coverage, relief may finally be on the way."
The Roberts piece aired well into the May 10 CBS Evening News which led, as did NBC Nightly News, with the wildfires around Los Alamos, New Mexico. ABC's World News Tonight began with the unveiling of Clinton's new way to transfer tax money through the expansion of Medicare.
ABC's John Cochran noted how "Democrats have raised the stakes" in the debate as Clinton decided to back a Democratic House plan "that's more generous" than his previous proposal. Under this new plan, for $25 a month from senior citizens the "government would pay for half of their prescription costs up to $2,000 a year the first and even more later." Actually, taxpayers would pay, but Cochran didn't mention them. Instead, he focused on the popularity of new entitlement, highlighting how an ABC News poll found 64 percent of middle-aged people said prescription coverage is "very important" in their vote this fall. Cochran suggested that's because many have parents with big drug bills. Cochran noted how Republicans have "more modest proposals" and "are worried about losing control of the House this fall and seem eager for a compromise with Democrats."
The CBS Evening
News delivered an advocacy piece which assumed there's no rational reason
why the elderly shouldn't expect taxpayers to pick up more of their
medical costs. As transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Dan Rather set
up the piece:
didn't bother with facts, opening instead with a personal anecdote from a
woman who thinks it's perfectly proper to force others to pay for her
problems: "Rita Butler is just the sort of person a new study shows
gets hit most often by the high cost of prescription drugs: Older women
above the poverty level who pay more for drugs than any other group."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "Can senior citizens reasonably expect
that by this time next year there will be a prescription drug plan under
At times like this it's hard to tell the difference between the two parties.
political fighting could ruin the chance to enact another government
spending program: "But differences in how to approach drug coverage
could derail the whole effort. Republicans charge the Democrat plan smacks
of big government. Democrats counter that the Republican proposal is too
vague and leaves out seniors who earn more than $15,000 a year -- people
like Rita Butler who often makes the trade-off between filling her six
prescriptions and filling her refrigerator."
The day before the court hearing on Elian Gonzalez, Today decided to air a lengthy, glowingly positive, puff piece about lawyer Greg Craig, the hired gun working to get Elian back into Castro's arms.
NBC's Jamie Gangel called him "smart, politically connected and discreet," relayed how "friends describe him as an idealist who wears his heart on his sleeve," asserted that "Craig's professionalism has also earned him the respect of his fiercest opponents," gushed that "Craig has been everywhere and seems to have met everyone," admired how "Craig has also showed remarkable media savvy" by releasing happy photos of Elian hours after the raid, and advertised how "if you need the impossible, call Greg Craig." As if that weren't enough, she featured this from Ted Kennedy: "Greg Craig is a gifted, talented, eloquent, brilliant lawyer."
The whole package,
Katie Couric's intro plus Gangel's taped piece, consumed ten seconds shy
of 11 minutes, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens measured -- an eternity for a
network morning show. Just after the 7:30am news update on the May 10
show, Couric announced:
Now here's all of
what Gangel reported with summaries and partial or sometimes full quotes
from what Craig and others said in soundbites. Jamie Gangel began her
finally broached what critics say, but she hardly pressed him and did not
pursue who is really paying for him and their real agenda: "Your
critics in the Cuban-American community in Miami say that you are an
instrument of Castro."
End of lovefest.
And who has the media on his side. Thursday on Today: An equally promotional profile of a lawyer for the Miami relatives, admiring his quest for justice. Yeah, right. That would require interest in balance and fairness at NBC. Thursday's show has already been set aside for Hillary's "town meeting."
Donna Dees-Thomases, the organizer of Sunday's so-called Million Mom March, is far from the apolitical housewife portrayed by the media, FNC's Brit Hume revealed Wednesday night. But she's actually even more connected to liberal and partisan politics than Hume disclosed.
On the May 10
Special Report with Brit Hume the anchor of the same name told FNC
She's also a former Capitol Hill staff member for two Democratic Senators and a contributor to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. But more on that later in this item. First, a rundown of some misleading network descriptions from over the past couple of months.
Many of the mothers participating in the protests on Sunday probably are apolitical people who see guns as a threat to their kids, but that does not excuse the networks for their duplicity in relaying misleading and/or incomplete descriptions of Dees-Thomases as some kind of average suburban Mom without a liberal political agenda. Diana Sawyer happily relayed one morning how "Donna Dees-Thomases says that she'd never really organized anything larger than a car pool before." ABC's Elizabeth Vargas called her "a typical mom you might say, who has made it her mission to stop the bloodshed." NBC's Tom Brokaw uttered an outright falsehood, tagging her "a mother who'd never been politically active."
-- CBS Evening
News, May 7. John Roberts offered this identification, as transcribed by
MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Donna Dees-Thomases is a mother of two and
former CBS News publicist. For her the Granada Hills shootings, part of a
wave of school violence that included the massacre at Columbine High,
finally made her sit up and take notice."
-- ABC's Good Morning America, April 14. As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Diane Sawyer introduced an interview segment without mentioning Dees-Thomases's political activism: "Well, one month from today, tens from thousands of women are expected to converge on the nation's capital, showing support for what they call common sense gun legislation. It's being called the Million Mom March, and even though the number may not quite reach a million, it's still pretty impressive so far, especially, as we said, when you consider that the organizer, Donna Dees-Thomases, says that she'd never really organized anything larger than a car pool before that. We first met her last month, and she is back now to bring us up to date, along with two of the regional coordinators, moms as well."
Sawyer set her up for her story of how the day care shooting motivated her: "Want to remind people, Donna, what it was that galvanized you to start this." Sawyer did broach the liberal political agenda advocated, but Dees-Thomases dismissed the premise: "What about some of the things that you've talked about -- licensing handgun owners, registering handguns, safety locks on guns. Are you partisan? Is this a Democratic agenda in some ways because, as we know, there is a divide?"
-- ABC's Good Morning America, March 23. In the first GMA appearance by Dees-Thomases, recalled by Sawyer above, Elizabeth Vargas set her up: "On the heels of yet another shooting rampage at a Texas church last night, we have a mom with us this morning, a typical mom you might say, who has made it her mission to stop the bloodshed. You remember the Million Man March? Well, this woman is the organizer of the Million Mom March against gun violence, and it is scheduled for Mother's Day May 14th. Joining us now is Donna Dees-Thomases. Donna, good morning. Good to have you here. You actually got the idea for this march, you say, by watching the television coverage of a shooting at a Los Angeles daycare center. Tell me about that."
Two of the
questions posed by Vargas:
For more on this
interview, go to:
-- NBC Nightly News, March 30. In his top of the show tease Tom Brokaw stated an outright falsehood: "And Women to Watch, tonight a mother who'd never been politically active until she saw this [video of LA kids crossing street after Grenada Hills Jewish day care center shooting]."
claimed: "Donna Dees-Thomases, a suburban mom. Too busy with her two
daughters and a part-time job to pay much attention to politics. Describes
herself as apathetic until one day last August. Thousands of miles away
from her home in New Jersey, this scene on national television: The
aftermath of a gunman's attack on a Jewish center in Los Angeles."
Myers went on to describe her organizing efforts, before concluding: "Now this suburban mom says her mission won't end with the march. Not until the mothers of America face down the gun lobby and win."
So who is this "typical suburban mom" who'd "never been politically active"? She's a former staffer for two Democratic U.S. Senators and last year she contributed to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.
The December 1987 MediaWatch reported that in October Donna Dees, the Assistant Press Secretary to retired Senator Russell Long (D-LA), was named to the post of Manager of Communications for CBS News in New York where she was to oversee "Campaign '88" press. Before jumping to Long's office in 1980 she held the same position with Louisiana Democratic Senator Bennett Johnston.
A check of the
donor database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, the MRC's
Tim Graham learned, uncovered two donations from a "Thomases,
Donna" of Short Hills, New Jersey, the same town media reports list
as the residence for Donna Dees-Thomases. Both identified Thomases's
employer as "CBS." The two items listed:
To replicate our search, go to http://www.opensecrets.org, click on "Donor Lookup," enter "Thomases" as the contributor and "Clinton" as the candidate.
+++ See what Dees-Thomases looks like. Thursday morning MRC acting Webmaster Eric Pairel will post a still shot of her from GMA. Go to the posted version on this CyberAlert item on the MRC home page.
A reminder. Promo run at the end of Wednesday's World News Tonight: "Good Morning America's making history again, returning to the White House, looking for ways to protect kids from guns. Last year we took teenagers, now the moms speak out. Friday."
Count on all of Friday's morning shows to promote the Dees-Thomases's "Million Mom March." As The Early Show's Executive Producer, Steve Friedman, told Tuesday's USA Today: "This is an issue that everyone is concerned about. I think it ranks right up there with MADD. -- Brent Baker
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