CyberAlert -- 09/16/1997 -- Bashing Jesse; Emmy Sermon; CNN Defends Itself on Hearings

Bashing Jesse; Emmy Sermon; CNN Defends Itself on Hearings

  1. Sam Donaldson and James Warren issue some mean-spirited attacks on Jesse Helms, calling him a "dictator" and a "bigot."
  2. The Emmy Awards show highlighted some liberal TV show themes, including a Chicago Hope sermon for nationalized health care.
  3. CNN's Washington Bureau Chief insisted that no one "can fairly say that Cable News Network isn't covering these hearings."

1) ABC's Sam Donaldson and James Warren of the Chicago Tribune took some shots at Senator Jesse Helms over the weekend.

On Sunday's This Week Donaldson asserted:

Sam "I think Governor Weld has done this country a service in a sense, even though I think that he's been shot down in the ocean now, and that is by allowing the country to see Senator Helms in action. Over the years I've run into him two or three times at receptions here and he's the most gentlemanly, courtly, friendly, pleasant individual you would ever hope to meet. But, when you see him in action, you see beneath that courtliness beats the heart of a dictator and I think the country is appalled."

George Stephanopoulos then chimed in: "Or a terrorist. The President is really, I think made a mistake because he's been negotiating with a terrorist here..."

Later in the day on CNN's Capital Gang of September 14, Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren lashed out at conservative support for Helms:

"It was really a lovely example of dogmatism interpreted as a grand act of principle on the right by a rather bigoted, narrow-minded fellow."

"A dictator," a "terrorist" and "bigoted, narrow minded fellow." If uttered by a conservative about a liberal Donaldson and Warren would have declared the comments "mean-spirited" and "divisive."

2) During Sunday's Emmy Awards show on CBS a segment highlighted a left-wing diatribe from Chicago Hope that CyberAlert showcased when it first aired back in February.

Introducing a montage of television show clips, host Bryant Gumbel explained in reference to television programming:

"At its best, it has proven to be a remarkable force, detailing the challenges of modern society and exploring issues and ideas in a fashion no other medium can match."

Viewers then saw clips of TV shows and TV movies dealing with child abuse, abortion and children who don't eat enough. Plus, the Ellen coming out scene and scene dealing with gunshot victims from NBC's ER. In a scene from I believe ABC's The Practice an attorney in a courtroom announces:

"Three million people a year die from smoking, one person every ten seconds. In the short time I've been delivering my opening statement they took in another million dollars or so and fifty people died."

The montage concluded with the big liberal finale, this scene from Chicago Hope in which the hospital administrator testified before a Senate committee chaired by Ted Kennedy:

"Health care isn't a Republican or Democratic issue it's an American problem that needs a solution. And I am here to tell you that we need to disconnect profit from care. There should be no profit from the pain and misfortune of others. No profit from sick children. No profit from the dying. I will be here to make sure that you do not fail."

To read the full story about the scene and all that actor Ron Silver said in the February 17 show as he played a character named Tommy Wilmette, see the February 19 CyberAlert.

3) You read it here first. In Monday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz relayed in his "Media Notes" column:

"When former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour testified at the Senate fundraising hearings, CNN went live for most of the 4 1/2-hour session. Anchor Judy Woodruff assured viewers that when former Democratic Chairman Don Fowler and other top Democrats appeared before the panel, 'we will be carrying their testimony as well.'"

Kurtz reported that "Republicans are crying foul" because "when Fowler testified Tuesday, CNN broke away after an hour and 40 minutes. When former Democratic general counsel Joseph Sandler appeared Wednesday, there was no live coverage. (MSNBC, which also carried Barbour live, provided zero live coverage of Fowler and Sandler.)"

If this sounds familiar, it should. All this information was reported in he September 11 CyberAlert.

But Kurtz did add to the story by getting a defense from CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno. He told Kurtz: "We didn't say we were going to do equal time," adding: "We're going to take live as the news warrants. We had Fowler through the bulk of his testimony and where he made news....I don't think anybody can fairly say that Cable News Network isn't covering these hearings." (Ellipses as run by Kurtz.)

Sadly, compared to the other networks, Sesno is right. CNN's less than a minute prime time newscast updates are more than the zilch offered by the other network on many nights and their one hour and forty minutes of Fowler live was one hour and forty minutes more than provided by MSNBC.

-- Brent Baker