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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Wednesday March 17, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 49)  
Richardson Skipped; Limbaugh Lambasted, Countered With Bias Proof

1) The broadcast networks Tuesday night all ignored Energy Secretary Bill Richardson's appearance before a Senate committee to discuss Los Alamos. CNN and FNC gave it a few seconds.

2) Hillary Clinton's denial of any knowledge about Whitewater generated short items on ABC, CBS and FNC; a full report on CNN.

3) Rush Limbaugh hit by Wolf Blitzer with the contention that the media were tough on Clinton and Joe Lockhart's charge that Limbaugh puts "on the air gossip, rumor, and it comes across as fact." (And some PPD from Paul Begala about Steve Forbes.)

4) Clinton is quite rationally avoiding a regular press conference because "the first question is going to be about Broaddrick," MSNBC's John Hockenberry contended. But in nine questions posed at three press conferences the name Broaddrick has not been uttered.

>>> "Which Beret to Wear During Incineration? Potential Chinese Warhead Threat Gets Less Morning and Evening Coverage Than the Monica Book." The latest Media Reality Check fax report released to coincide with Wednesday's scheduled Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, written by the MRC's Tim Graham and distributed by Kristina Sewell, will be posted Wednesday morning on the MRC home page by Webmaster Sean Henry. Go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990317.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) A key figure in the Chinese espionage scandal testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, but instead of using his appearance as a hook for a story, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows once again avoided the scandal. CNN and FNC gave it a few seconds. (The Tuesday morning shows also skipped it.)

     As the MRC's Tim Graham wrote in the Media Reality Check cited above, from the day the story broke in the March 6 New York Times through Monday, March 15: "The Big Three aired only 11 full evening stories. The morning shows were worse, airing only six full news reports and one interview." After Tuesday those numbers remain unchanged. (CBS is responsible for over half the evening pieces. ABC's World News Tonight has run three pieces and just two full stories have appeared on the NBC Nightly News.)

     On Tuesday, March 16, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a closed session followed by an open one. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume featured a full story, but Fox Report viewers heard only this 19-second item read by anchor Paula Zahn on the network's main evening newscast aired at 7pm ET:
     "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is defending the White House in the China crisis. Richardson told Congress today security has been dramatically tightened in light of secrets being leaked from the Los Alamos national lab. But Republicans are still blasting the White House for not acting sooner on reports that China was stealing our nuclear secrets."

     CNN's Inside Politics overlooked Richardson's appearance, but The World Today gave him 24 seconds. Co-anchor Joie Chen announced:
     "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says that by next month we should know how badly the United States was hurt on China's alleged theft of nuclear secrets. Richardson testified today at a Senate hearing into how the government handled the investigation. A scientist at the Los Alamos national laboratory was fired last week for not cooperating. The FBI has been looking into the matter since 1996. Richardson says he doesn't know whether anyone will be charged."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The playing at Susan McDougal's trial of Hillary Clinton's videotaped testimony from last year in which she claimed to know nothing about Whitewater transactions, generated short, anchor-read items Tuesday night on ABC, CBS and FNC. Only CNN provided a full story with Bob Franken informing viewers that since McDougal's 1996 trial "investigators have turned up a check for more than $27,000 made out to 'Bill Clinton.'"

     All led on March 16 with the deadly Amtrak train-truck crash in Illinois followed by a look at how the Dow briefly topped 10,000. ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN ran short items on the presidential announcement by Steve Forbes. NBC Nightly News ignored Forbes just as they skipped Al Gore's Monday announcement.

     Hillary coverage: On ABC's World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson took 16 seconds to convey:
     "In Little Rock Arkansas today, videotaped testimony taken from the First Lady at the White House last year was played in court at the trial of Susan McDougal. The testimony had been secret until now. The First Lady said that she knew nothing about the financial transactions in the failed Whitewater land deal."

     CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts consumed 29 seconds in relaying:
     "Portions of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's never before seen videotaped testimony to the Ken Starr Whitewater grand jury were played in open court today in Arkansas. The tape itself was not made available but in one excerpt the First Lady testified, quote: 'I never spent any significant time at all looking at the books and records of Whitewater.' Mrs. Clinton's year-old testimony surfaced as part of Starr's current prosecution of Susan McDougal, the Clinton's former business partner in Whitewater."

     CNN's The World Today made time for a full report from Bob Franken, who noted Hillary Clinton's denial of any knowledge, before explaining the reason for the Susan McDougal trial:
     "McDougal, who spent a year-and-a-half in prison for refusing to answer grand jury questions, is once again facing charges for not cooperating. She and her late husband, Jim, were the Clinton's partners during the late '70s and '80s in the failed Whitewater real estate venture. The independent counsel is trying to determine whether President Clinton committed perjury when he denied under oath in 1996 he had ever received a loan for the McDougal's failed S&L. Since then, investigators have turned up a check for more than $27,000 made out to 'Bill Clinton.' They believe it was a loan. The question is: Did President Clinton even know about this loan? He never endorsed the check."

     Franken led into a soundbite from McDougal's lawyer by saying he "charges the independent counsel is on a wild-goose-chase." But Franken also explained: "Prosecutors insist they need to pin down whether the loan was a fabrication by Jim McDougal trying to juggle funds in an effort to confuse regulators, and that the First Lady's testimony proves they need answers from Susan McDougal."


rush0317.jpg (9653 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The mainstream media "were pretty tough on the Democrats, on Bill Clinton during this past year," Wolf Blitzer argued to guest Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday's Late Edition/PrimeTime on CNN. Blitzer later showed a clip of White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart denouncing Limbaugh and demanded the talk show host respond: "But what about the substance of what Joe Lockhart says? You put on the air gossip, rumor, and it comes across as fact?"

     Limbaugh shot back: "Wolf, I'm not the guy who committed perjury, I'm not the guy who lied to the American people wagging my finger in their face, I'm not the guy who repeatedly tells falsehoods..." And, he took advantage of his CNN time to recite how the media willingly passed along Clinton's false claims about Medicare and school lunch cuts.

     (After interviewing Limbaugh live and showing a taped interview with Lockhart, Blitzer brought aboard Tony Blankley and long-time Clinton flack Paul Begala, who apparently forgot his leader's admonition against the politics of personal destruction (PPD), commenting about Steve Forbes: "He'll take on Bush for that all-important geek vote. I have got nothing against the guy, but I was looking at the tape of him announcing and he looked like he was the college President of the University of Mars or something.")

     The 10pm ET/PT CNN show opened with Blitzer's live interview with Limbaugh. The discussion soon got to Al Gore's "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" claim, prompting Blitzer to observe: "They've never been able to make that kind of stuff stick against Al Gore the way the Democrats made the gaffes made by then-Vice President Dan Quayle stick against him." Limbaugh pointed out: "Well, that's because they've never had the help of the mainstream press. I mean, the mainstream press helped the gaffes stick on Quayle, and we'll see if the press helps the gaffes stick on Gore. I think, I noted that Bill Kristol, in The Weekly Standard, wrote recently that he thinks this Internet thing is going to stick to Gore. We'll have to see."

     After an ad break CNN played a clip of Limbaugh at the Radio & Records magazine convention asserting: "I think, for the most part, what we would call the mainstream media is a disgrace, and it is why we have the opportunity we have." [Check the end of this item for details about how a video excerpt of this portion of the show will be posted on the MRC home page.]

     Countering Limbaugh's assertion, Blitzer maintained: "Rush, is the mainstream news media as bad as you say it is? It seems to me, sitting right in the middle of the mainstream news media, that all of us, we were pretty tough on the Democrats, on Bill Clinton during this past year."

     Limbaugh replied: "I think there's a, one fundamental difference in the press of today and the press of yesteryear," explaining:
     "It used to be that the press would simply take the news, put it out there and here it is. That's not happening today. The press today is looking to the news and determining what the American people should know, and what they shouldn't know. It's sort of an elitist approach to it. I think it's bad. I'll give you further examples."

     Before he could, Blitzer jumped in and played a tape of a discussion about Limbaugh he had earlier in the day with Lockhart.
     Lockhart: "He's done a great job. He's lost a lot of weight. I can look up to that, and probably learn something from him. I think."
     Blitzer: "He's been a role model?"
     Lockhart: "He's been a role model. I think, if anyone would have told me a while ago I'd say that, I'd say they were crazy. Let me answer the question seriously. He's got every right to express his opinion. When that starts influencing, and when pieces of information that he knows as gossip, or things he's heard that he puts out -- when reporters start treating that as fact, then I think we have a problem."

     Back to the live interview with Limbaugh, Blitzer agreed that Limbaugh has lost weight, but then got serious: "What about the substance of what Joe Lockhart says? You put on the air gossip, rumor, and it comes across as fact?"

     Limbaugh took advantage of the opportunity, delivering this lengthy retort about how it is Clinton who lies and it was the mainstream media which promoted his lies about Medicare and school lunch cuts:
     "This has been the White House line on me for the past five or six years, that I don't get my fact straight. Wolf I'm not the guy who committed perjury, I'm not the guy who lied to the American people wagging my finger in their face, I'm not the guy who repeatedly tells falsehoods and lies on the radio. I make every effort in the world to make sure that what I am saying is factually correct and when I make a mistake, I open my show with the correction. I don't bury it. I don't hide it. I am not interested in being wrong. It doesn't advance what I'm trying to do. It doesn't serve any purpose whatsoever of mine to be wrong.

     "Now this takes me right back to what I was going to say about the mainstream press. I will go back to the campaign in 1992 and the campaign, '94, '95, '96. It was not the worst economy in the last 50 years as Bill Clinton and Al Gore said in '92. It wasn't. There were no Medicare cuts. There was no school lunch crisis. There wasn't any cut or any planned cut in the school lunch program. Medicare was going to grow and I think everybody in the press knew it. I think everybody in the mainstream press knew the recession of '91 was not the worse economy in the last 50 years.
     "They knew there weren't any Medicare cuts. They knew the school lunch program wasn't going to be cut. All the Democrats had to say was, 'The Republicans are cutting Medicare,' and you guys would run to the Republicans, 'Why are you cutting Medicare?,' knowing full well there weren't any cuts. It was a six percent growth."

     Up next on the show, Blitzer's taped interview with Lockhart. Blitzer asked when Clinton will hold a regular press conference, "What's your assessment of the White House press corps?" and whether he is in or out of "the loop." Blitzer never pressed Lockhart about why he refuses to get an answer to Juanita Broaddrick's charge or about how he and McCurry have misled the press corps any number of matters, but he was worried about the impact of Stephanopoulos on Clinton's dealings with the staff:
     "Have you sensed any change in how the President is dealing with his staff since the George Stephanopoulos book came out? Some of your colleagues thinking he went too far, in effect, betraying confidence and loyalty. Is the President less open now, in some of these meetings, than he was before, fearing that one of you guys might write another book?"

     +++ See Limbaugh present the evidence of liberal bias. You can hear him on the radio everyday. Now you can see and hear him on the MRC Web site. Wednesday morning by 10am ET or so the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip of Limbaugh responding to Blitzer and Lockhart. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

     Reminder: The video clips posted by the MRC are available for 30 days at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) President Clinton is quite rationally avoiding a regular press conference because the Washington media have revealed themselves to be "attack dogs," MSNBC's John Hockenberry suggested before predicting: "The first question is going to be about Broaddrick."

     Actually, Clinton has taken questions at some joint press conferences with foreign leaders and the questions have hardly been tough.

     MRC analyst Mark Drake caught Hockenberry's assertions. Hockenberry ruminated, on his March 15 show, to Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund:
     "Is it possible that Bill Clinton is not having news conferences because it's the press that have revealed themselves to be, you know, attack dogs and that he basically just wants to avoid them? He's not lonely. He's not O.J. He's just responding to the media."

     Hockenberry later offered his theory to Fund on why Clinton avoids the press: "But he knows, you know, the first question is gonna be about Broaddrick. It's gonna be about when he's gonna dump Hillary or whether Hillary's gonna dump him."

REALITY CHECK: From the March 8 CyberAlert:

White House correspondents punted again. Friday afternoon Bill Clinton held a joint press conference with the Italian Prime Minister, but as they did the last two times Clinton took questions, the same three wire service reporters avoided posing any tough questions or uttering the name Juanita Broaddrick. In fact, Helen Thomas hit him from the left on a missile defense and Larry McQuillan portrayed Clinton as a victim of Lewinsky and yearned for him to "bring closure" to the whole scandal.

Here are the three questions posed on March 5 as Clinton avoided any of the big name network reporters:
-- Terence Hunt of AP asked what he had to say to Italians who say justice has not been done in the gondola accident.

-- Helen Thomas, UPI: "Do you expect a breakthrough on Kosovo and especially in view of the policy seems to be attacking or threatening Serbia and then retreating, it's constant. And my other question is how can you justify chipping away at the ABM treaty which helped keep the peace during the Cold War and pour billions and billions into a Star Wars defense against the possibility that starving North Korea may fire a missile at us?"

-- Larry McQuillan, Reuters: "Mr. President, more than 70 million Americans watched Monica Lewinsky's recent television interview and a number of people are buying a book that she's put out. I'm just wondering, do you have any thoughts on it that you can share with us that perhaps might bring closure to this and do you have any problem with the idea that she's actually making money off that relationship?"

END Excerpt

     From the February 22 CyberAlert about the February 19 event with the French premier:

Three U.S. reporters were called upon. First, Terence Hunt of AP asked about extending the Kosovo deadline, though Kosovo is all the French reporters asked about. Second, Helen Thomas of UPI wondered: "What lessons have you learned from your 13 month ordeal? Do you think the office of the presidency has been harmed? And what advice do you give future Presidents?" Third, Larry McQuillan of Reuters inquired: "I wonder if you could share with us some your thoughts about the pros and cons of Hillary running for the Senate seat in New York?"

End Excerpt

     From the February 25 CyberAlert on the February 24 joint press conference:

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."

End Excerpt

     At a regular press conference no doubt the TV network reporters would pose tougher questions, but so far the wire services have demonstrated a distinct lack of interest among the the White House press corps in demanding answers to tough questions. -- Brent Baker


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