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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday February 25, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 36)
No Unwarranted Broaddrick Delay?; Hockenberry: Illegitimate Story

1) NBC's Lisa Myers denied any unwarranted delay with her Broaddrick interview, insisting Wednesday that "this story finally was ready yesterday when Andy Lack made the call." But then why were staffers still working on it Tuesday night?

2) MSNBC's John Hockenberry: "If this has no legal standing now, if it's past the statute of limitations, why are we bothering with it at all?"

3) Helen Thomas obliquely raised the Broaddrick matter to Clinton at a joint press conference, but only FNC bothered to mention Clinton's refusal to respond.

4) NBC's euphemisms for rape. Tom Brokaw cited "controversial accusations" while MSNBC employed the term "sexual encounter."

5) Bryant Gumbel back on every weekday? USA Today and the New York Post reported that CBS plans to have him host This Morning.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs the Clintons Are Your Neighbors."

>>> Check out the MRC's Media Bias Videos page with all the RealPlayer clips cited in CyberAlerts over the past month. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html <<<

Correction: The February 24 CyberAlert was misnumbered as No. 36. It was No. 35, the 35th CyberAlert this year.

Clarification: The rundown in the February 24 CyberAlert, of broadcast network coverage of Broaddrick prompted by the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post stories, inadvertently left off one show. As noted in the February 22 Cyberalert: "Of the broadcast network Sunday shows only Fox News Sunday raised the subject. (Tony Snow asked Speaker Denny Hastert about it and the subject was the lead item for the roundtable.)"


lisamyers0225.jpg (10373 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The Lisa Myers interview with Juanita Broaddrick aired Wednesday night on Dateline NBC and minutes later Myers appeared on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams where she denied politics delayed her piece: "Basically this story finally was ready yesterday when Andy Lack made the call, the President of NBC News, that it was time to put it on the air." But is Myers just being a good soldier? You be the judge by reading her complete answer below.

     If you missed the Myers story, which featured both interview excerpts and reporting by Myers and consumed over half of Dateline, MSNBC will most likely run large portions during the day Thursday. And msnbc.com has posted video clips and a transcript. The msnbc.com Broaddrick page with clips (Windows Media Player required -- this is MS-nbc): http://www.msnbc.com/news/242994.asp
This page features a link to a transcript which fails to identify who said what. The first two paragraphs were announced by Stone Phillips, the last paragraph by Jane Pauley with everything else in between from Myers except that attributed to Broaddrick. The transcript's direct address: http://msnbc.com/news/244249.asp

     Immediately after the 8pm ET/7pm CT Dateline aired, MSNBC's 9pm ET/8pm CT The News with Brian Williams brought Myers on to discuss her exclusive and show some excerpts. The last question from Brian Williams:
     "Lisa, it's one of those strange cases where we can't separate ourselves from our organizations, so we're duty-bound to ask about the genesis of this story. When did you stop working the story, when was the call made to air it and why now?"

     Myers' answer may require some deciphering or Freudian analysis. Though she denied any unwarranted delay, three times she employed the word "finally." I've put each FINALLY in all Caps. And see if you don't agree her third to last and second to last sentences contradict each other:
     "Why now is because the story was FINALLY ready. I started talking to Juanita Broaddrick about a year ago and FINALLY on January 20th we did an interview and it was at that point we had to start to begin our own investigation. Charging the President of the United States with rape 21 years ago is a very serious allegation. We had to do everything we could to find out if perhaps Bill Clinton wasn't even in the country that day. Or to find out if there were some problems with, serious problems with Juanita Broaddrick's credibility. She had after all denied that there was any incident last year in the Paula Jones case. She now says that was a lie, that she just wasn't ready to deal with this then. But basically this story FINALLY was ready yesterday when Andy Lack made the call, the President of NBC News, that it was time to put it on the air. But we literally still were doing reporting late last night. We found out new information virtually every day of the last month and we've had dozens of people working on this story."

     So, the story was not deemed "ready" until Lack "made the call," not when the reporting was completed. If it was "ready" Tuesday afternoon why were Myers and staff still trying to nail down facts Tuesday night? Sounds more likely that Lack decided it was "ready" when he became embarrassed over being beat on the story by the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post or someone higher up demanded an end to the delays which already cost NBC a big scoop.

     (Watch the Williams/Myers exchange. Thursday morning Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry of the MRC will post a video clip, of Myers explaining the story timing, on the MRC home page in the more popular RealPlayer format. Go to: http://www.mrc.org)


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Just after the Myers piece, Dateline co-host Jane Pauley urged viewers to tune into MSNBC's Hockenberry at 10pm ET/PT for further discussion of "whether Juanita Broaddrick's story is true, whether it has any political relevance, and whether the media, including NBC News, should have reported it." John Hockenberry's answer: No. Instead of being proud of how his network bagged the first on-camera interview with Broaddrick, Hockenberry acted ashamed and characterized the story as illegitimate.

     Spending an evening at Rockefeller Center, after her remote for the New Jersey-produced News with Brian Williams, Myers appeared live at 10pm ET with Hockenberry in Manhattan. His first question: "A 21 year old rape charge, much of it may remain uncorroborated forever. Why report this story now?"

     Ten minutes later he pressed not from the right with a question about whether Andy Lack held the story to a higher standard than usual and improperly delayed it to protect Clinton, but from the left, raising the claim that Myers was just out to gain fame by getting Clinton:
     "Among the institutions that have gotten lambasted throughout the last year of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the President's impeachment process are the media. And there are a lot of people watching tonight, watching the Dateline program tonight or watching this program now who don't see an investigator searching for the truth necessarily at the bottom of this allegation. They see, you know, a reporter who, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke said 'Who can I get? Who am I going to get to interview? What's going to make my career?' The reason we know about this rape allegation is because of the ambitions of a reporter not because of a search for the truth. What do you say to that?"

     Myers replied that while there is a statute of limitations on a criminal charge of rape, there is none on whether a person is fit to be President.

     Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and MSNBC host Laura Ingraham came aboard for the next segment. When Alter asserted that the FBI found Broaddrick's claim "inconclusive," Hockenberry pounced:
     "But if they said inconclusive, if impeachment is over, if this has no legal standing now, if it's past the statute of limitations why are we bothering with it at all, Laura Ingraham?"

     Is there anything Clinton could do which would concern Hockenberry?


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) UPI's Helen Thomas obliquely raised the Broaddrick matter to Clinton at a joint press conference at 2:30pm ET Wednesday with the President of Ghana, but only FNC bothered to mention Clinton's refusal to respond. Thomas inquired: "What is your reaction to recent allegations by an Arkansas woman, apparently something she claims happened many years ago?" Thomas then asked about the Independent Counsel law before Clinton replied: "My counsel has made a statement about the first issue and I have nothing to add to it."

     Wednesday night ABC's World News Tonight led with avalanches in Europe and did not run anything on the press conference. Avalanches also topped the CBS Evening News on which Scott Pelley delivered a full report on the press conference, but only dealt with air strikes on Iraq and Clinton's comments about how Republicans should join him in working on the people's business. NBC Nightly News started with the avalanches and featured a full story from Gwen Ifill on Senate hearings about renewing the independent counsel law. Ifill even played part of Clinton's answer to Thomas about the subject, but aired nothing about his reply about Broaddrick. CNN's The World Today avoided Broaddrick and like Ifill CNN's Charles Bierbauer's piece on the IC law included a soundbite from Clinton responding to Thomas.

     Only FNC was unafraid of Broaddrick Wednesday night. FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report featured a piece by Eric Burns on the controversy over NBC's decision to delay showing its Broaddrick interview.

     Earlier, on the 6pm ET Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle focused on Clinton's answer to Thomas, observing that the visit by the President of Ghana "forced the President to do something he often resists: answer reporters questions. And one of them, though asked in vague terms, was explosive. Mr. Clinton was asked to react to allegations that he sexually assaulted an Arkansas woman 20 years ago." Angle did not run the question from Thomas, but did air Clinton's response as recited above.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) NBC frightened of the word "rape" or term "sexual assault" even when preceded by "alleged"?

     At the end of Wednesday's Nightly News Tom Brokaw delivered this innocuous sounding plug for Dateline and the "controversial accusations" from Broaddrick: "Tonight on Dateline NBC Lisa Myers with an exclusive interview with the woman known as Jane Doe No. 5, Juanita Broaddrick. Her controversial accusations about President Clinton. Dateline tonight at 8, 7 Central."

     The plug run on Tuesday's Dateline referred only to how "the woman once known only as Jane Doe No. 5 is making headlines with her serious allegations" and her "controversial story."

     Wednesday afternoon I heard a MSNBC host use this euphemism: "sexual encounter."

     Sounds like a group session Clinton would attend at the Renaissance Weekend.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Just when you thought morning television was relatively safe after the departure of Bryant Gumbel from Today and Lisa McRee from Good Morning America, USA Today's Peter Johnson reported Wednesday: "Talk is heating up that Bryant Gumbel will co-host a revamped CBS This Morning come fall."

     Well, for $5 million a year he has to do something now that his CBS show is off the air. On Monday, New York Post reporter Don Kaplan filled in the details about the speculation:

...Gumbel could be joining the super-hot morning TV competition as early as May, according to TV sources.

Gumbel, the former host of NBC's Today show, has been talking with CBS officials about coming back to morning TV for several weeks now, according to those sources.

Bringing back Gumbel would give CBS News' This Morning a dose of instant star power -- much the same way Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson did when they took over Good Morning America last month....

"Bringing in a mega star like Bryant Gumbel is a fast way to send a message to the audience," said Alan Bell, vice president of broadcasting for Freedom Communications, a California-based media company that owns eight CBS-affiliated stations....

Several affiliates say they anticipate the network will announce an overhaul of the show by June at the CBS annual affiliates meeting. "Some affiliates have been bugging CBS officials about the continuing lagging audience in the morning," Freedom's Bell said....

Gumbel, who CBS lured away from NBC two years ago with a $5 million contract and the promise of his own primetime show, Public Eye, has been substantially absent from the network since his show was yanked last August.

Meanwhile, CBS is also in the process of trying to set up a new street-level studio in midtown Manhattan like the Today show's. Negotiations are reportedly underway to develop the studio in the General Motors building.

END Excerpt


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) From the February 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs the Clintons Are Your Neighbors." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Your neighbor comes over to ask if he can borrow a couple of interns
9. Your other neighbors, the Starrs, just can't seem to get them evicted
8. Entry door had to be widened at thigh level
7. Dry cleaner around corner has more business than it can handle
6. When you get in elevator with your neighbor, he asks, "Going down?" then chuckles to himself
5. They sublet their apartment for $50,000 a night
4. You find pair of boxers in laundry room reading "Hail To This"
3. Two days after you borrow bag of ice, Betty Currie knocks on your door and asks for it back
2. Your elevator has been re-christened "Bubba Chute One"
1. Building tests fire alarms, neighbor shrieks and hauls ass to England

     Finally, I make some dumb mistakes in CyberAlerts, but I feel a little better when I see that the networks do also. Wednesday night I came across this on screen wording in a promo for the February 24 Crier Report on FNC: "The Independent Council Act: End It or Mend It?"

     FNC needs to mend its spelling and make that the Independent "Counsel" Act. -- Brent Baker


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