CyberAlert -- 04/10/1998 -- CNN's Hale Tale

CNN's Hale Tale; Communion OK; Savaging of Clinton Reagan's Fault

1) The broadcast networks have forgotten about Monica, but CNN focused on how a man "funneled money to Hale from the American Spectator...a conservative publication" funded by Richard Scaife.

2) "Canine racism" worries a former ABC News reporter. Tom Brokaw insisted that big tobacco had backed out of "their deal."

3) The champagne for the celebrating Clinton aides was bought by R.W. Apple, chief Washington reporter for the New York Times.

4) The Today show's Catholic expert insisted Clinton did nothing wrong in taking communion. After all, Reagan did the same thing.

5) "Income Gap Grows Wider as Millions Miss Out on Stock Market Boom," declared a Washington Post headline as the reporter ominously warned it's "pushing disparities in wealth and income to proportions not seen since the Gilded Age."

6) A CBS News veteran of Watergate blamed Ronald Reagan, yes Reagan, for the media's irresponsible savaging of Clinton.

Watch TV all day and get paid for it. Join the MRC team of analysts. The MRC now has openings for a news analyst and an entertainment analyst. Job duties include viewing and analyzing of news or entertainment programming, entering that analysis into a computer database, researching studies, reviewing print publications and writing articles about bias. Applicants should be available for an interview at the MRC's Alexandria, Virginia offices where they will work if hired. Starting salary $21,000. Fax resume to Brent Baker at (703) 683-9736.

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)For the fourth straight night Thursday evening ABC's World News Tonight did not utter a word about any aspect of the Clinton scandals. CBS and NBC went three for four this week in skipping anything related to Monica as the broadcast networks have yet to air a full scandal story this week. (NBC gave a few seconds Tuesday night to Dick Armey's comments, CBS aired a brief item Wednesday night on Ken Starr denying a story that he had written a report for Congress.)

Thursday night all the networks led with the tornadoes which hit Alabama, but only FNC and CNN aired scandal stories. On FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET reporter David Shuster told viewers about the appearance before the grand jury by a second White House steward and how Susan McDougal's attorney wants her conviction overturned now that there are charges that David Hale took money while a witness, though Shuster added that the allegation has been denied by Hale and the man who supposedly made the payments.

CNN ran with the effort to discredit Hale, running a story featuring the same old material intertwining Ken Starr, Richard Scaife and the American Spectator in the vast right-wing conspiracy. CNN World Today anchor Joie Chen announced on the 8pm ET edition: "For years he's been investigating President Clinton and the Whitewater land deal. Now an ironic twist."

CNN correspondent Pierre Thomas explained:

"Ken Starr must investigate whether his key Whitewater witness was paid cash to pass on damaging information about President Clinton to conservative groups. David Hale testified in the first Whitewater trial then-Governor Bill Clinton pressured him to make an illegal loan. The new allegations threaten to taint Hale's testimony. An Arkansas woman alleges Parker Dozhier, a friend of Hale, funneled money to Hale from the American Spectator magazine, a conservative publication. In an interview with CNN, Caryn Mann, Dozhier's ex-girlfriend says Hale was part of a conspiracy to get Mr. Clinton."

Caryn Mann: "I believe that people need to know the truth of what went on there. The money was earmarked for David."

Thomas: "The magazine and Dozhier deny the charges....

After airing a soundbite contending this is big trouble for Starr's case and explaining how "allegations of witness tampering fell" in Starr's jurisdiction and not the Justice Department's, Thomas continued:

"The department questioned whether Starr would have a conflict of interest in investigating a witness so important to his case, but left it to Starr to determine whether there is a conflict. Critics also point out another possible conflict of interest. The money allegedly funneled to Hale, came from the American Spectator magazine. The magazine receives financial support from Richard Scaife, a millionaire associated with anti-Clinton efforts. Scaife is also a major donor to Pepperdine University where Starr has accepted a deanship.

"Despite some doubts, the decision at Justice was Starr can investigate his own witness, but officials have put him on notice: they're watching."

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "Starr Report Underway: Document for House Said to Detail Lewinsky Matter," announced a front page Washington Post story on April 8. Reporter Susan Schmidt explained:

"Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's prosecutors have already written large sections of their report to the House of Representatives on potentially impeachable offenses by President Clinton in the Monica S. Lewinsky matter, and sources close to the investigation said they may also include material related to Clinton's sworn testimony about Arkansas financial dealings...."

The April 8 Today and Good Morning America mentioned the Post exclusive, but not CBS's This Morning, reported MRC news analysts Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen and Steve Kaminski. Wednesday night neither ABC or NBC mentioned the story, but CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather took a few seconds to relay Ken Starr's denial.

On CNN's The World Today Bob Franken concluded:

"If the report goes to Congress then the public will finally have the chance to decide whether any of the evidence against the President has merit, or whether it was politically inspired."

Other bites from Wednesday, April 8:

-- ABC's World News Tonight featured a piece on the controversy over the American Kennel Club's list of which dog breeds are appropriate for kids. In the story former ABC News reporter Roger Caras, who is now President of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, pronounced: "To say that all these dogs are this and all those dogs are that, that's racism, canine racism."

-- Tom Brokaw portrayed the tobacco companies as the ones who broke the deal. Teasing the NBC Nightly News he intoned: "Up in smoke. The big tobacco companies back out of their deal on teen smoking and advertising. Why? And what now?"

Of course, Congress added many regulations and taxes to the deal while breaking the agreement to protect the companies from lawsuits, so it's hardly accurate to say the tobacco companies breached the deal.

Later, plugging another story Brokaw found the true victims of El Nino: "When we come back, El Nino's most vulnerable victims. Can anyone save the baby sea lions off San Miguel Island?"

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Celebratory Champagne on the New York Times Dime. Picking up on an item in the April 7 CyberAlert, that Washington Times reporter Greg Pierce ran in his "Inside Politics" column on April 8, about reporters in Senegal buying champagne to help Clinton aides celebrate their victory over Paula Jones, Washington Times reporter John McCaslin tracked down who plunked down the money. In his April 9 "Inside the Beltway" column McCaslin reported his discovery:

"Ironically, it was a New York Times reporter, James Bennet, who revealed that 'journalists' covering President Clinton's recent trip to Africa 'ordered and paid for' champagne relished by Mr. Clinton's senior advisers on the same night the Paula Jones lawsuit was dismissed.

"We write ironically because White House insiders now inform Inside the Beltway that it was none other than New York Times stars R.W. 'Johnny' Apple and Maureen Dowd who helped foot the bill for the bubbly.

"Mr. Bennet stopped short of identifying which Clinton aides sipped on the complimentary champagne that celebratory night at a French restaurant in Senegal, where in a hotel room not far away from the commander-in-briefs similarly welcomed his vindication by banging on a drum and chomping on a cigar.

"But we're told that White House political director Doug Sosnick, White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry, and deputy White House spokesman Joe Lockhart were among the mixed group of partyers.

"'Wine is one thing, but when I read champagne it caught my attention,' says one familiar face at the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Otherwise, the insider pointed out, it's not the least bit unusual for officials in the Clinton camp to chat with reporters over dinner and wine. 'It's the one chance [reporters] have to entertain and debrief,' explained the insider, who added that the Senegal dinner in question was 'pre-arranged,' well in advance of word reaching Africa that the Jones suit had been dismissed. 'In fact, there was a larger group about to go out the door to the same dinner when the news hit,' the insider said. 'But I would agree that the champagne was a little much.'"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Today found a priest to take Clinton's side over Cardinal O'Connor in the dispute over Clinton taking communion at a Catholic church in South Africa on March 29. The April 8 CyberAlert reported that the controversy had generated only about 30 seconds on the CBS Evening News, 22 seconds on Good Morning America and part of a story on FNC. (It has yet to get a second on CNN's The World Today, ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News.) Hours after the CyberAlert was sent Today's Katie Couric interviewed liberal Father Andrew Greeley about the matter.

At the top of the April 8 interview Today showed a clip of O'Connor calling Clinton's action "legally and doctrinally wrong." Greeley disagreed with the implication that Clinton and the South African priest did something improper, arguing that "a lot of priests in this country and in other countries too push the envelope. They say at weddings and funerals they invite people to receive communion so that those in mixed marriages, the families of the non-Catholic spouse won't be offended or feel excluded. This happens in the archdiocese of New York, the archdiocese of Chicago. It happens everywhere. I don't see why we select out the African priest for criticism."

Couric: "Well, he's not the only one who's been criticized as you well know President Clinton has been really severely criticized in this whole thing. Do you think some of that criticism is fair or what do you think is motivating Cardinal O'Connor?"

Greeley: "Well I wouldn't try to guess the Cardinal's motivations. I do know that when Ronald Reagan who was technically a fallen away Catholic in a marriage the church wouldn't recognize, when he received communion back in the early 1980s nobody protested. So maybe there's special rules for Republicans."

Couric: "Ouch."

Amazing. Clinton offends millions of people of religious faith, yet NBC manages to turn that into an opportunity to denounce Ronald Reagan.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)An old joke suggests how the major newspapers would play the end of the world. The New York Times would carry a headline saying "World to End Tomorrow. Details on A6." USA Today, the joke goes, would announce "End of World Coming. How We Really Feel About It." And the Washington Post headline would read: "World Ending Tomorrow. Poor and Minorities Hardest Hit."

The end of the world isn't coming quite yet, but the stock market boom has really upset the Washington Post which decided to focus on the unfairness of how those with money can make more money than those with less money. Living up to the stereotype reflected in the joke, a front page headline in the April 7 Washington Post ominously announced: "Boom Is Fine -- If You Own Stock. The Millions Who Don't Are Only Falling Further Behind." On the jump page the headline read: "Income Gap Grows Wider as Millions Miss Out on Stock Market Boom."

Reporter Clay Chandler asserted:

"The millions of American investors who climbed aboard the Starship Dow before its takeoff in the 1990s have watched their net worth soar to dizzying heights. But many more have missed the ride.

"While Americans are piling into the market in record numbers, the most recent data suggest that six of every 10 households still do not own stocks -- and thus have reaped no direct benefit from the current boom in share prices.

"That troubles many analysts, who warn that the bull market on Wall Street is aggravating other disturbing economic trends and pushing disparities in wealth and income to proportions not seen since the Gilded Age....

"According to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, which many economists consider the most authoritative source of information about household investment patterns, 41 percent of all American families owned stock in 1995, the most recent year for which data were available.

"That is an increase from 37 percent in 1992 and 32 percent in 1989. But the Fed survey -- which considered stocks held directly and through mutual funds, retirement accounts and other types of trusts but not stocks held indirectly through defined-benefit pension funds sponsored by employers -- found wide disparities in stock ownership by income group...."

Note the labeling disparity in these next two paragraphs from Chandler:

"'The market's rise may be increasing assets of some middle-income families, but the overall effect has got to be widening the already large gaps in wealth and income,' said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 'Sure, the average middle-class guy with a few shares in a mutual fund is making a little money. But those gains are quite small in relation to very big increases for wealthy families.'

"Conservative economists agree there is a problem, but one that can be solved by preaching the virtues of stocks. 'As we head into the next century, income and wealth are being driven by ownership,' said Stephen Moore, an analyst at the Cato Institute. 'If we stay on our current course, it will lead to wider divisions. The answer is to help all the people get into the market. We have to create a nation of capitalists, in which everybody can own their piece of the rock.'"

cyberno6.gif (1081 bytes)The Media Are Too Tough on Clinton: It's All Reagan's Fault. You knew it would eventually happen. But it's still incredible. MRC news analyst Eric Darbe earned his pay this week by catching this gem from an April 7 CNN Larry King Live discussion among several veteran reporters, including Walter Cronkite, Hugh Sidey and Morley Safer.

In the midst of unified bemoaning about how Clinton is the victim of declining media standards so all sorts of rumors, poorly-sourced allegations and tabloidish stories about personal sex matters get on the air, King asked if it will get worse before it gets better. CBS News and CNN veteran Daniel Schorr, who now opines for NPR, declared:

"No, I think it gets a lot worse, certainly it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I think it really goes back to the Reagan administration and the deregulation of television. There was a time that television, in order to hold on to licenses for its stations would really say we have got to perform a public service. That was where we had a Tiffany network. Today it doesn't matter anymore. You just make your money where you make your money and to hell with public service. So I think what we see now is not the end of a trend, but somewhere in the middle school of a trend."

When they start blaming Reagan, whom they equate with everything evil and mean-spirited, you know the media establishment are really angry about how their profession is hurting Clinton.

-- Brent Baker

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