CyberAlert -- 01/22/1999 -- Touting Pat Robertson; CBS: Clinton Brought Smiles to Kids; GOP "Un-American"

Touting Pat Robertson; CBS: Clinton Brought Smiles to Kids; GOP "Un-American"

1) Dale Bumpers praised for his "folksy humor" and "homespun wind-up and wallop." Greg Craig got time every night last week but on Thursday the broadcast networks shut out any GOP critique.

2) The networks enthusiastically touted Pat Robertson's call to end the trial. Dan Rather: "The new argument by Democrats for a fast out and a quick acquittal is getting an unintentional assist from a most unlikely quarter."

3) ABC's John Cochran: "In Iowa, polls already rank Quayle among the top three Republicans. How did this happen?"

4) CBS celebrated a Clinton spending plan to train teachers, insisting it "brought a sigh of relief to educators around the country" and "smiles to the faces of many children."

5) In heaping praise on Cheryl Mills the networks ignored how she may have obstructed an investigation of the White House database.

6) A study determined that Clinton's proposals will cost $288 billion annually, but the networks ignored the cost as John Hockenberry referred to Clinton as a "Republican President."

7) Geraldo Rivera admitted a "crush" on Cheryl Mills and charged Republicans were "very un-American" during the State of the Union.

"Media Ignore Blatant Double Standard of Many Senate Democrats Who Convicted Perjurious Judges: Al Gore Voted to Remove Judges for Less?" The latest Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. In this edition the MRC's Tim Graham documents the minimal coverage for how 26 currently serving Democratic Senators voted to remove a judge for committing perjury. The fax report is posted on the MRC home page, or go to:

Correction: The January 18 CyberAlert quoted George Stephanopoulos as saying "...I think the White House will probably site Gerald Ford..." That should have read "will probably cite..."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)The last day of Clinton's defense led the ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and CNN evening shows Thursday night, but in stark contrast to all the days when the House managers made their case, the other side received no time on ABC nor time for any relevant points on CBS and NBC. Every network offered laudatory words for the performance of former Senator Dale Bumpers, but neither ABC or CBS even mentioned David Kendall who went before Bumpers.

FNC's Carl Cameron sensed a swing in momentum toward the anti-witness view, citing Republican Senators Warner and Shelby as two now leaning against witnesses as finding an exit strategy is "definitely in the wind." CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed the same sentiment, noting after a clip of Bumpers: "As moving as the rhetoric was, equally significant was talk in the corridors where there are increasing signs that Senators in both parties are searching for some way to speed up the proceedings and end the trial."

Below, a look at how the January 21 evening shows handled reaction from the House managers and assessed Bumpers.

-- Republicans ignored: CNN's Jeanne Meserve told World Today viewers: "At every opportunity the House managers were at the microphones to defend themselves and their case and their compassion, which was called into question by Bumpers."

That must have surprised anyone who saw the broadcast network evening shows. While a soundbite of Greg Craig's daily criticism of the Republican case or an entire story dedicated to relating the White House view aired on all three broadcast network evening shows on the three nights the House managers made their case, and Craig appeared on all three on the third day (Saturday, January 16), Thursday night none made time for the equivalent reaction from a Republican, though they all had access to video of Henry Hyde which both CNN and FNC played. ABC avoided Republican reaction. While CBS and NBC ran the same soundbite of Hyde urging Senators to not short-circuit the process, the networks did not air any of his comments on what Kendall and Bumpers claimed.

-- "Homespun...wallop" and "folksy humor" from a "confident" Bumpers:

ABC's Linda Douglass on World News Tonight: "At ease and confident, Bumpers dared to joke about the charges."
Bumpers: "H.L. Menken said one time when you hear somebody say this is not about money, it's about money. And when you heard somebody say this is not about sex, it's about sex."
Douglass: "And that was his point. Bumpers argued passionately that Bill Clinton did not hurt America, he only hurt himself and his family."

Dan Rather opening the CBS Evening News: "Good evening. President Clinton's opening defense at the impeachment trial that could expel him from office had as homespun wind-up and wallop today. The President's friend, a former U.S. Senator from Arkansas, invoked not the letter of the law, but the spirit."
Bob Schieffer added that Bumpers "ended the White House defense with a stem-winding flourish."

CNN's Jeanne Meserve on the World Today referred to how Bumpers "used folksy humor, his renowned rhetorical skills and his knowledge of the Constitution."

On the NBC Nightly News Gwen Ifill introduced her piece on Bumpers: "Offering a folksy and pointed defense of an old friend today...."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Pat Robertson thrilled the White House and the networks when he asserted on Wednesday that Clinton has won and it's time to end the trial. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today ran stories on his comments Thursday morning and all three broadcast networks jumped on them Thursday night as a sign momentum has shifted in favor of ending the trial. Nightline used Robertson as a jumping off point for a discussion among four conservative guests (Bill Bennett, Ralph Reed, Robert Bork and Carmen Pate) about whether it's time for Republican Senators to bail out.

Here's how the January 21 evening shows promoted Robertson's assessment:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson at the White House:
"They're trying to show a public face, a very judicious, somber look. But behind that there's a big smile. They loved the reaction to the State of the Union speech. The President liked his attorneys and the way they presented the defense, actually watched a little bit of Senator Bumpers this afternoon, the White House officials say, something they never admit in the past that he's done. And they really like the fact that the Reverend Pat Robertson, the prominent conservative Republican, who has been calling for the President's removal, now says well it's over, let's forget it and move on."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather explained how Robertson's comments had aided the Democratic cause:
"The new argument by Democrats for a fast out and a quick acquittal is getting an unintentional assist from a most unlikely quarter, someone who's taken the lead in the past in demanding the President's removal. CBS's Eric Engberg has the latest chapter and verse from preacher Pat Robertson."

Engberg played the soundbite from Robertson: "Clinton's won. They might as well dismiss this impeachment hearing and get on with something else because it's over as far as I'm concerned."
Then viewers heard audio of Robertson confirming his point on Thursday as he used a football analogy that the score is 50 to 0 with only the 4th quarter to go, so the game's not officially over, but....
Engberg continued: "At a meeting of conservative leaders in Washington today, many agreed with Robertson's assessment because they said the votes aren't there for conviction and the impeachment is drowning out other conservative issues."
David Keene, identified on-screen as "Conservative Political Action Cmte." though the last word should have read "Conference." Keene observed: "So it isn't as if it's the impeachment fight that's hurting them. In their view it's the fact that it's there it all. It could be a whale -- if it's obscuring the people's vision, but as long as they can't see them promoting their views on taxes, regulation, government and the like they think that they lose."
Engberg concluded: "Republican insiders say Robertson was simply stating the obvious, that the party should not prolong the trial. Some of the GOP's big money contributors, who carefully read the opinion polls, are sending the same message: Impeachment is, for political purposes, a loser."

-- NBC Nightly News. David Bloom relayed:
"The White House seized on the comments of Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson who on his 700 Club television show said the President, quote 'hit a home run in his State of the Union address.'"

Robertson on the 700 Club: "Clinton's won. They might as well dismiss this impeachment hearing and get on with something else because it's over as far as I'm concerned."

Bloom then played a soundbite of Joe Lockhart pleased that Robertson has joined the vast majority who want to move on. Bloom concluded by picking up on George Bush's complaint that there is now "'excessive intrusion into private lives.' Of course, that's a complaint this White House has been echoing for the past year."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Dan Quayle's plan to announce Thursday night on CNN's Larry King Live his decision to run for President generated a brief mention from every networks and a full story on ABC. CBS anchor Dan Rather considerately alerted viewers that the last out of office Vice President to become President was Richard Nixon.

On World News Tonight Peter Jennings asked: "Mr. Quayle says that he assures us he is serious. The question is will he be taken seriously?"
John Cochran reflected bafflement at his popularity: "In Iowa, polls already rank Quayle among the top three Republicans. How did this happen? After all, as Vice President he was a favorite target of late night comics for his losing battles with the English language."
Cochran went on to explain that he's been courting social conservatives who agreed with his infamous Murphy Brown comments and has appealed to conservatives by taking on George Bush, promising to never call himself a "compassionate conservative."

Cochran concluded: "Those who know him well say the once easy going Quayle is now a driven man, determined to show those who laughed at him that he is no joke."


cooper0121.jpg (12239 bytes)cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Bill Clinton, CBS Evening News viewers learned, "brings smiles to the faces of many children." Thursday night CBS delivered a model example of how no matter how much liberal media analysts complain about how scandal coverage is unfair to Clinton, the President can always count on favorable treatment for any liberal policy initiative he forwards.

The January 21 "Eye on America" feature promoted Clinton's call at a White House event for another $18 million for a program called "Troops to Teachers." Maggie Cooper opened this "news" story:
"Today's announcement in Washington by President Clinton to continue funding a program called Troops to Teachers brought a sigh of relief to educators around the country. But, more importantly, smiles to the faces of many children."

As viewers saw smiling children at play Cooper contended the 5th graders in San Benito (sp?) Texas are "especially" happy because they've benefitted from a former Air Force Master Sergeant turned teacher who has helped raise test scores. Cooper explained that the program provides departing members of the military with up to $5,000 for training and certification if they agree to teach in certain schools for at least five years. Without giving a time frame, Cooper reported that so far the program has placed 3,000 new teachers. Giving the program a glowing review, Cooper added that it has fulfilled a "desperate need" for male and minority teachers.

Nonetheless, not everyone realized the wonders of the program. But fortunately Clinton came to the rescue: "The program was living on borrowed time because funding was running out. But today President Clinton's appeal to Congress may give Troops to Teachers a new lease on life."
Clinton: "If you think that we ought to spend even more money on it, I'll support you."
Without a syllable from any detractor to discuss the cost-effectiveness of the program or to suggest military people don't need a bureaucracy to find them a job, Cooper concluded by challenging Congress to come through:
"Today's announcement was a victory for educators who launched a grassroots effort to keep the program alive, but it remains to be seen whether Congress will come up with the cash to turn military men and women into some of the two million new teachers this nation will need in the next ten years."

Never mind the Senate removing Clinton now, how will we survive without him in two years?

On a more serious note, if the program has so far placed 3,000 teachers let's be generous and say it will place 3,000 a year. Over the ten years that Cooper said we'll need 2 million that will produce 30,000 teachers. Wow. A mere 1,970,000 to go.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)Cheryl Mills, American hero. The January 21 CyberAlert featured praise for Cheryl Mills from network reporters. MRC analysts have come across some more admirable reviews of her performance and life, but none managed to mention her role in obstructing a House probe of the White House Database.

Thursday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, featured a glowing profile of Mills by Pete Williams. After running through her personal history, Williams made it to current times:
"She's now the only remaining member of the original Clinton White House legal team. A former colleague says there's only one reason that she would give up her anonymity by appearing in the Senate."
Lanny Davis: "I'm imagining in my memories of her how difficult it must have been. But I know the reason she ended up saying yes is because of her devotion too and belief in President Clinton."
Williams: "A devotion that led her to conclude her defense with an emotional tribute to the President as a champion of civil rights."
Cheryl Mills: "I stand here before you today because America decided that the way things were was not how they were going to be. I stand here before you today because President Bill Clinton believed I could stand here for him."
Williams: "For Today, Pete Williams NBC News, Washington."

MRC analyst Mark Drake caught this positive review of her performance from reporter Chip Reid on Wednesday night's The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC:
"Then it was time for Cheryl Mills, a young White House lawyer. She's been working in the trenches at the White House on the scandal beat ever since the beginning of the Clinton presidency. This was her moment to shine and shine she did. She went through a calm, methodical performance. She poked some holes in the obstruction of justice charges. She said, for example, that the President's meeting with Betty Currie after his deposition was not an attempt to obstruct justice, it was an attempt to obstruct the media."

Neither of these stories or any of the other reports from Wednesday night or Thursday morning on the January 20 presentation by Mills went into her role in helping the White House obfuscate a couple of other scandals.

In a January 21 e-mail report Matt Drudge detailed what all the networks have skipped about Mills. Here's an excerpt from the Drudge Report:


..."This is outrageous, arrogant and will do nothing to help the president's case!"

The reaction of a senior Republican Senator after he learned earlier this week that Mills would present the Clinton defense on Lewinsky obstruction charges in the Senate impeachment trial.

Late last year Mills herself was hit with charges of obstruction and wrongdoing by a House subcommittee!

When called before the committee to explain the withholding of documents during its investigation into the White House Database situation, Cheryl Mills chose to give "demonstrably false testimony," a committee report claimed.

"The committee believes that there is substantial evidence that in September 1996 then-Associate [now-Deputy] Counsel to the President Cheryl Mills, with the knowledge and concurrence of then-White House Counsel Jack Quinn, knowingly and wilfully obstructed the investigative authority of this committee by withholding documents that were plainly responsive to the committee requests for documents and information. Moreover, when this obstruction was brought to light in a hearing before the committee, Ms. Mills lied under oath about the documents and the circumstances surrounding their nonproduction."

The Mills matter was referred to the Department of Justice for investigation of possible perjury and obstruction, according to Hill sources.

Mills strongly denies any wrongdoing in the Database situation.

But one Congressman directly involved in the investigation tells the DRUDGE REPORT: "We found substantial evidence that she perjured herself, repeatedly, in testimony before our committee. And now she has been chosen to defend the president on obstruction?"

The Mills charges are playing at

Mills also was in the middle of controversy over the White House's long delay in turning over to Congress videotapes of White House coffee fundraisers.

END Excerpt

To read the Drudge Report, go to:


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes)"State of Union Proposals Carry $288 Billion Annual Price Tag: Clinton Would Grow Government $7 for Every $1 in Tax Relief, Study Finds." So announced a press release from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), but have you seen Clinton's speech referred to as liberal or any reporter cite the huge spending totals Clinton advocated? To read the NTUF press release and study, go to:

MRC analysts and I have yet to see the NTUF number or any similar perspective expressed on a television news show. In fact, MSNBC's John Hockenberry asserted, the supposedly conservative and centrist ideas in the speech made Clinton a "Republican President."

As the January 21 CyberAlert showed, many reporters heaped praise on the address. But that's a much different approach than reporters took when Reagan was President. Digging back through the MRC's pre-computer hard copy archive, the MRC's Tim Graham discovered an illustrative example from 1987 and passed it along to MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III for inclusion in his latest syndicated column. It begins:

All the media pom-pom shaking over Clinton's latest State of the Union address almost makes me nostalgic for a return to the Reagan years, when the press mercilessly (and, usually, unfairly) slammed the Gipper at every opportunity.

At least there was an attempt at journalism.

Go back a dozen years. In 1987, ABC's Jim Wooten analyzed Reagan's State of the Union address this way: "During the Reagan years, the number of poor people in America has gone up by 23 percent, while federal help to the poor has gone down by nine percent. And if the President has his way with this next federal budget, that gap will continue to grow." Wooten then ticked off a list of anticipated victims from the Reagan "cuts," including children, school lunches, food stamps and public housing. He then claimed homelessness had increased "a thousand percent" in the Reagan years....

END Column excerpt

To read the entire column, go to where the MRC's Kenny LeMay has posted it:

Instead of focusing on Clinton's tax and spend plans, MSNBC's John Hockenberry portrayed him as someone advocating ideas that would make Reagan proud. Here are two of his questions to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa on the Wednesday night edition of his MSNBC show, both observed by MRC analyst Mark Drake:

"So in other words, personal retirement investment money goes into the economy. It fuels growth along with tax cuts. The growth gives you more revenue. The revenue you use to save Social Security. Sounds like a Reagan proposal to me."

"All right, then let me ask you this. Why, under any circumstances would the Republicans want to impeach a 'Republican President?'"


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes)A few Geraldoisms picked up by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens from the January 20 Rivera Live:

-- "Hearing Ms. Mills talk about what civil rights are really all about makes Republican references to poor Paula Jones, in my constitutionally protected opinion, laughable."

-- After a clip of Cheryl Mills, as he pats his heart: "I'm telling ya, I love that woman. I think I got a crush, I don't know. Ed Rollins I don't know if it was pragmatic politics or playing the race card or the gender card, I don't care what card you call it that woman did a brilliant job today."

-- "It seems to me that you gotta, you have to be polite to the President of the United States. I mean Dick Armey is sitting there, 'Oh gawd,' rolling his eyes, 'What a whopper.' You know to me that and then the empty seats. To me that's very un-American."

Just when you thought Rivera couldn't go any further he tops himself. -- Brent Baker


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