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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday January 12, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 6) 
Rivera Showcases Flynt's Hit, Then Blames Clinton's Opponents 

1) Larry Flynt got a national showcase for his latest hit: CNBC's Rivera Live. But he went beyond sex to an intimate detail. Yet Rivera claimed Republicans "brought this upon themselves" and made "all of us part of this sleazy process." Another guest lumped Bob Barr with Hitler and Stalin.

2) Monday night Sam Donaldson noted that judges have been removed for perjury and CNN's Bruce Morton, recalling how the British burned the White House, ruminated: "The Republicans would never go that far, would they?"

3) Larry King contended anyone who made a mistake on a tax form is as guilty as Clinton and anyone opposed to the Senate deal is the very definition of a "wacko."

4) The January 11 edition of Notable Quotables: "A Legislative Coup d'etat" and "Stop a Senate Trial."


flynt0112.jpg (12574 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Geraldo Rivera's gift to Larry Flynt: a national cable soapbox from which to slime Congressman Bob Barr. And Rivera then had the temerity to denounce how the Republican "urge to destroy the President" will "make all of us part of this sleazy process."

     Here's the scene on Monday's Rivera Live on CNBC: Geraldo Rivera with Larry Flynt as his guest, as well as Alan Dershowitz and Jerry Falwell.

     Fresh from his two-week vacation, up front Rivera assured viewers of his discretion: "As I've said before, the only permissible ground for revealing scandalous private details of public lives is to prevent politicians with dirty hands from leading the moral charge against the President in the Senate trial set to begin on Thursday."

     Talk about a false premise. What Bob Barr has or has not done has nothing to do with Clinton and if it's not illegal, just hypocrisy, then there's no comparison to Clinton's multi-month campaign of deceit and misuse of government power to cover up his lies in official judicial proceedings.

     Rivera soon turned the show over to Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, so he could reveal what his $1 million award uncovered.
     Rivera: "Give us the headline, Larry."
     Flynt: "Well, the individual we're talking about is Bob Barr. He was the first member of Congress to ask for President Clinton's resignation. We have established that he did not tell the truth under oath and we have depositions to back this up. I find even more troubling than that is the fact that this man consented to his wife having an abortion."
     Rivera: "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I don't want to go into abortions."
     Flynt: "I only want to make one statement about that. It's very important."
     Rivera: "Why is that? Isn't it a legal right in this country?"
     Flynt: "Because he stood on the House of Congress and said abortion was equivalent to murder. But he still had implemented it." [Yes, he said "on the House of Congress."]
     Rivera: "Larry, you undermine your case by going there."

     Then it went downhill. Okay, it couldn't really go any further downhill.

     Rivera proceeded to outline Flynt's revelation that Barr had an affair with his current wife before he married her and, now this is the big bombshell, in depositions for his divorce he utilized a privilege allowed in Georgia to decline to answer questions about his sexual activities with his wife-to-be pre-divorce. Rivera helpfully read excerpts from the deposition.

     After an ad break, Rivera challenged Falwell: "Reverend Falwell, haven't the Republicans like Barr, like Livingston, haven't they brought this, like Henry Hyde and his, haven't they brought this upon themselves? When you go down into the gutter you get dirty."

     No, Rivera has brought this upon all of us.

     Jumping ahead in the show a few minutes, Falwell confronted Dershowitz. Earlier Dershowitz had declared: "Bob Barr, who I despise because of his support for racist groups..." Falwell suggested people shouldn't "despise" anyone, prompting Dershowitz to start ranting, on a show featuring a Clinton ally dishing dirt on a conservative, about how Republicans are guilty of "sexual McCarthyism." The Harvard law professor soon lumped Barr in with Hitler and Stalin, lecturing Falwell:
     "Despising is really important, let me tell you, it is a very important trait. I despise Hitler. I despise Stalin. I despise racists and I'm going to continue to despise them not withstanding what you say."

     I could go on, but I think you get a flavor of the show. I'll end with this lead-in to an ad break in which Rivera blamed not himself for giving a pornographer a showcase, but those who want to "destroy" Clinton:
     "This, ladies and gentlemen, I warned you in January, you get there and it will filthify, if that's a word, it will make all of us part of this sleazy process. The urge to destroy the President of the United States is so malignant that nobody will emerge..." [last word drowned out by Flynt]

     "Filthify" seems an applicable word to apply to Rivera's performance and decision to give Flynt a megaphone.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) All the networks led Monday night, January 11, with the White House response to the charges to be tried by the Senate.

     On ABC's World News Tonight anchor Charlie Gibson suggested "both sides are digging in for a long battle, but at least today it was polite" since the White House decided to not file a motion to dismiss. ABC aired just one story, a report from Sam Donaldson who summarized the Clinton's team's claims, including how the charges do not warrant removal from office even if true. But Donaldson concluded by adding: "And as far as whether there are sufficient grounds for his removal, the House argues that the constitutional grounds for removing a President is the same as for removing a judge. And Charlie, several judges have been removed for crimes such as perjury."

     The CBS Evening News ran two stories. First, Scott Pelley with the White House view and how on Monica Lewinsky, since her statements both help and hurt Clinton's case, "the defense must decide whether to buttress her credibility or destroy it." So much for avoiding PPD. Second, Bob Schieffer delivered the perspective of the House managers.

     CNN's The World Today opened with several reports, including a look by Bruce Morton at how Senate rules prevent Senators from talking during the trial but they can and will speak with reporters outside the chamber. Morton concluded with this joking shot at the GOP:
     "However partisan they get, Hillary Rodham Clinton may take comfort in an event she went to: the dedication of a Dolly Madison coin. When Mrs. Madison was First Lady during the War of 1812 the British burned the White House. The Republicans would never go that far, would they?"

     NBC Nightly News. In contrast to ABC's portrait of politeness, Tom Brokaw asserted: "Tonight the White House is making pre-emptive strike, claiming the charges against Bill Clinton do not represent high crimes and misdemeanors." Claire Shipman filled in the details from the White House, uniquely reporting that to give a showcase to two women, the White House may have its case presented in the Senate by Deputy Counsel Cheryl Mills and Nicole Seligman, an associate of David Kendall. Next, Gwen Ifill previewed the Senate trial and ran through some of the unanswered questions about what will happen.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Larry King, back on "wacko" patrol and being a little wacky himself. In his weekly USA Today column on Monday the CNN host contended that nearly every American is as guilty as Clinton:
     "The big issue these days is lying under oath. How many of you ever put down a misstatement on an Internal Revenue Service tax return? If you did, even if you were off by only a dollar, when you signed the return, you took an oath. Have you ever taken an oath in traffic court and not told the full truth about the circumstances of your ticket? I therefore call for the impeachment and dismissal of all those guilty of these 'misdemeanors.' So be it..."

     There's a slight difference between inadvertently putting a wrong number on a tax form and deliberate lying about your income.

     Moving along, King denounced critics of CNN's Cold War series, taking almost as many words to defend his credibility in assessing it given he's a CNN employee:
     "Critics are carping at the CNN series on the Cold War. Yes, I work for the company, but it's still the best documentary I've seen. It's fair and wonderfully edited. Since my contract runs through 2005, I don't have to say this, but it needs saying: This is great television...."

     And just after that ellipses, one more shot at conservatives: "New definition of a wacko: someone angry that the Senate got together on something."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The January 11 Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

     Until last June CyberAlerts regularly featured the newest NQ when published, but the press of impeachment scandal events pushed the issues aside. Since many may not have been paying close attention to the news and CyberAlerts around the holidays, I thought it may be illuminating to many to be able to read this latest NQ since it features the most egregious bias from the days just before the House impeachment vote through the end of the year. You'll see that several quotes show how badly media figures want to avoid a Senate trial and how passionate they are about portraying the President as a victim of Republican McCarthyism. -- Brent Baker (NQ follows below)

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..."
-- Geraldo Rivera, with "NBC News" under his name as his identifier, December 22 Today.

"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!"
-- Geraldo Rivera, December 9 Rivera Live on CNBC.


Republicans Self-Destruct?

"Frankly, if the Republicans want to go ahead and do this, I think they disgrace themselves in a more profound way than President Clinton has by abusing the machinery of impeachment, knowing full well that the Senate will hold a sham trial and they will be, in effect, delivered of this ridiculous conclusion they've come to."
-- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, December 12.

"I think that the Republicans are going to pay a price for this hard line attitude because Henry Hyde himself said they would never do this along partisan lines, the House would be disgraced if they did it along partisan lines, and that's exactly what they're doing."
-- U.S. News contributing editor Steve Roberts on CNN's Late Edition, December 13.

"Don, help me here. After the Republican sweep led by the now resigned Newt Gingrich in 1994, when the Republicans had their peak victory in recent history, President Clinton said that after that, after 1994, that if you left them, the Republicans, alone that they would burn themselves out. Now is or is not what we have now a race sort of between when the Republicans burn themselves out or burn the President up?"
-- Dan Rather to former Clinton speechwriter Donald Baer during live CBS News impeachment coverage, December 19.


Traitorous Republicans

"As salvo after salvo of cruise missiles continue to punish Iraq, Republicans in Congress are engaging in conduct that during the war in Vietnam they called giving aid and comfort to the enemy...Although they have backed off from the most inflammatory language of yesterday they are still pressing for impeachment."
-- Geraldo Rivera opening the December 17 Upfront Tonight.


Hitting Clinton....from the Left

"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?"
-- CNN's Wolf Blitzer to OMB Director Jack Lew, January 3 Late Edition.


We Wanted to Honor Hillary As Our Spurned Spouse of the Year

"It's that person or persons who's affected the news the most, affected our history the most for good or for ill. Had it been an award, had it been somebody we wanted to honor, you know there are a lot of other people from Mark McGwire to Hillary Clinton..."
-- Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson explaining his Men of the Year choice, December 20 Meet the Press.

"For a while...she was our leading contender. Her strength and her almost surreal ability to assert her dignity were remarkable to some and mystifying to others. She also, for many months, helped determine how the nation framed the scandal debate by portraying it as a partisan battle and disgusting prosecutorial invasion of personal privacy. So why didn't we choose her? Sentimentally, a lot of us wanted to; I personally was fascinated and impressed by her."
-- Isaacson's "To Our Readers" article, Dec. 28/Jan. 4 Time.


Freudian Slip About Republicans As Extremists?

"Rumpled, charmed, low-key, conciliatory, someone who can get along with both moderates and Republicans, a veteran, a nuts and bolts legislator..."
-- ABC's Linda Douglass describing incoming House Speaker Dennis Hastert, December 19 World News Tonight.


Ken Starr: Just Larry Flynt With Subpoena Power

"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."
-- Time reporter Margaret Carlson's "Outrage of the Year," as announced on CNN's Capital Gang on December 26.

"Reverend Falwell, is Mr. Flynt, in effect, doing the work of the Christian Right, here?"
-- Good Morning America substitute co-host Cynthia McFadden to Jerry Falwell, December 22.


Stop a Senate Trial

"Didn't I say to you that we are marching off the cliff? Reason tells you we should stop this and get on with the business of governance. But, there is precious little. I mean, I spent most of today and yesterday half on the phone while I was covering this thing, with Senators Republican and Democratic, and at the moment everybody's fondest hope is that the two week hiatus, between now and the new year, in that period impeachment will sink in and sanity will prevail and we'll avoid a trial. But there are a lot of people that don't want that to happen."
-- National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, December 19 Inside Washington.

Co-host Jodi Applegate: "Senator Hutchison, the poll numbers reveal the American people don't want the President removed. His approval ratings are up to 72 percent, Republicans' ratings are down. What kind of leverage do Republicans really have given the conventional wisdom, which admittedly has been wrong before, that no way are Republicans ever going to get the 67 votes, what kind of leverage do Republicans have against the President given all that?"
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): "The Constitution."
-- December 20 Today.

"Why are you convinced of that [a speedy trial in the Senate] because many people have been talking about a long, protracted trial taking attention away from the important issues in this country that people really care about?"
-- NBC's Today co-host Katie Couric to Senator Mitch McConnell, December 21.


Lauer: Have You No Decency?

"Speaker Wright, let me start with you. When you resigned nine years ago, you had been battered by the right. You called for an end to what you called 'mindless cannibalism.' Nine years later we're hearing terms like that again and others swirling around the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Have we learned nothing in nine years?"
-- Matt Lauer to former Speaker Jim Wright, who resigned over ethical problems, December 21 Today.

"Speaker Wright, during McCarthy's sort of communist witch hunt, the really turning point was when one person being grilled by the Senator said 'do you have no decency.' Do you see anybody with the credibility in Washington right now to ask that same question?"
-- Lauer to Wright, same show.


Media Should Raise McCarthyism

"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."
-- MSNBC's Brian Williams, referring to Democrat Robert Wexler, to House Democratic investigative counsel Abbe Lowell, December 21 News with Brian Williams.

Republicans Hate Clinton Because ....He Can Do Two Things at Once

Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist: "One of the things that on listening to this debate that just strikes me, the law and everything else aside, there's something about Clinton that makes the Republicans crazy. What is it?"
Michael Duffy, Time magazine's Washington Bureau Chief: "Yeah, it's true. Part of it I think we saw this week is his ability to do two things at once. I think it really does drive them up a tree. He has this extraordinary compartmentalized ability. This week we saw him on Wednesday go from meetings about impeachment on the Hill to meetings about Iraq to phone calls to Senators about what will happen there if it goes on to the Senate, back to writing his statement about you know. The extraordinary thing about Clinton is he's able to compartmentalize these stories in ways that lot of Americans are not, certainly I'm not. And it's hard for, I think, people to understand how he does his job, how he can do this with all this that's swirling around him."
-- December 18 Washington Week in Review on PBS.

END of Notable Quotables.  -- Brent Baker



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