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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday June 8, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 99) |

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Gore's Broken Pledge Excused; Aunt Jemina Thomas; Actress a "Huge" Hillary Fan

1) On the Microsoft breakup ruling, ABC noted how much investors have lost, CBS focused on how Silicon Valley competitors are "glad to see...a big bully cut down to size" and NBC claimed "analysts say past anti-trust actions have been good for consumers."

2) ABC and CBS ran stories pegged to how Al Gore broke his pledge on soft money ads, but both rationalized and excused Gore. "People who are fighting for campaign finance reform say neither Bush nor Gore has a monopoly on hypocrisy," declared ABC's John Cochran.

3) Interviewing Hillary Trap author Laura Ingraham, Katie Couric portrayed Hillary as a victim of how people project their views of the role of women and demanded: "Can you really pretend to understand the complexities and dynamics of someone's marriage?"

4) Time's Jack E. White asserted that running a cover "portrait of Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-style handkerchief" on his head was "the uncompromising voice that made Emerge the nation's best black newsmagazine for the past seven years."

5) Actress Christine Lahti, star of a new Lifetime cable network feminist movie, on Hillary Clinton: "I think she has a huge, genuine amount of compassion for people."

6) Bryant Gumbel and a transsexual both simultaneously grasped a can of whipped cream. Who squirted first?


The Microsoft breakup ruling topped the three broadcast network evening shows with multiple stories Wednesday night. All opened with a basic rundown of the decision and Microsoft's reaction followed by feature pieces which each offered a unique angle for the night on the case.

    ABC stressed how much Microsoft stockholders have lost, quoting one observer who joked about how Janet Reno saved people $20 on Windows while costing them $20,000 in their 401k. CBS focused on how "in Silicon Valley they're glad to see what they consider to be a big bully cut down to size." NBC reviewed anti-trust history and relayed how "analysts say past anti-trust actions have been good for consumers."

    NBC Nightly News falsely claimed an exclusive with Microsoft's Bill Gates. On-screen the word "Exclusive" appeared above the Nightly News graphic during Katie Couric's interview, but Gates also appeared on the CBS Evening News and CNN's Moneyline during the same hour as well as later on ABC's Nightline. I guess it depends on what the definition of "exclusive" is.

    Here are some highlights of what distinguished ABC, CBS and NBC stories on Wednesday night, June 7:

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran handled the details of the ruling before Betsy Stark took on how the stock is down from $120 at the end of 1999 to $71 now as "$247 billion in value disappeared." Most hurt, those in the Seattle area and the New York State Teachers retirement fund has lost $472 million just this year. In a soundbite, Michael Murphy, Editor of Technology Investing, passed along: "There's a big joke around, of course, 'thank you Janet Reno for saving me $20 of my Microsoft Windows, how about the $20,000 I lost in my 401k?'"

    -- CBS Evening News. Sharyl Attkisson reviewed the breakup order and reaction to it. CBS then ran excerpts of a taped interview by Dan Rather with Bill Gates. Rather asked for Gates to react to the judge's charge of about monopolistic practices, wondered why not make the two company idea work and inquired about how big a financial hit he expected stockholders to take.

    Rather then intoned: "Microsoft is unhappy of course, but it's a different story down in Silicon Valley, the high-tech hotbed south of San Francisco. It is home to many victims of what the judge concluded are Microsoft's unfair and illegal business tactics. CBS's John Blackstone reports in Silicon Valley they're glad to see what they consider to be a big bully cut down to size."

    Blackstone attended a "conference of Internet visionaries" in California and discovered in the future Microsoft software won't be used to access the Internet, undercutting the rationale for a breakup, but Blackstone also delivered two points not often heard in the media: How Microsoft has suppressed innovation and how its poorly designed software has made programs vulnerable to viruses.

    Blackstone opened over video of Sun Microsystems chief Scott McNealy joking about the breakup of Microsoft before Blackstone explained the emergence of the more reliable Linux, though he didn't mention the operating system's name: "In the vision of the future on display here, Microsoft is no longer in the driver's seat. It's a future in which everything from automobiles to refrigerators can connect to the Internet and the Microsoft dominated personal computer fades in importance."

    A month after the May 5 CyberAlert noted how the I LOVE YOU virus, contrary to media generalities about hitting "e-mail," only impacted Microsoft's Outlook on computers with Microsoft's Internet Explorer installed, CBS News caught up: "While Microsoft argues that its breakup will stifle innovation, many believe its monopoly slowed technology's advance. Jim Warren, a Silicon Valley pioneer, refuses to use Microsoft's popular e-mail program."
    Warren, MicroTimes magazine: "It's too dangerous to use it."
    Blackstone: "Microsoft weaknesses, Warren says, allowed the rapid spread of recent e-mail viruses."
    Warren: "The so-called Internet viruses that we've had so much trouble with this year are not really Internet viruses, they're Microsoft viruses."
    Blackstone concluded: "The wireless world will be better, critics say, with a less-powerful Microsoft."

    -- NBC Nightly News opened with Pete Williams on the ruling followed by substitute anchor Katie Couric's non-exclusive interview with Bill Gates. She asked, "will consumers be the ultimate winners here?" and why not go straight to the Supreme Court. She also wondered if Gates is hoping the appeals process drags on and the Bush administration is "more sympathetic to Microsoft." She last asked if Gates felt the charges had "tarnished your personal reputation?"

    Mike Jensen then told viewers the case would have minimum impact as "most analysts say it won't damage the economy." Michael Miller of PC Magazine predicted more choices from more companies. Jensen asserted: "Analysts say past anti-trust actions have been good for consumers, going all the way back to John D. Rockefeller and the breakup of the Standard Oil Company, which created more competition, lower prices for oil. The AT&T breakup, setting off a wave of innovation, competition, cutting some long distance prices in half."


ABC and CBS on Wednesday night ran stories pegged to how Al Gore broke his pledge not to allow the DNC to use soft money for advertising until after the GOP did first, but both rationalized and excused Gore as they blamed the system and insisted Bush would do something just as bad. NBC Nightly News ignored the launch of DNC-sponsored "issue" ads promoting Gore.

    "People who are fighting for campaign finance reform say neither Bush nor Gore has a monopoly on hypocrisy," declared ABC's John Cochran before quoting a liberal activist. "Faced with sagging polls," Cochran concluded, "it was not a hard decision to use soft money." CBS's Bill Plante blamed the system and insisted what Bush will do is just as bad: "Everyone agrees the system is corrupting politics....Today it was the Democrats, but Republicans are poised to launch their own air war."

    John Cochran opened his piece by showing clips of the DNC ad which "looks like an ad for Al Gore," but really is an "issues" ad paid for by the DNC thanks to soft money donations. Cochran interjected: "Wait a minute, Gore said only a few months ago he would not use soft money."
    Cochran played a clip of Gore on Good Morning America back on March 15: "Last night I asked the Democratic committee to set aside any soft money and don't spend it on any issue ads unless and until the Republican Party does."
    Cochran picked up: "Today a delighted George Bush was quick to accuse Gore of breaking his pledge not to use soft money."
    Bush: "Doesn't surprise me. He's a man who says one thing and does another. It's consistent with how he's run his campaign. I'm not the least bit surprised."
    Cochran reviewed Gore's defense: "Gore says he did not have to keep his pledge because the Republicans fired first, with anti-Gore ads paid for with unregulated donations from Bush supporters."
    ABC played an excerpt from a mock Jeopardy-type ad with a contestant asking for the answer under "Political Hypocrites for $200." The announcer answered: "He says he's for campaign finance reform but he held an illegal fundraiser at a Buddhist temple."

    Cochran then used a liberal Democrat as his arbiter and condemned both candidates instead of just the one who broke a promise: "People who are fighting for campaign finance reform say neither Bush nor Gore has a monopoly on hypocrisy."
    Scott Harshbarger, former Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts who is now President of Common Cause, claimed: "What you have here is once again the people seeing elected officials saying one thing, promising one thing and doing completely the other."
    Cochran concluded: "You can expect both camps to bend the rules on money. Today it was Gore's turn. Faced with sagging polls, it was not a hard decision to use soft money."

    For the CBS Evening News, Phil Jones filed a "Follow the Dollar" piece. He too began with clips from one of the ads which is part of the DNC's $25 million ad blitz. Plante noted how more than half the ad has either Gore's picture or voice. Plante reminded viewers: "Just three months ago Gore read an e-mail challenge to George W. Bush to reject the use of soft money issue ads if the Republicans did."
    Gore in front of a Gateway computer on March 14: "I will take the first step by requesting the Democratic National Committee not to run any issue ads paid for by soft money."
    Jones: "Bush never agreed, but still he accused Gore of reneging."
    Bush: "Al Gore breaking a pledge. Doesn't surprise me. He's a man who says one thing and does another."
    Plante moved on to the New Jersey Democratic Senate primary: "But it's not just presidential politics surrounded by obscene amounts of money...."

    After noting how New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine spent $33 million and outside groups are spending $5 million in an Ohio Supreme Court race, Plante turned to an advocate of one solution as his expert: "None of this surprises Senator John McCain, the campaign finance reform maverick."
    McCain: "I'm a student of history and we've gone through periods of corruption in American politics and then reform. We're in the corruption period. I don't use that term lightly."
    Plante concluded: "Everyone agrees the system is corrupting politics, but there is no chance for reform anytime soon. Today it was the Democrats, but Republicans are poised to launch their own air war to help Governor Bush."


Interviewing Gail Sheehy, author of the pro-Hillary book, Hillary's Choice, on the November 29, 1999 Dateline Stone Phillips empathetically inquired: "Of all the pain she has been through, what do you think hurt the most?"

    Wednesday morning this week Laura Ingraham, author of The Hillary Trap: Looking for Power in All the Wrong Places," got a more challenging welcome on Today from Katie Couric who portrayed Hillary as a victim of how people project onto her their views of the role of women. Couric also demanded: "Can you really pretend to understand the complexities and dynamics of someone's marriage?"

    Couric set up the June 7 interview, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "There aren't many figures in American life let alone politics who provoke the range of powerful emotions both positive and negative that Hillary Rodham Clinton does. She's been the topic of countless talk shows, newspaper columns and dinner table debates. Well now she's the subject of conservative commentator and MSNBC political analyst Laura Ingraham's first book, The Hillary Trap, Looking for Power in All the Wrong Places."

    Couric's first question: "Why do you think Hillary Clinton elicits such powerful emotions? Why is she such a polarizing figure?"
    She followed-up by portraying Hillary as a victim: "But don't you think there's an awful lot of projection that goes on in terms of how people view her, placing their own confused states or their role in society or how powerful should women be and it's sort of projected upon her as an individual?"
    Ingraham: "Yes absolutely. I think we look at Hillary's life and we look at her choices. You know she stood by a husband who by all accounts really now is a serial, serially unfaithful to her. She was incredibly well-educated, yet she had this chance to really strike out on her own. This chance to be her own person, stand up on her own two feet, as feminists encourage us all to do, be powerful on our own."
    Couric: "But she was a lawyer, it's not as if she stayed home while her husband pursued his political gains."

    Ingraham argued: "Most women, Katie, I'm sure you can relate to this. Most women, you know, wouldn't want their daughter to have to stand by a man all those years in order get some payoff down the road. Most women don't get a Senate seat at the end of that kind of life. They are abandoned, they're destitute. They're certainly financially impaired but Hillary, it might actually work for her!"
    Couric fired back: "But I mean can you really pretend to understand the complexities and dynamics of someone's marriage and certainly she's not the first woman who has stayed with an unfaithful husband."

    Couric later argued: "Let me ask you about running for Senate. I mean you criticize her for glomming onto her husband and getting her political power from him, now she's running for Senate, independently, would be elected, if she is elected by the voters. Isn't she doing what you think she should've done all along?"


In this week's Time magazine, national correspondent Jack E. White, an occasional panelist on Inside Washington, lamented the demise of Emerge magazine which had run a "portrait of Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-style handkerchief on a 1993 cover." White admired how "it crystallized the disgust that many African Americans had begun to feel about the ultraconservative legal philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court's only black member."

    From the MRC's MagazineWatch, here's the item on White's diatribe:

Don't think Time always disparages negative campaigning. Jack E. White lamented "A Militant Voice Silenced" -- the demise of Emerge, a liberal black monthly being discontinued by a partnership including BET, which bought it from Time Inc: "No matter what George Curry accomplishes during the remainder of his journalistic career, he will be remembered for one thing: he was the editor who slapped a portrait of Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-style handkerchief on a 1993 cover of Emerge magazine. That shocking image outraged Thomas supporters, of course, but it crystallized the disgust that many African Americans had begun to feel about the ultraconservative legal philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court's only black member." White wrote, "That's the uncompromising voice that made Emerge the nation's best black newsmagazine for the past seven years."

    END Excerpt

    Other items in the June 6 MagazineWatch by the MRC's Paul Smith and Tim Graham about the June 12 issues:

1. All three news magazines featured stories highlighting George W. Bush's handling of the death penalty in Texas and the growing movement supporting DNA testing to prove innocence or guilt. Newsweek had a cover-story crusade, with Jonathan Alter concluding, "if we can't do it right, then we must ask ourselves if it's worth doing at all."
2. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff explored how the no-controlling-legal-authority Justice Department fought over whether to appoint an independent counsel in the fundraising scandal: "Just how close did Gore come to an investigation that might have hurt his presidential chances? Perilously close, it turns out." One staffer thought Gore's actions presented "a classic white-collar [crime] scenario."
3. Newsweek promoted a "knowledgeable expert" who thinks the current missile-defense system is a "fraud." But they also promoted the fraud that Ted Postol is "not ideologically against" the idea of missile defense.
4. U.S. News owner Mort Zuckerman diverted his usual loving gaze at Bill Clinton and criticized his Israel policy.

    To read these items, as posted by MRC Webmaster Andy Szul, go to:


Hillary Clinton has a "huge" fan in actress Christine Lahti, star of Lifetime's TV adaption of feminist Wendy Wasserstein's play, An American Daughter, about a woman who is treated unfairly by the political process because of her gender. In an appearance on HBO's Dennis Miller Live last Friday to plug the movie, Lahti, probably best known for her role until recently as a doctor on CBS's Chicago Hope, proclaimed of Hillary:
    "I really think she is genuinely concerned and thoughtful and compassionate about all people, and I think she's a true, earnest public servant."

    MRC intern Michael Ferguson transcribed the relevant portion of the June 2 interview on the 11:30pm ET live HBO show with Miller, who as first expresses doubts about Hillary but is soon impressed by Lahti's "cogent defense" of her:

    Dennis Miller: "Now, what about if we do [elect a woman President], I guess the person most people think will be, or could be the first woman president is Hillary."
    Christine Lahti: "Yeah."
    Miller: "Now, I gather from, I think I've heard you -- you're a big Hillary fan?"
    Lahti: "Huge. Huge. Yeah."
    Miller: "No see, I'm so, uh, I'm so amazed because you seem like such a bright, together woman. And, I-"
    Lahti: "What's up, what's up with this sentence? Come on."
    Miller: "Is there not any part of you, and I don't mean this to be, any part of you that looks at her and thinks, 'Craven careerist. Never really led a regular life. Does not know the pain of the regular people. Got into a bureaucratic system early on. Probably hasn't bought her own dinner since the Grenoble Olympics.' I mean, is there any part of you that sees that about her? Because I try to keep an open mind about Hillary Clinton, but I often see her talking to these women about, 'I know you story,' and I think, well, have you read Peggy Noonan's velvet vivisection of Hillary Clinton?"
    Lahti: "No."
    Miller: "Well, you have to read it. Now, Peggy Noonan, I know she's a Reagan speech writer, she probably has an agenda, she seems to have a bit of territorial imperative about New York state, she doesn't want Hillary moving there, so she seems to have a bug up her ass, maybe it's a little jaded. But there's also some salient points about how, really, has this woman experienced a regular American woman's pain? Do you think that?"
    Lahti: "Can I, can I just say one thing about Hillary? I think she has a huge, genuine amount of compassion for people, all people. And, as an actress, I can say I can play someone from a trailer park. I haven't lived that. I haven't played someone who is, who is uneducated, um, who, who is, um, on the poverty level, but I can play that if I have true compassion and empathy for people. And I believe she does. I really do. [Starts clapping.] She has it!"
    Miller: "And all the people that defend her, no, I am saying to you I have never heard a cogent defense of her. Like, the people always get so zealous. They get into that Paul Begala thing where I want to slap them and go, 'Christ, what are you following these people over the cliff for, you lemming?' That actually-"
    Lahti: "Does that make sense to you?"
    Miller: "That makes sense to me."
    Lahti: "Yeah, yeah."
    Miller: "If at the core you believe there's some empathy, I'm not quite sure I see it-"
    Lahti: "I do."
    Miller: "I, I see it more from Bill than her, because I think he's led that down and out, sulfur springs, Arkansas sort of life where he might understand the real folk. But I wonder about Hillary sometimes."
    Lahti: "Well, it's interesting because Bill has more of an expressive personality. He is more emotionally, you know, expressive like, conventionally a woman would be. Hillary's style is a little more removed, but I think the goods are there. I really think she is genuinely concerned and thoughtful and compassionate about all people, and I think she's a true, earnest public servant."

    Here's how the Lifetime Web site summarized Lahti's movie which debuted on Monday night:
    "The conflicts facing working women today and the unbridled power of the media take center stage in the new Lifetime Original Movie, An American Daughter, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Actress Christine Lahti portrays Lyssa Dent Hughes, a prominent physician whose life takes an abrupt turn when she tries to dodge a routine call for jury duty. Lyssa, with the help of her devoted husband (played by Tom Skerritt), fends off the tabloid frenzy -- and rediscovers herself in the process. By turns funny, maddening and poignant, An American Daughter presents the trials and tribulations of being successful and female in the new millennium, and reminds us what is most important in life."

    Lifetimetv.com lists these upcoming repeat times:
Saturday, June 10 at 6pm ET/PT
Wednesday, June 14 at 9 pm ET/PT
Saturday, June 17 at 2 pm ET/PT
Sunday, June 25 at 12 pm ET/PT


One thing I forgot to mention in the June 7 CyberAlert on the National Enquirer photos of Bryant Gumbel and Matt Lauer getting lap dances from transsexuals at a New York City "drag queen" restaurant: In one photo, a bare-chested Bryant Gumbel and one of the he/she dancers in a bikini both have a hand around an aerosol-type size can of what appears to be whipped cream.

    My question: Who squirted first and where did they squirt?

    As I wrote yesterday, the June 13 issue of The National Enquirer is definitely worth the $2.69 price just to see these photos. -- Brent Baker


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