ABC Put Sex Survey Ahead of "Real Issues"; CNN: Clinton Accepts Responsibility
1) Instead of using a slow day
on the Lewinsky sex scandal front to delve into "real issues,"
ABC led with how "sexual dysfunction in America is a very serious
2) CNN devoted a piece to how
Clinton's friends "say he accepts his responsibility for his
misbehavior." Bob Franken dismissed the call for a probe of phone
call tapes as "one more sideshow."
3) "Who gives a rat's
tail about Sidney Blumenthal?" demanded Geraldo Rivera in badmouthing
Christopher Hitchens as "Snitchens."
4) Mayors are suing gun
makers, but for Dan Rather the NRA is the bad guy: "The National
Rifle Association has leveled withering fire against cities seeking
damages for gun-related violence..."
5) A former Democratic Senator
acknowledged that the media were a force against impeachment. Cokie
Roberts on how journalists will react to the end of the trial: "Oh, I
think we'll rejoice."
>>> February 8 Notable Quotables,
the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometime
humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online. Quote headings
include "Clinton, A Republican?"; "Republicans Remind One
of Nazis...And/Or Stalinists"; "'Secret Clique' of
Conservatives," and "Thank Heaven for Dan Quayle and His
'Backward Remarks.'" To read all of the quotes in the issue go to
the MRC's home page or go directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990208.html
For previous issues from this year, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/welcome.html
We must "move on" so we can address the "real issues"
that concern Americans. That's been the media mantra over the past
several month with pundits and reporters insisting the obsession with
Clinton scandal has prevented the media from focusing on issues like
Social Security and education.
With the Senate
session closed on Tuesday and the trial generating little news, ABC
decided to lead World News Tonight with something other than the Lewinsky
scandal, which is after all not that important because at its base it's
all about sex. Or so goes the liberal/media line. So, what did ABC
consider the most important story of the day, a story they put ahead of a
new analysis of Clinton's Social Security plan? A survey about how
satisfied people are with their sex lives.
opened the February 9 broadcast:
"Good evening. We begin this evening with
what the American Medical Association publishes today as a significant
public health concern: a study from the University of Chicago, published
in the AMA's journal, which finds that sexual dysfunction in America is
a very serious problem for a large percentage of Americans young as well
as old. Nearly half of the women and a third of the men in the survey
report dysfunction of some kind. The study's authors say that what they
have found in the data is stunning."
Dr. Tim Johnson
proceeded to explain how 31 percent of men and 43 percent of women
reported a problem, mainly a "lack of desire, arousal problems or
inability to climax." Johnson added: "As many as 33 percent of
all women and 15 percent of all men surveyed reported lack of interest in
It's a safe bet
Bill Clinton is part of the 85 percent of men who don't lack interest.
And just how hot,
shall we say, is this news which ABC considered compelling enough to lead
with? Johnson told Jennings the survey results were actually published in
a book in 1992 and the AMA Journal article just delivered a fresh
extrapolation of the numbers.
(With sex out of
the way, Jennings introduced the second story of the night: "There
was a very harsh review today of the President's Social Security
plan..." John Cochran reported on the Senate testimony of David
Walker, the Comptroller General.)
The other networks
managed to control their excitement. NBC's Tom Brokaw gave the sex
article 25 seconds and while the CBS Evening News brought aboard Dr.
Bernardine Healy to talk about it with Dan Rather, CBS placed the story
deep into the show. When Healy explained that the dissatisfaction of young
women came as a surprise, Rather expressed concern: "Doctor, we know
that Viagra has been a solution for many men in taking care of sexual
dysfunctional problems. Is there any such magic pill on the horizon for
the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will work together to post on
the MRC home page a RealPlayer clip of how Jennings began World News
Tonight. Go to: www.mrc.org)
While ABC led with sex and NBC went first with the work slowdown at
American Airlines, the Senate trial topped the CBS, CNN and FNC evening
shows. ABC allocated the least time to the trial, a 13 second item from
Peter Jennings on how they decided to debate in private. Displaying her
feelings on the decision, NBC's Gwen Ifill complained that "the
people who voted for these lawmakers will never get to see how they voted
to convict or acquit the President." Only CNN's Bob Franken offered
any detail about what happened behind closed doors.
CNN ran a piece by
Chris Black who insisted "Mr. Clinton's friends say he genuinely
regrets the pain he inflicted on his wife and daughter" and while
angry "at Republicans for turning a personal failing into a political
crime," they "say he accepts his responsibility for his
misbehavior." Really? Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News reported
the opposite seconds later on Inside Politics, a perspective missing from
The World Today.
"And one more
sideshow," CNN's Franken dismissively remarked in reporting on
Trent Lott's request that Ken Starr investigate the possibility that
Clinton's calls with Lewinsky were recorded. FNC's Carl Cameron also
noted Lott's request, but not stories on ABC, CBS or NBC.
Here are some
highlights from the Tuesday, February 9 evening shows:
-- CBS Evening
News opened with Bob Schieffer hoping: "Dan, it may be hard to
believe, but the end is near..." After explaining how the vote to
open debate fell short of the needed two-thirds and reporting how support
for censure is fading, Schieffer concluded by both explaining the
conservative view and accurately summarizing its downside:
"Some Republicans now want to block censure.
Their reasoning is it's cop out, a way for Democrats to say they
punished the President without removing him from office. Ironically, if
those Republicans succeed, it could be the best of all worlds for the
President. He'll get to keep his job without even a verbal
-- CNN did not air 10pm ET special and instead
ran Late Edition/Prime Time. The 8pm ET The World Today began with Bob
Franken, who proposed: "One big reason for the closed session was to
speed things up by taking away the Senator's impulse to posture for the
cameras." Following a clip of Trent Lott urging Senators to be brief,
Franken offered a reality check: "It didn't work. Fewer than 20
spoke, but most used their entire allotted 15 minutes. Sources say that at
several points one Senator questioned another."
reported falling support for censure and that Democrats blocked a request
to depose witnesses in a probe of possible perjury by Sidney Blumenthal.
"And one more sideshow. Majority Leader
Trent Lott has sent a letter to independent counsel Ken Starr, asking him
to investigate whether in fact a White House taping system may have
recorded now infamous phone conversations between the President and
Lewinsky. White House officials flatly denied the existence of
In the second of
CNN's two scandal-related stories Chris Black provided a piece assuring
viewers that Clinton is quite contrite and will not gloat. She asserted
that his advisers know he must avoid saying he was vindicated and not hold
any celebrations or rallies as he did after the House impeachment vote.
Political analyst Charlie Cook suggested he should "show real
sorrow" and apologize. After a clip of a Saturday Night Live skit
with Clinton celebrating, Black ran an old soundbite of Joe Lockhart
promising the White House is a "gloat-free zone." Black then
launched into this unanswered recitation of a Clinton-friendly take on his
"Mr. Clinton's friends say he genuinely
regrets the pain he inflicted on his wife and daughter. They say he is
acutely aware he disappointed his friends and supporters. They acknowledge
his anger at Republicans for turning a personal failing into a political
crime, but they say he accepts his responsibility for his misbehavior. The
President is expected to make a public statement of contrition shortly
after the Senate vote. But White House officials predict nothing he does
will satisfy some of his critics."
The World Today
then went to a commercial break. But when her piece aired earlier on
Inside Politics, CNN followed up with an interview with Black and two
other reporters, including Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News who
reported over the weekend that "according to several well-placed
sources who recently have spoken with Clinton, his private demeanor is
notably lacking in remorse." On Inside Politics he revised his
assessment a bit but still delivered a different flavor than did Black.
DeFrank told Judy Woodruff: "He apparently feels some remorse Judy.
But if you define contrition by a feeling he didn't lie, he didn't lie
under oath, he didn't commit perjury, he didn't obstruct justice then he's
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw followed the lead
story on American Airlines by working aviation terms into his introduction
to a trial update: "The U.S. Senate appears to be in the glide path,
the final phase of its long, turbulent impeachment trial of President
Gwen Ifill's run-on report reflected her
disagreement with the Senate's decision to close the session:
"After 384 days of Monica Lewinsky and the President and impeachment
all conducted in public, the Senate went behind closed doors tonight to
make their final deliberations, where the people who voted for these
lawmakers will never get to see how they voted to convict or acquit the
Of course, they
will see how they voted just not the arguments they forwarded.
Geraldo Rivera suggested the Senate decision to go into closed session is
more suited to a time of graft and is a "far greater" scandal
than whatever Sidney Blumenthal may have done. But maybe Rivera is just
jealous of Christopher Hitchens, who he disparaged as "Snitchens,"
because he maintained Blumenthal never told him the "stalker"
-- Rivera opening
the February 9 Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
"Can you believe their gall? Voting to hold
their final impeachment debate behind closed doors. Why don't we just
bring back the bad old days of Tammany Hall, smoked filled rooms and
precinct captains dispensing patronage to the party faithful? It is in my
opinion a scandal of far greater proportions than the one the GOP tried
Following a soundbite of Senator Arlen Specter
requesting approval for depositions related to Blumenthal, Rivera
"Who gives a rat's tail about Sidney
Blumenthal? If the United States Senate wants him investigated for alleged
perjury, so be it. But to try to prolong our national impeachment agony by
making a constitutional case out of what Blumenthal may have said to some
reporter about Monica is as absurd as deliberating impeachment in private.
Anyway, the Senate turned down that request. Maybe they have decided
finally to get out of the muck of zippergate."
-- On Monday
night's Rivera Live, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera did a
little name calling toward Hitchens:
"...In so far as impeachment is concerned
the Snitchens, check that, the Hitchens allegations are irrelevant but
Sidney Blumenthal could indeed charged with perjury."
"But Alan can I give you a personal story?
You know, you always say how close I am to the White House. I quote my
sources very close to the President. I've spoken to Sidney Blumenthal
three or four times in my entire life. He never, you know, out of all this
year long debacle, never once did he mention Monica Lewinsky to me,
stalker-wise or otherwise."
Guns don't kill people, blocking lawsuits does. A bunch of liberal
mayors in cahoots with trial lawyers have hit upon an idea to raise money.
Instead of holding people responsible for their actions, sue gun
manufacturers. An assault on the rights of a legal industry to make and
sell their product without interference? Not to Dan Rather who portrayed
the gun manufacturers as the aggressors though they are reacting to a
first strike by opportunistic politicians.
Note the loaded
language in this introduction to a February 9 CBS Evening News story:
"The National Rifle Association has leveled
withering fire against cities seeking damages for gun-related violence.
Last week the city of Atlanta filed suit against 17 gun manufacturers.
Today the Governor of Georgia, a Democrat, signed a bill backed by the
high powered lobbied that prohibits such lawsuits."
CBS reporter Byron
Pitts subsequently delivered a story more balanced than Rather's slanted
intro. He featured two soundbites from the NRA's James Baker and two
from mayors: Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell who blamed gun makers for
"carnage on the streets" and Miami Mayor Alex Penelas who
asserted the manufacturers have chosen profit over the "blood of
The media, lead brigade in fighting impeachment and removal. On Monday's
10pm ET Trial of the President special on CNN, Bernard Shaw asked Senator
Sam Nunn: "For both parties, what are the perils and the fallout from
this impeachment process?"
MRC analyst Paul
Smith picked up on Nunn's response which hit both conservatives and
liberals, but note his take on the role of the news media:
"I think all the institutions involved have
looked bad except the Constitution of the United States. I think the
Constitution and the founding fathers have come through this with blue
ribbons. When you look at the whole series of events, a convergence of a
lot of different things, a President who in my view should have had a
moral obligation to either tell the truth or to resign, that's my view
point. He did neither. You have a special counsel, an independent counsel
law that's seriously flawed and an independent counsel whose authority
exceeded his judgment on a number of occasions. You have a right wing in
this country that basically accused the President of so much before Monica
was ever heard of, murder, drug running, that they inoculated him.
"You have a left wing in this country
that's defended the President even though in the past they would accuse
people of a capital crime for winking in the workplace. You've had a
feminist movement that basically I think has done a backflip and has sort
of lost its authority here at least in an intellectual sense.
"And on top of all that, you've had a news
media that's been all summer saying he should resign. But when
impeachment got started, they basically shifted and went the other way. So
I say at the end of all those events that have come together thank God for
the founding fathers because the Constitution has worked."
Bottom line, even
a Democrat realizes the news media have served as a force against
impeachment and removal.
Monday night on
ABC's Nightline anchor Forrest Sawyer acknowledged: "We should
mention there might be a backlash against the media because so many
journalists will be wearing black armbands when this is over and they
don't have anything to talk about."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the
illuminating reply from Cokie Roberts: "Oh, I think we'll
victory, that is.
In case I do not do a CyberAlert on Thursday, I
want to make sure you are aware that Linda Tripp will make her network
television interview debut on Friday in a taped conversation with Jamie
Gangel. -- Brent Baker
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