CBS Tried to Discredit Disbarment; Forget "Personal Peccadillos"; Freeh Corroborator
1) CBS News tried to discredit the
disbarment recommendation for Clinton, featuring a recused member who accused
the other committee members "using every means necessary to get
him." But John Roberts undercut that premise by noting the member also
said that party politics did not play a role in the final decision.
2) Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric
pressed disbarment supporters more than opponents. Matt Lauer wished for less
scrutiny: "I hope that the American people would find it more exciting to
talk about health care and Social Security and not about these personal
3) Tom Brokaw’s liberal prism:
Missile defense is "controversial" while big money political
fundraising reflects "excesses" worthy of denouncement by John
4) FNC’s David Shuster uniquely
reported: "There are now two witnesses who may back up the claim that Lee
Radek," in charge of Justice’s campaign finance probe, "talked
about pressure at the FBI and mentioned that Janet Reno’s job" might be
5) Elian will soon be moved closer
to Washington, DC, FNC’s Rita Cosby disclosed, thus making it more
convenient for Cuban indoctrinaters to see him.
6) MRC Special Report released and
now online, "Back to the ‘Peaceable’ Paradise: Media Soldiers for the
Seizure of Elian."
>>> MRC credited
for "tirelessly" pointing out the politically active background of
Million Mom March organizer Donna Dees-Thomases. In a May 29 Weekly Standard
article titled, "Million Mom Mush: Hollywood touches, inflated numbers,
and bogus stories from media-savvy moms," Edmund Walsh wrote: "For
your average ‘mild-mannered suburban mom,’ as CBS dubbed her last fall,
Donna Dees-Thomases sure knows how to throw a party....Dees-Thomases, as you
probably didn't learn from the heavy network coverage, is a pro; she's worked
as a publicist for both CBS anchor Dan Rather and late night host David
Letterman. According to the official myth of the Million Mom March, doggedly
clung to by most of the media, the event was the brainchild of a typical
suburban housewife, spurred to action by a brief flash of political awareness
following last August's shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center
near Los Angeles. But as Fox News Channel and the conservative Media Research
Center tirelessly pointed out in the week leading up to the march, Dees-Thomases
was anything but typical. And not just because of her background in
To read the entire piece, go to the Weekly Standard's Web
CBS Evening News aired a story Tuesday night, featuring a recused member
of the Arkansas committee which voted to recommend Bill Clinton’s
disbarment, who accused the other committee members of playing politics as
they really believe "we’re against him and we're using every means
necessary to get him." But then reporter John Roberts concluded by
undercutting the entire justification for the story, noting that the
complaining member "disputes the assertion...that there was bias
among the remaining committee members and that party politics played a
role in their final decision."
Roberts tagged the
Southeastern Legal Foundation a "conservative activist group,"
but failed to label as liberal the committee member he profiled even
though he’d donated to many Democratic candidates.
Neither ABC’s World
News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News on Tuesday night mentioned the
On the May 23 CBS
Evening News, Dan Rather recalled how a committee appointed by the
Arkansas Supreme Court recommended disbarment, but only after eight of 14
members recused themselves. He ominously asked: "So who was, and
perhaps more importantly, who wasn’t, on that committee?"
John Roberts narrated a piece about one of the eight:
"In the company of some House members who once tried to remove him
from office for lying under oath, the President today was silent on the
move to disbar him for the same offense. But in Morrilton Arkansas,
attorney Bart Virden was speaking out."
Bart Virden, attorney: "I became disenchanted with
what I was reading in the papers and seeing on TV with how the process was
being used by the complaining party."
Roberts: "Virden was one eight members of the
Arkansas attorney discipline committee who recused themselves from hearing
the complaint against Mr. Clinton. Virden came under enormous pressure
from an Arkansas newspaper to withdraw because he'd contributed to local
Virden: "That was their reasoning, was because I'd
contributed money to Democratic candidates that I couldn't hear this case
against a sitting Democratic President. I thought it was ludicrous, I
still think it's ludicrous."
Roberts: "Legal expert Paul Rothstein believes, as
he did about the impeachment process, that this case is about
Rothstein, Georgetown University Law School: "This
recommendation is out of keeping in the sense that it is among the most
severe that I have seen for comparable cases."
Roberts: "The conservative activist group that
brought the complaint contends the case is clear."
Matthew Glavin, Southeastern Legal Foundation:
"This process isn't about punishment -— it's about protecting the
public's interest in the integrity of the judicial system."
Roberts: "Committee member Virden calls that
explanation just fantastic."
Virden: "I would have much more respect for them
if they said ‘hey, we’re against him and we're using every means
necessary to get him.’ At least they're being honest."
Roberts concluding by undercutting the premise of the
whole story: "While Virden says that politics played a role in this
all the way up to the committee hearing, he disputes the assertion,
floated by some supporters of the President, that there was bias among the
remaining committee members and that party politics played a role in their
final decision to recommend that the President be disbarred. He said he
would not second guess that decision."
So, there’s no story
here. Just a chance for CBS to impute politics into it in order to help
make Clinton’s case that he’s under siege from unscrupulous enemies.
One little fact left out
the CBS on-air story: Two of the remaining six committee members who voted
are Democrats. How do I know this? CBS News reported it in its Web version
of this story, which stated: "Of the six who heard Mr. Clinton's
case, at least two are Democrats; three have not identified their
affiliation because voters are not required to do so in Arkansas unless
they want to take part in a primary. Whether the sixth member has
identified a party affiliation could not be determined."
To read the longer
Web-posted story, go to:
But don’t trust the
quotes in the story. CBS appears to be "transcribing
challenged." All of the quotes in the Web story which were also in
the TV report were inaccurate. For instance, here’s how the Web piece
quoted Bart Virden at one point:
"I would believe them more if they just said we're
out to get him and we'll do everything we can to get him...At least
they're being honest"
Now, here’s what he
actually said as shown in the CBS Evening News piece: "I would have
much more respect for them if they said ‘hey, we’re against him and
we're using every means necessary to get him.’ At least they're being
disbarment recommendation topped the Tuesday morning shows. On ABC’s
Good Morning America, which did not bring on a supporter to defend the
vote, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said it may be upheld but complained
that it’s a "severe sanction" for a "single, discreet
event." Interviewing Joseph Cammarata and Lanny (He’s not above the
law, but he’s not below the law) Davis, CBS’s Bryant Gumbel did not
press Davis with Cammarata’s points but pushed Cammarata repeatedly
about how Clinton was held to a higher than usual standard as "you
can't deny the politics of this."
Similarly, NBC’s Katie
Couric did not press Alan Dershowitz but did demand that Matthew Glavin of
the Southeastern Legal Foundation respond to his points: "Can you
refute that this is not a double standard here, that...your organization
would have gone after someone like Cap Weinberger?" In a later
segment, Matt Lauer hoped to Doris Kearns Goodwin: "So will the
lesson that will be learned out of all this Doris be that maybe we go back
to a time where we give less scrutiny to a President's personal
-- ABC’s Good Morning
America, May 23, featured a 7am piece from John Cochran in which he
relayed how "the committee was acting on a complaint filed by a
conservative group called the Southeastern Legal Foundation." Instead
of a regular interview segment with guests, Diane Sawyer turned to ABC
News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, fresh from attending Monday night’s
White House State Dinner for South Africa’s Prime Minister. She
wondered: "What is the precedent here?" Toobin replied:
"Well, it's very confusing. Like so much in the
Lewinsky case, there's no direct precedent. But this does appear to be a
very severe sanction under Arkansas law, where you're talking about only a
single, discreet event during a civil proceeding that relates to personal
behavior, but it is not so wild that it might not be upheld. So I think
that Bill Clinton's law license is hanging by a thread today."
Toobin went on to call
Clinton’s defense for his misstatement weak and to predict there will be
no resolution until well after Clinton leaves office.
ABC’s first guest
interview of the 7am half hour: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on gas
John Cochran reprised
his story during the 8am news update. News reader Antonio Mora followed up
with this question considered odd by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"Well, excessive punishment or not, in the end, though, wouldn't
disbarment just be a slap on the wrist or would it really mean something
to his career prospects?"
Cochran suggested it could mean something if he ever
wanted to become a "rainmaker" for a law firm.
-- CBS’s The Early
Show brought aboard Lanny Davis and former Paula Jones attorney Joseph
Cammarata. Check out the angle of interviewer Bryant Gumbel’s questions:
Gumbel set up Davis:
"You were the President's attorney at the time of this deposition in
question. What's your view of this panel's recommendation?"
Gumbel followed up: "What are you telling me? He's
being punished for his prominence?"
Gumbel then posed this
mildly challenging question: "Do you still defend the President's
choice of words on the day in question?"
Davis: "I don't defend the President in that
deposition. I think he did what most people who are asked about a private
sexual relationship would do. I don't think he was truthful. He does not
deserve to be disbarred under the circumstances I just described."
Gumbel: "But you don't think he was
Gumbel moved to his
other guest with a similarly open-ended initial inquiry: "Mr.
Cammarata, good morning. What's your reaction to this panel's
But with Cammarata Gumbel
turned argumentative: "But as you know, the Jones case was dismissed.
The President's testimony was ruled inadmissible. How then does it merit
disbarment? Why not a sanction? Why not suspension?"
And: "Do you know, Mr. Cammarata, if other lawyers
have been disbarred for similar actions or what their punishment has been
and whether or not the President, in this case, is being punished for his
prominence or is being accorded a different kind of treatment?"
After Davis maintained
Clinton is being treated disproportionately severely, and is "not
above the law but is not below the law," and Cammarata pointed out
that the whole legal system will collapse if litigants can lie with
impunity, Gumbel fired back at Cammarata: "Mr. Cammarata, you can't
deny the politics of this either. I mean, the panel, Mr. Cammarata, the
panel consisted of 14 members, eight of whom recused themselves because of
ties to the Democratic Party. Can we not assume the remaining six were
-- NBC’s Today. Katie
Couric opened the show, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, by labeling
the complaining group "conservative’ but not bothering to point out
how Alan Dershowitz is liberal: "A committee of the Arkansas Supreme
Court recommended Monday afternoon that the President be disbarred for
giving misleading testimony about his relationship with the former White
House intern. There is sharp disagreement in the legal community over this
recommendation. We'll be talking with a representative of the conservative
foundation that filed the initial complaint and with noted Harvard law
professor Alan Dershowitz."
After a full story from
Pete Williams, Couric interviewed Dershowitz and Matthew Glavin of the
Southeastern Legal Foundation. After getting both their views, Couric
demanded that Glavin answer a charge from Dershowitz:
"Mr. Glavin, excuse me can I get you to give us
some kind of precedence though for this kind of action and can you refute
that this is not a double standard here, that you would, your organization
would have gone after someone like Cap Weinberger?"
She followed up: "Do you have any examples of
historic precedence though Mr. Glavin?"
Couric did not force
Dershowitz to reply to Glavin’s points, though she did note that in
addition to the "conservative" group federal judge Susan Webber
Wright also filed a complaint.
In the 8am half hour
Matt Lauer talked about the case with liberal historian, though unlabeled,
Doris Kearns Goodwin. He wished we could go back to a time when there was
"less scrutiny" of Presidents. Quite a standard for a reporter
to yearn for. He suggested: "You talk about the loss of opportunity
which frustrates Bill Clinton and also must frustrate the American people.
So will the lesson that will be learned out of all this Doris be that
maybe we go back to a time where we give less scrutiny to a President's
personal life, back to the Kennedy and Eisenhower and Roosevelt
Goodwin agreed: "Well I think the lesson that I
hope could be learned is that the private lives of our public figures are
relevant if they directly affect their leadership. I don't know that the
sexual behavior did that. When he chose not to tell the truth then he did
bring into his leadership, his private life. But I hope that the media
does go back to that earlier standard. I don't want to talk about this.
None of us do. Think about how much more exciting it would be if we were
talking about civil rights, education, health care. And yet we've had to
because of all this, and not the media's fault, the President as well be
involved in this for such a long period of time. I feel the sad sense all
over again that here we are back."
Lauer wished: "Yeah. But I hope you're right. I
hope that the American people would find it more exciting to talk about
health care and Social Security and not about these personal peccadilloes.
I'm not sure. We could probably debate that."
Maybe if we had a little
more media scrutiny during the 1992 campaign we wouldn’t have
"personal peccadillos" to want to ignore.
Brokaw’s liberal prism: Missile defense is "controversial"
while big money political fundraising reflects "excesses" worthy
of denouncement by John McCain.
On the May 23 NBC
Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw gave a few seconds to George Bush’s
national security speech. He didn’t find anything controversial about
Bush’s advocacy of a missile cut, reserving his scorn for missile
"Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush
today unveiled his nuclear weapons policy and brought out some heavy
artillery to back him up. Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger, among others.
Bush says that he would cut America’s nuclear arsenal to its lowest
possible number consistent with national security -- no matter what the
Russians do. Bush says the reductions would be part of a broad national
security policy that includes a controversial missile defense
Brokaw then introduced
the very next story: "For all the talk about campaign finance reform
this year, the reality is that the system just keeps raking in big
dollars, bigger than ever. Tomorrow night President Clinton will appear at
an event with a price tag for the best seats that’s a half million
dollars, $500,000 for just one ticket. This after Democrats blasted a big
money Republican fundraiser starring George W. Bush recently. More tonight
on the latest excesses from NBC’s Lisa Myers."
Lisa Myers cited
examples from both parties in a story that assumed there’s something
wrong with big fundraising events. After noting how the Wednesday Clinton
event should "rake in $23 million" while a Bush fundraiser a few
weeks ago hauled in $21 million, she allowed just one person to denounce
it: "Senator John McCain calls it all outrageous."
FBI’s general counsel, FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume reported
Tuesday night, provided corroboration for FBI Director Louis Freeh’s
statement in a 1996 memo that he learned that Attorney General Janet
Reno’s job was at risk if she pursued Clinton-Gore fundraising question.
Not a word about the corroboration, which came during an unrelated House
hearing, aired on any of the broadcast network evening shows, which last
Friday ignored the Freeh memo which broke late Thursday night, nor on
CNN’s Inside Politics.
Brit Hume introduced
FNC’s unique May 23 story: "Last Friday a memo from FBI Director
Louis Freeh surfaced that said one of Janet Reno’s top deputies had told
the FBI that the attorney general’s job might be in jeopardy if the
investigation into 1996 campaign finance abuses was pursued. The Reno aide
denied it, denied saying that, but it now appears there was more than one
FBI official present who corroborates the story."
David Shuster explained,
as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The dispute involves
the basic allegation highlighted in a memo four years ago by FBI Director
Louis Freeh that Attorney General Janet Reno was under pressure to protect
the White House. In December of 1996, details of the Clinton-Gore
fundraising scandal were starting to emerge. Lee Radek, the prosecutor in
charge of the Justice Department investigation, allegedly told Freeh’s
top deputy Bill Esposito that Reno’s job was hanging in the balance.
Radek and Attorney General Reno have both denied that any such discussion
could have or would have taken place. But during a House Judiciary
Committee hearing, Republican James Rogan, over objections from Democrats,
got the testimony he was looking for from the FBI’s general
Congressman James Rogan: "Mr. Parkinson, what
I’d like to know is during the course of any investigation you’ve had
at the FBI, do you know whether any other FBI official may have been in
the room or was present during the Esposito-Radek meeting?"
Congressman Jerrold Nadler: "Mr. Chairman, it is
now clear since we’ve heard the question that the question is part of
Mr. Rogan’s campaign for reelection, has nothing to do with the subject
of this hearing, and should be done in the press conference outside. I ask
that the witness be directed to answer questions that are before the
Chairman Henry Hyde: "Thank you, you’ve made
your point. May we have an answer from Mr. Parkinson?"
FBI General Counsel Larry Parkinson: "The answer
Rogan: "And who would that be?"
Parkinson: "At the time, Principal Assistant
Director Neal Gallagher."
Rogan: "And does Mr. Gallagher corroborate any of
the accounts of this meeting?"
Rogan: "Who’s account?"
Parkinson: "He essentially corroborates the
account that’s described in the director’s memo to Mr. Esposito."
Shuster: "That means there are now two witnesses
who may back up the claim that Lee Radek, who was in charge of the Justice
Department investigation of the campaign finance scandal, talked about
pressure at the FBI and mentioned that Janet Reno’s job might be hanging
in the balance. Radek maintains that the FBI still has it wrong, but
he’s been ordered to testify on Wednesday in front of a Senate
committee, and Republicans, Brit, can’t wait."
But I bet most of the
media can and will not cover the Wednesday hearing.
it more convenient for Elian’s indoctrinaters. Foreign embassy employees
must request special permission from the State Department to travel more
than 25 mile from Washington, DC with less than three days notice. Since
the Wye River Plantation is more than 50 miles from DC, Elian’s hiding
place is inconvenient for Cuba’s Castro operatives. But that may soon
change, FNC’s Rita Cosby disclosed on Tuesday’s Special Report with
"Sources close to Elian’s father tell me that
there are plans to move him and his son to a location in or near
Washington DC in a matter of days. Sources say that Juan Miguel Gonzalez
and Cuban officials have been complaining that Cuban diplomats can’t
easily visit him."
a Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday afternoon, the MRC released a Special
Report, "Back to the ‘Peaceable’ Paradise: Media Soldiers for the
Seizure of Elian," is now online. Here’s the executive summary of
the report compiled by the MRC’s Tim Graham:
We would like to think that the Cold War is
over. But for the people of communist Cuba and the people who’ve fled
it, the Cold War remains. In all of the coverage and controversy over the
arrival and seizure of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez, the media have taken
the stark contrast between American liberty and Cuban tyranny and muddled
it to the point that much of the American public thinks Cuba is no
different than America, or worse, that Cuba is better than America.
The Media Research Center has compiled a
record showing how the national media built the public-relations rationale
for Elian’s eventual return to Cuba, and then justified the government
raid on a private residence to insure a political victory for the Clinton
administration and the communist regime of Cuba. Is it any wonder that the
public told network pollsters that they approved of the seizure of Elian
after being barraged with liberal arguments? Analysts identified four
patterns of distinct liberal media bias:
1. The news media have deliberately
undermined the moral legitimacy of Elian’s Miami relatives specifically
and anti-communist Cuban-Americans in general.
2. The news media have consistently praised
the actions and "achievements" of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, claimed
it was better for children than America, and played up the paradise Elian
could dwell in among the Communist Party elite.
3. The news media have justified Attorney
General Janet Reno’s actions and arguments, and lamented any resistance
or delay in returning Elian to Cuba.
4. The news media have dismissed
congressional criticism of the INS raid and calls for investigation as
unpopular and unnecessary.
If the media were interested in a balanced
presentation of the Elian controversy, they would have scrutinized the
administration more than justified it; they would have explained the
regimented reality of family life in Cuba; they would have balanced their
questioning of the motivations of Elian’s Miami relatives by questioning
the motives of the reunification camp; and they would have encouraged more
discussion and oversight instead of trying to cut it off.
To read the entire study
with dozens of quotes from Elian coverage and a few illustrative stories
via RealPlayer, go to:
Scroll to the bottom of
the executive summary and click on the link to the full report as posted
by Webmaster Andy Szul.
At the May 23 briefing,
arranged by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, MRC Chairman L. Brent
Bozell and several members of Congress discussed media coverage the Elian
case. To read about and see a couple of photos of the event featuring U.S.
Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Dan Burton and
Chris Smith, check out the story
about it by Jim Burns posted by the MRC’s cnsnews.com. --