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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday January 26, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 15) 
Lindsey Graham's Aunt "Says He's Wrong"; House Managers Remind One of Nazis

1) ABC's Linda Douglass portrayed Republicans as the bad guys for daring to pose questions to President Clinton. NBC charged that "at Lindsey Graham's own church, some say the Congressman has gone too far. Graham's aunt Verna and Uncle Hollis...say he's wrong."

2) ABC and AP delivered loaded reports on how the Supreme Court ruling rejecting census "sampling" will disenfranchise "millions."

3) Despite how the Senate has impeded the House managers, MSNBC's Brian Williams suggested that they have had too much sway.

4) Geraldo Rivera proclaimed that he'd like to box Ken Starr and blamed Starr for how a media mob accosted Monica Lewinsky.

5) House managers like Nazis? The New York Times led a story with a woman's claim that they remind her of the Nazis as another Times story warned of a "a small secret clique" of anti-Clinton lawyers.

6) Sam Donaldson boasted about how he alerted viewers to the shortcomings of Reagan's economic policies, but he didn't do the same with Clinton.

>>> The January 25 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC home page, thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. "Hypocrites Exposed by Flynt: TV News" is the headline over the front page story. The Review by the MRC's Tim Graham, "Where Did the Senate Trial Go?" and a page three story, "Magazines: Scandal Isn't Substance," detail how the networks showed just a few seconds each night of what House managers said and the weekly magazines buried their few quotes. Back page stories: "Nixing Judge Nixon's Case" and a piece by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson titled "Opening with Imbalance: ABC Begins Trial with GOP Labeling." Newsbites include "Dream Team" by MRC analyst Paul Smith on how CBS denigrated the managers as "conservative zealots," "Lisa's Byrd Bath" by analyst Mark Drake on a gushing profile by NBC's Lisa Myers and "Rivera Kicks Claire," a look by analyst Geoffrey Dickens at how Rivera called a question from a colleague "snotty." To read the issue go to www.mrc.org, or to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw1999archive.html <<<

Correction: A January 25 CyberAlert item on Geraldo Rivera quoted Bill Clinton as promising a year ago: "I'd for you to have more rather than less..." That should have read "I'd like for you..."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The broadcast networks led Monday night by stressing "confusion" in the Senate. ABC's Linda Douglass portrayed Republicans as the bad guys playing "hard ball" by daring to pose questions to President Clinton, instead of painting him as uncooperative or someone with something to hide. NBC sent Fred Francis to South Carolina where he found many supportive Lindsey Graham constituents distressed by the lack of public outrage over Clinton's behavior, but also that "at Lindsey Graham's own church, some say the Congressman has gone too far. Graham's Aunt Verna and Uncle Hollis, who helped raise him, say he's wrong."

     CNN ran its usual special at 10pm ET and opened its 8pm World Today with a rundown of the day's Senate events. FNC's Fox Report began with a series of three stories on the impeachment trial. During FNC's 6pm ET Special Report with Brit Hume reporter Jim Angle, after recounting a Senate question to Clinton about spreading the "stalker" story about Lewinsky, told Hume that reporters know that rumor was being spread by the White House since all journalists heard it.

     Some highlights from the broadcast network evening shows for Monday, January 25:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings began the show by noting "confusion in the capital" and how "the debate is getting sharper and partisan."

     After soundbites from Trent Lott as well as Charles Canady and Nicole Seligman from the Senate floor over the motion to dismiss, Linda Douglass zeroed in on GOP aggressiveness, concluding her story:
     "And in a sign that the Republicans still plan to play hard ball with the President, ten GOP Senators today sent a list questions to Mr. Clinton, questions such as 'Is everything you testified to in the Jones deposition true?' They go on to say, Peter, 'please begin your answers with yes or no.' Tough talk."

     -- CBS Evening News. From Washington, DC Dan Rather teased the show: "The Senate votes to do it behind closed doors." He then opened: "Good evening. On a day of confusion, disarray, motions but not necessarily movement at the impeachment trial here in Washington."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw, also in DC, opened by asserting: "Good evening. Well it's been a day of wheeling and dealing, bluffing and bluster, confusion and chaos and tonight the Senate still is trying to find a way out of the impeachment trial."

     After Gwen Ifill reviewed what happened in the Senate, Claire Shipman declared from the White House: "The President pointedly offered counter-programming to the impeachment trial today." She proceeded to recount his announcement that the number of people on welfare is the smallest in 30 years as well as how he will not answer the questions posed by the Senators.

graham0126.jpg (7299 bytes)     Next, Fred Francis checked in from South Carolina, where he found that with one exception he highlighted, the people are on the side of their Congressman who is a House manager and are concerned about the lack of outrage over Clinton. Francis began:
     "The heart of the Bible Belt, Seneca, South Carolina. For the true believers here, a rising chorus: The polls are simply wrong. And the Lord's work, they say, is being subverted by the Senate. Here most of the people are conservative Republicans, Christians..."
     Francis played several soundbites from a pastor and others who claimed the polls must be wrong. Francis then continued:
     "Most of the citizens strongly support their Congressman, a House prosecutor, Lindsey Graham. Graham's slice of the South's Bible Belt is in stunned disbelief that the President may be acquitted. People here say the President's sins are sad proof that the nation is on the edge of moral collapse. But even within this religious community, at Lindsey Graham's own church, some say the Congressman has gone too far. Graham's Aunt Verna and Uncle Hollis, who helped raise him, say he's wrong."
     Verna: "Everybody I talk to, they say he don't need to be impeached."
     Francis: "He doesn't need to be impeached? Does your Lindsey know that?"
     Verna: "I don't tell Lindsey."

     So much for standing by and supporting your family members.

     But Francis concluded by summarizing how most feel just the opposite: "As devout Christians virtually everyone here says they can forgive Clinton, but they do not want what they call an immoral man, who refuses to admit he lied, to stay in the White House."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Incensed at the census decision. ABC News didn't bother with even trying to present the conservative arguments against census sampling. Instead, the network used the hook of Monday's Supreme Court decision upholding the requirement for a real count as a chance to forward the liberal arguments about the dire consequences of not sampling. Only ABC featured a full story on the decision the other networks gave a sentence or two to reporting.

     World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings, on January 25, announced the ruling and then added: "The administration argued that this was the way to account for the millions of Americans who do not get counted in the traditional door to door surveys, millions of voters the Democrats covet."
     John Cochran began by illustrating why a regular count insisted upon by the Supreme Court just isn't good enough: "Let's say you are an African-American in Harlem and you always feel harassed by the authorities. So when the census takers send you a form to fill out, you don't. Or you're a Hispanic in California and you're tired of officials checking to see if you are an illegal alien, so when the census taker comes knocking you don't answer."
     Cochran allowed Wade Henderson of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights to explain how many are fearful that the information will be misused so they don't cooperate. After the 1990 census, Cochran insisted, studies found 15 million were not counted, mainly poor and minorities. Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution then got a soundbite to say that counting them would help Democrats.
     Cochran picked up: "So, when the Supreme Court ruled against sampling today, it was a stinging defeat for Democrats. It was also a defeat for states with large minority populations, states hoping to get more seats in Congress [on screen map with CA, AZ, TX, FL and NY highlighted]. It was a victory for other states, states which feared losing congressional seats [MN, WI, MO, PA, MA and CT highlighted].
     "But the Supreme Court said that sampling can be used to count people in determining how much federal aid should go to states and cities with large numbers of minorities. That may set up a battle between Democrats and Republicans over whether to spend the money needed to pay for sampling. Unlike some fights in Washington, the fight over counting is a fight that counts."

     Note that most of the states which are now less likely to lose seats already have a majority, or in the case of Massachusetts 100 percent, Democratic congressional delegations.

     The Associated Press distributed an equally loaded story Monday afternoon which emphasized how "millions of people will be left out," instead of stressing how the court blocked the Clinton administration from abusing its power to change the way the census has always been done. The lead from the AP's Richard Carelli:
     "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the 2000 census cannot use statistical sampling to enhance its accuracy, a decision making it more likely millions of people will be left out. The 5-4 ruling requires the traditional nose count to redraw congressional districts..."

     Now compare that lead to a more straight-forward wire story by James Vicini of Reuters:
     "A divided U.S. Supreme Court Monday adopted the position advocated by House of Representatives Republicans, striking down statistical sampling for the 2000 census in a ruling that affects future elections.
     "In a stinging defeat for the Clinton administration, the nation's high court by a 5-4 vote rejected a U.S. Census Bureau plan to supplement its traditional head-count method with the statistical sampling...."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The Senate set up a procedure which limited the amount of time allowed for the House case and denied House managers the standard time for rebuttal offered to all prosecutors in court rooms. Then on Monday, before even considering whether to allow the managers to have witnesses, the Senate began debating whether to dismiss the case.

     Despite how the Senate has impeded the House managers and put the burden on them to prove why normal procedures should be followed, MSNBC's Brian Williams suggested Monday that it is the House managers who have had too much sway over the Senate. At 12:51pm ET on Monday Williams asked Democratic Senator John Kerry:
     "Is the population of the Senate now at 113? Now here's what I mean: Are the House managers getting a disproportionate voice in how you should proceed?"
     Kerry jumped at the set-up question out of the Democratic spin guide: "Well, I think it's at 114 because Ken Starr has become the 14th manager and that's what many people are deeply disturbed about. The answer to your question in brief is I think yes..."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Geraldo Rivera blamed Ken Starr, not the photographers who were actually alongside Lewinsky, for accosting her Saturday in a DC hotel and he asserted that he'd like to box Starr.

     -- On Monday's Upfront Tonight, after video of Lewinsky trying to get through a crowd of reporters and photographers: "Watching her get attacked that way just makes me sick to my stomach. I blame the House managers for it absolutely, aside from Ken Starr."

     Ken Starr, of course. Can't forget about him.

     -- Friday night, January 22, on CNBC's Rivera Live Rivera and Carl Bernstein shared their admiration for Hillary Clinton and disgust with Starr. Here are two exchanges caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

     Bernstein: "Look she is a remarkable woman."
     Rivera: "And she is one of the great stories of our time, the same way the Pope was."

     Bernstein: "Here we have this woman who is so admired, the best known woman in the country, among the best known women in the world if not the best known. And really we knew very little about her. And one thing though that we haven't looked at is her clash with the culture of Washington. You know from the day that she came to Washington people have been after her."
     Rivera: "The Sally Quinns of the world."
     Bernstein: "Sally Quinn?! Ken Starr."
     Rivera: "Oh him! I'd like to box him. He's in my weight class. I'd like to box him."
     Bernstein: "I mean really there's never been anything like this in which a First Lady has been pursued like this."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) "A small secret clique" of anti-Clinton lawyers damaged Bill Clinton, the New York Times ominously warned the day before the paper began a story by passing along how one woman frustrated with the House managers "feels the same despair that she did as a girl in Nazi Germany when the efforts of a stubborn group of leaders snowballed, crushing the will of the people."

     -- A front page story on January 24 by Don Van Natta Jr, and the dependably liberal Jill Abramsom, began:
     "This time last year, Hillary Rodham Clinton described, in a now-famous appearance on the NBC News program Today, how a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' was trying to destroy her husband's presidency.
     "As it turns out, some of the most serious damage to Bill Clinton's Presidency came not from his high-profile political enemies but from a small secret clique of lawyers in their 30s who share a deep antipathy toward the President, according to nearly two dozen interviews and recently filed court documents.
     "While cloaking their roles, the lawyers were deeply involved -- to an extent not previously known -- for nearly five years in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit. They then helped push the case into the criminal arena and into the office of the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr...."

     -- MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson caught this opening to a January 25 story by Ginger Thompson on liberal Manhattanites enraged by the Republican push for removal:
     "As she watches Republicans in Congress push ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Ellen Mendel of Manhattan says she feels the same despair that she did as a girl in Nazi Germany when the efforts of a stubborn group of leaders snowballed, crushing the will of the people.
     "'It is apparent that the bulldozing campaign by the Republicans will not end,' said Ms. Mendel, a psychotherapist. And in a moment of self-analysis, she added: 'Their efforts are so abusive that I was beginning to feel a sense of discouragement. I have been feeling very isolated.'
     "Sunday Ms. Mendel and scores of other New Yorkers who support Clinton gathered at Hunter College to vent their outrage and discuss new ways to get their views heard in Washington.
     "Wearing buttons that said 'Let the People Decide' and carrying banners that said 'Let's Fire Ken Starr and Tan Henry's Hyde,' some 400 people packed a Park Avenue auditorium and turned what was billed as an academic forum into a political rally...."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Sam Donaldson unwittingly demonstrated his own bias in covering State of the Union addresses: Denounce Reagan's policies but praise Clinton's performance.

     On Sunday's This Week Donaldson recalled:
     "A word about the television aspect of the speech, the home run aspect. I learned way back in 1981, I learned, Ronald Reagan. He gave this wonderful speech, this great, accurate -- I don't disparage him, I mean, it was really moving. But I said on the air, something to the effect, yes, but the programs here, to cut taxes like that, we'll run up huge deficits, they'll never buy that. Ha! Ho! They bought it, I mean, they just rolled over Tip O'Neill and the Democrats. For Bill Clinton to go up and people wonder in advance, is it going to be a home run? Of course it's going to be a home run. This guy uses television better than, with all due respect, all five of us put together."

     The people may have bought Clinton's performance, but was Donaldson consistent in highlighting the policy shortcomings he perceived? No. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson went back to ABC's live coverage of last Tuesday's State of the Union and transcribed Donaldson's positive assessment:
     "I think the President probably accomplished what he wanted to tonight. If you hadn't known that he was on trial in the Senate for his very job, you would not have thought it by looking at the chamber. The Democrats were very enthusiastic, particularly about new social spending, such things as strengthening civil rights, the Republicans less so. But in recent years that's been, what the President referred to tonight, as the see-saw effect, back and forth. Whichever President has the party in power applauds him, and whichever President doesn't, of course, it's the other side. So I would think the President had done what he wanted to do: show that he was in command, show that he had new programs and an agenda, and as far as you saw in the chamber, there was no overt mention or appearance of his great trial in the Senate."

     What might Donaldson have mentioned? Maybe the cost of Clinton's spending plans and the deficit it may cause, a deficit inevitability he was so eager to forecast after Reagan spoke.

     The January 22 CyberAlert pointed out that through Thursday night, January 21, none of the networks had picked up on a National Taxpayers Union Foundation study on the spending promises Clinton made in his address. Well, ABC did catch up Friday night even if Donaldson did not. Jessica noticed that on the January 22 World News Tonight Peter Jennings noted: "On the Money tonight, another strong opinion on the President's State of the Union proposals the other night. A taxpayer watchdog group says that if all the initiatives Mr. Clinton proposed were enacted, federal spending would increase by $288 billion, and create a $100 billion deficit in just a year."

     Final note: MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted a RealPlayer clip of the beginning of the January 21 CBS Evening News story exulting Clinton's education spending plans. Reporter Maggie Cooper opened this "news" story: "Today's announcement in Washington by President Clinton to continue funding a program called Troops to Teachers brought a sigh of relief to educators around the country. But, more importantly, smiles to the faces of many children."

     It's an excellent example of how the media are on Clinton's side policy-wise no matter how they handle the scandal. To see the video clip and to read a transcript of more of the story, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990122.html#4

     Another CyberAlert probably won't be distributed until Thursday. -- Brent Baker


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