Home Page
  30-Day Archive
  Notable Quotables
  Media Reality Check
  Press Releases
Media Bias Videos
  Free Market Project
  About the MRC
  MRC in the News
  Support the MRC
  Planned Giving
  What Others Say
  Site Search
  Media Addresses
Contact the MRC
MRC Bookstore
Job Openings

Support the MRC



From the March 1999 MediaWatch

Lewinsky Scandal Illegitimate

CNN's Near-Unanimous Town Meeting

The Tuesday after the Senate impeachment vote, CNN delivered three hours and 34 minutes of prime time discussion framed around the liberal agenda that the media were wrong to pursue the Lewinsky story: A two-part "Conversation with America: We the People" town meeting with a Larry Ling Live sandwiched in between (featuring five liberals versus just one conservative). No conservatives were among the on-stage town meeting panelists: former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, Sally Quinn of the Washington Post and former Republican Senator Howard Baker.

The show accepted the premise that the Lewinsky story was an illegitimate invasion of Clinton’s privacy that distracted from the real issues. Much of the show revolved around host Jeff Greenfield’s question "How do you put the genie back in the bottle?" Cronkite answered: "The responsible press has to, first of all, ignore the salacious scandal on which the tabloids live," meaning ignore Lewinsky-type stories as journalists should not "deal in people’s private peccadillos, their moral values, if you please, unless those peccadillos affected their job."

Conservatives would argue that the media failed in not pursuing the Gennifer Flowers story back in 1992, but Quinn lamented how alternate media outlets made it impossible for the story to be suppressed: "The Washington Post and the New York Times refused to write about Gennifer Flowers. She was having a press conference and playing tapes, and we weren’t writing about it. And it was all over the news, and everybody was talking about it. And finally, the Washington Post was forced to write about it. I think that’s a problem."

Republican House Manager Lindsey Graham made a brief appearance, but the first person CNN went to in a remote from his North Carolina district declared she was pleased Graham failed: "I’m glad President Clinton stuck in there, Hillary stuck by his side and the family stayed together."

One minister condemned Clinton, but most reflected views closer to a Presbyterian minister in Madison, Indiana: "My own 10-year-old daughter would sit there and hear all of these things going on on the TV. And she’d point out, but the President is for education, the President has done these other things. Those are the things that are important even to a small child at 10 years old." A Los Angeles Catholic priest insisted: "The future of the human family is not determined by what the President does with his sex life in the White House. It has to do with what we’re going to do about 14.5 million children who are poor in this country...and the Congress doesn’t have time to debate any nuclear test ban treaty."

Other invited guests used the CNN platform to denounce conservatives. Harvard’s Dr. Alvin Poussaint charged: "It was not just about, quote, sex or even perjury. It was also about bringing down someone who they ideologically oppose. He also supports abortion. So I think there’s an undercurrent here, all of these different issues, human rights issues, has to do with disenfranchised groups in the society becoming more of America in a democratic way, that somehow the reactionary elements are trying to suppress."



Tell a friend about this site




Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314