Starr's "Personal Life" Probe; Avoiding China Morning & Night
1) Dan Rather keeps endorsing
the pro-Clinton spin, insisting Starr is probing Clinton's "personal
life." ABC and CBS have yet to mention William Ginsburg's concession
of Clinton-Lewinsky sex.
2) Wednesday night Dan Rather
portrayed Starr as the unreasonable one: "The President has declined
Starr's unprecedented request for his testimony." NBC stressed how
Clinton is contradicting his promise.
3) Nightline has yet to look
at the China-connection. Total coverage on NBC's Today so far: one story.
4) "Bulworth" star
Warren Beatty is angry about the "disparity" in wealth and how
Democrats have become too conservative.
The underground nuclear tests in Pakistan topped the three broadcast
network evening shows Thursday night while CNN led at 10pm ET with a
bombing in Illinois and FNC's Fox Report went first with the murder of
Phil Hartman. CBS, CNN and NBC ran full stories on Ken Starr's request
that the Supreme Court expedite a ruling on the White House appeal of the
executive privilege ruling. Wednesday night CNN and NBC had highlighted
the open letter by William Ginsburg in which he suggested Clinton and his
client Monica Lewinsky did indeed have a sexual relationship. Thursday
night FNC caught up and mentioned it as NBC raised it again, but ABC's
World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News again overlooked the telling
For the second night in a row, on Thursday
night, instead of saying Starr is probing possible obstruction of justice,
Dan Rather insisted upon relaying the White House spin about how Starr is
conducting an "investigation into the President's personal
life." ABC, CBS and FNC played the soundbite of Lewinsky's father
denouncing Starr as "un-American," but NBC cut off that portion
of his comments. Only CNN and FNC reported that Vernon Jordan appeared
again before the grand jury.
Some highlights from the Thursday, May 28
-- ABC's World News Tonight. After anchor
Peter Jennings noted how Ken Starr had asked the Supreme Court "for
some extraordinary help," he went to Jackie Judd for a full story on
Lewinsky's trip to the FBI to submit writing and fingerprint samples. Afer
airing her father's curbside attack on Starr, Judd explained that Starr is
collecting the samples in order to authenticate evidence of claims made in
recorded conversations with the handwriting to see if it matches notes to
Clinton and the fingerprints to check if they match those on the talking
points directing Linda Tripp to offer false testimony.
-- CBS Evening News. From Los Angeles, Dan
Rather delivered this loaded rundown of the day's Monicagate events,
leading to a full report from Bill Plante on the executive privilege
"Monica Lewinsky showed up, as
ordered, to give the FBI handwriting and fingerprint samples for special
prosecutor Ken Starr's deepening investigation into the President's
personal life. She arrived at the federal office building here with her
father, flanked by security, and the press of course all around.
Lewinsky's father castigated Starr and his tactics."
Bernard Lewinsky: "I
would like the American people to know that my daughter is a pawn and
Kenneth Starr is trying to use her as a pawn to get the presidency. This
is unfair, it is totally un-American."
Rather: "CBS News in
Washington has been told by sources close to the Starr investigation that
the Lewinsky group chose to walk the media gauntlet into the federal
building. They had been offered a more private entrance. Also back in
Washington, another aggressive move by the special prosecutor today."
-- CNN's The
World Today at 10pm ET. Charles Bierbauer filed a story on Starr's request
that the Supreme Court bypass the appeals court and rule immediately on
the executive privilege appeal. Afterwards, viewers saw a clip of Vernon
Jordan complaining that in his fourth grand jury appearance he answered
the same questions "over and over again."
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. David Shuster
ran through list of events on the Monicagate front. Referring to Lewinsky
attorney William Ginsburg, Shuster observed: "When asked about his
own letter suggesting prosecutor Kenneth Starr may have succeeded in
unmasking a sexual relationship, Ginsburg told reporters to back
Shuster also reported that Lewinsky might
be indicted in the federal court district in Alexandria, Virginia which is
much faster than D.C.'s federal court and that Vernon Jordan appeared for
the fourth time "but it doesn't appear as if the grand jury has been
satisfied with Jordan. He's been ordered to come back again in two
weeks." Finally, he gave a quick overview of Starr's Supreme Court
request on executive privilege.
-- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers checked in
with a story on executive privilege, recalling: "It is a replay of
the Nixon years when the Watergate prosecutor got the Supreme Court to
hear President Nixon's claim of executive privilege on an emergency
Moving on to Lewinsky, Myers played Bernard
Lewinsky's complaint about his daughter being a pawn, but did not include
his "un-American" slam. Myers added: "Not talking today,
Lewinsky's lawyer William Ginsburg, in hot water over an attack on Starr
that instead may have harmed his own client." On screen viewers saw
an excerpt from Ginsburg's article he which he ridiculed Starr, saying he
"may have succeeded in unmasking a sexual relationship between two
Viewers then saw a clip of Alan Dershowitz
urging Lewinsky to fire Ginsburg.
Wednesday night ABC ignored Monicagate and related issues, but all the
other networks featured stories. CBS led with a story putting the onus on
Starr for making "an unprecedented" request for a President's
testimony about his "personal life," instead of on Clinton for
refusing to answer questions. NBC's Lisa Myers, in contrast, emphasized
how Clinton's refusal to cooperate contradicts his earlier promises. But
NBC also bizarrely treated as breaking news the judge's decision denying
executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal, though all
that happened Wednesday was the release of the reasoning behind the ruling
revealed last week.
CNN's The World Today, MRC news analyst
Eric Darbe observed, ran two scandal stories. First, Wolf Blitzer on the
article by Ginsburg denouncing Starr and suggesting a sexual relationship
between Clinton and his client. Second, Bob Franken delivered a piece
about how a Judicial Watch deposition elicited from Harold Ickes the news
that though he had left the White House staff he still spins the White
House line to reporters and helps the White House track what reporters are
probing and may report. FNC's Fox Report led with "consumer
groups" upset by lack of labeling of genetically altered foods.
Anchor Jon Scott read a quick item on the Ginsburg article before David
Shuster previewed Lewinsky's trip to the FBI and reported that Starr's
staff is still undecided about sending a report to Congress.
Here's bit more on the May 27 CBS and NBC
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened:
"Good evening. There is new information tonight about President
Clinton's response to Ken Starr's hard press in his investigation of the
President's personal life. As CBS News White House correspondent Scott
Pelley reports, the President has declined Starr's unprecedented request
for his testimony."
Pelley did raise what Rather suppressed,
that Clinton said he would cooperate. Pelley also explained that the
judge's just-released ruling on executive privilege revealed she thought
Starr made a compelling case for the testimony of Lindsey and Blumenthal.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw began by
acting as if no one knew the judge had rejected the executive privilege
claim: "Good evening. There are major legal developments tonight in
the Monica Lewinsky investigation. A federal judge has ruled that White
House aides Bruce Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal must tell the grand jury
of conversations they had with the President about the case. Judge Norma
Holloway Johnson said they are not covered by executive privilege, Ken
Starr is entitled to hear what they have to say."
Claire Shipman filled in the particulars
before Lisa Myers explored Clinton's refusal to cooperate:
"Despite his claims that he's
cooperating with Starr's investigation, NBC News has learned that the
President has actually refused repeatedly to answer Starr's questions
about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky....The President's refusal to
answer questions under oath contradicts what he's said publicly."
Viewers saw a clip of Clinton from February
6: "What I'm doing is going on with my work and cooperating with the
The big question now, Myers suggested, is
will for first time in history a subpoena be issued to a President. Myers
ran a soundbite from James Carville urging Clinton to take the 5th, before
concluding by highlighting the Ginsburg article ABC and CBS have skipped:
"As for Monica Lewinsky, her lawyer in
an angry open letter to Starr, seems to suggest that his client may indeed
have had a sexual relationship with the President. He writes that Starr's
investigation, quote 'may have succeeded in unmasking a sexual
relationship between two consenting adults.' Tonight her lawyer denies
he's referring to Lewinsky."
China-connection not connecting: Today and Nightline avoid the entire
-- The May 26 CyberAlert noted that through
Friday, May 22 NBC's Today had not uttered a word about the China
connection since the May 15 New York Times story on Johnny Chung: no full
story, no brief item during a news update, no interview, not even a
question posed. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens and intern David Bozell have
watched the shows since May 22 and discovered that through Thursday
morning, May 28, this is the totality of weekday and Sunday Today coverage
of the China-connection:
a) A mention on the May 24
Sunday Today from Tim Russert, in plugging his upcoming Meet the Press,
that his show would explore the issue. And that really doesn't count as
part of Today's editorial product.
b) A story from
David Bloom run during the 7am news update on Memorial Day generated by
Sunday morning discussion of the matter, including how Loral Chairman
Bernard Schwartz denied any connection between donations and the waiver
and how documents released Friday showed Clinton was warned that the FBI
was investigating Loral.
-- In the ten nights since the May 15 New
York Times story, through May 28, ABC's Nightline has yet to produce a
show on the China-connection, MRC news analyst Clay Waters has confirmed.
being a Friday just before a weekend when many go to the movies, I thought
I'd relay some of the latest liberal wisdom from the star of a
just-released film, "Bulworth." Some of the reviews I've seen
suggest that the film directed by Warren Beatty, who plays the lead
character, delivers a general indictment of how big money has corrupted
the political process. But when a liberal like Beatty says Democrats and
Republicans are the same and that Democrats have sold out blacks, he's not
saying politicians have become too liberal. Indeed, a look at some of his
recent comments will show that he thinks Democrats have become too
In Bulworth Beatty plays a U.S. Senator who
is so upset by abandoning his principles in order to satisfy large donors
that he contracts a hit man to kill him, thus liberating himself to tell
"the truth." In the promotional clip shown during his media
appearances "Senator Bulworth" tells an audience of blacks that
the Democrats have abandoned spending programs for them because they don't
donate any real money.
Here are some quotes from Beatty reflecting
the ideology behind the movie-maker. (Note that the third item features
-- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
relayed this analysis from Beatty in an April 29 column caught by MRC
entertainment analyst Tom Johnson. Complaining about the focus on the
Lewinsky case, Beatty argued: "All this time that's wasted talking
about this issue of sex is time that would be better spent talking about
the disparity of wealth, race, class and the tyranny of big money in
-- From a May 21 Associated Press feature
by Douglas J. Rowe that I caught in the May 24 New Hampshire Sunday News:
Ex-libertine, maybe. Ex-liberal, never. Warren Beatty, the legendary
Lothario turned family man, can sound loud and proud these days about how
his politics haven't changed since the 1960s. He invokes the names of New
Deal liberalism -- Roosevelt, Truman, the Kennedys, Johnson and Humphrey
-- and laments the Democratic Party's move to the middle.
His political beliefs come through in his new movie, Bulworth....
"I feel sympathetically toward the Democratic Party's vacuous
incarnation," he says, characterizing that incarnation as a
"sort of missionless position that it's taken in order to try to find
a majority." He thinks the Democrats' "natural mission" is
to protect people who can't take care of themselves, be they old,
disabled, disenfranchised, or otherwise disadvantaged. Instead, the
disparity of wealth between rich and poor is growing, and it's something
that goes underreported, says Beatty.
There's nothing wrong with business and market forces, he says, but with
the beginning of the Reagan administration ostentatious wealth became
nothing to be ashamed of, and policies to help the less advantaged were
forgotten. "We who think that that's not good are extremely out of
fashion," he says.
"I'm not a communist. I'm not even a socialist. I'm a person who
thinks, you know, we were going in the right direction for a certain
number of years, and now we're going in the wrong direction. Not
drastically. Not drastically. But incrementally."
So, who's to blame? "It's a condition that is allowed by all of
us," he says. "We can't pin this on Clinton. It's not fair. But
what we can say is: OK, somebody's gotta start speaking up about
-- From the June issue of The Source
magazine, a more intense recitation from Beatty picked up by the MRC's Tom
Johnson. (WARNING: This passage contains three of George Carlin's seven
dirty words. If they will disturb you, read no further as this is the last
item in today's CyberAlert.) The Source's Michael Eric Dyson contended:
"As Bulworth's star, director and
co-writer, Beatty uses gansta rap's erotically charged violence and vulgar
speech, both literally and metaphorically, to reveal the corruption of
electoral politics. 'Clearly what I think is obscene is the disparity of
wealth and inequality in the country,' Beatty stresses. 'I don't think
words like fuck, motherfuck, cocksucker are obscene. They are attention
getting words. The real obscenity black folks are living with is trying to
believe a motherfucking word that Democrats and Republicans say.'"
outlet for Beatty's views was made possible by Rupert Murdoch's 20th
Century Fox, which funded and is now distributing the film. Remember that
the next time a media figure insists everything Murdoch touches must be
tainted by his conservative politics.
-- Brent Baker
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