Bush & Drugs a Big Story on Outlets Which Ignored Broaddrick
1) The nets jumped on the Bush
drug issue. NBC's Brian Williams called it "the question that will
not go away," though it is reporters who are making it an issue. The
ABC and NBC evening shows never ran stories on Juanita Broaddrick's rape
2) All three morning shows
looked at Bush and drugs. It led Today and GMA had George Stephanopoulos
as its solo analyst as Charlie Gibson suggested Bush be asked if he ever
committed a felony.
3) On FNC Gennifer Flowers
demonstrated how Clinton scratched his head when he was high on cocaine,
but Deborah Orin predicted no one will ask him about it. None have pressed
him about Broaddrick.
4) "We are not talking
about" Broaddrick today insisted MSNBC's David Gregory Thursday
afternoon as he blocked the RNC's Cliff May from raising the issue of
5) The head of the FOP
denounced Clinton's plan to pardon 16 terrorists: "Your claim that
none of these people were involved in any deaths is patently false."
The George W. Bush cocaine story gained media momentum Thursday as he gave
the networks a hard to resist story hook with his ever-changing denial
time frame. All the networks featured full stories Thursday night as
ABC's Charlie Gibson asserted "the question is dogging his
otherwise smooth campaign." NBC anchor Brian Williams called it
"the question that will not go away," as if the media are just
creatures from Mars observing the process when in fact it's the media
which are posing the questions the posing of which they then find so
There is no one
accusing Bush of drug use and no evidence he actually has, but NBC Nightly
News spent over five minutes on the subject and ABC's World News Tonight
gave it three and a half minutes -- which is exactly five minutes and
three and a half minutes more time than the two shows devoted in February
or early March to Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Bill Clinton raped
her. (WNT did give it a few seconds on March 19 in a larger story on a
Clinton press conference, but ignored the February 24 Dateline NBC
interview. Total NBC Nightly News coverage of Broaddrick so far: one end
of show promo for that Dateline, but no actual news story. See items #3
and 4 today for more on the Broaddrick contrast.)
The CBS Evening
News aired a piece for the second consecutive night Thursday on the drug
issue, which means it has given twice as much attention to Bush as to
Broaddrick since CBS ran one story on her back in February. Of course, the
media have yet to pursue actual claims made by people that Clinton used
cocaine, a charge made fresh again this week in a FNC appearance by
Gennifer Flowers. See item #3 today for details.
Now to the
coverage of Bush the last two nights. On Wednesday night, CNN's The
World Today, FNC's Fox Report and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams
all jumped on Bush's lashing out at a questioning reporter. The CBS
Evening News also picked up on the incident and ran a full story, the only
broadcast network to do so.
Here's a rundown
for Thursday evening, August 19. All led with the rescue efforts for
earthquake victims in Turkey. (I missed CNN's the World Today, but since
Bush/drugs led Inside Politics for the second day in a row I'd assume it
was a big story at 10pm ET too.)
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Charlie Gibson announced:
"The political issue today: Did Texas
Governor George W. Bush ever use cocaine, or didn't he? The question is
dogging his otherwise smooth campaign."
Gibson took 1:45 to run through Bush's evolving
answer, from lashing out Wednesday, to telling the Dallas Morning News he
has not used drugs in the last seven years to expanding that drug-free
time frame to 15 years at a Thursday morning appearance to saying he could
have passed a 15 year test when his father was President -- taking him
back to age 28 in 1974.
Gibson ended by playing a clip of Bush in
Columbus refusing to go further, saying only that he "did make
mistakes years ago." Gibson wondered: "But can he really stick
to that? He's had quite a day saying he won't talk about it and
that's all he did: talk about it. And reporters keep asking even though
there's no hard evidence he ever did use the drug."
then aired a 1:50 report from John Martin who played a soundbite of Bush
from Iowa back on June 14: "There's a game in Washington, it's
called gotcha. It's a game where we float a rumor and make a candidate
prove a negative and I'm not playing the game."
Martin acknowledged the media's role: "It
did not work then and it may not work now. In part, that's because the
media keep pushing."
Martin spent the remainder of his story running
comments on the controversy from Gerald Solomon, Orrin Hatch, Norman
Ornstein and Eddie Mahe.
-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Bob Schieffer
"In the presidential campaign, if Texas
Governor George W. Bush thought his responses yesterday would end the
questions about past drug use, it certainly didn't turn out that way.
There were more questions today everywhere he went."
opened with a clip of Bush telling kids drugs are not cool. Engberg picked
up: "As for whether Bush ever used cocaine or other drugs, his plan
to refuse to reply directly to such questions has been modified on the fly
as the press and opponents pursue the issue."
Engberg ran through his expanding drug-free time
frame, explaining: "In stages and under repetitive questioning, the
candidate who said he would not play the game of responding to allegations
about his past has denied any drug use after the age of 28."
noted how Gore and Bradley admit to using marijuana, while Gore has denied
using cocaine, and Republicans Bauer, Buchanan, Dole, Forbes, Hatch,
Keyes, McCain and Quayle all say they have never used illegal drugs.
-- FNC's Fox Report. Carl Cameron uniquely
pointed out how Bush calculated dates in his head on the fly in deciding
whether he could have passed his father's background check in 1989:
"Bush clearly appeared to be checking dates
in his head, when he was asked if he could have truthfully denied illegal
drug use for the 15 years prior to his father taking office in 1989."
Bush: "Ah, let's see here. [pause] Ah, yes
I could have."
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams teased
the broadcast: "Drugs, politics, rumors and the race for the White
House. The question that won't go away, what George W. Bush says is his
story, Williams again stressed how the questions won't go away when it
was NBC's own David Bloom who pressed the most: "It followed him
from Texas to Ohio today, the question that will not go away everywhere
George W. Bush goes. Is there illegal drug use in his past? It got its
start as a rumor. It has become a rather large and nagging news story and
now the question: Is his strategy of giving partial answers perhaps making
Ohio, where NBC had parachuted in its star White House reporter for a day,
David Bloom relayed: "The questions would not go away, so Governor
Bush first tried to defuse the controversy over whether he used illegal
drugs by telling the Dallas Morning News he could pass a federal
background check, which Bush thought only asks about drug use within the
past seven years."
Bloom went through Bush's 15 years/1975/28
years old answer and how Bush says he could pass the current White House
clearance form. But, Bloom countered, that's a problem because the form
used by the Clinton White House asks applicants to go back to their 18th
Bloom then played his exchange with Bush:
"Governor, with all due respect, you said last night to the Dallas
Morning News, 'within the seven years that I believe that the background
check covers, I didn't use illegal drugs.' You said today that within
the 15 years the Bush administration covered, I didn't use illegal
Bloom: "Why would you then not answer a
question if the current standard is from your 18th birthday on?"
Bush replied that he hopes voters appreciate a
candidate who says enough is enough.
Now three minutes
into NBC's coverage the network moved on to a second story. Pete
Williams delivered an overview of the background check process and how the
public is more tolerant now of drug use than when Reagan picked Ginsberg
for the Supreme Court. He concluded by pointing out that a President does
not have to complete a background check as he answers only to voters.
The three morning shows focused on the Bush drug issue Thursday morning,
even before he had expanded his drug-free years beyond seven. ABC's Good
Morning America brought on George Stephanopoulos as its solo analyst on
the issue and he helpfully pointed out cocaine use is a felony, prompting
Charlie Gibson to suggest Bush be asked if he ever committed a felony. In
contrast, GMA has yet to devote an interview segment to the Broaddrick
charge. (One morning two questions about her were posed to Paula Begala in
a larger interview.)
take on the top news highlighted Bush and the show aired a pre-taped
interview with him in which he was asked about drug use. CBS's This
Morning, which has yet to mention Broaddrick's name, held its coverage
to a news item read by the news reader, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted.
-- ABC's Good
Morning America. Charles Gibson wrapped up his discussion about Bush and
drugs with George Stephanopoulos by highlighting: "Well, the press
did glom onto it yesterday and you do raise an interesting point, that
cocaine use is a felony. It'd be interesting if somebody said to him, have
you ever committed a felony?"
Stephanopoulos: "We'll see what the answer
Gibson: "That question, I'm sure, will come
up very soon."
I'm sure a lot
sooner than any reporter will ask about Broaddrick's charge or
allegations about cocaine use by Clinton.
-- NBC's Today. Matt Lauer opened the show:
"Good morning. After sidestepping the question for months GOP
presidential frontrunner George W. Bush has issued a limited denial about
past drug use, saying he has not used illegal drugs in the last seven
years. An answer sure to raise more questions today, Thursday, August
talk about Broaddrick until her interview aired on Dateline, but they
showed no such hesitation with the Bush drug charge. In a pre-taped
interview shown by Today Jamie Gangel began by hitting Bush with the
attacks from his opponents:
"Let me read you some of what your opponents
are saying, okay? Steve Forbes says you have no message. That you rely on
pollsters and tutors. Marilyn Quayle says that quote, 'You're a guy that
never accomplished anything, everything he got daddy took care of. That
you're a party frat boy type.' And conservative columnist George Will
called you 'Bush Light.' That perhaps you have quote, 'an allergy to
serious things. That you may not be ready for prime time.'"
After some back
and forth about his opinions of his detractors, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed that Gangel demanded: "You and the other candidates
have all been asked whether you used illegal drugs. And you are the only
one who won't answer the question."
Bush: "It's true."
Gangel: "Why not?"
Bush: "Well because for a couple of reasons.
One, when I first got going on this campaign there were a lot of people
were talking, people floating incredible number of ridiculous rumors about
me. And I just decided that rather than play 'gotcha' politics and try to
answer a negative that I wasn't going to participate. I decided to stand
up and say, 'What I did 25 years ago is past. I am what I am today because
I've learned from lessons in the past. It may cost me votes, it may cause
people to make assumptions about me that aren't real. But I'm gonna stand
on principle. And the principle is enough's enough. Enough's enough,
trying to destroy people's reputations with gossip. And secondly it's
important for us to set examples. And this kind of collective guilt of
baby boomers trying to confess on the public altar what they may or may
not have done sends bad signals to your children and my children and other
Gangel: "You understand it does leave the
implication that you did use these drugs."
Bush: "Jamie it doesn't matter whether I
answer the question or not. There'd still be people floating gossip and
rumors and innuendo. It's crazy."
On national TV Wednesday Gennifer Flowers imitated how Bill Clinton
scratched his head after he snorted cocaine.
No one has yet
claimed to have seen George W. Bush use cocaine or said someone with
firsthand knowledge told them they saw him do it. And, no one has come
forward to say that Bush recounted to them the affect cocaine had on his
body. All three are true in the case of Bill Clinton, but the media
don't care now and they didn't care in 1991 or 1992.
As the MRC's Tim
Graham pointed out in the MRC's August 13 Media Reality Check, "In
Bush's case, reporters have found no one alleging that they have knowledge
of Bush using cocaine. In Clinton's case, several Arkansans -- whether
credible or not -- have accused Clinton of cocaine use, as detailed in
books like Roger Morris's Partners in Power. If some liberal journalist
finds an alleger against Bush (as some media partisans in 1988 found
'Speedway Bomber' Brett Kimberlin to allege marijuana purchases by Dan
Quayle), will national reporters investigate just Bush?"
To read the entire
fax report, "Coke-Question Pushers Ought to Ask Bill," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990813.html
Thursday night on
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume substitute host Tony Snow played a
clip from an appearance by Flowers the night before on FNC's Hannity
& Colmes. She told the two hosts that she saw Bill Clinton smoke
marijuana when he was Attorney General and Governor, adding: "He made
it very clear that if I ever wanted to do cocaine that he could provide
Sean Hannity, not hearing: "I'm sorry,
Flowers: "Yes, if I ever wanted to do
cocaine. And he also told me that there were times that he did so much
cocaine at parties that his head would itch and that he would be standing
there trying to talk to people and he would feel like a fool because all
he wanted to do was this, so I clearly knew that Bill did cocaine."
As she said
"all he wanted to do was this," she put her hand with
outstretched fingers by her head to simulate scratching an itch. To see
this image and a RealPlayer video clip, go to this item in the posted
version of this CyberAlert. After 10am ET Friday MRC Webmaster Sean Henry
should have it up at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#3
the clip Snow turned to his panel of journalists: "So, is anybody
going to ask the President about this, Jeff Birnbaum."
Birnbaum, of Fortune, argued: "Yes. I think
that there's not going to be a public appearance that he'll have where
he will not be asked about it, or at least he should be asked about it in
all fairness to George W. Bush."
Deborah Orin of the New York Post had a better
grasp on media practices, contending: "But you know nobody will ask
him. I mean that's the fascinating thing that George W. Bush has taken
an awful lot of heat in the last few days and in fact, you know, at the
White House when they have difficult questions they just say talk to my
lawyer and the press corps just drops it. You know I called Jim Kennedy at
the White House, the scandal spokesman, today, and said so what about
Gennifer Flowers' charges and he said the President didn't do cocaine.
And I said fine, why should I believe the President's answer on this
when the President also told us he didn't have an affair with Gennifer
Flowers. And yet we don't have pictures, nobody at a White House press
conference is going to have the guts to stand up and say 'Mr. President,
Gennifer Flowers said you did cocaine, did you?'"
Indeed, at his
first solo press conference in a ten months on March 19 only Sam Donaldson
asked about Broaddrick and her name has not been uttered at one since. The
night of the press conference, neither CBS or NBC mentioned the exchange.
As documented in the March 20 CyberAlert:
Sam Donaldson asked about Juanita
Broaddrick, leading to World News Tonight's first weekday mention of her
name, but neither CBS or NBC uttered a syllable about her Friday night. In
addition to ABC, CNN, FNC and MSNBC did highlight, at least briefly,
Clinton's non-responsive reply.
As noted by Rush Limbaugh on Friday in
citing an earlier MRC report, NBC Nightly News has yet to mention
Broaddrick's name despite the fact the exclusive interview aired on its
own network: The February 24 Dateline NBC. Clinton has now twice provided
on-camera comment, but twice NBC Nightly News has passed. NBC refused to
talk about Broaddrick, but Nightly News did pick up Russian TV video of a
politician standing next to a bed and paying two prostitutes.
The CBS Evening News hasn't mentioned
Broaddrick since its one and only story on Saturday, February 20. Friday
night, instead of broaching her charge, anchor John Roberts highlighted
how Clinton "said he and Mrs. Clinton love each other very much"
and that "she'd be a magnificent U.S. Senator."
For more on how
the press avoided scandal questions at that press conference, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990320.html
Don't go there! "We are not talking about" Broaddrick today
insisted MSNBC's David Gregory Thursday afternoon as he blocked the
RNC's Cliff May from raising lack of media interest in her as an
illustration of the media's hypocrisy in pursuing the Bush drug story.
Just after showing
Bush live in Columbus responding to David Bloom's questions, MSNBC's
Crosstalk discussed the controversy. Among the guests, Democratic
consultant Vic Kamber and RNC Communications Director Cliff May.
At about 3:47pm ET
May tried to make his Broaddrick point, but host David Gregory wouldn't
allow it. They talked and yelled over each other at times, but's
here's how it went as best I could make out:
May: "I just don't see the press putting
the same kind of pressure on Al Gore to answer similar questions."
Kamber: "Are you kidding me?"
May: "No I'm not kidding you."
Kamber: "Al Gore answered this question way
back. He acknowledged smoking dope when he was in the Army."
May: "We have right now a credible
allegation by Juanita Broaddrick that while Attorney General Bill Clinton
sexually assaulted her and he won't answer..."
David Gregory, talking over May's last words:
"Now hold on. You know what Cliff, I'm not going to let you go
there. We are not talking about this today. We're not going to turn that
into this. I want to go around the horn a little bit. Cliff, wait a
May in background "...double
Gregory: "Cliff, I'm going to stop you.
I'm hosting the program. It is not a double standard. We have a clear
focus today. I'm asking the questions. I will now ask the question to
Howard Mortman. I'm waiting for David Bloom to pop up from Columbus
Ohio, we'll go to him in just a minute. First, Howard Mortman, response
To see this media
intolerance for raising the issue of their hypocrisy, go to this item in
the posted version of this CyberAlert where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will
place a RealPlayer clip. After 10am ET Friday, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#4
MSNBC did air some stories back in February on Broaddrick, the NBC Nightly
News has yet to run a story recounting her charge.
On a subject off the major media radar screen, Bill Clinton's decision
to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, the President of the Fraternal Order
of Police has lashed out at Clinton's decision. See the August 18
CyberAlert for details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990818.html#4
As recounted by
Greg Pierce on Thursday in his Inside Politics column for the Washington
Times, "Clinton wants the prisoners, members of the Puerto Rican
nationalist group FALN, to disavow violence before he releases them. FOP
President Gilbert G. Gallegos, in a letter to Mr. Clinton yesterday,
called the offer a 'slap in the face' to law enforcement officers
everywhere." Gallegos also countered Clinton's claim that the
convicts did not hurt anyone. Here's an excerpt of the letter from
Your offer of clemency would immediately
release eleven convicted felons who conspired as members of the FALN to
plant and explode bombs at U.S. political and military targets. The
remaining five would have their criminal fines waived and only two would
serve any additional time.
These attacks killed six people, wounded
dozens and maimed three New York City police officers: Detective Anthony
S. Senft lost an eye and a finger, Detective Richard Pastorella was
blinded and Officer Rocco Pascarella lost his leg...
Your claim that none of these people were
involved in any deaths is patently false. As members of the terrorist
organization that was planting these bombs, all of them are accessories to
the killings as a result of the bomb attacks. Two of the persons to whom
you have offered clemency were convicted of a $7.5 million armored truck
robbery, which undoubtedly financed the FALN's 130 bomb attacks....
I can only assume you are again pandering
for some political purpose. This time, Mr. President, it must stop before
I'm still waiting to read or see the first
major media story on this issue. --
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