CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| September 9, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 140) |
Mother Teresa Trumped Again; CNN's Clinton FOB Says No to Scandal
The September 8 CyberAlert reported that of the Sunday morning
talk shows only NBC's Meet the Press "brought anyone on to
discuss Mother Teresa's legacy" and that "Fox News
Sunday proved the most substantive, running lengthy segments on
the Middle East and fundraising after a short opening talk with
Brit Hume about Diana."
- In fact, Fox News Sunday
was even more substantive. It also ran a segment on Mother Teresa.
Between the opening three minutes with Hume on Diana and the
interview of Benjamin Netanyahu, host Tony Snow spent six minutes
talking with Bishop Richard Curlin. That means FNS allocated twice
as much time to Mother Teresa as Diana, unlike Meet the Press on
which Tim Russert spent four times as much time on Diana as Mother
Teresa -- 33 vs. eight minutes.
more on Diana than Mother Teresa, but guess which one gets
criticized? All the networks highlighted Paula Jones' lawyers.
Kaplan, Friend of Bill turned CNN President, ordered CNN
reporters to lessen the use of the word "scandal" in
nights after her death and the third night after her funeral,
Diana received more network time Monday night than did Mother
Teresa just four days after she passed away. Monday also brought
some passing references to Mother Teresa's abortion position as
well as more criticism. Here's a rundown of the Monday, September
8 broadcast network evening shows.
World News Tonight led with two stories on the withdrawal
request from the lawyers representing Paula Jones. ABC gave
Diana the least time of the three networks, just three
minutes, and later aired a 2:35 story on Mother Teresa.
Nightly News led with the Haiti ferry accident, then went to
Diana, spending five minutes on the crash investigation and
the feud between Prince Charles and the Queen on funeral
plans. NBC next aired a piece on David Bloom on how lawyers
for Paula Jones had asked to be removed as her counsel.
- A four minute "In
Depth" explored Charles Spencer's background and why he is so
angry at the tabloid press. The story noted that he served as a
commentator during NBC's coverage of his sister's wedding and
later spent time as a London correspondent for Today.
- For the next to last story
of the night NBC got around to Mother Teresa. In a 2:20 story,
reporter George Lewis made a brief mention of her pro-life stand:
"In announcing that Hillary Clinton would attend the funeral,
a White House spokesman called her the natural choice to represent
the United States. But Mother Teresa did not like the fact that
Mrs. Clinton favors abortion rights."
- Total time for Diana:
nine minutes. For Mother Teresa, just over two.
- Monday morning Today also
raised Mother Teresa's abortion stand, but also provided time for
a guest to relay the same criticism passed along by Peter Jennings
last Friday (See the September 8 CyberAlert.)
- MRC news analyst Geoffrey
Dickens caught this exchange between Today co-host Matt Lauer and
Ken Woodward, Newsweek's religion editor:
- Lauer: "You
talk about her being tough. The stories go that if she wanted
something from someone, for example money to help her mission, she
was very difficult to say no to."
- Woodward: "Oh
she was. And I mean she spoke at a Washington what do they call
these things, these presidential prayer breakfasts. And she spoke
truth to power, which is what Old Testament prophets did. She said
any country that allows abortion the way that this country does
commits violence and she said this to a President and a First Lady
whose one consistent principle was choice."
- Lauer: "And
many people were critical of that. Other critics kind of chimed in
because of the fact that she would take money and sometimes it
appeared she had tunnel vision. She would help the individual in
front of her without stopping and to look back at the larger
picture that surrounded her in a particular country."
- The CBS
Evening News led with Haiti, then spent five minutes on
Diana-related issues followed by 2:20 on Mother Teresa.
- Dan Rather reported the
withdrawal requests by attorneys for Paula Jones. Unlike both ABC
and NBC, Rather failed to mention the news that Clinton's
attorneys offered to pay Jones $700,000, which could be
interpreted as an admission of some culpability. Instead, Rather
emphasized White House denials:
- "The lawyers for
Paula Jones apparently wanted her to settle the case without
necessarily a guaranteed presidential apology. President Clinton's
lawyers repeated today that the President has no need to apologize
because, he says, the charges are not true."
- With Diana starting to
quiet down CBS found time to return to an old tabloid story,
giving two minutes to an update on the JonBenet Ramsey case.
- (At the end of the last
CyberAlert I wondered how much time the networks would allocate to
Mother Teresa's funeral. Monday night both Peter Jennings and Dan
Rather promised that their networks would provide live coverage of
Saturday's funeral in India -- that will be around midnight Friday
night/Saturday morning ET I think.
CNN President Rick Kaplan's affinity for President Clinton may
already be altering CNN coverage. The September 14 Washington
Whispers section of U.S. News & World Report relayed that
Kaplan "wasted little time cracking the whip" in his new
post. U.S. News elaborated:
- "When the former ABC
executive held forth at his first early morning board meeting in
Atlanta, insiders say, he delivered a scathing assessment of that
morning's news program. While many credit him with 'energizing'
the news operation, Kaplan raised a few eyebrows by telling CNN
staffers to limit their use of the word scandal in reporting on
Clinton's campaign fundraising woes."
- U.S. News added: "A
longtime Clinton friend, Kaplan has stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom.
CNN had no comment."
- Let's compare this latest
development to Kaplan's earlier assurances. As noted in the August
7 CyberAlert, in the August 6 USA Today Peter Johnson relayed that
Kaplan "sees no conflict between being a friend of the
President's and running the country's top-rated cable news
operation. 'I have 28 years of making news judgments behind me,'
Kaplan said. 'And I'm not the first news executive to know a
President.' He said he'd make news calls about Clinton coverage as
a journalist, not a friend. 'If your job is to report, you report.
Your business is your business.'"
- Looks like Kaplan's
business may be helping his political buddy out of a jam.
- For more on Kaplan's ties
to Clinton, see the August 7 CyberAlert or the August 1997
MediaWatch Revolving Door article. Go to:
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