CyberAlert -- October 1, 1996 -- Clinton Scandals Ignored; SNL's Real Life Parody; Gumbel on

Five items today:

1. Networks avoid mentioning four Clinton scandals, but find time to cover ethics committee action on Newt Gingrich.

2. A USA Today headline blasts the Republican Congress for being "mean."

3. Acceptance of the charge that the media are biased in favor of Clinton has pervaded mass culture -- it was part of the opening skit on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.

4. The Clinton Administration will soon make a political appointment to run an agency and who is at the top of their list? A prominent journalist/pundit.

5. Yes, OJ's back in the news! NBC Today's Bryant Gumbel wonders why "most white Americans at least, cannot accept the idea that" OJ Simpson is "out walking around free, refuse to let him live his life."

1) Last week I reported that the network evening shows had failed to mention a FDIC report which concluded that Hillary Clinton had drafted a real estate document meant to "deceive" federal regulators. The FDIC report was released last Monday, September 23. Through Monday night September 30 it had yet to generate a mention on any of the broadcast networks.

What else went unreported on network evening shows last week: -- On Tuesday, September 24 a House committee held hearing on how the Clinton Administration let criminals become citizens. The Washington Times story the next day began: "Immigration workers yesterday told a House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee of rampant' abuses in the Citizenship USA program that apparently let thousands of immigrants with criminal records become citizens." Network evening show coverage: Still waiting.

-- On Wednesday, September 25. Senator Orrin Hatch revealed a six month gap in the log listing who at the White House accessed the FBI background files. The Washington Times bannered the news across page one the next day. Network evening show coverage: Still waiting.

-- also on Wednesday, The Washington Times reported that U.S. Rep. John Mica had sent a letter to Clinton's drug czar demanding release of a four month old Institute for Defense Analysis report that concluded Bush's interdiction policy was far more effective than Clinton's drug treatment emphasis. Just 9 percent of Clinton's drug budget goes to interdiction. Network evening show coverage: Still waiting, but drug czar Barry McCaffrey is scheduled to respond at an October 1 House hearing.

-- On Thursday, September 26, 170 members of Congress send a letter to Clinton asking that he promise not to pardon any Whitewater figures. In an interview last Monday on the PBS NewsHour Clinton had said he thought Kenneth Starr was out to get him and the President defended Susan McDougal's decision to refuse to testify. The Sunday Washington Times had a story which began: "House Democrats were prepared to shut down the government if Republican demanded a vote on a resolution calling for President Clinton not to pardon key Whitewater figures, Rep. Spencer Bachus said yesterday." Network evening show coverage: One question from anchor John Roberts to analyst Laura Ingraham on the Sept. 29 CBS Evening News.

What did they cover? Between last Thursday and Sunday each of the network evening shows aired two stories on Newt Gingrich's dealings with the House ethics committee. And on Sunday's Today, co-host Jodie Applegate couldn't quite get her history correct, asking Gingrich Press Secretary Tony Blankley: "Mr. Blankley, it was seven years ago that Newt Gingrich called on Jim Wright, who was then the Speaker of the House, to step aside because an investigation had begun into his affairs."

Of course the investigation had more than "begun."

2) The House wrapped up its work over the weekend. Monday's USA Today headline over a page A13 story reviewing the session under GOP control read: "A Lean, Some Say Mean, GOP Machine."

3) Another sign of positive progress: On the September 28 Saturday Night Live guest host Tom Hanks played Peter Jennings in skit in which Jennings interviews Clinton, Dole and Perot.
Here's Tom Hanks as Peter Jennings: "Mr. President, we here at ABC News are not in the business of making endorsements, but everyone here is voting for Bill Clinton and I personally cannot imagine how any decent person would not, in fact, do the same. In light of this, which of your many achievements do you feel important to emphasize as we head toward the election?"

It's hard to tell parody from reality.

4) Friday's Washington Post "In the Loop" column relayed: "Scuttlebutt at the Voice of America has it that former U.S. News & World Report political reporter Steven Roberts is being wooed to replace outgoing VOA director Geoffrey Cowan." New U.S. News Editor James Fallows asked Roberts to step down a few weeks ago, but the Post reported that "The VOA was thinking about Roberts before new U.S. News boss James Fallows began the purge."

5) On Monday's (Sept. 30) Today, Bryant Gumbel began day one of a three day series with Johnnie Cochran. While Gumbel did ask about OJ's alibi and how even if the Los Angeles police botched the investigation and employ racist, that it's hard to believe a conspiracy, he also posed these two questions: "Comments that he has made to others would seem to indicate a certain degree of, and not unjustifiably, a certain degree of anger, bitterness. Has he expressed that to you?" "Why do you suppose it is that one year after his acquittal, most white Americans at least, cannot accept the idea that he's out walking around free, refuse to let him live his life?"

Hmmm? Could it be that not everyone is happy that he got away with murder?

-- Brent Baker