MSNBC Dumps Out; ABC Shows Nothing of Hearings; ER's Liberal Star
- CNN devoted
most of Wednesday morning to carrying the hearings, but not MSNBC
which ceased coverage after just one hour.
- CBS and NBC
led with Tyson Wednesday night. ABC's first story dealt with the
hearings but didn't show any hearings video as ABC concentrated on
Clinton's soaring popularity and deficit cutting.
- A former CNN
reporter realizes that the networks have under- covered the
- A star of
NBC's ER drama links Top Gun to fascism, says "I am for
socialized health care," and advocates gun control.
1) Wednesday morning (July
10) coverage of the Senate Government Affairs Committee hearings
consisted of full stories during the top of the show newscasts on GMA,
This Morning and Today, but no interview segments.
Other than half hourly news
updates and ad breaks, CNN stuck with hearings coverage from 9am to
1:30pm ET -- but with two big exceptions. CNN carried Clinton's Madrid
press conference from 10:45 to 11:15am ET and from 12:15pm to a bit
past 1pm ET CNN carried the Tyson announcement from Nevada.
MSNBC, which devoted more
time to the hearings than CNN on Tuesday, largely decided to skip the
opening witness on Wednesday. MSNBC carried Richard Sullivan's
testimony just from 9 to 10am ET. After that, MSNBC went back to
regular news programming with live updates on the hearing from Joe
Johns. Like CNN, MSNBC also carried the Clinton and Tyson press
2) CBS and NBC led Wednesday
night with the Mike Tyson boxing decision. But while ABC seemingly led
with a story on the hearings, ABC's piece did not show one second of
video from the hearings as the network made the scandal subservient to
ABC's hook: Clinton's soaring popularity and how he's tamed the
-- Peter Jennings opened the
July 9 World News Tonight:
"Good evening, we're going to begin tonight with scandal and the
state of the economy. The President's popularity ratings are up the
highest level ever, even though many people believe he has violated
political ethics when raising money and still must defend himself
against the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. The President's
approval rating is at 64 percent. But take a look at this -- the
President's rating over the past 18 months follows almost precisely
what you think about the economy."
Reporter John Donvan began:
"Mr. Clinton in Europe is moving like a man on a roll. A summit
here where he got almost everything he wanted, an economy back home
that is the best in decades. Even the charges being raised about his
party's fundraising tactics do not seem to stick..."
Following a clip of Clinton
reacting the a question about the Chinese trying to buy influence,
over file footage of John Huang Donvan announced:
"On testimony today that
Mr. Clinton personally referred this man, John Huang, the central
figure in the Senate investigation, for a fundraising job in the
Democratic Party, the President for the first time confirmed the story
himself. But his demeanor, and especially his answer, sent a message
that it's no big deal to him."
Clinton: "First of all,
most people don't volunteer to help you raise money in this world.
It's normally an onerous task, and so if anybody volunteered, I would
have referred virtually anybody's name to the party."
Donvan: "The President's
aides say that Mr. Clinton is too busy with diplomacy to pay much
attention to the Senate investigation."
Donvan did conclude by noting
that aides back in Washington are watching the hearings.
Next, Jennings intoned:
"There may be some other reasons of course why the President is
feeling optimistic. One of them may have to do with eliminating the
budget deficit. Here's ABC's John Cochran."
Cochran explained that
"the economy is so strong right now, Americans are making so much
more money than expected, and paying so much more in taxes, that new
government figures show the budget deficit could disappear entirely as
early as next year, even without a budget deal..."
After showing some numbers,
Cochran suggested they mean there's no need to implement those
terrible conservative policies:
"Some argue the new budget figures show there is no need to make
big changes in Medicare, or to cut taxes for the well-to-do. But even
many liberals are reluctant to vote against tax cuts."
Following a soundbite from
Congressman Charles Rangel, Cochran concluded:
"A few in Congress may
argue that the new deficit figures show that if it aint broke don't
fix it, but for better or worse, the budget deal has built up too much
steam now to be stopped by the naysayers."
ABC's view: Everybody just
loves Clinton and the deficit problem has been solved, so who really
cares about these bothersome hearings or could support that GOP plan
to help the rich?
-- The CBS Evening News led
with the Nevada Athletic Commission decision about boxer Mike Tyson
followed by a fundraising hearing re-cap. Reporter Phil Jones
explained that former DNC fundraising chief Richard Sullivan
"testified that personal interest from President Clinton"
led the DNC to hire John Huang. Turning to the Buddhist fundraising
event starring Vice President Al Gore, Jones relayed that
"Sullivan said there was absolutely no way that Mr. Gore could
have known it was a fundraiser." Jones ended by noting Justice
Department opposition to providing immunity to John Huang.
Next, from the NATO summit in
Madrid, Rita Braver opened her story:
"President Clinton barely had time to savior his leading role in
the expansion of NATO when he was plunged back into the Democratic
fundraising controversy he's tried to avoid this trip. At a news
conference he was asked about reports that he personally pressured
Democratic Party officials to hire fundraiser John Huang. Mr.
Clinton's memory was vague."
Following the same Clinton
soundbite run by ABC Braver moved on to Clinton's comments about
Medicare and the tobacco settlement. Braver at least called his answer
"vague," unlike ABC's Donvan who psychoanalyzed Clinton's
demeanor. But it's a bit odd for Braver to say Clinton "was
plunged back into" the scandals as if she's some uninvolved
observer. She's the one who posed the question at the press conference
about Huang. And actually, Clinton was largely able to
"avoid" the scandals: of the 12 questions posed, just two
dealt with a scandal matter -- Braver's on Huang and one about China.
-- Tyson topped NBC Nightly
News followed by a story on FBI testimony about encrypted
communication. After the ad break, Lisa Myers reviewed the Sullivan
testimony starting with how Sullivan said "he was told the
President personally intervened to get controversial fundraiser John
Huang his job." Myers added: "Also involved, the Lippo
Group" which lobbied the President. Myers ended by noting
Attorney General Janet Reno' opposition to immunity for Huang as Myers
observed immunity would make it impossible to prosecute for any crime,
David Bloom then provided the
view from Clinton in Madrid. After explaining that Clinton has no
evidence of a Chinese plot to influence elections, Bloom asserted:
"The President was vague when asked about how he helped John
Huang get a job as a Democratic fundraiser." Bloom concluded his
piece with the White House spin on how the whole investigation is a
waste of money:
"The White House is also trying to downplay the significance of
these hearings. Said one presidential aide, there's been a lot of
chest thumping and partisan speeches, but he added, it's harder to see
where all the money they've been spending has gone. Brian."
3) A media figure on a
television show admitting that the networks have dropped the ball on
fundraising scandal coverage? Amazingly, it has happened. MRC news
analyst Clay Waters caught this comment from Deborah Potter, serving
as substitute host on CNN's Reliable Sources on July 6. Potter
"When the gavel comes
down Tuesday to open the hearings, will the media's interest in the
issue go up? In recent months, the number of fundraising stories on
the evening news has gone way down and many major newspapers have
pared their investigative teams. But that could all change this week.
The all news cable networks plan live coverage of the hearings, but
they're not sure when or how much."
Potter is a former CBS News
and CNN reporter who now works for a media-related foundation, though
I'm not sure which one. I guess it takes a "former" reporter
to acknowledge the obvious.
4) Back in February Chicago
Hope, the CBS drama set in a hospital, included a story line in which
the hospital administrator testified before a Ted Kennedy-chaired
Senate committee about the desperate need for nationalized health
care. (See the February 19 CyberAlert.) NBC's hospital drama ER has
kept such blatant politics out of the show, but one its stars sees the
world from the left. Reading the July Playboy interview with Anthony
Edwards, who plays Dr. Mark Greene on the show which airs Thursday
nights, MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson picked up a couple of
After Edwards said that most
of his movies "didn't turn out the way I had hoped," the
interviewer asked "Even Top Gun?" Edwards replied:
"Especially Top Gun.
People love that big, romantic, wonderful movie about planes and
flying and all that crap. I thought it was jingoistic. I have nothing
against fighter pilots. They fly beautifully. I guess I'm just an old
peacenik, but I don't believe in killing people. I'm wary of simple
black-and-white answers because that's the way to fascism, and I don't
believe in war. Everything I do creatively these days should be a shot
at what the military stands for."
"You're a bit of a
hippie, aren't you?" suggested the interviewer. Edwards agreed:
"I am very liberal. I'm
against the death penalty. I am for socialized health care. I want gun
control. The fact that we tolerate millions of handguns on our streets
is a childish joke. People blame drugs and anything else they can
think of, but it's OK for us all to happily carry handguns. That's
horseshit. Show me one city police force that doesn't want gun
Death penalty bad. Gun
control good. Sounds like some "simple black-and-white
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