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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday January 4, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 1)
"Right-Wing Nuts" Employ "McCarthyism"; Spend More; China Tanked

1) Al Hunt and Evan Thomas impugn House conservatives for McCarthyism. Thomas accused "real right-wing nuts in the House" of threatening "extortion" over a discredited charge against Clinton.

2) CNN's Wolf Blitzer bemoaned how "even though the Cold War is over," Clinton wants more money for defense, "money that could go for education...health care...improving the cities."

3) The House report about how U.S. technology transfers have boosted Chinese missile capabilities, skipped by NBC's Today.

4) The third runner-up quotes in "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

5) Eleanor Clift's Best Idea of '98: "compassionate conservatism" practiced by "smart Republican Governors."

>>> Check out some of the editorials and columns about the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 1998. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has created a page of links to some of the coverage for the awards issue of Notables Quotables. Already online: Year-end editorials in the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle, The Union Leader (of Manchester, NH) and the New York Post. Go to the MRC home page, click on the Best of NQ button and then choose "media coverage" under "Printed Edition," or go directly to the links: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/best/1998nqmediacoverage.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) "Great" media minds think alike. Or, when in doubt, accuse conservatives of McCarthyism. Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt and Newsweek's Evan Thomas both accused House conservatives of McCarthyism for suggesting that Senators check all the evidence collected by Ken Starr's staff.

     -- On CNN's Capital Gang on January 2 Al Hunt denounced House Majority Whip Tom DeLay:
     "A speedy, real trial, without any of the muck, the euphemism that they now use, is also impossible, especially with right-wingers like Tom DeLay waving the bloody shirt about an alleged incident that took place 20 years ago. Clinton's behavior is disgraceful, but there's McCarthyism run amuck with some of this stuff."

     -- Over on Inside Washington aired on PBS stations outside of Washington, DC, Newsweek's former Washington Bureau Chief and current AME, Evan Thomas, engaged in this exchange with host Gordon Peterson.
     Thomas: "Lurking beneath all this is the threat of essentially extortion. The real right-wing nuts in the House have got this secret evidence about an unwanted sexual advance that they want to make everybody look at and they are threatening, not too subtly, that if you don't have a trial we're going to make this stuff public. We looked at this, it's...[cut off]
     Peterson: "What is the secret evidence?"
     Thomas: "It's twenty years ago, it's ambiguous, it really doesn't add up. You notice it's not in the articles of impeachment."
     Peterson: "Does it rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors?"
     Thomas: "It rises to a level of McCarthyism, really. But to go back to what Jack is saying about whether the religious right and the right wing groups will force a trial, this is part of the game plan of at least some of them, to paint Clinton as such an immoral guy that you have to have a trial. I don't know whether this extortion plan's going to work, but it's simmering below the surface."

     Instead of impugning DeLay and other Republicans maybe Hunt and Thomas should look closer to home. Few would know about this supposedly disreputable charge if the networks didn't cover it. As the December 29 CyberAlert detailed, last March the three broadcast networks all ran stories on the incident from when Clinton was Attorney General. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981229.html#5


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Hitting Clinton....from the left. CNN's Wolf Blitzer delivered an excellent example of how the mainstream media, which press Republican Presidents from the left for being too conservative, also push Democrats from the left. On Sunday's Late Edition Blitzer interviewed Clinton's OMB Director, Jack Lew.

     After establishing that Clinton will soon propose some tax cuts, Blitzer posed the standard liberal question about who will "pay" for them:
     "Now who's going to pay for all of this, the $110 billion increase in defense spending which you unveiled over the weekend, the President did in his radio address, this new tax cut that you're unveiling today for tax credits to take care of elderly parents or whatever, where's this money coming from?"

     Unsatisfied with Lew's answer about frugality and priorities, Blitzer launched a liberal spiel about the need for more government spending in other areas, implying more defense spending is unwise:
     "But when you propose a hundred billion dollars in additional spending for the Pentagon, even though the Cold War is over with, that is money that could go for education, could go for health care, could go for improving the cities, agriculture, environment. That's money that's now going to go for defense spending. So where is the money going to come from?"

     Note that Blitzer not care who would "pay" for all his spending on education and "improving cities."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Even less interest in China in the morning. As documented in the December 31 CyberAlert, the December 30 ABC and NBC evening shows rationed only a few seconds to a bi-partisan congressional committee report on how technology transfers to China have harmed national security. ABC's World News Tonight gave it 22 seconds and NBC Nightly News just 26 seconds.

     The next morning the two networks allocated even less, even though the December 31 New York Times "advanced" the story by revealing the secret parts of the report charged China with espionage to learn how to build a neutron bomb. NBC's Today, which devoted its first half hour to three straight interviews about trends for 1999, aired zilch while ABC's Good Morning America allowed 17 seconds for this item read by news reader Juju Chang during the 8am update:
     "A congressional committee has concluded that U.S. national security was compromised by technology deals with China. According to the New York Times, investigators found that over two decades China stole some top military secrets from U.S. laboratories. China, however, is sharply criticizing the report."

     During the 7:30 half hour both shows looked ahead to the next century, but couldn't get their basic facts straight. Introducing two guests to talk about trends for 1999, ABC's Kevin Newman listed some 1990s trends and told viewers if they haven't adopted them yet, "You only have one more year left to join the 20th Century." Introducing the creator of the everything2000.com Web site, on Today Matt Lauer asserted: "While you may be preparing for a New Year's Eve celebration tonight, many people are already making plans for next year. That, of course, is the eve of the new millennium."

     That, of course, is not. If you listen to these two you'll be a year early since the 20th Century does not end until December 31, 2000.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Here are the third runner-up quotes in 14 award categories in "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." (The December 28 CyberAlert ran the winning quotes, the December 30 edition the first runners-up and the December 31 issue the second runners-up.) To pick the winners and runners-up the MRC sent ballots to 50 media observers who picked a first, second and third best quote in each category. First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices got two points and third place picks were assigned one point. Point totals are listed after each quote. For the list of judges, see the December 28 CyberAlert or go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/best/nq1998best.html

     To read all the quotes and see and hear the broadcast television ones via RealPlayer as compiled by MRC research associate Kristina Sewell and Webmaster Sean Henry, go to the same address: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/best/nq1998best.html
To check which quotes visitors to the MRC Web page picked and to see the entire ballot, go to: http://www.mrc.org/bestofnq1998.html and click on "Special Web Edition."

     Below is the third runner-up in the "Quote of the Year," followed by the fourth place quotes in the "Presidential Kneepad Award (for Best Lewinsky Impression)" through the "Carve Clinton into Mt. Rushmore Award" with "The Everybody But Us Shut Up Award (for Promoting Campaign Finance Reform)" amongst those in between.

Quote of the Year -- Third runner-up

"But, do you give the President at least a little, not credit, but a little sympathy, when you read details like snapping the straps of a thong underwear, her thong underwear to entice him, asking for a job. Do you think that it mitigates our view of the President in any way?"
-- Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee describing Monica Lewinsky's testimony to conservative columnist Betsy Hart, September 17. [33 points]

Presidential Kneepad Award (for Best Lewinsky Impression) -- Third runner-up

"Who has ever been punished more for adultery in this country? I mean, you have to go to Saudi Arabia to see people shamed the way the President was. And I think it was nobody's business." -- Time's Margaret Carlson on NBC's Today, August 19. [44 points]

Wired Wicked Witch Award (for Loathing Linda Tripp) -- Third runner-up

"Hello, good evening and welcome back to Hell. Can we renounce our citizenships for like only 24 hours? This thought before we begin: For months, William Howard Ginsburg took shot after shot on this program and others for some of his legal strategy. But throughout his stewardship of the Monica Lewinsky defense we praised him here for at least one noble constant: He never let us even hear his client's voice. God, do we miss him tonight. Okay, one of them will read the part of the irresponsible adolescent, the other will narrate the lines of the pathetic, self-destroying, older loser and you and I will be Polonius hiding ourselves behind the arras." -- MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opening the Big Show, November 17. [36 points]

Hallucinating Hillary Award (for Promoting the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) -- Third runner-up

"Hillary Clinton linked Starr to a conspiracy that has even suggested the President was involved in the murder of a former campaign worker....It is Starr's past and continuing connections with very conservative organizations and causes that have brought him into the cross hairs of the First Family. As their evidence they point to his very appointment as independent counsel by a three judge panel headed by Judge David Sentelle, who is a close ally of ultraconservative North Carolina Senators Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth...."
-- Correspondent Phil Jones on the CBS Evening News, January 27. [40 points]

Corporal Cueball Carville Cadet Award (for Hating Ken Starr) -- Third runner-up

"Anyone of us could be investigated like this and we would be able to keep no secrets about love or sex or money - no secrets about anything. If this reminds you of George Orwell's novel, 1984, it should. The government in that book poked and pried everywhere. Its slogan was 'Big Brother Is Watching You.' And with the aid of the thought police, he was. Welcome to Orwell's world."
-- CNN's Bruce Morton on Late Edition, October 11. [45 points]

Steve Brill Media Masochism Award (for Bemoaning Monicagate's Impact on Clinton) -- Third runner-up

"There is something about this story, this presidency, that has led the media to almost obliterate the standards of decency that were built up for so many years."
-- Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz on CNN's January 28 special Media Madness? [43 points]

Media McCarthyism Award (for Tying Conservatives to Murder) -- Third runner-up

"Then the fallout from the death of Matthew Shepard. The tragic beating of the college student in Wyoming has some activists in this country saying there is a climate of anti-gay hate that's been fostered by a provocative advertising campaign by the political right in this country. We're going to get into that debate after news and weather."
-- Today co-host Katie Couric opening the October 13 show. [38 points]

The Everybody But Us Shut Up Award (for Promoting Campaign Finance Reform) -- Third runner-up

"The Senate has effectively killed political campaign finance reform for the foreseeable future, which means that even though a majority of Senators declared themselves in favor of trying to change the way politicians raise and spend money, there were not enough votes to end a Republican filibuster. Together the Senate and the House of Representatives spent more than $9 million dollars to hold more than 30 days of hearings on how to change the rules, and even though so many Americans believe that money is more important to the process than their vote -- which is not a pretty picture -- and though many, many politicians believe the system is flawed, they will not be fixing it, just yet."
-- ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, February 26 World News Tonight. [27 points]

Starr Behind Bars Award -- Third runner-up

"Starr has stood Watergate on its head. It is not the President who is doing the taping; it is the prosecutor. It is not the President who is assembling the dossiers and leaking dirt on the intimate practices of an ideological opponent; it is the prosecutor. It is not the President who is involved in the politically motivated abuse of power; it is the politically motivated counsel. It is not the President who is insufficiently accountable; it is the prosecutor."
-- U.S. News Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman, April 6. [47 points]

Good Morning Morons Award (for Foolishness in the Morning) -- Third runner-up

"Thirty seconds, but I want to get this in: Janet Reno, ninety-day investigation to look into whether a special prosecutor should be appointed for this campaign finance thing. Is that a big problem for the President? Has he done anything that anybody else wouldn't have done?"
-- ABC's Lisa McRee to Cokie Roberts, September 9 Good Morning America. [43 points]

Move Over Buddy Award (for Geraldo Rivera's Pro-Clinton Lapdoggery) -- Third runner-up

"I thought that Linda Tripp now takes her place in the Hall of Infamy as a betrayer of the order of Benedict Arnold in the, in the, at least in the love '90s...I think anybody who wrapped themselves around Linda Tripp and her tapes is now soiled. You felt the need to take a shower. What that woman did to her young friend is beyond the pale. I think it's much worse than anything Bill Clinton did."
-- Rivera as a guest expert on NBC's Today, November 18. [39 points]

Damn Those Conservatives Award -- Third runner-up

"I'm happy about Fritz [Hollings]. He's a crusty old coot, the kind you don't really see in Congress any more. Faircloth is a sort of more recent edition. He's a member of the hater branch of the North Carolina Republican Party, so good riddance to him."
-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, November 7 Inside Washington. [43 points]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis) -- Third runner-up

"Ken Starr and his people have been working for three to four years, spent more than $30 million, they've used dozens if not a hundred or so FBI agents. They may have turned this up, whether you had the Paula Jones case or not. But again maybe not, but again that's like if a frog had side pockets he'd probably wear a handgun. It didn't happen that way."
-- Dan Rather, Feb. 5 Late Show with David Letterman. [41 points]

Carve Clinton into Mt. Rushmore Award -- Third runner-up

Dan Rather: "President Clinton today proposed a centerpiece of his policy agenda: federal help for working parents who need safe and affordable child care...."

Scott Pelley: "The President was raised by a single mother who left him with his grandparents when she went off to school. Today, Mr. Clinton proposed what may be the largest increase in child care funding in the nation's history."
-- Opening of a January 7 CBS Evening News story (though Clinton survived unregulated care by a relative.) [32 points]


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) From the McLaughlin Group's 1998 Year-End Awards as announced on the show distributed over the New Year's weekend, Eleanor Clift's selection in the "Best Idea of '98" category:
     "Compassionate conservatism practiced by Texas Governor George W. Bush and other smart Republican Governors."

     Anything that earns Clift's praise should give conservatives pause. -- Brent Baker



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