CyberAlert -- 02/05/1999 -- ABC: Heckler Is "Voice of the People"; "Free Lisa Myers"; Starr a Felon

ABC: Heckler Is "Voice of the People"; "Free Lisa Myers"; Starr a Felon

1) ABC's Peter Jennings promoted a heckler's outburst: "We begin tonight with the voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery today." The trial may "finally" be over, Dan Rather hoped.

2) "Free Lisa Myers" touted buttons worn by the panelists and Brit Hume at the end of his FNC show in a sign of support for the NBC reporter whose interview with Juanita Broaddrick has yet to air.

3) Another 24 hour news cycle has passed without a syllable uttered by the broadcast networks about the IRS report vindicating Newt Gingrich's handling of his college course.

4) Instead of challenging Richard Gephardt, Today's Katie Couric tossed this one: "The GOP, according to the latest public opinion polls, is vulnerable. Are you licking your chops over that?"

5) Geraldo Rivera asserted that "Ken Starr is a terrible man," musing that Starr "may himself someday be a convicted felon."

6) John Hockenberry dismissed the relevance of Sidney Blumenthal's testimony about Clinton's lies, claiming bosses lie all the time.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Hillary Clinton Campaign Slogans."

>>> "Will Jane Doe End Up as Jane Don't? NBC Policy of 'Locking Up' Broaddrick Interview Wasn't Used with Bernardin, Thomas, Nancy Reagan." The latest Media Reality Check fax report will be posted on the MRC home page on Friday morning. In it the MRC's Tim Graham contrasts Tim Russert's caution on airing the Broaddrick interview conducted by Lisa Myers with how the network showed no such concern for verification in highlighting unsubstantiated allegations against three other public figures. To read the issue go to the MRC home page: or to:
Also now up on the MRC home page thanks to Webmaster Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell: the February 8 MediaWatch: <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) ABC and CNN promoted a heckler's outburst as a credible and accurate representation of how most people feel which should be honored. "We begin tonight with the voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery today," insisted Peter Jennings before playing a clip of the heckler shouting: "God almighty, take the vote and get it over with." Jennings claimed he was speaking "for so many Americans, whether they believe the President should be convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice or not." Actually, as the FNC's Jim Angle noted from the White House, the heckler "could have been a White House official because that is exactly the view here."

The trial, CBS's Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer yearned, may soon "finally" come to an end. Both CBS and NBC highlighted how James Rogan answered a Clinton lawyer's question by saying "it is none of your damn business." FNC's David Shuster caught up with ABC reporter Jackie Judd's disclosure that a private investigator confirmed Kathleen Willey's charge that she was threatened.

Every network but CBS looked at the controversy over the flattering People magazine cover story on Hillary and Chelsea which the Clintons have condemned for invading Chelsea's privacy. "This has set off a spirited debate about journalism, boundaries and exploitation," suggested Tom Brokaw. NBC's David Bloom and ABC's John Cochran showed how Chelsea's parents had exploited her before for their benefit. Both played the video from last summer of Chelsea holding hands between her parents as they walked to the helicopter and showed the cover of a 1992 People featuring all three. Bloom added that the elder Clintons "insisted" the then 12-year-old Chelsea appear with them on the cover. The NBC story also gave time for a competitor to denounce the Time Warner magazine as Newsweek's Jonathan Alter complained: "It violates a kind of an informal but useful agreement that the media had to give her a break. Let the poor girl alone, she didn't ask for this, she's essentially a victim. She didn't put herself forward, why is it necessary?"

Here are some highlights of how the Thursday, February 4 evening shows handled the Senate votes to not hear from live witnesses but to allow the managers to play portions of the three videotaped depositions:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened by giving legitimacy and credibility to a crank:
"Good evening. We begin tonight with the voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery today during yet another procedural vote at the President's impeachment trial."
Senate Clerk: "Mr. Baucus. Mr. Baucus, aye."
Audio of man in Senate gallery yelling: "God almighty, take the vote and get it over with."
Jennings: "'God almighty,' the man said, 'take the vote and get it over with.' He was arrested. That's him in the beard, slightly balding, on the right. He may think it was worth it, speaking as he does for so many Americans, whether they believe the President should be convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice or not. The best that we can say tonight is they are getting there."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's pre-theme music tease conveyed his hope the trial will soon end:
"The Senate impeachment court votes no live witnesses. Monica Lewinsky will not be called to the Senate floor and the end to the Republican drive to remove the President appears to be finally in sight."

Bob Schieffer explained the day's votes, before showcasing a "curt" comment from a manager: "When White House lawyers wanted to know what portion of the tapes prosecutors intended to show, they got a curt reply."
James Rogan on the Senate floor: "I believe the appropriate legal response to your request is that it is none of your damn business what the other side is going to put on."

Schieffer concluded by returning to Rather's theme that this might "finally" end: "Tonight Ms. Lewinsky sent word that she and her family appreciate not having to go through the ordeal of testifying on the Senate floor. In the meantime Dan, it looks like this trial is finally about to end."

Of course, the Senate trial has been going for barely four weeks, hardly a lengthy period.

Introducing the view from the White House, Rather relayed: "A fast out that leaves President Clinton in office on terms considered by his staff to be fair to him is the goal of the President's camp."

-- CNN aired a 10pm ET Trial of the President special. Co-anchor Joie Chen opened the 8pm ET The World Today by inserting the heckler into her lead:
"So perhaps the Senators got the message, the one delivered from the spectator gallery today from the visitor who got up and shouted 'God almighty, take the vote and get it over with.' He was arrested. Still, the Senators did act on a vote that seemed to put them on track for a final decision on the President's fate next week."

-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report opened with Rita Cosby on the Senate decisions followed by Carl Cameron on growing doubts that either article will garner a majority as the finding of facts idea fades.

FNC then aired an update on the Kathleen Willey case, the first network story I've seen since ABC's January 29 story in which Jackie Judd revealed that Jared Stern, a private investigator hired by a lawyer for Nathan Landow, confirmed that there was a plan to intimidate her. FNC's David Shuster gave an overview of the case and after allowing Stern to decline comment he explained:
"According to investigation sources, however, Stern was asked to pull Kathleen Willey's phone records and find out what medications she might be taking. Stern was hired by attorneys for Nathan Landow who is a Democratic fundraiser and supporter of the President..."

-- NBC Nightly News. Gwen Ifill maintained: "The Senate vote's a setback for White House lawyers who argue that releasing the details of the sworn interviews would only embarrass and humiliate the President."
She also highlighted Rogan's retort and unlike ABC portrayed the heckler as a disruptive pest, not a wise sage:
"And for the first time the Senate trial got testy. On one occasion when House prosecutors James Rogan, quoting a judge, rejected a White House request for an advanced look at the Lewinsky testimony they plan to use."
Rogan: "I believe the appropriate legal response to your request is that it is none of your damn business."
Ifill: "And minutes later when a heckler in the public gallery disrupted proceedings, shouting quote, 'Good God almighty, why don't you take a vote and get on with it.' He was arrested." (Not quite what he said, but close.)


myersbutton0205.JPG (13751 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "Free Lisa Myers" proclaimed big blue buttons sported by Roll Call's Morton Kondracke, Fortune's Jeffrey Birnbaum and Brit Hume at the end of Thursday's 6pm ET/9pm PT Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC.

Hume explained: "And finally, we wanted to send our best wishes to our colleague at NBC News, Lisa Myers. She has done remarkable reporting on the Clinton-Lewinsky case and her latest coup is the only interview anyone has done on tape with the mysterious Jane Doe No. 5. NBC News, however, has yet to air that interview and we just wanted Lisa to know that we were thinking about her over here at Fox News and we wish her well."

(To see the button, go to the MRC home page. Friday morning, with the tape cuing help of Kristina Sewell, Webmaster Sean Henry will post an image of the button on Hume's jacket and a RealPlayer clip of Hume's comments. Go to:


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Newt vindicated. Who cares? That seems to be the media attitude. As the February 4 CyberAlert reported, the IRS determined he and the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) did not violate any tax laws in having the tax-exempt PFF fund the college course he taught. Allegations that his course was "partisan," and thereby improperly benefitted from a tax subsidy, were at the center of the ethics complaints filed by Democrats. On Wednesday CNN's Inside Politics ran a full story by Brooks Jackson and CNN noted the ruling in its 8pm ET newscast. (See the February 4 CyberAlert for details.)

Despite an AP dispatch picked up by many papers and a New York Times story, Thursday morning not a syllable aired about it on ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's This Morning or NBC's Today, MRC analysts Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd and Geoffrey Dickens informed me. Not a word on Wednesday night on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, observed MRC analyst Mark Drake. Thursday night the broadcast networks failed to catch up with CNN and I did not notice a story either Wednesday or Thursday night on FNC.

Do you have any doubt that if the IRS investigation had confirmed the allegations the networks would have pounced on the proof of Gingrich wrongdoing?


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) House Minority Dick Gephardt appeared on Thursday's Today to discuss his decision to not make a presidential bid since he thinks it's possible for Democrats to re-take the House in 2000, making him Speaker. But instead of playing devil's advocate, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that co-host Katie Couric egged him on.

Couric introduced the February 4 interview: "With the GOP in apparent turmoil some Democrats believe they have a good chance to win back control of Congress. Among them House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt who last night announced he would not run for President in the year 2000. Instead he has his eye on another job, Speaker of the House."

Couric proceeded to inquire about how close he came to running and how the public might blame Democrats as well as Republicans for the "do nothing Congress," but instead of posing some questions from the right, such as whether there might be a backlash against Democrats for condoning perjury and obstruction, she tossed these softballs:

-- "In terms of hardcore politics, Congressman Gephardt, obviously the GOP, according to the latest public opinion polls is vulnerable. Are you licking your chops over that?"
-- "Do you think the Republican Party is in a vulnerable position right now?"


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Geraldo Rivera ruminated Wednesday night about how Ken Starr may become a "convicted felon." In another quote caught by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, on the February 3 Rivera Live the host asked Democrat Abbe Lowell a devil's advocate question which incorporated two insults at Ken Starr:

"Welcome Abbe. What about the charge that even though Ken Starr is a terrible man who is violating Rule 6(e) and may himself someday be a convicted felon, that has nothing to do with the fact that the President may have also broken the law?"


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Don't want to look partisan? Too late for that now. Dismissing the relevance of the news that Sidney Blumenthal confirmed how Bill Clinton lied to him in denying a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, on Wednesday's Hockenberry show on MSNBC, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, John Hockenberry told Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund:
"Although John, with all due respect and I don't want to look like a partisan here, but it's gotten to the point where it's so ridiculous. A boss lied to a subordinate. Oh, my gosh."

Is Hockenberry a little sore about being promised the 8pm ET slot and then getting bounced to 10pm ET?


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) From the February 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Hillary Clinton Campaign Slogans." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "Read My Lips -- No New Interns"
9. "Reward Me For Putting Up With Bill's Crap For So Long"
8. "Isn't It Time You Were Disappointed By A Different Clinton?"
7. "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, Ask How You Can Illegally Contribute To My Campaign"
6. "Vote For Me Or My Husband Will Nail Your Wife"
5. "You Give Me A Vote, I'll Get Vernon Jordan To Give You A Job"
4. "Still Not Indicted As Of Early '99!"
3. "From Perjury To Albany"
2. "Building A Bridge To The 21st Century, And Pushing My Husband Over It"
1. "Oh Lord, Please Don't Make Me Go Back To Arkansas"

Imagine where we could be in two years: A vindicated Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham. -- Brent Baker


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