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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday October 16, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 169)

Terrorist Killer Tripp; Stale Hit on Starr; Couric Ties Right to Harming Gays

1) At ABC News it's Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein and.......Linda Tripp. All in the same category.

2) On the budget deal, ABC emphasized how both sides took credit; CNN how scandal hurt Clinton; NBC how Republicans were rolled.

3) FNC uniquely pointed out that media speculation about Starr abusing his office in quizzing Larry Cockell was wrong. CNN furthered White House spin in highlighting another old charge.

4) Geraldo accepted pat on the back from Starr but denounced him anyway. Rivera also suggested Republicans "can't find any well-regarded legal scholar" to say that sex lies are impeachable.

5) Katie Couric: "Some gay rights activists have said that some conservative political organizations...are contributing to this anti-homosexual atmosphere" so people will "try to harm them."

 >>> Don't want your kids to hear swearing or condom jokes in the family hour? Well, stop arguing with your spouse and telling dirty jokes in front of them. Actually, I meant on TV. The Parents Television Council, the Hollywood project of the Media Research Center, has just put the finishing touches on the new Family Guide to Prime Time Television which will alert you to which shows to avoid. To access the Family Guide and the other helpful tools the PTC provides for parents, just visit PTC's new Web site: http://www.parentstv.org. Or, hit the PTC button on the bottom of the MRC home page.
     Unlike the inconsistent and misleading current on-screen TV ratings system, the Family Guide ratings provide an accurate assessment of all prime time sitcoms and dramas using a traffic-light rating system (red, yellow, and green) to make it easy to find family-friendly programming and individual ratings for sex, language, violence, and overall content.
     Parentstv.org features a night-by-night grid of the TV schedule designed by MRC Webmaster Sean Henry. Click on a show and you'll get an analysis and traffic-light ratings for it and a space to share your comments with other parents. Listen to Book of Virtues author Bill Bennett: "The Family Guide is an excellent resource: objective, accurate, easy to use. It is particularly useful for parents who want to know what's good, and what's not, on television." <<<

Corrections: The October 13 CyberAlert quoted ABC's Mike von Fremd as reporting that Bill Clinton "blasted the Republican-controlled Congress for failing to pass his budget and education package to repair old schools and higher more teachers." Some teachers may be high, but von Fremd was saying Clinton wants to "hire" more. The October 15 CyberAlert incorrectly stated that a budget deal was reached at 11pm ET Wednesday night. The deal did not come until Thursday afternoon.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The low-down, cheap shot of the day. On Thursday the MRC's Tim Graham came across this "What do you think?" question of the day on the abcnews.com home page: "If there were an Ig-Nobel Peace Prize, who would win it?"

     The options:
     -- Slobodan Milosevic
     -- Osama bin Ladin
     -- Saddam Hussein
     -- Linda Tripp

     Very nice. The media love to denounce "Clinton-haters" and how they are lowering the level of political discourse. How helpful is it to equate a government whistle-blower with terrorists and mass murderers? (As of early this morning, Tripp was winning the voting.)


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The Federal Reserve's interest rate cut, which led the stock market to soar, topped the Thursday ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening shows. FNC led with the FAA request that flammable insulation be removed from passenger jets. The other four also ran stories on the FAA decision and all but NBC ran full reports on the Netanyahu/Arafat summit at the White House which traveled to Wye, Maryland.

     ABC and CBS featured full stories on a report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which Peter Jennings assured viewers is "a respected research institute," that the popularity of Depo-Provera, aka "the shot" injected once every three months, has led to a big drop in teen pregnancy. On CBS John Roberts noted that teens can get it without parental permission, but Republicans want the law changed after a teacher brought student a student in for shots so he could have sex with her.

     On the budget deal, all ran full stories but CBS. Anchoring from the Johnson Space Center in Houston where he interviewed John Glenn, Rather just gave a few seconds to announcing the deal. NBC and CNN highlighted how conservatives are upset with the excessive spending. A quick take on the spins:
     ABC's Linda Douglass: "In the end both Republicans and Democrats tried to take credit for the deal..."
     CNN's John King: "But beneath the celebration is plenty of evidence of how scandal left the President too weak to" make Republicans accept his agenda. 
     NBC's David Bloom: "Republican leaders insisted both sides deserved credit....But Democrats were less magnanimous."

     Showing that great media minds think alike, ABC and NBC showcased how the use of school uniforms has reduced school violence. To illustrate, ABC went to Long Beach, California. To illustrate, NBC went to Long Beach, California.

     Some highlights from the Thursday, October 15 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. On the budget deal, Linda Douglass began: "In the end both Republicans and Democrats tried to take credit for the deal to spend roughly half a trillion dollars to fund ten government agencies."
     After soundbites from Trent Lott and Tom Daschle and a list of some things agreed to, Douglass cautioned: "But there were also emergency items that might not seem so urgent: For example, $1 billion to begin building a missile defense system. And then there is $2 billion for a mystery item labeled 'intelligence.'"
     Douglass concluded: "And where did those emergency funds come from? Why, the budget surplus, the one the Democrats wanted to save only for Social Security and Republicans tried to dip into for a tax cut. Never mind that now, the biggest emergency here is to wrap this deal up quickly so member can get home to campaign."

     -- CNN's The World Today ran three budget deal stories. First, Jonathan Karl summarized the main features of the deal including how Republicans got $9 billion more for defense, before highlighting a conservative detractor. Leading into a soundbite from Representative David McIntosh of Indiana, Karl relayed: "Even before the deal was announced conservative Republicans complained their leaders caved into the White House, citing nearly $20 billion in so-called emergency spending not covered by last year's balanced budget agreement."

     Second, John King announced: "The President had every reason to celebrate. He spent the last week talking about education, not impeachment. And the budget deal clearly bears his imprint, including a major commitment to hire 100,000 new teachers."
     After a clip of Clinton, however, King noted: "But beneath the celebration is plenty of evidence of how scandal left the President too weak to force the Republican Congress to embrace the ambitious agenda he laid out in his January State of the Union address."
     King recalled how those goals for Medicaid expansion, HMO reform, more child care spending, school construction and raising minimum wage went unfulfilled. King added that republicans failed to get the tax cut they wanted.

     Third, from Michigan, Ed Garston explained how 100,000 new teachers will help reduce classroom size.

     -- FNC's Fox Report. After Julie Kirtz looked at the budget deal, reporter Grant Rampy showed crowded Chicago schools, explaining that Clinton's 100,000 teachers should bring the student-teacher ratio down to 18-to-1. Rampy played a soundbite of Clinton: "This is the educational equivalent of what we did when we put 100,000 police on the street."
     Rampy uniquely raised a conservative point: "Has the President really kept his first pledge? By his own count 75,000 officers have been hired, but critics argue even that number is inflated. Some of the money apparently paid for computers, not cops...."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Following stories on "Cheering from Wall Street," Tom Brokaw observed:
     "Well all of this was welcome news at the White House which has been counting on a strong economy to help President Clinton through his impeachment difficulties. And today's news on interest rates came just as the White House was claiming other victories as well."
     David Bloom relayed how the White House is "euphoric" over budget deal and "triumphant Democrats were not shy about proclaiming victory."
     Clinton: "This is a very, very good day for America."
     Bloom: "Republican leaders insisted both sides deserved credit."
     Trent Lott: "I think it's not a question of who won and who lost."
     Bloom: "But Democrats were less magnanimous, pointing to the $1.1 billion dollars for 100,000 new teachers."
     Tom Daschle: "We won."
     Bloom: "$18 billion for the International Monetary Fund."
     Daschle: "We won."
     Bloom: "$6 billion in emergency farm aid."
     Daschle: "And we won."
     Bloom: "The White House boasted that Republicans had turned quote, 'Democrats for a day' and conservatives agreed."
     David McIntosh: "It's a Great Society bill and it's not something that I as a conservative Republican am prepared to support."
     Bloom added that Republicans did get more for defense and anti-drug efforts. Bloom then noted the summit, concluding:.
     "Between those peace talks and today's budget deal, talk of upcoming impeachment hearings has, for now, receded at the White House. And that, for President Clinton, is the best news of all."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Other than those Brokaw and Bloom mentions of impeachment, Thursday night the broadcast networks avoided the whole Lewinsky scandal. But not the cable networks. On FNC's Fox Report David Shuster explained how the grand jury transcripts and subpoena records show that Starr's prosecutor's didn't know Secret Service agent Larry Cockell was Clinton's top protector. They only called him in his role as a supervisor to explain Secret Service organization and who reports to who. Contrary to White House-fueled media speculation, Shuster learned, prosecutors never asked him about what he heard on the way back from the Jones deposition.

     CNN's The World Today picked up and ran with the latest hit on Starr, even though as even Geraldo Rivera acknowledged, it's very old and well known news. (See item #4 today for Rivera's take.)

     Gene Randall began: "President Clinton's supporters may have some new ammunition to use against Ken Starr. Former Paula Jones attorney Gil Davis says in 1994, a month before Starr was appointed independent counsel, Davis and Starr had a half-dozen conversations on whether a sitting President could be sued for private conduct."
     After a clip of Davis saying Starr had no position on the case, just offered his assessment of whether a sitting President could be sued, Randall nonetheless presented the White House case: "Following charges of Starr office leaks, contacts with known anti-Clinton activists, and the issue of Linda Tripp working at the same time with both Jones' lawyers and Starr's prosecutors, the White House sees a new political opening."
     James Kennedy of the White House denounced Starr and Randall agreed he had done wrong: "In fact, legal scholars say Starr should have revealed his Jones team contacts to Attorney General Janet Reno when he requested authorization to investigate the Monica Lewinsky matter."
     Stephen Salzburg, George Washington University: "I believe that the Attorney General would not have granted him the jurisdiction over the Lewinsky matter had she been fully aware of the extent of the contacts, and number of contacts that he'd had with the Paula Jones lawyers."
     Randall allowed time for Starr's retort, but then retorted the retort: "Starr's office says, quote: 'This office did not mislead the Department of Justice regarding relevant facts relating to its jurisdiction or any expansion thereof.' Further, it says, Starr's communications with the Jones camp were 'long known and reported.' The White House, though, will cite words like these from a former federal prosecutor."
     Larry Barcela, former U.S. Attorney: "When there is a conflict, or a potential for conflict, a lawyer has an obligation, at a minimum, to make disclosures to all the parties involved in that particular matter."
     Randall concluded: "Sources say the Justice Department will review the issue. Consider the new questions about Ken Starr, a kind of preview. When the House Judiciary Committee opens its presidential impeachment hearings, Democrats can be expected to forcefully argue the need to investigate the investigator."

     CNN is obviously willing to do what it can to impugn Starr.


griv1016cap.jpg (14244 bytes)cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) While on the hit on Starr, here's how Geraldo Rivera treated it on Thursday's Upfront Tonight as he highlighted how Starr's office credited Rivera's other CNBC show for reporting the latest allegation months ago.

     Rivera announced: "Now let's go to our series investigating the investigator. Ken Starr has been rocked recently by revelations that he may have played fast and loose with the facts and the circumstances of just how and when he got involved with the sex scandal that now threatens the Clinton presidency. You know he must be worried when he gives me credit. Starr said in a statement today that the story about his early consultations with lawyers for Paula Jones was old news. He said he heard it last January on Rivera Live and you know what, this time the guy is right."

     Just as he says "and you know what," he turned his back to co-anchor Diane Dimond so she could pat him on the back.

     Rivera then played a clip of Gil Davis on Rivera Live two days after the story broke, January 23, saying Starr advised him a President is not immune. Rivera declared:
     "Whether it was old news or not, virtually every expert in legal ethics agrees that Ken Starr should have disclosed this possible conflict of interest to Janet Reno."

     Rivera then jumped to denouncing House Republicans: "Now what may be more troubling than Starr's secrets, at least to me, is the fact that the hearings that were to guide Congress on whether the sins of the President constitute an impeachable offense, those hearings have been indefinitely postponed. House Democrats say it's because the Republicans can't find any well-regarded legal scholar to say that sex lies are what the Constitution's framers had in mind when they drafted the clause on impeachment."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) More ascribing of blame by Katie Couric to conservatives for making others "harm" homosexuals. The October 15 CyberAlert relayed how Couric opened the October 13 Today: "The tragic beating of the college student in Wyoming has some activists in this country saying there is a climate of anti-gay hate that's been fostered by a provocative advertising campaign by the political right in this country."

     Catching up on the holiday weekend news, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens discovered Couric began giving credence to left-wing smears of conservatives on Columbus Day. Here are her October 12 questions to Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer. Note how she builds a case that culminates in her last query:

     -- "Governor, Marv Johnson, who is the Executive Director of the Wyoming ACLU has said that Wyoming is not gay friendly. Do you agree with that assessment?"
     -- "Wyoming, as you well know Governor, is one of ten states that does not have any kind of hate crime law and three times the Wyoming legislature has apparently crushed bills to enact such a law. Why hasn't that measure been successful in your state?" -- "Would you like to see a hate crime law enacted? Will you go back to the legislature and try to do that?"
     -- "What do you think about a federal measure that would be a hate crime law at the federal level? President Clinton yesterday called for a tougher law which would include sexual orientation. Would you support that at the federal level Governor?"
     -- "And finally Governor some gay rights activists have said that some conservative political organizations like the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and Focus on Family are contributing to this anti-homosexual atmosphere by having an ad campaign saying if you are a homosexual you can change your orientation. That prompts people to say if I meet someone who's homosexual I'm going to take action and try to convince them or try to harm them. Do you believe that such groups are contributing to this climate?"

     Some in the far-right militia movement think there's big conspiracy involving black helicopters sent by the UN with Clinton's authorization to take over the U.S., but I don't see network stars treating that thinking as credible enough to ask a guest about.  -- 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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. 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.
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