CyberAlert -- 08/30/2002 -- The Best of CyberAlert and Media Reality Check from Over the Summer

The Best of CyberAlert and Media Reality Check from Over the Summer; Booing of Hillary Transformed into Applause; Letterman's "Top Ten" About Greenspan

1) "The Best of CyberAlert." With people going on vacations throughout the summer, I thought that for the Labor Day weekend I'd provide a list of CyberAlert items some may have missed (hard to believe, but I know it's true) -- the ones documenting the most egregious and/or most interesting instances of liberal bias.

2) "The Best of Media Reality Checks." In case you missed any, links to the most informative ones of the summer.

3) A video for the holiday weekend: Booing of Senator Clinton replaced by applause. Senator Hillary Clinton was booed when she walked on stage last October at a rock concert to benefit 9/11 victims. It was shown live by VH1 but, as ABC's John Stossel illustrated in a July 20/20 special on media distortions, when the cable channel replayed it sound technicians replaced the booing with cheering and applause.

4) My favorite Letterman "Top Ten" list of the summer: The "Top Ten Alan Greenspan Euphemisms for Sex."


The Best of CyberAlert. With people going on vacations throughout the summer, I thought that for the Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of the summer vacation season, I'd provide a list of CyberAlert items some may have missed (hard to believe, but I know it's true) -- the ones documenting the most egregious and/or most interesting instances of liberal bias. If you're a recent subscriber, many of the items will be new to you.

Starting in early July and moving forward, below are the table of contents summaries for the items followed by links to them:

-- "There was actually a lot of doctrinal merit in what the majority said," New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse declared Friday night on PBS of the anti-Pledge of Allegiance ruling. Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr argued on CNN that "you could say the judge was right in the very strictest sense of the Constitution." USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro rejoiced: "Doesn't it make you proud to pledge allegiance to a nation in which unpopular minorities like atheists can have their day in court?"

-- Bush didn't go far enough in calling for new regulation of corporations to satisfy CBS or NBC which both also followed the Democratic script by devoting stories Tuesday night to recapping Bush's old Harken Energy stock sale. Tom Brokaw maintained: "The timing and the stock's sale -- or the delayed reporting of it -- continue to raise questions." CBS's Wyatt Andrews concluded: "Never mind that Mr. Bush was cleared. His opponents will charge this champion of personal responsibility once failed that standard himself." NBC's Today highlighted a liberal TV ad about the "Enron-style accounting" used by Bush's company.

-- When it was suing Clinton officials to disclose information Judicial Watch was always tagged as "conservative." But when it sued Vice President Cheney on Wednesday, the networks changed their tune as all described it as a non-ideological "watchdog group," "legal group," "legal activist group" or "legal advocacy group." A rundown of contrasts for ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.

-- Geraldo Rivera suggested September 11th might have been
avoided if FBI agents had not been mis-allocated to the Lewinsky case: "Don't you wish those guys were looking for terrorists before September 11th?" Rivera recalled the "partisan bitterness, that divisiveness that marked the end of the Clinton years." But he once called Ken Starr a "terrorist."

-- ABC made sure that good news about child poverty in America was undermined by a bunch of anecdotes. Anchoring World News Tonight/Saturday, Bob Woodruff noted how "the National Institutes of Health this week said the poverty rate among kids is holding steady at 16 percent," the lowest level since 1979, but without citing the source, he countered that "according to a recent study, that's still higher, in many cases much higher, than in 18 other wealthy countries."

-- On Tuesday's Inside Politics CNN's Brooks Jackson discredited the latest media report, this time one from AP, about President Bush and Harken Energy, noting it's typical of the "thin reporting" on the topic. He then launched into an exhaustive rundown of how the SEC long ago found there was no basis for the oft-repeated charges of wrongdoing by Bush in his 1990 stock sale.

-- Dick "Spiro" Agnew? CNN's Bill Schneider suggested on Thursday's Inside Politics that "the closest parallel" to Vice President Dick Cheney's troubles "would be the investigation of Spiro Agnew in the '70s."

-- Former Washington Post reporter David Maraniss declared on Hardball that the idea of a "left-wing media" is "such a farce." Maraniss also argued that most people still see Bill Clinton as the savior in the midst of the corporate scandals: "Who would the people turn to right now to get out of this mess? They'd probably vote for Clinton."

-- It's Dick Cheney's fault. He personally caused the stock market decline. At least according to reporter Joie Chen, who declared on Saturday's CBS Evening News: "In Houston, Hartford, Macon Georgia, anxious small investors pin the blame for the falling stock market on Mr. Cheney." Chen then backed her claim with a soundbite from a man who was part or an organized protest, who charged: "The Golden Years are no longer golden because of the Cheneys of the world."

-- It's not Bill Clinton's fault. Bob Rubin told me so. In this week's U.S. News, Gloria Borger, who also toils for CBS News, ridiculed the attempt by Republicans to blame Bill Clinton for corporate wrongdoing. "'Blaming Clinton is absolutely ridiculous,' ex-Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin told me." She then blamed the GOP's Contract with America, which "was flush with proposals to roll back business regulation and legal accountability."

-- A Time magazine reporter's "fantasy" of dancing with Janet Reno went unfulfilled. Joel Stein recounted his attendance at Reno's dance party last Friday night in Miami, but rued: "I leave my friends behind and rush the stage to try to dance with Reno, only to find myself in a small crowd of men living the same fantasy. When I finally push my way past them, she is gone."

-- On Phil Donahue's MSNBC show, Tom Brokaw attributed the false impression of liberal bias to how journalists spend "more time on issues that seem to be liberal," such as "the problem of the downtrodden, the problem of civil rights and human rights..." Donahue applauded Brokaw: "Let me tell you what is impressive. You're not wearing a flag...I say hip-hip-hooray for that." Brokaw argued that if you wear a flag pin, "it's a suggestion somehow that you're endorsing what the administration is doing" and so "I don't think journalists ought to be wearing flags."

-- "Hillary Clinton Emerges as Moderate" declared the headline over a July 28 AP report. Reporter Shannon McCaffrey argued that Clinton has "belied" predictions that she would be "a liberal's liberal." McCaffrey's evidence: Clinton was scheduled to deliver "the keynote address at a Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York" and the organization is a "centrist group." McCaffrey contended: "Clinton has cast herself as a New Democrat on some key issues." But McCaffrey contradicted herself as she reported that "Clinton now receives high marks from liberal groups."

-- "It's striking," FNC's Brit Hume contended Monday night, how Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's "name almost never comes up" in media reports on corporate corruption, especially since he tried to get the Bush administration to pressure bond rating agencies to prop of Enron's rating. Fortune's Jeff Birnbaum marveled: "It is remarkable, I think, the near deification of Rubin by a lot of elements of the press." Indeed, last week David Broder oozed that Rubin's "judgment and integrity are praised by Republicans and Democrats alike."

-- A new prescription drug entitlement program or death. "No deal on drugs. The last hope for a Medicare prescription benefit goes down to defeat in the Senate," NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented. In the subsequent story an elderly women, who has given up bingo, charged: "This is an issue of life and death." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas ominously warned: "Prescription drugs. The Senate kills a plan to help senior citizens afford them. Americans are putting their lives at risk to save money on medicine."

-- "Shame on all of them," CNN anchor Daryn Kagan declared Wednesday morning in scolding the Senate for not making taxpayers pay for prescription drugs. She kvetched: "I know we have a lot of viewers at home, a lot of older people who their simple, simple request is just to be able to afford the drugs that they need." And FNC identified "older Americans" as the "victim."

-- CBS and NBC on Monday night jumped on a Time story about how the Clinton administration provided a plan to fight al-Qaeda which the Bush team ignored. Dan Rather declared: "Veterans of the Clinton administration say the Bush team didn't take their al-Qaeda warnings and plans seriously enough." NBC anchor Stone Phillips announced: "There is a new published report tonight that the outgoing Clinton administration gave the Bush White House a ready-made plan for attacking al-Qaeda that was ignored."

-- The public's grades for the news media have "tumbled" since a post September 11th spike, a new Pew Research Center poll discovered. The poll found that "the news media's rating for patriotism...has plummeted 20 points" while "the number who believe news organizations are politically biased has increased by 12 points." On "believability," Democrats trust CNN and the broadcast networks more than self-identified Republicans. While believability fell for all networks, CNN led in credibility while FNC tied ABC News.

-- Asked to predict history's judgment of Bill Clinton, New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines didn't mention any of his scandalous behavior. Instead, Raines extolled Clinton's "huge political vision," and his "holding onto the principles of social justice." Raines also effused about Clinton "presiding over the greatest prosperity in human history."

-- Bill Clinton was "our last legally elected President," Los Angeles Times reporter Brian Robin declared in an e-mail to Republican Congressman Bill Thomas, whom he denigrated as "morally bankrupt." Robin described the GOP as a "hateful, dogmatic and uncompromising group (except in the case of big business, when you become the party of Stepin Fetchit)." After the paper fired him for sending the e-mail from his account, he kvetched: "All I did was exercise my right of free speech."

-- "Top Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy," declared a the front page headline in Friday's New York Times, a theme which NBC Nightly News chose to lead with that night with a story which, just like the Times, falsely portrayed Henry Kissinger as opposed to attacking Iraq. Though seven of ten Americans surveyed say they support an attack on Iraq, NBC anchor Brian Williams touted how "a whole lot of Americans...disagree" with Bush's Iraq policy.

-- ABC's Peter Jennings on Monday night conveyed the kind of snide haughtiness toward Bush which has earned him the enmity of conservative viewers. He stressed how "President Bush has refused to approve a covert operation to go after a chemical weapons facility" run by al Qaeda, sneeringly noting: "The administration has said it will go after al Qaeda wherever and whenever. What's the story on this?" Next, after a story on "accusations that American allies are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of captured Taliban soldiers," Jennings proposed: "There is some potential for the administration to be embarrassed at least."

-- NBC's Today has yet to feature a segment with Toby Keith, singer of the #1 country hit, the pro-U.S. song Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue, but on Monday it showcased Steve Earle and his yet-to-be-released tribute, John Walker's Blues. How the New York Post described Earle's song: "The lyrics describe the United States as 'the land of the infidel'" and "the song says when Lindh dies, he will 'rise up to the sky like Jesus.'"

-- O' Canada, let us follow thee. ABC's Peter Jennings seemed to speak for himself as he announced as a fact: "Some people are asking today whether or not the White House is losing control of the debate about war with Iraq." Terry Moran then trumpeted how Canada has given a "sharp rebuke" to U.S. policy before treating Scott Ritter, who has been defending Saddam Hussein for years, as fresh news: "Opposition is mounting at home, too" as Ritter "said the administration had failed to make the case for war."

-- This week's Time warned of a nefarious conservative influence on defense policy, "the secret war council" made up of an "unpaid conservative board" on which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given the "Republican right's most outspoken (and forsaken) hawks a place to nest." Reporter Mark Thompson worried that the board "lacks Democratic firepower. The sprinkling of Democrats includes token moderates," those "who are hawks within their own party." What about former House Speaker Thomas Foley?

-- NBC's Brian Williams praised a left-wing, nanny-state advocacy group as "very sensible." Anchoring Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Williams touted: "The folks the very sensible, Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest -- these are the people who've exposed the evils of Italian dinners, Chinese takeout and movie theater popcorn -- have tonight identified some fast food items they like."

-- CBS Early Show co-host Charlie Rose wouldn't sit still Wednesday morning for the premise of Sean Hannity's book, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism. He badgered Hannity with how Bill Clinton really deserved credit for the achievements on welfare reform and a balanced budget. When Hannity suggested "John Kasich and Pete Domenici" deserve credit for the balanced budget, Rose started laughing and insisted: "Yeah, really. Do you think they could have done it without Bob Rubin and Bill Clinton, a balanced budget, come on."

-- Charlie Gibson's daughter, Jessica, worked as a special assistant to the director for legislative affairs in the Clinton White House at the very same time that her father was covering Clinton policies as co-host Good Morning America, a program which broadcast live from the White House one morning during her tenure.

-- Clinton-era abuses led a federal court to reject John Ashcroft's request for broader power in pursuing terrorism suspects, but the networks portrayed it as a scolding of the Bush administration. ABC's Peter Jennings: "A federal court tells the Bush administration it is abusing its power in the campaign against terrorism." CBS anchor John Roberts highlighted the "big setback for the Justice Department." At the very second NBC's Fred Francis was about to say "Clinton," the screen went to black and the audio dropped out. Only FNC's Carl Cameron pointed out how one judge credited Ashcroft with cleaning up the Clinton/Reno mess.


The Best of Media Reality Checks from over the summer -- all issues researched and written by the MRC's Rich Noyes.

-- "Burying the Liberal Label on Network News; MRC Study: On Evening News Broadcasts, Conservative Tag Used Four Times More than Liberal Label"

-- "Washington Post's Bizarre Halliburton Spin: Disgruntled White House Correspondent Dana Milbank Floats Silly Cheney Stock Selling Theory"

-- "A Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits"

-- "Using 'Moderates' to Spank Conservatives; Study: Networks Stress Moderate Republicans, Not Centrist Democrats Who Think Liberals Go Too Far"


A holiday weekend video treat: How cable music channel VH1 turned booing of Senator Hillary Clinton into cheering.

Senator Clinton was booed when she walked on stage last October at a rock concert in Madison Square Garden to benefit 9/11 victims. It was shown live by VH1 but, as ABC's John Stossel illustrated in a July 20/20 special on media distortions, when the Viacom-owned cable channel replayed it sound technicians replaced the booing with cheering and applause. And that version is the permanent record VH1 put onto its DVD of the event.

During his July 12 20/20 look at media manipulation and distortions, Stossel used the Hillary Clinton incident as his first example.

Hillary Clinton
Earlier this summer, ABC's John Stossel showed how VH1 last year replaced booing of Hillary Clinton with applause

Stossel explained: "Last fall Paul McCartney headlined a concert to benefit victims of September 11th. Some politicians appeared, including Senator Hillary Clinton." Over the booing of Senator Clinton as she walked on stage and waved, Stossel noted: "And people in the audience booed her. Booed and heckled."

Stossel told viewers: "But then MTV's channel VH1 re-ran the same concert and made it into a DVD." As 20/20 showed the same scene again, but this time VH1's new version with applause, Stossel pointed out: "Notice a difference? The booing has been removed. Now and forever on the DVD the crowd applauds Senator Clinton."

The MRC's Mez Djouadi has posted a RealPlayer clip of what Stossel showed. To watch it, go to the posted version of this CyberAlert:


My favorite Letterman "Top Ten" list from over the summer. From the July 17 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Alan Greenspan Euphemisms for Sex." Late Show Web page:

10) "Depleting the Federal Reserve"

9) "Acquiring some assets"

8) "A mid-afternoon rally"

7) "Opening an account with Fannie Mae"

6) "Improving your long-term growth"

5) "Doing a little business on the floor"

4) "Getting yourself in the red"

3) "Lump-sum distribution"

2) "Liquefying your holdings"

1) "Merging with Pfizer"

As I joked when I first ran this list, now we know what he says to his wife, NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell. -- Brent Baker

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