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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday March 4, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 39)
Lewinsky "Afraid" of Starr; Alter Denounced GOP Over Broaddrick

1) Barbara Walters promised to avoid specific sex questions, but she asked about oral sex "completion" and reported Lewinsky had an abortion. Walters recounted how Starr's agents mistreated Lewinsky and let Lewinsky express her fear about reprisals from Starr.

2) Worldwide liberal bias: The Lewinsky scandal isn't about sex, the British journalist who interviewed Lewinsky claimed, it's "about abuse of America's legal system" by Ken Starr.

3) Hillary Clinton's trip to New York generated fawning stories on the broadcast networks Wednesday night.

4) Tom Brokaw remarked that George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" has "drawn fire from the far-right." A Time reporter asserted Pat Buchanan "comes across as a mean guy."

5) Bill Clinton is accused of rape, but Newsweek's Jonathan Alter used the accusation as a chance to denounce House Republicans, Ken Starr (for gagging Lewinsky), and FNC's Brit Hume.

6) Time's Margaret Carlson accused a DJ of delivering "not funny blather," but her misstatement of a basic fact showed she had no basis for her comment since she isn't a listener.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Movies That Would Get Made If Bill Clinton Headed a Studio."


lewinsky0304.jpg (7661 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Barbara Walters assured Charlie Gibson she would avoid asking questions reminiscent of the Starr Report, but 20/20 viewers heard her ask Monica Lewinsky about the stained dress and if she brought Clinton "to completion" during oral sex. Lewinsky's deal with Ken Starr prevented her from talking about what happened at the hotel when Starr's agents first confronted her, but Walters eagerly passed along what Lewinsky told a book author about how Starr's agents mistreated her.

     On Wednesday's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, Barbara Walters told co-host Charlie Gibson: "It's awfully hard to ask some of those questions which had to be asked. I did not do as the Starr Report did: 'Did he touch you here?' 'Did he touch you here?'"

     That pleased Gibson: "Good. Good for you. Good for you."

     Instead, during the two-hour special 20/20 Wednesday night, Walters talked about such impersonal things as Lewinsky's abortion and therapy. Referring to a man named "Thomas" that Lewinsky dated between visits with Clinton, Walters told viewers: "In the Andrew Morton book, Monica's Story, she reveals that during her affair with Thomas she became pregnant. She had an abortion. And it so upset her that she began therapy."

     Later in the March 3 edition of 20/20, Walters did appear to violate her promise to avoid anything sexually explicit. Check out this exchange:
     Walters: "Throughout most of the relationship the oral sex was not brought to completion for the President."
     Lewinsky: "Correct."
     Walters: "Why not?"

     This discussion soon led to the stained dress. Walters passed along this preposterous sounding recollection of one White House get together: "On this occasion they went further than ever before. And Lewinsky's dress became stained in the process. Monica says she went home that afternoon, put the dress away and never noticed the stains until the next time she thought of wearing it."

     Time out. We are to believe that Bill Clinton ejaculated onto her dress, but she didn't notice?

     About an hour-and-a-half into the 20/20 Walters got to the showdown at the Ritz-Carlton. Explaining that Lewinsky's deal with Starr prevented her from talking about it, Walters relayed what she told Andrew Morton for his book, starting with how "two armed FBI agents" led Lewinsky to a hotel room. As opposed to all those unarmed FBI agents Starr could have employed.

     Walters passed along Lewinsky's complaint that "for hours on end they threw questions at her" and threatened her with 27 years in prison. "But even worse for Monica, she says, the prosecutors also threatened her mother with criminal charges." Detailing the session with the agents, Walters elaborated: "The confrontation, according to the book, was at times tense and ugly. Monica describes one prosecutor as 'a revolting specimen of humanity,' another as a 'pit bull' who mocked her when she asked to call her mother."

     Back to her interview with Lewinsky, Walters asked her about Tripp and how she was "feeling" that day. Lewinsky answered that she "wanted to kill everybody in the room." Walters soon drew Lewinsky out on how Starr's prosecutors scare her, then inquiring: "What do you think of Ken Starr." Lewinsky ominously replied: "I'm too afraid to answer that, I'm sorry."

     +++ See Walters and Lewinsky talk about Starr and what happened at the hotel: Thursday morning the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post a fairly lengthy RealPlayer clip of this portion of the 20/20 special. Go to the MRC's new home page to view it: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Monica Lewinsky must have gotten along well with the British television host who interviewed her for their Channel 4 News. Like her, he is disgusted with Ken Starr.

     Tuesday night Jon Snow appeared on CNN's Larry King Live along with Christopher Hitchens and Mandy Grunwald. MRC analyst Paul Smith grabbed a couple of his comments:

     -- Snow: "No, I don't think it is just about sex. I think it's about abuse of America's legal system."
     King: "By?"
     Snow: "Kenneth Starr."

     -- Snow: "Christopher Hitchens is one of the great sort of defenders of liberty, truth and the rest of it does seem to me to be deliberately blind to the role Kenneth Starr has played. Mandy is right. I mean I have to say at the end of the day if, as a result of what you hear from Monica Lewinsky, a serious attempt to investigate Kenneth Starr by another special prosecutor is not launched by Attorney General Janet Reno a grave injustice will have been done. What has happened in this chasing down after the truth in this sordid little matter, what has been done in the name of justice has been completely beyond the pale."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Wednesday night the networks ogled over Hillary Clinton's trip to New York and the possibility she may run for its Senate seat, with all three March 3 broadcast evening shows running full stories.

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Aaron Brown explained how she drew unusual attention for an art in school program before attending a packed fundraiser. Brown introduced a lengthy liberal soundbite from the First Lady:
     "While she didn't say yes she didn't say no either. And she sounded like someone with work still to do."
     Hillary Clinton: "When it comes right down to it, somebody is going to make the decisions. Will we or will we not fund the 100,000 teachers to bring down class size. Will we or will we not build the schools and repair them that our children need."
     Brown: "In the end, a routine day for the First Lady received extraordinary attention. In New York these days politics has met celebrity and has become news."

     -- CBS Evening News. Eric Engberg began on an upbeat note: "Entering a ballroom packed with both Democratic women and high anticipation, Hillary Clinton notified a breathless New York today would not be decision day."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Andrea Mitchell showed Hillary before adoring crowds and played a soundbite of Senator Schumer praising her, but Mitchell uniquely noted that she faces troubles ahead, including the likelihood she'll have to testify in Web Hubbell's fraud trial. Mitchell concluded: "But for now, friends say, she's basking in all the talk about a very different role, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Presidential campaign bias. It's never too early. Two brief items: Tom Brokaw referred to George W. Bush's opposition from the "far-right" and a Time reporter castigated Pat Buchanan for being "a mean guy."

     -- Narrating a March 2 NBC Nightly News profile of Texas Governor Bush, Tom Brokaw described him as "a compassionate conservative. The term has drawn fire from the far-right, but Bush is courting the middle of America."
     Brokaw then showed a soundbite of "political analyst" George Christian taking a shot at those in the GOP opposed to Bush: "He is not some sort of reactionary who is against progress."

     -- On the March 2 McLaughlin Special Report on MSNBC, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, host John McLaughlin asked about Buchanan: "But I want to ask you Viveca, what's his dominant problem?" Time Washington bureau reporter Viveca Novak replied: "He's a mean guy. He seems, he comes across as a mean guy."

     If you haven't seen the 8:30pm ET/PT McLaughlin half-hour on MSNBC, Thursday night is your last chance as it is the last time it will air. McLaughlin only agreed to do the show for about a month.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Bill Clinton is accused of rape, but Newsweek's Jonathan Alter used the accusation as an opportunity to denounce the Judiciary Committee Republicans for "the dishonorable way he was impeached by the House," Brit Hume for praising the external pressure that pushed NBC to air the story, and Ken Starr for gagging Lewinsky, sarcastically remarking: "And Starr pontificates about witness tampering!"

     Instead of praising the House managers for respecting Juanita Broaddrick's wishes at the time to not get dragged into the public fight, Alter condemned them for trying to "poison the well secretly and impeach the President in part for something he wasn't charged with."

     Alter's one-page piece in the March 8 issue represents the totality of Newsweek's coverage of Broaddrick, other than a Conventional Wisdom box line last week, but only one paragraph of it actually recounts what she alleged. Here are some excerpts from his diatribe titled "Disgraceful All Around."

The game is winding down now, and the stands are nearly empty. But for anyone still bothering to watch, last week brought a clearer picture of both our dishonorable President and the dishonorable way in which he was impeached by the House. Even 21 years after it happened, Juanita Broaddrick's story -- told convincingly to Lisa Myers on Dateline NBC -- helps fill out the dark side of both Bill Clinton and those who tried to destroy him. Monica Lewinsky will add her own take this week with Barbara Walters, though Ken Starr's henchmen succeeded in censoring it....

The news media were wrongly blamed by Clinton-haters for sitting on this one. NBC News (where, full disclosure, I work part time) had to check everything it could before airing such an explosive story. And the rest of the media, including Newsweek, couldn't very well detail Broaddrick's charges without an interview. Fox's Brit Hume calls the new external pressure to air stories before they are ready "accountability." I call it one of the worst developments in journalism in a decade....

The Broaddrick story helps explain why House GOP leaders seemed so passionate in their hatred of Clinton. They thought he was a rapist, though they knew they couldn't prove it. They could have fashioned an impeachment charge for assault (the statute of limitations would not have applied to impeachment), but they didn't dare. The story was old, and Henry Hyde and company didn't want to subpoena Broaddrick and subject her to cross-examination. So they decided to have her story spread privately, to poison the well secretly and impeach the President in part for something he wasn't charged with. Later, they pressured the media to roll the Broaddrick grenade into the Senate trial, with the hope that public opinion might change and the Senate might convict him for being a bad, immoral man. How fair. How constitutional.

As for Starr, his deputies, Michael Emmick and Jackie Bennett Jr., recently demanded that Lewinsky not discuss on television how she was treated on Jan. 16, 1998, when Lewinsky was first confronted by law enforcement at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Their conduct that night is now under investigation. In other words, to protect themselves, Emmick and Bennett used their federal power to gag Lewinsky, who now has every right to speak her mind. And Starr pontificates about witness tampering! Starr's excuse for censoring Lewinsky -- that she might prejudice some future jury pool -- didn't seem to be an issue when he dumped all over Clinton to Diane Sawyer last year, an interview that would normally get him thrown off an ongoing case by a judge....

     END Excerpt

     To read all of Alter's piece, go to the Newsweek Web site: http://www.newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/ns/bz1410_1.htm


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Time magazine's Margaret Carlson provided an illustrative example last weekend of how you don't need to have any idea what you are talking about to pontificate as a network commentator. On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN Carlson announced her Outrage of the Week:
     "Radio host Doug Tracht, appropriately known as 'the Greaseman,' played a song by Grammy award winning hip hop singer Lauryn Hill Wednesday just so he could remark, quote 'No wonder people drag them behind trucks,' closed quote. This is not free speech, it's hatred. And finally radio station WARW fired him. But in 1986, Tracht celebrated Martin Luther King's birthday by saying, quote 'Kill four more and we can take a whole week off.' If WRAW had acted then, we could have been spared a decade of coarse, vulgar and hateful, and not funny blather from an adolescent shock jock."

     No doubt Tract, a Washington, DC radio host, deserved condemnation, but Carlson has no basis to say he has produced "a decade of coarse, vulgar and hateful, and not funny blather." I know this because in the five words "if WRAW had acted then," Carlson revealed, while jumbling the call letters, that she's not a listener to his show:
     It would have been difficult for WARW to take action in 1986 since the station did not then exist and Tract worked elsewhere. Back then the current "Arrow 94.7" was WLTT, "Light 94.7," not quite the right format for Tract's hard rock music. Back then Tract worked for WWDC, aka "DC 101," where he had replaced Howard Stern in 1981. In the mid-1990s he moved to Los Angeles to take an unsuccessful stab at a national show and he only moved to WARW a couple of years ago.


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) From the March 1 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Movies That Would Get Made If Bill Clinton Headed a Studio." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "Shakespeare In Heat"
9. "Message In A Necktie"
8. "Rear Window-Less Corridor"
7. "Six Jane Does, Seven Nights"
6. "I Know Who You Did Last Summer"
5. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Then Got A High-Paying Job At Revlon From Vernon Jordan"
4. "Twelve Angry Hillarys"
3. "How Bubba Got His Job Back"
2. "The Thong Remains The Same"
1. "Liar, Liar" (Remake)

     And, from the Late Show Web site, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- "Godzillary"
-- "Subpoena In A Bottle"
-- "The Opposite of the Definition of Sex"
-- "Saving Private Ryan Then Dating His Sister"
-- "Look Who's Talking on the Phone During Oral Sex"
-- "Thelma & Louise & Cheryl & Rachel & Tammi & Karen"

     If you missed the Monica interview and live in the Washington, DC area, cable's NewsChannel 8 will probably replay 20/20 at 7:30pm Thursday night. That's the time they normally replay the previous night's 20/20. -- Brent Baker


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