CyberAlert -- 08/06/1999 -- Two Nets Skip China Report; Out of Water?; No Corrections for Hale Tale
Two Nets Skip China Report; Out of Water?; No Corrections for Hale Tale
5) Correction: Brian Williams called the Clintons, not a book, "gross." The next day he forwarded the view that Hillary is trying to "spin an ending to a gross chapter in the history of the White House."
7) Geraldo, CNN, Dan Rather and Time last year touted charges of how David Hale's Whitewater testimony was tainted by payments he received from the American Spectator. Not true, a veteran Justice investigator found, but so far no media corrections.
Instead of touching on the latest development on the China-front critical of Clinton's team, ABC led with a CDC report on increased life expectancy and followed with full pieces on how many vacation destinations have just as much air pollution as big cities, post-vacation stress, controversy over dredging the Delaware River around Philadelphia and a look at a spa in France which uses grape seeds as a skin conditioner which supposedly slows the aging process.
Like CBS, the August 5 NBC Nightly News opened led with the office shooting in Pelham, Alabama that killed three, but instead of touching on Chinese espionage NBC ran multiple stories on the heat and drought and wrapped up with a story on new discoveries about how the brain controls sleep.
On the CBS Evening
News Bill Plante outlined the basic findings but avoided naming names,
such as Janet Reno:
Of course, any watcher of Carl Cameron on the Fox News Channel or reader of CyberAlert learned all that months ago.
Plante then showed Wen Ho Lee telling Mike Wallace of his innocence and allowed Bill Richardson to concede the investigation was botched but maintain that Lee is the right suspect.
On CNN's The World Today reporter Gene Randall pointed out how "Janet Reno was a special target" of the report and Julie Kirtz, in her Fox Report piece, ran a clip of Reno defending herself at her daily media briefing.
FNC picked up on Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's demand that the media press George W. Bush about cocaine use, an issue the media never pushed about Bill Clinton in 1991-92 despite Daschle's claim that the media were tougher on Clinton than they are on Bush.
In a piece which
ran on both Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report, Carl Cameron
outlined Daschle's complaint before allowing Cliff May of the RNC to
suggest Daschle is a surrogate doing Al Gore's dirty work. After running
a soundbite of Bush saying he will not play the media game of
"gotcha," Cameron concluded:
Talk about media panic and overreaction. Thursday night CBS asked: "Could America run out of water?"
In an August 5 CBS
Evening News piece on the drought, as he floated around a
lower-than-normal Baltimore reservoir, Jeffrey Kofman ominously intoned:
ABC and CBS too lazy to produce a balanced discussion? Thursday morning both ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's This Morning featured interview segments about the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the Boy Scouts cannot exclude gay boys.
You'd assume that a network news operation would bring on one person to support the decision and another to argue why it was wrong. Well, professional journalists who care about balance would, but not the ABC and CBS producers. Both August 5 shows featured two guests: James Dale, the assistant scoutmaster kicked out nine years ago, which prompted the lawsuit, and his attorney from the Lamda Legal Defense Fund, Evan Wolfson.
Here's how GMA co-host Diane Sawyer defended the one-sided guest selection: "Well, the Boy Scouts of America took it on the chin yesterday in a fiery, precedent-setting ruling. Here is the issue, whether the Boy Scouts have the right to expel a scout for being gay. The organization has insisted that its members must be, quote, 'morally straight' and that homosexuality is inconsistent with that. They have also argued that as a private group, they can expel whomever they want. Well, today one man's nine year battle to fight back has succeeded. Joining us, former Eagle Scout James Dale and his attorney Evan Wolfson of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund. We should say, by the way, that the representatives of the Boy Scouts of America declined our invitation to appear this morning."
How pathetic. ABC's obligation is to provide a balanced presentation to their viewers. By declining a chance to appear, the Boy Scouts missed an opportunity to present the specifics of their case, but that does not mean ABC is excused from finding someone else to explain their perspective to viewers, especially when wider issues of freedom of association and the definition of a private vs. public group are involved. There are plenty of conservative legal scholars whom I'm sure would have eagerly accepted GMA's (or CBS's) invitation.
Correction: Brian Williams referred to events in the life of the Clintons as "gross," not to the book reporting them. The August 5 CyberAlert accurately related what Brian Williams, anchor of MSNBC's News with Brian Williams, stated on his show on Tuesday night, but as MRC analyst Mark Drake pointed out to me later, I missed the meaning of a clause.
In fact, on two other occasions this week Williams has offered analysis that's contrary to the usual media thinking -- on both the Talk magazine interview and gun control.
First the correction. The August 5 CyberAlert asserted that Williams "denounced" the book and later stated:
-- Tuesday night, August 3, on The News with Brian Williams the host of the same name, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, bemoaned: "In the morning headlines, welcome to your presidency America, now it's getting close to gross. There's a new book out by Christopher Andersen: Bill and Hillary: The Marriage. It says Hillary was deeply in love with White House lawyer Vince Foster, their long rumored love affair well-known for two decades while Bill Clinton cheated on her quote 'with hundreds of women in Arkansas.' She had a hot affair with Vincent Foster at the law firm evidently. Also, allegations of some sort of relationship between Clinton and Sharon Stone and with Streisand who reporters once did see, identity covered up, in a hotel going upstairs on a visit by him."
I missed the
meaning of the "welcome to your presidency" clause, but any
confusion I had as to whom Williams was calling "gross" ended
when Mark Drake alerted me to how Williams on Wednesday night presented
the damage control comments from Bill and Hillary over her Talk magazine
interview. He first gave the Clinton spin, which this week has been about
the only one allowed by the networks, and then refreshingly added a more
On Monday evening,
he sounded like a conservative media critic as he reviewed the latest news
Speaking of Time, not one syllable appeared in the latest edition about the $90,000 fine imposed upon Bill Clinton last Thursday by federal Judge Susan Webber Wright for dissembling in the Paula Jones case. The August 9 Newsweek ignored it except for an even arrow in the Conventional Wisdom box: "Clinton: Hit with $90K fine for Monica fibs. But polls show he's still Our Bill."
Only U.S. News put it in an article, as the magazine devoted half of a six paragraph story about Linda Tripp to the judge's ruling. But as the MRC's MagazineWatch noted, while reporter Franklin Foer did note Clinton may face disbarment in Arkansas, he concluded: "And while lawyers busied themselves preparing briefs, Judge Wright reflected the zeitgeist. She declared that '[t]he court...no doubt like many others, grows weary of this matter.'"
For details on how
ABC's World News Tonight gave the ruling just 22 seconds, go to the July
30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990730.html#1
covered in the latest MRC MagazineWatch compiled by Mark Drake about the
August 9 editions, includes the Time essay advocating the elimination of
guns which was cited by Brian Williams above (see item #5), as well as:
To read the August 3 MagazineWatch where Webmaster Sean Henry has posted it, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/magwatch/mag19990803.html
Geraldo Rivera, CNN, CBS's Dan Rather, Time and Newsweek last year all touted charges, to illustrate the right-wing conspiracy, of how David Hale's Whitewater testimony was tainted by payments he received from the American Spectator's "Arkansas Project." Well, last week newspapers reported that the Justice Department's veteran ethics watchdog investigated and found no basis for the theory. Yet, so far, no update or correction from the outlets which so eagerly promoted the anti-Ken Starr charge.
"Clinton Critics Cleared In Special Investigation," announced the headline over a July 29 Washington Post story. (The Washington Times also featured a piece.) Post reporter Robert G. Kaiser began:
A special investigation into whether conservative critics of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton gave support or cash payments to witness David Hale to influence his testimony has concluded that many of the allegations of such payments were "unsubstantiated" and "in some cases, untrue," and that no criminal prosecution should be brought.
These conclusions -- brief excerpts from a 168-page report -- were released yesterday by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, effectively closing a case that some Clinton supporters had hoped would offer proof of a "right-wing conspiracy" against the first couple. A spokesman for Starr, Elizabeth Ray, said the full report would not be released because it contained confidential grand jury information.
The report was written by Michael J. Shaheen, former director of the Justice Department's office of professional responsibility, who was retained as an independent investigator to examine allegations that Hale -- a witness used extensively by Starr -- had been improperly tainted by Clinton enemies who gave him financial support....
Indeed, the news
must have disappointed Geraldo Rivera, though he has yet to share it with
his viewers. Back on the October 6, 1998 Rivera Live on CNBC, as he stood
in front of the Arkansas bait shop of the supposed paymaster, Parker
Dozhier, Rivera declared:
Earlier in the year, Dan Rather introduced a story by saying there are reports that "Hale may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as political opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."
On Thursday Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media of Media Analysis, gathered these two now disproved media allegations and found similar reporting in Time and Newsweek for our weekly Media Reality Check fax report headlined, "Geraldo Finds Another Empty Vault: Media Outlets That Covered Allegations of Conservative Bribes Skipped Covering the Official Rebuttal."
To read this fax report online, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990806.html
Otherwise, here it is in full:
Geraldo Rivera laid an egg on national TV on April 27, 1986 by headlining a two-hour syndicated special on the opening of gangster Al Capone's (empty) vault live. Rivera hyped a story that wasn't there.
Now Geraldo's done it again. Rivera repeatedly promoted the story (originated by pro-Clinton journalists at the New York Observer and the Web site Salon.com) that Whitewater witness David Hale was paid off by Parker Dozhier, an Arkansas consultant to The American Spectator magazine.
On July 29, The Washington Post reported that the investigation by former Justice Department official Michael Shaheen found "many of the allegations of such payments were 'unsubstantiated' and 'in some cases, untrue,' and that no criminal prosecution should be brought." But Rivera ignored it. He's not alone. Here are other outlets that promoted the charges, but skipped Shaheen's rebuttal:
Time in 1998: The April 13 issue asked: "Did the king of the Clinton haters funnel cash to Kenneth Starr's chief Whitewater witness?" Richard Lacayo wrote: "FBI officials have been interviewing an Arkansas woman who says that after Hale became a Whitewater witness, he began receiving cash payments from men who were connected with Richard Mellon Scaife, the rabidly anti-Clinton billionaire, and The American Spectator, the gleefully anti-Clinton magazine that Scaife has supported." The April 27 issue carried a caricature of Scaife with the caption: "Subsidizing probes, underwriting witnesses, chipping in for a deanship at a Malibu school, the omnipresent megamillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife owns the cashbox of the anti-Clinton crusade."
Time in 1999: Zero.
Newsweek in 1998: In the April 13 issue, they first covered the allegations (calling them "thinly supported") in a story subheadlined: "The White House loves this tale of right-wing payoffs." In the April 20 issue, Jonathan Alter's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" touted the allegations of David Hale being paid off by Spectator staffers. Alter gave Starr a down arrow: "Good news: First big break in Whitewater. Bad: It may show your key witness was tainted." Newsweek mentioned the charge again in a May 18 article on Scaife.
Newsweek in 1999: Zero.
U.S. News in 1998: The April 13 issue mentioned the charges (and Salon.com) in a paragraph. U.S. News in 1999: Zero.
CNN in 1998: On The World Today on April 9, Pierre Thomas reported that Starr would investigate the allegations, but noted the Department of Justice "questioned whether Starr would have a conflict of interest in investigating a witness so important to his case...Critics also point out another possible conflict of interest. The money allegedly funneled to Hale came from The American Spectator magazine. The magazine receives financial support from Richard Scaife, a millionaire associated with anti-Clinton efforts. Scaife is also a major donor to Pepperdine University where Starr has accepted a deanship."
CNN in 1999: Zero on The World Today.
CBS in 1998: On April 3, Dan Rather said: "Reports continue to surface that this key witness for the prosecution, David Hale, may have been secretly bankrolled by political activists widely regarded as political opponents, people that Clinton supporters call Republican haters from the far right."
CBS in 1999: Zero.
For more on the CNN story, go to the April 10 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19980410.html#1
For more on Geraldo's October 6 diatribe and to see a picture of him in front of the bait shop, go to the October 7 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981007.html#2
To see Geraldo standing in front of what he considers the headquarters for the VRWC, check out the October 26 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981026.html#3
This item details
Rivera's October 23 rant in front of the American Spectator's
From the August 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Rejected Names for the New CBS Morning Show." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Let's Get Ready To Gumbel!"
The real name of the show debuting November 1 will be the "CBS Morning Show" and they have yet to find a woman willing to co-host it with Bryant Gumbel.
Bye-bye. I'm off for a week or so to Seattle and other parts of the Northwest. In my absence, the MRC's Sean Henry and Tim Graham should e-mail next week to this list some regular MRC publications to keep you informed and entertained, such as MagazineWatch and the Media Reality fax report. -- Brent Baker
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