Articles by Kinsley/Goldberg, Bill O'Reilly, Drudge/Clinton, Shelby Steele, Paula Zahn, Jesse Peterson, Katie Couric, Shallow California Lifestyle

(who thinks the public and those who don't agree with him are a bunch of
"big babies.")

When it comes to criticizing books, Michael Kinsley is the one who's a
sniveling "big baby," seething with jealously because he can't write books
(that sell) and they can...

To his credit, however, at least Kinsley talks and writes openly as a
condescending elite, whereas, most other elites talk among themselves about
how marvelous they are and what simple-minded idiots we commoners are.

Return to  GRAB BAG

Michael Kinsley, former co-host of CNN's Crossfire, is now the editor of Microsoft's Internet magazine, and he writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. The following articles are Kinsley's scathing comments about Bernard Goldberg, his book, "BIAS," and other bestselling books by conservative authors. Kinsley's remarks read more like a loathing self-description. Goldberg Variations By Michael Kinsley Washington Post - January 11, 2002; Page A21 (and on As a liberal, I had long suspected that we might have a secret coven over at CBS News. It's hard to say why, exactly. Maybe it's that little smirk of Dan Rather's whenever he gets to report something bad happening to America. Or maybe it was the famous episode when Walter Cronkite ended his broadcast by denouncing capitalism as "a system of class oppression that must be destroyed root and branch." But it was only a suspicion. So I was happy to get confirmation from the current bestseller (categorized as nonfiction), "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," by former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg. The book is rich with anecdotes about the horrors -- ideological and otherwise -- of working for CBS, culled from Goldberg's three decades of working for CBS. He must have been chained to his TelePrompTer or something, because a man who "was once rated by TV Guide as one of the ten most interesting people on television," as his author ID brags, surely didn't need to spend all those years at a corrupt and dishonest institution. One story has gotten the most attention. It involves a conversation with CBS News President Andrew Heyward: " 'Look, Bernie,' he said, 'of course there's a liberal bias in the news. All the networks tilt left.' But, 'If you repeat any of this, I'll deny it.' " Bingo! This was the confirmation that I and every right-wing radio talk show host in America had been waiting for. But then I made the classic journalist's error: I checked it out. First I talked to Goldberg himself. "Look, Mike, of course I made that story up," he said. "It's brilliant, don't you think? If Heyward denies the story, that just confirms it in people's minds. The whole vast right-wing conspiracy has fallen for it. Fox News is so grateful that Roger Ailes is sending me suitcases full of cash. And if you repeat any of this, I'll deny it." "Of course we haven't fallen for it," Ailes growled. "We just put it out there as prole meat. This Goldberg is what my Communist pals used to call a useful idiot. And what an idiot! They really don't build them like that anymore." Ailes's humor started to improve. Soon tears of happiness were streaming down his cheeks. "I mean, that stuff about CBS execs getting it on with Dan Rather in prison?" He chortled, "I love it, I really do. And who cares if it's all true or not?" He winked. "We report, you decide. By the way, if you repeat any of this, I'll break your legs. And I'll deny it." Finally I checked with the chairman of the Vast Conspiracy, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, who confirmed every detail. "Ailes is a bit of a train wreck himself," Bartley added with a thoughtful wave of his hookah. "Of course if you repeat any of this . . . " Goldberg's original act of apostasy was in 1996. After managing to hold his tongue for a quarter of a century, he let loose with an op-ed in the Journal. To his astonishment, people he thought were his friends turned inexplicably hostile, merely because he had publicly denounced them as betrayers of their profession. Conservative commentary on "Bias" shares Goldberg's indignation, if not his surprise. Conservatives know the depths of ruthlessness to which the liberal establishment can sink when its supremacy is threatened. At the Wall Street Journal editorial page, presumably, if a colleague announces to the world that he holds the institution and those who work there in contempt, he takes a bit of joshing around the water cooler, then everybody gathers for a group hug and returns to denouncing Tom Daschle. Bernard Goldberg was not so lucky. Trapped in an enraged mob of overpaid, middle-aged white men in suits, he was . . . taken out and tortured? Well, no. Tickled until he begged them to stop? No. Fired? Not at all. Given a cushy job until a bigger pension kicked in at age 55, when he left of his own accord? Yup. Those liberal swine! No wonder Goldberg is regarded (by himself, among others) as a martyr. Okay, okay, Bernard Goldberg may be so dim, or so drunk on self-righteousness, that he can't see the comic futility of trying to insulate a quotation from denial by adding a second quotation promising to lie about the first one -- all in the name of high journalistic standards. (Who is going to doubt the first quotation but believe the second?) But he's obviously right about liberal bias, isn't he? Maybe. The point is that this dumb book adds nothing to the argument, and it is the accusers who are offering it as evidence. Like a stopped clock, Goldberg isn't always wrong. He's probably sincere. But he's remarkably dense. And you have to wonder whether his glorifiers are just as dense, or deeply cynical, or living on a different planet. Do they really think it is devastating evidence of bias that a TV producer would decide to label a full-time ideologue such as Phyllis Schlafly as "conservative" but not feel obliged to label avocational activist Rosie O'Donnell as "liberal"? I don't doubt that Goldberg heard a colleague disparage Gary Bauer as "the little nut from the Christian group." Did he never hear casual disparagement of liberal politicians? "I can't tell you how many times I heard the term 'white trash' thrown around," Goldberg told Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post. Was it ever, perchance, applied to Bill Clinton? Goldberg said he "resents" the term white trash because of his own lower-middle-class background. His resentment is truly omnivorous. Bernard Goldberg may carry many burdens, but the danger of being considered white trash is not one of them. Other epithets are available. Michael Kinsley, editor of, writes a weekly column for The Washinton Post. ************** Are Conservatives Brainier? If not, how come they have all the best sellers? By Michael Kinsley - January 17, 2002 Even conservatives generally imagine that liberals are more intellectual. In fact a negative spin on that premise is central to the popular American conservative worldview. To summarize: Liberals are tweedy, pipe-smoking professors and their '60s-throwback students; earnest unionized schoolteachers; evil, cunning trial lawyers; head-in-the-clouds enviro-goofballs; and so on-all of them marinated in theories out of books and oblivious to the common-sense wisdom of ordinary folks who may not have a Ph.D. in Advanced Tax-Raising but have been through the College of Real Life and know a helluva lot more about how the world works than a bunch of arrogant, elitist brainiacs. Liberals also tend to think of themselves as smarter. We are enlightened; they slog through darkness. This is arrogance, of course, but it is also naivet‚. There is something sweet and innocent about the notion that people disagree with you because they don't understand the inherent truth of your opinion. Unlike the good old days when lefties read Karl Marx, it may be conservatives today who are more likely to see politics as a clash of material interests. This view can also be a fantasy: It takes real mental energy to persuade yourself that big corporations, devout Christians, wealthy families, and other conservative interest groups are the embattled underdogs in a great power struggle against the tweedy pipe-smokers et al. And where is the evidence that liberals, for good or ill, are brainier? ("Brainier," of course, confuses very different concepts like innate intelligence, thoughtfulness, and reading habits. But only some kind of un-American intellectual pedant would raise that objection.) At least one good piece of evidence suggests that tarring liberals as the eggheads around here is a bum rap. As many people, including me, have suddenly noticed, the nonfiction book best-seller list is dominated by explicitly conservative political tracts. By contrast, there isn't a single overtly liberal political book on the list. I noticed this in writing last week about Bernard Goldberg's Bias (about TV news), which is now No. 1. Final Days (about the end of the Clinton administration) by the late Barbara Olson, is No. 7, followed by The No-Spin Zone by Fox-TV spin artist Bill O'Reilly. When Character Was King, a Peggy Noonan love poem to Ronald Reagan, is No. 10, and Pat Buchanan's latest tract, subtly titled The Death of the West, is No. 11. Five out of 15: not bad. And that's not even including the memoir of a TV psychic and a biography of a racehorse, both of which smell pretty conservative to me. (Would a liberal horse be named "Seabiscuit"? C'mon.) Is it possible that conservatives are actually the intellectuals, reading books and playing with ideas and thinking about issues, while liberals are, at least comparatively, the unreflective know-nothings? I canvassed various liberal friends, who reassured me that it is not possible. Could not be possible. Is unthinkable. Look, let's just not think about it-OK? The Return of the Brainwashing Defense The Case for Lying About Terrorists Is This History of the Bra Any Good? Of Corset Is! They note that most of these conservative best sellers are barely books at all. No sustained argument, but rather sloppy stews of tired anecdote and unsurprising statements about familiar issues. They are bought for comfort and reassurance, not intellectual challenge. That's probably true, but you can't beat a horse with no horse. Even the shoddiest of these books-probably O'Reilly's-is undeniably engaged in ideas, and buying it-let alone reading it-is evidence that the buyer is too. The best-seller list offers no such evidence about liberals. My friends note that these books tend to be spin-offs of popular conservative TV shows. They point out that liberals don't have a network of lavishly funded propaganda machines passing as foundations that subsidize the production of ideological books. Liberals don't have a pet publisher like Regnery to publish tracts masquerading as tomes. And so on. I do believe that the self-interest of people with money tilts American politics in many ways. But let's face it: You don't have to be rich to buy a book, and these conservative books are meeting the reality test of the market. For that matter, so are the conservative TV shows. More theories: Liberals read more broadly and deeply, so their intellect infuses the entire catalog, or even all of Western literature, not just a few tawdry best sellers. Or, liberals are buying those conservative books because they have the intellectual integrity to want to test their ideas. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support these hypotheses, or others of increasing desperation. If the shoe were on the other foot, conservatives would be screaming that book publishers were biased against them. The people in book publishing probably vote Democratic even more heavily than people in the news media. They would measure further left than journalists, on average, by other tests. The fact that conservative books dominate the best-seller list demonstrates how bogus such measures are as evidence of bias. But-pending a better theory of why not-this literary triumph also suggests that conservatives are now the tweedy pipe-smokers, the ivory tower naifs who never lift their eyes from the printed page to let the chill wind of reality smack them in the face, the . well, you get the idea. We liberals have more important things to do than read books. NOTE: KINSLEY CAN'T WRITE BOOKS EITHER Barnes and Noble Book Search Results January 30, 2002 1. Barnes and Exclusive Slate Diaries eBook Available for download . Jodi Kantor (Editor),Cyrus Krohn (Editor),Judith Shulevitz (Editor),Michael Kinsley (Introduction) / MS Reader eBook / PublicAffairs / Our Price: $2.95 2. Big Babies: On Presidents, Politics, and National Crazes Michael Kinsley / Paperback / Morrow,William & Co / March 1997 This title is not presently stocked by Barnes & Noble. A used copy of this title may be available. Check availability from our network of book dealers. >From the Publisher >From the last days of the Reagan era, through the ups and downs of the Bush presidency, and into the time of Bill Clinton's triumphs and many troubles, this collection is the best of Kinsley's writings which cover serious policy issues, presidential politics, the culture of Washington, and the foibles of the media--and also movies, TV, and book publishing. 3. Big Babies: Vintage Whines Michael Kinsley / Hardcover / Morrow,William & Co / September 1995 This title is not presently stocked by Barnes & Noble. A used copy of this title may be available. Check availability from our network of book dealers. Synopsis This is a collection of Kinsley's political "commentary dating from 1986 through early 1995." (Library Journal) >From the Publisher Kinsley covers the final days of the Reagan era, the ups and downs of the Bush presidency, and Bill Clinton's triumphs and many troubles. He has a knack for delivering the bad news with the good, in a way that is highly amusing and sharply insightful. His subjects range from serious policy issues, presidential politics, the culture of Washington, and the foibles of the media to amused commentary on such topics as movies, television, and book publishing. From "Let Them Eat Laptops," his hilarious riff on Newt Gingrich's suggestion of a tax refund for the poorest Americans to purchase laptop computers, to "Martyr Complex," an exploration of the politics of religion, Kinsley touches on the issues that touch us. He dissects spin control and sound bites, flag burning and ethnic jokes. >From the Critics >From Mary Carroll - BookList Kinsley may be the Rodney Dangerfield of punditry: much of the Left sees him as a centrist, while conservatives and neocons on CNN's "Crossfire" attack his wild-eyed radicalism. In fact, Kinsley is an old-fashioned liberal: smart, rational, measured in his assessments, open to compromise. (Only juxtaposition to true believers like Buchanan and Sununu can make him seem extreme.) "Big Babies" gathers 100-plus Kinsley commentaries written over the past 10 years--from late Iranamok to early Newtonianism: most are from the "New Republic"; others are from "Time", the "New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, New York Times", and "Washington Post". Though politics and government dominate, Kinsley also takes on movies and TV, publishers' blurbs, and the price of art masterpieces. If the collection has a theme, he suggests, it's "annoyance at the fatuous populism that dominates American politics" ; Kinsley insists that citizens who "make flagrantly incompatible demands . . ." "are" to blame for American democracy's current discontents [and] are, in short, big babies." The collection's chronological format is far from ideal, but Kinsley's often penetrating comments are worth pursuing. >From Booknews The babies of the title are American voters who, the left-leaning pundit says, complain bitterly about politicians but at bottom are themselves to blame for our current democratic discontents. They join many other targets--three presidencies and several campaigns, the conservative political climate, and even some non- political topics--in this collection of Kinsley's essays from the past 10 years in The New Yorker, Time, The New Republic, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR ( >From Library Journal Fighting from the left flank on CNN's nightly Crossfire program, Kinsley is also a print pundit for the New Republic, Time, the Washington Post, and other national publications. This collection of his commentary dating from 1986 through early 1995 showcases his incisive, ironic interpretation of the national political scene over a turbulent ten years. Many of the columns address issues still dominating public debate: affirmative action, term limits, political correctness, etc. The theme linking Kinsley's selections is reflected in the title: the "Big Babies" are the voters, who demand tax cuts, increased services, and smaller government, all the while self-righteously denigrating the politicians for pandering. Good reading for those interested in witty and thoughtful opining.-Pamela R. Daubenspeck, Warren-Trumbull Cty. P.L., Warren, Ohio >From Publisher's Weekly - Publishers Weekly In this collection of essays written since 1986, CNN Crossfire host Kinsley, a former columnist for the New Republic, deftly deconstructs the foibles and folkways of those inside the Beltway. His rough theme-and an explanation of the book's awkward title-``is one of annoyance at the fatuous populism that dominates American politics.'' Thus, in pieces not only for the New Republic but also for Time and the Wall Street Journal and others, he muses on ``the constipated egalitarian vision'' of women wishing to integrate exclusive private clubs, dissects the convoluted explanations of politicians who ``regret'' smoking pot and dismantles the Bush campaign claim that Gov. Bill Clinton raised taxes 128 times. A liberal centrist who offers thoughtful, if not passionate, defenses of abortion rights and affirmative action, Kinsley is particularly strong on issues of law and economics: one of his best essays analyzes the buzzwords behind Supreme Court appointments. This book is not a manifesto but a witty, meditative guide to recent political controversies. Given his recent appearances in the New Yorker (reproduced here), perhaps Kinsley is moving from deadline punditry to meatier critiques. (Oct.) 4. Curse of the Giant Muffins and Other Washington Maladies Michael E. Kinsley / Hardcover / Summit Books / September 1987 This title is not presently stocked by Barnes & Noble. A used copy of this title may be available. Check availability from our network of book dealers. Synopsis These sixty-three essays by The New Republic editor and columnist first appeared in The New Republic, Harper's Magazine, and other periodicals. >From the Critics >From Terry Teachout - Commentary The book is devoted to the skewering of an unbroken succession of ludicrous, gibbering hypocrites. . . . Kinsley eventually gets around to showing his colors, but in the most tepid way imaginable. 'I like to think of myself as aliberal,' he writes. . . . But Curse of the Giant Muffins is altogether lacking in anything remotely like a clear-cut affirmation of liberalism. . . . {Kinsley} espouses what might be called Liberalism Lite, a campy pseudo-ideology which consist chiefly of making fun of conservatives. . . . His is a purely frivolous vision of politics, one in which the now-declasse qualities of seriousness and commitment, whether liberal or conservative, are blithely dismissed with a sneer and a languid wave of the hand. >From Terry Teachout - The Economist Mr Kinsley's articles depend . . . on thought, intelligence and wit. Thecombination makes him the most amusing and penetrating columnist in America. His bias is the correct one for a journalist: against orthodoxy, pomposity and self-importance. This occasionally leads to charges of irresponsibility. . . . It seldom leads to predictability or dullness. Not much journalism, however enjoyable at the time, is worth reading a month or a year after it first appeared. . . . It is a tribute to the power of Mr Kinsley's pen, as well as to the enduring nature of his targets, that his articles still read so well. >From Jonathan Rowe - The Christian Science Monitor (Eastern edition) {The author} has a playful yet deadly wit, an infectious elan, and a presence of mind that leaves no nuance unattended. {His} specialty is the pretense and hypocrisy beat, which he walks in a state of perpetual red alert. . . . Kinsley avoids any pretense of profundity, but his flip style can be deceptive. He writes so engagingly about law and economics--his two fortes--because heunderstands them so well. . . . Kinsley sometimes lets his wit run ahead of him. There is very little here, for example, that Kinsley really likes. The put-down is only the first test of wit, and the easiest. The second, and moredemanding, is the raise-up, the enlisting of wit in the service of advocacy and praise. >From Richard Brookhiser - National Review Young Kinsley's prose is infectious. So is the flu. If he tries to relyon real sentences to make his points, instead of smartass throwaways, though we might not be any better nourished, we might at least not feel so unsatisfied. The funniest material in the book, a dull-headline contest, was supplied by his readers. Return to GRAB BAG

FROM BOOM TO BUST By Bill O'Reilly January 24, 2002 No question about it, being a baby boomer is a mixed designation. Americans born shortly after World War II hit a lot of stuff just right: the birth of rock and roll, Elvis, the Beatles, the anti-war years, Watergate, disco, high-tech, the roaring '90s and now the new war on terrorism. Each decade has been interesting and stimulating. Now we are getting older. But not wiser - generally speaking of course. The baby boom generation remains a self-absorbed group of pleasure seekers still bent on the immediate gratification that television taught us as toddlers. We are the first generation of Americans to have our brains influenced by the tube, and it surely shows. We just can't get enough stuff. Four-dollar coffees - bring 'em on. Huge gas-guzzling SUVs - love 'em. Fine wine, gourmet food, designer furniture. The boomers can't get enough. The latest trend is the spa. Everything is a spa now. Look at any travel magazine and the word spa assaults your senses on every page. I fully expect to see Vinny's Deli and Spa opening soon in my Long Island neighborhood. Basically a spa is a place where you pay an outrageous amount of money to be pampered. Boomers love this. Spa people will rub you, wash you, exfoliate you and for a few extra bucks they might even tickle you. There is no end to the spa menu that is specifically designed to make the paying customer feel very important. For example: At the Marriott Spa in Phoenix you can get a "desert gold facial" featuring honey and jojoba oil for $75 bucks. Men are welcome. At the Mist Spa in Scottsdale you can get a red wine and green tea souffl‚ wrap. That treatment is supposed to eliminate toxins and soften skin. Sounds good until you get the bill. $120 bucks. For a few dollars more you can get a "dream catcher" tranquility-inducing body therapy using essential oils and heat. Using non-essential oils is illegal in Arizona. This spa trend is definitely aimed at boomers. The greatest generation is not spa friendly. My father would burn the spa down. My mother would never let a stranger touch anything on her. Generation X doesn't have the money to burn (at least not yet). So Boomers are the target spa audience and there's no denying it. For some reason many of us boomers feel that we are entitled to the spa life. I really don't know how this happened as most boomers were exposed to the rough and tumble "spare the rod and spoil the child" upbringing philosophy. But boomers became intoxicated with power and many other things in the late '60s, and we never forgot it. The protesting years left a major impression on us. We were the ones who knew it all. We were the ones that would change the world. Of course things didn't quite turn out that way. Things in America are pretty much the way they've always been. People hustling to make a living and hoping their children will do better. Many of my peers who were college rebels now sit behind a big corporate desk planning their next major purchase. Power to the people, right on. I guess the reason I am down on my generation is that we did not live up to our potential. Many of us stopped fighting for justice and turned into Martha Stewart wannabes. Things became more important than ideas or loyalties. The spa became more than a destination, it became an obsession. Pamper me, give me, buy me, do me. Lots of the "me" word floating around in boomer circles. Soon the baby boomers will be old people, although we are fighting that every second of our lives. An elderly profile is not in the boomer handbook. So stuff is being tucked and lifted and implanted and massaged. Fifty-year-old Americans are saying the words "cool" and "awesome" to their kids who roll their eyes and put the headphones back on. Take it from this boomer - we will not age gracefully. And we will go out kicking and screaming. But first we'll visit a spa. Return to GRAB BAG

January 15, 2002 DRUDGE REPORT FLASHBACK: CLINTON OFFICIAL MET WITH ENRON CHAIRMAN; $100,000 CASH DONATION TO DEMOCRATS TIMED TO PLANT APPROVAL TIME MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1, 1997 On Nov. 22, 1995 President Clinton scrawled an FYI note to chief of staff Mack McLarty, enclosing a newspaper article on Enron Corp. and the vicissitudes of its $3 billion power-plant project in India. McLarty then reached out to Enron's chairman, Ken Lay, and over the next nine months closely monitored the project with the U.S. ambassador to New Delhi, keeping Lay informed of the Administration's efforts, according to White House documents reviewed by TIME magazine. In June 1996, four days before India granted final approval to Enron's controversial $3 billion power-plant project, Enron's gave $100,000 to President Clinton's party. Enron denies that its gift was repayment for Clinton's attention, and White House special counsel Lanny Davis says McLarty acted out of concern for a major U.S. investment overseas, TIME's Michael Weisskopf reported. *********** DRUDGE NOTE: McLarty was later hired by Enron. Lay also played golf with President Bill Clinton and slept in the Clinton White House. A master of political manipulation of both parties, Lay served as an adviser to the Clinton White House on energy issues. The Clinton administration, in turn, helped Enron get a contract for a gas pipeline in Mozambique and other projects, according to reports. Return to GRAB BAG

Engineering Mediocrity By Shelby Steele, Hoover Institute October 30, 200 That old saying "Watch out, you may get what you ask for" is beginning to haunt those of us who have long hoped for an end to racial preferences. The vast and subtle apparatus of preferential policies called affirmative action still has a vigorous life in American institutions and workplaces. Even in places such as California, where group preferences have been outlawed in state institutions, they manage to have an active underground life. Yet now they also have a foredoomed quality about them. State ballot initiatives and a series of circuit court and Supreme Court decisions have made the point that both the wider public and the Constitution are against them. If preferences themselves now seem doomed, the impulse that generated them in the first place is alive and well. This is the impulse to engineer an appearance of racial equality rather than develop a true equality based on a parity of skills between the races. Since the 1960s American institutions have been under pressure to prove a negative: that they are not racist and do not discriminate against minorities or women. The impulse behind racial preferences is essentially an expedient that allows institutions to win their moral legitimacy as nonracist institutions whether or not the formerly oppressed achieve an actual parity of skills. The mechanism by which racial preferences engineer "inclusion" is a tolerance of mediocrity in minorities-allowing mediocrity to win for them what only excellence wins for others. But attacks on preferences have focused more on their unfair racial exclusivity than on the social engineering by which they function. Now that they are losing favor, we are seeing a new generation of engineering schemes that achieve "inclusion" by extending the tolerance for mediocrity-bringing in more black and brown faces without reference to their race. What might be called "X percent plans" are an example. California, Texas, and Florida now guarantee university admission to the top 4, 10, and 20 percent, respectively, of all high school graduates. In a segregated state such as Florida, this brings in more black students to the University of Florida because it makes 20 percent of the students in inner-city schools eligible where previously only a small percentage were eligible. This "raceless" engineering tolerates more mediocrity and relies on segregation to capture the black and brown faces that bring moral authority. It injures these universities more than traditional affirmative action because it extends the tolerance of mediocrity to great numbers of whites in order to get more blacks and Hispanics. Once these flagship state universities are diminished, won't the white flight that happened in K-12 education extend to them? Won't private colleges and universities-where the tolerance of mediocrity can be isolated to minorities-gain prestige at the expense of these public institutions? If the era of affirmative action is creeping toward an ignominious end, one of its lessons is that racial disparities ought never be occasions for social engineering. Absent a hard-earned parity of skills and abilities between the races, "inclusion" is necessarily a corruption. Return to GRAB BAG

(Three sections on PAULA ZHAN interviews) New Book Say Negotiations by U.S. with Taliban for Oil May Have Interfered With Efforts to Get Bin Laden Aired January 9, 2002 - 07:34 ET PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As you heard in our last half-hour, the authors of a new book say secret negotiations by the U.S. with the Taliban for oil may have actually interfered with efforts to get Osama bin Laden. For his reaction, we turn to our own ambassador-in-residence -- I love that flourish of music -- Richard Butler, former chief U.N. weapons inspector, now with the Council on Foreign Relations. That must make you feel very special. RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Absolutely. ZAHN: All right. Let's talk a little about the most explosive charges in this book. These authors essentially are saying, because of information given to them by an FBI counterterrorism officer that they believe that the prosecution against terrorism in Afghanistan was suspended because of oil interests. Now, this gets very tricky, because this FBI counterterrorism officer left that job, went on to head up security at the World Trade Centers... BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: ... and tragically died on September 11. BUTLER: John O'Neill, right. That's right. It does. Paula, this is a web. You and I can't assess precisely the veracity of what these two French authors have said. But this has got a cast of characters in it that is fascinating. We've got a former CIA officer, Christina Rocca, who is now in the State Department who went to Afghanistan weeks before September 11, and to Pakistan, and talked with the Taliban, a group that we did not recognize, and you now know what we have done to them. You have got Laila Helms (ph), the niece of the former head of the CIA, who was a public relations agent. ZAHN: Hired by the Taliban. BUTLER: Hired by the Taliban. And you've got oil, and this is a fundamental thing. Let us not lose sight of this basic reality. The population of the United States of America represents 5 percent of the population of the world. Yet, we use 40 percent -- 40 percent of the world's oil. So oil is a big issue, and as we were saying yesterday, there is very substantial oil in Central Asia. And to get that out to the sea, the best possible way to do it would be to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. So that's the web, Paula, and I don't think we're being told all of the facts. There are denials, claims that meetings didn't take place, when clearly they did. The most interesting thing those French authors told us today is that they had seen archives. We couldn't quite understand their accent, but I know what that means. That means records of diplomatic conversations that took place. ZAHN: And... BUTLER: And they have seen those things. ZAHN: ... they also went on to say in this book that Laila Helms, this woman that you said was hired by the Taliban... BUTLER: That's right. ZAHN: ... to sort of do PR for them... BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: ... alleges that at one point, the Taliban actually agreed to give up Osama bin Laden. The Taliban agreed to give the U.S. coordinates for his location. BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: Now, this is before 9/11. BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: So that the U.S. could get to him. Now, the State Department denies that offer was ever made. What do you make of that allegation? BUTLER: We need to know more. I mean, I read that with gobbled (ph) eyes. I mean, that's dynamite that we would... ZAHN: If it's true. BUTLER: If it's true. That we were given the coordinates and time in which to make a military strike against bin Laden, you know, a fair amount of time. And it is alleged that we turned it down in preference for what? I mean, is it true or not? We need to know that. Secondly, if we did turn it down, why? For an oil pipeline? Is that what's being said here? That's the web I think is being depicted here. We need to know more about it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) truth. ZAHN: I can only give you 15 seconds to turn to another segment -- a section that is -- here, the issue of "The New York Times" reporting that the U.S. has changed its policies on nuclear weapons. BUTLER: Right. The Nuclear Posture Review document, about every four years, is about to come out. And consistent with what the president has said, it will show less reliance on nuclear weapons than in the past. But there's an interesting aspect to it. The weapons that will be withdrawn won't be dismantled. They'll just be kept in storage. And that, I think, disappoints a lot of people. It's kind of disarmament halfway. But we'll hear more about that. ZAHN: And we'll address that in greater detail with you. BUTLER: OK. ZAHN: Our ambassador-in-residence, Richard Butler -- thanks so much for your time. *********** AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN Two Developments This Morning Raise Questions About What Bush Administration Was Willing to Do in Pursuit of Oil Aired January 9, 2002 - 07:10 ET PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Two developments this morning raise some questions about what the Bush administration was willing to do, allegedly, in the pursuit of oil both domestically and internationally. Vice President Richard Cheney's office says administration officials met half a dozen times with the failed energy trading company Enron, including one meeting just days before Enron filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history. And there are some disturbing new claims about America's relationship with the Taliban prior to 9-11. The authors of a new book claim that the administration conducted secret oil negotiations with the Taliban and they claim those talks may have actually interfered with efforts to get at Osama bin Laden. The book is called "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth." Joining us now from Paris are its authors, Guillaume Dasquie and Jean-Charles Brisard. Thank you both for being with us this morning. GUILLAUME DASQUIE, CO-AUTHOR: Thank you. ZAHN: Mr. Brisard, in your book, you claim before September 11 the U.S. administration cared more about its oil interests and the oil in the region than it did about getting Osama bin Laden. Let me put up on the screen a little bit of what is the, in the book along these lines. You say a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia. What evidence do you have that this is the case? JEAN-CHARLES BRISARD, CO-AUTHOR: You know, there is some very important evidence and the first one maybe is the contract, deal signed in October 1995 between Enoch Carr (ph), an American, a famous American company, and Delta Oil, a Saudi Arabia company, and the Turkmenistan government so at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of Afghanistan. And according to this deal, the pipeline across, would cross the Afghanistan to take over Afghanistan some gas and oil which is inside now Central Asia. So the deal and the negotiation with the Taliban and at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Kabul was very hard and was very important because energy security for U.S. but also for all developed countries. ZAHN: All right, but Mr. Brisard, or Mr. Dasquie, you go even further than that and you suggest that shortly after President Bush took office, his administration sent Christine Rocca (ph), who was an undersecretary of state for South Asian affairs, to Islamabad to sit down and talk with the Taliban. And you write, "Christine Rocca has met with Taliban officials only once, in August of 2001. She met with a Taliban representative in Islamabad. During that meeting, she once again pushed for the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden, as the international community had been demanding for more than two years. She also pressed the Taliban representative on humanitarian issues." Ms. Rocca never had any talks with the Taliban about oil and neither did any of her predecessors. And, in fact, what you write in the book is the exact opposite of that. What did you find? BRISARD: Yes, that's right. Yes. You know, we find a lot of archives in Pakistan, Islamabad, about the meeting between Christina Rocca, who now works, of course, in the State Department. But before, during the '80s worked in the CIA and in the CIA she managed the relationship between the State Department and the Islamic group in Afghanistan. So Christina Rocca is very important because she deals in her last meeting with the Taliban in Islamabad and for the Bush administration. And since the Bush administration arrived in last January with the first meeting with some Taliban officials in Washington like Mr. Ashimi (ph) in last March, she always says the same thing. The thing is very clear. This is, you know, the control of Afghanistan for oil reasons. This is a strategy, a very important strategy aspect. And inside this fight, Osama bin Laden is, this is just a crim -- a small criminal in terms for diplomatic issues. So that's the reason why she discussed and there is a lot of evidence in the State Department archives that the reason why she discussed with the Taliban officer not to capture Osama bin Laden, but to deal with Taliban and to deal for oil reasons and energy security reasons. ZAHN: All right, Mr. Brisard and Mr. Dasquie, we have to leave it there. Our own ambassador in residence, Richard Butler, will respond to that as well as to more of the reporting in your book where you suggest that the FBI counter-terrorism expert actually accused the U.S. government of suspending its war on terrorism to protect these oil interests you talk about. Thank you both for your time this morning. We will address the rest of that in about five minutes or so. *********** AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN Explosive New Book Published in France Alleges that U.S. Was in Negotiations to Do a Deal with Taliban Aired January 8, 2002 - 07:34 ET PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Time to check in with ambassador-in- residence, Richard Butler, this morning. An explosive new book published in France alleges that the United States was in negotiations to do a deal with the Taliban for an oil pipeline in Afghanistan. Joining us right now is Richard Butler to shed some light on this new book. He is the former chief U.N. weapons inspector. He is now on the Council on Foreign Relations and our own ambassador-in- residence -- good morning. RICHARD BUTLER, FMR. U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good morning, Paula. ZAHN: Boy, if any of these charges are true... BUTLER: If... ZAHN: ... this... BUTLER: Yes. ZAHN: ... is really big news. BUTLER: I agree. ZAHN: Start off with what your understanding is of what is in this book -- the most explosive charge. BUTLER: The most explosive charge, Paula, is that the Bush administration -- the present one, just shortly after assuming office slowed down FBI investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the Taliban on oil -- an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. ZAHN: And this book points out that the FBI's deputy director, John O'Neill, actually resigned because he felt the U.S. administration was obstructing... BUTLER: A proper... ZAHN: ... the prosecution of terrorism. BUTLER: Yes, yes, a proper intelligence investigation of terrorism. Now, you said if, and I affirmed that in responding to you. We have to be careful here. These are allegations. They're worth airing and talking about, because of their gravity. We don't know if they are correct. But I believe they should be investigated, because Central Asian oil, as we were discussing yesterday, is potentially so important. And all prior attempts to have a pipeline had to be done through Russia. It had to be negotiated with Russia. Now, if there is to be a pipeline through Afghanistan, obviating the need to deal with Russia, it would also cost less than half of what a pipeline through Russia would cost. So financially and politically, there's a big prize to be had. A pipeline through Afghanistan down to the Pakistan coast would bring out that Central Asian oil easier and more cheaply. ZAHN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as you spoke about this yesterday, we almost immediately got a call from "The New York Times." BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: They want you to write an op-ed piece on this over the weekend. BUTLER: Right, and which I will do. ZAHN: But let's come back to this whole issue of what John O'Neill, this FBI agent... BUTLER: Right. ZAHN: ... apparently told the authors of this book. He is alleging that -- what -- the U.S. government was trying to protect U.S. oil interests? And at the same time, shut off the investigation of terrorism to allow for that to happen? BUTLER: That's the allegation that instead of prosecuting properly an investigation of terrorism, which has its home in Afghanistan as we now know, or one of its main homes, that was shut down or slowed down in order to pursue oil interests with the Taliban. The people who we have now bombed out of existence, and this not many months ago. The book says that the negotiators said to the Taliban, you have a choice. You have a carpet of gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs. That's what the book alleges. ZAHN: Well, I know you're going to be doing your own independent homework on this... BUTLER: Yes. ZAHN: ... to see if you can confirm any of this. Let's move on to the whole issue of Iraq. The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, at one time was considered one of those voices within the administration... BUTLER: Yes. ZAHN: ... that was pushing for moving beyond Afghanistan. He seemed to back off a little from that yesterday. BUTLER: Yes. ZAHN: What do you read through the tea leaves here? BUTLER: A very interesting report that the administration will focus on the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia as places where there are al Qaeda cells. But the word Iraq wasn't used by the man who was the chief hawk -- used as a, you know, as a future target. So what I interpret from that is this: That very likely our allies have been saying to us, this is too hard. This is really serious. Be careful. Saddam is essentially contained at the moment. Don't start, you know, a bigger problem either in the Arab world or in the coalition by going after him. And Wolfowitz, it seems, has probably accepted that. ZAHN: A quick thought on the Israelis intercepting this latest armed shipment? What that means? You've got to do it in about 15 seconds. BUTLER: It's extraordinarily serious, because it seems to have been tied to Yasser Arafat himself. It needs to be further investigated, but you know, Paula, the potentiality that this could once again prove an impediment to resume peace negotiations is really quite serious. ZAHN: Thank you as usual for covering so much territory. Richard Butler, see you same time, same place tomorrow morning. BUTLER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). ZAHN: We appreciate your insights. Return to GRAB BAG

THERE'S A NEW JESSE IN TOWN, TALKING SENSE February 3, 2002 Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND - founder Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson appeared on C-Span Washington Journal on February 2, 2002. Rev. Peterson talked common sense, advocated responsibility in the black community, and weathered caller criticism. Peterson condemned Jesse Jackson as a "racist demagogue" who's racial exploitation and extortion is damaging the black community and race relations throughout the country. Jesse Jackson appeared the next day (Feb. 3, 2002) on C-Span's Washington Journal Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson's book is well worth reading: >From Rage to Responsibility: Black Conservative Jesse Lee Peterson and America Today Author: Jesse Lee Lee Peterson Brad Stetson Publisher: Paragon House Publishers October 2000 >From Booknews Peterson, a motivational speaker, presents an analysis of contemporary liberalism and the havoc it is wreaking in American culture. Through the prism of his life experience and his history of grassroots community work on the streets of south-central Los Angeles, he examines the violations of common sense and sound thinking that the civil rights establishment and liberal lobbies perpetuate against the American public. He advocates a new culture of responsibility and moral renewal. Peterson is founder of an organization devoted to rebuilding families, and hosts a live call-in radio talk show. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR ( *************** REV. JESSE LEE PETERSON CHALLENGES JESSE JACKSON December 11, 2001 Conservative Black Leader Alleges Assault by Jesse Jackson's Son Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, head of the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny, was allegedly assaulted by the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson after a verbal confrontation with Rev. Jackson at a meeting with Toyota executives on Monday. B.O.N.D. officials described the altercation in a press release Tuesday afternoon, which is said to have taken place at a Los Angeles Trade Bureau Forum Meeting at the L.A. Chamber of Commerce - where Toyota executives were unveiling their "21st Century Diversity Strategy." Rev. Jackson was a featured speaker. Rev. Peterson drew a hostile response from the audience when, during a question and answer session, he asked whether conservative blacks would be locked out of Toyota training programs arranged as a result of Jackson's threatened boycott of the car maker earlier this year. "After several heated verbal exchanges between Rev. Peterson and Rainbow/PUSH officials, Jesse Jackson jumped in the fray by calling Rev. Peterson and other black conservatives 'parasites, who show up after someone else shakes the fruit off the trees,'" B.O.N.D. officials claimed. "What followed could only be described as fireworks as Rev. Peterson laid into Jackson for his snide personal attack; the two were sitting five feet from each other. "A security guard soon entered in an apparent attempt to remove Rev. Peterson, but he refused to leave. At this point Jonathan Jackson (Jesse's son) and two other Jackson supporters positioned themselves across from Rev. Peterson and glared at him for the remainder of the meeting." The B.O.N.D. press release continued: "At the meeting's conclusion, Jonathan Jackson attempted to block Rev. Peterson and a B.O.N.D. representative as they moved through a walkway. Rev. Peterson made his way past the younger Jackson despite this. "When Rev. Peterson and the B.O.N.D. representative moved to exit the room, Jonathan Jackson and several other men crossed the room and Jackson shoved Rev. Peterson." A spokeswoman at Rainbow/PUSH's Chicago headquarters told that she was unfamiliar with Rev. Peterson's allegation but would respond after reviewing accounts from both sides. *************** Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny ("Rebuilding the Family By Rebuilding the Man"), is sponsoring the "Third Annual National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson." This event is held annually on the day Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday is celebrated (the Third Annual Event will take place Monday, January 21, 2002, from 12 noon till 2 PM PST, and will be held every year until Jesse Jackson "repents of his wrongs.") Location: In front of Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH offices at 5750 Wilshire BLVD., Los Angeles, CA "Jesse Jackson is desperate and out of control," said Rev. Peterson. "Jackson has recently attempted to undermine the Bush Administration and the 'War on Terrorism' by trying to negotiate with the Taliban. Jackson is currently attempting to 'shakedown' corporations like Toyota Motors to enrich himself and his cronies. He doesn't care about poor blacks, or any other Americans. He has pit black against white, poor against rich, and his brand of exploitation has set race relations back fifty years-- we're saying no more! We are calling on all Americans of goodwill to stand against racist demagogues of every color." Return to GRAB BAG

PARTY GIRL KATIE COURIC CALLS IN 'SICK' Drudge Report - January 30, 2002 NBC's TODAY show host Katie Couric called in sick on Tuesday, taking a rest from her on-air duties. "Katie's a bit under the weather," subhost Ann Curry informed disappointed viewers. Couric, who just became the highest paid person in the history of the news business with a new multiyear, mulitmillion dollar contract, notified producers that she was suffering from mild flu, according to sources. Couric is paid an estimated $65,000 a day, under the new terms. More than eyebrows were raised around NBC in New York City when photos started to appear on the wires Tuesday evening taken at a party in Boston -- photos showing Couric partying it up with boyfriend, powerproducer Tom Werner! An estimated 800 movers and shakers gathered to celebrated the new owners of the Boston Red Sox. A smiling Werner likened himself to John F. Kennedy touring France with the glamorous Jackie by his side. "I'm the man who accompanied Katie Couric to this party tonight," he quipped onstage, paraphrasing JFK's famous remark. The dynamic duo ate, drank, and made merry for hours. "I thought she was sick!" blasted one low-ranked NBC employee. "With all the budget cuts going on, with everyone cutting back, and doubling up... she takes all the money -- and then calls in sick!!" Couric did not return calls requesting comment. DDC Note: The above story was confirmed in an Entertainment News Wire Service brief, but it went no further than that. The media/entertainment industry protects their own elite. Return to GRAB BAG

Southern Californians Buy Into the (Shallow) Lifestyle Survey: Data show that area consumers spend generously on looking good and doing good. By MARLA DICKERSON L.A. TIMES STAFF WRITER February 6 2002 Southern Californians spend more on housing, cars, clothes and grooming and less on books, booze and cigarettes than the rest of the country. So says a government survey released Tuesday on consumer spending that would seem to confirm some cliches about the local lifestyle. But although L.A. denizens might be a little self-absorbed when it comes to looking good, they're also generous, devoting a much bigger slice of their annual expenditures to charity than folks in the San Francisco area, who also spend twice as much on alcohol. These cultural and financial glimpses come courtesy of the Consumer Expenditure Survey, a dry, numerical compilation of household spending by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that nevertheless yields some juicy details on how people in different parts of the U.S. spend money. Tuesday's data for the Los Angeles area, which the survey identifies as Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties, reflect the most recent annual spending figures based on long-term household surveys taken in 1999 and 2000. The survey confirms some regional myths. For example, households in Dallas-Fort Worth do have Texas-size appetites, devoting $6,865, or 14.7% of their annual expenditures, to food, compared with the U.S. average of $5,094, or 13.5%. In the South, where iced tea is the drink of choice, Atlantans, with $322 in average annual alcohol expenditures, look like teetotalers compared with consumers in Denver, where households spend an average of $621 a year heading for the rocky mountains of Coors. "Usually cliches are based on some reality," said Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a social psychologist and management professor at the Claremont Graduate University. "The presentation of self through appearance is more important in Southern California . . . so these findings aren't really all that strange." Csikszentmihalyi was nonplused at the news that Southern California households spend $148 a year on books, compared with $153 nationally. "The weather is too nice to cuddle up with a good book," he said. In the Los Angeles area, the average household devoted $16,550, or 37% of its annual expenditures, to shelter--more than a third above the national average. On a percentage basis, households in the region are devoting even more of their resources to housing than pricey San Francisco or San Diego, where households earmarked just under 36% of their annual spending for shelter. The figures come as no surprise to local economy watchers, who say L.A.'s fast-growing population, high concentration of low-wage workers and short supply of new housing add up to budget-busting expenditures on housing. "Scarcity forces people to pay more," said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. If there is one image across the country that defines Angelenos, it is their love affair with the automobile. On average, L.A.-area households shell out $7,701 annually to keep their cars on the road, compared with the U.S. average of $7,215. Still, it's not as bad as it seems. On a percentage basis, Southlanders devote less of their spending on getting around--17.2%--than the rest of the nation--19.2%. The focus on image and the body is evident in expenditures on booze and cigarettes, which are lower than the national average. Households here spent $337 annually during the survey period for alcohol, compared with the U.S. average of $345. By comparison, wine-loving San Franciscans dropped $771 on alcoholic beverages. And California's tough no-smoking laws, high tobacco taxes and health-conscious lifestyle appear to be paying off in terms of tobacco expenditures. The average Los Angeles household spent just $204 annually on tobacco products during the survey period, compared with the U.S. average of $309. For Angelenos, the ultimate statement of identity appears to be clothing, according to the BLS data. During the 1999-2000 survey period, Los Angeles-area households spent an average of $2,450 annually on apparel. That's 35% more than the U.S. average on a dollar basis and well ahead of buttoned-down cities such as Seattle ($1,918) and Portland, Ore. ($1,507). Ilse Metchek, head of the California Fashion Assn., isn't surprised. She says Hollywood and the city's apparel industry make L.A. a fashion trendsetter, a place where residents are already on to the next big thing by the time the last fad hits middle America. Although it might seem logical that people in colder climates would spend more for clothing, Metchek said balmy weather means Southern Californians feel the need to look sharp all the time. She recently returned from a trip to Seattle and pronounced it a fashion disaster area. "I've never seen so many basic jeans and cloddy shoes," Metchek sniffed. "I guess those dot-com millionaires never figured out how to dress."

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