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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday June 10, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 91)

Bad Photo Images; Forced Abortion for a Good Reason; Tiananmen = South Lawn

1) How the Vanity Fair photos hurt Lewinsky emphasized by all the networks as CBS, FNC and NBC added exclusive new details on Secret Service testimony and how there's reason to believe Lewinsky's affidavit is false. Big highway spending concerned CBS and NBC.

2) ABC's Brian Ross documented forced sterilizations and abortions in China, but while denying he was doing so, Peter Jennings rationalized the policy by justifying "family planning."

3) NBC's Matt Lauer defended Clinton's planned Tiananmen Square ceremony: "It's a little bit like the South Lawn of the White House in Washington."

>>> The MRC's Parents Television Council (PTC) has launched a new Web site ---- www.parentstv.org ---- to bridge the gap between families and Hollywood. The PTC is leading the effort to mobilize national attention on the need for Hollywood to voluntarily restore the spirit of the "Family Hour" and improve the quality family programming.

The new site is colorful, easy-to-navigate and packed full of useful information. The premier feature of the site is an online version of the PTC's highly acclaimed "Family Guide to Prime Time Television" featuring a daily grid and analysis (from a family-values perspective) of every entertainment TV show currently appearing on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN and WB. The shows are evaluated for sex, language and violence using an easy to follow traffic-light rating system: red, yellow and green. <<<

Update on the NRA Update: A liberal, anti-NRA group had spotlighted the supposedly anti-minority quote picked up last Friday by CBS News. On the June 5 CBS Evening News reporter Jim Stewart highlighted how Charlton Heston's NRA ascendency "comes at a time when the actor's own politics is under fire. Last December Heston stunned some of his old friends with a speech filled with bitterness for some minorities." See the June 9 CyberAlert for the full quote. Carl Geib of Plano, Texas alerted me where to find the entire Heston speech. Now, thanks to Dave Kopp (www.van-kopp.com) we know how Stewart most likely found the Heston quote: It's featured on a special anti-Heston Web page set up by the Violence Policy Center. The site (http://www.vpc.org/nrainfo/index.html) features video and audio clips as well as text of the portions of the speech VPC found incriminating. "Stunned some of his old friends," claimed Stewart. More like pleased some of his enemies.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) All the networks Tuesday night pointed out how the photos of Monica Lewinsky in Vanity Fair had upset her new lawyers and hurt her image as a victim. CBS, FNC and NBC added an exclusive angle to the Lewinsky story: CBS that Secret Service officers have been sitting for depositions with Starr's office, FNC that Starr's office has given Lewinsky's new lawyers a time limit to make a deal, and NBC that two courts have secretly ruled that Lewinsky most likely lied in her affidavit in which she denied sex with Clinton.
      ABC led with Lewinsky and dedicated it's "A Closer Look" to China's forced abortions, a policy Peter Jennings tried to rationalize. (See item #2). CBS and NBC began with Clinton's signing of the big highway bill. The new Children's Scholarship Fund topped CNN and was featured on NBC. The brutal murder in Texas of a black man dragged behind a pick up by two white men led FNC and generated full stories on the other networks.

      Some highlights from the Tuesday, June 9 evening shows:

      -- Jackie Judd started the show by explaining how Lewinsky lawyers Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein spent several hours at Starr's office: "On the table: discussions about full immunity for Monica Lewinsky if she will testify in detail to what Starr believes is the truth about her relationship with President Clinton."
      On the impact of the photos, Judd found: "The notion that Lewinsky is a victim in this scandal may have been undercut a little bit today by these provocative pictures published by Vanity Fair magazine...Lewinsky's ex-lawyer, William Ginsburg, approved the photo shoot and it was one reason for his removal from the case."
      Judd then noted the fifth appearance before the grand jury by Vernon Jordan.

      -- CBS Evening News led with the highway bill signed by Clinton. "Bill Plante has more about how this election year plum filled with pork affects you," promised Dan Rather. Plante began: "They talk a lot in Washington about fiscal responsibility. But that didn't stop the President from signing the biggest public works bill in history -- $216 billion over six years..."

      Later, Rather plugged "exclusive new information" on the Monica front. Scott Pelley announced:

      "Tonight we know for the first time that secretly over the last several weeks Ken Starr's prosecutors have been interviewing a large number of Secret Service officers." About 20 have been sitting for depositions, Pelley added, explaining: "Multiple sources tell CBS News the officers have been telling investigators about Monica Lewinsky at the White House. Some officers have acknowledged clearing her in through security and escorting her through the building. The officers have drawn the line, however, when asked about their observations of the President and his interaction with Ms. Lewinsky and others..."

      Still, Pelley noted, they have corroborated some claims by Lewinsky. On the photos, Pelley suggested: "Fresh evidence of Lewinsky's predicament came today in the pages of Vanity Fair..."

      -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET began with the Children's Scholarship Fund established for 50,000 poor kids by Ted Forstmann and John Walton. Bob Franken handled the Lewinsky front, offering this assessment: "Many are saying that the new lawyers are trying to undue the damage of the old one. For instance: the photo-spread in July's Vanity Fair" which doesn't portray someone under siege.

      -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report was topped by the story of the black man dragged and decapitated behind a pick up truck in Jasper, Texas. On Lewinsky, David Shuster disclosed that Starr's office has given her new legal team a deadline for making a deal. Moving to Jordan's fifth and last appearance, Shuster ventured: "Jordan quoted the Bible and said the truth will set you free, but prosecutors suspect Jordan deliberately blinded himself last fall to why he'd been asked to get involved."
      Photos are another wrinkle for the new lawyers, Shuster contended: "Complicating any defense strategy, a photo-spread in this month's Vanity Fair magazine. The pictures show Lewinsky posing in the seductive style of Marilyn Monroe and leaning against an antique U.S. flag, not the innocent image her new lawyers are trying to project."
      The new lawyers, Shuster claimed, are trying to improve her image by demanding more modest dress and making her take cabs instead of limos.

      -- NBC Nightly News ran an In Depth segment on Ted Forstmann and his Children's Scholarship Fund, followed by an In Their Own Words from the top NEA union hack denouncing the idea. The show opened with the highway bill as Tom Brokaw explained:
      "Good evening. The economy is booming, Washington has gone from deficits to a surplus, the money is pouring in so let the spending begin. And tonight it does with the largest public works bill ever -- $218 billion for the nation's highways, bridges, mass transit, bike paths and more. A lot of it is desperately needed but a lot of it is more about re-election than repair and re-construction."
      Following a piece from Robert Hager on the good it will do, Gwen Ifill handled the Fleecing of America piece on all the pork barrel projects. For one sentence Ifill actually came at the GOP from the right, leading into a soundbite from Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra she discovered: "Many Republicans feel betrayed. After all, theirs was the party that promised to end pork barrel spending."

     NBC got to Lewinsky in the next to last story of the night. Lisa Myers began:       "Today as Lewinsky's new lawyers arrived at Starr's office to try to hammer out a deal they had to contend with this: photographs of what the July issue of Vanity Fair calls 'the face that launched a thousand subpoenas.' It is hardly the image of innocence her new lawyers are trying to sell."
      Following a soundbite elaborating on that point, Myers offered some fresh information: "Even worse for Lewinsky, NBC News has learned that in rulings still under seal not one but two courts found there is evidence that Lewinsky may have lied in this sworn affidavit claiming she never had a sexual relationship with the President. The rulings allow Starr to question the lawyer who drew up the affidavit. Other lawyers call that very significant..."

      (And just how did Monica end up in Vanity Fair. On Tuesday's Today show Krista Smith of Vanity Fair told Katie Couric that it all came about after Lewinsky met Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth at a Washington party. And who is Orth? She's Mrs. Tim Russert. It is a small media world in Washington.)


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Tuesday's Nightline focused on forced abortions in China, but World News Tonight also looked at the topic earlier, making it the subject for a "A Closer Look." Intrepid investigative reporter Brian Ross delivered a solid and devastating report, but ABC sandwiched it between rationalizations before and after by Peter Jennings and a guest interview.

      Peter Jennings called forced abortions an "ugly example" of Chinese policy from a country whose leader, Mao, once said there never could be too many Chinese. Jennings, however, reported that the Chinese soon "realized" the downside of too many people: "But the man who succeeded him, Deng Xiao Ping, realized that too many Chinese would lower the standard of living and be an obstacle to economic development." So, in 1979 China adopted a one-child policy.

      Brian Ross revealed: "For years the Chinese government has denied what this Chinese official has now come forward to say -- that women who defy the country's one child per family policy routinely face forced sterilizations and forced abortions, including woman as much as nine months pregnant."
      Xiao Duan Gao, through translator: "The child can still be alive when it comes out of his mother's womb and as soon as the child cries the doctor will give it another injection and the child will die."
      It seems China also likes partial birth abortions. Ross went on to explain that Gao, who defected, was director of a birth center in a town of 60,000. She brought out not only supporting documents but video, which Ross showed, including footage of a jail cell inside the "birth center" for uncooperative women.

      To follow up Ross Jennings brought aboard professor Susan Greenhalgh of the University of California-Irvine for a two question interview. Is it happening everywhere in China? Greenhalgh said there is "tremendous variation" by region and that many official documents insist "coercion must be avoided."

      Do the Chinese see the issue the same way as Americans, asked Jennings? Greenhalgh maintained it's really fine with them: "I think that the majority of the people accept the policy as something that's necessary for China at its current stage of economic development. I don't know that they see the advantages for them as individual families, but I think if you asked a large number of families in China they will say yes, yes this is our policy, this is right, the state has the right to intervene and to decide how many children a couple should have. It's very difficult to find conflicting views on that issue."

      Finally, Jennings offered "Just one last observation about this without the slightest hint of approval," before delivering an explanation that arguably did just that as he defended China's concern about population and showed the necessity of "family planning":
      "The Chinese point out their economic miracle, they have had the fastest growing economy in the world, could not have been accomplished without population control. The United Nations estimates that China's population will grow by 24 percent in the next half a century. By comparison, the Indian population, more than 900 million people today, will grow by 65 percent. And Pakistan, 135 million people today, is expected to grow by about 162 percent. In this regard family planning makes a difference."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) South Lawn, Tiananmen Square. What's the difference? Not much in Matt Lauer's mind. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Lauer's telling assertion which occurred during a June 9 Today interview, about Clinton's upcoming China trip, with Arkansas Senator Tim Hutchinson Johns and Hopkins University professor David Lampton. When Hutchinson asserted that Clinton agreeing to an official ceremony in Tiananmen Square "demeans lives of those who were killed," Lauer shot back:
      "Senator let's make it clear though that is the official welcoming spot in Beijing, it's a little bit like the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, that's where world leaders come for state visits."

      Hutchinson pointed out the obvious: that there's never been a massacre on the South Lawn. -- Brent Baker

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