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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday October 26, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 173)

Impeachment Would Ruin Nobel Peace Prize; Rivera's Located HQ/VRWC

1) Soundbite of the weekend: Clinton's legacy might become "it's okay to lie and it's okay to spy."

2) NBC's team used MSNBC, Today and Nightly News to highlight how the peace deal proves Clinton worthy. Tim Russert marveled at how Clinton might get the Nobel Peace Prize while being impeached and asked Netanyahu to agree that it's best if Clinton stays in office.

3) HQ/VRWC located by Geraldo Rivera. It all stems from the American Spectator. Rivera tied together Starr, Tyrrell, Olson, Hale and Scaife into proof Hillary was correct all along.

4) ABC whined that "with his self-imposed spending limit" Senator Russ Feingold "lacks the funds to adequately rebut" attacks by his GOP opponent, but ABC ignored union and environmental group ads.

>>> MediaNomics now on line. The October edition of MediaNomics, the monthly newsletter from the MRC's Free Market Project, is now available on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. Go to http://www.mrc.org. Articles by MediaNomics Editor Tim Lamer include a page one look at some misleading budget coverage; an Issue Analysis: "Reporters attack bailout of hedge fund, but not IMF bailouts"; a page three story headlined "Gaping Hole in Ozone Reporting" and a guest editorial by D. Eric Schansberg: "Beware of Misleading Statistics."<<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Soundbite of the weekend. Jesse Jackson appeared Sunday on Meet the Press, but he could not out-rhyme Joe diGenova. On ABC's This Week, diGenova, who as a federal prosecutor handled the Jonathan Pollard case in the mid-'80s, declared:
     "If this President releases Jonathan Pollard his legacy will be it's okay to lie and it's okay to spy."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The Israel/PLO agreement led the network evening shows Friday and Sunday night, but of the broadcast networks, on Friday night only CBS refrained from passing along White House spin about how it proves Clinton remains an effective President. ABC just relayed the White House take, but NBC promoted it repeatedly Friday, from Today to Nightly News with MSNBC in between. The usually more spin-resistant Tim Russert led the way, ruminating on Today about how Clinton might not be able to appear before an impeachment hearing next year because he'd be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize that day. On Sunday, Russert asked Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to affirm: "But you prefer that President Clinton be around next year to help you continue this peace agreement."

     -- ABC's World News Tonight on Friday night, October 23. Sam Donaldson told viewers: "Pollard aside, White House officials believe Mr. Clinton comes away from this a big winner, demonstrating that despite his domestic problems he can still accomplish big things on the world stage...."

     -- NBC, in date/time order:
     Tom Brokaw led the October 20 NBC Nightly News last Tuesday by announcing: "Making a deal. An ailing King leaves the hospital. A President choppers in, trying to help rescue peace in the Middle East."

     On Friday's Today Tim Russert told news anchor Sara James during the 8am news update: "The White House looks at this with such great irony. As the impeachment hearings grind on could you have a situation where next year the President cannot go to the Judiciary Committee on a particular day because he's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize? That's the kind of irony the White House looks at as they look at the success of President Clinton on this day."

     At about 5:53pm ET Friday on MSNBC, minutes after the signing ceremony ended, from the White House lawn David Bloom picked up an ran with the Clinton spin, gushing to Brian Williams:
     "You saw the President today, Brian, basking in this, beaming as Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu shook hands. Remember, recall that they've only met once or twice in these last 18 months face to face and they did so on repeated occasions during this past week. You heard the King of Jordan, King Hussein, saying of President Clinton that he's known many Presidents, all of them dating back to Eisenhower, and saying that he's known none like President Clinton, saying that his dedication, his clearheadedness, his focus, his determination is unlike anything that he's seen from any American President dating back to Eisenhower. And if those words aren't so sweet to this White House nothing else could be."

     Minutes later on Friday's Nightly News Claire Shipman concluded her piece from the White House: "Now if this was a test of an embattled President's clout, aides here are ecstatic at its success and they say he took to these talks with an unusual intensity even for him they say, seeming to understand not only his role as peacemaker but as creator of his legacy."

     A legacy of success NBC News was most willing Friday to ascribe to Clinton.

     Any doubts about that were refuted by two questions Tim Russert posed to Benjamin Netanyahu in a taped interview for the October 25 Meet the Press. Russert inquired: "As you know, President Clinton has had his difficulties back home here. Do you believe that his participation in this summit will portray him as a strong and effective leader?"

     Netanyahu acknowledged that Clinton was "very helpful" and provided "a friendly hand," but declined to delve into internal U.S. politics. Not dissuaded, Russert then posed this question in the form of a statement he hoped Netanyahu would ratify, though Netanyahu demurred: "But you prefer that President Clinton be around next year to help you continue this peace agreement."


ger1026cap.jpg (27245 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Geraldo Rivera has done it! He's located the HQ/VRWC. That's the headquarters for the "vast right-wing conspiracy," for those of you who are acronym-challenged. Hint: It's on North 14th Street in Arlington, Virginia. Inspired by Rivera, I've applied my own keen powers of observation and discovered another member of the VRWC, a player that Rivera suspiciously missed: Joan Lunden. But more on that later as CyberAlert digs deep to give you the full story.

     On Friday's 7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight on CNBC Rivera delivered a report titled "Starr's War." He began "breathlessly," as they say:
     "Before there was Monica Lewinsky there was Whitewater, a potpourri of fraud allegations against the President and First Lady stemming from a 20-year-old failed real estate deal in Arkansas. Stripped to its bare essentials the case against the Clintons, as you're about to see, was shockingly flimsy."
     Co-anchor Diane Dimond helpfully chirped in: "So why did it last for four years and cost $40 million? A look at the money and the men behind Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation indicates that Hillary Clinton may have been right when she said there was a right-wing conspiracy to bring down the President."

     Rivera's taped piece began with him standing in front of the office building housing the American Spectator, aka HQ/VRWC:
     "That nondescript building behind me here in Arlington, Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, houses the American Spectator magazine. The magazine is staunchly conservative and wickedly partisan, which is all well and good. This is a free country. But many of the Spectator's critics feel that the magazine lost its journalistic soul when it entered into a secret alliance with the reclusive Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Their common goal: to destroy Bill Clinton. Between 1993 and 1997 Mr. Scaife funneled at least $2.3 million dollars through the American Spectator to fund a variety of anti-Clinton activities. They dubbed this nefarious scheme of character assassination, the Arkansas Project."

     Rivera explained how this "nefarious" project was run by David Henderson and attorney Steven Boynton. They hired private detectives who even met with Starr's staff. Leading into noting that Spectator Editor-in-Chief R. Emmett Tyrrell said he could not talk since he'd been subpoenaed in the case, Rivera asserted: "We wanted to know why any journalistic organization would get involved in a venture that was so sleazy, so sordid."

     Suggesting that an insider has talked, Rivera reported that "according to sources at the magazine at the time," in November 1993, the day after NBC News ran a story on David Hale's allegations against Clinton, Henderson and Boynton flew to Pittsburgh to meet Scaife. CNBC showed American Spectator expense ledgers which confirm plane fare for the trip. Subsequently, Rivera intoned:
     "A series of letters from Richard Mellon Scaife to the Spectator's Publisher Emmett Tyrrell indicate that Scaife loved the plan. Scaife's first commitment of cash, $120,000, arrived at the magazine on December 2. Less than a week later, a second installment for $200,000 followed. And then a third for $125,000. And the money kept rolling in. To the First Lady of the United States it was all part of the same melancholy pattern."
     Hillary on Today in January: "The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it, but it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. Actually, you know in a bizarre sort of way this may do it."
     Rivera: "'This may do it' refers to Monica Lewinsky and that investigation. Now although it does not appear vast, our further investigation of the interlocking relationships between his billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, the hard right American Spectator magazine, their Arkansas Project and even special prosecutor Ken Starr makes undeniable the allegation that many of the people involved in the investigations, both public and private of Bill Clinton, were part of a cabal of anti-Clinton conservatives."
     Diane Dimond: "Very interesting stuff. I remember when the First Lady made that comment about the right-wing conspiracy, she said if there was only a reporter who would doggedly pursue it. I guess that's you."

     As Dimond uttered her last sentence, Rivera piped up with "woof, woof," imitating a dog's bark. I'm not kidding.

     (In this sea of mendacity, a seemingly minor point that Rivera could not even get correct: Tyrrell is not and was not in 1993 the Publisher of the American Spectator. Ron Burr was at the time in question and left amidst questions about the appropriateness of the magazine's Arkansas Project, but his concerns about what a magazine should spend its money on hardly matches Rivera's notion of a grand conspiracy.)

     But Upfront Tonight delivered the tame stuff. Later Friday night Rivera devoted three-fourths of his 9pm ET/PT Rivera Live on CNBC to his "Starr's War." His first two lengthy reports provided his spin on Whitewater and David Hale. Then he got to Starr, running a lengthier version of the same diatribe he trimmed for Upfront Tonight. Here's some of the additional innuendo:
     "Was Ken Starr the man for the job of independent counsel? Was he someone outside the fierce world of partisan politics? Someone who would fairly assess the evidence against the President? We don't know. We do know that his ties to the hard right seem at the very least to be suspect. Item: The revelation that Starr, the man who would later be investigating Clinton, had openly contemplated writing a brief on behalf of an organization supported by Richard Mellon Scaife, a brief supporting Paula Jones's claim against the President. Item: As was first revealed right on this program, Mr. Starr had also directly advised Paula Jones's attorney, in the early days, of the case against the President."
     Following a clip of Gil Davis from January 23 saying Starr told him he thought a sitting President could be sued, Rivera charged on:
     "Item: Until he later renounced the offer, when his task as independent counsel was to end, Ken Starr had a job waiting for him at Pepperdine University. And in yet another connection to the hard right, the million dollar donation to set up the Starr deanship at Pepperdine was funded by, you guessed it, Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-wing billionaire who bankrolled the American Spectator's Arkansas Project. To the First Lady of the United States, it was all part of the same melancholy pattern."

     Sound familiar? After running the same soundbite as he did on Upfront Tonight, he continued to repeat himself but soon added material not on the earlier show:
     "Although it does not appear vast, our further investigation of the inter-relationships between Richard Mellon Scaife, the American Spectator magazine, their Arkansas Project and the independent prosecutor makes undeniable the allegation that many of the people involved in the investigations, both public and private of Bill Clinton, were part of a cabal of anti-Clinton conservatives.
     "Item: According to David Hale's own court testimony, one of his lawyers was powerful Washington attorney Ted Olson. Item: Ted Olson is an ex-law partner and a close friend of Ken Starr. Item: Ted Olson is also a member of the board of directors of the American Spectator. According to Hale's testimony Mr. Olson began representing him in December 1993. According to a very reliable inside source, Olson hosted a meeting in his law office that same month. It was attended by Arkansas Project operatives Boynton and Henderson. The agenda: how best to use Richard Mellon Scaife's millions to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. So Ted Olson, one of Ken Starr's closest friends, not only helped plan the Arkansas Project but he also represented David Hale.
     "Hale, the con man who Kenneth Starr told the federal court was his prime witness. Hale the crook that Starr asked the judge to treat with leniency, to reduce his prison sentence and to release him from the obligation of repaying the $2 million he stole from the federal government. The road was now wide-open for what would become a relentless four year, $40 million pursuit of the President, one that still came up dry until Kenneth Starr's right-wing friends, directly or indirectly, led him to a young lady named Monica Lewinsky."

     Wow. I haven't heard that Pepperdine story before, have you? It's only been on every network three times! I know this puts a damper on the conspiracy, but with all of his inside info on the Spectator Rivera must know that Scaife stopped funding the magazine after it ran a piece defending Starr's conclusion that Vince Foster committed suicide and was not murdered, a theory pursued by others funded by Scaife.

     My "further investigation" into the "inter-relationships" involved has uncovered another "nefarious" player: Joan Lunden. She's best known as the former Good Morning America co-host now creating quarterly "Behind Closed Doors" specials for ABC. But what's behind her closed door? The CyberAlert Field Investigative Unit, that's me, decided to find out. What I learned will shock you.

     Last Wednesday night I attended the American Spectator's annual "Washington Dinner" at the Four Season hotel in the District. Item: Ted Olson was present and introduced some of the speakers. Item: Ben Stein, now hosting "Win Ben Stein's Money" on Comedy Central, but who once wrote speeches for President Nixon, a President who knew the reclusive Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, emceed the event -- a position which allowed him to send coded messages in his jokes to Coulter and Olson. Item: Ann Coulter sat two tables away from me. Item: Friday night Coulter appeared on the very same Rivera Live transcribed above, but failed to tell Rivera what I'm about to reveal here for the first time. Item: When I left the hotel at approximately 11pm to retrieve CyberAlert Mobile One, my car, from vale parking, I had not yet observed Olson or Stein exiting. Item: As I waited a stretch limousine pulled up and the rear door opened. At just this moment I saw my car coming out of the garage and proceeded toward it. Just as I passed by the open limo door a blond woman got out. I looked behind as I continued walking and saw that the woman was none other than Joan Lunden.

     Was she on her way to meet with Ted Olson, Ben Stein and Ann Coulter? Could they have been devising a scheme to cause Geraldo Rivera to use CNBC time to look like an idiot as he applied McCarthyistic guilt by association standards to concoct a theory that put Starr at the center of a grand conspiracy? If so, it worked.

     Back to reality now, to read about Rivera's last bout with conspiracy fantasy, go to the October 7 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19981007.html#2

     To see Rivera in front of the Spectator's office building, go to the MRC home page where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry should have a video clip posted by noontime.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) To ABC Wisconsin's Democratic Senator, Russ Feingold, is a poster-child for all that is good in politics. But that good may destroy him since his opponent, Republican Representative Mark Neumann, doesn't buy into Feingold's liberal "campaign finance reform." But in complaining about how Feingold is the victim of outside soft money advertising, ABC's Dean Reynolds distorted his story by failing to inform viewers that unions and environmentalists have run ads against Neumann, and the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee would launch ads the day after the ABC story appeared, which castigate Neumann as "too extreme."

     Wisconsin incumbent Senator Feingold is in a close re-election race, ABC's Dean Reynolds contended last Thursday, because of anti-Feingold TV ads paid for by the national GOP which Feingold cannot match because he's refused outside spending. On the October 22 World News Tonight Reynolds asserted:
     "The reality on the ground is that he's being outspent with the very kind of money he's tried in the Senate to regulate. And with his self-imposed spending limit Feingold lacks the funds to adequately rebut the attacks suggesting he favors things like late-term abortions or flag burning. One of the things this campaign has not been about so far is the scandal in the White House. Whatever they may be elsewhere in the country, President Clinton's problems have not been a big issue in this campaign. In their most recent debate the two men ignored Clinton. And without him as an issue, Feingold's self-imposed limit on political ads could be the deciding factor, one reason why he needs all the free help he can get. [video of Robert Redford at a Feingold event]
     A reporter with the Wisconsin State Journal suggested: "What he preached may be his own fire and brimstone. It really could damn him to the Hell of losing a re-election race."
     Reynolds concluded ominously: "That would say a lot about the way campaigns are run and whether fighting to change that way is political death."

     A reliable source in a position to know, an industrious CyberAlert reader in Wisconsin who wishes to remain anonymous, sent along to me two newspaper articles which reveal there's more to the story.

     -- First, from an October 23 Chicago Tribune piece by reporter Michael Tackett: "....In the final weeks, the race has become nasty and personal. Neumann has called Feingold a 'hypocrite' because some groups, such as the AFL-CIO and the League of Conservation Voters, have gone ahead with independent ad campaigns that target the Republican. Feingold said he asked them to stop but cannot force them, and he has labeled Neumann a politician in the tradition of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin...."

     -- Second, an October 23 Milwaukee Journal headline: "Commercials from national Democratic group attack Neumann as 'too extreme.'" Reporter Alan J. Borsuk explained:
     "A national Democratic Party organization is ready to launch an aggressive television advertising campaign taking hard whacks at Rep. Mark Neumann, Feingold's foe in the heated Nov. 3 Senate election. The gloves-off tone of the commercials -- with a theme that Neumann is 'too extreme for Wisconsin' -- and the source of the money go against what Feingold has said he stands for in this campaign.
     "Feingold says he is protesting to stop the ads. But the national party, presumably afraid that Feingold may lose and is not being aggressive enough, seemed poised to run the ads whether the intended beneficiary wanted them or not.
     "The ads put Feingold in the peculiar position, perhaps unprecedented in American politics, of fighting against help from his own party. If the ads run, he gets a major boost in the volume of advertising in his behalf in the final days of a neck-and-neck race, but he is certain to face criticism that his campaign finance stands are either hollow, ineffective or both..."

     "Sure to face criticism"? Not from ABC. But there's still time for ABC News to redeem itself by running an update/correction on Monday.   -- 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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