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www.TimesWatch.org


 

CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday March 29, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 53) |


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"Best" for Elian; Equating Bush & Gore Fundraising; Knocking Noonan

1) Peter Jennings suggested going back to Cuba is what's "best" for Elian Gonzalez, lamenting how the relatives have failed to cooperate to "allow the case of this young boy to end in a civilized manner that is best for him."

2) CBS News compensated for its Tuesday night piece on charges of illegal fundraising by Gore by highlighting on Wednesday liberal complaints about Bush, though there are no charges of illegality: "Critics say big Bush contributors often win big favors."

3) This week Dan Rather jumped on a Zogby poll showing Hillary beating Giuliani, but last fall CBS didn't report its own poll which found Hillary falling further behind Giuliani.

4) Peggy Noonan's new book, The Case Against Hillary Clinton, disturbed two network stars. To Noonan's point that the press has gone easy on Hillary, CNN's Bernard Shaw said "it really riles me." He scolded her for writing "'She is too cynical for the place that gave birth to Tammany Hall.' Now, really, Peggy!" CBS's Jane Clayson suggested: "Democrat bashing? Is that...all this book is?"


     >>> Nothing on the e-mail in Newsweek. The latest MagazineWatch about the April 3 issues is now up on the MRC home page. The topics explored by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens and Tim Graham:
1. Only Time gave any space to Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of taxpayer-funded military planes in her Senate race. But all three news magazines published articles focusing on opponent Rudy Giuliani's comments on a New York police shooting.
2. New allegations and investigations of White House e-mails hidden from congressional subpoenas inspired only two paragraphs in U.S. News, and one in Time. As for the criminal investigation of Gore campaign boss Tony Coelho's Portugal dealings, U.S. News managed two paragraphs, as did Time.
3. Instead of covering scandals, Newsweek celebrated Clinton's trip to India and Pakistan, as Michael Hirsh explained "the President has become known...as a leader with 'a healing touch.'"
4. U.S. News graded Al Gore and George Bush in a story headlined "Who's the Dimmest Dim Bulb? A Tale of Two Mediocre Collegiate Careers." A contemptuous Gore nearly spewed soda in laughter when asked if Bush was "too dumb" to be President.
    To read these items, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/magwatch/mag20000328.html <<<

1

If only those darn relatives of Elian Gonzalez who are holding him in the U.S. would get out of the way the Justice Department could end the wrangling "in a civilized manner that is best for him" -- and send him, unimpeded, back to Cuba.

   That seemed to be the sentiment behind how Peter Jennings opened Tuesday's World News Tonight in setting up a story on how the relatives wouldn't agree to an INS demand that they say they'll abide by the next court decision in the matter:
    "Good evening. In Miami today immigration officials met with the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez again and once again the government has failed to get the kind of cooperation from the relatives that might allow the case of this young boy to end in a civilized manner that is best for him."

2

Charges of illegal fundraising by Al Gore were diffused by CBS News the next night by giving equal time to complaints about Bush's fundraising, though there are no charges or investigations ongoing about any improprieties.

    As reported in the March 28 CyberAlert, the March 27 CBS Evening News featured a "Follow the Dollar" story by Eric Engberg about how Gore admits "mistakes" in 1996, like "the now-famous visit he made to a Los Angeles Buddhist temple, where nuns and monks were used as cover for collecting about $100,000 in illegal contributions." Engberg also raised the LaBella memo, without naming it, asking: "Did Gore mislead Justice Department investigators looking into the fundraising improprieties? They found a memo indicating Gore attended a meeting where it was decided 35 percent of the money he raised would go directly to the Clinton-Gore campaign. It's illegal for a public official to use his government office to solicit campaign contributions."

    So, the next night, without any admitted illegality or criminal investigations to cite, CBS gave equal time to complaints about Bush from liberal campaign finance "reform" backers. Dan Rather introduced the March 28 CBS Evening News story:
    "As we reported to you last night, the Bush campaign is focusing some of its negative campaign attacks on Al Gore's past problems over campaign fundraising practices. Tonight CBS is reporting on questions raised about Bush's record high fundraising and spending. CBS's Bill Whitaker has the facts and figures in this 'Follow the Dollar' report."

    Whitaker began: "He's raised and spent more money on the primaries than any candidate ever -- a record $74 million hauled in, more than $63 million expended. And Election Day is still seven months away."

    Whitaker to Bush: "Is it troubling to you that it cost so much money just to get to this position, this point in the primaries."
    Bush answered: "It's expensive, this is a huge country and it's important to get my message out."

    Whitaker moved to Bush's detractors, failing to point out that the "fat cats" he was about to demean for raising $100,000 had to do it in $1,000 increments by convincing others to donate: "Some say with Bush, the money is the message. He's blazing new trails in fundraising with his 'Pioneers,' a who's who of GOP fat cats, each raising at least $100,000 for Bush. Critics say big Bush contributors often win big favors. In his two runs for Governor Bush got more than $4 million from business people seeking to limit lawsuit liability, so-called 'tort reform.' Bush now boasts tort reform as one of his major accomplishments. He got even more money from Texas energy concerns."

    Andrew Wheat, Texans for Public Justice: "The Governor also in the last session of the legislature declared an emergency issue, a tax break for the oil and gas industry in Texas. I can't say necessarily that it was those large contributions that caused the favors he gave, but we do know that it creates disturbing appearances of impropriety."

    Whitaker picked up the argument: "Remember Sam Wyly, the Texas billionaire who weighed in on Super Tuesday with this environmental ad trashing John McCain?"

    After a brief clip of the ad, Whitaker elaborated: "Wyly, a major Bush contributor, had recently won a lucrative contract investing University of Texas funds. His clean renewable energy firm, GreenMountain.com, could benefit from a Bush clamp down on old, dirty utilities. Both the billionaire and the Governor say there's no connection, but campaign watchdogs say it looks like big money politics as usual."

    Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause: "The message it sends is that you cannot participate in our democracy if you can't pay."
    Karen Hughes, Bush Communications Director, got a chance to make a point: "Almost 200,000 individual Americans cared enough about electing Gov. Bush the next President to send in checks of $5 or $10 or $20 or $50 or $500, an average of $300, to help elect him. And that's a sign of great grassroots support across the country."

    Whitaker concluded by countering: "Still, it's the most money-soaked campaign ever, and if, as Bush insists, the money doesn't influence him, he's clearly banking it'll have a big influence on the election."

    Talk about leading with innuendo. And reporters complain about conservatives falsely impugning Clinton without evidence. If "the money doesn't influence him" then CBS wouldn't have had a story.

    Given how the networks try to equate Gore's illegal fundraising with Bush's legal fundraising that reporters just don't like and how, as detailed in many past CyberAlerts, the networks have largely avoided reporting on developments on the Gore front (Hsia conviction, LaBella memo), it's no wonder more think Gore did nothing wrong in 1996 than feel he did do something wrong. Check out this paragraph from a CBS News poll conducted March 19-21 and posted on the CBS News Web page:
    "Bush's attacks on Gore for campaign fundraising improprieties in 1996 don't seem to be having the desired effect. Asked about his 1996 fundraising activities, 38 percent think Gore did nothing wrong -- 29 percent say he did, but they are as likely to say it was unethical as illegal."

    You can read the full poll results at:
http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,176640-412,00.shtml

3

The CBS Evening News, it seems, doesn't bother reporting polls it doesn't like, at least in the New York Senate race. Monday night Dan Rather announced on the CBS Evening News the results of not a CBS News poll, but of a survey from another firm:
    "Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate bid may have gotten a boost from New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's handling of the city's latest police shooting incident. The Zogby polling bureau finds Mrs. Clinton now leads Giuliani by 3 points after trailing by 7 at the beginning of March. This is if you believe the polls. The shift, in some analysis, is a reaction to Giuliani's hard-nosed response to the recent police killing of an unarmed black man, New York's third such incident in a year."

    But when the news wasn't so good for Hillary last fall, Rather and CBS didn't bother passing along their own CBS News/New York Times poll results, as the MRC's Tim Graham recalled in forwarding this excerpt from MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell's column from November 18, 1999:

On November 1, The New York Times placed its latest joint poll with CBS News on the front page, but look what it found to be news. "Poll Finds Few Undecided," the ho-hum headline read. Voter certainty in this early stage of the race may be interesting, but was it the poll's most newsworthy finding?

Check out the poll results submerged down in paragraphs five and ten. Since the last New York Times-CBS poll in March, Hillary went from a nine-point lead among likely voters (50 to 41 percent) to a five-point disadvantage (44 to 49 percent). That's a fourteen-point slide, and if most voters consider themselves decided on this race, those numbers are dramatic.

The buried shockers didn't end there, though. In paragraph 21, the Times revealed that Hillary's approval rating had dropped from 52 percent to 37, and her disapproval numbers jumped from 22 to 38 percent. In other words, she's regressed from a 30-point chasm between lovers and haters, where more than half of the polling sample approved, to where more voters now disapprove of her than approve. That's not good news, especially --again -- if the voters are decided on the matter. (Giuliani's favorables and unfavorables both increased slightly.)

So where were the TV anchors furrowing their brows and wondering out loud what went wrong? CBS News may have created and paid for the poll, but they weren't reporting the results, and neither was hardly anyone else. Dan Rather must have been straining for another hurricane to cover.

    END Excerpt

4

Network stars sure don't like the points made by Peggy Noonan in her new book, The Case Against Hillary Clinton. Tuesday afternoon Bernard Shaw interviewed her on CNN's Inside Politics and rebuked her writing, asking at one point: "Did you write that sentence with the idea of fairness in mind?" Later he scolded: "This quote. Quote: 'She is too corrupt for New York. She is too cynical for the place that gave birth to Tammany Hall.' Now, really, Peggy!" Shaw also asked her in disbelief: "Are you saying the journalists covering her are patsies? They're not professional?"

    Last Friday Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Reagan, received a gentler but just as negative reception from Jane Clayson on CBS's The Early Show. She wanted to know: "Why so critical of Hillary Clinton?" And wondered: "But what's so wrong with her ambition? I mean, what is so wrong with her wanting to come and be a Senator from New York?"

    Shaw set up the March 28 live CNN interview by reporting how"city public advocate Mark Green today asked the state Supreme Court to investigate Mayor Giuliani's release" of the criminal record of a man recently shot by police. Shaw then observed:
    "Amid Giuliani's latest troubles, the New York state GOP has tried to help rally Republicans behind him by raising questions about Hillary Clinton's aspirations. On its Web site, the state party uses a mock newspaper headline to accuse Mrs. Clinton of blind ambition. It goes on to contend that her true goal is to become president. Author Peggy Noonan makes the same case in her book, The Case Against Hillary Clinton."

    Shaw's first question came with a loaded term: "I checked Webster's Ninth and it said that polemic is 'an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another.' What do you fear most about Mrs. Clinton?"
    Noonan countered: "Well, I don't fear her, but I disagree with her on so much. And I must tell you, when I finally realized that she was going to run in New York, that it was not a joke and not merely a rumor, I strongly felt that this was the beginning of something very big in our national life, and that is the continuance of Clintonism in American history...."

    Noonan proceeded to argue that "it does not seem to me at all to be doubted that in the year 2004, if Mr. Gore does not win the presidency or 2008 if he does, that Mrs. Clinton as the Senator from New York will be able -- will really be perfectly positioned to move on the presidency, which people around her have said in the past was certainly part of her plan -- they don't say it anymore. They've kind of dummied up. But in the past in less discreet moments, they have talked about it."

    To the idea of presidential candidate Hillary Rodham, Shaw responded: "If this scenario were to unfold, as you just ticked it off, would that be a crime?"
    Noonan: "Would it be a crime? Well, I think there are a lot of crimes we ought to be talking about here actually. I think that the continuance of Clintonism in American national life is not a good thing at all."

    At Shaw's prompting, in the only non-challenging question of the interview, Noonan defined "Clintonism" as "missed opportunities because of a lack of seriousness and an almost compulsive cynicism on the part of the Clintons about what can be attained in terms of public policy" and "scandal, corruption, the disheartening sense that anybody who has $50,000 can walk into the White House, give it to the Clintons, and get waivers on their technology to sell to China to be used in the China military, which might be used ultimately against our children only a few years from now."

    Shaw went back on the attack, doubting Noonan's reasoning: "I quote to you these words that you wrote: 'I think Mrs. Clinton should not be given any more power, because somehow she never helps anybody with it but herself.'"
    Noonan: "Yes. I do think that."
    Shaw: "Did you write that sentence with the idea of fairness in mind?"

    Noonan reminded Shaw that "I wrote a polemic" and her goal was to write a book people "opposed to Hillary could hold in their hands and say, 'this is why I feel as I do,'" and from which her backers could learn why her opponents oppose her.

    Shaw demanded to know of the book: "Is it accurate?" He scolded her: "This quote. Quote: 'She is too corrupt for New York. She is too cynical for the place that gave birth to Tammany Hall.' Now, really, Peggy!"
    Noonan responded: "Oh, Bernie, don't you think that's true after eight years of watching these folks? If you go all the way back to Travelgate, which was really an astonishing and painful event in which seven guys who worked in the White House who you probably know well for decades were unceremoniously removed from their offices, had the IRS and the FBI sicced on them, were smeared in the press, were abused -- and the answer, as always, was, we had nothing to do with it."

    Shaw then castigated her for daring to criticize reporting on Hillary: "I've got to ask you about this, because it really riles me. Quote: 'Few in the elite media, the networks and big stations and national magazines and big newspapers will press Mrs. Clinton on the allegations of scandal that have marked her time in the White House' -- unquote."
    Noonan: "Oh, I think that is so true."
    An astonished Shaw, becoming angry: "Are you saying the journalists covering her are patsies? They're not professional?"
    Noonan: "I didn't say-"
    Shaw demanded, voice rising: "Is that what you're really saying?"
    Noonan: "No, I'll tell you, Bernie, I didn't say patsy. I don't call names. There are reasons for that. But let me tell you-"
    Shaw: "Well, but you imply-"
    Noonan: "Let me tell you-"
    Shaw: "But you imply that everybody covering this woman, who is a candidate for the United States Senate from New York, is a lackey."
    Noonan: "You know what I am saying-"
    Shaw: "I should think some men and women in the press corps would take umbrage to that."
    Noonan: "I am saying, well, you know, they haven't yet. Perhaps they will. Let me tell you what I'm saying: Mrs. Clinton comes into my great state and my great city surrounded with a Secret Service cordon that is 12-feet wide. Reporters cannot get to her. They cannot interview her, as you well know. She will not do a live interview probably on your show unless she knows the stuff in advance and she knows that you're very friendly. This is a very controlled environment, a very unusual one. If you want to ask any other politician a question, you can more or less get it to them. But with Mrs. Clinton you know that that is not so. That is only the first structural problem. After that I think there are problems of sympathy."

    With that, Shaw ended the interview, though despite his distaste for Noonan's viewpoints he gave the book another plug: "This has been very interesting. Just a few seconds to tell our viewers, the book is The Case Against Hillary Clinton, author Peggy Noonan."

    Next, CNN balanced Noonan with.....a working mainstream journalist: "Now for another perspective on Mrs. Clinton, we're joined now by Jodie Allen of U.S. News & World Report. You sat there. You heard. You saw. I couldn't see your facial expressions, but what do you think?"
    Allen offered: "I think that the author is a brilliant writer, is well-advised to acknowledge upfront that this is a polemic. This is a screed. It's an impassioned pitch to people who already share her viewpoint. And she acknowledges that, that she's not likely to change many minds with this book that really isn't a book. It's 181 pages of emotional outpouring, and only as clever a writer as Peggy Noonan could have gotten away with it at all."

    ++ See Shaw's heated exchange with Noonan. By noon ET Wednesday MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip from Tuesday's Inside Politics. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    Last Friday, March 24, CBS's Jane Clayson wasn't as hostile as Shaw but she still hit Noonan mostly with challenging questions and suggested Noonan is just a Republican partisan out to do some "Democrat bashing." Here are all of her inquiries:

    -- "You are really tough on the First Lady in this book. Why so critical of Hillary Clinton?"
    -- "But what's so wrong with her ambition? I mean, what is so wrong with her wanting to come and be a Senator from New York?"
    -- "In fact, in your book you say that this is just the beginning. You predict she'll run for president in 2004, 2008 if she doesn't win in 2004."

    -- Clayson: "You portray her as manipulative, deceptive, disingenuous, and there are several fictional passages in your book where you portray her -- one where she hangs up on her husband after he calls to wish her well after winning the Senate seat."
    Noonan: "Yes. Yeah. That's the whole beginning of the book."
    Clayson: "Your book is so well researched in so many ways, why delve into that -- into that arena, into that area, into fiction?"

    -- "You are a former Reagan speechwriter and many would say you are very biased. You are a Republican partisan. Is this, was this considered to be a Democrat bashing? Is that, is that all this book is?"

    The Early Show Web site features a short excerpt from Noonan's book in which she offers an insightful take on Clintonism and cable news shows:
    "We have learned to absorb the Clintons and their many shocks; they have taught us to absorb the brazen, to factor it in and in time discount it. And I suspect they are fully aware of this, that they have learned a number of things in their life in politics, but one of the biggest is this: They can do anything. They are used to the tumbling rhythms of public acceptance: the gasps of shock, followed by the edgy discussion on Hardball followed by the earnest discussion on Wolf Blitzer followed by the enthusiastic discussion on Geraldo."

    You can read the book excerpt by going to:
http://www.cbs.com/network/htdocs/earlyshow/0324booknoonan.shtml

    Yes, Geraldo is always enthusiastic about anything Clinton. -- Brent Baker

 


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