CyberAlert -- 03/24/1999 -- Sam on Clinton's "Credibility"; CNN Dug Out Gore Video; Kazan = Tripp

Sam on Clinton's "Credibility"; CNN Dug Out Gore Video; Kazan = Tripp

1) ABC's Sam Donaldson highlighted how Bill Clinton said his "credibility" was at risk over Kosovo. Only NBC devoted a story to presenting the arguments for and against the Clinton policy.

2) NBC Nightly News refused to mention how Clinton was asked about Juanita Broaddrick, but Today gave her a few seconds.

3) ABC committed a gaffe on Gore's Internet boast, but is only broadcast network to mention it. CNN dug out classic video of Gore boasting in 1988 about tobacco: "I've put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've suckered it. I've sprayed it."

4) Chris Rock said that by staying seated Steven Spielberg vindicated him on his "rat" joke about Elian Kazan. The LA Times reported "an almost equal number" did not applaud as clapped.

5) An ABC reporter's favorite Oscar moment: "A lone protester holding a sign that said, 'Kazan: the Linda Tripp of the '50s.'"

Correction: The March 20 CyberAlert item on press conference questions listed UPI reporter Helen Thomas as "Helen Hunt." My excuse: I was consumed by Oscar fever.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) It's a real war: Tuesday night the CBS Evening News featured a new "Crisis Over Kosovo" graphic. Dan Rather later recommended to viewers: "As President Clinton suggested, it may be time for you and the family to find Kosovo on a map and think through what the fighting is about..." But I soon felt better as Rather reassured me and other viewers: "When news breaks out, we'll break in."

Two other noteworthy items on Kosovo from the Tuesday, March 23 evening shows which all began with multiple stories on plans to bomb Serbians: ABC's Sam Donaldson highlighted how Bill Clinton said his "credibility" was at risk and while CBS gave one soundbite to a Republican questioning the wisdom of Clinton's plans, only the NBC Nightly News devoted a story to presenting the arguments for and against the Clinton policy.

-- Sam Donaldson, on ABC's World News Tonight in a story relaying Clinton's points made during a Tuesday speech: "...There is yet another important reason to act, said the President: preserving NATO's and his credibility."
Clinton: "If we don't do anything after all the to and fro that's been said here, it will be interpreted by Mr. Milosevic as a license to continue to kill. That would discredit NATO because we didn't keep our word."

-- After showing Republican Senators Warner and Hutchison (ABC showed only Hutchison) outside the White House saying that the armed forces have the Senate's full support, Scott Pelley added on the CBS Evening News: "Still, there are questions. Don Nickles is number two in the Republican Senate leadership."
Don Nickles: "No, I don't see an end game. I see us getting stuck there, it's a quagmire, we're going to be there a long, long time."

NBC's David Bloom also showed a soundbite of Nickles on the Senate floor and of Warner conceding support now that action is imminent, but only NBC Nightly News provided a rundown of arguments for and against the intervention.
Andrea Mitchell opened her piece: "Tonight, U.S. policymakers struggle to explain why Kosovo and why now. Why risk lives in a place most Amricans cannot even pronounce?"
Clinton: "Let me say one more time, if you go home and look at a map you ought to get down and look at it, this is a conflict with no natural boundaries."
Mitchell: "That is exactly what worries congressional critics."
Senator Larry Craig: "Kosovo is a place that most Americans couldn't find on a map."
Mitchell: "So what is at stake? First, officials say, U.S. credibility...."
Mitchell proceeded to go through the arguments that the U.S., as the only remaining superpower, cannot afford to be outmaneuvered, and that without action the violence and instability will spread. Her two soundbites for these points: Republicans Bob Dole and Henry Kissinger. She concluded by returning to doubts, allowing Republican Senator John McCain to express concern about an exit strategy and how this could become "another permanent garrison."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Last Friday NBC Nightly News again refused to mention Juanita Broaddrick, even after Bill Clinton was asked at that day's press conference about her allegation made on Dateline NBC. (See the March 20 CyberAlert for details.)

But on Saturday morning, March 21, Broaddrick got a few seconds on Today. MRC analyst Mark Drake passed along this transcript of what reporter John Palmer told viewers in his summary of the press conference:
"Mr. Clinton turned away a question about his relationship with an old acquaintance, Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused Mr. Clinton of sexually attacking her twenty years ago in Arkansas. The President said he was referring all such question to his attorney."

That's two sentences more coverage than she's received on NBC Nightly News in the four weeks since her February 24 Dateline appearance.


gore0324.jpg (8954 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) ABC commits a gaffe on a Gore gaffe and CNN digs out the video of Gore boasting in 1988 about tobacco that "with my own hands, all my life, I've put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've suckered it. I've sprayed it." And that was four years after his sister died, a passing he exploited at the 1996 Democratic convention for an emotional speech about why he's so committed to stopping kids from smoking.

CNN's March 19 story also highlighted Gore's comments to the March 16 Des Moines Register about how his father "taught me how to clean out hog waste with a shovel and a hoe. He taught me how to clear land with a double-blade ax; how to plow a steep hillside with a team of mules." At Friday's press conference NPR's Mara Liasson raised the boast in a question to Clinton, but the broadcast networks have yet to mention it.

-- The Saturday, March 20 World News Tonight delivered the first broadcast network news show mention of Gore's "creating the Internet" claim, but ABC allowed Gore to put the best spin on it. Anchor Aaron Brown announced:
"The Vice President was trying out some new material today as well. Mr. Gore has been the butt of jokes all week since he told a political gathering that he had taken the initiative in creating the Internet. Then Trent Lott said he invented the paper clip and on it went. Today, Mr. Gore explained:"
Al Gore: "The truth is I was very tired when I made that comment because I had been up very late the night before inventing the camcorder. And anyway, nobody questioned Strom Thurmond when he said he invented the wheel."
Brown: "The Vice President was at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington."

In fact, as CyberAlert readers know, Gore made the boast not at a political gathering but in an interview aired on the March 9 edition of CNN's Late Edition/Prime Time, 11 days before ABC got around to citing it, though still 11 days before CBS or NBC which have yet to touch it on either their morning or evening shows.

To refresh your memory, Gore told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth, environmental protection, improvements in our educational system...."

To watch this portion of the interview, go to:

-- The night before ABC made Gore look good, CNN's The World Today featured a story running through a bunch of Gore's misstatements. The story even included a rare bit of vintage video of Gore from 1988, video not seen on television since Crossfire played it in 1996.

CNN's Bruce Morton began his March 19 story by showing Gore's Internet bragging and Bill Clinton's answer at that day's press conference that "he has been for 20 years one of the major architects of America's progress in technology, and he deserves a lot of appreciation for that."

Morton moved on to Gore's farming claims which have yet to be highlighted by the broadcast networks:
"Then there were Gore's comments to the Des Moines Register: My father 'taught me how to clean out hog waste with a shovel and a hoe. He taught me how to clear land with a double-blade ax; how to plow a steep hillside with a team of mules.'
"Well, Gore is a city kid -- father a Senator, he grew up in Washington, went to St. Alban's, a well-known private school here, and then to Harvard. Summers at the family farm, yes, but mules and double-bladed axes? What he meant, a spokesman said, was 'the fact that he spent his summers working on the family farm.'"

Morton played a clip of Clinton defending Gore, arguing "he is from east Tennessee, and he did learn to do all of those things he did on the farm. I've been on the, I've been there."

Morton went to another example: "Then there was Love Story. Gore once claimed the two characters in the movie Love Story were based on his wife, Tipper, and himself. The author said, news to me, and Gore backed off. Then there was his emotional account, at the 1996 convention, of his sister's death from lung cancer in 1984."
Gore at 1996 Democratic convention: "Three thousand young people in America will start smoking tomorrow. One thousand of them will die a death not unlike my sister's, and that is why, until I draw my last breath, I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of protecting our children from the dangers of smoking."
Morton countered: "But the Gores farmed tobacco after the death, and Gore bragged about farming tobacco as a presidential candidate in 1988, four years after his sister's death."
Gore outside, before tobacco farmers, on February 23, 1988: "I want you to know that with my own hands, all my life, I've put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've suckered it. I've sprayed it."

Tucker Carlson of the Weekly Standard then suggested, "I think Gore is just liable to say anything if he thinks it's politically advantageous," before Morton played another clip of Clinton praising Gore.

Morton ended by asking: "Does Gore misstate? Does he just exaggerate? Those things can hurt you, if you're running for President."

Well, they didn't in 1996 when he was running for Vice President. Back then his 1988 bragging about tobacco was known, but the networks refused to mention it in the hours and days after his 1996 convention speech. As the MRC reported in a September 1996 MediaWatch newsbite:

After Al Gore's emotional August 28 speech recalled the 1984 death of his sister Nancy and how it motivated him to fight the tobacco industry, ABC, NBC, and CNN did suggest hypocrisy. Jennings noted that "tobacco companies are here in Chicago wining and dining the hierarchy of the Democratic Party." NBC's Tom Brokaw recalled that "the Gore family were tobacco farmers." On CNN, Judy Woodruff suggested that Gore "was responding to what was said in San Diego," where his tobacco roots were highlighted.

But all the networks ignored the July 3 New York Times report that in 1988, Al Gore told an audience of tobacco farmers during his presidential campaign: "Throughout most of my life, I raised tobacco. I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've dug in it. I've sprayed it, I've chopped it, I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it." Dan Quayle can only dream of getting away with something like that.

END MediaWatch except.

At the time, only CNN's Crossfire showed the 1988 video, playing it the night after Gore's speech, but it never made it onto CNN's convention coverage or a regular news story. Not until last Friday.

To see this vintage footage dug out by CNN, go to the MRC's home page where Webmaster Sean Henry has put up a chunk of Morton's story in RealPlayer format. Go to:


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Catching up on some Kazan/Oscar items: Chris Rock said Spielberg vindicated him on his "rat" joke, the Los Angeles Times reported "an almost equal number" did not applaud as clapped, the names of a couple more of those seen clapping and a reason why Annette Bening may not have been.

-- Well before Elia Kazan received his award, comedian Chris Rock of Saturday Night Live fame who had a show on HBO, came out to present a sound effects award. He joked: "It's a big controversial night, the Kazan thing. I saw DeNiro back stage. You better get Kazan away from DeNiro because you know he hates rats."

Of course, Robert DeNiro, along with Martin Scorsese, later presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Kazan.

Passing along things they heard at the post-Oscar parties, in the March 23 Washington Post reporters William Booth and Sharon Waxman recalled Rock's rat joke and then quoted and commented upon what they overheard him boasting:
"'All I know is that Spielberg didn't stand up, so I know I did the right thing,' Rock is shouting, a grin plastered on his face. 'I'm right by him.' It's situational ethics like this that make this town great!"

-- So just how many were clapping versus remaining silent?
In a March 22 Los Angles Times story Patrick Goldstein reported:
"According to eyewitnesses at the ceremony, many in the audience stood and applauded, but an almost equal number stayed seated and did not applaud."
Otherwise, Goldstein's report read just like the March 22 CyberAlert Update: "Television cameras caught Warren Beatty, Helen Hunt and Meryl Streep standing and applauding. Steven Spielberg remained seated, although he applauded; actors Nick Nolte, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan made a point of staying in their seats and not applauding."

-- Also among those seen clapping as ABC's cameras focused more on them than the rude ones: Jim Carrey, Lynn Redgrave and Ian McKellan (star of Gods and Monsters). The March 22 CyberAlert pointed out that Annette Bening was notably not standing and clapping beside her husband, Warren Beatty. Well, Conservative News Service Managing Editor Dorothea Cooke suggested to me that may have been because she'd already gone backstage to prepare for an appearance. Indeed, 17 minutes after Kazan came out on stage she came out to introduce a retrospective tape of those in the industry who had passed away.

The video of Kazan accepting his award, and the reaction of the audience including the folded or clasped hands of Nick Nolte, Vickie Lewis, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan, can still be viewed in RealPlayer format on the MRC web site. Go to:


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Trashing Linda Tripp: An ABC reporter's favorite part of the Oscar night ambiance. At the very end of Monday's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this answer from reporter Cynthia McFadden as ABC's Oscar coverage team sat around a table recalling their favorite moments:
"It had to be at the party, Monica Lewinsky and Madonna on the couch. My other favorite moment was in the car driving up to the red carpet, a lone protester holding a sign that said, 'Kazan: the Linda Tripp of the '50s.'"

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