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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday September 9, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 151)   

Gullible for Hillary; Stephanopoulos Raised Bush Drugs with Bradley

1) "I can't imagine people being gullible enough to buy any of it," Fox's Brit Hume remarked about Hillary's new anti-pardon position, but ABC fell for it. NBC lamented "how hard it is for the First Lady to run for office while her husband is President."

2) Geraldo Rivera complained about how Hillary and others "remain deaf to the President's compassionate and common sense proposal."

3) Good Morning America had George Stephanopoulos conduct its interview with Bill Bradley. He tagged Bradley and Gore "cerebral and centrist" and promoted Jesse Jackson's hit on George W. Bush for hypocrisy over drug use, an angle never raised with Clinton.

4) Viacom's Showtime to re-air Strange Justice. Star Mandy Patinkin proclaimed "I wanted to make Anita Hill's truth...come through." The producer maintained the book was not liberal because the authors worked for the Wall Street Journal.

     >>> Latest Notable Quotables now online. The September 6 edition of NQ, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, has now been posted on the MRC Web site thanks to Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell. Quote topic headings include: "The Rumor We Won't Let Die..."; "...Unlike Any Clinton Allegations"; "Clinton Rape? Don't Go There!"; "Couric Finds the Character Issue"; "Cronkite's Utterly Apolitical PBS"; and "Our Feeding Frenzy on Bush and Coke? Hey, Blame Republicans." To read the issue, go to: http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990906.html <<<

     >>> MagazineWatch also now on the MRC home page. Compiled this week by Tim Graham, the September 7 issue highlights these subjects in the September 13 editions of the weekly news magazines:
1. As Bill Bradley prepares to formally announce his presidential campaign, Newsweek acted like a fanzine, calling him "straight out of Boys' Life" and "Jimmy Stewart in satin shorts." They didn't confuse people by noting Mr. Boy Scout's attempt to get to Gore's left on gays or his recent meeting with black radical Al Sharpton.
2. U.S. News and Time attempted to trace Hillary's ever-changing strategic positioning on clemency for Puerto Rican terrorists. Time claimed Hillary's power is on the wane: "Hillary's value to them will never be greater than it is now."
3. The Clintons bought a big house with a pool, in a neighborhood with a median income Democrats would call "super-rich," but Newsweek celebrated the new digs and their ethically questionable financing. That's not quite the way they handled Nancy Reagan.
4. U.S. News discovered the gay-activist documentary It's Elementary is threatening the PBS racket in Idaho.
5. The other Chris Farley (Time's entertainment writer) praised Chris Rock's "hard truths" that cut through "mediagenic spin." Like: Clinton's perjuries about sex were "common sense"?
     To read the issue, go to: http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/magwatch/mag19990907.html <<<

Correction: The September 2 CyberAlert quoted CBS News reporter Jim Stewart as saying in a story about the pardons: "What has federal lawmen so exorcized about this case, is that they feel the White House isn't listening to them." I missed a transcribing error. They weren't "exorcized." They were "exercised."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)After largely ignoring throughout August Clinton's decision announced August 11 to pardon 16 FALN Puerto Rican terrorists, this week the networks finally focused on the issue, with ABC getting around to its first story. Network shows which ignored opposition to the decision decided the issue was newsworthy only after Hillary Clinton said she opposed the deal.

     But instead of portraying Hillary's new line as a crass political maneuver or questioning her ludicrous claim that she did not know about her husband's decision beforehand, ABC twice relayed her opposition without any caveats. NBC's Andrea Mitchell at least recognized how she did a "flip-flop," though Mitchell also painted her as a victim of her husband's presidency.

     (As noted in the September 2 CyberAlert, on August 30 the CBS Evening News ran its first piece and NBC's Today caught up the next morning. Only FNC covered an August 23 news conference by New York City police officers blinded and injured by FALN bombs and even CNN only gave 21 seconds on the August 27 World Today to a New York Times story that day about how federal law enforcement officials opposed the release.)

     On the September 5 Fox News Sunday Brit Hume admired Hillary's gall and expressed his befuddlement at how anyone could be gullible enough to buy her new line:
     "You have to give the Clintons credit. They will try anything. First of all you have this clemency deal which all law enforcement agencies oppose and has this terrible aroma about it, but particularly with Mrs. Clinton seeking a Senate seat, or likely to, and they try it anyway in hopes, it seems to me fairly clearly, of courting favor with some group there. The thing backfires, at which point you have this: Mrs. Clinton comes forward and says, I didn't know, my husband never told me, I didn't know. And so, and now she gets to, and she's going to back out of the deal, expecting that A, we'll believe it was a clean thing the first time and second, we'll believe that she didn't know anything about it. I can't imagine people being gullible enough to buy any of it."

     But some network reporters have bought it.

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. On September 5 ABC finally aired its first morning or evening story, reported MRC analyst Jessica Anderson. Anchor Carole Simpson straightforwardly stated:
     "The President and First Lady aren't exactly seeing eyeto eye this Sunday. The issue: clemency for a group of Puerto Ricanactivists. ABC's Andrea McCarren explains."
     McCarren bought Hillary's new line: "More than three weeks after President Clinton offered clemency to 16 Puerto Rican activists, the First Lady is calling on her husband to withdraw the offer immediately. The White House has given the jailed nationalists until Friday at 5pm to renounce violence and agree to parole conditions, including restrictions on their travel and political activism."

     After a soundbite from spokesman Howard Wolfson and a brief review of what the FALN did, McCarren got to all the criticism ABC refused to report in August:
     "President Clinton's clemency offer was widely criticized byeveryone from Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies. Some of the President's critics even accused him of using the clemency offer to help his wife's expected U.S. Senate bid from New York, home to about 1.3 million Puerto Ricans."

     -- Two nights later, on the September 7 World News Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings announced: "The White House announced today that a dozen Puerto Rican nationalists, imprisoned for conspiracy and weapons charges, have agreed to renounce violence in return for clemency offered by President Clinton. Mrs. Clinton, who's a very likely New York Senate candidate, has declared publicly against clemency."

     -- The next morning, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, ABC's Ann Compton portrayed Hillary not as a manipulator killing a trial balloon, but as a victim "caught in political quicksand," as if she had noting to do with creating the controversy. Compton asserted on the September 8 Good Morning America:
     "A lawyer for the jailed Puerto Ricans made it clear her clients are signing statements renouncing violence but they are definitely not giving up their fight for independence. This all leaves the First Lady caught in political quicksand. Her Senate campaign spokesman said Mrs. Clinton had no idea the Puerto Ricans had actually accepted the clemency condition two days before she declared the offer ought to be withdrawn. She is still in hot water in New York with Democratic elected officials. For Hillary Clinton, the political damage has already been done. This was a wake up call for her Senate team and for the political decision makers who worked for her husband as well."

     -- NBC Nightly News, September 7. Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell did at least acknowledge Hillary's "flip-flop," but Mitchell claimed it made her appear to be "pandering to more conservative voters," as if only conservatives disagreed with releasing terrorists, and painted her as a victim, maintaining the controversy shows "how hard it is for the First Lady to run for office while her husband is President."

     Brokaw announced: "And what could be an explosive issue for Hillary Clinton's New York Senate campaign, 12 Puerto Rican nationalists have indicated they will accept the president's offer of clemency. Mrs. Clinton at first approved of that offer, and then three weeks later urged the President to rescind it. It's a hot button in New York politics."
     Mitchell began: "An aftershock from terrorist bombs two decades ago. This time, a political explosion for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. The President's rare clemency offer, now accepted by 12 jailed Puerto Rican terrorists, but opposed, belatedly, by the First Lady -- and only after outcries from a powerful political group, law enforcement officials including the Justice Department, and victims, former police officers injured by one of the group's 130 attacks in the 1970s."

     After soundbites from a couple of victims and a clip of Joe Lockhart defending the offer, Mitchell concluded:
     "Political experts say the First Lady hurt herself by first supporting then opposing her husband's offer. And she gave no warning of her flip-flop to Hispanic politicians, giving the impression that she was pandering to more conservative voters. In fact one, New York Congressman Jose Serrano, now says he will no longer support her Senate bid. Others are also angry. Tonight, a top federal law enforcement official calls the clemency deal a, quote, 'travesty.' Another example of how hard it is for the First Lady to run for office while her husband is President."


Hillary Clinton's fresh opposition to the clemency offer upset Geraldo Rivera who called Bill Clinton's pardon offer a "compassionate and common sense proposal." MRC intern Ken Shepherd caught this commentary from Rivera on the September 7 Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
     "I really like the First Lady. If only Mrs. Clinton had asked me before her clumsy rejection of her husband, the President's proposed offer of clemency to the Puerto Rican radicals who have been behind bars going on 20 years now. Most people of Puerto Rican descent [points to self] agree with peacemakers ranging from Jimmy Carter to Nelson Mandela to Cardinal O'Connor that the President was right in trying to close this violent chapter in American history.
     "Now I covered the awful bombings of Fraunces Tavern back in the 1970s. While absolutely sympathetic to the innocent people killed and maimed in that and other cowardly attacks it must be pointed out that none of these separatists still behind bars were found guilty of any of those violent acts. Twelve of them, these are the twelve I'm talking about, have now renounced violence and they have agreed to all the President's conditions for their release. These radicals now command virtually zero, no political popular support among the Puerto Rican people and they never will again unless opportunistic politicians, whether they are married to the President or otherwise, while trying to show how tough they are on crime remain deaf to the President's compassionate and common sense proposal. Anyway that was my commentary."

     Can't imagine that a prisoner would ever lie to get out. If Rivera's so trusting of how they have renounced violence maybe he could agree to host them in one of his guest houses on his New Jersey or Massachusetts estates.

     (On O'Connor, while driving by New York City on Tuesday I heard WABC talk show host Sean Hannity read a letter from O'Connor's office denying that he ever supported clemency and explaining that several years ago he only had urged a review of the individual cases.)


steph0909.jpg (10603 bytes) ABC News allowed George Stephanopoulos to use his new perch as a "reporter" to hit Bill Bradley with criticism forwarded by the Gore camp and to promote Jesse Jackson's hit on George W. Bush for jailing people for using drugs as Bush supposedly did years ago.

     In a decision that raises more than "an appearance" of a conflict of interest, ABC assigned former Clinton-Gore campaign strategist and lying enabler Stephanopoulos to travel to Missouri to conduct a taped interview for Good Morning America with Bill Bradley, who announced his presidential bid later in the day on Wednesday. GMA did not have Bill Kristol interview George W. Bush when he stated campaigning in June and I wouldn't count on GMA having Kristol conduct the interview when Bush makes it official.

     As noted in the August 23 CyberAlert, that day the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported: "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." Kurtz quoted ABC News President David Westin as assuring him "we wouldn't have him be the beat reporter on the Gore campaign." Apparently, however, it's okay to have him hit Gore's primary opponent with Gore's campaign rhetoric.

     After starting by asking if he agreed with Al Gore's assessment that Bill Clinton is "one of our greatest Presidents," on the September 8 show Stephanopoulos called Bradley and Gore "cerebral and centrist" in hitting Bradley with a pro-Al Gore argument:
     "You've said that one of things that really distinguishes you from Vice President Gore is your life experience. Let me play devil's advocate. In your adult lives you've both served the better part of two decades in the Senate, both had reputations as cerebral and centrist, willing to tackle complex issues and the real difference in your adult lives is you spent ten years in the NBA. He spent eight years, or will be eight years, as Vice President."

     After asking Bradley to run down some policy differences with Gore, MRC analyst Mark Drake observed that Stephanopoulos then highlighted Jesse Jackson's attacks on George W. Bush:
     "The issue of privacy most recently in this campaign has been raised with the whole issue of George W. Bush and cocaine. Today Reverend Jesse Jackson said that George W. Bush should answer all these questions because of the double standard, he says because young black men are put in jail for the same offense. Do you agree with that?"

     Stephanopoulos followed up: "But I guess that's Reverend Jackson's point. He's saying that this is a criminal act and other people are thrown in jail for it."

     Same could be said of allegations about drug use by Bill Clinton or in relation to Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Bill Clinton raped her, two concepts yet to be raised in any interview conducted by Stephanopoulos or a more veteran member of the GMA reporting team.

     The next question from Stephanopoulos: "Many of your fellow candidates in the race, this year especially, talk a lot about their personal faith. In your memoir, you close with a very rich description of your spiritual journey. What role does faith play in your life now.?"

     Not exactly the kind of challenging questions conservatives get about religion and politics. But Stephanopoulos had to toss a few softballs. After all, he and Bradley are both Democrats.

     ++ See ABC once again raise the Bush drug interview as GMA has the gall to let Stephanopoulos do it. Later this morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell will post, in RealPlayer format, a clip of this interview. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org


Five more times this month, starting Thursday night, the soon-to-be owner of CBS News, Viacom, will broadcast its movie version of Strange Justice, the anti-Clarence Thomas/pro-Anita Hill book from 1994. Viacom-owned Showtime produced the new movie which first aired back on August 29.

     The plug for the film on Showtime's Web site does not disguise its political agenda: "Based on the book by Wall Street Journal reporters Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, this is the story of Clarence Thomas and his nomination to the Supreme Court. Just after he was nominated, his former subordinate charged him with sexual harassment. This is the part of the story that America never got to see -- what the Bush administration did to get Thomas into office at any cost."

     Indeed, Mandy Patinkin, who plays White House chief-of-staff Ken Duberstein, proclaimed in an August 29 Boston Herald "TV Plus" story: "I wanted to do this project because of a specific goal. I wanted to make Anita Hill's truth, which I believe is self-evident, come through."

     For a review of the book's left-wing take on the controversy, check out the November, 1994 Janet Cooke Award in MediaWatch which detailed how ABC's Prime Time Live promoted the liberal screed: http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1994/mw19941101jca.html

     You can watch a RealPlayer clip from the movie by going to: http://SHO.com/programplus/justice/justice.tin

     The film, which in addition to Mandy Patinkin, stars Louis Gossett, Jr., Delroy Lindo and Regina Taylor, will run several more times. Without reference to time zones, the Showtime Web site lists these re-play times:
-- 09/09/99, 8pm on Showtime
-- 09/11/99, 9:30pm on Showtime2
-- 09/12/99, 2pm on Showtime
-- 09/19/99, 5:30pm on Showtime2
-- 09/19/99, 3:40am on Showtime2

     An August 29 Boston Globe "TV Week" story by Ian Shapira included this ludicrous passage quoting Jacob Epstein, executive screenplay writer:
     "Epstein says he preserved the non-partisan quality of the book. 'Mayer and Abramson were Wall Street Journal reporters at the time, so they were hardly part of some left-wing hit squad,' he said. 'What I admired about the book was that it was non-ideological and fair -- Hill's camp didn't like it, and Thomas's camp didn't like it.'"

     Truly amazing that someone actually thinks that no Wall Street Journal reporter is liberal. Both reporters have since left the Journal, so could they now be liberal even in Epstein's mind? Abramson is now at the New York Times and Mayer moved on to the New Yorker where last year she violated Linda Tripp's privacy to misleadingly claim that on a clearance form she lied about an arrest as a teen, all in a liberal political effort to discredit Tripp. -- Brent Baker


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