Convicted Felon’s Tales of Oppression Without Rebuttal
Susan McDougal vs. Nazi Starr?
Susan McDougal stands convicted of felonies in the
theft of a fraudulent Small Business Administration loan. She is now
jailed for contempt for refusing to answer vital questions about whether
the President perjured himself in her trial. But Dateline NBC
didn’t present her as a crook, but as a victim of historical
Stone Phillips spent the first of the October 5 and 6
pieces raising McDougal to martyr status through sympathetic accounts of
her imprisonment. He interviewed one of her prison mates: "Butch told
Dateline that while Susan McDougal was locked in her cell for up to
23 hours a day, other prisoners, even the accused murderers, were
allowed to watch TV and socialize."
On the second night Phillips took McDougal’s
outrageous claims of oppression to a new network TV low. McDougal
compared Starr’s tactics to the Nazis, and Phillips didn’t even feign
surprise at this remark. He merely elaborated: "Kenneth Starr a Nazi? To
understand the depth of Susan McDougal’s hatred for the man who had her
jailed, you have to understand the depth of her love for the woman who’s
been her inspiration...Susan McDougal’s mother Lorette Hinley knows all
about standing firm under enormous pressure. As a teenager in
Nazi-occupied Belgium she saw first- hand how the Gestapo turned
neighbor against neighbor forcing people to lie about loved ones who
were then arrested or shot. She says her family defied them, going so
far as to hide Resistance fighters in their basement."
Phillips continued: "Those lessons from the war were
often told around the family dinner table in Camden, Arkansas but never
with more at stake than in September 1996, the night before Susan was
scheduled to testify before a Whitewater grand jury. She’d already been
convicted of fraud, and she says prosecutors were offering to lighten
her two year sentence if she’d testify against the Clintons, but that
night she called her family together to tell them...she wasn’t going to
testify at all."
After more Nazi comparisons by McDougal and her
mother, Phillips finally asked: "Is it fair to compare Kenneth Starr to
the Nazis? Isn’t Kenneth Starr just doing what prosecutors do everyday
in this country, offering leniency to those who cooperate and upping the
pressure on those who don’t talk?"
Phillips ended by lofting this softball: "Your family
says that you could make two phone calls. One to the prosecutors, one to
a publisher and you’d be free and you’d be rich. Are those phone calls
you’ll ever make?" Phillips seemed to forget she has yet to serve time
for the fraudulent Whitewater loans she and the Clintons never repaid.
Kaplan’s No-Scandal Decree
Can you do a two-hour show on campaign fundraising and
not use the word "scandal"? Incredibly enough, under the command of new
CNN President Rick Kaplan the answer is yes. The September 15 Washington
Whispers section of U.S. News & World Report relayed that at his
first early morning board meeting in Atlanta, "Kaplan raised a few
eyebrows by telling CNN staffers to limit their use of the word scandal
in reporting on Clinton’s campaign fundraising woes." U.S. News
added: "A longtime Clinton friend, Kaplan has stayed in the Lincoln
Weeks later, on October 7, CNN aired a two-hour
special titled "The Money Trail: Democracy for Sale" which examined the
GOP and argued for campaign finance reform, but also summarized charges
against Clinton. Nonetheless, the phrase "Clinton scandal" was never
The words "scandal" or "scandals" appeared just four
times. Twice in the Crossfire segment of the special liberal Bill
Press claimed that Republicans are trying to use scandal to bring down
Clinton since they can’t win on the issues. At another point,
Moneyline anchor Lou Dobbs made reference to how "the campaign
funding scandal hasn’t slowed the parties’ lust for soft money." And the
fourth "scandal" mention? Here it is, from Brooks Jackson: "So, you want
to be a Washington player, get next to the powerful, lobby for a tax
break or a nice ambassador’s job? If you’ve got money, I can help.
First, you’ve got to get around that law they enacted back in ‘74 after
the Watergate scandal..."
Kaplan’s Grocery Bill
A federal judge ruled in late August that Rick Kaplan
must pay a penalty to Food Lion for his role as Executive Producer of
ABC’s Prime Time Live when it ran the infamous undercover story
on the grocery chain. Federal Judge N. Carlton Tilley in North Carolina
reduced the jury award from $5.5 million to $315,000 in punitive
damages. The judge also lessened but did not drop the penalty on Kaplan
and producer Ira Rosen, who is still with ABC. They must each pay
$7,500, down from the original $35,000.
ABC appealed the ruling, but the judge rebuked the
tactics sanctioned by Kaplan: "Despite the many protections necessary
for the proper operation of the press, it would be a peculiar rule
indeed which immunized illegal activity, undertaken with a consciousness
of wrongdoing, from punishment and deterrence."
Clinton’s Bias Watchdog
Donald Baer left his White House Communications
Director post in August to help create a new media monitoring magazine,
Content. The ex-U.S. News & World Report Assistant
Managing Editor who jumped to the Clinton team as chief speechwriter in
1994, has joined the magazine to be launched in early 1998 by Steven
Brill, founder of CourtTV. A prototype, the Washington Post
reported Sept. 8, features a cover showing the Big Three anchors: "We’re
Never Sorry (Just try getting the networks to make a correction.)"
But don’t expect Baer to push for an article on the
media skipping many Clinton scandal developments. In a September 23,
1996 Weekly Standard profile, Christopher Caldwell relayed, "One
New Democrat who met Baer at a dinner last year described him as ‘bland
beyond description, a fount of cliches. ‘Clinton was the moral leader of
the Universe,’ and all that.’"
Anchors Push McCain-Feingold
Lobbying for "Reform"
On the night of the Senate’s first vote to invoke
cloture on the campaign finance "reform" debate, the network anchors
mourned the death of the big government McCain-Feingold bill.
As Peter Jennings put it on the October 7 World
News Tonight: "Now let’s turn to getting money out of politics. In
the full Senate today campaign finance reform never had a chance.
Reformers have been trying to change the system that many people think
has caused so many of the fundraising problems but the McCain-Feingold
bill, as it’s called, one Republican, one Democrat, went down to defeat
On CBS, Bob Schieffer also painted more government
rules as the natural answer to 1996 campaign corruption: "For all the
outrage at the hearings today, a few hours later Senate Republican
Leader Lott went to the Senate floor and used parliamentary tactics to
prevent the Senate from voting on campaign reform legislation. That, for
all practical purposes, killed reform for another year and the
Democratic leader saw some irony in that."
NBC’s Tom Brokaw rued the loss of more government
regulation: "For all the rhetoric and the outrage about what happened in
the ‘96 campaign, a bill that would overhaul the system was all but
killed off today in a partisan battle. It was sunk by two procedural
votes. One of which was a Republican amendment requiring labor unions to
poll their members before making campaign contributions. Democrats saw
that as a deliberate attempt to kill reform."
To the media, opponents of McCain-Feingold are simply
enemies of good government, not protectors of civil rights. This was
evident in Tom Brokaw’s September 26 Nightly News introduction to
a profile of Mitch McConnell, a key defender of free speech: "And
tonight NBC’s Gwen Ifill tells us about a Republican Senator who is a
one-man wrecking crew when it comes to campaign finance reform and he’s
proud of it."
None of the stories noted that new restrictions on who
could advertise before an election would make the media even more
influential. Nor did they alert viewers to an "evolution" of the bill.
The broadcasters got "reform" backers to drop mandatory free TV time for
Janet Cooke Award
Dateline NBC’s Jane Pauley Presents Another
One-Sided Tour of the Hill-Thomas Hearings
All Hail Anita Hill, Millionaire Victim
The liberal media see the Paula Jones sexual
harassment lawsuit against President Clinton as a politicized publicity
stunt that does little more than cause pain to the Clinton family. So
why do these same media outlets keep running the propaganda films of
Not one witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee
in 1991 would confirm they witnessed any part of her wild charges
against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Not one "corroborating"
witness could even claim she’d ever named Thomas as her harasser.
But media liberals do not care if rehashing these
charges again multiply the pain to Justice Thomas and his family. When
Newsday reporter Timothy Phelps wrote a pro-Hill book in 1992,
ABC and NBC interviewed him. When Wall Street Journal reporters
Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer wrote a pro-Hill book in 1994, all the
networks interviewed them, and ABC devoted a one-hour special and a
Nightline to their attacks on Thomas. Now in 1997, NBC aired two
Today interviews and two Dateline segments to help sell
Hill’s book — a financial bonanza Hill swore before the Senate she would
never undertake. For presenting yet another tribute to Hill’s "courage"
without the inconvenience of an opposing view, Dateline earned
the Janet Cooke Award.
In Dateline’s two promotional segments on
September 29 and 30, host Jane Pauley presented Hill as a victim, making
almost no reference to Hill’s post-hearing career, of dozens of speaking
appearances for a fee of $10,000 to $12,000 per event, or her two-book
deal for $1 million. At the end of the second segment, Dateline’s
only mention of Hill’s good fortune was used to further glorify Hill’s
image. Stone Phillips announced: "Some of the profits from Hill’s book
are going to a scholarship fund for survivors of the Oklahoma City
After beginning with a new poll showing more people
now believe Hill than Thomas, Pauley used old pictures and current
staged photo-ops of Hill standing on her old Oklahoma farm to create
maximum sympathy. "Speaking Truth to Power, Anita Hill’s just
released autobiography tells how the thirteenth child of a poor black
Oklahoma farmer came to face fourteen white Senators and an audience of
millions on a weekend in October few will ever forget."
Pauley’s questions never reflected the possibility
that Hill had made up a story for partisan gain: "She had liked the work
and got on well with her boss until, she said, he started pressuring her
for dates and when she declined began to torment her with crude and
suggestive remarks. Ten years later, she waited for Senate investigators
to track her down as reporters already had. She agonized over what she’d
tell them." She asked Hill: "Courage came slowly, didn’t it?" Later, as
Hill expressed surprise that Thomas denied her charges, Pauley cooed: "I
can see the steel in your spine even as you say that."
For two nights, Pauley presented Hill as the victim of
a smear campaign — and never as the creator of one. Take this sentence:
"Though her charges were explosive and potentially fatal to Clarence
Thomas’ career, it was Anita Hill who faced the firing line." As if
Thomas never faced a firing line that weekend.
Pauley recycled the charges made against Hill by
Republican Senators, who were asked to cross-examine Hill on her
credibility with only a couple of days to search for affidavits. For
example, Sen. Alan Simpson was quoted saying: "So if we had 104 days to
go into Miss Hill [as the Democrats had to investigate Thomas and his
personal life], to go into her background, her proclivities..." Pauley
jumped in: "Conservative columnist William Safire shared the common
interpretation that in fact ‘proclivities’ was in fact a veiled
suggestion that she was a lesbian."
But if NBC had considered David Brock’s book The
Real Anita Hill, they would have found what Simpson said he was
talking about: a former student of Hill’s at Oral Roberts University who
told Simpson that weekend that Hill had once approached him at ORU and
said in a suggestive manner "I know your favorite color is chocolate."
On an another occasion, Hill asked teasingly "Who do you think you are,
Long Dong Silver?" The student told Brock he thought of her as "the
world’s kinkiest law professor," but his father objected to requests for
an affidavit, saying it would hurt his son’s career. Brock added that
Hill’s friend at EEOC, Diane Holt, couldn’t believe Hill was presented
as a prim Baptist, when they often discussed men and sex at EEOC.
Pauley also noted: "In the end, she’d be called a liar
for the record." NBC aired Sen. Arlen Specter claiming he suspected Hill
of perjury. But Thomas was also accused of lying, not only about Hill,
but about his claim he’d never discussed the Roe v. Wade abortion
decision. Liberals took out ads looking for people to discredit Thomas
on that claim, but no one came forward.
By contrast, on pages 380 and 381 of Brock’s book, he
lists 13 separate occasions where Hill lied or differed with dozens of
other witnesses. For example, she claimed she moved from the Education
Department to the EEOC because she thought she’d be out of a job,
despite repeated explanations that she was a "career" employee, and
despite Thomas’s successor, Harry Singleton, saying he asked her to stay
on. But Pauley was too busy creating a sympathetic victim to review the
Pauley mentioned Sen. John Danforth. She told Hill he
"says there was a mission of destruction, but you weren’t the victim he
was thinking about, Clarence Thomas was." Pauley aired Hill’s reaction
before asserting: "Danforth never wavered in his support of Thomas but
now admits he ‘fought dirty’ and that his connivings to disseminate the
dirt about Hill even months after the hearings went too far." Pauley
returned to that thought when she concluded the second Dateline
story, referring to the first story’s beginning, with the idea of Hill’s
parents being shocked at the scandalous allegations hurled in the
hearing room: "Former Senator Danforth, Justice Thomas’s Senate sponsor
said, ‘I make no apology for trying to defend my friend. He went through
a wretched ordeal. Never again should we allow this to happen in
America.’ In fact, the thing Anita Hill wants most is an apology, but
not to her — to her parents."
Aretha Marshall, producer of the NBC segments, did not
return MediaWatch phone calls. To complete their
promotion, NBC excerpted the Hill book on the MSNBC Web site. Despite
all the liberal media help, Hill thinks she’s the victim of an unfair
press: "The media’s lack of sensitivity about harassment, the brevity of
coverage allotted, along with media manipulation by White House staff
members and consultants may explain the faulty coverage. And these
factors may shed light on why, throughout the process, an independent
press went along with the Republican perspective." No surprise the
Republicans wondered whether she was divorced from reality.
Suspect Schieffer. During
the hearings on IRS abuses of taxpayers, CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer
continually questioned the motives behind them. On the September 24
This Morning, Schieffer told anchor Jane Robelot: "Republican
leaders in the Senate have sent out fundraising letters soliciting
donations by saying, ‘Your support will help us to end the reign of
terror of the IRS.’ So, while it’s true there are certainly some reforms
needed in the IRS, I think because these fundraising letters have been
sent out, a lot of people think these hearings are suspect."
On that weekend’s Face the Nation, Schieffer
conceded his bias in a question to Senator Orrin Hatch: "I think one
reason that a lot of people in Washington, and I include myself in that
group, did not take these hearings all that seriously in the beginning
is that the Republicans sent out some fairly odious, in my view,
fundraising letters where they said, you know, send us ten dollars and
we’ll help bring pressure to get rid of the IRS. And I think people, in
some cases, saw these hearings as just a part of a Republican
fundraising effort...But do you think it’s not such a good idea in
retrospect to be, trying to raise money on the idea of eliminating the
Sheila Who? On the October 2
World News Tonight, ABC’s Sam Donaldson asked: "Remember Sheila
Heslin, the former White House National Security Council official who
told the Senate committee how she did her best to keep the notorious oil
pipeline entrepreneur and big bucks Democratic contributor, Roger Tamraz,
from obtaining a private meeting with President Clinton?"
How could you remember Heslin if you were a loyal
viewer of World News Tonight? ABC hadn’t introduced her. When
Heslin testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs committee on
September 17 about how she was pressured to give Tamraz a personal
meeting with President Clinton, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw called it "the
most compelling evidence so far of just how far the Clinton
administration would go to raise money for its campaign." But NBC was
the only broadcast network to air Heslin’s story.
Donaldson revealed the Justice Department has decided
not to pay Heslin’s legal bill "which amounts to thousands of dollars."
He continued: "It is said that virtue is its own reward. But having to
pay for the honor of possessing it would probably strike most people as
grossly unfair and the betting here is that one way or the other Uncle
Sam will eventually pick up the tab."
One America? The networks
portrayed the President’s national racial advisory board as America’s
last great hope for racial healing and open-mindedness. But if the
networks closely examined the diversity board’s members they would have
discovered the opinions of the board are anything but diverse.
In the October 13 National Review, Evan Gahr
highlighted the very narrow and liberal views of the board’s members.
Gahr noted board member and California lawyer Angela Oh justified the
criminal actions during the Los Angeles riots of 1992. "There is no way
in hell that the events of the past several days can be placed on our
shoulders, black or Korean...The chaos was the result of much larger
failures — political, economic, and social."
Gahr revealed panel chairman John Hope Franklin’s
monolithic version of diversity in describing Supreme Court Justice
Clarence Thomas: "You always have such people in any group...I suspect
they may be Judases of a kind...betrayers, opportunists, immoral
opportunists. It’s very tempting, I suppose, for people of weak
character to be co-opted by the majority that can use them." Franklin
also blamed GOP critics of quotas: "In an atmosphere of tolerance of
racial bigotry parading under the banner of racial neutrality, white
students have been encouraged to intimidate, terrorize, and make life
miserable for African-American students at many of our institutions."
On the June 13 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw
overlooked all this when he announced the new Clinton panel: "President
Clinton tonight launched a campaign to try to narrow this country’s
racial division. He held a meeting with his newly appointed task force
on race relations, which is headed by historian John Hope Franklin. And
tomorrow the President will give a major speech on the subject in San
Diego. The theme here: promoting racial healing to create, what he
calls, one America."
Honesty: Not the Best Policy.
When University of Texas (UT) law professor Lino Graglia spoke out
against racial quotas in college admissions, saying they lead to the
admission of blacks and Hispanics who "are not academically competitive
with whites," it caused an uproar among the liberal student body and the
liberal networks. Good Morning America devoted a segment to the
controversy. NBC’s Today aired a debate between Graglia and a
Latino student, preceded by a Jim Cummins news story. NBC showed Graglia
in sinister-looking slow motion accompanied by Cummins: "Michael
Sherlott, Dean of the University of Texas Law School, says Graglia’s
remarks are regrettable." After a Graglia soundbite from his news
conference ("I’m afraid there is no way that I can avoid being called
racist"), Cummins concluded: "A subject for discussion, perhaps, in the
course he teaches on race relations."
On the September 16 CBS Evening News, Dan
Rather introduced the story as "a new reminder tonight of our racial
problems." Reporter Bob McNamara opened "At the University of Texas,
where a white law professor’s remarks about minority students stunned a
campus, Reverend Jesse Jackson came wading into the fray," followed by a
soundbite of Jackson urging a boycott of Graglia.
Without debating the substance of Graglia’s remarks,
McNamara focused on student outrage and calls for Graglia’s ouster,
claiming "the furor over the remarks is part of the fallout of a federal
court ruling outlawing affirmative action recruiting programs at all
colleges in Texas." McNamara warned darkly: "Administrators promise an
investigation, and until the findings are known, Professor Lino Graglia
remains ‘professor non grata.’"
But The Weekly Standard noted Graglia’s remarks
matched what UT official Mark Gergen wrote in a 1989 memo: "It is
impossible to make meaningful distinctions between Black and MA
[Mexican- American] applicants without some sort of quota as a
reference, for compared to our Anglo applicants, virtually none would
get in. In prior years I could rationalize what I did as admitting all
who had a decent chance of succeeding in law school. Experience proves
many of those I voted for could not compete."
No Extremists on the Left.
Greenpeace is an organization that defines itself by radical politics —
and radical tactics. They chain themselves to ships, trespass and show
little respect for property rights, a sort of green militia. But the
media don’t present them as extreme. On September 16, Peter Jennings
began: "One of the world’s most familiar organizations has acknowledged
it is in terrible trouble. The environmental group Greenpeace, which has
led the way in confronting those who they regard as doing harm to the
environment, has been obliged to reduce its American operation
Positive Greenpeace spin also came from anchor Aaron
Brown on the August 16 edition of World News Tonight: "These are
difficult days for the environmental group Greenpeace, probably the best
known, and most active of all the environmental groups."
Greenpeace was described as "familiar," "active," and
"well known." But consider a conservative group that’s faced declining
membership — the NRA. On May 19, 1995, Peter Jennings began World
News Tonight: "We begin tonight with the National Rifle Association,
one of the most feared, most criticized, and most resilient lobbying
groups in the nation." Or try Carole Simpson introducing a NRA story on
the May 5, 1997 World News Tonight, run right after a look at the
Republic of Texas militia: "It is extremist groups, like the one in
Texas, that the National Rifle Association hopes to distance itself
But the spin does not end with the anchors. Take ABC
reporters on why the groups lost support. In 1995, Judy Muller found
extremism: "The NRA’s recent reputation as a group representing more
radical elements has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars of
membership dues among some high-profile resignations." For Greenpeace,
reporter Ned Potter noted tactics, but not ideology: "Maybe that
confrontational image backfired...But Greenpeace disagrees. Sure, maybe
it needs some leaner management, it says, but you save more oceans by
making picturesque protests than by lobbying like everyone else." Potter
concluded warmly: "Greenpeace will keep going, but it’s having to
reexamine itself at a time when it says the world’s problems are as
urgent as ever."
Importing New Welfare Victims.
After Congress passed a law limiting food stamp eligibility for
immigrants, for the September 28 Evening News CBS found a
sympathetic "victim" of the new policy. Anchor John Roberts introduced
Sharyl Attkisson’s story: "In this country many poor legal immigrants
are now being forced to live without food stamps. Tough new welfare
rules are limiting who gets federal help. And as Sharyl Attkisson
reports, the immigrant community is struggling to cope."
Her story focused on legal immigrant Moises Sapiro, a
recent Russian emigre who doesn’t work, can’t speak English and gets $15
a month of food stamps "to help him survive in America," aid halted by
the new law. Attkisson saw Sapiro as just one example in an onrushing
wave of imperiled immigrants: "About a million legal immigrants are
losing their food stamps, so the states are being forced to step in.
Eleven already have started new food aid programs." But she didn’t
question how losing fifty cents a day would imperil Sapiro’s "survival."
Attkisson did allow Rep. Bob Goodlatte to explain that
the law simply insisted that newly legalized immigrants hold up their
end of the bargain by supporting themselves: "It is...a very fair thing
to do, to simply say, this is the agreement you reached when you came
into this country." But Attkisson countered by visiting a church deacon
who fretted over his ability to feed the expected onslaught of hungry
immigrants, noting: "It’s too soon to know how many will be looking for
new help. But food banks across the country run by charities are already
strained." She concluded by relaying fear of impending horrors: "For
those who are seeing their grocery money slashed, there’s a real anxiety
about where they’ll get their next meal."
Scary Harry. In a September
28 60 Minutes profile of calypso singer Harry Belafonte, Ed
Bradley described him as "a singer, actor, producer, and ambassador for
human rights." Really? So why does Bradley’s human rights ambassador
back the Cuban dictatorship? In 1992, he was listed as a supporter of
the worldwide rallies sponsored by Peace for Cuba International Appeal.
Flyers distributed by rally organizers stated: "The Pentagon is
practicing invasion exercises while Bush attacks Cuba for resisting his
‘new world order.’ A strong rally will let Bush and the Pentagon know
that they don’t have a free hand to make war against Cuba."
On Donahue in 1994, Belafonte did not blame the
failure of "democratic" Marxism in developing nations on Marxism, but on
the U.S.: "Whether it’s Aristide, or it’s [Salvador] Allende in
Chile...or it’s [Patrice] Lumumba [in the Congo], everywhere you look,
when...people have had miserable consequence [sic] in their efforts of
trying to become democratic, you find America at the center of it all."
Bradley saw no irony in a man who rails against
anti-communist policies, but when reflecting on what the U.S. has
afforded him, stated: "Life has been overwhelmingly rewarding for me.
And I’ve looked at it and I’ve said my God, to have come from abject
poverty and to now be told that I am a national treasure, wow what a
Frenzy Over Princess Diana's
Death Buries Senate Fundraising Hearing Coverage
Celebrity Culture Sinks Politics Again
In July, MediaWatch noted how compelling details of
the Senate fundraising hearings were buried by the media frenzy over the
murder of designer Gianni Versace, with a Versace-to-hearings ratio of 7
to 1 on the network morning shows.
At the end of August, Britain's Princess Diana died in
a car crash. While the death of the most photographed woman in the world
is news, it is certainly not as important as a fundraising imbroglio
implicating President Clinton and Vice President Gore, the two most
powerful men in the world.
Or is it? MediaWatch analysts examined fundraising
scandal stories in August and September on the Big Three morning shows
and evening shows, plus CNN's The World Today. The networks broadcast
686 stories on Diana between August 31 and the end of September compared
to just 113 stories about the fundraising scandal. That's a ratio of
more than 6 to 1. Isolating the morning shows, collectively they aired
407 stories on Princess Diana's death, while devoting just 36 to the
scandal. That's an astonishing ratio of 10 to 1.
In August, the networks combined for a paltry total of
16 full stories and five anchor briefs on the evening shows, and five
full stories and two briefs in the morning. In the evening, ABC aired
only one fundraising story in the whole month. CBS was next with four
full stories and one brief, followed by NBC Nightly News with five full
stories (mostly about Johnny Chung) and two anchor briefs. CNN The World
Today ran the most coverage with six full stories and two anchor briefs.
TV coverage picked up when Sen. Fred Thompson's
Governmental Affairs Committee reconvened hearings in September, but
many disclosures were missed. The evening shows broadcast a total of 51
full stories of scandal coverage with 25 anchor briefs.
Like most other months this year, most networks
skipped fundraising stories on a majority of their broadcasts. In
September's 30 days, with the Thompson hearings in their most dramatic
stage, the morning shows were all guilty (CBS 28 days with no story, NBC
24, ABC 22). In the evening, CBS, ABC (both 20 nights off) and NBC (19)
took more than half the month off, while only CNN (12) didn't.
The Big Three morning shows aired a total of 21 full
stories and 17 anchor briefs on the fundraising scandal. Like July and
August, the morning shows did not have a single member of the Senate
Governmental Affairs Committee on to discuss the hearings.
CBS This Morning broadcast just two anchor briefs and
one full story, and it was about Justice Department inquiries, not the
Thompson hearings. That's three reports compared to 109 on Diana's
death. On ABC's Good Morning America, the Diana-to- scandal ratio was
145 to 17. Like the Versace story, NBC's Todaybroadcast the most Diana
segments with 153, versus 18 segments on fundraising.
CNN's The World Today showed 92 segments on Princess
Diana's death while airing 34 segments on fundraising in September. CNN
offered a segment on the Thompson hearings almost every day they were in
session in September. Though The World Today had about twice the stories
as the other newscasts, the show is twice as long.
In the evening, NBC aired the second most stories,
devoting 15 segments to the fundraising story, compared to 66 on Diana.
CBS broadcast 67 segments about Diana, but just 14 about the fundraising
scandal. ABC showed the least Diana segments (46) but only aired 12
stories on fundraising, creating the greatest discrepancy between Diana
news and fundraising news at a ratio of almost 4 to 1.
In addition to spotty coverage of the Thompson
hearings, the networks continued to ignore interesting print
developments in the scandal:
August 5: A New York
Daily News story detailed how Al Gore made at least 48 calls from the
White House, many more than he previously admitted. Coverage: None at
August 8: The Washington
Post reported the DNC handed over 4,000 pages of documents from the
files of its former Finance Chairman Richard Sullivan after he
testified, rendering them almost useless to the committee. Coverage:
August 1: NBC aired an
interview with Johnny Chung, who told viewers that aides to Energy
Secretary Hazel O'Leary demanded he make a $25,000 contribution to the
Secretary's favorite charity before he could discuss arranging a meeting
with her. But CBS News viewers didn't hear about the scandal until
almost a full month later. Through September, ABC News viewers still had
not heard Chung's explosive charges about O'Leary.
September 6: The
Washington Post published an article alleging that Al Gore knew the
nature of the Buddhist temple event because he referred to it as a
"fundraiser" in an e-mail he sent to a staffer. Coverage: Zero.
September 9: DNC Chairman
Don Fowler testified before the Senate Government Affairs Committee.
Despite saturation coverage of RNC Chairman Haley Barbour's appearance a
few months before, neither ABC's World News Tonight nor any morning show
filed a report.
September 11: Gene and
Nora Lum, big Democratic contributors and major players in the
fundraising scandal, were sentenced to 10 months in prison for hiding
illegal donations to Senator Ted Kennedy's re-election campaign.
Coverage: Zilch. Also, Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger
testified before the Thompson committee. Coverage: only CNN, and ABC
(for 18 seconds).
September 12: The Los
Angeles Times reported that top intelligence officials told the Thompson
panel that Ted Sioeng, a big Democratic donor, may have been the conduit
for money and a major player in a Chinese scheme to influence the U.S.
elections. Network coverage: nothing.
September 18: The
Washington Post story was headlined "Papers Show Use of DNC Ads to Help
Clinton." The story quoted consultant Dick Morris on how the Clinton
campaign could evade the spirit of election laws and press its
advertising themes with DNC soft money. Network coverage at that time?
September 19: A trio of
Democratic consultants plead guilty to funneling union money into
Teamsters' President Ron Carey's re-election campaign. Coverage: Only
CNN, and a Good Morning America anchor brief on ABC.
September 26: The Los
Angeles Times reported a Senate deposition of Clinton aide Harold Ickes
revealed he witnessed Clinton make calls from the White House. Network
coverage? ABC and NBC did zero, CBS Evening News gave it 21 seconds, and
CNN had noted the deposition on the 12th.
the Bright Side
Sweden’s Socialist Shame
Most network news reports from Europe extol the
virtues of socialism, so it must have been a surprise for viewers of
Nightline to see the September 16 look at Sweden’s attempt to build
the master race.
Ted Koppel opened: "Eugenics sterilization, this
belief that we can protect or even improve the human race by social
engineering, by deciding who should or who should not be permitted to
have children has, it turns out, been fairly widespread. It was carried
out to its most obscene limits, of course, in Nazi Germany. That, we
knew. What most of us didn’t know was that it was carried out long after
the end of the Second World War in a country renowned, as John Laurence
now reports, as one of the most enlightened."
After outlining the socialist ideal of equality,
Laurence continued: "There is also a dark side to Sweden. Now it is
known that for 40 years, between 1935 and 1976, Swedish doctors
routinely sterilized tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, mostly
young, mostly women." Those seen as less desirable were identified,
including gypsies and Jews.
As the show ended Koppel observed: "What is so
mind-boggling about this, John, is we’re talking about the Swedes here.
We’re not talking about a bunch of fascists in World War II Germany, and
yet, this happened in this paradise of social engineering."
Good News About Guns
For all the stories filled with anecdotes about
accidental shootings NBC actually aired a story on the upside of gun
On the September 26 Nightly News Tom Brokaw
introduced a Kerry Sanders piece: "As senior citizens become more and
more visible in our society and with their rising level of affluence,
the sad fact is they are also becoming more popular as targets of
crime...But in Florida fair warning from the Jacksonville area. They are
not afraid to fight back even if it means shooting back."
Sanders talked to a waitress at a restaurant that was
robbed at gunpoint. After she described her initial fright Sanders went
to a heroic customer: "As she marched with the gun in her back a
security camera shows most of the 40 customers hiding under the tables.
But not 69 year old Ryland Moore."
After Moore recounted his shooting of the robber
Sanders noted how the elderly were taking advantage of the concealed
weapons law. "Nationwide an increasing number of elderly are taking gun
safety classes and then carrying pistols for protection."
Sanders did talk to a local deputy worried about the
danger of gun use, but he gave the last word to a resolute Moore. "So
when you replay this in your mind, any mistakes?" Moore replied he
wished he had a bigger gun so, "I would have stopped him dead."
Even Liberals See Liberal Bias
Only Media Still in Denial
Journalists are about the only group still refusing to
acknowledge liberal media bias. A recent poll found that even liberals
see a liberal over a conservative bias. The Center for Media and Public
Affairs retained the Louis Harris Organization to conduct a poll of
3,000 people about attitudes toward the press. Amongst the findings
reported in the May/June edition of the center’s newsletter:
n "Majorities of all major groups in the population,
including 70 percent of self-described liberals, now see a ‘fair amount’
or ‘great deal’ of bias in the news. Only among high school dropouts
does the perception of bias drop below 60 percent; among college
graduates it rises above 80 percent. In general, perceptions of bias
rise along with levels of education and political participation."
n "Those who see a liberal tilt outnumber those who
detect a conservative bias by more than a two to one margin. Forty three
percent describe the news media’s perspective on politics as liberal,
compared to 33 percent who see it as a middle of the road, and 19
percent who find it to be conservative."
n "Even self-described liberals agree: 41 percent see
the media as liberal, compared to only 22 percent who find the news to
be conservative. Among self-designated conservatives, of course, the
spread is even greater: 57 percent say the media are liberal and 19
percent see them as conservative."
The newsletter explained how these results disprove
what reporters contend: "These findings challenge the argument of some
journalists that bias is purely in the eye of the beholder" since
"moderates and liberals alike see liberal bias in the media twice as
often as they see conservative bias."
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