CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday February 26, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 32) |
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No Worse Than Weinberger Pardon; Cokie Believes Hillary; Reporters Heard Clinton Joke About Pardons; Costas Hit Bush from the Right

1) ABC News analyst/reporter George Stephanopoulos: "How are any of these pardons worse than President Bush in his final days in office pardoning Cap Weinberger?"

2) Al Hunt defended Bill Clinton's record: "The idea that somehow that there was a whole bunch of criminality that went on for eight years and this [the pardons] just proves it, that is utter, complete nonsense."

3) NBC's Saturday Night Live had Bill, Roger and Hugh burst out laughing, along with Hillary, after she claimed: "I am very disheartened and disappointed in you and my brothers." But ABC's Cokie Roberts maintained: "I must say I do believe that Hugh Rodham did not tell his stern big sister about this."

4) ABC's This Week uniquely played a minute-long excerpt of Hugh Rodham giving a Clinton-like non-answer about how he had returned the money -- "Absolutely, everything I had" -- before he arrogantly dismissed concerns: "Everything that was done was done."

5) Reporters should have known how lightly Bill Clinton was taking his pardon power. Last week's Newsweek recalled how he appeared in the press section of Air Force One: "'You got anybody you want to pardon?' he said, laughing."

6) The Nation magazine's indictment of FNC as right wing just revealed the liberalness of the other networks: "Though this producer had worked at CBS News and at an ABC affiliate, 'I had never experienced a newsroom that was that conservative.'"

7) President Bush was refreshingly pressed from the right by an interviewer last week, but it wasn't a reporter. On HBO Bob Costas of NBC Sports asked him about the propriety of his profiting from a sports stadium built with taxpayer money.

8) Sunday night, for the fourth time, NBC aired the episode of The West Wing with the President, played by Martin Sheen, ordering leaders of the Religious Right to "get your fat asses out of my White House."

9) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Bill Clinton Doesn't Give a Damn."


ABC News political analyst George Stephanopoulos, who also serves sometimes as a reporter, is so much of sycophant for the Clinton spin machine that he made Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts look tough on Clinton by comparison. Check out this exchange from the roundtable segment on Sunday's This Week:

     Sam Donaldson: "At the beginning of the Watergate thing, except for the burglars who were caught inside, there was no evidence of a crime. Evidence was developed."
     George Stephanopoulos: "Wait a second Sam. We've spent, listen, I do not defend these pardons, I've said they were wrong. But we've spent now a month looking into all of this and I still haven't heard-"
     Cokie Roberts: "But we keep learning stuff."
     Stephanopoulos: "We keep learning things and everything that's come out, Hugh Rodham, his involvement was wrong. But how are any of these pardons worse than President Bush in his final days in office pardoning Cap Weinberger only days before Weinberger's going to be a trial in a way that would implicate Bush. He did it to save his skin."
     Donaldson: "There was no suggestion of a $400,000 payment to Bush's brother."
     Stephanopoulos: "Instead he was pardoning someone to protect himself."
     Roberts: "And there was not 141 people with drug dealers and-"
     Stephanopoulos: "In fact the other Presidents have had more pardons than Clinton overall."


Al Hunt may now be willing to criticize Bill Clinton's pardons, but he won't concede they are symbolic of eight years of misbehavior as he doubted the Reagan Justice Department "was any more honest" than Clinton's under Janet Reno whom, he insisted, named "too many" independent counsels.

     On CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, February 24, the Wall Street Journal's Executive Washington Editor argued:
     "Well, let me just say this, though I bow to no one in my revulsion to those pardons. I think they are totally indefensible and I share everything you guys said. But don't say this is exactly what has gone on for eight years. There was no one in this administration that I know of, high level, who went to the slammer for acts they did while they were there. I mean, the idea that somehow that there was a whole bunch of criminality that went on for eight years and this just proves it, that is utter, complete nonsense."
     Bob Novak jumped in: "Let me respond to that that it was going on for eight years. Nobody went to the slammer because they had the fix in at the Justice Department-"
     Hunt: "As opposed to the Reagan, as opposed to the Reagan Justice Department...Let me ask, as opposed to the Reagan -- think the Reagan Justice Department was more honest?"
     Novak: "I'd like to finish my sentence."
     Hunt: "Can you answer that, though?"
     Novak: "I'd like to finish my sentence. Because they wouldn't go to the independent counsel. They had the fix in. They wouldn't have, they wouldn't permit independent counsels on the Gore and Clinton campaign finance scandals and we had a Justice Department who was totally corrupt. Now, to answer your question, since you so rudely interrupted me, Al, and the question is no, nothing like that in the Reagan Justice Department."
     Hunt: "I can see why you ducked it, Bob."
     Novak: "I didn't duck it. I answered it."
     Mark Shields: "Let me just say, Bill Clinton for eight years made a lot of tough decisions. Republicans took the easy votes every single time on tax cuts, on deficit reduction and everything else. He was a brilliant steward. Your personal net worth increased three times over, for goodness sakes. But no, let's be very blunt about this."
     Hunt: "There were a lot of independent counsels appointed by Janet Reno. Too many."


Hillary Clinton fooled Washington reporters but not the New York City-based Saturday Night Live. On Sunday morning ABC's Cokie Roberts and George Stephanopoulos both declared that they believed her claim that she knew nothing about how her brother had a deal to get paid for lobbying on behalf of two men wanting pardons, Carlos Vignali and Glenn Braswell. The night before, however, a Saturday Night Live skit on NBC made fun of anyone gullible enough to believe Hillary.

     Cokie Roberts announced on the February 25 This Week: "There's a poll today saying most New Yorkers don't believe Hillary Clinton on all this. Now I must say I do believe that Hugh Rodham did not tell his stern big sister about this."
     George Stephanopoulos piped in: "I think you're exactly right."

     "Stern" big sister? She is "stern" about ethics? About honesty?

     The opening skit on NBC's Saturday Night Live allowed the character playing Hillary to castigate her brother before she and other Clinton family members burst out laughing at the inside joke. The skit had Bill and Hillary sitting with Hugh standing behind Hillary and Roger standing behind Bill. After the Bill character conceded he had misused his office to grant improper pardons and that Hugh got a payoff, he boasted: "I do what I likes and I likes what I do! Oh, come on folks we're the Clintons, what do you expect? Look at us."

     Then the Hillary character, in mock sternness, lectured Bill: "They should expect more. I am very disheartened and disappointed in you and my brothers."

     Pause. Then all four burst out laughing with Hillary poking at Bill as if to show "I got you" as Bill admitted: "I fall for that each and every time."

     Amazingly, so do more than a few journalists.


Hugh the Arrogant. Hugh Rodham lectured some reporters in front of his house on Saturday as he failed to answer whether he had really returned all of the $400,000. While CNN and FNC showed brief clips of it over the weekend, only ABC's This Week fully conveyed his arrogance by playing a nearly minute-long excerpt of his February 24 comments.

     Near the start of This Week on Sunday Sam Donaldson set up the clip, which started with a female reporter off-camera asking: "Did you return all of the money?"
     Rodham offered a non-definitive answer before launching into a haughty lecture: "Absolutely, everything I had. You know that that's true. You know that that's true. I don't have anything to add to this. I keep telling you guys that, but I guess that's just not enough for you, but I don't. Everything that was done was done. Everything you know -- rumors, all that other stuff -- is what you have said. That is exactly what this is about. Now, I can't talk about this. I won't talk about it and it doesn't matter how long you guys sit out here, it's not going to make a difference. And you know that that's true and I know that it's true and the whole world knows it's true."
     Reporter: "Have you talked to your sister?"
     Rodham: "It's none of your business."
     Reporter: "Why aren't you talking about it?"
     Rodham: "Why aren't I talking about it? Because it's not in anybody's best interest to do so. That's why and you know that to be true. So that's all I have to say."

     Saturday night, the CBS Evening News ignored Hugh Rodham's comments and the NBC Nightly News showed video of Rodham getting out of his car and standing before reporters as John Palmer noted Rodham refused to comment on whether he had returned the money.

     ABC's World News Tonight/Saturday played a portion of what This Week showed the next morning as reporter Josh Gerstein pointed out how Rodham had not returned all the money. Viewers saw Rodham assert in answer to the question of whether he had returned the payments: "Absolutely, everything I had. You know that that's true. You know that that's true." But Gerstein countered: "Sources tell ABC News that Rodham couldn't come up with all the money on such short notice. They say he's returned most of it and has promised to pay the rest back soon."


White House reporters knew before Bill Clinton granted pardons that he was taking his presidential duty lightly, a Newsweek article last week revealed as it quoted Clinton joking aboard Air Force One about granting pardons.

     An article in the February 26 Newsweek by seven of its reporters (Debra Rosenberg, Mark Hosenball, Eleanor Clift, Michael Isikoff, Howard Fineman, Bill Turque and Daniel Klaidman), "Backstage at the Finale," recounted how, as the subhead stated, "pulling all-nighters, Bill Clinton spent his last days obsessing over details and pardons."

     The Newsweek team recalled what took place on Thursday, January 18, two days before the pardons were announced:
     "Clinton took his last trip aboard Air Force One, a quick out-and-back to Little Rock, where he gave a speech to state politicians and soaked up applause. On the way there, he strode the length of the plane. Unexpectedly, he appeared in the press section. 'You got anybody you want to pardon?' he said, laughing."

     And yet, despite reporters being alerted to Clinton's attitude about granting pardons, we've had to rely on the National Enquirer to advance the story of what really took place.


A big article in the March 12 edition of the far-left magazine, The Nation, purported to prove how Fox News and the Fox News Channel are biased to the right, but writer Daphne Eviatar, by quoting a former CBS News producer, inadvertently demonstrated how CBS and ABC are liberal.

     Jim Romenesko's MediaNews ( alerted me to the Nation article, which set out to demonstrate:
     "Although its right-wing talk-show hosts like Bill O'Reilly have received copious press attention, the conservative slant of Fox's regular news coverage has not. And while much has been written about Fox's gaffe on election night involving George W. Bush's cousin (which some think caused the public to regard Bush as the legitimate winner), there's been far less focus on the blatant partiality of Fox's regular staff, contributors and guests. It all combines to create a calculated mouthpiece for the right that remains thinly veiled behind its misleading mantra, 'fair and balanced.' And Fox could have real influence: According to Editor & Publisher magazine, a TV monitor in the White House press briefing room that aired CNN throughout the Clinton Administration was recently switched to the Fox News Channel."

     Buried deep in the diatribe, however, was this paragraph which does more to indict CBS News than FNC:
     "'Fair and balanced? Give me a break,' says a former Fox producer. 'During the Clinton impeachment -- which they were just loving -- it was OK to run a Newt Gingrich soundbite by itself. But if you ran a soundbite by a Democrat you also had to run a soundbite by a Republican.' Though this producer had worked at CBS News and at an ABC affiliate, 'I had never experienced a newsroom that was that conservative.'"

     "Though," as if someone working at CBS News and/or for an ABC affiliate would have experienced a workplace full of conservatives. It just shows from how far left a position The Nation is looking at FNC. "That conservative" could just mean being slightly to the right of Tom Daschle.


In an interview last week a high-profile network star actually pressed President Bush not from the left as usual but from the right, raising a conservative concern about his record as a beneficiary of corporate welfare, a subject rarely, if ever, brought up during the campaign. The question, however, came not from a news reporter but from a sports announcer, specifically from NBC's Bob Costas during an interview for his HBO show, On the Record with Bob Costas.

     Most of the interview, taped earlier that day at the White House, for the February 21 HBO program which aired at 11pm ET/PT, dealt with baseball issues and Bush's time as managing partner of the Texas Rangers.

     Midway into the session Costas wondered: "Many years ago you put up a little more than $600,000 to buy into the Rangers. Then you helped convince the public to pony up $135 million as their part of the money required to build a new ball park. After that you sold your stake for $15 million. Good deal, but a legitimate question seems to be: Since the value of franchises always skyrocket after they get a new stadium, isn't the public entitled to a piece of the equity if the team is sold?"

     Bush answered that his other partners gave him additional ownership shares as a reward for running the team and that using taxpayer money is fine as long as the local people approve of it in a referendum, as did the citizens of Arlington, Texas.

     Costas soon followed up with some knowledge it's hard to imagine many network news division staffers possess: "This is from the 2000 Texas State Republican Party platform. It says: 'Public money or public powers should not be used to fund or implement private projects, such as high-speed rail systems or sports stadiums.' Your reaction?"

     Bush said he disagreed and hoped the GOP leaders would respect how citizens of Arlington had approved a half cent sales tax hike to pay for bonds to build the stadium.

     I haven't seen the Bush as beneficiary of corporate welfare issue addressed since the June 1999 American Spectator.

     Imagine how different network morning TV would have been over the last two decades if NBC had plucked Costas instead of Bryant Gumbel from the sports division to co-host the Today show.


"Get your fat asses out of my White House." Sunday night, for the fourth time, NBC broadcast the 1999 season premiere of The West Wing featuring that blast from Marin Sheen, as "President Josiah Bartlet," to some Christian Right representatives.

     The show originally aired in September 1999 and was re-run later in the season as well as during the August 2000 week before the Democratic convention. Last night NBC aired it once more at 9pm ET/PT as part of two back-to-back "Best of" showings tied to the gimmick of having had viewers go to the NBC Web site to pick their favorite episodes.

     As recounted in the September 29, 1999 CyberAlert, in the premiere of West Wing, viewers saw how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry Democratic "President Josiah Bartlet" indignantly telling ministers: "You can all get your fat asses out of my White House."

     For details or to watch a RealPlayer clip of the scene, go to:


From the February 23 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Bill Clinton Doesn't Give a Damn." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Called Russia asking if they need a new spy
9. When people whisper, "Your fly is open," he says, "Yeah, I know"
8. Shoplifts at will, gives finger to security camera
7. If you asked what he had for breakfast and he actually had waffles, he'll say "pancakes" just for the fun of lying
6. He's no longer just fat -- he's now Hugh Rodham fat
5. "Tubby" is selling a copy of the Declaration of Independence on eBay
4. Doesn't even bother to buy high-quality cigars anymore
3. Recently introduced Playboy playmate as "my lovely wife"
2. Refers to Chappaqua mansion as "the house that dirty pardon money built"
1. Sits in the back of Al Gore's journalism class screaming, "Loser!"

     And from the Late Show Web site, some of the "Extra" Top Ten entries which didn't make the final cut:

-- He's thinking about sleeping with his wife
-- Last weekend nailed an XFL cheerleader right on the 50-yard line
-- Some Presidents get their face on a coin. He posted his naked ass on a website
-- Not only admits he had sex with Monica, admits he had sex with Hillary

     That last one is the most far-fetched. -- Brent Baker



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