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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday February 11, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 26)
Geraldo in Full-Gloat Mode; Actor Ron Silver Repudiates "Right-Wing Fringe"

1) Those opposed to censure, Bob Schieffer argued, "sound like a prosecutor telling a jury if you don't give this defendant the death penalty then just let him go." Rather jumped on the probe of Starr, but no one is questioning the timing or asking who leaked.

2) "You go Tom!" Geraldo Rivera exulted as he clapped. "Iowa should be proud of Senator Harkin for...singling out Ken Starr's conduct as the conduct most deserving of contempt."

3) Geraldo Rivera is gloating, rejoicing in the probe of Starr, the "narcissistic legal crank," and seriously asserting that Bill Clinton "seems to be a guy who is honest in every other aspect of his life but his sex life."

4) "I think the American people's response to this is actually conservative with a small c," contended columnist E.J. Dionne.

5) Actor Ron Silver scoffed at how Republicans control "the people's House" when "they don't like the people" and insisted the managers "are every bit as flawed as our President," but "they didn't have Starr with $40 million going after them."


Correction and Clarification: The February 9 CyberAlert item on the sex survey changed the sex of the CBS News consultant interviewed by Dan Rather. She's Dr. Bernadine Healy, not Bernard Healy. Also, the issue reported that the survey data appeared in a 1992 book. In fact, while the National Health and Social Life Survey took place in 1992, the data were not published until 1994.

1 1

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) "Good evening. The Senate impeachment trial is crawling to a close," remarked Peter Jennings in opening the February 10 World News Tonight. The announcements by Republican Senators Jeffords, Chafee and Specter that they would vote no, including the bizarre allegiance of Arlen Specter to "Scottish law" over the U.S. Constitution, led all the Wednesday evening shows except NBC Nightly News which began with a judge's back to work order for pilots at American Airlines. CNN's Bob Franken and FNC's Carl Cameron added that Slade Gorton will vote no on perjury, yes on obstruction.

     By opposing censure, CBS reporter Bob Schieffer argued, conservatives "sound like a prosecutor telling a jury if you don't give this defendant the death penalty then just let him go."

     CBS anchor Dan Rather read a brief item about how the New York Times reported that the Justice Department is probing Ken Starr's performance, but unlike when a New Times story two weeks ago revealed Starr thought he could indict Clinton, there's no media indignation about who leaked the story or outrage at its timing. Back then Good Morning America grilled two guests about who leaked and the improper timing of it in the middle of the Senate trial. On Wednesday morning: Mention of the story in the news updates, but reports MRC analyst Mark Drake, no interview segments. The 7am half hour interviews dealt with the Salt Lake Olympic scandal and an avalanche in France. Only FNC's Carl Cameron pointed out that the last time Starr was investigated the federal judge cleared his staff.

     Some highlights from the Wednesday, February 10 network evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. In a relatively brief 1:13 opening story Linda Douglass noted: "Specter appeared to want it both ways. He said he will avoid declaring the President not guilty by voting not proved, which he said is an option under Scottish law. No one knows if such a vote is possible." Douglass concluded that while there is not a majority to convict on perjury, Republicans "say though there is pressure to vote for the obstruction of justice charge to avoid embarrassing House Republicans who impeached the President. But even that, Peter, falls far short of the 67 votes needed to remove him from office."

     -- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer ran through the decision of the three Senators and allowed Republican Senator Jim Inhofe to explain why conservatives oppose censure. Inhofe explained: "Censure is a cover cop-out." But then Schieffer concluded by spelling out how that position pleases Democrats:
     "By Republican reasoning censure gives the Democrats the excuse to say they punished the President without removing him from office. And the Republicans don't want to give the Democrats that excuse, but in doing so they sound like a prosecutor telling a jury if you don't give this defendant the death penalty then just let him go. Privately, Democrats seem very happy with this Republican strategy."

     Referring to the White House, Dan Rather then observed: "One thing they definitely do not want to appear to be is too happy, much less gloating." Scott Pelley checked in with a report on how Clinton's staff is working on a post-verdict statement.

     Next, Rather announced: "The Justice Department will reportedly look into whether special prosecutor Ken Starr's office misled Attorney General Janet Reno in seeking permission to investigate the Monica Lewinsky case. The New York Times reports the focus is on the failure of Starr's office to disclose its contacts with lawyers for Paula Jones. Handwritten notes by a Justice Department official indicate Starr's office said it had never spoken with Jones' lawyers when the facts indicate otherwise."

     -- CNN ran a half-hour trial special at 10pm ET. Bob Franken led the 8pm ET The World Today with a look at the three Senators, adding that another "moderate," Dick Lugar, said will vote yes on both while Slade Gorton will go no on perjury and guilty on obstruction.

     Following Franken anchor Joie Chen read numbers from a CNN/USA Today/Gallup which found 70 percent approval for Clinton while 57 percent favor censure. From the White House, John King observed: "Privately, associates say, the President has harsh words for Republicans trying to remove him from office. But his public message is one of reconciliation and bipartisanship."

     Next, Wolf Blitzer reported Hillary Clinton may run for the Senate: "CNN has learned that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is now giving very serious consideration to running for the New York Senate seat in 2000."

     -- FNC's Fox Report opened with Carl Cameron on the three Senators followed by Brian Wilson on White House plans and then David Shuster on the Justice Department probe of Starr. On the charge of mistreatment of Lewinsky at the hotel, Shuster reminded viewers: "Last summer, however, a federal judge conducted her own examination and found that the Office of the Independent Counsel in fact told Lewinsky she could leave and gave her several opportunities to call her attorney...."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw took 44 seconds to read an item on the three Senators, noting: "Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter threw another monkey wrench into the process by announcing he will note 'not proved' instead of not guilty. Specter said there's a precedent for that in Scottish law. He invited other to join him in voting not proved."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Geraldo Rivera let loose Wednesday night, February 10, in opening CNBC's Upfront Tonight, offering this tirade illustrated with brief video clips:

     Democratic Senator Tom Harkin: "This case should never have been brought to the United States Senate. In fact I believe it to be one of the most blatant, political, vindictive actions taken by the House of Representatives since Andrew Johnson's case was pushed through by the Radical Republicans of his time and forced upon the Senate."
     Geraldo Rivera: "You go Tom! [clapping] Iowa should be proud of Senator Harkin for defying the rules that forced secret deliberations, for blasting the case against Clinton and for singling out Ken Starr's conduct as the conduct most deserving of contempt."
     Harkin: "The American people, I've said many times, will abide sin and give forgiveness, but they will not abide hypocrisy and hypocrisy abounds throughout this case."
     Rivera: "And my personal choice as winner of best actor in the category of hypocrisy."
     Video of the November Starr/Barney Frank exchange in which Frank derisively says Starr is the "the expert on unfair questions."
     Rivera: "Ken Starr is up to his neck in hot water and tonight we'll show you how the independent counsel got there."
     Clip from Titanic in which a character yells a warning about an iceberg ahead.
     Rivera picked up the theme: "And speaking of the Titanic, today Republican Senators began jumping off their sinking ship."
     Two quick clips of Specter and Chafee.
     Rivera: "Right now with acquittal in sight the Washington press corps apparently thinks the President's gravest danger is over-celebrating."
     Soundbite of a reporter suggesting to Joe Lockhart that Clinton can't win because if he ever smiles he will be accused of gloating.
     Rivera agreed: "Good question. Seriously, for anyone worried about Clinton being ungracious in victory this just in from a source very close to the President. Quote: 'He's in pretty good shape. We had a long heart to heart over the weekend, and he's tired of it all, emotionally and physically. When I told him it was almost over the President sort of sighed and said, 'They'll never give up.'"

     And Rivera will never give up defending Clinton and disparaging Starr.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The White House may insist they are not gloating, but Geraldo Rivera's CNBC shows are definitely not gloat-free zones, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens discovered. On Tuesday's Rivera Live Rivera rejoiced in how "Ken Starr, the man described accurately last week by The New York Times as a 'narcissistic legal crank,' just might be in more hot water than the President he has so ruthlessly pursued." Later, Rivera seriously asserted that Bill Clinton "seems to be a guy who is honest in every other aspect of his life but his sex life," an assessment that even Newsweek's Jonathan Alter found preposterous.

     Two excerpts from the February 9 Rivera Live:

     -- "How ironic? President Clinton demonized by his accusers and relentlessly hunted by an obsessed prosecutor will remain in office. His legacy surely diminished but his presidency just as surely will survive the impeachment vote later this week. Meanwhile so many of his political enemies have been crushed. Newt Gingrich, gone, out of office. His would be successor Bob Livingston will soon be unemployed. Henry Hyde, Helen Chenoweth, Bob Barr, Trent Lott and Tom DeLay have all been tarnished while the once formidable melon-shooting Dan Burton is now a laughing stock. But the ultimate irony is this. Ken Starr, the man described accurately last week by The New York Times as a narcissistic legal crank just might be in more hot water than the President he has so ruthlessly pursued. Some months ago we began drawing up our own Articles of Impeachment against the independent counsel as the now real possibility of legal action against Ken Starr moves closer to reality."

     -- "He [Clinton] did a bad thing and I talked to David Maraniss you know who wrote First in His Class and I asked him a question because I'm not a biographer of Bill Clinton. I, you know, wasn't particularly a fan, one way or the other of his until I became maybe his most ardent television defender. That's because I was offended by this case against him. But he seems to be a guy who is honest in every other aspect of his life but his sex life. He seems to be, you know that's where his problem is."
     Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "Well, no, a lot of people would take issue with that. I think one of his problems, one of the reasons people don't like him on the Hill is that his word has not been his bond in other areas as well. So he's been a very successful and effective President in many ways but he's had some problems since the campaign in this whole area."
     Rivera: "But he never took bribes, he's not engaged in treason, he's not..."
     Alter, jumping in: "Well that's true and in a larger sense I think history will say that the cure."
     Rivera: "It's not exchanging arms for hostages, with all due respect to my buddy."
     Alter: "And lying about that as some previous President's did."
     Rivera: "But the cure here was worse than the disease. And I think that's what history will say is they will go down in history's bed chamber together, Starr..."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The public's embrace of Clinton and rejection of the impeachment process reflects their conservative values. MRC analyst Mark Drake caught this analysis from Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne on Tuesday's Hockenberry. Dionne told the MSNBC viewers:
     "I think the American people's response to this is actually conservative with a small c and it's the following: that they looked at what President Clinton did, they didn't approve of it, they didn't like it and then they said 'Okay. How did this come out? How did this become a legal case? Is it worth upsetting an election? Is it worth upsetting our institutions or are there less radical ways of dealing with what President Clinton did wrong?' So I don't think this is an American people who have lost their moral or cultural compass. I just think they looked at something wrong. They decided it was wrong and they wanted a solution well short of impeachment and removal from office."


silver0211.JPG (10922 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Actor Ron Silver has nothing but contempt for Republicans, especially after they went after his President. All this week ABC's Politically Incorrect is being taped at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC. On Monday's show, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson documented, Silver, who is now co-star of the NBC sit-com Veronica's Closet, scoffed at how Republicans control "the people's House" when "they don't like the people." Later he charged that the 13 House managers "are every bit as flawed as our President, but they were lucky and, thank God, they didn't have Starr with $40 million going after them for seven years."

     Thursday's guest list included Sam Donaldson and the stridently leftist Richard Belzer, star of NBC's Homicide. Politically Incorrect airs daily after Nightline and Washington area viewers should be aware that WJLA this week is not delaying the airing for 30 minutes as it usually does to accommodate Extra! This week Politically Incorrect is running at 12:07am.

     On the February 8 Politically Incorrect Silver appeared with fellow liberal Ann Richards and opposite Republican Congressman Matt Salmon and Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak who more than held his own. Here are a couple of Silver's diatribes, the first of which will be posted Thursday morning on the MRC home page after Kristina Sewell cues it up:

     -- Silver: "I think it's really an important question to figure out what the Republican Party is gonna do after this. I mean, they've shut down the government, and they are very proud of it, and then they didn't want to be blamed for it. Then in '94, they came in, the revolution, right, the class of '94 came in and they said, 'We're grassroots, and the people,' and here we are in '99 and they're saying, 'The thing wrong with the country is the people because they don't get it and they're not outraged enough.'"
     Sajak: "No."
     Silver over cheers and applause from audience: "And wait, wait, Pat, let me just finish this. Now what has the Republican Party done when they had the House, the people's House? But they don't like the people. But what have they done? [Laughter from audience] What have they done? They renamed National Airport. They tried to shut down the government. [Cheers and applause] And they're trying to get into your bedroom to find out what you're doing. What kind of party is that?"

     -- Silver: "Pat, Congressman [Matt Salmon], is there no sense of shame on your part or the party about the clear, cheap hypocrisy on the part of many of the House managers and the party? You're talking about Henry Hyde, Helen Chenoweth, Bob Livingston, Bob Barr....Isn't there any, wait, is there, is there no sense on your part that the Founding Fathers, your 13 House managers, are every bit as flawed as our President, but they were lucky and, thank God they didn't have Starr with $40 million going after them for seven years."

     -- Silver: "Matt [Salmon], don't you think the party has a problem? You're clearly hostages to the right-wing fringe of your party."

     No more than Hollywood is hostage to the left-wing fringe. -- Brent Baker


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