Brock Bought; NBC's Widow Labeling; ABC's Shot at Limbaugh
1) Every network highlighted
David Brock's "apology" to Clinton, but none noted how you
make more money bashing conservatives than reporting on the President.
2) NBC's widow warp: Sonny
Bono's wife got an ideological label yet not the wife of Walter Capps.
But her opponent got tagged.
3) "Open your mouth and
hope for the best?" Yes, quipped a character on an ABC drama,
"It works for Rush Limbaugh."
night every network showcased David Brock's "apology" to
Clinton and how Trent Lott, responding to negative Republican reaction to
his suggestion Starr end his probe soon, urged Clinton to stop
stonewalling and come clean. Only FNC and CNN, however, mentioned the
court appearance by Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung. All the networks
opened with stories on snowstorms in the Midwest and floods in the South.
CNN anchors could not agree on whether
Brock had retracted the accuracy of his story which appeared in the
January 1994 issue of the American Spectator. On Inside Politics Judy
Woodruff told viewers:
"In an opened letter to President
Clinton, published in next month's Esquire magazine, David Brock says the
Arkansas State troopers he interviewed for the article were, quote,
'greedy and had slimy motives,' end quote. Their description of
procuring women for President Clinton, including one apparently named
Paula led to the Jones lawsuit. That in turn sparked the Monica Lewinsky
allegations. Brock writes to the President, again quote: 'My ransacking
of your personal life has given your political adversaries,' who were
now funding and fighting the Jones case, 'an opportunity to use the
legal process to finish the job that I started.'"
Bernard Shaw then discussed this and other
matters with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page editor Paul
Greenberg. His first question:
"Paul, you just heard the
story...David Brock saying he had regrets. He questions the state
troopers' motives, as Judy indicated. He said they had slimy motives, but
he never says what they told him was untrue. Your reaction?"
But three hours later on the 8pm ET World
Today Martin Savidge contradicted Shaw, asserting Brock is now saying his
story was untrue:
"The reporter whose article set the
wheels in motion for the Paula Jones suit is having second thoughts about
its accuracy. The self-described conservative journalist David Brock now
says that Mr. Clinton's enemies were behind that article. He focused on
the President's alleged sexual escapades. In an open letter to Mr.
Clinton in the current issue of Esquire Brock says, quote [on screen]
'Surveying the wreckage my report has wrought four years later I've
asked myself over and over: What the hell was I doing investigating your
private life in the first place?' unquote. A White House spokesman says
the letter is an interesting correction of the record."
CNN moved on to a story from Wolf Blitzer
on Lott, followed by a piece on McDougal, which Savidge introduced by
"The death of James McDougal yesterday
leaves Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation without a badly needed key
Finally, Savidge briefly noted how Johnny
Chung had surrendered his passport and Republican Congressman Jay Kim was
sentenced to two months of home confinement as penalty for accepting
illegal campaign donations.
FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report included a story
by Julie Kirtz on Lott, McDougal and Brock apologizing because he
"now doubts the credibility of his sources." Anchor Jon Scott,
like CNN, paired Johnny Chung's court appearance with Jay Kim's
(In the morning on Monday Jim McDougal's death prompted ABC's Good
Morning America to feature an interview segment with James Stewart and
Jeffrey Toobin, MRC analyst Gene Eliasen reported. NBC's Today, MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, ran separate interviews with Newsweek's
Michael Isikoff and lawyer Floyd Abrams.)
Here's how the March 9 broadcast evening
shows covered Monicagate and Brock's comments:
-- ABC's World News Tonight.
Sam Donaldson began: "As the old saying goes, there's good news and
there's bad news for the President today in the tactical battle for
headlines. The bad news came from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who
retreated from his weekend suggestion that Kenneth Starr should wind up
his investigation now..."
After showing Lott's Saturday comments
followed by his Monday assertion that Clinton's lack of cooperation is
dragging out the investigation, Donaldson moved to the good news:
"But if the White House lost Lott it
appears to have gained David Brock. Brock wrote troopergate [video of the
American Spectator's cover], the article in which Arkansas state
troopers accused Mr. Clinton of sexual indiscretions when he was Governor.
Because her first name was in the article, Paula Jones sued the President.
But today in an open letter to President Clinton in Esquire, Brock said he
now doubts the trooper's credibility. He's not proud of his role in
making Paula Jones famous. And he tells the President [words on screen]
'What the Hell was I doing investigating your private life in the first
-- CBS Evening News
delivered the most bizarre spin of the night, implying Republicans are
blocking Clinton's legislative efforts because they are upset with his
stonewalling on Monicagate. Dan Rather intoned:
"President Clinton's effort to
re-focus public attention on his agenda, instead of the Ken Starr
investigation, ran into new and rougher resistance today. The President
took his health campaign against cigarettes to a convention of American
Medical Association doctors, but the Republican response was 'not so
Reporter Scott Pelley explained: "It
appears the Monica Lewinsky matter is driving a wedge between the
President and the Congress that could even affect legislation. Today
Republicans demanded the whole truth while the President was pressing
Congress to pass his coveted tobacco bill."
Pelley ran a clip of Clinton, noting that
he wants tobacco taxes in order to pay for new programs but Trent Lott,
Pelley relayed, said Clinton's stonewalling is "getting in the way
Rather asked Pelley about the impact of
McDougal's death. Pelley offered an assessment opposite of CNN's
Savidge, claiming that while he "provided prosecutors with many
valuable documents," his contradictory stories meant "his
credibility was shot."
Next, Rather focused on Brock:
"President Clinton got an unusual public apology today from the
journalist whose 1993 article in a Republican-connected journal, helped
set in motion, among other things, the Paula Jones case. Reporter David
Brock says he no longer believes in the credibility of the Arkansas state
troopers who were sources for his story. He now says they were, and I
quote, 'greedy' and had, quote, 'slimy motives.'"
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced:
"There's another twist tonight in the investigation of President
Clinton. David Brock, the conservative reporter who wrote the 1993
magazine article that eventually led to the Paula Jones lawsuit,
apologized to President Clinton saying he's not sure that story is true.
The article quoted Arkansas state troopers who said their duties included
introducing then Governor Clinton to women, including one identified only
as Paula. In an open letter to Esquire magazine, Brock said quote [words
on screen]: 'My ransacking of your personal life has given your
political adversaries...an opportunity to use the legal process to finish
the job I started. If we continue down this path,' he said, 'we can
and will destroy everyone in public life.'"
Up next: David Bloom on how Lott "got
the message" from other Republicans and shifted blame to Clinton,
asking him to tell the truth.
Later, on MSNBC's 9pm ET/PT The News with
Brian Williams, the namesake anchor treated Brock's comments as a
religious rite: "Some major developments over the past 24 hours in
the Whitewater investigation, including a confession from one of the
one-time principle players. David Brock" now says he's "not
sure the story is true."
While on the subject of "slimy motives" and, as James Carville
would say, "trash for cash," the MRC's Tim Graham reminded me
of this news item the February 26 Reliable Source column in the Washington
"David Brock's book about Hillary
Clinton was a notorious flop. But the onetime conservative writer has
found a subject that he thinks may be more salable: himself.
"His third book will be an expanded
version of 'Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man,' his Esquire magazine
mea culpa last July about how he and other conservatives stretched the
truth and ignored facts to puff up Republicans or pound President Clinton.
"But the book -- for which Brock, 35,
said he got a six-figure advance from Random House -- will, naturally, be
part personal memoir...."
Write about the misdeeds of a liberal hero
and the media denounce you. Write about the misdeeds of conservatives and
you get hundreds of thousands of dollars and the networks jump at your
can't escape ideological labeling by dying -- at least if you are
conservative. On Monday's NBC Nightly News Gwen Ifill looked at the two
Tuesday congressional elections in California featuring widows hoping to
replace their husbands: Mary Bono, wife of the late conservative
Congressman Sonny Bono; and Lois Capps, wife of the late Walter Capps,
about the most left-wing member of the House. But Ifill didn't see it
that way. Instead, look at how she described the candidates and those they
hope to replace:
On Mary Bono: "Like her late husband,
she's a conservative Republican. But she's a political neophyte who
plans to pick up where he left off..."
On the other widow: "Democrat Lois
Capps is also trying to pick up the political pieces. Voters decide
tomorrow whether she should succeed her husband Walter in Congress. He
died of a heart attack last fall..."
And who must Capps beat? "Lois
Capps' race against conservative Republican Tom Bordonaro has attracted
There you have Gwen's prism: On Tuesday a
"conservative Republican" is in one race while the other
presents a "Democrat" of no ideological bent who must overcome
another "conservative Republican."
Nothing Sacred, the controversial drama revolving around Father Ray, a
liberal Catholic priest at an urban parish, took a shot at Rush Limbaugh.
ABC has moved the low-rated show from 8pm ET/PT Thursdays to 9pm ET/PT
Saturdays. On the March 7 episode a new priest is assigned to the parish
and he hires Justine as the new director of religious education. She
criticizes Father Ray's homilies, leading to this exchange, caught by
MRC entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell, between Ray and a nun named
Ray: "I wonder if she's a
Maureen: "You say that about everyone
you don't like."
Ray: "She criticized my homiletic
Maureen: "You mean open your mouth and
hope for the best, that technique?"
Ray: "It works for Rush
For those of you digging your cars out of the snow this morning, it hit 72
on Monday at the CyberAlert Weather Center in Annandale, Virginia --
that's the thermometer outside my window. Actually, I miss the snow. We
haven't had any yet this season.
-- Brent Baker
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