Nets Conspire to Court Conspiracy; One Journalist Crushed
ABC and CBS gave credibility to Hillary Clinton's claim of a "vast
right-wing conspiracy." Only NBC's Lisa Myers suggested the theory
clashes with reality.
Nightly News ran a hit piece on Lucianne Goldberg with Kitty Kelley as an
expert on her ethics.
speaking for much of the media, a New York Times columnist is disappointed
that Clinton's great policies my fall victim to his personal problems.
MRC Chairman on NBC's Today
today. Attention early-risers (or late-nighters in Australia where I
understand from a recent reader comment that Today airs at midnight):
Wednesday morning, January 28, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell will appear on
the Today show during the first half hour. He'll discuss Matt Lauer's
Tuesday interview with Hillary Clinton as well as media coverage of the
scandal. The interview will probably be re-played during the day on MSNBC.
Right wing conspiracy
day on the networks. In the morning Hillary Clinton announced her
theory of how an organized conservative conspiracy is out to destroy her
husband, but was not challenged by Today interviewer Matt Lauer. In the
all the networks ran stories recounting her
charge. ABC relayed it, CBS amplified it, and NBC actually compared it to
A promo run on MSNBC and NBC Nightly News
on Tuesday teased: "Who are these right-wing conspirators the First
Lady spoke of? And are they really out to get the President? On the Big
Show with Keith Olbermannn tonight on MSNBC."
-- On Tuesday's Today Hillary Clinton
told Lauer: "The great story here for anybody willing to find and
write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy against
my husband since the day he announced for President."
Instead of challenging her ludicrous claim,
by asking exactly how am intern recommended by a big Democratic donor or
Attorney General Janet Reno, who didn't hesitate to approve Starr's
probe of the intern matter, fit into this "vast right-wing
conspiracy," Lauer replied: "Has your husband, though, through
some of his actions possibly made it easier for those people to attack
him?" Not a bad question, but in this context it assumes "those
people" are responsible for his current plight.
-- CNN's Inside Politics brought on Wall
Street Journal editorial writer John Fund to react to Hillary Clinton's
claim. Co-anchor Judy Woodruff pressed Fund, relaying the most-often cited
allegation made by Clintonistas: "Well, let me ask you about the
point she makes, and this has been -- I mean everyone has acknowledged
this, that Ken Starr, the independent counsel was appointed by, she says,
the same three-judge panel that was itself headed by someone who was
chosen by conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Lauch
Fund countered by adding a bit of
information left out of network stories: "Well, there's only one
problem: Judge Sentelle. The judge she refers to was named in 1985 when
Senator Faircloth was not even in the Senate. He was a private citizen.
And she's from Yale Law School. She knows better than to say that. Also,
the three-judge panel has always acted unanimously, Judy. It
includes Judge Butzner, who is a liberal
Democrat selected by
Lyndon Johnson, who is the most liberal
President this century. He has gone along unanimously with the decisions
of the three-judge panel. So, where's this conspiracy? It involves a judge
selected by Lyndon Johnson?"
-- Neither ABC or CBS bothered to tell
their viewers Tuesday night about this bit of fact which contradicts the
conspiracy theory. On World News Tonight ABC's Michel McQueen ran down
Mrs. Clinton's charges, allowing a comment from Senator Faircloth.
McQueen recalled the White House's 300 page report on the media food
chain from right wing sources to the mainstream media.
McQueen aired a clip of Insight magazine
editor Paul Rodriguez calling White House complaints about coverage
business as usual since "it's just the way Washington works."
But McQueen concluded her story by
countering Rodriguez and thus treating Hillary Clinton's theory as
"But it's not that simple. There are
unusually close relationships among the players. For example, the
conservative Rutherford Institute is funding the Paula Jones case against
the President. And that case is increasingly intertwined with the Starr
investigation. Clearly, the White House is hoping that those connections
raise more doubts in the public's mind than the allegations about the
President's behavior do."
ABC is certainly helping implement that
-- By listing how Starr is tainted by
conservative politics, CBS also portrayed the First Lady's allegation as
reasonable and credible. On the January 27 CBS Evening News Dan Rather
observed that Hillary Clinton "believes there is and has been for a
long time a wide and deep political conspiracy to get the President and
that Ken Starr is the point man for that."
Reporter Phil Jones began: "Hillary
Clinton linked Starr to a conspiracy that has even suggested the President
was involved in the murder of a former campaign worker."
After running Clinton's soundbite about
Jerry Falwell's discredited video Jones didn't suggest that Falwell
has nothing to do with the current developments. Instead, he presented he
First Lady's case against Starr, complete with loaded ideological
labels. Jones asserted:
"It is Starr's past and continuing
connections with very conservative organizations and causes that have
brought him into the cross hairs of the First Family. As their evidence
they point to his very appointment as independent counsel by a three judge
panel headed by Judge David Sentelle, who is a close ally of
ultraconservative North Carolina Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch
Following a clip of Faircloth denying the
charge, Jones went on:
"Starr is also criticized for giving
free legal assistance in the Paula Jones suit against the President before
he was appointed independent counsel. He was involved in legal battles
challenging President Clinton's opposition to using school vouchers for
parochial schools. And Starr was also a lawyer for tobacco companies
fighting the President. Bob Tyrrell is one of those included in Mrs.
Clinton's right wing conspiracy theory. He's the editor of the
conservative magazine American Spectator. Tyrrell has his own theory on
why Hillary Clinton is attacking Starr."
Jones let Tyrrell say that the Clintons are
just mad at Starr for the discoveries he made and people he locked up,
before concluding: "Friends of the Clintons have attacked Starr
before, but he's always dismissed them. But as we saw today it's
impossible to ignore it when it's a President's wife firing the
Jones could have explored the plausibility
of the conspiracy theory instead of just amplifying it. NBC managed to do
-- Tuesday's NBC Nightly News devoted an
In Depth segment to the conspiracy but, unlike Jones, Lisa Myers tool a
more skeptical approach. Myers explained:
"The First Lady's salvo appears to
be a favorite Clinton tactic, fired off at almost every scandal from
Gennifer Flowers to Paula Jones to Whitewater....Demonizing the
President's accusers helps rally Democrats and distract attention from
fresh charges against the President. In Clinton's case the conspiracy
strategy often worked, partly because there is indeed a core group of
conservatives who consider this President unfit for office..."
After showing Falwell, Myers noted that the
Clinton conspiracy theory includes Linda Tripp, Paula Jones and Lucianne
Goldberg, but "Then there are the so-called chief conspirators:
Independent Counsel Ken Starr and the federal three judge panel that gave
him the green light to investigate, a panel the White House says is driven
Hillary Clinton on Today: "The same
three judge panel that is headed by someone appointed bu Jesse Helms and
Myers: "Both conservative Republicans
and both close to head Judge David Sentelle, a former Republican activist.
But the judicial panel also includes Kennedy appointee John Butzner and
Nixon appointee Peter Fay, often described as non-partisan..."
made up for its good report from Myers by catching up with CBS and
running a snide hit piece on one of the whistleblowers, Lucianne Goldberg.
(See the January 25 and January 27 CyberAlerts for CBS coverage.)
Gwen Ifill charged in her January 27 NBC
Nightly News piece:
"Goldberg surfaced in this kind of
story before, making waves in three administrations as well as in literary
circles. In 1965 Goldberg tried to sell a letter Jacqueline Kennedy wrote
to Lady Bird Johnson in 1960. The trouble is, it didn't belong to her.
She apologized. And in 1983 best seller biographer Kitty Kelley won a
$41,000 judgment against Goldberg over this book about Elizabeth
Kelley: "You might be entertained or
amused by Mrs. Goldberg, but you couldn't trust her, at least I
Ifill: "Goldberg's controversies are
not just literary. In 1973 the Nixon campaign paid her $1,000 a week to
spy on the George McGovern campaign..."
Nice to know that Kitty Kelley, author of a
book which featured unsubstantiated charges of an affair between Frank
Sinatra and Nancy Reagan, is now an expert on morality and ethics. And, as
explained in the January 25 CyberAlert, Goldberg also toiled for tow
Democratic icons, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy, in addition to Nixon.
Crushed by Clinton's betrayal.
Want some evidence of how at least some journalists identify with Bill
Clinton and consider him one of their generation's heroes? Just read
Thomas Friedman's column in Tuesday's New York Times. The MRC's Tim
Graham called this to my attention after he read a portion of the column
in Slate's "Today's Papers" e-mail.
The disillusioned former reporter and now
columnist, who you may recognize from his appearances on PBS's
Washington Week in Review and CBS's Face the Nation, groaned:
"I understand and detest all the
putrid smoke surrounding this story. But what I don't understand is the
spark of fire that ignited it. I don't understand how someone entrusted
with the opportunity to lead this country at such a great time, how
someone whose political agenda was so substantively appealing -- on issues
from abortion to education to the global economy -- could risk it all on a
dalliance with a White House intern."
You can feel his sense of betrayal reading
this paragraph. And note the use of the word "we" as he clearly
identifies himself as a Clinton supporter:
"Those who identified with many of he
domestic, and some of the foreign, policies of the Clinton agenda made a
Faustian bargain. We overlooked Mr. Clinton's past indiscretions -- he was
hardly the first politician with testosterone overload -- on the condition
that he pursue his agenda and postpone his next dalliance until after he
left the White House. But he broke the bargain. I knew he was a charming
rogue with an appealing agenda, but I didn't think he was a reckless idiot
with an appealing agenda."
Back when he was still a reporter in 1993
he got angry at Clinton's inability to successfully enact his liberal
agenda. On the May 21, 1993 Washington Week in Review Friedman he lashed
"What he [Clinton] says so often, it
seems to me, right on about where the economy is, what we need to do to
create more jobs in this country, what we need to do to tackle the
deficit, but something is missing in that White House because it's not
delivering on the other end...It was truly depressing. You say to yourself
'we are at a watershed moment in this country's history and these
people are so muffing it.' Yesterday I just wanted to get a hook and
pull Stephanopoulos offstage and say 'George, go back, get your ducks in
order, and then come out here, because this is too serious!'"
Now you know why all the other scandals
have received so little attention compared to this one: Reporters
haven't wanted to do anything which would detract from the
implementation of Clinton's brilliant vision. -- Brent Baker
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