CyberAlert -- 07/06/1998 -- Competition or Liberal Bias?
"Gorbachev of China;" Funneling
Quote of the holiday weekend, from Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the
Another week of Public Eye, another liberal shot from Bryant Gumbel who is
using the platform of the soon-to-end CBS show to spout his views while he
still can do so. MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson caught this loaded
introduction to a July 1 story on how the French are so much more
reasonable in how they approach sex:
At Clinton's wrap-up press conference late Friday afternoon Hong Kong time (5:30am ET), a reporter (Larry McQuillan of Reuters, I believe) asked him if he had pressed Jiang Zemin about sending campaign money into the U.S. and CNN's Wolf Blitzer inquired if he had raised the issue of forced abortions. Friday night, however, matching coverage of the previous ten days, none of the four network evening stories mentioned forced abortions, and only CNN alluded to campaign donations funneled from China. In his The World Today story, Blitzer led into a soundbite from Clinton on how he accepts Jiang's denial of any knowledge, by observing: "On several sensitive issue Mr. Clinton seemed to take President Jiang at his word. The Chinese leader, for example, had forcefully denied China had funneled campaign cash into Mr. Clinton's Democratic Party." The night after Jiang made his comment at the Beijing press conference, only Bill Plante on the CBS Evening News told viewers about it -- in one brief sentence. But ABC and NBC viewers have yet to hear anything about it.
All the stories did highlight answers to questions by CBS's Scott Pelley as to why Clinton did not meet with dissidents and NBC's David Bloom about whether Clinton expects democracy to come to China. The answer to the latter became the biggest news out of the press conference: yes. (All the newscasts Friday, Saturday and Sunday night led with the Florida fires.)
Saturday night, July 4 the CBS Evening News did find time for a Chinese outrage and Clinton failure, running a story by Jacqueline Adams about how the Lincoln Center operators are upset that Clinton neglected to raise the issue of how China had barred the Shanghai Opera Company from traveling to New York City to perform a 22-hour-long opera. NBC Nightly News delivered a piece about how the Chinese people were thrilled by Clinton's visit.
Here's how each of the four network stars traveling with Clinton wrapped up his nine-day trip in the conclusions they delivered to their July 3 stories, the first night since Monday, June 29 that the three broadcast networks all aired full stories on China:
-- Sam Donaldson, on ABC's World News Tonight, told anchor Forrest Sawyer that China gave Clinton a forum to push human rights and he gave them a rejection of Taiwan becoming an independent state. He then concluded: "Many saw this trip of the President's as a gamble. If so Forrest, he appears to have won it, at least for now."
-- Scott Pelley on the CBS Evening News: "The tour will most likely be remembered as the time the President put Tiananmen Square in the past while making only slight progress on democracy's future."
-- Wolf Blitzer on CNN's The World Today: "The President's aides concede most of his critics back in Washington are unlikely to be impressed by this visit to China. Still, they insist Mr. Clinton did the right thing and predict this trip will eventually pay huge dividends for the United States and China."
-- David Bloom on the NBC Nightly News: "His critics say he came to China, saw much, but changed little. And if the legacy of this trip is the piecemeal release by China of a few well-known dissidents, even many of Mr. Clinton's supporters will say he failed. But Mr. Clinton argues that America now has a strategic partnership with China, one that he is not prepared to walk away from no matter how long the march from communism to democracy may be."
ABC and CBS skipped the release of e-mail on Thursday, July 2 showing that Linda Tripp tried to break off her relationship with Monica Lewinsky well before she went to Ken Starr. CNN, FNC and NBC all cited the messages in full stories on Tripp's second day of testimony, but ABC didn't utter a word about her appearance and CBS held her testimony to a brief item read by anchor John Roberts. The July 2 Washington Post and New York Times delivered two China scandal-related revelations, but all the networks, both in the morning and evening, ignored them both.
"Chung Secured Treasury Meeting for
Chinese Petrochemical Firm" announced the headline over the
Washington Post story. Reporter George Lardner Jr. opened:
In the New York
Times on Thursday Jeff Gerth revealed:
Clinton was only in China, but I guess the networks couldn't think of a hook for the story.
CBS, CNN and FNC Thursday night featured full reports on Clinton's day in China beginning with his boat trip to highlight the environment. Scott Pelley of CBS followed standard liberal analysis in telling viewers that China must choose between the environment or economic progress.
Some highlights from some of the Thursday, July 2 evening shows:
-- CBS Evening News. "The reason" China is so polluted, Scott Pelley contended, is that "the communist industrial revolution is powered by coal." Pelley concluded with AlGorian thinking about how progress leads to more pollution when in fact new technology is the answer to reducing pollution: "Mr. Clinton is pledging to help with money and know-how, but China faces a painful choice: closing dirty factories leads to unemployment and unrest. The issue for China is how to lift a billion people into the middle class without doing serious damage to the Earth."
-- CNN's The World Today. Bob Franken provided a full report on Tripp's appearance, including the release by someone close to her of e-mail showing she tried to end her close relationship with Lewinsky. Tripp wrote: "Please give me a break, I can't take this" and "The information alone is a heavy burden, one that I did not ask for." Franken highlighted a CNN/Time magazine poll demonstrating how Tripp has suffered in the media. 52 percent see her unfavorably, 12 percent favorably and 36 percent never heard of her. "Has Ken Starr acted responsibly?" Yes said 31 percent, no replied 52 percent. What part of the 52 percent overlap with the clueless 36 percent?
-- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers explained the Tripp e-mail messages before asserting that on the "talking points" memo "legal sources now say the memo apparently was written on Lewinsky's home computer, but that she definitely had help."
CNN's Thursday afternoon decision to retract their "Valley of
Death" story aired on the June 7 NewsStand: CNN & Time, has
generated much news coverage and space does not permit a full airing here
of all the issues involved, so I'll try to stick to delivering material
that will probably be fresh to you on several fronts. The report completed
for CNN by attorney Floyd Abrams, as well as the statement by CNN CEO Tom
Johnson, are on the CNN Web page: cnn.com. The direct address for the
Abrams report: http://www.cnn.com/US/9807/02/tailwind.findings/
-- Thursday coverage by the competition: All the networks ran full stories Thursday night. All but CBS also ran through the other recent media embarrassments: Boston Globe and New Republic writers making up material and a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter stealing voice-mail messages. On the CBS Evening News Jim Stewart concluded by emphasizing: "Both CNN and Abrams insist there is no evidence anyone at the network deliberately set out to deceive the public. The reporters and producers believed in their research and they believed everything they wrote, Abrams said, there just weren't enough facts there to back it up."
-- That darn
videotape. Here's a blast from the past CNN NewsStand co-host Jeff
Greenfield would rather I not remind you about. MRC news analyst Eric
Darbe went back to our tape of Greenfield's June 5 appearance on Imus in
the Morning, to promote the upcoming blockbuster story, and discovered
some hype that's embarrassing in retrospect:
Actually, a lot more eyebrows about what CNN was up to.
Greenfield's new line, as quoted in the July 3 Atlanta
Journal-Constitution: "'Clearly there's a whole lot of people who
should have looked at this a lot harder, and I'm one of them.'...
'It's like what Robert Kennedy said about Vietnam,' Greenfield said.
'There's enough blame to go around.'" (Greenfield wrote
speeches for Kennedy.)
-- What's to
blame: competition or liberal bias? The journalistic community consensus:
competition, but ABC's Cokie Roberts actually cited liberal bias.
But just hours
after Simpson's theory aired, ABC colleague Cokie Roberts suggested an
explanation along the lines advocated by the MRC. On Sunday's This Week
Glad you now see what we've been talking about for all these years. Now if only you'll concede liberal bias impacts other topic areas as well. -- Brent Baker
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