Pothead Sam; Video of Pardoned FALNers Making Bomb; Delete 2nd Amendment
Notes from the Sunday news and interview shows: Sam hesitantly admitted smoking marijuana, George Stephanopoulos filed his first pre-taped evening news political story and the entire Fox News Sunday team squeezed onto the set with a former Miss America.
-- Turning the tables on Sam Donaldson on This Week. After the ABC News star asked Bill Bradley if he ever smoked marijuana, Bradley conceded he had and then asked Donaldson: "Have you?" Donaldson replied: "I think a couple of times I've tried it. And I inhaled."
-- "George Stephanopoulos, ABC News, Washington." The weekend of the Republican straw vote in Iowa in August Clinton enabler/ABC News political analyst George Stephanopoulos delivered an on-scene live report for World News Tonight/Saturday. He's provided stories for Good Morning America and a week and a half ago the show allowed him to go solo in interviewing Bill Bradley. Now on Sunday night, September 19, Stephanopoulos took another step in his grooming by the network to be a news correspondent: He narrated a pre-taped news story. The subject: Pat Buchanan flirting with running for the Reform Party's presidential nomination.
-- Getting up
close to Miss America. Usually Fox News Sunday has one or two or sometimes
three panelists interview a guest with the make-up of the panel changing
in each guest segment. Yesterday's show opened with interviews with
Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch
about the FALN pardons. Host Tony Snow and panelist Mara Liasson of NPR
handled the interviewing duties.
The FBI made available to the media a blurry, black and white surveillance videotape from August 3, 1983 showing two of the Puerto Rican terrorists, released by President Clinton, making a bomb, thus contradicting the claim that none pardoned were directly tied to violence. FNC's Carl Cameron appeared briefly on last Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report to show it as Fox affiliate WFLD in Chicago was the first news outlet to obtain it. Both programs showed it again on Friday and Fox News Sunday played it too.
Though Tim Russert showed it Sunday during a Meet the Press interview with Congressman Dan Burton, Nightly News skipped it in a pardon-related story aired Friday night and did not play in on Saturday or Sunday night. ABC's This Week featured an interview segment with Congressmen Charles Rangel and Vito Fossella about the clemency and while Fossella and George Will mentioned the video, ABC did not let viewers see it then or on World News Tonight. CNN did not show it on Inside Politics on Thursday or Friday night. (The MRC will post it. See the end of this item.)
President Clinton's claim of executive privilege to deny congressional committees access to documents related to the pardon decision was showcased on the front pages of Friday's Washington Post and New York Times, but none of the broadcast networks mentioned it Thursday night. ABC and CBS skipped it again Friday night when NBC did run a full story on the controversy.
NBC's Lisa Myers began: "While eleven Puerto Rican terrorists celebrate their first days of freedom, the President now confronts a firestorm in Congress for refusing to turn over potentially embarrassing documents on how and why he freed them. Today, House Chairman Dan Burton prepares a subpoena, this time for Justice Department officials and documents. So far, the President has given Congress only letters to him urging the terrorists' release, claiming all else is covered by executive privilege."
After comments from Burton and Hatch, Myers observed: "Constitutional experts say that legally the President is on solid ground, but that claiming executive privilege on this issue is the political equivalent of taking the Fifth. They say it looks bad. Today, a White House spokesman dismisses it all as politics, saying Republicans prefer investigating the President to solving the nation's problems."
But after a clip of Joe Lockhart, Myers pointed out: "But this time, it's not just Republicans. Democrats are outraged, too. Even faithful allies say Clinton should turn over documents." Viewers then heard Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli demand: "I hope the committee will learn more about his motivation and the process so that it's never repeated."
Myers noted how "an NBC News poll finds 74 percent disapprove of the President's decision and another poll shows most believe he did it to help his wife's Senate campaign," before concluding: "That makes this one of the few issues that hurts both Clintons and helps Republicans, which means it won't end anytime soon."
The same night, FNC's Jim Angle showed the FBI video in his piece. Special Report with Brit Hume host Tony Snow set up his story by reporting that "Congressman Dan Burton plans to use the tape next week at a hearing about President Clinton's decision to offer clemency to the two alleged bomb builders and 14 other members of the FALN." Snow added: "Despite that damaging video, the White House insists that building a bomb isn't the same as using one."
surveillance video Angle explained: "The FBI shot this hidden video
of two Puerto Rican nationalists making bombs in a Chicago safe house 16
years ago, and now that grainy footage has become ammunition in a battle
between the White House and Congress over the President's grant of
clemency to these two and nine other Puerto Rican nationalists."
+++ See a still shot of the FBI video and a RealPlayer clip of Angle's story. Monday morning the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post a portion of the Friday FNC story. But don't count on seeing much. On a 26 inch TV you can barely tell it's two people at a table handling items on it, never mind on a mini RealPlayer size frame. After 10am ET, go to: http://www.mrc.org
Geraldo Rivera's defense of Clinton's pardon decision, in which he lashed out at "sanctimonious" Senators, disturbed NPR's Mara Liasson and Roll Call's Morton Kondracke, who realized the obvious: "This guy is a total shill for Bill Clinton."
Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC Hume set up a video clip
of Rivera at a dinner: "There is someone here who is backing the
President on this, and he is a colleague of ours from NBC. And he spoke at
a Hispanic gathering here in Washington, and let's listen to what he had
Actually, two Senators voted against the resolution.
Hume turned to the FNC panel for reaction. Kondracke exclaimed: "Wow. You know, this guy is a total shill for Bill Clinton, and will attack any enemy of Bill Clinton's, no matter what, no matter how transparently flimsy the grounds. I mean, it makes me speechless."
Liasson jumped in:
"There's another issue. I mean, he's an anchorperson, supposedly a
journalist, and there he is, a pretty partisan Puerto Rican there giving a
speech. I mean, that was what was stunning to me. I mean, I don't know if,
that was more impressive than the fact that he's supporting President
countered some of Rivera's claims: "I don't know where, Mort, maybe
you remember him, I don't know conservatives who are out there saying you
have to give a pardon to Jonathan Pollard, or ones who are even out there
saying that anti-abortion activists who have committed violent acts should
be given clemency. I don't know, maybe there are some conservatives who
have been involved in either of those things. I don't know of any."
Maybe, but it's nice to see some fellow journalists taking on the political activism of another.
CNN's Judy Woodruff suggested George W. Bush's reaction to the Ft. Worth shooting was invalidated by the news that the shooter was mentally ill and USA Today's featured news section columnist used his space Friday to say it's time to "gun down" the Second Amendment.
-- On Friday's Inside Politics Judy Woodruff asked Charles Zewe live in Ft. Worth: "Given the statements that have been made about the possible mental instability on the part of the perpetrator here, is Governor Bush still talking in terms of a wave of evil across the country, or has his office said anything more?"
-- Under the headline "It's Time to Gun Down the 2nd Amendment," in his September 17 column across page 14A of the news section of USA Today, Walter Shapiro argued that failing to delete gun rights from the Constitution "condemns all of us to spend our lives cringing in terror every time we hear a car backfire." The former Time magazine writer and speechwriter for President Carter wrote:
....At a time when the House has failed to pass even a paltry measure for child-safety locks and background checks at gun shows, it is tempting to join the chorus demonizing the National Rifle Association. But the real problem transcends the legislative machinations of the NRA. With more than 200 million guns in American homes (that's more than two lethal weapons for every presidential voter in 1996), well-intentioned laws attempting to regulate the domestic arms trade are legislative minimalism.
Stymied on Capitol Hill, a grass-roots movement to pressure Congress is gaining momentum. Organizers of a "Million Mom March" hope to send that many women to Washington next Mother's Day to lobby for handgun registration and more zealous background checks for weapons purchases. But if these crusaders want to move beyond feel-good nostrums, they should wave banners that declare, "Repeal the Second Amendment." What? You can't mess with the Bill of Rights. Weren't the first 10 amendments to our sacred Constitution handed down by the Founding Fathers from Mount Sinai?
Let's face facts. America will continue to have its own versions of the killing fields as long as there are millions of handguns floating around waiting for another psychopath with a grudge. As Bradley said in a thoughtful speech on gun violence in June, "There is no doubt in my mind that the Second Amendment confers rights on individuals to own guns."....
That's the dilemma facing the anti-gun forces. As long as the Second Amendment is enshrined in the Constitution, anti-gun efforts will be limited to the margins. Even though 46% of the public favors banning the sale of handguns in a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, such a sweeping measure wouldn't pass constitutional muster....
But those of us sickened by the never-ending stories of gun massacres have no choice but to bite the bullet on amending the Constitution. Otherwise, every token effort to strengthen gun laws will face the persuasive argument that violence will not really be curbed.
Ever since the demise of the Equal Rights Amendment, liberals have been panicked at the thought of amending the Constitution. Conservatives are the ones who force the biennial congressional votes on outlawing flag-burning and mandating a balanced budget in the Constitution. Repealing the Second Amendment is no cause for the faint-hearted, but it remains the only way for liberals to trigger an honest debate on the future of our bullet-plagued society.
So what if anti-gun advocates have to devote the next 15 or 20 years to the struggle? The cause is worth the political pain. Failing to take bold action condemns all of us to spend our lives cringing in terror every time we hear a car backfire.
To read the entire column, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/elect/ew/ew355.htm
-- Brent Baker
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