Bush & Drugs a Big Story on Outlets Which Ignored Broaddrick
1) The nets jumped on the Bush drug issue. NBC's Brian Williams called it "the question that will not go away," though it is reporters who are making it an issue. The ABC and NBC evening shows never ran stories on Juanita Broaddrick's rape charge.
The George W. Bush cocaine story gained media momentum Thursday as he gave the networks a hard to resist story hook with his ever-changing denial time frame. All the networks featured full stories Thursday night as ABC's Charlie Gibson asserted "the question is dogging his otherwise smooth campaign." NBC anchor Brian Williams called it "the question that will not go away," as if the media are just creatures from Mars observing the process when in fact it's the media which are posing the questions the posing of which they then find so newsworthy.
There is no one accusing Bush of drug use and no evidence he actually has, but NBC Nightly News spent over five minutes on the subject and ABC's World News Tonight gave it three and a half minutes -- which is exactly five minutes and three and a half minutes more time than the two shows devoted in February or early March to Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Bill Clinton raped her. (WNT did give it a few seconds on March 19 in a larger story on a Clinton press conference, but ignored the February 24 Dateline NBC interview. Total NBC Nightly News coverage of Broaddrick so far: one end of show promo for that Dateline, but no actual news story. See items #3 and 4 today for more on the Broaddrick contrast.)
The CBS Evening News aired a piece for the second consecutive night Thursday on the drug issue, which means it has given twice as much attention to Bush as to Broaddrick since CBS ran one story on her back in February. Of course, the media have yet to pursue actual claims made by people that Clinton used cocaine, a charge made fresh again this week in a FNC appearance by Gennifer Flowers. See item #3 today for details.
Now to the coverage of Bush the last two nights. On Wednesday night, CNN's The World Today, FNC's Fox Report and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams all jumped on Bush's lashing out at a questioning reporter. The CBS Evening News also picked up on the incident and ran a full story, the only broadcast network to do so.
Here's a rundown for Thursday evening, August 19. All led with the rescue efforts for earthquake victims in Turkey. (I missed CNN's the World Today, but since Bush/drugs led Inside Politics for the second day in a row I'd assume it was a big story at 10pm ET too.)
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Charlie Gibson announced:
then aired a 1:50 report from John Martin who played a soundbite of Bush
from Iowa back on June 14: "There's a game in Washington, it's
called gotcha. It's a game where we float a rumor and make a candidate
prove a negative and I'm not playing the game."
opened with a clip of Bush telling kids drugs are not cool. Engberg picked
up: "As for whether Bush ever used cocaine or other drugs, his plan
to refuse to reply directly to such questions has been modified on the fly
as the press and opponents pursue the issue."
Schieffer then noted how Gore and Bradley admit to using marijuana, while Gore has denied using cocaine, and Republicans Bauer, Buchanan, Dole, Forbes, Hatch, Keyes, McCain and Quayle all say they have never used illegal drugs.
Introducing the story, Williams again stressed how the questions won't go away when it was NBC's own David Bloom who pressed the most: "It followed him from Texas to Ohio today, the question that will not go away everywhere George W. Bush goes. Is there illegal drug use in his past? It got its start as a rumor. It has become a rather large and nagging news story and now the question: Is his strategy of giving partial answers perhaps making it worse."
Ohio, where NBC had parachuted in its star White House reporter for a day,
David Bloom relayed: "The questions would not go away, so Governor
Bush first tried to defuse the controversy over whether he used illegal
drugs by telling the Dallas Morning News he could pass a federal
background check, which Bush thought only asks about drug use within the
past seven years."
Now three minutes into NBC's coverage the network moved on to a second story. Pete Williams delivered an overview of the background check process and how the public is more tolerant now of drug use than when Reagan picked Ginsberg for the Supreme Court. He concluded by pointing out that a President does not have to complete a background check as he answers only to voters.
The three morning shows focused on the Bush drug issue Thursday morning, even before he had expanded his drug-free years beyond seven. ABC's Good Morning America brought on George Stephanopoulos as its solo analyst on the issue and he helpfully pointed out cocaine use is a felony, prompting Charlie Gibson to suggest Bush be asked if he ever committed a felony. In contrast, GMA has yet to devote an interview segment to the Broaddrick charge. (One morning two questions about her were posed to Paula Begala in a larger interview.)
Today's opening take on the top news highlighted Bush and the show aired a pre-taped interview with him in which he was asked about drug use. CBS's This Morning, which has yet to mention Broaddrick's name, held its coverage to a news item read by the news reader, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted.
-- ABC's Good
Morning America. Charles Gibson wrapped up his discussion about Bush and
drugs with George Stephanopoulos by highlighting: "Well, the press
did glom onto it yesterday and you do raise an interesting point, that
cocaine use is a felony. It'd be interesting if somebody said to him, have
you ever committed a felony?"
I'm sure a lot sooner than any reporter will ask about Broaddrick's charge or allegations about cocaine use by Clinton.
talk about Broaddrick until her interview aired on Dateline, but they
showed no such hesitation with the Bush drug charge. In a pre-taped
interview shown by Today Jamie Gangel began by hitting Bush with the
attacks from his opponents:
After some back
and forth about his opinions of his detractors, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed that Gangel demanded: "You and the other candidates
have all been asked whether you used illegal drugs. And you are the only
one who won't answer the question."
No one has yet claimed to have seen George W. Bush use cocaine or said someone with firsthand knowledge told them they saw him do it. And, no one has come forward to say that Bush recounted to them the affect cocaine had on his body. All three are true in the case of Bill Clinton, but the media don't care now and they didn't care in 1991 or 1992.
As the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out in the MRC's August 13 Media Reality Check, "In Bush's case, reporters have found no one alleging that they have knowledge of Bush using cocaine. In Clinton's case, several Arkansans -- whether credible or not -- have accused Clinton of cocaine use, as detailed in books like Roger Morris's Partners in Power. If some liberal journalist finds an alleger against Bush (as some media partisans in 1988 found 'Speedway Bomber' Brett Kimberlin to allege marijuana purchases by Dan Quayle), will national reporters investigate just Bush?"
To read the entire fax report, "Coke-Question Pushers Ought to Ask Bill," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990813.html
Thursday night on
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume substitute host Tony Snow played a
clip from an appearance by Flowers the night before on FNC's Hannity
& Colmes. She told the two hosts that she saw Bill Clinton smoke
marijuana when he was Attorney General and Governor, adding: "He made
it very clear that if I ever wanted to do cocaine that he could provide
As she said "all he wanted to do was this," she put her hand with outstretched fingers by her head to simulate scratching an itch. To see this image and a RealPlayer video clip, go to this item in the posted version of this CyberAlert. After 10am ET Friday MRC Webmaster Sean Henry should have it up at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#3
the clip Snow turned to his panel of journalists: "So, is anybody
going to ask the President about this, Jeff Birnbaum."
Indeed, at his first solo press conference in a ten months on March 19 only Sam Donaldson asked about Broaddrick and her name has not been uttered at one since. The night of the press conference, neither CBS or NBC mentioned the exchange. As documented in the March 20 CyberAlert:
Sam Donaldson asked about Juanita Broaddrick, leading to World News Tonight's first weekday mention of her name, but neither CBS or NBC uttered a syllable about her Friday night. In addition to ABC, CNN, FNC and MSNBC did highlight, at least briefly, Clinton's non-responsive reply.
As noted by Rush Limbaugh on Friday in citing an earlier MRC report, NBC Nightly News has yet to mention Broaddrick's name despite the fact the exclusive interview aired on its own network: The February 24 Dateline NBC. Clinton has now twice provided on-camera comment, but twice NBC Nightly News has passed. NBC refused to talk about Broaddrick, but Nightly News did pick up Russian TV video of a politician standing next to a bed and paying two prostitutes.
The CBS Evening News hasn't mentioned Broaddrick since its one and only story on Saturday, February 20. Friday night, instead of broaching her charge, anchor John Roberts highlighted how Clinton "said he and Mrs. Clinton love each other very much" and that "she'd be a magnificent U.S. Senator."
For more on how the press avoided scandal questions at that press conference, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990320.html
Don't go there! "We are not talking about" Broaddrick today insisted MSNBC's David Gregory Thursday afternoon as he blocked the RNC's Cliff May from raising lack of media interest in her as an illustration of the media's hypocrisy in pursuing the Bush drug story.
Just after showing Bush live in Columbus responding to David Bloom's questions, MSNBC's Crosstalk discussed the controversy. Among the guests, Democratic consultant Vic Kamber and RNC Communications Director Cliff May.
At about 3:47pm ET
May tried to make his Broaddrick point, but host David Gregory wouldn't
allow it. They talked and yelled over each other at times, but's
here's how it went as best I could make out:
To see this media intolerance for raising the issue of their hypocrisy, go to this item in the posted version of this CyberAlert where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will place a RealPlayer clip. After 10am ET Friday, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990820.html#4
Remember, while MSNBC did air some stories back in February on Broaddrick, the NBC Nightly News has yet to run a story recounting her charge.
On a subject off the major media radar screen, Bill Clinton's decision to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police has lashed out at Clinton's decision. See the August 18 CyberAlert for details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990818.html#4
As recounted by Greg Pierce on Thursday in his Inside Politics column for the Washington Times, "Clinton wants the prisoners, members of the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN, to disavow violence before he releases them. FOP President Gilbert G. Gallegos, in a letter to Mr. Clinton yesterday, called the offer a 'slap in the face' to law enforcement officers everywhere." Gallegos also countered Clinton's claim that the convicts did not hurt anyone. Here's an excerpt of the letter from Gallegos:
Your offer of clemency would immediately release eleven convicted felons who conspired as members of the FALN to plant and explode bombs at U.S. political and military targets. The remaining five would have their criminal fines waived and only two would serve any additional time.
These attacks killed six people, wounded dozens and maimed three New York City police officers: Detective Anthony S. Senft lost an eye and a finger, Detective Richard Pastorella was blinded and Officer Rocco Pascarella lost his leg...
Your claim that none of these people were involved in any deaths is patently false. As members of the terrorist organization that was planting these bombs, all of them are accessories to the killings as a result of the bomb attacks. Two of the persons to whom you have offered clemency were convicted of a $7.5 million armored truck robbery, which undoubtedly financed the FALN's 130 bomb attacks....
I can only assume you are again pandering for some political purpose. This time, Mr. President, it must stop before it begins.
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