Sawyer on 20/20 to Hit Starr with Carville-Like Attacks
1) For Wednesday's 20/20 Diane
Sawyer hits Ken Starr with the Clintonista spin: "Do I have a right
to ask you about your sex life?" "Is this a witch hunt?"
"When are you going to wrap this up?" "People wonder if you
understand human frailty."
2) Sunday on CNN's Cold War:
The Cuban missile crisis. The Soviets were "threatened" by the
U.S. and reacted in "fear," which almost led the U.S. to
annihilate the world.
3) CBS News showed Kevorkian's
killing, but in 1992 they covered up video of aborted fetuses, denouncing
it as tasteless.
Correction: The November
22 CyberAlert twice identified Debra Dickerson as a USA Today reporter and
once referred to her as U.S. News & World Report Senior Editor. I was
wrong more often than correct. She's with U.S. News.
Note to readers:
Given this is a holiday week, I hadn't intended to send any CyberAlerts
after Monday's, especially not one on the day before Thanksgiving. But the
news media never let the bias rest, so neither can I nor you ever-vigilant
CyberAlert readers. So today an edition on two holiday week news
broadcasts that, based on their promos, will deliver a very slanted
product. And a third item about an interesting liberal bias angle to last
Sunday's 60 Minutes story with Kevorkian administering a lethal dose of
drugs to a Lou Gehrig's disease sufferer.
(NYPD Blue watchers who
taped but have not seen Tuesday's episode: skip this paragraph. An example
of art imitating life: the plot of Tuesday's NYPD Blue on ABC delved into
euthanasia. Writing "Detective Bobby Simone," played by
Jimmy Smits, out of the series the writers began the season by giving him
a heart condition that requires him to get a transplant. In Tuesday's 90-
minute episode, with his heart failing, drugs not getting an infection
under control and an abscess discovered in his brain, the doctor agrees to
his request to let him pass away without any last-minute medical
News isn't hiding the antagonistic, anti-Starr investigation slant of
Wednesday's 20/20 interview with the independent counsel. They're
promoting it. Here's a promo I caught, during Tuesday's NYPD Blue, for the
November 25 show:
Announcer: "On 20/20 Wednesday, a Diane Sawyer
exclusive: Ken Starr. He's faced Congress. Now he answers the questions
they didn't ask."
Diane Sawyer: "Do I have a right to ask you about
your sex life?" Cut to another question: "Is this a witch
hunt?" And a third: "When are you going to wrap this up?"
Announcer: "Don't miss 20/20 Wednesday."
Actually, I believe
Starr was asked in his House appearance questions matching Sawyer's second
and third queries.
And advertising it.
Here's the text of a quarter page display ad run in many papers on
Wednesday night, you're the judge.
Tomorrow night, in an exclusive interview,
Diane Sawyer asks Ken Starr the tough questions: Is this a witch hunt? Was
all the salacious detail necessary? What do you really think of the
Clintons? When will it all end? No matter which side you're on, the
answers will surprise you.
END Ad Text Reprint
And talking about it. At
least about how it's a "very combative" interview.
Here's an item from Peter Johnson's "Inside TV" column in
Tuesday's USA Today:
DIANE'S CHAT: "For me, it was the
first time to get a sense of who he really is," ABC's Diane Sawyer
said Monday, after spending three "very combative and very
engaged" hours Saturday with independent counsel Ken Starr for
Wednesday's 20/20. Although "people will be surprised that he
laughs," she said, "you get a sense of the life of a man who
planned the prom, but didn't go because his religious upbringing forbade
dancing." Sawyer promises "big surprises about how revealing he
is personally, about the colliding forces of a prosecutor who says he is
doing his job and a political environment which says, 'Stop.' I think
people will come away with a lot clearer sense of what the core debate is.
We all sit around dinner tables and argue this endlessly. One of the
things he's doing is saying, 'Just stop with me for a minute and examine
how I saw my job.'"
He laughs? Wow. Why
would anyone but a Starr hater be "surprised" that he
laughs"? Well, I guess those who accepted the mean-spirited, hateful
media caricature of him would surprised.
It looks like the
interview will match the ad, at least based upon the excerpts featured on
the abcnews.com Web site. While Starr gets time to forward his
perspective, a fresh view for network news watchers, the focus of the
interview seems to be on making Starr respond to his critics. Sawyer
presses Starr with questions from the Clinton camp's side which sees the
whole thing as an invasion of a personal life, not an investigation of a
public misdeeds and deceit. She emphasizes personalities, not the law, as
if Starr's sexual habits or whether he understands "human
frailties" should have any relation to whether President Clinton
should answer for committing perjury and lying to the public and then
covering up both for months.
Here are some highlights of the excerpts from the Web
page, which ABC unusually posted in advance because, I suspect, they
realized the Thursday holiday would have suppressed any publicity for
their scoop unless they got the story out on Tuesday for Wednesday's
papers. (November 25 is the last night of the November sweeps, which
explains why ABC is airing such an exclusive on a pre-holiday night.)
-- Sawyer: "As you
know, you have been cast in the role of a moral crusader in an ambiguous
world; that you are self-righteous, sanctimonious; that you have moral
certainties into areas where other people have doubt and humanity. What do
you think about extramarital sex?"
-- Sawyer, probably
referring to the collective wisdom in the ABC newsroom: "I cannot
tell you how many people have said to me, 'Ask him. Ask him about his
life.' Do I have a right to ask you about your sex life?"....
Sawyer's follow-up: "Because, again, people,
people wonder if
you understand human frailty."
-- Sawyer: "So to
the people who say you're a prude, you're a puritan, you're the sex
police, you say what?"
-- Sawyer in the only
question James Carville would have rejected: "If, if Bill Clinton is
allowed to get away with this, will the American legal system be cracked,
-- Sawyer: "Linda
Tripp, Linda Tripp leaving your office and going home and talking to Paula
Jones' attorneys that night, I mean, at the very least, is this control of
Starr: "I think we could have had better control
Sawyer: "Should have?"
Starr: "Yeah. In fact, I think in retrospect, it
would have been a better thing to have said [cut off by Sawyer]"
Sawyer: "You really had no idea that she was
-- Sawyer: "By
somebody's account, I think there were 62 mentions of the word breast, 23
of cigar, 19 of semen, and that there is a way of summarizing these things
and talking about the dates and the times."
Sawyer: "I mean, this has been called demented
pornography, pornography for puritans. Were there mistakes made in
including some of this?"....
Sawyer's follow-up: "But looking back. You
wouldn't take out a word of this?"
To read the entire set
of excerpts posted by ABC News, go to:
installment of CNN's Cold War series promises another episode from the
perspective that "fear" drove the Cold War. In this case,
threats and fear from the United States which then almost caused nuclear
annihilation in response. Here's the promo text, from the cnn.com/coldwar
Web page, for the episode titled "Cuba, 1959-62."
"Threatened by U.S.
missiles near its borders, the Soviet Union plans to retaliate by placing
short-and medium-range missiles in Cuba. Fearful of another U.S.-backed
invasion, Cuban President Fidel Castro agrees. But when the United States
discovers the missile sites, the world teeters on the brink of World War
This episode will air
Sunday night, November 29 at 8pm and 12am (technically Monday morning) ET,
that's 5pm and 9pm PT.
For more on the slant of
the series, check two previous CyberAlerts. First, a summary
of a story on FNC critical of the series:
Second, excerpts of a New Republic story which focused
CNN's moral equivalence:
research for MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell's syndicated column condemning
60 Minutes for showing Kevorkian's video, the MRC's Tim Graham recalled
quite a contrast in how CBS News reacted in 1992 to a candidate who showed
aborted fetuses in a campaign ad.
Here's an excerpt from the Bozell column:
So if CBS is in the game of presenting
heinous video in the service of "socially useful" causes, has
this network ever aired footage of one of the 37-million-plus legal
abortions in the United States? Actually, when a congressional candidate
presented a campaign ad in April of 1992 showing grotesque footage of
murdered babies, CBS was there -- to condemn it on their evening news
Reporter Wyatt Andrews fulminated:
"Michael Bailey, an anti-abortion candidate for Congress in Indiana
today began airing what cold be the most tasteless ad ever shown on
television. What's more, he's a candidate, protected against
censorship, no one can stop him." But CBS did stop him: they covered
up the pictures with a big gray screen. Andrews concluded: "TV
stations in Indianapolis and Louisville are questioning whether Bailey is
abusing the law, whether under FCC rules, any zealot with a candidate's
filing fee can put anything on TV...Tastelessness in television may not be
new, but this case is unique."
To read the whole
column, go to the MRC home page where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted
it. Or, you can jump directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/columns/news/col19981124.html
I wish everyone a Happy
Thanksgiving with your family and
friends. -- Brent Baker
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