CyberAlert -- 01/22/1997 -- Clinton Innocent
Clinton Innocent; Poetic Justice for Newt; Clift's Confusion
1. In Inauguration Day coverage, CNN's Bernard Shaw and USA Today's Walter Shapiro defend Clinton's attack on conservatives. One calls it "stirring."
2. The Washington Post and CBS paint Clinton as innocent victim in Democratic fundraising controversy.
3. Networks jump on Gingrich, but as Clinton proposes new finance rules they've failed to report many of his ethical breaches. And a network VP worries about too much emphasis on Clinton scandals!
4. "Poetic justice" is how Time magazine describes the punishment for Newt Gingrich.
5. Eleanor Clift offers an unreliable statement on whether she compared Newt Gingrich to Charles Manson.
6. Another McLaughlin Group regular analogizes Newt Gingrich to OJ Simpson.
-- MRC analyst Clay Waters caught this bit of generosity by CNN's Bernard Shaw at about 11am ET:
"A very, very special day for this President when you recall that our years ago he came to this city he was expecting so much. His mother was at his side there at the Inaugural. She passed away a year later. And when you look at what was besetting the United States, a four trillion dollar deficit, budget problems, foreign policy problems. The budget deficit now has decreased. There seems to be relative peace in Bosnia. The Middle East, the breakthrough of the Hebron agreement, a lot has gone on in four short years."
A while after
Clinton's address, in an exchange with guest commentator Peggy Noonan (a
former Reagan and Bush speechwriter), Shaw defended the President's
-- Over on NBC before Clinton spoke, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed NBC News VP Tim Russert relaying as fact the rhetoric of liberals opposed to welfare reform:
"Many children in this country, it is estimated, will fall below the poverty line with the changes in the welfare reform bill. And Hillary Clinton is going to take initiatives to try to bring some of those children into programs which will help educate and feed and clothe them."
-- Monday night Tom Brokaw announced on the January 20 NBC Nightly News: "The President, it turns out, worked on his speech right up to the moment that he delivered it and while it lacked great passion or memorable phrases, it was filled with noble intentions."
In Tuesday's USA
Today (January 21) former Carter Administration official turned Time
magazine reporter turned USA Today news columnist Walter Shapiro also
found comfort in Clinton's attack on conservatives. Citing the same
passage that so upset Noonan ("Each new wave of immigrants gives new
targets to old prejudices. Prejudice and contempt, cloaked in the pretense
of religious or political conviction are no different") Shapiro
endorsed Clinton's take: "That last sentence was a fusillade against
aimed at California Gov. Pete Wilson and the Republicans like him who
dangerously fan the flames of discord with nostrums like Proposition 209,
which rolled back affirmative action."
Ignoring the jabs
at conservatives and emphasizing Clinton's call to end partisan bickering,
ABC's new White House reporter, John Donvan, concluded his World News
The January 19
Washington Post ran the transcript of its interview with Clinton. Here's
the campaign finance questions:
On Monday's CBS Evening News reporter Rita Braver noted that while the President was being sworn in, "White House aides were putting the finishing touches on the plan he'll propose tomorrow in the wake of he controversy over Democratic fundraising. The President will also announce new rules tightening up contributor's access to the White House."
It's as if these guests showed up unannounced and Clinton was forced to accommodate them.
Dan Rather opened
the January 21 CBS Evening News:
As a "Day of
Dishonor" chyron was displayed, Tom Brokaw opened NBC Nightly News:
On ABC's World
News Tonight Peter Jennings told viewers:
Stop the tape. "As you know..." How would World News Tonight viewers know about major developments in the Democratic fundraising scandal. They have yet to mention the Lincoln Bedroom as Motel 6 news. As noted in the January 16 and 17 CyberAlerts, NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight have failed to report several recent revelations, including:
-- Last week Vice
President Al Gore admitted to the AP that he used "a poor choice of
words" when he insisted an April 1996 fundraiser at a Buddhist Temple
was nothing more than a "community outreach" event. The AP noted
that three days before the event the DNC sent Gore a memo explaining how
he should "extend appreciation for participant support and inspire
political and fundraising efforts."
ABC's John Donvan did conclude his piece by noting: "...The new rules look like serious reform. The only question is how good the Democratic Party will be at enforcing them after a 1996 campaign when millions in illegal and improper contributions reached the party coffers and had to be sent back."
And NBC's Miklaszewski was the only one to report that "The Democrats problems are far from over. The Republican Chairman of the House Rules Committee sent a letter to the FBI today asking it to investigate whether some of those foreign contributions may have been a part of espionage against the U.S."
Sounds like a good subject for an investigation by NBC News, or at least an explanatory story. But don't count on it. In a January 17 USA Today story reporter Martha Moore relayed the perspective of NBC's Russert: "The test facing the media may be to not spend all its time covering scandals. 'Do we just become totally overwhelmed with the news of scandal, and forget that all the things we talked about during the campaign -- Medicare, balanced budget and Social Security -- are still going on?' asks NBC's Tim Russert. 'The scandals will eventually be resolved,' but the issues 'will have a lot more impact and consequence.'"
Time magazine decided to equate Newt Gingrich with former House Speaker
Jim Wright who used royalties from bulk book sales to pocket money and
circumvent honoraria limits. Richard Lacayo concluded his piece in the
current (January 27) issue:
Back on January 3 MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham debated Eleanor
Clift on MSNBC about coverage of scandals. Here's one exchange in which
Clift was not fully forthcoming:
Let's go to the videotape. On the November 18, 1995 McLaughlin Group Clift declared: "Newt Gingrich teaching manners is like Charles Manson teaching nonviolence."
Speaking of bizarre analogies, we normally don't follow Morton Kondracke
of Roll Call since he's not with a major news outlet, but here's his
argument on how Gingrich's punishment was too soft, as expressed on the
McLaughlin Group this past weekend:
Well, at least it's not as bad as Sam Donaldson comparing Mr. Newt to Lenin.
-- Brent Baker