CyberAlert -- 08/02/1999 -- CBS Bought Hillary's "Candor"; $90,000 Skipped in AM; "Stupid Tax Cut"

CBS Bought Hillary's "Candor"; $90,000 Skipped in AM; "Stupid Tax Cut"

1) Fox's Brit Hume said "it sounds like such twaddle. It doesn't have the ring of truth." But on Sunday night ABC and CBS reporters called Hillary's Talk comments "frank." CBS saw "a picture of a man who couldn't help himself and a woman who wouldn't give up."

2) Judge Wright's $90,000 fine of Clinton ignored by ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's This Morning. Today gave it 15 seconds. Actor Richard Gere denounced U.S.-supported "brutality."

3) Linda Tripp's indictment generated full stories on all the evening shows except NBC Nightly News. A pleased Eleanor Clift called it "an appropriate sanction."

4) "I'm with the Democrats on this one," declared Newsweek's Evan Thomas in denouncing "this stupid tax cut."

5) George Will pointed out that "the President shut the government down, the media said the Congress shut the government down, the media story stuck."

6) Fox's Carl Cameron revealed how a Justice official stymied the Buddhist temple probe by shutting down the local prosecutor.

7) The Atlanta shooting "may have been loud enough to put gun control back in the spotlight," but CBS anchor John Roberts bemoaned how "it might not be enough to spark serious change."

8) The first broadcast network mention of Chinagate in two months came in an NBC story on...the Panama Canal.

9) Talking to Colin Powell about ROTC in high school, Today's Matt Lauer worried: "Do you think it's a good idea to be putting them in contact with guns in high school?"

Corrections: The July 30 CyberAlert mistakenly referred to Bill Clinton's lawyer as Bill Bennett, it's Bob Bennett. The same issue also misspelled the last name of Lee Radek of the Justice Department.


hillary0802.jpg (19316 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Hillary Clinton put forth some liberal psychobabble about how her husband was so traumatized by seeing his mother and grandmother fight that he couldn't resist Monica Lewinsky, and the networks bought it. Sunday night ABC and CBS reporters called her comments, in the premiere issue of Talk magazine, "frank." CBS's Sharyl Attkisson also labeled them "revealing" and John Roberts insisted she showed "considerable candor" in painting "a picture of a man who couldn't help himself and a woman who wouldn't give up."

Oh, please gag me. Not once was a doubtful word about the First Lady's veracity heard in the pieces which led the August 1 World News Tonight on ABC and CBS Evening News or in the story run a few minutes into the NBC Nightly News.

Sunday morning viewers at least heard her claims questioned. In perfect synergy, ABC's This Week led with a discussion about the interview in the Disney-owned magazine whose editor appeared on Monday's Good Morning America and will get more publicity on Wednesday's 20/20. In the opening roundtable George Will suggested:
"She is the very model of the modern liberal mind in which every individual is the sum of his or her traumas....On the question of fact, that is was there child abuse and if so what sort. On that question of fact all we have to go on is what some Clinton has said, so some skepticism is not out of order."

Over on Fox News Sunday Morton Kondracke on Roll Call ruminated: "What I find incredible about the interview is that Mrs. Clinton actually believed that for a very long period, ten years or so, before the Monica Lewinsky case broke, he had controlled his weakness....There is a story that came out in the Bob Woodward book about how Bob Bennett, the President's lawyer, was going to ask him about a case that occurred supposedly in the Governor's mansion right before the inauguration of President Clinton in 1993. So, that doesn't figure. Either she was completely out of the loop about all this stuff, didn't know that it was going on, or she knew and she's fibbing to talk magazine."

So, she's either a dimwit or a liar.

Brit Hume, Washington Managing Editor of Fox News, chose the latter: "The trouble with this explanation is that it sounds like such twaddle. It doesn't have the ring of truth."

(Kondracke was referring to Clinton's liaisons with Marilyn Jo Jenkins. See the June 14 CyberAlert for details:

This kind of skepticism was absent in the CBS and ABC newsrooms in New York City.

"Frank talk from the First Lady. In a published interview Mrs. Clinton explains why she has stayed with her husband," exclaimed anchor John Roberts at the top of Sunday's CBS Evening News. He then opened the show:
"Good evening. In a move that some Washington insiders say may hurt her chances at a Senate run, First Lady Hillary Clinton has talked at length, and with considerable candor, about her relationship with the President and why she has stayed the course with their marriage. As Sharyl Attkisson reports, the First Lady's words paint a picture of a man who couldn't help himself and a woman who wouldn't give up."

Sharyl Attkisson began: "In the revealing interview to be published this week in the premiere issue of Talk magazine, the First Lady acknowledges that even though she knew of past infidelities, she was caught completely off guard by the President's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. 'I thought this was resolved ten years ago,' she says. 'I thought he had conquered it.'
"Mrs. Clinton reveals the President was 'scarred by abuse' when he was four and there was a terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. It was this psychological trauma, she suggests, that lies at the root of his behavior. As Monica Lewinsky testified before the grand jury, strains in the First Couple's relationship were evident. It seemed even daughter Chelsea couldn't bridge the gulf. Things apparently got even worse when it became clear Lewinsky was telling the truth."
Bill Clinton, September 11, 1998: "I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned."
Attkisson: "One aide says Mrs. Clinton barely spoke to her husband for the next eight months. Today Hillary Clinton has apparently reconciled the embarrassing episode, calling it 'a sin of weakness' not malice. Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff is quoted as saying 'physical passion' has returned to the First Couple's lives. Mrs. Clinton says 'there has been enormous pain, enormous anger, but I have been with him half my life and he is a very, very good man. We just have a deep connection that transcends whatever happens.'
Attkisson concluded: "Mrs. Clinton may have finally chosen to give intimate details of her marriage to put to rest persistent questions that could dog her as a candidate for elected office. Now she can say she's answered the most often asked question about her: Why does she stay with him?"

I'm sure like me you are relieved to know "physical passion" has returned to their lives. But with whom?

++ Watch Attkisson's flattering story. Monday morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell will post a portion of it in RealPayer format. Go to:

On ABC, World News Tonight anchor Carole Simpson breathlessly announced:
"They are long-awaited words from the First Lady and they come in the middle of her listening tour in New York as she campaigns for a likely run for the Senate. In an interview in the new magazine Talk, she answers many of the questions that Americans have been wondering about since the Monica Lewinsky scandal first broke."
Reporter Karla Davis relayed how Hillary claimed Bill's infidelity is "a weakness caused by childhood abuse," quoting Hillary from the magazine: "He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse...There was a terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother."
Davis noted how she "admitted she knew he had been unfaithful but thought he had changed after the Gennifer Flowers affair. She says 'I thought this was resolved ten years ago. I thought he had conquered it. I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough.' Political pundits are already asking, is frank talk smart strategy for someone eying a Senate seat?"

After soundbites from USA Today's Susan Page and ABC's anchor-in-training George Stephanopoulos, who said the comments were unwise because they remind voters of an issue they'd like to forget, Davis concluded by passing along Hillary's praise of her husband:
"As to why Mrs. Clinton stays with her husband, she says quote: 'There has been enormous pain, enormous anger, but I have been with him half my life and he is a very, very good man.'"

No exploration of how her assessment of him as a "very, very good man" might be contradicted by Juanita Broaddrick's claim he raped her. Remember her? The media don't.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) 15 seconds on Today. That's the total morning show time allocated Friday morning to federal Judge Susan Webber Wright's $90,000 sanction on Bill Clinton for lying in the Paula Jones case she oversaw. As noted in the July 30 CyberAlert, on Thursday night, July 29, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News ran full stories while ABC's World News Tonight gave the unprecedented sanction of a President a piddling 22 seconds.

The next morning, Today news reader Sara James read a 15-second item about how President Clinton would pay the fine without appeal. But neither ABC's Good Morning America or CBS's This Morning aired a syllable about it, MRC analysts Jessica Anderson and Brian Boyd observed. Both shows spent most of the morning on the Atlanta shooting, but still found time for other issues. GMA squeezed in first hour items on Clinton arriving in Sarajevo and interviewed actor Richard Gere in the 8am half hour so they could devote the whole 8:30am half hour to Trisha Yearwood.

(Discussing how he became involved in human rights issues, after he was finished plugging his new movie The Runaway Bride, Gere asserted: "I think, probably when I started to get most serious about this was in Central American issues, and again, it was U.S. involvement. What we were doing, what we were supporting in Central America is horrific, what we did in El Salvador, what we did in Nicaragua, what we did in Guatemala. We supported the wrong people constantly, and there was a lot of brutality in our name that we paid for.")

In its prime 8am half hour This Morning conducted an interview segment about an upcoming auction of Marilyn Monroe's property.

Live coverage of the Atlanta shooting bumped Thursday's Inside Politics on CNN and The World Today covered only the shooting, but CNN did not update viewers on Friday as neither show mentioned Wright's sanction. On Inside Politics host Judy Woodruff plugged an upcoming segment: "And still ahead on Inside Politics, a major political story that was overshadowed by events in Atlanta yesterday." But it wasn't the fine, as she outlined another legitimate news story: "After much protest and legal battling California calls off efforts to carry out a ballot measure that sparked anti-immigration moves in Washington."

In a very brief discussion about Wright's ruling on Sunday's CNN Late Edition, USA Today's Susan Page observed: "Remarkable to me how little publicity it got."

Remarkable indeed. USA Today didn't even put it on the front page.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The indictment Friday of Linda Tripp for taping her own phone calls generated full stories on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today, FNC's Fox Report and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, but just a few seconds on the NBC Nightly News.

While all but NBC ran a soundbite from her spokesman or lawyer lashing out at the outrage over the prosecution, none aired any comments from civil libertarians upset by the outrageous law or journalism advocates disturbed she's being punished for sharing information about wrongdoing with a reporter, if any such people exist.

ABC's Barry Serafin allowed her spokesman, Philip Coughter, to say: "The most disgraceful, transparently politically motivated campaign of vengeance in recent American history."

On the CBS Evening News Phil Jones began: "Linda Tripp has tried desperately to shed her image as the villain in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, including changes in her looks and pleading for sympathy...Today she became more than a villain." Jones played this from lawyer Stephen Kohn: "One of the most important whistleblowers in American history is facing ten years in prison, $20,000 in fine, to be branded as a felon."
Jones concluded: "Now Tripp has become the only central figure to face criminal charges. Monica Lewinsky enjoyed immunity and wrote a book, and Bill Clinton has survived. He was in Sarajevo today, still President."

"Where is the ACLU to protect her here?" asked The Weekly Standard's Tucker Carlson on Sunday's Late Edition. So much for the media and liberals protecting whistleblowers.

On the McLaughlin Group Newsweek's Eleanor Clift asserted Wright's sanction was proper as was the indictment of Tripp:
"It's appropriate and this is where this should have been dealt with from the beginning, in the court of law and not taken into the Congress. And I would also like to point out another appropriate sanction and that is the indictment this week of Linda Tripp for illegally recording a friend and it was those recordings, exposing a private affair that had been over that launched this whole ridiculous Monica Lewinsky affair that paralyzed the nation for a year."

Talk about blaming the messenger.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Eleanor Clift's boss, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, lashed out at "this stupid tax cut."

On Inside Washington over the weekend, carried on many PBS stations outside of Washington, DC, host Gordon Peterson summarized how Democrats denigrated the Republican tax cut plan as "a package of nearly $800 billion in tax reductions that some Democrats described as irresponsible, crazy, a boondoggle for the rich. How would you describe it Evan?"
Evan Thomas: "I'm with the Democrats on this one. I think they ought to take that surplus, put a fence around it and keep it for the entitlement programs because we're going to need it."

Later, Thomas lamented how no one is taking advantage of the surplus as an opportunity to reform Medicare: "They are blowing a chance to make a deal. This is the absolute prime moment when they ought to be doing reform and instead they're talking about this stupid tax cut."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Will Republicans be "crazy enough" to shutdown the government again, asked ABC's Cokie Roberts? No, George Will explained, it was the media which claimed they did last time.

On Sunday's This Week on ABC host Cokie Roberts asked Bill Kristol: "Now I want to know if you think the Republicans are crazy enough to allow a government shutdown? I mean how many times do you have to get burned? They've been burned over and over and over again on Medicare, do they get burned on this one more than once too?"

After Kristol replied, George Will pointed out: "What made the last government shutdown a really epochal event in this town and in American government in the '90s was that the President shut the government down, the media said the Congress shut the government down, the media story stuck and the President knows and the Congress knows that the President can do it again."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Fox News Sunday's first guest: Charles LaBella, the former head of the fundraising scandal probe who lost his appointment to be U.S. Attorney in San Diego when he pressed for an independent counsel. He was quite reticent to criticize anyone in particular or to assign political motives for the lack of prosecutions, but before he appeared the show ran a piece from Carl Cameron which raised an instance of a blocked probe.

Cameron's piece was largely a merger of his July 27 and 28 FNC stories ( about the lack of pursuit of leads in several cases related to fundraising tied to China, but he added this new information:
"...The Buddhist Temple event laundered illegal contributions. California Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Mansfield quickly launched the first investigation, but was ordered to stop, and told that an independent counsel should handle it by the head of the Justice Department's public integrity section, Lee Radek. But Radek, at the same time, was telling the Attorney General, Janet Reno, that an independent counsel was not needed. The investigation for a short time stalled and temple nuns destroyed evidence, later admitting it was to protect the Vice President."


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) CBS used the Atlanta shooting as another opening to push gun control. While the July 30 CBS Evening News story gave time to both sides, its agenda matched those pushing more gun control as anchor John Roberts hoped: "The shots that rang out in the Atlanta massacre were heard clearly by lawmakers on Capitol Hill today. While it may have been loud enough to put gun control back in the spotlight, CBS's Diana Olick reports it might not be enough to spark serious change."

Olick began: "As Americans were still learning the details of yet one more mass shooting, their lawmakers in Congress today were taking the next step in the battle over gun control."
Democrat John Conyers talked about the need for background checks before Olick continued: "Last Spring, in the wake of school shootings in Littleton Colorado and Conyers Georgia, the Senate passed a juvenile justice bill that did include some gun control, but in its bill last month the House knocked it out."
Republican Saxby Chambliss insisted he would oppose any chipping away at the Bill of Rights. Olick assumed passing a bill would be good: "That's why the odds of passing any gun control are slim, especially when faced with the powerful influence of the National Rifle Association whose President had this response to the Atlanta attack."
Charlton Heston: "There are, as I said, 22,000 gun laws. The problem is enforcing them. There's no point in having a law if you don't enforce it."
Olick to John Lewis: "Are you optimistic that they're going to get any gun control into this bill?"
Lewis: "I'm not optimistic but we must not give up."
Olick: "Congressman John Lewis, who represents the Georgia district where yesterday's shootings took place, doesn't believe yet another massacre will make any difference."
Lewis: "We have a great distance to go and I don't think this Congress has the courage to take the necessary steps to control the proliferation of guns in America."
Olick concluded: "Members of the House and Senate could begin negotiating the final juvenile justice bill next week, but no one's making any promises on guns. One thing's for sure though, kids will be heading back to school before Congress makes much headway on the bill."


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) 60 Minutes aired an interview with Wen Ho Lee Sunday night in which the Los Alamos scientist maintained his innocence, but the night before NBC Nightly News aired the first broadcast network mention in two months of Chinese espionage and influence on the 1996 election -- from a Panamanian journalist.

The July 31 NBC newscast ended with a piece from George Lewis on the closing down of the U.S. Southern Command based in Panama as the U.S. prepares to turn over the canal to Panama at the end of the year. Noting that Panama is now spending a lot of money to modernize it, Lewis added:
"Some of that increased capacity will come because of new port facilities, this one built by the Chinese shipping firm Hutchinson Lampoa (sp?). Now with the departure of American troops, some members of the U.S. Congress are worried about the growing Chinese presence in Panama."
Bob Barr: "My concern and the concern of many up here on the Hill is that communist China is now poised to fill that power void."
Roberto Eisenmann, journalist: "No, I'm more worried about the Chinese having atomic secrets from the United States and financing U.S. presidential campaigns than I am about the Chinese ports."

Eisenmann will never get hired by a U.S. network.


cyberno9.gif (659 bytes) Finally, an issue on which the media and Colin Powell disagree: guns. Interviewing retired General Powell and Army Secretary Louis Caldera on Friday morning, July 30, about an expansion of the ROTC program in high schools, Today co-host Matt Lauer raised a liberal issue item.

As noted by MRC analyst Mark Drake, Lauer demanded of Powell, who was interviewed via satellite from a high school in Washington, DC where gun ownership is banned yet over 300 are shot to death each year:
"And General Powell, one of the aspects of the program that I think may get some attention is that there is training in riflery, in marksmanship here. I understand they use .22 caliber rifles. At a time when we are so sensitive it seems to the connection between young people and guns, do you think it's a good idea to be putting them in contact with guns in high school?"
Powell put the liberal concern to rest: "I think it teaches them responsibility. I think it teaches them that a weapon is not to be handled casually. It gives them structure and discipline and so I see no connection between the kinds of violence we see in our society and the kind of responsible training that our young cadets get in the use of firearms. Firearms are with us and I think if youngsters understand the importance of realizing that a weapon exists to kill something, then it's less likely they will handle that weapon in a irresponsible way."

It's not very often that network stars find anything to quibble about with Powell, but he's on the wrong side according to media thinking on gun control. -- Brent Baker


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