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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday Afternoon February 12, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 28)
NBC's Today on Linda Tripp: A Betrayer Responsible for the Scandal

1) Just after the vote NBC's Tim Russert listed Arlen Specter and Fred Thompson as among the "very conservative Republicans" who voted not guilty on perjury.

2) Today subjected Linda Tripp to a one-sided interview which assumed that she had done wrong and should regret it as "the country has gone through a year of scandal which many people blame you for." Instead of praising her for preserving the dress, which made Clinton admit his activity, Gangel scolded: "It sounds like you're manipulating Monica to implicate the President."

>>> "Gay Groups Affirm Falwell Concerns Over Teletubbies," a new story from the MRC's Conservative News Service is now up on the CNS Web site: http://www.conservativenews.org. CNS staff writer Lawrence Morahan reported: "The Rev. Jerry Falwell, who has been ridiculed by some in the establishment press for saying one of the Teletubbies is meant to depict a homosexual toddler, appears to have found some unlikely corroborators among the gay media." Morahan discovered: "'Tinky Winky is the unofficial gay Teletubby, in the opinion of myself and many others,' reads the Gay Teletubby page on the Internet web site LesBiGay, Etc, a web site that calls itself 'the place for youth-friendly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight sexual orientation information and resources.'" To read the entire story, go: http://www.conservativenews.org/indepth/welcome.html. <<<

Corrections: A bad day this morning with a bunch of small errors. First, the February 12 CyberAlert quoted Dan Rather as saying "behind me other there." That should have read "behind me over there." Second, the issue stated "Scott Pelley relayed that while they deny he specific plan..." That should have been "deny the specific plan." Third, the CyberAlert quoted Time's Jack White on how each manager should be "replaced by someone who can but this in somewhat better perspective." The "but" should have been "put."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Arlen "Scottish Law Over the U.S. Constitution" Specter and Fred Thompson are "very conservative"? So suggested Tim Russert in listing the names of some Republicans who voted not guilty. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens picked up on this exchange between Tom Brokaw and Russert, in which Russert filled in the names for who is "very conservative," during NBC/MSNBC coverage at 12:43pm ET:
     "Let's go to NBC's Tim Russert now who was in the chamber for the vote itself. And Tim there were a couple of surprises there. A couple of very conservative Republicans who on the first article of impeachment crossed over and voted not guilty for the President."
     Tim Russert: "Fred Thompson, Richard Shelby, Arlen Specter, three very distinguished lawyers in private practice before they came to the Senate, Tom. But that vote, that outcome of 45 to 55 was pretty much understood."


tripp0212.jpg (9441 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) As noted in this morning's CyberAlert, Linda Tripp was subjected to a one-sided interview on Friday's Today which assumed that she had done wrong, hurt others and should regret it as "the country has gone through a year of scandal which many people blame you for." At no point did interviewer Jamie Gangel suggest Tripp has been improperly maligned or should be credited as a whistle-blower who exposed improprieties and abuses by the President. And in over 45 questions Gangel never raised how Tripp's privacy rights were violated in order to hand over her Defense Department personnel records to liberal activist/New Yorker writer Jane Mayer.

     The only reason why Clinton ever admitted anything was because of the existence of the stained dress, but instead of asking how she had the prescience to make sure such key evidence was preserved, Gangel impugned her motives. After playing the audio tape of Tripp urging Lewinsky to save the dress, she contended:
     "It sounds like you're setting up Monica. You tell her to save the dress. You make suggestions to send the President a suggestive audio tape. You tell her to push the President to help her get a job. It sounds like you're manipulating Monica to implicate the President."

     NBC has posted a transcript on msnbc.com of the entire Gangel interview, but the introduction to the show by Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, which set the tone for NBC's approach, is not included in the online transcript. To read the NBC transcript, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/240546.asp

     MRC analyst Mark Drake caught and took down how Today set up the exclusive February 12 interview:

     Katie Couric: "And welcome to Today on this Friday morning everyone. I'm Katie Couric."
     Matt Lauer: "And I'm Matt Lauer. On the subject of impeachment, Senators will vote on the two articles of impeachment sometime late this morning or early this afternoon. I can't imagine there are a whole lot of people upset to see this come to an end."
     Couric: "That's right, and this morning, Matt, front and center the woman who started it all. For the past year or so, four words have described Linda Tripp's relationship with Monica Lewinsky: perhaps those four words are 'with friends like these...' Well, Linda Tripp knows full well that her reputation proceeds her, that many people think of her as the ultimate betrayer so she's in an effort to rehabilitate her image is speaking out and she's done so with our national correspondent Jamie Gangel. We'll have that exclusive interview in our first half hour this morning."

     The interview, aired in two-parts in the 7am and then 7:30am half hours, lasted about 15 minutes in total, but here are some of Jamie Gangel's questions to give you a feel for NBC's slant. She spent much of the interview trying to get Tripp to admit she was out to "get" Clinton. As noted above, a transcript of the entire interview is available at msnbc.com.

     -- "The one thing that no one can understand is why you did this. How you could betray a friend?"

     -- Linda, people just don't think it's right for girlfriends to tape girlfriends."

     -- "...people don't think what you did was right. They think you betrayed her."

     -- Why didn't you leave this to her mother to take care of? Why was this your role?"

     -- "How would you feel if someone did to your daughter what you did to Monica?"

     -- "Let's talk about motive. Most people think one of two things about you. That you did this to write a book and make money."

     -- "Or you did it to bring down President Clinton -- or both?"

     -- "Linda, let me quote you. Your own words. The fact is, you went to Paula Jones' lawyers and told them about Monica's relationship with the president. You told them and you said to that lawyer, 'I feel strongly the behavior has to stop, or should at least be exposed.' That sounds like you're trying to bring down the President."

     -- "Let's address the political agenda. You're the one who tells Paula Jones' lawyers about Monica. Your pal in all this is Lucianne Goldberg, who is a self-proclaimed Clinton hater. You put on a wire for Ken Starr, to try to get Monica to implicate the President. How can you say you weren't out to get him?"

     -- "After you testified to the grand jury, you said [video of Tripp: "Regrettably, I am you."] I am you. And I think America resoundingly said, 'No, you're not.'"

     -- "Your name has become synonymous with betrayal. You've been vilified. Your poll ratings last fall, your approval ratings were three percent. What has been the worst part of this?"

     -- The concluding sequence. Gangel: "When all is said and done, Monica's life has been ruined. President Clinton remains in office. The country has gone through a year of scandal which many people blame you for. Was it worth it?"
     Tripp: "First of all, I take exception to the fact that I brought this about. These were choices made by the President of the United States. For me to actively engage in a conspiracy to circumvent anyone's civil rights or to perjure myself and commit a felony, those were not an option for me. I, as a citizen, should not be afraid of my President."
     Gangel: "All in all?"
     Tripp: "Was it all worth it to me? It was worth it to me to do what I considered to be my patriotic duty. And yes, I would do it again."
     Gangel: "So, no regrets?"
     Tripp: "Of course, there are regrets. This is a tragic year for all of us. But I would do it again."

     In between these questions, Tripp did get some time to say she felt threatened by Bill Clinton and his operatives and to react to her portrayal on Saturday Night Live.

     (A RealPlayer clip of the last sequence between Gangel and Tripp has been posted on the MRC home page by Webmaster Sean Henry. Go to: http://www.mrc.org)

     Tripp will appear Monday night on CNN's Larry King Live. I wouldn't count on a more balanced approach. -- Brent Baker


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