Clinton Buddy & Adviser Takes Over CNN; Al Gore's Calls Ignored
- The new
President of CNN: Rick Kaplan, a FOB who crossed the line to
strategize in 1992 with candidate Bill Clinton on how to overcome
the Gennifer Flowers story.
- Al Gore made
many more fundraising calls than he previously admitted from
federal property, but the networks are silent.
InterNight focused on Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's sex life, but last
week instead of mentioning Kathleen Willey the show asked Mike
McCurry about the Air Force One movie.
1) CNN has tapped Rick
Kaplan, a Friend of Bill who advised him on how to overcome the
Gennifer Flowers revelation and was rewarded with a stay in the
Lincoln Bedroom, to take control of its news operation. A top ABC News
producer who has run Nightline, Prime Time Live and World
News Tonight, Kaplan was named President of CNN on Tuesday. And
who picked Kaplan? Tom Johnson, a Democratic activist turned President
of CNN who now has the title of Chairman of the CNN News Group. Tom
Johnson served as Deputy Press Secretary and later Special Assistant
to President Lyndon Johnson the late 1960s.
CNN brought Kaplan in to try
to pump up its sagging ratings. The AP noted: "CNN's average
daily audience has shrunk from 526,000 households in July 1995 to
341,000 last month and is heavy on older viewers that many advertisers
shy away from."
So what background does
Kaplan bring to CNN? Shortly after he took over World News Tonight,
this is how Knight-Ridder's Marc Gunther opened a profile story that
ran in the February 8, 1994 Detroit News:
"When ABC News installed
Rick Kaplan as Executive Producer of World News Tonight, the network
put an FOB -- friend of Bill, President Clinton, that is -- in charge
of America's most watched evening newscast.
"Kaplan and Clinton have
know each other since the late 1970s, and last year the ABC producer
played golf with the President and spent a night in the Lincoln
"But conservative media
critics [that's the MRC] say Kaplan went beyond friendship during the
1992 campaign when he operated as an occasional and informal adviser
to Clinton, while working as Executive Producer of Prime Time
From the March, 1997 MediaWatch,
an excerpt from the Revolving Door column detailing how Kaplan crossed
the line during the 1992 campaign:
The names of several media
executives were sprinkled among the 831 names made public of
overnight White House guests in Clinton's first term: CNN founder
Ted Turner, CBS Entertainment President Leslie Moonves, and Rick
Kaplan, a long-time ABC News executive recently in charge of
specials in ABC's entertainment division....
Kurtz noted that Kaplan was
the Executive Producer of World News Tonight when he "stayed at
the White House with his wife in the summer of 1993." So, is
there anything wrong with accepting an invitation from Clinton, whom
Kaplan calls a longtime "friend"? Not as long as you keep
it secret, Kaplan suggested in the March 3 Electronic Media:
"It's nobody's business." Kurtz summarized Kaplan's view:
"Kaplan said his visit did not create an appearance problem
because it was never made public until now. He said his ties to
Clinton had no impact on his work." He assured Kurtz: "The
idea that you could suddenly decide to gild the lily or twist the
news, it's a non-starter."
Kaplan is more than just a
one-night guest. While Executive Producer of Prime Time Live in 1992
he provided Clinton campaign strategy when the Gennifer Flowers
story broke. "Clinton called Kaplan for advice," Los
Angeles Times reporter Tom Rosenstiel recounted in his campaign book
Strange Bedfellows. On the way to the airport, Clinton made another
call to Kaplan and the "night ended for Kaplan at 4am, when
Clinton called one last time."
Two months later as
Clinton's campaign floundered in New York, aides suggested an
appearance on the Don Imus show. "The appearance was
clinched," CNN producer Matthew Saal recalled in the January
1993 Washington Monthly, "when Rick Kaplan...called the radio
show host to see if he could get the pair together. The answer was
In the overnight calls
after the Flowers story broke, Gunther noted that Rosenstiel quoted
Kaplan as telling Clinton: "Do the toughest interview you can.
If you want to prove your credibility, you don't want to do it on
Good Morning America or the Today show. And you don't won't get
ratings in the morning. You have to go for the largest
audience." After Clinton decided to go on 60 Minutes, during
the 4am call, Rosenstiel learned, Kaplan advised Clinton to face
down a famous name like Mike Wallace or Morley Safer. Voters
"are going to remember that you stood up to Mike Wallace."
[The Clinton's went on with Steve Kroft.]
Of course, if Kaplan were
acting as a newsman and not a political adviser he would have used
his friendship to get Clinton to appear on an ABC show.
News stories on the Fox
News Channel frequently emphasize that FNC President Roger Ailes
was a campaign strategist to Republicans and George Bush in 1988.
Check the stories you read today on Kaplan to see how many mention
Kaplan's Clinton connection. The AP story by David Bauder did not.
And CNN better make sure
its libel insurance is paid up. Kaplan was Executive Producer of
Prime Time Live when it aired the Food Lion story. In addition to
assessing a judgment against ABC News, the North Carolina jury
assessed a $35,000 judgment personally on Kaplan.
2) A Tuesday New York
Daily News story revealed that Vice President Al Gore placed many
more fundraising call than previously admitted, but the broadcast
networks skipped the disclosure. MRC development associate David Young
alerted me to the story highlighted on the Drudge Report Web site. In
a story headlined "Veep Gore Dials for Dollars," Washington
reporter Thomas Galvin began his August 5 piece:
"When Vice President
Gore called philanthropist Ann Getty from his White House office in
late 1995 to ask her for campaign cash, it took a minute to squeeze
$50,000 out of her. Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos took a
little longer. Gore stayed on the phone for 4 and a half minutes
before Angelos agreed to fork over $100,000, according to fund-raising
documents obtained by the Daily News....
"Gore contends the calls
were legal, but his phone solicitations defied White House lawyer
Abner Mikva's admonition to keep fund-raising activities off federal
"The documents, which
compile calls billed to a Clinton-Gore campaign credit card, show that
he made phone solicitations on nine different occasions....
"In all, the documents
show Gore made at least 48 phone calls suggesting he was far busier on
the phone than he indicated when his fund-raising calls became public
Coverage: Zilch on
Tuesday's ABC Good Morning America, This Morning on CBS and NBC's
Today. Same wipe-out in the evening as ABC's World News
Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News all ignored
MRC news analyst Clay Waters
caught this related exchange on last Wednesday's (July 30) Larry King
Live on CNN:
Larry King: "How about
some, mostly on the political right, who say that we are not giving
enough attention to this finance story?"
Tom Brokaw: "I
think that the highlights certainly have been there. We did another
big story tonight on NBC Nightly News about Charlie Trie. We did one
last night about where his money came from. When there has been
something new and interesting that advances the story, we put it right
on the air...."
Right on the air? Really? The
night Brokaw appeared on King's show, NBC Nightly News had failed to
tell its viewers that the White House had released papers showing that
Trie's contact, Mr. Wu, had attended ten White House functions. Both
ABC and CBS highlighted this and Fred Thompson's anger over how the
White House had delayed releasing the documents. Nightly News and
Today have yet to report anything about this example of White House
Then Tuesday night Nightly
News didn't bother with "highlights" of the Gore news. But
that matches how NBC Nightly News handled the last fundraising calls
revelation. "Clinton Sought Role as Fundraiser, Memo Says"
announced a front page New York Times headline on Thursday, July 24.
Contradicting earlier White House recollections, the New York Times
revealed that "President Clinton personally requested a list of
potential contributors whom he offered to call..." Neither NBC
Nightly News or ABC's World News Tonight uttered a word about it.
3) As detailed in the August
5 CyberAlert, CNN's Inside Politics allocated barely two
minutes to the Kathleen Willey story last week and has yet to update
it with the new details provided by the August 11 Newsweek. But
on Monday CNN dedicated half of Inside Politics to allegations that
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is having an affair with his
MSNBC's InterNight has
now also found Giuliani more newsworthy than Clinton. The cable
network devoted half of the August 5 InterNight to an interview with
the Vanity Fair writer who broke the story of Giuliani and how the New
York press had failed to report his supposed affair, Jennet Conant,
followed by a discussion with three New York City reporters. This all
came a day after Giuliani denied the story.
But last Wednesday,
InterNight host David Bloom did not ask his guest, White House Press
Secretary Mike McCurry, a thing about the Willey story which broke
earlier in the day.
Bloom began by inquiring
about handling crisis news such as that day's bombing in Israel, then
moved on to Clinton's popularity: "Approval rating of 56 percent.
This is virtually as high as he was ever. In January of 1994, he was a
tick higher, 60 percent, but, I mean, in the midst of all these
campaign finance hearings, and all this, the American people seem to
be saying what, in your estimation?"
Next, Bloom challenged
McCurry "You have been described, and I can say this from
personal testimony as White House correspondent for NBC News, as
combative, as the most partisan press secretary ever, some say. How do
you respond to that charge?"
Bloom spent the rest of the
interview posing seven questions about the movies "Air Force
One" and "Contact," about Leno and Letterman jokes and
whether McCurry pushed Chelsea to attend his alma mater, Princeton.
Here are a few of Bloom's questions:
clip from Air Force One, America's number one movie starring
Harrison Ford. The person who gets to actually fly on the
plane day in and day out is sitting next to me. White House
Spokesman Mike McCurry. Talk to me about the reality of
flying on Air Force One versus this movie, which I know has
quickly become a presidential favorite."
laughing right now, but do you sit around with the President
and watch Leno or Letterman and laugh at these jokes?"
me ask you this: You are known for, generally I would say,
your candor and also for your sense of humor. I mean,
there's, there are a lot of people who think that, that you
can jibe with the best of them, and that's what makes you an
effective spokesman. You said, when you first took this job,
'Working here everyday ought to be a joyful experience and
not endless drudgery.' Is it, in fact, a combination of
I'd put this in the
"joyful" category -- being interviewed by a major network
White House correspondent, but he doesn't raise an issue that you want
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