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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday September 18, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 152)

Video Will Help Mafia; Clinton Enticed; Geraldo: Gingrich a Misogynist

1) FNC's Carl Cameron uniquely reported Clinton's personal intimidation and that Democrats also threatened. CBS's Eric Engberg insisted the video release means Clinton's being treated worse than John Gotti and it will make Mafia prosecutions harder.

2) Clinton deserves sympathy, suggested GMA's Lisa McRee, since Lewinsky enticed him by "snapping the straps of thong underwear."

3) Today's Couric and Lauer upset by video release, think it's reasonable to make Ken Starr pay and blame GOP for being partisan.

4) Outing Henry Hyde thrilled Geraldo Rivera. "Aren't these suddenly panicked members of Congress now reaping what Ken Starr has sowed?" Rivera: Gingrich also an oral sex loving misogynist.

>>> The September 21 edition of MediaWatch is now on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Web manager Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. Articles include a page one look at NBC's promotion of Hillary Clinton; a Review of how the networks reacted to Starr's report; a page 4 piece on network admiration for Clinton's prayer breakfast "contrition"; and an On the Bright Side by the MRC's Clay Waters on how Clinton's lawyers were pressed on two Sunday morning shows. Plus Newsbites: "Tiny Cup of Joe" by MRC analyst Mark Drake documents how little coverage Senator Lieberman's floor speech generated, in "Ducking Donna" MRC analyst Jessica Anderson points out how only NBC picked up on the angry exchange between Donna Shalala and Bill Clinton, and "Stafford Smears" by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens highlights how NBC reporter Rob Stafford contended Reagan slept around too. <<<

Correction: The September 16 CyberAlert misspelled the name of one of the ministers to be consulted weekly by Clinton. His name is Tony Campolo.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The all-day House Judiciary Committee meeting on the release of Starr-gathered evidence, including the video of Clinton's grand jury testimony, led the ABC, CNN and FNC evening shows Thursday night. Only ABC highlighted how the committee Democrats spent the day delaying the process by offering "amendment after amendment." CBS went first with the "vicious fight" over the hit on Hyde and how Republican leaders demanded the FBI investigate any White House involvement. NBC combined the two stories into one, as reporter Gwen Ifill offered this bit of moral equivalence between the raising of Hyde's relationship from 30 years ago and Clinton lying in a grand jury a month ago: "The President's future hanging in the balance as Republicans and Democrats face off over how far they should go in exposing the private lives of public officials..."

     Lending credibility to GOP concerns about White House involvement in smearing Republicans, CBS's Bob Schieffer and CNN's Candy Crowley played a clip of Roger Clinton saying those in "glass houses" should be cautious. FNC's Carl Cameron uniquely asserted that 20 Judiciary Committee members from both parties feel their private backgrounds are being checked. Cameron also tied Clinton directly to the effort, relaying that three Democratic lawmakers "felt the President was making a veiled threat when he suggested that the current atmosphere of scandal means no public official should expect private matters to remain secret."

     Only CBS's Scott Pelley, on Clinton lawyer David Kendall's complaint about how Starr gave it to the House in order to "embarrass" the President, pointed out how Clinton had refused six appearance requests and had to be subpoenaed, then refused to go to the courthouse. But, minutes later, CBS reporter Eric Engberg portrayed Clinton as a victim being treated worse than Nixon, Noriega and the Mafia's John Gotti, insisting the video release would have a "bad effect on the legal system."

     Here are some highlights from the Thursday, September 17 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings began the show:
     "Good evening. The House Judiciary Committee argued for most of the day about the videotaped testimony of President Clinton before the grand jury. The argument about releasing it and other material to the public was extremely partisan and will continue tomorrow."

     Linda Douglass handled the video story, emphasizing how Democrats delayed a decision by forcing votes on "amendment after amendment." She also highlighted how calls to Senator Diane Feinstein's office are running two-to-one against Clinton.

     After Jennings noted that the judge in Arkansas had provided the Judiciary Committee with a tape of Clinton's Jones deposition, Sam Donaldson reviewed Clinton's day, starting with praise from Senator Tom Harkin at a union convention in DC where Clinton was "warmly received." Then on to Cincinnati where both papers have called for him to resign. ABC showed demonstrators outside of the fundraiser Clinton headlined. Donaldson moved to the Hyde case, noting that White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles promised a firing if the leak came from the White House. Following a clip of Tom DeLay demanding an FBI probe, Donaldson assured viewers: "Presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal, widely suspected of being the leaker, denied it in a written statement."

     Finally, Aaron Brown compared Clinton's situation to that faced by past politicians caught on tape: "We did see President Reagan testify in an Iran Contra trial and he didn't look very good, but he was already out of office and national life had moved on. Here will be the President facing prosecutors in a forum, the grand jury, that by design is one-sided and by law almost always forever secret...."

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened by declaring:
     "Good evening. President Clinton's videotaped testimony to the Ken Starr grand jury will most likely be out by the weekend, possibly sooner. The House Judiciary Committee debated into the evening then adjourned, but the committee's Republican majority has the votes to release the tapes. Mr. Clinton's personal attorney said today said he asked that the tapes be erased after the grand jury no longer needs them. Starr refused."

     Up first, Bob Schieffer on how "another vicious fight has broken out" as Republicans asked the FBI to probe the Hyde story for any connection to the White House. Sidney Blumenthal denies any involvement Schieffer noted, "but the Republicans are furious."
     Schieffer added that the matter has "created such a furor that top fundraisers for House members in both parties announced an extraordinary bi-partisan agreement" to deny campaign funds to any member who initiates an attack on the private life of an opponent.
     Schieffer observed how Bowles pledged to fire anybody who circulated derogatory stories, "but last month on CNN's Larry King Live, the President's brother issued a veiled threat to politicians investigating the President."
     Roger Clinton: "There's some of the political people that had best watch themselves because of the old glass house story."
     Schieffer, unlike the other networks, named who did push he story: "Several Washington reporters told us a Florida man named Norman Sommers distributed this letter in July pushing the Hyde letter and saying 'I sincerely believe that explosion of this story...will remove the morals matter from the hypocritical Republicans, resulting in the Democrats retaking the House.' But Sommers says he was operating on his own, not at the request of the White House."

     Dan Rather next asserted: "For his part President Clinton said he and the First Lady are, quote 'doing fine.' They attended fundraisers in two cities and implemented shifts in the President's legal strategy even as his legal problems just multiplied."
     Scott Pelley reported that the White House strategy is to discredit the tape. Pelley quoted David Kendall complaining that embarrassing the President is the motivation behind releasing the tape. Pelley countered: "But the tape was made as part of an accommodation with Mr. Clinton. The President refused six invitations to testify, prompting the first subpoena in history for a President's testimony. Then, prosecutors agreed to question Mr. Clinton in the Map Room and transmit the testimony to the courthouse live. They wanted the tape in case any grand jurors were absent that day."
     Pelley uniquely explained that the political advisers are taking over from the lawyers, so "the strategy now is to argue that perjury is not serious enough for impeachment."

     Introducing the third story of the night, Dan Rather complained: "What happened to the long established practice that testimony before a grand jury is and remains secret. So what's going on here?"

eenbergcap.jpg (18587 bytes)     Eric Engberg answered by painting Clinton as being treated worse than several notorious figures: "Secrecy in the grand jury is so sacred prosecutors never disclosed what the testimony was about disgraced former President Nixon, or thug dictator Manuel Noriega or Mafia kingpin John Gotti. No such luck for Bill Clinton. One of the few people in America whose grand jury testimony can be made public."
     Engberg let a former federal prosecutor whine about how the "system is being turned on its head" before Engberg explained that in a "secret" ruling a federal judge allowed Starr to give the tape to the House which does not have to follow court rules on secrecy. But that's not good, Engberg concluded:
     "Legal scholars warn all this could have a bad effect on the legal system. Said one, the next time a prosecutor tells a Mob informant that his grand jury testimony will be secret, he'll answer, 'oh yeah, look what happened to Clinton.'"

     Later, the CBS show ended with a story by Richard Schlesinger, featuring feminist Naomi Wolf as the only expert run in soundbites, on how the Starr report shows Lewinsky thought she was owed a job and it was she who pushed Clinton to help her get one.

     -- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Up first, Bob Franken on how the Judiciary Committee's "day was consumed with partisan wrangling" over transcripts of Lewinsky's testimony and release of the tape.

     Second, Candy Crowley pointed out that the story on Hyde followed revelations about Dn Burton and Helen Chenoweth, all fueling GOP demands for an FBI look into any White House involvement. After allowing Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart to accuse the GOP of exploiting the event, Crowley observed:

     "Republicans think just because the White House didn't uncover a story doesn't mean they didn't pass it along. And there is some basis for Republican suspicion."
     Roger Clinton on LKL: "There's some of the political people that had best watch themselves because of the old glass house story."

     Third, John King on how Clinton is trying to prove he still has political power, but he "is shadowed by controversy wherever he goes." He was welcomed at a union meeting and is able to raise money, but "the road is no refuge from scandal" as both Cincinnati papers demanded resignation.

     CNN anchor Joie Chen noted that daughters of both Starr and Clinton are now at Stanford, and that calls are flooding Capitol Hill and have doubled to 15,000 per day. Garrick Utley asked if Clinton's confession was genuine or slick political maneuver? It's a question religious leaders are debating as they must decide if forgiveness means he can keep his job.

     -- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET. Julie Kirtz ran down the basics over the video debate. Then Carl Cameron delivered several bits of information not mentioned by any of the other networks. Cameron opened by revealing:
     "As many as 20 members of the Judiciary Committee, both Republicans and Democrats sources say now believe they have reason to suspect that they too are having their private lives being pried into."
     After showing Tom DeLay asking the FBI to look into the Hyde matter, Cameron suggested the Republicans should have reason for concern:
     "When Democrats from both the House and separately the Senate had private fence-mending meetings with the President at the White House recently, sources say at least three lawmakers felt the President was making a veiled threat when he suggested that the current atmosphere of scandal means no public official should expect private matters to remain secret."
     The White House denies any intimidation, Cameron added before pointing out something not raised by the other networks: that the White House already had to admit it spread false information about the military record of Democrat Paul McHale who had called for Clinton to resign.
     The twice divorced Bob Barr expects to be the next target, Cameron asserted before telling viewers that Democrats are targets too as eight Democrats on the committee "believe their private lives are being investigated. And it may seem counterproductive for the President to be allegedly smearing members of his own party, the problem is some Democrats now believe the President is willing to do just about anything, even attack them, in an attempt to intimidate their lockstep support, perhaps bolster his denials and ultimately create a cynicism in the American public so that voters won't pay attention to anything that's going on here."

     Later in the show, FNC became the only network to report that after Attorney General Reno refused another request for fundraising memos, Congressman Dan Burton filed a contempt report with the full House.

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw started the show by warning:
     "Good evening. It could not get much uglier. The bitter, partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and Republicans and the Clinton White House. The House Judiciary Committee was locked in a heated debate all day on just how much of Ken Starr's supporting documents to release as well as the President's videotaped testimony. Congressional Republicans accused the White House of orchestrating an attack on the personal lives of GOP members. And on and on."

     Gwen Ifill suggested both sides are just as guilty: "The President's future hanging in the balance as Republicans and Democrats face off over how far they should go in exposing the private lives of public officials..."
     Ifill summarized GOP complaints and White House denials about the Salon story on Hyde before moving on to the arguments over he Clinton video. Ifill highlighted how Senator Diane Feinstein "broke her silence today," and ran a soundbite about how Clinton had shaken her faith in him.

     In NBC's second of just two scandal stories, David Bloom honed in on how the GOP letter to the FBI singles out Sidney Blumenthal. Bloom claimed the White House was already on top of the problem:
     "NBC News has learned that when Republicans first alleged, weeks ago, that Blumenthal might be spreading rumors about Congressman Hyde's sex life, White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles went to the President and received permission to fire the White House aide on the spot if the allegations proved true."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The MRC's year-end Best of Notable Quotables always features the "Good Morning Morons Award." Here's a top contender caught by MRC news analyst Clay Waters.

     Interviewing conservative columnist Betsy Hart on September 17 Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee suggested Clinton deserves sympathy as Lewinsky's victim, unable to resist her enticements:
     "But, do you give the President at least a little, not credit, but a little sympathy, when you read details like snapping the straps of a thong underwear, her thong underwear to entice him, asking for a job. Do you think that it mitigates our view of the President in any way?"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The Today tag team of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer are disturbed Clinton's videotaped testimony will be released and Lauer wondered why Starr should not have to pick up the tab for the money spent by his office.

     -- At the top of Thursday's Today, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, Couric whined: "I guess while Congress decides, a lot of people in this country are groaning at the very prospect of seeing this videotape and networks are grappling with how to show it."

     Interviewing Tim Russert later, Lauer portrayed the Republicans as the non-partisan obstructionists, not the Democrats who are blocking the wish of the majority of the House to release all the evidence:
     "But what happened? A week ago the Republicans were saying: 'We're going to handle this in a bi-partisan manner. It's not going to be politics, just the law.' What could be a reason, other than just partisan politics, to release this [videotape]?"

     -- On Wednesday, September 16, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented how Couric and Lauer found legitimacy in Clintonite claims that Starr owes money for not delivering evidence of wrongdoing on non-Lewinsky matters.

     Lauer suggested: "The President will face reporter's questions today just as some members of Congress are asking some new and very interesting questions."
     Couric agreed: "That's right. Questions like should President Clinton pay for Ken Starr's $4.4 million investigation? Should his grand jury videotape be released when many Americans have had, quite frankly, quite enough? Well those are some of the questions that members of Congress are being asked or asking themselves and we're gonna be talking with two of them in our first half hour this morning."

     Later, while interviewing Senator Frank Murkowski who proposed that Clinton be fined by being made to pay the cost of the Lewinsky investigation, Today showed a clip of Mike McCurry saying Starr should then pay for the other $36 million. Lauer found the idea appealing: "Senator, he brings up an interesting point. If there were no major revelations in the Starr report about all the gates, Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater, why shouldn't Ken Starr then pick up the other portion of the tab?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Outing Henry Hyde thrilled Geraldo Rivera, prompted him to bring aboard the wronged husband and to claim that Newt Gingrich is just as much a misogynist as Clinton since he too prefers oral sex. On Thursday's Rivera Live on CNBC he exalted: "Isn't this new era of the sexual witch hunt inevitable? Aren't these suddenly panicked members of Congress now reaping what Ken Starr has sowed?"

     Rivera interviewed Fred Snodgrass, the husband of the woman with whom Hyde had an affair in he 1960s. He said that he told his story to Norman Sommers and it was he who publicized it. Though Sommers called the White House and left messages, Snodgrass assured Rivera that no one ever called back. Snodgrass blamed Hyde for how two of his three children won't talk to him. Rivera asked: "Do you believe that Mr. Hyde is a hypocrite?" Snodgrass agreed Hyde is not qualified to judge Clinton.

     But Rivera was just getting warmed up, proclaiming: "In recent weeks we have heard the sexual confessions now of Republicans Dan Burton and Helen Chenoweth. And earlier this program reported on long ago allegations that Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey sexually harassed several female students when he was a college professor back in Texas."

     Then he jumped on Speaker Newt Gingrich, quoting from an AP story on how Gingrich told colleagues in a Wednesday meeting that Starr's account of Clinton "depicts him as a 'misogynist'" since Clinton got oral sex without touching or satisfying Lewinsky sexually. Rivera made sure viewers understood that the word misogynist is defined as a hater of women.

     Holding up a 1995 copy of Vanity Fair, Rivera then read from an August 10, 1995 AP story on Gail Sheehy's profile of Gingrich in that magazine. Sheehy had reported that Gingrich had affairs during his first marriage, including one with campaign volunteer Anne Manning in 1976-77. Rivera read aloud the AP story, interspersing a few comments and clarifications of his own:
     "'In the spring of 1977 Miss Manning said he,' Gingrich, 'took her to dinner and then met her back at her hotel room where they had oral sex.' Now pay attention to this part folks, this next part.' Quote 'he,' meaning Gingrich, 'prefers that modus operandi,' meaning oral sex, 'because then he can say 'I never slept with her,' Ms. Manning told writer Gail Sheehy,' end quote."

     An indignant and angry Rivera, his voice rising as he went, then declared:
     "Is it distasteful? Is it criminal to dig up this old dirt on our current political leaders? Maybe. But isn't it also the height of hypocrisy to try to humiliate the President of the United States by releasing graphic details of his sexual misadventures and then trying to disguise it as a nonpartisan search for truth?"

     Rivera didn't even finish the show, turning it over to Marcia Clark, so he could go on vacation. Rivera explained that he wants to sail around the world, but his job won't let him so he's just sailing three or four days at a time and will take advantage of Monday's Jewish holiday. Too bad he isn't taking off for a trip around the world.

     And finally, from the "Top Ten Ways to Get Disqualified from the Miss America Pageant" as announced on the September 17 Late Show with David Letterman, number 6: "My name is Monica and my talent is....Well, here I'll show you."  -- Brent Baker

     >>> Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert readers and subscribers:

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