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The 1,241st CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday March 11, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 40) |
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Clinton’s Greatness "Crippled"; Afghanistan = Vietnam; Bill Simon "Anti-Everything"; Florida Vote More Damaging Than Terrorism

1) "There really was a conspiracy against Bill Clinton on the right," former Newsweek reporter Joe Klein told Tim Russert. Klein claimed that "Republican extremists," who bordered "on being unpatriotic," would have inhibited Clinton’s reaction to the September 11 attacks: "Clinton’s ability to move us through a war or a crisis would have been crippled by that kind of unrelenting opposition."

2) Vietnam analogy raised by New York Times reporter Rick Berke. On PBS Friday night, he asserted: "Not long ago, we were practically declaring victory. How did we suddenly end up with troops on the ground, and are we stuck there? Is this, dare I mention, Vietnam?"

3) Rick Berke of the New York Times eagerly highlighted how "Gray Davis is just salivating at the opportunity to paint" the "very conservative" California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon "as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun control, anti-everything, which just doesn’t sit well with the California electorate."

4) Time magazine’s Jack White aligned himself with Senate liberals. On ABC’s This Week he denounced the judicial nomination of Charles Pickering: "I think Judge Pickering is a terrible choice and that he should not be confirmed."

5) Actress/comedian Sandra Bernhard: "I think Bush is amateurish and self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting. I think everybody is covering their [posteriors] with the Enron scandal and it was very convenient that Sept. 11 came along to deflect the fact that they should never have been in the White House in the first place. What happened in the election was completely corrupt."

6) Actor Alec Baldwin claimed the Florida recount "has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do." He argued that the Bush team’s talk about a "long war" is a "euphemism" for how the "moratorium on criticizing the government must be extended...beyond the 2002 election." In 1998 Baldwin urged: "If we were in other countries, we would all right now, all of us together, all of us together would go down to Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death!"


1

Former Newsweek Senior Writer Joe Klein, whose book, The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, was described by CNN’s Aaron Brown as "very balanced," told Tim Russert on CNBC that "there really was a conspiracy against Bill Clinton on the right" and that "Republican extremists," who bordered "on being unpatriotic," would have inhibited President Clinton’s ability to have dealt with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Klein contended: "Clinton’s ability to move us through a war or a crisis would have been crippled by that kind of unrelenting opposition."

     On Russert’s Saturday night CNBC show Klein, who is now with the New Yorker, maintained that "50, 75 years out from now I think that we in the media and the Republicans are going to be judged every bit as harshly as Bill Clinton for creating the atmosphere where things got so out of control in the ‘90s."

     Claiming that Clinton would have replaced the incompetent Louis Freeh as FBI Director if not for fear of it being seen as a move related to he Lewinsky scandal, Klein lamented: "We might have had a more successful efforts against Osama bin Laden but for Monica Lewinsky."

     As for the suggestion Clinton should have been held accountable for lying about Monica Lewinsky, Klein equated Clinton’s dissembling with how FDR lied about national security policy in reaction to Nazi Germany invading other nations: "So Franklin Roosevelt too, huh? You think he should have been penalized for lying about lend-lease?"

     For more on Aaron Brown’s CNN interview with Klein and Klein’s point about the FBI, refer to the March 8 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020308.asp#2

     Klein propounded on the March 9 Tim Russert: "The ‘90s will be remembered more for the ferocity of their prosecutions than for the severity of their crimes. I think we all went a little bit berserk during that time. I think that there really was a conspiracy against Bill Clinton on the right. And I think that, you know, he did some terrible things. But there is such a thing as balance and, you know, I was accused in the Washington Post of trying to defend Bill Clinton and James Carville said to me, ‘all you have to do is say is one sentence in favor of Bill Clinton and you’re an apologist.’ It shouldn’t be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. We should be able to acknowledge the fact that he made life a lot better for a lot of people in this country."
     Russert suggested: "And yet many people will say, if he’s the President of the United States, the chief law enforcement officer, and he breaks the law he should be penalized."
     Klein retorted: "So Franklin Roosevelt too, huh? You think he should have been penalized for lying about lend-lease?"

     Russert wondered if Klein thought Bill Clinton would have reacted as "vigorously and effectively" to the September 11th attacks as have President Bush and his cabinet. Klein argued that conservatives wouldn’t have let him:
     "One of the reasons why it would have been much more difficult for him is that the Democrats last fall gave Bush weeks and weeks to prepare his plan and to execute it. Bill Clinton would have never gotten that space from the Republicans. The next day, two days later they would have been screaming, ‘Mr. President, why aren’t we attacking in Afghanistan? Why aren’t we going after Osama bin Laden?’ And he would have responded, and he would have responded, I think, too quickly and in a not well thought through way, which I think is a real sad commentary. And I hate to say this because you and I both know very many honorable Republicans, but the behavior of the Republican extremists in the ‘90s, who did not accept his legitimacy from day one, borders on being unpatriotic. You cannot run a country in a circumstance like that. You just can’t. Democracy suffers. And therefore Clinton’s ability to move us through a war or a crisis would have been crippled by that kind of unrelenting opposition."

     Will any of those of those on the left, who have attacked conservatives for serving as "patriotism police" since September 11, rebuke Klein for impugning conservatives as "unpatriotic" for criticizing Bill Clinton?

2

One battle goes badly for U.S. forces and New York Times reporter Rick Berke immediately thought of Vietnam and a NPR reporter to read great meaning into a slip of he tongue by General Tommy Franks who used the word "Vietnam" instead of Afghanistan.

     Friday night on PBS’s Washington Week, Berke asked Gjelten: "Tom, not long ago, we were practically declaring victory. How did we suddenly end up with troops on the ground, and are we stuck there? Is this, dare I mention, Vietnam?"
     Gjelten responded, as transcribed by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth, by highlighting a slip of the tongue: "Well, it’s interesting, Rick. You can mention Vietnam because you would not be the first one to mention Vietnam. First of all, General Franks in briefing about this operation this week had a sort of a slip of the tongue and mentioned, ‘I’d like to thank all the people serving in Vietnam.’ But not just him, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, which is the, one of the two big divisions involved in this operation, said that his troops have not been involved in as heavy and intense infantry combat since Vietnam.
     "So that’s what makes this really notable. And, you know, we, in Kosovo, we fought from 16,000 feet. Even in the early stages of this war, we fought using mostly Special Forces and Afghan allies. But what happened, apparently, in this case is that because this was possibly a last stand, U.S. commanders wanted to make really sure that the al-Qaeda didn’t get away, and in the end they trusted American soldiers more. That’s sort of the tactical thing. The symbolic thing is I think that they wanted to emphasize that for all this idea that we’re risk averse and we’re not going to let soldiers get, take heavy casualties, they’re willing to send in old-fashioned infantry troops, light infantry troops. These are guys that basically fight with the weapons they carry in. And I think there was a symbolic importance to making that stand."

3

"Gray Davis is just salivating at the opportunity to paint" the "very conservative" California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon "as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun control, anti-everything, which just doesn’t sit well with the California electorate." So argued New York Times reporter Rick Berke Friday night on PBS.

     Gebe Martinez of Congressional Quarterly piled on: "And isn’t that also, I mean, there’s a history here that every time the Republicans have nominated a conservative, the Democrats have won because the state is moderate."

     Or so most journalists assume. And probably hope.

     On the March 8 Washington Week, host Gwen Ifill set up a segment on the California primary: "Well, moving on to more politics, leave it to California to bring us back to the kind of politics where the winners and the losers are clear. This week’s Republican primary elevated a little known conservative businessman and derailed the White House-backed candidacy of the well-known former mayor of Los Angeles. So the White House bet on the wrong horse. What difference does that make, Rick?"

     Berke maintained that a conservative cannot win a general election: "It makes a big difference, Gwen. It’s not just egg on the face of the White House or the face of the President or whoever is over there. It’s also, it was very important for the White House to have a candidate that they thought could win in November because California is largely Democratic state. Their only hope was to have a candidate who they saw as more of a moderate, who could appeal to other segments of the base beyond the Republican conservative base.
     "Instead, Gray Davis essentially picked his own opponent. Gray Davis, the governor, spent $10 million in ads attacking Dick Riordan, who was the moderate in the race. He lost to the surprise of the White House, to the surprise of even Gray Davis himself who told me he thought he was just going to rough him up, he didn’t think that this would be as successful as it was. So now they’re left, the Republicans, with a candidate who is a political neophyte, Bill Simon, never run for office before, has no political experience, and is very conservative. And Gray Davis is just salivating at the opportunity to paint him as anti-abortion, anti-environment, anti-gun control, anti-everything, which just doesn’t sit well with the California electorate."
     Gebe Martinez of Congressional Quarterly: "And isn’t that also, I mean, there’s a history here that every time the Republicans have nominated a conservative, the Democrats have won because the state is moderate."
     Berke agreed: "The state is moderate, and that’s going to be a problem. I think what the White House is hoping now, the President is trying to make amends and say, you know, we’re going to back you, Bill Simon, he’s gonna come in and make appearances for him."
     Ifill: "The President is."
     Berke: "The President is. Giuliani is an old friend of Simon’s. He’s going to come in and make appearances. Giuliani’s going to put his arm around Simon and say this guy is not as right-wing as you think. But the question is, is that gonna be enough?"

     Does he mean "enough" to overcome the media’s distorted characterization of Simon as symbolized by Berke’s eagerness to paint Simon as "anti-everything"?

4

Put Time national correspondent Jack White on the list of liberals who oppose the judicial nomination of Charles Pickering.

     Appearing during the roundtable portion of Sunday’s This Week on ABC, White opined: "I think Judge Pickering is a terrible choice and that he should not be confirmed. I think that if you look at if you look back at his record the civil rights organizations have compiled that there are good questions about his commitment to equal right and voting rights."

5

The Enron scandal is deflecting "from the fact" that George W. Bush should not be in the White House since "what happened in the election was completely corrupt," semi-famous actress/comedian Sandra Bernard complained in an interview with the Washington Post last week. Bernard insisted: "Any thinking person who lives in the world would be disturbed at what's going on right now. I think Bush is amateurish and self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting."

     A couple of weeks ago she declared: "The real terrorist threats are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs." That outburst came during a February 25 chat session on washingtonpost.com to plug her then-upcoming March 9 comedy show appearance in Washington, DC.

     To promote her gig, she talked with the Washington Post’s Lloyd Grove, author of the paper’s "Reliable Sources" column.

     In his March 8 summary of heir conversation, Grove reminded readers of how Bernhard’s "comic performances -- whether playing Robert De Niro's addled sidekick in the 1983 Martin Scorsese movie The King of Comedy or belting out a torch song totally naked -- tend to push the envelope beyond quirky into the genuinely weird. As if to prove that she remains as edgy as ever, she had this to say about President Bush and his performance post 9-11:
     "‘It's pretty dismal and pretty scary.’
     "Of course, we suggested, Bernhard would say that as a liberal person from New York City.
     "‘I'm an intelligent person from America,’ she riposted, and launched a heated blast. ‘I was born in Michigan and raised in Arizona, and while I do reside in New York, I travel the country extensively. Any thinking person who lives in the world would be disturbed at what's going on right now. I think Bush is amateurish and self-serving, and frankly it's disgusting. I think everybody is covering their [posteriors] with the Enron scandal and it was very convenient that Sept. 11 came along to deflect the fact that they should never have been in the White House in the first place. What happened in the election was completely corrupt.’"

     For Grove’s mini-article in full:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58340-2002Mar7.html

     For more about Bernhard’s charge that Bush represents the "real Terrorist threat," refer back to the February 28 CyberAlert:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020228.asp#5

     For a complete listing of Bernhard’s TV and movie roles, and a photo of her, check out her data recited by the Internet Movie Database: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Bernhard,+Sandra

6

Actor Alec Baldwin told Florida A&M students last Thursday that the Florida recount outcome "has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do." Baldwin argued: "I believe that what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City." The Tallahassee Democrat reported that he also suggested that Bush administration talk about a "long war" is a "euphemism" for how the "moratorium on criticizing the government must be extended longer and longer and longer -- ideally, beyond the 2002 election."

     An excerpt from the March 8 Tallahassee Democrat story by Bill Cotterell, which James Taranto highlighted on Friday in his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com
(http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/) The excerpt:

Florida's 2000 presidential election fiasco damaged democracy as badly as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks hurt the nation, actor Alec Baldwin said Thursday.

Baldwin told a Florida A&M University audience that President Bush and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, are hoping that a wartime "moratorium on criticizing the government" will help Republicans in the fall elections.

Baldwin, a New Yorker, said memories of Sept. 11 have overshadowed public doubts about the 36-day recount of Florida presidential ballots. He said the war makes it hard for Bush critics to remind voters of "this other disaster that we faced in this country -- a disaster that...has done as much damage to our country as any terrorist attack could do, in some ways.

"I know that's a harsh thing to say, perhaps, but I believe that what happened in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City," Baldwin said, drawing applause from the breakfast audience of about 200....

Baldwin is a board member of People for the American Way, a liberal lobbying group that sponsored the two-day observation of the second anniversary of a mass march on Tallahassee. The march protested the governor's 1999 executive orders that supplanted affirmative action in university admissions and state contracting.

As in a rally at St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church on Wednesday night, speakers at the FAMU prayer breakfast focused more on the disputed 2000 presidential election than the One Florida protests they were commemorating. Baldwin and other speakers warned that voters will face new challenges this year because legislative and congressional redistricting is changing political boundaries.

He said the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along with the governor and other Republican leaders, are banking on the news media and voters staying distracted by the war on terrorism.

"When Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon spokespeople say to you, 'Well, this is going to be a long war, we're going to be in Afghanistan for the long haul,' what that euphemism means is that the moratorium on criticizing the government must be extended longer and longer and longer - ideally, beyond the 2002 election," Baldwin said....

     END of Excerpt

http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/democrat/news/local/2815697.htm

     For a photo of Baldwin and a rundown of his movie and TV roles, check the Internet Movie Database’s page on him: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Baldwin,+Alec

     Baldwin’s said a lot of silly and/or liberal things over the years, but perhaps his most famous mean-spirited outburst occurred back in December of 1998, during the House impeachment proceedings, when he went on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien and let loose: "If we were in other countries, we would all right now, all of us together, [starts to shout] all of us together would go down to Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death!...We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we’d kill their wives and their children."

     Long time CyberAlert readers should be quite familiar with this incident, which led NBC to promise to never re-run the particular show. But since I know many current readers were not getting CyberAlert back in 1998 (tsk, tsk), below is a transcript of the exchange on the December 11, 1998 Late Night with Conan O’Brien during which Baldwin advocated some small-scale terrorism against Bill Clinton’s adversaries:

     O’Brien: "Before we leave, I gotta ask you. It’s no secret that you are very political. You are a very political person. It’s no secret that you have actually had some associations with the Clintons. That you’re a liberal man and I thought you know today, this is a historic day and you’re one of the most politically active actors out there. What do you think?"
     Baldwin: "I was in Africa. I go to Africa. I mean ladies and gentlemen I am in Africa. For three months I am in the bush and I come back. I come back here and I come back to what? I mean what is happening right now as we speak? Right now the Judiciary Committee, the President has an approval rating of 68 percent. The President is very popular and things are going pretty good and they are voting to impeach the President. They voted on one article of impeachment already. And I come back from Africa to stained dresses and cigars and this and impeachment. I am thinking to myself in other countries they are laughing at us twenty four hours a day and I’m thinking to myself if we were in other countries, we would all right now, all of us together, [starts to shout] all of us together would go down to Washington and we would stone Henry Hyde to death! We would stone him to death! [crowd cheers] Wait! Shut up! Shut up! No shut up! I’m not finished. We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we’d kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families. [stands up screaming] What is happening in this country? What is happening? UGHHH UGHHH!!!!"

     To view a RealPLayer clip of the above incident:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19981215.asp#5

     As I recall, our tape of the show wasn’t very good and so the volume is a somewhat low, but if you turn up your RealPlayer volume control as well as your speaker volume, you should be able to hear it.

     Judge for yourself whether you think Baldwin was acting out a gag bit, and even if he was, whether it was more humorous or scary. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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