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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
 Tuesday December 29, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 205) 


Starr: "Flynt with Subpoena Power"; "A Legislative Coup d'etat"; GOP McCarthyism

1) Margaret Carlson impugned Ken Starr as Larry "Flynt with subpoena power." Al Hunt denounced the "extraordinary hypocrisy" of those who voted to impeach Clinton but opposed punishing Gingrich.

2) "Is Mr. Flynt, in effect, doing the work of the Christian Right, here?" So asked ABC's Cynthia McFadden on GMA.

3) Led by the "repulsive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife," Geraldo Rivera charged, conservatives enacted "a legislative coup d'etat" as part of their "pathologically ideological movement to oust our very popular and effective President."

4) MSNBC's Brian Williams lamented that a liberal Democrat's invoking of the rallying cry against McCarthyism to condemn Republicans didn't generate more publicity.

5) The networks are now ignoring the sexual assault charge against Clinton alluded to by Tom DeLay, but they highlighted it in March.

6) Margaret Carlson's Neighborhood: Everyone discussed global warming as they put up their Christmas lights. No kidding.

>>> "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Go to http://www.mrc.org and click on the "Best of NQ" button, or go directly to the Best of NQ page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq1998.html. Either way, you'll find both: a) The Print Edition sent to subscribers. The annual special 8-page version of Notable Quotables with award winners and runners-up in 14 categories as judged by a panel of 50 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and other leading media observers who generously gave of their time. Web Bonus: RealPlayer video and audio clips of the biased quotes from television. Don't just read the bias -- hear and see it too. b) Special Web Edition. See which quotes visitors to the MRC Web site voted as the most biased of the year. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Holiday or not, you can always count on Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt to deliver the liberal view. For the "Outrage of the Year" Time's Carlson impugned Ken Starr as Larry "Flynt with subpoena power and a grand jury" and the Wall Street Journal's Hunt denounced the "extraordinary hypocrisy" of those who voted to impeach Clinton but had opposed punishing Newt Gingrich.

     At the end of CNN's Capital Gang on December 26 Margaret Carlson declared:
     "Adultery as a killer issue will haunt politics for years to come. Now we have Larry Flynt following on the heels of the tabloids, the press and Ken Starr. What's kept Clinton in office is partly the fear of Starr, who's Flynt with subpoena power and a grand jury. People don't want their government going into a person's sex life, no matter how reprehensible. Sticking with marriage is the right thing to do but not because Larry Flynt or the government is waiting to humiliate you if you don't."

     Al Hunt then offered his Outrage of the Year:
     "Twenty-five House Republicans and one House Democrat who voted to impeach the president all piously proclaimed their indignation over Clinton's lies. What makes these members, the most prominent is House GOP Whip Tom DeLay, noteworthy is that at the start of this Congress, all 26 voted against any punishment for Newt Gingrich, who, of course, was found by a special counsel to have lied. With the history and stakes so large, this is extraordinary hypocrisy, even in this town."

     Of course, applying the same reasoning means that all the Democrats and Republicans who voted to punish Gingrich but voted no on the impeachment articles are also hypocrites. But that's not the kind of hypocrisy Hunt cares about. And that's "extraordinary hypocrisy."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Complementing Carlson's theory that Larry Flynt is just following through on Ken Starr's work, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that last week on ABC's Good Morning America substitute host Cynthia McFadden kept arguing that Flynt is doing what the Christian Right wants by outing adulterers. McFadden missed the fact that the Christian Right hasn't outed anybody.

     Interviewing Jerry Falwell on December 22, she pressed:
     -- McFadden: "Reverend Falwell, is Mr. Flynt, in effect, doing the work of the Christian Right, here?"
     -- McFadden: "So Mr. Falwell, Reverend Falwell, do you approve or disapprove of the revealing? Mr. Flynt says there are 11, 12, maybe more to go."
     Falwell: "Well, of course I disapprove of investigating personal lives and destroying families, and so forth, but I even more..."
     McFadden, cuts in: "But isn't that the kind of moralistic, I mean, isn't that what the Christian Right wants, a higher standard?"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Geraldo Rivera of NBC News. Over the past few months a few CyberAlert readers have asked why I cite comments from Rivera when he's a known liberal advocate with a talk show, not a newsman. His appearance on Today last week explains my reasoning. Rivera is a member of the NBC News team that NBC News shows off.

     The Tuesday, December 22 show featured a discussion between the pro-Clinton Rivera, who had "NBC News" beneath his name on screen, and G. Gordon Liddy, properly identified as a "radio talk show host." As with shows such as Capital Gang and the McLaughlin Group, the liberal advocate is part of the mainstream media.

     Far from pretending to be fair, Rivera's staff boasts of his slant. In the December 28 New York Post columnist Adam Buckman looked at Roger Clinton's appearance the week before on CNBC's Rivera Live. Quoting the show's Senior Producer, Steve North, Buckman relayed: "He requested to appear on Rivera Live because of his long relationship with the program and because host Geraldo Rivera 'has been the President's most vocal supporter,' North said."

     On Today, Rivera charged that with the help of the "repulsive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife," conservatives enacted "a legislative coup d'etat" as part of their "pathologically ideological movement to oust our very popular and effective President." He added that "the GOP has now been kidnaped by the hard right" and he told Liddy: "I compare you to Susan McDougall. I think you're both people of great principle, however quirky."

     Here are some excerpts of his December 22 appearance with Liddy as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake:

     -- Today co-host Matt Lauer to Rivera: "Hey Geraldo. I want you to set this up for me. Tell me what this is cultural war is supposed to be about, and why it has had such a direct impact upon what is going with the President for the past year?"
     Rivera: "Tom DeLay, Bob Barr, the reclusive and repulsive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife: to them, Bill Clinton represents everything evil in the world -- a baby boomer, a guy who may or may not have smoked dope, a guy who avoided the draft in Vietnam, a man who once he began his presidency was very clear about his position on reproductive rights for women, pro-choice, gays in the military. These are the things that make the hair on G. Gordon Liddy's head stand straight up. They wanted him impeached really from the moment he was born. Bob Barr, in fact, introduced a resolution of impeachment in November before any of us ever heard of it or Luicanne Goldberg or even Monica Lewinsky."

     -- Lauer's next question: "So what you're saying is that they're going after him because what he represents, not actually what he did?"
     Rivera: "I absolutely believe that, Matt. I believe that if it were someone else they would not nearly have the spirit. It would not nearly be this bitterly partisan, you know, driving these people forward. I had Alan Dershowitz on the program, one of the regulars, along with the Reverend Jerry Falwell and Alan was cross-examining Jerry, and it came out the Reverend Falwell basically has hated Bill Clinton since 1980 when it became clear that he was for choice in terms of the abortion issue. I think that underlies everything we are seeing here. It is an ideological, a pathologically ideological movement to oust our very popular and effective President."

     -- Rivera to Liddy, declaring a legislative coup d'etat: "That was the party with the slender majority and two weeks to live that impeached the man because they could. It was a spiteful action, an action that they performed absolutely in violation of the framers' intent. It was a legislative coup d'etat, and it has been rejected utterly by the American people, 73 percent of whom now say they approve of the President's performance in office."

     -- After denigrating Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg as "the snitches, the rats," Rivera compared Liddy to Susan McDougall: "You didn't say anything because you didn't want to be a snitch. You didn't want to take down the boss who sent you on a serial felony mission to sabotage the opposition. That's why you didn't testify. That's to your credit. I compare you to Susan McDougall. I think you're both people of great principle, however quirky."

     -- Rivera's final shot: "In my view, the GOP has now been kidnaped by the hard right. What you saw with, here was Amo Houghton, the scion of a wealthy family, an aristocrat who's been a congressman for a long time from the Western district. He now, for the first time, has a primary opponent because he stood for the President. This Republican Congressman, this moderate, this Rockefeller Republican now has a primary opponent who's a fundamentalist minister. That's the threat that kept the Republicans in line. That is now the party that has kidnaped the GOP. It's the hard right, the religious conservatives. There's no more coalition Republican. It's just an ideological war now."

     As if he and the other Clintonistas never made it ideological by making war on the "vast right-wing conspiracy."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) NBC's Brian Williams was disappointed that a liberal Democrat's invoking of the rallying cry against McCarthyism didn't generate more traction. Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, alerted me to a question Williams posed to the Judiciary Committee's Democratic counsel Abbe Lowell on December 21. On MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, referring to Democrat Robert Wexler, Williams lamented:
     "This has been called the era when nothing truly matters. Nothing breaks through. It all ends up sounding the same. And when a certain Congressman from Florida said during the debate Saturday, 'have you no sense of decency, sir,' using the same quote as what ended, in a lot of people's minds the McCarthy era, it didn't get through because it wasn't heard because it was at the same volume as everything else."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Clinton and rape. The networks may be ignoring the story now, but they did cover it back in March.

     Chris Matthews suggested on a special Saturday Hardball on December 19 that never-released evidence about a charge of sexual assault against Bill Clinton is what convinced many moderate Republicans to back impeachment, fueling discussion on talk radio shows, including Sean Hannity filling in for Rush Limbaugh on December 21 and 23. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay stoked the speculation when he urged on December 23: "Before people look to cut a deal with the White House or their surrogates who will seek to influence the process, it is my hope that one would spend plenty of time in the evidence room. If this were to happen, you may realize that 67 votes may appear out of thin air. If you don't, you may wish you had before rushing to judgment." The White House denounced him while the Washington Post and New York Times on December 24 suggested he was referring to the case of "Jane Doe #5."

     While at least some of the networks cited DeLay's comment on their December 23 evening shows, on December 24 the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows failed to pick up on the simmering feud between DeLay and the White House, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reported to me.

     But despite any current consternation over the appropriateness of reporting the sexual assault allegation, the networks did report on it back in March when first raised by lawyers for Paula Jones. To "refresh your recollections" of the specifics, here's an excerpt from the Monday March 30, 1998 CyberAlert:

The networks all ran stories Saturday and Sunday night about the Paula Jones court filing complaining about how the Clinton team suppressed the Willey letters and citing a woman who Clinton supposedly assaulted in 1978.

On Saturday night NBC's Lisa Myers took the assault charge seriously, detailing how the incident became public, citing the woman's name and running soundbites from the man whose knowledge the Jones lawyers cited. She even added supporting evidence from another contemporary witness. ABC, in contrast, referred to the woman only as "Jane Doe #5" as Linda Douglass emphasized the lack of credibility of those making the charge, dismissing them as Clinton enemies. Sunday night ABC again punctuated the weakness of the charge instead of exploring it as CBS also framed the story around White House outrage....

Saturday, March 28. (NCAA basketball meant no CBS Evening News.) On ABC's World News Tonight Saturday anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced:
"A court document filed for lawyers for Paula Jones is making news today. It was filed after the President's lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the case. The documents from Jones's lawyers contain new allegations which show just how ugly this case is getting."...

Douglass proceeded to the "ugly" charge: "But Jones's lawyers didn't stop at obstruction of justice. They also claim to have 'significant evidence' which suggests Mr. Clinton 'sexually assaulted' a woman, Jane Doe #5, twenty years ago. But the main evidence they produced was a second-hand account from a man named Phil Yoakum, who says in a letter that Jane Doe #5 told him about the alleged assault. Yoakum says his account can be corroborated by Sheffield Nelson, a Republican who is Mr. Clinton's arch-enemy in Arkansas. Legal sources tell ABC News that Jane Doe #5 told Jones lawyers under oath that the incident did not happen, but the lawyers did not include her denial in their court papers today. The President's lawyer called the Jane Doe #5 allegations 'reckless and outrageous,' a sign he said that Jones's lawyers are becoming desperate. The judge in the Jones case is expected to rule on the President's motion to dismiss the case in the next several weeks."

NBC's Lisa Myers provided a more complete overview of the charge so viewers could decide for themselves its credibility. On NBC Nightly News she began: "The explosive new allegation tonight is that President Clinton sexually assaulted a woman twenty years ago in Arkansas..."

After noting that Clinton was Attorney General at the time he supposedly forced himself upon campaign worker Juanita Broaddrick, Myers relayed: "In court documents today Jones's lawyers claim Clinton quote 'forcible raped and sexually assaulted' then quote 'bribed and intimidated her' to remain silent."

Broaddrick has denied the charge under oath, Myers noted, before continuing: "NBC News has talked to four people from Arkansas who say Broaddrick told them of such an assault years ago..."

Specifically, she told Phillip Yoakum. Myers explained:
"In an interview with NBC News Yoakum said Broaddrick told him that Clinton invited himself to her hotel room, allegedly to discuss her nursing home business. She told you in 1981 that Bill Clinton assaulted her?"
Yoakum: "Yes, 1981 is when she told me."
Myers: "Did you believe her at the time?"
Yoakum: "I believed her."
Myers: "Yoakum admits he is no fan of the President and that he unsuccessfully tried to get Broaddrick to publicly tell her story when Bill Clinton first ran for President."
Yoakum: "And she says who would believe me..."
Myers: "There was another woman at that hotel that day, a nurse and friend of Broaddrick who says she iced her friend's face after the alleged assault. In a telephone interview with NBC News, this woman, who admits she dislikes Clinton, said Broaddrick was 'distraught,' her 'lips were swollen, at least double in size.' She told me they had 'intercourse against her will.'"

Sunday, March 29. ABC and NBC only gave the assault charge a couple of sentences while CBS, which did not have a Saturday newscast, gave it a bit more time....

On the CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson first went to the "gross suppression of evidence" charged by Jones. Then she jumped to the assault charge, but she provided none of the details relayed by NBC and led with White House denials instead of explaining the allegation:

"...The White House describes as outrageous and false other allegations in the new Jones documents -- unsubstantiated claims that Bill Clinton raped a woman back in 1978 when he was Arkansas's Attorney General, then suppressed her story through bribes and/or threats. Outraged Clinton defenders say the woman is on the record denying that it ever happened."

After a soundbite from Torricelli, Attkisson delivered this less than definitive conclusion:
"And adding to the confusion, when we asked the woman's attorney about the rape allegation he told CBS News, quote 'we do not deny it, we do not admit it. People will have to judge this kind of crock on their own,' end quote. But with overlapping investigations and sealed documents that will be hard to do."

END Excerpt


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Margaret Carlson's strange neighborhood, somewhere in the Washington, DC area. Asked on the December 26 Capital Gang to name her "sleeper issue for the new year," Time's Margaret Carlson replied:
     "On December 5th, everyone in my neighborhood went out to decorate for Christmas and the word was global warming. No longer a joke of Jay Leno's, global warming will be an issue, a real one."

     Does she live in a neighborhood full of EPA bureaucrats and Al Gore groupies? Or maybe just one dominated by liberal journalists. -- Brent Baker

To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: mrc-cyber-request@list.us.net. Put "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" in the BODY of the message, NOT in the subject line. Problems and comments can be addressed to: cybercomment@mrc.org  -- Brent Baker


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