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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday January 25, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 14) 
Manager Meeting with Lewinsky Ruins Bipartisanship; Geraldo: Clinton a "Schmuck"

1) Brit Hume thought it "surprising" that journalists would buy the outraged spin of Democrats over an interview of Lewinsky. But they did, blaming the GOP for ruining the bipartisan spirit.

2) The networks led Friday with Byrd's motion to dismiss, heightening his credibility by calling him the "conscience of the Senate" and the "senior statesman of the Senate."

3) Eleanor Clift hailed the prescience of Pat Robertson and dismissed the whole process as an illegitimate "sham."

4) "The White House counsels blew a hole in the House impeachment case wide enough to get a tractor trailer through," declared Al Hunt as Clift and the morning shows also praised their work.

5) CPAC attendees were happy or angry? Both, insisted the Washington Post in conflicting stories a day apart.

6) Bill Clinton is a "schmuck," declared Geraldo Rivera.

7) NBC's John Palmer on the return of Monica Lewinsky: "This is quite a blow to the White House..."

>>> Now up on the MRC home page: the January 25 Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Quote topic headings include "Conservatives Choose Torturing Clinton Over the Constitution," "Dan Rather, Defense Counsel," "Scaife and American Spectator: Same as Larry Flynt," "Brian Williams Picks on Hyde" and "'Grew' by Moderating Reagan." Go to the MRC home page at http://www.mrc.org or directly to the issue posted at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990125.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Discussing the plan of House managers to talk with Monica Lewinsky, on Fox News Sunday Brit Hume asserted: "They are also looking to determine whether Monica Lewinsky would be a hopelessly hostile witness or whether she would not. The only way you do that is to meet with her. The idea that this is some outrage ought to be laughable and the idea that journalists in this town are treating those complaints on the floor by Chuck Ruff and others with a straight face is surprising."

     Whether surprising or just a reflection of the usual bias, that's what they did Saturday night with all the networks blaming the House Republicans for damaging the sacred "bipartisan" spirit of the Senate process. NBC's Brian Williams bemoaned how hopes of a "swift end" to the trial "were dashed late today" by Lewinsky's emergence. Check out these teases and openings from the Saturday, January 23 evening shows:

vargas0125.jpg (10007 bytes)     -- Anchor Elizabeth Vargas opening ABC's World News Tonight:
     "Good evening, I'm Elizabeth Vargas. It was a contentious day in the Senate as the split between Democrats and Republicans seemed to grow. The Democrats cried foul after Judge Norma Holloway Johnson today ordered Monica Lewinsky to answer more questions. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr requested the interview with Lewinsky on behalf of the House managers prosecuting the case. Democrat Tom Daschle called the move by the Republicans 'a clear demonstration of raw partisanship.'"

     Reporter Linda Douglass began by noting how "Democratic Senators were furious" at the move to talk with Lewinsky but Republicans didn't stop there, they made things worse by actually suggesting that Clinton be asked a question: "Democrats say the atmosphere is becoming poisonous. Then late today, adding fuel to the fire, Majority Leader Trent Lott announced that on Monday Republican Senators will send a list of written questions to the President and they want him to answer them himself."

     -- Anchor Paula Zahn at the top of the CBS Evening News:
     "Good evening. Whatever shreds of bipartisan spirit in President Clinton's impeachment trial may remain unraveled today with the sudden re-emergence of Monica Lewinsky."

     Bob Schieffer started his story: "This news about Monica Lewinsky threw the whole trial into a turmoil here today. Democrats warned it could destroy the bipartisan atmosphere..."

     -- The tease from anchor Brian Williams at the top of the NBC Nightly News:
     "Monica Lewinsky is summoned back to Washington by investigators, the Senate dissolves into a fight."
     Bill McCollum on the Senate floor: "Are they afraid of our talking to Monica Lewinsky?"
     Williams: "Ken Starr walks back into the picture. Hopes for a quick end are blown up and Democrats are furious."
     Senator Patrick Leahy: "It is an act of arrogant desperation."

     Williams the began the show with wording which assumed ending the trial soon is the preferred outcome:
     "Good evening. Any hopes that this President's impeachment trial would come to a swift end, perhaps even a peaceful end, were dashed late today when a jet from Los Angeles landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. On board, key witness Monica Lewinsky, the former intern whose affair with the President led to impeachment. A federal judge has okayed this, saying the Congressmen prosecuting the President with the help of Ken Starr, who has returned, can question Lewinsky once again. The White House, Senate Democrats are furious. This trial, it turns out, will end with a bang and not a wimper."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Friday night all the networks led with Senator Byrd's plan to offer a motion to dismiss the case against Clinton. But instead of portraying the move as a partisan effort to prevent witnesses which may hurt Clinton or embarrass Democrats by showing how they are ignoring the evidence, all hailed Byrd as a great statesman beyond reproach. In his statement Byrd also castigated Clinton for hurting "public trust," but of the broadcast networks, only CBS quoted that portion of his letter.

     -- Peter Jennings opened the January 22 World News Tonight by noting: "....Now Senator Byrd is a Democrat and the Republicans represent the majority, but Senator Byrd is a constitutional scholar, sometimes called the conscience of the Senate on such matters and if he says it's okay to dismiss the case other politicians in both parties may decide it's okay to follow."

     -- On the CBS Evening News Bob Schieffer told Rather: "Dan, Byrd's announcement is not so significant just because he's so revered here, but also because many Democrats thought he was ready to convict the President. And to be sure, Byrd said he was not trying to end this trial because he thinks the President is innocent. To the contrary, Byrd said 'I believe that he has weakened the already fragile public trust that has been placed in his care.'...."

     -- Tom Brokaw began the NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. There's a major break tonight for President Clinton and his impeachment trial. Robert Byrd, one of the senior statesman of the Senate caught everyone by surprise when he announced late this afternoon he would move to have the trial dismissed. Byrd is a Democrat but he's been openly critical of the President and he's a guardian of the Senate's place in history. This will put a lot of pressure on the Republicans."

     Reporter Gwen Ifill did recall how Byrd had referred to the post-impeachment pep rally as an "egregious display of shameless arrogance," but she failed to highlight the critical comments in his Friday announcement letter.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Hailing the brilliant insight of a man she usually disdains, on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend Newsweek's Eleanor Clift dismissed the whole process as an illegitimate sham:

     Eleanor Clift: "When Pat Robertson puts up the white flag of surrender it's over. Even the Buchanan Brigades are deserting."
     John McLaughlin: "Is it a sham trial?"
     Clift: "It's been, the whole issue has been a sham. It shouldn't have gotten this far. The House acted improperly in passing it on to the Senate..."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) More rave media reviews are in for the performance of the White House team from Al Hunt and Eleanor Clift, plus Good Morning America and Today:

     -- On CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt declared:
     "The White House counsel blew a hole in, the White House counsels blew a hole in the House impeachment case wide enough to get a tractor trailer through -- factually, legally and politically. It began with Charles Ruff, who skillfully picked apart the facts of the charges and it ended with Dale Bumpers. I've been in that Senate chamber over 1,000 times and I have never seen anyone, whether you agree or disagree with him, work the place as brilliantly as Senator Bumpers did last Thursday.
     "But Mark, they were helped immeasurably, when you ask why, they were helped immeasurably by the sloppiness of the House case and it came home to roost with Charles Ruff and others this week. Finally, last week on this show I predicted that after three days of drubbing, in what I thought was a pretty powerful presentation by the House managers, until we heard the White House this week, I thought that Clinton would take a dive in the polls. He didn't. The American people heard the case and actually the support for impeachment dropped."

     -- After John McLaughlin explained how a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee report charged Cheryl Mills with lying to the committee about the White House database, on the McLaughlin Group Eleanor Clift asserted, referring to Chairman Dan Burton:
     "A charge from Mr. Burton is a badge of honor and the fact that the President has a man with a disability and a black female on his team of five. He's not going to put tokens up there. He has the best legal minds and people working for him they could get and they were very effective and they stand up very well against that parade of White House, of House managers."

     -- Friday morning instead of informing viewers of the charges against Mills for obstruction, detailed in the January 22 CyberAlert, Good Morning America continued to heap more praise upon her. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted these comments from co-host Diane Sawyer intermixed with soundbite clips:
     "Cheryl Mills of the gentle gestures and velvet voice....Her friends say they've never seen her like that before, that the lawyer behind the politeness and pearls is in fact a fast-talking, fiercely-combative, fight-to-the-finish opponent, and that's why both Clintons want Mills on the team....She's an Army Brat, who grew up on bases around the world before heading off to Stanford Law School. As a college kid, she set up a program to help send underprivileged kids to college too....The portrait she keeps on her office wall is Michael Jordan. At the age of 33, she's in starting lineup of the playoffs, too....And looking on at Mills's was her proud boss, White House Counsel Charles Ruff."

     -- Friday's Today almost turned into the Dale Bumpers Show. MRC analyst Mark Drake counted up 122 seconds, that's over two minutes, of soundbite time for replays of comments from Bumpers on the Senate floor. Here's how Today led with to the Bumpers intensive piece by Shipman:

     Katie Couric: "Meanwhile, Arkansas produced something very positive for Bill Clinton in the form of former Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers, who wrapped up the President's defense in his Senate impeachment trial with a speech that many are calling quite eloquent. We're going to find out what Senator Bumpers had to say to the group and what happens next in our first half hour this morning."

     Couric: "On Close Up this Morning: President Clinton's impeachment trial. Senators from both parties acknowledge they are looking for a quick way to end it. On Thursday the White House ended its part of the case with an emotional, folksy appeal from former Senator Dale Bumpers, a Democrat, an Arkansan and a close friend of the President."

     Claire Shipman's segues between bites of Bumpers: "A six term Senator popular on both sides of the aisle, Bumpers was always known for his oratorical flourish and Thursday, he did not disappoint...He was blunt about how he defines the scandal...And he provided some rare insight into the first family...In the end though, he brought back it back to the question at hand with a dose of realism and a warning."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Those moody conservatives. Compare these two headlines, a day apart, on the Conservative Political Action Conference which met from Thursday to Saturday in Arlington, Virginia. Both are from the front page of the "Style" section in the Washington Post.

     From Friday, January 22: "The GOP's Smiley Face: At Conservatives' Dinner, a Sunny Outlook."

     From Saturday, January 23: "Right-Wing's Ruffled Feathers: Conservative PAC Fumes as Clinton's Numbers Rise."

     What changed here were not the conservatives, but the Post as each story was written by a different reporter who found what he or she wanted to find at the hotel.


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Al D'Amato was condemned for calling his Democratic opponent Charles Schumer a "putz," but it's okay for Geraldo Rivera to label Bill Clinton a "schmuck."

     Opening the January 22 Upfront Tonight on CNBC, Rivera recalled:
     "While his actions certainly do not warrant impeachment, let's not forget who brewed the blow that has battered our national psyche. Remember this, exactly a year ago?"
     Clinton, a year ago: "I'd like for you to have more rather than less, sooner rather than later. So we'll work through it as quickly as we can and get all those question out there to you."
     Rivera: "Face it. He was a schmuck. But that was not a high crime and misdemeanor..."


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Beginning a Saturday story for NBC Nightly News about the White House reaction to the interviewing of Monica Lewinsky, reporter John Palmer insisted: "This is quite a blow to the White House...."

"Blow" was probably not the best word for either Rivera or Palmer to use given Clinton and Lewinsky's past activity in the White House. -- Brent Baker


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