MediaWatch: February 8, 1999

Vol. Thirteen No. 3

CNN Sets Itself Apart

During the course of the Senate impeachment trial and coverage of the President’s State of the Union, CNN viewers heard some conservative angles in its reporting that other networks have ignored. CNN provided a rare reality check on Bill Clinton’s State of the Union address and actually labeled the Democratic position on impeachment as "extreme."

Peter Viles on the January 20 The World Today showed clips of Bill Clinton’s speech and commented on each. Clinton: "America has created the longest peacetime economic expansion in history." Viles stated: "No argument there. December was the 93rd month of this expansion, beating the old record 92 months under Presidents Reagan and Bush but the Reagan recovery was stronger and the economy grew faster."

On the topic of job creation, Clinton: "Nearly 18 million new jobs." Viles replied: "17.7 million to be exact, but less than half a million are full-time manufacturing jobs." And regarding welfare and the President’s beloved "children," Clinton: "The smallest welfare rolls in history." Viles countered: "Welfare rolls have fallen sharply, 41 percent in five years, to the lowest level since 1969, but the percentage of children living below the poverty line is higher now than it was 20 years ago."

On CNN’s January 27 10pm ET impeachment special, Jeff Greenfield asked Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, "With the single exception of Senator Feingold, every single Democrat, by voting to dismiss, had to assume as true every inference the House managers made. That means that you have said, ‘Even if President Clinton was at the center of an attempt to buy Monica Lewinsky’s silence, even if he enlisted Vernon Jordan in that effort, even if he lied under oath at the grand jury, even if he obstructed justice, we’re not, we’re going to vote to acquit.’ Isn’t that a rather extreme statement, saying, ‘We don’t care what witnesses might say, we’re not going to remove him from office’?" Kudos to Greenfield for daring to link a Democrat to an extremist view.