Gun Control Too Late; Cox Talks to Fox; Selleck vs. O'Donnell
1) Soundbites advocating the Senate's gun control bill beat opponents by 3-to-1 on ABC, 2-to-1 on CBS and 3-to-2 on NBC, but unlike ABC at least CBS and NBC relayed how Republicans say the answer is "not more laws but enforcing current ones." NBC gave a Democrat time to say a Hillary Senate run would "make a difference ...on issues that she cares about -- children, families."
>>> "Is Tony Coelho Still Immune from Scrutiny? Gore Names Ex-Congressman Who Resigned Over Ethics To Head Campaign, But Reporters Go Soft." The latest Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. The MRC's Tim Graham opened the report: "The Gore campaign drew little media attention with their May 11 announcement of a new campaign chairman: ex-Rep. Tony Coelho, a media darling before he resigned in 1989....Try to imagine how the network news would cover a politician who resigned rather than face ethics probes by the House or the media if they were named to head a GOP campaign. Or if they named one of the top check-bouncers of the House bank (Coelho made the Top 22 with almost $300,000 in hot checks). A non-story? But the Coelho news did not merit an evening or morning news story on ABC, CBS, or NBC..." To read the issue on coverage of Coelho, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990520.html
Every network led Thursday night with the high school shooting in Conyers, Georgia, and the one-month anniversary of the Columbine shooting, followed by the Senate vote for more gun control.
In ABC's piece on the Senate vote reporter Linda Douglass featured soundbites from three supporters but just one opponent of what passed. CBS reporter Bob Schieffer delivered a two-to-one soundbite advantage for the pro-gun control side but at least led into a blast at Janet Reno from Senator Larry Craig by relaying the conservative argument that the answer is "not more laws but enforcing current ones." NBC Nightly News viewers saw a three-to-one pro-gun control soundbite ratio in Gwen Ifill's story, but she also highlighted the argument about current lack of enforcement and uniquely passed along how "the powerful National Rifle Association...called today's Senate action in a statement 'a charade' that 'won't stop the crisis in our schools.'" Counting her recitation of the NRA's take would bring NBC to a 3-to-2 ratio.
FNC's Julie Kirtz provided a fairly even-handed piece on the Fox Report and Bob Franken's story for CNN's The World Today uniquely went beyond just guns to explain other aspects of the juvenile justice bill.
The other big news of the night: Speculation that Hillary Clinton is leaning toward a run for the Senate from New York. CBS anchor Dan Rather talked to Gloria Borger about it and it was the subject of the In Depth segment on NBC Nightly News. NBC's Andrea Mitchell did not air the views of any detractors, but did provide Democratic operative Mandy Grunwald a soundbite to express how great her run would be for the children: "I think the most important plus is that she would be able to make a difference for New Yorkers on issues that she cares about -- children, families."
Here's how the three broadcast networks, on Thursday night May 20, handled the Senate vote in favor of background checks at gun shows and for guns reclaimed by owners at pawn shops:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Linda Douglass relayed how Vice President Al Gore went to
the Capitol to break a tie vote. After battling soundbites from Democrat
Charles Schumer and Republican Orrin Hatch on the need for more
regulations, Douglass briefly outlined the provisions of the bill and
noted how all but six Republicans opposed it and all but one Democrat
In other words, he voted the same way Senator Braun, the liberal Democrat he beat last year with support from conservatives, would have.
provided the most generous interpretation of why a Democrat switched sides
to back the bill: "Georgia Democrat Max Cleland, who had vote against
his party's strict gun show rules, today voted for them. He was swayed
by new details in the proposal but pushed over the top by this morning's
Schieffer wrapped up by showing pictures of those who defected from each party. The one Democrat: Max Baucus. The six Republicans: Warner, Voinovich, Lugar, Fitzgerald, Dewine and Chafee.
Too little too late to "comfort" those in Littleton. "Comfort," not effectiveness, is apparently what ABC's Ann Compton thinks should be the goal of legislation.
Check out her
preview of Clinton's trip to Colorado as transcribed from Thursday's
Good Morning America by MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson:
FNC's Carl Cameron delivered another first Thursday night, the first evening show interview with Congressman Chris Cox, days before his special committee's report is to finally be released. (Cox appeared on last Sunday's This Week on ABC but has not made it onto any of the network evening shows recently.)
FNC's 6pm ET/9pm
PT Special Report with Brit Hume led with Cameron's report and a
condensed version aired on the 7pm ET Fox Report. Cameron ominously began:
Cameron noted how
600 "super computers" have been exported to China and
"China violated export terms and used them for nuclear weapons
Wen Ho Lee is one
of two principal suspects, Cameron reminded viewers, adding: "The
other suspect, first identified by Fox News, is Peter Lee who admitted
passing secrets to China but plea-bargained to lying about his Chinese
As for who is culpable, "the Cox Report blames the Justice Department among others, on several levels," Cameron relayed. Cox told Cameron that his committee got more cooperation from agencies like Defense and the CIA. Asked why he told Cameron that Justice put confidentiality of its investigations ahead of national security.
Cameron concluded by reporting that the Cox Report is expected to be released on Tuesday.
+++ Hear all of what Cox told FNC. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip of Cameron's story. Since the Selleck/O'Donnell feud will bring in more visitors to the MRC site than this kind of policy story in my judgment, the MRC home page will feature an O'Donnell video. So, we'll post this alongside this item in the posted version of this CyberAlert. Go to the MRC home page and under "Our Newest Stuff" click on the May 21 CyberAlert. It will also be accessible on our video page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
Thursday night Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood led with the controversy, but of news shows only Good Morning America and FNC's Fox Report touched the subject, plus CNN's Showbiz Today. Of those three, only FNC, in picking up an argument made in a publicity stunt by Howard Stern, pointed out how O'Donnell appears in ads for K-Mart which is a huge seller of guns. She holds the NRA culpable for making the school shootings possible. Applying her own logic to herself, then as a paid commercial promoter of K-Mart she is part of an enterprise which enables kids to get guns to kill other kids.
On the May 20 Fox
Report Bill McCuddy showed Stern outside of the NBC/GE building where
O'Donnell does her show. In the midst of a big crowd as he broadcast his
radio show live Stern blasted away: "Why's she confronting Tom
Selleck when in fact she's a gun saleswoman....This is a joke. This is
again Rosie O'Donnell being a hypocrite. She is not willing to debate
someone because I would bring up a few things like her K-Mart connection
and she doesn't want that on the air."
(For those unfamiliar with O'Donnell, she rose to prominence as one of the woman baseball players in the film A League of Their Own, produced by her friend Penny Marshall who co-stars with her in ads for the nationwide gun dealer known as K-Mart. Her syndicated daytime show, produced by Warner Brothers and taped at NBC's Rockefeller Center, is now in its third season.)
O'Donnell's Web site features a "Fight Gun Violence Now!" link to a page with links to the office of gun control crusading Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. O'Donnell's Web site: http://rosieo.warnerbros.com
And now to what happened on Wednesday. Below are excerpts from two newspaper stories followed by descriptions of clips you can watch.
-- New York Post, May 20. "Ragin' Rosie Ambushes Selleck" by reporter Michael Starr:
"Queen of Nice" Rosie O'Donnell ripped into guest Tom Selleck on live TV yesterday -- taking potshots at the hunky heartthrob for supporting the National Rifle Association.
A shocked Selleck called Rosie's rant "absurd" during the tension-filled segment -- which crashed to a halt when O'Donnell apologized for ambushing the appalled actor.
The bearded Selleck, whose face appears in a current print ad for the NRA, had gone on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" to plug his movie "The Love Letter," which opens tomorrow.
But soon after sitting down, he was attacked by O'Donnell -- who last month used a guest-hosting appearance on "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" to blast NRA President Charlton Heston after the Columbine HS massacre.
"There's no reason, in my opinion, to have [guns]," O'Donnell said as Selleck sipped his tea. "You want to have a hunting rifle, great! A hand gun, great!" An angry Selleck shot back: "Do you really think the Second Amendment is in the Constitution to guarantee hunting and target shooting? Do you really think that?"
O'Donnell, to applause from her studio audience, replied: "I think [the Second Amendment] is in the Constitution so we can have muskets when the British people come over in 1800 -- I don't think it's in the Constitution to have assault weapons in the year 2000.
"This is the problem -- people with opposing views, there is no compromise. You feel attacked, I feel attacked."
"I haven't attacked you," Selleck retorted, adding: "I disagreed with you. I haven't mentioned assault weapons once. I didn't come on your show to have a debate. I came on your show to plug a movie -- that's what I'm doing here...I think you're being stupid....This is absurd! You're calling me a spokesman for the NRA? Don't put words in my mouth...You're questioning my humanity."
....It began well with a hug. Selleck quipped cutely that he and wife Jillie Mack will have to screen a Love Letter print in the parking lot this weekend because the local cineplex is showing only that lightsaber epic.
Then O'Donnell promised a polite discussion on NRA-related issues. Selleck has appeared in an NRA ad promoting responsible gun ownership. He once was a junior member learning gun safety and rejoined three months ago.
O'Donnell, a passionate gun-control advocate, pressed him on issues of safety locks and a ban on assault rifles. But Selleck wouldn't address them, denied he is an NRA spokesman and accused her of "moral vanity" in seeing only one side.
Referring to the Bill of Rights, he said, "Are we responsible enough in our society to be this free? My answer is 'probably not,'" but "I am going to go down with the civil-liberties ship."...
Selleck grew visibly more unhappy as O'Donnell pressed him, insisting he must be an NRA spokesman. "This has not gone the way I hoped," she finally said. "I apologize if you felt insulted."
I had been scheduled to talk to Selleck right after Rosie, and he told me, "I wasn't real happy with the show. It was pretty unprofessional." He declined to talk about it further but added, "I found it enormously striking, the subject matter she chose, as there are all these tiny action figures holding weapons and war machines on her desk." O'Donnell is doing a Star Wars month....
Actually, not to dissuade you from watching these video excerpts, but it is only "inflamed" and "heated" by daytime talk show standards where interviewers normally kiss-up to guests. They do get angry with each other, but it's a lot milder than the average Crossfire.
To see these clips, go to this item in the posted CyberAlert or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
CBS President Les Moonves is sounding like Gary Bauer. Moonves has put a
hole in the entertainment community's wall of denial about having any
impact on people's behavior. FNC's Bill McCuddy noted Thursday night:
referring to the decision to not schedule a new drama this fall called
Falcone. The AP's David Bauder provided more details in a May 19
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