CyberAlert -- 05/23/2000 -- Democrats Always Wanted Disbarment

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Democrats Always Wanted Disbarment; Hillary Not Liberal; NBC's No Elian Photo Policy

1) The networks jumped on the Clinton disbarment case. ABC's Jackie Judd ignored the role of a federal judge and credited only a "conservative" legal group. CBS's Bob Schieffer: "The irony here is that disbarment is a punishment that many Democrats favored" while the GOP "demanded impeachment or nothing and got nothing."

2) Those opposed to Hillary are "hard-right conservatives" who hate her, but you can't accurately paint Hillary as a liberal. That's the mainstream media line on the New York Senate campaign as reflected by Newsweek's Howard Fineman and NPR's Mara Liasson.

3) NBC on Saturday took 18 seconds to note how the State Department complained about Elian wearing the outfit of Cuba's communist youth group, but Today refused to show the photo.

4) At a Capitol Hill briefing this afternoon, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell will release a new MRC Special Report, "Back to the 'Peaceable' Paradise: Media Soldiers for the Seizure of Elian."

5) Latest MediaNomics: "Networks Give One-Sided View of Social Security Debate"; "Ford Fuels Good Press By Bad-Mouthing Own SUVs"; "Odds Are, Roller Coaster Regulations Demanded by Dateline NBC Won't Help Anyone but Bureaucrats."

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Features of the NRA Restaurant."

>>> MRC Web site recommended by U.S. News & World Report. The "News You Can Use Page" in the May 29 issue lists six Web pages under the heading of "get a window on the press with these sites that keep an eye on the fourth estate." James Morrow of U.S. News summarized the appeal of "The best feature of this site, devoted to exposing liberal bias, is 'Notable Quotables,' a compilation of slanted news snippets." To see the entire list, go to: <<<


Unlike as has happened with many other Clinton scandal developments, the networks Monday night jumped on the news that an Arkansas panel had recommended that President Clinton be disbarred. The news, which broke just before 5pm ET on Monday, led the ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC evening shows. NBC, which by coincidence, already had a live interview with Bill Clinton about the China trade deal set for its first feed at 6:30pm ET, did not run a story (at least in east coast edition), but Tom Brokaw did ask Clinton about the development late in the interview.

The case was prompted by two complaints, one from federal judge Susan Webber Wright and another from the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF). ABC's Jackie Judd ignored Wright, asserting "the committee acted on a complaint filed by a conservative group called the Southeastern Legal Foundation." CBS's John Roberts did not mention SLF and instead recounted how Wright had found Clinton in contempt last year. CNN's John King noted the role of both SLF and Wright.

Dan Rather insisted "this disbarment has long been sought by Republicans," but a few minutes later Bob Schieffer claimed Republicans had opposed a recommendation of disbarment and had thus missed a great opportunity: "The irony here is that disbarment is a punishment that many Democrats favored during the impeachment proceedings....but the Republican leadership badly miscalculated what was happening. They saw it as a Democratic plot to save the President from impeachment, demanded impeachment or nothing and got nothing." Actually, they did get impeachment.

Here's a rundown of the Monday night, May 22 stories, on ABC, CBS, and NBC:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Jackie Judd began: "The committee took the harshest action possible against the President. It accused him of serious misconduct by violating rules governing lawyers in Arkansas where Mr. Clinton still has a license to practice. The committee acted on a complaint filed by a conservative group called the Southeastern Legal Foundation. It had accused Mr. Clinton of lying under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky when he was deposed in the Paula Jones lawsuit and again when he was questioned by independent counsel Kenneth Starr."

After a soundbite from Matt Glavin of the Southeastern Legal Foundation and a quote from Clinton lawyer David Kendall, Judd elaborated on the Clinton comeback: "A senior White House official seemed to be laying the groundwork for the defense when he questioned the neutrality of the committee. The official said those members who knew the President did not vote, suggesting those who did vote may have been biased against Mr. Clinton."
She concluded: "Now, no one expects the President to hang out a shingle after he leaves office, so if he does lose his law license it would not have much practical effect, but Peter, it would be a further embarrassment to him and part of the legacy of the Lewinsky scandal."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the show: "A committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court today recommended that President Clinton's law license be taken away because he allegedly gave false testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. This disbarment has long been sought by Republicans and some other Clinton critics. The process has several steps to go. The President's lawyer made it clear tonight it will be challenged. This is a historic case, it's also complicated."

From the White House, John Roberts explained: "It was at a meeting last Friday that the Arkansas Supreme Court committee on professional conduct took up a complaint against the President. After weighing the facts, a panel of five attorneys and one retired school teacher found the President to be guilty of serious misconduct and recommended that he be disbarred."
Roberts recounted how the complaint revolved around Clinton's denial, at both the Jones deposition and to the Starr grand jury, of a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Roberts added: "The President had argued that his statements were not false as he understood the meaning of 'sexual relationship,' but Arkansas judge Susan Webber Wright, who oversaw the Jones deposition, disagreed and last year found Mr. Clinton to be in contempt of court for 'giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.'"

After noting how David Kendall claimed the recommendation is "contradicted by precedent," Roberts concluded: "Just before it met, eight of the committee's 14 members felt pressured to recuse themselves from the case because of ties they had to the Democratic Party. That leaves the question of just who was left to hear the President's case."

Well, according to Roberts himself earlier in the story, it was "a panel of five attorneys and one retired school teacher."

Next, Bob Schieffer delivered "The Real Deal" segment of the day. He offered some creative re-writing of history:
"The irony here is that disbarment is a punishment that many Democrats favored during the impeachment proceedings. It never got much publicity, but there was a sizable group, many of them Democrats, some Republicans, in both the House and the Senate, who thought the President shouldn't be impeached but ought to be censured or punished in some way. They probably could have gotten enough votes to recommend that he be disbarred, but the Republican leadership badly miscalculated what was happening. They saw it as a Democratic plot to save the President from impeachment, demanded impeachment or nothing and got nothing. I don't suppose anyone ever really expected the President to practice law once he leaves office, but if he is disbarred it will be one of the most embarrassing blows ever dealt a sitting President. Just one more thing for him to explain and in one way or another expect this to work its way into his wife's campaign for the Senate."

Where to begin. "It never got much publicity" that "a sizable both the House and the Senate" thought Clinton shouldn't be impeached "but ought to be censured or punished in some way"? That's all we heard about on TV news for a year! Geraldo Rivera built his CNBC show around the idea and MSNBC its entire prime time schedule. Remember Keith Olbermann? As for Clinton not being impeached, he was impeached. He just wasn't convicted, which hardly proves miscalculation by Republican leaders since if the proper sanction in Schieffer's mind is disbarment, that may happen anyway despite what occurred on the impeachment/conviction front.

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw mentioned the Arkansas action at the top of the program, but then went to an interview set-up piece by Lisa Myers about China trade. Brokaw then interviewed Clinton, who was in the Roosevelt Room, via satellite. After three questions on China trade and one about whether Rick Lazio is a "worthy" opponent for his wife, he summarized the Arkansas decision and inquired: "Will you personally take part in that appeal and appear in Arkansas to argue your case?"
"No," Clinton replied in saying he will keep his focus on his presidential duties and maintaining that if he were treated like others, there would be no case.

Brokaw followed up with a tough question: "This comes in a state where you were the Attorney General, where you taught law. You've now been held in contempt of court by a federal judge in that state and you've been recommended for disbarment. With all due respect, this is a stain on your record well outside the political arena, isn't it?"

Not sure the use of the term "stain" is best in this story.


Those opposed to Hillary are "hard-right conservatives" who hate her, but you can't accurately paint Hillary as a liberal. That's the mainstream media line on the New York Senate campaign as reflected by Newsweek's Howard Fineman and NPR's Mara Liasson in separate interviews on Monday.

On Imus in the Morning simulcast on MSNBC, Fineman, MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed, used some loaded labeling to describe from whom Rick Lazio will obtain funding:
"Lazio will be able to raise a ton of money because Hillary is just so hated by all the hard-right conservatives all around the country. They will all open up their wallets for him in a second."

Later in the day on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, NPR White House correspondent Mara Liasson argued it would be inaccurate to tag Hillary a Ted Kennedy liberal. After Morton Kondracke declared of Lazio, "this guy's a moderate," she chimed in: "I think it's equally hard to make the argument that he's making that Mrs. Clinton is Ted Kennedy reincarnated or Paul Wellstone reincarnated. Now granted she doesn't have a voting record."
Brit Hume suggested: "I think that might be an easier case to make, though."
Liasson argued: "It might easier because she doesn't have a voting record, but look, she supports the death penalty, she supports welfare reform. The fact is, if you talk to liberals, they think the White House has sold out every liberal interest there is."

Does anyone really believe she's really in favor of welfare reform? And the fact that the White House didn't always hold the liberal line does not mean she didn't advocate it.


The story, but not the picture. NBC refused to show the photo of Elian in the outfit of the Pioneers, Cuba's communist youth group. The May 22 CyberAlert reported: "The State Department lodged a protest and a Democratic Congressman sent Bill Clinton a letter complaining about how Elian is being indoctrinated at the Wye River Plantation, but of the networks, only FNC cared Friday night."

But Saturday morning, MRC analyst Paul Smith observed, NBC did take notice of State's complaint, though NBC left out an important element of the story. During the 7:30am news update on the May 20 Today, news reader Hoda Kotbe took 18 seconds to recount:
"Elian Gonzalez is at the center of a new storm of controversy today because of some new photographs. In the pictures, he is wearing a uniform worn by a communist youth group. The State Department says Cuba is using him for political goals. The pictures were posted on the Internet earlier this week."

The picture of him wearing the Jose Marti shirt with a blue scarf was also shown Wednesday night and Friday night by FNC and Thursday morning on ABC's Good Morning America, but Today failed to show it. So far, other than the Thursday GMA, none of the broadcast networks have displayed the photo and I've seen it on CNN only on Saturday's Capital Gang.

To see the photo, go to:

For RealPlayer video of FNC's May 19 story on complaints from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Democratic Congressman Robert Menendez, go to:


Get briefed on Elian coverage. Attention Capitol Hill staffers: Tuesday afternoon at 2:30pm in Rayburn HOB room 2255, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell will provide a briefing for a bipartisan group of lawmakers on media coverage of the Elian case. The event, coordinated by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, is open to staffers and the news media and was plugged last week on the House floor by Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who urged her colleagues to attend.

At the briefing the MRC will release a Special Report put together by Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, titled, "Back to the 'Peaceable' Paradise: Media Soldiers for the Seizure of Elian."

Tuesday afternoon the report will be posted on the MRC home page by Webmaster Andy Szul. After 2pm ET, go to:


Now online from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), the latest edition of MediaNomics, which relays "what the media tell Americans about free enterprise." Articles in the May 19 edition, compiled FMP Director Rich Noyes:

-- Networks Give One-Sided View of Social Security Debate.
Social Security reform made it to the networks' nightly news agenda this week, but the stories were most noteworthy for what they left out. While Texas Governor George W. Bush's plan for private accounts was deemed "controversial" and was the focus of almost all of the coverage, Vice President Al Gore's plan to maintain the status quo through ever-increasing federal taxes was barely mentioned and never criticized.

-- Ford Fuels Good Press By Bad-Mouthing Own SUVs.
Environmentalists don't like sport utility vehicles (SUVs). They say they get terrible gas mileage, are big polluters, and are so huge that they're a physical danger to drivers of more Earth-friendly (i.e., tiny) cars such as the Chevy Metro or the Suzuki Swift. Most media types were therefore surprised and pleased when the Ford Motor Company, maker of SUVs, announced it agreed with its critics that SUVs were both dangerous and dirty. But is it true?

-- Odds Are, Regulations Demanded by Dateline NBC Won't Help Anyone but Bureaucrats.
According to the National Geographic Society, about 80 people are killed by lightning strikes each year in the United States. According to NBC's Keith Morrison, in a report he prepared for the May 16 Dateline NBC, far fewer people (six, to be exact) died in amusement park accidents in 1999. But that makes it the worst year in recent memory so, says Dateline, it's time to bring on the bureaucrats.

To read these articles, go to:


From the May 22 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the NRA's announcement that it plans to open a themed restaurant in New York City's Times Square, the "Top Ten Features of the NRA Restaurant." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Freshest meat in town because they shoot it right before your eyes.
9. Bulletproof lobster bibs.
8. Mandatory seven_day waiting period between ordering dinner and dessert.
7. Tip over 20 percent, get complimentary frisking by waitress.
6. Monday night is Ladies Night, and by ladies we man "guys too sissy to carry loaded weapons."
5. All waiters named "Smith" or "Wesson."
4. Eric Clapton guitar they stole at gunpoint from Hard Rock Café.
3. Movie memorabilia from such stars as Charlton Heston...and Charlton Heston.
2. If cook screws up your order, put a cap in his ass!
1. Bar sells both kinds of Colt .45.

New York City is probably not the most NRA-friendly place for a restaurant. -- Brent Baker

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