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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday June 30, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 102)

Are There Any Clinton China Critics?
Clinton's Satellite Clairvoyance

1) Networks still glowing about Clinton China performance. Only CNN acknowledged any critics exist. ABC suggested jurors may not like Linda Tripp. NBC skipped Tripp and Dale Young to spend time on UFOs.

2) Dan Rather jumped on a judge's charge that an evidentiary argument by Starr's office is "really scary."

3) FNC hiring Matt Drudge: "Further proof that the term 'Fox News' is an oxymoron," whined one PBS star.

4) Geraldo Rivera raised the satellite issue, not to examine its propriety but to admire its foresight for making possible the live telecasts of Clinton's appearances.

 Correction: The June 29 CyberAlert quoted Geraldo Rivera as saying Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg "were perfectly willing to sacrifice the young former White House intern on the alter of greed, on the alter of hatred for Bill Clinton..." As some church-going readers pointed out, that should have been altar, not alter.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) More glowing assessments for Clinton's performances in Beijing topped the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows Monday night and only CNN acknowledged that not everyone back home is thrilled by Clinton's trip. CNN and FNC led with the argument over attorney-client privilege for Bruce Lindsey and a preview of Linda Tripp's expected Tuesday grand jury appearance. ABC and CBS also ran pieces covering both with ABC's Jackie Judd suggesting "the grand jurors just may not like her" because of her secret recording, but not NBC, which did not utter a word on the Monica front. So, other than a vague reference Sunday night, NBC Nightly News viewers never learned about Dale Young's confirmation that Lewinsky related details of her relationship with Clinton or how narrowly Clinton defines "sexual relations" as described in her interview with Newsweek.

     Some highlights of the Monday, June 29 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Up first, Sam Donaldson on Clinton at Peking University "talking about human rights and freedom." Donaldson showed clips of challenging questions from students about human rights problems in the U.S. and whether the U.S. wants to contain China before letting U.S. Ambassador James Sasser insist that allowing the speech to appear on radio and TV demonstrates China has undergone profound political change. From Shanghai, Donaldson concluded:
     "For the President the heavy lifting appears to be over. Here in Shanghai Mr. Clinton meets and talks and discusses things with a lot of people, but basically takes it easy convinced that what happened in Beijing has made his trip a success."

     Next, Deborah Wang showed how the university students gathered outside the hall were more enthused than those Clinton encountered inside. The show ended with a taped piece from Peter Jennings on the building boom in Shanghai and the history of the city.

     Earlier, Jackie Judd looked at the arguments before the appeals court over testimony from Bruce Lindsey. Moving on to Linda Tripp's expected grand jury appearance, Judd told Jennings that she can substantiate the tapes and corroborate the testimony of others, "but the downside Peter is this -- that the grand jurors just may not like her, they may not accept her testimony, may not accept the testimony of a woman who says essentially it's okay for one friend to secretly record another friend talking about the most intimate details of her life."

      -- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley began by painting a Clinton triumph that has encouraged a Chinese dissident: "Today, on Chinese television, the President carried a message of freedom into Beijing University..."
     After some Clinton soundbites, Pelley continued: "The openness stirred by the President has prompted one of China's most famous political prisoners to speak out for the first time, Bao Tung (sp?)spent eight years in prison, the highest-ranking government official jailed in the democracy movement. He risked his liberty again to talk with us..." Via a camera hidden in a bush, viewers saw the dissident talk with Pelley on a park bench.
     Like ABC, CBS ended with Shanghai as Barry Petersen looked at the building boom and how residents put making money ahead of political freedom.

     Phil Jones checked in with an update on Lindsey and Tripp. He explained the testimony of Dale Young "bolsters" Tripp's tapes because she covers a time before Tripp started taping. Jones told viewers that Young recalled that Lewinsky told her Clinton broke off their relationship because "he wanted Chelsea to be proud of him and he wanted to be a good husband and he didn't want to do anything like this anymore."

     -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET led with Bob Franken on the attorney-client privilege argument over Bruce Lindsey, what Dale Young recalled of what Monica told her, and the upcoming Tripp appearance. Since Young has renewed questions about the definition of "sexual relations," Greta Van Susteren came on to explain that sex is whatever a jury thinks it is, not a narrowly defined activity as Clinton seems to be contending.
     For the third story of the night, John King examined various theories about Tripp's motives, calling them a "a mystery within a mystery."

     Fourth, live from Shanghai Wolf Blitzer relayed the White House pleasure with Clinton's Beijing performance, but also introduced a piece on detractors back home who are not so thrilled, the only negative words of the night on any network about Clinton's activities in China.
     Charles Bierbauer found "those less-impressed with the President's performance say delivering the human rights message was essential. But expectations remain low." In a soundbite a Chinese student in the U.S. argued little has really changed policy-wise.
     Bierbauer elaborated: "Critics note Clinton went to a government-approved church, not to those who pray surreptitiously, and shunned meeting with Chinese dissidents. A decade ago, Ronald Reagan met students at Moscow's university, and in the thaw of glasnost shared smiles with Soviet leaders. But a former Reagan aide notes a difference." CNN ran clips from Gary Bauer as well as Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to show that "Clinton's critics," which the roadcast networks somehow can't find, "are both Republican and Democrat."
     Concluded Bierbauer: "The criticism won't stop when President Clinton returns home. Republican Bauer says there's a future campaign issue in the President's trip, suggesting Clinton gave the Chinese redemption and got little in return."

      -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report opened with Rita Cosby delivering a rundown of Tripp and Lindsey. On Dale Young, Cosby explained that she said Lewinsky told her there was intimate touching, phone calls and oral sex, but not to completion. That matches Clinton's denial of a "sexual relationship," argued Fox News consultant Dick Morris. Reporter Jane Skinner then profiled Tripp and how she got to her current position.

     From Shanghai Jim Angle delivered a report very similar to the other networks about Clinton's Beijing University address.

      -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw's before the theme music tease: "President Clinton in China, again speaking out forcefully for human rights."
     David Bloom noted how Clinton praised individual rights but the students shot back with hostile questions, which shows just how nationalistic young generation has become compared to the class of 1989. Citing some trade deals Clinton signed, Bloom uniquely highlighted how "The Clinton administration will now let U.S. companies share highly technical information about America's most advanced nuclear power plant designs. But, it's a controversial move."

     Next, Jim Maceda looked at student attitudes since Clinton met with skepticism about freedom. For most students, Maceda asserted, "talk of human rights and democracy is a waste of time." They are now more interested in making money, but there is also an element of fear of what would happen if they spoke out.

     Zilch on NBC about Lindsey, Tripp or Young but NBC made time for two pieces on pool safety and a full report about scientists who want to study UFOs.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Dan Rather never misses a chance to disparage Ken Starr. Last Friday, MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson reminded me, he was the only network anchor to showcase this criticism from a judge:
     "In Washington a federal judge today bluntly described special prosecutor Ken Starr's tactics as, and I quote, 'really scary.' It was at a court appearance for long-time Clinton family friend Web Hubbell. U.S. District Judge James Robertson's comment came when Starr's team argued that it was proper to indict Hubbell again on tax charges based on documents Hubbell supplied under a grant of immunity."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Cheap, anti-Fox News Channel and Matt Drudge shot of the week: From "The Insider" column in the June 29 Electronic Media, an item showing that though Ken Bode was absent from the June 19 Washington Week in Review he moderates, so he could attend the graduation at the college where he teaches, he was still delivering liberal analysis -- just to fewer people. Greg Spring relayed:
     "Grudge for Drudge. Kicking off the Medill School of Journalism's annual convocation ceremony June 20 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., new dean Ken Bode noted how ironic it was that Medill was celebrating the graduation of a new crop of journalists the same day that Internet columnist Matt Drudge premiered his new talk show on the Fox News Channel. 'Further proof that the term 'Fox News' is an oxymoron,' said Mr. Bode."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) "The most extraordinary thing is this: Presidents usually go abroad to avoid their problems, not to underline them. No President has ever flown right into the winds of his problems the way Clinton does tomorrow. The President isn't leaving his difficulties behind. He's bringing them with him. The President isn't compensating for his problems with his foreign trip. He's compounding them....
     "Clinton is under fire for his fundraising practices. Many of them lead right to Beijing, the second stop on his China trip. He's under fire for lending the prestige of his office to the men who planned and prosecuted the Tiananmen Square crackdown in June 1989. He'll be standing there in Tiananmen Square on Friday, with many of those very same men. He's under fire for compromising American security by permitting China to enhance its missile capabilities. One of the principal rationales for this trip is American national security."

     Those words may have seemed prescient to Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman when they appeared last Tuesday, June 23, but with the networks praising Clinton's joint press conference and Beijing University speech and how they triumphed over any Tiananmen Square negatives(see June 29 CyberAlert) and reporters otherwise ignoring the whole China connection issue, Shribman's worries have proven false, at least in network coverage.

     Monday's Today show illustrated how far the networks are from caring about illegal donations or technology waivers for supporters. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that in ending a piece celebrating Clinton for so vigorously raising human rights in China, Geraldo Rivera raised the satellite issue, not to examine its propriety but to admire its foresight:
     "...It is fair to say it is undeniable that the President has raised the issue of human rights. He hasn't just raised it he has trumpeted it from virtually every rooftop in China. Ninety percent of all Chinese homes have television. Interestingly one of our NBC national security experts tells me that but for that controversial transfer of satellite technology from our country to their's, neither of those live broadcasts would have been possible."

     There you have it. It was all part of Clinton's long-term strategy to bring about democracy so even if China has our best technology and ability to better target nuclear missiles it won't matter because after a few talks from Clinton they will embrace Jeffersonian democracy.
 -- Brent Baker

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