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Networks owe Clinton and the American people an apology

I think ABC, CBS and NBC (to a partial extent, since they did cover 30 minutes of the press conference) owe the American people and the president of the United States an apology for not

televising the president's first prime-time news conference, 8 to 8:40 p.m. on June 17.

Surely, the networks have an obligation to help keep us informed in an appropriate, timely fashion as to what is happening in these United States. I also believe that when the president of the United States calls a news conference, he should be given the courtesy of allowing all Americans to hear what he has to say at that time. We should not be forced to rely on TV anchormen or journalists to report after the fact.

If the actions of ABC, CBS and NBC are considered to be freedom of the press (or other media) to withhold or deny the American people instant access to such important happenings in our country, then the rest of us have lost one of our basic freedoms.

Fortunately I had access to CNN, for which I pay a monthly charge. Thank God I still have the freedom to choose another network. But there are many people who do not have cable TV, so they were deprived of the opportunity to hear, first-hand, our president's plans for our country's future.

Hopefully the major networks will be more responsive to our needs.

Eva A. Barnett, St. Petersburg

Last year's presidential campaign was inundated with accusations of a liberal press, mostly from the Republican camp. Last week the new president of the United States holds the first prime-time news conference of his term and two major networks, ABC and CBS, boycott. Why? Did they ever once miss a Reagan or Bush news conference? What was that again about a "liberal" press?

Sarah J. Pirkey, Palm Harbor

President Clinton made his first national speech last week. His speech to the American people was carried live on only one of the three networks _ ABC and CBS decided not to carry it. I heard the president on CNN. When Mr. Reagan was president, he gave 12 different speeches on prime time, carried by all three networks.

It was and is important for the people of this great country to understand what their leaders are planning. It was important for the president to explain directly to all of us what it is he is trying to do. He is making a bold and great effort to turn this country around.

The media bashing of the president has gone on almost from the day he took office. The Republicans have been sniping away after their snooze of 12 years. Sen. Dole continues to disagree with everything the president does or says. The few Republicans may be excused, they like what they had. But the media, well! They have acted most unprofessionally and shamefully, and this is true also for the CEOs of the two networks.

Allan Levy, Hudson

Most important qualification

Re: Cellmate's smoking grounds for suit, June 19.

Section A, front-page news: Supreme Court rules by a 7 to 2 vote that a prisoner forced to share a cell with a smoker has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Another section has an article discussing the new nominee for the Supreme Court.

Nowhere in all the write-ups and discussions do I find the most important qualification for those chosen to sit on the highest court in the United States. The most important qualification (no, not being a lawyer): a person with common sense which, unfortunately, seven who voted on the smoking issue did not show.

It's about time we quit appointing judges to the Supreme Court for life.

Ralph E. Reis, Hernando

Major risk factor

Re: Cholesterol diets are in turmoil, May 25.

One of my patients has just given me the article by Joe and Teresa Graedon implying that "Dickhad deprived himself needlessly all those years" by following a low-cholesterol diet.

You do your readers a disservice by publishing this material. Over the last 20 years, heart attack rates have been steadily falling in the United States and there is wide agreement among cardiologists that cholesterol levels (a) are directly associated with heart disease, and (b) people reduce their risk by eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Of course, it is not the only risk factor, but it is a major one.

As far as the French are concerned, all countries where large amounts of red wine are consumed _ France, Spain, Italy, Greece _ have low heart attack rates. Maybe more Americans should live like Southern Europeans and not worry about things so much.

Christopher Davey, M.D., St. Petersburg

An excuse, not a reason

Re: Johnson is a reflection of what he was taught, June 15, by Mary Jo Melone.

Mary Jo Melone is, indeed, a controversial columnist. Sometimes I agree with her and other times I disagree, but I never fail to read her.

In the above-cited article, I must totally agree.

It is a shame that such a talented athlete as Issac Johnson should feel that his criminal activity should be overlooked because he has been "disadvantaged" because of his race. That is an excuse, not a reason.

Perhaps he was taught that the "establishment" dictates that minorities must rob and steal to survive. Perhaps he was taught that abusing women is an acceptable practice. Perhaps there is an element that perceives that his arrest on the eve of the big game was a racist-motivated or rival-motivated act. I can't buy any of it.

An old adage comes to mind: "If you do the crime, you do the time," regardless of your race.

It's time that all of us stop teaching hatred and bigotry and start accepting responsibility for our own actions. Race should have no role in our judicial system. Only law and order should prevail in our society.

As for Issac Johnson, I hope he can accept his fate as the man he wants everyone to think he is, rehabilitate himself and become a success in life. He is much too talented to lose out on success because of what he was "taught."

Charles W. Campbell, Homosassa

Sad-bad news

Re: Sad state: Theater closes Friday, June 16.

I read with dismay that the State Theater was to have its last concert on June 18. Could you not have waited until Saturday to have printed its obituary?

I planned on going to see Rory Block until I read the sad-bad news. I don't have transportation so I must rely on taxi service from Kenneth City to downtown, which runs about $10 each way. I would not take a chance on a cancellation because of a poor turnout. I could be wrong, but I don't feel like losing 20 bucks to find out.

It is very sad that nothing survives downtown St. Petersburg, regardless of the reason. Now I have no reason to ever go downtown for anything.

What a shame to lose such a fine place to showcase these excellent artists. I guess I'll just have to purchase my music.

Steve Oromaner, Kenneth City

A great movie, but . . .

I really enjoyed Jurassic Park. It was truly a great movie. But, for the life of me, I cannot imagine what Steven Spielberg could have been thinking in developing the role of the chain-smoking scientist. This role was played by an African-American, no less!

With all the real-life pain and suffering caused by smoking, what good could it possibly have accomplished? It didn't even add anything to the character!

It was especially distressing to think that some African-American youngsters will be viewing this movie and its role model for the next millennium. Doesn't Spielberg know how disproportionately prevalent smoking is among African-American youths and how the cigarette companies are especially marketing them?

I am sure he didn't mean it. I just wish he would have thought about his young viewers.

What a great movie!

Arnold P. Andrews, Executive Vice President,

Operation PAR Inc., St. Petersburg

Serving the citizens

Re: Martin Dyckman's Consolidate police services, June 16.

There is no question that some consolidation will come, but the statement that two sheriff's deputies 24 hours daily is "probably cheaperthan a department of its own and a lot safer for the officers as well," is factually wrong on the financial guess and probably wrong on the safety factor.

I can only speak of Indian Shores/Redington Shores police services. Our officers are at least as well-trained and equipped as any department. We work with the Sheriff's Department and nearby police, as reported in your news story in the same edition, so our officers are never "alone" in that there is backup available as quickly as possible. Our car-borne computers and personal radios immediately access sheriff's deputies and other police officers.

Our taxpayers support 13 sworn officers, a full-time dispatcher-clerk and two part-time dispatchers. At midnight we switch to the sheriff's dispatchers. With two to three officers on the road (about 3.65 miles, north to south) 21 hours each day and one officer for three quiet hours, we can (and do) field the chief, lieutenant and detective as necessary. And our dispatchers know the towns, as do the officers. Calls to our local number and to 911 are immediately answered by our own people and do not have to be prioritized in competition with calls from all over the county.

Indian Shores and Redington Shores would have to come up with an additional $260,719 to replace this full-service department with two sheriff's deputies for each town. That's one of the reasons that when/if consolidation happens, it will probably be among the municipalities, not with the county. Egos may have some bearing, but service to our citizens has more.

Bob McEwen, Mayor, Indian Shores

Contradiction in assessments?

Re: Justice depends on your point of view, June 12.

Times columnist Elijah Gosier writes of the characterization (by William Lozano's attorney Roy Black) of Miami's Overtown section as a "high-crime areawhere survival was uppermost in Lozano's mind." The columnist seems to believe that the attorney's characterization of Overtown was both unfair and a big factor in Lozano's acquittal.

Yet, in response to Lozano's desire to return to the police force and to his old beat, Overtown, Gosier writes: "I hope Black told him he'll be a fool to drive through Overtown, let alone work there. And I hope Black knows the same advice applies to him."

Doesn't Gosier see any contradiction in his own assessments of Overtown and Lozano's ability to survive there?

Bob Armbruster, Seminole

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, (FAX number, 893-8675). They must include the handwritten signature and address of the writer. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

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