Oxygen Breathed Liberal for Gore; Death Penalty Errors Tied to Bush; Willey's Letters
1) Ex-Clinton operative Cheryl Mills hosted Oxygen's forum with Al Gore. She promised that the women questioning Gore represented "a cross-section of...political ideology." In fact, 14 questions came from the left, two from the right. Also in the audience: Million Mom March's Donna Dees-Thomases.
2) The networks all jumped on a study which claimed the death penalty system is fraught with error. ABC and CBS tied it directly to George Bush, with CBS insisting Bush's run "has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope."
3) "Governor George W. Bush has presided over 131 executions and says he's confident that every one of those who went to their deaths was guilty, but an investigation published in the Chicago Tribune claims" otherwise, GMA highlighted as did NBC's Today.
>>> Now online, the June 12 edition of
Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings:
"The Food Will Kill You, Too"; "Clinton's 'So-Called'
Lies"; "'Ultraconservative' Bob Casey?"; "Communism
vs. Commercialism"; | "Elian, Learn Ballet on the Farm!";
"Even Liberals See Pro-Gore Bias"; "We Want Clinton to Stay
Kinky"; "Rushing to Hush Rush" and "Rosie: NRA Doesn't
Love Kids." To read this issue, go to:
Al Gore had a friendly host for his Monday night "Women's Forum" on the Oxygen cable network simulcast on C-SPAN2 and played back later on C-SPAN: Cheryl Mills. The former Deputy White House counsel is now Senior Vice President of Oxygen, the women-oriented network partially-owned by Oprah Winfrey. She came out at the top of the show and promised that the women about to question Gore represented "a cross-section of race, age, privilege and political ideology."
In fact, 14 of the questions posed came from the left with just two queries from the right, a 7-to-1 ratio. Another four did not have a clear ideological angle.
When we last heard from Mills she was making a preposterous argument at an early May House Government Reform Committee hearing about missing White House e-mail. She scolded the committee members: "Nothing you discover today will feed one person, give shelter to someone who is homeless, educate one child, provide health care for one family, or justice to an African-American or Hispanic juvenile."
It's not clear how the Oxygen Women's Forum furthered any of those goals.
At the top of the 90-minute June 12 event, live from Trenton, New Jersey, which started a few minutes past 9pm ET, Mills came out and asserted that in the last two presidential elections women constituted 53 percent of those who voted and that a poll found a woman's interest in politics is shaped by her mother. Mills then delivered this rather convoluted message: "If our children are our messengers to the future, Oxygen wants all of our daughters to hear our questions tonight so that together we shape the world they will inherit tomorrow."
She added: "Our studio audience of 150 women from the Trenton community will be asking the questions of the Vice President. These women, all of whom are registered voters, are a cross-section of race, age, privilege and political ideology."
Al Gore ran out to the center ring surrounded by seats and gushed that it's "great to hear Cheryl give that beautiful statement at the beginning. I worked with Cheryl when she was in the White House counsel's office. I thought that was beautifully worded."
"Facilitators" Farai Chideya, a face you may recall from her liberal advocacy on CNN a few years ago, May Lee and Kent Manahan took questions from the supposedly diverse audience. Amongst questions from the left, Gore was asked about prescription coverage for Medicare, health coverage for the uninsured, what programs he would enact to help the disabled, how he would aid public schools, whether he would listen to those opposed to "government sanctioned killing" -- death penalty, not abortion. Chideya followed-up by pointing out the racial imbalance of capital punishment and asking if he would support "racial justice" legislation.
To audience applause, a woman demanded of Gore: "What steps will you take during your four years of office to assure the Supreme Court maintains a woman's right to choose?"
Another woman wanted to know what programs Gore would promote to "make college available to everyone and not a select few?" After telling Gore "you're a lot more handsomer in person," a woman complained that while 94 percent of black women vote Democratic, white women advance more through affirmative action. So, she sniffed, what would he do "to even the playing ground" for blacks and bring the wayward six percent over to the Democratic side?
Sense any diversity here? And I'm not done with the liberal whining. Gore was also pressed about what he would do about the impact of environmental toxins on how young people develop and AIDS in Africa. An 18-year-old hoped he supports more federal aid to fire departments (he does!). And an online questioner wanted to know why he backs trade with China but not Cuba.
Near the end of the show viewers learned of a surprise guest in the audience. A woman who participated in the Million Mom March wanted to know if Gore would back national gun licensing. Gore immediately pointed out how march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases was in the audience.
Recall how Mills promised the studio audience is made up "of 150 women from the Trenton community." Dees-Thomases lives in Short Hills, at least 30 miles from Trenton. Next door maybe if you live in Wyoming, but literally across the state by New Jersey geographical standards.
The two conservative questions which snuck through: An inquiry about how Bush's Social Security plan is any more risky than Gore's and May Lee challenged Gore about how China is going backward on human rights. The non-ideological queries dealt with issues such as reaching out to disaffected young people and balancing the government's need for online information with the public's right to privacy.
Mills popped out again at the end to ask Gore how politics in DC could be made "more collaborative" and less divisive. My answer to Mills would have been: When called before a House committee, answer the questions you're asked and don't go off on a racist rant about how the questions won't bring "justice to an African-American or Hispanic juvenile."
+++ On Tuesday, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post, on the MRC home page , a RealPlayer clip of Mills introducing the Oxygen forum with Gore.
Bush bashing angle exploited. Monday morning and evening the networks all jumped on the Columbia University study titled, "A Broken System," which claimed the fact that two-thirds of death penalty sentences are overturned on appeal proves capital punishment is fraught with error. ABC led with the report Monday night and like CBS followed up with a story on how under Governor Bush Texas leads the nation in executions and that there is supposedly concern an innocent man may be put to death next week. Bush's "run for the White House has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope," declared CBS's Bob McNamara.
On the June 12 NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers summarized the report and refrained from implicating the Bush campaign, though she wasn't so reticent on Today. See item #3 for more on the morning shows.
ABC's World News
Tonight led with Jami Floyd's story on the study. After her piece,
anchor Peter Jennings intoned:
Mike von Fremd picked up
the case of Gary Graham, the media cause of the day. Based on a single
eyewitness account, he was sentenced to death for a 1981 killing in front
of a Houston Safeway. A Northwestern University professor and six men
wrongly sentenced to death, but now free, traveled to Houston to plead his
case, von Fremd related. He showed a clip of Jennifer Thompson, a woman
who wrongly identified her rapist, in tears, crying "I'm
Over on the June 12 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather summarized the Columbia study and then asserted: "Of 28 capital punishments states, Texas has carried out the most executions, 218. And as CBS's Bob McNamara reports, that number's about to rise."
McNamara ominously intoned: "Tonight, as another man is scheduled to go to his death, the system that made Texas the capital of capital punishment is under a thickening cloud of questions. In Houston today, six men innocently sent to death row and later freed, campaigned for the life of Gary Graham."
Without bothering to mention Graham's record of shooting people, as had ABC's von Fremd, McNamara relayed how Graham claimed innocence, how he was convicted by just one witness, and how his lawyer offered virtually no defense.
McNamara lamented, "Texas Governor Bush says the system is
McNamara reminded viewers that Bush recently gave Ricky McGinn a 30-day stay for DNA tests, "but the Governor's run for the White House has put the Texas death penalty system under a microscope. Numerous investigations have found that some convictions were based on the testimony of jail house snitches, that some defense attorneys were found incompetent or they offered little defense for their client at all."
McNamara continued his
effort to discredit Bush on capital punishment, raising the example of Pam
Perillo, a woman on death row who came within two days of death before her
sentence was overturned because of inadequate defense. Of course, that
doesn't make her innocent.
The anti-death penalty crusade started Monday morning with ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show running interview segments prompted by the Columbia University study and a Chicago Tribune story about executions during George Bush's tenure. NBC's Today featured a taped story which highlighted how Texas is "under special scrutiny these days" as a Tribune review of the "131 inmates executed by Governor George W. Bush" found "dozens of cases in which inmates were executed despite serious questions about the competence of their defense and the reliability of key testimony."
GMA devoted the entire
7am half hour after the news update to questions about the death penalty,
observed MRC intern Joyce Garczynski. First, co-host Charles Gibson
interviewed Columbia's James Liebman. Second, Clinton White House
overnight guest and GMA fill-in co-host Nancy Snyderman took on Bush's
to Chicago Tribune reporter Ken Armstrong:
She then turned to Gary Graham's attorney, Richard Burr: "One more troubling statistic from the Chicago Tribune, 40 cases of those who were executed in Texas involve defense attorneys who presented no evidence or only one witness during the sentencing phase. Ten days from now Governor Bush will have to decide whether to grant a reprieve to a man whose defense lawyer is under scrutiny. Gary Graham has been on death row now for 19 years, sentenced with no physical evidence no testimony other then one single eyewitness his lawyer even challenged to fail her."
Snyderman at least
challenged him a bit: "Your client has had over 30 separate court
proceedings. None of these proceedings has found any reason to get him off
of death row. Why are you so convinced they have the wrong guy?"
Today co-host Matt Lauer set up the NBC show's June 12 piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "On Close Up this morning the death penalty. A new study out this morning says the nation's capital punishment system is seriously flawed. It's sure to add to the growing debate in this country about the death penalty."
Lisa Myers reviewed the major points in the Columbia University Law School study: "Amid growing concern about the fairness of the death penalty system the first comprehensive study of capital punishment ever. And the verdict is devastating. Titled, 'A Broken System,' the Columbia University study covers almost 4,500 cases over 23 years. And finds a system collapsing under the weight of its own mistakes. As a result only five percent of death sentences are ever carried out."
Myers soon tied it to Bush and Texas: "Under special scrutiny these days, Texas, which leads the nation in executions. Another report by the Chicago Tribune reviews 131 inmates executed by Governor George W. Bush. It finds dozens of cases in which inmates were executed despite serious questions about the competence of their defense and the reliability of key testimony: 43 included defense lawyers publicly sanctioned for misconduct, 23 relied on testimony from jailhouse informants, among the least credible of witnesses, 40 involved trials in which almost no defense was even presented."
Following a clip of the Tribune's Ken Armstrong, Myers continued: "Yet only once did Governor Bush have enough doubt about an inmate's guilt to commute a death sentence to life in prison. He recently stayed another execution to allow time for DNA testing. And even after this report Bush still insists the Texas system is fair."
Myers brought up the Graham case: "This issue may dog Bush the entire campaign. In ten days another Texas death row inmate is set to be executed. This man's lawyer did almost no investigation of his case. Failed to call a single defense witness and has repeatedly been reprimanded for professional misconduct. Now the inmate claims he's innocent and he's asking Bush for clemency."
The media will make sure the topic dogs Bush until November.
Another warm network reception for John McCain. He appeared in New York sitting beside Bryant Gumbel on Monday's Early Show on CBS. Gumbel assumed he was on the good side of campaign finance regulation and so failed to challenge him about the appropriateness of the new restrictions he backs.
MRC analyst Brian Boyd
took down Gumbel's words from the June 12 show, beginning with
Gumbel's disappointment over a defeat for a McCain pet bill:
Gumbel moved on to McCain's role at the Republican convention and speculation about Bush's VP pick.
The White House released Kathleen Willey's letters in order to turn the public against her so Ken Starr would not pursue her charges as part of his investigation, viewers of FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume uniquely learned Monday night.
David Shuster explained
what was revealed in interrogatories, obtained by and then released by
Hume tried to get to the
point: "What do we know today now that we didn't really know
his Monday night, June 12, FNC show Brit Hume also uniquely relayed an
update about the NBC cameraman inside the Elian Gonzalez house at the time
of the raid:
Naturally, there's not been a word on NBC News about this development.
To read the June 9 story
which Hume cited, go to:
This link should work for another few days.
For an update from the
June 12 edition of the newspaper, about how Zumbado will meet with the
INS, go to:
The networks and major national papers didn't bother to send anyone to Carthage to check out what really happened between Al Gore and his tenants, but The Weekly Standard did. The magazine's Matt Labash learned that the Mayberry family make out their rent check directly to "Al Gore" and he discovered some less than flattering traits of the family, including how the mother first married at age 13 and while the father is on disability for heart failure he chain smokes. It's a pretty entertaining article about life in place where a front yard packed with old cars is the norm.
"Sanctimonious Slumlord" announced the headline over the cover story for the June 19 issue. The subhead: "Al Gore's treatment of his Tennessee tenants gives new meaning to 'compassionate liberalism'." In italics, the Weekly Standard set off this 1998 lecture from Gore: "There is a difference between talking about compassion and actually putting your highest ideals into practice."
A brief excerpt from Labash's piece:
Not that Gore was meddlesome. Though Tracy makes her checks out directly to "Al Gore," and while the Mayberrys' house sits only 150 yards or so from that of Carthage's Washington, D.C.-bred native son, Gore has been extremely hands off. So hands off, in fact, that when Tracy complained to Gore's property managers that the plaster was coming off the walls, the linoleum was peeling off the kitchen floor, the basin of the bathroom sink was a constipated sludge puddle, the guts of one toilet tank had to be held together with Sunbeam bread bag twisties, and both bathroom toilets overflowed -- when they flushed at all -- (making the whole house smell, in Charles's formulation, "like sheee-it"), the managers managed not to fix anything at all."
To read the entirety of
Labash's account, including how he aided in the pursuit of a cockroach
inside the house, go to:
If you spend the $3.95 for a hard copy of the magazine you'll also get color photos of the family and the house.
I thought you were already dead! Interviewing the grandson of the man Gary Graham was convicted of murdering, CBS's Bryant Gumbel gained an embarrassing confession: Grandson Bobby Hanners believed Graham had been put to death years ago.
Here's the exchange caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd from the June 12 Early Show:
Gumbel: "You were
only nine when your grandfather was killed. How much have you really
studied this case over the past 19 years?"
Finally, something useful came from a Dateline story. -- Brent Baker 
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