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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday January 8, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 4) 
A GOP "Coup"; ABC's Labeling; Hyde & Company: "Zealots"; CNN's Cold War Dumps on Reagan

1) In Thursday daytime coverage Dan Rather relayed the Clinton spin about how "the people's business" is getting "put aside" and suggested Republicans should be worried about being perceived as conducting a "coup" against a twice elected President.

2) As they signed the oath book, ABC issued five ideological labels for conservative Senators but avoided tagging any liberals.

3) The networks opened Thursday night by stressing both the historical import of the day and partisan rancor. All but NBC briefly noted the indictment of Julie Hiatt Steele.

4) "Aren't you also honor-bound to do what's good for the country?" ABC's Elizabeth Vargas argued in making the case to avoid a trial.

5) "Democrats believe House managers are conservative zealots, and some Republicans agree," asserted Phil Jones on the CBS Evening News.

6) Sunday's CNN Cold War will portray the U.S. in the 1960s as "a racist, warmongering nation." The American Spectator discovered a book by the producer of the series reflects disdain for Reagan's "simplistic vision of an ideological crusade against communism."

>>> "Do the Media Care About Guilt or Innocence or Just Preventing Answers to Inconvenient Questions? Selling the Spectre of 'McCarthyism.'" The latest Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry. For the fax report the MRC's Tim Graham collected some examples over the past year of members of the media denouncing conservatives for "McCarthyism" in pursuing charges against Clinton. To read the full report, go to http://www.mrc.org or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990107.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) It was a busy day Thursday for Dan Rather. So little time and so much bias to squeeze in. During just 90 minutes of live daytime coverage on January 7 Rather managed to add a partisan label to William Rehnquist, relay the Clinton spin about how "the people's business" is getting sidetracked, suggest Republicans should be worried about being perceived as conducting a "coup," and declare that by "anybody's analysis" Trent Lott is being pushed by the "harder right."

     -- Rather, as any regular CyberAlert reader knows, frequently refers to Ken Starr as the "Republican special prosecutor." So, guess what he called William Rehnquist? Just before 1:35pm ET, wrapping up CBS's live coverage of the swearing in of Senators, Rather recounted the day's events, including this item:
     "The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Republican William Rehnquist, was sworn in to preside at the Senate trial...."

     -- Minutes earlier Rather relayed the White House spin that the impeachment trial has "put aside" a "long line of the people's business." At about 1:25pm ET or so during the signing of the oath book Rather intoned, with dramatic pauses between each sentence: "The deed is done. That is, the trial has officially begun. This is life. This is real. It's happening now." He then asked Bob Schieffer:
     "Bob, is there or is there not any sense among the Senators, any talk among the Senators, that there's other very important business that needs to be attended to. Saddam Hussein has his aircraft in the air threatening U.S. fighting men and women in the military. There are questions about Social Security, what to do about health care. There's a long line of the people's business that seems to have been put aside and apparently is going to be put aside for weeks if not months now."

rather0108.jpg (16555 bytes)     -- Republicans pulling off a coup? Jumping back to CBS's 10-10:30am ET coverage of Henry Hyde reading the articles of impeachment, afterward Rather delivered this thesis to former Republican Warren Rudman:
     "Senator, when you talk to other Senators, particularly older Senators -- those who've been around for a bit -- is or is there not some concern of the public perception in some quarters, not all of them Democratic, that this is in fact a kind of effort at a quote 'coup,' that is you have a twice elected, popularly elected President of the United States and so those that you mentioned in the Republican Party who dislike him and what he stands for, having been unable to beat him at the polls have found another way to get him out of office."
     (To see a RealPlayer clip of this go to the MRC home page where Webmaster Sean Henry will place it by this paragraph in this CyberAlert when he posts it Friday morning.)

     -- Hard right. Two minutes later, the MRC's Tim Graham noticed, Rather posed this loaded question to Gloria Borger of CBS News and U.S. News:
     "What options are open to Trent Lott at this moment, keeping in mind that he is under considerable pressure from his own basic constituency, which is by anybody's analysis, the harder right part of the Republican Party?"


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Speaking of labeling. In under 30 minutes of live coverage on Thursday afternoon ABC News issued five ideological labels to conservative Senators but avoided tagging any one of several liberal Senators whose names ABC reporters announced.

     -- At 1:12pm ET, just before the Rehnquist swearing in, ABC's Linda Douglass described two groups of Senators then talking on the floor. One was made up of Republicans Slade Gorton, Fred Thompson, Connie Mack and "Senator Santorum of Pennsylvania, very conservative member, one who wants witnesses." The other group, she told viewers, was made up of Democrats Tom Daschle, John Breaux, Joseph Lieberman, and John Kerry, none of whom she labeled though Kerry is as liberal as Santorum is conservative.

     -- As Senators signed the oath book, between and during comments from ABC reporters, Peter Jennings told viewers the names of some of the Senators they were watching. After pointing out but not labeling liberal Democrats John Kerry, Herbert Kohl, Ted Kennedy, and Carl Levin, Jennings found two worth tagging and then a liberal he didn't find label-worthy:
     "Senator John McCain here of Arizona, left-hander. More right than left in his politics and intending to run for President of the United States. Senator McConnell of Kentucky, very determined conservative member of the Republican Party. Senator Mikulski of Maryland. It tells you something about how often they're in the news whether they are easily or not easily recognized..."

     -- Seconds later: "Senator Rick Santorum, one of the younger members of the Senate, Republican, very determined conservative member of the Senate. That's Senator Daschle there in the left-hand side of your picture. Behind him Senator Byrd. Senator Sarbanes of Maryland, a long time Democratic Senator just walking across the picture...."

     I guess Sarbanes isn't liberal.

     -- Just after not labeling Democrat Charles Schumer, Jennings warned viewers: "Mr. Smith of New Hampshire, also another very, very conservative Republican intending to run for the presidency..." Finally, he ended by running through the names of the last five Senators, three of whom are amongst the most far-left in the Senate: "Senator Torricelli of New Jersey that was. Senator Voinovich, Senator John Warner of Virginia, and the next one up Senator Wellstone from Minnesota and the last W, having all 100 Senators, in the brown suit there, Senator Wyden of Oregon."

     How far to the left must you be to not recognize Torricelli, Wellstone and Wyden as leaders of the Senate's left-wing faction?


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) All the networks opened their evening shows Thursday night by stressing both the historical import of the day and its solemnity as well as how partisanship has prevented agreement on how to proceed. ABC, CBS, CNN and FNC, but not NBC, all took a few seconds to note how a grand jury had indicted Julie Hiatt Steele. FNC devoted almost all of its 7pm ET Fox Report to the Senate events while CNN ran a one-hour special at 10pm ET/PT.

     To give you a flavor of the network coverage, here are the intros from the January 7 broadcast evening shows along with a few other noteworthy items:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings, who stayed in New York, began:
     "Good evening. It has been a day for the history books, the beginning of another great struggle for William Jefferson Clinton. The opening of the President's trial in the Senate was very solemn, though by tonight the mood in the capital had turned to serious rancor again over how the trial should proceed. It has been one of those rare days that people will not forget, whether they were in the Senate chamber or watching it on television."

     Jennings gave an overview of the day, Linda Douglass looked at the status of a trial plan, Sam Donaldson delivered the White House view and Jennings talked with Senator John Chaffe and then Cokie Roberts, who called it a "a very solemn occasion." Jennings then took 20 seconds to note the Steele indictment.

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened from Washington, DC:
     "Good evening on this history-making day in the nation's capital and for the nation. The impeachment trial in the Senate that Republican congressional leaders hope will remove President Clinton from office, has begun. It officially started today, but things abruptly stopped and tonight there's still no set of agreed upon rules for how this trial will proceed or even when it will proceed. CBS's Bob Schieffer reports that confusion, chaos and partisan politics surrounding a trial with great consequences for the President, the Congress and the whole country."

     Bob Schieffer reviewed the day's events and competing trial plans, Scott Pelley gave the White House view, asserting that Clinton's team made an "extraordinary offer" to accept the Starr report if no more evidence is admitted. Rather then talked with Gloria Borger, who claimed Clinton's fate is now in the hands of "34 Senate Democrats." (There are 45.) Up next, Eric Engberg ran through the differences between a regular jury and the Senate, concluding that regular juries don't worry about elections, "so keep those letters, calls and e-mails coming everyone. You're the real jury."

     Finally, Rather announced: "There are new indications tonight that special prosecutor Ken Starr is still on the job, trying to buttress the Republican's case. The grand jury investigating Kathleen Willey's claim that President Clinton made unwanted advances, indicted a friend of Willey tonight: Julie Hiatt Steele is now charged with lying and obstructing justice when she cast doubt on Willey's story."

     -- NBC Nightly News. From D.C., Tom Brokaw started the show:
     "Good evening. On a day that will be recorded in bold print in American history books -- the opening day of the Senate impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. It began today and then stalled in a continuation of the partisan combat that has characterized this scandal from the beginning. Nonetheless, it was a memorable and sobering opening day."

     Brokaw reviewed the day, Gwen Ifill checked in on the Senate's competing trial plans and David Bloom reported in from the White House. Later, for the In Depth segments, Pete Williams profiled William Rehnquist and Lisa Myers examined the Senate jury. She began: "It's one of the most unusual juries ever assembled, one that looks nothing like America: 91 percent male, 97 percent white. The only minorities: Senators Campbell, a native American, Akaka, native Hawaiian, and Inouye, Asian-American."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Avoiding a trial is what's good for the country, interim co-host Elizabeth Vargas contended on the January 7 Good Morning America. MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson caught these two exchanges with Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

     -- Elizabeth Vargas: "Senator, the Senate prides itself on being a very dignified body. Does the specter of swearing in Monica Lewinsky on the floor of the Senate and talking about sexual matters disturb you?"
     Hutchison (R-Texas): "Yes, very much."
     Vargas: "Then why do you think so many of your colleagues are reluctant to work out some kind of a deal to avoid just that?"

     -- Vargas: "You have said, Senator, that you are honor-bound to do your constitutional duty. Aren't you also honor-bound to do what's good for the country?"
     Hutchison: "Yes, absolutely."
     Vargas: "Do you think a protracted trial in the Senate and the impeachment of President Clinton is, in fact, good for the country?"


jones0108.jpg (10186 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) The House impeachment managers are a bunch of white, male, Christian "zealots" who "live in an echo chamber." And CBS News knows it because Peter King told them so.

     For Wednesday's CBS Evening News reporter Phil Jones looked at the 13 House managers. He started his January 6 piece by letting Congressman James Sensenbrenner describe how he plans to use his opening statement to make the case that Clinton's conduct is impeachable. Jones then pounced, using an eager anti-impeachment Republican as his validator.

     Jones: "Democrats believe House managers are conservative zealots, and some Republicans agree."
     Peter King: "It's a very hard core group. Some of them I have a lot of respect for, but I think on balance you're talking about a group of individuals who are very hard-nosed and determined to get Bill Clinton."
     Jones: "Indeed, the impeachment managers are strikingly alike. All 13 are white, all 13 males, all 13 Christians, all 13 lawyers. Eight have been prosecutors. Average age 52. And says Republican Congressman Peter King who voted against impeachment, they hear something he's not hearing."
     King: "They, in many cases, live in an echo chamber. They believe that everyone has as bad of an opinion of Bill Clinton as they do. And the fact is the American people don't share their opinion."
     Jones then concluded: "But the House managers are committed. As Congressman Sensenbrenner told me today, quote 'I'll be disappointed if the Senate doesn't convict.'"
     (Check the MRC home page Friday morning for a RealPlayer clip of part of this story.)

     If liberal Democrats had impeached a Republican President how likely is it CBS News would have used a conservative Democrat to tag his party's majority as a bunch of extremists?


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) CNN's Cold War is back. After a holiday break, on Sunday night it returns with part #13 on the 1960s airing at 8pm and 12am ET. Here's how the episode is plugged on the www.cnn.com/coldwar Web page:
     "Make Love, Not War: The 1960s. Western economies grow and prosper, partly fueled by the production of armaments. But young people reject their parents' affluence and the Cold War. Racial violence rocks U.S. inner cities. Rebellion, anti-war protests and rock music express the mood of a disenchanted generation."

     This episode is one that a New Republic article, cited in a previous CyberAlert, specifically highlighted. And the January American Spectator features a devastating review of a companion book by the Executive Producer of the Cold War series, a review which reveals the series will soon denigrate Ronald Reagan. First, the New Republic and then the Spectator:

     -- In the November 9, 1998 New Republic Jacob Heilbrunn wrote that CNN's series paints the Cold War "as a morally unintelligible contest between two equally dangerous superpowers, whose 'fear' of each other constantly threatened to plunge a world full of innocent bystanders into nuclear holocaust."

     On the episode to air this Sunday, Heilbrunn observed:

In "Make Love Not War," an episode written by feminist Germaine Greer, CNN trots out everyone from former Black Panther Bobby Seale to Allen Ginsberg to portray the United States in the 1960s as a racist, warmongering nation. "The cold war military buildup continued," Branagh says scornfully, but "an increasing minority were questioning the cost and effect on American life." (Apparently, that minority was able to increase despite the "smearing" of all "dissent.")

And the Soviet regime of that era? Nikita Khrushchev, according to his son Sergei, "believed that socialism had to be liberated.... It should be made more democratic." Which must be why he sent missiles to Cuba. Branagh reports that "Khrushchev believed the Soviet people would work even harder if they were freed from fear and poverty. But the cold war's pressure to rearm" -- an exogenous, abstract force that even the ruler of the Soviet Union was apparently powerless to resist -- "kept the old priority for heavy industry alive, especially in the expanding defense sector."

END Excerpt

     To read more of the New Republic critique go to the October 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981030.html#4

     To read about a FNC story on the controversy over the CNN series, go to the November 13 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981113.html#4

     -- Cold War book even more biased than the series? Or, does it preview some bias to come on the evils of Reagan and joys of Gorbachev? In the January American Spectator Joseph Shattan, a Bradley Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, reviewed Cold War: An Illustrated History, 1945-1991, a book by Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing published by Little, Brown for the bargain price of $39.95.

     Shattan opens with this reserved assessment:
     "Although Jimmy Carter has praised Ted Turner's 'deep and long-standing commitment to easing the tension and disharmony between the two superpowers, world peace, nuclear arms control, environmental quality, and global sharing of news' -- proof-positive that Turner is a horse's ass -- that is not why I am certain that Cold War, Ted Turner's 24-part, $12-million CNN documentary is an awful waste of time. Rather, I arrived at this judgment after reading the companion volume to the TV series, also called Cold War. Co-authored by Jeremy Isaacs (the British executive producer of the series) and Taylor Downing (another British filmmaker), and based on the scripts for the documentary, it is one of the shoddiest, most intellectually dishonest books I have ever come across.

     "The book's thesis is that the Cold War was almost entirely America's fault. To make their case, Isaacs and Downing ignore a vast body of evidence, and distort the rest..."

     Later, in the section excerpted below, Shattan details how the authors show disdain for Reagan, sympathy for Andropov and admiration for Gorbachev. The CNN series will get to Reagan in late March and early April. Here's the disturbing excerpt:

Which brings us to Ronald Wilson Reagan, the American President most committed to winning the Cold War, and the villain of Cold War. Isaacs and Downing find him entirely devoid of redeeming characteristics. "Reagan's world was like an old Hollywood movie; he saw things in simple terms of right and wrong, with the Communists as the bad guys and the West leading a 'crusade for freedom.'...Any conflict, anywhere in the world, was liable to be overlaid with this simplistic vision of an ideological crusade against communism."

But Reagan was worse than a simpleton; he was a friend of tyrants everywhere:
"Right-wing military juntas, despite their despicable treatment of opponents, received U.S. support. President Zia of Pakistan made it clear that, even with U.S. aid, he still wanted to develop his own nuclear weapons. Before the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982, the United States supported the Argentine generals, with their cruel record on human rights, because of their anti-Communist stance, as well as the support they gave the Contras. In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, covert U.S. aid helped arm the death squads that terrorized the countryside. America's share in the international arms trade increased during the Reagan years. All this came as a consequence of Reagan's 'noble cause' of fighting communism."

Needless to say, the democratization of Latin America that occurred during Reagan's presidency goes unremarked in Cold War.

As if such villainy weren't enough, Reagan compounded his sins by "accusing Moscow of lying, cheating, and using any means to achieve the objective of 'world revolution'; the Kremlin merely noted that the new team in Washington lacked 'political tact and courtesy.'" (Actually, Moscow went a good deal further than that, regularly comparing Reagan to Hitler and equating the United States with Nazi Germany.) Poor Kremlinites! In the face of Reagan's relentless propaganda barrage, they "had no alternative policy but to reiterate a belief in detente and strategic arms control." But the fiercely anti-communist Reagan didn't give a fig for detente, and his determination to achieve "the militarization of outer space" through SDI threatened arms control. All this came as a terrible blow to the Kremlin, and especially to its leader, Yuri Andropov. "Andropov, unwell and confined to a kidney-dialysis machine at a clinic outside Moscow, saw all his hopes for peaceful co-existence shattered."

Fortunately, Andropov's protégé, Mikhail Gorbachev, picked up his fallen sponsor's banner and eventually brought the Cold War to a peaceful end. Exactly why he did so is unclear to Isaacs and Downing, but on one point they are adamant: It had nothing to do with Ronald Reagan's policies:
"Reagan remained convinced that U.S. strength and determination had caused the Soviets to give in and had forced them to the negotiating table. What he never fully recognized in Gorbachev, despite the warm rapport that grew up between the two men, was that here was a Soviet leader with a new line of thinking who no longer fitted the mold of the past. Gorbachev, in countless speeches, stressed his commitment to arms reduction and his unwillingness to play the games of his predecessors; confrontation was simply not a stable basis for peace, he argued. Compromise, mutual trust, and co-operation would be the way forward....A stop had to be called, and Gorbachev called it."

END Excerpt

     To read the entirety of Shattan's review, which documents how Isaacs and Downing blame the U.S. for starting the Cold War and forcing Moscow to make an atom bomb as well as how they argue the Berlin Wall was not East Germany's fault and that Moscow invaded Afghanistan as a defensive move, go to the American Spectator home page: http://www.spectator.org. For a more direct route, go to the table of contents http://www.spectator.org/archives/99-01_toc.html and scroll to the bottom where you'll see the Cold War review listed.

     Just when you thought CNN's series couldn't get any more slanted, we learn it will.  -- Brent Baker



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