1) ABC and CBS allocated valuable air time to the
celebration for Bill Clinton’s office opening. Before a clip of
"Stand by Me," ABC’s Dan Harris asserted: "The reception
for this oft embattled former President could be summed up in the
ceremony’s closing song." CBS’s Byron Pitts credited Harlem’s
renaissance to "federal tax incentives supported by then-President
Clinton." On Sunday, NBC’s Pat Dawson cheered: "The Comeback
Kid in a neighborhood staging its own comeback."
2) Monday’s Good Morning America allowed former Clinton
operative George Stephanopoulos to interview a current one, Joe Lockhart,
about Clinton’s good works. Robin Roberts saw no dishonest Bill Clinton,
only "one who loves glamour" and "one who wants to make the
world a better place." She raved: "Today, by public relations
design, he becomes an honorary homeboy."
3) In reporting on the Code Red worm, NBC News made it
sound like it will impact all computers, leaving out the fact that it is
only destructive on computers running specific software from the MS in
4) Katie Couric on Monday morning advanced a point off the
left’s agenda sheet as she worried about the "increasing...chasm
between the haves and the have-nots as a result of the computer."
5) After a two year-plus absence from cable news, Keith
Olbermann popped up on CNN Monday night. Back in 1998 he asserted:
"It finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of
facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses."
ABC and CBS
on Monday night celebrated Bill Clinton’s adoring welcome in Harlem
where he officially opened his office with a street-side celebration. NBC
restrained itself, running a short item read by the anchor followed by a
brief soundbite from Clinton. But on Sunday night, NBC’s Pat Dawson had
cheered: "The Comeback Kid in a neighborhood staging its own
During the day Monday, CNN, FNC and MSNBC all
carried much of the Clinton event live, cutting away from a speech by
George W. Bush, the current President, to do so. Only MSNBC, the MRC’s
Rich Noyes noticed, later showed viewers a tape of Bush’s remarks to a
police group which really weren’t all that newsworthy -- but neither, it
could be reasonably argued, was an office opening by a former President. A
story for the CNN and FNC political shows, but for the 22-minute broadcast
On World News Tonight ABC’s Dan Harris
lamented how "aides say the first few months after the White House
were tougher on Clinton than impeachment," but, he assured viewers,
"today, as he luxuriated in all that attention, he insisted he is now
happy." Before a chorus of Clinton and others singing "Stand by
Me," Harris concluded: "The reception for this oft embattled
former President could be summed up in the ceremony’s closing
Harris earlier played, without rebuttal, a
clip of Clinton taking credit for Harlem’s renaissance: "Welfare
cut in half, record amounts of investment in new police on the street, new
housing, new transportation. I think I kept my word to Harlem, and the
best is yet to be." CBS’s Byron Pitts agreed: "It’s now
within the midst of a comeback thanks in part to federal tax incentives
supported by then-President Clinton." The very "enterprise
zone" tax incentives ridiculed by liberals and journalists as
giveaways to the rich when first proposed by Jack Kemp.
Comparing Clinton’s office space to what he
first wanted in Manhattan, the night before NBC’s Pat Dawson credited
Clinton for "saving a lot of taxpayer money." He failed to
mention how Clinton’s space is larger and costs more than the rent for
any other former Presidents’ offices.
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Fill-in anchor
Elizabeth Vargas, who mistakenly uttered the first syllable of President,
as in "Pre," before she said "Bill Clinton," set up
the July 30 story: "Here in New York City today, Bill Clinton
returned to the national stage with thousands of people cheering him on.
The former President officially opened his new office in the historic
Harlem neighborhood. The day’s event sometimes seemed more like a
political campaign stop. Here’s ABC’s Dan Harris."
Harris checked in, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Seven months after the pardons scandal broke,
Bill Clinton used today’s event to relaunch his public life. He
couldn’t have chosen a more adoring audience."
Bill Clinton, at the celebration: "You were
there on the darkest days and the best days, and I want you to know I want
to be a good neighbor in Harlem on the best days and the dark days for all
the people who live here."
Harris: "For a man now out of office,
Clinton sounded at times a lot like a man running for office, referencing
promises he made here during his first presidential campaign."
Clinton: "Welfare cut in half, record
amounts of investment in new police on the street, new housing, new
transportation. I think I kept my word to Harlem, and the best is yet to
Harris: "Aides say the first few months
after the White House were tougher on Clinton than impeachment. Today, as
he luxuriated in all that attention, he insisted he is now happy. There
have, however, been practicalities to adjust to: commercial airlines, ATM
machines, wireless phones."
After a clip of DNC chief Terry McAuliffe
lightheartedly recalling how Clinton kept cutting off phone calls as he
fumbled with his cell phone, Harris concluded:
"The President will use the 8300-square-foot
office space in this building as a home base, a place to write his
upcoming book and hold business meetings. But he won’t be checking into
the office every day. He’ll still be spending a lot of time on the road
and in Washington with his wife, the Senator. A vocal minority at
today’s event heckled Clinton. For the most part, though, the reception
for this oft embattled former President could be summed up in the
ceremony’s closing song."
Harris’s piece ended with a group, including
Clinton, singing Stand by Me.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced in a
fairly low-key manner: "Former President Clinton opened a new phase
of his life today as he opened offices in Harlem, the historic
African-American neighborhood here in New York City. CBS’s Byron Pitts
reports the social, financial, and political impact on the streets and in
the business suites."
Pitts began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth: "It’s a long way from Hope, Arkansas, but today for Bill
Clinton Harlem felt like home."
Bill Clinton: "You were always there for me,
and I will try to be there for you."
Pitts: "The former President made Harlem his
second choice, but a $900,000 a year office in midtown Manhattan at
taxpayers’ expense was widely criticized, so he settled uptown in the
largest office space of any former President, a penthouse suite for his
staff and visitors from around the world."
Woman on the street: "Oh, I think it’s
wonderful for Harlem. I really do."
Pitts credited Clinton with fueling Harlem’s
improvements as he offered criticism from the left, cautioning: "But
for all today’s excitement and block party atmosphere, there is also a
sense of frustration here. For many in Harlem ‘gentrification’ is a
dirty word. A small group of demonstrators echoed a growing sentiment.
Harlem’s changing yet again. Once the Mecca of black America, the
birthplace of legends, Harlem hit hard times in the 70s, but it’s now
within the midst of a comeback thanks in part to federal tax incentives
supported by then-President Clinton. Major corporations are replacing
small black-owned businesses. Wealthier families are moving in while poor
people are moving out."
Nellie Bailey, Harlem activist: "The price
of progress should not be that those who are at the bottom are pushed
further down. That, sir, is not progress."
Pitts: "Still, starting today, this is Bill
Clinton: "I love you, Harlem. Thank you. God
bless you. I feel at home. Thank you."
Pitts concluded: "Home to a former
President’s legacy and a people’s."
-- NBC Nightly News held itself to a short
item read by anchor Brian Williams, who referred to how "thousands
turned out for what looked like a campaign rally," followed by a clip
of Clinton at the event.
The night before, however, as MRC analyst Ken
Shepherd observed, NBC reporter Pat Dawson delivered a very favorable spin
for Clinton on the cost of his new office space. Instead of pointing out
how it will cost more per year to rent than for the offices of any other
former President, Dawson compared it to Clinton’s much higher-priced
first choice: "It's saving a lot of taxpayer money. His first choice,
the top of this skyscraper on Manhattan's tony 57th Street with chic
neighbors and a price tag to match. More than $700,000 a year in rent.
More than the cost of all the other former Presidents' offices combined.
So after an invitation to look in Harlem, he settled on offices here: 70
blocks north at a more modest $350,000 for the first year."
Dawson concluded his July 29 piece by
previewing the next day’s activities: "So Monday they'll throw a
big party for his arrival. The Comeback Kid in a neighborhood staging its
Clinton "an honorary homeboy" who is "always thinking about
tomorrow." Monday’s Good Morning America made the odd ethical
judgment that instead of having Diane Sawyer handle the subject, they
would allow former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos, the substitute
co-host of the show, interview current Clinton spinner Joe Lockhart, who
orchestrated the PR for Clinton’s office opening. But Stephanopoulos
wasn’t the ABC reporter who gushed the most over Bill Clinton.
Before the interview, Robin Roberts checked in
from Harlem to preview the upcoming celebration. She maintained that there
are two Bill Clintons, "the one who loves glamour, the one who wants
to make the world a better place." How nice. Where’s the mean,
dishonest and disreputable Clinton? Later, she raved: "Today, by
public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy." That gush
led into another from Clinton’s former Chief-of-Staff, John Podesta, who
exalted: "He's a person who always is thinking about tomorrow."
Next, Stephanopoulos marveled at the
peculiarity of being given a forum by ABC News to interview a former
colleague of his at the Clinton White House about Clinton: "I'm sure
you never thought you'd be a spokesperson for the re-launch of an
ex-President -- I certainly never thought I'd be asking you about
it." Stephanopoulos naturally didn’t ask any tough questions,
instead starting by worrying about how Clinton’s mood during the pardon
controversy "was even darker than it had been during the height of
the impeachment scandal. Just how bad did it get?"
Stephanopoulos moved on to whimsically raising
the revelations that Clinton "put a million dollars in a checking
account and wasn't sure how to work the ATM machine."
Neither CBS’s The Early Show on Monday or
NBC’s Today aired an interview segment on the office opening as both
held themselves to unremarkable taped stories.
Stephanopoulos set up the 7am half hour
segment on the July 30 Good Morning America: "Former President Bill
Clinton reports for his first day of work this morning in his new
neighborhood, Harlem. There are going to be parades, speeches, fanfare,
all as he re-launches his ex-presidency."
That celebratory tone carried through to the
GMA staff, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed.
Live from Clinton’s office site in Harlem,
Robin Roberts, who is usually with ABC Sports and ESPN, introduced her
taped report: "George, this soon will be Mr. Bill's neighborhood --
Mr. Bill Clinton of course. Thousands are expected at this morning's block
party, including Senator Hillary Clinton. Harlem is indeed rolling out the
red carpet. Now, the former President -- who is the newest tenant here in
Harlem -- according to his friends, his transition to private life has at
times been difficult."
Following a clip of Clinton saying he misses
the job, Roberts asserted: "This is a latest installment of the
Clinton story, a chance to reemerge as the ex-President he really wants to
be, but once again it is the tale of two Clintons: the one who loves
glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place."
Harlem resident: "He's an easygoing man,
he's a gentleman, he seems to stand up for the people."
Roberts recalled: "This morning no one will
remember his first choice for office space was posh West 57th Street, just
a couple of doors away from the trendy Russian Tea Room. This morning is a
new beginning. After six months of learning how to live like the rest of
us, learning that when the Chappaqua basement gets flooded, the insurance
doesn't cover it and learning just how to use a normal phone."
ABC viewers saw Terry McAuliffe recount his
anecdote about how Clinton couldn’t figure out how to operate a cell
phone. But instead of using that disclosure to question just how in touch
with the people he was during his tenure, Roberts continued:
"But all the real life is still in sharp
contrast to that yearning for glamour: playing pool with Elizabeth Hurley,
earning millions for all those speeches, jet-setting first class to the
French Open. Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary
John Podesta, former Chief-of-Staff: "He's a
person who always is thinking about tomorrow. It was almost a cliché of
the campaign, but it really, I think, sums up who he is as a person. He
really does think tomorrow can be better than yesterday and that's how he
leads his life."
Roberts let that hyped spin stand as she moved
on: "At Wimp's Southern Style Bakery, they've whipped up five-layer
vanilla cream extravaganzas for the former President. Harlem is where
Clinton will have his cake and eat it too, not to mention a great bowl of
grits at his favorite Cajun restaurant, The Bayou, where he's always
assured of a table. Yes, The Bayou is just a short walking distance from
Clinton's office, but I should note that he does have to pass a McDonald's
to get there, so he might take a detour or two."
Back on live, Roberts concluded: "Now, I
spent a lot of time here on Friday in Harlem, talking to the folks here,
and they have mixed reaction to Clinton coming here, what his presence
will truly mean. They are hopeful, though, that the former President
coming here to Harlem will bring more people and more money to the most
famous African-American neighborhood in the world."
Up next, Stephanopoulos announced: "And
joining us now from Harlem is former White House Press Secretary Joe
Lockhart...Joe, this is an unusual situation. I'm sure you never thought
you'd be a spokesperson for the re-launch of an ex-President -- I
certainly never thought I'd be asking you about it -- but let's go back a
few months. The Washington Post reported yesterday that at the beginning
of his ex-presidency, during all of the controversy over the pardons,
President Clinton's mood was even darker than it had been during the
height of the impeachment scandal. Just how bad did it get?"
Lockhart replied that he’s not one to gauge
dark moods, but Clinton liked being President yet has now found his stride
and is "excited about the future."
Stephanopoulos shared inside giddiness with
Lockhart over his former boss’s fumbles: "How about just the little
things of daily life? I mean, one of the stories I heard is that he just,
that he put a million dollars in a checking account and wasn't sure how to
work the ATM machine."
After Lockhart defended Clinton by pointing
out how Presidents gets things taken care of for them, Stephanopoulos
feted Clinton’s financial success: "But he has had a pretty good
run in private life. The Post also reported that in the last several
months he's made, what, $5 million in speeches, he's expected to have
about an $8 million book deal, and turned down $65 million in other
business opportunities. Is that all true?"
Lockhart offered the incredible answer that
"for the first time he’s able to provide for his family, for the
first time as an adult he’s not on a government salary. So he enjoys
speaking, he’ll enjoy writing and it’s a nice side benefit that
he’ll enjoy making the money too."
How does that correlate with identifying with
the little people who supported a family on the same $35,000 a year salary
he earned as Governor or Arkansas? And what "family" does he
have to support now? Hillary has a job and already made a lot of money and
Chelsea is a college graduate.
The last inquiry from Stephanopoulos:
"How about his relationship with Vice President Gore? It's been
reported that there's a real chill there. When's the last time the
President spoke with him?"
To read the Sunday Washington Post story from
which the anecdotes about Clinton having trouble with phones and ATMs were
taken, anecdotes which were delivered as lighthearted glimpses into
Clinton’s life and not as proof of his disconnect from the average
person, as was 41's exaggerated trouble with a cutting-edge supermarket
scanner, go to:
MS Code Blackout about "Code Red." Monday’s NBC Nightly News
devoted nearly two minutes to the "Code Red" computer worm, but
in relying on MSNBC.com’s Washington reporter for an expert report he
and anchor Brian Williams left out a fairly relevant point in warning
about the potential widespread impact on computers: The worm only infects
certain specific Microsoft software packages and it is only because of a
Microsoft software flaw, one that does not exist in Sun or Oracle Web
servers, that the Code Red worm can use MS servers to inundate and thus
disable other non-MS server-run Web sites.
While ABC and CBS on Monday night vaguely
referred to a threat to "computer systems worldwide," both did
note the specific Microsoft component. World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth
Vargas hinted at Microsoft’s role as she set up a story: "In
Washington today officials from Microsoft and federal agencies joined to
warn about the contagious computer worm called Code Red..."
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather made it
sound like an unavoidable problem: "Electronic security experts are
waving a red flag about quote ‘Code Red,’ that’s a major new threat
to computer systems worldwide." But reporter Sharyl Attkisson later
pointed out: "The Code Red worm attacks computers which use Microsoft
But on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian
Williams avoided the MS in NBC’s MSNBC: "The FBI tonight has issued
a strong new warning about a computer virus called Code Red, which has
already infected hundreds of thousands of computers and may launch new
attacks tomorrow evening. Our colleagues at MSNBC.com are watching this
new virus very closely."
Not closely enough, however, to acknowledge
their own central role as MSNBC.com Washington Bureau Chief Brock Meeks
didn’t mention Microsoft in his subsequent "In Their Own
As Robert Vamosi noted Monday on C-Net.com,
the worm impacts "Microsoft Windows NT version 4.0 and Windows 2000
Professional, Server and Advanced Server."
For more on the worm set to attack Tuesday
night, go to:
Couric on Monday morning advanced a point off the left’s agenda sheet as
she worried about what is usually referred to as the "digital
divide." She asked about the "increasing... chasm between the
haves and the have-nots as a result of the computer."
Her question, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noticed, came during a July 30 Today interview with author Michael Lewis
about the Internet. She inquired:
"I'm going off track for just a moment. But
I wonder, if, if, how worried you are about increasing the chasm between
the haves and the have-nots as a result of the computer. Because I was
reading somewhere recently that, you know, 70 percent of the computers are
gonna go to the wealthiest individuals and that includes teenagers. And
we're gonna have some lower socioeconomic levels without access and what
that will mean in terms of the distribution of wealth in our
What about the cell phone divide. Or the DVD
divide? Or the back yard pool divide?
tanned, he’s rested -- and he certainly looks like he’s lost some
weight. On Monday night Keith Olbermann returned to cable news as the
substitute host of CNN’s 10:30pm/1:30am EDT Greenfield at Large.
The ESPN veteran left MSNBC at the end of
1998, where he had hosted The Big Show with Keith Olbermann, to go to Fox
Sports Net. He recently left that gig, making him available to CNN.
Back in 1999 he earned runner-up status in the
"I’m a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award
(for media hatred of conservatives)" in the MRC’s Dishonor Awards
for the Decade’s Most Outrageous Liberal Bias.
Here’s his quote as uttered on MSNBC’s Big
Show, to Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren, on August
18, 1998, a day or two after Clinton’s speech in which he acknowledged
an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky:
"Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth
of the sympathetic response to the President’s speech? Facially, it
finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially
all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now
pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his
apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political
conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some
sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr.
To view a RealPlayer clip of Olbermann’s
comparison, go to:
The next night, he opined: "We got a
number of calls from people who were offended by that remark, who thought
I was comparing Starr to Himmler and insulting Starr, or who thought I was
comparing Starr to Himmler and demeaning the terrible importance of the
Holocaust. And to those people who were offended I sincerely and humbly
apologize. I meant only what I said. Facially, the two men look vaguely
alike. But I am primarily of German descent, so I carry with me an
inherited shame and guilt about this. So despite the innocence of the
intent of my remark there, I should have been much more sensitive about
invoking that name in this context and for having not been so, I am very
sorry. Still ahead for us tonight: did Olbermann’s apology go far
enough? We’ll have the latest poll numbers on that."
At least he, unlike most network news stars,
is able to acknowledge it when he makes a ridiculous remark, though notice
how he did not retract his suggestion that Starr was more
"persecutor" than "prosecutor."