CyberAlert -- 07/23/1998 -- Rather Rhymes
Rather Rhymes; Arnett "Heavily Involved;" Geraldo Sings His Anti-Starr Zing
>>> "Networks Continue to Ignore Legions of Experts Who Question Drastic Climate Change: Only Scientists Who Agree With Us Matter," the latest MRC Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page, thanks to MRC Web Manager Sean Henry. The report begins: "It happened again. Vice President Al Gore held a press conference on July 14 to hype his favorite topic -- global warming -- and ABC and NBC snapped to attention. Both networks' evening news shows highlighted Gore's opinions without giving any time at all to Gore's critics." To read the rest of the report in which the MRC's Tim Lamer has collected some counter-evidence, go to the MRC home page at http://www.mrc.org <<<
AMPLIFICATION. Well, not really. The July 22 CyberAlert recited a question Peter Jennings posed about Catholic hospitals and noted that it was probably the second of two questions, but I couldn't be sure because the signal went out briefly. Well, it appears Jennings did pose two questions, but the transcript on the abcnews.com site isn't very illuminating as to what he said or the correct spelling of the name of the expert he was interviewing. Here's exactly what they have:
"PETER JENNINGS: In fact, it's a dilemma in several ways, and this afternoon, we talked about it with Dr Arthur Caplan (ph). (audio gap) ... along with what the Catholic Church is getting involved in (audio gap).
DR ARTHUR CAPLAN: Our system very much lets the marketplace drive the values and drive selection of services. So there's nothing inherently wrong with a Catholic organization taking a particular position and stance and running its system the way it sees fit."
Not a word about the Starr investigation on ABC or CBS Wednesday night, while CNN and FNC ran full stories from the courthouse which included a mention of how Energy Secretary nominee Bill Richardson was asked by Senators about the job offer he gave to Lewinsky. FNC's David Shuster uniquely linked the move against Starr to Sidney Blumenthal and pointed out the contrast in how Blumenthal denounced Starr for wanting to know who Blumenthal talked to in the media, but now Blumenthal is demanding those who talked to Matt Drudge be exposed.
CNN's Bob Franken reported that grand jury questioning of Currie focused on December 28, 1997, the last time Lewinsky was at the White House and when Starr suspects she gave Currie the gifts given her by Clinton. Garrick Utley then suggested why 63 percent of the public says they don't care about the investigation: it's part of a larger shift from respect for the government to distrust to now a period of indifference.
Every network ran a full story about a mice cloning breakthrough announced by scientists at the University of Hawaii. Catching up with ABC's Tuesday story, for the CBS Evening News Eye on America Rita segment Rita Braver highlighted how families are suing nursing homes which abuse their parents as "critics charge that the fast growing nursing home industry is putting profit ahead of care."
Two other noteworthy items: the Air Force nominee and Sidney Blumenthal:
-- CBS and FNC
delivered contrasting spins on the defeat of Clinton's nominee for
Secretary of the Air Force. In full, here's what Dan Rather told
Another victim of
mean-spirited, partisan Republicans? Viewers of FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report
got some details CBS left out as Carl Cameron relayed the views of both
his supporters and detractors. Cameron explained that the nomination of
Air Force reservist and former fighter pilot Jones "stalled amid
allegations that he was grounded for in-flight mishaps, lied about it and
accepted pilot salary that he was not entitled to. He denied the
allegations, but still faced bi-partisan opposition."
-- FNC's David
Shuster provided this unique angle on the Starr leaks allegations:
Peter Arnett was "heavily involved" in the CNN NewsStand story
he narrated, FNC's Gary Matsumoto relayed in picking up the comments
from fired producers Jack Smith and April Oliver. At a panel discussion
held by the Freedom Forum in New York City, Matsumoto noted on FNC's Fox
Report, the two producers of the piece on Operation Tailwind released a 77
page rebuttal defending the accuracy of the story retracted by CNN in
early July and denounced by the Pentagon on Tuesday. No other network
mentioned Oliver and Smith Wednesday night.
Matsumoto concluded: "The Oliver and Smith rebuttal complains that CNN managers asked for proof beyond reasonable doubt only after the broadcast. Many of those in the audience said afterwards that should have been the standard in the first place."
A Wednesday AP dispatch by David Bauder matches Matsumoto's observation: "Smith and Oliver also contradicted Peter Arnett, who was reprimanded but kept his job after convincing CNN management he had little to do with reporting the story. Arnett read all the documentation and 'participated fully' in the program, they said. 'He was behind us 100 percent,' Oliver said."
Not exactly what Arnett told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz after CNN decided to not fire him. In the July 9 Post Kurtz quoted Arnett: "I'm primarily an action reporter. I was never informed that my face on the air gave me responsibility for a major story. In the field, I have to answer for everything I say and do. To many, it's shocking that I could be so detached. But this was a team effort. I'm a company guy. You want me to read a script, I'll read it."
Apparently his face on screen didn't give him any responsibility.
An excellent demonstration Wednesday night of how FNC provides a contrast to all the other networks, as the Fox Report featured four stories delivering contrasting or unique information about a big political story. Three have already been recited above. The fourth: a "Fox Files" story on global warming. FNC's unique contribution: the reporter actually presented the views of both those who see it as a threat and those who don't buy Al Gore's ominous warnings.
Harrison began: "Raging fires, devastating floods, deadly heat,
killer storms. The administration blames a single cause."
to note that while all agree the globe is experiencing a warming trend,
the debate is over the cause. He explained how the Clinton administration
blames greenhouse gasses from cars and factories and is pushing the Kyoto
treaty to reduce those emissions. FNC played this soundbite from James
Baker, Undersecretary of Commerce: "All of our data show if you add
enough carbon dioxide you're going to change the climate, the only
question is how much and how soon."
Now compare that
effort at a presentation of conflicting views with the one-sided crusading
delivered last week by ABC and NBC. On the July 14 World News Tonight
ABC's Ned Potter declared:
The same night on
NBC Robert Hager insisted: "Worldwide it's been the hottest first
half of a year ever recorded, hottest in the 120 years they've kept
track....The government says it's all an indication that global warming
is real...Vice President Gore with a warning."
Neither reporter had the integrity to present another point of view or contrasting evidence. See the July 14 CyberAlert for more on these stories and the July 23 Media Reality Check, cited at the top of this CyberAlert, for more on contrary evidence.
It's a pretty sad state of affairs when a network stands out just for presenting both sides of a policy debate.
Geraldo literally sang his disgust with Ken Starr. Republican Congressman Mike Pappas of New Jersey got himself widespread TV coverage Tuesday for using his one-minute speech from the House floor to sing a birthday tribute to Ken Starr. He delivered new lyrics for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Tuesday night on CNBC's Rivera Live the host played video of Pappas singing his tune. Then Geraldo Rivera offered his suggested lyrics, singing:
"Twinkle, twinkle Kenneth Starr, now
we see how crude you are
Remember, this guy is now a member of the NBC News staff, not just a talk show host on CNBC. -- Brent Baker
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