CNN & "Scandal;" NBC's Tribute to Anita Hill
- CNN to air a
two-hour special on fundraising but the man producing it won't let
CNN staffers say "Clinton scandal."
- NBC's Jane
Pauley portrayed Anita Hill as the victim of enemies who
"fought dirty," but Hill had the "courage" to
make her charge.
- CNN refuses
to air ads against a global warming treaty because the polar ice
caps melted and ruined Ted Turner's private beach.
1) Can you do
a two-hour show on Clinton's 1996 fundraising and not use the word
"scandal"? We'll soon find out. Tuesday night from 7 to 9pm
ET CNN will air a "Money Trail" special on the
fundraising....shall we say, difficulties. Last Wednesday USA Today's
Peter Johnson reported that new CNN President Rick Kaplan will
personally produce the special. As you may recall, the Washington
Whispers section of the September 15 U.S. News & World Report
- "While many
credit him with 'energizing' the news operation, Kaplan raised a
few eyebrows by telling CNN staffers to limit their use of the
word 'scandal' in reporting on Clinton's campaign fundraising
woes. A long time Clinton friend, Kaplan has stayed in the
Maybe Kaplan could provide a
first-hand, eyewitness account of the Clinton fundraising, oh what
shall we call it, the Clinton fundraising strategy.
night Dateline aired the first of a very sympathetic two part
interview by Stone Phillips with Susan McDougal. Part two airs tonight
(Monday) on Dateline. In part one Phillips portrayed her as the victim
of a witch hunt directed by Ken Starr. More on that in a future
CyberAlert, but before too much time goes by let's review last week's
Dateline salute to another persecuted woman. In this case, Anita Hill.
(See the October 2 CyberAlert for details on Hill's appearance on
Here are some highlights of
Jane Pauley's tribute to Hill, a tribute that never raised any of the
contradictions and disparities in her stories uncovered by David Brock
in his book, The Real Anita Hill. To NBC Hill is and was the victim,
not Clarence Thomas.
From part one on September 29
of NBC's stories prompted by publication of a new book by Hill,
Speaking Truth to Power. MRC intern Rebecca Hinnershitz helped
transcribe much of this.
Jane Pauley opened by putting
the burden on the Senators:
- "It had been
such a searing public spectacle. No one who watched it could
stay on the sidelines -- the Senate Judiciary Committee's
conduct in the confirmation hearings for then Supreme Court
Nominee Clarence Thomas. At the eleventh hour there was a
bizarre accusation of sexual harassment. Everyone felt compelled
to take a position, and immediately after the hearing, most
people concluded that Anita Hill had lied. But within a year
public opinion did a flip, and now six years later, according to
a Dateline NBC News poll, more people think she was telling the
truth, but an awful lot of people still don't know what to
- "Speaking Truth
to Power, Anita Hill's just released autobiography tells how the
thirteenth child of a poor black Oklahoma farmer came to face
fourteen white Senators and an audience of millions on a weekend
in October few will ever forget...."
- After reviewing Hill's
childhood, Pauley painted Hill's charge as a courageous move:
"....But still she graduated first in her high school
class, went to Oklahoma State University, then on a full
scholarship this farm girl arrived at Yale. One year out of law
school she had accepted a senior staff job at the Education
Department with Clarence Thomas, a friend of a friend from Yale.
She had liked the work and got on well with her boss until, she
said, he started pressuring her for dates and when she declined
began to torment her with crude and suggestive remarks. Ten
years later, she waited for Senate investigators to track her
down as reporters already had. She agonized over what she'd tell
them. [to Hill] Courage came slowly, didn't it?"
- A few minutes later NBC
showed this sequence of soundbites which portrayed Hill as the
her charges were explosive and potentially fatal to Clarence
Thomas' career, it was Anita Hill who faced the firing
line." Senator Alan Simpson in 1991: "She will
be injured and destroyed and belittled and hounded and harassed
-- real harassment different than the sexual kind, just plain
old Washington variety harassment which is pretty unique in
you interpret that as a threat?"
- Eventually Pauley got to
the soundbite of Thomas calling the spectacle a "high-tech
lynching," but even here she managed to portray Thomas as
out of place.
Pauley asked Hill:
"Did that have the effect of isolating you from your own
Pauley continued, after
Hill's answer: "A bitter irony for Hill who grew up
hearing of a great-uncle who was lynched and whose grandparents
left Arkansas to settle in Oklahoma because of a lynching
threat. But it worked. By the narrowest margin in history, 52 to
48, Clarence Thomas won a seat on the Supreme Court. The
intervening years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of
women who file sexual harassment claims. Anita Hill counts that
as her victory."
- The next night,
September 30, Dateline offered another dose of sympathy for
Hill. Pauley got right to it:
believe her or him or like many people still don't know who or
what to believe, the casualty for Anita Hill was not just her
privacy but her trust in government."
Pauley to Hill: "If
George Bush had been re-elected you seriously considered leaving
- When Pauley finally got
to a Hill critic it was not to describe problems with Hill's
story or the role of liberal activists, but to highlight how
friends of Thomas had mistreated her. Pauley told Hill that
Senator John Danforth "says there was a mission of
destruction, but you weren't the victim he was thinking about,
Clarence Thomas was."
- Pauley aired Hill's
reaction before asserting: "Danforth never wavered in
his support of Thomas but now admits he fought dirty and that
his connivings to disseminate the dirt about Hill even months
after the hearings went too far...."
Back to the 1991 videotape
Pauley went to show the hostility Hill had to overcome, noting that
there were questions "about her sanity, that she suffered from
erotomania. Senator Orrin Hatch reportedly was not persuaded by the
erotomania theories. He had one of his own."
Senator Hatch, at the 1991
hearing: "'Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?' On page 70 of this
particular version of the Exorcist, 'there appeared to be an alien
pubic hair floating around in my gin.'"
During part one, Pauley had
relayed Hill's anger that her parents, who attended the hearing, had
to sit through attacks on their daughter. Pauley returned to that
thought when she concluded part two of the Dateline stories:
"Some of the profits
from Hill's book are going to a scholarship fund for survivors of
the Oklahoma City bombing, but it will certainly open some old
wounds. While former President Bush said, 'I have absolutely no
comment of any kind regarding the allegations of Miss Hill,' former
Senator Danforth, Justice Thomas' Senate sponsor said, 'I make no
apology for trying to defend my friend. He went through a wretched
ordeal. Never again should we allow this to happen in America.' In
fact the thing Anita Hill wants most is an apology, but not to her
-- to her parents."
3) As you may
have heard over the weekend, last Thursday CNN abruptly ceased airing
ads from the Global Climate Information Project which opposed the
proposed UN treaty on global warming. These are the ads which show a
pair of scissors cutting up a world map in order to illustrate how
many big countries would not be forced to comply.
In the October 3 Washington
Post Howard Kurtz reported: "Ben Goddard, the Los Angeles ad man
who created the spots, said a CNN sales executive told him yesterday
he was acting on orders from Turner," as in Ted. CNN spokesman
Steve Haworth claimed that "it has been our policy for years not
to run ads on controversial news stories we are covering." But
CNN had carried the ads for about a month. And Goddard reminded Kurtz
that CNN never refused to air the "Harry and Louise" ads
against Clinton's health care plans.
scaremongering about global warming, and blocking information that may
hurt that quest, is a bit higher on Turner's list of concerns. As you
may recall from an earlier CyberAlert, after Turner's September 18
announcement of his gift to the UN, this exchange occurred in an
interview with Larry King:
"Global warming, you were very strong on that tonight, and you
said 'everybody knows' that there's global warming."
"That's right, haven't you been outside lately? It's hotter
than Hell out there. The polar ice caps are melting. I got a island,
and I know that the ocean's rising because I watched my beach get