CyberAlert -- 03/14/2002 -- Today Showcases Brock's Smears
Today Showcases Brock's Smears; Gumbel: "Texas Justice is an Oxymoron"; Guantanamo Detainee Complaint Played; A Born "Fetus"?
1) This morning NBC's Today gave a forum to David Brock, whose book is not a best-seller, even though the show has yet to mention Bernard Goldberg's book which has been on the best-seller list for three months. Matt Lauer claimed Brock "made a living as a right-wing hatchet man," as he now "exposes how...the GOP tried to destroy the Clinton presidency through a series of well-plotted smear campaigns." Lauer cued up Brock to endorse Hillary Clinton's insight into the "vast right-wing conspiracy."
2) Prompted by the guilty murder verdict returned against Andrea Yates, CBS's Bryant charged: "Texas justice is an oxymoron." On NBC's Today, Jim Cummins framed his story around how "many of the people who sat through this trial expected all the testimony about Andrea Yates' mental illness to sway the jury and convince them that she was in fact not guilty. The reaction to the guilty verdict was swift and angry."
3) ABC, CBS and CNN highlighted how a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay was heard shouting: "We are innocent here in this camp. We got no legal rights, nothing." CNN's American Morning allowed Time's Michael Elliot to explain how in Europe many think "the prisoners need legal representation, and that they need to be treated beyond fairly for everyone to show to the Islamic world that we have right on our side as well as might on our side."
4) After the House passed the "Born-Alive Act," which would give life status to a baby which is born alive during an attempted abortion, the Associated Press insisted upon referring to the live baby as a "fetus," National Review Online noticed.
online, a RealPlayer clip of Cal Thomas offering humorous opening remarks
at the MRC's Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased
Reporters of 2001.
NBC's Today invited David Brock to come aboard this morning to castigate conservatives and endorse Hillary Clinton's insight into the "vast right-wing conspiracy," even though his book is far from a best-seller. But the show has so far refused to provide any air time for Bernard Goldberg, whose book, Bias, is now number one on the New York Times best-seller list.
Goldberg's book has been out since early December and has spent 13 weeks so far on the New York Times best-seller list. Brock's book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, was just released a couple of weeks ago.
To check the New York Times list of the top 15
sellers, with Bias #1 on the liste dated March 17 (requires registration):
Brock's book hasn't even made into the below the top 15 list of books under "also reading."
Brock is a former American Spectator writer who wrote a story about charges from Arkansas state troopers about womanizing by Bill Clinton, a piece which first cited a woman named "Paula." In 1992 he penned the book, The Real Anita Hill, which documented the lack of substantiation for her claims against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. In 1998 Brock renounced his past work and decided to start trashing conservatives as he moved left in an odyssey paralleling his public acknowledgment that he's gay.
The bottom line, however, is that nothing he's said since his liberal reincarnation undermines the basic premise of his book: that Anita Hill made up her claim that Thomas harassed her. From what I can gather and now recall, Brock's only specific charge is that someone affiliated with Thomas, who had assured him that Thomas never had Playboy posters on the wall of his apartment, has since confided to someone that she, I think it was a she, had misled Brock. On the Troopergate matter, Brock just maintains that he now doubts their credibility -- even though Bill Clinton agreed to a multi-hundreds of thousands of dollars settlement with her, a point made by CNN's Wolf Blitzer when he interviewed Brock on Wednesday afternoon.
All the rest of what Brock says flows from his vendetta to undermine the credibility of conservatives he now despises.
Nonetheless, Matt Lauer set up the March 14
Today segment during the 7:30am half hour by treating Brock's current
claims as fully credible. Lauer even added a colorful dose of invective
[Brock also appeared on CNN's American Morning today. As I was proofreading this CyberAlert, I caught Brock being interviewed during the 9:30am EST half hour of the CNN show by Paula Zahn who, I noticed, used the same "right-wing hatchet man" phraseology as had Lauer about Brock's career: "In the book Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, the one-time right-wing hatchet man details his rise in the right-wing movement and his political change of heart." Nothing like basing set-ups on book jacket promotional copy. Unlike Lauer, however, Zahn actually challenged Brock on a couple of issues. More in a future CyberAlert.]
Lauer bought Brock's current claim as beyond dispute: "You were posing as a journalist when you were really a political operative."
Interestingly, because he worked for an "ultra-conservative" magazine, back in 1993 when he wrote the book on Anita Hill Today didn't consider him to be credible. On the May 3, 1993 Today, Katie Couric asked Brock: "The American Spectator is an ultra-conservative magazine, and it seems as if you are an advocate for Justice Thomas in the book. Is it really fair to call yourself an objective journalist?"
But now that he's denouncing conservatives, Today considers him fully credible. Lauer did not once question any Brock's claims as he prompted him to elucidate on how wealthy conservatives who directed the anti-Clinton conspiracy allowed him to smear people.
Lauer began the interview by asking why viewers should believe him now, but Lauer never cast any doubt on Brock's clear implication that Thomas was a harasser and that Bill Clinton was falsely maligned by the troopers in the Paula Jones story. Lauer stated as a fact: "You wrote things that weren't true."
Lauer's first question Thursday morning: "Tough situation in an interview here, and you're ready for this question, but you're someone who admits you lied. You did a lot of things that simply weren't true. You wrote things that weren't true, you were posing as a journalist when you were really a political operative. And now you come and sit with me and look at our viewers and say, 'here's the truth.' And the question is, why should they believe this version of the truth?"
Brock maintained he lied just once in the American Spectator's Troopergate story and that he later discovered damaging information about Thomas.
Lauer next wondered: "But you've said you were not even a journalist, you were really basically a political operative masquerading as a journalist. Are you a journalist now?"
Brock said his book is a memoir about his time practicing "dirty tricks" for conservatives.
Lauer hoped: "So you're not going to be
back sitting in front of me in four years with another book that says
okay, that was not true, now here's the real truth."
Lauer picked up on his point: "You
infuriated conservatives when you did not trash her. Let me go back to
1991 though and Clarence Thomas, okay? During his confirmation hearings we
all remember at the 11th hour here came Anita Hill. And she, 'you know
what, Clarence Thomas harassed me over the years.' Did you properly
investigate her side of the story, or did you only talk to Clarence
Lauer recalled: "You wrote that line that
stuck with you for a long time and stuck with her. You called her 'a
little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty.' Coming from someone who's
posing as a journalist that can be incredibly damning to someone's
How much of that $2 million went into Brock's pocket Lauer did not ask.
Lauer reminded Brock: "It was your article on Troopergate that gave us the name 'Paula,' Paula Jones for the first time. Do you ever stop and think about the significance of that name coming to light?"
Brock said he regretted that his mistake in naming a "Paula" eventually resulted in Clinton's impeachment.
Lauer concluded by pushing Brock to donate his earnings to charity: "If this book is an attempt to clear your conscience, what are you going to do with the profits from the book?"
Today has posted an excerpt from Brock's book and may add a video clip of Lauer's interview with him. Check: http://www.msnbc.com/news/720655.asp?cp1=1
An article in the March 1998 MediaWatch, the MRC's since-discontinued monthly newsletter, recounted how "David Brock learned the secret of how to get on television: Blast away at your former allies in the conservative movement as a Clinton-hating 'neo-Stalinist thought police,' and the invitations will come."
A reprint of the rest of that story:
The networks did not bite in 1992 when Brock first exposed Anita Hill's weak case against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in The American Spectator. When Brock transformed that article into the book The Real Anita Hill in 1993, the networks balked again, except for NBC. On May 3, the Today show paired Brock with Hill defender Charles Ogletree, who charged him with "countless errors of fact" and "outright lies." NBC didn't allow conservatives to debate pro-Hill authors.
Co-host Katie Couric asked Brock: "The American Spectator is an ultraconservative magazine, and it seems as if you are an advocate for Justice Thomas in the book. Is it really fair to call yourself an objective journalist?" Pro-Hill journalists were not asked that question. Later that year, none of the networks interviewed Brock when his Troopergate expose in the Spectator rocked the White House.
But when liberal journalists Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer came out with their anti-Thomas book Strange Justice in 1994, all the networks interviewed them and ABC devoted a 60-minute Turning Point special and a Nightline to their charges. Abramson and Mayer appeared on nearly every interview show on TV, and demanded at every one that Brock not be admitted to debate them. Despite a tough point-by-point refutation of their book in the Spectator, Brock was shut out.
All that changed in June 1997. Brock wrote an article for Esquire magazine titled "Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man" charging "neo-Stalinist" conservatives cared more about destroying Clinton than the truth. NBC's Today interviewed Brock again - but without any conservative to attack him. He also appeared on NBC's Meet the Press.
On March 10, after Esquire publicists flacked his latest article, a gimmicky open letter to Bill Clinton apologizing for focusing on his sex life, he basically spent entire days in front of television cameras. He appeared (unopposed) on all three morning shows, as well as shots on NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, CNN's Crossfire, two CNBC shows, and MSNBC.
END of Reprint
CBS's Bryant Gumbel and NBC's Ann Curry and Jim Cummins were disturbed by the Harris County, Texas jury's guilty verdict for capital murder in the case of Andrea Yates, who murdered her five children. Probably fueled by his disgust with how Texas applies the death penalty, Gumbel used the occasion to charge: "Texas justice is an oxymoron."
Over on NBC's Today on Wednesday morning news reader Ann Curry referred to "a very sad and serious story" in which after taking her kid's lives, "now Andrea Yates faces losing her own." Reporter Jim Cummins framed his dispatch around how "many of the people who sat through this trial expected all the testimony about Andrea Yates' mental illness to sway the jury and convince them that she was in fact not guilty. The reaction to the guilty verdict was swift and angry."
MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that in talking with CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen, apparently referring to how the Texas jury could not be informed that a not guilty verdict would not mean she'd be freed and she would probably face time in the mental system, Gumbel asked: "Well, Andrew, you know as well as I do, many have said that Texas justice is an oxymoron. Just how much did the narrow nature of this statute doom Andrea Yates in this case?" Cohen agreed with the premise.
At the top of the 8am hour on March 13, Ann
Curry began her news update, as observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
From Houston, Cummins delivered a story from
the point of view of those upset by the verdict: "It's very emotional
Ann. And many of the people who sat through this trial expected all the
testimony about Andrea Yates' mental illness to sway the jury and convince
them that she was in fact not guilty. The reaction to the guilty verdict
was swift and angry. Lead defense lawyer George Parnham."
Elsewhere in the shows the two morning shows did include the perspective of those who agreed with the verdict.
ABC, CBS and CNN have highlighted how a detainee held at Guantanamo Bay was heard shouting: "We are innocent here in this camp. We got no legal rights, nothing." A Canadian radio reporter recorded the voice of the man who spoke English.
On Wednesday's CNN American Morning Michael Elliot of Time magazine explained how in Europe "there is still a substantial group of people who think that the conditions in Guantanamo Bay are not perfect. That the prisoners need legal representation, and that they need to be treated beyond fairly for everyone to show to the Islamic world that we have right on our side as well as might on our side."
Tuesday evening, March 12, on ABC's World
News Tonight, Peter Jennings showcased the outburst: "For the first
time today, we heard the voice of a prisoner from Afghanistan being held
at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He yelled out to a Canadian radio reporter who
was on a Pentagon bus tour."
The same night, on the CBS Evening News, David
Martin noted that at Guantanamo Bay "most of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban
prisoners have given up a two-week old hunger strike, but one of them
managed to shout out a protest that was picked up by a reporter's
The next day, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed
that CNN's American Morning ended
with the detainee's cause. Host Paula Zahn announced: "I want to
close this morning on the issue of the detainee situation [at] Guantanamo
Bay. We are going to listen to what one of those detainees had to say
about his situation."
Zahn turned to Time Editor-at-Large Michael
Elliot, an American Morning regular: "You know, a lot of Americans
out there think that's just fine."
After the House passed the "Born-Alive Act," which would give life status to a baby which is born alive during an attempted abortion, the Associated Press insisted upon referring to the live baby as a "fetus," even though it would be fully outside its mother's body, National Review Online noticed.
An excerpt from the March 13 piece by Kathryn Jean Lopez brought to our attention by ex-MRCer Richard Kimble:
Yesterday, as expected, the House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The bill is as simple as they get. It gives legal status to a baby who is born, literally, alive. The baby, in the circumstances the bill covers, is "alive" in anyone's dictionary; as the bill defines it: The "complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother" of a baby who "breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion."
But if you get your news from the Associated Press wire, as a good portion of the news-reading and -gathering world does, this is what you found yesterday after the vote: Headline: "House Oks Fetus Protection Bill." First sentence: "The House voted Tuesday to define a fetus that is fully outside a woman's body as having been 'born alive,' which would give the fetus legal protection."...
[A] bit about partial-birth abortion, as it turns out, is exactly what the Associated Press added into their story later last night, after hearing some pro-life criticism of the original piece. In a middle-of-the night revision of the evening story on the bill, "House Expands Protection of Fetuses" appeared with this additional error: "The legislation is aimed at an abortion procedure critics call 'partial-birth' in which a fetus is partially delivered before being destroyed. Thirty states and the District of Columbia already have laws against the procedure."
The bill, of course, has nothing to do with partial-birth abortion, which is, as is suggested by its name, partial birth: The baby is only partly delivered; the skull is punctured so the infant dies before it is legally born....
Whether it be ignorance (they didn't read the bill? "Thomas" was down?) or advocacy-purposefully misleading readers-the press seems to care not one wit about telling the truth when it comes to this latest bill to pass the House.
And despite folks who think the bill is unnecessary, it speaks to something that is happening in hospitals and clinics today....
Pro-abortion groups who originally opposed the bill backed off. Pro-abortion congressmen who thought the bill unnecessary voted for it (it passed by a voice vote). The press ought to get with it. Infanticide isn't in style with most of America yet.
END of Excerpt
To read Lopez's piece in full:
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