Peter Backs Jane; Fox Conspiracy; Education IRAs Hurt Poor; Miss America Missed
1) Peter Jennings
defended Jane Fonda's charge about starving children and he misses the
homeless shanty towns in New York.
2) Fox goes conspiracy. All
the networks highlighted conspiracy theories about Martin Luther King's
death but all except FNC emphasized the lack of evidence.
3) Only NBC's Lisa Myers
explained Susan McDougal's importance. Only ABC and CBS mentioned how
George Bush denounced attacks on Starr.
4) CBS and CNN contended that
the education savings accounts are a sop to the rich, but in reality all
incomes would benefit.
5) Dateline NBC will
interview former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen, but so far only FNC
touched her admission of sex with Clinton.
6) Only men commit
adultery? But then with whom?
News anchor Peter Jennings told Tom Snyder that Jane Fonda was on target
in her comments about children "starving to death" in North
Georgia and he complained about how New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's
policies have eliminated the shanty towns of homeless men. He doesn't
want anyone to be able to avoid them.
Appearing on CBS's Late Late Show with
Tom Snyder on Thursday night April 23/Friday morning April 24 Jennings
defended Fonda. Here's the exchange with Snyder after Snyder asked about
the kind of poverty Jennings has seen abroad:
Peter Jennings: "I was thinking about
what Jane Fonda said the other night about North Georgia and how she
thought North Georgia was not unlike parts of the developing world and
some politicians in Georgia jumped all over her."
Tom Snyder: "When was she in North
Georgia? Well yes she lives in Atlanta."
Jennings: "She lives in Atlanta. And
the truth of the matter is there are parts of America which are just as
bad as some of the worst parts in the rest of the world and that's
New York Mayor Giuliani has tried to get
the homeless off the streets of New York City, but that has hardly pleased
Jennings. Raising Jennings' volunteer work for the Coalition for the
Homeless, Snyder observed that he saw fewer homeless on Manhattan's
streets. Jennings lamented the change:
"What you really don't see, when I
first started volunteering for the coalition -- by the way there are a
lot of people who volunteer a lot more diligently and more seriously
than I do -- in the feeding program we used to feed under the Brooklyn
Bridge, under the Manhattan Bridge. And this is only seven or eight
years ago there were communities of homeless there, of men primarily who
did not want to be in the shelter system. There are none of those little
shanty towns anymore, they've all been pushed away. Some people may
think that's a good thing but I always thought it was sad that we hide
the homeless because, because it's a fact of life and I also think
it's incumbent upon the rest of us to recognize the homeless and see
the homeless and look the homeless in the eye because there's no lower
status in life than to be without a place to live."
Just as Giuliani is trying to make New York
look less like the Third World Jennings demands it look just like it.
night (April 23) all the networks led with the passing of James Earl Ray,
the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King. ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC
highlighted how many, including King's family, either believe Ray had
help or was just a patsy in a larger government-directed conspiracy. But
only FNC treated the theories as credible and failed to show their
-- On ABC's World News Tonight Forrest
Sawyer explained Ray's theory about a man named "Raoul,"
adding: "The evidence of a government conspiracy actually came from
Ray's last attorney, William Pepper, who claimed there was not only a
sniper on the ground across from King's hotel, but also a team of
military assassins set up nearby."
But then Sawyer knocked down the theories,
reporting that a military memo ordering the killing, offered up by Pepper,
was proven fake. In addition, Pepper claimed the leader of the military
assassination squad was supposedly killed to keep quiet but, Sawyer
pointed out, he's alive enough to be suing Pepper.
Sawyer charged: "To date William
Pepper has still not offered a single witness or verifiable piece of
evidence to support his claims..."
-- Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News
dismissive of the conspiracy theories: "Though the evidence against
him was overwhelming and he confessed to the King murder, he later changed
his story and spent most of the past 30 years telling one different tale
after another." The subsequent story relayed the views of King's
family and of Jesse Jackson about a wider plot, but also noted that author
Gerald Posner and the Memphis DA's office have reviewed all the evidence
and maintain that Ray fired the fatal shot.
-- Tom Brokaw topped the NBC Nightly News
by giving equal weight to the conspiracy theory: "James Earl Ray is
dead but conspiracy theories live on. Was he really the only killer of
Doctor Martin Luther King Junior?" But in his story Pete Williams
also explained the conclusion drawn by Posner.
-- FNC's Fox Report was in WackyWorld.
Co-anchor Jon Scott asked at the top of the 7pm ET broadcast: "Liver
failure killed James Earl Ray but did Ray kill Dr. King?"
Reporter Juliet Huddy (sp?) concluded her
story: "James Earl Ray goes to his grave convicted of a murder he and
others say someone else may have committed."
Up next, reporter Bret Baier zoomed in on
doubts by family and friends: "Reverend Joseph Lowery, King's close
friend and fellow civil rights leader, says America lost today, lost a
chance for the whole truth..."
Neither story gave a second to anyone who
thinks Ray is solely responsible, but FNC only went deeper into
conspiracy. Later in the show they dedicated the in-depth "Fox
Files" segment to the conspiracy theories, treating them as credible.
Jon Scott declared: "His death now
does not bring the story to a close for people who say the truth has yet
to be uncovered."
Reporter Eric Shawn began with the King
family claim that Ray was merely a "a patsy." Next, how Earl
Caldwell saw puff of smoke in bushes from a second gunman. Third, Shawn
relayed the claim that black detectives were pulled from King's
protective detail that day. Fourth, Shawn summarized the allegations of
William Pepper, the man ABC's Sawyer effectively discredited, about how
the Mafia carried out a government contract to kill King.
Shawn noted that the theories had been
ruled out by Congress, but concluded with the insistence of conspiracy
theorists that we don't know what really happened:
"The House Assassinations Committee
ruled out the Mafia, the military and the government, concluding that
Ray was probably the killer and if there was any conspiracy it may have
been by a bunch of racists who put up a $50,000 bounty on Ray's life.
Now, Ray's death robs him of a new trial but not the hope of others
that the full truth will one day be told."
McDougal's refusal to say anything to the grand jury in Little Rock
generated full stories Thursday night on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. FNC held
it to a brief item summarized by co-anchor Catherine Crier. All but FNC
showed at least one clip of a family member denouncing Starr and of Starr
aide Charles Bakaly enunciating a variation on this bite aired by ABC:
"Judge Starr believes that a witness should have a last clear chance
to come forward and provide truthful and complete answers to the
Only NBC gave Lisa Myers enough time to
explain what Starr thinks McDougal knows about Clinton and while every
network either Tuesday or Wednesday night highlighted George Bush's memo
asserting that Secret Service officers should not be made to testify, only
ABC and CNN's The World Today cited the cover letter Thursday night in
which the former President denounced attacks on Starr. In the morning,
ABC's Good Morning America and NBC Today featured stories on the
controversy over Dan Burton calling Clinton a "scumbag," but in
the evening only FNC mentioned the matter. Some notes about April 23
-- On ABC's World News Tonight Peter
Jennings noted: "Today we learn of another letter in which Mr. Bush
defends Mr. Starr. He writes 'on this occasion I am furious about the
mindless attacks on him.'"
-- "The Clinton's former
Whitewater partner is taken in chains to the Ken Starr grand jury,"
Dan Rather announced at the beginning of the CBS Evening News.
Introducing the story Rather intoned: "Again today she said Starr
is ideologically motivated and out to get the Clintons."
Playing into the White House spin that
Lewinsky is personal and not related to obstruction of justice, after
noting that a new CBS News poll found that 48 percent want the Whitewater
investigation to continue, Rather asserted: "But as for the
President's personal life, 60 percent said they want Starr to end the
Monica Lewinsky investigation."
-- Only Lisa Myers, on the NBC Nightly
News, provided a full account of why Susan McDougal is so important,
explaining: "The key question for McDougal: Did the President tell
the truth when he said he did not know about an illegal $300,000 loan to
her which benefitted their Whitewater partnership? The man who made the
loan, David Hale, claims then Governor Clinton did know and in fact
pressured him to make the loan. Jim McDougal, Susan's ex-husband,
changed his story before he died to also claim that Clinton had lied. Both
Hale and McDougal are convicted felons. That leaves Susan McDougal. Her
testimony is doubly important because sources say the possibility that
Clinton lied under oath about the loan remains the most serious potential
charge against him from Starr's four year investigation in
-- Network reporters seem incapable of
separating an investigation of how campaign laws were broken from the
quest to "reform" those laws. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens
caught the latest example on Thursday's Today. In a story on Burton's
"scumbag" remark and how Democrat Henry Waxman denounced Burton,
NBC's Gwen Ifill propounded: "As Waxman spoke Republican leaders
were beating a hasty retreat on the very issue Burton is investigating,
campaign finance practices. Quieting a revolt among Democrats and moderate
Republicans House Speaker Newt Gingrich revived campaign finance reform
that he killed last month without debate."
Her conclusion echoed the view that
everyone but a few extremists is all for liberal reform: "A new NBC
News/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly twice as many people blame
Republicans as Democrats for the failure of campaign finance reform. But
at least today it's not as quite as dead as it used to be. Gwen Ifill,
NBC News, the Capitol."
get between a network anchor and an opportunity to paint any tax break as
a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. The latest target for
the networks: the proposal to create education savings accounts.
Instead of giving a sentence to both sides,
on the April 21 CBS Evening News Dan Rather relayed just Clinton's class
warfare atack on the idea:
"President Clinton today attacked a
Republican proposal in Congress. This Republican proposal would let
people set up education savings accounts that earn tax free interest.
The President said this GOP version benefits the rich and private
schools at the expense of already decaying public schools."
The next night, on the April 22 The World
Today, CNN anchor
Martin Savidge gave the GOP view, but then
endorsed the Democratic argument:
"The Republicans say 14 million
families with twenty million children would benefit and half he children
would have kids in public schools. Democrats are worried about the
percentage of families that would invest in private schools. The
argument: that tax breaks for private tuition would benefit the wealthy
at the expense of public education. And Democrats have numbers on their
side. A Treasury Department report says 70 percent of the benefits would
go to just the top 20 percent of income earners. Overall the education
savings accounts would cost the government $1.6 billion in tax
Obviously, the more you make the bigger the
same percentage is to you dollar-wise. But as a March 17 Heritage
Foundation "Executive Memorandum" demonstrated, middle and lower
income families would appreciate the benefits of the plan:
"According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics' 1995 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES), over 9 million
families with children and annual earnings of less than $95,000 have
demonstrated that they can save for an A+ Account. Even those who earn
less than $25,000 per year have a mean savings of $2,689. Furthermore,
the survey notes that approximately 17 million children could benefit
from these accounts; 6.6 million of these children live in households
earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. Nearly 60 percent of the
children whose families qualify for these accounts are from households
making less than $50,000 a year."
is running this promo: "Dateline Friday. Did this former Miss America
once have an affair with Bill Clinton? What really happened? Now she's
talking to Jane Pauley."
Lost in the April 1 dismissal of the Paula
Jones case was the admission by Elizabeth Ward Gracen that contrary to her
1992 aversions she did have sex with Bill Clinton and the campaign asked
her to deny it. One more example of how Clinton denials are meaningless
and how he will mislead investigators.
Back on March 31 only FNC's David Shuster
told viewers about the development broken by the New York Daily News,
reporting that Gracen "is now willing to testify she had a sexual
relationship with Bill Clinton fifteen years ago when Clinton was Governor
of Arkansas and according to Gracen's publicist she is also prepared to
state that the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign urged her to deny it.
Gracen says she did but now wants to set the record straight by saying she
had a one time affair with Bill Clinton, that it was consensual and she
wasn't awarded with any state or federal jobs..."
In the April 1 Washington Post reporter
Peter Baker recalled the 1992 deception:
"Gracen was first linked to Clinton in
a lawsuit filed in 1990 by a disgruntled state employee who claimed the
then- Governor had affairs with six women, including Gracen and Gennifer
Flowers. The suit was dropped for lack of evidence, but became an issue
during the 1992 presidential campaign. 'It was thoroughly investigated
and it's not true,' Clinton said then, while his spokeswoman, Dee Dee
Myers, insisted that 'every single charge has been proven to be a
"Yet Gracen soon posed nude in
Playboy and coyly declined to say whether she had slept with the
candidate. With the critical New York primary just weeks away, the
Clinton campaign contacted her and obtained permission to issue a denial
in her name of a 'romantic relationship.' Shortly afterward, she
told a news conference, 'I did not have sex with Bill
In the April 10 Washington Times Greg
Pierce reported that Gracen "got her big break in show business just
a week after her manager huddled with two of Bill Clinton's closest pals
six years ago, the New York Post reports." The Post discovered that a
week after Harry Thomason and Mickey Kantor met with her manager and at
about the time she landed a mini-series role, Gracen, Pierce summarized,
"held a press conference in Little Rock to deny a story in Star
magazine that she and the presidential candidate were lovers."
If any of this makes it onto Dateline it
will be a network first, but don't count on it as Gracen is a big
Clinton defender. Dateline airs an hour earlier than normal tonight, at
8pm ET/7pm CT.
Thursday's This Morning on CBS, MRC analyst Clay Waters caught this from
co-host Jane Robelot: "This morning in our series, 'Lie, Cheat,
Steal,' we turn to the deception of adultery. It seems that more and
more women are doing something that used to be considered pretty much men
So, until now all those men have only been
fooling around with unmarried women?
-- Brent Baker
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