CyberAlert -- 07/18/2000 -- NBC Knew of Slur Charge
NBC Knew of Slur Charge; ABC Pushed to "Integrate" Court; Jacoby Denounced; Ted's SUV
1) Monday night ABC didn't touch the allegation of an anti-Semitic ethnic slur 26 years ago by Hillary Clinton. CBS and NBC ran full stories. NBC avoided the specific words, CBS let viewers read them on screen. NBC revealed it knew last year about the charge.
2) ABC refused to label Ralph Nader as a liberal. Looking as Bush's VP options, CBS's Bill Whitaker applied incongruous labeling: "Ridge, for example, could bring a big state but the pro-choice Catholic could turn off the big anti-abortion bloc."
3) ABC picked up Bill Clinton's cause: "The chances of integrating the Fourth Circuit this year appear slim," ABC's Josh Gerstein concluded a story. Carole Simpson rued: "It is...one of the most conservative courts in the country, and all the judges are white."
4) Boston Globe ombudsman Jack Thomas maintained Jeff Jacoby "was lucky he wasn't fired" and suggested he "learn something about life," become liberal. Thomas complained about how the "radical right" wants to "rescue Jacoby as the New England conduit for their ideology." But a Phoenix paper will welcome Jacoby back.
6) Ted Turner, the environmentalist who tears down fences at ranches he buys so bison and prairie dogs are free as they were before the arrival of white settlers, drives around his property in a gas-guzzling SUV, USA Today revealed.
Correction: A bit of a jumbled table of contents listing in the July 17 CyberAlert. "Bill Moyers has his foundation funded the book," should have read "had his foundation fund..."
CBS and NBC on Monday night picked up on the charge in a new book that Hillary Clinton uttered an ethnic slur during an angry 1974 outburst, though only CBS gave viewers a clue about what it was, but they had to read it on-screen. NBC didn't go further than referring to an "anti-Semitic slur," and Andrea Mitchell revealed that last year the same source told her network about the same slur, but NBC decided to not report it.
ABC's World News Tonight didn't touch the subject Monday night, but Monday morning all three morning shows raised the issue, including ABC's Good Morning America on which George Stephanopoulos, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, expressed doubt about the charge. CNN started reporting the alleged slur and Hillary's denial on Sunday.
On the July 17 CBS Evening News Diana Olick opened with Hillary's denial: "I can only state unequivocally it did not happen."
Olick explained how the
charge was made in a new book, State of a Union: Inside the Complex
Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, by former National Enquirer reporter
Jerry Oppenheimer. He recounted how Paul Fray, 1974 manager of Bill
Clinton's failed House run in Arkansas, claimed Hillary made the slur in
an argument about who was to blame for the loss. Olick explained:
"Fray claims after the vote Mrs. Clinton verbally attacked him, using
this unspeakable ethnic slur."
After a soundbite of Fray saying the comment was "indicative" of Hillary's attitude and that she would deny ever saying it, Olick relayed the Clinton retort: "The Clinton campaign quickly offered proof, a 1997 letter from Fray to Mrs. Clinton apologizing for his behavior in the '74 campaign. 'I ask for your forgiveness,' he wrote, 'because I did say things against you and called you names. I would say things without thinking, without factual foundation.'"
Olick soon added:
"Mrs. Clinton's Senate opponent, Congressman Rick Lazio, quickly
made it a campaign issue."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell began: "Touring Ellis Island today, the symbol of America's diversity, Hillary Clinton angrily denies that she used an anti-Semitic slur more than a quarter of a century ago against a former campaign aide."
After explaining the
release of the book and the identity of Paul Fray, and running a
confirming soundbite from his wife Mary Lee, Mitchell revealed that NBC
heard the allegation in 1999 but decided to not report it:
Mitchell read the same portion of the handwritten note as had Olick before concluding with Clinton biographer David Maraniss saying he talked many times to the Frays and they had never told him anything about such a slur.
While the Clinton operatives again managed to quickly locate a letter which helped them, they have more trouble with billing records and correspondence that might not be so helpful. As FNC's Steve Centanni noted in the beginning of a Special Report with Brit Hume piece Monday night on how Judge Royce Lamberth "scolded" White House lawyers for continued foot dragging in turning over e-mail, a subject ignored by the other networks, "Two women who blew the whistle on the White House e-mail troubles once again told tales of threats and retaliation at the hands of administration officials."
Labeling policies. Monday night ABC refused to apply any ideological label to Ralph Nader, but CBS repeatedly used the term "pro-choice" in looking at Bush's potential VP choices.
From Los Angeles ABC's Judy Muller checked in with a profile of Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. She never called him left-wing or even liberal, describing him instead in her World News Tonight piece as "the consumer advocate who rode onto the national scene warning about the dangers of the Corvair..."
Later, she delivered this innocuous overview of his issues: "Nader says it's important to talk about issues he believes are ignored by the two major parties: jobs going overseas, campaign finance reform, the environment."
The July 17 CBS Evening News led with a CBS News/New York Times poll which put Bush ahead of Gore by 43 to 41 percent. "Well the race to decide the next President of the United States is about as close as it could be," observed anchor Bob Schieffer. But with Buchanan and Nader added in at 4 percent each, the Bush gap over Gore grows to 42 to 37 percent.
Schieffer added: "The poll also finds naming a Vice President who favors abortion rights could hurt Bush more than it helps."
Bill Whitaker examined
Bush's VP options. According to Whitaker, Powell, Danforth and McCain
all said no and the "hottest names" are now Frank Keating, Chuck
Hagel, John Kasich and Tom Ridge. Whitaker then displayed some incongruous
abortion position labeling, tagging one side "pro-choice" and
the other "anti-abortion" instead of by their preferred
"pro-life." He asserted:
"The chances of integrating the Fourth Circuit this year appear slim," ABC's Josh Gerstein concluded a July 16 World News Tonight/Sunday story which matched the Clinton agenda to paint in racial terms the GOP Senate resistance to a Clinton nomination of a particular black judge. Anchor Carole Simpson introduced the story: "It is one of the most influential and one of the most conservative courts in the country, and all the judges are white."
Gerstein's piece gave
time to both sides, but the overall story agenda certainly advanced the
Clinton cause of discrediting opposition: "The judges of the Fourth
Circuit Federal Court of Appeals: 11 men, two women, all white. It's a
picture some find disturbing, particularly because more African-Americans
live in the Fourth Circuit than in any other federal court jurisdiction.
President Clinton has tried three times to install a black judge on the
court. The latest nominee, to get bogged down in the Senate, is James
Wynn, a moderate state court judge from North Carolina."
Maybe it would help if Clinton nominated a conservative black judge.
In Monday's National Review Washington Bulletin e-mail report, John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru put the burden instead on Clinton for so politicizing the matter. Here's an excerpt:
....On June 30, Clinton nominated Richard Gregory to the circuit. It took Clinton all of two weeks to start complaining that the Senate was holding up the nomination-which he did at the NAACP convention. Gregory is black, as were three other nominees whom Clinton described as "poised to make history if the Senate would just stop standing in their way." Clinton singled out Sen. Jesse Helms for blocking Gregory.
There is no pressing need for more judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The judgeship to which Gregory was nominated was created in 1990, but it's never been filled. (Note also that Clinton can wait for seven years to nominate anyone, but a Senate that takes no action for two weeks is dragging its feet.) The circuit's chief judge, J. Harvie Wilkinson III, wrote last December that he opposed "unnecessary judgeship growth." The circuit, he pointed out, disposes of cases quicker than most circuits.
The only reason Democrats have for treating this as an urgent matter is political. Chuck Robb, Democratic Senator from Virginia, is fighting a tough race against former Republican Governor George Allen. Robb also has bad blood with Doug Wilder, a former Democratic Governor. The confirmation of Gregory, a law partner of Wilder, would do a little bit to help Robb....
Go West young man. Sunday and Monday brought reaction from two ombudsmen to Jeff Jacoby's situation. Unfortunately for the now-suspended conservative Boston Globe columnist, he was condemned by Jack Thomas, the Globe's ombudsman, who accused him of plagiarism, maintained "he was lucky he wasn't fired" and basically suggested he become a liberal, recommending he go off and be a reporter for a few months so "he might learn something about life." Thomas complained about a supposed effort by the "radical right in America to rescue Jacoby as the New England conduit for their ideology."
But the Arizona
Republic's Richard de Uriate, "reader advocate" at the Phoenix
daily which carried Jacoby's syndicated column, recounted what Jacoby
did and then concluded: "Republic Editorial Page Editor Keven Willey
said she considers Jacoby a 'fresh conservative voice' and would be
willing to use him again. That is, whenever and wherever he writes another
"Fresh conservative" voices aren't so welcome at the Boston Globe. It's been two weeks since Jacoby's last column ran and the Globe has yet to find a conservative replacement. Editorial Page Editor Renee Loth assured Thomas: "I guarantee readers that through Jeff's suspension and during the presidential campaign, there will continue to be variety on the op-ed page, including a conservative voice." Note the promise of "a" conservative voice. This from the woman in charge of a page which features by my count, not even counting syndicated liberals like Mary McGrory, at least four regular Globe-based liberal columnists.
[Web Update: Monday night, July 17, Jeff Jacoby discussed his plight on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. Jacoby told Bill O'Reilly: "I don't accuse the Boston Globe of suspending me because of ideological reasons, but I do think it was easier to do this to me -- to take what was in essence a minor oversight, and blow it up into a felony, cut off my paycheck for four months -- easier to do it to me because I'm something of a lightning rod at the Boston Globe." He described the column by ombudsman Jack Thomas as "disgraceful and nonsensical."]
Now to the hostile July 17 column by Globe ombudsman Jack Thomas, headlined: "Was Jacoby's punishment excessive? No, it wasn't." An excerpt:
In the matter of the suspension of Jeff Jacoby and the rancor it has aroused among a number of readers, especially those partial to conservative ideology, a few reflections:
1. The Problem.
2. Public Response.
Nationally, most of the mail is the result of an ambitious campaign by the legitimate conservative movement and also by the radical right in America to rescue Jacoby as the New England conduit for their ideology.
The effort is (a) impressive in the ability of conservatives to mobilize as a single voice of uncompromising support in what otherwise would be merely a local issue; (b) chilling in the extent to which members of the radical right strut to the same conclusion without, in many cases, having read the relevant material; and (c) amusing, too, in the colorful way they express fury. Globe editors are -- take your pick -- fascists or Marxist lefties. One reader described the Globe as mullet-wrapper. Another wrote, "May a thousand fleas infest your home."
3. Globe Reaction.
Editors were reluctant to provide painful details about a personnel matter, a noble ideal, but when a popular columnist is punished harshly and publicly, readers have a right to information that enables them to make their own judgments....
4. The Sequence....
5. What happens now?
"I haven't zeroed in on a replacement," says Loth, "but I guarantee readers that through Jeff's suspension and during the presidential campaign, there will continue to be variety on the op-ed page, including a conservative voice. I'm sorry this happened. But it was the right thing to do."
6. Was the punishment excessive?
I disagree. Jacoby is lucky he wasn't fired.
As Publisher Richard H. Gilman said Friday in response to the petition, "We have been reluctant to discuss the details out of courtesy to Jeff. However, I cannot be so constrained now that others have created a wrong impression in the public discourse. The column in question is not just history but a direct parallel to a very particular version of history that Jeff found both in a short book...by Paul Harvey and in a widely circulated e-mail....
Two years after the Globe's reputation was severely damaged by the discovery that Mike Barnicle and Patricia Smith had fabricated parts of their columns and that Barnicle had been accused of plagiarism, too, how is it possible that another lazy columnist repeats the blunder?
One parallel is that none of the three columnists had experience as a reporter in a newsroom, and none of them had had the opportunity, therefore, to learn the craft of reporting and the culture of newspapering, including fundamental ethics.
For example, as the Jacoby nightmare unfolded last week, colleagues were further shocked to discover that before the column was published, Jacoby e-mailed it to 100 people, including a reporter at a rival newspaper. If Jacoby had worked one day in a city room, he would have understood why such behavior is repugnant.
When Jacoby's suspension ends in November, the Globe should welcome him back and then assign him for another four months to the city desk as a reporter.
He could chase fires. He could cover meetings of the sewer board. He could spend time in Boston's poor neighborhoods, write about homeless shelters, interview alcoholics, unwed mothers, gay teenagers, cops, clowns, politicians, and assorted scalawags.
It would make him a better columnist because he'd learn something about the newspaper business. And he might learn something about life.
The entire Thomas column.
To amuse Thomas with the
"colorful way" the radical right expresses its "fury,"
you can e-mail him:
So that you are fully
informed, you can check out all the info you need on this subject. Jim
Romenesko's MediaNews has created a Jacoby index page of links to
comments and reactions:
And, you can peruse past
CyberAlert items about Jacoby's original column, reaction to it from
conservatives and liberals as well as how the Boston Phoenix's Dan
Kennedy detailed the Globe's double-standard on how it treated Jacoby:
One more reaction before ending this item. "Globe overreacts in Jacoby flap," announced the headline over a July 13 Boston Herald column by Wayne Woodlief who was a colleague of Jacoby's until Jacoby left the Herald in 1994. A short excerpt:
....The Boston Globe's decision to suspend columnist Jeff Jacoby for four months looks suspiciously like an ideological assassination rather than a righteous defense of journalistic ethics.
Can it be just a coincidence that Jacoby's four-month suspension runs up to Nov. 7, election day? I'd hate to think it was a tiny left-wing conspiracy to bench him for the whole presidential campaign. But the outcome, whatever the intent, is great news for Al Gore. The knocks on the veep from Morrissey Boulevard will be precious few with Jacoby gone.
The Globe's famed compassionate liberalism also went AWOL when it came to disciplining its lone conservative on the editorial page. No matter that Jacoby's wife Laura has only a part-time job and they have a three-year-old son to support. He got no second chance, as former columnists Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle did after editors concluded they sometimes made up the people they wrote about....
To read all of
Woodlief's analysis, go to:
MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell to host Micheal Reagan's radio talk show. Tuesday night, July 18, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell will serve as guest host of the Michael Reagan Talk Show on radio stations across the country. Guests will include Jeff Jacoby, the conservative Boston Globe columnist suspended by the liberal paper, and Robert Knight, fresh from being insulted as "a f***ing idiot" by Bryant Gumbel.
The Reagan radio talk
show airs live from 3 to 7pm PT, 6 to 10pm ET, but airs on a delayed basis
in some markets. Check the station list for a local outlet and broadcast
Some popular stations in
major markets include (all times local):
Or, you can listen live on July 18 from 6 to 10pm ET via RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. You can listen later from the same address, but to play audio from the archive you must use Windows Media Player: http://www.reaganradio.com/
"environmentalist" who owns an SUV. Not just an SUV, but the
biggest and most gas-guzzling of them all, a Chevrolet Suburban. In a July
17 USA Today story about Ted Turner's 1.7 million acres of land the CNN
founder owns in five Western states, making him the largest individual
land owner in the U.S., reporter Patrick Driscoll explained Turner's
environmental protection mission:
But not before the invention of the SUV.
Driscoll soon related
this anecdote from his time with Georgia-native Turner at a 113,000 acre
ranch in Montana:
Wouldn't want any suburban sprawl embodied by a bunch of SUV-driving transplants from the East. -- Brent Baker
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