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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday May 11, 1998 (Vol. Three; No.76)

Burton & Bossie: Hitler & Wacko; Sidney Blumenthal Special Report

1) Networks virtually ignored the Clinton scandals over the weekend. On Friday Dan Rather highlighted a poll showing "57 percent want Starr to drop his investigation of the President's personal life." On Saturday CBS characterized Gingrich as "harsh."

2) House Republicans remind Al Hunt of the play "Springtime for Hitler." And he denigrated David Bossie as "a duplicitous wacko."

3) Sidney Blumenthal apologized for his "religious fanatic" insult, but the networks are AWOL. Fox's Brit Hume suggested why. Plus, Blumenthal used his reporting job to "damage" conservatives. And a blast from his past: Why he's nicknamed "Grassy Knoll."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Though fallout from Burton/Bossie and the executive privilege ruling dominated the Sunday morning interview shows, the Clinton scandals virtually disappeared from the network evening programs over the weekend. (Let go Burton aide David Bossie put in appearances on ABC's This Week and CNN's Late Edition.)

      -- Friday night, May 8, the three broadcast networks led with the fall in the unemployment rate. ABC anchor Peter Jennings took a few seconds to report that the Justice Department lawyers had recommended an independent counsel be appointed to probe Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Both CBS and NBC noted the not guilty pleas entered by the two Hubbell's. CBS added a full report from Scott Pelley on the status of Starr's probe. He asserted that Starr's report to Congress could be ready by July, that Starr won't ask Clinton to appear before the grand jury but will request a deposition, and that Monica Lewinsky will get one last chance to come clean.
      Introducing Pelley's piece Dan Rather highlighted Starr's lack of public support and, once again, adopted the White House spin about how the Lewinsky obstruction of justice investigation is nothing more than a nosy look into Clinton's "personal" life:
      "In a CBS News poll out tonight just 29 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial investigation of President Clinton. And 57 percent want Starr to drop his investigation of the President's personal life."

      -- Saturday, May 9, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News (anchored by Keith Olbermann) both featured stories on the DNC meeting and Democratic hopes to re-take the House. In her CBS piece Thalia Assuras tagged Newt Gingrich's words as "harsh," declaring: "...Democrats in New Hampshire walked out on the Speaker this week because of his harsh words against the President." His "harsh" words? Here's the entirety of the soundbite CBS aired from Gingrich's May 7 address to the New Hampshire legislature: "That you have the right to know what happened if a law is broken."

      Wow. Newt better lighten up.

      -- Sunday, May 10 ABC's World News Tonight included a story summarizing all the attacks on Dan Burton and Newt Gingrich from appearances by Democrats on the Sunday shows. NBA playoff action bumped NBC Nightly News, at least in the East, and golf run over left CBS with time for a nine-minute newscast for affiliates which carry the CBS Evening News at 6pm ET. CBS's priorities: They managed to squeeze in two stories on Accutane, an anti-acne drug for teens, and one piece on Viagra.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Whenever Al Hunt's mind turns to conservatives he thinks about Nazis. The latest example: On CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, May 9, the Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal spewed:
      "I think Republicans are doing a rendition -- remember that old Zero Mostel parody Springtime for Hitler? I think that's what they're doing. The moral charge against Bill Clinton is being led by Newt Gingrich, the only Speaker in history to be sanctioned for unethical conduct, the most unpopular political figure in America. Dan Burton, the committee chairman, now has, at least according to the Washington Times, has his staff wearing latex gloves because he says left-wingers are sending him condoms in the mail. His staff aide, Mr. Bossie, most reporters I know think was a duplicitous wacko."
      National Review's Kate O'Beirne snuck in a quiet retort: "No, that's not true."
      Hunt insisted: "Well, Kate, I think I probably know a few more reporters than you do, and he's a duplicitous wacko. And finally, while they're trying to decide what they're going to do, Newt Gingrich is up in New Hampshire and Danny Burton's in Costa Rica playing golf. I think they're all Clinton moles."

      Aren't those sending in condoms the real wackos?


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Sidney "Grassy Knoll" Blumenthal. A Special CyberAlert Report: Network inattention to his "religious fanatic" comment, Brit Hume suggesting a reason for media disinterest, an excerpt of the speech in question, a piece of a Vanity Fair profile in which a journalistic colleague suggested "he has the mentality of someone who joined the Communist Party in the 30s," and details about a conspiracy book he edited 20 years ago. It didn't start with the vast right-wing conspiracy.
      On Saturday the Washington Times, but not the Washington Post, reported that Sidney Blumenthal, a Special Assistant to the President, apologized for calling Hickman Ewing, a deputy to Ken Starr, a "religious fanatic." In a front page story on May 9 Jerry Seper reported:
     "The apology came after more than 50 House Republicans wrote to President Clinton, who himself often attends church carrying a Bible, saying remarks made last month by Mr. Blumenthal during a speech at Harvard University showed disrespect to religious freedom. 'I did not intend to offend Mr. Ewing's or anyone else's personal religious beliefs and I regret if anyone feels offended,' Mr. Blumenthal said in a statement.
      "Although he made similar comments about independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, he offered no similar apology..."

      Unlike Dan Burton's reference to Bill Clinton as a "scumbag," the networks have ignored Blumenthal's insult which he uttered in an April 23 address to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At Clinton's April 30 press conference FNC's Wendell Goler asked the President whether he stood by the characterization. That evening CNN's Wolf Blitzer gave a sentence to Blumenthal's comment, but the broadcast networks have all skipped the insult in the evening and morning. Not even Friday's apology generated any interest, with none of the network evening shows touching the matter. Not even CNN's Inside Politics on Friday mentioned the apology.

      But on Fox News Sunday one panelist defended Clinton while another offered a reason for media disinterest. On the May 10 show host Tony Snow raised the apology, prompting NPR reporter Mara Liasson to defend Clinton:
       "This is the kind of remark President Clinton would never, ever make. I mean President Clinton is a religious man, he goes to church every Sunday and he's been very deferential and careful about hurting the feelings of any religious group."

       A bit later FNC Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume recalled how FNC's own Wendell Goler asked about it at the press conference, "But stories like this do not automatically resonate with the Washington press corps, which is as secular a group of people as you will ever encounter and to them, right off the top of their head, a remark like that seems not very newsworthy."

      However, as the Weekly Standard's David Tell contended in the magazine's May 11 editorial: "During Watergate, if someone like John Ehrlichman, speaking with the President's imprimatur, had launched an assault on Archibald Cox at a major American university, it would have been front page news across the country."
      Countering Blumenthal's characterization of Ewing, Tell asked: "Because Hickman Ewing prays each morning, doesn't drink, and attends the Fellowship Evangelical Church of Memphis, he is a religious fanatic?"

      -- To give you a flavor of Blumenthal's anti-Starr ranting, and the "fanatic" comment in context, below is an excerpt from Blumenthal's April 23 address which I was able to find on the JFK School's Web site thanks to a citation last week by Greg Pierce in his Inside Politics column in the Washington Times. Blumenthal follows, followed by more on his hatred of conservatives and belief in conspiracy theories:

....We are plunged, at least in Washington, into a politics of   defamation, a consuming world of innuendo, false witnesses,  allusion, leaks, and smears. The abuse of the Office of the Independent Counsel by Kenneth Starr is a transparently disguised attempt to destroy this presidency.

The original intent of the Office of the Independent Counsel was to remove it from politics. But Starr is profoundly political in his intent. The problem is not simply the largesse from Richard Mellon Scaiffe, the eccentric, right-wing billionaire, Starr's numerous conflicts of interest, ideological and financial, his speeches at Pat Robertson's university, his alliances, brazen alliances, with individuals determined to inflict whatever damage they can on the President.

It is not simply that he has assembled a crew of prosecutorial pirates with lengthy records of prosecutorial abuse, and installed a chief deputy, Hickman Ewing, a religious fanatic, who has proclaimed that he operates from a presumption of guilt. It is not simply that Ken Starr has jettisoned the language of law, speaking
now of defilers of the temple, the apocalyptic rhetoric of a zealot on a mission divined from a higher authority. The ultimate problem is that, in his fervor, he is waging an assault on American rights, that he has engaged in an anti-Constitutional destructiveness....

Ken Starr is a figure whom the framers sought, in their design, to
have rendered impossible, an inquisitor of unlimited, unchecked
power. Starr, however, lacks any skepticism about his own
certitudes, or even any sense of his unfamiliarity with criminal law....

But Starr is sure he knows the truth and that he should be its
judge. His self-righteousness, his insecurity, his partisanship, his breath-taking hypocrisy, have fueled an onslaught on rights that is unethical, illegal, and always political. Now he has appointed himself grand inquisitor for life.

Ken Starr is on an endless quest, if not for vindication, then of
vindictiveness. But I am certain that in historical retrospect this perverse episode will be viewed in its proper perspective, as Jefferson viewed the alien and sedition acts, in his words, "a reign of witches."

END of Blumenthal excerpt

      Very mean-spirited, harsh and intolerant, wouldn't you say? I thought Clinton wanted to bring us all together?

      You can read his entire address on the JFK School's Web site:
http://ksgwww.harvard.edu/~ksgpress/ksg_news/transcripts/ blumenthal.htm (I've tested it and this address does work. Of course delete the space gap if one occurs at the line break. The _ is a _ not a -).

      -- Blumenthal spent his days as a Washington Post reporter urging his colleagues to do all they could to hurt Republicans. Here are a couple of noteworthy excerpts from a profile of Blumenthal by Michael Shnayerson in the May issue of Vanity Fair:
      "At Brandeis University, near Boston, in the mid-'60s, Blumenthal grew his hair long and joined the radical leftist group Students for a Democratic Society. Brandeis was culturally liberal and intellectually intense: Blumenthal's friend Ben Gerson, now Editor-in-Chief of the National Law Journal, remembers him heading home for his first Christmas vacation with a suitcase filled with Marx and Freud, and coming back with all the books read."

      Blumenthal was picked in 1985 by Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee to be an "'impact hire' -- someone whose presence would stir things up," but after rumors circulated that he wrote a Hart campaign speech the Post moved him off the national desk. Shnayerson discovered:
      "Shunted to the Style section, where his lack of interest in 'objective' reporting would be of less consequence, Blumenthal alienated more colleagues by 'holding forth,' as he admits. 'He used to advise me on my stories, 'If you say it like this, it will really draw blood,' recalls one Post reporter. 'Usually it was about some Republican, how to have the most damaging impact. It had nothing to do with journalism.'
      "'He has the mentality of someone who joined the Communist Party in the 30s,' says another Post reporter who worked with him. 'The most important think was you worked for the party, to advance the party. Sidney's main priority is to advance his ideology. He's an ideologue.'"

      You know Blumenthal has to be pretty far over on the left for a Washington Post reporter to notice his ideology.

      -- Finally, while this CyberAlert is already quite long, a Washington Post article detailing Blumenthal's involvement with CIA traitors and assassination conspirators. If I don't run this now I never will and in fact I haven't found a quiet day to run it until now though it appeared six weeks ago. From the March 30 edition of Al Kamen's Inside the Loop column:

They don't call White House communications guru Sidney Blumenthal "Grassy Knoll" for nothing.

We've been looking at parts of a very hard-to-find book he edited back in 1976 called "Government by Gunplay" and subtitled "Assassination Conspiracy Theories From Dallas to Today." The breathless jacket blurb talks of "Links in the chain of conspiracy! How the Zapruder film totally disproves the Warren Commission Report; the hard evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was a U.S. government agent; the strange history of the CIA; Richard Nixon's relationship with organized crime."

Blumenthal, then a writer for the Boston Phoenix who later covered the right for The Washington Post and wrote five other books, edited the book and wrote the forward, two chapters and an epilogue in which he argued that would-be assassin Sara Jane Moore, who in 1975 took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford, was an FBI informer and "a product of the very operations that were supposed to have foiled subversion."

"History itself, of course, is not a conspiracy," Blumenthal sagely intones in the forward. "There are, however, conspiracies in history. The assassinations of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were not isolated, violent tragedies," he avers. "We were warned what would happen. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew...told us that we were being stabbed in the back during the Vietnam War; that law and order was breaking down and that a conspiracy was trying to manipulate ordinary citizens. They were right."

In addition to that riveting analysis, there are some curious contributors to the book, which Blumenthal says "was almost instantly out of print."

First there's an introduction by CIA turncoat Philip Agee. Then there's L. Fletcher Prouty, a retired Air Force colonel and author. He's "Man X," the guy on the bench played by Donald Sutherland in Oliver Stone's hallucinatory movie "JFK." Prouty's chapter is "The Origins of Clandestinism and the CIA."

But most curious of all, Blumenthal was the editor of a chapter written by Jeff Gerth called "Richard M. Nixon and Organized Crime." Yes, the same Jeff Gerth who's now at the New York Times and who broke the original Whitewater story.

Coincidence? We think not.

END of article

      Blumenthal must make Oliver Stone proud.  -- Brent Baker

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