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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday June 21, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 110)

CNN Let Clinton Avoid Chinagate; Bush "Extreme"; CBS Ignored Dingell

1) CNN's Wolf Blitzer landed an exclusive interview with Bill Clinton, but avoided Chinagate. Instead, he wondered: "When did you learn that the First Lady was a New York Yankees fan?"

2) Nightly News ignored it, but Tim Russert brought Warren Rudman on Meet the Press to discuss his report on nuclear lab security.

3) "I think Bush is in bigger trouble when the suburban moms and women discover" he's an "extreme" pro-lifer, insisted Eleanor Clift.

4) PBS's Liberal Week in Review: "As we all know, one of the biggest mistakes that his father made was to make that pledge back in 1988 that he would not raise taxes."

5) Republicans "outmaneuvered" the Democrats on gun control and "it's not something that the Republicans...can be successfully attacked on," or is it a "political bonanza" for Democrats as it demonstrates Republican "incompetence" and "extremism"?

6) The CBS Evening News ignored Democrat John Dingell's role in defeating gun control, instead running a whole story on how Clinton said "the American people would not stand for a Congress that gutted what he calls common sense gun control."

7) Katie Couric questioned the effectiveness of posting the Ten Commandments, but Today didn't similarly scrutinize gun control.

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Things Kenneth Starr Has Found Out About Al Gore."

     >>> "George W. Bush's Media Litmus Tests: National Media Continue Quadrennial Tradition of Trying to Drive Conservative Influence Out of GOP." The latest Media Reality Check fax report by Tim Graham is now up on the MRC Web site. It begins: "This week may signal the official media kickoff of Campaign 2000 and the arrival of Bill Clinton's lame-duck status. But it also marks the start of the national media's quadrennial attempt to drive conservative influence out of the GOP. Compelled in part by impressive early poll ratings, reporters have praised George W. Bush's first outings. But will he pass the media's litmus tests?
So far, reporters suggest Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' slogan makes him sound like the Un-Reagan, but will he go further to repudiate his party's conservative base?" Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990616.html <<<


wolf0621.jpg (15447 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) CNN let Bill Clinton escape any questions about China, but prompted him to elaborate about Hillary's long history as a Yankees fan. On Sunday, about an hour before Late Edition aired from Cologne Germany, CNN's Wolf Blitzer interviewed Clinton for 20 minutes. The interview aired at the top of Late Edition and again during the 10pm ET World Today.

     CNN advertized how it had landed the President's first Sunday morning interview since 1997, meaning since before the Lewinsky scandal, but Blitzer failed to ask him about any aspect of any controversy of the past two years. Despite the release earlier in the week of the critical Rudman Report, Blitzer ignored it as well as all the charges made by Johnny Chung in early May about funneling money from the Chinese military to Clinton's campaign. He also skipped the Cox Report and did not question Clinton about his March press conference denial that he knew of any espionage during his term.

     It was not as if the subject had been limited to Kosovo, as was the case with the PBS NewsHour interview conducted June 11. Blitzer did talk about the war, but he also covered gun control, asserting the Republican victory will be a "bonanza" for Democrats in the next election, and asking Clinton when did he first realize Hillary was a Yankees fan and about his future: "When you look ahead to your personal life after you leave the White House, what do you see?"

     Blitzer started with several questions on Kosovo, such as:
     "But you have to be concerned about the potential for the KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the revenge, the hatred. The fact that they're not going to be satisfied with autonomy. They're going to want full independence from Serbia. The potential for danger to those U.S. troops is very, very real."
     "When you gave the order to launch the air strikes, did you ever believe, in your wildest imagination, it would take 78 days and all the devastation that it did take to finally declare victory?"
     "Some of your aides are now talking about a 'Clinton doctrine' in foreign policy in the aftermath of this war against Yugoslavia. Is there, in your mind, a Clinton doctrine?"

     Back from an ad break, Blitzer announced: "Let's move on to some domestic issues. Guns, a big subject this past week. Do you really believe it's realistic, it's appropriate to register all guns in the United States, and if that were done, would that stop the violence?"

     Blitzer also offered up this poor assessment of conservative beliefs in the form of a question: "But you will concede, though, that the Democrats have a potential political bonanza from this defeat of the legislation this past week going into the elections next year." Clinton replied: "Well, if the public supports us, but you know, I didn't want a political bonanza, I wanted a safer America and our party did not seek political points on this."

     Blitzer moved on to presidential politics: "Speaking about politics, let's talk about presidential politics. Do you think that Texas Governor George W. Bush is qualified to be President of the United States?" After asking why he thinks Gore is behind in the polls, Blitzer wondered: "Do you think that he's trying this week to distance himself from you, the Vice President by saying, almost volunteering, that your behavior last year was 'inexcusable'?" Clinton's incredible response: "Well, I took no offense at it. He didn't say anything that I hadn't said in much starker terms along time ago. So there was nothing inappropriate about it."

     Blitzer began the third and last segment: "Let's talk about the First Lady's potential run for the Senate from New York. When did you discover, when did you learn that the First Lady was a New York Yankee's fan?"
     Clinton: "Oh, when I first, shortly after I met her because I'm a big baseball fan."
     Blitzer: "You know, a lot of people think she just..."
     Clinton, cutting him off: "Yes, I know that, but she was a, she said how it came to be. Her primary allegiance all her life has been to the Chicago Cubs. If you go to Chicago, basically most of the people on the North Side are for the Cubs, most people on the South Side are the White Sox. And she said, I remember back in the 70s, we were talking about other baseball, and she said but I like the Yankees, too. I said well, why don't you like the White Sox? She said if you're from Chicago, you're for the White Sox or the Cubs, and normally not both. So, our family always liked the Yankees. You know, I learned it a long time ago."
     Blitzer: "You know, there were reports out today in U.S. News & World Report that she's thinking of moving out of the White House and getting a place in New York in the fall."

     After Clinton denied she would move out, Blitzer followed up:
     "If she runs for the Senate, will you be eligible to vote for her in New York State? In other words, would you move your voter registration from Arkansas to New York?"
     Clinton: "Well, you know, I might, because I think every vote counts, and I'd certainly want her to win if she ran."

     Blitzer wrapped up by inquiring about his future: "Mr. President, you've always been someone who's looked ahead. When you look ahead to your personal life after you leave the White House, what do you see?"
     Clinton: "Well, it depends in part on what Hillary does. I'll be going, hope I'll be going to meetings of the Senate spouses club if she decides to run. But I want to continue to be active in areas that I care a great deal about. And I think that through my library, and through the public policy center, and perhaps through some other activities, I can continue to work on some of the issues of world peace and reconciliation of people across these racial and religious lines that I've devoted so much of my life to. I can continue to work at home on issues that I care a great deal about, including involving young people in public service. And whether it's young people in AmeriCorps or young Americans who are interested in running for public office, I've given a lot of thought to it...."
     Blitzer approvingly observed: "So what I'm hearing, more of a Jimmy Carter model as opposed to a Gerald Ford model."

     Clinton agreed before Blitzer and he exchanged mutual affection: "Okay, Mr. President, I'm told we're all out of time. I want to thank you very much for joining us for this special Late Edition here in Cologne."
     Clinton: "This is your last trip with me, so I want to thank you for six and a half good years."
     Blitzer: "Thank you very much."
     Clinton: "Good luck."
     Blitzer: "It's been an honor to cover you."

     Or would that be to "cover up for you"?

     (Blitzer did not let viewers in on the secret that Clinton revealed: Blitzer is leaving the White House beat soon to be an anchor of a new 10pm ET CNN news show.)

     +++ Watch and listen to Blitzer's cozy last segment with Clinton. Monday morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Jessica Anderson will post a RealPlayer clip of this ending segment about Hillary, the Yankees and Bill Clinton's Jimmy Carter-like future. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Sunday morning only Fox News Sunday, which separately interviewed Senator Richard Shelby and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, and NBC's Meet the Press dealt with the report issued Tuesday by the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Though NBC's Today gave the report 23 seconds on June 15 and NBC Nightly News ignored it (see the June 16 CyberAlert for details), Meet the Press host Tim Russert treated it as important news, making board chairman Warren Rudman his lead guest.

     Russert began: "One month ago, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson was on this program and elsewhere, and this is what he said, and I'll put it on the screen for you and our viewers: 'I can assure the American people that their nuclear secrets are now safe at the labs.' As I read your report, I found a different message. Let me put up a comment that you wrote in yours: 'A nefarious employee can still download secret weapons information to a tape, put it in his or her pocket, and walk out the door.' Who's right?"
     Rudman: "Well, I think the Secretary knows that he's not right...."

     Later, Russert got to some specifics Today and Nightly News viewers never learned about and which CNN's Wolf Blitzer refused to raise with Clinton: "There's been a lot of discussion about who knew what when and who should be accountable for what has gone on over the last few years. Sandy Berger, the President's national security adviser, acknowledges he was briefed in 1996, did not tell the President. He was briefed again in July of '97. He did tell the President. You write a little bit about this. Let me put it on our board for our viewers and get your reaction. 'We are convinced, however, that the July '97 briefing which we are persuaded was much more comprehensive than '96 was sufficient to warrant aggressive White House action. We believe that while the resulting presidential decision directive was developed and issued within a customary amount of time, these issues had such national security gravity that it should have been handled with more dispatch.'"

     Russert also raised Clinton's dissembling: "One of the more interesting comments was made in March of this year, and this was by the president when he was asked at a new conference about what he knew, and let me put it on the screen for you. 'Can you assure the American people that under your watch, no valuable nuclear secrets were lost?' President Clinton, 'Can I tell you there has been no espionage at the labs since I've been President? I can tell you that no one has reported to me that they suspect such a thing has occurred.' How could that be?"

     Earlier, Rudman had observed: "It's hard for me to say this, but I will say it anyway. The agenda for the body politic is often set by the media. Had it not been for The New York Times breaking the story of Chinese espionage, all over the front pages, I'm not sure I'd be here this morning. I'm not sure that report would have been written. And that is not the way that government ought to operate."

     It's fortunate that we weren't relying on NBC News or the other networks to break this story or we would have yet to hear about it.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Matching the theme of the MRC's Media Reality Check fax report plugged at the top of this CyberAlert, on McLaughlin Group over the weekend Newsweek's Eleanor Clift worked to discredit George W. Bush by trying to show he really is pro-life, which makes him "extreme." She asserted:
     "I think Bush is in bigger trouble when the suburban moms and women discover that he is really not laizez-faire on the particular issue. He is the most anti-choice Governor in the country in this session in the Texas legislature. He can only finesse that for so long. He is not as moderate as he pretended to be."

     After Michael Barone pointed out how his stands against partial birth abortion and in favor of parental notification are popular, Clift shot back: "He is signing a bill to cut off all family planning funds to clinics that provide abortions, which includes Planned Parenthood. I think that's pretty extreme."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Liberal Week in Review. Friday night, June 18, PBS's Washington Week in Review delivered liberal assessments on two major policy stories:

     -- Need to work harder for gun regulation. Moderator Paul Duke became an advocate, telling Steve Roberts: "Isn't it also true that the proponents of gun control are not nearly so well organized. You had this well financed, well organized National Rifle Association group. I mean, President Clinton noted again this week that the United States is the only Western country without significant gun control. So doesn't the other side have to do a much better job of getting into the ball game?"

     Yes, we liberals must do more to make the U.S. like socialist Europe.

     -- Bush Senior's mistake was promising not to raise taxes, not his decision to raise them. Scolding George W. Bush, Duke asserted: "Well another thing he did this week was to indicate that he would not raise taxes. And as we all know, one of the biggest mistakes that his father made was to make that pledge back in 1988 that he would not raise taxes and that helped to bring about his defeat."
     Michael Duffy of Time magazine agreed: "I read an interview with George Senior recently, said that the mistake was actually raising taxes. He hasn't yet admitted the mistake was promising in the first place never to raise taxes."

     That naif, he hasn't "admitted the mistake" that "we all know" he made. Not much "diversity" on this media panel.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Republicans "outmaneuvered" the Democrats on gun control and "it's not something that the Republicans...can be successfully attacked on," or is it a "political bonanza" for Democrats as it demonstrates Republican "incompetence" and "extremism"? Depends whose analysis you trust, Brit Hume's or Steve Roberts's.

     On the June 20 Fox News Sunday Hume observed:
     "This is the first time in a long time that the Democrats have been outmaneuvered in the House of Representatives. And they were badly outmaneuvered and they lost and they ended up having to vote against the whole measure. This is a win for Tom DeLay, the House Majority Whip. It's a win for the National Rifle association and because of the way the votes ended up in the breakdown along party lines it's not something that the Republicans really in my view can be successfully attacked on."

     By vote "breakdown along party lines" Hume was referring to how 45 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment for a 24 hour instead of a three day waiting period for a background check.

     Over on CNN's Late Edition Steve Roberts of U.S. News & World Report insisted:
     "Well, he [Clinton] lost the legislation, but he won the issue. And in many ways, Democrats are much happier with this situation. I don't want to be overly cynical. I don't want to say that the Democrats would have rejected any bill, but the fact is when he says, when the President says he didn't, in his interview with you, that he did not want a political bonanza out of this, Democrats are loving this. They really don't want to give the Republicans a victory. They are planning a fall campaign which runs on two words, Wolf, that is, the fall of 2000. Those two words are incompetence and extremism. That's what they're going to try to pin on the Republicans. And the defeat of this bill plays into both of those."

     It will play into both of those because Roberts reflects the liberal interpretation of events favored by most reporters.


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Who is John Dingell? Friday night the CBS Evening News managed to air two full stories on the House's action on gun control without uttering the name "John Dingell," the Michigan Democrat who sponsored the milder 24 hour instead of three day waiting period for a background check on guns purchased at a gun show.

     Both ABC and NBC pointed out the role of the leading Democrat in undermining the liberal bill sent over by the Senate, but not CBS. After Dingell's amendment passed all but ten Democrats voted against the overall bill, but CBS blamed the GOP for the loss, running a full report from Scott Pelley accompanying Clinton to the G-8 summit on how Clinton "said the American people would not stand for a Congress that gutted what he calls common sense gun control." Gun advocates got no time from CBS for rebuttal.

     CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts declared on the June 18 show: "Gun control legislation was left for dead today on the floor of the House. In a series of votes, the legislation that was aimed to keep guns out of the hands of the young went from slim to none."
     Reporter Diana Olick began with soundbites from each side of the debate before observing: "It was a hands down victory for the NRA helped along by Democrats who thought the gun control bill was too little and conservative Republicans who thought it was too much."
     When the waiting period was "weakened" from three days to 24 hours, she suggested without mentioning Dingell, "that may have been the turning point for some Democrats to reject the whole bill."
     Dick Gephardt then asserted: "The NRA won last night. The American people didn't."

     Roberts then introduced a one-sided story: "Even from thousands of miles away in Europe President Clinton's reaction to the House vote on the gun bill came through loud and clear and blistering."
     Scott Pelley opened: "In Germany the President excoriated the House leadership. He said the American people would not stand for a Congress that gutted what he calls common sense gun control."
     Clinton: "It was a great victory for the NRA, but it was a great defeat for the safety of our children. So one more time the Congress of the United States, with the majority in the lead, says we don't care what's necessary to protect our children. We can't possibly bear to make anyone in the NRA mad."
     Pelley: "Here in Cologne the President was angry about the pre-dawn vote that killed the gun show proposal. He grabbed the phone and called Washington, rolling his domestic policy adviser out of bed at 4:15 in the morning. They agreed that they would quote, 'make the Republicans wear this vote around their necks.'"

     Pelley noted that Clinton still wants a three day background check at gun shows and will try to convince House members they are risking their jobs, concluding: "He is warning them that the massacre at Littleton Colorado has so changed the national mood that not even the NRA will save them on election day."


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Conservatives argue that more gun control will not prevent future Littleton massacres since the shooters already violated many gun laws. Liberals say that posting the Ten Commandments is not only a violation of "separation of church and state," it's also ineffective as a few words on a wall won't change behavior. Guess which view Today co-host Katie Couric pressed on Friday morning?

     Today has yet to devote a whole interview to pressing a guest about the ineffectiveness of gun control, but on June 18 Couric spent an entire segment questioning the effectiveness of posting the Ten Commandments in schools as a House-passed bill would allow localities to do.

     MRC analyst Mark Drake took down all of Couric's questions to Janet Parshall of the Family Research Council and Laura Murphy of the ACLU. As you'll see, they all came from the same direction:

     -- Couric: "Ms. Parshall, Let me start with you. Why is this necessary in your view?"
     -- Couric to Parshall: "But do you really think a simple posting of the Ten Commandments will prevent youth violence?"
     -- Couric: "Miss Murphy, that's a lot to chew on. What's wrong with this picture in your view?"
     -- Couric: "Let me ask Ms. Parshall about a couple of those issues. What do you think about alienating students who may not subscribe to Judeo-Christian thought?"
     -- "Whether you blame the ACLU, Ms. Parshall, for what you term malevolent hostility. The Supreme Court did strike down a Kentucky state law that required posting the Ten Commandments in every public school, ruling that the posting violates the constitutionally required separation of government and religion. So do you really think this will hold up in courts across the land?"
     -- "But would the posting, Ms. Parshall, the posting of the Ten Commandments, do you really think that would have stopped this individual from acting the way he acted?"


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) From the June 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Kenneth Starr Has Found Out About Al Gore." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Was once mistaken for dead guy on a New York City subway
9. Stole valuable combover secrets from Rudy Giuliani
8. Often flies on Air Force One as checked baggage
7. Although he didn't invent the Internet, he did invent those annoying bits of punctuation that look like sideways faces :-)
6. He was created by the same guys that did Jar Jar Binks
5. Voted for Perot in '96
4. Big fan of the joke, "Tipper? I didn't even kiss her!"
3. Like G.I. Joe dolls, he has molded plastic underwear that can't be removed
2. Had to have an aide explain to him exactly what it was Bill and Monica were doing
1. Once had an affair with a magnolia tree

     I was following along until that last one lost me. -- Brent Baker


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