CyberAlert -- 08/08/1997 -- No Interest in Clinton Calls

No Interest in Clinton Calls; Helms a Bigot; Nets Gun It for Guns

The July issue of MediaWatch is now online and can be accessed from the MRC home page, or more directly from:

  1. During presidential press conference reporters ignored Clinton- Gore calls and the hearings, but worried about harm of the tax cut.
  2. In a change from the 1991 media attitude, a female reporter doesn't think it's a big deal for a man to drop his pants, at least if the perpetrator is Clinton.
  3. Jesse Helms is a bigot because....he opposes the NEA and criticizes union abuses, argued the Chicago Tribune's James Warren.
  4. New study released by the MRC: "Gun Rights Forces Outgunned on TV" proves networks don't even try to be balanced on gun control.

1) Except for one question from ABC's Ann Compton about whether he would ask Charlie Trie and John Huang to tell what they know, the four weeks of fundraising hearings were not raised by reporters during President Clinton's Wednesday press conference. Nothing about how well he knew either, how he might have helped Huang get a job or how and why he met the foreign donors they arranged to visit the White House. Nothing about the China connection or anything about the coincidence of Huang making calls and sending faxes just after he got a CIA briefing.

More amazingly, and in a true sign of how little interest White House reporters have in pursuing illegal and/or improper fundraising, of the 19 reporters who posed questions, not one asked about recent revelations that both Clinton and Gore had misled them about their personally placed fundraising calls. Tuesday's New York Daily News disclosed that Gore made more than he admitted and the July 24 New York Times reported on a memo showing that Clinton requested names be sent him who he could call.

Two other questions worth noting:

-- "Mr. President, on this deficit reduction that you've just mentioned, that it's now fallen to $37 billion, doesn't it raise the question that in fact the budget could be balanced a lot sooner if you and Congress hadn't enacted $95 billion in tax cuts?"

Unfortunately, the MRC's cable was out on Wednesday so we missed who posed that question. But I put the MRC's chief investigative correspondent on the case, our intern Jessica Anderson, and she tracked down the pontificator of this typical liberal reasoning: Larry McQuillan of the Reuter news service.

So, the measly tax cuts which equal one percent of planned spending are the problem? In Monday's USA Today editorial writer David Mastio pointed out that 1998 to 2002 federal spending will total $8,987 billion. Compared to $94 billion in tax cuts, Mastio suggested, "that's roughly the difference in weight between a cat and a racehorse."

-- Later, John Donvan very reluctantly approached the Kathleen Willey story, though he avoided her name, what case she is involved with and made sure Clinton knew he really didn't want to:

"In a civil suit filed against you, attorneys for the plaintiff have issued a subpoena for an individual who may or may not have worked in the White House. Your staff, when asked to clarify the status of that individual in the past, refuses to answer the question and refers it to an outside attorney. Even for those of us who don't have much appetite for this entire subject, this particular answer in this particular category seems needlessly evasive. My question to you is: Is it your wish that it be answered this way, and is it consistent with your intention to run an open White House? That's the principle I'm asking about here."

Indeed, Donvan and ABC don't have much appetite for the topic since the network has yet to inform its viewers of the subpoena going to Kathleen Willey from Paula Jones's lawyers. Not even the Newsweek story, released on Monday, which detailed what supposedly occurred between Willey and Clinton, interested ABC. (See the August 5 CyberAlert.) So far, a one minute story on the July 30 CBS Evening News followed by brief items the next day on CBS and the NBC Nightly News noting Willey's intention to challenge the subpoena, is the totality of broadcast network coverage.

2) Speaking of the Kathleen Willey situation, MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski caught an illuminating explanation of why the media are so reticent about the Paula Jones case and are not pursuing the Willey story. On Inside Washington over the weekend, Deborah Mathis of Gannett dismissed the importance of Jones and then complained about how she had implicated Willey:

"I have to profess complete confusion over this [Jones] entire case, why this is even a case. If any man, I don't care who he is, invites me to a room and pulls his pants down and asks me to do something, he's going to have a decided limp from that day on and I go on with my life. I don't need to sue anyone, it doesn't traumatize me, I don't understand why this is even a case to begin with. But, along with what Jack [Germond] said, it is rather McCarthyesque to implicate someone who in fact may have never been under the same roof."

Not quite the attitude reflected by female reporters toward Anita Hill's case.

3) James Warren, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune, has an expansive definition of bigotry: it's shown by anyone who opposes more funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. MRC news analyst Clay Waters picked up on this exchange, about the Helms/Weld battle, on the August 3 Capital Gang:

James Warren, Chicago Tribune: "I also find interesting this revisionism about Senator Helms. We've sort of turned his dogmatism and bigotry into now, the iron-willed principle of a man of the right."

Mona Charen: "What bigotry?"

Warren: "Oh, his gay-baiting, his union-bashing. His hatred of any fundings for the arts. His isolationism."

Jim Glassman: "That's not bigotry!"

Charen: "Please."

Warren: "We mix in his courtly manners, and we have the iron- willed statesmen from North Carolina."

Okay, "gay-baiting" arguably shows bigotry. But a foreign policy view? Opposing NEA funding? Supporting the right to work without being forced to join a union? All bigotry? I guess we're all bigots. Excepting Mr. Warren, of course.

4) Network television news is overwhelmingly biased in favor of gun control advocates and against the arguments forwarded by gun rights proponents, a new study from the MRC has documented. "Gun Rights Forces Outgunned on TV: Networks Use First Amendment Rights to Promote Opponents of Second Amendment Rights," was researched by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens and appears in the July issue of MediaWatch, now available on the MRC Web site.

Here's an excerpt from the study to give you an overview of the findings:

MediaWatch analysts reviewed every gun control policy story on four evening shows (ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today, and NBC Nightly News) and three morning broadcasts (ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today) from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1997. In 244 gun policy stories, those favoring gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control by 157 to 10, or a ratio of almost 16 to 1 (77 were neutral). Talking heads were slightly more balanced: gun control advocates outnumbered gun-rights spokesmen 165 to 110 (40 were neutral). Analysts counted the number of pro- and anti- gun control statements by reporters in each story. Pieces with a disparity of greater than 1.5 to 1 were categorized as either for or against gun control. Stories closer than the ratio were deemed neutral.... Gun rights advocates were treated like clay pigeons in a skeet-shooting contest. Out of 103 evening news segments, pro-gun control stories outnumbered anti-gun control stories by 70 to 6, along with 27 neutral reports.... Pro-gun control talking heads were televised 99 times on evening shows, to just 67 anti-gun control spokesmen and 24 neutral soundbites.... The morning shows were also far more likely to invite gun control spokesmen like Sarah Brady than 2nd Amendment defenders like the NRA's Tanya Metaksa. Pro-gun control spokesmen were able to advocate their side three times more than the anti-gun control speakers: 37 to just 12 opponents, and four neutral spokesmen.
To read the complete study, with quotes and network by network breakdowns, go to the MRC home page. The July MediaWatch is highlighted on the top of the page thanks to MRC online manager Joe Alfonsi who just got the issue up, or go directly to: If you are with the media and would like more information about the study or would like to interview the study author, you can contact Geoffrey Dickens at: As the study proves, the Second Amendment is one civil right for which the networks favor a very narrow interpretation.

-- Brent Baker