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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| April 23, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 55) |


Larry King's Clinton Spin; Washington Post Labeling

1.  ABC finds that Clinton knows how to fill the need for sympathy; Whitewater grand jury extended but viewers have no idea why.

2.  Larry King interviews James McDougal, but spends much of show spinning for Clinton. King insists: "The President had nothing to do with illegalities here."

3.  In The Washington Post conservatives are "conservative," but liberals don't require any labeling.

4.  April MediaNomics and MediaWatch now on the MRC Web site. A complete list of story topics.

1) Tuesday was a quiet day on the political news front, but ABC's World News Tonight did offer a couple of interesting items. Reporting on President Clinton's trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota, John Donvan began his story:

"There was a need in Grand Forks today that this President knows better than most how to satisfy. It was the need for sympathy..."

Later, Peter Jennings announced: "In Little Rock Arkansas today a federal judge has extended the life of the Whitewater grand jury for another six months. In papers filed this morning independent counsel Kenneth Starr said the extra time is needed because he has gathered quote 'extensive evidence of possible obstruction of justice,' although he does not say by whom..."
(The CBS Evening News also ran a short item read by substitute anchor John Roberts on Starr's request.)

Viewers would have a better appreciation of what is intriguing Starr and who he thinks is obstructing justice if ABC and CBS had reported any of the numerous recent newspaper stories on Web Hubbell. As noted in CyberAlerts last week and yesterday, the networks have skipped over:

-- The Washington Post story detailing 70 meetings with Hubbell by Clinton officials.

-- The Los Angeles Times story on Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey maintaining contact with Hubbell while Hubbell was being asked to cooperate by Starr.

-- Another LA Times story on how a White House lawyer wrote "monitor cooperation" by Hubbell's name.

-- A Washington Times story on how, before Hubbell left the Justice Department, Hillary Clinton was notified that he was under investigation.

-- A New York Times story headlined "White House Knew in '94 That Hubbell Was Focus of Inquiry."

2) James McDougal spent an hour Monday night (April 21) on CNN's Larry King Live. King and McDougal spent much time on McDougal's claim that Bill Clinton did indeed attend a meeting where he urged David Hale to get an illegal $300,000 SBA loan for Susan McDougal, and speculating as to why Susan McDougal refuses to say whether Bill Clinton was truthful when he testified at her trial.

Intermixed with those discussions, King repeatedly served as an advocate for Clinton, putting the best spin possible on Clinton's actions. Here are some examples from exchanges culled from the transcript on the CNN Web page:

King, on the meeting to pressure Hale on loan: "But that day, in that office, wasn't he helping your wife when he said give her the help with the loan, wasn't he doing you a favor?"
McDougal: "Well he wasn't doing it because I asked him do. I don't know who sent him there."
King: "No matter what the reason, wasn't he doing something nice for your wife?"
McDougal: "Well, yes. Which would also profit, be somewhat to his advantage."
King: "But that gives you no less feeling about turning the tide?"

King, on Susan McDougal's refusal to answer the question about Clinton's truthfulness, which has put her in jail for contempt: "Do you respect the principle she is standing for? She doesn't have to be in jail."
McDougal: "I respect her enormously. We could go all day, I mean, and I'm not going say anything bad about Susan McDougal."
King: "I'm not expecting you to. The amazing thing is she is standing up for someone who you are no longer friends with our standing up for."

King: "The President had nothing to do with illegalities here."
McDougal: "Nothing, that is right."
King: "You're just saying he is lying about that meeting."
McDougal: "Yeah."
King: "He was at the meeting, and saying he wasn't is lying."
McDougal: "Right."
King: "But he didn't do anything illegal at the meeting?"
McDougal: "That's right."
King: "A governor can say...
McDougal: "Anything he wants to."
King: "And he could also say this woman is entitled, give her a loan, if she's entitled. Right? It's not illegal."
McDougal: "Right."
King: "He didn't say hey, take care of her, I will take care of you."
McDougal: "No."

King: "Do you think Mr. Clinton might say -- President Clinton might say -- you know, Jim, got me started in this whole thing to begin with. He's the one that called me about Whitewater. I don't know from land deals -- McDougal took me down this stream."
McDougal: "Well, he might say that, but it was a very comfortable trip down the stream."

King: "Why do you think the public -- I mean the President's popularity is very high -- despite all of this, it remains high, despite fundraising supposed scandals. How do you explain that?"
McDougal: "Well, I think the country is very prosperous. I think again that..."
King: "He must have had something to do with that."
McDougal: "I think he's very a highly successful administration. He's a extremely likable fellow. And I think we're probably a little less self-righteous than we used to be."
King: "All right. So what if we made this case -- OK, he's pretty tough with fundraising. But there's no proof that the Chinese had any in, except they gave money. He did a bad deal for you. And he has turned on his friends maybe a little. But nobody made big money in Whitewater. It was years ago. He was in Arkansas. He's a good President. I am happy. No boy is dying overseas. Country seems to be coming around. Supreme court is pretty good. Are you better off than you were four years ago? Yes. What I if I made that case?"

You just did.

3) Tuesday's Washington Post displayed a disparity in ideological labeling, observed MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham. He reported to me:

The Washington Post is again presenting the political teams as the conservatives versus the nonpartisans. In a front page story headlined "Critics Find Environmental Bias in Schools," reporter Joby Warrick picked up a conservative topic related to Earth Day. She examined alleged bias of environmental education offered to America's children, with the help of subsidies from the EPA. In response to complaints that courses are "unbalanced" and "serve up a steady diet of gloomy, politically slanted messages about the planet's future," Texas officials held a seminar in Houston where oil and chemical companies, with their own money, presented the other side.

Warrick noted the seminar "infuriated environmental groups, who say they weren't invited." Warrick identified Michael Sanera's book (with Jane Shaw) on environmental education as "being hailed by conservatives...But environmentalists say that both the book and the Houston seminar are part of a nationwide effort by industries and political conservatives to discredit environmental instruction -- while simultaneously promoting industry-friendly teaching materials and textbooks."

Warrick noted that "conservative lawmakers" were concerned, but that the Center for a Commercial-Free Public Education, which she failed to tag, is trying to refute Sanera's book. The Post reporter went on to refer to Republican Senators Lauch Faircloth and James Inhofe as "staunch conservatives," but didn't provide a label for the North American Association for Environmental Education, which works with the EPA to write the educational guidelines.

The Post appears incapable of using a liberal label to describe environmentalists, no matter how radical. Inside Tuesday's paper, the Post ran a story on a study about logging in British Columbia. Greenpeace released the study, but the Post didn't apply a label.

4) The April editions of MediaNomics and MediaWatch can now be read on the MRC Web site, thanks to the efforts Tuesday of the MRC's Web manager, Joe Alfonsi.

For MediaNomics, published by the MRC's Free Market Project, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/archive/mediawatch/archive1997.asp

The April MediaNomics stories:

  • Too Much Growth? Too Many Jobs? -- Network Reporters Wedded to the Phillips Curve
  • Issue Analysis: Prime Time TV -- Beware of Investors, Entertainment Television's Portrayal of Investment
  • Feminism Trumps Truth -- Media Ignore Holes in Study of Women's Earnings
  • Kudos to ABC News-- for stock market coverage
  • Guest Editorial: Tax Hike Hide and Seek, by Michael Schuyler

For MediaWatch, go to:

The April MediaWatch features:

  • Page One. Yawning at Webster's Wallet -- Networks Ignore Emerging Story of Hubbell's $400,000 Pre-Prison Bonanza
  • Page Two: Ignoring Pedophilia -- Incomplete Tributes to Poet Allen Ginsberg
  • Newsbites. Boobs on the Tube; Lauer's Cover Story; Rather Wrongs House Rebels; Pay Up Or No Tornado Warnings; Fancying Finland; Walter's War on Israel; Voters Cause Pedophilia?
  • On the Bright Side: AmeriCorps Really Ameridrain
  • Page Three. Rosenberg's Guilt -- ABC, CBS, Still Soft-Pedaling.
  • Janet Cooke Award. If John Major's "Sleazy" What's Clinton?
  • Study. Still Not Enough Time For Religion News
  • Back Page. Media Reputation Slides: Liberal Bias Hurts Credibility

There's plenty of fresh material that has not previously appeared in CyberAlerts.

  -- Brent Baker





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