CyberAlert -- 06/09/1998 -- Starr's Threat
Starr's Threat; Going Warm with Gore; Hitting Heston; Gumbel on Slavery
Update: The June 8
CyberAlert included an item on how CBS reporter Jim Stewart highlighted
how Charlton Heston's NRA ascendency "comes at a time when the
actor's own politics is under fire. Last December Heston stunned some of
his old friends with a speech filled with bitterness for some
minorities." As noted in CyberAlert, the soundbite appeared out of
context and lifted from a larger sentence. Indeed it was. A helpful reader
guided me to the full speech, which it turns out was Heston's remarks to
the 20th anniversary celebration for the Free Congress Foundation.
Here's the full quote with the portion shown by CBS marked by the **
All the Monday night network evening shows, as well as Nightline, ran full
stories on the independent counsel's office argument before the Supreme
Court that the need of a grand jury to obtain information from a dead
witness in a criminal case outweighs the attorney-client privilege.
Specifically, that Vince Foster's lawyer should reveal what he told him
in a meeting nine days before he killed himself. But while all the stories
provided the arguments from both sides, many painted Ken Starr as a threat
to all of us. And only CBS reporter Scott Pelley took the time to explain
how Starr is pursuing the matter in order to figure out Hillary
Clinton's role in the travel office firings.
-- Forrest Sawyer opened the June 8 Nightline: "You've always thought when you talked to your lawyer it was confidential, even after you die. But not if the independent counsel has his way."
Introducing Nina Totenberg's set up piece, Sawyer warned that if Starr wins you lose: "Once you die, whatever you told your attorney in absolute confidence suddenly becomes fair game. What you said may hurt your reputation, or implicate your child in drug abuse or embarrass your family, it doesn't matter. A prosecutor should, Starr argues, be able to make your lawyer talk. Whatever the Supreme Court's ruling may mean to Starr's investigation of the White House, it could profoundly affect how you deal with your attorney from now on."
If you are involved in criminal activity.
Totenberg preposterously concluded: "The justices of the Supreme Court are overwhelmingly conservative, Republican and might be considered sympathetic to Starr's position. But they're also lawyers..."
Overwhelmingly conservative and Republican? Steven Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg are liberals named by Clinton. Ford may have nominated John Paul Stevens and Bush may have nominated David Souter, but the term "conservative" does not apply to them. "Liberal" does. Of the other five, she's correct about William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, but I don't think anyone not so far left as Totenberg considers Anthony Kennedy or Sandra O'Connor particularly conservative.
theme matched a piece aired by the CBS Evening News on Sunday night, June
7. As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, reporter Stephanie
Lambidakis highlighted the larger peril of Starr's position: "For
many terminally ill people, it is one of life's final acts: talking to a
lawyer and feeling safe that their secrets are protected, even in death,
by the attorney-client privilege."
-- Monday night,
June 8, CBS delivered a more balanced piece from Scott Pelley. Unlike Tim
O'Brien on ABC, Charles Bierbauer on CNN and Pete Williams on NBC,
Pelley explained the relevance of the notes taken by Foster's lawyer:
Right after Pelley anchor Dan Rather turned to reporter Kristin Jeanette-Myers for what Starr's case means to everyone else. She cautioned: "But if Starr prevails, conceivably, anything you've said to your lawyer could be made public after you die."
-- Only FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report led with the Starr case before the Supreme Court and while FNC's David Shuster did not offer a reminder like Pelley, he did observe: "The constitutional arguments ignored of course a key factual question: What did Vince Foster really say to his lawyer about possible criminal activity in the White House?"
Al Gore decided to hold a press conference to announce his concern about global warming, and three networks fell in line. CBS, CNN and NBC on June 8 relayed his dire warnings without any suggestion anyone disagrees. Only FNC bothered to tell viewers that not all agree with Gore's science.
-- On CNN's The World Today reporter Ann Kellan declared: "Flooding and the extensive damage from this winter's El Nino storms, could become more commonplace according to Vice President Al Gore, who is blaming global warming for making El Nino worse." She proceeded to run soundbites from Gore and a NOAA scientist, but had no time for any contrary views.
-- Over on the CBS
Evening News the ominous forecast led the show. Jerry Bowen began:
"Wild fires in tinder dry Mexico, freak ice storms in Maine, the
deluge in California. All El Nino related. And today, says the Clinton
administration, you can add global warming to the list."
-- Tom Brokaw
opened the NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. If it seems we're off
to an unusually warm weather start it's not your imagination.
Temperatures are up, a lot. The heat-wave will only continue through the
summer, adding to the concerns about global warming. This is not a
temporary condition. The consequences could be considerable."
-- Only viewers of
FNC's Fox Report got to learn of another view. Reporter Jane Skinner ran
down Gore's case: the current high temperatures, how El Nino has made
the effects of global warming worse and how it's now the warmest it's
been in 600 years. She ran a soundbite of Gore claiming global warming
could lead to more extreme weather, before offering another perspective:
For more how most scientists don't buy Gore's global warming line, see the April 23 CyberAlert. As noted there, a petition signed by 15,000 scientists maintained: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate." In fact, a former National Academy of Science President asserted: "This freely expressed vote against the warming scare propaganda should be contrasted with the claimed 'consensus of 2,500 climate scientists' about global warming. This facile and oft-quoted assertion by the White House is a complete fabrication."
Congratulations, Mr. Heston, on your election as President of the NRA. Now, embrace liberal gun control laws and we'll praise you. If you don't, we'll disparage you. So, it seemed, the networks decided. Monday morning Heston made the rounds of the three morning shows and on each was hit from the left on the irrationality of his opposition to gun control.
But first, a quick
look at the lead story from Monday's World News Tonight. Reporter
Antonio Mora highlighted how "Heston didn't take long to become a
lightning rod for controversy" as Mora showed a clip of Heston
suggesting there are as many gun collectors and advocates in the Hollywood
closet as there are homosexuals. Next, ABC viewers saw an excerpt from his
convention speech: "America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old
daughters. And we sure Lord don't trust you with our guns."
The morning hosts ambushed Heston from the left. Here are some examples of how the June 8 shows greeted his victory, as transcribed by MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson and Clay Waters:
-- Katie Couric on
NBC's Today. Two of her questions, followed by an exchange in which
Couric offered her idea for a more liberal NRA:
"Getting back to kids and guns, if you will indulge me for a moment. You cannot think of any other position the NRA could take in terms of trying to decrease the number of school shootings? You feel like this is not your bailiwick, this is not your problem?"
Charlton Heston: "Not at all. As I
told you the NRA spends more money, more time..."
-- Mark McEwen on
CBS's This Morning:
McEwen: "The Bill of Rights was written over 200 years ago. There weren't semi-automatic weapons out there. There weren't AK-47s out there. There were people who had one-shot rifles, one-shot revolvers. What do you say to people who say, 'We're in a different time right now and we are awash in guns'?"
Heston: "I tell you what, let's suppose that we said, 'Okay, let's confiscate all privately-held firearms in the country.' There are about 200 million in private hands, legally held. Now then, of course, criminals don't buy firearms, they steal them, that's what they do for a living. What do you do with the armed criminal then? What do you do?"
McEwen: "Criminals didn't . .
-- Lisa McRee on
ABC's Good Morning America:
"We are running out of time but finally, last week former President Reagan press secretary James Brady, who was of course shot in assassination attempt sent you an open letter saying, 'Let's have no more of these school shootings, let's gather together it's time for the NRA to join other responsible gun owners in seeking to prevent future tragedies,' You have not answered him yet what will your answer to Mr. Brady be?"
Not a word about how guns can prevent crime.
Not sure I'll be doing a CyberAlert tomorrow, so before Public Eye with
Bryant Gumbel airs again on CBS on Wednesday night, here's a noteworthy
quote from last week's show to remind you why you are not watching it.
Beginning a June 3 story about Ed Ball, a wealthy Southerner who wrote a
book about coming to terms with "the sins of his family" which
owned slaves, Gumbel insisted:
At least we won't have to hear Gumbel's liberal ravings much longer as CBS has pulled the plug on his soapbox: Public Eye is not on the fall schedule due to low ratings for the show hosted by the $5 million-a-year man. -- Brent Baker
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