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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday January 15, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 8) 
Trial Will Cause Market Collapse?; Rivera Attacks "Snotty" NBC Question 

1) CBS gave an ideological label to virtually every Republican. Dan Rather ruminated about doom, asking what if "the stock market should suddenly drop a thousand to twelve hundred points."

2) ABC relayed that bored Senators ate jelly beans and took their pulse. NBC on the House managers: "To conservatives, they may be the dream team....all white, all male, all conservative."

3) Democratic Senators got a private briefing from the House Democratic lawyers, but the networks ignored that and instead focused on how GOP Senators broke the bi-partisan spirit.

4) Geraldo Rivera denounced as "snotty" a question to President Clinton from a reporter from his very own network, said Linda Tripp "makes me want to vomit" and charged that Paula Jones was "manipulated by right-wing crazy people."

5) Though he denied it in Clinton-like fashion, Larry Flynt gave $10,000 to Clinton-Gore in 1996.

6) MSNBC's John Hockenberry on liberal Paul Wellstone's decision to not make a presidential run: "I have to say I'm disappointed."

>>> "Pornographer's Credibility, Clinton Ties Barely Touched While Anti-Clinton Guests Attacked or Ignored. ABC: Larry Flynt's Outreach Partner." The latest Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. The MRC's Tim Graham opened the report: "Seven years ago, Peter Jennings regretted running the Gennifer Flowers story as a bad beginning to the year that probably 'alienated a public already critical of news media.' But on Tuesday night, Jennings and his show World News Tonight were the only one of the Big Three to peddle Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt's attack on Rep. Bob Barr." To read the full report, which also contrasts how Good Morning America treated Gary Aldrich and Larry Flynt, go to http://www.mrc.org, or go direct: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990114.html <<<

Corrections: The January 13 CyberAlert quoted Peter Jennings as saying "Mr. Barr is not happy to be in Mr. Flynt's sites." That should have read "sights." The beginning of item #2 in the same issue referred to Larry Flynt's Tuesday night appearance on CNBC's Rivera Live. He appeared on Monday night, January 11.


rather0115.jpg (10218 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) During CBS News coverage of the Senate trial Thursday afternoon, viewers saw virtually every House manager tagged as a "conservative" and at a time when the Dow was down under 200 points anchor Dan Rather asked Warren Rudman to speculate on whether the trial would end sooner if the stock market index were to plummet by more than 1,000 points.

     Thursday afternoon at 1pm ET the three broadcast networks and PBS joined the cable networks with live coverage. PBS stayed on to the end at 7pm ET while the commercial networks showed the opening statements from Henry Hyde and James Sensenbrenner and then went to analysis when Ed Bryant began at about 2:15pm ET. CBS ended coverage at just past 2:30pm ET while ABC and NBC provided a cut-off then for affiliates. Washington's NBC-owned channel went to a soap, but the ABC affiliate stuck with ABC coverage until Oprah at 4pm.

     -- As Henry Hyde outlined what topics each manager would cover over the three day presentation, both ABC and CBS ran on-screen graphics with brief bio information on the Congressmen. ABC stuck to their career and political highlights. CBS, as the MRC's Tim Graham noticed, made sure everyone knew they were conservative. Here's how each was described:

Ed Bryant: "Conservative, former U.S. Attorney"
Bill McCollum: "Conservative"
George Gekas: "Solid conservative"
Steve Chabot: "Conservative"
Charles Canady: "Conservative, Chair of Constitution subcommittee"
Steve Buyer: "Conservative"
Lindsey Graham: "Conservative"

     When James Sensenbrenner began viewers saw: "Conservative, a senior Republican"

     The only ones to escape an ideological tag: Asa Hutchinson, James Rogan and Bob Barr, all because CBS had more interesting tidbits to offer. (Rogan: youngest municipal court judge in California; Barr: early proponent of impeachment.)

     After Hyde and Sensenbrenner were done, Bob Schieffer gave his verdict: "Thus far, Dan, we have not heard either Clarence Darrow or William Jennings Bryan, this has been fairly tedious."

     -- Dan Rather's first question to former Republican Senator Warren Rudman: "The stock market was down well over 200 points at one point today, it's now down about 170, we'll see where it closes. Question: If, no one thinks it's going to happen, if the stock market should suddenly drop a thousand to twelve hundred points, what would happen to this proceeding in the Senate?"

     If "no one thinks it's going to happen" then why is Rather raising the threat which comes right out of the White House's anti-trial spin manual? (The Dow closed down 228 points on Thursday.)

     A few minutes later, after noting that polls show most Americans are not following the trial, Rather concluded CBS's live coverage: "Future historians may wonder how and why so many Americans chose to be so unconcerned. In the eyes of history, Bill Clinton is not the only one on trial. So are his accusers. So are his judges. And so are all of us."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The opening day of the Senate trial dominated the broadcast network news Thursday night. (I was unable to see the CNN and FNC evening shows.) Here's a brief rundown of the topics covered and a few interesting quotes plucked from the lengthy January 14 coverage:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight opened with Linda Douglass reviewing the main points made by Henry Hyde and the other managers. Douglass relayed: "But when the managers began reciting the familiar allegations against the President, sometimes repeating each other, some of the Senators got restless. One began organizing his desk draw, another took his pulse and still another was seen popping jelly beans."

     Next, Jackie Judd focused exclusively on Asa Hutchinson's outlining the evidence for obstruction of justice including his call by call recitation of efforts to get Monica Lewinsky a job and challenge to the Senate to set record straight by calling Vernon Jordan as a witness.

     Sam Donaldson gave the White House reaction and after an ad break Jennings got assessments from Bill Kristol, Cokie Roberts and Jeffrey Toobin. All agreed Hutchinson made an impressive case for the need to hear from witnesses.

     -- CBS Evening News. CBS produced a one-hour newscast but I only saw the second half hour which, if as happened last time CBS fed a one-hour show, may have been the only part carried by Washington's CBS affiliate. In this second half hour Wyatt Andrews detailed Hutchinson's presentation, Bill Plante looked at how Bill Clinton is laying out spending proposal which total $11 billion and Dan Rather brought on former Senator George Mitchell to defend Clinton and attack the impeachment case.

     Later, Rather introduced a profile of Chief Justice William Rehnquist with rhyme: "CBS's Phil Jones has the brief on the chief." The show ended with a "Reality Check" by Eric Engberg on how the Senate's "old boys club" still does and will do much of its work in secret.

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened by measuring the entertainment value instead of the substance of the House presentation:
     "...There were no thundering orations, no surprising moments worthy of a John Grisham novel, no partisan foodfights. The drama of this opening day came in the relentless attacks by Republican prosecutors on the President's behavior and the challenges to the Senate to answer to the rule of law and to America's children."

     Gwen Ifill gave an overview with two clips of Sensenbrenner and one each from Hyde and Hutchinson. Claire Shipman checked in from the White House.

     Then Lisa Myers looked at the House managers. "To conservatives, they may be the dream team. Thirteen lawyers, all white, all male, all conservative with varying degrees of legal talent," Myers began. After explaining that Hyde was an insurance lawyer, that Sensenbrenner only practiced for six months, but that eight are former prosecutors, including Hutchinson who once convicted Roger Clinton on drug charges, Myers concluded: "Beyond convicting the President, prosecutors have one overriding goal: to vindicate themselves and the House. They want to show this was not the work of a partisan lynch mob but a compelling case of wrongdoing by the President."

     Finally, Pete Williams examined the differences between a regular and a Senate trial.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Democratic Senators got a private briefing from the Democratic lawyers on the House Judiciary Committee, but the networks ignored that and instead zoomed in on how Republican Senators had supposedly broken the bi-partisan spirit by meeting with the House managers to discuss possible witnesses.

     "Democratic Jurors Get Private Briefing" announced the lead headline in the January 14 Washington Times over a story the networks skipped. Reporters Nancy Roman and Bill Sammon relayed: "Abbe Lowell, Steve Reich and Kevin Simpson -- lawyers who helped prepare arguments against impeachment -- walked Senate Democrats through the case and answered questions during the closed-door meeting."

     Instead, the broadcast networks all highlighted a soundbite from Tom Daschle criticizing the Republican meeting:

     -- In post-opening statement coverage CBS News analyst Gloria Borger, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, told Dan Rather: "Behind the scenes, we've heard today that Republican Senators were meeting with the Republican House managers to talk about this question of witnesses and it got the Democrats a little bit upset about it because they said 'folks, this was supposed to be a bipartisan show here.'"

     Seconds later Bob Schieffer led into the bite from Daschle: "The first friction in this exercise which Senators have been determined to make as bipartisan as possible did crop up today when the leader of the Democrats, Tom Daschle, found out that some of the Senators had been conferring with the House prosecutors about witnesses. He complained about that and the fact that the House prosecutors have already begun to interview some witnesses."

     -- On ABC's World News Tonight, Linda Douglass warned: "And all day long, behind the scenes, a partisan battle over whether to call witnesses was brewing. The Democratic Senate leader accused some Republicans of secretly plotting with House managers on calling witnesses, even though the Senate had agreed to put that decision off."

     -- In her NBC Nightly News story Gwen Ifill asserted: "But even before the opening prayer, deep divisions over whether to call witnesses grew even wider. Democrats angry that three Republican Senators had been meeting alone with members of the House prosecution team, breaking a vow to work across party lines."

     Senator Tom Daschle: "It certainly violates the spirit of the agreement that we just all agreed to last week."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) So much to be angry about and only 90 minutes a night for Geraldo Rivera to spout. Over the past two days Rivera has bemoaned the "grim fact" of the trial, said that Linda Tripp's advice that Monica Lewinsky should tell the truth "makes me want to vomit," denounced as "snotty" a question to President Clinton from his very own network and charged that Paula Jones was "manipulated by right-wing crazy people."

     Here are Rivera's outbursts, in date order from newest to oldest:

     -- A disheartened Rivera opened the January 14 Upfront Tonight:
     "And so it has begun, the trial of our President. For all the protests that this is a sexual witch hunt, an attempt by his political enemies to use illicit sex and sex lies to throw out a popular President, the grim fact is that if he is convicted by the United States Senate, Bill Clinton is out of a job, he's out on the street and he is barred forever from holding any federal office. Listening to his congressional pursuers present their case against the President, there was so many attempts to draw a parallel to Richard Nixon that I thought I was listening to a doctor give a grave diagnosis. Listen." (Rivera showed Republicans talking about a "cancer" on he judicial system.)

     -- Linda Tripp's advice that Monica Lewinsky should tell the truth, Rivera spewed, "makes me want to vomit." On the January 13 Rivera Live, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, he played a tape of a Tripp-Lewinsky conversation:
     Monica Lewinsky: "Other than how you feel yourself, like inside, what is the advantage of telling the truth? What-what advantage do you see for yourself? Where will that put you? What does that do for you?"
     Linda Tripp: "Okay, well, how I feel inside is-is not exactly how I define it. With me, to me, there's a reason for telling the truth, that the truth is the right thing to do. I mean I don't, I don't think it's my conscience so much as I just think it's a fact of life. I think, I think that you're required to tell the truth under oath."
     Rivera: "Oh she makes me want to vomit, that woman."

     -- Rivera denounced as "snotty" a reporter's question to President Clinton. The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens recognized the voice of the reporter: Rivera's NBC News colleague -- Claire Shipman! On Wednesday's Upfront Tonight Rivera asserted:
     "So on the eve of his impeachment trial the President decided to field a couple of snotty questions like this one."
     Audio of Claire Shipman with the camera focused on Clinton: "Lawyers are arguing that the charges against you don't amount to high crimes and misdemeanors. Do you personally believe that perjury and obstruction of justice are not impeachable offenses?"

     Minutes later in a story by Jane Wells viewers saw the same exchange with Clinton, this time with the camera looking at Shipman.

So much for teamwork at NBC News.

     -- Paula Jones "manipulated by right-wing crazy people." From the January 12 Rivera Live:
     "Let's get to that major charge, although I reject Joe's [DiGenova] lofty characterization of Paula Jones' lawsuit as the citizen of Arkansas's civil rights action. I mean to me what that does is demean all of those civil rights actions that really meant something for people fighting for constitutionally protected rights in the South and the North. People who died. And here's Paula Jones being manipulated by right wing crazy people."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Larry Flynt: Depends what "donation" means. From National Review's January 13 Washington Bulletin e-mail report:

Larry Flynt says he isn't coordinating his anti-GOP activities with the White House, but he seems to share its disregard for the truth. In a December 20th letter to Flynt, Republican political consultant Craig Shirley asked, "Have you personally or has your company ever given money to President Clinton or the Democrat Party?" Flynt's January 7th reply: "No."

Federal Election Commission documents, however, reveal that Flynt sent a $10,000 check to the Clinton-Gore campaign on August 19, 1996. Although the money was later returned, Flynt did give it--and lied when he told Shirley otherwise. Perhaps he's embarrassed by the connection to Clinton.

END Excerpt

     To read National Review's daily reports, go to: http://www.nationalreview.com


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Journalists for Wellstone? That's a group John Hockenberry might have formed if he had the opportunity, noticed MRC analyst Mark Drake. On his MSNBC show Tuesday night, January 12, Hockenberry expressed his disappointment with left-wing Senator Paul Wellstone's decision not to run for President. Concluding an interview with the Minnesotan, Hockenberry told him:
     "Senator Wellstone, it's been a great pleasure talking to you and you're not running for President, after those sort of passionate words there. Not running for President. We'll have to leave it there. I have to say I'm disappointed."

     Seen any media figures expressing disappointment about John Ashcroft's decision not to run?  -- Brent Baker


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