GOP: Witch Hunting, "Stupid" Cold Warriors; The Murdoch Conspiracy
1) Firing on the GOP over
Chinese espionage. Evan Thomas asserted that he's reminded of
"witch hunts." Tom Friedman said Republicans are "stupid
and proud of it" while Steve Roberts claimed "they want to say
Red China" often and they "really miss the Cold War."
2) NBC's Meet the Press
landed Sandy Berger as a guest, but Sunday's Nightly News ignored him,
running just a 25-second item.
3) During a MSNBC look at Bill
and Hillary fighting, Brian Williams and a New York Times reporter
discussed how only Murdoch-owned media outlets reported the story.
4) Stephanopoulos the betrayer
of Clinton, not a liar to the media and public for 7 years. MSNBC's
Brian Williams urged a privilege be invoked to stop him' Katie Couric
compared him to Linda Tripp, CBS tagged him an "ingrate" and PBS
condemned him from the left.
5) Clinton cries, so he
can't be a rapist. So argued Charles Grodin one night on MSNBC.
6) All but CNN's Wolf
Blitzer ridiculed Al Gore for claiming he created the Internet. "He
was involved in supporting legislation that promoted the Internet,"
The Clinton administration is alleged to have taken years to make changes
after being warned to crack down on security at Los Alamos, hidden
evidence from Congress and granted waivers to large corporations which
donated to Democrats so they could help China build missiles that could
deliver the sophisticated warheads they stole.
So who came under
fire from the networks over the weekend? Naturally, Republicans and
Friday night Ted
Koppel dismissed the Republican charge that policy was impacted by
campaign fundraising and failed to ask Sandy Berger about the idea.
Newsweek's Evan Thomas, on Inside Washington, asserted that Republican
concerns reminded him of "witch hunts." On Face the Nation host
Bob Schieffer suggested Republicans are moving to foreign policy since
Clinton "whipped them" domestically while Tom Friedman charged:
"When I listen to the Republicans in Congress on foreign policy
there's such an 'I'm stupid and proud of it' attitude." Steve
Roberts mocked conservative concerns, claiming "they want to say Red
China as often as they can. They really miss the Cold War."
-- "Spy or
Scapegoat?" was the title of Friday's Nightline, referring to fired
Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. Ted Koppel wrapped up his intro to the
March 12 show:
"....Berger was first briefed on this story
in the Spring of 1996 around the same time that Al Gore had his infamous
fundraising luncheon at a Buddhist temple. Later that year was when the
first revelations were made about a Chinese arms dealer visiting the White
House. And then of course came the charges that China had been making
surreptitious contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign. It all seems to
fit so perfectly, especially when you consider the additional charge that
the administration told an intelligence official at the Department of
Energy not to share what he knew with Congress. There is probably plenty
of incompetence and partisanship to go around, but it is not quite as
clear cut as it may seem."
In his subsequent
report Chris Bury featured soundbites from both sides and outlined the
charges about policies for donations. Interviewing National Security
Adviser Berger Ted Koppel pressed him about the delay in taking action,
but never raised the campaign fundraising issue.
-- Evan Thomas,
Newsweek's Assistant Managing Editor, on Inside Washington:
"I'm suspicious of the Republicans here. I
think they're trying to make some political hay. It feels like 'who
lost China?' and a lot of witch hunts of the past where they see a
chance to make some political capital by us not being tough enough. I
don't think that's true."
-- Bob Schieffer
to Senator John McCain on the March 14 Face the Nation:
"There are some people who say, 'Look, why
shouldn't I believe that the Democrats and Bill Clinton have whipped the
Republicans soundly on domestic policy so now they've decided they'll
just take him on on foreign policy?'"
New York Times
columnist and former reporter Tom Friedman to McCain:
"There's a lot of concern now in this
China issue but the fact is China has 24 long-range nuclear missiles that
could hit the United States. Russia 7,000. Yet the whole arms control
process with Russia over START has collapsed. That was something started
by Republicans. I don't hear anything coming out of Republicans
complaining about that, wanting to drive that agenda. What's happened?
When I listen to the Republicans in Congress on foreign policy there's
such an 'I'm stupid and proud of it' attitude."
-- Steve Roberts
of U.S. News & World Report, answering Wolf Blitzer's question about
whether Republicans are pushing China because they can't attack Clinton
over the economy. March 14 Late Edition on CNN:
"The Dow's approaching 10,000. They can
hardly run by saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling you know,
there's no money in your pocket. They already learned that on taxes.
They tried to say we're going to put more money in your pocket. People
said we already have money in our pocket. It's not much of an issue. I
do think on one hand this talk about, they want to say Red China as often
as they can. They really miss the Cold War, some of these guys, and they
want Red China, Red China -- Dan Quayle in your interview used
appeasement, very loaded word, but the administration in vulnerable, not
so much on China but on this sense, more on questions of Kosovo and issues
where they have not shown much resolve...."
-- At least one
journalist did put the burden on Clinton's team and raise campaign
fundraising. On Meet the Press NBC's Tim Russert asked Sandy Berger:
"Let me put on the screen a comment from
William Safire's column and give you a chance to respond to it. He says,
'Now, we're getting to the nub of it. Yanked to a complete turnabout
on trade policy with Clinton by the Riady family and other heavy campaign
contributions in the satellite and computer business, Clinton didn't
want Congress, empowered by law with oversight of intelligence, to know
what the FBI, CIA and DOE suspected about China's spy in Los
"This is dead serious," Tim Russert intoned about the Chinese
espionage on the March 8 Hockenberry on MSNBC. Yet Sunday night, after
every Sunday interview show focused on the matter and NBC's own Meet the
Press hosted by Tim Russert landed the biggest guest of the day, Sandy
Berger, NBC Nightly News allocated a piddling 25 seconds to the topic.
Since the story broke in the March 6 New York Times the NBC Nightly News
has carried just two stories, plus this March 14 item.
After a report
from John Palmer on Kosovo which included a clip of Berger from Meet the
Press commenting on that situation, anchor Len Cannon did not run a China
soundbite from Berger in announcing:
"To another major foreign policy issue: The
administration's handling of alleged Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos
nuclear lab in the 1980s. Today National Security Adviser Sandy Berger
said officials first got an indication of a security breach at the lab
back in 1996 but the suspect was allowed to remain on the job while the
investigation continued. The man, who was finally fired just last week,
still hasn't been charged."
NBC may not have
found what Berger said on their own show worth mentioning, but ABC did.
World News Tonight provided a full story by Martha Raddatz, the show's
third on the scandal though its first since March 8. Raddatz opened with
battling soundbites from Bill Richardson on This Week and Tom DeLay on Fox
News Sunday. Raddatz reported that Berger claimed that a 1996 briefing did
not ring alarm bells, playing this clip of him from Meet the Press:
"At that stage we did not know who, we did not really know how, and
we didn't really know what."
Raddatz countered: "Sources tell ABC News
that the 1996 briefing was specific to the W-88 and did alert Berger to
several possible suspects. But it was not until nearly three years later,
when Bill Richardson took over as Energy Secretary, that Wen Ho Lee's
top secret clearance was suspended and security at the labs was
Friday night FNC added a reason for Hillary's anger at Bill, NBC
cryptically noted how "President Clinton went home alone today to his
birthplace," and then later MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams
delivered the strangest bit of news judgment of the weekend: a discussion
on MSNBC about a New York Times story on the state of the Clinton
marriage, a discussion which soon evolved to wondering about a possible
conspiracy behind how only Murdoch-owned media outlets had reported the
Picking up on her
March 10 exclusive story about how Bill and Hillary fought during their
ski trip weekend in late February, on the March 12 Fox Report FNC's Rita
Cosby added: "Sources now say Mrs. Clinton was furious with her
husband over comments Monica Lewinsky had made and the recent allegations
that he raped an Arkansas woman in 1978. The sources say Mrs. Clinton said
the President's conduct was quote 'ruining the family,' end
Over on the March
12 NBC Nightly News, over video of Bill Clinton in Hope, anchor Brian
Williams reported: "President Clinton went home alone today to his
birthplace, the little town of Hope, Arkansas. On a gloomy, rainy day he
got a warm welcome from old friends and neighbors as he dedicated the
plain wood frame home where he was born as a historic site."
informed viewers of any relevance to noting how Clinton was
None of the other
networks produced a story last week on the status of the Clinton marriage,
though it was raised in some morning show interviews, but Friday night
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams brought aboard New York Times
reporter Frank Bruni for its feature on what appears in the next day's
New York Times. In this case, not a story about the marriage but about
rumors and news stories about the marriage. Bruni's March 13 story
"In a court of law, the evidence would have
been considered laughably circumstantial. But in a city primed for scandal
and hooked on scuttlebutt, it inevitably took on the cast of something
significant, or at least something worth chattering about."
In the midst of
discussing, on MSNBC, this New York Times story Brian Williams bizarrely
"There's the Murdoch angle. It's been
broadcast now on Fox News, in the New York Post and in Mr. Drudge's
column -- he has an affiliation, all of them have in common the News
Corporation tie, owned by Rupert Murdoch."
Bruni picked up on the idea: "Yea, one of
Clinton's advisers said, made that connection and noted that, and we
talk about that just in the sense that it's indicative of the surreal,
the surreal guessing game in the atmosphere that surrounds all speculation
about the Clinton's private lives and a certain paranoia I think among
people in the White House about the rumors that go on out there and the
way in which this marriage and this administration has become such a
magnet for them."
Indeed, Bruni did
consider the Clinton team's paranoia worth highlighting, writing in his
March 13 report:
"Perhaps best capturing the quasi-absurd
flavor of this latest inning in the guessing game, another adviser, who
spoke on the condition of anonymity, attributed the conjecture to nothing
less than a conspiracy of innuendo orchestrated by Rupert Murdoch's media
"The adviser noted that the three news
outlets that first ran accounts about the Clinton marriage this week were
tied to Murdoch. Those outlets were Fox News and The New York Post, both
owned by him, and The Drudge Report, an on-line newsletter whose
publisher, Matt Drudge, appears regularly on Fox...."
Al Hunt pointed out on Saturday how George Stephanopoulos lied in 1992 to
cover up Clinton's lies, but most of the network reaction to the book by
George Stephanopoulos focused on how he's a betrayer of Clinton, not on
how he concedes he and Clinton dissembled during the 1992 campaign and
since or how he failed to inform his ABC viewers over the past two years
about this, waiting until he got $2.75 million before discovering Clinton
is a liar.
A special Friday
afternoon extra edition of CyberAlert briefly showed how NBC's Katie
Couric hit Stephanopoulos with the ultimate media insult about how "a
lot of people...see you as a turncoat, a Linda Tripp type." That same
Friday morning CBS's Mark McEwen at least waited until the third
question before charging: "A lot of people call you an ingrate,
Here's a rundown
of noteworthy Friday through Sunday coverage for Stephanopoulos. (See the
March 12 CyberAlert for details on the slant on Good Morning America and
The Wall Street
Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, recalling what happened in
1992 when he was the Washington Bureau Chief:
"For those of us that knew George before he
was a virgin, I want to tell you something, this book is a shocker. I'll
give you one example. In 1992 we broke the story about Clinton evading the
draft. James Carville and Paul Begala called me up directly. We had a
fight over it to no avail because the story was right. George went behind
our back and told everyone that we were had by right-wing Republicans.
That was a lie and he knew it."
But not one of
concern to most journalists apparently since they are focusing on how he
betrayed Clinton, not how he betrayed them.
delivered the more typical media reaction. On Friday's The News with
Brian Williams he asked liberal Democratic activist Doris Kearns Goodwin,
identified on-screen as a "presidential historian," this leading
"I thought I'd start using George's book
as a peg. Remember during the Ken Starr squabble the Secret Service said
we're going to invoke something called protective privilege, meaning
that if Presidents thought that these agents were going to be talking
after their term of service, they would never say anything in their
presence. Well why doesn't that imply more and more to White House
when Dave Stockman wrote a book about the Reagan Revolution. Washington
pundits said 'oh it's honest, it's refreshing.' They weren't
saying he betrayed," observed Republican Congressman Tom Davis of
Virginia, whose district includes the home base for CyberAlerts, on
CNN's Capital Gang. Indeed, they are now focusing on Stephanopoulos the
betrayer as best illustrated by Friday's morning show interviews.
-- Couric jumped
on Stephanopoulos: "A lot of people, George, think that this is just
kinda creepy, that you've done this. They see you as a turncoat, a Linda
Tripp type, if you will, who sort of ingratiated himself with the people
inside the White House. They made you who you became and now all of a
sudden, you're telling, you're airing all the dirty laundry and some
people just think that's sorta gross."
aren't some situations off limits? I mean you talk very candidly about the
President's relationship with Mrs. Clinton. You had entree to situations
that most people wouldn't. I mean you were sitting there -- or standing
there -- once when the President was in his boxer shorts and Hillary came
in and they kissed and you witnessed conversations. It seems to me that, I
mean is nothing sacred?"
-- Acting afraid
of learning anything, Couric asserted: "Why now George? Couldn't
this have waited until the President was out of office?"
And: "But couldn't they learn about those
things after he left office?"
-- After exploring
Clinton's appeal and how Lewinsky made him recall the Gennifer Flowers
episode, Couric finally got around to how Stephanopoulos had long been
part of the duplicity: "You talk about the Gennifer Flowers' tapes.
Again, how you felt so duped and betrayed and yet you continued to stand
by your man and in a way you became in a way 'an enabler.'"
demanded: "Why not, if you felt so repulsed by his values, which
clearly you came to that point later on. No, but I mean clearly was
something you didn't feel comfortable with. I mean why didn't you leave
then, George? Why didn't you say this guy's values system does not gibe
She used much of
the rest of the interview to ask about the state of the Clinton marriage
and whether she'll run for the Senate.
/// See and hear
Couric's opening exchange with Stephanopoulos in which she compares him
to Linda Tripp. Monday morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell
will post, on the MRC home page, a RealPlayer clip. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
On Friday's This Morning on CBS interviewer
Mark McEwen took longer to call Stephanopoulos a betrayer, but pressed the
point repeatedly before asking why he didn't "bail" when asked
to lie about Flowers. Here are McEwen's questions, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brian Boyd:
-- "Let's start with the beginning of this
book, this is 1992, you're sitting across from Webster Hubbell for that
background check, as, before you head into the White House. Who was this
guy sitting across from Webster. Where were you at, where was your head
-- "All Too Human, the name of this book.
You're critical of President Clinton, you're critical of yourself as
well. All Too Human is that Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, or
-- "You know George, a lot of people call
you an ingrate, backstabber, they say no Bill Clinton, no George
Stephanopoulos. A tell all book about the man who made you as it were.
James Carville, one of your buddies, said you said some things that he
wouldn't have said. Paul Begala said I think this book is a mistake. Are
you an ingrate, is this book a mistake?"
-- "One of the things we learn in this
business, they always say don't burn your bridges. Why nuke this bridge to
-- "Well, but President Clinton won't have
won't let your name be said in the White House. That sounds like a bridge
has been nuked."
-- "Why not wait till he got out of
-- "You talk, let's go through some of the
things in the book, you talk about the Gennifer Flowers, when you first
heard about this tape that came out of them on the phone. And you thought
what's he doing talking to Gennifer Flowers in the middle of a campaign.
You said he lied if he didn't, why is he putting all of this at risk, why
didn't you bail then?"
-- "You knew about Gennifer Flowers and
other things that people were talking about back then, yet you helped get
him elected. Do you feel responsible for Bill Clinton and for bringing, I
guess, some of the tragedy of Bill Clinton, how uh this presidency has
sort of come down because of the man. Do you feel responsible for part of
March 11 NewsHour on PBS. Tim Graham, Director of
Media Analysis for the MRC, provided this summary for CyberAlert:
Like the other networks, PBS's NewsHour with Jim
Lehrer approached the Stephanopoulos book on Thursday night not with an
eye to what it reveals, but why it had to be revealed. Following a graphic
of the book cover and the words "What Price Loyalty?", media
correspondent Terence Smith explained the book "provides an intimate
portrait of life inside the Clinton White House. It is unflinching in its
critique of both the President and the First Lady. The book's release has
sparked debate on the propriety of White House staffers criticizing a
President while he is still in office."
discussion included no conservatives or critics of Clinton -- Rahm
Emanuel, the former Clinton flack; Kennedy intimate and historian Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr.; and Peter Carlson of The Washington Post, who, Smith
explained, "wrote an article earlier this week about what he called
'the American game of cashing in.'"
"Rahm Emanuel, let me begin with you. George Stephanopoulos is a
friend of yours, of course, a former colleague. Do you have any problem
with what he's done?...You think that George has been disloyal?"
Emanuel hesitated to criticize Stephanopoulos, saying he hadn't read the
book, but "I've argued and talked on this program and other programs
about a zone of privacy for public officials. I've done that in the face
of press kind of piercing in on that privacy. I never thought I would have
to argue about that or argue for that in the face of staff." Emanuel
dominated the segment with long answers.
Schlesinger the same question, but Schlesinger responded differently, that
"As a historian, I'm delighted at anything that enriches the
historical record." After Carlson detailed how Stephanopoulos was
"getting while the getting was good," he also noted "When
George Stephanopoulos worked for the President, his job was to make him
look good. Nobody complained about that. Now he comes forward to present a
more three-dimensional view, and his morals are called into question. That
seems odd to me."
But Smith drove
the segment back to disdain: "Arthur Schlesinger, you said you read
the excerpts in Newsweek. some of those are very intimate detail about the
President, the First Lady, anger, moments of despair, et cetera. Does that
cross a line in your view?" Schlesinger said "Well, it's a
question of taste, I suppose. If we had equal eyewitness accounts of
relations between Abraham Lincoln and his wife and so on, we'd cherish
them. I think that, as a matter of taste, one might feel this is too early
to have these disclosures. But when you look at historical figures,
anything like that is of great value." Smith retorted in conclusion:
"Okay. In other words, questionable taste, but still useful
Clinton cries, so he can't be a rapist. Catching up on an item from last
week, on a tip from a CyberAlert reader MRC analyst Mark Drake went back
to the March 6 Charles Grodin show to take down the MSNBC host's
Reacting to a clip
of Bill Bennett on Meet the Press asserting that Bill Clinton has
demonstrated a pattern of forcing himself on women, Grodin sagely observed
on his weekend 8pm ET diatribe-fest:
"'Pattern of him forcing himself on
women?' And Paula Jones testified that the President said to her, 'I
don't want you to do anything you don't want to do.' Does that sound
like a rapist? And Monica Lewinsky said when she told the President she
wondered, 'Is this just about sex?' That, 'I don't really feel,
you know, what is this?,' the tears welled up in his eyes. He was so, he
was upset that she thought that. That's, rapists are made of different
stuff than that."
Gore ridiculed by most but defended by Blitzer. Sunday's This Week on
ABC and Late Edition on CNN played the clip of Vice President Al Gore
claiming on Tuesday's Late Edition/Prime Time: "During my service
in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the
Internet." Panelists on both shows noted how Trent Lott has now
claimed in jest to have created the paper clip while Dick Armey says he
created the interstate highway system.
exchange with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, in RealPlayer format, can be viewed by
going to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
Carlson made it her Outrage of the Week on CNN's Capital Gang,
wondering: "Is being a heartbeat away from the Whopper-in-Chief
rubbing off on Gore?"
But on Late
Edition, Blitzer, who wasn't fazed by Gore's remark in the first place
during their March 9 interview, defended him: "He was involved in
supporting legislation that promoted the Internet. I think that's
probably what he meant to say."
Not exactly the kind of benefit of the doubt
reporters extended to Dan Quayle. --
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