Russert Asked Hillary to Apologize; Hillary's Suspect Fundraising; Cheney Chastened on "Humorous" Murder Lyrics
-- Extra Edition
1) A network reporter finally put
Hillary Clinton on the spot. Moderating the NY Senate debate, NBC's Tim
Russert asked if she regretted "misleading the American people?" and
"Would you now apologize for branding people as part of a 'vast
2) FNC revealed the story the New
York Times suppressed: "White House staffers have voiced concern that the
First Lady has been offering large donors to her campaign...overnight stays in
the Lincoln bedroom and even Camp David."
3) ABC castigated Lynne Cheney for
her concern about a rap lyrics glorifying rape and murder, suggesting they
"were meant to be humorous." NBC ran a tough piece on Gore's
hypocrisy: "He has a lot to answer for as the number two man in the
administration that's had a cozy and profitable relationship with
4) ABC and CBS ran short items on
a strange package received and rejected by a Gore operative. Dan Rather added
his own odd twist.
5) Judge James Jackson's
"stunningly sharp attack" on whom? Wen Ho Lee's release generated
full stories on ABC, CBS and NBC, but each delivered slightly different
descriptions of the judge's target.
6) NBC's Today actually treated
as newsworthy the PR gimmick of two liberal Senators saying they will ask the
FCC to investigate the "subliminal" rat ad. CBS's Bryant Gumbel
wondered if Bush should "go back to hard-line Republican conservative
Corrections: After spelling it
correctly hundreds of times, I slipped up in the September 13 CyberAlert
and misspelled the last name of ABC's political analyst. It's
Stephanopoulos, not Stephanopolous. The September 12 CyberAlert quoted Al
Gore as answering "Beetles" when asked by Oprah Winfrey to name
his favorite music group. That should have read "Beatles." In
the same issue, an item on Wen Ho Lee quoted NBC News reporter George
Miller. His name is actually George Lewis.
over two-and-a-half years after she impugned her political opponents, a
network television reporter put Hillary Clinton on the spot for her
January 1998 "vast right-wing conspiracy" claim in which she
falsely denied her husband ever lied to cover up sexual relations with
Moderating the first
Rick Lazio-Hillary Clinton debate on Wednesday night, NBC's Tim
Russert raised the issue of "trust and character," played
the infamous VRWC soundbite, demanded "Do you regret misleading
the American people?" and requested: "Would you now
apologize for branding people as part of a 'vast right-wing
conspiracy'?" Of course, she declined and insisted: "I
didn't mislead anyone."
MSNBC played the 7pm
ET debate from Buffalo on tape delay at 10pm ET Wednesday night. Two
Buffalo-area reporters joined Russert in the questioning and from my
cursory review the three seemed to do an even-handed job of pressing
each candidate with the toughest arguments against them forwarded by
their opponents' camps.
A little more than
20 minutes into the debate, or as Dan Rather would dub it, a
"joint appearance," Russert set up a segment: "To both
the candidates, Mrs. Clinton first, the issue of trust and character
has been raised repeatedly in this campaign. Mrs. Clinton, I want to
start with you. In January of '98, you went on the Today show and
talked about what had occurred at the White House. I want to play that
for you and our viewers and our voters and give you a chance to
Viewers and audience
members then saw excerpts from Today:
Matt Lauer: "So these charges came as big a
shock to you as anyone."
Hillary Clinton: "And to my husband. I mean,
you know, he woke me up Wednesday morning and said, 'You're not
going to believe this.'"
Lauer: "And so when people say there's a lot
of smoke here, your message is, where there's smoke-"
Clinton: "There isn't any fire."
Lauer: "If an American President had an
adulterous liaison in the White House and lied to cover it up, should
the American people ask for his resignation?"
Clinton: "Well, they should certainly be
concerned about it."
Lauer: "Should they ask for his
Clinton: "Well, I think that if all that were
proven true, I think that would be a very serious offense. That is not
going to be proven true."
Back to the debate,
Russert lamented: "Regrettably, it was proven true. Do you regret
misleading the American people? And secondly, in that same interview,
you said that those who were criticizing the President were part of a
vast right-wing conspiracy. Amongst those eventually criticizing the
President were Joe Lieberman. Would you now apologize for branding
people as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy?"
still played the victim: "Well, you know, Tim, that was a very
painful time for me, for my family and for our country. It is
something that I regret deeply that anyone had to go through. And I
wish that we all could look at it from the perspective of history, but
we can't yet. We're going to have to wait until those books are
written. But from my perspective, you know, I'm very hopeful that we
can go forward in a united way. That certainly is what I've tried to
do. And I've tried to be as forthcoming as I could, given the
circumstances that I've faced. Obviously I didn't mislead anyone. I
didn't know the truth. And there's a great deal of pain associated
with that, and my husband has certainly acknowledged that and made it
clear that he did mislead the country as well as his family.
"But you mentioned trust. And, you know, I'm
standing here running for the Senate. I didn't cast the votes that
Newt Gingrich asked me to cast. I've been a steady, consistent voice
on behalf of children and families and what I've worked for for 30
years. And I want to try to put that experience to work for the people
of New York."
Russert followed up:
"In trying to unite people, however, is it appropriate to brand
anyone who criticized the President as part of a 'vast right-wing
events: "Well, I certainly didn't mean to extend that to anyone
who might criticize the President, especially after the truth came
out. You know, I have the greatest respect for Senator Lieberman. I've
known him for 30 years. He and I share a lot of the same concerns
about media violence, for example..."
+++ Watch the above
exchange via RealPlayer. Late Thursday morning ET MRC Webmaster Andy
Szul will post a video clip of it. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
and obvious question stands out from the softball questions and
general sucking up displayed by other network correspondents when
Hillary has granted a rare TV interview. Recall her most prominent
appearances over the last 16 months as detailed in past CyberAlerts:
-- May 1999. Dan
Rather slobbered all over Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes II, urging her
to run for President and gushing: "Once a political lightning
rod, today she is political lightning." For many more quotes and
a RealPlayer clip, go to:
-- March 2000.
"Unfortunately that was defeated," complained the co-host of
a new ABC News-produced Lifetime show, about Hillary Clinton's
health care plan. Other topics raised in the interview with her:
Grocery shopping and what she'll do "to help women" get
day care. Go to:
-- May 2000. NBC's
Today promised a diverse audience for Hillary's town meeting, but 61
percent of questioners were from New York City and 73 percent of the
questions hit her from the left or very far left. Go to:
-- June 2000. Bryant
Gumbel hoped he and his fellow New Yorkers would get a two-for-one
deal: Hillary, plus her husband's "expertise." An audience
member placed Hillary and Lazio on the Survivor island. For more
details about her Early Show welcome illustrated by a RealPlayer video
clip, go to:
New York Times won't tell you what it learned about Hillary
improperly using overnight White House stays to fund her Senate
campaign, but Fox News Channel broke the veil on what the paper has
In picking up on
information first reported Tuesday night by the Drudge Report (http://www.drudgereport.com),
Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume opened with FNC's Hume
uniquely letting viewers in on what D.C. insiders already know, noting
that "political and media circles have been buzzing for several
days with word the New York Times has a major story in the
In a live report
Rita Cosby filled in the details, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
"There have been some congressional
investigations into alleged campaign finance abuses that President
Clinton may have offered big campaign contributors overnight stays in
the Lincoln bedroom. Well now White House sources are telling Fox News
that there is concern in the White House that the First Lady is doing
the same thing. White House sources tell Fox News that White House
staffers have voiced concern that the First Lady has been offering
large donors to her campaign, and to the Democratic Senatorial
Committee, overnight stays in the Lincoln bedroom and even Camp David,
the presidential retreat.
"White House sources tell Fox News that there
have been at least 26 instances since the summer of 1999 in which
people, mainly couples, have stayed overnight after promising to
donate to the First Lady's campaign or having already done so in
recent months. One example White House sources cite is that of New
Yorkers Lisa and Richard Perry, who combined contributed directly to
Mrs. Clinton's campaign four times in 1999 and donated thousands of
dollars to the Democratic party. Both attended a state dinner at the
White House this past June...And White House sources say that same
night they spent the evening in the Lincoln bedroom after Mrs. Clinton
called Lisa Perry directly saying, 'What can I do for you? Thank you
for your campaign help.' Well White House spokesman Joe Lockhart was
asked if there was any quid pro quo, and he said this today:"
Joe Lockhart: "The President and the First
Lady over the last seven and a half years have always welcomed their
friends and supporters and, you know, political officials from around
the country, prominent members of the arts community, to stay at the
White House. Within that group, there certainly have been people who,
as their friends, have supported them financially."
Cosby: "And the First Lady's campaign
spokesman Howard Wolfson also released a statement to Fox News saying
quote, 'It would be natural for the President and for the First Lady
to have friends and supporters to the White House.'
"Now sources inside and outside the New York
Times tell Fox News that the New York Times has been working on this
story for weeks, that it planned to run with it last Sunday but
decided to hold off till the end of the week. One source inside the
New York Times tells Fox News that the New York Times did not want to
influence the debate, which is going to take place this evening, but
the New York Times says it would never hold off on a complete
and rape, such a humorous topic. The Senate hearing, chaired by John
McCain, on the FTC report on how the entertainment industry targets
kids for its adult-rated products, generated full stories Wednesday
night on ABC, CBS and NBC.
ABC's John Martin
ignored how the very media moguls now being criticized by
Gore-Lieberman are among their biggest funders and instead castigated
Lynne Cheney for her critique of a rap song: "Cheney
misunderstood the lyrics" as the murder and rape theme which
upset her "were meant to be humorous." CBS's Bob Schieffer
asserted that in noting how one mogul has organized a big Democratic
fundraiser, Cheney had "stuck in a partisan knife."
Only NBC made up for
its cheap shot reporting the night before, on the phoney concerns
about the letters "R-A-T-S," by delivering some balance
through a tough piece on Gore's hypocrisy. Claire Shipman
constructed the conflict: "By night, raising big bucks from
Hollywood elite. By day, applauding the FTC report that criticizes the
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led September 13 with Wen Ho Lee but soon got to the
hearing. John Martin described the complaint and industry reaction
before getting to the presidential politics. Martin noted that Joe
Lieberman "said the Columbine high school shootings were a
Lieberman: "It was a warning that the culture
of carnage surrounding our children may have gone too far."
Martin did not
question Lieberman's comment but he did challenge Lynne Cheney whom,
he relayed, had "blasted award winning rap singer Emenem for
singing about killing."
Cheney: "He is a violent misogynist, he
advocates raping and murdering his mother in one of his songs."
Martin countered: "But one executive claimed
Cheney misunderstood the lyrics, suggesting that murder and rape in
this case were meant to be humorous."
Danny Goldberg, CEO of Artemis Records, maintained:
"Most young people I know feel that's a humorous record, not a
Maybe that's the
problem -- youth who find humor in rape and murder.
-- CBS Evening News.
The show led with electricity shortages in California. On the hearings
front, Bob Schieffer also played Lieberman and Lynne Cheney soundbites.
Lieberman insisted: "Vice President Gore and I have demanded an
immediate cease-fire in the marketing of adult-rated products to
Schieffer picked up: "Republican vice
presidential candidate Dick Cheney's wife said the company heads
should be shamed into taking personal responsibility for their
products and, noting the head of one the biggest companies, Miramax
chief Harvey Weinstein, was holding a fundraiser for Democrats, stuck
in a partisan knife."
Lynne Cheney: "I notice that two people of
stature -- Vice President Gore and Senator Lieberman -- are attending
a fundraising extravaganza that Mr. Weinstein is holding on Thursday.
And I would ask them please to deliver this message."
-- NBC Nighty News.
Lisa Myers related how Joe Lieberman decried the "culture of
carnage" and how Lynne Cheney targeted Emenem, in her testimony,
for lyrics which "are both vulgar and violent." To
illustrate, Myers played an audio clip with the words on-screen for
the rap-challenged: "Touch this chainsaw, left his brains all
dangling from his neck while his head barely hangs on. Blood, guts,
Now that's a laugh
Cheney contended the
lyrics "could not be more despicable." Myers added that
"in a shot at her husband's opponent, she notes that studio
chief Harvey Weinstein, who's been criticized for excessively
violent films, is actually helping the Democrats."
Tom Brokaw picked up
on that theme in introducing the next story: "For Vice President
Al Gore, this is a tricky and important issue as he targets those
crucial undecided voters, but as Republicans are quick to point out,
he has a lot to answer for as the number two man in the administration
that's had a cozy and profitable relationship with Hollywood."
Claire Shipman, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, began: "It's a
delicate dance for Al Gore. By night, raising big bucks from Hollywood
elite. By day, applauding the FTC report that criticizes the
Al Gore earlier this week: "Stop targeting
advertising for adult material to young children when you say it's
inappropriate for young children."
Shipman continued: "Why is he taking on
Hollywood so publicly? One reason, Gore advisors know it's an
important issue to undecided voters, especially women. But it's a
performance that has Republicans steamed. They say Gore is
hypocritically seizing a hot political issue in an election
William Bennett charged: "It's the taking of
two contradictory positions at the same time, which is so craven and
so cynical that anybody, any fair-minded person, Republican or
Democrat, ought to see just how gross this is."
Shipman exposed some Gore deviousness:
"Indeed, Hollywood sources tell NBC News that Gore had led
insiders to believe he was not going to trumpet this report, and they
say some in the industry were disturbed by his quote, 'finger
wagging tone,' this week when he threatened legislation. But even
critics of Gore's threats say it won't cost him Hollywood
Joe Eszterhas, screenwriter: "If this
weren't coming from Al Gore and from Joe Lieberman, I think that
there would be protesters on Rodeo Drive, but because it is coming
from a liberal Democrat, we're looking the other way."
the differing standard: "That may also be because Gore has spent
a long time courting Hollywood, a skill he learned the hard way. When
his wife Tipper crusaded against rock music lyrics in the 1980s, she
created a firestorm. And in 1987 when Gore was running for President
he was forced to mend fences, reportedly holding a closed door meeting
with Hollywood bigwigs to clear the air. So when Gore more recently
championed the V chip used to give parents more control over what
their kids watch, he did it with the help of insiders. Why all the
special treatment? Money. In this election cycle the Democrats have
raised more than seven and a half million dollars so far from
Hollywood compared to just over five for Republicans. And Gore's
recent attacks haven't hurt the cash flow. He'll raise about eight
million dollars this week at three star studded fundraisers, including
one at Radio City Music Hall tomorrow. Monday night he heads to Los
Angeles for what his aides hope will be a three million dollar bash,
and that would beat even Bill Clinton's record Hollywood take."
As for that Radio
City Music Hall event, Wednesday's Entertainment Tonight reported
that Julia Roberts, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Michael Douglas will
serve as celebrity emcees.
and CBS ran short, somewhat confusing, items Wednesday night about a
strange campaign event and Dan Rather added his own odd twist.
About 20 minutes
into the September 13 World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings
intoned: "A former Congressman who was helping Al Gore prepare
for the debates got a package in the mail, documents and a video tape
allegedly describing George Bush's debate preparations. The question
is how was the material obtained. The Gore campaign says the package
was unsolicited, when they saw it they called the FBI. The Bush
campaign is eager to find out more."
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather relayed the same basic facts before going off on his
own wacky tangent: "A strategist helping Al Gore prepare for
possible face-to-face television meetings with George Bush reports he
received a package, a package containing papers and a videotape of
Bush preparing for these face-offs. The package came from someone
named Amy who promised more to come. The material was turned over to
the FBI. The FBI is investigating.
"An editor's note: Some call these face-offs
quote, 'debates.' Strictly speaking they are not that."
Dan Rather is not a stable individual.
James Jackson's "stunningly sharp attack" on whom? Wen Ho
Lee's release from jail generated full stories Wednesday night on
ABC, CBS and NBC and all relayed the judge's sharp rebuke, but of
whom or what entity exactly? Each delivered slightly different
descriptions which altered the perception of whether he was
specifically criticizing Clinton appointees.
Only ABC noted he
was a Reagan appointee and was talking about "top
decision-makers" inside two executive branch departments. CBS's
Jim Stewart also named the Justice and Energy departments, but NBC's
George Lewis referred only to "the government's handling of the
case" by "the executive branch."
opened World News Tonight by highlighting how "the judge says
government has embarrassed the nation." Barry Serafin quoted U.S.
District Judge James Parker: "I sincerely apologize to you, Dr.
Lee, for the unfair manner in which you were held in custody."
Serafin added: "The judge, a Reagan appointee, pointed to those
he called 'top decision-makers' in the departments of Justice and
Energy, declaring 'they have embarrassed our entire nation and each
one of us who is a citizen of it.'"
On the September 13
CBS Evening News, Jim Stewart proclaimed: "The judge who freed
him issued a stunningly sharp attack on the government for the way the
case was handled. 'I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the
unfair manner in which you were held.' The departments of Justice
and Energy 'have embarrassed our entire nation' said Judge James
George Lewis on the
NBC Nightly News announced only: "Federal Judge James Parker
stunned the entire courtroom by blasting the government's handling
of the case, calling it an 'embarrassment to the entire nation,'
adding quote: 'I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the unfair
manner in which you were held in custody by the executive
removed. Wednesday morning the "rats" ad story only animated
NBC's Today for a second day as the show actually treated as
newsworthy the PR gimmick by two liberal Senators who promised they
will request that the FCC investigate the "subliminal" ad.
The show also brought Newsweek's Howard Fineman aboard to point out
how the media-generated controversy is blocking Bush from getting his
ABC's Good Morning
America only aired a few anchor-read briefs on the rats ad while
CBS's The Early Show moved on to new poll numbers and Bush's
troubles in general. Gumbel trumpeted:
"There's good news for Al Gore this morning.
The latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 40 percent of the
voters surveyed now believe that Gore will win the election compared
to 38 percent for George W. Bush. That's a dramatic switch from August
when a similar poll showed that 47 percent thought Bush would win the
White House compared to just 33 percent for Gore. As for whom
Americans say they would vote for if the election were held today,
Gore received 42 percent to Bush's 39. That's his biggest lead in this
poll to date."
campaign with Mario Cuomo and Jack Kemp, Gumbel actually posed a
question which picked up on conservative concerns, MRC analyst Brian
Boyd noticed. Gumbel added his own edge in asking Kemp: "Some
Republicans are now saying that Bush should get out and go back to
hard-line Republican conservative themes. Is that an admission that
their make-nice convention was misguided?"
Kemp argued that's
not the way to go.
On Today, Ann Curry
ominously warned: "There is more fallout this morning from the
so-called 'rats' ad from the Republican National Committee. The ad is
no longer running but two members of Congress now want the FCC to
promoted the gambit, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"Democratic senators Ron Wyden and John Breaux in this letter
obtained by NBC News request a Federal Communications Commission
investigation. Writing the Republican ad contains quote, 'subliminal
messages in violation of the public interest.' Nonsense claimed
Governor Bush in Florida, Tuesday."
Gregory relayed the
Bush team defense of the ad before concluding: "The timing of
this latest flap couldn't be worse for the Texas Governor. He spent
most of last week fending off distractions like his use of an
expletive to describe a reporter and Republican criticism of his
campaign. And now two days before the start of the Olympics when
advisors expect the public's attention to turn away from politics,
aides fear Bush is losing the opportunity to turn things around. Today
Bush talks about the environment. Aides promising a new policy
initiative with the hope that talking about issues again, instead of
politics can help the Governor get back on stride."
broadcast network coverage of Bush's environmental policy speech:
Fineman piled on, never considering the media's role in creating the
distraction: He told news reader Ann Curry: "Well it's damaging
Ann in that he can't get his message out. He wanted to talk about
prescription drugs. He wanted to say his plan was better. Instead all
of the attention and focus was on the ad. And this all too typical of
the way the Bush campaign has been. Are they for ads or not? Are they
turning nasty or not? Do they hate The New York Times or not? It's
just another distraction from a campaign that very much needs to focus
on big ideas and a big message if it's gonna have a chance to
Curry: "Well what does Bush have to do to
refocus his campaign? And do you think he can?"
Fineman: "Well ironically Ann what he needs
most right now are debates...."
Like the media would
then actually focus on policy issues? -- Brent Baker
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