Diana Before Al Gore; Murdoch a Murderer?; Bye-bye Joan
- Gore raised
definitely illegal to solicit "hard money" from the
White House, but two of three networks skipped the disclosure. ABC
dedicated most of its news, and CBS all but 48 seconds, to Diana.
- Who are
"the media moguls of tabloid sleaze" who created the
paparazzi? CBS offered only one name: Rupert Murdoch.
- ABC and CBS
have yet to report anything about Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary
trading meetings for donations. ABC claimed that reporters were
"clamoring" for details on Gore. Not quite.
- Friday is
Joan Lunden's last day. Before she goes, remember her as an
advocate of more government spending for any feel-good cause.
Wednesday's Washington Post revealed that contrary to the official
Gore line, money he raised went into "hard" accounts from
which funds were distributed to candidates, not just "soft
money" accounts at the DNC. But, of the three broadcast networks
Wednesday night, only ABC's World News Tonight told viewers about the
disclosure. The Post's Bob Woodward reported in a September 3 front
"More than $120,000 in
campaign contributions personally solicited in 1995-96 by Vice
President Gore for a 'soft money' account not covered by federal law
instead went into a 'hard money' account subject to federal election
"The distinction is
significant because Attorney General Janet Reno has cited the absence
of evidence that high-level government officials sought hard money
donations as a key reason not to recommend appointment of an
independent counsel to investigate fundraising activities for last
Though the fourth night of
evening news broadcasts since Princess Diana's death, ABC and CBS
devoted more than half their evening shows to the tragedy and related
stories. The CBS Evening News in fact dedicated all but 48 seconds to
Diana. NBC Nightly News actually spent less than half its show on
Diana. The extra time allowed NBC to run a story on....JonBenet
ABC's World News Tonight on
September 3 dedicated 13 and a half minutes of its 22 minute show to
Diana Spencer. Between those stories ABC squeezed a story from Linda
Douglass on the Post revelation on how money Gore raised went to
individual campaigns and that the Justice Department is now
considering the appropriateness of an independent counsel. Total time
for the intro from Peter Jennings and the Douglass piece -- 1:47.
NBC Nightly News allocated a
mere ten a half minutes to how Diana is still dead and related
stories, less than half their newscast. Of course, that also gave NBC
time for a 2:10 story on the release of the text of the JonBenet
That's about the same amount
of time NBC gave to a Tom Brokaw/Tim Russert segment on Al Gore. In
the 2:20 long segment Russert announced that the Justice Department
had taken the first of three steps necessary along the path toward
appointing an independent counsel and that the Senate hearings on
Thursday will examine Gore's role in the fundraiser at the Buddhist
Temple. But, Russert made no mention of the Post's "hard
money" discovery that had prompted the Justice action.
It's All Diana, All the Time.
Or, to play off the all-news radio promo, at the CBS Evening News it's
"Give Us 22 Minutes and We'll Give You the World of Diana."
CBS allocated all but 48 seconds of Wednesday's Evening News to the
The show led with a seven
minute-long "exclusive" interview by Dan Rather with
photographer Jacques Langevin. He was in the tunnel after the
accident, but claims he was not pursuing the Diana-mobile. Referring
to what he saw as Diana departed the hotel, Rather inquired in tabloid
"Did you think she
looked particularly beautiful or tired or any reaction to how she
looked through the lens?"
Moving on to what he saw at
the crash scene, Rather inquired: "Could you see her?" and
"Could you see her breathing?"
On a special 48 Hours at 9pm
ET/PT last night CBS ran a longer version of the interview.
Here's the entirety of the
17-second CBS story on Gore, as intoned by Dan Rather:
"In Washington tonight, news about the still unfolding
investigation of campaign fundraising. The Justice Department is now
reviewing whether allegations that Vice President Gore illegally
solicited donations should warrant a preliminary investigation under
the special prosecutor law."
You've just read 35 percent of CBS's non-Diana news.
2) So, if the
paparazzi are to blame for Diana's death, who created the paparazzi?
The September 3 CBS Evening News provided the answer: Rupert Murdoch,
the man the media establishment love to hate. Dan Rather announced:
"What about the
businessmen, the media moguls of tabloid sleaze who pay these
photographers big bucks for what they do? Correspondent Richard
Threlkeld has been investigating this undercovered part of the
Threlkeld focused on
just one businessman: "Until Murdoch the paparazzi business was
just small potatoes."
Andrew Neil, of the
European newspaper in London, asserted: "In this country, Murdoch
set new rules. He was prepared to pay big money for these
stuck the pictures on the front pages of his London tabloids, The Sun
and News of the World. He made a fortune and used it to buy the New
York Post, TV Guide, 20th Century Fox, Fox TV and Sky TV."
would be no Rupert Murdoch empire in America if it hadn't been for the
money from the Sun and the News of the World in Britain."
At least it's reassuring that
CBS is maintaining a higher journalistic standard than Murdoch and not
making Diana takeover 95 percent of their newscasts. Oh, they did do
that didn't they? Well, then at least CBS isn't topping its premier
show with a prurient interview with a photographer about what he saw
of Diana's body inside the car wreck. Or building a prime-time special
around it. Oh, sorry, CBS did that too.
Okay, at the very least CBS
doesn't foist any of Murdoch's disreputable news services upon the
American people. Oops, forgot about the CBS embarrassment Saturday
night. While ABC and NBC intermixed their own live coverage with video
from the BBC, CBS was so cheap it had sent everyone home for the
weekend so didn't give affiliates anything until 90 minutes after ABC
and NBC. But at least at that point the affiliates were able to
showcase some top-notch CBS News coverage. Not quite. I remember now,
they had all gone to the Hamptons. So for hours CBS relayed a feed of
Britain's Sky TV, owned by, by, what's his name, oh I'll remember it,
by that Australian guy Rupert Murdoch. Yeah, that's his name.
3) With the
Senate fundraising hearings resuming on Thursday, here are a couple of
interesting notes about scandal coverage over the last couple of
ABC and CBS have yet to tell
their viewers about the charge by Johnny Chung that Energy Secretary
Hazel O'Leary traded donations to her favorite charity for meetings
with her. See the August 20 and 21 CyberAlerts for details on the
disclosures made in Tom Brokaw's interview with Chung aired on the
August 19 NBC Nightly News and Dateline. MRC news analysts Gene
Eliasen and Steve Kaminski report that ABC's World News Tonight and
Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News and This Morning never
uttered O'Leary's name in the past two weeks.
ABC and CBS blew off O'Leary,
and NBC skipped the Al Gore story last week. While the August 27 World
News Tonight and CBS Evening News both aired full stories on how the
White House admitted Gore made dozens more fundraising calls than
previously claimed and the DNC acknowledged that not all were charged
to the DNC, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that NBC Nightly
News did not air a word about the concessions.
In the August 27 World News
Tonight piece, ABC's John Donvan insisted:
"In fact, most legal opinion holds that the Vice President did
not break the law. The rule forbidding fundraising on federal property
does not apply to him or to the President. But if the Gore team
believes the Vice President is in the clear, then why did they take
six months to clear all this up? His spokeswoman responds that
tracking down these phone bills and campaign records simply takes a
lot of time, but aware that six months seems like an awfully long
time, especially when reporters and members of Congress were clamoring
for the information, she added, on her own, you really just have to
take our word on this."
"clamoring"? Checking the MRC's Media Tracking System
through August 26, the total number of World News Tonight stories
aired since March on Gore's fundraising: Zero.
4) Friday will be Joan Lunden's last day as co-host of Good Morning
America where she's been a morning fixture since 1980. GMA plans a
farewell show on Friday and you are sure to hear plenty about what a
fair-minded and balanced host she's been. Don't buy it. MRC news
analyst Gene Eliasen, who only enjoys GMA when Joan is wearing yellow,
has gathered some of her most unprofessional work from the past few
years, interviews in which she served as an advocate for more
government spending. Here are a few examples:
From the March 1994
National Nanny. Is government
spending on child care the best determinant of its quality? According
to Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden, the best Governors
"put their money where their mouth is." On February 10,
Lunden showcased Working Mother magazine Editor Judsen Culbreth, and
her list of "Governors who get it." These Governors, all
Democrats, included Bruce King (N.M.), Barbara Roberts (Ore.), Gaston
Caperton (W. Va.), Roy Romer (Colo.) and Evan Bayh (Ind.). Culbreth
listed her six "worst" states for child care: "Alabama,
Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Virginia." The
problem? Not enough government. Culbreth claimed "They have lax
standards, very little regulation, and they put little money behind
child care."...When Culbreth concluded "the federal
government has given $2.5 million dollars to the states to implement
programs," Lunden interjected: "We'll end on that good note
From her May 30, 1996
interview with the Children Defense Fund's Marian Wright Edelman a few
days before its Stand for Children march which demanded more spending
Lunden: "But it seems like there's more money being spent
for the environment or for the gun lobby, there are a lot of different
groups together, not always in agreement, the federal government's
talking about turning over a lot of the social programs to the states.
What kind of programs. What do you think is the best way to approach
Marian Wright Edelman: "Well the first thing is we've got
to make a commitment and that's why...
Lunden, simultaneously: "Yeah, yeah."
Edelman: "...I've never seen 3,500 groups come together
across race and class to say we will no longer tolerate the neglect
and abandonment of our children or the massive budget cuts or the
dismantlement of safety net. We will not permit it. And secondly, it
hasn't happened. And third, citizens, parents, grandparents can make
sure that our government leaders, our government leaders do better and
invest in, rather than cut our health care and child care and
Lunden: "Gotta get the message out there and get people to
rally around one of our most important problems. Mary, thank you so
On the April 28, 1997 GMA
from the Volunteer Summit in Philadelphia Lunden suggested to Colin
"Some of the things though have to also be done by the
government. I mean, you know the criticism, it's the cutbacks in
government programs that's now bringing this big call for volunteerism
about. Are there some areas where the government really has to do
A few more Lunden Liberalisms
in the Friday CyberAlert.
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