Clinton on Race; Rather Attacks CBS?; "Republican" Starr
1) Thursday night (September 25) ABC and NBC gave President Clinton an unfettered platform for his pronouncements on race while CBS anchor Dan Rather seemed to criticize the CBS brass for refusing to cover Marv Albert's trial. ABC and NBC led with the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine while both CBS and NBC ended with Sioux chief Long Wolf's burial in North Dakota after 105 years in a London cemetery. CBS and NBC covered IRS abuses, but not ABC. -- ABC's World News Tonight led with a story from John Donvan on Clinton's appearance at Little Rock's Central High to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the school's desegregation by nine black students. Here's the last third of the story in which Donvan not only relayed clips from Clinton's address but also piped in his endorsement of portions: John Donvan: "Despite all the theatrics here today, Mr. Clinton did put some edge into the program. He was eleven years old when those events occurred. He says he has been obsessed by race ever since. Today he was more willing than most of the time to say things people might not want to hear." Clinton: "There is still discrimination in America." Donvan: "This was a frank acknowledgment that America's race problems do not belong to some misty past." Clinton: "Segregation is no longer the law, but too often separation is still the rule." Donvan: "As if proving the President right, even this friendly crowd stood separated by race, blacks mostly with blacks, whites with whites, applauding the same lines." Clinton: "After all the weary years and silent tears, after all the stony roads and bitter rods [that's what it sounded like he said], the question of race, is in the end, still an affair of the heart." Donvan, concluding his piece: "On a day that was filled with symbols, the message was that symbols are not enough when it comes to race." -- NBC Nightly News also led with Little Rock's Central High, but NBC was the only one of the three broadcast networks to highlight Clinton's attack on those who oppose racial quotas. David Bloom asserted: "...Today a President, Arkansas's native son, led the now middle-aged Little Rock Nine back through those same doors again, all the while wondering how much America's changed." Clinton: "For the first time since the 1950s our schools in America are resegregating. The roll back of affirmative action is slamming shut the doors of higher education on a new generation while those who oppose it have not yet put forward any other alternative." Neither NBC or ABC or even CBS included any critics of Clinton's racial policies, such as a conservative who might have suggested that Clinton's insistence upon making race the paramount criteria in college admission is fostering the very racial resentments he claims to want to overcome. -- The CBS Evening News began with a look at how El Nino had caused a big rainstorm in Arizona. After emphasizing on previous nights Democratic complaints that the Senate hearing into the IRS was motivated by partisan Republicans trying to take political advantage, Thursday night CBS offered a sympathetic look at a victim of the IRS. Ray Brady recounted the plight of a Pennsylvania contractor improperly forced to pay the payroll taxes of another company he worked with after the IRS falsified some papers. Brady opened his story: "Tom Savage, a small town contractor, never thought he'd be in trouble with the IRS. He'd always paid his taxes on time. Nor did he think a government agency would ever shake him down, but the IRS did he says for $50,000...." Before a story on Marv Albert's guilty plea, Dan Rather offered a rather cryptic introduction: "A heavily publicized criminal court trial in Virginia suddenly ended today. Some journalists, including some closely associated with this broadcast, preferred not to cover any part of this case. Now after sportscaster Marv Albert pleaded guilty to criminal charges, NBC has fired him. Anthony Mason reviews the facts and the frenzy." "Including some closely associated with this broadcast"? Sounds like Rather may have been taking a swipe at his bosses for not allowing any Albert stories to air during the trial. In the September 24 Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz quoted CBS Evening News Executive Producer Jeff Fager on why the show had avoided the Albert story: "It's about newsworthiness. We don't think it's risen to that level." Apparently, the "we" did not include Rather.
2) Of the broadcast networks Thursday night, only CBS mentioned developments on the Whitewater front, but Dan Rather once again felt compelled to tar Kenneth Starr as a partisan activist instead of treating him as an "independent" independent counsel. Here's how Rather announced the story: "Possible new trouble for the President tonight in the Whitewater real estate deal investigation. Republican special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has reportedly subpoenaed records of the President, the First Lady and top White House aides. The subject is said to be their possible contacts with Whitewater investigation witnesses. Also tonight, Starr has convened a new Whitewater grand jury in Washington."
3) After some delay to make room this week for current bias, here's the September 22 edition of Notable Quotables, the Media Research Center's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. (To subscribe for $19 annually to the more colorful blue paper snail mail version, send a message to MRC Circulation Manager Carey Evans: CEvans@mediaresearch.org. She'll send you an issue and an order form.)
Most of these quotes appeared previously in CyberAlerts, but some under "Jesse Helms: Dictator, Terrorist & Bigot in One Convenient Package," will be new to you. After NQ went to the printer MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught another Helms bashing quote from a major media figure. On the September 14 CNN Late Edition Steve Roberts, formerly of the New York Times and U.S. News, declared: "There's no doubt that Jesse Helms is a two-bit, tin-pot dictator."
-- Brent Baker