Reno Leads, But Law Archaic; UPN's Murdering Businessmen
- All the
networks led Monday with Reno's decision to investigate Clinton
and Gore, but ABC and CBS described the apparently-violated law as
arcane and archaic. ABC finally got to the DNC ad scheme.
- Reno's action
the main topic on Monday's morning shows.
partied with stars while on vacation; a prime time UPN drama
portrayed businessmen killing people and the environment.
1) What Fred
Thompson dreamed of for months Janet Reno did in a day: make all the
networks lead their newscasts with stories about Clinton fundraising.
Many a hearing went unnoticed by the networks, but the decision by the
Attorney General to open an inquiry into the phone calls placed by the
President and Vice President led all the broadcast networks Monday
And ABC stumbled across a big
story broken last week by a newspaper but ignored by all the networks.
Here's a rundown of September 22 coverage:
ABC's World News Tonight led
with a story from Linda Douglass on Reno's action. After noting that
Clinton said he did nothing wrong and will cooperate, Douglass
"ABC News has obtained
records showing that as early as 1994, political aides had plans for
the President to phone contributors. It's not clear whether those
plans reached the President...."
Douglass went on to say that
a later e-mail message from a staffer reported that Clinton and Gore
had offered to make calls.
Next, Peter Jennings
explained the Pendleton Act of 1883, the law that Clinton and Gore may
have broken. Jennings claimed the intent of the law is in dispute: was
it meant to bar all solicitation of anyone or just asking federal
employees for a donation?
White House reporter John
Donvan offered a brief look at how the White House fears an
independent counsel is inevitable followed by Cokie Roberts, who
"The White House
should be worried because the truth is once you get an independent
counsel named with the President and Vice President as targets,
you're no longer talking about something as arcane and archaic as
the Pendleton Act, you're talking about a whole, what appears to be,
pattern and practice of campaign corruption, of money going into
accounts that it didn't belong in, going to ads for the President
and Vice President which were supposed to be just ads about issues,
all kinds of things that could get very, very dicey for them
As Eric Engberg would shout,
TIME OUT! Rewind the tape. What money "going to ads for the
President and Vice President which were supposed to be just ads about
issues?" This is news to network viewers. Roberts seemed to be
referring to a September 18 Washington Post story ignored last
Thursday by the broadcast morning and evening shows, and even by CNN's
The World Today. "Papers Show Use of DNC Ads to Help
Clinton," read the Post headline. Reporters Bob Woodward and Ruth
"The massive TV
advertising campaign by the Democratic Party before last year's
elections was designed explicitly to boost President Clinton's bid
for a second White House term and to circumvent strict spending
limits faced by presidential candidates, according to dozens of
internal campaign documents....
"The new documents --
obtained from Republican and Democratic sources -- provide stark new
evidence of how closely linked the DNC advertising and Clinton-Gore
reelection efforts were and how the DNC ad drive was focused almost
exclusively on Clinton's reelection, giving additional ammunition to
those who contend the party advertising scheme was illegal."
Dan Rather opened Monday's
CBS Evening News by explaining Reno's move before intoning:
"Today the President
said both he and the Vice President had always stayed within quote'
the letter of the law.' Mr. Clinton was responding to questions put
to him by CBS News White House correspondent Scott Pelley, who has
now obtained new and potentially damaging documents in the
Of course, these are the same
documents both ABC and NBC highlighted, but without the hype. CBS
reporter Scott Pelley began:
investigation seemed to grow around the President even as he was
meeting with world leaders at the United Nations. Today, documents
obtained by CBS News indicate the White House prepared lists of
dozens of donors for the President to call, four times more than the
White house previously acknowledged...."
Next Rather colorfully
portrayed the antiquity of the law in question:
"For his part today
Vice President Gore was able to get out of town, leave the country
and change the subject. But, he'll be coming home to face
accusations that fundraising phone calls he made from the White
House violate a law so old it was enacted less than a decade after
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone."
Phil Jones proceeded to
explain the differing interpretations of what kinds of calls the law
covered, but did note that if they raised hard money that would be
NBC Nightly News put the Reno
move at the top of the show with an overview from David Bloom followed
by Tom Brokaw asking Tim Russert about the impact on Clinton and on Al
Gore's political future.
2) Miracle of
miracles, Reno's decision even moved CBS's This Morning on Monday to
cover some political news, with the show's first 8am hour fundraising
story since July 9. (Since most CBS affiliates carry only small
portions of This Morning's first hour, the widely carried second hour
is the show's most watched and always features their biggest-named
This Morning opened the 8am
hour with a full story from Bill Plante. But news anchor Jane Robelot,
MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski noticed, couldn't help from portraying
Republicans as the unreasonable ones:
will Janet Reno's 90 day investigation satisfy the
Plante replied: "No,
because they say there is enough evidence to appoint an Independent
Counsel/Special Prosecutor right now and they're going to keep
harping on that, you can count on it."
ABC's Good Morning America
ran full stories at 7am and 8am on the implications of Reno's probe.
And, MRC analyst Eric Darbe noted, during the 7am half hour the show,
which has yet to interview a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs
Committee, brought on Senator John McCain to discuss his campaign
finance reform bill.
NBC's Today also featured a
full story at 7am followed a few minutes later by a discussion segment
amongst Matt Lauer, Tim Russert and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter.
entertainment meets politics update: Clinton parties with Hollywood
and media stars; a television series portrays evil businessmen
murdering locals during breaks from burning down the rain forest.
The weekend accounts of the
Clintons accompanying Chelsea to Stanford University reminded me that
I never updated the August 19 CyberAlert on how the Clintons were
going to vacation with celebrities. That CyberAlert noted that Mary
Steenburgen and Ted Danson met their plane when it landed on Martha's
Sylvester Stallone flew to
Martha's Vineyard for a party with Clinton, reported the August 27 USA
Today: "The star delivered a surprise birthday gift to Clinton
pal Vernon Jordan...at a Monday night party. The Clintons and others
at the dinner at the Farm Neck Golf Club roared when Miramax Films
honcho Harvey Weinstein announced Jordan's secret desire to act and
produced Stallone to give a few tips.
"A Miramax spokesman
says Stallone led Jordan through a scene from Cop Land, with Jordan
playing Stallone's character..."
The Thursday, August 28
Boston Globe reported: "The Clintons had another late night
Tuesday when they stayed until the end of the party at the home of
former Washington Post Publisher Katherine Graham -- until around 1am
yesterday. There were 15 to 20 guests, including members of the Graham
family, writers William and Rose Styron, film director Mike Nichols
and his wife, TV personality Diane Sawyer, and former Time magazine
publisher Henry Grunwald."
UPN's Wednesday night drama, The
Sentinel, should carry a businessman beware warning. After viewing
the September 10 season premiere, MRC entertainment analyst Melissa
Caldwell provided a summary of the show's liberal plot:
The Sentinel's premise is
that the main character, the sentinel, Jim, was in the jungles of Peru
while in the army where he developed exceptionally keen senses. He now
uses that power to solve crimes for the NYPD.
The premiere episode focused
on a fictitious oil company, Cyclops, that goes into the rain forests
of Peru, in violation of international environmental law, in order to
tap the rich oil fields. The company clear cuts large areas, killing
any natives that get in the way. And of course, because it's
Hollywood, there is a psychotic businessman that goes on a killing
spree in order to keep people quiet about the operation, as well as a
noble savage that dies defending the rain forest.
The episode is replete with
anti-business, anti-industrialism, environmentalist propaganda, such
as the following exchange:
"The great eye
[Cyclops Oil] has been responsible for the death of several of his
tribesmen. It's been cutting down the forest, and killing the water
and the land with its black poison. He's afraid the Chopec are going
to vanish forever."
Or this one, between the
President of Cyclops Oil, Spalding and the psychotic Vice President,
worry Ger, no one will ever tie her murder to us. I made it seem
like the same Indians that got Bud."
Yeager: "You killed
Spalding: "She was
taking the files to the cops, that would have cost you, me, and a
few dozen other people a long stretch behind bars."
you did, you did on your own. I am not involved in murder."
unless the victim's skin is brown, he lives in a hut, and he's
standing in the way of one of your bulldozers."
One of the leads, Blair, a
modern day hippy who meditates while listening to Aborigine chants,
discusses his college days with an old friend, when he used to chain
himself to redwoods, and go to anti-nuke rallies.
This program represents
Hollywood at its tree-hugging, business hating best.
Just another day at the
office, murdering brown-skinned South Americans who get in the way of
the quarterly earnings statement. This episode highlights how in
television shows businessmen commit more murders than any other
profession, a point quantified earlier this year in a study completed
by Tim Lamer of the MRC's Free Market Project. To read the study,
Businessmen Behaving Badly, go the FMP's home page:
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