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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday October 15, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 166)

Thwarted FBI Skipped; Wright's Fine Q Ignored by ABC & CBS; Clinton's 1991 Moral Concern

1) Just as predicted in CyberAlert, no reporter asked Clinton at Thursday's press conference about the charge by FBI agents that political appointees thwarted their probe of Chinese money. Instead, reporters worried about the CTBT loss.

2) CBS's Bill Plante asked Clinton about Judge Wright's fine, but the CBS Evening News ignored it as did ABC and CNN. ABC, CBS and NBC all gave twice the time to Clinton's attacks on the Senate as to Trent Lott's defense.

3) NBC Nightly News discovered "tough criticism" of the Clinton home loan, a controversy the show ignored back in September.

4) ABC's Linda Douglass promoted the Council for Economic Development, "a group of executives who are demanding that Congress put a stop to the growing demand" for campaign donations.

5) Back in 1991 a certain presidential candidate applauded a newsman's moral condemnation of Wilt Chamberlain for having sex with 20,000 women.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Donald Trump Campaign Slogans."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) I told you so. From the September 30 CyberAlert:
"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."

     Number of questions posed at Thursday's press conference about the charges by FBI agents that their probe of 1996 campaign money from China was thwarted? Zero.

     CyberAlert's prescient forecast came at the end of an item about the encounter on the South Lawn, at a September 24 jazz concert for reporters, between Investor's Business Daily Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry and President Clinton. CyberAlert recounted how on the September 29 O'Reilly Factor on FNC "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 probe.'"

     For more on this encounter and to see a RealPlayer clip of Sperry recalling it, go to the September 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990930.html#4

     The October 1 CyberAlert relayed some additional info: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19991001.html#7

     For details on what the FBI agents said, see item #2 in the September 24 CyberAlert: "In unprecedented testimony, FBI agents said the Justice Dept. thwarted their probe of Charlie Trie, but not a word about it on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC or CNN. Only FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume cared. Skipped too by the Washington Post and New York Times." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990924.html#2

     Now to Clinton's October 14 press conference held for an hour at 2pm ET. He responded to a total of 18 questions from 16 reporters (two asked follow-ups). Seven dealt with the Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with most of those assuming the opponents were in the wrong, starting with the very first inquiry from UPI's Helen Thomas:
     "Mr. President, hasn't the treaty rejection really wiped out our moral authority to ask other nations around the world to stop testing? And was there -- do you think there was a personal element in the Republican, a personal vendetta against you in the turn down -- Republican?"

     Here's a rundown, in sequence, of the other 17 questions, only one of which, from CBS's Bill Plante about Judge Susan Wright's assessment that Clinton lied, touched a scandal:

     -- Terence Hunt, AP: "...Do you agree with Vice President Gore's characterization of Bill Bradley as a disloyal Democrat? And how much of a difference would it make if Senator Bradley were the Democratic nominee instead of Vice President Gore?"
     -- Steve Holland, Reuters: Prospect of a war between India and Pakistan.
     -- Claire Shipman, NBC News, hit Clinton from the left in two questions, assuming the treaty was a good idea: "To what extent do you think that you and the White House bear some responsibility for the outcome of the vote yesterday? There have been a lot of people heavily involved -- supporters of this treaty -- who say the White House didn't begin an effective lobbying effort early enough. And I wonder whether you also think that the year of scandal played some role in that; that the White House was just unable to work on this the way it should have?"
     -- John King, CNN: "Mr. President, given the importance you've placed on this, why did you wait until 5:15 yesterday to first call the Senate majority leader? And as part of the same question, if you were the government of China and publicly stated on the record that you're looking to modernize your nuclear arsenal, why would you not take this now as a green light to test? And will you do anything to try to convince the Chinese not to do so?"

     -- Mark Knoller, CBS News: "Sir, just as you had experts saying -- advocating the ratification of the treaty, the Republicans had experts saying that the treaty was dangerous. Why can't you accept the vote as a good faith expression of that opposition rather than as a partisan attack?"
     To this first of two solid questions from CBS reporters, a smart-assed Clinton replied by impugning his political opponents, an answer not picked up in network reports later: "I have said every time that there were some Republicans who believed that in good conscience. The reason I can't accept it as only a matter of conviction are the following reasons. Number one, they had a lot of people committed who didn't know very much about the treaty, who were asked to commit before there was ever an argument made."

     -- Sara McClendon: sending troops overseas.
     -- Mara Liasson, NPR asked about the budget showdown: "....What is the way out of this box to avoid another government shutdown?"
     -- Susan Page, USA Today: "Mr. President, every four years the American people revise and adjust what they're looking for in the President they're about to elect, often in reaction to the President who's about to leave office. And I wonder if, looking ahead, what you think Americans are looking for in the President they'll elect next year, and if there are ways in which those qualities or qualifications are different from what they were looking for in 1992 and 1996 when you were elected?"
     -- Mary McGrory, Washington Post columnist: "Yes, sir. I was wondering if you have any plans to protect the ABM Treaty, which will almost certainly be the next target of the Senate Republicans, looking to start Star Wars."

     -- Bill Plante, CBS News, posing the only scandal-related question: "Mr. President, you've never commented on Judge Wright's decision that you intentionally lied in the Jones deposition. Do you accept her finding? And if not, why have you or your attorneys not challenged it?"
     Clinton dodged: "When I am out of office, I will have a lot to say about this. Until then I'm going to honor my commitment to all of you to go back to work. I haven't challenged anything, including things that I consider to be questionable because I think it is wrong. The American people have been put through enough and they need every hour, every day, every minute I can give them thinking about their business. And so, until I leave here, as I understand it now, all this is finished and I don't have to comment on it. And unless there is some reason I legally have to, I'm not going to say anything else that doesn't relate to my responsibilities as president as regards that. When I'm done, then I can say what I want to say."

     -- Unknown reporter asked two questions about how "the Republican argument is that arms control is an illusion and a delusion; that it lulls us into a false sense of security and that it drains our will to maintain our military might. What do think of those arguments?"
     -- John Cochran, ABC News: "Sir, isn't it wishful thinking for the Democrats to think they can beat up on the Republicans next year over this treaty vote? Yes, public opinion shows that most Americans do support the treaty, but you were not able, despite your 30-plus public appearances, you were not able to light a fire under public opinion. Can't the Republicans just walk away from this without any damage? Particularly in the post-Cold War era, isn't it true that Americans just don't worry about the nuclear threat?"
     -- Gretchen Cook, Agence France Presse: U.S. position at the WTO talks.
     -- Skip Thurman, Christian Science Monitor: The effectiveness of gun buyback programs.
     -- Japanese reporter: U.S. position on steel imports from Japan.

     If only Sam Donaldson were still around the White House maybe he'd have asked about the unprecedented charge, of investigative corruption, made by the FBI agents. After all, he was the only reporter to ask Clinton about Juanita Broaddrick.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Of Thursday night's broadcast evening shows, only NBC Nightly News mentioned Clinton's response to CBS reporter Bill Plante's question about Judge Wright's fine on him for lying in the Paula Jones case. The CBS Evening News ignored the question by their own reporter. Just after the press conference, on MSNBC Tim Russert told Brian Williams:
     "I think that question caught the President off-guard, Brian. He was not anticipating a question about the settlement in the Paula Jones case. He paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to make that case go away. And a federal judge said he lied under oath. He has a hard time accepting that, acknowledging it."

     Indeed, given the usual White House press corps interests and how they ignored the FBI charges, it's no wonder Clinton would be surprised by a tough question.

     Clinton's treaty views won the day on the October 14 evening shows, with both ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News running two of his soundbites compared to one from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. On NBC Nightly News the ratio was four-to-one. In introductions, only CBS's Dan Rather even mentioned Lott's reaction to Clinton's charges, but CBS reporter John Roberts relayed a third Clinton soundbite, blasting Republicans on the budget, without bothering to run a GOP retort.

     On the cable networks, both FNC's Jim Angle on the Fox Report and John King on CNN's The World Today delivered pieces with equal time on the CTBT for Clinton and Lott. (After Clinton finished, CNN and FNC showed Lott's response press conference, but not MSNBC which returned to more JonBenet coverage.) The two FNC and CNN evening shows ignored the Judge Wright question, but on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume Wendell Goler noted that "a question involving Paula Jones drew a presidential dodge." After King's story CNN followed with a piece about negative world reaction. Anchor Joie Chen announced in introducing it:
     "Canada's Foreign Minister says the defeat of the treaty is deeply disturbing in a world accustomed to U.S. leadership and the non-proliferation cause. That sentiment was repeated by other world leaders today, a sign that the treaty's defeat sends a potentially dangerous message. On the impact of the vote on U.S. credibility, CNN's Andrea Koppel."

     Now here' more detail on the October 14 broadcast network evening shows which, like CNN, relayed how other nations condemned the Senate decision but ignored one of the strongest arguments made by opponents -- that the most dangerous countries, such as Iraq and North Korea, would not sign the treaty or follow its rules.

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings ominously intoned:
     "...It was easily the most significant international treaty not to be ratified since the one which redesigned Europe after World War I. It was a particularly stinging rebuke for President Clinton. And today he accused the Republican leadership in the Senate of reckless partisanship."
     John Cochran began: "President Clinton was seething. He accused those rejecting the treaty of embracing what he called a new isolationism."
     After a clip of Clinton, Cochran continued: "China said the Senate's rejection will discourage other countries from ratifying the treaty, apparently including China. Russia accused the U.S. of undermining international stability. And from America's allies -- Britain, France and Germany -- expressions of regret and disbelief. President Clinton called the vote an amazing rebuke to our allies."
     Following a second Clinton soundbite ABC got to Lott: "Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said he based his vote not on what other countries think but on his belief that the treaty would permit others to cheat."
     Lott: "First of all, you don't win them all Mr. President. Sometimes you're wrong. We all make mistakes and I think he was wrong in this case."
     Cochran: "But Democrats think they have found a campaign issue. Just hours after the vote Al Gore had an ad ready to go."
     Cochran showed a clip of Gore's ad before concluding with the same point he made during the press conference: "But even President Clinton admitted Democrats may have trouble cashing in on the defeat of the treaty. With the end of the Cold War it is difficult to mobilize public opinion. Even when the issue is the threat of nuclear weapons."

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's top of the show tease at least mentioned the Lott counterpoint: "They were reckless and partisan says President Clinton as he blasts Senate Republicans for defeating the nuclear test ban treaty. Trent Lott says they voted their conscience."

     John Roberts started his story: "The President used some of his strongest language yet to denounce the Senate's defeat of the test ban treaty. He called it reckless partisanship, a move that turns its back on fifty years of American leadership against the spread of nuclear weapons and he vowed today to continue the fight."
     After a Clinton soundbite, Roberts continued with Clinton's take: "The President said the Senate action was a dangerous move toward isolationism, a signal that America increasingly cares only about itself. China called the rejection deeply worrying. Russia accused the United States of undermining world security."
     Following another bite of Clinton, Roberts got to the other side: "Senate Republicans reject the charge that they played politics and say the treaty simply did not guarantee America's future security."
     Roberts played a clip of Lott and then of Gore's ad before giving Clinton an uncontradicted platform: "The President also used his news conference to vent his frustrations on the current stalemate over the budget. A temporary measure to keep government functioning runs out next Thursday and seven of thirteen spending bills have not yet crossed the President's desk in a form that he will sign."
     Clinton: "They should stop playing politics, stop playing games, start making the necessary tough choices. Instead, we have the Republicans lurching from one unworkable idea to the next."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw's top of the show tease: "Fighting back: An angry President after an embarrassing defeat over nuclear weapons. Is this the real fallout of the White House scandals?"

     Over a "Fighting Back" graphic, Brokaw opened the show by declaring: "Good evening. It's hard to imagine the relations between President Clinton and the Republican majorities in Congress could be any worse. One day after the Senate delivered a humiliating defeat to the President by rejecting a nuclear test ban treaty the President lashed back, claiming the Republicans will now be to blame for a much more dangerous world."

     Claire Shipman began: "After suffering one of his most blistering foreign policy defeats, an angry and embarrassed President reacted today with dire warnings of what he calls a new isolationism." She then ran through four soundbites of Clinton at the press conference before getting to the GOP reaction and one soundbite for it:
     "But Republicans say the White House had plenty of time."
     Trent Lott: "So when it's argued that this was precipitous, they didn't know it was coming, they didn't have enough time, there wasn't enough hearings. That is all baloney."

     After mentioning the Gore ad, Shipman got to the only broadcast network citation of the Wright question: "On another subject, the President was asked about a fine he paid this summer for lying in the Paula Jones case."
     Clinton: "When I am out of office I will have a lot to say about this."

     Next, Brokaw brought aboard Tim Russert. Brokaw asked:
     "What about those charges that he didn't have enough time? How long has he known that this vote would be scheduled?"
     Russert explained: "Republicans and Democrats in Congress would point out that when Trent Lott said let's schedule this debate and vote, it took unanimous agreement from the Democrats in the Senate to do just that. So the White House had a good solid week to ten days to know this was coming. They realized too late, far too late that they didn't have the votes."

     But that's a lot milder than what MSNBC viewers heard at about 3:06pm ET when Russert told Brian Williams that what Clinton claimed "was not true." Russert observed: "The President said that this was a surprise, the scheduling and the timing of the vote. That's not true. The fact is the vote could not have come to the Senate floor without the unanimous consent of the Democrats in the Senate. They approved the timetable."

     FNC's Carl Cameron made the same point on Special Report with Brit Hume. But, of course, none of the evening show stories pointed out Clinton's whopper.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) What "controversy"? As noted in the September 13 CyberAlert, none of the broadcast networks picked up on complaints about the impropriety of the Clinton home mortgage loan guaranteed by Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe. But Thursday night, Tom Brokaw reported the Clintons have come up with a new financing plan after some "tough criticism" of their original plan, "tough criticism" NBC never now or earlier explained to viewers.

     On the October 14 NBC Nightly News Brokaw relayed:
     "The First Family has a new mortgage. After some very tough criticism of their original loan, which was guaranteed by a controversial Democratic fundraiser, the Clintons decided to get some conventional financing for their new home in New York. It's a thirty year adjustable rate loan through PNC Bank. After a down payment of $340,000 the mortgage is for $1,360,000. The interest rate for the first three years: 7.5 percent. The loan is secured by the property itself."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Businessmen are greedy and uncaring to most of the media -- see coverage of tobacco and HMOs -- unless they favor a liberal regulatory scheme to limit free speech and how much can be spent on campaigns, which thereby enhances the power of the media, and then they are thoughtful leaders worth profiling without a critical word.

     On Thursday's World News Tonight reporter Linda Douglass promoted the Council for Economic Development, a group of businesses pushing for the elimination of "soft money," currently the only way conservative candidates can raise enough money, given the onerous and never inflation-adjusted $1,000 direct donation limit rules, to overcome hostile media coverage.

     Douglass focused her one-sided October 14 piece on Texas company Cross Timbers Oil and how its President "says he is sick" of all the soft money requests. Steffen Palko asserted: "I think everyone is tired of the extortion, essentially, that occurs."
     Douglass pumped up the cause: "Palko is one of a group of executives who are demanding that Congress put a stop to the growing demand for money, beginning with a ban on those huge contributions called soft money. It is called the Committee for Economic Development and includes the names of some big name companies like Sara Lee, John Hancock and Phizer. Their crusade has put particular pressure on Republican leaders who oppose campaign finance reform and have traditionally been allied with business."
     Charles Kolb, CED: "Some people see this as a man bites dog story because you know it's the business community saying okay we're tired of this."
     Douglass concluded: "All of this has angered the Senate's chief Republican fundraiser, Mitch McConnell, who fired off a letter accusing one CEO of trying to 'eviscerate private sector participation in politics.' But instead of backing down the business group labeled McConnell's letter a veiled threat and used it to recruit one hundred more executives to support campaign reform."


osgood1015.JPG (9430 bytes)cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Bill Clinton concerned about having too much sex? Appearing on Wednesday's CBS This Morning to plug his new book of radio essays, See You on the Radio, CBS radio "Osgood Files" commentator and Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood related an encounter he had with a then-unknown Clinton in 1991.

     Recalling how he used to do commentaries for the old CBS Morning News in the same studio now used by CBS This Morning, he told This Morning's Russ Mitchell in an exchange caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
     "Eight years ago when Wilt Chamberlain's book came out, I looked at that and it said he claimed to have had sex with 20,000 different women. There was a lot of discussion about whether this was possible, whether any human being could do this. And I did, I suppose at the risk of being called a prig, I did a piece in which I said you know I think that it's unfortunate that somebody like this, this was at a time when Magic Johnson had been diagnosed with HIV, I said it's too bad that there's no reference in here to any moral dimension at all. No sense of right and wrong, it really needs to be talked about, and it's a bad example for young people.
     "Well anyway, the next morning I came down to do a follow-up on this, and when I finished doing it, I walked right over there [points across studio]. And there was a man standing in the corner on the way out. He was about to begin the next segment. And I did not know who it was, didn't recognize him at all. And he said I heard what you said yesterday, and he said I could not agree with you more. And he said I'm glad that that really got said. He said 'I'm Bill Clinton.'"

     Probably jealous of Chamberlain's competition for the babes.

     +++ Watch Osgood recount his 1991 encounter with Bill Clinton. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip of Osgood telling his tale. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) From the October 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Donald Trump Campaign Slogans." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "He'll Make Our National Defense As Impenetrable As His Hair."
9. "A New First Lady For Each Year Of His Candidacy."
8. "He'll Give This Country The Same Attention He Gives His Flimsy, Poorly-Constructed Apartment Buildings."
7. "Fewer $350 Hammers -- More 99-Cent Shrimp Cocktails."
6. "Trump/Oprah -- Still Less Embarrassing Than Clinton/Gore."
5. "He'll Buy Iraq And Turn It Into A Highly Profitable Parking Lot."
4. "Friend Of The Working Man, And Even Better Friend Of The Working Girl."
3. "You've Placed Losing Bets At His Casinos -- Now Place A Losing Bet On His Candidacy."
2. "Finally A President Who Knows When To Get Out Of A Bad Marriage."
1. "Because He Really Needs To Boost His Self-Esteem."

     And, from the Late Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- "He'll Fix Health Care Just Like He Fixes Prize Fights!"
-- "Bringing Atlantic City Values To The Entire Country"
-- "Vote For Him And He'll Let You Touch His Hair"
-- "Isn't It About Time For A Really Hot First Lady With Fake Breasts?"

     If they're 38 Double D's maybe Jesse Ventura will move into the White House too. -- Brent Baker


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