Clinton as Internet Pioneer; Bush's Oil Ties; "Murder" of Gary Graham; Dennis Miller Raw
1) By using the Web to make an announcement, President Clinton cracked a great barrier "and now joins JFK, the first President to hold a televised press conference, and FDR, the first to use radio to chat with an entire country," gushed CBS's Lee Cowan.
2) Friday night, of the broadcast networks, only CBS felt compelled to relay the White House spin on how Robert Conrad "was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1989 by a man with ties to Republican Jesse Helms" and in 1996 Conrad contributed to Helms.
3) CBS dedicated a whole story to how "If oil prices are a sticky issue for anybody, it's Texas oilman-turned-Governor George W. Bush," but the network skipped over Gore's stock ownership of an oil company which pays him $20,000 a year.
5) Geraldo Rivera turned his CNBC show into a diatribe against the "obscenity" of how the death penalty is applied in Texas, wailing live from outside the prison: "Gary Graham is dead!....The worst has happened." Then he teared-up.
6) Newt Gingrich's new book will "be available through the Mein Kampf of the Month Club," joked new Monday Night Football commentator Dennis Miller back in 1994. Friday night he alerted HBO viewers: "Every time I say 'golly' I really mean *#%!"
FDR, JFK, and now in CBS's pantheon of pioneering Presidents, WJC, as in William Jefferson Clinton. Saturday night CBS News took President Clinton's announcement, via an Internet video-delivered speech, of a federal Web site, and turned it into an historic event. "Never before has a President addressed the nation using the Internet. This morning President Clinton cracked that barrier and now joins JFK...and FDR" in making a communications breakthrough, trumpeted Lee Cowan on the June 24 CBS Evening News.
Anchor Russ Mitchell
introduced the promotional piece:
"It's being billed as a presidential first."
Cowan reported how Clinton announced the creation of a new Web site which will consolidate the information provided through 20,000 existing federal sites. "If it works," gushed Cowan, "citizens will be able to track their Social Security benefits, apply for mortgages, for grants -- even find a car -- all in one user-friendly page."
What in the world the federal government is doing in finding cars for people, Cowan did not explain. To see Clinton make this tremendous unveiling of a site address Cowan didn't even mention, go to: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,209245-412,00.shtml
Oh, the address for the "historic" site: http://firstgov.gov
Friday night all the networks, fueled by Al Gore's release of his April 18 interview with federal investigator Robert Conrad, ran stories for the second night in a row on Conrad's recommendation that Gore be probed by a special prosecutor.
Of the broadcast
networks, however, only CBS relayed the Democratic spin machine effort to
discredit the revelation. John Roberts reported:
Roberts did go on to inform viewers of some developments CBS had skipped over when they occurred: "This is the fourth time investigators have recommended the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Gore. Three times Attorney General Janet Reno has turned down the request."
Picking up on a Democratic counterattack on George W. Bush over gas prices, Friday night the CBS Evening News devoted a whole story by Bill Whitaker to how "Democrats say, 'Hold on a minute.' If oil prices are a sticky issue for anybody, it's Texas oilman-turned-Governor George W. Bush, a self-proclaimed friend of the industry." But in highlighting how much more Bush has received from the oil industry than has Gore, CBS didn't bother to tell viewers about Gore's financial interest in an oil company. He "controls at least $500,000 worth of stock in Occidental Petroleum," arranged for the sale of valuable public land to the company and receives $20,000 in royalties each year from the firm, The Washington Times reported Friday morning.
Ending with a playful
play on words, Dan Rather set up the tilted June 23 story:
Whitaker noted how the
GOP has been attacking the Clinton team on the issue: "High gas
prices aren't just pushing frustration levels up. They've uncorked a
gusher of political accusation, too. From Capitol Hill to the campaign
trail, Republicans have been drilling the Clinton White House for sitting
idle while drivers fume."
Whitaker then switched
to the counterattack: "But Democrats say, 'Hold on a minute.' If oil
prices are a sticky issue for anybody, it's Texas oilman-turned-Governor
George W. Bush, a self-proclaimed friend of the industry."
An on-screen graphic showed how Bush has received $1.5 million compared to $100,000 for Gore.
"He started his business career in the Texas oil fields and keeps
tapping those reserves. Many of his top fundraisers and campaign officials
are tied to the industry."
Way back on March 6 ABC's World News Tonight devoted "A Closer Look" segment to taking on Gore from the left by relaying a complaint from far-left environmentalists about how they claimed that because Gore controls his father's estate, which includes $500,000 in Occidental Petroleum stock, he is not taking the side of Indians in Colombia who are fighting plans by the company to drill on their land.
And the morning of CBS's story the Washington Times provided a front page story on Gore's connection to Occidental. Reporter Bill Sammon also quoted Charles Lewis, though criticisms of Gore not Bush. Sammon highlighted what CBS News would not, writing in a June 23 piece:
Vice President Al Gore, who is trying to link George W. Bush to soaring gasoline prices by emphasizing the Texas Governor's ties to the oil industry, controls at least $500,000 worth of stock in Occidental Petroleum.
The stock came from Armand Hammer, an oilman with communist ties who served for decades as financial benefactor to Mr. Gore and his father, Sen. Albert Gore Sr. Mr. Hammer, who used to brag that he kept the elder Gore "in my back pocket," is believed to have helped recruit Soviet spies to infiltrate the U.S. government.
The Bush campaign said Thursday it is hypocritical for Mr. Gore -- who controls between $500,000 and $1 million of Occidental stock and is paid $20,000 a year by the firm -- to portray the Texas Governor as a tool of Big Oil....
Since becoming vice president, Mr. Gore has gone out of his way to help Occidental. From 1995 through 1997, he engineered the sale of an oil-rich expanse of publicly owned land -- known as the Elk Hills field in Bakersfield, Calif. -- to Occidental. Elk Hills had been zealously guarded since 1912 as a strategic resource by the Navy. In 1922, oilmen bribed President Harding's interior secretary for secret drilling leases, the subsequent exposure of which resulted in the Teapot Dome scandal.
Congress resisted privatization attempts by Presidents Nixon and Reagan, but relented when President Clinton pushed it through as one of Mr. Gore's "reinventing government" reforms.
The sale of Elk Hills to Occidental was a dramatic departure for an administration that has walled off huge expanses of private land for public preserves. "It was the largest privatization of federal property in U.S. history, one that tripled Occidental's U.S. oil reserves overnight," wrote Charles Lewis of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity in his book, "The Buying of the President 2000."
The Energy Department normally assesses the environmental impact of such a sale, but in this case, it allowed a private firm, ICF Kaiser International, to do the assessment. One of ICF's directors is Tony Coelho, who managed Mr. Gore's presidential campaign until stepping down this month.
"There is clear hypocrisy here because the company that Al Gore is closest to in the United States today is an oil company -- Occidental Petroleum," Mr. Lewis told The Washington Times yesterday. "Politically, in terms of things he's done for them and things they've done for him, they're two peas in a pod."....
Occidental's founder and chief executive officer, Mr. Hammer transformed Mr. Gore's father -- a financially struggling freshman Congressman from rural Tennessee in the 1930s -- into the millionaire CEO of an Occidental subsidiary who was paid $500,000 a year by the time he retired from the Senate in 1971. Mr. Hammer died in 1990 and the elder Gore died in 1998.
Mr. Hammer, who was classified in Soviet KGB files as an "agent of influence" for Moscow, also bestowed his largess on the younger Gore. For decades, Occidental has paid the Vice President $20,000 a year for mineral rights to zinc-rich land held by the Gore family in Carthage, Tenn. The firm continues to make the payments even though it has never mined the land. Occidental loaned $100,000 to the committee handling the Clinton-Gore inauguration.
And, according to a White House memo, Occidental gave $50,000 to the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign after being solicited by Mr. Gore from his White House office in a phone call he said was covered by "no controlling legal authority."....
Gary Graham was "murdered" by the State of Texas, NBC News reporter Norah O'Donnell insisted twice before she caught herself. A Freudian slip? Her other comments clearly betrayed how she disagrees with Bush's position on the death penalty.
During a special second
live edition of Hardball on CNBC at 11pm ET Thursday night, June 22, after
the execution of Gary Graham had occurred, O'Donnell warned:
O'Donnell went on to
argue, or was it a hope, that Bush will be hurt by the issue if he
"looks bloodthirsty." In another comment caught by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens, O'Donnell contended:
But that's not an outcome which pleased O'Donnell, who soon scolded Bush: "We talked about the culpability of Governor Bush. Does this continue to plague him? I think one of the things that certainly Sheila Jackson Lee brought up is the Governor has yet to acknowledge in any way that there is a failed or broken system. And there are numerous academic studies, by Columbia University that suggest many of these people on death row get very poor representation. People who are drunk. Lawyers who are drunk, who fall asleep. Who are later suspended or barred and the Governor has yet to acknowledge as did Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois, that this is a problem."
Geraldo Rivera turned his Thursday night Rivera Live show on CNBC into a one-hour diatribe against the "obscenity" of how the death penalty is applied in Texas, wailing live from outside the prison in Huntsville, Texas: "Gary Graham is dead! The witnesses are coming out. They are coming, walking out. The worst has happened." Graham's execution occurred about 45 minutes into Rivera's 8pm CT show, prompting him to wrap up the hour with tears in his eyes.
Near the top of the hour, Rivera complained, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "So you add to this emotional rollercoaster. To the obscenity of this process. This, yet another stay, his case now at the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals based in New Orleans. But it is extremely unlikely that they will grant him the relief that his attorneys are so desperately thinking."
He told guest Dan Lungren: "Let me ask Dan Lungren, the fine attorney, the former Attorney General of the great state of California. I know that you, general, like me have always been a supporter of the death penalty. But this process seems obscene sir."
Rivera did remind viewers of how Bill Clinton had presided over a controversial execution in 1992, an event the MRC's Media Reality Check on Friday showed was largely ignored by the networks at the time: "In 1992 a man running for the White House from the other party, William Jefferson Clinton, interrupted his campaign to return to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a person thought to be mentally retarded. Making the statement without saying it, that although I'm a Democrat I can be tough on crime. I believe that to suggest Josh, that there is no such thing as death penalty politics when we see judges and district attorneys cutting television commercials in which they brag of how many men they have sent the last mile is disingenuous and inaccurate."
Rivera later warned: "And if he is innocent than a terrible deed has been committed not by a criminal's hand but by the state of Texas."
And as the witnesses walked out, Rivera bitterly proclaimed: "They are coming out! The witnesses are coming out! I just saw Jesse Jackson, I just saw the Reverend Sharpton. It is obvious ladies and gentlemen Gary Graham is dead! Gary Graham is dead! The witnesses are coming out. They are coming, walking out. The worst has happened."
Rivera added: "This case will not help the proponents of the death penalty. I think there will be a bad taste in the belly of American public opinion. Polls already showing the lowest level of popular support for the ultimate punishment since 1981. I don't think however you cut this that this helps people who believe the death penalty is appropriate."
Near the end of the hour Rivera conceded Graham wasn't such a great guy, but pressed Barry Scheck, will worked to let OJ get away with murder, to denounce the execution: "The man who went kicking and screaming to his death but who, Barry Scheck, he may not be a very nice, may not have been a very nice fellow. Gary Graham was not a charismatic nor likable person. He had a hideous youth. He committed horribly violent crimes. He spent 19 years on death row. Now he is gone, you believe unjustly. Not as a lawyer, but as a man Barry."
Scheck declared: "I'm very troubled by this. It doesn't speak well for our system," because of the doubt about Graham's guilt which will lead to a "profound challenge to see whether this machinery of death can survive."
After Scheck finished his point CNBC went live to Rivera in Huntsville, who after a long pause turned to the camera and appeared to be tearing up. Kerry Max Cook, a former death row inmate, asserted that Graham was executed for being a 17-year-old juvenile criminal, and judged: "Tonight, all Americans lost."
An emotional Rivera appealed to Cook to rejoice in what living has meant: "Kerry, tell me about the baby growing in your wife's belly right now."
Rivera soon cut off Cook as the show ran out of time. With Rivera inset in small frame in the corner of the screen and the large frame showing the crowd, a tearful Rivera put two fingers to his lips in a peace sign and lamented: "Ladies and gentlemen it's been a long and troubling day. Thank you very much."
+++ Watch Geraldo Rivera show signs of tears on CNBC over the execution of serial criminal and murderer Gary Graham, who shot several others with the intention of killing them. Monday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the last few minutes of the June 22 Rivera Live. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
More Miller. As noted in the June 23 CyberAlert, comedian Dennis Miller was named by ABC to fill one of three broadcast booth spots on ABC's Monday Night Football this season. CyberAlert passed along some of Miller's past liberal rants. Here's some more if his invective, a collection of his angry comments on the GOP takeover of Congress, courtesy of MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson.
From the February 1995 edition of the MRC's now defunct newsletter, TV, etc.:
Gingrich continues to take his lumps from talk-show hosts, with Miller being the most vituperative by far. On his weekly HBO half-hour Dennis Miller Live he warmed up in November by calling the Speaker "a pain-in-the-ass demagogue." More recently, he's been nasty to the point of vendetta:
-- December 9, 1994 as Gingrich: "Once we get them to the orphanages, we see if they're sickly. If they are...we hold their little heads in our hands...and crush them like walnuts."
-- December 16, over a photo of Gingrich and Bob Dole standing beside a model of the Capitol dome: "What you can't see here is the sign on the back that says, 'Whites Only.'"
-- December 23: "[Gingrich's book] about his political vision for the future of America [will be] called The Philistine Prophecy... [It will] be available through the Mein Kampf of the Month Club."
-- December 30: "We're all free to [express our opinions], at least for the next couple days until Gingrich takes over and straps the ratcage to our collective face."
-- January 13, 1995: "This week, Gingrich admitted it was a dumb idea to suggest the government provide tax credits to poor people so they could buy laptop computers. Gingrich explained that what he meant to say was that poor people should be rounded up and exterminated."
Miller has also trashed the GOP more broadly. On December 16, he said, "The new Republican Congress has moved quickly to bring down homeless statistics. They passed legislation reclassifying dumpsters as mobile homes." On December 30, he defined a moderate Republican as "someone who refers to blacks as 'coloreds.'"
And what type of color commentary can we look forward to on Monday nights? On Friday's Dennis Miller Live at 11:30pm ET on HBO he alerted his audience as to what one word will really mean [Warning, this is an unedited joke featuring a vulgarity for a punchline]: "I've been working on my delivery since I learned I got the new gig and a little clue if you watch: Every time I say 'golly' I really mean 'fuck.'"
What a sophisticated addition to the ABC Sports broadcast team.
Final Notes: On a lighter side, a scheduled guest Monday night on the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS: Tom Brokaw.
And don't forget the two-hour ABC News special Monday night, Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus. It will air from 9 to 11pm ET/PT, 8 to 10pm CT/MT. Should be interesting to see how Jennings handles a topic he knows is sensitive and will be scrutinized. -- Brent Baker
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