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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday August 6, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 137) 

Two Nets Skip China Report; Out of Water?; No Corrections for Hale Tale

1) A bipartisan Senate committee report documented how the Clinton administration botched the Chinese espionage investigation, but ABC and NBC ignored it Thursday night.

2) FNC's Carl Cameron picked up Tom Daschle's complaint that the media should press George W. Bush about cocaine use.

3) CBS panicked Thursday night over the drought, asking: "Could America run out of water?" Yes, because of our lawns and pools.

4) GMA and CBS's This Morning failed to bring anyone aboard to argue against the court ruling saying the Boy Scouts must admit gay kids. Both featured just a gay ex-scout and his lawyer.

5) Correction: Brian Williams called the Clintons, not a book, "gross." The next day he forwarded the view that Hillary is trying to "spin an ending to a gross chapter in the history of the White House."

6) Not one word in this week's Time about the $90,000 fine on Clinton for lying. Newsweek buried it in its "Conventional Wisdom" box.

7) Geraldo, CNN, Dan Rather and Time last year touted charges of how David Hale's Whitewater testimony was tainted by payments he received from the American Spectator. Not true, a veteran Justice investigator found, but so far no media corrections.

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Rejected Names for the New CBS Morning Show."

9) Bye-bye. More scintillating CyberAlerts in a week.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Thursday night ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News skipped the bipartisan Senate Government Affairs Committee report issued by Republican Senator Fred Thompson and Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman documenting how the Clinton administration bungled the investigation of Chinese espionage. CNN's The World Today, FNC's Fox Report and the CBS Evening News all ran full stories.

     Instead of touching on the latest development on the China-front critical of Clinton's team, ABC led with a CDC report on increased life expectancy and followed with full pieces on how many vacation destinations have just as much air pollution as big cities, post-vacation stress, controversy over dredging the Delaware River around Philadelphia and a look at a spa in France which uses grape seeds as a skin conditioner which supposedly slows the aging process.

     Like CBS, the August 5 NBC Nightly News opened led with the office shooting in Pelham, Alabama that killed three, but instead of touching on Chinese espionage NBC ran multiple stories on the heat and drought and wrapped up with a story on new discoveries about how the brain controls sleep.

     On the CBS Evening News Bill Plante outlined the basic findings but avoided naming names, such as Janet Reno:
     "The bi-partisan report paints a scathing picture of incompetence in the FBI and Department of Energy, an investigation flawed from the outset by one blunder after another."
     After a soundbite of Fred Thompson citing how there were communications failures among key officials and poor judgment, Plante introduced Lieberman: "The committee's top Democrat was equally critical."
     Joe Lieberman: "There was what was to me a shocking lack of thoroughness, competency and urgency in the government's investigation of this very important and critical case."
     Plante: "Among the findings, for four years investigators overlooked the fact that suspect Wen Ho Lee had signed a waiver which would have allowed his computer to be searched; The Department of Justice, for the first time in a case like this, refused an FBI request for a special surveillance warrant against Lee; investigators had multiple suspects but only two, Wen Ho Lee and his wife, were actually investigated."

     Of course, any watcher of Carl Cameron on the Fox News Channel or reader of CyberAlert learned all that months ago.

     Plante then showed Wen Ho Lee telling Mike Wallace of his innocence and allowed Bill Richardson to concede the investigation was botched but maintain that Lee is the right suspect.

     On CNN's The World Today reporter Gene Randall pointed out how "Janet Reno was a special target" of the report and Julie Kirtz, in her Fox Report piece, ran a clip of Reno defending herself at her daily media briefing.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) FNC picked up on Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's demand that the media press George W. Bush about cocaine use, an issue the media never pushed about Bill Clinton in 1991-92 despite Daschle's claim that the media were tougher on Clinton than they are on Bush.

     In a piece which ran on both Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report, Carl Cameron outlined Daschle's complaint before allowing Cliff May of the RNC to suggest Daschle is a surrogate doing Al Gore's dirty work. After running a soundbite of Bush saying he will not play the media game of "gotcha," Cameron concluded:
     "Game or not, several of Bushes Republican rivals appear eager to play. Aides to Lamar Alexander, Steve Forbes and Gary Bauer all called Fox to say their candidate had never used cocaine and Bush should answer the question. Now all the candidates in both parties, except Bush, have said they never have." 3


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Talk about media panic and overreaction. Thursday night CBS asked: "Could America run out of water?"

     In an August 5 CBS Evening News piece on the drought, as he floated around a lower-than-normal Baltimore reservoir, Jeffrey Kofman ominously intoned:
     "The worst drought to hit the east in 70 years is forcing people here to confront a question that's going to have to be asked across the country: Could America run out of water?"
     Sandra Postel: "Water's becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the country."
     Kofman: "Author and researcher Sandra Postel has been studying water usage for twenty years."
     Postel, now identified on-screen as "Director" of the very liberal sounding "Global Water Policy Project," insisted: "We have one of the highest rates of water use per person of any country in the world and part of this is due to our extravagant use of water outdoors, the green lawns, the swimming pools and so on."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) ABC and CBS too lazy to produce a balanced discussion? Thursday morning both ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's This Morning featured interview segments about the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the Boy Scouts cannot exclude gay boys.

     You'd assume that a network news operation would bring on one person to support the decision and another to argue why it was wrong. Well, professional journalists who care about balance would, but not the ABC and CBS producers. Both August 5 shows featured two guests: James Dale, the assistant scoutmaster kicked out nine years ago, which prompted the lawsuit, and his attorney from the Lamda Legal Defense Fund, Evan Wolfson.

     Here's how GMA co-host Diane Sawyer defended the one-sided guest selection: "Well, the Boy Scouts of America took it on the chin yesterday in a fiery, precedent-setting ruling. Here is the issue, whether the Boy Scouts have the right to expel a scout for being gay. The organization has insisted that its members must be, quote, 'morally straight' and that homosexuality is inconsistent with that. They have also argued that as a private group, they can expel whomever they want. Well, today one man's nine year battle to fight back has succeeded. Joining us, former Eagle Scout James Dale and his attorney Evan Wolfson of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. We should say, by the way, that the representatives of the Boy Scouts of America declined our invitation to appear this morning."

     How pathetic. ABC's obligation is to provide a balanced presentation to their viewers. By declining a chance to appear, the Boy Scouts missed an opportunity to present the specifics of their case, but that does not mean ABC is excused from finding someone else to explain their perspective to viewers, especially when wider issues of freedom of association and the definition of a private vs. public group are involved. There are plenty of conservative legal scholars whom I'm sure would have eagerly accepted GMA's (or CBS's) invitation.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Correction: Brian Williams referred to events in the life of the Clintons as "gross," not to the book reporting them. The August 5 CyberAlert accurately related what Brian Williams, anchor of MSNBC's News with Brian Williams, stated on his show on Tuesday night, but as MRC analyst Mark Drake pointed out to me later, I missed the meaning of a clause.

      In fact, on two other occasions this week Williams has offered analysis that's contrary to the usual media thinking -- on both the Talk magazine interview and gun control.

     First the correction. The August 5 CyberAlert asserted that Williams "denounced" the book and later stated:

-- Tuesday night, August 3, on The News with Brian Williams the host of the same name, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, bemoaned: "In the morning headlines, welcome to your presidency America, now it's getting close to gross. There's a new book out by Christopher Andersen: Bill and Hillary: The Marriage. It says Hillary was deeply in love with White House lawyer Vince Foster, their long rumored love affair well-known for two decades while Bill Clinton cheated on her quote 'with hundreds of women in Arkansas.' She had a hot affair with Vincent Foster at the law firm evidently. Also, allegations of some sort of relationship between Clinton and Sharon Stone and with Streisand who reporters once did see, identity covered up, in a hotel going upstairs on a visit by him."

     END Except

     I missed the meaning of the "welcome to your presidency" clause, but any confusion I had as to whom Williams was calling "gross" ended when Mark Drake alerted me to how Williams on Wednesday night presented the damage control comments from Bill and Hillary over her Talk magazine interview. He first gave the Clinton spin, which this week has been about the only one allowed by the networks, and then refreshingly added a more suspicious take:
     "What you are about to see will be seen differently by different Americans. The Clintons are dealing with statements by the First Lady that have squarely and violently blown up in both of their faces. Some will see sadness in all this, a couple that is already [in a] far too public marriage trying desperately to put an end to the questions and get rid of all the talk. Others will see a disingenuous attempt to create excuses, a First Lady who is cynical and smug and with her husband calculating, trying to run for Senate and spin an ending to a gross chapter in the history of the White House. It does appear the Clintons have decided on a story and are sticking with it."

     On Monday evening, he sounded like a conservative media critic as he reviewed the latest news magazines:
     "In Time, under the headline 'Get Rid of the Damned Things,' what may be proof that it can be dangerous to spend all your time on the East Coast. Roger Rosenblatt writes: 'Marshall McLuhan said that by the time one notices a cultural phenomenon, it has already happened. I think the country has long been ready to restrict the use of guns, except for hunting rifles and shotguns, and now I think we're prepared to get rid of the damned things entirely -- the handguns, the semis, and the automatics.' Send the mail to Time."


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) Speaking of Time, not one syllable appeared in the latest edition about the $90,000 fine imposed upon Bill Clinton last Thursday by federal Judge Susan Webber Wright for dissembling in the Paula Jones case. The August 9 Newsweek ignored it except for an even arrow in the Conventional Wisdom box: "Clinton: Hit with $90K fine for Monica fibs. But polls show he's still Our Bill."

     Only U.S. News put it in an article, as the magazine devoted half of a six paragraph story about Linda Tripp to the judge's ruling. But as the MRC's MagazineWatch noted, while reporter Franklin Foer did note Clinton may face disbarment in Arkansas, he concluded: "And while lawyers busied themselves preparing briefs, Judge Wright reflected the zeitgeist. She declared that '[t]he court...no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter.'"

     For details on how ABC's World News Tonight gave the ruling just 22 seconds, go to the July 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990730.html#1
     To see how ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's This Morning skipped it while NBC's Today allocated a piddling 15 seconds, check out the August 2 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990802.html#2

     Other subjects covered in the latest MRC MagazineWatch compiled by Mark Drake about the August 9 editions, includes the Time essay advocating the elimination of guns which was cited by Brian Williams above (see item #5), as well as:
     -- Campaign 2000 Roundup: Time advised Bush to keep tax cuts focused on the poor; U.S. News contrasted strait-laced young Al Gore to young drunk George W.; and Newsweek found Gore and Bradley fighting over the Democrats' left-wing base.
     -- Newsweek puffed House Speaker Denny Hastert -- revealing he "still has coffee with buddies at the auto-body shop and slurps strawberry shakes after dinner" -- and suspected nuclear spy Wen Ho Lee, who "spends his days listening to Mozart and reading 19th-century French novels."

     To read the August 3 MagazineWatch where Webmaster Sean Henry has posted it, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/magwatch/mag19990803.html


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Geraldo Rivera, CNN, CBS's Dan Rather, Time and Newsweek last year all touted charges, to illustrate the right-wing conspiracy, of how David Hale's Whitewater testimony was tainted by payments he received from the American Spectator's "Arkansas Project." Well, last week newspapers reported that the Justice Department's veteran ethics watchdog investigated and found no basis for the theory. Yet, so far, no update or correction from the outlets which so eagerly promoted the anti-Ken Starr charge.

     "Clinton Critics Cleared In Special Investigation," announced the headline over a July 29 Washington Post story. (The Washington Times also featured a piece.) Post reporter Robert G. Kaiser began:

A special investigation into whether conservative critics of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton gave support or cash payments to witness David Hale to influence his testimony has concluded that many of the allegations of such payments were "unsubstantiated" and "in some cases, untrue," and that no criminal prosecution should be brought.

These conclusions -- brief excerpts from a 168-page report -- were released yesterday by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, effectively closing a case that some Clinton supporters had hoped would offer proof of a "right-wing conspiracy" against the first couple. A spokesman for Starr, Elizabeth Ray, said the full report would not be released because it contained confidential grand jury information.

The report was written by Michael J. Shaheen, former director of the Justice Department's office of professional responsibility, who was retained as an independent investigator to examine allegations that Hale -- a witness used extensively by Starr -- had been improperly tainted by Clinton enemies who gave him financial support....

     END Excerpt

     Indeed, the news must have disappointed Geraldo Rivera, though he has yet to share it with his viewers. Back on the October 6, 1998 Rivera Live on CNBC, as he stood in front of the Arkansas bait shop of the supposed paymaster, Parker Dozhier, Rivera declared:
     "The grand jury is investigating whether David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of right-wing Clinton haters. One strong piece of evidence comes from this unlikely setting: a modest fishing resort located just outside of Hot Springs Arkansas. While he was a protected witness under the watchful eye of FBI agents working for Ken Starr, David Hale often stayed here, free of charge, even got use of an automobile.       Here's the connection: this place is owned by Parker Dozhier, the same Parker Dozhier who worked for the American Spectator magazine and who was being paid to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. Did Dozhier pay off Hale? The grand jury also wants to know whether Ken Starr knew or should have known that his star witness, David Hale, was in the hip pocket of a group of hardline right-wingers determined to take down the President by any means necessary."

     Earlier in the year, Dan Rather introduced a story by saying there are reports that "Hale may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as political opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."

     On Thursday Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media of Media Analysis, gathered these two now disproved media allegations and found similar reporting in Time and Newsweek for our weekly Media Reality Check fax report headlined, "Geraldo Finds Another Empty Vault: Media Outlets That Covered Allegations of Conservative Bribes Skipped Covering the Official Rebuttal."

     To read this fax report online, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990806.html

     Otherwise, here it is in full:

Geraldo Rivera laid an egg on national TV on April 27, 1986 by headlining a two-hour syndicated special on the opening of gangster Al Capone's (empty) vault live. Rivera hyped a story that wasn't there.

Now Geraldo's done it again. Rivera repeatedly promoted the story (originated by pro-Clinton journalists at the New York Observer and the Web site Salon.com) that Whitewater witness David Hale was paid off by Parker Dozhier, an Arkansas consultant to The American Spectator magazine.

On July 29, The Washington Post reported that the investigation by former Justice Department official Michael Shaheen found "many of the allegations of such payments were 'unsubstantiated' and 'in some cases, untrue,' and that no criminal prosecution should be brought." But Rivera ignored it. He's not alone. Here are other outlets that promoted the charges, but skipped Shaheen's rebuttal:

Time in 1998: The April 13 issue asked: "Did the king of the Clinton haters funnel cash to Kenneth Starr's chief Whitewater witness?" Richard Lacayo wrote: "FBI officials have been interviewing an Arkansas woman who says that after Hale became a Whitewater witness, he began receiving cash payments from men who were connected with Richard Mellon Scaife, the rabidly anti-Clinton billionaire, and The American Spectator, the gleefully anti-Clinton magazine that Scaife has supported." The April 27 issue carried a caricature of Scaife with the caption: "Subsidizing probes, underwriting witnesses, chipping in for a deanship at a Malibu school, the omnipresent megamillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife owns the cashbox of the anti-Clinton crusade."

Time in 1999: Zero.

Newsweek in 1998: In the April 13 issue, they first covered the allegations (calling them "thinly supported") in a story subheadlined: "The White House loves this tale of right-wing payoffs." In the April 20 issue, Jonathan Alter's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" touted the allegations of David Hale being paid off by Spectator staffers. Alter gave Starr a down arrow: "Good news: First big break in Whitewater. Bad: It may show your key witness was tainted." Newsweek mentioned the charge again in a May 18 article on Scaife.

Newsweek in 1999: Zero.

U.S. News in 1998: The April 13 issue mentioned the charges (and Salon.com) in a paragraph. U.S. News in 1999: Zero.

CNN in 1998: On The World Today on April 9, Pierre Thomas reported that Starr would investigate the allegations, but noted the Department of Justice "questioned whether Starr would have a conflict of interest in investigating a witness so important to his case...Critics also point out another possible conflict of interest. The money allegedly funneled to Hale came from The American Spectator magazine. The magazine receives financial support from Richard Scaife, a millionaire associated with anti-Clinton efforts. Scaife is also a major donor to Pepperdine University where Starr has accepted a deanship."

CNN in 1999: Zero on The World Today.

CBS in 1998: On April 3, Dan Rather said: "Reports continue to surface that this key witness for the prosecution, David Hale, may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as political opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."

CBS in 1999: Zero.

     END Reprint

     For more on the CNN story, go to the April 10 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19980410.html#1

     For more on Geraldo's October 6 diatribe and to see a picture of him in front of the bait shop, go to the October 7 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981007.html#2

     To see Geraldo standing in front of what he considers the headquarters for the VRWC, check out the October 26 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981026.html#3

     This item details Rivera's October 23 rant in front of the American Spectator's building:
     "That nondescript building behind me here in Arlington, Virginia just across the Potomac River from Washington, houses the American Spectator magazine. The magazine is staunchly conservative and wickedly partisan, which is all well and good. This is a free country. But many of the Spectator's critics feel that the magazine lost its journalistic soul when it entered into a secret alliance with the reclusive Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Their common goal: to destroy Bill Clinton. Between 1993 and 1997 Mr. Scaife funneled at least $2.3 million dollars through the American Spectator to fund a variety of anti-Clinton activities. They dubbed this nefarious scheme of character assassination, the Arkansas Project."


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) From the August 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Rejected Names for the New CBS Morning Show." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "Let's Get Ready To Gumbel!"
9. "Live With Regis and Bryant Lee"
8. "Wake Up and Go Back To Sleep"
7. "The Roker-Free Zone"
6. "Everyone Barely Tolerates Bryant"
5. "Diagnosis Bryant"
4. "The CBS Morning Show with Bryant And Some Woman Who Can't Stand Bryant"
3. "Turn That Frown Upside Down With Your Rise 'N' Shine Pal Bryant!"
2. "Good Morning The Six People In America Watching Us"
1. "Get Outta Bed, Losers"

     The real name of the show debuting November 1 will be the "CBS Morning Show" and they have yet to find a woman willing to co-host it with Bryant Gumbel.


cyberno9.gif (659 bytes) Bye-bye. I'm off for a week or so to Seattle and other parts of the Northwest. In my absence, the MRC's Sean Henry and Tim Graham should e-mail next week to this list some regular MRC publications to keep you informed and entertained, such as MagazineWatch and the Media Reality fax report. -- Brent Baker


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