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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday May 27, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 93)

FNC Uncovered Retribution; Bias Pondered; HRC Hailed by Rather

1) Cox Report forgotten by CBS and NBC Wednesday night. Only ABC aired a related story. NBC focused on highway repair and hearing aide use. CBS watchers learned about a coin counting machine.

2) An ethics investigation will check allegations that a Defense Dept. staffer "faced reprisals...for offering key testimony to the Cox committee's investigation," FNC's Carl Cameron disclosed.

3) FNC's Eric Burns explored how "conservatives suggest that the story [Chinagate] is not being covered for reasons of politics... that there is a liberal bias at the big three networks."

4) Dan Rather slobbered all over Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes II, urging her to run for President and gushing: "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning."

     >>> "Unintended Consequences: With Ratings System in Place, TV More Offensive Than Ever," a Special Report from the MRC's Parents Television Council was released Wednesday and generated stories on ABC's World News Tonight and FNC's Fox Report. The study looked at two weeks of programming from each of the last three November sweeps periods (1996, 1997, 1998), taking into consideration content from both before and after implementation of television's parental-guidance and content ratings. Key Findings: Sexual content, foul language, and violent content combined rose by almost 31 percent from November 1996, just before the original ratings system was implemented, to November 1998. Foul language went up by more than 30 percent; NBC led by a wide margin, with ABC second.
     To read the entire report, with network breakdowns, content examples and graphs (and a link to a page of scintillating photos from the press conference with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Sam Brownback as well as MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell), go to where the MRC's Eric Pairel has posted the special report: http://www.parentstv.org/publications/reports/sr052699.html <<<

     >>> Cox Report online. If the official House site is too slow or busy (http://www.house.gov/coxreport), you can read the entire report, from the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, on the Conservative News Service site where it has been posted, complete with all the tables, graphs and pictures -- just like the House's original and better than the text-only version featured on many Web pages. To access the Cox committee's report, go to: http://www.conservativenews.org/SpecialReports/cox/index.html <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Of the broadcast networks on Wednesday night, May 26, only ABC's World News Tonight touched anything related to the Cox Report or Chinese espionage as ABC's John Cochran explored why Wen Ho Lee has not been charged. A day after the Cox Report release it has already fallen off the news agenda for CBS and NBC, though both FNC and CNN delivered follow-up stories. (Every network led with the pending indictment of Milosevic and its implications.)

     Here's what the May 26 evening shows delivered:

     -- NBC Nightly News. After skipping Cox on Monday and running one piece on Tuesday after stories on gun control, how did NBC fill the show on Wednesday? By running consumer and health feature stories. After opening reports on Milosevic NBC delivered an In Depth segment on summer travel with a story on how highway repairs will cause major delays for travelers followed by a piece on how Memorial Day weekend is second only to Thanksgiving as the busiest day at airports all year. Next, NBC aired two "LifeLine" reports. First, how though people over 100 are the fastest growing segment of the population, a poll found most do not want to live past 100. Second, a look at how most of the people who need hearing aides don't wear them, so they are more likely to suffer from depression. Finally, to wrap up the newscast packed with hard news, NBC checked in on the National Geography Bee which was won by a home schooler. NBC posed some of the questions to adults on the street. Asked to "name Ecuador's chief port and most populous city," a guy replied: "Hong Kong."

     Probably a product of public schools.

     -- CBS Evening News viewers were treated to a lengthy plug for Dan Rather's upcoming 60 Minutes II interview with Hillary Clinton, including a talk with a Staten Island Democrat who excitedly recalled how Mrs. Clinton supposedly told him she will run for the Senate. Half way into the show CBS ran a profile by Anthony Mason of a 36-year old man who founded Coinstar, a Washington-state company bringing in $80 million a year from stand-alone coin counting machines placed in retail stores that customers can use to get cash for their coins for a charge of nine cents per dollar.

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Reporter John Cochran wondered:
     "If Chinese espionage is so devastating and if this man, Wen Ho Lee, is a prime suspect, why do administration officials say he may never be put on trial for espionage? Partly because spying is always difficult to prove..."
     Recalling how Aldrich Ames communicated by putting chalk marks on a mailbox, Cochran explained it's even harder to get evidence in this case because China picked up many secrets just by talking to students and scientists visiting China, so no documents changed hands in the United States.
     Cochran added: "The case of Wen Ho Lee was complicated further by the FBI's slow reaction. It was not until almost four years after he became a suspect that agents searched his home and his computer."

     -- CNN's The World Today ran two espionage-related stories. 
Pierre Thomas outlined how China attempted to divert for military use some McDonnell Douglas-made super computers designed to allow for precise metal shaping. U.S. authorities caught on in time, but assumed they would have been used not to build passenger airplanes but to improve China's Silkworm missile which they sell to Iran.
     CNN's Mike Boettcher landed an exclusive with Paul Redmond, the CIA's former chief spy catcher. He labeled the Chinese espionage not a scandal but a defeat for the intelligence services which are in a constant battle with other nations. The Chinese advantage, he explained, is patience. They think in terms of years and decades, so put people into positions and then wait years until the person has gained access to useful data.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) An investigation has been launched to check a Pentagon employee's claim that he was punished for what he told the Cox committee last year about Loral and Hughes, FNC's Carl Cameron revealed Wednesday in another story putting FNC a few steps ahead of the other networks.

     Cameron's piece topped the May 26 Special Report with Brit Hume and also ran on the 7pm ET Fox Report. Cameron outlined his exclusive:
     "A government ethics investigation has just been launched into allegations that Defense Department weapons expert Peter Leitner faced reprisals from superiors for offering key testimony to the Cox committee's investigation of Chinese espionage. Leitner testified in secret last August that Loral Space and Hughes Electronics had harmed national security by helping China improve its missile technology. Leitner had complained about it within the Defense Department for some time. Even before his Cox committee appearance, he told Fox News that he had been pressured to shut up and passed over for promotions."
     Standing in the Pentagon parking lot, Dr. Peter Leitner told Cameron: "I was castigated and told I was untrustworthy."

     +++ To see a picture of Leitner, late Thursday morning ET go to this item in the posted version of this CyberAlert where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will place an image from Cameron's story. The direct address will be: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990527.html#2

     Cameron then moved on to show what all the other networks skipped: reaction to Chris Cox and Norm Dicks as they testified before a House committee. Viewers saw Democrats Gary Ackerman and Tom Lantos complaining about how Republicans, in the words of Lantos, are engaged in a "cheap and vulgar partisan attack." Dana Rohrabacher got time to counter their blast before Cameron played a soundbite each from Dicks and Cox.


burns0527.jpg (11831 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Liberal bias behind the lack of broadcast network enthusiasm for Chinagate? Two Fox News Channel shows actually raised that possibility Wednesday night in exploring a subject normally avoided by the media. On Special Report with Brit Hume Fred Barnes blamed liberal bias and just over a half hour later the Fox Report's "Fox Files" segment, which featured two soundbites from MRC Chairman Brent Bozell, looked into why Chinese espionage is being downplayed.

     -- During his show's panel discussion Brit Hume observed: "Two of the three broadcast networks last night led their newscasts with, not the Cox Report, but the politics of the gun control issue in the House and I noticed that the Washington Post this morning led with the gun control issue."
     Fred Barnes clarified Hume's point: "But they had had the full story of the Cox Report the day before in their defense. I don't think there's any defense for the networks playing it down. A decision like that is not only reflective of liberal bias it is also a frivolous decision."

     -- "Is the story getting the coverage it should?" Fox Report anchor Paula Zahn asked in introducing a look at Chinagate coverage. FNC's Eric Burns opened with soundbites of Robert Snyder of the Media Studies Center and the MRC's Bozell asserting it is an important story.
     Burns then noted that on the three major network evening shows Chinagate ranked 101st in time allocated two weeks ago and 13th last week, adding: "Why, on the day the Congress released the Cox Report, and ABC's World News Tonight led with it, did the CBS Evening News run it second and NBC Nightly News third? Why? Well it's been suggested, on Fox NewsWatch among other places, that Chinagate just isn't a good television story."
     Jane Hall on Newswatch: "It's true I think because it's not a good visual story that it's not getting a ton of coverage."
     Burns the raised the possibility of liberal bias: "Conservatives suggest that the story is not being covered for reasons of politics, not pictures, that there is a liberal bias at the big three networks."
     MRC Chairman Brent Bozell: "The liberal media have spent thirty years denying a communist threat to this country. That communist threat from the Soviet Union was there, that communist threat is now back with Red China. They simply don't want to concede it so they're pretending it just doesn't exist."
     Burns: "Regardless of the reasons, TV news has let itself in for a whole new set of criticisms. First it was too much Monicagate. Now it's too little Chinagate."
     In another clip of Snyder he urged the networks to "redouble" their efforts to present important stories such as this even if hard to explain.
     Picking up on Snyder's point, over a shot of the MRC's March 16 ad in the New York Times asking "ABC, CBS, and NBC....Why are you not reporting the important news?," Burns concluded: "Without redoubled efforts, redoubled criticism seems sure to continue."

     +++ See an actual TV story taking up the liberal bias charge. Thursday morning the MRC's Sean Henry will post by this item in the online version, in RealPlayer format, a clip of this FNC story. After 11am ET on Thursday, go to:

     Or, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) CBS News should be ashamed and embarrassed by Dan Rather's 60 Minutes II interview with Hillary Clinton which aired Wednesday night, May 26. But they won't be since if they weren't proud of it they would not have allocated an incredible 24 minutes of prime time to running the tribute which was so long they had to divide it up into two 12 minute segments.

     CBS delivered more of a campaign commercial for her Senate run, or the kind of interview you'd expect if she appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell Show, than a probing news interview.

     No one term can fully impart what CBS aired, so I'll list a bunch of descriptions: gushing, exalting, praising, cheering, admiring, adoring, idolizing, etc.

     Amongst the comments and "questions" uttered by Rather:
-- "For whom do you root, the Mets or the Yankees?"
-- "First Lady Hillary Clinton is a political superstar."
-- "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning."
-- "It's hard to know what keeps her going through marital problems made public, political fights turned ugly, through triumphs, disasters and always the demands of her work."
-- "The agenda she lays out seems downright old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and families..."
-- "What are the possibilities that one day, some day you'll run for President?"
-- "Of all the allegations, accusations, charges made what do you consider to be the most unfair attack?"

     And even all that does not adequately communicate the full adulation of this piece. You really have to read it or watch it to believe it, which is why I've transcribed so much of it and have asked MRC Webmaster Sean Henry to post a clip. By late Thursday morning ET a hunk of this should be up in RealPlayer format at: http://www.mrc.org

     (To save time and space, I've abbreviated Hillary Rodham Clinton to HRC and instead of quoting her I've usually just provided a brief summary of what she answered.)

     In front of the usual 60 Minutes wall board, with the story title "Hillary" over a picture of her, Rather opened: "She is a woman on a first name basis with the world. First Lady Hillary Clinton is a political superstar. She has a history of making history and tonight she's on vacation in Florida deciding whether to do it again, this time by making a run for the United States Senate in New York. We sat down together a few days ago and she talked about her future and her recent past. She outlined what she believes in, what she hopes for and how she's gotten through the hard times in the White House."

     Cutting to his sit down with Hillary Clinton, Rather warned: "As she prepares for a life after the White House, a life she now insists will be in New York, Mrs. Clinton is also steeling herself for tough questions from political friends and foes, and from the New York media."

     But not from CBS News, as you'll soon see.

     Rather's first question: "And here's a tough question, one that you're going to be asked repeatedly time and again and you're eventually going to have to answer: For whom do you root, the Mets or the Yankees?"

     After asserting she's a "complicated" person and playing a clip of her 1992 outburst about how she could have "stayed home and baked cookies," Rather gushed:
     "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning. A crowd pleaser and first class fundraiser, a person under enormous pressure to step into the arena. This time on her own."

     Rather pressed her about whether she will run and why she isn't running from Illinois or Arkansas. He got her to admit she is looking at forming an exploratory committee before he oozed:
     "She has been pushing forward and pushing the envelope since election night 1992, building a reputation here and abroad for her work with women, children and families. She has gone the extra mile to visit refugees, returned home to push for public schools. And criss-crossed the country to campaign for Democratic candidates and causes."
     HRC complained about how 35 million homes have guns, one third loaded and unlocked.
     Rather elaborated: "Since the killings at Columbine high school she has waded into the war over gun control and led the national grieving."
     Following a clip of Hillary addressing Columbine students Rather continued: "On the day we met those issues were on her mind again. She and the President had spent a long day in Littleton Colorado, meeting with parents who lost children in the violence at Columbine High."

     Rather asked: "What can you say to them, what do you say to them?" and "Tell me what you talked about."
     HRC: They want change, do something so deaths not in vain. Feel need for better gun laws, address culture of violence.
     Rather: "Colorado, like many states in the West, Southwest, South is in some ways a gun culture. People grew up with guns. Guns are pervasive. Was there any talk of that?"
     Hillary: Yes, need for more gun control, pleased Senate passed new restrictions.

     Rather cut away from the interview to insert: "She says that if she runs for the Senate it will be because of what she's learned in places like Littleton and in spite what she's lived through in Washington."

     Back to the interview Rather inquired: "Question Mrs. Clinton: with all that you've been through in politics, you know virtually under siege for at least the past year and a half, why in the world would you want to go in to that kind of campaign, particularly in a tough state like New York?"
     HRC: people in Littleton not bitter, filled with positive energy and "I respond to that." Will bring people together in the Senate.
     Recalling the year and a half "of denial and DNA," Rather noted that throughout it all she maintained her silence. He pressed her about how "sooner or later in New York they're going to say 'why are you still with this man?'"
     HRC: "We have a deep and abiding commitment to one another."
     Rather: "Given what you've been through the last year and a half or two years did you ever consider leaving him?"
     Hillary refused to answer.

     Cutting away again from the interview, Rather offered this tribute:
     "She doesn't bat an eye and she doesn't give an inch. She has set firm boundaries that she doesn't want broken and whether she runs for the Senate or not she is already on a campaign to make Americans define public and private the way she does. But in the Clinton White House -- his past and her future -- are hard to separate."

     Back to the interview, he suggested Hillary and Bill are victims of a ruthless Senate:
     "If you were to run and if you were to be elected you would walk into a United States Senate famous or infamous depending on your point of view as being a pit of deal-making, compromise and you'd be walking into a Senate in which a large number of the Senators were the same Senators who had put your husband on trial and indeed tried to run both of you out of Washington for all intents and purposes."
     Hillary: Lot of good people there, public service a privilege.

     We're only half way done. At this point CBS ran an ad break.

     Back from the ads, Rather effused: "Polls show she is one of the most admired women in America. But even after seven years in the spotlight, she remains a riddle for many people. It's hard to know what keeps her going through marital problems made public, political fights turned ugly, through triumphs, disasters and always the demands of her work. Tonight we get some answers about how she does it from the only person in the world who really knows."
     When she said "I've been blessed," Rather countered: "Hard to see how you've been blessed the last year and a half or so."
     HRC: No one would wish for what we've gone through, but learned a lot.

     Rather then recalled how seven years ago on 60 Minutes she had ridiculed the idea of staying with a straying husband. He played the famous clip of her saying I'm not sitting here like Tammy Wynette standing by my man.

     Transitioning back to his praise-fest with Hilary Clinton, Rather suggested: "Today she doesn't talk about fidelity. She talks about forgiveness and dealing with personal pain."
     HRC: Life not fair or easy, must keep trying.
     Rather: "You mention you're a religious person. Did you find yourself praying more over the most difficult period?"
     HRC: Prayed a lot since getting to White House, grateful for prayers from others, helps me get filled with positive feelings.

     Rather then jumped to highlights of her White House years, but used none of the examples to bore in on her political crassness or deceit: "She has always been more comfortable explaining health care."
     HRC at a congressional hearing: "On the benefits package we have priced that out very carefully, Congressman."
     Rather: "More effective fighting off financial questions."
     HRC at pretty in pink press conference: "We went into Whitewater to make money, not to lose it."
     Rather: "More at ease on national television blaming partisan politics for her husband's problems."
     HRC on Today, January 1998: "This vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President."
     Rather: "Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest incarnation is probably the one she likes least: long suffering wife. For some, an object of sympathy."
     He noted that if she runs for Senate she will be going out on her own and breaking new ground for First Ladies. Rather insisted: "The agenda she lays out seems downright old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and families and the unique problems they face today."
     HRC: Things different today for kids, tearing down institutions, lowering values.
     Rather tried to draw out her campaign platform: "Give me a specific one or two things, something concrete you think we could do and should be doing."
     HRC: Have to be better connected to each other, build a sense of community. High schools are too large. Too many schools without play areas. Used to have community to take care of kids, fathers came home every night at same time.
     Rather applauded her dedication as he broached the very first challenging question, if mildly so: "You mentioned again children. It's been your burning passion to what you've been connected most of your career. Did or did not the President, your husband last year, did he communicate mixed messages to young people about right and wrong?"
     HRC: Not going to go back and talk about that. He has spoken about the people he let down. No matter what you do, always the hope for forgiveness.
     Rather: "Do you believe in redemption?"
     HRC: "Absolutely."

     Think the interview has been soft so far, closer to a campaign video than a news report? You haven't seen anything yet.

     Rather: "Let's pretend for a moment. It's 2050. There's an encyclopedia and it has a picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton, one time First Lady of the United States. What do you think the caption under that picture will be?"
     HRC: "I have no idea, I have no idea."
     Undeterred, Rather pressed again: "What would you like it to be?"
     HRC: Just try to do best I can every day. Think I've been a transition figure for many.
     Rather: "We've talked about the possibility of you running for the Senate. You've said that you're obviously interested in it. What are the possibilities that one day, some day you'll run for President?"
     HRC: "Oh my gosh. That's not possible I don't believe."
     Rather: "You've thought about it though haven't you?"
     HRC: "No I haven't."
     Rather, still hoping: "Have you considered it?"
     HRC: People have said it but I don't take it seriously.
     Rather then touched another sore subject, but ever so gently: "Like it or not, how you like it not, your husband is one of two Presidents to have been impeached. Do you agree or disagree it's going to be in the first paragraph of his obituary?"
     HRC: Don't know, depends who writes obit. Not most important port of his term. He accomplished many great things.
     Rather: "He told me, in an interview, that he did not consider it a badge of shame. Do you?"
     HRC: Such a political process, a misfortune, will be seen in history in a broader context.

     More than making up for those last two queries, Rather next tossed up this whiffle-ball: "You now have a chance to reflect a little. Of all the allegations, accusations, charges made what do you consider to be the most unfair attack?"
     HRC: The entire impeachment process, glad painful period behind us now.

     Wrapping up the piece, Rather squeezed in just a bit more adulation before letting the First Lady have the last seconds to express how she forgives everyone and has a positive attitude toward life. Rather introduced her life's message:
     "It is the most she will share about the past year and a half. And for some, in our confessional society, that may not be enough. But Hillary Clinton doesn't care. She's intent on sharing something else. Not what she's gone through, but what she's come away with."
     Hillary Clinton then got the last words: "When you go through any kind of difficult experience you have a choice. I mean you can let it break you and embitter you, or you can take whatever you've experienced, whatever pain or suffering and decide that you're still going to have faith, your faith in God, your faith in your fellow man, that you're still going to believe that you're going to make a contribution to a better life. It's a choice. Every single day we wake up, you can choose to be cynical or hopeful, you can choose to be grateful or contemptuous. You can make all those choices and for me it's not a very hard choice."

     An illustrative example of why liberals want campaign finance "reform" that limits spending and controls who can spend it. Liberals already have the news media on their side producing and airing glowing pieces like this at no cost to them so if they can limit what exposure conservatives can get through paid media they'll be at a big advantage. -- Brent Baker


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