A rundown of Thursday night
is below, but first an update on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The
January 15 CyberAlert reported that ABC and FNC offered full stories on
Herman Wednesday night while CBS and NBC gave it about 20 seconds each.
UPDATE: The January 14 edition of CNN's The World Today at 10pm ET led
with a full report on Herman from reporter Pierre Thomas.
Thursday morning, MRC
analyst Gene Eliasen informed me, ABC's Good Morning America ran a
Herman story by Brian Ross. NBC's Today, MRC analyst Eric Darbe noted,
did more than Nightly News the night before, carrying a full story from
Pete Williams. CBS This Morning, as usual, was AWOL. MRC analyst Steve
Kaminski observed that they did not mention Cisneros during the national
8am hour, nor during any 7am hour portions carried by Washington's WUSA-TV.
Here's what the networks
reported Thursday night:
-- The CBS Evening News led
with Iraq and offered another story on tobacco marketing and a look at the
controversy over life on Mars, leaving just 24 seconds this news item read
by Dan Rather:
today strongly defended his latest Cabinet member under fire and under
accusations. A story leaked late yesterday said the Justice Department is
looking into whether Labor Secretary Alexis Herman traded influence for
cash during her earlier tenure as a White House aide. Today, Herman flat
out denied any wrongdoing. The President said he doesn't believe the
charges quote, 'for a minute.'"
-- NBC Nightly News put
John Glenn's future space mission at the top with two full stories. NBC
also found time for two stories on marketing of tobacco to teens and one
on the impact of the flu on the economy. Tom Brokaw squeezed in 20 seconds
Labor Secretary, Alexis Herman, today denied allegations that she took a
bribe to help a telecommunications company secure an FCC license when she
was working as a White House adviser. She said she'll cooperate fully
with the Justice Department. President Clinton said, quoting now, he
didn't believe these charges for a moment."
At another point in the
show Brokaw ominously intoned: "In Northern New England, where an ice
storm has brought a week of misery to millions of people, and there's
more on the way, a giant Noreaster that could dump a lot of snow on top of
the already devastating layer of ice, ice that has claimed millions of
other victims." The "victims" -- maple syrup trees in
-- CNN's Thursday The
World Today at 8pm (CNN now confusing has the same name for the 8 and 10pm
ET news hours) reported on both Herman and Cisneros. Anchor Joie Chen took
21 seconds to note the guilty plea from Linda Jones before CNN aired a
lengthy piece on Herman by Wolf Blitzer, who offered plenty of time for
the White House disparagement of the man bringing the charge, Laurent Yene.
Blitzer asserted: "Her
supporters say Yene is seeking revenge -- angry over a business and
personal relationship that soured with Vanessa Weaver, a close friend of
Herman's who had bought her consulting firm when she joined the White
House in 1993.
Jeff Fried, Weaver's
attorney: "He came to us asking for $250,000. He unilaterally reduced
that number to $125,000 and if he did not get that from Dr. Weaver, he was
going to go to Capitol Hill, to the media, and he was going to quote,
'destroy Alexis Herman and her friend.'"
Blitzer: "Yene came
forward with his allegations only after her Senate confirmation last
April. Yene could not be reached for comment...."
-- Viewers of ABC's World
News Tonight got the fuller story, as Brian Ross provided some information
damaging to the White House line which Blitzer skipped. Brian Ross
"....The White House
characterized the charges against her as lies, which the White House says,
were fully investigated and discredited during Herman's Senate
confirmation hearings. But that's just not true. Senate investigators
told ABC News today that the allegation Herman was selling her influence
at the White House was never investigated by them. And FBI agents doing
the background check on Herman never talked to the man who is now making
the accusations. He is 42-year-old Laurent Yene who first met with Justice
officials only three months ago, accompanied at his request by ABC News.
It was then that Yene turned over a pile of photos and documents,
including several the White House has claimed were forgeries, but Justice
officials have told ABC News that several key documents provided by Yene
have been authenticated, one of the reasons the investigation of Alexis
Herman is now being taken so seriously."
-- Fox News Channel's 7pm
ET Fox News Report allocated 35 seconds to Herman, but in about 25 seconds
anchor Jon Scott delivered all the key facts in the latest development on
the Cisneros front:
"The ex-mistress of
former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros pleaded guilty to charges of fraud
and conspiracy today. Jones admits lying to investigators about how much
Cisneros paid her to keep quiet about their affair. She's said it was
$60,000 but prosecutors say it was a quarter million. Now Jones is going
to prison for three and a half years."
Not even a prison term and
a guilty plea that implicates a former Cabinet official could stir the
broadcast networks. As I said above, only CNN and FNC mentioned the
"A Tyson Foods Inc.
vice president and the company's top
lobbyist were charged
Thursday in a 15-count federal indictment with giving illegal gifts to
former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and lying about it.
"The charges against
Archibald L. Schaffer III, the Tyson executive, and lobbyist Jack L.
Williams involve the same $12,000 in gratuities that Tyson pleaded guilty
in December to giving Espy: playoff football tickets, tickets to a
presidential inaugural dinner, travel to an Arkansas party and a
scholarship for Espy's girlfriend."
Ignoring Espy is nothing
new. Back on December 29 Tyson agreed to pay a $6 million fine for its
gifts to Espy. The CBS Evening News and CNN's Prime News gave it a few
seconds as did Good Morning America. But zilch on NBC or ABC's World
Earlier developments also
went unnoticed by the networks. As documented by Tim Graham in the MRC's
December 11 Media Reality Check (http://www.mediaresearch.org/reality/fax1211.html),
the four network evening shows (and three morning ones) all skipped the
November 26 announcement that a Sun Diamond Growers VP had been convicted
of giving Espy illegal gratuities. The December 2 conviction of Ronald
Blackley, Espy's top aide at Agriculture, for lying about money he
received, never made it onto an ABC, CBS or NBC morning or evening news
show, nor CNN in prime time.
10. "Would you please
put your pants back on?"
9. "Why do you giggle
when you hear the word subpoena?"
8. "Mr. President,
could you put away the GameBoy?"
7. "Would you please
take your hand off my thigh?"
6. "True or false: you
own a pair of boxer shorts that read, 'Home of the Washington
5. "Could you repeat
that when you finish chewing?"
4. "Explain this"
(Video tape of Bill & Hillary dancing in their swimming suits)
3. "What exactly is
'Pants Force One?'"
2. "Can you explain
this room service charge for three gallons of mayonnaise?"
1. "Did somebody say
tough reporting during the Reagan Administration, Benedetto wrote in his
weekly column on January 12:
boldly leading the way, other reporters were encouraged to follow up and
contribute toward getting the full story out.
reporting out of the White House is in shorter supply these days, even
though Clinton aides vehemently deny it.
"Last week was
illustrative. Clinton, just returned from a New Year holiday in the U.S.
Virgin Islands, used the media to full advantage. With Congress in recess,
his flurry of popular proposals to balance the federal budget, extend
Medicare to those 55-65 and expand federal child-care assistance by $22
billion won mostly glowing media coverage.
"In the days before
the announcements, Clinton got an advance blast of positive publicity by
selectively leaking details of his plans to chosen news outlets, which
gave them prominent play.
"Once the proposals
were out, few reporters raised tough questions about whether it is wise to
expand Medicare when the system is near bankruptcy or if the strategy is a
ruse to give Democrats voter-friendly issues to run on this year.
"Instead, they were
more likely to be framed as progressive, forward-looking government
initiatives that show Clinton looking benevolent.
"After the child-care
announcement, many newspapers and TV stations published and broadcast
carefully staged photos of the
President and First Lady
walking down the White House entrance hall holding hands with a band of
smiling children -- white and black -- from Washington day-care centers.
"Placing that photo
and a graphic showing the growing need for child care next to a story on
Republicans carping about Clinton's return to 'big government,' as
this newspaper did, reinforced the President's case and made the GOP look
"Had Donaldson been
around, he might have shouted to Clinton during the stroll, 'Mr.
President, isn't this a staged attempt to make Democrats look good and
Republicans look bad in an election year?' That may have triggered
coverage of another angle of the story...."
The idea that Sam Donaldson
could shift the White House press corps to the right shows just how poor a
job the reporters are doing.
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