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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday, April 8, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 59)

Armey's Harsh Name-Calling; Clinton's Communion Not News; Latest NQ

1) Dick Armey's suggestion Clinton is "shameless" branded as "harsh" or "name-calling." Tuesday night only CNN and FNC bothered telling viewers about who appeared before the grand jury.

2) Clinton taking communion in a Catholic church is no big deal to reporters. A few seconds on ABC & CBS. Zilch on CNN & NBC.

3) Mary Bono tagged as conservative by ABC's Good Morning America, but her Democratic opponent goes unlabeled.

4) April 6 edition of Notable Quotables. Jonesboro feedback, pushing liberal reform and it's Starr who mimics Nixon not Clinton.

Watch TV all day and get paid for it. Join the MRC team of analysts. The MRC now has openings for a news analyst and an entertainment analyst. Job duties include viewing and analyzing of news or entertainment programming, entering that analysis into a computer database, researching studies, reviewing print publications and writing articles about bias. Starting salary $21,000. Fax resume to Brent Baker at (703) 683-9736.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Dick Armey's suggestion that Clinton should resign was tagged as "harsh" Tuesday morning but by the evening neither ABC or CBS even alluded to his comments or any aspect of the Clinton scandals. Only CNN and FNC Tuesday night even mentioned the appearance of witnesses before the grand jury, though each focused on a different one.

During the 7am Today news update on April 7 NBC's Ann Curry announced:

"House Majority Leader Dick Armey has called on President Clinton to resign. But he says the President won't resign because he is, quote 'shameless.' His comments are some of the harshest yet from Republicans since Paula Jones's lawsuit was dismissed last week."

Over on ABC's Good Morning America, at 7am news reader Kevin Newman told viewers:

"House Majority Leader Dick Armey and the White House are trading some harsh words. Armey says President Clinton should resign, but that he won't because in Armey's words 'I believe he's a shameless person...his basic credo in life is 'I will do whatever I can get away with.' Now the White House says the President is focused on his job which a spokesman says does not allow him to contemplate any suggestion from Mr. Armey."

Tuesday evening ABC's World News Tonight led with an Institute of Medicine study claiming Americans need vitamin supplements. ABC not only ran a full story on Tammy Wynette's death, but also closed by playing the entirety of "Stand by Your Man."

The CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET and FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report all began with the NTSB urging the FAA to order inspections of Boeing 747 wiring to prevent fuel tank explosions. CNN anchor Joie Chen noted that the Little Rock grand jury has only one month left and that in DC presidential schedule archivist Janis Kearney testified. She then segued from Starr's probe to a story from Wolf Blitzer on Armey: "And that ongoing investigation has led to some name-calling by a top Republican. House Majority Leader Dick Armey says he isn't taking back one word, but the President's aides are now fighting back..."

FNC showed exclusive amateur video of Armey making his infamous comments to high school students. Anchor Jon Scott then explained the appearance of another witness:

"The Washington grand jury investigating the President got an earful today from a former White House volunteer. Harolyn Cardozo used to work in the social office with Kathleen Willey, the woman who accuses the President of groping her. When asked if her father talked to Willey, Cardozo didn't answer. Ken Starr is reportedly investigating whether her father, a millionaire developer in Maryland, pressured Willey not to talk about any Oval Office encounters she might have had with President Clinton."

(Cardozo's father is Nathan Landow. And yes her name is Harolyn, not Carolyn.)

NBC Nightly News was topped by two stories on Social Security prompted by Clinton's town meeting. In the second, Mike Jensen actually highlighted two "myths" often emphasized by conservatives: Myth #1: Social Security is "Taking in too little money." In fact, it's collecting more than it needs to fund current retirees. Myth #2: "The extra goes into a trust fund." Of course, it's spent for other things, which really makes Social Security the biggest welfare program, but he didn't say that.

Later, in the "Hot Spots" segment, Tom Brokaw took a few seconds to note that Armey stands by his comments.

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Catholics may be upset by Clinton taking communion at a Catholic church in South Africa, but the networks don't care much. It happened on Sunday, March 29. So far the controversy has generated about 30 seconds on the CBS Evening News, 22 seconds on Good Morning America and part of a story on FNC. Among the shows yet to mention the matter according to the MRC's analysts: NBC's Nightly News or Today, ABC's World News Tonight, and CNN's The World Today. It has yet to prompt a full story on any of the network evening or morning shows.

On Tuesday, March 31 CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather devoted almost 30 seconds to "a controversy that has bubbled up back home." He showed Clinton accepting the wafer, explaining: "Today, the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia said that while he was not questioning the good intention of the President and the priest, quote 'not all the conditions required for lawful reception of communion were fulfilled,' unquote."

(I'm not Catholic so have no idea if there's such a thing as a "Cardinal Archbishop," but that's what Rather said.)

On Palm Sunday, April 5, New York's Cardinal O'Connor condemned Clinton's action since Clinton's not Catholic and not necessarily "in a state of grace." The major newspapers all ran stories Tuesday on White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry reacting to O'Connor's criticism. McCurry insisted that O'Connor doesn't understand the rules practiced by Catholics in South Africa.

But Monday night, April 6, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN all skipped the dispute. Only FNC's Fox Report raised the issue. In a story on the departure of Energy Secretary Pena, reporter Jim Angle looked at other problems facing the administration, explaining that Cardinal O'Connor "told parishioners that the President, a protestant, was not entitled to take communion when he attended a Roman Catholic service in Soweto, South Africa."

After a clip of McCurry Angle continued:

"The White House insists the President asked to take communion in Soweto and that the church operates differently in South Africa, but many in the church here say communion is available only to Catholics and just those who are in a state of grace, which can be reached by confession and contrition."

Tuesday morning ABC's Good Morning America caught up with the debate, but they couldn't have given it much lower priority. It didn't appear on the 7, 7:30 or 8am newscasts. Anchor Kevin Newman allocated 22 seconds at 8:30am to O'Connor and McCurry's insistence that Clinton did nothing wrong.

One can only imagine the outcry such an affront to a church would have generated if committed by Dan Quayle.

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Mary Bono captured 65 percent of the vote Tuesday in her triumphant effort to succeed her husband in the House seat representing a Southern California district. Democrat Ralph Waite, who played the father on the Waltons TV show, garnered 28 percent. Just as happened before the special election to replace the late Walter Capps (see the March 10 CyberAlert), a network reporter was unable to refrain from adding an ideological label to the Republican while failing to do the same to the Democrat.

On Tuesday's Good Morning America ABC's Lisa Salters looked at the race. Referring to Mary Bono she insisted:

"The conservative Republican also does not try to downplay the fact that she is Sonny Bono's widow."

After a clip of a campaign ad which claimed that her running is "what Sonny would have wanted," Salters turned to Democrat Waite but, as MRC analyst Gene Eliasen observed, refused to issue an ideological tag for him: "But it's emotional appeals like this one included in a TV campaign ad that disturb Bono's chief Democratic opponent."

NBC's Today ran a story Tuesday morning focusing on doubts about Mary Bono's qualifications, a measure I don't recall being applied to Lois Capps, but at least NBC labeled both candidates. Well, sort of. Before featuring soundbites from Sonny Bono's mother denouncing her daughter-in-law, reporter Mike Boettcher distanced himself from the label for Waite:

"She's known to support most of her husband's conservative views. He's been labeled the big government liberal."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)The April 6 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. This issue was produced last Wednesday hours before Judge Wright made her decision and most of the quotes have already appeared in previous CyberAlerts, but several will be fresh to you, such as "No Label for the ACLU," a quote from GMA and NBC's Gwen Ifill under "Heroic Scandal-Squashers," both quotes picked up by MRC analyst Gene Eliasen. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens also caught a couple new quotes, including Howard Kurtz under "That Hypocritical Liberal Media" and Eleanor Clift under "President Huckleberry." Also don't miss Mort Zuckerman's discharge under "Disgraceful Ken Starr." Starr's the Nixonian one, not Clinton.

This edition of NQ is the first issue published with our new design developed by Jonathan Briggs of Briggs Design Associates. We now insert NQ into the middle of a now bi-weekly four-page MediaWatch as we struggle to adjust from producing it with Corel Ventura 7 to Adobe Pagemaker 6.5.

To see a free trial copy, call Michelle Baetz at the MRC between 9 and 5:30pm ET at (800) MRC-1423, that's (800) 672-1423. For a limited time you can subscribe to the newly designed MW and NQ for just $48 a year. You'll get 25 combined issues, plus 12 monthly editions of the MRC's Free Market Project newsletter MediaNomics. And that's not all. You'll also get the MRC's "Best of" Notable Quotables year-end awards issue. All for just $48. Yes, you can read NQ for free here, but you're missing a lot of good stuff that's unique to MediaWatch and MediaNomics. And the hard copy versions are more portable than your computer. Call (800) 672-1423 to pay by credit card.

Notable Quotables follows. -- Brent Baker

Notable Quotables
A bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

April 6, 1998 (Vol. Eleven; No. 8)

Jonesboro Feedback

"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 NRA." - Bryant Gumbel at the end of Public Eye, March 24.

"Let me ask you because there's a lot of schools, I think of my own district, there's one social worker for 1,200 kids. I think the average is there's one guidance counselor for every 800 middle school students in this country. Are we just under-funding our schools for this kind of problem?" - Good Morning America co-host Kevin Newman to Dr. Dennis Kenney of the Police Executive Research Forum, March 26.

"May I add here that in this particular case all the victims except one of the shooting yesterday were female. Does this raise in your mind the possibility of a notion of domestic violence of some sort, of a reaction of young boys to young girls, or a sense of trying to control young girls in their actions toward a young man?" - CNN anchor Joie Chen to child psychiatrist Mathis Abrams, March 25 The World Today.

"The National Rifle Association says the tragedy at Jonesboro is a social issue, not a gun issue, yet the gun lobby, like the tobacco lobby, targets kids. The NRA says, quote, 'The future of shooting sports rests on our grandchildren,' close quote. They sponsor gun camps. Another group says age 10 isn't too young to start shooting. The three school massacres happened in the states with the weakest juvenile gun control. Guns don't kill kids, true, but guns in the hands of kids do." - Time columnist Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang, March 28.


No Label for the ACLU

"The apparent decision by the White House to claim executive privilege for the First Lady is running into heavy opposition this morning. The White House wants to protect conversations White House aides had with Hillary Clinton about the Monica Lewinsky matter. Organizations from the ACLU to the conservative Independent Women's Forum are opposing the claim." - Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee, March 25.


Which Way Is It on America's School Violence?

"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." - Tom Brokaw beginning a NBC Nightly News piece, March 24.


"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." - ABC's Michele Norris opening a World News Tonight story on the same report, same night.


Campaigning for Liberal Reform

Peter Jennings: "On World News Tonight this Monday. All that money in politics. So many promises about change. They'll be no reform from this Congress. All that money in politics and what is it doing to the debate about drunk driving? Is the liquor industry calling the shots?"

Linda Douglass: "For the first time it appears there are enough votes in both houses of Congress to pass sweeping campaign finance legislation. But today top Republican leaders made sure it will not happen, prompting outrage among reform supporters ....For nearly three years House Speaker Newt Gingrich has promised to follow up on a deal he made with President Clinton to clean up the money in politics....Some Republicans...say they'd rather defy their leaders than try to explain to the voters at home why they failed once more to get the big money out of politics." - ABC's World News Tonight, March 30.

"And on Capitol Hill, after all the political lightning and thunder about the need to reform the way campaigns are financed in this country. In the House of Representatives tonight a maneuver to kill off any chance of reform for this year. The Republican leadership decided to put forward watered-down bills and limit debate with no amendments and everyone says that will end campaign finance reform efforts." - Tom Brokaw, March 30 NBC Nightly News.

"For those of us who worship the constitutional guarantee of free press and speech, the spectacle of political hustlers like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) using the First Amendment to justify legalized bribery is offensive." - Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt, March 12 column.


Bella Abzug, National Treasure

"One of the most influential leaders of the women's liberation movement in the 1970s, Bella Abzug, died Tuesday of complications from heart surgery. Today she is being remembered as a national treasure and a true pioneer in the struggle for women's equality. Bella Abzug was 77." - Today news anchor Ann Curry, April 1.


Heroic Scandal-Squashers

"Everybody at this table at one time or another has covered the Clinton White House, more closely than we'd like, probably. The question is, and we've all been subject as panelists on Washington Week in Review, in the interest of full disclosure, to spin on Friday afternoons. They call you up and say 'What are you going to say? This is really what you ought to say.' Are they rogues for trying to infiltrate our thinking or are they heroes for getting the subject back to what the American people want to hear about?" - NBC reporter Gwen Ifill on the PBS show Washington Week in Review, March 20.


That Hypercritical Liberal Media

"You say that scandal follows President Clinton, but aren't we also in a time of media saturation and we're hypercritical about every single news item that comes out?" - Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Spin Cycle author Howard Kurtz, March 12.

"What's creeping into the coverage, the subtext here. I mean, they tried so hard to make the country care about Whitewater. People didn't care. They tried very hard to make the country care about John Huang and Charlie Trie. People greet it with a collective yawn. Suddenly Monica Lewinsky comes along and you can almost see between the lines journalists say 'Aha, now we can show people what we've been telling you about Bill Clinton is true.' And that is why this is the perfect scandal for the press. Because it's interesting to the people." - Howard Kurtz on CNBC's Hardball, March 16.


Disgraceful Ken Starr

"Starr has stood Watergate on its head. It is not the President who is doing the taping; it is the prosecutor. It is not the President who is assembling the dossiers and leaking dirt on the intimate practices of an ideological opponent; it is the prosecutor. It is not the President who is involved in the politically motivated abuse of power; it is the politically motivated counsel. It is not the President who is insufficiently accountable; it is the prosecutor." - U.S. News Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman, April 6 issue.


Which Way Is It? Clinton Apology for Allowing Apartheid

"Would President Clinton today offer regrets for past U.S. support for the old white apartheid government? He did not refer to it, offering a new partnership instead....Some people here clearly hoped the President would offer some kind of apology for past U.S. cooperation with the old apartheid government. But after lamenting the U.S. role in slavery and timidity in halting Rwandan genocide, Mr. Clinton may be through with what some reporters have dubbed his contrition tour. From now on, say his aides, he'll talk about the future, not the past." - ABC's Sam Donaldson, March 26 World News Tonight.


Tom Brokaw: "Once an outcast in the international community, the new South Africa now wins high praise for overcoming years of racial division. And today it also got an apology from President Clinton. More now from NBC's Claire Shipman."

Shipman: "Clinton and Mandela met for the first time today on South African soil and just before that historic visit, the President made an unusual admission to an independent television network. He said that the U.S. was, quote, 'complicit in the racist apartheid' regime by cooperating for so long with the South African government. But the President also said that the U.S. fought to dismantle apartheid." - NBC Nightly News, same night.


President Huckleberry

John McLaughlin: "Do you think Bill Clinton can be properly described as Satan, or is there another way you think he could better be described?"

Eleanor Clift, Newsweek: "...I think he's a charming rogue. He's closer to Huck Finn than Satan." - Exchange about a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd on The McLaughlin Group, March 14.


Primary Colors Primarily Great for Bill Clinton

Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard: "I'd give the film a B+. It was enthralling, pretty good. But my objection is that it is pro-Clinton, that it says though he's philanderer, that he's a liar and so on that because he's a compassionate liberal that makes everything alright."

Eleanor Clift, Newsweek: "Beautifully said, Fred. It's a good movie, it's not a great movie. John Travolta's characterization of the Clinton character is a little overdrawn, a little too much of the Southern bumpkin. But his empathy with people trumps his personal flaws. I'd say it's a B+ too." - Exchange on The McLaughlin Group, March 21.


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
Michelle Baetz, Circulation Manager
Rebecca Hinnershitz, Karen Sanjines, Interns

  -- Brent Baker

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