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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday August 23, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 146)  

CNN Blamed GOP for Media's Bush Focus; Hypocrisy Over Broaddrick 

1) On Bush, now Steve Roberts has decided "we in the press have an enormous obligation to help the voters understand the...morality" of presidential candidates. CNN's Chris Black insisted "the Republican Party helped create the climate for this."

2) To the consternation of Judy Woodruff, on CNN on Friday Bill Bennett suggested the media's interest in Bush/drugs but not Broaddrick "is pointing up the hypocrisy of a lot of the press."

3) Imus in the Morning's Bernard McGuirk demanded that NBC's David Bloom explain why reporters are not pushing Clinton about Broaddrick and drugs. Incredibly, Bloom scolded McGuirk for raising "completely unsubstantiated" drug charges about Clinton.

4) Howard Kurtz zoomed in on how ABC is using George Stephanopoulos as a reporter. ABC News President David Westin hailed his "increasing strength and maturity."

5) "Reforms to Welfare Hurt Poor, Study Says" read the headline but not until the sixth paragraph did the Washington Post misleadingly credit "a nonpartisan research and policy institute."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Three noteworthy comments on the Bush/drug front from Sunday's interview shows: Now Steve Roberts has decided that "we in the press have an enormous obligation to help the voters understand the...morality and the character of the people who want to be President"; Chris Black insisted it isn't the media's fault but the GOP's: "The irony is that the Republican Party helped create the climate for this"; and Susan Feeney maintained that "the press doesn't look at the polls when it decides what questions to ask."

     The pursuit of George W. Bush on the drug issue dominated the Sunday interview shows. It was the sole topic on CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week opened with it and Fox News Sunday devoted two segments to the controversy. The latter two shows also talked about it during their panel discussions.

     It consumed all of NBC's Meet the Press hosted by Brian Williams, save an eight minute interview with Alan Keyes about his campaign as part of the show's look at each candidate. After opening with Orrin Hatch, Geraldine Ferraro, John Kasich and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Williams moderated a look at media coverage with a panel that featured two Clintonites but no conservative who might have raised the contrast with media interest in Juanita Broaddrick or rumors about Clinton and cocaine: NBC's David Bloom, The Washington Post's Dan Balz, Time's John Stacks as well as Clintonites Paul Begala and David Gergen (okay, Gergen's really more of a hired whore.)

     I'm out in Aspen, Colorado for a few days for the Progress & Freedom Foundation's "Cyberspace and the American Dream" conference, but managed to catch portions of the Sunday shows, which without a VCR required quite an effort at channel switching since the Denver stations carry all four broadcast network interview shows at the same time, 9am. Thanks to Nexis and a Web site I was able to find transcripts for the items that I noticed.

     -- On CNN's Late Edition panel discussion, after an appearance by Jesse Jackson and Jerry Falwell, Steve Roberts of U.S. News & World Report asserted:
     "Reverend Falwell was saying only present-day action should be judged by the press. I just think that's wrong. I think that we in the press have an enormous obligation to help the voters understand the judgment and the temperament, and the morality and the character of the people who want to be President and I think there's only one way we can do that, and that is to explore the judgments that they have made in the past."

     Where was Roberts in 1992?

     Bashing Dan Quayle for advocating morality and the character to abstain from parenthood until you can provide a two parent home. On the May 22, 1992 Washington Week in Review on PBS Roberts denounced Quayle's Murphy Brown speech:
     "This was not an accident. This was not a casual speech. This was a speech very much a part of the White House game plan, a very deliberate attempt to use these family values, which are an amorphous collection of ideas, but to use them as a wedge issue to drive divisions in this country along cultural lines, along social lines, and to some extent along racial lines."

     -- Forget media hypocrisy, CNN's Chris Black blamed Republicans for how they beat up on Bill Clinton. On the August 222 Late Edition segment with Roberts, Black argued:
     "Well, the irony is that the Republican Party helped create the climate for this. They're the ones, as Gary Bauer said this morning on another one of the talk shows, that went nuts when Bill Clinton said he didn't inhale, asking well, what does that mean? So, in a way, the Republican Party has set a certain standard. And now George Bush is being held to it."

     I don't know what Bauer said on Fox News Sunday, but I do know that Clinton's answer was so odd that it naturally prompted ridicule. More relevant, in 1992 the media did not pursue questions about Clinton's past drug use beyond that one marijuana claim. As noted in the August 20 CyberAlert, rumors about Clinton and cocaine have been around for years and last week Gennifer Flowers gave a first-hand account. To see a clip of Flowers recalling what Clinton did when he was high on cocaine, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#3

     (Friday morning on ABC's Good Morning America Karla Davis, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, concluded a story on Bush with this odd bit of historical analysis: "Ultimately voters decided that questions about whether President Clinton used drugs were not important enough to keep him out of office." As noted above, the media hardly pursued the issue.)

     -- Over on Face the Nation, Dallas Morning News Washington bureau reporter Susan Feeney assured viewers:
     "I actually don't think it's going to go away. I agree with the Governor when he says that, he looks at the polls and says that people do not care about past drug use, but I don't think he realizes that the press doesn't look at the polls when it decides what questions to ask and when. I think it's inevitable that reporters will push until there's an answer."

     The "press doesn't look at the polls"? I seem to recall reporters incessantly highlighting how the public was tired of the Lewinsky scandal and citing this "scandal fatigue" as the reason they were not pursuing a particular new revelation.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) As outlined in the August 20 CyberAlert, reporters will not raise the issue of their own hypocrisy in pursuing Bush on the drug issue, even though no one has made a charge, while ignoring an actual charge of rape against Bill Clinton more recent than the time of Bush's supposed drug use. But, Bill Bennett did on CNN Friday, much to Judy Woodruff's consternation.

     Bennett asserted on the August 20 Inside Politics: "This is pointing up the hypocrisy of a lot of the press. There are no allegations that he's used illegal drugs, no witness has come forward. In the case of Bill Clinton you had the situation with Juanita Broaddrick who accused Bill Clinton of rape twenty one years ago, which is more recent than these allegations of drug use by George Bush. You had five contemporaneous eyewitnesses and the press said it had scandal fatigue. That's a very serious charge, a much more serious charge, but the press decided to abandon that. Now George Bush, Republican blood is out there, so they're pursuing it...."
     Woodruff countered: "By the way, on the Juanita Broaddrick question I think that some members of the press did pursue that, but we don't really don't have time to get into that."
     Bennett: "Very few, very few. I'm mean you've got an army pursuing this."

     Very few indeed. Two days after Broaddrick's Dateline interview in February, CNN's Inside Politics did run a story about feminist reaction followed by a related interview segment. That and a mention earlier in the week by Howard Kurtz were all the show did then on Broaddrick. The night Clinton was asked at a press conference about Broaddrick, on March 19, CNN's The World Today gave the issue a piddling 13 seconds.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) David Gregory shut down references to Juanita Broaddrick on a second network last Thursday, but he couldn't stop the sports news guy for Imus in the Morning, Bernard McGuirk, from demanding that NBC's David Bloom explain why reporters are not pushing Clinton about Broaddrick. When McGuirk noted how "there have been rumors that the President has done drugs in the White House in the past seven years or so," Bloom incredibly castigated him: "With all due respect, Bernard, you're saying, you're repeating those rumors completely unsubstantiated on a program like this."

     -- On CNBC's Rivera Live on August 19 guest Grover Norquist asserted: "I think there is a double standard here. There are people who have testified that Bill Clinton has used cocaine and the press has not hounded him on the question. There's a woman who said he raped her and the press hasn't asked him repeatedly the question."
     Substitute host David Gregory shot back: "That's not accurate! That's not accurate!"

     Of course, it is accurate. See comments after the Imus item below for more details as well as the August 20 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#1

     This was Gregory's second time in a few hours to shut down talk of Broaddrick. As noted in the August 20 CyberAlert, Thursday afternoon on MSNBC he cut off the RNC's Cliff May the second he raised her name in an attempt to illustrate the media's double standard.

     -- Friday morning, August 20, NBC's David Bloom appeared on the Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC. Tipped off by CyberAlert Massachusetts correspondent Eric Darbe, MRC intern Ken Shepherd located when the show's Bernard McGuirk pressed the NBC reporter who the day before demanded Bush explain his drug history back to his 18th birthday.

     McGuirk suggested: "Well, what's good enough for the presidential candidate is good enough for the President. And there have been rumors that the President has done drugs in the White House in the past seven years or so. How come no one is going to ask him about those rumors? 'And are they true? Did you do drugs?'"
     Bloom replied: "First of all, I think that, I mean, with all due respect, Bernard, you're saying, you're repeating those rumors completely unsubstantiated on a program like this, I think proves the point about why you don't want to go down this path. And why we as journalists, at least I count myself in that number, ought to not talk about things that we don't know whether or not they're true or at least there's some basis for believing they're true."

     Amazing. There is no allegation on the table against Bush, but that didn't stop Bloom, who applied this reasoning: "Again, my point is, I don't think we have a right to ask questions when we don't have a shred of evidence other than a candidate's refusal to answer the question that something is true. But as I say, the Governor put this into play by saying, okay, those kind of questions are legitimate. I don't think we should ask questions of the President, of Gov. Bush, of any other Republican candidate, of the Vice President unless we have some solid basis."

     McGuirk pressed ahead: "With all due respect, how about the Juanita Broaddrick rape question?"
     Bloom got agitated: "No, no, no, I think that's, as you well know, NBC News took a long, hard time looking at that question and when there was some basis for believing that her allegations might be true, we then did the story and we asked the President about it."
     McGuirk: "And he never answered the question..."
     Bloom: "That's true."
     McGuirk: "And then he got a pass on that."
     Bloom: "Well, no, you don't get a pass. What happens is, we can't stand up, I mean, it's not right to stand up at every single news conference month after month after month after month and get the same no comment answer."
     McGuirk: "Unless you're junior Bush."
     Then Imus got into it: "Wait, shut up Bernard. David, we are well aware of that, I don't think Bernard is entirely serious so we were just trying to jerk your chain a little bit."

     Reality Check: Despite the fact NBC got a network exclusive with its February 24 Dateline interview with Broaddrick, NBC Nightly News has yet to air a single story on her charge. At a March 19 press conference one reporter, Sam Donaldson, asked Clinton about her allegation. Bloom handled the news conference story for the March 19 NBC Nightly News but refused to mention Broaddrick. Clinton has held several press conferences since, but not one reporter has bothered to utter the name Juanita Broaddrick.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz focused Monday on how ABC News used George Stephanopoulos as a reporter for the Republican Iowa straw vote. Sound familiar? The August 17 CyberAlert relayed:
     "All weekend he [George Stephanopoulos] served as ABC's lone analyst of the Iowa straw poll. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that he appeared solo, without Bill Kristol, on both the Friday and Monday Good Morning America as well as live from Iowa on Saturday's World News Tonight. In addition, Sunday's This Week opened with a live report from him..."

     Kurtz began his August 23 item:
     "During the Iowa straw poll, ABC News had an aggressive reporter on the scene who covered the event for Good Morning America, World News Saturday and This Week. His name: George Stephanopoulos.
     "That's right, the same guy who helped run Bill Clinton's campaign against George W. Bush's father in 1992, and who plotted White House strategy against Elizabeth Dole's husband in 1996. Stephanopoulos declared Bush, Dole and Gary Bauer to be the big winners in Ames."

     Kurtz did add some fresh information about how the President of ABC News praises the "increasing strength and maturity" displayed by Stephanopoulos:
     "After 3 1/2 years of limiting Stephanopoulos to political commentary, ABC has decided to give the former White House aide a larger on-air role -- and cast him as more of a straight journalist.
     "'We're all conscious of the sensitivity with him having been part of the news in Washington,' says ABC News President David Westin. 'Are his past and his connections likely to affect his reporting, or likely to be perceived as affecting his reporting? You have to take it case by case.'
     "For instance, says Westin, 'we wouldn't have him be the beat reporter on the Gore campaign.' (Whew.) Hailing Stephanopoulos's 'increasing strength and maturity,' he adds: 'There has been a history of people not growing up in journalism becoming journalists.' Westin cites NBC's Tim Russert, a onetime Democratic operative, as an example."

     Another Democrat. Imagine the outrage if ABC News had George Will or Bill Kristol serve as a reporter for a big Democratic party event between Clinton and Bradley.

     Or, as the MRC's Tim Graham contended in an August 18 AP piece on Stephanopoulos by David Bauder: "'I think conservatives look at this administration like the Nixon administration,' Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, said. 'I don't think the liberals would have abided by the idea of an ABC News correspondent being (Nixon aide) Ron Zeigler."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) A Washington Post reporter misleading described a left-wing group as "a nonpartisan policy and research institute."

     "Reforms to Welfare Hurt Poor, Study Says," announced a front page headline in Sunday's Denver Post. But good luck figuring out who conducted the study and where they are coming from politically. The Denver Post headline appeared over a Washington Post story by Kathy Sawyer. In the Washington Post it ran on page 7 and carried this headline: "Poorest Families Are Losing Ground: Female-Headed Households' Gains Erode as Welfare Reform Starts, Study Says."

     Now, notice how she buried the basic who and why facts.

     Paragraph 1: "Welfare reform has depressed the income of some of the nation's poorest families in recent years despite a robust U.S. economy, according to a new study."

     Paragraph 2: "The report released yesterday cautioned against 'pronouncing welfare reform an unqualified success' even though there have been dramatic declines in the welfare rolls and an overall increase in employment and earnings among poor families. It concluded that 'too much emphasis has been placed on caseload reduction and insufficient attention paid to income and poverty outcomes.'"

     Paragraph 3: "One of the main problems, many analysts have said, is that some families eligible for food stamps are not getting them after they leave the welfare rolls, although it is not clear why. In 1995, 88 percent of poor children received food stamps, compared with 70 percent last year."

     Paragraph 4: "'I think we need a midcourse correction,' said Wendell Primus, lead author of the study, which he called the most comprehensive look to date at family income and child poverty under the reforms."

     Paragraph 5: "A former official in the Department of Health and Human Services, Primus resigned to protest President Clinton's signing of the welfare bill three years ago today."

     Finally, in paragraph 6 we learn who issued the study: "The study was released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute."

     Conservative groups can only dream of such unchallenging news stories with such generic labeling that avoids ideology.  -- Brent Baker


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