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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday February 4, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 21)
Brokaw Denounced GOP "Zealotry" and Hypocrisy; Gingrich Vindicated

1) Direct from the liberal spin manual, Tom Brokaw told David Letterman that Clinton did wrong but there was "zealotry" by Republicans who are hypocrites for not being upset by Iran-Contra.

2) NBC's Tom Brokaw stressed how Clinton "was spending his time on a subject that is expected to be much larger than impeachment in the next election." Medicare. Sidney Blumenthal admitted Clinton lied to him, but FNC suggested Blumenthal lied to the managers.

3) Geraldo Rivera brought his staff on-camera to salute the New York Times for denouncing Ken Starr as a "narcissistic legal crank." And he impugned House managers as racially discriminatory.

4) The IRS ruled Monday that contrary to the Democratic and media-fueled scandal, Newt Gingrich's college course never violated tax laws. Only CNN noticed with a thorough report from Brooks Jackson.

5) ABC's Hugh Downs rationalized Clinton's sex with Lewinsky as "a glandular thing" impacting all men "that can eclipse one's rational faculties for a time."

Correction: The February 2 CyberAlert misspelled the last name of the spokesman for the Office of the Independent Counsel. It's Charles Bakaly, not Bakaley.

     >>> Attention AOL subscribers: The Web does not have to be a blur. This may go under the heading of "dah" to many of you who long ago figured this out, but since I know many AOL users over the years have complained about the poor resolution of graphic images on Web sites, including how they cannot read the captions which are part of the images on the MRC page, I thought I'd pass along a solution MRC Webmaster Sean Henry stumbled upon Wednesday. Apparently "use compressed graphics" is the default setting in AOL for its customized internal browser. To see graphics closer to how they should be seen, follow these instructions:
     While in AOL but without the browser in use, go to the "Members" pull down menu at the top of your AOL screen, choose "Preferences" and click on the "WWW" icon. Select the tab for "Web Graphics" and then deselect the "use compressed graphics" option check mark. Launch the AOL browser and re-load a page you've seen before. You should notice a huge improvement in graphic clarity, though it still won't be as good as Netscape or a true version of Internet Explorer. <<<


letterman0204.jpg (19045 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Wednesday night on the Late Show with David Letterman NBC's Tom Brokaw tried to appear fair by criticizing both Clinton and Republicans for how they've handled the impeachment scandal, but he noticeably failed to reproach Democrats in general as he criticized only the Republicans for hypocrisy.

     Clinton "misled his friends" and "lied under oath," Brokaw asserted, but on the other side "there was this kind of zealotry and hectoring of witnesses" by Republicans who didn't think perjury and abuse of power were such a big deal "when Iran-Contra was going on and Ronald Reagan was in office."

     Here's the discussion about Clinton on the February 3 Late Show on CBS:

     Tom Brokaw: "There were excesses on both sides. Certainly no one can defend the President's behavior. But I also..."
     David Letterman, cutting off Brokaw: "He's a goober."
     Brokaw: "He's a goober, right. And he's a lying goober at that is what he is. But on the other hand I think that there's a strong feeling that there was real political zealotry on the part of the people who came after him, that they carried it out too far."
     Letterman: "Is that legitimate, that criticism that it's all part of this very active, very vigorous right-wing conspiracy?"
     Brokaw: "I don't think the right-wing conspiracy is entirely fair because the President got himself in this hot water and this was a duly constituted independent prosecutor, but it was a five year investigation, it went on for a long time, it started with Whitewater, then they got into a lot of other things and then when you heard how the President had behaved the question became was that a high crime and misdemeanor and a crime against the state and it was on that point that most people backed away from saying let's throw him out of office, but the House continued to prosecute him because they felt strongly about the matter of perjury under oath and they also felt it was an abuse of power.
     "They didn't feel, these same Republicans, that way when Iran-Contra was going on and Ronald Reagan was in office."
     Letterman: "That was a much bigger, bigger, broader thing, wasn't it?"
     Brokaw: "But there's no defending anyone in all of this. I mean the sad thing is, the sad thing about this for the country is and I think that this is how the country's reacting to it -- that there's no one to cheer here for. The President's behavior was indefensible. He misled his friends, he lied under oath, however he parses the word 'is,' and on the other side that there was this kind of zealotry and hectoring of witnesses and potential witnesses."

     Brokaw could just as easily have pointed out that Democrats who condemned Reagan officials involved in Iran-Contra, and demanded criminal penalties, are hypocrites for refusing to remain consistent in their approach to Clinton. But in Brokaw's world only conservatives are guilty of "zealotry" and no one should "cheer" for those pursuing the rule of law.

     (Thursday morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell will have a RealPlayer clip of this up on the MRC home page.)


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Forget Blumenthal, let's get this trial over with and move on. Tuesday night all the networks emphasized how Senators are working furiously to appease the public's desire to end the trial and get back to real issues. "Oh how the Senate would like to get the President's impeachment trial over with without letting President Clinton off the hook," Peter Jennings sympathized.
"While the Senate was struggling with how to wrap of the impeachment trial," Tom Brokaw declared, "the President was spending his time on a subject that is expected to be much larger than impeachment in the next election." That would be saving Medicare, an issue NBC illustrated with anecdotes about suffering elderly while ignoring those paying the bill.

     All also squeezed in a little bit on Sidney Blumenthal's deposition with FNC's Carl Cameron suggesting the managers think he misled them. CBS showcased a MSNBC analyst, aka Clinton spinner Lanny Davis, who called a Maine radio station to denounce Senator Susan Collins for her finding of fact idea which he labeled a "kangaroo court process."

     Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, February 3 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened by looking forward to the end:
     "Good evening. Oh how the Senate would like to get the President's impeachment trial over with without letting President Clinton off the hook. Late today the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Henry Hyde, one of the Republicans prosecuting Mr. Clinton, said that the three witnesses who've just been deposed on videotape -- Lewinsky, Jordan and today the presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal -- should be seen by the whole Senate in person. As of tonight the betting on Capitol Hill is: not a chance. Too many Senators in a hurry now to finish this with their own reputations intact."

     Linda Douglass explained Republicans met Wednesday to find a way to end the trial "without looking like they lost." After explaining the finding of fact idea and how with it perjury would become "providing false and misleading testimony" and obstruction of justice would become "impede, cover-up and conceal the existence of evidence," she noted: "Democrats trashed the plan before they'd even heard the details."
     She concluded: "Having hope for some Democratic support, some of the Republicans were staggered by the voracity of the Democrats' response today. They may actually drop their plan if it has no hope of getting any bipartisan support. But in the meantime Republicans are continuing to take their own partisan shots. Tonight they did send a letter to the President asking him to appear for a deposition under oath."
     Jennings inquired: "Not a chance as we know Linda, but what about Sidney Blumenthal. Any light shed on what he said today?"
     Douglass replied: "No new ground broken although sources do say that when asked if he now does believe that the President lied to him in saying that Monica Lewinsky was stalking him, Blumenthal said yes."

     -- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer began his lead piece with Blumenthal:
     "White House aide Sidney Blumenthal told prosecutors that he now believes President Clinton lied to him when he told him Monica Lewinsky was a stalker who tried to force him to have sex. Now that is the story that Blumenthal told the grand jury last year, but he denies he ever spread it to reporters in an effort to smear Ms. Lewinsky and he says he told no one about it, in fact, except his wife and his lawyer."

     Next, Phil Jones examined the finding of fact idea and talked with its author, Republican Susan Collins of Maine. Jones then relayed:
     "The White House has gone ballistic, attacking those pushing the findings idea. Lanny Davis, one of the President's lawyers, even called a Maine radio station to ridicule callers and Senator Collins."

     Audio of Davis on a Bangor station: "You are frustrated and in a minority of hating Bill Clinton. And as a minority of this country, you are willing to subscribe to unfair, kangaroo court process that Senator Collins has proposed." [This bad syntax is accurate]

     In between castigating Republican Senators and anyone who agrees with them, Davis serves a "legal analyst" for MSNBC.

     -- CNN's The World Today. Bob Franken reviewed Blumenthal's testimony, Jonathan Karl looked at the finding of facts idea and how "Democrats are waging war" on it and Wolf Blitzer highlighted how the White House promises it won't gloat if Clinton wins.

     -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. Carl Cameron uniquely picked up on how the House managers may pursue perjury committed by Blumenthal: "Sources say Blumenthal also said that he had never had conversations within the White House, or taken part in strategy meeting at which discussions of how to deal with Monica Lewinsky or particularly attack her credibility occurred. He denied, sources say, that there were ever strategy meetings in the White House to deal with smearing any potential witnesses. That, because it was reported by the media having had occurred, has prompted some sources to suggest that the managers may actually go after Sidney Blumenthal and potentially even prosecute him for perjury."

     -- NBC Nightly News was the only show not to lead with the impeachment trial. Instead, NBC stressed how Clinton is doing something more important: the people's business. Tom Brokaw topped the broadcast:
     "Good evening. While the Senate was struggling with how to wrap of the impeachment trial of President Clinton today, mindful of more polls saying end it now, the President was spending his time on a subject that is expected to be much larger than impeachment in the next election. It's Social Security, Medicare and how to heal them with these unexpectedly large budget surpluses."

     Up first, David Bloom began: "Tonight the President is trying to box in Republicans, arguing that Americans face a choice between strengthening Medicare or cutting taxes. But tonight, even some Democrats complain that when it comes to Medicare, Mr. Clinton is ducking the most difficult issues."
     Bloom introduced a Clinton soundbite by asserting: "Republicans, the President seemed to be saying, prefer tax cuts for the wealthy to shoring up a health insurance program for the elderly."
     Bloom did note that the Concord Coalition called his idea to set aside 15 percent of the surplus for Medicare a "shell game" and ran a critical soundbite from Senator Bob Kerrey, but no conservative appeared in the piece.

     Up next, Lisa Myers made the case for the need for Medicare to cover prescriptions as Clinton proposed, calling the current lack of coverage a "gaping hole in the Medicare safety net." Like Bloom she ignored conservatives, focusing on the plight of a woman and comments from a doctor who claimed her patients must choose heat over buying medicine and the lack of prescription coverage shortens people's lives. Pointing out how there is no plan for how to pay for the $20 billion prescription coverage would cost, Myers concluded with the plight of a recipient:
     "Until then 67 year-old Doris Huber will have to live on whatever's left after she pays her medical bills. Less secure than she and millions of others thought they'd be under Medicare, a program supposed to meet their needs."

     Not until the third story did NBC get to the Senate trial. On Blumenthal, Gwen Ifill told viewers: "Congressional sources say Blumenthal, in a sometimes contentious session with House prosecutors, testified the President flat out lied to him when he said he had never had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky."


geraldo0204.jpg (19554 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Geraldo Rivera celebrated Tuesday night over a New York Times editorial which rebuked Ken Starr as a "narcissistic legal crank," bringing his staff on-camera to join him in giving a salute to the editorial writers. Later he disparaged the House managers as "born-again...right-to-lifers, all of whom are you know, anti-immigration, pro-English Only, etc," so the more diverse public naturally says "wait a second, those people wouldn't even let me into their home or their neighborhood."

     Here are the two noteworthy diatribes from Rivera on the February 2 Rivera Live on CNBC, both caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

     -- Rivera praising the New York Times editorial which castigated Ken Starr for supposedly leaking news that he thinks he can indict Clinton, though there's no evidence Starr or his office had anything to do with the Sunday New York Times story:
     "If you thought that Pat Robertson's statement that Republicans should give up the ghost was the death knell of the impeached Clinton movement an editorial in today's New York Times is another huge nail in the coffin. The article is unprecedented in its tone, its language and its attitude for the normally staid and reserved newspaper whose nickname is the 'Old Grey Lady.' It excoriates Ken Starr for inserting his sorry self into the Senate trial, condemning what it calls his legal mischief.
     "The paper says quote, 'Mr. Starr is already regarded by his critics as an obsessive personality. Now he seems determined to write himself into the history books as a narcissistic legal crank.' I love that line."

     Rivera read more of the editorial before wrapping up: "In a parting blow the editorial suggests 'The Senate needs to find a way to slap Mr. Starr back into line.' I love when they talk dirty. As you know I have been hugely critical of The New York Times and its anti-Clinton/pro-Ken Starr editorial stance during the past several years. Especially its overheated reporting about Whitewater and other defunct presidential scandals but tonight, c'mon, c'mon [waves over staff to stand behind him] tonight after seeing this major institutional change in direction and attitude let me just say in the tradition of the high seas, from the staff of Rivera Live to the staff of The New York Times, welcome aboard! [Five staffers stand behind him and join Rivera in a salute.]"

     (To see this group scene, go to the MRC home page where an image of it will be placed Thursday morning along side this item in the posted CyberAlert.)

     -- Rivera on how the House managers should rationally be perceived as racists who discriminate against those of differing skin colors and ethnicities:
     "I don't want to be a brown racist, substituting for white racism here. But don't you think 13 guys, all of whom, you know, are not noted for any contribution to civil rights. I'm talking about the House managers. All of whom are born-again, all of whom are right-to-lifers, all of whom are you know, anti-immigration, pro-English Only, etc, etc, don't you think that when that face is presented, isn't that one of the reasons the majority, the vast majority of the American people support the President? When they look at the people prosecuting, some say persecuting him say and say wait a second those people wouldn't even let me into their home or their neighborhood or to work along side them?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Too late for Newt Gingrich to get his job back. Remember that scandal a few years ago about how Gingrich violated the tax code by claiming his partisan college course was educational? (This, despite the fact he praised Democrats like FDR in it and criticized many Republicans.) Oh, never mind. After a three-and-a-half year probe, the IRS on Wednesday announced it found no improprieties in the tax filings of Gingrich and the sponsoring Progress and Freedom Foundation.

     Big news? No, only CNN's Brooks Jackson noticed, but even CNN buried his comprehensive story as the last piece on the February 3 Inside Politics. The World Today gave it a mere 22 seconds, but that was 22 seconds more than the other network evening shows.

     On Inside Politics, co-anchor Judy Woodruff conceded: "After all the criticism of his tactics and long-time questions about his ethics, Gingrich apparently can, on at least one point, say, I told you so."

     Brooks Jackson began: "It was legal after all. Newt Gingrich's oh-so-controversial college course that he started back in 1993, before he was Speaker. Remember how Democrats denounced it?"
     David Bonior a couple of years ago: "Mr. Gingrich engaged in a pattern of tax fraud."
     John Lewis: "We now have a Speaker under investigation for lying to the outside counsel, investigating his involvement in a massive tax-fraud scheme."
     Jackson continued: "Tax fraud? Well, never mind. After a three-and- a-half year examination, the Internal Revenue Service -- Bill Clinton's IRS -- has issued an official finding: no violation of tax laws. Critics said the course, which was videotaped and widely distributed, was too political; a scheme to use a tax-exempt educational foundation to promote a Republican agenda and elect Republican candidates. But in a 74-page memorandum, the IRS said otherwise, quote: 'The course taught principles from American civilization that could be used by each American in everyday life, whether the person is a welfare recipient, the head of a large corporation or a politician.' It said: 'The course was not biased toward particular politicians, or a particular party. The facts show the class was much more than a political platform.'..."
     "Gingrich issued a statement: 'I consider this a full and complete vindication. I urge my colleagues to go back and read their statements and watch how they said them, with no facts, based on nothing more than a desire to politically destroy a colleague.' But ruling comes too late to help much: Gingrich has resigned from Congress, and already paid a $300,000 fine to settle House Ethics Committee charges that he made misleading statements during an investigation of the college course."

     Jackson concluded by noting how Gingrich made the correct decisions in the first place: "When he settled those charges, Gingrich also agreed he should have sought better legal advice about the course, but it turns out he was right, and those who accused him of tax fraud were wrong."

     Co-anchor Bernard Shaw added: "Always good to keep the record straight."

     The question is, do the other networks feel the same way? If they do we should see them pick up this story on Thursday.

     To read the Progress and Freedom Foundation's triumphant press release, excerpts of the IRS ruling or the entire IRS document, go to http://www.pff.org or to a special links page PFF has set up: http://www.pff.org/IRS_clean_bill_of_health.htm


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Bill Clinton couldn't help himself, it's just "a glandular thing." MRC news analyst Paul Smith picked this up from ABC 20/20 co-anchor Hugh Downs during a February 2 discussion on CNN's Larry King Live:
     "I think it is fair to say in a case like this where a powerful man who is an astute politician, obviously intelligent but who is driven to take risks. There is no doubt about that, not politically, he is very careful about that. But this is a glandular thing really with a lot of men and we all probably suffer from it to a certain, more or less extent that can eclipse one's rational faculties for a time and I am sure that is what happened. It wasn't like he did something dumb or that he was venal about it so much as he was just driven and his wife sees fit to forgive him for it I don't know why the nation wouldn't forgive him."

     What "glandular thing"-driven event is in Downs' past? And I guess spending months lying and pushing legal privileges requests at taxpayer's expense is not "venal" if having sex of some kind with an intern is not "dumb."  -- Brent Baker


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