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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday October 7, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 165)

"Clique" of "Clinton Haters"; Moyers' Liberal Diatribe; Blumenthal Admonished

1) ABC and NBC avoided the impeachment debate Tuesday night while Dan Rather said the Republicans are set to probe "President Clinton, his sex life and lies he told to hide it."

2) Latest from Geraldo Rivera: "David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of right-wing Clinton haters" funded by "that prince of Clinton haters -- Richard Mellon Scaife."

3) "Both parties contrived to bend and break the law," Bill Moyers argued on Frontline with Republicans more culpable because they bury campaign finance reform "so the arms race in dollars continues to escalate. And so does the selling of democracy."

4) FNC's David Shuster disclosed that "grand jurors were infuriated" by Sidney Blumenthal's false blast at prosecutors and "took the unusual step of admonishing him in person."

Correction: Schippers on the brain. The October 6 CyberAlert errantly spelled FNC reporter David Shuster's name as Schuster.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) President Clinton's efforts to deal with the world economic crisis led the ABC and CNN evening shows Tuesday night while the buildup toward a NATO airstrike in Kosovo topped CBS and NBC. FNC went first with maneuvering before Thursday's expected House vote on an impeachment inquiry.

     ABC and NBC ran no stories on the impeachment front and only alluded to it in intros to stories on Clinton addressing the IMF/World Bank convention. CBS ran a full piece by Bob Schieffer after a loaded intro by Dan Rather about how Republicans plan to investigate "President Clinton, his sex life and lies he told to hide it." CNN and FNC ran multiple impeachment-related stories with FNC's David Shuster delivering a unique piece on how the grand jurors were angry about how Sidney Blumenthal misled the public about what questions he faced from them and prosecutors. (See item #4 for details on Shuster.) Only CNN reported that EPA Administrator Carol Browner testified at Mike Espy's trial.

     For a fairly quiet night, here are some brief highlights from the Wednesday, October 6 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened with ABC's only allusion to impeachment: "Good evening. It was a very nervous day in Washington and while the subject of impeachment is the background for almost everything there, it is the state of the world's economy that we begin with tonight."

     Sam Donaldson began the subsequent story: "With a whiff of panic spreading through financial markets everywhere, President Clinton made it clear today he thinks there may be very little time left to avert a worldwide financial disaster."

     Later, for the "A Closer Look" segment, Robert Krulwich explained how the IMF works, but did not examine any of the complaints offered by conservatives, though Jennings noted Republicans oppose Clinton's request for $18 million for the IMF "unless the IMF requires borrowers to abide by U.S. trade agreements."

     -- CBS Evening News opened with how NATO is gearing up for airstrikes in Kosovo. A couple of stories later Scott Pelley focused on Clinton's economic speech and how he warned that "every nation is threatened by the economic crisis."

     Jerry Bowen blamed a large hole in the ozone layer on global warming (more on that in a future CyberAlert), before Dan Rather intoned:
     "On Capitol Hill the Republican-dominated House now plans to vote Thursday to approve an official impeachment investigation into President Clinton, his sex life and lies he told to hide it."

     Bob Schieffer explained how the White House wants the vote Thursday to look as partisan as possible, but White House lobbying of Democrats may backfire.

     -- CNN's The World Today led with John King on the economic crisis followed by Bob Franken on how Democratic members are telling Dick Gephardt they don't want to be lobbied by the White House.

     Jeanne Meserve examined how Majority Counsel David Schippers had upped the charges from 11 to 15 and how he outlined his conspiracy charge by illustrating all the phone calls over a few hours amongst Clinton, Currie and Jordan. Meserve told viewers:
"In contrast to the Starr report, what Schippers appears to have done, legal experts say, is make a stronger case for a weaker charge: conspiracy to obstruct justice rather than obstruction of justice itself."

     Next, Bruce Morton highlighted how Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, who snubbed Bill Clinton in early September, campaigned Wednesday with Hillary and now would welcome Clinton's help.

     Co-anchor Jim Moret then made CNN the only network Wednesday night to raise Mike Espy's trial for accepting $35,000 in illegal gifts. FNC noted when the trial began last week, but the broadcast networks have yet to utter the name "Espy" this month. Moret explained that in court Wednesday, "EPA Administrator Carol Browner says the former Agriculture Secretary told her planned to disregard the strict Clinton administration ethics rules. She recounted a conversation involving two other cabinet members over drinks in 1993. When ethics rules came up, Browner testified Espy said something to the effect of 'It's a bunch of junk. I'm going to do like I did in Congress.'"

     -- FNC's Fox Report led with co-anchor Todd Connor's declaration: "Capitol Hill is about to become Capitol Hell for President Clinton."

     Carl Cameron revealed that Henry Hyde plans to delay hearings until after the election and that Dick Gephardt will use a privileged resolution on Thursday to allow a vote on the Democratic alternative. Jim Angle relayed that the White House is resigned to approval of a full inquiry and how new Press Secretary Joe Lockhart claimed Republicans are just stringing the process out to benefit them on election day. Co-anchor Jane Skinner then interviewed Democrat Jerrold Nadler. Following the Shuster piece detailed in item #4 below, Heather Nauert and Time's Jay Carney discussed impeachment.

     -- NBC Nightly News led with Clinton's warning to Slobodan Milosevic about possible NATO action soon. Jim Miklaszewski began by reporting how Senate Republicans posed "harsh questions about what the U.S. is really doing" to Defense Secretary Bill Cohen.

     After the first ad break Tom Brokaw, like Jennings, referred to impeachment in introducing a piece on Clinton's economic speech:
     "President Clinton was facing still another crisis today beyond the Balkans and upcoming vote on impeachment hearings against him. He today opened a joint meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund with a combination pep talk and a very stern warning on how to deal with the growing worldwide economic turmoil."
     Claire Shipman emphasized how "Both the White House and U.S. allies are frustrated that the Republican Congress has yet to approve an $18 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund whose job it is to help bail out failing economies. Republicans question how the IMF will spend the money."


geraldo10-7cap.jpg (16032 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Geraldo Rivera is so passionate about vindicating Clinton that he flew to Arkansas to prove how "David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of right-wing Clinton haters" and that Hale "was in the hip pocket of a group of hardline right-wingers." And, Rivera charged, it was all paid for by "that prince of Clinton haters -- Richard Mellon Scaife."

     From Little Rock, on CNBC's 7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight of October 6 Rivera declared:
     "It was right here in Little Rock that the special prosecutor began his zealous pursuit of Bill Clinton. Whitewater, as you know, generated reams of newspaper and television stories, most of which cast the President and First Lady as crooks. But now serious questions being raised about the Whitewater investigation in itself."

     After explaining how David Hale, a key Whitewater witness, appeared today in court on a state fraud charge and that he claims Clinton pressured him into making an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, he allowed McDougal to denounce the idea. After some clips of supposed Hale friends saying he never told them about Clinton's role under he faced prison, Rivera insisted: "In fact, none of Hale's charges have ever been substantiated."

     Rivera then launched his jihad over how conservatives ganged up to destroy Clinton:
     "Now a separate federal grand jury is investigating allegations that David Hale received thousands of dollars from a group of Clinton's enemies to encourage his testimony against the President. The allegation is that the money for Hale, like the more than $2 million to bankroll an operation to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton called the Arkansas Project, came from that prince of Clinton haters Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife allegedly funneled the money through a right-wing magazine called The American Spectator. The Spectator's eyes and ears in Arkansas was a man named Parker Dohzier."

     Now standing in front of Dohzier's bait shop, Rivera continued his diatribe:
     "The grand jury is investigating whether David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of right-wing Clinton haters. One strong piece of evidence comes from this unlikely setting: a modest fishing resort located just outside of Hot Springs Arkansas. While he was a protected witness under the watchful eye of FBI agents working for Ken Starr, David Hale often stayed here, free of charge, even got use of an automobile. Here's the connection: this place is owned by Parker Dohzier, the same Parker Dohzier who worked for the American Spectator magazine and who was being paid to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. Did Dohzier pay off Hale? The grand jury also wants to know whether Ken Starr knew or should have known that his star witness, David Hale, was in the hip pocket of a group of hardline right-wingers determined to take down the President by any means necessary."

     A few minutes later as the show ended Rivera told co-host Diane Dimond: "I just want to point out that after four years and $40 million dollars the naughty cigar trick and the semen-stained dress got more mention than all of the Whitewater investigation."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Bill Moyers is back. The usual PBS omnipresence has been off PBS and NBC for the past year because of health reasons, but Tuesday night he returned, full of liberal righteousness. The venue: a Frontline titled "Washington's Other Scandal." But instead of focusing on the law breaking of Democrats on behalf of Clinton in 1996, Moyers devoted the PBS hour to showing how both parties are equally corrupt with Republicans a bit worse because they oppose Moyers' preferred solution: more regulation, aka campaign finance reform.

     Moyers showed video of Clinton's fundraising dinners and coffees and another narrator read from memos from Dick Morris and Harold Ickes about how to avoid the spending limits by using soft money for issue ads. But other than one reference to John Huang Moyers failed to explore the allegations of illegal foreign contributions to the DNC. That would ruin his 'the system is what's wrong' theme.

     He only profiled one Democratic donor and portrayed him, an Indian tribe's leader who gave to buy access but never got what he wanted, as a victim. Two conservative donors to Republicans, in contrast, were painted as schemers who gave only to avoid responsibility for their products which killed children and polluted the environment.

     Moyers opened the show by laying out his both sides are equally guilty/the system is the problem theme. Over video of Clinton at a fundraiser at the Hay Adams Hotel, Moyers intoned:
     "These White House videotapes reveal the heart of a Washington where money, not sex, is the obsession. The story is not what two consenting adults did in private, but what our two political parties are doing to an unsuspecting republic. The campaign of 1996, which cost $2.2 billion, was the most expensive in history and one of the most corrupting. Tonight, we will show you how both parties contrived to bend and break the law. While Janet Reno reluctantly investigates White House fundraising and Senate Republicans buried campaign finance reform, we will piece together the outlines of Washington's other scandal."

     Moyers proceeded to recount how the 1994 congressional losses motivated a Democratic effort to run pro-Clinton ads in 1995. Eventually, Clinton, Morris and Ickes decided to use DNC soft money, even though the ads couldn't explicitly mention Clinton's campaign. PBS showcased memos from Morris and Ickes about how to get around the federal limit. Though supposedly separate from Clinton-Gore, Moyers showed how Clinton himself edited and reviewed ads and at the Hay Adams boasted of how the "issue" ads boosted his approval ratings in key states.

     About 20 minutes into the show, Moyers flipped to the evils of the other party: "The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, 1997. Even as the Senate is investigating Democratic campaign fundraising excesses the Republicans Party gathers its biggest donors, those who gave at least $100,000 in soft money in 1996. They're called Team 100."
     Moyers offered this condemnation: "The Republicans too have found ways to raise and spend campaign money outside the limits of the law."

     Jumping to Sam Brownback's Senate campaign in Kansas, Moyers highlighted last minute ads against his opponent run by something called Citizens for the Republic Education Fund which, Moyers soon revealed, is really a front for Triad, a Washington group which promises anonymity to donors.

     Viewers then saw Bob Cone in a promotional video for Triad as Moyers asserted: "But Cone had shown little interest in politics until 1994 when at least ten children had died in the swing cradles produced by his company, Graco Children's Products. When the parents threatened to sue, Cone and his brother begin contributing to candidates who promised to limit a citizens ability to sue corporate America."

     (Moyers missed the irony given that his favored campaign finance reform would "limit a citizens ability to" express their views about candidates.)

     The other big donor to Triad for the ads on Brownback's behalf: the Economic Education Trust. That's really, Moyers revealed, Koch Industries, "a Kansas-based conglomerate."

     Like he did with Cone, Moyers impugned the Koch family. Over video of newspaper headlines about polluting violations and oil spills, Moyers announced: "The Koch's begin putting a lot of money into politics when their company's behavior created legal difficulties and unwanted attention. By 1996 in state after state at the center of Koch's business empire, legal problems were piling up" so they poured money to candidates in those key states.

     Moyers then jumped to last summer's Thompson Senate hearings. Though the video he showed of Brownback featured the Buddhist nuns of Al Gore fame in the background, he skipped that illegal activity. Instead, Moyers noted that "Koch's man, the single largest recipient of Triad's secret money, won" and "Senator Sam Brownback was named a member of the committee charged to investigate campaign finance abuses. His campaign would not come under public scrutiny."

     But that's not even the real scandal for Moyers. The real scandal is the failure of a liberal bill:
     "Three weeks before the investigation was shut down, Senate Republicans had killed efforts to eliminate soft money from campaigns. Just last month another attempt at reform reached the Senate floor with majority support. The Republican leadership, one again, buried it. So the arms race in dollars continues to escalate. And so does the selling of democracy."

     Switching back to Clinton and the Hay Adams fundraisers, Moyers scolded: "But the real scandal is the legal bribery built into a system where your political worth is determined by your net worth."

     To illustrate he recounted how Cheyenne Arapaho tribe leader Charles Surveyor of Oklahoma, who wanted land back the government confiscated in 1883, had to give money the tribe could not afford in order to get attention.

     The hour concluded with Ickes commiserating with Moyers about how "the system" must be reformed.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Expanding upon the discovery highlighted on Friday's Nightline that Sidney Blumenthal mischaracterized how he was pressed by the grand jury (see the October 5 CyberAlert), FNC's David Shuster delivered a unique piece Tuesday night on how Blumenthal angered the grand jurors.

     On the October 6 Fox Report Shuster recalled:
     "It was the first time White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal appeared at the grand jury. He fueled speculation that the independent counsel had gone too far. The record shows that most of Blumenthal's testimony focused on his conversations with the President about Monica Lewinsky. There were also some questions about White House damage control. Advisers were using talking points, said Blumenthal, to criticize Kenneth Starr and his staff."

     Shuster then read grand jury testimony:
     Blumenthal: "They're summaries of published reports and obviously they expressed the view of the research department of the DNC."
     Question: "And you received this from the DNC?"
     Blumenthal: "Yes."
     Prosecutor: "Did you distribute it to anyone outside the White House?"
     Blumenthal: "If reporters called me or I spoke with reporters I would tell them to call the DNC to get those talking points, and those included news organizations ranging from CNN, CBS, ABC, New York Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, New York Observer, LA Times."

     Shuster then showed the conflict in Blumenthal's attack on Starr: "Even though Blumenthal had mentioned the organizations on his own, here's how he described the session to the press."
     Blumenthal on courthouse steps, February 26: "I was forced to answer questions about my conversations, as part of my job, with, and I wrote this down, the New York Times, CNN..."
     Shuster broke in: "Prosecutors, restricted by grand jury rules of secrecy, could do nothing to counter the public perception. The grand jurors were infuriated and even four months later when Blumenthal returned they took the unusual step of admonishing him in person."
     Shuster read aloud the testimony of the grand jury foreperson: "We are very concerned about the fact that during your last visit that an inaccurate representation of the events that happened were retold on the steps of the courthouse. We would hope that you will understand the seriousness of our work...and that you would really represent us the way that events happened in this room."

     Shuster concluded with an illuminating observation about how playing by the rules hurts Starr:
     "Still the entire episode underscores the huge advantage the White House had in shaping the public debate, because even when misleading statements were spinning through the media there was nothing the prosecutors or the grand jury could do about them."

     Back on February 26 the network hyped Blumenthal's blast. Here are a two examples from the February 27 CyberAlert.

     -- On NBC Nightly News David Bloom led into the Blumenthal soundbite by reporting: "Presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal testified before the grand jury today and then launched into an attack, a tirade against independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr. At issue: is the White House trying to smear prosecutors to derail their investigation, or is Starr abusing his powers to intimidate political opponents."

     -- On CNN's Inside Politics John King began by putting the burden on Starr: "White House aide Sidney Blumenthal was the witness before the Monica Lewinsky grand jury, yet many say independent counsel Ken Starr is the one with questions to answer." After dueling soundbites from Blumenthal and Starr, King insisted: "Even some longtime friends question Starr's tactics."
Former U.S. Attorney Henry Hudson explained "When Ken Starr began sending out subpoenas to gather information about people that may be criticizing his staff -- if that's his intention, I'm concerned about that, and yes, it does cause me to rethink just how much support I can have of Ken Starr." 

     The next day CBS also played Blumenthal's ranting about Starr's police state tactics.

     When will CBS, CNN and NBC correct the record? None have so far.  -- Brent Baker

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