Diana Dunks the Monks; Gore's Image Hurt; Hume Hits
- All Diana and
Joan Friday morning, so no mention of the hearings.
- On Thursday
the morning shows ran hearings stories, but neither CNN or MSNBC
offered any live coverage.
- Only ABC
devoted less than half a Thursday evening show to Diana, but all
three did squeeze in a hearings piece. ABC's Linda Douglass
relayed the most pro-Gore spin; only CBS tied Bill Clinton to the
temple's money laundering; NBC won't show photos of the Diana
crash scene, but they asked a photographer what he saw.
- Brit Hume
says colleagues turned on him only after he was tough on Clinton.
- Look for some
liberal comments from Bryant Gumbel this weekend.
dunked the monks Friday morning, September 5. Neither visuals of monks
in appropriate garb nor tales of money laundering and document
shredding stirred network interest. NBC's Today and This Morning on
CBS stuck to Diana all morning, MRC analysts Eric Darbe and Steve
Kaminski told me. ABC's Good Morning America interrupted Diana
coverage for a two hour salute to departing co-host Joan Lunden, but
skipped the hearings in the news updates.
resumption Thursday of hearings held by the Senate Governmental
Affairs Committee prompted stories on all three morning shows on
Thursday, but CNN and MSNBC both failed to provide any live coverage
and actually provided fewer live updates than they did most days
during the July hearings. Here's a rundown of the Thursday, September
4 morning shows:
Good Morning America ran a full report by Bob Zelnick during the 7am
news which previewed the expected testimony that day from the Buddhist
nuns and also noted the revelation that Al Gore had raised hard money,
not just soft money as he had incorrectly claimed. GMA also aired a
brief item during the 8am news update.
NBC's Today also ran a full
story at 7am, from Joe Johns, reviewing the phone calls and previewing
the expected testimony. Later in the 7am half hour Katie Couric
interviewed Tim Russert about Gore's calls and the status of an
independent counsel decision.
On CBS's This Morning, Jane
Robelot gave Gore a few seconds in a pre-taped one minute
"floating" news update that CBS affiliates can run during
the 7am hour. But, as usual, MRC News analyst Steve Kaminski reported,
This Morning ran nothing during the 8am hour, the hour carried by
virtually all CBS affiliates. Most only carry portions of the 7am
hour. The last This Morning mention during the 8am hour of the
fundraising hearings aired way back on July 9, the morning after
If you want live coverage, it
look like you still can't turn to CNN or MSNBC. On Thursday:
CNN went live with the
Jerusalem bombing from 9 to 10:50am ET. Candy Crowley's first live
update from the Hart Building didn't appear until 12:18pm ET, though
the hearings were a topic on CNN & Company at 11:30am ET and on
Burden of Proof at 12:30pm ET (but not in the 8:30pm ET edition).
After another update from Crowley in the 1pm ET hour, CNN anchor
Natalie Allen interviewed veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew. Her first
question shows the priority the networks put on the entertainment
value of the hearings:
"If you were a Hollywood
producer and were assigned the task of doing the made for TV movie on
these hearings, what would be the story line?"
At 10am CNN promised the
scheduled 10am ET special on the hearings would air later at 2pm ET,
but it never appeared. (It did run Friday morning at 10am ET as CNN
aired live coverage for about an hour. MSNBC stuck to Diana.)
CNN's Inside Politics at 4pm
ET devoted most of the show to the hearings, but between 10am and 4pm
ET CNN provided just two live updates from Candy Crowley.
MSNBC also stuck with
Jerusalem in the morning and spent most of the rest of the day with
live coverage from London. Either Lisa Myers or Joe Johns provided an
update once an hour and MSNBC aired a short "Money Trail"
wrap-up segment at about 4:45pm ET.
As in July, the Fox News
Channel and National Empowerment Television plan to provide live
coverage of the hearings everyday, though I don't know how much time
Fox spent on Diana. On the Web, both http://www.foxnews.com
and CNN at http://allpolitics.com/
gaveltogavel are providing audio and visual feeds.
nights after her death Diana and related stories still dominated the
Thursday broadcast evening shows, but each did find time for a story
on the Senate hearings. ABC and CBS led with Diana, but NBC put the
Jerusalem bombing at the top of its show. Here's the rundown:
NBC Nightly News covered only
four topics: the Jerusalem bombing, Diana, Gore and Rupert Murdoch
buying the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. Total time on Diana and
related events: about 12 minutes, or just over half the newscast.
Amongst the five Diana
stories, a 3:20 "In-Depth" segment featuring NBC reporter
Richard Roth's conversation with a member of the paparazzi arrested at
the crash scene. "The first time he ever saw Diana in person was
in the wreck. And as he told NBC's Richard Roth, he was stunned,"
Tom Brokaw intoned.
Roth asked the photographer:
"Could you see, was she breathing, was she moving?"
So, apparently it's fine for
a "mainstream" media outlet to have a photographer describe
what he saw at the crash scene, but it would be awful to actually see
his photos in such a disreputable publication as the Star or National
About 20 minutes in, NBC went
to Lisa Myers for a story on the hearings. She explained that the
Buddhist nuns illegally laundered tens of thousands of dollars and
that when a Gore aide said she needed more money the monks and nuns
wrote $5,000 checks to the DNC and were then reimbursed by the temple.
"The nuns, who were
granted immunity to testify, say they did not know laundering campaign
money was illegal, yet they later destroyed and altered documents to
cover it up."
After a file clip of Gore
denying that he knew the 1996 temple event was fundraiser, Myers
observed: "But the temple event was planned after a White House
meeting between Gore, temple leaders and Democratic fundraisers. And
documents show that Gore's staff knew it was a fundraiser, called it
that in memos, even listed the price per head."
Next, from Martha's Vineyard
NBC's Claire Shipman explored the impact on Gore's political future.
The CBS Evening News began
with six and a half minutes on Diana. By the end of the show viewers
had seen eleven minutes of Diana-related stories, exactly half the
newscast. In his fundraising story Bob Schieffer was the only reporter
Thursday night to pick up on a revelation highlighted in Thursday's
Washington Times that the Gore event was not the only time the temple
had laundered money. Schieffer have the news a sentence:
"Investigators also revealed evidence the group also laundered
money at events featuring the President and Mrs. Clinton."
concluded: "The nuns now concede the fundraiser was to raise
money. The Democratic officials who were there say they knew it was a
fundraiser. The Vice President's staff has said previously they knew
it was to raise money, but somehow, some way, they say no one told the
ABC's World News Tonight led
with what Peter Jennings called a "wave of resentment and anger
against the British Royal family." The opening stories took six
minutes, but of the three broadcast shows ABC dedicated the least time
to Diana, just over nine minutes.
ABC gave two minutes to
fundraising with a full story from Linda Douglass. She began by noting
how Gore has "gone into the bunker" to avoid the press.
Douglass stated that the "temple illegally reimbursed some of the
nuns" and then destroyed the documents which showed what
happened. Douglass concluded with a rather favorable spin on Gore's
"There is no evidence
that Gore knew about the reimbursement scheme. Plus, he insists he
didn't know the event was a fundraiser in the first place. Still, an
investigation into all of this could threaten one of Gore's most
important political assets, his squeaky clean image."
Just who created and believes
that image? Could it be the Washington press corps?
4) Brit Hume
says that his colleagues didn't question his objectivity until he
applied the same standard to Bill Clinton as he had to George Bush.
MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson alerted me to Hume's comments in
an August 30-September 4 TV Guide profile. Hume, who is now Washington
Managing Editor for the Fox News Channel, covered the White House for
ABC News from the Bush years through Clinton's first term.
In TV Guide Hume explained
how most the press corps do not consider liberal views anything but
objective (bracketed items as printed by TV Guide):
"I make no bones that I
am a conservative. I think there is a perception [among journalists]
that the ordinary, average liberal viewpoints represent neutrality. I
don't think they do. What you have is liberals believing that their
viewpoint represents the center. That's not correct."
(See the September 3
CyberAlert for more on how the Washington press corps can readily
recognize conservative views but don't think Eleanor Clift, Al Hunt or
Margaret Carlson espouse liberal opinions.)
Hume pointed out the double
standard applied to him by his colleagues: "'The whole thing is
about my being fair,' says Hume. 'When did people start [questioning
his objectivity]? When I applied the same kind of coverage to
you-know-who -- Bill Clinton.'"
5) Look for
some liberal comments from Bryant Gumbel in USA Weekend. The Sunday
newspaper supplement appears in most papers on Sunday, but some will
include it today or on Saturday. If you are not familiar with it, USA
Weekend is published by Gannett and competes with Parade as a magazine
insert. Gumbel's new CBS show will debut on October 1 and next week
he'll host the Emmy Awards.
An ad for USA Weekend that I
caught in the Concord (NH) Monitor earlier this week promised:
"A confident and candid interview with CBS's new hope on:
Why he doesn't watch prime-time TV.
Why it's hard for African Americans to be conservative.
Why people are cynical about the media."
The last two items look like
they could be interesting.
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