Starr Too Old for Pepperdine; Russert on the MRC: "Holy ****"
The latest issues of MediaWatch and MediaNomics are now on the MRC's home page. The April 20 MediaWatch features an in-depth look at Peter Jennings' tribute to Al Gore, a collection of Revolving Door items and Newsbites: denouncing Dick Armey as "harsh," sympathy for those caught by independent counsels and the CBS tilt in favor of Bill Clinton's gun ban. The April MediaNomics includes an analysis of network tax stories, a look at coverage of the big bank mergers and a guest editorial from Stephen Moore on imbalanced budget reporting.
Correction: The April 17 CyberAlert stated: "Starr explained he never met and has no connection to Starr before Myers highlighted..." Obviously the second Starr should have been Scaife."
"...Clearly worried that it might look as if he were taking a payoff from the right wing, he announced last week that once he finishes his investigation he won't, repeat won't be taking that cushy job at Pepperdine University after all. Well, of course he won't. By the time he finishes his investigation he'll be too old."
The Monicagate mess and Paula Jones matters have only garnered sporadic coverage on the networks since last Friday, though CBS has aired two full reports on the battle over Secret Service testimony. Only the Fox News Channel even mentioned the Monday Washington Times story on how prosecutors are divided over whether to charge Hillary Clinton with a crime. The embarrassment for Bill Gates as Windows 98 crashed in the middle of a demo at COMDEX was highlighted by every network but ABC on Monday night.
Here's a brief rundown of evening show scandal coverage over the past few days:
-- Friday, April 17: Nothing on ABC's World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News or CNN's The World Today. FNC's Fox Report took a few seconds to note that Monica Lewinsky is now completing clerical work for William Ginsburg and on the CBS Evening News Scott Pelley revealed that Starr filed a motion to compel testimony from the Secret Service attorney and two officers.
-- Saturday, April 18: Nothing on CBS or CNN. NBC Nightly News caught up with CBS as Chip Reid explained the motions filed by Starr to compel Secret Service testimony. ABC's World News Tonight Saturday made brief note of how NOW is considering filing a brief on behalf of Jones.
-- Sunday, April 19: Zilch scandal-wise on CBS or NBC, but ABC noted that NOW still had not decided on whether to file a brief and Tim O'Brien previewed a Supreme Court case which could impact Jones: "The critical question for the Supreme Court this week is whether a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case must prove actual loss, job detriment in order to win in court. The answer could conceivably effect the appeal of Paula Jones, whose sexual harassment suit against the President Clinton was thrown out, in part, because the judge found Jones had not suffered any job detriment..."
-- Monday, April 20: ABC and NBC skipped any scandal news while CNN's The World Today allocated a couple of sentences to
Starr claiming the Secret Service's lawyer's talks with officers are not covered by attorney-client privilege. CBS led with the Secret Service fight as Scott Pelley discovered the Justice Department is claiming Secret Service officers "cannot testify to the Starr grand jury even if they want to" because Justice "is claiming a sweeping ban on what officers see and hear around the President." Noting that so far only retired officer Lewis Fox has testified (about how he ushered Lewinsky into the Oval Office one weekend), Pelley added this fresh tidbit: "CBS News has learned that Fox told the grand jury that Mr. Clinton indicated Lewinsky would be in the office for a while."
Picking up on a story by Jerry Seper in the Washington Times, on FNC's Fox Report at 7pm anchor Jon Scott announced:
"Prosecutors for independent counsel Ken Starr reportedly are convinced the First Lady lied under oath about missing billing records from her old law firm. The question is can they prove it. They'll have to make up their minds soon. The Little Rock grand jury expires in three weeks."
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume featured a longer piece on the same topic from David Shuster.
-- Windows is no more reliable for Bill gates than any of the rest of us. Monday night CNN, FNC and NBC all showed video of Gates getting a "fatal exception error" when an assistant connected a scanner to a computer during a demo of the wonders of Windows 98 at the COMDEX convention in Chicago. CBS didn't show any video, but Dan Rather explained: "In the CBS News Worldwide Market Watch: the best laid plans of men with mice. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was trying to demonstrate Windows 98 at a computer show today when the system suddenly crashed. Well, still a few bugs Gates said."
Only CNN's The World Today ran a full story on COMDEX and reporter Rick Lockridge opened his piece by showing the crash. Nonetheless, he relayed this contradictory assertion from Gates: "Despite the complications Gates says the Windows 98 software that ships on June 25th will give users what they've demanded: an operating system that's simpler to use..."
Of course, we wouldn't need a simpler or more reliable system if Windows 95 was simpler and more reliable as it was supposed to be. I'll wait for Windows 2000 which will have all the Windows 98 bugs worked out.
"Watchdog With a Sense of Humor" announced the Boston Globe headline over an April 16 story on Tim Russert's reaction to a quote credited to him cited in the MRC's Notable Quotables. The Globe's Mark Jurkowitz reported: "Those guys at the Media Research Center, the conservative media watchdog group, have quite a sense of humor. Their April 1 Notable Quotables newsletter printed an explosive Today show interview in which NBC's Tim Russert complained that devastating revelations about Bill Clinton lying in depositions weren't making his network's newscasts."
Jurkowitz ran only part of the quote, but here it is in its entirety:
"Katie, this latest testimony made public by Jones's lawyers about how Clinton really did have sex in the back of a limo with a former, a one-time Miss America is devastating. This is serious. It directly contradicts his deposition. This is obstruction of justice at the highest levels of our government, and Katie it really does, it really raises the possibility reluctant Republicans will have to proceed with impeachment hearings. But of course, like every other bit of evidence about White House illegalities that I declare serious, it wasn't mentioned on our own Nightly News last night and won't be tonight. I'm only the VP and Washington Bureau Chief."
After the quote excerpt the Globe printed, Jurkowitz observed: "Incendiary stuff, until you realize it was the April Fools' issue of Notable Quotables. 'I said, 'Holy [expletive],' responded a mildly amused Russert when contacted for comment. 'When did I say this?'"
The April 20 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. This one is real with none of the quotes made up.
Amongst the quotes that will be fresh to CyberAlert readers: The very first quote of the issue -- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter under "Peeping Tom's Witch Hunt." Also, under "Unprecedented Clinton-Bashing" a quote from the New York Times caught by MRC analyst Clay Waters about how insignificant one veteran reporter considers Clinton's transgressions; under "Labeling Discrepancies" a contrast noted by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens in how Katie Couric tagged a conservative guest but not his liberal counterpart; and under "Tax Cuts 'Cost' Who?" an example observed by MRC analyst Eric Darbe of a CNN reporter saying a tax cut will "cost the country."
The Notable Quotables follows below. -- Brent Baker
Peeping Tom's Witch Hunt
"Thumbs down for him [Starr]. It really makes his job a lot more difficult. What is he gonna do? Subpoena Judge Wright and charge her with obstruction of justice because she's gotten in his way? I think he should be winding down the investigation, putting his cards on the table. If he doesn't come forward very soon with credible evidence of lawbreaking, he will go down in history as the Peeping Tom prosecutor." -- Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter on Kenneth Starr, April 1 The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC.
"We don't live in Salem and I think the country is sick of the witch hunt. The Paula Jones case was the gateway to Miss Lewinsky. Now that the Jones case has been thrown out, I think it's going to be very difficult to go after a young woman and try to force her to answer questions about intimate matters. We do recognize in this country rights of privacy. And the notion that Ken Starr would indict this woman for a possible consensual relationship, if it existed, is a public relations disaster and I think a legal disaster also in the terms of how this country operates and what we stand for." -- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group, April 4.
Right-Wingers Foiled by Psychic
"On another front, there could be trouble for the Ken Starr Whitewater investigation. Reports continue to surface that this key witness for the prosecution, David Hale, may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as political opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right." -- Dan Rather, April 2 CBS Evening News.
CNN reporter Pierre Thomas: "The new allegations threaten to taint Hale's testimony. An Arkansas woman alleges Parker Dozhier, a friend of Hale, funneled money to Hale from the American Spectator magazine, a conservative publication. In an interview with CNN, Caryn Mann, Dozhier's ex-girlfriend says Hale was part of a conspiracy to get Mr. Clinton."
Caryn Mann: "I believe that people need to know the truth of what went on there. The money was earmarked for David."
-- CNN's The World Today, April 9.
"The only eyewitness against Hale is a young man with a police record. His accusations were repeated, however, by his mother [Caryn Mann] who once worked in Arkansas as a psychic and fortune-teller..." -- Fox News Channel's David Shuster, April 10 Fox Report.
"Has anybody in the history of America, any President certainly, had his character so trashed, so publicly, for so long? I think the answer is no and I think Mr. Clinton is probably personally damaged by that and I think, if you were a young state representative, 28 years old, you're sitting with your wife and kids thinking: do I want to run for President someday? What are you going to say? You're going to say good grief no, look what they do to them." -- CNN's Bruce Morton ruminating about the Jones case dismissal, April 1 The World Today.
"My whole line is, how the Hell can we drive these guys out of office for what 50 million men do a year, which is basically lie and cover it up?" -- A " White House correspondent who has covered the President for years," quoted in the April 5 New York Times.
"The conservative Republican also does not try to downplay the fact that she is Sonny Bono's widow....But it's emotional appeals like this one included in a TV campaign ad that disturb Bono's chief Democratic opponent." -- Lisa Salters on election between Mary Bono and Ralph Waite to replace Sonny Bono, April 7 Good Morning America on ABC.
"Tavis Smiley is a commentator for Black Entertainment Television and was with Clinton during the first week of his [Africa] trip. And Terry Jeffrey is editor of the conservative Human Events weekly." -- Katie Couric, March 31 Today. Smiley is the author of Hard Left: Straight Talk About the Wrongs of the Right.
Outrageous! The More Money You Have, the More You Can Invest
"The millions of American investors who climbed aboard the Starship Dow before its takeoff in the 1990s have watched their net worth soar to dizzying heights. But many more have missed the ride. While Americans are piling into the market in record numbers, the most recent data suggest that six of every 10 households still do not own stocks - and thus have reaped no direct benefit from the current boom in share prices. That troubles many analysts, who warn that the bull market on Wall Street is aggravating other disturbing economic trends and pushing disparities in wealth and income to proportions not seen since the Gilded Age." -- Opening of front page April 7 Washington Post story by Clay Chandler headlined: "Income Gap Grows Wider as Millions Miss Out on Stock Market Boom."
Starr's Rapidly Rising Budget
"Federal auditors report special prosecutor Ken Starr's investigation of the Clintons has now cost at least $29 million and still counting." -- Dan Rather, March 31 CBS Evening News.
"The judge's decision will also have an impact on Independent Counsel Ken Starr's investigation. In nearly four years, Starr has spent about $35 million. Now that the Jones suit has been thrown out, it will be harder for Starr to justify a further prolonged investigation." -- Bill Plante on CBS's This Morning, April 2.
"Let's talk about that Starr investigation. Everybody has been watching television since this came out. People in the country, many of them are saying enough already, it's been $35 to $40 million being spent. What do you think this will do to Starr's investigation?" -- This Morning co-host Mark McEwen to former White House counsel Jack Quinn, minutes later.
So a Few Thousand People Lose Their Jobs...
"That's the trump card you've been playing all these days, saying we could go out of business. You went into the negotiations with the state attorneys general because you said all these lawsuits could drive you into bankruptcy. Let me ask you, why would that be such a bad idea if a few of you guys did go out of business?"
"Let me make the question more specific to you. Would it be bad for Philip Morris if RJR Reynolds went out of business.... Wouldn't your market share just go up?"
"If you go out of business somebody else just takes over and the industry continues. What's the premise of the threat?" -- CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart to Steven Parrish, Senior VP of Philip Morris, April 12 Face the Nation.
Okay, Not "Pure," But 99 Percent
"Why are you still so concerned about the mainstream media? I mean, surely what's been going on over the last few months, certainly with all the chasing of Bill Clinton must convince you that it is not purely a liberal media." -- Ted Koppel to Newt Gingrich, April 2 Nightline.
Tax Cuts "Cost" Who?
"Roughly half of married couples in the U.S. pay higher taxes simply because they are married...getting rid of it now could cost the country an estimated 29 billion dollars in revenue."
-- CNN's Jennifer Auther on The World Today, April 12.
Good Riddance, Daisy Dogpatch
"She's obviously a footnote to history now. But she also, when there's summary judgment, that's another way of saying 'You're a nuisance.' That's what summary judgment means, that it's a nuisance lawsuit, a frivolous lawsuit. She's been a professional litigant for the last five years, so now she'll have to get on and get a life. She has shown an interest in acting. Doubtful that the Royal Shakespeare Company will be seeking her services, but she might get a guest spot or something like that on [the redneck sitcom of Jeff] Foxworthy. That's about what her future holds." -- Newsweek's "conventional wisdom" creator Jonathan Alter on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, April 1.
"Mandy who do you think is now going to carry the water, briefly, for the anti-Clinton clique in the country or the anti-Clinton people in the country?" -- ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings to Democratic consultant Mandy Grunwald, April 1.
Unlike My Anita Hill Story...
Nina Totenberg, NPR: "There is nothing wrong with much of what this coverage has been, but there has been a lot of stuff that has been, I think, really over the edge and it has not been in the National Enquirer. It has been in news organizations that you and I respect. And just as it is true, for example, that communists were trying to infiltrate the United States government in the 1950s, and that was a legitimate story, it doesn't mean that we have to buy in to being used with McCarthyistic tactics."
Evan Thomas, Newsweek: "That's a ridiculous comparison. If you look at the press coverage of McCarthy in the early 1950s and compare it to this, there is no comparison. The press was horribly used in the 1950s by McCarthy." -- Exchange from Inside Washington, April 4.
Monicagate Sensationalism: Ronald Reagan's Fault
"I think it's going to get a lot worse, certainly it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I think it really goes back to the Reagan administration and the deregulation of television. There was a time when television, in order to hold on to licenses for its stations would really say we have got to perform a public service. That was when we had a Tiffany network. Today it doesn't matter anymore. You just make your money where you make your money and to hell with public service. So I think what we see now is not the end of a trend, but somewhere in the middle of a trend." -- CBS News and CNN veteran Daniel Schorr, who now opines for NPR, April 7 Larry King Live on CNN. -- Brent Baker
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