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From the January 1999 MediaWatch


Dream Team

The House impeachment managers are a bunch of conservative Christian zealots? Take it from CBS reporter Phil Jones, and his GOP helper. In a January 6 Evening News piece, Jones used Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to paint the managers as extremists out to get the President rather than men preserving justice and the rule of law.

Jones asserted: "Democrats believe the House managers are conservative zealots, and some Republicans agree." Viewers saw King claim: "It’s a very hard-core group...who are very hard-nosed and determined to get Bill Clinton."

Jones agreed: "Indeed, the impeachment managers are strikingly alike. All 13 are white, all 13 males, all 13 Christians, all 13 lawyers....And says Republican Congressman Peter King, who voted against impeachment, they hear something he’s not hearing." King said they "live in an echo chamber" where they think everyone shares their low opinion of Clinton. If liberal Democrats had impeached a GOP President, how likely is it CBS would have used a conservative Democrat to tag his party’s majority as a bunch of extremists?

Of course, the tagging didn’t stop there. NBC’s Lisa Myers implied conservatives have inherent racist and chauvinistic tendencies. In a January 14 Nightly News report, she described the House managers this way: "To conservatives, they may be the dream team. Thirteen lawyers, all white, all male, all conservative with varying degrees of legal talent."


Lisa’s Byrd Bath
In a brief hagiography of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) which aired on both NBC Nightly News and MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams January 5, Lisa Myers found a man renowned for his "unflinching devotion to principle" and "a Democrat known for integrity and independence."

Referring to Byrd as "the Senate’s most respected voice on impeachment," Myers touted a scholar and a stickler for the Constitution. While "most politicians quote public opinion polls, Byrd quotes the founding fathers and Greek and French philosophers."

Myers ran through a decidedly sanitized version of Byrd’s biography: "This from an orphan who grew up in grinding poverty, worked first as a butcher and earned his law degree at night after he was elected to the senate from West Virginia. His only known indulgence, his fiddle, which he gave up in sorrow after his grandson died. For Byrd, it was a matter of sacrifice, a matter of principle." Myers concluded: "Whatever the verdict, Robert Byrd will make sure it’s done right, for the Senate and for history."

Myers left out Byrd’s membership in the Ku Klux Klan, his opposition to the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, and his reputation as the King of Pork Barreling. But when Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) set the record for length of Senate service on May 22, 1997, Myers asked him the next morning: "You were once a segregationist. You voted against most major civil rights bills. Do you regret that at all?"


Rivera Kicks Claire
So much for teamwork at NBC News. On CNBC’s January 13 Upfront Tonight, NBC star Geraldo Rivera attacked his own colleague for asking a critical question of his beloved President.

In summarizing the day, Rivera complained: "So on the eve of his impeachment trial, the President decided to field a couple of snotty questions like this one." Rivera then played a clip of an unseen female reporter asking Clinton: "Lawyers are arguing that the charges against you don’t amount to high crimes and misdemeanors. Do you personally believe that perjury and obstruction of justice are not impeachable offenses?"

The female reporter with the nerve to ask such a "snotty" question? NBC’s own Claire Shipman. In the clip Rivera aired, the camera focused on the President, so perhaps Rivera made a mistake. But just minutes later in a story by Jane Wells, viewers saw the same exchange with the camera pointed at Shipman. Rivera already angered NBC’s other White House reporter, David Bloom, to the point where he now refuses to appear live on Rivera’s shows. How long before Rivera castigates his network’s own anchor Tom Brokaw?




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