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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday August 5, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 136) 

CBS's Dishonest Hit on Tax Cuts; Disputing Foster Affair, Snubbing Rest

1) Even after Bill and Hillary abandoned the abuse excuse CBS's John Roberts wouldn't let go, asking Bill: "Are you trying to work through the issues, to look back over that time of your life?"

2) CBS's Diana Olick delivered a hit piece against the tax bill in which she falsely stated that it "offers a one percent income tax reduction," and stressed concerns of "moderate Republicans."

3) CBS and NBC portrayed congressional Republicans as out of touch for not backing Clinton's plan to spend more on farmers.

4) CBS picked up on a Gore gaffe the networks had skipped: "Gore, who used his sister's death from lung cancer to attack tobacco, has now hired Carter Eskew as his key media consultant."

5) A book revealed Hillary hired a detective who determined Bill had relationships with eight woman, but network interviewers ignored that as they challenged the author about Hillary's affair with Vince Foster.

6) Link to transcript and counter-points for Eric Engberg's "Reality Check" against gun rights.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Every evening show but ABC's World News Tonight ran a story Wednesday night about the coordinated comments by Bill and Hillary Clinton about her quote in Talk magazine that he was "scarred by abuse" as a child.

     While NBC's Andrea Mitchell featured lengthy soundbites from each about how she supposedly really wasn't excusing his behavior, CBS's John Roberts insisted upon maintaining the abuse excuse as he took the "lingering issues" from childhood seriously, asking Bill Clinton if he's "trying to work through the issues."

     Roberts relayed on the August 4 CBS Evening News: "Today, 300 hundred miles apart but reading from virtually the same script, President and Mrs. Clinton said that while his childhood was troubled, the affairs were his fault."
     However, following soundbites from Hillary and Bill he insisted: "But Mrs. Clinton did not deny statements she made about lingering issues from the President's childhood that were still weighing heavily on him."
     Roberts then played his question to Bill Clinton posed in the Rose Garden when Clinton came out to denounce the GOP tax cut: "Are you trying to work through the issues, to look back over that time of your life?"
     Clinton replied that though he had tough moments he always knew he was well loved.

     Over on the NBC Nightly News Andrea Mitchell stressed the coordinated nature of the day's spin as she ran lengthy soundbites: "Damage control from both Clintons today. The First Lady campaigning in Western New York state. The President at the White House, 390 miles apart but in perfect synch. At 12:25 she says the interview was about taking personal responsibility, not blaming her husband's infidelity on childhood trauma."
     Hillary: "I think a careful reading of that would show I did not say that and I think the important point to make is that every one of us comes out of our own childhood and I believe we're all responsible and as I said in the article and as I believe everyone is responsible for his or her behavior, including the President."
     Mitchell: "Exactly one minute later in the Rose Garden he says."
     Clinton: "I don't believe that anybody could fairly read the article and think that she was making any excuses for me. I haven't made any excuses for what was inexcusable and neither has she, believe me."

     Mitchell followed-up by showing a joke from Jay Leno and noted that Hillary promised to never again talk about their marriage.


olick0805.jpg (17468 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "The President said again he would veto the Republicans' $800 billion tax cut plan because the President says it's dangerous," Dan Rather ominously intoned Wednesday night in leading into a one-sided polemic, in the guise of a news story, against the Senate-House compromise tax cut bill. Reporter Diana Olick falsely stated that the bill "offers a one percent income tax reduction for every tax bracket," when in fact it proposes a cut of one percentage point so those paying the 15 percent level would get over a 6 percent cut, and she alarmingly warned that "even some moderate Republicans in the Senate are concerned that the cuts are too deep and give too much to the wealthy."

     NBC Nightly News provided a far more balanced story in which David Bloom correctly explained how the new bill would "cut personal income tax rates by one percentage point, saving a family making $50,000 a year about $1,000."

     CNN's The World Today ran two pieces on the tax cut, one with the view from the White House and one from Capitol Hill, before airing a story on how it's not popular in Orange County, California. Reporter Casey Wians began:
     "If there's any place in the nation you'd think would welcome a tax cut, it's Orange County California which has more than recovered from bankruptcy and is wealthier than ever. In 1984 Ronald Reagan won 75 percent of the vote in this hotbed of rugged individualism. Even the airport's named after John Wayne."

     After a clip of a man favoring a tax cut Wians led into a series of soundbites by countering:
     "But Orange County is shedding its Republican image. Bill Clinton won a majority here in 1996, the same year recent immigrants helped Loretta Sanchez oust the county's best-known Congressman, ultra-conservative Bob Dornan. No longer do tax cuts find automatic support here."

     A nice labeling contrast. But if the county voted for Clinton and Sanchez then it's no longer conservative, thereby undercutting the entire premise of the story that it is a conservative county which normally favors tax cuts.

     ABC's World News Tonight, like CNN, led with Clinton's plan to but back bonds so they can be re-issued at a lower rate and only gave 15 seconds to the tax cut.

     Now to the most biased story of the night, CBS's on the tax cut. Dan Rather intoned:
     "The President said again he would veto the Republicans' $800 billion tax cut plan because the President says it's dangerous, that it won't leave enough of the U.S. budget surplus to finance, safely, other essentials."

     Diana Olick began: "Republicans in Congress may think they can lower the numbers on the nation's tax bills."
     Republican Congressman Bill Archer: "We're going to give the taxpayers something they richly deserve."
     Olick: "But President Clinton is just waiting in the West Wing to lower the boom."
     Clinton in Rose Garden: "I will have to veto it. I will refuse to sign any plan that signs away our commitment to America's future, to Social Security, to Medicare, to paying down the debt."
     Olick: "Knowing that full well, House and Senate Republicans still negotiated a final $792 billion tax cut that offers a one percent income tax reduction for every tax bracket, relief from the marriage penalty, cuts in personal capital gains taxes and a gradual elimination of inheritance taxes."
     House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt: "This is an incredible readjustment of tax breaks from the middle class to people at the top at precisely the wrong time."
     Olick: "A time say Democrats when Americans are enjoying a skyrocketing economy, spending more than ever, and not exactly clamoring for a tax cut. Now, even some moderate Republicans in the Senate are concerned that the cuts are too deep and give too much to the wealthy. They don't like the bill or the tactics."
     Republican Senator Olympia Snowe in a soundbite that hardly matched the premise: "My biggest concern is that we're playing a game of political chicken that's not in the best interest of the taxpayer."
     Olick then concluded: "Republicans have already planned their next move. They'll vote on the bill this week, but instead of sending it directly to the President for a quick veto they'll hold onto it for the August recess and first try to sell it to the voters at home."

     They have to go one-on-one since Olick demonstrated the media's hostility to the idea.

     Olick's story gave opponents time for two loaded soundbites (Clinton and Gephardt) with no counter for anyone in favor. Archer's comment hardly countered Clinton or Gephardt's class warfare and neither did Snowe.

     Olick also misconstrued the "progressive" nature of the tax cut. Republicans adopted Senator Roth's one percentage point reduction in each income tax rate so that they could avoid the argument the bill is skewed to the rich. Oh well. Olick claimed the plan "offers a one percent income tax reduction for every tax bracket." Wrong. It would reduce the rates by one percentage point, which means the less you earn the more you benefit. Going from paying at a 15 percent rate to a 14 percent rate is about a 6.5 percent cut. Going from 38 to 37 percent is about a 2.5 percent reduction.

     ++ Watch Olick's story. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has placed a RealPlayer clip by this item in the Web-posted version of this CyberAlert on the MRC's home page: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) CBS and NBC led Tuesday night, August 3, by portraying congressional Republicans as heartless for failing to jump aboard Bill Clinton's plan to spend more money to save farmers hit by the drought.

     -- CBS Evening News. John Roberts asserted from Severn, Maryland: "The ground hasn't been this consistently dry since the dustbowl of the 1930s when America was caught in the grip of a withering depression. The administration says with a robust economy and a huge surplus forecast the government can afford to be generous with farmers. So the Vice President today endorsed the Democratic plan, four billion more than the Republicans have offered, and cautioned the GOP not to squander away the surplus."
     Al Gore: "That bunch in control in there is trying blow it all on a risky tax scheme while the whole farm sector of our economy is on the verge of absolute bankruptcy."
     Roberts then concluded without a counter soundbite and with only a mild summary of the GOP position: "Republicans have criticized the bailout package as just more loans that farmers will have to pay back. Jim Shillinger says the last thing he needs is another loan. He needs rain and a fair price for what he can grow."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw opened the broadcast: "Good evening. Well this summer is one more reminder that the Great American economic boom is not the answer for everything and not everyone is cashing in. In the middle of all this prosperity, a long difficult heat wave and drought that struck hard at the poor and America's farmers. Today, some help for one group but not for the other."
     David Bloom began: "The President here in Chicago today said that while the blast furnace heat is subsiding, he's freeing up a total of more than $150 million to help low income customers in nine Midwest and Southern states pay their utility bills. But when it comes to emergency aid for drought-stricken farmers, Congress tonight is balking."
     After a complaint from a farmer Bloom picked up: "Today Democrats on Capitol Hill, led by Vice President Al Gore, urged Republicans to pass an almost $11 billion aid bill to help farmers crippled by low prices, including more than a billion dollars for drought relief."
     Al Gore: "If they vote against it, then they're turning their backs on a terrible crisis in American agriculture."

     Bloom then at least did allow Republican Senator Richard Lugar to say that on aggregate American agriculture is sound.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) CBS on Tuesday night provided the first broadcast network mention of how Al Gore hired a tobacco industry ad producer despite his vitriol against smoking.

     In an August 3 story pegged to the resignation of Gore chief-of-staff Ron Klain, CBS reporter Phil Jones listed recent problems encountered by Gore:
     "The Gore campaign continues to be plagued by embarrassment. When Gore went to New Hampshire for an environmental photo-op, local power officials released millions of gallons of water in the middle of the drought to keep the VP's canoe afloat. Gore, who used his sister's death from lung cancer to attack tobacco, has now hired Carter Eskew as his key media consultant, the same job Eskew had with the tobacco lobby. And to add to the image of campaign ineptness, his staff allowed placard carrying supporters to block the camera view of the candidate at his presidential announcement."
     Jones did go on to allow a Democratic consultant to suggest Gore will get back on track and he noted he's up two-to-one in the polls over Bill Bradley.

     The network avoidance of the Eskew hiring was detailed in a July 14 Media Reality Check fax report by the MRC's Tim Graham. "Another Gore Tobacco Gaffe, Up in Smoke: Few Reports Touch on Gore's New Tobacco-Paid Consultant Carter Eskew, And Fewer Find Hypocrisy." To read the report or to view a complete video clip of Gore's emotional talk at the 1996 Democratic convention about his supposed turn against tobacco, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990714.html


hillary0804.jpg (10121 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) In his new book, Bill & Hillary: The Marriage, author Christopher Andersen makes several newsworthy revelations, including one about how Hillary hired a private detective in 1982 who determined Bill had current relationships with eight woman, thus directly contradicting Hillary Clinton's claim that Bill was faithful for a ten-year period at some point.

     But in morning show interviews this week on NBC's Today and CBS's This Morning, the hosts refused to delve into that or some other explosive areas and challenged his claim that Hillary had a long term affair with Vince Foster. The interviewers preferred to spend much of the interviews talking about the Talk interview. Andersen's many favorable comments about the Clintons and concerns for Chelsea showed he cannot be dismissed as a Clinton hater.

     "These statements appear to fly in the face of, to some extent at least, of Mrs. Clinton's latest explanation of how it was between her and Bill for a decade," Brit Hume observed on Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume. Fred Barnes recalled: "All these things have been reported before, back in 1993, by the American Spectator. David Brock wrote that piece Troopergate and all this stuff was in there, widely denounced by the rest of the American press and denied by the Clintons I believe, including Hillary, and now we see them in a whole new context now that Hillary has officially declared her husband as having a sexual problem."

     -- On Tuesday's Today, as transcribed by MRC intern Ken Shepherd, Couric began by asking: "Are you surprised that Mrs. Clinton has decided to come out and talk extensively about their relationship?" Getting to his book she set him up: "What is new about their relationship in this book and do you think people really care?"
     Andersen answered: "Absolutely, I mean I think it's, I'm always asked, 'Is there love here or is it a calculated political arrangement.' And the fact of the matter is both. You know, they've struck this bargain, it's a curious one I mean she is emotionally scarred each time he betrays her. But on the other hand she's never happier than when she can rescue him and he gives her all these chances to rescue him because the balance of power tips in her favor then."

     Andersen's sureness concerned Couric: "You know all these things, I'm always constantly amazed that people make these sweeping statements about the state of someone's marriage when truly if you're not one of the major players, i.e., the husband or the wife, there's no way of really knowing or understanding a relationship that's complicated."

     After discussing how Andersen found that the Clintons emulate Jackie and John Kennedy, she got to one of his newsworthy disclosures: "You make some sensational claims in the book, some that have been rumored for years now. For instance, that Hillary Clinton had a long standing affair with her law partner and later White House counsel Vince Foster. On what do you base that assumption?"
     Andersen defended himself: "A number of things. First of all the observations of many people. They were rather public about it. They were very intimate in public situations as witnessed again and again by people. And she confessed to a fellow named. L.D. Brown, who was a security guard at the mansion but he was also the husband of Chelsea's nanny, his mother-in-law was the administrator of the mansion. He was kind of a confidante of the Clintons at that time in their marriage in the '80s, early '80s. Hillary said, 'Look, L.D., there are some things you just have to get outside of your marriage.' And she was referring to the relationship with Vince Foster.
     Couric was unimpressed: "So that's proof enough for you that they were affectionate in public and that she made this comment?"
     Andersen: "Well, it's beyond affection. If you read the book you'll see they're quite intimate and very public about it. I mean obviously Bill is gone much of the time from the mansion and Vince comes to the mansion to comfort her and leaves the next morning and it was just understood by the people around them that this was the tradeoff."

     Couric moved on: "Let me ask you the question that so many people are asking each other these days. After they leave the White House, do you think that the President and first lady will remain married?"
     Andersen gave a reply favorable to Hillary: "Absolutely, they will never divorce. And a lot of this has to do, we're talking about what is rooted in childhood. People forget that Hillary's mother Dorothy was the product of a bitter divorce. She was farmed out to relatives and she told her daughter, 'Look, you can be anything you want to be. You can be first woman Supreme Court justice or President but you can't be divorced because it will destroy you and destroy your child.'..."

     Couric ended by bringing up how "Chelsea has been pretty damaged already, you write, by his infidelities."

     ++ See and hear Andersen on Today. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted a brief RealPlayer clip of Andersen talking about Foster with Couric. Go to the MRC home page or to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html

     -- Wednesday morning, August 4, Andersen appeared on CBS's This Morning. Co-host Mark McEwen raised Foster and added a mention about fights between Bill and Hillary, but instead of exploring the subject he raised it to challenge the author's sources.

     As transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, McEwen got right to Foster as his first inquiry: "Biggest bombshell in this book I guess is Vince Foster. The fact that Hillary Clinton, you say, had an affair with the long time friend who was also on the staff at the White House, committed suicide, tell us about that."

     After Andersen's answer, McEwen fired back: "Vince Foster is not here to defend himself, does that bother you?"

     It sounded almost like he was suggesting that Foster should be ashamed of having an affair with Hillary.

     Following a few questions about the Talk interview and Chelsea, McEwen raised an item skipped by Couric: "You talk about things that, Hillary throwing things behind closed doors where it would only be Hillary and Bill Clinton in the room. What are your sources for this?"
     Andersen replied: "Hillary just mentioned in this article one thing she doesn't like about public housing, and she's referring to the Executive Mansion, is that you're never alone. Secret Service agents, household staff, stewards appear at your elbow. Friends are there constantly. I talked to a lot of old friends from Arkansas and Illinois who are still guests at the White House, they spend weekends with the First Family at Camp David, so all of these basically come from those sources, all these stories."

     So what did network viewers miss? Tuesday's New York Post and Wednesday's Washington Times listed all the major disclosures. Here's an except from the August 3 New York Post story on the book by John O'Mahony:

     *Details of the Clintons' window-rattling family rows that Andersen's sources say are as frequent as they are violent and foul-mouthed. During one of the fights that occurred after Clinton confessed the true nature of his relationship with Sexgate intern Monica Lewinsky, Hillary slapped her husband so hard she left a red mark "clearly visible to Secret Service agents when he left the room."

Andersen claims that during the same row, the First Lady screamed at Clinton, "You stupid, stupid, stupid bastard. My God, Bill, how could you risk everything for that?"....

*Hillary hired former FBI agent Ivan Duda in 1982 to investigate her husband's extramarital activities. He found that Clinton was seeing eight women "with some degree of frequency." Gennifer Flowers was at the top of the list.

*Hillary insisted Bill be tested for AIDS in 1988. He was HIV-negative but Andersen reports that "someone who claims to have seen" the President's medical records says they reveal he has had a sexually transmitted disease.

It's the reason why the President's complete medical history has never been released, he said.

Anderson also addresses the Juanita Broaddrick rape allegation.

He reports that three weeks after Clinton allegedly forced himself on the Arkansas nurse in a Little Rock hotel in 1978, Hillary strong-armed the woman at a fundraiser.

Hillary grabbed her arm and told her, "We are so grateful for all you've done for Bill, and all you'll keep doing," Andersen writes.

Broaddrick told Andersen she had no doubt what Hillary meant -- "That I was to keep my mouth shut."

Broaddrick told The Post last night, however, that she's not sure now if Hillary knew about the alleged rape -- or was making the point that she knew, or suspected, something was going on....

     END Excerpt

     Wednesday night Andersen appeared on CNBC's Hardball and Chris Matthews did raise most of these issues.

     NBC has posted a lengthy excerpt of the book. Go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/296254.asp


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Final Note: Out of room again before I could get to Engberg's August 2 gun story cited in the last CyberAlert. CBS has posted an almost accurate transcript (adapted for text reading): http://www.cbs.com/flat/story_173442.html

     And the NRA has issued a press release countering Engberg's insistence that the 2nd Amendment does not protect an individual's right to own a gun. Go to: http://www.nraila.org/news/19990803-AntiGunGroups-001.html. -- Brent Baker


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