CyberAlert -- 01/20/1997 -- Stars on Clinton

Stars on Clinton; Hillary Misunderstood; CBS Finds Bias

1. Celebrities come out for Clinton's Inaugural. One says that voting for Clinton will prevent future murders.

2. CBS portrays Hillary Clinton as oppressed and misunderstood, but she complains about the "right wing press presence."

3. George Stephanopoulos makes his debut on ABC News.

4. The special Gingrich counsel James Cole found the charge baseless, but Al Hunt again claimed that Gingrich "looted money from kids."

5. The chance of the "Soviet Union taking over the world just seemed as likely to me as invaders from Mars," Walter Cronkite recalls.

6. CBS News confirms that media bias exists! But not at the Fox News Channel.

7. The Clintons claim to be "the bridge to the 21st Century," but they can't even figure out how to use a computer.

1) Sunday night CBS broadcast an Inaugural Gala show from the USAir Arena in Largo, Maryland co-hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Douglas and Candice Bergen. On Saturday they held a rehearsal show and a local TV reporter talked to some of the participants.

WUSA-TV's Eyewitness News at 11 on Saturday night included a couple of interesting soundbites. NYPD Blue star Jimmy Smits explained why he flew in from California: "I believe he's a wonderful President, has been and will continue to be. So I'm honored that they would think to ask -- hey, come on down and hang with me."

Singer Stevie Wonder tied his vote for Clinton with the murder of Bill Cosby's son: "We hope that because of us voting for this man and voting for change for tomorrow, that will help these kinds of things to not happen."

2) The CBS News show Sunday Morning on January 19 featured one of First Lady Hillary Clinton's two television interviews for the Inauguration. Reporter Martha Teichner portrayed an oppressed and misunderstood First Lady.

On her role in health care reform, Teichner asked: "Were you startled at the fact that is was as controversial an issue as it was and that you became controversial?"
Following Hillary Clinton's response, Teichner continued: "Health care was just the beginning. She has been the subject of a non-stop, ceaseless litany of investigations. Three at the moment being conducted by Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr. Speculation she may be indicted continues."
Hillary Clinton responded: "I expect this matter to drag out as long as it is to anyone else's advantage to drag it out and then it will end. I mean no one likes to be accused of having done anything improper or wrong. It becomes frustrating when you know that people are saying things that aren't true, but you just learn to live with it and you just go on day after day and..."
Teichner jumped in: "But how do you do that though in the climate of a non-stop four or even eight year bashing?"

A bit later Teichner continued her sympathetic report: "Her biggest gripe is that the positive is never what the public sees. That her media image as a First Lady under fire, edgy and defensive, belies the real Hillary Clinton who has even been known to laugh."

After a bit of video, Teichner went on: "One gauge of a First Lady's stamp on the White House is the art she chooses to display there. 'Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City' by Henry Tanner is the first work acquired for the permanent collection by an African American artist. It now hangs in the Green Room."

Finally, Teichner ended by showing the White House sculpture garden, inquiring of Mrs. Clinton: "Do you ever just go there and sit?"

Not once did Teichner ask a tough question or even suggest that Hillary Clinton's actions may have contributed to her problems.

The CBS interview aired at about 9:30am ET. Less than ten hours later, at 7pm ET C-SPAN aired its interview with Hillary Clinton. In it she complained about a "very effective, well organized advocacy press that is, I think, very up-front in its right wing, conservative inclinations and makes no apologies." According to a story in Saturday's Washington Times, she elaborated on how "there's not something comparable to that" on the liberal side: "You've got a conservative press and/or right wing press presence with really nothing on the other end of the political spectrum, so that most of what is left in what you might call the middle or the establishment or the mainstream tries to be objective and tries to be thoughtful."

I guess she'd put CBS in the "thoughtful" category.

3) If you want to avoid George Stephanopoulos, or Bill Kristol for that matter, don't watch ABC News. Former Clinton aide Stephanopoulos made his premiere as an ABC News analyst on Friday's Good Morning America paired with Bill Kristol. He Kristol also appeared together on ABC's World News Saturday, plus Sunday's GMA and This Week as part of the show's roundtable.

4) Al Hunt, the Wall Street Journal's Executive Washington Editor, can't admit when he's wrong. As pointed out in a past CyberAlert, some in the media have blamed Newt Gingrich for taking money from children because he took over the Abraham Lincoln Foundation and used it to fund his college course. But as Bob Novak pointed out, the foundation was inactive and not helping kids. Gingrich took it over to save the time it would take to form a new foundation. With that background, here's an exchange from Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN:

Bob Novak: "We have had debates at this table we've had debates around town, over this shell of the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation, which a lot of people have said Newt looted of money for needy kids to give political contributions. Your prosecutor, Mr. Cole, said that it was defunct. This is a sham, and people who said he was looting money from kids, should be ashamed of themselves, Al."
Al Hunt: "He looted money from kids. I'll tell you exactly what he did. This was set up, it didn't matter if it was defunct, the Abraham Lincoln thing was set up to aid needy kids."
Novak: "There was no money."
Hunt: "Newt never went to the IRS, as he was required to by law, and said we're going to take this thing that was set up for needy kids and we're going to use it for partisan political purposes."

5) Part three of the eight part Discovery Channel series, Cronkite Remembers, offered a scary insight into the thinking of reporters during the Cold War.
The January 16 installment explored the Cold War era. Looking at 1948, the year he returned from a Moscow reporting assignment, Cronkite recalled: "It was great to be back in America. With the GIs back home everything was expanding. More house, more babies, more schools. It should have been the happiest of times, I guess, but despite all the nation's optimism and new affluence there was that chill in the air that just couldn't be ignored."

Following some Soviet May Day video Cronkite continued:
"I thought that we Americans overreacted to the Soviets and the news coverage sometimes seemed to accentuate that misdirected concern. Fear of the Soviet Union taking over the world just seemed as likely to me as invaders from Mars. Well, perhaps I was naive, but I'd seen those May Day parades and Soviet bread lines and miserable conditions hidden behind them. That war-devastated country didn't seem that threatening to me. United Press sent me around speaking occasionally to various groups about life in the Soviet Union. At almost all of the talks I was asked about Russian technology and the prospects that they would develop an atomic bomb. With great assurance, I would tell the questioner, 'no way, no way, they can't even screw in a lightbulb.' I walked out of the hall after one of those speeches and there were the headlines, 'Soviets Explode Atomic Bomb.' Another item for my cloudy crystal ball department.
"The nuclear arms race was on in earnest. All the anti-Soviet paranoia that had been festering since the war really blew up then. A Soviet bomb was seen as an assault on us. But I saw it as part of their pursuit of nuclear equality. After all, what should we expect, that our enemy's just going to sit still there and not try to develop the bomb?"

So, Americans had "overreacted" to the Soviet threat, but when they did develop a nuclear weapon that didn't confirm the need for concern, it "blew up" anti-Soviet "paranoia." And, what's the big deal anyway? The Soviets deserved nuclear equality.

6) Mike Wallace did a piece for the January 19 60 Minutes on the Ted Turner/Rupert Murdoch feud.

Murdoch wouldn't talk to him, so Andrew Neal (sp?), a former editor of one of Murdoch's London newspapers, served as the Murdoch expert. After showing clips of some racy Fox entertainment shows and explaining how Murdoch's London tabloid runs a topless Page 3 Girl everyday, Wallace stated:
"I asked Andrew Neal how Murdoch, a conservative, can publish papers and create programming that many conservatives find so offensive. The buck is more important than his moral take on life?"
Neal: "You can't reconcile his private social views with what he broadcasts and prints. His wife Anna is always pushing him to end the topless girls in the Page 3 of the Sun tabloid in London and he thinks about it. I remember him once saying we have to have a moral compass, but at the end of the day we have to have a bottom line."
Wallace: "Nothing, Neal says, nothing is more important in Murdoch's life than winning."

A few minutes later, Wallace took up Murdoch's political views.
Wallace: "In the last election campaign Murdoch contributed more than a million and a half dollars to political candidates, most of them Republicans."
Neal: "Rupert is a political ideologue. He has his right wing Republican agenda."
Wallace: "Is it a fact that he once said that Oliver North, quote 'deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor'?"
Neal: "He thought Oliver North was one of the greatest heroes in American history."
Wallace: "He's genuinely a conservative?"
Neal: "When you regard Pat Robertson in 1988 as the best Republican candidate you can see just how conservative he is. Reagan was his hero. He hated Clinton."
Wallace: "Which was obvious during the election campaign to readers of the Post."
[Video of New York Post headline with photo of Clinton: "America Decides: Is He Worthy?"
Wallace: "And on Murdoch's new cable channel the news also comes with a conservative spin."
Clip of Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Channel: "Those who are street wise in America's big cities know that drug pushers and liquor stores make a ton of money the day the welfare checks arrive. It's a tough thing to say, but it's true."
Wallace: "Ted Turner disdains all this. He believes Murdoch's political bias contaminates his news coverage."
Turner: "He looks down his nose at do-good, honest journalism. He thinks that his media should be used by him to further his own goals."

This from a man who put Barbara Pyle in charge of CNN and TBS environmental shows. In 1990 she boasted: "I feel that I'm here on this planet to work in television, to be the little subversive person in television. I've chosen television as my form of activism. I felt that if I was to infiltrate anything, I'd do best to infiltrate television."

Two observations about the Wallace story:
a) CBS won't concede any bias in 40 plus years of broadcasting, not even in last year's Eric Engberg bashing of the flat tax which Bernard Goldberg was ostracized for calling biased, but manages to find it on a four-month-old cable network.
b) When Murdoch is liberal (Fox TV and sex in London tabloid) it's because he wants to make money. But when what he does is conservative (supposedly) Wallace assumes it's because Murdoch is conservative. So if Murdoch's personal views effect his news operations why can't the same be said off those overseeing every other media outlet?

7) In his new book Dick Morris reported that President Clinton cannot type and thus writes his speeches on a notepad. In her CBS Sunday Morning interview First Lady Hillary Clinton also revealed that she's not quite up on modern technology. Discussing what she'll do when daughter Chelsea goes to college in the fall, she told Martha Teichner:
"We'll just have to figure out as many ways as possible to stay in touch with her, both through e-mail, which I know nothing about but will have to learn, or through actual visits with her."

They can't use computers. Just the kind of people to serve as a bridge to the 21st century.

-- Brent Baker