Light on Lieberman; Zuckerman's Late Grasp; NPR's "Balanced Journalism"
1) CBS gave 20 seconds and NBC
just 19 seconds to Senator Lieberman's momentous remarks last Thursday
denouncing Clinton's "immoral" behavior. Both also skipped
Moynihan and Kerrey.
2) From MediaWatch: Mort
Zuckerman now upset by Clinton's recklessness, but back in 1992 he
dismissed the Flowers evidence. ABC's polling analyst rejoiced at how
public put Lewinsky aside.
3) NPR denied blacklisting
Steven Emerson. Indeed, "NPR has a reputation for fair and balanced
Senator Joseph Lieberman's remarks on the Senate floor late Thursday
afternoon (September 3), in which the Connecticut Democrat said
Clinton's behavior was "immoral," that his lying sent a bad
message to children, and that his behavior is not a private matter, is
already proving to be a pivotal moment in Clinton's descent, but last
Thursday evening CBS and NBC only gave it a few seconds. And supporting
floor remarks moments later by Democratic Senators Bob Kerrey and Patrick
Moynihan went unnoticed that night and the next by all but ABC and FNC.
Last week had a
lot of developments on the Monicagate and campaign fundraising front. With
the input of the MRC analyst team of Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson,
Paul Smith and Mark Drake, and the coordination of Tim Graham, here's a
rundown of how ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The
World Today, FNC's Fox Report and NBC Nightly News, as well as the three
morning shows, covered these advances.
September 1: A Washington Post story revealed that, in a footnote to a new
ruling on the Paula Jones case, Judge Susan Weber Wright raised the
possibility of holding Clinton in contempt for "misleading
testimony" during the deposition she supervised. Also, Attorney
General Janet Reno announced a 90-day probe of Harold Ickes.
On Wright's ruling, zilch on ABC and NBC; brief items read by the anchor
on the other three. The probe of Ickes for possibly misleading statements
about fundraising: brief items on all five networks. For a sense of the
priority put on these stories, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts
dispensed with both in a mere 33 seconds, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
-- Wednesday, September 2: In a Moscow press
conference which began at about 5am ET, just before the morning shows,
Clinton expressed "regret" over the Lewinsky matter and claimed
he had already apologized, though he had yet to do so. Wright and Ickes
remained fresh news in the morning from the day before and stories in the
New York Times and Washington Post revealed that during August 17
questioning Clinton admitted making an effort to bring Lewinsky back from
the Pentagon for a White House job.
ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and NBC's Today all ran
full reports on Clinton's comments in Moscow. ABS and CBS also ran short
items on Wright and Ickes. But Today stood out with a full story by Lisa
Myers on the implications of Wright's comments followed in the second
half hour by an interview about the development with Georgetown University
law professor Paul Rothstein.
All ran full stories on Clinton's lack of contrition in his press
conference and, unlike the broadcast networks, on CNN Wolf Blitzer did
mention Clinton's efforts to allow Lewinsky to return to the White House
staff. Picking up on an item first revealed by the Drudge Report, but not
giving Matt Drudge any credit according to a story posted at
drudgereport.com, NBC's Lisa Myers delivered a full piece on an Easter
Sunday tryst. Through Friday night neither ABC or CBS had picked up on
Clinton's post-Church activities. Myers asserted in her network
exclusive: "Monica Lewinsky had a sexual encounter with the President
in his White House study, hours after Clinton attended Easter services
with his family."
Some of the
reporting on Clinton's press conference performance was pretty tough,
especially from ABC's Sam Donaldson and CBS's Scott Pelley. Here's
some of what CBS Evening News viewers heard from Pelley, as transcribed by
the MRC's Jessica Anderson:
appears on his face now. At the Moscow news conference, Mr. Clinton
confronted questions for the very first time since he acknowledged lying
to the American people. With the prosecutor's report to Congress now only
weeks away, Mr. Clinton mentioned forgiveness...
"His address two weeks ago has been
criticized for lacking an apology to the public, to Lewinsky, and to 100
others brought before the grand jury. [Clinton on August 17] The Kremlin
news conference was arranged to shield Mr. Clinton from the most difficult
questions. He did not call on any reporters from American newspapers,
networks or news magazines. This allowed Mr. Clinton to avoid questions on
alleged obstruction of justice, including why he testified under oath that
he couldn't remember being alone with Lewinsky and whether he suggested
she get rid of evidence. Again today, he attacked Ken Starr's pursuit.
[Clinton at press conference] What may consume Mr. Clinton's thoughts is
that he will soon face a report with all of Ken Starr's allegations and
evidence. The fight for his presidency is only beginning."
-- Thursday, September 3. Newspaper reports
revealed a preliminary 30-day Justice probe into Clinton and the misuse of
soft money for Clinton-Gore ads. Late in the day, Lieberman took to the
Naturally, the SwissAir crash that broke the night before dominated all
the shows. ABC's GMA managed a few seconds on the new fundraising probe
and caught up with Clinton's job help for Lewinsky.
CBS, CNN, and NBC delivered brief items on the new probe and ABC included
the news in a larger report by Linda Douglass on Lieberman. FNC caught up
with CNN as David Shuster noted Clinton's job help.
On the Lieberman front, CBS allocated just 20
seconds and NBC a piddling 19 seconds to the extraordinary event. Both
ABC's Douglass and FNC's Carl Cameron provided full reports which also
featured soundbites from Moynihan and Kerrey.
glowing story by Scott Pelley on Clinton's reception in Northern
Ireland, CBS Evening News anchor Paula Zahn read two brief items. The
first took 18 seconds, the second 20 seconds as timed by the MRC's
"Back in Washington the Justice Department
has begun yet another investigation of the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. CBS
News has learned this centers on charges that the campaign may have spent
as much as 47 million dollars improperly, and could have to pay huge civil
fines as a result.
"And on the floor of the U.S. Senate,
Democrat Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said the President's behavior
with Monica Lewinsky was, quote, 'immoral and harmful to the nation,' and
should be followed by some measures of public rebuke and accountability.
However, Lieberman said it's premature for Congress to take any action
before receiving a full report from prosecutor Ken Starr."
While ABC and CBS
dealt with the plane crash and moved on, NBC Nightly News spent almost the
entire show on it. Anchor Tom Brokaw, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens, matched Zahn's sequence:
"Other news tonight not much of it good for
President Clinton. Attorney General Janet Reno opened another front in her
investigation of possible campaign finance violations by the Democrats in
1996. This one could lead directly to the President. At issue, whether the
Clinton-Gore campaign dodged the spending limits through the use of
television ads called issue advertisements. Paid for by the Democratic
Party. The investigation could lead to the appointment of still another
"And on the Senate floor this evening
Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, a friend of the President's all the
way back to Clinton's days at Yale law school gave a very tough speech
about the President's behavior with Monica Lewinsky."
Lieberman: "The President apparently had
extramarital relations with an employee half his age and did so in the
workplace in the vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just
inappropriate, it is immoral."
Well, at least NBC
ran a Lieberman soundbite unlike CBS.
Friday, September 4. In Ireland, before the U.S.
morning shows went on the air, Clinton uttered the S word:
ABC's GMA ran a full story on Lieberman, Moynihan and Kerrey as well as
a full story on Clinton's "I'm sorry." This Morning stuck to
brief items on both topics. Today delivered multiple segments on each
with, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noted, two pieces by David Bloom on
Lieberman and the "I'm sorry," a discussion segment on
Lieberman with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. And, somewhat making up for
Thursday night, a tough piece from Gwen Ifil which also included clips
from Moynihan and Kerrey. Ifill opened: "A stinging rebuke from one
of the President's closest political allies....essentially turned his back
on Bill Clinton, accusing the President not of high crimes but of low
ABC and NBC led again with the Swiss plane crash, but both ran full
stories on Clinton's "I'm sorry." NBC did not air any of
Lieberman, Moynihan or Kerrey from Thursday, but did get a reaction
soundbite from Lieberman. CBS led with Clinton's latest as Scott Pelley
did include a Lieberman clip from Thursday, but not anything from the
other two Democratic Senators who rebuked Clinton. Following Pelley
reporter Phil Jones looked at how Democratic candidates are growing
nervous about their ties to Clinton.
The September 7 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC home page thanks to MRC
Web Manager Sean Henry and Research Associate Kristina Sewell: http://www.mrc.org.
Here are a couple of items from the issue, put together by Tim Graham in
my vacation absence, which should be fresh to CyberAlert readers:
-- A Newsbite:
U.S. News & World Report Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman lashed out
at Bill Clinton in the August 31 issue: "How, we must ask, could
someone be so reckless as to stake his public reputation and effectiveness
as a national leader on the discretion of a young woman who was looking
for a Washington adventure, a woman who would hold on to a dress as a
souvenir of a sexual relationship? What appalling judgment to get involved
with such a woman in the first place -- and then expect her to keep quiet
But the press never made his recklessness
an issue. Take for example, the same Zuckerman in the February 10, 1992
U.S. News, ripping into Gennifer Flowers and an alleged Clinton-hating
press: "The prospect of bringing down one of the best candidates in
the Democratic field was far too exciting for second thoughts and clouded
otherwise sound minds....Legitimate press standards do not include
rummaging in the garbage of White House contenders."
-- An item under
the heading of "www.bias.com"
Sober and Sensible Polls?
Since the beginning of Monicagate, the networks have used their pollsters
to reinforce how popular Bill Clinton is and how most people don't care
about perjury concerning his "private life." But on August 12,
five days before Clinton's grand jury date, ABC News polling analyst
Gary Langer rejoiced in the results on ABCNews.com:
"As the Monica Lewinsky affair spins
toward its rendezvous with destiny, it's worth celebrating what has been
perhaps the biggest surprise of the scandal: the sober and sensible way
average Americans have responded to the whole brouhaha....Pundits hate
this kind of thing; Those who declared him dead have had to reconfigure
their best lines to accommodate -- drat! -- actual public opinion."
Langer explained: "It turns out that
most Americans have responded to the Lewinsky affair with more of a head
scratch than a knee jerk. Their message on this score has been steady:
Clinton's personal behavior, however unsavory it's alleged to be, is
As the President's admission drew nearer,
Langer endorsed the White House spin that a strong economy negates sex,
lies, and perjury: "Lewinsky's a far juicier story, but when it
comes to evaluating presidential performance, average Americans check
their wallets. The lowest unemployment in a generation, trivial inflation,
growing personal income: What's a stained dress in the face of these? So
far, not much."
END of article
National Public Radio denies blacklisting Steven Emerson. As detailed in
the September 2 CyberAlert, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby learned
that NPR had caved into left-wing pressure and promised to no longer use
Emerson, an expert on Islamic terrorism. The September 4 Globe ran a
letter responding to Jacoby's August 31 column. NPR Vice President for
news and information, Jeffrey Dvorkin, insisted:
accuse NPR of blacklisting is inflammatory, sensationalistic, and just
"The incident he refers to was an error on
the part of the Talk of the Nation producer. She misspoke to a lobby group
and now understands that she was in error.
"The guest in question, Steven Emerson, did
appear on Talk of the Nation. He has never been banned from NPR and never
will be. Emerson is one of many commentators available to NPR on events
involving his area of expertise (terrorism and counterterrorism).
"No doubt there will be other opportunities
for him to appear again.
"NPR makes choices based on the journalistic
requirements of the story, not because of pressure from lobbying groups.
NPR has a reputation for fair and balanced journalism. We intend to keep
His next to last
sentence really detracts from his believability. -- Brent Baker
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