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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday September 21, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 154)

GOP Abused Power, Not Clinton; Afraid of Video But There's Sex in Prime Time

1) Judges, lawyers and prosecutors have damaged the institution of the presidency, but not Bill Clinton, who was dragged through the muck. So argued the guest expert on Saturday's NBC Nightly News.

2) House Republicans are guilty of "a flagrant abuse of power" in asking the FBI to probe the White House role in the Hyde story, Al Hunt declared. But he's not convinced Clinton abused his power.

3) Keith Olbermann blasted Newt Gingrich: "He himself divorced his first wife while she was undergoing treatments for cancer." And CBS's Bob Schieffer found the Starr report wanting.

4) Peter Jennings and Dan Rather just can't say "partial birth abortion." Instead, Rather referred to "a type of late term abortion."

5) The pleasures and dangers of a large penis and using cigars to simulate oral sex. That's all in the family hour on the networks, but CNN's Wolf Blitzer blamed Republicans for exposing kids to it.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Clinton Campaign Slogans If He Were to Run Again."

     >>> NBC Too, Clinton at UN & Note to Those Without Cable. Just like ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, as reported in the September 19 CyberAlert, NBC Nightly News will expand to one hour on Monday night. Many affiliates will run the shows at their usual time, but any which normally run them at any time later than 6:30pm ET may start them a half hour earlier than usual.....For those not interested in the tapes, at 10:45am ET CNN's Headline News channel will carry President Clinton's address to the United Nations.....And for those in the Washington, DC area without cable television, WJLA-TV will dump ABC and run the Clinton video live as it's fed from the Rayburn HOB. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Judges, lawyers, the House Judiciary Committee and prosecutors, meaning Kenneth Starr, have damaged the institution of the presidency, but not Bill Clinton. So argued the sole guest expert anchor Brian Williams interviewed on Saturday's NBC Nightly News. American University professor Allan Lichtman contended that Clinton had been dragged through the muck, as if he didn't steer the White House there in the first place.

     On the September 19 show, Brian Williams asked Lichtman about the "damage thus far to the institution of the presidency."

     Lichtman replied:
     "The toll is enormous. First, you can't drag a President through the muck without leaving a permanent stain on the presidency. Beyond that this whole matter has undermined the legal foundations of the American presidency which, if it sticks, will leave us with a President who is more isolated than ever before and who is less able to get candid criticism and subject to political attack through the legal system. Presidents can now be sued civilly while in office. They'll be more subject to subpoenas, which can be issued by a single federal judge. Their Secret Service agents, their top White House aides, their White House lawyers can testify against them. We could have independent counsels looking into their affairs public and private. Issuing not simply information to Congress but in effect drawing up articles of impeachment. And we've done this without having a national conversation on this, without reaching consensus. It's been done case by case by judges, lawyers and prosecutors and now the House Judiciary Committee, without anyone taking an overall look at what this has done to our presidency and our country."

     Of course, none of those precedents would have occurred if Clinton did not appeal every step of the way in his effort to cover up his lie.

     Williams then posed the second of his two questions, in the form of an observation: "And all of this amid promises that it would be bi-partisan or non-partisan."
     Lichtman argued: "Well, let's put it to the test. If this was really to get the judgment of the American people then let the House Judiciary Committee abide by that judgment. If the public says go on, let them go on. But if the public says stop, let them stop. That's the test of whether this is for real or just for partisan consumption."

     Why bother having a republican form of government with constitutional duties assigned to each branch? Let's just hire Gallup and follow the results.


Alhunt3cap.jpg (21016 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Al Hunt declared that Tom DeLay and the House Republican leadership committed "a flagrant abuse of power," but Hunt's not convinced that Bill Clinton abused his power as Kenneth Starr concluded. Compare the assessments issued by the Wall Street Journal's Executive Washington Editor on two successive editions of CNN's Capital Gang.

     First, in date order, Hunt on September 12 as he reacted to Starr's report:
     "I got home late last night. I started to read that report. It is sleazy. It is kinky. It is repulsive and I couldn't wait to turn the page. If anybody had any doubt that President Clinton committed perjury in the Paula Jones case last January, this puts an end to it. I don't think anybody really did, but clearly he lied last January.
     "On the more substantive charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, the Starr charges are less convincing. We may learn more later. And what I think is the far more serious perjury, namely lying to that grand jury in August, again I think it's far more tenuous. And so based on what we've seen in those more clear, more demonstrably impeachable cases, I don't think we're there yet."

     Second, Hunt this past Saturday, September 19, on Tom DeLay asking the FBI to investigate the White House role in pushing sexual affair stories about Dan Burton, Helen Chenoweth and Henry Hyde:
     "As awful as this story was [Hyde], I think for the Republican leaders to get the FBI to investigate a news source is a flagrant abuse of power. The FBI ought to be investigating criminals, Mark [Shields], not news sources."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Catching up on a couple of items from last week: Keith Olbermann took a shot at the timing of Newt Gingrich's divorce and Bob Schieffer was less than impressed with the Starr report, concluding: "There's not much there."

     -- On the September 16 Big Show with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC the host set up the show on Clinton being sidetracked by the Lewinsky scandal by asking: "Is the effort to keep him from doing his constitutional necessity or just the first step toward turning this country into the northern most banana republic?"

     Later, in a remark caught by the MRC's Tim Graham, Olbermann picked up on Newt Gingrich labeling Clinton a misogynist, and ruminated: "Can the Speaker of the House claim any moral high ground when today he says the President is a man who hates women but he himself divorced his first wife while she was undergoing treatments for cancer?"

     -- A week ago, on the September 13 Face the Nation, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed host Bon Schieffer's dismissal of the Starr report. He asked Senator Orrin Hatch:
     "Senator, a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren, told CBS News Friday night the President should be impeached for threatening the Constitution. She says you can't impeach a President because he's a bum, or you ought not to. Hasn't this come down to just about that? I mean, once you get through the Starr report -- and I, like you, sat down yesterday and read it from start to finish, all 400-plus pages -- once you get past all the sex and the nasty business, there's not much there besides a President who's trying to, and he did lie, to get around a marital infidelity."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Network anchors just can't bring themselves to utter the phrase "partial birth abortion." Witness how the ABC and CBS anchors delivered news Friday night, September 18, about a vote in the Senate.

     On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings intoned: "On Capitol Hill today the Senate failed to overturn President Clinton's veto of a bill banning some late term abortions. Supporters of the bill fell three votes short."

     Dan Rather announced on the CBS Evening News just after an item on speakers at a Christian Coalition convention denouncing Clinton: "As the Christian Coalition was meeting Republicans in the U.S. Senate were voting, trying again to deliver on one of the group's top agenda items: overriding President Clinton's veto of a ban on a type of late term abortion. The vote to override the President's veto failed by three votes."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Erections, using cigars to simulate oral sex and the pleasures and dangers of a large penis. Material unsuitable for children that will be discussed in Clinton's video? No, it's what already airs on the networks during the "family hour," the first hour of prime time. Yet the network news divisions are suddenly concerned with the impact the video and other documents may have on children.

     On Sunday's Late Edition on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer blamed Republicans for irresponsibly exposing children to sexual material, asking House Republican Conference Chairman John Boehner:
     "How do you feel about the fact that a lot of school children are going to be home tomorrow? It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and major school districts around the United States, in New York City for example, 1.1 million children are going to be off school. In Los Angeles 1.6 million children are not going to be attending school. And there are a lot of other school districts in major urban areas around the country which won't have school tomorrow. How do you feel about releasing all of these videotapes and this other salacious material at a time when children are going to obviously be exposed to it?"

     Of course, no one is forcing the networks to run the video live during the day.

     But the networks already deliver sexually-oriented material in the family hour, as demonstrated by the MRC's Tim Graham in a Media Reality Check fax report released last week: "Networks Wary of 'Salacious Language' on Monicagate Air It Nightly in Prime Time Sitcoms: The Newest 'Family Values' Hypocrites."

     The pull-out quote:
A whole episode of ABC's Spin City was devoted to erections. When the mayor character fails to stand up after a speech, Michael J. Fox's character asks: "What's the matter, your foot asleep?" The mayor answers: "No, there's another part of me that's very, very awake." Later, when a woman asks Fox "Can't you guys control those things?", he says, "You can scold it. Smack it around a little bit. That only seems to encourage it."

     Now, the rest of the report, in full:
The Starr report quickly drew media fire for being too sexually graphic. "It's so salacious. It's so graphic. There will be many people who will feel it's disgusting, wonder what they'll tell their children. It might cause a backlash for Ken Starr," warned ABC's Barbara Walters on 20/20 the night of September 11.

USA Today reported Thursday that ABC, CBS, and NBC will air excerpts of Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony and "probably bleep out salacious language." CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said: "This is an instance where it may not be best to be first."

But are the networks really worried about children sneaking upstairs to watch the news? If the networks were so concerned about salacious material on TV, why don't they air a segment about their own sitcoms? MRC entertainment analysts Tom Johnson and Melissa Caldwell provided many examples, including:

-- CBS's The Nanny: In one show, the title character, Fran, and two other women go to a cigar bar. One woman says: "Look at those men over there staring at us smoke. It's not very feminine. I wonder why it turns them on so much?" The women put cigars in their mouths and stare back at the men, clearly suggestive of oral sex. Another Clintonesque metaphor came in a show when Fran referred to a female cousin who'd "ground her teeth down to the gums...her [husband] has never been happier."

-- ABC's Spin City: One of Michael J. Fox's female underlings tells her boyfriend on the phone: "It was just a run-of-the-mill orgasm. I didn't mean to scare you." When she notices Fox's character nearby, she claims it's her mother on the phone. Fox jokes: "I'll let you get back to your mom before she loses her erection."

-- Fox's Getting Personal: Milo is slow-dancing with a woman who thinks he's gay. She asks, "What is that?" He replies "a pack of Certs," to which she soon replies: "Those Certs just turned into a can of Pringles."

-- ABC's The Drew Carey Show: Mimi says, "I guess you'd better call your four girlfriends and a thumb and tell them you're going to be late." Drew replies: "Since you're staying, maybe my four girlfriends and a thumb can go out to dinner with 'Pleasure Me Pete.'"

-- NBC's Friends: Joey emerges from the bedroom, naked except for a dartboard he's holding over his crotch, and tells his roommate he and his girlfriend "aren't exactly gonna be sleeping," but asks him to turn down the TV.

-- Fox's Living in Captivity: In the show's debut last Friday, a couple's baby is 10 days overdue, and a neighbor suggests the two have sex to hasten the arrival. The husband begs off, telling his wife he's afraid he might "dent" the baby's head. She barks, "I don't care if you poke his eyes out."

The latest study by the Parents Television Council found the networks averaged more than two sexual references an hour in the first hour of prime time, or "family hour," with ABC leading with almost 3.5 per hour. All the shows cited here aired in the "family hour," except The Drew Carey Show. (Spin City is moving to a later slot this year.)

The networks don't really have a problem with children being exposed to salacious materials, or these programs wouldn't air these lines. They don't mind TV characters acting like horny oafs, trading lines about their sex organs and fantasies. They just don't want to expose America to a President who resembles them.

END of reprint


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) From the September 18 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Clinton Campaign Slogans If He Were To Run Again." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "The Other Candidates Are Close, But No Cigar"
9. "It Couldn't Possibly Get More Embarrassing"
8. "You Gotta Admit He Keeps You Interested"
7. "He's Through Fooling Around With Interns...Unless There's A Really Hot Crop Next Semester"
6. "Clinton -- In Touch With America's Young People"
5. "Who Knows, Ladies, Maybe You'll Be Next"
4. "Come On, Haven't We All Had Sex With An Employee Young Enough To Be Our Daughter And Lied About It Under Oath?"
3. "Now More Like JFK Than Ever"
2. "Marv Got To Go Back To Work -- How 'Bout Bubba?"
1. "Peace, Prosperity, And Big Daddy Lovin'"

     And, from the Late Show Web Page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- "Because I'm Not Yet Done Destroying The Moral Fabric Of Our Nation"
-- "A Chicken In Every Pot, A Stain On Every Dress"
-- "He's Done More For Comedians Than Any Other President"
-- "He Hasn't Actually Murdered Anyone"
-- "Bill Clinton -- Drawing Attention Away From Your Affairs"
-- "Just Wait Til You See The Trouble He'll Get Into This Time!"
-- "Keep Bill In Washington -- Or He Might Come Cruising In Your Town"
-- "Be Like Monica -- Give Me The Job"
-- "I've Had More Sex Than Any Other President In History!"
-- "If You Vote For Only One Philandering Womanizer This Fall, Vote Clinton!"

     I especially liked #4. If there's any particularly noteworthy media reaction/commentary Monday morning or afternoon I'll send a second CyberAlert later today. Otherwise, expect another edition in about 24 hours.  -- 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:

     >>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a blank e-mail to: mrccyberalert-subscribe
. Or, you can go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters. Either way you will receive a confirmation message titled: "RESPONSE REQUIRED: Confirm your subscription to mrccyberalert@topica.com." After you reply, either by going to the listed Web page link or by simply hitting reply, you will receive a message confirming that you have been added to the MRC CyberAlert list. If you confirm by using the Web page link you will be given a chance to "register" with Topica. You DO NOT have to do this; at that point you are already subscribed to CyberAlert.
     To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to: cybercomment@mrc.org.
     Send problems and comments to: cybercomment@mrc.org.

     >>>You can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: cybercomment@mrc.org. Or, go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters.<<<


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