CyberAlert -- 03/10/1998 -- Brock Bought

Brock Bought; NBC's Widow Labeling; ABC's Shot at Limbaugh

1) Every network highlighted David Brock's "apology" to Clinton, but none noted how you make more money bashing conservatives than reporting on the President.

2) NBC's widow warp: Sonny Bono's wife got an ideological label yet not the wife of Walter Capps. But her opponent got tagged.

3) "Open your mouth and hope for the best?" Yes, quipped a character on an ABC drama, "It works for Rush Limbaugh."

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Monday night every network showcased David Brock's "apology" to Clinton and how Trent Lott, responding to negative Republican reaction to his suggestion Starr end his probe soon, urged Clinton to stop stonewalling and come clean. Only FNC and CNN, however, mentioned the court appearance by Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung. All the networks opened with stories on snowstorms in the Midwest and floods in the South.

CNN anchors could not agree on whether Brock had retracted the accuracy of his story which appeared in the January 1994 issue of the American Spectator. On Inside Politics Judy Woodruff told viewers:

"In an opened letter to President Clinton, published in next month's Esquire magazine, David Brock says the Arkansas State troopers he interviewed for the article were, quote, 'greedy and had slimy motives,' end quote. Their description of procuring women for President Clinton, including one apparently named Paula led to the Jones lawsuit. That in turn sparked the Monica Lewinsky allegations. Brock writes to the President, again quote: 'My ransacking of your personal life has given your political adversaries,' who were now funding and fighting the Jones case, 'an opportunity to use the legal process to finish the job that I started.'"

Bernard Shaw then discussed this and other matters with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page editor Paul Greenberg. His first question:

"Paul, you just heard the story...David Brock saying he had regrets. He questions the state troopers' motives, as Judy indicated. He said they had slimy motives, but he never says what they told him was untrue. Your reaction?"

But three hours later on the 8pm ET World Today Martin Savidge contradicted Shaw, asserting Brock is now saying his story was untrue:

"The reporter whose article set the wheels in motion for the Paula Jones suit is having second thoughts about its accuracy. The self-described conservative journalist David Brock now says that Mr. Clinton's enemies were behind that article. He focused on the President's alleged sexual escapades. In an open letter to Mr. Clinton in the current issue of Esquire Brock says, quote [on screen] 'Surveying the wreckage my report has wrought four years later I've asked myself over and over: What the hell was I doing investigating your private life in the first place?' unquote. A White House spokesman says the letter is an interesting correction of the record."

CNN moved on to a story from Wolf Blitzer on Lott, followed by a piece on McDougal, which Savidge introduced by insisting:

"The death of James McDougal yesterday leaves Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation without a badly needed key witness...."

Finally, Savidge briefly noted how Johnny Chung had surrendered his passport and Republican Congressman Jay Kim was sentenced to two months of home confinement as penalty for accepting illegal campaign donations.

FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report included a story by Julie Kirtz on Lott, McDougal and Brock apologizing because he "now doubts the credibility of his sources." Anchor Jon Scott, like CNN, paired Johnny Chung's court appearance with Jay Kim's sentencing.

(In the morning on Monday Jim McDougal's death prompted ABC's Good Morning America to feature an interview segment with James Stewart and Jeffrey Toobin, MRC analyst Gene Eliasen reported. NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, ran separate interviews with Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and lawyer Floyd Abrams.)

Here's how the March 9 broadcast evening shows covered Monicagate and Brock's comments:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson began: "As the old saying goes, there's good news and there's bad news for the President today in the tactical battle for headlines. The bad news came from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who retreated from his weekend suggestion that Kenneth Starr should wind up his investigation now..."

After showing Lott's Saturday comments followed by his Monday assertion that Clinton's lack of cooperation is dragging out the investigation, Donaldson moved to the good news:

"But if the White House lost Lott it appears to have gained David Brock. Brock wrote troopergate [video of the American Spectator's cover], the article in which Arkansas state troopers accused Mr. Clinton of sexual indiscretions when he was Governor. Because her first name was in the article, Paula Jones sued the President. But today in an open letter to President Clinton in Esquire, Brock said he now doubts the trooper's credibility. He's not proud of his role in making Paula Jones famous. And he tells the President [words on screen] 'What the Hell was I doing investigating your private life in the first place?'"

-- CBS Evening News delivered the most bizarre spin of the night, implying Republicans are blocking Clinton's legislative efforts because they are upset with his stonewalling on Monicagate. Dan Rather intoned:

"President Clinton's effort to re-focus public attention on his agenda, instead of the Ken Starr investigation, ran into new and rougher resistance today. The President took his health campaign against cigarettes to a convention of American Medical Association doctors, but the Republican response was 'not so fast.'"

Reporter Scott Pelley explained: "It appears the Monica Lewinsky matter is driving a wedge between the President and the Congress that could even affect legislation. Today Republicans demanded the whole truth while the President was pressing Congress to pass his coveted tobacco bill."

Pelley ran a clip of Clinton, noting that he wants tobacco taxes in order to pay for new programs but Trent Lott, Pelley relayed, said Clinton's stonewalling is "getting in the way of progress."

Rather asked Pelley about the impact of McDougal's death. Pelley offered an assessment opposite of CNN's Savidge, claiming that while he "provided prosecutors with many valuable documents," his contradictory stories meant "his credibility was shot."

Next, Rather focused on Brock: "President Clinton got an unusual public apology today from the journalist whose 1993 article in a Republican-connected journal, helped set in motion, among other things, the Paula Jones case. Reporter David Brock says he no longer believes in the credibility of the Arkansas state troopers who were sources for his story. He now says they were, and I quote, 'greedy' and had, quote, 'slimy motives.'"

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced: "There's another twist tonight in the investigation of President Clinton. David Brock, the conservative reporter who wrote the 1993 magazine article that eventually led to the Paula Jones lawsuit, apologized to President Clinton saying he's not sure that story is true. The article quoted Arkansas state troopers who said their duties included introducing then Governor Clinton to women, including one identified only as Paula. In an open letter to Esquire magazine, Brock said quote [words on screen]: 'My ransacking of your personal life has given your political opportunity to use the legal process to finish the job I started. If we continue down this path,' he said, 'we can and will destroy everyone in public life.'"

Up next: David Bloom on how Lott "got the message" from other Republicans and shifted blame to Clinton, asking him to tell the truth.

Later, on MSNBC's 9pm ET/PT The News with Brian Williams, the namesake anchor treated Brock's comments as a religious rite: "Some major developments over the past 24 hours in the Whitewater investigation, including a confession from one of the one-time principle players. David Brock" now says he's "not sure the story is true."

While on the subject of "slimy motives" and, as James Carville would say, "trash for cash," the MRC's Tim Graham reminded me of this news item the February 26 Reliable Source column in the Washington Post:

"David Brock's book about Hillary Clinton was a notorious flop. But the onetime conservative writer has found a subject that he thinks may be more salable: himself.

"His third book will be an expanded version of 'Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man,' his Esquire magazine mea culpa last July about how he and other conservatives stretched the truth and ignored facts to puff up Republicans or pound President Clinton.

"But the book -- for which Brock, 35, said he got a six-figure advance from Random House -- will, naturally, be part personal memoir...."

Write about the misdeeds of a liberal hero and the media denounce you. Write about the misdeeds of conservatives and you get hundreds of thousands of dollars and the networks jump at your every syllable.

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)You can't escape ideological labeling by dying -- at least if you are conservative. On Monday's NBC Nightly News Gwen Ifill looked at the two Tuesday congressional elections in California featuring widows hoping to replace their husbands: Mary Bono, wife of the late conservative Congressman Sonny Bono; and Lois Capps, wife of the late Walter Capps, about the most left-wing member of the House. But Ifill didn't see it that way. Instead, look at how she described the candidates and those they hope to replace:

On Mary Bono: "Like her late husband, she's a conservative Republican. But she's a political neophyte who plans to pick up where he left off..."

On the other widow: "Democrat Lois Capps is also trying to pick up the political pieces. Voters decide tomorrow whether she should succeed her husband Walter in Congress. He died of a heart attack last fall..."

And who must Capps beat? "Lois Capps' race against conservative Republican Tom Bordonaro has attracted national attention..."

There you have Gwen's prism: On Tuesday a "conservative Republican" is in one race while the other presents a "Democrat" of no ideological bent who must overcome another "conservative Republican."

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)ABC's Nothing Sacred, the controversial drama revolving around Father Ray, a liberal Catholic priest at an urban parish, took a shot at Rush Limbaugh. ABC has moved the low-rated show from 8pm ET/PT Thursdays to 9pm ET/PT Saturdays. On the March 7 episode a new priest is assigned to the parish and he hires Justine as the new director of religious education. She criticizes Father Ray's homilies, leading to this exchange, caught by MRC entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell, between Ray and a nun named Maureen:

Ray: "I wonder if she's a Republican."

Maureen: "You say that about everyone you don't like."

Ray: "She criticized my homiletic technique."

Maureen: "You mean open your mouth and hope for the best, that technique?"

Ray: "It works for Rush Limbaugh."

For those of you digging your cars out of the snow this morning, it hit 72 on Monday at the CyberAlert Weather Center in Annandale, Virginia -- that's the thermometer outside my window. Actually, I miss the snow. We haven't had any yet this season.

-- Brent Baker

>>> Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert readers and subscribers:

>>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a blank e-mail to: mrccyberalert-subscribe
. Or, you can go to: Either way you will receive a confirmation message titled: "RESPONSE REQUIRED: Confirm your subscription to" After you reply, either by going to the listed Web page link or by simply hitting reply, you will receive a message confirming that you have been added to the MRC CyberAlert list. If you confirm by using the Web page link you will be given a chance to "register" with Topica. You DO NOT have to do this; at that point you are already subscribed to CyberAlert.
To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Send problems and comments to:

>>>You can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: Or, go to:<<<