Pro-Palestinian March Covered, Pro-Israel One Skipped; WashPost Reporter Rebuked for Criticizing Gore; Contrasting Headlines for Same AP Story; Another Begala Cheap Shot at Bush; SNL Mocked Alec Baldwin's Threat to Leave if Bush Won
1) A pro-Palestinian protest in Washington, DC on Saturday, which CBS News pegged at drawing "upwards of 20,000," generated full stories on ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, but ABC ignored and CBS only gave a few seconds six days earlier to a pro-Israel rally which drew over 42,000. CBS's Joie Chen highlighted how "a contingent of Hasidic Jews led one pro-Palestinian group."
3) Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly was reprimanded by her bosses for criticizing an Al Gore speech for being inappropriate during the war on terrorism. Ombudsman Michel Getler said her comment was "not appropriate, and she has been reminded by a top editor that commentary by reporters is against Post policy." But was she chastised for complaining, after President Bush's State of the Union address, about how "missing" from it were "the uninsured, the homeless, many elderly who are hurting out there"?
4) The Washington Post and Washington Times on Saturday ran the same AP story about how the Catholic Church deals with priests who abuse kids, but judging by their headlines you'd think they were very different stories.
5) Last week on CNN's Crossfire Paul Begala took another cheap shot at President Bush as he claimed Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has a "more legitimate" hold on his office than does Bush who "didn't win anything more than a five to four vote on a Supreme Court that his daddy helped pick."
6) A month after devoting a special two-hour Prime Time Thursday to Rosie O'Donnell's effort to overturn a Florida law which bars gay and lesbian couples from adopting, Diane Sawyer gave more air time to promoting O'Donnell's cause as she boasted about how the ABC program convinced some former legislators that they were wrong.
A pro-Palestinian protest in Washington, DC on Saturday which grew out of a long-planned rally against the IMF and World Bank, a gathering which CBS News pegged at drawing "upwards of 20,000," generated full stories on ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, but ABC ignored and CBS only gave a few seconds six days earlier to a hastily-arranged pro-Israel rally which drew over 42,000 to Washington, DC.
(Due to NBA basketball, NBC did not produce NBC Nightly News on Saturday but, like CBS, NBC ran a short item on Monday night about the pro-Israel rally.)
On April 15, ABC anchor Peter Jennings skipped the pro-Israel rally in the U.S. but found time to highlight another protest, an anti-Israel, anti-U.S. one: "In Lebanon today, thousands of people demonstrated against Israel's campaign against the Palestinians. And also against U.S. support for Israel."
Over on the CBS Evening News that Monday night, Dan Rather squeezed in a short item on the pro-Israel event: "American Jewish groups organized a big pro-Israel rally today in Washington. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke to the thousands on Capitol Hill, as did former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who again equated Israel's campaign against Palestinian militants with the U.S. war on terrorism."
The rally took place on the West Lawn of the Capitol building. Tuesday's Washington Post reported that the area's capacity was exceeded: "When the lawn area reached capacity, which law enforcement officers said was 42,000, they refused to allow more people to gather there, angering some."
After ignoring that gathering on Monday night, Saturday's World News Tonight devoted 1:40 to the left-wing protesters, stressing the pro-Palestinian cause. John Cochran began his April 20 story: "Today, tens of thousands of protesters came not just to demonstrate against the financial summit, but many other issues as well, including the war on terrorism, racism and especially the Mideast."
Cochran went on to show an argument between a man who was pro-Israel and one who was anti-Israel and talked about how police were pleased by the lack of violence, but he showed no other soundbites from anyone pushing any other cause. So, the pro-Palestinian aspect of the march is what ABC focused on after having ignored the pro-Israel event.
The April 20 CBS Evening News allocated exactly two minutes to the protesters in Washington, DC, with most of that time devoted to the pro-Palestinian cause. Anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the story: "A day of huge protests in Washington, DC is coming to an end with no signs of violence or major incidents. Protests tied to meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank did bring a surprise: A big show of support for Palestinians with many Israeli groups staying home."
Joie Chen, fresh from CNN, handled the story: "They carried their messages down Pennsylvania Avenue, towards the Capitol. It was billed as a day of protest on many issues. As the crowds massed, the Palestinian cause sparked the most passion with demands for an end to Israeli occupation."
How Yasser Arafat directs and controls terrorism given air time by NBC. Friday's NBC Nightly News, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, devoted an entire story to the documents Israel found at Arafat's Ramallah compound which prove he signed-off on funding terrorist operations.
Anchor Tom Brokaw set up the April 19 story: "In depth tonight, an NBC News investigation. Funding terrorism. One result of Israel's military action in the West Bank these past weeks, a mother load of documents that Israel claims tie Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat to the suicide bombings. NBC's Martin Fletcher has studied those documents for himself."
Fletcher explained: "After a fierce firefight two weeks ago at Yasser Arafat's headquarters, Israelis weren't only hunting for terrorists but for information. They found two truckloads of documents, an intelligence bonanza. One goal, to prove Yasser Arafat funded terrorism. NBC News spent hours pouring over the documents and followed a money trail, a trail the Israelis say leads from Arafat's signature to mass murder at a Bat Mitzvah hall. To Israeli Army Colonel Miri Eisin, the papers are a smoking gun."
Does the Washington Post only reprimand its reporters when they offer negative commentary about the speeches of liberals, such as Al Gore, but not when they decry the conservative perspective espoused by President Bush?
(Actually, Getler missed one of Connolly's words as she really said on the April 14 Fox News Sunday that "it just doesn't quite seem appropriate right now." She also began her comment by wishing Gore had delivered the speech during the campaign: "If it were October of 2000, that would be a great speech. Solid, substantive...")
Back on February 3 on the same program, Connolly had criticized President Bush's State of the Union address for not being liberal enough: She rued: "A couple of interesting things missing from that speech. No mention of Osama bin Laden. Remember him? 'Dead or alive'? No mention of Enron and no mention of, I would say, lesser groups in this society, whether you're talking about the uninsured, the homeless, many elderly who are hurting out there."
Five days earlier, during the Fox broadcast network's post-speech coverage, Connolly packed five liberal agenda issues into one sentence: "I have to say that part of what also struck me, aside from how frightening much in this speech was, were the things that were missing. Very little with respect to minorities, the uninsured, the homeless, the elderly, Enron workers who have lost their life savings."
One doubts that after she expressed that sentiment she was "reminded" by Washington Post editors about their rule against commentary by reporters.
And if the newspaper has such a rule, then why are reporters like Connolly appearing on commentary panels?
Same identical story by the same reporter published the same day, but two contrasting headlines for it.
The April 20 Washington Times headline over an AP article by Richard Ostling: "Canon Law Lends Insight to Church in Sex Scandal." The subhead: "Stresses Rehabilitation of Priests."
The Washington Post the same day over the same Ostling story:
Displaying how bitter and petty he remains about the 2000 election, last week on CNN's Crossfire Paul Begala took another cheap shot at President Bush as he claimed Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has a "more legitimate" hold on his office than does Bush who "didn't win anything more than a five to four vote on a Supreme Court that his daddy helped pick."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught this exchange during an April 18 Crossfire segment on Bush's response to the one day coup overthrowing Hugo Chavez in Venezuela:
Begala: "Congressman Davis, let me ask you about this. First, just first things first. Who has a more legitimate claim to the office they hold, Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, who won an election, or George W. Bush in America?"
Speaking of clowns.
A month after devoting a special two-hour Prime Time Thursday to the personal and political agenda of liberal activist/actress/TV talk show host Rosie O'Donnell so she could press her cause to overturn a Florida law which bars gay and lesbian couples from adopting kids, ABC gave her another hour on April 18 to promote her new book.
As part of the new show, Diane Sawyer gave more air time to promoting O'Donnell's gay adoption cause as she boasted about how ABC's program had convinced some to change their position: "Her example struck a chord. These former Florida state legislatures all voted in 1977 to ban gay adoption. But since our broadcast, they've signed a statement pushing to have the ban overturned and replaced with a system which would approve adoptions case by case."
(For more about the March 14 broadcast, which ABC fawningly titled, "Rosie's Story: For the Sake of the Children," go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020315.asp#1 )
On Thursday night, April 18, Sawyer recalled, as observed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "It was in support of the Loftons that Rosie O'Donnell went public with her own story."
A skit on NBC's Saturday Night Live had Al Gore mocking actor Alec Baldwin, who hosted the show, for saying he'd move out of the country if George W. Bush won the presidency. Baldwin denied he had ever said that, but...
After the opening skit, which made fun of the cable news obsession with the Robert Blake case, Baldwin came on stage to welcome viewers as do all guest hosts. As he began his remarks, "Al Gore," played by Darrell Hammond, walked on stage, leading to this exchange:
Baldwin: "What are you doing here Al? Is there some kind of a problem?"
Okay, not the show's funniest moment, but a sign of how Baldwin's left-wing zaniness is even fodder for a comedy show staffed by New Yorkers who probably mostly share his political outlook.
Of course, Baldwin really did imply what he is now denying. Back in September of 2000 FNC showed a clip of Baldwin parsing his words: "I think my exact comment was that if Bush won it would be a good time to leave the United States. I'm not necessarily going to leave the United States." For details, see the April 16
And, in fact, Al Gore did say he invented the Internet. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer shown on the March 9, 1999 Late Edition/Prime Time, Gore contended: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." For details and a RealPlayer video clip: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1999/cyb19990312.asp#6 
A big technology day at the MRC today: New e-mail delivery service and new Web site launch.
We've moved CyberAlert from the free Topica Exchange service to Topica's paid E-Mail Publisher service in order to avoid the two ads per e-mail which Topica planned to start inserting today in all messages sent via Topica Exchange.
I believe the transition went smoothly and so everyone who had been getting CyberAlert still should be getting CyberAlert. However, since Friday night no one has been able to subscribe and unsubscribing did not work from Friday night through Saturday night. Those functions do now work, but you must use a new subscribe address. See the new addresses below. Topica also adds a "one click" account update link you can use to unsubscribe. See that link at the very bottom of this e-mail.
The upgraded Topica E-Mail Publisher system provides several new features we may at some point try out, but for now I'm just trying to make sure it delivers the same product in the same way.
If you see any problems with this e-mail, let us know: email@example.com 
At some point today the MRC will also launch our new Web site design. Thanks to all of you who offered comments about it last week. I know that most liked it, but some did point out functionality problems and offered other critiques. The MRC Web team of Eric Pairel, Mez Djouadi and David Bozell addressed many of the issues raised. Of course, they continue to welcome your comments. Let them know what you think after you see the final version of the new site: firstname.lastname@example.org 
As part of the new site design, the MRC's Web page addressing structure has been changed. Links in CyberAlerts posted online have been updated, but this means that links to MRC documents in past CyberAlerts often will no longer work. I think it's a simple change, but since I'm not 100 percent sure that I correctly recall the new addressing system, I'll refrain from passing along possibly incorrect information about how to edit old links so that they work. -- Brent Baker