Jonesboro: Blame NRA & Southern Culture; Priviledge & Hill Blackout
1) Wednesday night ABC skipped
all the scandals, CBS emphasized how much the insistence on investigations
2) The Jonesboro shooting
generated some anti-NRA and pro-gun control hits from Bryant Gumbel and
Katie Couric, and the views of both sides from ABC's Chase.
3) The CBS Evening News and
NBC Nightly News have yet to mention executive privilege this week, but
Sam Donaldson nailed Clinton's deceit. On NBC: snorting cocaine just
like diabetes and asthma?
4) Nolanda Hill's charge
that the Clinton team sold seats on trade missions picked up by CNN, but
still nothing on NBC.
5) Which way is it? "Most
American schools are indeed safe," or school violence "has
escalated to terrifying proportions."
Clinton & the Stew in the Star.
The March 31 edition of the Star tabloid features video stills captured
from the MRC Web site of Clinton and the flight attendant as discussed in
past CyberAlerts. So, if you have any low-tech friends who cannot access
the MRC home page, you can refer them to page 5 of the Star. The photos
are still featured on the MRC's site with a link to the CyberAlert
explaining them: http://www.mrc.org.
Remember, you read about it first in CyberAlert and saw them first on the
MRC's page. The Star also includes a story headlined "Prez Forced
Miss America to Have Sex in Limo." On that one they beat the MRC.
March 24 CyberAlert reported that while CNN's March 23 Inside Politics
included a piece on extending executive privilege to the First Lady, CNN
skipped the testimony from Nolanda Hill about how Ron Brown told her that
the Commerce Department sold to donors seats on trade missions. That is
true for Inside Politics, but CNN did run a piece later. For more on that
and an update on coverage, or lack thereof, for Hill's charge, see item
Wednesday, March 25, Marcia Lewis appeared before a judge to ask that she
be excused from further grand jury testimony, a White House aide appeared
before the grand jury to explain why Monica Lewinsky was moved to the
Pentagon and the House voted funds to cover potential impeachment and
investigative costs. ABC's World News Tonight skipped all of it, the CBS
Evening News emphasized how Congress is spending more and more on
investigations and only NBC Nightly News covered all three developments,
adding information about how prosecutors believe Clinton lied about past
The three broadcast networks ran stories
from Rwanda on Clinton apologizing for the slow U.S. response to the
CNN allocated the entire 10pm ET hour and
almost all of the 8pm ET World Today hour to the Arkansas shooting. But,
late in the 8pm show anchor Joie Chen squeezed in a 21-second item on how
the judge rejected the request from Marcia Lewis, Monica Lewinsky's
mother. FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report featured a full story from reporter
David Shuster on how "Marcia Lewis pleaded with the judge that she
not be recalled," how White House aide Jodie Torkelson appeared to
explain why Lewinsky was transferred to Pentagon and how Starr spent the
day meeting with his deputies in Little Rock.
Here are a couple of quotes from the March
25 CBS and NBC evening shows:
-- CBS Evening News. Dan
Rather intoned: "In Washington, Republicans on Capitol Hill added new
fuel today to keep the White House under fire. They voted millions more
dollars to keep investigating the Clinton camp in many directions
including possible impeachment proceedings."
Phil Jones picked up on the price theme:
"Dan, the cost of investigating Washington scandals went up by more
than $3 million today. Over Democratic objections, House Republicans
approved the additional funds to pay for investigations into illegal
fundraising and to beef up the Judiciary Committee which would be involved
in any impeachment investigation..."
Jones went on to note how Monica
Lewinsky's mother was unsuccessful at getting out of further testimony.
-- NBC Nightly News. David
Bloom began by reporting the House expenditure vote, then told viewers
about Marcia Lewis and the appearance by Jodie Torkelson. Bloom added:
"Separately, NBC News has learned that
prosecutors have subpoenaed Paula Jones lawyers for documents relating to
four other women who have been romantically linked to Mr. Clinton. Now,
under oath the President has denied having had sexual relations with a
number of women, but sources say that prosecutors suspect that in case
after case Mr. Clinton lied and that White House operatives engaged in
deadly shooting at the middle school in Jonesboro, Arkansas has prompted
some anti-NRA and pro-gun control hits from reporters. Here are three
examples, in order of occurrence:
-- At the end of Public Eye with
Bryant Gumbel on CBS Tuesday night the liberal host, MRC news
analyst Steve Kaminski observed, put the blame on the NRA as he added his
opinion to a viewer's e-mail comment:
"Time now for Feedback and some of
what you've been e-mailing us since we came on the air tonight. From
Richard M. in Quincy, Massachusetts on school shootings like the one in
Arkansas. He writes: 'Some wonder if we've raised a generation of bad
children. I think we're a generation of bad parents.' And he asks,
'How did those kids get the weapons?' We'll send his letter to the
-- Ronald Stephens of the National
School Boards Safety Center, a neighbor of the MRC in Alexandria,
was hit with a question Wednesday morning about whether Southern gun
culture is to blame. On NBC's Today, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noticed, Katie Couric demanded:
"Real quickly. I read you something
before this interview about experts saying that Southern culture may be a
factor because these incidents that have been so high profile have
happened in Southern rural towns because they say there is more access to
guns. It's a climate of people feeling strongly about the right to bear
arms. They are introduced to guns early on. Do you think there is any, any
credibility in that assessment?"
-- ABC's World News Tonight
picked up on that anti-gun theme Wednesday with Rebecca Chase of the
Atlanta bureau assigned to check it out. She began:
"Jonesboro Arkansas, West Paducah
Kentucky, Pearl Mississippi. All cases of kids killing kids with guns, all
in the South, all in states with fewer gun control laws. In Arkansas, a
child of any age can have a rifle or shotgun. While easy accessibility is
a nationwide problem, in the South there are simply more guns
Chase proceeded to explain how Southerners
own more guns than people in any other region, partially because of the
reverence for the military.
Though the story theme matched the liberal
agenda to enact gun control laws, Chase gave time to the other side,
delivering their arguments on the benefits of children learning to use a
rifle. Noting that in the South hunting is "a right of passage,"
she ran two soundbites from a gun seller, explaining:
"Store owner Jay Wallace sells guns at
his sporting goods store in Marietta Georgia and hunts regularly with his
three sons. He says it is a lesson in responsibility and just plain
Wallace: "Good clean fun, absolutely.
If it would take them away from the Nintendo a little bit more and put
them in the woods, there's a lot to learn there."
Chase concluded: "Lessons learned in
None of the broadcast networks on Monday night mentioned the Clinton plan
to hide Hillary's advice by invoking executive privilege. Tuesday night
and Wednesday night CBS and NBC maintained the blackout, but on Tuesday
ABC reported on the ploy. CNN also mentioned it and FNC did a whole story,
but only ABC's Sam Donaldson pointed out the falsehood issued by the
President in response to a question about the matter. Plus, NBC Nightly
News aired an "In Their Own Words" statement with a bizarre
definition of a "disease."
Some highlights of the March 24 evening
-- ABC's World News Tonight
aired a story by Jackie Judd on how the White House is arguing Hillary
qualifies for executive privilege coverage because she's an adviser,
noting that Sidney Blumenthal refused to answer questions about advice he
gave to Hillary Clinton.
From Uganda, Sam Donaldson showed how
Clinton was asked about executive privilege, and answered: "All I
know is I saw an article about it in the paper today. I haven't
discussed it with the lawyers. I don't know. You should ask someone who
Donaldson countered: "In fact, only
the President can assert executive privilege, so his saying he doesn't
know is puzzling..."
-- CBS Evening News.
Nothing on executive privilege, but CBS ran a piece from Scott Pelley in
Uganda which was preceded by a lengthy clip of a Clinton speech which
anchor Ed Bradley introduced:
"On his trip to Africa today President
Clinton stopped short of an outright U.S. apology for slavery. But on the
second stop of his 12 day, six nation African tour Mr. Clinton told school
children in Uganda that America was wrong long ago for its part in the
slave trade and wrong more recently in its neglect and ignorance of
-- CNN's The World Today
at 8pm ET. After a story from Uganda, Wolf Blitzer checked in to report
that at a photo-op Clinton "brushed off questions" about
executive privilege. He ran the same Clinton clip as had ABC, but failed
to point out its fallacy.
Anchor Joie Chen next asked hopefully:
"Could the Whitewater investigation finally be at an end after almost
four years? Independent counsel Ken Starr hints that he may be finished by
early May, that is when the term of the grand jury seated now in Little
Rock Arkansas expires. Today Starr said it is in the national interest to
conclude the investigation and refused to commit to seating another grand
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report
featured a full scandal story, though I don't recall now if by David
Shuster or Rita Cosby. Whomever it was, he or she reported how lawyers
went before a judge to argue about executive privilege, as the White House
insists that "even the strategy sessions involving the First Lady who
has been helping to formulate a White House defense," should be
covered. FNC added that the grand jury spent the day listening to audio
tapes of Lewinsky while Starr remained in Little Rock to discuss
Whitewater as "prosecutors are prepared to indict Clinton friend
Webster Hubbell for tax evasion, and they're ready to settle other
issues as well: How much the Clintons knew about fraudulent loans, Mrs.
Clinton's disappearing billing records and allegations of a wide-ranging
obstruction of justice..."
-- NBC Nightly News. Zilch
on the Monica mess or executive privilege, but NBC ended with a story on a
House vote to tighten burial eligibility rules for Arlington National
Cemetery, though reporter Bob Faw failed to actually describe any of the
Earlier, prompted by a Senate hearing, NBC
devoted the In Depth segment to what Tom Brokaw asserted is the
"epidemic of addiction in this country." Bill Moyers' son,
once a crack addict, appeared before the committee and NBC gave him its
"In Their Own Words" segment. He preposterously equated diseases
people get through no fault of their own or at best may, through their
lifestyle, raise their risk for contracting, with freely choosing to
ingest a substances: "Addiction is a disease, just like
cardiovascular illness, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, treatment needs to
be available to anyone who needs it..."
Since the last CyberAlert, CNN highlighted Nolanda Hill, ABC gave her 17
seconds, but we're still waiting for NBC. (CBS and FNC ran full stories
Monday night.) In an affidavit released Monday and in testimony that day,
former Ron Brown business associate Nolanda Hill contended that Brown told
her the administration sold seats on trade missions to large donors.
As noted in the clarification at the top of
this issue, the March 24 CyberAlert reported that CNN's March 23 Inside
Politics skipped the Hill testimony. That is true, but CNN did run a piece
later. Since no Hill story appeared in the first 40 minutes of Monday's
8pm ET The World Today that I saw and CNN's transcript page did not have
a transcript of any Hill story, I assumed CNN did not run a piece in prime
time. But since I did not see the whole hour, the March 24 CyberAlert did
not cite what did or did not appear on The World Today. But, by reporting
that ABC, CNN and NBC "skipped the development," a reasonable
reader may have taken that as going beyond just CNN's Inside Politics.
In fact, as MRC news analyst Eric Darbe
alerted me, about 45 minutes into Monday's World Today, as the 20th
story, Brooks Jackson delivered a complete summary of Hill's affidavit
and testimony. Like FNC, Jackson raised Hillary Clinton's role, noting
that Hill charged "that the First Lady was responsible for"
coming up with the scheme.
Monday night and since ABC's World News
Tonight has ignored Hill, but Tuesday morning, MRC news analyst Gene
Eliasen observed, Good Morning America gave 17 seconds to the development.
News reader and future co-host Kevin Newman read the brief item during the
Tuesday night on the World Today CNN anchor
Joie Chen took a few seconds to report that the Justice Department will
review Nolanda Hill's allegations.
way is it? From two March 24 evening show stories on the occurrence of
ABC's Michelle Norris opening a World
News Tonight story: "Despite the national perception that American
schools are turning into combat zones, a national report released just
last week found that most American schools are indeed safe. 43 percent
reported no crimes whatsoever..."
NBC's Tom Brokaw introducing a NBC
Nightly News piece the same night: "Kids killing kids. Just last week
the White House released a report on violence in American schools, which
in recent years has escalated to terrifying proportions."
Reporter Pete Williams punctuated the
danger: "The rise in school violence prompted President Clinton last
week to push his plan for more school spending..."
Same government report with the same
numbers, but two conflicting interpretations. An illustrative example of
how the perceptions of journalists influence what they report.
-- Brent Baker
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