ABC: Heckler Is "Voice of the People"; "Free Lisa Myers"; Starr a Felon
1) ABC's Peter Jennings
promoted a heckler's outburst: "We begin tonight with the voice of
the people heard from the Senate gallery today." The trial may
"finally" be over, Dan Rather hoped.
2) "Free Lisa Myers"
touted buttons worn by the panelists and Brit Hume at the end of his FNC
show in a sign of support for the NBC reporter whose interview with
Juanita Broaddrick has yet to air.
3) Another 24 hour news cycle
has passed without a syllable uttered by the broadcast networks about the
IRS report vindicating Newt Gingrich's handling of his college course.
4) Instead of challenging
Richard Gephardt, Today's Katie Couric tossed this one: "The GOP,
according to the latest public opinion polls, is vulnerable. Are you
licking your chops over that?"
5) Geraldo Rivera asserted
that "Ken Starr is a terrible man," musing that Starr "may
himself someday be a convicted felon."
6) John Hockenberry dismissed
the relevance of Sidney Blumenthal's testimony about Clinton's lies,
claiming bosses lie all the time.
7) Letterman's "Top Ten
Hillary Clinton Campaign Slogans."
>>> "Will Jane Doe End Up as
Jane Don't? NBC Policy of 'Locking Up' Broaddrick Interview Wasn't
Used with Bernardin, Thomas, Nancy Reagan." The latest Media Reality
Check fax report will be posted on the MRC home page on Friday morning. In
it the MRC's Tim Graham contrasts Tim Russert's caution on airing the
Broaddrick interview conducted by Lisa Myers with how the network showed
no such concern for verification in highlighting unsubstantiated
allegations against three other public figures. To read the issue go to
the MRC home page: http://www.mrc.org or
Also now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry and
research associate Kristina Sewell: the February 8 MediaWatch: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1999/mw1999archive.html
ABC and CNN promoted a heckler's outburst as a credible and accurate
representation of how most people feel which should be honored. "We
begin tonight with the voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery
today," insisted Peter Jennings before playing a clip of the heckler
shouting: "God almighty, take the vote and get it over with."
Jennings claimed he was speaking "for so many Americans, whether they
believe the President should be convicted of perjury and obstruction of
justice or not." Actually, as the FNC's Jim Angle noted from the
White House, the heckler "could have been a White House official
because that is exactly the view here."
The trial, CBS's
Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer yearned, may soon "finally" come to
an end. Both CBS and NBC highlighted how James Rogan answered a Clinton
lawyer's question by saying "it is none of your damn
business." FNC's David Shuster caught up with ABC reporter Jackie
Judd's disclosure that a private investigator confirmed Kathleen
Willey's charge that she was threatened.
Every network but
CBS looked at the controversy over the flattering People magazine cover
story on Hillary and Chelsea which the Clintons have condemned for
invading Chelsea's privacy. "This has set off a spirited debate
about journalism, boundaries and exploitation," suggested Tom Brokaw.
NBC's David Bloom and ABC's John Cochran showed how Chelsea's
parents had exploited her before for their benefit. Both played the video
from last summer of Chelsea holding hands between her parents as they
walked to the helicopter and showed the cover of a 1992 People featuring
all three. Bloom added that the elder Clintons "insisted" the
then 12-year-old Chelsea appear with them on the cover. The NBC story also
gave time for a competitor to denounce the Time Warner magazine as
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter complained: "It violates a kind of an
informal but useful agreement that the media had to give her a break. Let
the poor girl alone, she didn't ask for this, she's essentially a
victim. She didn't put herself forward, why is it necessary?"
Here are some
highlights of how the Thursday, February 4 evening shows handled the
Senate votes to not hear from live witnesses but to allow the managers to
play portions of the three videotaped depositions:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened by giving legitimacy and credibility
to a crank:
"Good evening. We begin tonight with the
voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery today during yet another
procedural vote at the President's impeachment trial."
Senate Clerk: "Mr. Baucus. Mr. Baucus,
Audio of man in Senate gallery yelling: "God
almighty, take the vote and get it over with."
Jennings: "'God almighty,' the man said,
'take the vote and get it over with.' He was arrested. That's him in
the beard, slightly balding, on the right. He may think it was worth it,
speaking as he does for so many Americans, whether they believe the
President should be convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice or
not. The best that we can say tonight is they are getting there."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's pre-theme
music tease conveyed his hope the trial will soon end:
"The Senate impeachment court votes no live
witnesses. Monica Lewinsky will not be called to the Senate floor and the
end to the Republican drive to remove the President appears to be finally
explained the day's votes, before showcasing a "curt" comment
from a manager: "When White House lawyers wanted to know what portion
of the tapes prosecutors intended to show, they got a curt reply."
James Rogan on the Senate floor: "I believe
the appropriate legal response to your request is that it is none of your
damn business what the other side is going to put on."
concluded by returning to Rather's theme that this might
"finally" end: "Tonight Ms. Lewinsky sent word that she and
her family appreciate not having to go through the ordeal of testifying on
the Senate floor. In the meantime Dan, it looks like this trial is finally
about to end."
Of course, the
Senate trial has been going for barely four weeks, hardly a lengthy
view from the White House, Rather relayed: "A fast out that leaves
President Clinton in office on terms considered by his staff to be fair to
him is the goal of the President's camp."
-- CNN aired a 10pm ET Trial of the President
special. Co-anchor Joie Chen opened the 8pm ET The World Today by
inserting the heckler into her lead:
"So perhaps the Senators got the message,
the one delivered from the spectator gallery today from the visitor who
got up and shouted 'God almighty, take the vote and get it over with.'
He was arrested. Still, the Senators did act on a vote that seemed to put
them on track for a final decision on the President's fate next
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report opened with Rita
Cosby on the Senate decisions followed by Carl Cameron on growing doubts
that either article will garner a majority as the finding of facts idea
FNC then aired an
update on the Kathleen Willey case, the first network story I've seen
since ABC's January 29 story in which Jackie Judd revealed that Jared
Stern, a private investigator hired by a lawyer for Nathan Landow,
confirmed that there was a plan to intimidate her. FNC's David Shuster
gave an overview of the case and after allowing Stern to decline comment
"According to investigation sources,
however, Stern was asked to pull Kathleen Willey's phone records and
find out what medications she might be taking. Stern was hired by
attorneys for Nathan Landow who is a Democratic fundraiser and supporter
of the President..."
-- NBC Nightly News. Gwen Ifill maintained:
"The Senate vote's a setback for White House lawyers who argue that
releasing the details of the sworn interviews would only embarrass and
humiliate the President."
She also highlighted Rogan's retort and unlike
ABC portrayed the heckler as a disruptive pest, not a wise sage:
"And for the first time the Senate trial got
testy. On one occasion when House prosecutors James Rogan, quoting a
judge, rejected a White House request for an advanced look at the Lewinsky
testimony they plan to use."
Rogan: "I believe the appropriate legal
response to your request is that it is none of your damn business."
Ifill: "And minutes later when a heckler in
the public gallery disrupted proceedings, shouting quote, 'Good God
almighty, why don't you take a vote and get on with it.' He was
arrested." (Not quite what he said, but close.)
"Free Lisa Myers" proclaimed big blue buttons sported by Roll
Call's Morton Kondracke, Fortune's Jeffrey Birnbaum and Brit Hume at
the end of Thursday's 6pm ET/9pm PT Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC.
"And finally, we wanted to send our best wishes to our colleague at
NBC News, Lisa Myers. She has done remarkable reporting on the Clinton-Lewinsky
case and her latest coup is the only interview anyone has done on tape
with the mysterious Jane Doe No. 5. NBC News, however, has yet to air that
interview and we just wanted Lisa to know that we were thinking about her
over here at Fox News and we wish her well."
(To see the
button, go to the MRC home page. Friday morning, with the tape cuing help
of Kristina Sewell, Webmaster Sean Henry will post an image of the button
on Hume's jacket and a RealPlayer clip of Hume's comments. Go to: http://www.mrc.org)
Newt vindicated. Who cares? That seems to be the media attitude. As the
February 4 CyberAlert reported, the IRS determined he and the Progress and
Freedom Foundation (PFF) did not violate any tax laws in having the
tax-exempt PFF fund the college course he taught. Allegations that his
course was "partisan," and thereby improperly benefitted from a
tax subsidy, were at the center of the ethics complaints filed by
Democrats. On Wednesday CNN's Inside Politics ran a full story by Brooks
Jackson and CNN noted the ruling in its 8pm ET newscast. (See the February
4 CyberAlert for details.)
Despite an AP
dispatch picked up by many papers and a New York Times story, Thursday
morning not a syllable aired about it on ABC's Good Morning America,
CBS's This Morning or NBC's Today, MRC analysts Jessica Anderson,
Brian Boyd and Geoffrey Dickens informed me. Not a word on Wednesday night
on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, observed MRC analyst Mark
Drake. Thursday night the broadcast networks failed to catch up with CNN
and I did not notice a story either Wednesday or Thursday night on FNC.
Do you have any
doubt that if the IRS investigation had confirmed the allegations the
networks would have pounced on the proof of Gingrich wrongdoing?
House Minority Dick Gephardt appeared on Thursday's Today to discuss his
decision to not make a presidential bid since he thinks it's possible
for Democrats to re-take the House in 2000, making him Speaker. But
instead of playing devil's advocate, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noticed that co-host Katie Couric egged him on.
the February 4 interview: "With the GOP in apparent turmoil some
Democrats believe they have a good chance to win back control of Congress.
Among them House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt who last night announced
he would not run for President in the year 2000. Instead he has his eye on
another job, Speaker of the House."
to inquire about how close he came to running and how the public might
blame Democrats as well as Republicans for the "do nothing
Congress," but instead of posing some questions from the right, such
as whether there might be a backlash against Democrats for condoning
perjury and obstruction, she tossed these softballs:
-- "In terms
of hardcore politics, Congressman Gephardt, obviously the GOP, according
to the latest public opinion polls is vulnerable. Are you licking your
chops over that?"
-- "Do you think the Republican Party is in
a vulnerable position right now?"
Geraldo Rivera ruminated Wednesday night about how Ken Starr may become a
"convicted felon." In another quote caught by the MRC's
Geoffrey Dickens, on the February 3 Rivera Live the host asked Democrat
Abbe Lowell a devil's advocate question which incorporated two insults
at Ken Starr:
What about the charge that even though Ken Starr is a terrible man who is
violating Rule 6(e) and may himself someday be a convicted felon, that has
nothing to do with the fact that the President may have also broken the
Don't want to look partisan? Too late for that now. Dismissing the
relevance of the news that Sidney Blumenthal confirmed how Bill Clinton
lied to him in denying a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, on
Wednesday's Hockenberry show on MSNBC, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed,
John Hockenberry told Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund:
"Although John, with all due respect and I
don't want to look like a partisan here, but it's gotten to the point
where it's so ridiculous. A boss lied to a subordinate. Oh, my
Is Hockenberry a
little sore about being promised the 8pm ET slot and then getting bounced
to 10pm ET?
From the February 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Hillary Clinton Campaign Slogans." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants,
10. "Read My Lips -- No New
9. "Reward Me For Putting Up With Bill's Crap For So Long"
8. "Isn't It Time You Were Disappointed By A Different Clinton?"
7. "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, Ask How You Can
Illegally Contribute To My Campaign"
6. "Vote For Me Or My Husband Will Nail Your Wife"
5. "You Give Me A Vote, I'll Get Vernon Jordan To Give You A
4. "Still Not Indicted As Of Early '99!"
3. "From Perjury To Albany"
2. "Building A Bridge To The 21st Century, And Pushing My Husband
1. "Oh Lord, Please Don't Make Me Go Back To Arkansas"
Imagine where we could be in two years: A
vindicated Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham. -- Brent Baker
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