CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday February 23, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 31) |
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Bill Clinton Reacted with "Fury"; Worried About Impact on Hillary; "Reagan Couldn’t Tie His Shoelaces..."; Geraldo’s "Love Nest"

1) ABC uniquely put Bush’s press conference ahead of Hillary’s session of denial and "disappointment." CBS’s John Roberts painted Bill Clinton as an angry victim trying to make things right: "When President Clinton found out what Hugh Rodham had done he telephoned Rodham’s lawyer in a fury, demanding that the money had to go back."

2) FNC’s Brit Hume wondered about the credibility of Senator Clinton’s "Sergeant Schultz"-like "I know nothing" mantra.

3) "This is just terrible" for Hillary Clinton, fretted Gloria Borger on The Early Show as Bryant Gumbel aimed his disgust at her opponents: "Aside from feeding the cottage industry of the usual Republican Clinton-bashers, is anything likely to come of this?"

4) David Gergen insisted: "Both Clintons, especially Bill Clinton, has never been, they've never been venal."

5) The always obnoxious Helen Thomas to President Bush: "Why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has to led slaughter...."

6) "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it," belittled the man New York Times staffers see as the mostly likely new top editor. In a 1993 interview Howell Raines whined: "The Reagan years oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted attitude toward people who have very little." [See item below for a clarification about the "shoelaces" comment]

7) Geraldo Rivera "has set up a luxury love nest for his new galpal," a "25-year-old CNBC producer," the New York Post’s "Page Six" disclosed on Thursday.



Hillary’s hallway encounter with the press led the CBS and NBC evening shows Thursday night, February 22, as well as CNN’s Inside Politics and FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, but ABC’s World News Tonight decided to go first with President Bush’s press conference since, in the reasoning of Peter Jennings, "Mr. Bush is the President now." ABC uniquely tracked down Marc Rich at a St. Moritz ski slope, but he skied away from Brian Ross.

    The ABC, CBS and NBC stories on Hillary’s supposed disappointment in her brother and denial of any knowledge of what he did all allowed for the possibility that Hugh Rodham did talk directly with Bill Clinton, but CBS’s John Roberts went the furthest to portray Bill Clinton as an angry victim trying to make things right. Roberts claimed: "Sources tell CBS News that when President Clinton found out what Hugh Rodham had done he telephoned Rodham’s lawyer in a fury, demanding that the money had to go back."

    Only NBC’s Lisa Myers highlighted how former New York City Mayor Ed Koch had become the latest Democrat to denounce Clinton. She also noted how "Roger Clinton personally asked the President to pardon a number of people, but the President said no."

    To give you a flavor of the broadcast network approaches, here are their show introductions followed by some select quotes from subsequent stories:

    -- ABC’s World News Tonight. From Washington, DC, Peter Jennings opened the show: "Good evening from Washington. It was a busy day here. The Bush administration and the Clinton presidency shared the spotlight again. Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton, felt obliged to meet the press today and talk about her brother’s efforts to win a pardon and one sentence commuted for his clients. President Bush was pressed about the pardons at his first major encounter with the White House press corps since moving in. We’ll get to the Clintons more fully in a moment, but Mr. Bush is the President now and Terry Moran is over there at the White House. Terry, a White House press corps can put a lot of pressure on a new President. How’d it go?"

    Moran’s assessment: "Well Peter the White House says it went great, not surprisingly. The press corps’s verdict, not surprisingly, is a bit more mixed. But in answering about 25 questions President Bush was personable, to the point, and yet at times halting and hesitant."

    Up next, Jackie Judd reviewed Hillary’s press conference and highlighted how Hillary portrayed herself as a victim "of what she called her brother’s ‘terrible misjudgment.’" As for what Bill knew, Judd suggested: "An associate said today it was possible that he, Clinton, knew Rodham was involved in trying to get convicted drug dealer Carlos Vignali out of jail. The associate said, ‘It could have been brought up at a meeting.’"

    ABC then aired a taped piece from Brian Ross in St. Moritz, Switzerland where he tracked down Marc Rich. Ross approached him a ski lift but he skied away as Ross asked: "The whole country wants to know: Did you give any money at all to President Clinton? Mr. Rich, really."

    While Rich is now free of the worry of being arrested as he travels, he’s staying put in Switzerland for now but, Ross learned, people there are not too happy about all of the attention. Ross concluded: "Rich has now cancelled a big party set for tomorrow night here. Faced with a notoriety he never had when he was just an American tax fugitive."

    -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather, in Washington, DC, opened his February 22 program, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by setting up four back-to-back pardon-related stories, more than aired by ABC or NBC:
    "Good evening. Senator Hillary Clinton confronted the growing pardon story head on today, walking out and telling reporters back there at the Capitol that she was not involved in any pardons and knew nothing about efforts to arrange them, efforts by her brother, and now it turns out, also some lesser help for lesser pay by the treasurer of her Senate campaign. We have extensive coverage tonight with a team of CBS News correspondents. John Roberts has the latest questions about pardons, politics, influence, and money. Bob Schieffer is covering Senator Clinton’s defense of herself. Jim Stewart looks in depth at the controversial pardons involving Senator Clinton’s brother, and Phil Jones has new information about Marc Rich’s long campaign to clear his record. First, John Roberts with the pardons becoming a Clinton family affair."

    Roberts began his piece by painting Bill Clinton as an aggrieved victim: "Sources tell CBS News that when President Clinton found out what Hugh Rodham had done he telephoned Rodham’s lawyer in a fury, demanding that the money had to go back."

    After reviewing how Hillary declared her brother just plain wrong and claimed to be "heartbroken and shocked" by his deal, Roberts noted how President Bush at his press conference had refused to denounce Bill Clinton.

    Roberts then acknowledged how Bill Clinton’s culpability may be greater than his aides claim: "Clinton has professed to be deeply disturbed at the revelation that Hugh Rodham was paid almost $400,00 to procure pardons for convicted drug dealer Carlos Vignali and Glenn Braswell, who was jailed in the ‘80s for fraudulent sales practices. However, sources tell CBS News that while Mr. Clinton doesn’t remember talking to Rodham about the pardons, he can’t rule out the possibility that he did. Rodham claims he never revealed his involvement to his sister and brother-in-law, not even when golfing with Mr. Clinton in Florida two weeks ago."

    CBS viewers next saw Bob Schieffer review the Hillary press conference of denials, followed by Jim Stewart with a brief look at the two criminals involved, Carlos Vignali and Glenn Braswell. Stewart noted: "Braswell was ironically known as a big money giver to Republicans before turning to Rodham for help"

    Finally, Phil Jones looked at how Marc Rich has been trying to buy his way out of a criminal prosecution for years, going back to a 1986 offer to pay $250 million if the cases were dropped against himself and partner Pincus Green.

    -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw remained in New York City were he opened his broadcast: "Good evening. These are dark and defensive times in the Clinton-Rodham family. The former President and his wife, the Senator, are once again trying to escape a political, legal, and ethical controversy of major proportions. The disclosure that Hillary Clinton’s brother Hugh Rodham received hundreds of thousands of dollars to help two convicted felons win presidential pardons is a new firestorm to go with the incendiary pardon of financier Marc Rich. We begin tonight with NBC’s Lisa Myers on the Clinton watch."

    Myers observed how Senator Clinton used "the word ‘disappointed’ at least ten times" in her press conference. Myers noted how while Hillary denied any knowledge of Hugh’s activities, "the former President’s spokesman does not deny that Clinton knew Rodham was lobbying for pardons."

    Myers also highlighted questions about another relative: "NBC News has learned that the former President’s brother, Roger Clinton, also was involved in the pardon process. President Clinton’s spokeswoman, speaking on Rogers’ behalf, tells NBC that Roger Clinton personally asked the President to pardon a number of people, but the President said no. But congressional investigators are now looking into Roger Clinton’s involvement in other pardons to see whether money changed hands. Today many Democrats are angry."
    Ed Koch: "I thought that he was a good President. I’ll no longer say that by virtue of what he did with those pardons. That was a presidential act. It was outrageous. I don’t think we know yet the full dimensions."

    Later, Andrea Mitchell examined Hugh Rodham and found "he is no stranger to controversy." Specifically, Hugh and brother Tony almost caused an international incident over their effort to corner the market on hazelnuts in Soviet Georgia. Last month, Mitchell reported, the two showed up at Clinton’s farewell at Andrews Air Force Base to get Bill Clinton into a picture with their Soviet Georgia partner.


Best question of the night. While network reporters were passing along Hillary Clinton’s denial of any knowledge of her brother’s deal and "disappointment" in it, FNC’s Brit Hume wondered about the credibility of her supposed lack of knowledge.

    After saying on Thursday’s Special Report with Brit Hume that her performance reminded him of the common line from the "Sergeant Schultz" character on Hogan’s Heroes -- "I know nothing" -- he ruminated to show’s panel of journalists:
    "The President, who was a habitual life-long philanderer, and had a little deal with Monica Lewinsky which was advertised in the media for a long time, she only found out about it toward the latter stages of the scandal we’re to believe. And now we’re to believe that her brother, who is a lawyer, was representing these people, staying in the White House, talking to Bruce Lindsey about it, the President knew about it and somehow she missed the whole thing. Is that credible?"


Oh, "this is just terrible" for Hillary Clinton, fretted Gloria Borger on Thursday’s The Early Show on CBS as Bryant Gumbel aimed his disgust at her opponents: "Aside from feeding the cottage industry of the usual Republican Clinton-bashers, is anything likely to come of this?"

    MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down Gumbel’s February 22 questions to Borger and some of her answers as they treated Hillary as a victim:

    -- "Key question here would seem to be what did the Clinton's know and when did they know it. How do you answer that?"

    -- "Is it true the White House advisor Bruce Lindsey knew about this, knew about the connection?"

    -- "This doesn't seem to impact Bill Clinton much because he's out of office, but what about Senator Hillary Clinton?"
    Borger worried: "Oh, this is just terrible for her. We're told that she's very angry about this, not only at Bill Clinton, of course, but now at her brother. She's a new Senator, she's trying to make her maiden appearance in the Senate, she went on the floor the other week to talk about health care, for example, and all everybody was talking about were the pardons. And it's a real problem for her. Republicans in the Congress say they don't want to go near her quite frankly. Last time they did that she became a victim and they lost, and so I think they're going to stay away from Hillary Rodham Clinton but that doesn't mean they're going to stay away from investigating her husband which, of course, puts her in a very very awkward situation."

    -- Gumbel: "But lets be clear here, there are suggestions of improprieties here but there are no illegalities involved here, right?"

    -- "But aside from feeding the cottage industry of the usual Republican Clinton-bashers, is anything likely to come of this?"
    Borger replied: "We don't know. I think what may come of it in the end is some real procedures on pardons. That in fact as Bill Plante was talking about before, lots of these pardons went around routine procedures and that maybe the Congress will say look in order to grant a presidential pardon people at the Justice Department have to be called in for their opinions. But I think beyond that nothing else is going to occur except that George W. Bush is sort of floating under the radar here. He seems to be having a very good time with this."


Bill and Hillary have "never been venal," insisted former aide and current U.S. News writer David Gergen, a former editor of the magazine who serves as a frequent guest expert on ABC’s Nightline. On the February 21 The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed, Gergen argued the couple don’t care about money:
    "Both Clintons, especially Bill Clinton, has never been, they've never been venal. They have, they may have blind spots. They've made mistakes but they've never been people I think who are corrupted by money. I've just never seen any instance of that and I trust that at the end of the day what we'll find here is that there was some real stupidity involved in the part of the brother but that the Clintons themselves, were, while they are going to be lashed to this mast now for the next few weeks, that we'll find at the end of the day that they themselves have not been venal in any of these cases."

    Want to make a bet?


Presidents come and Presidents go (at least until Bill Clinton), but Helen Thomas never goes away and is always a liberal exponent in the guise of a reporter. Check out this impassioned liberal advocacy from her at Thursday’s presidential press conference:

    Thomas: "Why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has to led slaughter. I mean the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having this separation. Why do you break it down?"
    President Bush: "Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state."
    Thomas: "You wouldn’t have a religious office in the White House if you did."

    Thomas, who was with UPI until last year, now works for Hearst Newspapers.


The man the staff of the New York Times considers most likely to succeed Joseph Lelyveld as Executive Editor as he approaches mandatory retirement age, charged in a 1993 book that former President "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it." This week’s New York Observer reported that in the competition for the top job "the general feeling on the paper is that the Executive Editor’s job is" Howell Raines’ "to lose."

     [Clarification, November 2003: It has come to our attention that while the sentence, "Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it,” appeared on page 84 of the book by Raines, it came in the midst of a multi-paragraph quote in a chapter in which he favorably recited the comments on things great and small (during a fishing venture to Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland), from his companion on the trip, Dick Blalock. The other quotes attributed in the book to Raines are accurate and reflect his personal views. 
     The paragraph in full from which the quote came: "'See that pool?' said Dick. 'That was Jimmy Carter's favorite pool when he was President We’re only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'"
     We regret the confusion.]

    Raines, who is now the paper’s editorial page editor and who was the Washington bureau chief during the Reagan years, complained in Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis that "reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me." During a November 17, 1993 interview about his book on Charlie Rose’s PBS show, he whined: "The Reagan years oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society."

    The June 1994 MediaWatch caught up with the book by Raines. Here’s a reprint of that article titled, "Raines Rains on Reagan: Fly Fishing Flashbacks."

Howell Raines, Editorial Page Editor for The New York Times, has generated a bit of publicity for editorials critical of the Clinton Administration's ethics and decision-making process. But a new book by Raines reveals where his sympathies lie. In Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis, the former national political correspondent, who headed the Washington bureau from 1988 through 1992, fails to criticize the policies of any liberal, but he has plenty to say about Republicans:

-- "Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work -- which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me."

-- "In 1981, shortly before the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, my family and I arrived in Washington. I was thirty-eight. I attributed any twinges of unhappiness I felt in those days to bad timing and the cycles of politics. My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness."

-- "I was taken aback by the news that Alan Simpson, the Republican Senator from Wyoming, was a fly fisherman. So much for the ennobling influence of the sport. During Bush's term, Simpson established himself as the meanest man in the Senate. True, his hatefulness had a kind of Dickensian grandeur. But there was no way you could follow his rantings about women, the environment and civil rights and still believe that fly fishing in the mighty temple of the Rockies is guaranteed to purify the soul."

    END Reprint of MediaWatch article

    Raines may soon become the nation’s most influential journalist. Jim Romenesko's MediaNews ( on Wednesday highlighted a New York Observer piece by Gabriel Snyder headlined, "Consensus at Times on Succession: It’s Howell Raines, Not Keller." An excerpt from the top of Snyder’s story:

A little more than one year from now -- April 5, 2002 -- The New York Times executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld, will turn 65, the mandatory retirement age for editors at the paper. Speculation about Mr. Lelyveld’s successor has raged for years, and the consensus has been that there are two contenders: Bill Keller, The Times’ managing editor, and Howell Raines, the editorial page editor.

But within The New York Times, many staff members interviewed said that the field has been narrowed to one. The general feeling on the paper is that the executive editor’s job is Mr. Raines’ to lose.

"There is a consensus that seems to be growing that it’s going to be Howell," said one high-level Times staff member, who added: "I would be very surprised if it wasn’t Howell. Some days I think he expects to be editor, and anybody who knows Howell knows he wants the job and thinks he deserves it."

Internally and psychologically, the staff of The New York Times is preparing to answer to Mr. Raines. "It’s hard to imagine Howell not getting it," said another Times staff member....

The executive editor of The Times has more influence on news coverage, and sometimes public policy, than any other news executive in the United States. The succession is considered far in advance; the saga of A.M. Rosenthal’s retirement lasted for years. And when Mr. Lelyveld’s predecessor, Max Frankel, decided he was going to retire, Mr. Sulzberger asked Mr. Lelyveld to be the executive editor seven months before Mr. Frankel stepped down in July 1994....

The most common factor cited in Mr. Raines’ favor is simply the age difference between him and Mr. Keller. There’s a recent tendency at The Times to avoid having an executive editor serve as long as Mr. Rosenthal, who ruled from 1969 to 1986. Since The Times has a mandatory retirement policy, the 58-year-old Mr. Raines would hold the top post for about six years, versus the 12 years the 52-year-old Mr. Keller would have....

    END Excerpt

    To read the entire New York Observer article, go to:


Geraldo Rivera’s love life made it into the New York Post on Thursday, prompted by news he had arranged a Manhattan home for a woman less than half his age.

    Here’s an excerpt from the February 22 "Page Six" item by Richard Johnson, Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson, plugged by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews:

Geraldo Rivera has set up a luxury love nest for his new galpal, 25-year-old CNBC producer Erica Levy.

Rivera, 57, is lavishing Levy with an apartment at one of Donald Trump's luxury buildings in the East 60s, and has showered her with thousands of dollars worth of pricey jewelry and couture clothing, sources tell PAGE SIX.

The comely Cleveland native is currently sharing an apartment with two female pals in Murray Hill. She is supposed to move into her new uptown abode on April 9. We're told the pad is in Levy's name, but it's not clear if Geraldo is buying or renting it for her.

Levy's parents are said to be less than thrilled that their pretty brunette daughter has taken up with Rivera.

"Geraldo's older than Erica's father," sniffs a pal of Levy's. "Her parents aren't very happy that she's been seeing him. They know about his reputation with women."...

Levy also managed to nab a plum assignment as a producer on Rivera's "Geraldo Voyager" specials for the Travel Channel, which airs four new sailing specials this fall....

It isn't clear whether Rivera will move in with Levy. Sources say that contrary to published reports, Levy never "moved in" with him in Malibu. "She still lives in New York," says a pal. "She stayed there when she was out there with him. That was it."

Geraldo, who hosts "Rivera Live" on CNBC, has a history with twentysomething gals named "Erica" who work for him.

His dalliance with another eye-catching employee, Erica Pressman, 27, was blamed for the break-up a while ago with his long-suffering wife, C.C. Dyer.

Dyer booted Rivera out of their New Jersey home after she found photographs of him on his 70-foot sailboat with the busty blonde Pressman, who worked as a publicist for the defunct syndicated talk show "Geraldo."...

    END Excerpt

    To read the whole item, go to:

    At least now when Geraldo breaks up with his young lovers Bill Clinton is conveniently nearby and available to pick up where he left off. -- Brent Baker



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