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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday July 13, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 109)

Ted "Let Me Whip Myself" Turner; Un-American Limbaugh & Prejudiced Talk Radio

1) Ted Turner claimed the NewsStand fiasco made him consider suicide and he offered a S&M punishment: whipping. April Oliver revealed her drive to expose secret operations; Jack Smith once held a high slot at CBS; and why couldn't Arnett find poison gas in Iraq?

2) The FEC is ordered to pursue the sale of trade mission seats, another judge orders a Tripp/Bacon-related computer seized and a Gore ally is fined. Nets ignore it all, but explore how turtles hear.

3) "Limbaugh is emblematic of what's wrong" with talk radio declared Dennis Miller before interviewing actress Sarah Jessica Parker who claimed Limbaugh's "missing the whole point of being an American." But she enjoys NPR because it's "really balanced."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) CNN Tailwind: updates and developments: Ted Turner claimed the NewsStand story caused him to consider suicide and he offered to whip himself; the Chairman of Time-Warner praised how CNN's top duo handled the retraction; NewsStand producer April Oliver appeared on FNC while her op-ed revealed a political agenda; fellow fired NewsStand producer Jack Smith ran the CBS News Washington bureau during the Reagan years; and Peter Arnett can't find poison in Iraq but he can 28 years later in a U.S. plane.

     -- In a Friday night dispatch from the Television Critics Association meeting in Pasadena, California Associated Press reporter Lynn Elber relayed Ted Turner's distress:
     "CNN founder Ted Turner issued a fervent apology to U.S. veterans for the cable news channel's retracted report about U.S. troops using deadly nerve gas in a 1970 Vietnam raid.
     "'If committing mass suicide would help, I've even given that some consideration. Nothing has upset me more probably in my whole life,' Turner told a Television Critics Association news conference Friday.
     "'I'll take my shirt off and beat myself bloody on the back' with a whip if it would do any good, he said, adding: 'I couldn't hurt any more if I was bleeding.'...
     "....Turner said the impact of the retracted story hurt him emotionally more than his father's death, his divorces or his Atlanta Braves baseball team losing to the New York Yankees in the 1996 World Series. 'I feel horrible about it. CNN was my baby from the very beginning,' he said."

     -- "I think Chief Executive Tom Johnson has handled himself beautifully," the New York Post quoted Time-Warner Chairman Gerald Levin as declaring on Friday. He issued his assessment at a gathering of business leaders in Sun Valley, Idaho. "I'm really proud of him," the Post reported he said of Johnson. What about CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan? "The same with Rick."


-- April Oliver can never go back again. No matter what happens CNN is sure to never re-hire Oliver now that she has committed the worst sin possible for a member of Ted Turner's team: appearing on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel. Specifically, she defended her story and lashed out at CNN as the the guest on FNC's Fox NewsWatch on Saturday evening.
     Oliver insisted on FNC that she had no political agenda, but the tone of the last paragraphs of an op-ed piece by her which ran in Sunday's Washington Post suggests otherwise. Referring to the official CNN report by outside attorney Floyd Abrams and in-house counsel David Kohler, Oliver charged:
     "The Abrams/Kohler report was delivered to support a corporate whitewash, driven by executive fear, to avoid further controversy in the press, with the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. One of the primary reasons CNN sacrificed this story was to protect its relationship with the Pentagon.
     "Tragically, the CNN retraction, driven by enormous pressure and a hasty star chamber investigation, will paralyze further reporting of these serious matters and of other past and, more important, future black operations by America's secret army."

     -- CNN's Jack Smith directed CBS News coverage of Reagan. The July 10 CyberAlert quoted Jack Smith, the dismissed Senior Producer of NewsStand, as charging that CNN retracted his story because of a "too bloody cozy" relationship with the military. I had not realized, until reading a July 10 Washington Post "Reliable Source" item on how ABC News correspondent Jack Smith has been confused with CNN's Jack Smith, that CNN's Jack Smith is the same Jack Smith who "was the CBS News Washington Bureau Chief from 1981 to '87."
     That goes a long way in explaining CBS's anti-Reagan bias in the 1980s.

     -- Finally, the best quip of the weekend, from syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Inside Washington in a discussion about CNN's Peter Arnett: "This is the guy who spends ten years in Iraq, or almost a decade in Iraq since the war in 1990, and never discovered poison gas. But he discovers it in the U.S. military. It's pretty interesting by itself."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Developments were disclosed in two Clinton fundraising scandals on Friday and on Saturday in the effort to see who violated Linda Tripp's privacy. Actually, the actions occurred on Monday, Thursday and Friday, but since the networks ignored them, I didn't learn about them until the Friday and Saturday newspapers. Here's a rundown of the items, as reported in the Washington Post:

     -- "Probe of DNC Donor Travel Ordered: FEC Must Pursue Claim of Sale of Trade Mission Seats, Judge Says" read the July 10 headline over a story about a judge taking action on a complaint from Judicial Watch. Reporter Bill Miller explained:
     "A federal judge has ordered the Federal Election Commission to aggressively review a conservative group's allegations that the Clinton administration and the Democratic National Committee offered U.S. businesses places on overseas trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions.
     "U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin, in ordering the agency to pursue what it said could be 'serious violations of law,' criticized the FEC's decision not to pursue the case on its own as 'inexplicable.'
     "Although Sporkin's order, issued Monday, does not reach any conclusions about whether the allegations are true, it could rekindle the controversy surrounding whether seats were sold on foreign trade missions in return for campaign contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection effort...."

     "Rekindle the controversy"? Have you heard anything about this since last Monday?


     -- "Gore Friend Charged With Violating Law In 1993 FundRaising" announced another July 10 Post headline. Reporter George Lardner Jr. began:
     "Miami businessman Howard Glicken, a prominent Democratic fundraiser and friend of Vice President Gore, was charged yesterday with illegally soliciting and laundering $20,000 in foreign money in 1993 for Democratic Senate campaigns.
     "Government officials and Glicken's Miami lawyer, Ed Shohat, said Glicken has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act cited in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court here by the Justice Department's campaign finance task force...."


     -- "Judge Orders Defense Official's Computer Seized in Tripp Probe" announced a July 11 Post headline. Bill Miller opened the story about the latest in how Tripp's 1969 arrest became public knowledge:
     "A federal judge yesterday ordered the Defense Department to seize and examine the computer of a Pentagon official who has admitted releasing sensitive information contained on Linda R. Tripp's security clearance form.
     "U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he acted because the official, Clifford Bernath, deleted numerous documents from his computer in the weeks after his release of information to the New Yorker magazine. Although Bernath has said that none of the deleted documents concerned Tripp, the judge ordered the Defense Department's inspector general to check the computer's hard drive and servers in hopes of retrieving all deleted material.
     "'It is highly unusual and suspect for such an action to have been undertaken by Bernath when matters relating to Tripp are being investigated by the Office of the Independent Counsel,' Lamberth declared in his ruling...."

     The Washington Times played the news at the top of the front page under the headline: "Tripp Leaker's Computer Seized." Reporters Jerry Seper and Bill Sammon added that Lamberth also ordered "Bernath to answer questions about 'whether the White House played any role in the release of this information.'"

      Coverage: Zilch about any of it Thursday or Friday evening or Friday morning. CNN didn't even mention the Howard Glicken matter on Friday's Inside Politics which featured a lengthy piece by Candy Crowley on Al Gore's presidential campaign preparations.

     On Friday, ABC led with the GM strike, CBS and CNN went first with the court martial decision in the Italian gondola incident, FNC with OJ Simpson's decision to appeal the civil verdict and NBC was topped by a story on a study about child poverty. (More on the NBC story in the next CyberAlert.) Only FNC touched a Clinton scandal: David Shuster looked at the debate within the Justice Department about whether to appeal the latest Secret Service ruling. All ran stories on violence in Northern Ireland and the Medal of Honor being given to a forgotten Vietnam War hero, but all also had plenty of time for some less than pressing stories.

     ABC's World News Tonight: diving for champagne in the wreck of ship sunk off Sweden in 1916. Plus, the 200th anniversary of the Marine Band.
     CBS Evening News: Cincinnati law allowing the police to issue "exclusion" notices barring entry into communities to which those ticketed had brought drugs or prostitution.
     CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET: New England Aquarium study of what turtles hear, and a 14-year-old female softball player in suburban Chicago who refuses to wear a jersey bearing the name of a liquor store.
     NBC Nightly News: In Depth Special Report on oceans with stories on the dangers from the warming of the Pacific Ocean, how "sandy beaches in California are disappearing" from erosion caused by beach development, and the danger of riptides.

     Saturday night the three broadcast networks led with the burial of the body of the now identified unknown soldier from the Vietnam War. ABC found room for a full story on a bull run in Nevada. NBC caught up with ABC and did a piece on the Marine Band. It was such a slow news day for CNN that its 8pm ET The World Today re-ran the piece on the study measuring turtle hearing, the same story they played 24 hours earlier.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) On Friday's Dennis Miller Live on HBO the host, a stand-up comedian and sometime actor, as well as the more famous actress Sarah Jessica Parker, lashed out at the evils of talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh.

     In the opening monologue of the July 10 show run live in the east at 11:30pm, Miller, best-known as the former fake news reader on Saturday Night Live, delivered these bits of liberal analysis disguised as biting jokes:
     "The only thing greater than America's love affair with talk radio is the love affair the hosts seem to have with themselves. And no one is more full of himself, or for that matter more fool, than Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh articulates the blindingly white anger of every short-sleeved Wal-Mart assistant manager in America who is outraged because a black kid called him by his first name."
      "Limbaugh is emblematic of what's wrong with the medium. It barely educates but only reinforces and reaffirms the narrow-minded prejudices of both the host and the listener."
     "Many talk radio hosts are so misinformed and play so fast and loose with the truth that they make Mein Kampf read like the Farmer's Almanac."

     Next, he sat down with actress Sarah Jessica Parker, now starring in HBO's comedy series Sex and the City. She's married to actor Matthew Broderick, the Matthew in the quote below. After telling Miller that her parents would only allow her to watch PBS as a child, so she supplemented it with radio, she recounted how she still listens to talk shows:
     "I get angry constantly. Matthew's always saying why do you do this? Why? In fact the other night he said 'I have to turn off the fascists, I can't listen to the fascists anymore,' but it was fine because there was a radio in the other room with some other fascists."

     I believe she lives in New York City, so you New Yorkers can guess which hosts they consider "fascist."

     Apparently serious, she insisted: "NPR is really balanced -- comprehensive news coverage."

     Asked why she tunes in to that awful commercial talk radio, she replied: "I don't know whether it's like watching a car wreck. I can't explain it and sometimes I think it's important to hear because I know what my politics are and I think it's important to expose yourself. Sometimes you actually do learn something, very often not. And plus which you know it's just bizarre, it's freaking bizarre what people call up and say and they have no information. They're completely ill-informed, they're ignorant, they have no vocabulary. They're just like 'I'm right.'"

     She listens though, explaining, "The people whose opinion I'm interested in hearing who are, who read and expose themselves to the world and not just like some problem that you know Rush says is important, they don't call because they don't have time because they're either reading, they're working, they're cooking, they're doing something else that's like far more important than sitting there waiting."

     Reading the New York Times and watching PBS, no doubt.

     Getting to Limbaugh specifically, they delivered this tag team attack denouncing him:
     Miller: "It's so metronomic. Put it this way, I'm starting to bend on Clinton. For years I've been a pretty vociferous critic but you know you look at it and you look at the country and you look at the spirit of the people and you gotta start thinking I'm an asshole if I don't move on a little and give this guy his due, but Limbaugh, every day, every problem..."
     Parker, cutting him off: "It's too depressing. The show depresses me. I think, what's so depressing, what I like least about him is he's really un, he's uninterested in listening to other opinions and I think he's missing the whole point of being an American -- the debate, the democracy, and you know what it really means. It's like he's got this tiny little myopic view of the world and he's just not, and it's like all just 'liberal: bad.' You know and it's just too cut and dry."

     A mindset formed by PBS and reinforced by the "really balanced" NPR. Our tax dollars at work. -- Brent Baker

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