Killing Health Rights; Hockenberry Gun in Mouth; NBC Repeats Starr Bashing
1) CBS and NBC Thursday night
portrayed the GOP as taking away rights in rejecting the Democratic HMO
plan. Tom Brokaw lamented how you can't sue your HMO "if something
goes terribly wrong," yet Republicans "made sure that remains
2) Hillary referred to a man
as having been "murdered," though he was sitting in front of
her. All but GMA ignored the gaffe as Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer
commiserated over the error.
3) Contrary to initial
denials, WGBH and other PBS stations have now admitted they swapped
fundraising lists with the DNC. A Boston Globe reporter regretted the
ensuing threat to tax money for PBS.
4) John Hockenberry planned to
sign off MSNBC by play-acting -- putting a toy gun in his mouth and then
having Olbermann save him.
5) NBC is repeating the Law
& Order/Homicide crossover episodes which portrayed Ken Starr as a
sex-obsessed prosecutor who prompts a victim to recall Joe McCarthy in
demanding "Have you no shame?"
Corrections: The July 15
CyberAlert referred to MSNBC's July 8 story on George W. Bush, calling
that "last Friday." July 8 was really "last Thursday."
The same item quoted Howard Fineman as saying "I'm here at a big
conventional minority journalists..." I'm sure they are
conventionally liberal, but that should have read "a big convention
of minority journalists." Another sentence read: "Al Gore will
be here to tomorrow." That should have been "too tomorrow."
The Senate debate over the so-called Patients' Bill of Rights led the
ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening newscasts Thursday night with CBS and NBC
portraying Republicans as taking away rights from people -- even though
they never had those rights.
reform for millions of Americans is headed for the morgue," declared
Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News just before Bob Schieffer blamed
Republicans "pushed by the insurance industry." But he ignored
how Democrats were being pushed by trial lawyers. "What happens if
something goes terribly wrong? Can you sue? Not if the HMO is regulated by
the federal government. The Republican majority in the U.S. Senate made
sure that remains the case," lamented Tom Brokaw in opening the NBC
Jennings provided a refreshing alternative in opening World News Tonight.
He tried to hold each side equally accountable for the lack of enactment
of a new law:
"Good evening. In Washington today the
status quo rules. After a long debate in the Senate about health
maintenance organizations and a patients' bill of rights, it doesn't
look as if anything is going to change. The Democrats made numerous
proposals which were killed by the Republicans, and the Republican
proposals are going to be vetoed by the President. Millions of Americans
care about better health care at affordable prices, but now the debate
will take place in next year's national elections."
Here are some more
details on how the CBS and NBC shows handled the subject on Thursday
evening, July 15:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather's top of the show tease:
"Health care reform for millions of
Americans is headed for the morgue. The Patients' Bill of Rights is
lobbied to death in the U.S. Senate."
He then opened the
broadcast: "Good evening. The centerpiece of President Clinton's
Patients' Bill of Rights was sent down to defeat today. The
Republican-led U.S. Senate rejected the President's proposal to let
people sue their HMOs. This is all part of high stakes, heavily lobbied
fight over the best way to help people and their doctors fight decisions
by health insurance companies."
began his piece by showcasing a liberal gimmick: "Outside the Capitol
the paralyzed son of one of Ronald Reagan's top advisors made a final
appeal for passage of the Democratic reforms."
Justin Dart, Jr., disabled advocate: "I'll
tell you this: I'm willing to die for my country but not for my
Schieffer picked up: "But inside, the
Republican majority held. Pushed by the insurance industry it killed every
Democratic reform, from letting doctors make the final decisions on
treatments and specialists to allowing patients to sue HMOs..."
plan, Schieffer noted, would have covered all people while Republicans
pushed a "more modest" effort to protect fewer: "But most
of their reforms covered just the 48 million Americans in big company
plans. The Vice President said that wouldn't do."
Al Gore: "President Clinton will veto it in
a minute. It has zero chance of going past his desk."
how Senator Lieberman unsuccessfully tried to craft a compromise, but both
sides want a campaign issue. To illustrate, Schieffer played a soundbite
from Clinton criticizing the Republican vote. Schieffer concluded:
"So the Patients' Bill of Rights is dead,
but the American people may deserve an award for patience. Patience with
putting up with this kind of partisan maneuvering by both sides."
maneuvering, but with only one side motivated by greed for campaign cash
as Schieffer never suggested trial lawyers, who would benefit from all the
lawsuits, are backers of Democrats.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw started by
spinning the story into a tale of how Republicans denied people something
"Good evening. You and your HMO. What
happens if something goes terribly wrong? Can you sue? Not if the HMO is
regulated by the federal government. The Republican majority in the U.S.
Senate made sure that remains the case in a heated debate and a vote that
tonight has the Democrats in full cry."
described it as "a huge victory for HMOs" and actually included
a rare soundbite from a representative of the evil HMOs, allowing Karen
Ignagni of the American Association of Health Plans to assert that
"some of the proposals on Capitol Hill are so extremist."
Hillary's gaffe, referring to someone as having been murdered when in
fact he was siting in front of her, forgiven and forgotten by the network
In a July 15 New
York Daily News reporter Michael Blood highlighted how "she made an
embarrassing flub with TV cameras rolling." The incident took place
at "an anti-violence forum in Nassau County." Specifically,
In front of a room of invited guests and
media at a Rockville Centre middle school, L.I., the First Lady alluded to
the death of the son of one of her panelists, Alice McEnaney.
The problem: He isn't dead.
He was in the audience.
In the front row.
Appearing with Clinton at the school,
McEnaney discussed the trauma she experienced when her son Jason was shot
in a 1994 hostage standoff at SUNY Albany.
The First Lady turned to her and said,
"You've really spent a lot of time in the years since your son's
murder," but was cut off abruptly.
"My son is alive," McEnaney told
Realizing her mistake, Clinton flinched.
"Thank God. Amen," she told McEnaney....
coverage? Not a second on the broadcast network evening shows Wednesday or
Thursday night, nor on CNN's Inside Politics. I didn't see much of FNC
Thursday night, so don't know if they did anything. Thursday morning,
zilch on NBC's Today and CBS's This Morning. ABC's Good Morning
America did take a few seconds to discuss the incident, but not to make
fun of her. Co-hosts Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson noticed, commiserated with her:
Barbara Walters: "She also made a mistake,
and I have to say that I did this at one point in my long career. She
talked about someone who has, who had died, and the mother of this person
said, no, he is alive and he's in the front row. Oh!" [covers her
face with her hands]
Diane Sawyer: "Yeah, that's tough when
you're out on the trail."
The media would
have been a lot tougher if the candidate's name were Marilyn Quayle.
PBS station executives aren't any more accurate in their statements than
Bill Clinton, as the Boston Globe has discovered. Despite initial denials,
it turns out that several top PBS stations have exchanged or rented
Democratic Party donor lists in order to solicit funds. But that seemed to
disappoint Globe reporter Anne Kornblut because it puts ever soaring PBS
funding in jeopardy.
-- May 8. This
story all started back on May 8 when the paper first revealed how leading
PBS show-producing station WGBH in Boston rented a Democratic National
Committee donor list. The Globe stumbled upon the news when a mother
complained how her four-year-old son, in whose name she had made a
donation to WGBH to support Barney, received a fundraising letter from the
DNC. Angela Lifsey, WGBH's Director of media and community affairs,
assured the Globe it was a one-time mistake as she was "not aware of
any other occasion when the station violated its mailing list policy. When
asked if the Republicans were approached about exchanging lists, she said
they were not."
The news generated
little publicity at the time, but eight days later Bob Novak did make it
his Outrage of the Week on CNN's Capital Gang: "The Boston Globe
reports that four-year-old Sam Black of Wellesley, Massachusetts received
a fundraising letter from the Democratic National Committee. It turns out
that Sam's mother Jody donated last fall to WGBH, the public TV station in
Boston, in both their names. Next, WGBH turned over the names of its
donors to the DNC in return for some of its contributor names, a swap. No
wonder the Democrats just love public television."
-- July 14. "Citing Hub incident, GOP
questions PBS funding," read the headline over a story by the Globe
Washington bureau reporter Anne E. Kornblut. ("Hub" refers to
Boston, as in "Hub of the universe.") She seemed to regret what
the Globe had revealed a couple of months earlier:
What had promised to be a triumph for
public broadcasting erupted into a bitter dispute yesterday, as House
Republicans discovered that a Boston television station had divulged its
donor list to Democrats.
This was supposed to be a new era for the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Newt Gingrich, the former House
speaker who once threatened to "zero out" funding for the public
network, was gone. Political support from both parties was at an all-time
high. House members were planning to work today on a bill that would give
an unprecedented $525 million in new funds to public broadcasters
But after learning yesterday that Boston's
WGBH-TV handed its donor list to the Democratic Party earlier this year,
several Republicans on the House Commerce Committee shifted their stance,
demanding a reexamination of public broadcasting as a whole. Now, instead
of preparing to debate a funding increase, House members are poised to
again fight the so-called Battle of Big Bird over whether to fund a system
that Republicans accuse of pandering to the left.
"We have been besieged with calls this
afternoon from Republicans wanting everything from reducing funding for
public broadcasting to providing criminal penalties. There are some
members who would like to sanction the station," said Ken Johnson, a
spokesman for Representative W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, a Louisiana
Republican who is chairman of the telecommunications subcommittee.
"The worst thing is, it undermines our
effort to foster bipartisan support for public broadcasting," Johnson
added. Johnson said Tauzin and Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden,
the top Democrat on the subcommittee, had "worked very hard in recent
years to dispel the myth that public broadcasting is a left-leaning,
But, Johnson added, "this type of
activity by WGBH feeds all the old stereotypes."....
What a bunch of
worthless Republicans. It's no "old stereotype." It's
current reality and why bother having a Republican Congress if it sees
increasing PBS funding as a noble cause?
-- July 15: "More swapping cited of WGBH
donor lists," announced the Globe headline as the paper discovered
WGBH misled it. Anne E. Kornblut reported from Washington:
WGBH-TV, Boston's publicly funded station,
has been swapping names of contributors with the Democratic Party since
1994, a party official said yesterday, handing over a total of more than
32,000 names despite clear prohibitions against tax-exempt groups engaging
in political acts.
Republican House members yesterday called
for a criminal investigation of the station after learning of a single
account of name-swapping between WGBH and Democrats this year. An official
at WGBH initially downplayed the incident, saying it was a onetime mistake
committed by new employees who did not understand the rules.
But last night, Jenny Backus, spokeswoman
for the Democratic National Committee, said the party has been sharing
donor information with the public television station for years and to a
much greater extent than WGBH officials had admitted.
Even before that disclosure, a House
subcommittee canceled yesterday's meeting to authorize an additional $525
million in funding for public broadcasters nationwide, saying the Boston
incident was enough reason not to give blanket approval to the proposed
The disclosures occur at an inopportune
time for public broadcasters. Republicans, once convinced the public
broadcasting system was partial to the liberal cause, seemed to have
largely changed their minds.
This week a number of Republicans had said
they hoped to increase funding for the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, the umbrella organization of the nation's public
broadcasting stations, including the Public Broadcasting Service and
National Public Radio.
But with the report that WGBH was deeply
connected to Democratic politics, the Battle of Big Bird broke out again.
It appeared last night that Republicans would once again attempt to link
national public broadcasting and liberal politics....
The Boston Globe
only makes stories accessible for two days, so this will be up through
Friday night: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/196/nation/
-- July 16: It's not just WGBH which swaps
lists with the DNC. Anne E. Kornblut in Washington and Don Aucoin in
Amid growing evidence that public
television stations in several cities have shared their donor lists with
both political parties, House Republicans last night considered holding
hearings to determine whether any wrongdoing had occurred.
As disclosures that Boston's WGBH-TV shared
donors' names with the Democratic Party touched off a furor on Capitol
Hill, two major public stations, WNET in New York and WETA in Washington,
D.C., admitted to a similar practice....
WGBH had initially said its swap with the
Democratic Party was a onetime occurrence and a mistake, before the
Democratic National Committee revealed the sharing involved thousands of
donor names and had gone on for years.
Yesterday, Cecily Van Praagh, a spokeswoman
for WETA-TV in Washington, acknowledged that the station also traded donor
lists with the DNC and other political organizations, "both
conservative and liberal."
Van Praagh said the station had not
considered that practice a problem, but will now reevaluate it "in
view of the concern that's come up with WGBH."
At a third television station, WNET in New
York, dismayed executives said they discovered yesterday that a "list
broker" working for the station had shared the names of donors with
the Democratic and Republican parties....
At the Republican National Committee
yesterday, spokesman Michael Collins said, "To the best of our
knowledge, we have never leased any public TV station donor list." He
said he could not rule out the possibility that the RNC leased a
tax-deductible organization's list, but said the party always used "a
list broker and paid market price for the lists."....
This story will
remain up on the Globe site for 48 hours: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/197/nation/
Washington Times and Washington Post carried more definitives stories
about how WETA admitted swapping lists with the Democratic National
Committee but not with the Republican National Committee.
The latest syndicated column by MRC
Chairman L. Brent Bozell is about this controversy. For the column the
MRC's Tim Graham came across how in a Reuters/Variety dispatch the
DNC's Jenny Backus made a cheap appeal to emotion over substance,
complaining about how the GOP is "playing partisan games" with
public television: "The Republicans are playing these games and the
only losers will be America's children." To read the column go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/columns/news/col19990715.html
At a time when media liberals like John Hockenberry condemn the gun
culture, he planned to sign off his last show by sticking a toy gun in his
mouth, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister reported on Monday.
Here's the item
from her July 12 television column:
John Hockenberry's plan was not to go
gentle into that good night. Hours before Thursday's finale of
Hockenberry's live MSNBC interview show -- he had gotten word Tuesday that
he was toast -- Hockenberry dreamed up an exit that "probably would
have gotten me fired."
In the last segment, "I'd completely
dissemble," he said Friday from his summer home in Great Barrington,
Mass. "Using my acting skills, I'd start sobbing, pull out a toy
handgun and put it in my mouth.
"Then the phone would ring. It would
be Keith Olbermann [who ditched MSNBC for Fox Sports]. He'd say, 'Remember
one thing -- it's cable.' I'd say, 'You're right. Thank you,
When Hockenberry relayed the fantasy
sequence to his wife, Alison, "She said, 'John, work through a few
more scenarios. And adjust your meds.'"
Having endured the death of his acclaimed
weekly MSNBC arts program, Edgewise, after just 10 months in August '97,
"I was sort of depressed doing another freaking farewell show,"
says Hockenberry, 43....
Friday night, July 16, at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT, NBC will repeat part one
of the Law & Order/Homicide crossover episodes from February which
portrayed a Ken Starr-like character as a sex-obsessed, out of control
prosecutor who inspires his victims to recall Joe McCarthy in demanding
"Have you no shame?" Part two will air next Friday, July 23.
In part one the
detectives and prosecutors from New York City investigate a murder of a
woman found dead in New York who worked in Baltimore, but who had ties to
the White House, thus prompting a clash with the Independent Counsel which
is not resolved until the end of part two.
To read a plot
summary and quoted excerpts from the episode to repeat tonight, as well as
to watch a RealPlayer clip of the McCarthy-like exchange between IC
"William Dell," aka Ken Starr, and Sam Waterston as New York DA
"Jack McCoy," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990218.html#5
In part two next
week in the Homicide half of NBC's Law & Order/Homicide arc the
attack on Starr will continue as a lead character bemoans how he spread
"forty million dollars worth of misinformation" and another
character bitterly complains that "in an impeachment report to
Congress he can allege just about anything he wants" without proof.
For details about part two along with a video clip, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990222.html#4
NBC has canceled Homicide and stopped running
repeats. Nice that they made an exception only for the one which maligns
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