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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday July 26, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 130) 

JFK Jr. a "Sun God"; ABC Wanted to Hire Him; Tax Cutters Have Low IQ

1) Jonathan Alter tagged JFK Jr. as a "Sun God," ABC's Cokie Roberts suggested the Kennedy family is full of "character," Steve Roberts claimed Ted is not liberal but "a very flexible, pragmatic person," and a JFK aide admitted "Camelot" was really a "joke."

2) It's Jacqueline's fault. The Washington Post relayed an author's spin that because his mother made sure JFK Jr. was "more courteous to women" than other Kennedys he took the fatal detour.

3) Choking back tears, Friday night Peter Jennings suggested it's "time to move on," but ABC News couldn't quite yet.

4) "The torch now passes to a generation of strong women," NBC's Andrea Mitchell said in recalling how one was "so smart" that JFK Sr. said that if she "had been a man she'd have been President." Al Hunt: Maria Shriver "one of the three best TV journalists."

5) Ted Kennedy doesn't go to church, but Mike Barnicle maintained on MSNBC: "He has to be a religious person because God is the only person, thing, symbol that can get you through these things."

6) Clinton was caught making a false assertion about how he afforded JFK Jr. the first visit to the White House since 1963, but NBC's Matt Lauer blamed JFK Jr. for misleading Clinton.

7) JFK Jr. as an ABC News reporter? Barbara Walters let slip that ABC News executives "were hoping" he'd become a TV reporter for them. The New York Post reported that "ABC is feverishly trying to turn" George Stephanopoulos "into a reporter or news personality."

8) "The only thing that could explain this love of tax cuts is a lowered IQ," Time's Margaret Carlson snapped on Saturday.

     >>> The July 26 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media," is now up on the MRC home page thanks to Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry. Topic headings for the quotes include: "Kennedys: Heroic Royal Family"; "Emoting Over Kennedy Mystique"; "Vanishing Camelot!"; "Poor, Brutalized Hillary"; "The GOP Protects Evil HMOs"; "ABC Pushes Gore Left"; "Gore and Bradley: Centrists": "Katie Couric, Feminist Killjoy" and "Glorious Sports-Bra Symbolism." To read this issue, go to:  http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990726.html <<<

Corrections: The July 23 CyberAlert referred to "St. Thomas Moore." It's St. Thomas More church. The same issue also quoted NBC's Bob Kur as reporting how "The President and First Lady remember meeting John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Caroline Bessette many times." Bessette's first name is Carolyn.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Four noteworthy questions and assertions from over the weekend: Newsweek's Jonathan Alter characterized JFK Jr. as a "Sun God," ABC's Cokie Roberts suggested the Kennedy family is full of "character," Cokie's husband Steve maintained that calling Ted Kennedy liberal is just "Republican mythology" as he's really "a very flexible, pragmatic person," and a member of the Kennedy presidency admitted the idea of "Camelot" was really a self-promotional "joke."

     -- JFK Jr. a "Sun God." In a Friday, July 23 Dateline NBC look at who in the Kennedy family will pick up the torch, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter found JFK Jr. irreplaceable:
     "The star power has diminished. John Kennedy Jr. was the Sun God, the most charismatic of any of the Kennedy children. So that will lower their wattage some, but there are enough Kennedys out there making enough contributions that they will be part of the life of this country well into the next century."

     -- Kennedy family full of character. Sunday's This Week on ABC dedicated all but the roundtable segment to Kennedy's death. Cokie Roberts interviewed family friend John Seigenthaler, a founder of USA Today, followed by Bernard Cardinal Law, Jesse Jackson and Thomas More, author of Care of the Soul.

     Roberts asked Jackson to respond to this assessment:
     "You issued a beautiful statement last weekend quoting extensively from the book of Job and talking about suffering breeds character. But this family's had so much suffering don't you think they've had enough character bred at this point?"

     When thinking about the Kennedys the term "character" isn't the first which comes to mind.

     -- Calling Ted Kennedy liberal is just "Republican mythology." He's really "a very flexible, pragmatic person" insisted former New York Times reporter Steve Roberts who is now with U.S. News & World Report. On Sunday's Late Edition on CNN he argued:
     "Senator Kennedy has emerged, contrary to sort of the Republican mythology of this ideological liberal, as a very flexible, pragmatic person. Kay Bailey Hutchison pointed out how she worked with him on health. People forget, he's a very close friend of Orrin Hatch, very conservative Republican he's worked with. He co-sponsored a bill with Dan Quayle of all people on job training at one point. So he is both a patriarch but also a very effective legislator."

     So, by moving right to accommodate Orrin Hatch, if he had to at all, makes Kennedy a non-liberal "pragmatic" guy, but Hatch, who moved left to meet Kennedy, remains "very conservative."

     -- "Camelot" transformed from "a joke" to history accepted by the media. Meet the Press dedicated over half the show Sunday to Doris Kearns Goodwin, Richard Goodwin, Pete Hamill, Lee Rainie and Mary McGrory all fawning over the Kennedy family, led by Tim Russert, with Alfonse D'Amato largely limiting his praise to John Kennedy Jr.

     Amidst the adulation someone who was part of the imaginary "Camelot" was awed at out how that Kennedy-promoting term has became accepted as fact. Richard Goodwin, a speechwriter for President Kennedy, told Russert:
     "You used the word 'Camelot.' Now, you know, ten years ago the word would have been regarded as a joke. People regarded the word Camelot as an effort at self-promotion by the Kennedy family. Now it's entered into the vocabulary so you can use it without smiling or trying to explain it away."

     You can thank his wife and the media for that.

     Indeed, in a Friday night CBS Evening News piece reporter Eric Engberg embraced "Camelot" as a reality, opening an exploration of why the public cares so much about JFK Jr's death:
     "The Kennedy clan, with all its adventures, intrigues and tragedies, is the family all America knows. In part that is due to Camelot, the presidency of JFK who was glamorous and young and made the country feel young. And his rise coincided with the lighting of another torch called television, which created a new intimacy between the leader and the led."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) It was Jacqueline's fault because she made sure he treated with women with respect.

     In a Saturday Washington Post story about publishers re-issuing books about JFK Jr., reporter Linton Weeks passed along an unusual spin on what led to his demise espoused by Wendy Leigh, author of the about to be re-released 1993 book, Prince Charming: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story. Linton wrote:
     "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis strive to make sure that her son was more of a Bouvier than a Kennedy, Leigh explains, to make sure that John Jr. was cautious and more courteous to women. In the end, Leigh says, such courtesy proved fatal when Kennedy took a flight-path detour for his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette."

     If only he were a woman-abusing lout like the rest of the Kennedy family he'd be alive today.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Peter Jennings suggested Friday night that it was time to move on from mourning, but ABC just couldn't move on quite yet.

     Hours after playing, during ABC's three hours of live coverage from 10am to 1pm ET of the sidewalk outside the memorial service, a Bob Dylan song over a video retrospective of JFK Jr.'s life, Peter Jennings ended Friday's World News Tonight choking back tears at the completion of another video montage: "And now as someone said, outside the church today, time to move on."

     ABC's lead story on Friday night's 20/20: More Kennedy news. ABC's lead story on Saturday's World News Tonight: The Lauren Bessette memorial service followed by a look at the investigation into Kennedy's crash. (The CBS Evening News opened Saturday with the massacre of Serbs in Kosovo, the first time all week a broadcast network began with a non-JFK Jr. story. WNBA overtime bumped Saturday's NBC Nightly News in the east.)

     Sunday morning, as noted in item #1 above, ABC dedicated all but a few minutes of This Week to ruminating about JFK Jr.'s death and the Kennedy family.

     Finally, on Sunday night, both ABC and NBC led with the Yosemite murder. (Golf bumped the CBS Evening News in the east.)


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The women are the future stars of the Kennedy family, NBC's Andrea Mitchell asserted Friday night in claiming one is "so committed, so smart," that President Kennedy once said that if she "had been a man she'd have been President." And, Maria Shriver is "one of the three best TV journalists"?

     For the July 23 In Depth segment on the NBC Nightly News Mitchell insisted the "torch now passes to a generation of strong women." Mitchell recalled how Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was told by the family to run for office from outside of Massachusetts because the state was reserved for Joe Kennedy, a sign of how Kennedy women have been expected to play supporting roles at home. But now in addition to the Maryland Lieutenant Governor the Kennedys have Kerry, a human rights activist, Rory, a filmmaker, Maria Shriver, a TV news star, and Caroline, a lawyer and author.

     Mitchell then wistfully reminded viewers:
     "But in fact these aren't the first activist Kennedy women. Add Eunice Shriver, campaigns for the disabled, started the Special Olympics. So committed, so smart President Kennedy once said if Eunice had been a man she'd have been President. And Aunt Jean Kennedy Smith, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. Why are they so effective? Some say Kennedy woman carry fewer burdens than the men."
     Laurence Leamer, author of The Kennedy Women: "This idea of living this intrepid life, of risking yourself physically, is a part of the male heritage of a Kennedy."
     Mitchell: "But not a female tradition, friends say, freeing the women for public service and carrying the standard into the future."

     Speaking of Eunice Shriver as smarter than even Hillary Clinton, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt delivered up dollop of praise last Thursday for her daughter. In his July 22 Journal column titled "America's Family," which he ended by asserting how "America is a different place because of the Kennedys -- a much better one," Hunt contended:
     "Of the next generation, the most notable achievers, ironically, may be Joseph P. Kennedy's 12 granddaughters....Maria Shriver is a prominent television journalist; former NBC News President Michael Gartner calls her one of the three best TV journalists he encountered."

     That kind of judgment may explain why Gartner is now back in Iowa editing a newspaper in the small city of Ames.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) From the mind of Mike Barnicle: Ted Kennedy doesn't do anything religious, but he "has to be."

     Just before 4pm ET last Thursday, in a rare moment when he wasn't complaining about how the media are intruding upon the Kennedy family's privacy, as he sat in front of their houses, disgraced Boston Globe columnist turned NBC News analyst Mike Barnicle told MSNBC viewers:
     "While many people might not think of Ted Kennedy as being a religious person because he doesn't go to mass everyday or perhaps does not receive communion each Sunday, he is indeed a religious person. He has to be a religious person because God is the only person, thing, symbol that can get you through these things."

     Well, whatever person, thing or symbol, God is, with Ted never seen going into a church -- outside of memorial services -- or receiving communion, it's hard to imagine why people would assume he's not religious.


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Clinton was caught making a blatantly preposterous assertion about how he afforded JFK Jr. the first visit to the White House and the residential floors since 1963, but instead of scolding Clinton NBC's Matt Lauer blamed the dead guy: "It could have been just that John Kennedy Jr. was being especially gracious to his host, President Clinton, and made him feel as if this was a special visit."

     As detailed in the July 23 CyberAlert, last Wednesday night MSNBC reported how Clinton had made the false claim at a press conference earlier in the day and CNBC's Hardball showed a clip of JFK Jr. talking about visiting with the Nixons in 1971, but Thursday's USA Today and NBC's Today fell for Clinton's misinformation. Friday's USA Today failed to correct Thursday's story by Susan Page, which began: "John F. Kennedy Jr. was 2 years old when his father was assassinated, and more than three decades would pass before he returned to the White House..."

     In the 8:30am half hour on Friday, July 23, Today failed to remind viewers of its misreporting of the day before, but MRC analyst Mark Drake caught how the show did correct itself by bringing aboard Chris Matthews to recount what knew about the 1971 visit.

     Co-host Matt Lauer introduced Matthews: "John Kennedy Jr. moved out of the White House with his mom and sister soon after his third birthday but returned several times during his life. President Clinton this week remarked about what he believed was Kennedy's first return since his father's assassination."
     Clinton: "John Kennedy had actually not been back to the White House since his father was killed until I became President."
     Lauer: "It turns out that wasn't completely correct. In fact, when John was ten years old, he and his mother and sister were invited back to the White House for the first time, invited by President Nixon."

     Lauer asked Matthews: "So a little bit of misinformation here. The visit with President Clinton was not the first visit. So tell me what prompted the visit back in 1971 with President Nixon?"
     Matthews explained: "The peg for the meeting was the visit was they were going to unveil the first portraits of John and Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House, those famous portraits of the two of them and Nixon wanted to let it be a private affair cause Jackie didn't want to come down there. You gotta remember this was at the time of when Bobby had been killed just a few years before that. So he gave them a private dinner and it was an amazing dinner. He took the two Kennedy kids over to the Oval Office to show them where John used to play with his dad and even the Nixon daughters stayed out the room because they knew what it meant to their dad to take those kids over there. There was a very mixed relationship between these two families. Nixon was as much in awe of the Kennedys as any of us."

     After some talk about the relationship between the Kennedys and Nixon and how JFK Jr. wrote a thank you note to Nixon, Lauer returned to Clinton's inaccurate statement, but tried to shift the blame off of Clinton:
     "I want to just go back to President Clinton and his comments about that being the very first visit. Probably not trying to make a story bigger than it was but it could have been just that John Kennedy Jr. was being especially gracious to his host, President Clinton, and made him feel as if this was a special visit."

     To learn what John F. Kennedy Jr. told Matthews in 1996 about his 1971 visit and to watch a RealPlayer clip of JFK Jr.'s recollections, go to the July 23 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990723.html#3


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) "...John F. Kennedy Junior, ABC News, Washington." The sign-off ABC News executives once dreamed of? During Friday's ABC News coverage of the sidewalk outside the New York City memorial service, ABC's Barbara Walters disclosed that ABC News executives "were hoping" he'd become a television reporter. ABC seems to have a policy of recruiting Democratic Party-allied people as reporters. The New York Post reported that "ABC is feverishly trying to turn the young and handsome [George] Stephanopoulos into a reporter or news personality."

     -- About 12:45pm ET on Friday, July 23, Barbara Walters remarked to Peter Jennings:
     "There were people, including at our own network I hear, who were hoping that he would be, perhaps come on television and pursue a career in journalism and have some training, maybe take some training for us, because he was so personable. And if George magazine had not made it, there was some question as to whether it was going to succeed because the advertisements were not that many, that perhaps the next step would be to become a television journalist." (She soon added that Robert McNamara told her JFK Jr.'s next career would be in politics.)

     Seconds later viewers heard analysis from George Stephanopoulos, but not any Republican or conservative analyst.

     -- Back on July 15 the New York Post speculated about how Stephanopoulos is being groomed for a star job at ABC News, possibly on 20/20, Good Morning America or even Nightline. Don Kaplan reported:

ABC News is actively grooming former White House advisor George Stephanonopoulos for a big-time TV job.

The only question is: which job? In recent weeks, the network has assigned a producer to work full time with Stephanopoulos to help him brush up his on-air skills.

Stephanopoulos signed on with ABC as an "on-air consultant" -- a fancy term for an expert the network can use when political news breaks out -- in 1996.

But his three-year contract with the network is expiring and ABC is feverishly trying to turn the young and handsome Stephanopoulos into a reporter or news personality.

"They're hoping that he will develop into a presence that you will see more of," a network source said. "Part of that means having the ability to do taped analytical pieces about politics and that's what they've assigned a producer to help him with."

Last month, Stephanopoulos turned in a couple of unenthusiastic turns as a co-host on "Good Morning America" when he sat-in for Charlie Gibson who was undergoing minor heart surgery.

Around the same time, ABC News asked Stephanopoulos to anchor an edition of the network's overnight newscast, "World News Now."

Within ABC, both jobs -- especially co-hosting the two-hour live morning broadcast -- are highly prized opportunities and assigning them is considered a huge vote of confidence by the network. The producer, who was not identified, is expected help Stephanopoulos beef-up his interviewing and reporting skills....

There are currently several high-profile on-air slots that ABC is expected to fill sooner or later, including an open Friday night anchor slot on "20/20" vacated by Hugh Downs, who is retiring.

Also, Ted Koppel may soon end his run with "Nightline" after nearly 20 years. And "GMA" co-hosts Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer are eventually expected to leave their "temporary" roles....

     END Excerpt

     To watch RealPlayer video clips of Stephanopoulos co-anchoring World News Now and co-hosting GMA in June, go to he MRC's Media Bias Videos page and scroll down to the clips dated 6/25 and 6/16: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) Squeezing in one non-Kennedy item today, Time magazine's Margaret Carlson compassionately asserted on Saturday that "the only thing that could explain this love of tax cuts is a lowered IQ."

     On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, with Republican Congressman Bill Thomas as the guest, Carlson charged:
     "I actually don't think it hurts President Clinton to veto this and this vote is, reminds me of the impeachment vote when you, you know, if you vote for impeachment you're not really voting for impeachment because it's going over to the Senate where they'll fix it up because they're more responsible than you guys in the House. The vocabulary has changed so that tax cuts now look like irresponsible spending and spending on investments and education and Medicare looks like the responsible thing to do because if I get $100 back, I can't go fix a school or clean a river and people are more interested in these things than they are in the tax cut and the poll numbers, you know, don't explain this. I mean the only thing that could explain this love of tax cuts is a lowered IQ."

     Well, it just proves that as soon as the media's Camelot fever subsides we'll still have the same old liberal slant on the same old issues. -- Brent Baker


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