CBS & NBC Got to Pardons; Clinton Raved About Woman from Past
1) ABC's WNT and GMA
have yet to mention Clinton's pardons for terrorists, but after nearly
three weeks the CBS Evening News and NBC's Today got to the story, though
NBC emphasized how Hillary has been "burned by a decision she says
was not her doing."
2) Nightline box score: One
show on George W. Bush and drug allegations; zero on Juanita Broaddrick's
charge against Clinton.
3) Tuesday night CBS re-ran
Dan Rather's gushing interview of Hillary Clinton: "Once a political
lightning rod, today she is political lightning."
4) The Boston Herald picked up
on speculation "about the identity of a 'beautiful' schoolteacher
from Arkansas whom President Clinton -- unbenownst to him -- was raving
about on the press center's PA system after his weekly radio
5) "If you don't want it
printed, don't let it happen."
Since the last CyberAlert six days ago, President Clinton's August 11
decision to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists finally generated some
television news network coverage beyond Fox News Channel, but some glaring
holes remain. ABC News, for instance, has yet to utter a word about it on
World News Tonight or Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
Last Friday when
the New York Times revealed how the FBI and U.S. Attorneys opposed the
releases, CNN gave the disclosure 21 seconds while ABC, CBS and NBC
ignored it just as all four networks and MSNBC skipped the August 23 press
conference by New York City police denouncing Clinton's plan which only
FNC found newsworthy. For a rundown of coverage through August 26, check
the August 27 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990827.html#1
This week began
with Meet the Press substitute moderator Stone Phillips raising the topic
with guests, though as is common with topics pressed by Tim Russert on
Sunday, neither Today or Nightly News had yet mentioned the subject.
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, CBS Evening News and CNN's The World
Today all run one story each this week, with both CBS and NBC treating
Hillary Clinton as the victim. CBS anchor John Roberts stressed how
"Republicans have pounced on a new issue to use against her. It
involves a decision made by her husband." In his story run on Today
and MSNBC Fred Francis concluded the controversy has left "the First
Lady burned by a decision she says was not her doing." While all of
the stories relayed the White House spin that none of those to be pardoned
committed murder, FNC's Carl Cameron uniquely pointed out that "since
they've been locked up all the bombings have stopped."
-- New York Times
disclosure largely ignored. To go through coverage in date sequence we'll
start with last Friday's front page story in the New York Times. Reporter
David Johnston began his August 27 piece:
A wide range of federal law-enforcement
agencies that were asked to review a clemency petition filed by imprisoned
members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group unanimously opposed any
leniency in the weeks before President Clinton offered to commute the
sentences of 16 members of the militant organization, officials said
The clemency petition was flatly opposed by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Prisons and United
States Attorneys in Illinois and Connecticut, the officials said.
Though their opposition was mentioned in a
final report from the Justice Department to the White House, that report
made no specific recommendation, as such reports often do. Instead, the
report on the 16 members of the militant Puerto Rican independence group
known as the FALN, for Armed Forces of National Liberation, contained what
law-enforcement officials said was a more carefully worded analysis that
presented the President with multiple options for each prisoner, from
unconditional release to no leniency whatsoever.
The officials said that presenting the
White House with a multiple-choice format was highly unusual for the
highly confidential clemency reports, and suggested a diversity of views
within law-enforcement agencies that did not exist. The officials, who
said they were troubled by the decision, acknowledged that they had no
evidence that anyone at the Justice Department or the White House had
intentionally sought to distort the decision-making process....
Federal law-enforcement officials have not
publicly addressed the issue, but have bitterly complained in private
about the President's Aug. 11 decision, which one senior official said
left law-enforcement officials "stupefied" and
"outraged" by the conditional offer of clemency....
In their recommendations, F.B.I. officials
complained about granting leniency to members of a militant group that had
claimed responsibility for terrorist acts at a time when the United States
was engaged in a worldwide battle against terrorism. Officials at the
Bureau of Prisons, who monitor the FALN members' visits, telephone calls
and letters, concluded that if they were released from prison, they might
resume their criminal behavior even after renouncing it....
Coverage? Zilch on
he broadcast network morning and evening shows on Friday night. CNN's The
World Today, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed, delivered this 21-second item
from anchor Joie Chen:
"The New York Times reports federal law
enforcement agencies unanimously oppose clemency for 16 Puerto Rican
militants, which was granted by President Clinton. The independence
seekers were convicted in a series of bombings in the United States from
1974 to 1983. Human rights groups had complained their sentences were too
harsh. None of the activists has accepted the President's offer of
leniency. Republicans speculated the President acted to help his wife,
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, to court New York's Puerto Rican vote,
which the White House denies."
-- FNC and CBS
picked up on threats of renewed violence. In a brief Periscope item, the
September 6 Newsweek reported: "The most damning evidence against the
nationalists, Newsweek has learned, is still-secret audiotapes made by the
Bureau of Prisons. The tapes record at least some of the prisoners saying
that 'as soon as they get out of there, they were going to return to
violence,' one law-enforcement official said. As a result, the Bureau of
Prisons -- which rarely participates in pardon and clemency debates --
strongly recommended against leniency. This position was endorsed by the
FBI and former federal prosecutors who brought the cases against the
The Monday, August
30, Fox Report ran a full story and that night CBS became the first
broadcast network to mention the subject on a morning or evening show.
Instead of seeing the matter as a controversy in which many think Bill
Clinton is doing wrong, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts portrayed
Republicans as the aggressors who have "pounced" on something
Hillary Clinton had no control over. As transcribed by MRC analyst Brian
Boyd, Roberts intoned:
"President and Mrs. Clinton went to the
state fair today, the New York State Fair in Syracuse. Hillary Clinton was
introduced as someone New Yorkers could soon call their own. The First
Lady talked like a candidate saying upstate New York has been left behind
in economic growth. Mrs. Clinton still has not said officially whether she
will run for the U.S. Senate from New York. Whether or not the First Lady
is running, Republicans have pounced on a new issue to use against her. It
involves a decision made by her husband."
the Newsweek disclosure and noting how many believe Clinton made the
decision in order to help his wife gain popularity amongst New York Puerto
Ricans, CBS reporter Jim Stewart concluded with some tough assessments:
"The 16 inmates offered the clemency however were not linked to any
crimes resulting in death or injury. Former New York policeman, Richard
Pastorella, lost his sight to one of the groups bombs."
Richard Pastorella: "The clemency offer
without a doubt should be rescinded. I think President Clinton was very
badly informed and I think he exercised very, very poor judgment in this
Stewart: "What has federal lawmen so
exercised about this case, is that they feel the White House isn't
listening to them. How do we fight a war on terrorism, one complained,
when they turn around and grant clemency to terrorists."
-- ACU ad captured
attention of Today and MSNBC. "The firestorm growing over the
President's offer of clemency to 16 Puerto Rican prisoners is scorching
the First Lady," NBC's Fred Francis noted in opening an August 31
Today story prompted by a conservative TV ad. The Francis story also ran
later Tuesday on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Mark
In his brief
story, like CBS's Stewart, Francis played a week-old clip from the August
23 New York police press conference:
"A television ad running today in the Finger
Lakes region of New York, where Mrs. Clinton is vacationing and
campaigning, is paid for by the American Conservative Union. Other critics
call the President's action a thinly veiled attempt to win the Puerto
Rican vote for his wife, especially since he went against the judgment of
the FBI and virtually all police departments."
Howard Safir, New York City Police Commissioner:
"This type of action will encourage terrorism worldwide. We should
never make deals with terrorists."
Francis: "Freedom for the imprisoned is a
passionate cause in Puerto Rico, where many feel the members of the
separatist group got long sentences, one 90 years for sedition, robbery
and firearms violations. The White House says the only motive in offering
clemency is compassion."
Following a soundbite from Democratic U.S. Rep.
Louise Slaughter, Francis concluded: "The prisoners have yet to
answer the White House offer, leaving the President on the defensive,
critics in Congress calling for an investigation and the First Lady burned
by a decision she says was not her doing."
Congressman Vito Fossella's plan to investigate noted only by FNC. Tuesday
night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume as well as the Fox Report
Carl Cameron told viewers:
"New York Republican Congressman Vito
Fossella stopped short of accusing the President of trying to bolster his
wife's political hopes by offering freedom to jailed political terrorists,
but he promised Congress will subpoena documents and witnesses and the
facts, whatever they may show, will come out."
"Leaders from more than 13 local, state and federal law enforcement
agencies and associations from around the country, representing hundreds
of thousands of members, denounced the President's offer of clemency. The
President of the Fraternal Order of Police, himself Hispanic, worried
aloud that Mr. Clinton's offer was designed to help his wife's Senate
After his story
aired on Special Report with Brit Hume the anchor of the same name pointed
out: "But Carl, the White House says that these, these people that
are involved did not, were not engaged in any cop-killing."
Cameron uniquely observed: "They do say
that, and in fact, they weren't convicted directly to these particular
bombings. But as one law enforcement officer said today, since they've
been locked up all the bombings have stopped."
September 1, CNN's The World Today ran a full story on the pardons
controversy, but we're still waiting for a mention on ABC's World News
Tonight, Nightline or GMA, or on NBC Nightly News.
Nightline box score: Juanita Broaddrick 0, George W. Bush/drugs 1. A
tidbit I forget to mention in the last CyberAlert: The Tuesday, August 24
Nightline focused on the controversy over whether Bush ever used cocaine
and whether he should be forced to answer the media's questions about his
alleged drug use history.
But, as confirmed
for me by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Nightline has yet to do a show on
Juanita Broaddrick's charge, revealed in February, that Bill Clinton raped
her in 1978.
Tuesday night on 60 Minutes II CBS re-ran Dan Rather's May 26 slobberfest
with Hillary Clinton. He added a fresh opening and CBS ran a shorter
version, but otherwise viewers were treated to the same gushing tribute.
And Hillary's potential Senate candidacy benefitted again from the kind of
free media promotion Rudy Giuliani can only dream about.
As cited in the
May 27 CyberAlert, amongst the comments and "questions" uttered
-- "For whom do you root, the Mets or the
-- "First Lady Hillary Clinton is a
-- "Once a political lightning rod, today
she is political lightning."
-- "It's hard to know what keeps her going
through marital problems made public, political fights turned ugly,
through triumphs, disasters and always the demands of her work."
-- "The agenda she lays out seems downright
old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and
-- "What are the possibilities that one day,
some day you'll run for President?"
-- "Of all the allegations, accusations,
charges made what do you consider to be the most unfair attack?"
And even all that
does not adequately communicate the full adulation of the piece. To read
additional excerpts and to view a clip of the interview, in RealPlayer
format, go to the May 27 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990527.html#4
"Bubba Bubbles Over for Teacher," announced the headline over an
August 29 item in the Boston Herald's Inside Track gossip column by Gayle
Fee and Laura Raposa. Bill Clinton is still hitting on the babes and since
I suspect this garnered little, if any, attention elsewhere I thought I'd
pass along a recitation of what occupies his mind.
Vineyard, where Clinton was vacationing, the two Herald reporters relayed:
EDGARTOWN -- The big question on everyone's
mind yesterday wasn't the absence of presidential pooch Buddy at Martha's
Vineyard Airport. It was about the identity of a "beautiful"
schoolteacher from Arkansas whom President Clinton -- unbenownst to him --
was raving about on the press center's PA system after his weekly radio
Let's set the stage: Bubba, who we all know
just loves the ladies, finished greeting his 80 guests, who were invited
to the Edgartown School in the morning to hear the prez talk about charter
schools and take his weekly whack at the GOP.
After the meet-and-greet, Clinton was
getting ready to tape a spot about drunken driving when someone flicked on
his mike a little too early. The media mob, which was filing stories and
radio feeds in the school gym, overheard the commander in chief telling
someone about a "beautiful" blast from his past!
The woman, who -- surprise, surprise -- was
unknown to Clinton's aides, was a teacher the prez said he knew 25 years
ago. The mystery gal was an ardent Democrat, he gushed. And she worked
hard for him in his home state. The prez said the old pal was on the
island because she had "some kind of time-share deal" in
Falmouth (which he pronounced Fawlmouth.)
"She was a great friend of mine,"
he said into the mike before switching gears. "Are we ready?
The feed -- the proverbial manna from
heaven for the Track -- caused a mad media scramble to find out just who
the prez was talking about. But the White House press people played dumb.
Anyway, the first family fled Martha's
Vineyard earlier than expected yesterday to fly to New York's Westchester
County to check out some prospective post-presidential pads before
traveling to the chi-chi Hamptons for a fundraising weekend....
After the pitstop in Westchester, the first
family headed to the haute Hamptons to rub elbows with lots of pols,
Democratic National Committee chiefs and Hollywood heavies like Steven
Spielberg and Alec Baldwin.
Chic clothing designer Vera Wang is
throwing a fundraiser for Hillary and the DNC at her swish Southampton
digs today. And during the weekend, the Clintons will be entertained at
various functions by Phoebe Snow, the Fugees' ex-front man Wyclef Jean,
Jon Bon Jovi and comedian Jon Stewart.
Finally, another item I forgot to mention last week after returning from a
few days in Aspen, Colorado -- The rather aggressive, in your face, front
page motto run by the Aspen Daily News: "If you don't want it
printed, don't let it happen."
Maybe I could
adopt that for a CyberAlert slogan, something like: "If you don't
want your bias documented, don't let it happen." --
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