CyberAlert -- 06/13/2000 -- Oxygen Breathed Liberal for Gore

Printer Friendly Version

Oxygen Breathed Liberal for Gore; Death Penalty Errors Tied to Bush; Willey's Letters

1) Ex-Clinton operative Cheryl Mills hosted Oxygen's forum with Al Gore. She promised that the women questioning Gore represented "a cross-section of...political ideology." In fact, 14 questions came from the left, two from the right. Also in the audience: Million Mom March's Donna Dees-Thomases.

2) The networks all jumped on a study which claimed the death penalty system is fraught with error. ABC and CBS tied it directly to George Bush, with CBS insisting Bush's run "has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope."

3) "Governor George W. Bush has presided over 131 executions and says he's confident that every one of those who went to their deaths was guilty, but an investigation published in the Chicago Tribune claims" otherwise, GMA highlighted as did NBC's Today.

4) Bryant Gumbel bemoaned to John McCain on campaign finance: "Doesn't the political system basically suggest that we will not see any kind of a measure before the elections in November?"

5) FNC's David Shuster disclosed that the White House released Kathleen Willey's letters because "they wanted public sentiment to restrict Kenneth Starr's investigation."

6) "The NBC cameraman who was in the house when Elian Gonzalez was seized by INS agents has now publicly denounced their account of the incident as a pack of lies," FNC's Brit Hume informed viewers.

7) The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash checked in with Al Gore's renters for the inside story on who they are and how Gore has treated them.

8) A victim's grandson assumed the killer had been executed, "until back in '93 when Dateline NBC done a story on it."

>>> Now online, the June 12 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "The Food Will Kill You, Too"; "Clinton's 'So-Called' Lies"; "'Ultraconservative' Bob Casey?"; "Communism vs. Commercialism"; | "Elian, Learn Ballet on the Farm!"; "Even Liberals See Pro-Gore Bias"; "We Want Clinton to Stay Kinky"; "Rushing to Hush Rush" and "Rosie: NRA Doesn't Love Kids." To read this issue, go to:
Click on the PDF icon to see the issue, as the printed version really appears, via Adobe Acrobat Reader. <<<


Al Gore had a friendly host for his Monday night "Women's Forum" on the Oxygen cable network simulcast on C-SPAN2 and played back later on C-SPAN: Cheryl Mills. The former Deputy White House counsel is now Senior Vice President of Oxygen, the women-oriented network partially-owned by Oprah Winfrey. She came out at the top of the show and promised that the women about to question Gore represented "a cross-section of race, age, privilege and political ideology."

In fact, 14 of the questions posed came from the left with just two queries from the right, a 7-to-1 ratio. Another four did not have a clear ideological angle.

When we last heard from Mills she was making a preposterous argument at an early May House Government Reform Committee hearing about missing White House e-mail. She scolded the committee members: "Nothing you discover today will feed one person, give shelter to someone who is homeless, educate one child, provide health care for one family, or justice to an African-American or Hispanic juvenile."

It's not clear how the Oxygen Women's Forum furthered any of those goals.

At the top of the 90-minute June 12 event, live from Trenton, New Jersey, which started a few minutes past 9pm ET, Mills came out and asserted that in the last two presidential elections women constituted 53 percent of those who voted and that a poll found a woman's interest in politics is shaped by her mother. Mills then delivered this rather convoluted message: "If our children are our messengers to the future, Oxygen wants all of our daughters to hear our questions tonight so that together we shape the world they will inherit tomorrow."

She added: "Our studio audience of 150 women from the Trenton community will be asking the questions of the Vice President. These women, all of whom are registered voters, are a cross-section of race, age, privilege and political ideology."

Al Gore ran out to the center ring surrounded by seats and gushed that it's "great to hear Cheryl give that beautiful statement at the beginning. I worked with Cheryl when she was in the White House counsel's office. I thought that was beautifully worded."

"Facilitators" Farai Chideya, a face you may recall from her liberal advocacy on CNN a few years ago, May Lee and Kent Manahan took questions from the supposedly diverse audience. Amongst questions from the left, Gore was asked about prescription coverage for Medicare, health coverage for the uninsured, what programs he would enact to help the disabled, how he would aid public schools, whether he would listen to those opposed to "government sanctioned killing" -- death penalty, not abortion. Chideya followed-up by pointing out the racial imbalance of capital punishment and asking if he would support "racial justice" legislation.

To audience applause, a woman demanded of Gore: "What steps will you take during your four years of office to assure the Supreme Court maintains a woman's right to choose?"

Another woman wanted to know what programs Gore would promote to "make college available to everyone and not a select few?" After telling Gore "you're a lot more handsomer in person," a woman complained that while 94 percent of black women vote Democratic, white women advance more through affirmative action. So, she sniffed, what would he do "to even the playing ground" for blacks and bring the wayward six percent over to the Democratic side?

Sense any diversity here? And I'm not done with the liberal whining. Gore was also pressed about what he would do about the impact of environmental toxins on how young people develop and AIDS in Africa. An 18-year-old hoped he supports more federal aid to fire departments (he does!). And an online questioner wanted to know why he backs trade with China but not Cuba.

Near the end of the show viewers learned of a surprise guest in the audience. A woman who participated in the Million Mom March wanted to know if Gore would back national gun licensing. Gore immediately pointed out how march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases was in the audience.

Recall how Mills promised the studio audience is made up "of 150 women from the Trenton community." Dees-Thomases lives in Short Hills, at least 30 miles from Trenton. Next door maybe if you live in Wyoming, but literally across the state by New Jersey geographical standards.

The two conservative questions which snuck through: An inquiry about how Bush's Social Security plan is any more risky than Gore's and May Lee challenged Gore about how China is going backward on human rights. The non-ideological queries dealt with issues such as reaching out to disaffected young people and balancing the government's need for online information with the public's right to privacy.

Mills popped out again at the end to ask Gore how politics in DC could be made "more collaborative" and less divisive. My answer to Mills would have been: When called before a House committee, answer the questions you're asked and don't go off on a racist rant about how the questions won't bring "justice to an African-American or Hispanic juvenile."

+++ On Tuesday, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post, on the MRC home page, a RealPlayer clip of Mills introducing the Oxygen forum with Gore.


Bush bashing angle exploited. Monday morning and evening the networks all jumped on the Columbia University study titled, "A Broken System," which claimed the fact that two-thirds of death penalty sentences are overturned on appeal proves capital punishment is fraught with error. ABC led with the report Monday night and like CBS followed up with a story on how under Governor Bush Texas leads the nation in executions and that there is supposedly concern an innocent man may be put to death next week. Bush's "run for the White House has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope," declared CBS's Bob McNamara.

On the June 12 NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers summarized the report and refrained from implicating the Bush campaign, though she wasn't so reticent on Today. See item #3 for more on the morning shows.

ABC's World News Tonight led with Jami Floyd's story on the study. After her piece, anchor Peter Jennings intoned:
"Of all the capital cases in the United States, five percent end in execution and seven states that permit the death penalty [map showing New Mexico, Kansas, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Hampshire] have had no executions since 1973. At the other end of the scale, Texas has killed more than 200 people and is the only state to have done that to so many. There have been 131 executions since George W. Bush became the Governor. There are several more on the schedule, one tonight, a couple more this week. And in ten days from now a man is scheduled to die. Critics in this case say his case is a classic example of a system that is flawed."

Mike von Fremd picked up the case of Gary Graham, the media cause of the day. Based on a single eyewitness account, he was sentenced to death for a 1981 killing in front of a Houston Safeway. A Northwestern University professor and six men wrongly sentenced to death, but now free, traveled to Houston to plead his case, von Fremd related. He showed a clip of Jennifer Thompson, a woman who wrongly identified her rapist, in tears, crying "I'm sorry."
Von Fremd conceded: "Even Graham's attorneys believe he belongs in jail. He pleaded guilty to ten robberies in which he shot two people."
Since Governor Ann Richards already granted Graham a stay seven years ago, Bush can't offer another stay, von Fremd explained in concluding his piece. But that raises the question of how much Bush can be held accountable for a process he cannot control.

Over on the June 12 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather summarized the Columbia study and then asserted: "Of 28 capital punishments states, Texas has carried out the most executions, 218. And as CBS's Bob McNamara reports, that number's about to rise."

McNamara ominously intoned: "Tonight, as another man is scheduled to go to his death, the system that made Texas the capital of capital punishment is under a thickening cloud of questions. In Houston today, six men innocently sent to death row and later freed, campaigned for the life of Gary Graham."

Without bothering to mention Graham's record of shooting people, as had ABC's von Fremd, McNamara relayed how Graham claimed innocence, how he was convicted by just one witness, and how his lawyer offered virtually no defense.

"Still," McNamara lamented, "Texas Governor Bush says the system is fair."
Bush: "I believe they've had full access to the courts and full access to have a fair trial, not only in the state system, but in the federal system."

McNamara reminded viewers that Bush recently gave Ricky McGinn a 30-day stay for DNA tests, "but the Governor's run for the White House has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope. Numerous investigations have found that some convictions were based on the testimony of jail house snitches, that some defense attorneys were found incompetent or they offered little defense for their client at all."

McNamara continued his effort to discredit Bush on capital punishment, raising the example of Pam Perillo, a woman on death row who came within two days of death before her sentence was overturned because of inadequate defense. Of course, that doesn't make her innocent.
Columbia University professor James Liebman, author of he study, insisted the system causes more errors than success before McNamara regretfully concluded: "While some anti-death penalty advocates believe the latest reports on flaws in the system are another nail in the coffin of capital punishment, in Texas support for the death penalty remains strong at 80 percent."


The anti-death penalty crusade started Monday morning with ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show running interview segments prompted by the Columbia University study and a Chicago Tribune story about executions during George Bush's tenure. NBC's Today featured a taped story which highlighted how Texas is "under special scrutiny these days" as a Tribune review of the "131 inmates executed by Governor George W. Bush" found "dozens of cases in which inmates were executed despite serious questions about the competence of their defense and the reliability of key testimony."

GMA devoted the entire 7am half hour after the news update to questions about the death penalty, observed MRC intern Joyce Garczynski. First, co-host Charles Gibson interviewed Columbia's James Liebman. Second, Clinton White House overnight guest and GMA fill-in co-host Nancy Snyderman took on Bush's record:
"Texas executes more convicted killers then any other state. Governor George W. Bush has presided over 131 executions and says he's confident that every one of those who went to their deaths was guilty, but an investigation published in the Chicago Tribune claims that incompetent defense attorneys and dubious testimony has in fact cast great doubt over many of those executions. In a moment we'll look at the case of a man on death row in Texas who says he's innocent but he still faces execution in ten days."

Snyderman's questions to Chicago Tribune reporter Ken Armstrong:
-- "131 cases of people who were executed in Texas. Some glaring, troubling, examples: 43 cases represented by an attorney who was later disbarred or suspended or had some kind of sanction, 29 cases where in fact a psychiatrist gave testimony about perhaps future violence and yet hadn't even examined the people they'd seen. Do you have examples that go with those statistics because on the surface they look quite startling?"
-- "How is it that in Texas someone would be unlucky enough to get two attorneys who would do less then an admirable job?"
-- After playing a soundbite of Bush's reaction, Snyderman pressed ahead: "Do you think innocent people have been put to death in Texas?"

She then turned to Gary Graham's attorney, Richard Burr: "One more troubling statistic from the Chicago Tribune, 40 cases of those who were executed in Texas involve defense attorneys who presented no evidence or only one witness during the sentencing phase. Ten days from now Governor Bush will have to decide whether to grant a reprieve to a man whose defense lawyer is under scrutiny. Gary Graham has been on death row now for 19 years, sentenced with no physical evidence no testimony other then one single eyewitness his lawyer even challenged to fail her."

Snyderman at least challenged him a bit: "Your client has had over 30 separate court proceedings. None of these proceedings has found any reason to get him off of death row. Why are you so convinced they have the wrong guy?"
And: "Your client was certainly not a model citizen during this time, he was on his own crime spree at that time. A 22 caliber gun was found on him. A 22 caliber gun was used in committing this murder. Proof that they in fact weren't the same weapon?"

Today co-host Matt Lauer set up the NBC show's June 12 piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "On Close Up this morning the death penalty. A new study out this morning says the nation's capital punishment system is seriously flawed. It's sure to add to the growing debate in this country about the death penalty."

Lisa Myers reviewed the major points in the Columbia University Law School study: "Amid growing concern about the fairness of the death penalty system the first comprehensive study of capital punishment ever. And the verdict is devastating. Titled, 'A Broken System,' the Columbia University study covers almost 4,500 cases over 23 years. And finds a system collapsing under the weight of its own mistakes. As a result only five percent of death sentences are ever carried out."

Myers soon tied it to Bush and Texas: "Under special scrutiny these days, Texas, which leads the nation in executions. Another report by the Chicago Tribune reviews 131 inmates executed by Governor George W. Bush. It finds dozens of cases in which inmates were executed despite serious questions about the competence of their defense and the reliability of key testimony: 43 included defense lawyers publicly sanctioned for misconduct, 23 relied on testimony from jailhouse informants, among the least credible of witnesses, 40 involved trials in which almost no defense was even presented."

Following a clip of the Tribune's Ken Armstrong, Myers continued: "Yet only once did Governor Bush have enough doubt about an inmate's guilt to commute a death sentence to life in prison. He recently stayed another execution to allow time for DNA testing. And even after this report Bush still insists the Texas system is fair."

Myers brought up the Graham case: "This issue may dog Bush the entire campaign. In ten days another Texas death row inmate is set to be executed. This man's lawyer did almost no investigation of his case. Failed to call a single defense witness and has repeatedly been reprimanded for professional misconduct. Now the inmate claims he's innocent and he's asking Bush for clemency."

The media will make sure the topic dogs Bush until November.


Another warm network reception for John McCain. He appeared in New York sitting beside Bryant Gumbel on Monday's Early Show on CBS. Gumbel assumed he was on the good side of campaign finance regulation and so failed to challenge him about the appropriateness of the new restrictions he backs.

MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down Gumbel's words from the June 12 show, beginning with Gumbel's disappointment over a defeat for a McCain pet bill:
"After seven years of inaction the Senate last week voted to tighten campaign finance disclosure laws. A move offset by the fact that the House defeated a similar measure less than 24 hours later. The Senate legislation was co-sponsored by John McCain. Senator, good morning."

Other softball questions:
-- "How disheartened are you by the House vote?"
-- "Doesn't the political system basically suggest that we will not see any kind of a measure before the elections in November?"
-- "All right, so if it doesn't happen before the election, is it realistic to think there would be any impetus, any motivation for it after November? I mean, it's been sitting for so many years now."
-- "The measure that was passed last weekend would have controlled 527s and made their disclosure necessary and their filing of taxes necessary. How much of a difference do you think it would have made?"
-- "Ironically, on the day of the Senate vote the DNC started running a new $25 million ad on behalf of Al Gore in thirteen different states. Anger you, disappoint you, surprise you?"
McCain: "Doesn't surprise, doesn't anger. The Vice President said he wouldn't be first so he contradicted himself."
Gumbel quickly came to Gore's defense: "In fairness to him, he said the Republicans had already started running their's. He said he wouldn't if they didn't, and he says they started in California."
McCain: "The following day the Republicans began. So now you're seeing $25, $50, a $100 million in these so-called soft money campaigns."
Gumbel: "Are they just as wrong?"

Gumbel moved on to McCain's role at the Republican convention and speculation about Bush's VP pick.


The White House released Kathleen Willey's letters in order to turn the public against her so Ken Starr would not pursue her charges as part of his investigation, viewers of FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume uniquely learned Monday night.

David Shuster explained what was revealed in interrogatories, obtained by and then released by Judicial Watch:
"Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey testified that he and other White House lawyers were trying to contain the ongoing criminal investigation focused on the Lewinsky scandal....Lindsey admitted consulting with the President about the release of these letters, but these documents are the first to state definitively that the White House was as interested in containing Starr's criminal investigation as actually stabilizing the President's political support in Congress."

Hume tried to get to the point: "What do we know today now that we didn't really know before."
Shuster replied: "Now we know exactly why the White House wanted to release these letters. We know for sure that it wasn't so much that they really wanted to damage Kathleen Willey, although that was part of it, what they wanted was, they wanted public sentiment to restrict Kenneth Starr's investigation."


On his Monday night, June 12, FNC show Brit Hume also uniquely relayed an update about the NBC cameraman inside the Elian Gonzalez house at the time of the raid:
"The NBC cameraman, who was in the house when Elian Gonzalez was seized by INS agents, has now publicly denounced their account of the incident as a pack of lies. The agents said last week that they neither cursed or struck anyone in conducting the Miami raid. But Tony Zumbado, a free-lance cameraman on the story for NBC, told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel he was knocked to the floor, kicked in the back and that the agents quote 'said every bad word in the book.'"

Naturally, there's not been a word on NBC News about this development.

To read the June 9 story which Hume cited, go to:,1136,32000000000111800,00.html

This link should work for another few days.

For an update from the June 12 edition of the newspaper, about how Zumbado will meet with the INS, go to:,1136,32000000000112863,00.html


The networks and major national papers didn't bother to send anyone to Carthage to check out what really happened between Al Gore and his tenants, but The Weekly Standard did. The magazine's Matt Labash learned that the Mayberry family make out their rent check directly to "Al Gore" and he discovered some less than flattering traits of the family, including how the mother first married at age 13 and while the father is on disability for heart failure he chain smokes. It's a pretty entertaining article about life in place where a front yard packed with old cars is the norm.

"Sanctimonious Slumlord" announced the headline over the cover story for the June 19 issue. The subhead: "Al Gore's treatment of his Tennessee tenants gives new meaning to 'compassionate liberalism'." In italics, the Weekly Standard set off this 1998 lecture from Gore: "There is a difference between talking about compassion and actually putting your highest ideals into practice."

A brief excerpt from Labash's piece:

Not that Gore was meddlesome. Though Tracy makes her checks out directly to "Al Gore," and while the Mayberrys' house sits only 150 yards or so from that of Carthage's Washington, D.C.-bred native son, Gore has been extremely hands off. So hands off, in fact, that when Tracy complained to Gore's property managers that the plaster was coming off the walls, the linoleum was peeling off the kitchen floor, the basin of the bathroom sink was a constipated sludge puddle, the guts of one toilet tank had to be held together with Sunbeam bread bag twisties, and both bathroom toilets overflowed -- when they flushed at all -- (making the whole house smell, in Charles's formulation, "like sheee-it"), the managers managed not to fix anything at all."

END Excerpt

To read the entirety of Labash's account, including how he aided in the pursuit of a cockroach inside the house, go to:

If you spend the $3.95 for a hard copy of the magazine you'll also get color photos of the family and the house.


I thought you were already dead! Interviewing the grandson of the man Gary Graham was convicted of murdering, CBS's Bryant Gumbel gained an embarrassing confession: Grandson Bobby Hanners believed Graham had been put to death years ago.

Here's the exchange caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd from the June 12 Early Show:

Gumbel: "You were only nine when your grandfather was killed. How much have you really studied this case over the past 19 years?"
Bobby Hanners, from Richmond, Kentucky: "For the longest time I thought he had already been executed, until back in '93 when Dateline NBC done a story on it. And I just gather information from Justice for All, Diane Clements, she keeps me informed and my grandmother."

Finally, something useful came from a Dateline story. -- Brent Baker

>>> Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert readers and subscribers:

>>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a blank e-mail to: mrccyberalert-subscribe
. Or, you can go to: Either way you will receive a confirmation message titled: "RESPONSE REQUIRED: Confirm your subscription to" After you reply, either by going to the listed Web page link or by simply hitting reply, you will receive a message confirming that you have been added to the MRC CyberAlert list. If you confirm by using the Web page link you will be given a chance to "register" with Topica. You DO NOT have to do this; at that point you are already subscribed to CyberAlert.
To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Send problems and comments to:

>>>You can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: Or, go to:<<<