Beatty Not Liberal; Morris Distorted on "Airhead"; Clinton's Spittle
1) ABC's George
Stephanopoulos approved of Gore's campaign reorganization while NBC's
Andrea Mitchell stood in front of Gore's real boyhood home. Peter
Jennings insisted: "China, today, is hardly a communist
2) CBS and NBC refused to call
Warren Beatty a liberal, but in their stories about his possible
presidential bid they both tagged as "conservative" columnist
3) Contrary to Katie
Couric's claim that Edmund Morris concluded Reagan was "an
airhead," he told her Wednesday: "I did not call him an
airhead." In fact, he decided Reagan "was a very bright
4) When IBD's Paul Sperry
dared to ask Bill Clinton about the FBI's Chinese money probe being
thwarted, Clinton "blew up" and Sperry got a ten minute tirade
from a foot in front of his face.
The September 29 CyberAlert item about the NBC drama The West Wing
reported that "controversy ensues after Deputy Chief-of-Staff 'Toby
Lyman' says to a Ralph Reed-type character, named 'Mary,' on a TV
show: 'Lady, the God you pray to is too busy being indicted for tax
fraud.'" As he is subsequently referred to, the character's name
is "Josh" Lyman. The Communications Director is "Toby
Wednesday night Gore's announcement that he's moving his campaign
offices to Nashville, and challenge to Bill Bradley to debate, led ABC's
World News Tonight, CNN's The World Today and the NBC Nightly News. The
CBS Evening News went first with the spread by birds of the West Nile
virus. FNC's Fox Report led with a topic skipped by ABC, CBS and NBC:
Gary Bauer denouncing a rumor about him having an affair.
ABC viewers also
learned from Peter Jennings that China is no longer communist, as he ended
"Finally this evening, part history and part
myth. It was fifty years ago this week that the People's Republic of
China came into being, Mao Tse-Tung its founding father. China's going
all out to celebrate the triumphs of the communist revolution and ignore
its failures. And all the ceremony will also ignore the fact that China,
today, is hardly a communist country."
Litke then proceeded to compare and contrast the village of Nanjie, which
follows communist rules, and Huaxi, where the residents are capitalists
and among China's wealthiest.
On the Gore front,
the story by ABC's John Cochran featured the view of just one analyst,
former Clinton/Gore enabler turned ABC News analyst George Stephanopoulos,
who approved: "Anything that helps people to take a second look, that
gives them a reason to say let me take another look at Al Gore, is good
for this campaign right now because the people have so far, especially in
the key state of New Hampshire, stopped listening."
CBS's Dan Rather
offered only a brief item on Gore, but pointed out: "In the
background criticism, some of it inside the Gore camp, that his
Washington-based operation is too-insular, too top heavy and too
Over on the NBC
Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw observed: "This was unprecedented
maneuver for a candidate who's still the odds-on favorite."
Andrea Mitchell concluded her piece by pointing
out that Tennessee is really not Gore's home. As she stood in front of
the hotel at 2100 Massachusetts Ave. NW in Washington, DC, once known as
the Ritz Carlton, she intoned: "But can Al Gore, who grew up in that
Washington luxury hotel when his father was a Senator, get people to
believe he's really an outsider? Experts say that's a tough sell.
Still, Gore is ahead in national polls and advisers say he's finally on
a wartime footing, facing in Bill Bradley a much tougher opponent than
anyone had expected."
CBS and NBC couldn't bring themselves to apply an ideological label to
Warren Beatty, but both made sure viewers realized that columnist Arianna
Huffington is "conservative," though she's probably a lot less
conservative than he is liberal. Wednesday night the CBS Evening News and
NBC Nightly News profiled Beatty, who at the time was hours away from
making a speech in Beverly Hills, but only indirectly raised his
liberalism. To make the labels that were uttered easy to find, I've put
them in ALL CAPS below.
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather's intro avoided any ideological labels. Reporter Jerry
Bowen opened his piece:
"He wouldn't be the first actor to run for
President. He has candidate charisma to burn and his past womanizing is
already public knowledge. But Warren Beatty for President? Even some
Washington insiders are intrigued, asking why not?"
Following a laudatory soundbite from Jesse
Jackson Jr., Bowen continued:
"As Gore and Bradley sound more and more
alike, almost Republican goes the theory, life-long Democrat and activist
Beatty is seen as the one person who can champion the social issues that
LIBERALS believe are being ignored -- at least that's the way it played
over dinner this summer at Arianna's."
Arianna Huffington, identified on-screen as
"CONSERVATIVE columnist," recalled: "Someone at the table,
I don't remember who, said to him then why don't you run and dramatize
refused to apply a label to Beatty: "Those who bought tickets got a
taste of Beatty's platform in Bulworth, his movie about a Senate
candidate who goes over the edge campaigning against big money party
politics as usual."
Beatty rapping in Bulworth: "....as long as
you can pay I'm going to do it all your way. Yes the money talks and the
But Bowen made sure viewers knew Huffington's
ideology: "CONSERVATIVE columnist Huffington also believes the two
party system is broken."
In the soundbite Huffington claimed the two-party
system "desperately needs shaking up." Lou Cannon told Bowen
that Beatty allows voters to have a "romantic fling" with a more
interesting candidate. Bowen then concluded: "Beatty is making what
is billed as a major political speech tonight here in Beverly Hills and
may hint at whether he's a serious candidate or just Bulworth."
-- NBC Nightly News. As with Rather, in
introducing the story Tom Brokaw did not label Beatty. Bob Faw began his
profile with an overview of Beatty's life that skipped his ideology, but
Faw didn't miss a chance to tag Huffington:
"Tonight, Beverly Hills is getting ready for
a speech from Warren Beatty, a star celebrated for his romances off-screen
and on, an actor who wrote and directed a story about a politician who
claims to tell it like it is. Warren Beatty speaking out tonight on issues
he says others are ignoring, a candidate for President? That notion was
floated first by, of all things, a CONSERVATIVE Republican -- nationally
syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington."
Huffington: "A presidential race is a great
opportunity for having a story-teller bring the nation together around a
After a soundbite
from Beatty's wife Annette Bening on Today commenting on her husband's
intentions, Faw went on to at least note how Beatty has helped liberals
though Faw did not label him a liberal: "He's never held public
office before but he's worked and raised money for a host of Democratic
LIBERALS, a breath of fresh air says one-time presidential pollster, now
Hollywood screenwriter, Patrick Cadell."
Of course, Faw did not describe Caddell as
liberal either, but he made sure viewers knew that another person was a
"liberal-basher" as he relayed: "Just how serious is the
Beatty boom? After Beatty amassed just one percent in a recent California
poll, some long-time LIBERAL-BASHERS cackled."
MRC Chairman Brent Bozell, identified on-screen
as a "syndicated columnist," suggested: "Warren Beatty will
be the Andy Warhol candidate of the year 2000. He will have 15 minutes of
fame but he will run out of gas because there's no there there."
Faw concluded: "Still, if President Beatty
sounds far-fetched [clip of Reagan movie] remember voters have warmed to
other actors and in a celebrity-obsessed culture fame can cover a
multitude of sins. Stay tuned."
Reagan biographer Edmund Morris told Today's Katie Couric on Wednesday
that he never called Ronald Reagan "an airhead," which means
Couric distorted his assessment in order to impugn Reagan when she opened
Monday's Today by happily blurting:
"Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead!
That's one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that's
drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today, Monday, September
the 27th, 1999."
In the first day
of three days of interviews on Today, Couric spent most of her time on
September 29 quizzing Morris about the appropriateness of his fictional
characters. But she started out by telling him, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"There has been a lot of outrage expressed
by President Reagan's friends and associates about your use of the word
'airhead' to describe him. George Bush says it's 'brutal, grossly
unfair, untrue.' Ed Meese, former Attorney General, said it's 'not
fair, not true.' Marlin Fitzwater, former press secretary says it's
'totally inappropriate' to describe the former President that
Morris replied: "I agree with every single
one of those. It's brutal and grossly unfair. I did not call him an
airhead. The quote, as published first in the Washington Post, dropped the
word 'apparent' before 'airhead.' What I said in the book that appears
plainly on the page is I found him at first, 'an apparent airhead.' And
the whole course of the book makes quite obvious that that first
impression was wrong."
Couric: "So you do not believe today that
Ronald Reagan was an airhead?"
Morris: "Oh good God no! He was a very
bright man. At first I was surprised and dismayed by the apparent banality
of his conversation. I couldn't reconcile this, the utter ordinariness of
the private man with how magical he became when he stepped out in front of
Undeterred, Couric pressed on: "In fact what
you say Mr. Morris, in your words, from the book is, quote, 'What you see
is what you get, several of the above named intimates had warned me when I
asked about his hidden depths. Nevertheless I could not believe how little
one indeed got and how shallow those depths appear to be.' Are you saying
now this morning that you found President Reagan to have great
Morris: "'Shallow the depths appeared to
be.' You see he was all mystery. He seemed to be shallow. He seemed to
have no culture. He seemed to have, to be resistant to new ideas from
outside. He seemed all these things. One of the reasons it took me 14
years to write the book was to come to grips with this apparent simplicity
which concealed depths and depths, and depths."
Couric: "So you believe today that he is a
man of great depth or was?"
Morris: "Oh absolutely. He was a huge and
important man. He had, he had, a presidential mind. He was a statesman. He
kept himself to himself which was one of the reasons it was hard to
penetrate him. Ronald Reagan was a formidable person."
As for the
"airhead" quote Couric so eagerly repeated on Monday, the Today
writers sure picked an unusual way to open their September 27 show as the
misquote appeared on the jump page of a Washington Post story from five
days earlier. Today also had to skip over a more positive assessment to
find the airhead line. Look at how Washington Post reporter Linton Weeks
led into the airhead graph in his September 22 story:
Asked by American Enterprise magazine --
for an interview that will appear in its November-December issue -- what
was the biggest revelation in "Dutch," Morris replied,
"That Ronald Reagan was a massively substantial person of
considerably more deliberation and philosophical seriousness than he's
ever been given credit for."
At points in the book, however, Morris is
more dismissive of Reagan's intellect. He writes that he could not believe
how shallow Reagan's "hidden depths" appeared to be. He refers
to Reagan's frequent use of cue cards, to his deference to aides on
matters of substance, and to the often rambling answers the president gave
After following him around for seven
months, making friends with Reagan insiders such as Michael Deaver, Donald
Regan, George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, Morris writes that he was
stumped. "Dutch remained a mystery to me, and worse still -- dare I
entertain such a heresy, in the hushed and reverent precincts of his
office? -- an airhead."
According to what
Morris told Couric, he wrote "-- an apparent airhead." While
that clarification should hardly make Reagan fans any happier with
Morris's book or powers of perception, a reading of the original
Washington Post recounting makes obvious that Today and Couric distorted
Morris as he was referring to how he viewed Reagan in late 1985 after
following him around for a few months, a view he eventually realized was
Now for a little
Morris bashing courtesy of Couric, here's the next exchange in
Couric: "But do you think that many readers
might come away confused....You use semi-fictional characters. You for
example have a fictionalized version of yourself, a young Edmund Morris,
whose basically a contemporary of Ronald Reagan. He's the same age. He
observes him at college football games, has a job interview with him in
Hollywood. And he's even saved by Reagan when he was a lifeguard. Edmund
Morris is saved from drowning. There are a number of other..."
Morris, cutting her off: "You gave away my
Couric: "Oh sorry. There are a number of
other fictional characters. Well it is a memoir not a novel, right?"
Clinton "spittle" in the face. When Investor's Business
Daily's Washington Bureau Chief, Paul Sperry, dared to do what no other
Washington reporter would -- ask Clinton about campaign money from China
and the FBI's probe being subverted -- he was rewarded with ten minutes
of an angry Clinton yelling at him from barely a foot away.
The display of
Clinton's temper happened last Friday night on the White House South
Lawn at a jazz concert for Washington reporters.
Wednesday night on
FNC's The O'Reilly Factor Sperry recounted his experience, telling
Bill O'Reilly how while standing in a receiving line he asked Clinton
when he would next hold a press conference since "the American people
have a lot of unanswered questions." Sperry recalled that "at
that point he moved right square in front of me and basically got in my
face and said 'like what?' and at that point I took a big gulp."
Sperry asked him
about the campaign finance investigation and how four FBI agents two days
earlier had testified about their probe of him and Democrats being
suppressed. Sperry explained: "When I mentioned the FBI agents in
particular, and there was at least one other reporter there who witnessed
this, the Seattle Times reporter said he just 'blew his top.' He did.
He came unglued and said the FBI was basically saying that 'gee we need
to change the subject from Waco and get attention on the campaign finance
O'Reilly, Sperry confirmed Clinton "was shouting" and so he
was therefore getting hit in the face with "spittle, if you
will." Sperry added that Clinton "went into a tirade about Haley
Barbour" being the only person tied to Chinese money, a preposterous
claim. Sperry predicted: "I will not be going to the Easter Egg
+++ Hear Sperry
recount his encounter with a Clinton in full fury. About one hour after
this CyberAlert is sent Thursday morning, the MRC's Sean Henry and
Kristina Sewell will get up a RealPlayer clip of Sperry on FNC's
September 29 The O'Reilly Factor. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
In Monday's Seattle Times reporter James V.
Grimaldi, of the paper's Washington bureau, relayed what he witnessed.
Here's an excerpt from his September 27 story:
The President seemed buoyant and relaxed.
He was smiling, shaking hands and
socializing with reporters Friday night during the annual picnic for
members of the White House press corps when a guest asked, "When are
you going to have your next formal press conference, Mr. President?"
President Clinton kept shaking hands and
after a few moments said: "I don't know. I'll have one."
The reporter, Paul Sperry, Washington
bureau chief of Investor's Business Daily, asked, "When?"
The President replied, "Why?"
Sperry: "The American people have a
lot of questions about illegal money from China and the campaign-finance
Suddenly, the President's mood changed, his
face turned red and he launched into an argument that lasted nearly 10
minutes as he defended himself and the Democratic Party against
allegations of Chinese attempts to influence the 1996 U.S. presidential
During the extraordinary exchange, Clinton
suggested that Republicans were hypocrites on the subject of
campaign-finance violations. He complained about the length and cost of
the investigation and suggested that the FBI would prefer that the news
media report on political funding irregularities rather than questions
about the April 19, 1993, federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in
"We've spent $4 million and gave the
(campaign-finance) task force millions of records and every shred of
evidence, and they haven't found a thing," Clinton told Sperry.
Sperry replied that FBI agents who
testified before Congress this month raised serious allegations of
Department of Justice stonewalling on the campaign-finance matter and
reminded him that FBI Director Louis Freeh thought enough evidence existed
to call for an independent counsel.
At that, Clinton laughed and said,
"Yeah, the FBI wants you to write about that rather than write about
Clinton began his response to Sperry by
saying that Republicans were as sullied as Democrats by campaign-finance
allegations. "You want to know the only person who has been linked to
money from China? Haley Barbour and the RNC, that's who," he said.
He apparently was referring to allegations
by former Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung, who told investigators that
he was told by a Chinese contact that an aide to Barbour -- who was then
the Chairman of the Republican National Committee -- helped arrange a $2.1
million loan to Republicans with the help of the Chinese in 1994. The
aide's attorney has denied the allegation.
The President suggested that reporters were
bowing to an agenda set by Republicans and not following the issues the
people care about. "The GOP wants that to be the story rather than
guns or their tax plan," Clinton said.
Sperry replied that the public wanted
answers about the allegations of illegal contributions. But Clinton wasn't
buying it. "I've been all around this country, and you are the first
person to ask me about it," Clinton said. "Not one person has
brought that up."
The conversation got so heated that a White
House photographer attempted to end it. "This is so
inappropriate," the photographer said, defending the President.
"Mr. President, there is a nice little boy here who wants to shake
To read the entire
story, go to: http://www.seattletimes.com/news/nation-world/html98/clin_19990927.html
Sadly, Clinton is
probably right about one thing: This was the first time anyone asked him
recently about campaign finance or the charges made by the four FBI agents
as Sperry stands out in a Washington press corps uninterested in the whole
subject. Indeed, as detailed in the September 24 CyberAlert, of the TV
networks only FNC covered the troubling cover-up claims made by the FBI
agents. Not a word even on CNN's Inside Politics or in the New York
Times or Washington Post. For details on what the agents said about being
thwarted and what FNC and the Washington Times reported, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990924.html#2
Here's a prediction: Whenever Clinton does hold
a press conference no one will ask about the subverted FBI probe or China
money in general, unless Clinton mistakenly calls upon Sperry. --
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