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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday August 3, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 135) 

GMA's Love-In for Hillary; CBS Let Cox Call Wen Ho Lee a Scapegoat

1) Network reporters again cited Hillary Clinton's "candor," "candid interview" and "frank talk." Only FNC's Jim Angle bothered to point out: "The First Lady is now admitting a history of infidelity by Mr. Clinton," which both had long denied.

2) Talk's Tina Brown boasted about her "very intimate and warm portrait of Mrs. Clinton." So was the Monday GMA interview as she claimed the Clintons' passion "for making life better for other people...has brought them together with...a spiritual intensity."

3) FNC's Carl Cameron noted delays in sentencing hearings for Huang and Trie. CBS followed up on its 60 Minutes interview with Wen Ho Lee by allowing Congressman Chris Cox to suggest the Clinton administration is making Lee a scapegoat.

4) "Time out!" shouted CBS's Eric Engberg in a "Reality Check" polemic countering Charlton Heston's interpretation of the Second Amendment.

     >>> "Kennedy Overkill: John John Was No 'Sun God,' Chappaquiddick Was a Kopechne Tragedy," the cover story for August 6 Human Events, by the MRC's Brent Baker, is now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry. The article begins: "The sudden death at too early an age of the only son of an assassinated President is certainly a major news story, but the television networks wouldn't leave it at a few stories reviewing the good works of John F. Kennedy's Jr.'s life. Instead, they used his July 16 death as a chance to launch a week-long tribute to him as America's 'crown prince,' gushing about the wonderful contributions of the entire Kennedy family, recreating the myth of 'Camelot' and praising the achievements of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass)."
     You can obtain a copy of this latest Human Events, "the national conservative weekly," by calling (800) 787-7557 and subscribing for $89.95 a year. The printed copy also features a half page sidebar collection of quotes from media figures admiring the Kennedy family. To read the article online, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/oped/news/he19990806.html <<<

Correction: The August 2 CyberAlert quoted George Will as saying: "What made the last government shutdown a really epical event..." The MRC's Tim Graham since suggested that should have read an "epochal event."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Only FNC's Fox Report led Monday night with Hillary Clinton's psychobabble comments, but all the networks ran full stories on the fallout from the Talk magazine interview which broke Sunday. Once again, no reporter dared suggest this was just her latest lie as they cited her "candor," "candid interview" and "frank talk." Only NBC's Andrea Mitchell even recalled her blaming of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" last year but excused that and the latest explanation as part of a "pattern of denial" by the First Lady.

     While CBS's John Roberts noted how she "tacitly acknowledged that he'd had other affairs," only FNC's Jim Angle bothered to point out the biggest admission in the interview, if you buy it at all: "The First Lady is now admitting a history of infidelity by Mr. Clinton, something that both of them have sought so often to deny." Indeed, until last year he'd said there was no affair with Gennifer Flowers and last year only conceded one sexual encounter, so Hillary's latest comments clearly suggesting he had an affair with Flowers mean either the she is lying now or both of them have been lying for eight years.

     (Monday morning on Today NBC anchor Ann Curry announced: "The premier edition of Talk magazine out this week features a long awaited interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton in which the First Lady talks candidly about her marriage and about her own plans for the future.")

     Here's how the broadcast networks and FNC handled the Hillary story on Monday night, August 2. (I didn't get a chance to transcribe CNN but it offered nothing unique.)

     -- ABC's World News Tonight, like CBS and NBC, led with the drought. On Hillary, John Cochran reviewed what she said in the interview, adding: "Although Hillary Clinton never directly blames childhood trauma for his infidelity, many people read her remarks that way. In any case, experts on child abuse say that alone is unlikely to cause marital infidelity."
     Dr. Eliot Sorel, George Washington University: "It is usually a cluster of factors that contribute to it. It is not a single factor alone."
     Cochran: "To those who accuse Mrs. Clinton of giving a typical liberal's excuse for bad behavior, the White House notes that she also says 'he's responsible for his own behavior.'"
     After a clip of Joe Lockhart, Cochran concluded: "In Talk magazine Mrs. Clinton says she feels for the first time she is making her own decisions. And her frank talk about her husband was one of those decisions."

     -- CBS Evening News. Newly ensconced White House correspondent John Roberts ran through the highlights of her comments, noting:
     "Mrs. Clinton tacitly acknowledged that he'd had other affairs. 'We did have a good stretch...years and years of nothing -- I thought this was resolved 10 years ago...I thought he had conquered it.' But she added, 'everybody has some dysfunction in their families...You don't just walk way if you love someone.' Sources close the First Lady say they were blindsided by her candor and that it may hurt her in her New York Senate bid."

     I guess if you think this is the truth it's probably the first time you've heard it from her so you feel "blindsided."
     After a soundbite from Lucinda Franks, who conducted the interview, Roberts concluded that the comments by Hillary "may allow her say to say I've dealt with the issue, now let's move on."

     -- NBC Nightly News was anchored by Tom Brokaw in Yellowstone National Park. Andrea Mitchell began her story with the "scarred by abuse" line, allowing Lucinda Franks to assert: "She views her husband's sexual transgressions not as a rejection of her as much as a manifestation of problems and compulsions."
     Mitchell added: "And not as she told the Today show last year the result of some right wing conspiracy."
     Mitchell didn't play a clip of that but moved on to Joe Lockhart and how "a Clinton biographer sees what he calls a pattern of denial on Mrs. Clinton's part." David Maraniss then suggested: "From the time that Hillary Clinton first met Bill Clinton 25 years ago, she at various times has been searching for rationalizations for his behavior."
     Mitchell noted how Hillary did not disagree when the interviewer referred to Bill Clinton's problem as an addiction, concluding: "Tonight Mrs. Clinton faces her own gamble, a candid interview that will either end questions about her marriage or invite even more scrutiny."

-- FNC. The Fox Report carried a piece by James Rosen on Hillary, but earlier on the 6pm ET/9pm PT Special Report with Brit Hume reporter Jim Angle delivered a unique angle not heard elsewhere:
     "The First Lady pointed to a Biblical passage, saying: 'I was thinking of when Peter betrayed Jesus three times and Jesus knew it but loved him anyway.' Many believe though that it is politics, not religion, that prompted the interview."
     Joyce Milton, author of biography of Hillary: "Hillary has found out that people seem to like her a lot better once they see her as a victim of a straying husband."
     Angle: "Rather than someone who just hangs around for political advantage as her detractors suggest. The other thing that's remarkable about this Brit is that the First Lady is now admitting a history of infidelity by Mr. Clinton, something that both of them have sought so often to deny."

     Later, in the show's panel segment, the panelists joked about one of Hillary's preposterous claims. Fred Barnes pointed out: "One of the things I wondered about is, she said there were ten years in which he was faithful. Now I don't know whether she meant ten consecutive years or ten cumulative years, you know a year here and a year there."
     Brit Hume chimed in: "It could be an hour here, an hour there."


talk0803.jpg (10073 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) A Hillary love-in on Good Morning America. With Disney-owned Miramax an investor in Talk magazine, Disney-owned ABC landed the exclusive interview Monday morning with Talk magazine Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown and reporter Lucinda Franks, who conducted the interview with the First Lady.

     Brown boasted about how "the piece is a very, very intimate and warm portrait of Mrs. Clinton." Franks loved how the Clinton marriage "is quite wonderful in its, you know, in its interdependence of conversation, of ideas, of excitement, of chemistry, sexual chemistry."

     Brown also gushed: "What you feel is this is a couple who share the passion for the world, for doing good for politics, for making life better for other people. This is their great bond, and it really has brought them together with almost a sort of spiritual intensity." Franks oozed: "And you can see this, and people who are close to them see this kind of chemistry. I mean, it's a real love."

     I'm not making this up. This emoting passed for a news interview on GMA.

     Queried about whether she asked about Kathleen Willey, Franks, who once actually won a Pulitzer Prize for something, it's hard from this to imagine how, wasn't interested in doing any actually reporting: "I felt that that part of it was an invasion of her privacy. I felt, you know, ethically, as a journalist, that this had been covered and covered." Besides, it's all Barbra Streisand anyway as Bill is a victim of his great bod: "He's a very handsome man and he looked like a Beatle back in Yale, you can see pictures of him, I mean, he was gorgeous. You had women, even stars, who tried to get what they could out of being close to him, pretending they had an affair with him."

     You really have to see this "interview" to believe it, so the MRC's Sean Henry has posted, in RealPlayer format, a four-minute or so excerpt of the August 2 session for your gagging pleasure. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

     For those without RealPlayer or who want to follow along with text, here are more extensive excerpts as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:

     Diane Sawyer opened by asking: "Tina, she said she'd never do this. She said she would not talk about these things, that the zone of privacy would stay intact. Why did she talk?"
     Tina Brown, Talk Editor-in-Chief: "A combination, I think, of timing, respect for the journalist who asked her, Lucinda, a feeling that, of frustration, perhaps, that the world just didn't seem to get her after all these long months of being in the public eye."

     Sawyer soon wondered: "Is it a favorable interview?"
     Brown: "I think the piece is a very, very intimate and warm portrait of Mrs. Clinton, in the sense that it really brings her alive as a three-dimensional woman in ways that I don't think anyone's been able to do before. In that sense, I think, you are left with a positive impression, a positive impression because she lives and breathes and is complicated for the first time."
     Sawyer: "Alright Lucinda, let's talk about some of the things that are making the headlines this morning. For those of you at home who haven't read it yet, and that'll be many of you, since it isn't on the stands until this week, let's show you this paragraph that has intrigued people, perhaps, the most. When she's talking about a framework for his behavior, here is what she said: 'He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was a terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always a desire to please each one.' What was she talking about? What kind of abuse? Between his mother, grandmother? What was this?"
     Lucinda Franks, contributing writer for Talk: "Well you know, Diane, you can find this in Virginia Kelley's autobiography. She has a very powerful episode that she talks about her mother and she pulling, literally, pulling Bill apart, one person, one woman had him by the legs and the person had him by the shoulders. They fought over him for custody, they fought over his upbringing, he was always trying to please one. When his mother disappeared, he would stay with his grandmother with great structure and then unstructured with his mother."
     Sawyer: "And she seems to be saying, and what does she seem to be saying about the psychology, the imprint of this psychology?
     Franks: "I think, you know, I think all of this is probably speculation on her part, but I think this is the narrative by which she has lived with this marriage, which is quite wonderful in its, you know, in its interdependence of conversation, of ideas, of excitement, of chemistry, sexual chemistry."

     Now we get to the really sappy part and where the RealPlayer clip on the MRC Web site begins.

     Sawyer: "I noticed that you say that you used the word addiction, she doesn't correct you at first, and then later on -- and we're going to put quote up here -- she says, 'That,' meaning addiction, 'is your word. I would say "weakness."' And then at another point, 'You know in Christian theology there are sins of weakness and sins of malice, and this was a sin of weakness,' and you say that his friends are saying that after the presidency he will get therapy and treatment for this."
     Franks: "Yes, yes, this is the hope and the belief. He has certainly had a lot of support, religious support, the support from friends, to talk this out. He understands he has a problem, he understands that he doesn't want to have this problem. Indeed there is a great big stretch in which he didn't have the problem. I think he's devoted to his wife, I think she is devoted to him, and I think they have an incredible relationship, but I think that everyone tries to put a stereotype on people's marriages, and you can't put a stereotype on some marriages, including this one."
     Sawyer: "I'm curious, Tina as an editor, when you were reading through it, what was it, what was the single revelation, I guess, that most surprised you about her?"
     Brown: "I think the revelation of the piece, really, is the depth and deeply powerful bond these two people have. At the end of the piece, I really felt I understood the marriage of the Clintons. I mean, there are many people in the last year or two, have been so reductive about their marriage. There have been so many attempts to cast aspersions on her, in a sense, for standing by him, but I think when you read the piece you understand why this woman is in love with this man, you understand that she really has such a deep level of shared interest, of shared passions, not in a shallow way, in the sense that people very often put her down as a sort of wanting to stay Mrs. Clinton because she is in the power zone. I don't, when you read the piece, you don't feel that at all. What you feel is this is a couple who share the passion for the world, for doing good for politics, for making life better for other people. This is their great bond, and it really has brought them together with almost a sort of spiritual intensity."
     Franks: "And you can see this, and people who are close to them see this kind of chemistry. I mean, it's a real love."

     Let's pause here so you can taker a breather. It gets even more preposterous as Franks soon turned Bill Clinton into Elvis.

     Sawyer: "Well, you quote, it's amazing, her Chief of Staff saying the physical passion has returned to the marriage. I don't know that a Chief of Staff in history, as far as I know, has ever taken a stand on this issue."
     Franks: "Yes, yes. Well, I think what happens, right, exactly....I think they see them in the corner, you know, putting their arms around each other, smooching, you know, sharing, whispering. It's a, his sexual dysfunction is something, I think, that she has put in a, one part of the marriage in which she says, my God, with this upbringing that this man could do what he does is remarkable."
     Sawyer: "I noticed the New York tabloids this morning are taking a poll on one part of your piece, whether people believe one thing she said, and I'm going to run through these quotes again: that 'You know we did have a very good stretch, years and years of nothing,' meaning after Gennifer Flowers and before Monica Lewinsky. 'I thought this was resolved 10 years ago. I thought he had conquered it; I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough.' Did you talk to her about any specific women and specific allegations? Kathleen Willey."
     Franks: "I did not. I did not feel, I felt that that part of it was an invasion of her privacy. I felt, you know, ethically, as a journalist, that this had been covered and covered and covered and covered, and I also feel that many of these encounters are, began way back in Arkansas when women would throw themselves at him. Even at Yale, I mean, he's a very handsome man, and he looked like a Beatle back in Yale, you can see pictures of him, I mean, he was gorgeous. You had women, even stars, who tried to get what they could out of being close to him, pretending they had an affair with him, so a lot of this is, has been taken with a grain of salt, I think."

     The RealPlayer clip ends here, but there's still more to read as they dispute a Drudge item and laugh about Juanita Broaddrick.

     Sawyer: "Tina, as you know, Matt Drudge on the Internet this morning is saying that, in fact, you were personally involved in making sure that any mention of Juanita Broaddrick [Brown and Franks laugh], the woman who claims some 20 years ago that he had raped her, that it was not mentioned either in the questioning or in the piece."
     Brown: "That's totally untrue, I don't know where Drudge got that from, that is not true. No, Lucinda was able to ask anything she wished, and I didn't regard Broaddrick."
     Sawyer: "Did you agree in advance not to go into specifics and not to press her on what she knew when?"
     Franks: "Oh, no. Not at all, not at all."
     Brown: "No, I think that Lucinda really, you know, talked to Mrs. Clinton and got Mrs. Clinton to discuss things that no one else has been able to get her to discuss, and I think that she went a very long way in doing so. I think she was enormously brave in doing so, too, and I think that her decision to do so was a terrifically sort of, you know, something to really be admired. I mean, she wanted to get this over with and out. I think that she felt, when she felt that people didn't get her, I think she knows that she's now entering a Senate race where it's very important that people understand who she is, and this woman is not a victim and doesn't want to be seen as a victim. She wanted to make that clear, she wanted to say this is a marriage that's had its difficulties, we've worked through it and we've worked it out, it's a marriage I believe in."
     Sawyer: "Well, one final quote I want to show everybody, and it's number five for you in the control room. You really put the Senate race in the context of the revival of the marriage, in a way, and her way to get to firm ground so that she can stay alive inside this marriage, and she says at one point, 'I want independence. I want to be judged on my own merits. Now for the first time I am making my own decisions. I can feel the difference. It's a great relief,' and you quote people saying after eight months, basically, of not speaking to him, what brought her back, after acting like someone had died, was this Senate race."
     Franks: "That's true, absolutely true."
     Sawyer: "So this Senate race is linked to the marriage."
     Franks: "I saw this, I thought, in North Africa, I thought she was very depressed. It was probably a number of things: Kosovo, the Broaddrick allegations, it was just too much. I mean, this woman had been attacked and attacked and attacked. Her husband had been attacked and attacked, and it was her husband that really wanted her to finally go out on her own, to seek public office like she had wanted to for a very long time, so this was her chance. I would find it exciting if I were her."
     Sawyer: "Again, it's a fascinating kaleidoscope as you see the world through her eyes, and do get, as we say, just a glimpse behind the veil of this marriage. We thank you both for coming in."

     More like a fascinating kaleidoscope of what happens when media figures are more interested in improving the image of a political figure than reporting the facts.


lee0803.jpg (9210 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Monday night on the Chinagate front, FNC's Carl Cameron updated viewers on delays in some sentencing hearings and CBS followed up on its exclusive 60 Minutes interview with Wen Ho Lee by allowing Congressman Chris Cox to suggest the Clinton administration is making Lee a scapegoat.

     -- On the August 2 Special Report with Brit Hume FNC's Carl Cameron reported that John Huang's plea bargain and sentencing was delayed at the last minute by a judge who wants to know if Huang should appear before Congress before he's sentenced. Charlie Trie's scheduled plea bargain in two weeks, Cameron added, has been delayed by the Justice Department in order to further pursue his charge that top Democrats knew he was raising foreign money. Cameron talked to Congressman Dan Burton and relayed: "Burton says Huang and Trie are not being forced to testify against bigger fish and are still being let off easy."

     -- "There's an update tonight and a fairness check in the story about stolen U.S. nuclear weapons secrets, possibly going to communist China for twenty years or more," intoned Dan Rather on Monday's CBS Evening News.

     Sharyl Attkisson then reviewed what 60 Minutes viewers saw the night before: "Wen Ho lee admits to 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace that he moved classified material to an unclassified computer, a common practice for convenience he says, but as for spying:"
     Wen Ho Lee: "The truth is I'm innocent. I have not done anything wrong, at least what they have tried to accuse me."
     Attkisson: "Representative Chris Cox led Congress's investigation into Chinese espionage and backs up Lee's dismissal for security violations, but:"
     Chris Cox: "It's a different matter, however, to juxtapose him with some of the most serious crimes that have ever been committed against our military secrets."
     Attkisson: "He accuses Energy Secretary Bill Richardson of playing up Lee's firing in the press. But Richardson denies he made Lee a public scapegoat for the lab security programs."
     Attkisson to Richardson: "What's your response to watching him and hearing him last night?"
     Bill Richardson: "Not much sympathy. This man massively violated security and by doing so we terminated him."
     Attkisson: "Lee, born in Taiwan, now a U.S. citizen, says he views China as an enemy country."
     Lee: "I feel they have a corrupt country, I mean a corrupt government."
     Attkisson: "And he's even taught his two children to be wary of Chinese people."
     Lee's son explained how he was taught to avoid people from Mainland China.

     A lesson the Clinton fundraising team could have benefitted from.

     Attkisson concluded by reporting that Lee is expected to be indicted in a matter of days for security violations, not espionage.

     +++ See Wen Ho Lee's face up close, as opposed to those fuzzy shots of him in his driveway, in a still shot and RealPlayer video clip from this CBS story which MRC Webmaster has put alongside this item in the posted version of this CyberAlert. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990803.html#3

     While on Chinagate, last Friday Washington Post "In the Loop" columnist Al Kamen pointed out that Johnny Chung has a Web site, complete with photos of him with the Clintons and images of Hillary's thank you notes to him. Go to: http://www.johnnychung.com


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) CBS News looked Monday night at what the Second Amendment means. Guess which side they took?

     On the August 2 CBS Evening News Eric Engberg observed: "It's an article of faith gun ownership is a right sanctified by the founding fathers."
     Charlton Heston, NRA President: "I believe the Second Amendment is America's first freedom among the entire of that magnificent Bill of Right."
     Engberg countered: "Time out! There's one rather important group that's never said the amendment protects the right to own a gun: the U.S. Supreme Court. So convinced there is no such right the court hasn't heard a Second Amendment case since 1939...."

     Out of room today to do any more on this lengthy piece of slanted reporting, but I hope to do more on in it a future CyberAlert, though most times I promise to revisit an issue I never find the time or room, so consider this a quest, not a promise. -- Brent Baker


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