Starr = Stalin; Did Turner Tilt CNN's Cold War?; Lockhart's Spins
Correction: An alert reader informed me that in one instance the October 1 CyberAlert pegged the national debt at $5.5 billion. That should have read $5.5 trillion.
The three broadcast networks led Thursday night with downbeat stories on the stock market, the world economy and the dangers of hedge funds on the wider market as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan appeared before a Senate committee to defend the Fed's bailout of the Long Term Capital Management fund. Fallout from the massacres in Kosovo, that have prompted a build-up toward a possible U.S.-led NATO airstrike, topped CNN and FNC and made the line-ups on the broadcast networks.
Zilch on Monicagate on ABC and NBC. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather noted that more documents will be released Friday as he bade farewell to White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry. NBC's Tom Brokaw also briefly noted McCurry's departure, but not ABC's Peter Jennings. CNN and FNC delivered glowing tributes. (See item #4 for more on McCurry's successor.)
Getting back to Monicagate, CNN delivered full stories on how Hillary Clinton is lobbying and threatening Democrats and on how the documents to be released will provide fodder for both sides. FNC provided three unique stories: a look at negotiations for a settlement of the Jones case, the discovery that several Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have yet to look at the evidence, and only FNC told viewers that Mike Espy's trial began Thursday. On CNBC's Upfront Tonight Geraldo Rivera provided a platform for Terry Lenzner of Investigative Group International to deny the charge from Dick Morris that he has intimidated other women out of coming forward.
Instead of a show by show rundown, below today are two sections: First, the ominous openings from the October 1 ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows. Then a look at how CBS, CNN and FNC approached the scandals.
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather:
-- NBC Nightly
News. Tom Brokaw:
And now on the scandal front:
-- Dan Rather
announced on the CBS Evening News: "White House officials geared up
today for the Republican-led Congress's latest download of thousands of
Ken Starr documents. They're due out tomorrow, including heavily edited
transcripts of Linda Tripp's secret recordings of Monica Lewinsky, the
friend Linda Tripp betrayed. But come tomorrow the official White House
comment will not come from spokesman Mike McCurry. McCurry gave his last
official briefing today, including an apology."
-- CNN's The
World Today. Co-anchor Joie Chen noted that Democrats are drafting a
resolution to limit the scope and duration of an impeachment inquiry to no
more than six weeks and only to Lewinsky matters.
-- FNC's Fox
Report. Carl Cameron explained how Democrats want impeachable offenses to
be defined and then want the probe limited to only the Lewinsky matter.
After a soundbite from John Conyers, Cameron segued into a clip of
Republican Charles Canady by observing: "But Watergate contained no
restrictions on time or scope and Democrats had pressed Republicans to
adopt the Watergate model for any upcoming investigation. Republicans say
the Democrats new demands are another political ploy."
Next, David Shuster disclosed that Clinton is now offering Jones $750,000 but Jones needs a million just to cover lawyer costs as her former lawyers have an $800,000 lien against her.
Finally, only FNC, in a story by Rita Cosby, highlighted the first day of trial for former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy who is charged with receiving and lying about illegal gifts.
Ken Starr is the greatest threat since Stalin and Hitler? That's the extremist allegation leveled by actress Vanessa Redgrave in an interview with Geraldo Rivera on Thursday's Upfront Tonight. Rivera brought her aboard his CNBC show to highlight a letter issued last week by 67 international entertainers and intellectuals which claimed: "The democratically elected President of a free nation has been subjected for eight months to inquisitorial harassment by a fanatical prosecutor with unlimited power." (For more details, check to September 25 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19980925.html#2)
actress Redgrave declared: "Democracy is seriously in danger."
Asked how by Rivera, she asserted:
It's nice that the left now realizes Stalin wasn't so great. As for Redgrave's nonsensical reference to how "these powers were given him by the Judiciary Committee, a majority on the Judiciary Committee and a majority in the Congress," that's not accurate since the Attorney General and a panel of federal judges handle the appointment. Which also means Starr is accountable to someone -- to the AG, those judges and the judge overseeing the grand jury. But even if her point about the Judiciary Committee were accurate, or if she just meant they passed the law creating ICs, Congress itself is democratically elected.
Last Sunday CNN began its 24-part "epic" titled "Cold War." The 24-part series airs Sunday nights for an hour at 8pm and 12am ET, followed by a half hour show called "CNN Postscript" with follow-up and discussion about that night's episode. With a few weeks off around Christmas it will run through April 4. (The 9pm to 10:30pm PT showing knocks out the 10pm PT replay of NewsStand on Sunday nights.)
Up front it must be said that in an era of TV news magazines dominated celebrity interviews, crime and scare stories about what causes cancer, Ted Turner deserves credit for spending $12 million to produce a serious documentary series about an important topic. In fact, on the same night Cold War debuted, September 27, ABC devoted most of 20/20 to JonBenet Ramsey.
That said, there are some troubling signs about the messages that may be delivered in the series produced for Turner by British filmmaker Jeremy Isaacs. Most fall under the heading of "moral equivalence." So, in date order, here are some items I've observed that are worth considering:
mandate: Unjingoistic and not triumphant that the U.S. won. From a
December 27, 1997 New York Times story by Mark Landler flagged at the time
by MRC analyst Clay Waters:
-- No honorable
anti-communists. Even Time magazine, partners with CNN in the NewsStand
show, raised a concern about balance. In the September 21 issue James
Collins reported that the series clearly reveals the moral deficiencies of
the Soviet system, but Collins cautioned:
-- Show research
provided by the left-wing National Security Archive, best-known for its
anti-Reagan activities in the 1980s aimed at undermining his policies in
Central America. In the September 20 CNN special previewing the series,
producer Taylor Downing explained:
-- NSA provided
initial "fact-checking." On the CNN preview National Security
Archive Executive Director Tom Blanton described his role:
-- U.S. censored
information/used propaganda just like the Soviets. Film researcher Miriam
Walsh, on the CNN preview show, recalled her triumph in uncovering rare
film, but then preposterously contended both sides equally limited
There's a bit of a difference between a society in which the state-run press controls all the information and a country which has a free press but the government produces a few propaganda films.
-- Turnerism #1 --
Should have had more social spending. From the end of the preview special:
-- Turnerism #2 --
Kent State and Tiananmen Square are morally equivalent. Washington Post
reporter Lisa de Moraes interviewed Turner for a September 24 story. She
-- Turnerism #3 --
Ban men from office, elect only women. From the de Moraes story:
-- Turnerism #4 --
China's one-child policy a great idea. Again, from de Moraes:
-- Turnerism #5 --
"Right-wing media" blocked peace. Once more from de Moraes:
Turnerism #6 -- A
hit at Clinton as a "sex maniac." One last quote from de Moraes:
This Sunday's episode covers 1945-47. CNN has set up a special Web page with background information, transcripts of interviews and previews of upcoming episodes. Go to: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/
Tom Brokaw ended Thursday's NBC Nightly News with an "attaboy Mike" to Mike McCurry. Will McCurry's replacement be as popular with the media? As they say, time will tell. But Joe Lockhart already has a head start as a media veteran himself, having worked for ABC, CNN and NBC in between toiling for liberal candidates. Here's the original-length MediaWatch Revolving Door story on Lockhart that was later shortened to fit into the October 5 issue:
Lockhart's Career Path
When President Clinton tapped Joe Lockhart in late July to replace Mike McCurry as Press Secretary as of October 5, ABC's Peter Jennings didn't bother telling viewers how Lockhart used to work for ABC News. In a full story for CNN, Wolf Blitzer also skipped over Lockhart's time at the cable network.
As The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted in a September 9 profile, "he will be the first White House press secretary since Ron Nessen in the Ford administration to have had a recent career as a newsman. The son of journalists and the husband of a longtime ABC producer, Lockhart was spinning through the revolving door between media and politics long before that phrase became fashionable." Indeed, Lockhart has bounced back and forth between journalism and advocacy politics since his father, an executive with NBC News, landed him a volunteer spot in Jimmy Carter's 1980 reelection campaign.
As recounted by Kurtz, Lockhart soon "left to become an NBC foot soldier, writing for the network's internal wire at the Democratic National Convention in New York." After the convention he spun again, talking "his way into a paying job" with the Carter campaign.
Following a stint at Gannett pulling off marketing gimmicks for the launch of USA Today in 1982, Kurtz observed "politics seemed to exert a magnetic pull" so Lockhart "climbed aboard Walter Mondale's presidential campaign. He was responsible for the care and feeding of the network cameramen and technicians, riding with them on the 'zoo plane' and helping them find backdrops for better shots."
Mondale's loss led Lockhart to a Press Secretary position for Democratic Senator Paul Simon. But he soon crossed back to the media once more as an assignment editor for ABC News in Chicago, later accepting the same title in CNN's Washington bureau. There, Kurtz learned, "Lockhart did some off-air reporting on the Iran-contra scandal, once making dozens of calls to track down an old college photo of shadowy operative Albert Hakim. But his main job was moving reporters and crews around the city." In a couple of years he tired of CNN and signed aboard the 1988 Dukakis presidential campaign as a traveling press aide.
With his wife Laura Logan, Deputy Press Secretary for John Glenn's 1984 presidential run, transferred to London by her employer, ABC News, Lockhart followed and landed a slot with the nemesis of liberals: Rupert Murdoch. Kurtz recounted: "After looking for work for months, Lockhart became a freelance producer for NBC and helped cover the revolution in Romania. He applied for a producer's job at British-based Sky News and was stunned when executives there wanted him for on-air work....Soon his daily business reports were running back home on Fox, albeit at 5 a.m. Sky News dispatched him to Washington to report on the Gulf War, but in classic show biz fashion, his program was later canceled." Back in the States he worked for the Clinton campaign, assuming the Deputy Press Secretary position at the White House.
END of article
From the October 1 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions in the White House Press Secretary Job Interview." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Does cigar smoke bother
And from the Late Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten." (The Web address: http://marketing.cbs.com/lateshow/topten/)
-- "Do you have any experience working
for a pathological liar?"
Hits on Clinton and Donaldson, what more can you ask for? -- Brent Baker
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