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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday May 14, 1998 (Vol. Three; No.78 )

Immunity Immune from Coverage; More Cancer Deaths the Better

1) The networks again ignored the decision by House Democrats to block immunity and delay fact-finding by Burton's committee.

2) The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz conceded that in choosing Hubbell tape quotes "the press may have been more complicit in the controversy than previously understood."

3) Hollywood liberals pitch in to oust Helen Chenoweth and other conservatives. Why do they still stand by Clinton? Could it be they imagine him as Michael Douglass in The American President?

4) Seinfeld's "George Castanza" asserted that a cancer cure is "not a great thing" since it will mean "those millions of people that we thin out" of the "herd every year" won't die.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Just as occurred the night of April 23, after Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee refused to provide the votes for the required two-thirds majority to grant immunity to four witnesses, the broadcast networks Wednesday evening skipped the Democratic obstinance. Back on April 23 and the morning after ABC, CBS and NBC ignored the maneuver which so infuriated Newt Gingrich, as did CNN.

     Wednesday night, May 13, the Democrats again refused to vote for immunity for the witnesses set to testify about campaign fundraising illegalities. ABC, CBS and NBC did not utter a word about it Wednesday night, but FNC gave it a few seconds. CNN's Inside Politics did run a story and, as noted in the May 13 CyberAlert, the May 12 edition of CNN's The World Today provided a preview of the vote.

     The networks certainly had enough air time to highlight how the Democrats are working to cover-up abuses. Though every network led Wednesday night with multiple pieces on the second nuclear test explosion in India, U.S. condemnation of it and anger at how the intelligence community missed the operation, as well as reports on violence in Jakarta, they made room for some less time-sensitive stories. The CBS Evening News featured stories on a new flu vaccine and the latest installment of a series on living longer: this time a look at how olive oil is credited with long life spans in Crete. NBC Nightly News made room for "Fleecing of America" piece on investment scams. That aired just after this calm story, as plugged by Tom Brokaw: "In Depth tonight: the nuclear threat. Could a nuclear war break out? Where?"

     On FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report co-anchor Patrick Vanhorn noted that a judge will hold a hearing Thursday to settle the Secret Service testimony dispute. Co-anchor Catherine Crier then offered this brief summary of what happened in the Burton committee:
     "You win some, you lose some. Congressman Dan Burton managed to hang onto his job as head of the House campaign cash investigation today, but he lost the battle to give immunity to four witnesses who can testify about wrongdoing by the Democrats. Republicans say they'll try again on the immunity vote and Democrats will take another shot at Burton first thing tomorrow morning."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) While on the Burton committee, the May 7 CyberAlert relayed how National Review learned that "Reporters were encouraged...to review the committee's excerpts and then to listen to the tapes to get the context," so none were misled on the Hubbell tapes. On Monday Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz took up conservative complaints that the media falsely blamed Burton and aide David Bossie for misleading them. Kurtz basically found the complaint valid and confirmed the National Review report.

     Here' an excerpt from his May 11 "Media Notes" column:

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) has been roundly denounced for releasing selectively edited transcripts of the prison conversations of presidential pal Webster Hubbell.

But the actual story is more complicated than that, involving a backstage collaboration between Burton's staff and more than a dozen journalists who were allowed to read complete transcripts and listen to the unexpurgated tapes in the days before they were publicly released.

There is no dispute that Burton bungled the public release of transcripts that were missing key passages deleted by his staff. "It's clear the transcripts were edited to leave out material more favorable to the Clintons," said Nightline correspondent Chris Bury. "We obviously were used in that regard. Unfortunately, that happens all the time with leaked material."...

But the press may have been more complicit in the controversy than previously understood. Burton committee staffers say selected reporters were allowed to review the complete transcripts of the Hubbell conversations, although some of these, as prepared by the panel, included paraphrases and summaries. And network correspondents were given a separate room to listen to the uncensored tapes and to make audio copies for broadcast use....

David Bossie, who lost his job as Burton's chief investigator over the incident, said there is "absolutely, positively no doubt" that reporters were shown the full transcript of the most controversial conversation....

END Kurtz excerpt


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The past two weekends celebrities have offered up their names to showcase Democratic fundraisers attended by President Clinton. And a Los Angeles Times article revealed that in order to protect Clinton from any House impeachment action many Hollywood celebrities are sending their checks to Democratic House candidates in the hope that the GOP can be ousted from control.
Hollywood liberals may consider the House as the only savior because, as Rob Reiner's film The American President suggested, in their view the media really don't have a liberal bias and so jump on character issues to tear down a good President.

     Last weekend, the May 10 Boston Globe reported, Clinton attended a Brookline, Massachusetts fundraiser featuring pop singer James Taylor. The $5,000-a-plate event was expected to haul in $700,000.

     The weekend before, the May 3 Los Angeles Times disclosed, Clinton flew to Los Angles for two fundraisers. One for U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, the other a "star-studded, $10,000 per couple fundraising dinner in Los Angeles to fund House campaigns nationwide." The newspaper relayed who is in Clinton's fan club, previewing the fundraiser to be held the night the story appeared:
     "The event -- whose sponsors include actor Michael Douglas and DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg -- is expected to raise $1 million for key House races across the country. Stone and actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen are also expected to attend. Several other members of the glitterati -- including Kidman and Cruise -- donated the $10,000-per-couple ticket price but could not make the party, according to event sponsors. By contrast, a similar event for House Democrats last summer attracted the support of lower-echelon celebrities such as Morgan Fairchild and Nancy Sinatra."

     LA Times reporter Elizabeth Shogren began the May 3 story by highlighting how Hollywood celebrities are pitching in for House candidates. Here's an excerpt from her front page piece:

Hollywood producer and director Rob Reiner cannot remember the guy's name, but he knows he sent him $1,000 for his campaign to oust Idaho conservative Helen Chenoweth from the House of Representatives. "She's so extreme, she represents the worst part of the Republican Party that is becoming more and more vocal and powerful," Reiner said.

Reiner's interest in a relatively obscure House contest is not unique. A sizable contingent of President Clinton's Hollywood fan club is paying attention to such races -- or, at the least, helping pay the campaign bills. These elections have never held the glamour of presidential or even Senate campaigns. But what makes entertainment luminaries -- including Oliver Stone, Tom Cruise and his wife, Nicole Kidman -- care about a House seat in Boise is a desire to protect the President and his policies from archrivals in Washington.

The President's recent legal troubles and attempts by some Republicans to capitalize on them have only intensified their desire to help, the stars and Democratic fundraisers say....

The ultimate goal is to win the House back for Democrats -- and thereby remove the obstacles blocking Clinton's programs and virtually eliminate the chance that Congress will rough the President up after receiving a report on independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation of him. But the celebrities also are willing to settle for incremental victories, such as narrowing the GOP congressional majority and defeating individual House members whose attacks on Clinton's policies and reputation have been the most intense....

Reiner said he believes that if he can help narrow the GOP House majority, the more likely it is that Congress will adopt some of Clinton's legislative priorities -- such as campaign finance reform. "It would be a miracle if the Democrats would take back the House, but there's an opportunity to gain some seats," Reiner said....

END LA Times excerpt

     Watching a recent airing on The Movie Channel of Reiner's The American President, I was reminded of how Hollywood liberals don't consider the news media to be an ally. Reiner directed and produced the 1995 film starring Michael Douglas as Democratic President "Andrew Shepard," a widow with a teenage daughter. Just like Clinton sans Hillary. Hmmm. He falls in love with environmental lobbyist "Sydney Ellen Wade," played by Annette Bening. At one point in the Oval Office "Wade" lectures "Shepard": "Global warming is a calamity, the effects of which will be second only to nuclear war..."

     The unmarried President carrying on an affair provides an angle for the Republican candidate for President to attack. The Republican: Senator "Bob Rumson" from Kansas. Sound familiar? Richard Dreyfuss plays "Rumson," an odious man bent on twisting the facts to make character an issue. Planning strategy with his staff, one asserts that they will not be able to get the media to take up the character issue. "Rumson" counters: "Reporters like him. Networks and newspapers like ratings and circulation. For all the bitching we do about liberal bias in the press when it comes to a good character debate..." Another aide continues the thought: "...the press is an unwitting accomplice."

     Naturally, by the end of the movie the wavering "Shepard" comes to his senses and becomes a forceful liberal. Responding to "Rumson's" attacks "Shepard" goes to the press room and declares:
     "Yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is why aren't you Bob? Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the bill of rights, so it naturally begs the question why would a Senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?"

     Next, he announces, "White House resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction in the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years" and a crime bill getting rid of assault weapons and handguns because they are "a threat to national security."

     Somehow, I think this movie explains Hollywood's never-diminishing support for Clinton. They still dream that Clinton might just someday step up to the microphone and be transformed into that ideal crusading liberal portrayed by Michael Douglass.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Cancer: Making the Earth a More Pleasant Place. If you are just in from Mars, here's some news for you: the final Seinfeld airs Thursday night on NBC. So, while the show is in everyone's mind, here's a soundbite from one of the actors which demonstrates he may have lost his. MRC entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell took down his words.

     Appearing on ABC's Politically Incorrect Tuesday night Jason Alexander, who plays "George Castanza," proclaimed:
     "I think that almost every problem that I can think of in the world today is directly connected to the fact that there's too many of us here. And I'll tell you, to what extent it goes for me is when I did hear about the cancer -- potential cancer cure -- I had two reactions in the span of a minute. The first one was, 'That is great. My God, we beat cancer. Amazing. We'll end that suffering.' The second was, 'You mean those millions of people that we thin out in that herd every year would be, are going to be here creating more and more people?' This is actually a great thing for people who are suffering, but not a great thing in the larger sense for the planet."

     Sounds like the kind of insensitive thing Rob Reiner would imagine his stereotypical conservative, Senator Bob Rumson, saying.  -- Brent Baker

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