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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday, February 23, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 32)

Most Networks Skipped Starr's Whitewater Success; Latest NQ

1) CBS, NBC and MSNBC Friday night ignored the latest Whitewater success by Starr, ABC gave it a few seconds. Only FNC spelled out the ramifications for Clinton. NBC went Monica-free for two nights.

2) February 23 edition of Notable Quotables: Saturday Night Massacre by Spin Control & Still Shilling for the Clinton Marriage.

Clinton and the flight attendant now on the MRC Web page. MRC Web manager Joe Alfonsi got a "Snappy" of the video cited in the February 19 CyberAlert of Bill Clinton and a flight attendant sharing a jump seat during the 1992 campaign. Their arms are interlocked and his hand is on her knee. She's now on the White House staff. It's at the top of the MRC home page and will remain there for at least another day:  http://www.mrc.org 

"Simon Said: Good News!" That's the title of an opinion piece submitted by Julian Simon before his death, but run Sunday by the Washington Post. See the February 11 CyberAlert for details on his life dedicated to undercutting the fallacies espoused by radical environmentalists and obligingly repeated by the media. To read his February 22 Outlook section piece on how the lives of people around the world are improving in ways many don't appreciate, go to:

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Not only is Monicagate falling off network evening show budgets even on nights with events or revelations in newspapers stories, but the networks are also choosing to ignore developments on the Whitewater front. The networks have all run stories featuring liberals complaining about how Starr has strayed beyond his mandate while reporters themselves have bemoaned the focus on sex instead of important issues. But Friday night CBS, NBC and MSNBC didn't bother with the guilty plea deal made by former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker to offer Whitewater evidence. ABC gave it 14 seconds, CNN a sentence. Only FNC aired a story spelling out the ominous implications for the Clintons.

None of the broadcast networks uttered a syllable about the Monica matter Friday night and Saturday's New York Times story on how Vernon Jordan is distancing himself from Clinton, saying Clinton assured him he did not have a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, got part of a story on ABC, a few sentences on CBS but nothing on NBC. In fact, NBC Nightly News didn't mention Fellategate Friday or Saturday night.

Sunday night (February 22) NBC Nightly News finally got around to airing a story, a piece from Joe Johns on how Lewinsky stands by her original deposition and, a day late, explaining how the New York Times reported that Clinton told Jordan he did not have sex with Lewinsky. Since the network skipped it Thursday night, NBC viewers never learned of the February 19 Washington Post story on how Jordan met more often with Lewinsky than previously known.

ABC featured a profile of Vernon Jordan by Sam Donaldson on Sunday's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, for the second night in a row, did not run a full story. Anchor John Roberts took 50 seconds to introduce and run a soundbite from Lewinsky lawyer William Ginsburg insisting that she stands by her original deposition.

Here's a rundown of how the networks handled the scandals on Friday and Saturday night. First, Friday, February 20:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Like CBS and NBC, ABC led with Iraq and the anthrax arrests. Substitute anchor Lisa McRee delivered this 14 second item on Whitewater, the only broadcast network to even mention the development:

"Whitewater prosecutors won another conviction today. In Arkansas, former Governor Jim Guy Tucker pleaded guilty to a fake bankruptcy scheme that saved him $3 million in taxes. It's the second fraud conviction in two years. He'll be sentenced to probation."

-- CBS Evening News devoted about half the show to Iraq. Zilch on Tucker, but CBS had time for a story on El Nino, an Eye on America series on women and smoking and for Dan Rather to list the rights in Clinton's proposed health care Bill of Rights.

- NBC Nightly News. Nothing on Monicagate or Tucker and Whitewater, but did find time after Iraq for a piece of Tara Lipinski winning the Gold Medal, an In Depth look at the beneficial impact of warm weather caused by El Nino and for Tom Brokaw's crime report on four Florida men arrested by police after their cocaine got into their van's AC system and was blown all over them.

-- CNN's The World Today. A bit past the halfway mark co-anchor Joie Chen showed soundbites from Ken Starr and Mike McCurry about executive privilege. She then noted the Justice Dept. evaluation that Secret Service (USSS) officers should be protected from testifying. Next, she took 20 seconds to report Tucker's decision to agree to cooperate.

-- MSNBC's News with Brian Williams. He noted the Justice Dept. decision on the USSS and had time for a story on a California woman who gave birth to a 14 pound baby, but said nothing about Monicagate or Tucker.

-- FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume at 6pm ET/9pm PT and 7pm ET Fox Report aired a full story on Tucker. Fox News Channel's David Shuster spelled out the implications for Clinton avoided by all the other networks:

"In exchange for a likely sentence of probation Tucker has agreed to cooperate with investigators. That could be bad news for the Clintons. Two years ago in a Whitewater trial that forced Tucker to resign from office, he and the Clinton's former business partners, the McDougals, were convicted of fraud and conspiracy, charges they obtained fraudulent loans to help Arkansas's political family. One of those loans went through the Clintons Whitewater account and prosecutors have been fighting for three years to turn Tucker into a government witness. But the development will have a more immediate impact on Starr's investigation into Monica Lewinsky because precious prosecution resources are now available for the case in Washington..." 

Too bad ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC viewers have no idea of Starr's progress on his original mission.

Now, here are some notes about Saturday, February 21:

-- ABC's World News Tonight featured a report from Karla Davis on the Justice recommendation for "substantial privilege" for USSS officers and the New York Times story on a "possible distancing" between Jordan and Clinton as someone close to Jordan told the paper Jordan was assured by Clinton that no sex occurred.

-- CBS Evening News anchor Paula Zahn noted that Lewinsky's father said he does not think his daughter had sex with Clinton, then she delivered this 24 second item:

"A lawyer, who claims to know Jordan's story, tells the New York Times that Jordan did not know Lewinsky was a potential witness in the Paula Jones case when he was helping her. When he confronted the President, the lawyer says, Jordan was reassured by Mr. Clinton that he did not have a sexual relationship with the former White House intern. The report says Jordan did, however, keep the President personally informed about Lewinsky's job search."

-- NBC Nightly News: nothing on anything related to Monicagate.

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The February 23 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. If you've been an attentive CyberAlert reader most of these should be familiar to you, but I think you'll find some stark examples of bias you may have missed in the rush of breaking stories over the past few weeks. The first eight quotes recount media attacks on Starr, the rest deal with other aspects of Monicagate coverage.

A few quotes have not appeared in a previous CyberAlert: Under "Still Shilling for the Clinton Marriage," quotes from Newsweek and U.S. News caught by MRC analysts Steve Kaminski and Eric Darbe and under "Clinton's State of the Union: The Naked Pause that Refreshes," a quote the MRC's Gene Eliasen noticed in Time magazine.

The issue follows below. -- Brent Baker

February 23, 1998 (Vol. Eleven; No. 4)

Saturday Night Massacre by Spin Control

"For Ken Starr to say he's going to investigate the leaks is as believable as O.J. Simpson looking for the real killer." - Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, February 7.

"What Starr is doing is trying to construct the truth according to Ken Starr, and according to Miss Lewinsky's lawyer he's reneging on his offer of immunity, because she's not saying what he wants and what he's doing is trying to get people to say what he wants. He's the one who is suborning perjury here in my view. He has gone way beyond the pale in term of his treatment of witnesses." - Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, February 7 McLaughlin Group.

"You don't have to have a moment's sympathy for the President to know that this convergence of Jones, Starr and the FBI is not right. No one is worried much about civil liberties when Sipowicz is browbeating the bad guy on NYPD Blue. But the latest Washington drama is for real. As Starr disgraces the Judicial Branch and Clinton the Executive one, things once lost - like respect for privacy, the presidency and proportion - cannot be retrieved. Next up: perhaps the Legislative Branch, to stage a trial blending the worst of Watergate and Melrose Place, a show so repulsive it might even shame Ken Starr." - Margaret Carlson in Time, Feb. 2.

 Starr on Trial in Media's Kangaroo Court

"Ginsburg told ABC News he is not coordinating with the President's lawyers, but he is not the only one to complain that Starr's tactics border on abuse. Whitewater figure Susan McDougal has long maintained that she's in jail on contempt charges only because she won't invent facts to fit Starr's story. The question now is whether Starr's tactics will prove more offensive to the courts and the public than any alleged wrongdoing by the President that Starr is investigating." - ABC's Michel McQueen, February 7 World News Tonight.

Anchor Len Cannon: "The President's popularity continues to climb while new leaks raise more questions about this crisis and about the special counsel who is running the investigation."

Paul Begala on Meet the Press: "Ken Starr has become corrupt in the sense Lord Acton meant when he said absolute power corrupts absolutely." - Top of the show tease, February 8 NBC Nightly News.

"CNN has learned the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee plans to ask Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate whether Ken Starr should be removed from office. Sources say Congressman John Conyers is writing a long letter to Reno, accusing Starr of repeated abuses of power, including pressuring witnesses to commit perjury. The allegations are specific and serious, aimed at a man who already has given many people the impression he's on a mission. That may have a lot to do with Starr's religious and Republican roots...." - Greta Van Susteren hosting the February 5 CNN special "Investigating the Investigator."

Tom Brokaw:"Still ahead tonight. Investigating the President. A growing backlash against independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Is he out of bounds or just tone deaf?"

Victoria Toensing: "Ken Starr has a political tin ear. And that is what has really hurt him."

Brokaw: "Has Starr gone too far in his pursuit of Monica Lewinsky and the President?" - February 16 NBC Nightly News.

"So over the next few weeks President Clinton's most delicate relations may not be with an independent counsel who stones every turn of his life or an old intern spinning astounding stories, but with millions of Americans who've come to like and admire Bill Clinton and don't want to feel foolish for believing in him. And to be sure prosecutor Kenneth Starr has also put himself on trial. If after all of the agony over these past few weeks it doesn't produce a single plausible actual charge against President Clinton, and probably soon, it may be the independent prosecutor who could be dismissed by the American public." - NPR anchor Scott Simon on NBC's Today, February 1.

 Still Shilling for the Clinton Marriage

"'The only people who count in any marriage are the two that are in it.' There is a simple alchemy to their relationship: she's goofy, flat-out in love with him and he with her. 'They don't kiss. They devour each other,' says one aide. He needs her - for intellectual solace, political guidance and spiritual sustenance....Clinton haters and even some supporters wonder whether their marriage will end with the presidency. That seems wildly unlikely. Neither Clinton plans to trade in a public career for shuffleboard. As long as they're in the limelight, their turbulent partnership seems certain to endure - for better or worse. That's because they see themselves in almost Messianic terms, as great leaders who have a mission to fulfill. Her friends speculate that the Bible gives her a historical context for what she's going through. 'There's a lot of consolation, guidance and refueling that comes from reading about centuries-old calamities,' says a friend. Given the storm they're in, it's a source of inspiration they'll need." - Matthew Cooper and Karen Breslau, Feb. 9 Newsweek.

"There is no 'arrangement' about tolerating infidelity. They are passionate about each other, for better and worse. More than one staffer reports being 'embarrassed' when in the room with the first couple as they openly touched each other." - U.S. News & World Report writer and CBS News analyst Gloria Borger, Feb. 2.

 Gingrich Just As Immoral As Clinton, Tripp Worse

"Bill Bennett, Mr. Virtues, has said basically that Clinton is morally unfit to hold office. I'm sure Bill believes that, but this is the same Bill Bennett who has a close friend and goes on trips with Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House who's been accused of some of the same sort of moral turpitude that the President's been accused of....Gingrich gave his wife her walking papers a day out of cancer surgery. Now that's character and as long as we play political games, and we view character in a ideological sense, I don't think the American public is going to be anything but cynical." - Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, Feb. 1.

"Friends don't tape friends, so could we all quit calling Linda Tripp anything but the spy-provocateur she is? Nothing in this mess is more inexplicable than how anyone could record, day after day, the most intimate details, real or imagined, of another person's life." - Time columnist Margaret Carlson, February 9.

 Clinton's State of the Union: The Naked
Pause That Refreshes

"He invited his exhausted audience to take a holiday from Lewinsky and spend a refreshing hour and 12 minutes feeling like a country again. For once the talk on the screen was not of oral sex, but of our lives and fortunes and sacred happiness. He had become all human nature, the best and the worst, standing there naked in a sharp, dark suit, behind the TelePrompTer. That which does not kill him only makes him stronger, and his poll numbers went through the roof....That may have been a miracle, but it was no accident: Americans are less puritanical and more forgiving than the cartoon version suggests, and this President is never better than in his worst moments." - Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs, February 9.


Smearing Clinton Like Jewell?

"A final thought on what you have seen and heard in this edition of Impact. A breaking news story is never the full picture. Remember speculation that Middle Eastern terrorists bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building? In fact, Americans did it. Remember first reports that Princess Diana was hounded to death by the paparazzi? In fact, we learned that the man driving her speeding limousine was drunk. And that investigation is not over. Remember Richard Jewell highly suspected in the Olympic park bombing? In fact, the FBI apologized for targeting the wrong man. And now we are in the middle of another breaking story; the President and his accusers. All the facts are not in." - CNN's Bernard Shaw at the end of the January 25 Impact.


If Frogs Had Guns, Dan Rather
Would Make Sense

kermit.gif (38325 bytes)"Ken Starr and his people have been working for three to four years, spent more than $30 million, they've used dozens if not a hundred or so FBI agents. They may have turned this up, whether you had the Paula Jones case or not. But again maybe not, but again that's like if a frog had side pockets he'd probably wear a handgun. It didn't happen that way." - Dan Rather on the Late Show with David Letterman, Feb. 5.


L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher;
Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors

Eric Darbe, Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen,
Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts

Kristina Sewell, Research Associate; Sherri Pascale, Circulation;
Rebecca Hinnershitz, Karen Sanjines, Interns

  -- Brent Baker

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