Herpes Before Video; Fred "Oliver Stone" Thompson
1) Reno and the
tapes topped ABC and CBS, but NBC went with genital herpes and aired a
full story on Clinton's "bad luck."
2) ABC finally interviewed a member of the Senate
committee; Katie Couric compared Fred Thompson to Oliver Stone.
3) An ABC sit-com tells viewers that we fought the
Vietnam war so businessmen would have "another place to sell sody
night ABC and CBS led with Janet Reno's appearance before Henry Hyde's
House Judiciary Committee and the release of more tapes. But, NBC put
genital herpes at the top of the show and then portrayed Clinton as
the victim of bad luck since his overseas trips are always
overshadowed by scandal back home. Here's a show by show rundown
for October 15. All quotes and summaries provided to me by MRC news
analyst Eric Darbe who stayed late to track the coverage:
-- ABC's World News Tonight led with the release of more tapes
followed by a story on Janet Reno's testimony. Jennings' first
concern: not what the tapes showed of Clinton but how they revealed
the way "political fundraisers" in general "get into
the pockets of the well to do." He opened the show:
"We begin tonight with the
under belly of American politics. Today 90 more hours of video tape
released by the White House which show in even greater detail how
political fundraisers try to get into the pockets of the well to do,
and what access the well to do have. On the surface of it the tapes
appear to support what the President has said: that he did not break
the law. But in almost every other sense the tapes certainly show a
President zealously in search of money."
Reporter Linda Douglass reviewed the tapes, noting that the quest for
money led Clinton "into some questionable situations." She
showed video of Clinton at the Jefferson hotel with foreign nationals
before whom he boasted about his decision to send the Navy to help
protect Taiwan. After a soundbite from Lanny Davis on how the tapes
show nothing improper, Douglass showed video of Clinton hugging Johnny
Chung in the Oval Office, noting that Chung paid $50,000 to get his
Chinese business associates into the White House. Douglass
concluded: "White House
officials insist the video tapes will provide no evidence of anything
illegal, but Republicans hope the tapes will give them a fresh chance
to try to get the public interested in this issue."
Jennings then led into the second ABC story:
"In fact Republicans were
quick to point to the tapes today as yet another reason why Attorney
General Janet Reno should appoint an independent counsel to
investigate the President. And today they had the opportunity to say
this to her in person, as she testified before the House Judiciary
John Cochran filed the report on the hearing.
Before pouncing on the Clinton tapes, Cochran began, the committee
showed a tape of Reno back in 1993 insisting that the Attorney General
should not investigate the President or high officials do to the
conflict of interest. "You were right four years ago said
Hyde," the Chairman of the committee. Viewers next saw an
exchange between Reno and Congressman James Sensenbrenner in which he
asked her reaction to video showing Clinton praising fundraiser John
Huang. Cochran ended with a spin favorable to Reno's opponents:
"Even Republicans who give
Janet Reno credit for integrity feel she takes too narrow a view of
when an independent counsel is needed. And they fear that in the end
she will not ask for one."
-- The CBS Evening News also led with fundraising, but put Reno first
followed by the new tapes. In the top of the show tease, Rather
declared: "Attorney General Janet Reno gets grilled on Capitol
Hill, and fires back. Face to face, and in your face, she defends her
investigation of Clinton campaign fundraising."
Seconds later, Rather intoned: "On Capitol Hill, U.S. Attorney
General Janet Reno was under oath and under fire today. She fired back
at Republican claims of cover up and incompetence over Clinton
campaign fundraising. As she testified live, new batches of White
House fundraiser video tapes were pumped out by the dozens."
Bob Schieffer covered the hearing and began with Chairman Henry Hyde's
declaration that she should appoint an independent counsel. Like ABC,
CBS showed the testy exchange between Sensenbrenner and Reno over what
video of Clinton praising John Huang proves. Schieffer noted:
"Democrats cried foul and there was a lot of partisan bickering
but in the end Reno told the committee almost nothing."
Next CBS went to Phil Jones on the newly released videos. Jones a few
clips including one in which he thanked contributors for helping pay
for television ads and another in which Clinton points out Charlie
Trie in the audience. Jones explained that Trie was raising big bucks
from illegal donors, though Jones also relayed the Clinton line:
"The White House spin on the tapes, they prove that everything
was legal and appropriate."
-- NBC Nightly News. Instead of Reno or videotapes, NBC led with news
about genital herpes. Brokaw asserted: "It is a major public
health problem, the kind people don't like to talk about but now it
has reached proportions that cannot be ignored." After that piece
Brokaw read an item about the risk of viruses being transmitted to
humans from organs transplanted from pigs.
Following an ad break, NBC got to fundraising. NBC ran two stories:
one on Reno and the tapes and another on how the DC news is obscuring
the President's trip to South America. Brokaw introduced the first
The Attorney General of the United
States says it is a matter of law, a leading House Republican tells
her it is a conflict of interest. They were going face to face today
over the question of whether someone, from outside the Justice
Department, should be assigned to investigate the President's White
House fundraising activity. The issue that has been dominating
Washington without any resolution for weeks now, an independent
counsel. And today new fuel for the controversy. Still more videos of
the President at fundraisers and these clearly show his relationship
with some very controversial figures."
Pete Williams opened his report by
showing video clips of Clinton praising Huang and greeting Chung.
Making it three for three, NBC also ran the Sensenbrenner-Reno
exchange. Williams also showed one Clinton visitor ABC and CBS missed:
Clinton as victim was the theme of NBC's subsequent story. Brokaw
announced that one of Clinton's "bad luck streaks is holding.
Almost every time he tries to take a major foreign trip, a major
problem blows up back home."
From South America, Claire Shipman
explained White House frustration over how the tapes are getting more
attention than fast track trade issues, before concluding:
"Now, whatever the short term frustration and fall out, White
House aides are arguing that these tapes will prove, yet again, a
temporary blip, and indeed one advisor today pointed some recent
polls...that showed the President's approval rating higher than ever,
and Congress's popularity at the other end of the spectrum."
2) Notes from
Wednesday morning and day time cable coverage:
-- CNN and MSNBC went live with Reno's appearance at about 9:30am ET.
MSNBC cut out at noon, CNN a few minutes later. Neither showed any of
he afternoon session. Instead, MSNBC spent a good portion of the
afternoon showing live coverage of a nanny on trial for murder in
-- Wednesday morning, the new tapes led ABC's Good Morning America to
bring on Senators Don Nickles and Robert Torricelli, both members of
the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Their appearance marked the
first GMA interview with a member of the Senate investigating
committee since the hearings convened in July.
Tim Russert appeared on NBC's Today. After noting that the Senate
committee had hired a specialist to see if the tapes had been
improperly edited, Couric asked Russert: "Well do you think Fred
Thompson is being a little Oliver Stone-ish about this?"
Russert didn't think Thompson was so nuts: "I think at this
point, you know, he wants to take nothing for granted. You just never
know. Let's be careful. He lived through Watergate."
But later, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Russert
returned to the system made them do it spin: "Katie, five people
have fled the country, twenty people have taken the Fifth. $4 million
have been returned. This was a massive undertaking to raise money to
help guarantee the reelection of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The
Republicans did it to a lesser extent. The whole system reeked this
bias and attacks on businessmen as the root cause of evil are not
confined to network news shows. MRC entertainment analyst Melissa
Caldwell caught an example in a family hour sit-com from last week.
She reported that ABC's new family hour sit-com Dharma and Greg, which
airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm ET/PT, provided an example of how
Hollywood's political agenda comes through in its humor.
On the October 8 episode of the sit-com about a couple, Dharma's
radically left wing father meets Greg's conservative father. Entering
Greg's country club locker room, Larry, (Dharma's father) announces:
"This is a truly righteous Country Club you got here...Of course
if you Republicans have your way on immigration, you'll be parking
your own cars."
Shortly thereafter, Larry gets
into a heated discussion with Greg's father about the Vietnam War.
When Greg's father says "It's not a lie if it's for the greater
good," Larry responds "Oh, where have we heard that before?
A little place called Vietnam, my friend." When Greg's father
asks "What do you know about Vietnam, you weren't even
there" Larry matter-of-factly replies "I know it wasn't
about communism, it was about Mr. Corporate America looking for
another place to sell sody pop and tobaccy."
No where is safe from liberal diatribes, not even a silly relationship
sit-com in the family hour.
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