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CyberAlert -- 07/17/2001 -- Today Showcased Sheehy's Hillary Tribute

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No Energy "Crisis" for Bush; European Global Warming Upset; Today Showcased Sheehy's Hillary Tribute; Newsweek IDed Condit, Sort Of

1) "The White House had scrambled to put together a controversial emergency energy plan to meet what it intimated was a looming crisis," Dan Rather lectured in pointing out how prices are falling, so now "Bush is scrambling again to try to keep support for his plan from falling apart." ABC and NBC led with the same theme but ABC failed to acknowledge how in March it too had declared an "energy crisis" as Charles Gibson predicted gas prices will "get even worse this summer."

2) Dan Rather uniquely highlighted a European plan to lobby Bush on global warming and the New York Times story about how, in Rather's words, "Republicans were allowed to pressure Florida canvassing boards" last fall.

3) Gail Sheehy's Vanity Fair tribute to Hillary Clinton "reveals how celebrity, character, and chutzpah have turned the controversial First Lady into a surprisingly effective legislator, whose marriage is not only enduring but apparently thriving." But Today's Katie Couric didn't challenge any of Sheehy's assertions.

4) Not until the 11th paragraph of the second piece in its cover story package did Newsweek acknowledge that Gary Condit is a Democrat, but not a good one: "He is one of about 30 conservative 'blue dog' Democrats who cannot be counted on to vote the party line."


Correction: July 16 CyberAlert misspelled the last name of Dick Armey in quoting Time magazine's Michael Duffy.

1

ABC, CBS and NBC led Monday night by contrasting the lessening energy crisis with Bush's insistence on going forward with his energy plan. But in stressing how lower gasoline and natural prices as well has the lack of blackouts are undermining Bush's cause, none of the networks acknowledged how the lower prices and increased supply contradicted their warnings about how greedy energy operators were deliberately driving up prices.

"The White House had scrambled to put together a controversial emergency energy plan to meet what it intimated was a looming crisis," Dan Rather lectured, but now "Bush is scrambling again to try to keep support for his plan from falling apart."

And ABC failed to mention how less than four months ago it had declared as a fact that America was in an "energy crisis" as Charles Gibson predicted gas prices will "get even worse this summer."

For a flavor of the coverage on Monday night, July 16, here's how the three broadcast network anchors opened their shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings announced: "Good evening everyone. We begin tonight with the President's latest effort to get the nation's attention about energy. When the President first introduced his energy plan, which was long on production and shorter on conservation, he painted the nation's energy situation as a crisis. California's energy crisis was in the news everyday and the price of gasoline was certainly on its way up. Today the President is facing opposition to his plans in the Congress and so he's trying again. And it may be even harder to have the nation see it the President's way."

Back on the March 30 World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson agreed with Bush, as he plugged an upcoming story: "When we come back, America's energy crisis. Gas prices are soaring and they'll get even worse this summer."

Apparently not.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather declared: "Good evening. Remember those dire predictions of $3 a gallon gasoline and a summer of blackouts? Isn't working out that way. The Energy Department reported today that since peaking in May gasoline prices have plunged a whopping 30 cents a gallon, down to nationwide average tonight of $1.41 for self-serve regular. Prices for electricity and natural gas are falling as well. The White House had scrambled to put together a controversial emergency energy plan to meet what it intimated was a looming crisis. Now as CBS's John Roberts reports, President Bush is scrambling again to try to keep support for his plan from falling apart."

(ABC's Michele Norris had pegged the average gas price at ten cents higher as she noted it had fallen from $1.76 per gallon in May when Bush announced his plan, but "the average price at the pump has since fallen to $1.51 per gallon.")

-- NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams opened the show: "Good evening. The summer of 2001 is in full swing and so far no sign of those dire predictions of just a few months ago -- like $3 a gallon gasoline, power outages on both the West and East coasts. While no one is disappointed, nothing like that has happened so far and life as we know seems to go on as usual across the country. But the Bush White House tonight is going ahead with an energy plan that assumes the nation's energy situation is still very much in crisis."

At least in the subsequent report Robert Hager pointed out that rising prices and shortages could return.

2

Monday night, of the broadcast evening shows, CBS uniquely highlighted a European plan to lobby Bush on global warming and the New York Times story about how, in Dan Rather's words, "Republicans were allowed to pressure Florida canvassing boards" last fall.

Rather announced on the July 16 CBS Evening News: "The President's rejection of the Kyoto treaty to cut global warming is the focus of a meeting this week in the former German capital of Bonn. 180 nations hope to salvage the pact without U.S. support. Mr. Bush travels to Europe for other meetings starting Thursday and European leaders reportedly plan a joint effort to persuade him to change his mind about the global warming treaty."

A bit later on the same show, Rather intoned: "There's some new fallout from the 2000 presidential election mess. Researchers at MIT and Cal Tech said today as many as two million ballots nationwide were not counted because of what are called 'equipment and ballot problems.' And some Democrats are calling for investigations after the New York Times reported Republicans were allowed to pressure Florida canvassing boards to accept questionable overseas absentee ballots. But the Times found that even if all those flawed ballots had been tossed it would not have changed the outcome in Florida."

That's the second hit on the CBS Evening News for the same New York Times story which conceded they didn't find anything which would have changed the result. As detailed in the July 16 CyberAlert, the then-upcoming story led the July 14 CBS Evening News.

3

Gail Sheehy has penned vicious articles about conservatives, such as Newt Gingrich, but after she wrote a gushing tribute to Senator Hillary Clinton in the August Vanity Fair, Today's Katie Couric didn't challenge her glowing assessments. Instead, she encouraged Sheehy to extrapolate.

"She has also won a great deal of respect by working very, very hard," Couric asserted, "and by not pulling any kind of prima donna act." Couric marveled at how "the conservative Republicans speak with her, speak of her in such vitriolic terms that they're like puddy in her hands up there! I mean many of them said, 'Oh my constituents will kill me but I really like her.'" When Sheehy referred to how the Senate welcomes scoundrels and Hillary could be called a "co-scoundrel," Couric recoiled: "Co-scoundrel? That's pretty harsh."

For a flavor of Sheehy's tribute, check out the article summary in Vanity Fair below the headline, "Hillary's Solo Act." It oozed: "Hillary Clinton has defied conventional wisdom, slipping into her new role of Senator as if she'd been groomed for that cozy, backslapping, mostly male club. Which, in fact, she has: by the imprint of her parents, by her experience at the then male-dominated Yale Law School, and even, paradoxically, by her trials as Bill Clinton's wife. Trailing Hillary from Capitol Hill to an intimate vacation with Bill Clinton in the Caribbean, Gail Sheehy reveals how celebrity, character, and chutzpah have turned the controversial First Lady into a surprisingly effective legislator, whose marriage is not only enduring but apparently thriving."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down all of Couric's questions on the July 16 show and some of Sheehy's replies.

Couric set up the segment: "Hillary Rodham Clinton has been serving as Senator from New York since January. Now journalist Gail Sheehy who has covered the former First Lady's career assesses Clinton's new role in the August issue of Vanity Fair magazine in an article simply called, 'Hillary's Solo Act.' Gail Sheehy, welcome back nice to see you....So what is the headline? And obviously we are going to get into further detail. But what do you think would be the headline of her, her stint so far as a U.S. Senator?"

-- Couric: "But it's interesting you say she's one of the boys but it seems to me from your article that she's helped to become one by using her feminine wiles."
Sheehy: "Absolutely. She is using the whole armor-motorium of feminine wiles on the Senate floor. And it was fascinating to observe her. Literally doing a bill. I mean rubbing people's arms and the small of their back, fluttering her hands before conservative Republicans, telling them jokes, co-sponsoring bills with them. And taking advantage of the fact that the Senate is the best refuge for a co-scoundrel. You know once you get into the club you're one of them and they'll protect you. So all the scoundrels going on around the outside, they give her Senatorial courtesy."
Couric: "Co-scoundrel? That's pretty harsh."

-- Couric: "And of course the controversial pardon issue which really, wasn't necessarily, that she was tarnished by, certainly."

-- Couric: "Giving Senator Clinton her due, though. We talk about her feminine wiles she has also won a great deal of respect by working very, very hard. And by not pulling any kind of prima donna act. Her Secret Service detail is very much in the background. She goes to all sorts of meetings that some people, in the past, have not attended. For example I know she goes to a meeting over at the House of Representatives with all the folks from New York. Which, I guess, Moynihan never attended, right?"
Sheehy: "And she's been trying to get an economic package for New York by, by building support in the, in the House. She goes to a prayer meeting. She's made friends with conservative Republicans. She, the wonderful thing about Hillary's position is she, her, her celebrity trumps her scandals. And as long as you can get Hillary to co-sponsor legislation and show up at a press conference with you, you can be guaranteed that 10 grown men will drop to their knees and start taking pictures of you and she and you may end up in the, in the front page of The New York Times."
Couric: "Right. So are you saying her colleagues are using her for that reason?"

-- Couric: "And, and it's been quite remarkable. Because she is so disliked and, and the conservative Republicans speak with her, speak of her in such vitriolic terms that they're like putty in her hands up there! I mean many of them said, 'Oh my constituents will kill me but I really like her.'"

-- Couric: "Do people, or are people looking at her, I think they've always saw her as someone with presidential ambitions. Has that been laid to rest, at least for now temporarily?"

-- Couric: "And we're out of time. But of course you talk about the public's fascination with the Clinton's marriage as well. It's an interesting article called, 'Hillary's Solo Act.' Gail Sheehy, as always, thanks so much for coming by."

4

Newsweek finally identified Gary Condit as a Democrat, barely, and then as more of a Republican one. As FNC's Brit Hume reminded viewers on Monday night in relaying the findings of an MRC study on the resistance by the networks to labeling Condit, last week's 1500 word article in Newsweek failed to tag Condit as a Democrat.

This week, the July 23 issue featured the Levy/Condit story on its cover. The first piece inside looked at the investigation, but didn't label Condit. Not until the 11th paragraph of the second story, on Condit's background, do Newsweek readers finally learn of Condit's party affiliation. The piece by Evan Thomas and Karen Breslau, headlined "Behind the Smile: From preacher's kid to pol with a taste for motorcycles and mosh pits, the odyssey of Gary Condit," included this sentence: "He is one of about 30 conservative 'blue dog' Democrats who cannot be counted on to vote the party line."

In other words, he's sort of a Republican kind of guy.

Now if only the weekday version of the CBS Evening News would acknowledge the story even exists. On Monday night, after both the Saturday and Sunday editions of the show ran stories, the CBS Evening News ignored it again, just as Dan Rather has on every weekday so far.

ABC and NBC each ran one story each, but for the first weekday in a week it did not lead the NBC Nightly News. -- Brent Baker


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