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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
1:15 pm Wednesday May 26, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 92)

CyberAlert EXTRA: 
Police Brutality Before Spying; Rather/Hillary

1) May 26 morning shows: NBC put Louima police brutality case, with Geraldo as guest expert, before espionage; CBS gave more time to becoming a nun than China; only ABC went first with Cox.

2) Tonight 60 Minutes II will air Dan Rather's interview of Hillary Clinton. In 1993 he declared: "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been... we'd take it right now and walk away winners." And, in his last interview with her he oozed: "I don't know of anybody, friend or foe, who isn't impressed by your grasp of the details..."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) CBS's This Morning allocated more time to talking with William Shatner about his book on Star Trek fans than to interviewing Energy Secretary Bill Richardson -- CBS's first ever Chinese-espionage related interview segment.

     See the May 26 CyberAlert distributed earlier today:  http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990526.html#3

     This morning, May 26, ABC gave multiple segments to a family of sextuplets, though they at least uniquely led with Cox; CBS led at 8am with Hillary's Senate run and allocated more interview time to genetic testing and becoming a nun than to a Cox interview; NBC spent more time on police brutality than espionage and put gun control and the brutality before a discussion of the Cox Report with two Democrats. 

     The details:

     -- ABC's Good Morning America was the only morning show to make the Cox Report its lead 7am half hour interview segment. After a 7am news update story on the Cox Report by Linda Douglass, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted, co-host Charles Gibson conducted a five minute interview with Congressman Chris Cox followed by Diane Sawyer talking to Julie Hiatt Steele about Ken Starr's decision to not re-try her.
     Most of the rest of the show focused on the Dilley sextuplets. In the 7:30am half hour Sawyer previewed her 20/20 report on them, followed by a talk with Dr. Tim Johnson about the latest fertility treatments. Other than the news update, GMA devoted the entire 8am half hour to Gibson and Sawyer talking with the Dilley parents.

     -- CBS's This Morning used 2:50, most of its five minute-long update fed to affiliates during the 7am half hour, for an interview with Chris Cox. Anchor Thalia Assuras introduced Cox by relaying an attack from communists:
     "A congressional report documenting decades of Chinese espionage is being described as vicious slander this morning by Chinese officials. Joining us from Washington is Representative Christopher Cox, chair of the select committee on national security, which is investigating the Chinese spy operation. Good morning sir."
     Here are the four questions she posed, none of which pressed him about Clinton administration malfeasance:
     -- "Does this report really tell us that the Chinese have a high level or an equal level of nuclear capability as the United States?"
     -- "So the spying has really helped China."
     -- "Will there be criminal charges or firings as a result of what your committee has found out?"
     -- "What affect do you think that this report is going to have on Congress' view of U.S.-China foreign policy?"

     This Morning opened its prime 8am half hour with a two-minute plus story about speculation surrounding Hillary's Senate run followed by a piddling 42 seconds on the Cox Report.

     As timed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, the Cox interview got 2:50 but CBS allocated virtually as much time, 2:42, in the 8am half hour to Assuras's interview about a school safety hotline. An interview about genetic testing got four minutes as did Mark McEwen's interview with a woman who, after several years in the business world, decided to become a nun.

     -- NBC's Today led its 7am news update with a piece on cities suing gun manufacturers, followed 22 seconds on the Cox Report. Today's dedicated its first interview segment to the Louima police brutality case in New York City with Geraldo Rivera as the guest expert. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens timed that at 5:55, just seconds shy of the 6:20 Today took for separate interviews by Matt Lauer of Norm Dicks, the ranking Democrat on the Cox committee, followed by another Democrat, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

     Lauer did ask Dicks: "Did you find any evidence that the Clinton administration changed its behavior on this espionage case due to campaign contributions?" His first inquiry to Richardson: "Do you think the Cox Report was fair?"

     Totaling up all the stories in the show Geoffrey determined that Today allocated 6:53 to the Cox Report, 8:45 to police brutality cases.

     Bottom line for the morning shows: Through Wednesday morning, May 26, the three broadcast network morning shows have aired a total of six interview segments about Chinese espionage since the story broke in the March 6 New York Times. ABC and CBS each aired two, NBC aired one in March and then interviewed two guests separately this morning which if you count separately would bring the total to seven overall. Either way, Today has yet to bring on a Republican to talk about it.

ABC's Good Morning America:
May 24: Bill Richardson
May 26: Chris Cox

CBS's This Morning:
May 25: Bill Richardson
May 26: Chris Cox

NBC's Today
March 9: Bill Richardson
May 26: Norm Dicks followed by Bill Richardson


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) If Dan Rather sticks to what he did in 1993, don't expect any tough questions in Rather's interview of Hillary Rodman Clinton set to air tonight, Wednesday May 26, on 60 Minutes II. Tonight's show airs an hour earlier than usual at 8pm ET/PT, 7pm CT/MT to make room for the Miss Universe Pageant. Rather taped the interview last week.

     Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of News Analysis, recalled a 1993 tribute Rather offered the Clintons and reviewed Rather's 1993 interview of Hillary. He wrote up what he discovered:

     Despite the ads promoting tonight's interview in which Rather asks the First Lady, "Why do you stay with this guy?," it would go against history if Dan Rather was very tough with Hillary Clinton in his 60 Minutes II interview. Remember, this is the anchorman who told Clinton at a CBS affiliates meeting on May 27, 1993, just three months into the Clinton presidency:
     "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners...Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her."

     By "we" he was referring to himself and Connie Chung who had just been teamed up on the CBS Evening News. It didn't last long.

     If you watch Rather's chat with Hillary tonight, keep in mind the last time they met on camera: a 48 Hours special on the Clinton health plan aired on September 22, 1993, the night the Clinton plan was released. A sample of the "questions" Rather posed that night:
     -- "When you walked in, it was pretty clear you were excited, but also a little nervous. Am I right about that?"
     -- "Next week begins the hard, really hard chore of trying to sell this to Congress and you'll be the lead-off witness. Are you nervous about that?"
     -- "You've been working hard already to introduce this plan to people, sell the plan to people. Are you having any fun with this or it is all just hard work? It looks to be very hard work."

     Instead of asking tough questions about the vague outline of the Clinton plan that was released, Rather reiterated their talking points as questions: "I want to talk about some of the details. But first, let me run down a check-list. And if you will, this will be very short, just give me a yes or no answer. Will every legal resident of the United States be covered under this, including the 37 million now who have no coverage?"
     -- "Will this entail any major increase in taxes?"
     -- "Will this help reduce the deficit, perhaps by as much as $91 billion, a figure often mentioned?"
     -- "Will all of this be accomplished without reducing the quality of health care to America?"
     -- "The reason I wanted to tick those off, and you said, 'yes it will cover the 37 million not covered, yes every legal resident in the country will be covered, yes it will help reduce the deficit, no it will not decrease quality.' It sounds too good to be true."

     Rather noted: "The Republicans have proposed an alternative, which as I understand it, places the greatest burden on individuals. Why is President Clinton's plan better than those of the Republicans?" He then asked: "What is non-negotiable?...And true or untrue, that there's going to be built to achieve that another huge government bureaucracy, with all that entails?" (Hillary said not true).

     Then Rather shifted back into flattery: "I hear you talking, and as I have before on this subject, I don't know of anybody, friend or foe, who isn't impressed by your grasp of the details of this plan. I'm not surprised because you have been working on it so long, and have traveled so hard, and listened to so many people. Is it possible, and I'm asking for your candid opinion, that when this gets through, whether it passes or not, that we will have reached a point when a First Lady, any First Lady, can be judged on the quality of her work?"

     Rather talked about mixing business with pleasure: "All of that having been said, did you or didn't you find a time when you found yourself sort of thinking 'I wonder how I can keep Bill from talking about health care?' Or was there a time when he just said, 'Hillary, I love health care, I'm into it, but can we please talk about something else?'"

     He ended on a light, CBS-plugging note: "Well speaking of having fun, I'm told repeatedly that you're prepared to go to hell and back, if necessary, to sell this program to the American people. But the question: are you prepared to do as Vice President Gore did to sell one of his favorite projects, are you prepared to pay the ultimate price and go on David Letterman?"

     A week later, Rather seemed to forget his flattery in a speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention in Miami, where he complained about the new rules of TV news, including:
     "Do powder puff, not probing interviews. Stay away from controversial subjects. Kiss ass, move with the mass and for heaven and ratings' sake don't make anybody mad -- certainly not anybody you're covering, and especially not the Mayor, the Governor, the Senator, the President or the Vice-President or anybody in a position of power. Make nice, not news."

     In tonight's interview I bet Rather makes nice, but that will make news since all anyone in the media seem to care about is her Senate bid. -- Brent Baker




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