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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday October 20, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 171)

China Military Gains Thanks to Clinton; Justice Before Microsoft

1) Nothing on impeachment or Paula Jones on ABC or NBC Monday night. CBS, CNN and FNC looked at the new Jones documents.

2) The New York Times detailed how Clinton's decision to relax export rules enabled the Chinese to obtain sophisticated technology, "some of which has already been diverted to military uses." Network coverage of this non-sex scandal: Zilch.

3) "A case of legal hardball and computer software" said Dan Rather of the Microsoft trial. The network intros all relayed the government's contentions about Microsoft's evils.

4) Two Today hosts contended that Paula Jones only cares about the money, forgetting that her legal bills exceed any expected settlement.

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways The Country Would Be Different If Bob Dole Were President."

>>> The October 19 Notable Quotables will be posted Tuesday on the MRC home page by MRC Webmaster Sean Henry. Quote headings include "Starr Stained the Country," "Linda Tripp, Media Pinata" and "Rivera's Upchuck Tonight." Go to: http://www.mrc.org <<<

Correction: The October 19 CyberAlert quoted Deborah Mathis as saying "...the Christian Right per say and some particular members on Capitol Hill..." That should have read "per se" not "per say."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Some actual diversity in the media Monday night as only CNN's The World Today and NBC Nightly News shared the same lead story: the grenade attack in Israel and the status of the Netanyahu/Arafat talks in Wye, Maryland. ABC's World News Tonight began with the opening of the Microsoft trial; the rains and flooding in Texas topped the CBS Evening News; and FNC's Fox Report started with the Nevada decision to reinstate Mike Tyson's license to box. ABC, CBS and FNC also ran full reports on the Mideast summit and all but NBC carried full stories on Tyson. (Microsoft generated a piece on all the shows. See item #3 for details.)

     Not a word about any scandal or impeachment on ABC or NBC, but CBS, CNN and FNC all ran stories on the release of documents in the Paula Jones case. (A telling sign that the networks are trying to get back to pre-Monica news priorities: The lead guest on Monday's Larry King Live -- Patsy Ramsey's sister.) On the CBS Evening News Phil Jones asserted that the lawyers around Jones are blaming her, Susan McMillan and her husband for the failure of settlement talks. Noteworthy amongst the documents, Phil Jones relayed, was Clinton denying sex with any state or federal employee between 1986 and 1991.

     From Little Rock, CNN's Tony Clark found that the documents reveal the Jones side wanted the names of all of Clinton's sex partners and that Trooper Ferguson maintained that Jones initiated the contact with Clinton. Next on The World Today Bob Franken previewed the appeals court hearing set to occur Tuesday in St. Paul before three Republican appointed judges. FNC's David Shuster highlighted how those on the Jones team feel blind-sided by the White House rejection of a deal involving $1 million from Abe Hirschfeld and that Judge Susan Weber Wright was "infuriated" at the leaking in January of Clinton's deposition to the Washington Post.

     CNN's Brooks Jackson and FNC Jim Angle focused on how Democratic House candidate Jay Inslee in Washington is having some positive feedback from running ads attacking his opponent, Republican incumbent Rick White, for backing the GOP impeachment resolution.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "Chinese Said to Reap Gains in U.S. Export Policy Shift" announced the top of the fold, off-lead of Monday's New York Times. Reporter Jeff Gerth and Eric Schmitt detailed how Clinton's decision to relax export rules, made after he met high-tech executives who later contributed to the DNC, "enabled Chinese companies to obtain a wide range of sophisticated technology, some of which has already been diverted to military uses."

     Here's a non-sex scandal, allegations of a real-world danger connected to political fundraising, the kind of issue that goes beyond "lying about sex between two consenting adults." So, the networks naturally jumped on the disclosure? Not at all. Zilch so far from any of the networks. MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson and Brian Boyd informed me that Today, Good Morning America and This Morning all skipped it Monday morning. Monday night: Not a word on the ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC or FNC evening newscasts.

     So, here's what non-New York Times readers missed. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the lengthy October 19 story:

Shortly after he took office in 1993, President Clinton traveled to Silicon Valley to lay out his vision of a robust American economy buoyed by high-technology companies that could compete anywhere in the world.

The night before his speech, Clinton went out to dinner with two dozen executives, some of whom complained bitterly about government rules impeding the overseas sale of computers and other cutting-edge technologies.

Clinton grabbed a pad, furiously took notes, and promised relief, one executive recalled. Over the next five years, the President delivered, personally presiding over what industry executives and government officials agree was one of the most sweeping relaxations of export restrictions in American history.

"These reforms," Clinton said in a 1993 letter detailing the changes to a leading computer executive, "can help unleash our companies to compete successfully in the global market."

In the years that followed, the new rules helped Clinton fulfill his vision of a centrist Democratic Party with close ties to American business. Grateful high-technology companies showered the Democratic Party with campaign contributions, cementing a new financial base for a party that has historically struggled to raise money from corporate America.

Administration officials portray the initiatives as one of Clinton's most lasting legacies, saying it bolstered national security by helping to make America's economy the world's strongest. The flood of new exports also created high-paying jobs at home.

But critics, including Republicans in Congress and some former Clinton Administration officials, argue that the high-technology exports had a serious side effect, strengthening countries like China, which some view as a potential adversary. Clinton, they contend, was blinded by his enthusiasm for securing this country's global edge and insufficiently attentive to his policies' effect on America's long-term national security.

House and Senate committees are examining whether China took advantage of the looser rules on exports to enhance its military and to obtain technology that it passed on to rogue states, including North Korea. The Senate Intelligence Committee and a special House panel, which are scheduled to report their findings in early 1999, have held a series of closed-door hearings this fall.

An examination by The New York Times of the Administration's export policies on China, based on interviews as well as government and industry documents, shows that the looser regulations enabled Chinese companies to obtain a wide range of sophisticated technology, some of which has already been diverted to military uses....

END Excerpt


jkleincap1020.jpg (13087 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) As noted in #1 above, all the networks ran full stories on the start of the Microsoft trial Monday night with ABC making it the lead story. All the stories featured soundbites from each side, but the introductions from the anchors uniformly relayed the Justice Department's contentions. Viewers had to wait until well into the subsequent stories to hear Microsoft's response. Every story featured a soundbite from Justice's Joel Klein and then either Microsoft Counsel William Neukom or Executive VP Bob Herbold. (ABC ran clips from both MS execs)

     In court the Justice Department lawyers opened by showing a videotaped denial from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates that he knew of any plans to demand that Netscape agree to divide up the market and when they refused to destroy them by having Microsoft give away its browser for free and by having MS prevent computer manufacturers from installing Netscape if they wished to put Windows 95 on their PCs. Then, the government revealed e-mail messages from Gates which showed him discussing the plan months before a key June 1995 meeting with Netscape. All in this paragraph so far is just to set up my little joke which those who listened to Rush Limbaugh on Monday will get: To paraphrase Geraldo Rivera, if you threaten a company with destruction if they don't agree to sell out to you and then employ illegal coercion tactics to block sales of their product, naturally you're going to lie about it.

     Now, back to the networks.

     -- Leading into over six minutes from Terry Moran on what happened in court and background of the case, Peter Jennings announced at the top of ABC's World News Tonight:
     "Good evening. We begin tonight with the government versus Microsoft. There's a great deal at stake. The government accuses Microsoft of illegally abusing its position in the marketplace to drive out its competitors. The Justice Department said, as the case was getting under way today, that the anti-trust laws of the nation were designed to prevent such a thing."

     -- Dan Rather intoned on the CBS Evening News:
     "In federal court in Washington, DC today a case of legal hardball and computer software. The U.S. government set out to prove that computer industry giant Microsoft tried to bully the competition illegally into submission or out of business."
     Sharyl Attkisson in the subsequent story was the only reporter Monday night to read this e-mail message from a Microsoft executive to an executive at another company: "How much do we have to pay you to screw Netscape? This is your lucky day."

     -- Jim Moret announced on CNN's The World Today:
     "Day one in the court battle between Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department. Government lawyers used Bill Gates' own videotaped testimony in their opening statements to bolster claims Microsoft tried to divide the Web browser market with it rival Netscape. Microsoft is expected to present its side of the story tomorrow. A closer look now at Microsoft's market dominance and competitors claims of intimidation from CNN's Greg Lefavre." (sp?)
     CNN uniquely began by talking with a Sybase executive who claimed Microsoft threatened his business if he didn't do what they wanted.

     -- Tom Brokaw offered some questions on NBC Nightly News:
     "Now to the computer giant Microsoft and the world's richest man, Bill Gates. There is no question they do dominate the computer software market. But is Microsoft abusing that power? That's the centerpiece of the Justice Department's anti-trust case against Microsoft, which of course is associated with NBC News."

     Pete Williams concluded the subsequent piece: "This isn't a jury trial so the issue for the judge: Has Microsoft illegally locked up the business so the next Bill Gates doesn't stand a chance? As for how big Microsoft is, consider this: government lawyers prepared their legal briefs using the Justice Department's latest computer software -- Windows 95."

     That's kind of a dorky point. Virtually everyone with a PC uses Windows 95 or 98. (Linix has a low single digit market share.) If they didn't use Windows there wouldn't be a case. A more relevant observation would be to look at what word processor they used -- an area with real alternatives to Microsoft. If they used Word, then Williams' point would be bolstered. If they used WordPerfect, as did the OIC for the Starr report, then wouldn't that suggest that there are alternatives to Microsoft available in areas beyond operating systems?


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) On Saturday and Monday NBC's Today portrayed Paula Jones as just out for the money, but the NBC hosts failed to consider that at this point she'd be lucky to pay off her legal bills, never mind keeping any money for herself. As NBC's Lisa Myers explained in a piece run on Saturday's Today, her lawyers want $2.6 million and she's dreaming of just getting $2 million.

     -- MRC analyst Mark Drake caught this question, to John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, on Saturday's Today. Jodi Applegate asserted in the form of a question: "In looking at Lisa Myers' report there, you sort of need a calculator to keep track of all this. It does look to a lot to us anyway, like it is about money at this point. What is it about, in addition to money -- if it's more than money?"

     -- Whitehead returned for more on Monday's Today. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down these October 19 questions from Matt Lauer:
     "You mentioned some other money floating out there. We're talking about real estate developer Abe Hirschfeld who's offered a million dollars of his own money. If, as you said all along, Paula Jones is not in this for the money why would she even consider taking money from Abe Hirschfeld who really has no connection to the President whatsoever?"
     "So bottom line is that you think this, the increase in demands on your part up to $2 million more because Paula Jones and her family need the money now. Less because you think the circuit court will reinstate the case and you have the President in a bind."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) From the October 19 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways The Country Would Be Different If Bob Dole Were President." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc. Top Ten list presented by Bob and Elizabeth Dole with Elizabeth announcing numbers 8, 6, 4 and 1, Bob the rest.

10. If you wanted my DNA, you'd have to marry me.
9. Ken Starr would still be less famous than his brother Ringo.
8. English language would contain about 50 fewer words ending in "gate."
7. Viagra to be served at all state dinners.
6. Red phone in Oval Office connected back to Moscow, instead of the Pizza Hut down the street.
5. Only uproar would be over my scandalously good looks.
4. No more interns. I'd replace them all with disgruntled CBS executives.
3. At this very moment Bill Clinton would be saying, "Would you like fries with that?"
2. You think I'd be on this lame talk show right now? Think again, Sparky.
1. I hope you don't like income taxes, because they'd be history.

     Don't count on it.  -- Brent Baker

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