For Immediate Release: Keith Appell (703) 683-5004 - Friday, February 5, 1999
Vol. Three, No. 5
NBC Policy of "Locking Up" Broaddrick Interview Wasn't Used with Bernardin, Thomas, Nancy Reagan
Will Jane Doe End Up As Jane Don't?
NBC News isn't responding well to Internet gossip Matt Drudge's claim that they're
spiking a Lisa Myers interview with Juanita Broaddrick, also known from the Paula Jones
case as "Jane Doe #5," who claims then-state AttorneyGeneral Bill Clinton raped
her in 1978. When asked by Don Imus, Tim Russert snapped: "I mean, you know there's a
videotape available if you want where it says President Clinton murdered people. I mean,
you know, put it on the screen." [For more, see box.]
No one expects NBC News
to put on scurrilous, uninvestigated charges against the President. But has NBC News lived
up to Russert's PR claim, that every story needs to be "locked up" with a
verification of the five W's before it airs? Unfortunately, it doesn't take long to
remember NBC's failures on this score.
On April 8-10, 1991, NBC's Today aired three days of interviews with Kitty
Kelley, who made wild charges that Nancy Reagan had an affair with Frank Sinatra in the
White House. No "lock-up" there.
On October 8, 1991, on the very morning before the Senate would ultimately vote to
delay Clarence Thomas's confirmation vote, NBC's Today interviewed Anita Hill.
When Katie Couric asked Hill about the details of the charges against Thomas, Hill would
only say "I don't want to get into the details," saying it was in an FBI report
before the Senate. She gave the same answer when asked how many times Thomas harassed her:
"I cannot say how many times." Couric moved on to questions about why the Senate
hadn't moved more quickly on her (unproven, and at this point, undetailed) charges. The
five W's were still missing.
Perhaps the worst example came on November 7, 1993, with completely uninvestigated
sexual abuse allegations against Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin just before U.S.
church leaders gathered to discuss clerical sexual abuse. Notice how many of the five W's
Gary Matsumoto was lacking in his leadoff story on Today, filed even before the
accuser came forward: "Cardinal Joseph Bernardin is at the center of rumors swirling
in Chicago that he himself will be named in a lawsuit concerning sexual abuse.... Cardinal
Bernardin says he has not seen the lawsuit, and does not know the precise charges. The
news reports do not specify who committed the abuse, but allege it took place in
Cincinnati between 1975 and 1977, when Bernardin was Archbishop there. That is where it is
expected to be filed this morning in a federal court. The news reports also say the
plaintiff is a 34-year-old man who now lives in Philadelphia."
NBC made Bernardin's accuser the number one story on both Today and the
Nightly News that day. From the 12th to the 14th, Today
repeated the allegations in ten anchor briefs. Today followed with a debate on
the 15th and another interview on the 20th. On the 17th,
the magazine show Now raised the charges in connection with the Catholic Church's
failure to rescind celibacy requirements for priests. The accuser, Steven Cook, later
recanted the charges.
With a record like this, it's hard for Russert to assert the moral high ground. Whether
or not NBC ever considers Broaddrick and her corroborating witnesses worthy of air time,
NBC's double standard is obvious. -- Tim Graham
L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher; Brent Baker, Tim Graham, Editors;
Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd, Geoffrey
Dickens, Mark Drake, Paul Smith, Media Analysts; Kristina Sewell, Research
Associate. For the latest liberal media bias, read the
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