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CyberAlert -- 02/17/1999 -- slant of CNN's Tuesday night town meeting

SPECIAL ALERT

A viewing alert for two NBC dramas this week and a note about the slant of CNN's Tuesday night town meeting:

> NBC shows "ripped from today's headlines"? In a crossover story line airing on NBC's Wednesday night Law & Order and Friday night Homicide: Life on the Street, an Independent Counsel impedes the investigation of a murder. (Law & Order is a 10pm ET/PT drama set in New York City which follows a criminal case from the investigation by detectives through prosecution in the courtroom. The 10pm ET/PT Homicide: Life on the Street follows homicide detectives in Baltimore.)

Here's how TV Guide describes the episodes:
The February 17 Law & Order: "A crossover with Homicide: Life on the Street involves a government worker's murder and an Independent Counsel with a White House agenda."

The February 19 Homicide: Life on the Street: "A crossover with Law & Order, involving a government worker's murder, concludes as the investigation exposes a connection to the White House, and an ambitious Independent Counsel uses his authority to take the case out of the hands of the New York and Baltimore police."

Wednesday's Law & Order follows a two-hour special at 8pm ET/PT titled "Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?" At least Fox holds its low-brow reality specials to one-hour.


> CNN even more tilted Tuesday night than expected. The February 16 CyberAlert warned that the announced panelists for CNN's planned Tuesday night town meeting tilted left as did those scheduled for Larry King Live.

CNN delivered three hours and 34 minutes of discussion framed around the liberal agenda. Host Jeff Greenfield, for instance, spent the first 10 minutes of the second half of the town meeting talking with Walter Cronkite about what must be done so that the "responsible media" no longer report on stories in tabloids and on the Internet about the personal lives of politicians. In other words, the show accepted the premise that the Lewinsky story was an illegitimate invasion of Clinton's privacy. In over two-and-a-half hours CNN couldn't find time to raise a conservative concern, such as how the media fueled Clinton's politics of personal destruction by so eagerly demonizing Ken Starr.

The panelists on the stage for "A Conversation with America: We the People," which aired from 8 to 9pm ET and continued from 10 to 11:34pm ET: liberal former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, liberal former Congressman and current NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume, Sally Quinn of the Washington Post and former Republican Senator Howard Baker. Arianna Huffington got some time from her location in Los Angeles with Morgan Fairchild and Harry Shearer, neither of whom are known as conservative. Others given time in the first hour: Chuck D. and Alvin Poussaint.

Lindsey Graham made a brief appearance in the 10pm portion, but the comments from those allowed speak were overwhelmingly about "moving on" and a major part of the second half of the town hall meeting was devoted to discussing what issues the nation should address: race relations, closing the gap between rich and poor and spending more on education.

In between the two parts of the town meeting, from 9 to 10pm ET CNN aired Larry King Live with the scheduled Hugh Downs of ABC's 20/20, Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post and former Clinton adviser David Gergen of U.S. News & World Report, plus: token conservative Pat Robertson as well as husband and wife Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, both enthusiastic Clinton fans. So, a ratio of five liberals to one conservative.

At the risk of alienating their fans in the CyberAlert subscriber list, I'd note that the only two conservatives CNN featured all night, Huffington and Robertson, are the most prominent conservatives who called for an early end to the Senate trial.

Much more on CNN's liberal night in a full CyberAlert on Thursday. -- Brent Baker

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