indictment of former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros on Thursday
generated 18 seconds that night on ABC while CBS didn't get around to
it until Friday, then allocated a massive nine seconds to the
development on the same night the network CBS spent two minutes on how
El Nino is impacting butterflies. Only NBC bothered with a full report
in the evening. In the morning, Today gave it a few seconds, but
neither Good Morning America or This Morning mentioned Cisneros on
First, a look
at the December 11 evening shows:
World News Tonight. Here's the entirety of what Peter Jennings
took 18 seconds to tell viewers:
"In Washington today a federal grand jury indicted President
Clinton's former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros for lying and
obstructing justice during the FBI background investigation for his
confirmation. An independent counsel decided that Mr. Cisneros lied
about payments he made to his former mistress."
Evening News had no time for Cisneros. Dan Rather led with "a
whole new twist of the growing problem, and it is a problem, of aging
airliners" and how there also are "too many planes."
Naturally, deregulation and a lack of adequate regulation are the
Orr worried: "Passengers are likely unaware that one-third of the
5,400 commercial jets flying today in the US are past their designed
retirement age of 20 years. And there are no federal regulations in
place requiring extra inspections of wiring and fuel systems for those
Later, he asserted: "The whole issue of aging planes is
unchartered territory. Until deregulation in 1978 airplanes rarely
flew for more than twenty years. Now, many cost-conscience airlines
are flying jets far longer..."
Nightly News. The Cisneros indictment played as NBC's second
story. Tom Brokaw explained:
"One of the most prominent members of the original Clinton
cabinet, one of the best known Hispanic politicians in the country,
faces very serious charges. Henry Cisneros, the former Mayor of San
Antonio and former Secretary of Housing."
Williams provided the only full story of the night, outlining how
Cisneros was charged with purposely misleading the FBI about payments
to his mistress: "Prosecutors say the payments amounted to hush
money to buy the woman's silence and avoid further scandal."
Williams concluded by suggesting the outcome may not have been worth
the cost: "Today's charges were brought by an independent counsel
that had been called for by Attorney General Reno. Total cost of the
investigation so far: nearly $4 million dollars."
the CBS Evening News got around to the Cisneros news, but the
network's priorities showed that not all lying is equally newsworthy.
The top story on December 12: How the Justice Department is supposedly
pursuing evidence that cigarette company executives lied about
creating a high nicotine tobacco plant. Dan Rather set up the piece:
"Did executives lie to the government when they swore they never
manipulated their products to hook smokers?"
Later in the
show Rather spent 57 seconds to run down some political news about
Bill Lann Lee and Cisneros, as well as to mention Mike Espy's
indictment and the ongoing investigation of Bruce Babbitt. Note how
Rather portrayed Lee's opponents as people who are against fighting
discrimination suffered by women and minorities:
Clinton reportedly plans to appoint Bill Lann Lee to the government's
top civil rights enforcement post while Congress is in recess. That
would at least temporarily get around opponents who have so far
successfully blocked Lee's confirmation. Lee's opponents cite his
support for affirmative action, designed to fight discrimination
against women and minorities. Well this just the newest turmoil about
the Clinton team, especially focusing on cabinet members or former
cabinet members. Several are under investigation or indictment. Just
added to the indictment list: former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros
-- indicted about lying about secret payments to a former lover."
That was it:
nine seconds on Cisneros. But, a few minutes later, CBS devoted over
two minutes to another more compelling topic. As Rather poetically put
huge Pacific weather machine, whipping up the waves and winds, is also
giving a gentle lift to the tender wings of the Monarch butterfly.
CBS's John Blackstone has the story and pictures that will make you
flutter with delight."
noted in #1, Friday morning brought zilch on Cisneros on ABC or CBS.
NBC's Today, MRC news analyst Eric Darbe observed, gave the
indictments a few seconds during the 7 and 8am news updates.
during Good Morning America's "Week In Review" segment: Bill
Clinton's visit to New York, Hillary Clinton getting kicked out of a
club, Kyoto and Latrel Sprewell. MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen noticed
this illuminating exchange:
Gibson: "But that story gets ignored, that the President spends
so much time raising money, perfectly properly, but spends all his
time, spends a lot of time doing that and things like the dog and
things like Hillary Clinton in this stuffy club in New York get the
Dickerson, U. S. News and World Report: "Well, I think that has
to do with the dumbing down of news in general that I think is getting
a lot of talk in press coverage these days, that people, we're giving
people what they want and not what we should be giving them."
Henry Cisneros worth investigating? No way, what a waste of money. MRC
news analyst Clay Waters scanned through the MRC's directory of bias
we've transcribed and found a few old comments from Al Hunt and Bryant
Gumbel that look pretty silly now that an independent counsel managed
to convince a grand jury to indict Cisneros.
Al Hunt, on
the February 18, 1995 Capital Gang on CNN: "You ought to be real
careful about appointing a special counsel. It seems to me it's
ludicrous to talk about a special counsel with Henry Cisneros..."
Al Hunt, just
a few weeks ago, on the October 4 Capital Gang: "Janet Reno is
probably the most independent minded Attorney General since Edward
Levy. She has appointed outside counsels when it was not warranted --
in the case of Henry Cisneros."
And what trip
down memory lane would be complete without something from Bryant
Gumbel? From Gumbel's March 15, 1995 Today interview with Senator Ted
General Janet Reno has asked for an independent counsel to investigate
charges against HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Commerce Secretary Ron
Brown is being investigated. Questions have been raised about
Transportation Secretary Federico Pena. Agriculture Secretary Mike
Espy resigned under pressure, as did Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.
The Clinton White House seems to be having a hard time retaining
high-profile minorities particularly. Do you think, Senator, they are
being held to a higher standard in Washington than their white
you had any doubt about which side the networks will favor if
President Clinton makes a recess appointment of Bill Lann Lee they
should have been answered by Today's treatment of him on Friday.
Co-host Matt Lauer described a recess appointment as "a
solution" and failed to confront the nominee with the concerns of
Republicans in the Senate.
Instead of a
look at Lee's use of extortion while at the NAACP, euphemistically
called "consent decrees," and continued advocacy of policies
the Supreme Court has ruled impermissible, Lauer's questions painted
him as a victim of conservatives out to get Clinton. Here are all of
Lauer's questions from December 12 as transcribed by the MRC's Eric
take a look at your resume and you seem like a pretty good candidate
to be assistant attorney general for civil rights. But you've run into
a wall in Congress. And, as you know, the problem is that some
conservative Republicans think that your support of affirmative action
simply doesn't work for this job. How do you convince them that you're
the right guy for the job?"
some of these Republicans, Orrin Hatch among them, say look here's a
guy who is going to be in the middle of the civil rights policy in
this country and he has beliefs, on affirmative action, that fly in
the face of what we believe, the Republicans talking here. And that
also are in direct opposition to certain laws that have been passed in
this country. Are you being treated fairly here?"
an interesting situation here, it would be a little strange for the
Republicans to expect Bill Clinton to appoint or to nominate someone
for this job who is anti-affirmative action, after all the President
himself is in favor of affirmative action."
a solution here, all be it a temporary solution. The President could
make you what's called a recess nominee. Which he can give you the job
for a year, almost a trial run. And that way Republicans can say hey
he's pretty good at this and then vote on you, a year from now. Would
you accept the job under those conditions?"
your talking about Congress here, so in other words, you would take
the job, you'd consider taking job even though you'd know that you do
not have the support in Congress at this time?"
is talk behind the scenes, Mr. Lee, that the Republicans would be
willing to give you, almost any other job, but this one. Would you be
willing to walk away form this, and take another job?"
Luck to you, Bill Lann Lee, nice to meet you."
Friday the MRC distributed a fax report relaying analysis conducted by
Tim Lamer, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, of how the
networks covered the Kyoto conference. On Monday this will be posted
at the top of the MRC Web page, but here's an excerpt:
Kyoto Conference Coverage Ignored Climate Scientists Skeptical of
Global Warming Theories
Energy Crisis Without Debate?
commissioned by groups as diverse as Greenpeace and Citizens for a
Sound Economy show that most climate scientists are nowhere near a
consensus that human activity is causing a disastrous warming of the
planet. Yet climate scientists skeptical of global warming were
almost completely left out of the news this week as the delegates to
an international conference on climate change in Kyoto, Japan agreed
to drastic cuts in American energy use.
three major network evening news shows (ABC's World News Tonight,
CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News), there were 19 stories about
the conference from December 1 to 11. Only three included a
soundbite from a climate scientist unsure of global warming
theories. The rest simply assumed that science supports such
December 8 NBC Nightly News, for instance, Tom Brokaw told viewers:
"At the global warming talks in Japan today, almost unanimous
opinion that human beings, in fact, do influence the earth's
temperature, but there was agreement on little else." Peter
Jennings reported, on the December 10 World News Tonight, that
"negotiators from 160 countries struggled to the end for an
agreement to control man-made gases that many scientists say are
making the world dangerously warmer." The night before Jennings
had said "most scientists" warn of dangerous warming. And
on the December 1 CBS Evening News, correspondent Barry Petersen,
announced that "environmentalists see catastrophes of biblical
proportions, from droughts to melting ice caps that send sea levels
The lack of
any concern for accuracy extended last week to the morning shows,
especially ABC's Good Morning America. MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen
caught these liberal statements offered as news:
reader Kevin Newman on December 10: "Some strong indications this
morning from a climate conference in Kyoto, Japan that a breakthrough
is in the works on a treaty to cut greenhouse gases. Those are the
gases that an industrial society spew into the atmosphere that most
scientists believe are warming up the planet too quickly."
Carol Lin, December 11: "The agreement requires a reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions, a leading cause of global warming..."
this is total Barbra Streisand. A September survey commissioned by
Citizens for a Sound Economy found that most state and regional
climatologists don't agree with ABC's assertions. Asked "Do you
think historical data indicates that fluctuations in global
temperatures are attributable to human influences such as burning
fossil fuels?" just 25 percent agreed as 61 percent answered