Bush "Knew" of Impending Attack?; Embargo Dashes Hope of Cubans; Lockhart & Gore as Fundraising Ethics Authorities; Walters Not Upset by Photo Use; Hollywood Hobby: Stripping in Front of Kids
1) CBS first reported that the CIA Director had warned President Bush "that an attack by Osama bin Laden could involve the hijacking of U.S. aircraft." But while CBS's David Martin put his scoop into the context of intelligence failures, lamenting how that was "as close as U.S. intelligence came to alerting the President to an airliner attack," hours later CNN's Judy Woodruff turned it into a definitive statement about how "President Bush knew that al Qaeda was planning to hijack a U.S. airliner."
2) The U.S. embargo crushes the hopes of Cubans whom Jimmy Carter inspired, CBS's Jim Axelrod implied. "No one in Havana's fruit market is demanding free elections," NBC's Andrea Mitchell contended as she insisted that Cubans are "more interested in Carter's call to end the 40-year-old trade embargo." As if it is the fault of the U.S., she showcased the plight of a man struggling to keep a '56 Chevy going.
3) Instead of deciding that Joe Lockhart and Al Gore have no standing to criticize the fundraising of others given the Clinton administration's abuse of the White House and solicitation of illegal foreign donations, on Wednesday morning ABC ran soundbites from both and NBC quoted Gore before citing the retort offered by Ari Fleischer.
4) Barbara Walters is befuddled by the big deal being made by the media of Republicans using a 9/11 photo of Bush in a fundraising letter. On The View she wondered: "What is so terrible about seeing him in a serious moment?"
5) A fun hobby for mommies in Hollywood: Going to a friend's house to use her pole to practice stripping. On the Late Show, actress Allison Janney, who plays the Press Secretary on The West Wing, recounted how the wife of co-star Richard Schiff likes to practice stripping and is so into it that she bought herself a pole and she invites her friends to join her. While their kids watch.
>>> "Bye-Bye to Biased Bryant's Liberal Preaching: Outgoing CBS Morning Host Once Claimed: 'In Terms of My Political Views, I Hold Them in Check.'" A new MRC Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes, which recites about a dozen examples of Bryant Gumbel's most biased comments from his two-and-a-half years co-hosting The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page. Thanks to the MRC's Mez Djouadi, it also features RealPlayer video clips for seven of the quotes. Friday is Gumbel's last day at CBS News.
At 6:30pm EDT on Wednesday CBS News first reported that the CIA Director "warned" President Bush "in the weeks before 9/11 that an attack by Osama bin Laden could involve the hijacking of U.S. aircraft." Putting the story into the context of how the intelligence community failed to pursue strong hints of an attack before they happened, David Martin lamented: "That apparently is as close as U.S. intelligence came to alerting the President to an airliner attack."
But three-and-a-half hours later, after the AP put out a story with confirmation from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, CNN's Judy Woodruff turned the disclosure from symbolic of how little U.S. officials knew into a definitive statement about how "President Bush knew that al Qaeda was planning to hijack a U.S. airliner."
MSNBC's Brian Williams provided a much more carefully worded summary at the top of the 11pm EDT feed of The News with Brian Williams. He announced: "Tonight the White House is confirming a report that the CIA Director told President Bush, before September 11th, that there was a chance that someone connected to Osama bin Laden might hijack a U.S. airliner."
ABC and NBC led Wednesday night with pieces based upon a New York Times story about how "the classified memorandum written by an FBI agent in Phoenix last summer urging bureau headquarters to investigate Middle Eastern men enrolled in American flight schools also cited Osama bin Laden by name and suggested that his followers could use the schools to train for terror operations," but that the lead was not pursued.
The CBS Evening News delivered the same story, but only after starting with a unique bit of information, which Dan Rather teased at the top of his May 15 show: "A pre-9/11 terror warning for President Bush. U.S. intelligence alerted the President that bin Laden might be planning an aircraft hijacking attack. And then there's the matter of what the FBI knew."
As you'll see below, Rather delivered some hyperbole in describing a "hijacking attack" since no one had any idea about using airplanes as bombs.
Over video of Bush and CIA Director George Tenet walking atop the CIA logo in the lobby of a CIA building, David Martin explained: "The President's daily intelligence brief, delivered each morning by the Director of Central Intelligence, warned in the weeks before 9/11 that an attack by Osama bin Laden could involve the hijacking of U.S. aircraft."
With himself on camera, Martin continued: "That apparently is as close as U.S. intelligence came to alerting the President to an airliner attack. Next month Congress begins hearings into whether the $30 billion this country spends each year in intelligence should have produced a more specific warning."
Martin then proceeded to run through examples of the missed evidence.
Leading CNN's NewsNight at 10pm EDT, substitute anchor Judy Woodruff declared: "We begin with the news from the White House that President Bush knew that al Qaeda was planning to hijack a U.S. airliner and he knew it before September the 11th."
From the White House, John King clarified her oversimplification: "We want to be very careful in how we say this because of the potential sensitivities, but the White House is disclosing for the first time tonight that the President was warned in his intelligence reports last summer about the possibility that al Qaeda might try to hijack a U.S.-based airliner.
CNN's reporting followed an AP dispatch from Ron Fournier posted at 9:19pm EDT on Yahoo! News, but probably distributed a bit earlier to AP clients. Under the headline of "Bush Was Warned of Hijacking Plot," it began:
In the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush was told by U.S. intelligence that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack American airplanes, prompting the administration to issue a private warning to federal agencies, the White House acknowledged Wednesday night.
But officials said the President and his advisers had no way of knowing that suicide hijackers would use the planes as missiles, as they did against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"There has been long-standing speculation, shared with the President, about the potential of hijackings in the traditional sense," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "We had general threats involving Osama bin Laden around the world and including in the United States."
He said the administration, acting on the information received last summer, notified the "appropriate agencies" that hijackings "in the traditional sense" were possible. The warning was never made public, he said.
The development, first reported by CBS News, comes as congressional investigators intensify their study of whether the government failed to adequately respond to warnings of a suicide
END of Excerpt
If only the U.S. would end its trade embargo, the Cuban people could prosper.
"The day after Jimmy Carter's speech, no one in Havana's fruit market is demanding free elections," NBC's Andrea Mitchell contended Wednesday night as she insisted the night after former President Carter delivered a speech to the Cuban people that Cubans are "more interested in Carter's call to end the 40-year-old trade embargo."
She showcased the plight of a man who struggles (for two hours a day!) to keep a '56 Chevy going, as if his problem is caused by the U.S. embargo when, in fact, nothing but communism-caused impoverishment is preventing Cubans from buying cars from any other nation in the world. Mitchell concluded that to Cubans "economic change is more urgent than political freedom."
The NBC Nightly News followed Mitchell's piece with a story from Campbell Brown about how political fear of Cubans in Florida is the only reason the embargo is maintained.
Similarly, after playing a soundbite of Ari Fleischer saying the Bush administration still favors the embargo, CBS's Jim Axelrod concluded his CBS Evening News story by suggesting the White House position will snuff out the "hope" unleashed by Carter. Over video of Jimmy Carter tossing a baseball to Fidel Castro, Axelrod argued: "Clearly, Mr. Carter's speech has left hope hanging over Havana. But strong feelings from the White House should put all the new pitches in perspective."
Tom Brokaw set up the May 15 NBC Nightly News coverage, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by equating the reactions by Castro and Bush to Carter.
Mitchell began: "The day after Jimmy Carter's speech, no one in Havana's fruit market is demanding free elections. Carter told Cubans they have the right to change the Castro government."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, reporter Steve Osunsami in Havana suggested a reason why Cubans may be more willing to criticize the U.S. than Castro's regime: "On the streets of Havana today Mr. Carter's speech was what everyone talked about."
ABC and NBC had no shame Wednesday morning about letting Democrats with no shame denounce the GOP use in a fundraising letter of a September 11th photo of President Bush talking on the phone while aboard Air Force One.
Instead of deciding that Joe Lockhart and Al Gore have no standing to criticize the fundraising of others given the Clinton administration's abuse of the White House for coffees and bedroom sleep overs, to say nothing of accepting illegal foreign donations as Al Gore did from Buddhist monks, ABC ran soundbites from both and NBC quoted Gore before citing the retort offered by Ari Fleischer.
On ABC's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, news reader Don Dahler announced during the 7am news: "President Bush raised more money for Republicans last night than any party has ever raised in a single evening, more than $30 million. Even as he raised the money, he was under fire from Democrats for one way GOP money is being raised. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."
An hour later on May 15, at 8am, Dahler asserted: "Well, it was quite a night for the Republicans. President Bush appeared at a fundraiser that raised more money in a single night than ever before: $30 million. At the same time, the GOP's use of a presidential photo from September 11th for fundraising has forced the White House to defend itself against criticism from Democrats."
Over on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, news reader Ann Curry stated: "President Bush headlined a black-tie fundraiser for the Republican National Committee last night raising a single night record $30 million. Meantime the White House is defending itself over the Republican use of this photo of the President aboard Air Force One on September 11th to reward donors who respond to a fundraising solicitation. Former presidential candidate Al Gore called the fundraising photo, quote, 'Disgraceful,' and said that the Republicans should not capitalize on that tragic day. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the photo just shows the President doing his job."
For how the networks covered this media-fueled "controversy" on Tuesday night:
Her network may be making a big deal out of the 9/11 Bush photo used in a GOP fundraising letter, but Barbara Walters wondered: "What is so terrible about seeing him in a serious moment?"
On Wednesday's The View, the ABC daytime show Walters oversees, she weighed in on the matter:
She's a lot clearer when reading off a prepared script.
A fun hobby for mommies in Hollywood: Going to a friend's house to use her pole to practice stripping. Actress Allison Janney's appearance Tuesday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman provided one more bit of evidence that Hollywood definitely has different values than the rest of America.
Janney, who plays White House Press Secretary "C.J. Cregg," recounted how the wife of co-star Richard Schiff, who plays "Toby Ziegler," likes to practice stripping and is so into it that she bought herself strip club pole on which to practice. And she invites her friends to join her. While their kids watch.
Janney informed Letterman: "So it was me and a bunch of women who were like, you know, mothers and housewives, and we would be in there, she made us go up to Hollywood Boulevard and buy the big, you know, stripping shoes and the hot pants and we're in their backyard, you know in their back office you know stripping and these mothers would bring their kids and they would come up to the window and they would be like, 'mommy, why are you dressed like that?'"
Not quite Norman Rockwell's America.
To see a picture of Janney (head shot only): http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/bios/Allison_Janney.html 
MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down Janney's first-hand account of her stripping hobby as she recounted it on the May 14 Late Show with David Letterman.
Letterman: "Now, tell me about this hobby. Do I have this correct, that there is something that you do in your free time, and I have not heard of this before."
If you ever wondered why Hollywood stars so loved Bill Clinton and why he was so enthralled with them....
[Web Update: Actess Sheila Kelley, best known as "Gwen" on L.A. Law, has a Web page devoted to her in-home stripping classes: http://www.sheilakelley.com/stripping_home.htm ]
> You may have heard Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday quoting from CNN reporter Kate Snow's effusive praise for Cuba's health care system in which "everyone has access" and "the concept of paying is completely foreign." His source was item #1 in the May 14 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020514.asp#1  -- Brent Baker