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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday December 11, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 197)

Public Backlash Coming; "Psalm-Singing Zealots"; Today Troubled; Carlson Hit by Car

1) FNC disclosed eight Democrats back impeachment while NBC warned those who vote yes risk "potential backlash from a public suddenly awakened by an impeachment they say they don't want."

2) Geraldo Rivera prompted someone who favors impeachment to denounce Republicans as "a bunch of psalm-singing religious zealots."

3) If no censure vote is allowed, Geraldo Rivera shouted, then "They have used a procedural device to steal from you your right to be democratically represented on the floor of the House of Representatives! They have stolen that from you!"

4) Airing a softball, holiday-themed segment with the Clintons put Today in "a weird position," conceded the show's Executive Producer.

5) Margaret Carlson hit by a car, but it won't stop her liberal advocacy on CNN's Capital Gang or in Time magazine.

>>> "Ken Starr Might Have Thought Twice About An Interview If He Knew ABC Host's Body of Work: Diane Sawyer's Judgment of the 'Judgmental.'" In the latest Media Reality Check fax report, now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry, the MRC's Tim Graham compares how Sawyer treated Starr to her much more sympathetic approach to Barney Frank, Susan McDougal, the Menendez brothers and even Fidel Castro. Go to: http://www.mrc.org or: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1998/fax19981210.html <<<

>>> Time is running out. Where's your ballot? Join the over 600 people so far who have cast their ballot as a judge for the special Web edition of "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Just go to our home page to make your picks. And for sharing your choices, you'll get a "Don't Believe the Liberal Media" magnet. Balloting is open until 9am ET on Tuesday. To vote, click on the "Best of NQ" button at http://www.mrc.org. Or, go directly to the sign-up page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/nqbest/nq1998signupa.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) C-SPAN stayed with the opening statements from House Judiciary Committee members until they ended for the day at around 9:30pm ET, but CNN and MSNBC had cut out much earlier, at 6:30pm ET, to return to regular programming. FNC stuck with the hearings most of the time to the end, interrupted for some discussion amongst Brit Hume, Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke as well as updates from FNC reporters. At one point, FNC's Carl Cameron uniquely informed Hume that Dick Gephardt's team had been told that eight Democrats will vote for impeachment, about double the expected number.

     CNN again devoted most of the 8pm ET The World Today to the impeachment situation and ran a special at 10pm ET which featured long excerpts from the Abbe Lowell and David Schippers presentations.

     The broadcast network evening shows all led with the day's developments as each anchor stressed how impeachment is becoming a real possibility. Only ABC's Jackie Judd explained Schippers' contention that only the DNA on the dress ended Clinton's lying about his relationship. And only NBC's David Bloom fully illustrated Schippers' point that Clinton was paying close attention when his lawyer insisted there was "absolutely no sex of any kind" with Lewinsky. NBC also focused on how the public is not paying attention, but Republicans could soon be hurt by a "potential backlash from a public suddenly awakened by an impeachment they say they don't want."

     Here are some highlights from the Thursday, December 10 broadcast network evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
     "Good evening. The impeachment battle in the House Judiciary Committee is virtually over. Today it has been a last ditch battle between two very accomplished lawyers: one for the President and one against. There was also another videotape not seen by the public before. The Judiciary Committee is now on the eve of making a political decision the likes of which has only been made twice before."

     Linda Douglass showed highlights from minority counsel Abbe Lowell's case about how a trial will be about sex, how the lawyers in the Jones deposition were confused about the definition of sex and how Ken Starr in his House appearance repeatedly employed phrases like "I have no recollection of it."

     Jackie Judd looked at the presentation from majority counsel David Schippers, whom she described as "somber, but also caustic and cutting." She later added: "Schippers seemed barely to contain his disdain for Mr. Clinton."
     Schippers: "Life was so much simpler before they found that dress wasn't it?"
     Judd: "Meaning, Schippers said, that if the President's DNA had not been found on Lewinsky's dress he would still be lying about his relationship with her..."

     From the White House Sam Donaldson reported Clinton aides were close to embracing precise language for a Democratic censure proposal.

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather began the show:
     "Good evening. By any reasonable analysis the chances that President Clinton will be impeached by the House and face a Senate trial that could remove him from office are increasing by the hour. The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee's approval of one or more of four proposed impeachment counts is now considered a sure thing before this week is out. So sure that House Speaker Newt Gingrich today notified all House members that he's calling the full House into an impeachment session next Thursday, December 17th."

     Bob Schieffer summarized the case made by both counsels, starting with Schippers who, "in a somber voice...laid out a litany of allegations." Schieffer also played Lowell's Starr clips and showed how Schippers said Clinton paid close attention during his lawyer's assurance he and Lewinsky did not have sex, but did not illustrate with a clip as did NBC.

     From the White House Scott Pelley revealed that the President is personally lobbying members of Congress. Next, Gloria Borger added that the White House is having corporate lobbyists make the pitch to moderates that impeachment would hurt the economy, but some have been insulted by the approach so it may backfire. Finally, Phil Jones profiled Majority Whip Tom DeLay, "a political and religious conservative and proud of it."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Over a graphic which declared "On the Attack," Tom Brokaw started the broadcast with a series of run-on sentences I've tried to make somewhat grammatically correct:
     "Good evening. This day began with another spirited defense of President Clinton before the Judiciary Committee, but before too long, through the day and into the night, the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee made one withering attack after another. And they were backed up by the President's own words on videotape and in legal transcripts and in White House phone logs and the testimony of aides and friends. The chief Republican investigator said the President lied and lied until he ran out of people to lie to. After the congressional elections it did seem as if the President had dodged the impeachment arrows. Tonight it's not so clear."

     Gwen Ifill summarized the cases made by the "dueling lawyers."
From the White House David Bloom then noted Clinton's aides say he'll agree to censure. But Bloom showed the shallowness of that by playing an exchange between him and Press Secretary Joe Lockhart about what "false statement" Clinton will admit to. Lockhart wouldn't concede any.
     Bloom then illustrated a point brushed over by ABC and CBS, explaining Clinton had "claimed he hadn't been paying attention last January when his lawyer used an affidavit from Monica Lewinsky to prove there'd been no affair. The tape, Schipppers argued, shows the President listening intently."
     Audio of Bob Bennett in video of Clinton looking forward intently in the Jones deposition: "That there was absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form."
     Bloom: "The President's spokesman said tonight that while it might appear from the videotape the President was listening intently, he swears he was not and there's no proof to the contrary."

     Insert your joke here. Here's mine: I don't know of any reason not to trust Clinton's word.

avila1211.jpg (14086 bytes)     Next, Jim Avila checked in with the heartland: "It's become what many believe is irritating political white noise, practically ignored in Los Angeles."
     Tim Crowner, bar owner: "I'd say today people are showing more interest in my chicken diablo special than in this."
     Avila: "Overkill in Chicago."
     Rita Sackar, shopper: "Well, I've just had enough of it that's why I'm not watching it."
     Avila: "America shops as its President faces impeachment, a solid year of Monica, Paula and cable TV political sex talk has numbed much of America into a chorus of haven't we heard this before..."

     After showing how the topic on WGN Radio in Chicago was not impeachment but why do women wear black, Avila aired a clip of a professor making the point that normally when Congress is so out of touch with the public's view many become ex-Congressmen. Avila then concluded with this warning to those who might vote for impeachment:
     "Potential backlash from a public suddenly awakened by an impeachment they say they don't want."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Leave it to Geraldo Rivera to prompt someone who favors impeachment to denounce Republicans as "a bunch of psalm-singing religious zealots from the televangelist world."

     On Thursday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC co-host Diane Dimond was in the midst of interviewing former Republican Senator Lowell Weicker, who announced that he had decided that he would vote to impeach if he were on the House Judiciary Committee. Rivera soon jumped in, demanding: "What do you think about the people who are driving the engine of the President's impeachment? Are you proud of your former colleagues?"
     Weicker replied: "No. Never mind my former colleagues. Am I proud of the party they belong to which is dominated by a bunch of psalm-singing religious zealots from the televangelist world. No, I mean they've destroyed the party and I, that's what makes it so tough for me. Here's a man I voted for twice for President, endorsed twice for President, agree with him philosophically and yet I've got to choose between that and the rantings and ravings of a political party I think is way out of tune with this country...."

     CyberAlert normally sticks to media figures and ignores politicians, but this is too rich. Weicker is mad at conservatives for destroying the Republican Party as if he is somehow still part of it. After leaving the Senate he couldn't capture the Republican nomination for Governor in Connecticut, hardly a "psalm-singing" state, so ran and won as an independent for Governor. Then faced with a choice between Clinton and George Bush, the son of a liberal Republican Senator from his own state and hardly a "zealot," he picked the Democrat.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Geraldo Rivera turned angry Wednesday night, denouncing conservatives for taking on the President he so loves. Here are a few of his outbursts picked up by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens from the December 9 Rivera Live on CNBC:

     -- After soundbites of Lindsey Graham and Maxine Waters: "It was an incredible outburst of vitriol and venom. As the two day defense of Bill Clinton came to a close South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham revealing his utter disdain for Bill Clinton and stunning just about everyone at the House Judiciary Committee hearing by accusing the President of plotting to destroy Monica Lewinsky in a desperate bid to save himself. It was a shocking but perhaps fitting end to passionate and partisan day in which committee Republicans drew up Articles of Impeachment even before the White House counsel finished presenting his defense.
     "Hi everybody I'm Geraldo Rivera. This is it, I hold it in my hand. The working draft of four articles calling for the impeachment and removal from office of the President of the United States released just hours ago. But disgracing Bill Clinton and destroying his presidency is apparently not enough for those who wrote this document. It also calls for the additional draconian punishment of quote, 'Disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.' Meaning that Mr. Clinton who would only be 54 years old even if allowed to finish his term would be forever barred from holding any elective or appointed federal office! He could never, for example, be appointed a special envoy as Jimmy Carter has so often been. And he could not even run for Congress as the impeached and convicted Judge Alcie Hastings has successfully done. Mr. Clinton would effectively become in exile in his own land.
     "Dee Dee [Myers] do you think the severity of the punishment when the people realize just what we're talking about will turn them even more against this process?"

     -- On allowing vote on censure: "Ladies and gentlemen what I said yesterday, what I say today is the most important thing I have ever said to you. If those leaders do not allow your elected representatives the option of voting on censure or impeachment then they have robbed, they have robbed from you, make no mistake about it. They have used a procedural device to steal from you your right to be democratically represented on the floor of the House of Representatives! They have stolen that from you!"

     -- Leading into an ad break: "Impeach and destroy is our title and our focus. It is a solemn time, it is a troubling time, it's coming down, I never thought it would."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The Executive Producer of NBC's Today admitted their December 9 "interview" with the Clinton's, detailed in the December 10 CyberAlert, was pretty soft. Here's an item from Peter Johnson's Inside TV column in the December 10 USA Today:

"Everybody felt weird. This is a weird position." So said NBC's Today producer Jeff Zucker about Katie Couric's deferential White House interview Wednesday with President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. During her chat, taped Sunday, Couric gave Clinton three chances to discuss the impeachment hearings. He declined, and Couric shifted solely to softer, holiday-related fare.

Somewhat curious, since Today has hammered away at the Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal all year. But Zucker said Today was there to talk to the Clintons about the holidays, not the scandal. "I think she (Couric) was trying to be respectful. Of course, it is slightly awkward talking solely about how many wreaths and bells there are at the White House when this (the impeachment inquiry) is going on. It's a fine line."

END Story

     A "fine line" Couric and Today crossed, I'd suggest, when Couric enthused that Hillary Clinton "looks incredible. You're wearing the dress you wore on the cover of Vogue" and called the positive response the First Lady got on a trip to New York City "sort of an early Christmas gift. Are you grateful or gratified by that display of affection that you really see wherever you go now?"

     To read all of Couric's "questions" to the Clintons, check the December 10 CyberAlert story. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981210.html#3


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Margaret Carlson was hit by a car Tuesday night in Washington, but that won't stop her from attacking conservatives this Saturday on Capital Gang. The Reliable Source column in Thursday's Washington Post reported the details:

Time magazine writer and television pundit Margaret Carlson will go to Mass to give thanks for being alive, "as soon as my back stops aching."

She was hit Tuesday night by a car as she crossed Calvert Street NW en route to a dinner honoring Ireland's Nobel-winning peacemakers at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

"I was dashing across the street and the valet parker was shooting out of the driveway" during a break in traffic, she said. "I am bruised and scratched and it's a miracle I am alive," added Carlson, who was able to get up and go in to dinner. She was back at work yesterday wearing a neck brace.

"She was darting between cars in rush hour traffic in a dark area with no crosswalk" in heavy rain, said Richard Karp, President of Silver Spring-based Unipark valet parking service hired for the event. Karp said he called the police, who filed no charges against the driver.

END Excerpt

     (Conservatives my recognize the Omni Shoreham as a frequently used location for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.)

     Carlson is the second well-known liberal media figure to be hit by a car recently. CBS report Eric Engberg got hit last year. Until I heard the valet parker did it I was worried the CyberAlert subscriber list might be subpoenaed.  -- 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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