Thwarted FBI Skipped; Wright's Fine Q Ignored by ABC & CBS; Clinton's 1991 Moral Concern
1) Just as predicted in
CyberAlert, no reporter asked Clinton at Thursday's press conference
about the charge by FBI agents that political appointees thwarted their
probe of Chinese money. Instead, reporters worried about the CTBT loss.
2) CBS's Bill Plante asked
Clinton about Judge Wright's fine, but the CBS Evening News ignored it
as did ABC and CNN. ABC, CBS and NBC all gave twice the time to
Clinton's attacks on the Senate as to Trent Lott's defense.
3) NBC Nightly News discovered
"tough criticism" of the Clinton home loan, a controversy the
show ignored back in September.
4) ABC's Linda Douglass
promoted the Council for Economic Development, "a group of executives
who are demanding that Congress put a stop to the growing demand" for
5) Back in 1991 a certain
presidential candidate applauded a newsman's moral condemnation of Wilt
Chamberlain for having sex with 20,000 women.
6) Letterman's "Top Ten
Donald Trump Campaign Slogans."
I told you so. From the September 30 CyberAlert:
"Here's a prediction: Whenever Clinton does hold a press conference
no one will ask about the subverted FBI probe or China money in
questions posed at Thursday's press conference about the charges by FBI
agents that their probe of 1996 campaign money from China was thwarted?
prescient forecast came at the end of an item about the encounter on the
South Lawn, at a September 24 jazz concert for reporters, between
Investor's Business Daily Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry and
President Clinton. CyberAlert recounted how on the September 29 O'Reilly
Factor on FNC "Sperry recounted his experience, telling Bill O'Reilly
how while standing in a receiving line he asked Clinton when he would next
hold a press conference since 'the American people have a lot of
unanswered questions.' Sperry recalled that 'at that point he moved
right square in front of me and basically got in my face and said 'like
what?' and at that point I took a big gulp.'
"Sperry asked him about the campaign finance
investigation and how four FBI agents two days earlier had testified about
their probe of him and Democrats being suppressed. Sperry explained:
'When I mentioned the FBI agents in particular, and there was at least
one other reporter there who witnessed this, the Seattle Times reporter
said he just 'blew his top.' He did. He came unglued and said the FBI
was basically saying that 'gee we need to change the subject from Waco
and get attention on the campaign finance probe.'"
For more on this
encounter and to see a RealPlayer clip of Sperry recalling it, go to the
September 30 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990930.html#4
The October 1
CyberAlert relayed some additional info: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19991001.html#7
For details on
what the FBI agents said, see item #2 in the September 24 CyberAlert:
"In unprecedented testimony, FBI agents said the Justice Dept.
thwarted their probe of Charlie Trie, but not a word about it on ABC, CBS,
MSNBC, NBC or CNN. Only FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume cared. Skipped
too by the Washington Post and New York Times." Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990924.html#2
Now to Clinton's
October 14 press conference held for an hour at 2pm ET. He responded to a
total of 18 questions from 16 reporters (two asked follow-ups). Seven
dealt with the Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with
most of those assuming the opponents were in the wrong, starting with the
very first inquiry from UPI's Helen Thomas:
"Mr. President, hasn't the treaty rejection
really wiped out our moral authority to ask other nations around the world
to stop testing? And was there -- do you think there was a personal
element in the Republican, a personal vendetta against you in the turn
down -- Republican?"
rundown, in sequence, of the other 17 questions, only one of which, from
CBS's Bill Plante about Judge Susan Wright's assessment that Clinton
lied, touched a scandal:
-- Terence Hunt,
AP: "...Do you agree with Vice President Gore's characterization of
Bill Bradley as a disloyal Democrat? And how much of a difference would it
make if Senator Bradley were the Democratic nominee instead of Vice
-- Steve Holland, Reuters: Prospect of a war
between India and Pakistan.
-- Claire Shipman, NBC News, hit Clinton from the
left in two questions, assuming the treaty was a good idea: "To what
extent do you think that you and the White House bear some responsibility
for the outcome of the vote yesterday? There have been a lot of people
heavily involved -- supporters of this treaty -- who say the White House
didn't begin an effective lobbying effort early enough. And I wonder
whether you also think that the year of scandal played some role in that;
that the White House was just unable to work on this the way it should
-- John King, CNN: "Mr. President, given the
importance you've placed on this, why did you wait until 5:15 yesterday to
first call the Senate majority leader? And as part of the same question,
if you were the government of China and publicly stated on the record that
you're looking to modernize your nuclear arsenal, why would you not take
this now as a green light to test? And will you do anything to try to
convince the Chinese not to do so?"
-- Mark Knoller,
CBS News: "Sir, just as you had experts saying -- advocating the
ratification of the treaty, the Republicans had experts saying that the
treaty was dangerous. Why can't you accept the vote as a good faith
expression of that opposition rather than as a partisan attack?"
To this first of two solid questions from CBS
reporters, a smart-assed Clinton replied by impugning his political
opponents, an answer not picked up in network reports later: "I have
said every time that there were some Republicans who believed that in good
conscience. The reason I can't accept it as only a matter of conviction
are the following reasons. Number one, they had a lot of people committed
who didn't know very much about the treaty, who were asked to commit
before there was ever an argument made."
-- Sara McClendon:
sending troops overseas.
-- Mara Liasson, NPR asked about the budget
showdown: "....What is the way out of this box to avoid another
-- Susan Page, USA Today: "Mr. President,
every four years the American people revise and adjust what they're
looking for in the President they're about to elect, often in reaction to
the President who's about to leave office. And I wonder if, looking ahead,
what you think Americans are looking for in the President they'll elect
next year, and if there are ways in which those qualities or
qualifications are different from what they were looking for in 1992 and
1996 when you were elected?"
-- Mary McGrory, Washington Post columnist:
"Yes, sir. I was wondering if you have any plans to protect the ABM
Treaty, which will almost certainly be the next target of the Senate
Republicans, looking to start Star Wars."
-- Bill Plante,
CBS News, posing the only scandal-related question: "Mr. President,
you've never commented on Judge Wright's decision that you intentionally
lied in the Jones deposition. Do you accept her finding? And if not, why
have you or your attorneys not challenged it?"
Clinton dodged: "When I am out of office, I
will have a lot to say about this. Until then I'm going to honor my
commitment to all of you to go back to work. I haven't challenged
anything, including things that I consider to be questionable because I
think it is wrong. The American people have been put through enough and
they need every hour, every day, every minute I can give them thinking
about their business. And so, until I leave here, as I understand it now,
all this is finished and I don't have to comment on it. And unless there
is some reason I legally have to, I'm not going to say anything else that
doesn't relate to my responsibilities as president as regards that. When
I'm done, then I can say what I want to say."
reporter asked two questions about how "the Republican argument is
that arms control is an illusion and a delusion; that it lulls us into a
false sense of security and that it drains our will to maintain our
military might. What do think of those arguments?"
-- John Cochran, ABC News: "Sir, isn't it
wishful thinking for the Democrats to think they can beat up on the
Republicans next year over this treaty vote? Yes, public opinion shows
that most Americans do support the treaty, but you were not able, despite
your 30-plus public appearances, you were not able to light a fire under
public opinion. Can't the Republicans just walk away from this without any
damage? Particularly in the post-Cold War era, isn't it true that
Americans just don't worry about the nuclear threat?"
-- Gretchen Cook, Agence France Presse: U.S.
position at the WTO talks.
-- Skip Thurman, Christian Science Monitor: The
effectiveness of gun buyback programs.
-- Japanese reporter: U.S. position on steel
imports from Japan.
If only Sam
Donaldson were still around the White House maybe he'd have asked about
the unprecedented charge, of investigative corruption, made by the FBI
agents. After all, he was the only reporter to ask Clinton about Juanita
Of Thursday night's broadcast evening shows, only NBC Nightly News
mentioned Clinton's response to CBS reporter Bill Plante's question
about Judge Wright's fine on him for lying in the Paula Jones case. The
CBS Evening News ignored the question by their own reporter. Just after
the press conference, on MSNBC Tim Russert told Brian Williams:
"I think that question caught the President
off-guard, Brian. He was not anticipating a question about the settlement
in the Paula Jones case. He paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to make
that case go away. And a federal judge said he lied under oath. He has a
hard time accepting that, acknowledging it."
Indeed, given the
usual White House press corps interests and how they ignored the FBI
charges, it's no wonder Clinton would be surprised by a tough question.
views won the day on the October 14 evening shows, with both ABC's World
News Tonight and the CBS Evening News running two of his soundbites
compared to one from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. On NBC Nightly
News the ratio was four-to-one. In introductions, only CBS's Dan Rather
even mentioned Lott's reaction to Clinton's charges, but CBS reporter
John Roberts relayed a third Clinton soundbite, blasting Republicans on
the budget, without bothering to run a GOP retort.
On the cable
networks, both FNC's Jim Angle on the Fox Report and John King on
CNN's The World Today delivered pieces with equal time on the CTBT for
Clinton and Lott. (After Clinton finished, CNN and FNC showed Lott's
response press conference, but not MSNBC which returned to more JonBenet
coverage.) The two FNC and CNN evening shows ignored the Judge Wright
question, but on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume Wendell Goler noted
that "a question involving Paula Jones drew a presidential
dodge." After King's story CNN followed with a piece about negative
world reaction. Anchor Joie Chen announced in introducing it:
"Canada's Foreign Minister says the defeat
of the treaty is deeply disturbing in a world accustomed to U.S.
leadership and the non-proliferation cause. That sentiment was repeated by
other world leaders today, a sign that the treaty's defeat sends a
potentially dangerous message. On the impact of the vote on U.S.
credibility, CNN's Andrea Koppel."
Now here' more
detail on the October 14 broadcast network evening shows which, like CNN,
relayed how other nations condemned the Senate decision but ignored one of
the strongest arguments made by opponents -- that the most dangerous
countries, such as Iraq and North Korea, would not sign the treaty or
follow its rules.
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings ominously intoned:
"...It was easily the most significant
international treaty not to be ratified since the one which redesigned
Europe after World War I. It was a particularly stinging rebuke for
President Clinton. And today he accused the Republican leadership in the
Senate of reckless partisanship."
John Cochran began: "President Clinton was
seething. He accused those rejecting the treaty of embracing what he
called a new isolationism."
After a clip of Clinton, Cochran continued:
"China said the Senate's rejection will discourage other countries
from ratifying the treaty, apparently including China. Russia accused the
U.S. of undermining international stability. And from America's allies
-- Britain, France and Germany -- expressions of regret and disbelief.
President Clinton called the vote an amazing rebuke to our allies."
Following a second Clinton soundbite ABC got to
Lott: "Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said he based his vote not
on what other countries think but on his belief that the treaty would
permit others to cheat."
Lott: "First of all, you don't win them
all Mr. President. Sometimes you're wrong. We all make mistakes and I
think he was wrong in this case."
Cochran: "But Democrats think they have
found a campaign issue. Just hours after the vote Al Gore had an ad ready
Cochran showed a clip of Gore's ad before
concluding with the same point he made during the press conference:
"But even President Clinton admitted Democrats may have trouble
cashing in on the defeat of the treaty. With the end of the Cold War it is
difficult to mobilize public opinion. Even when the issue is the threat of
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's top of the
show tease at least mentioned the Lott counterpoint: "They were
reckless and partisan says President Clinton as he blasts Senate
Republicans for defeating the nuclear test ban treaty. Trent Lott says
they voted their conscience."
started his story: "The President used some of his strongest language
yet to denounce the Senate's defeat of the test ban treaty. He called it
reckless partisanship, a move that turns its back on fifty years of
American leadership against the spread of nuclear weapons and he vowed
today to continue the fight."
After a Clinton soundbite, Roberts continued with
Clinton's take: "The President said the Senate action was a
dangerous move toward isolationism, a signal that America increasingly
cares only about itself. China called the rejection deeply worrying.
Russia accused the United States of undermining world security."
Following another bite of Clinton, Roberts got to
the other side: "Senate Republicans reject the charge that they
played politics and say the treaty simply did not guarantee America's
Roberts played a clip of Lott and then of
Gore's ad before giving Clinton an uncontradicted platform: "The
President also used his news conference to vent his frustrations on the
current stalemate over the budget. A temporary measure to keep government
functioning runs out next Thursday and seven of thirteen spending bills
have not yet crossed the President's desk in a form that he will
Clinton: "They should stop playing politics,
stop playing games, start making the necessary tough choices. Instead, we
have the Republicans lurching from one unworkable idea to the next."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw's top of the
show tease: "Fighting back: An angry President after an embarrassing
defeat over nuclear weapons. Is this the real fallout of the White House
"Fighting Back" graphic, Brokaw opened the show by declaring:
"Good evening. It's hard to imagine the relations between President
Clinton and the Republican majorities in Congress could be any worse. One
day after the Senate delivered a humiliating defeat to the President by
rejecting a nuclear test ban treaty the President lashed back, claiming
the Republicans will now be to blame for a much more dangerous
began: "After suffering one of his most blistering foreign policy
defeats, an angry and embarrassed President reacted today with dire
warnings of what he calls a new isolationism." She then ran through
four soundbites of Clinton at the press conference before getting to the
GOP reaction and one soundbite for it:
"But Republicans say the White House had
plenty of time."
Trent Lott: "So when it's argued that this
was precipitous, they didn't know it was coming, they didn't have
enough time, there wasn't enough hearings. That is all baloney."
the Gore ad, Shipman got to the only broadcast network citation of the
Wright question: "On another subject, the President was asked about a
fine he paid this summer for lying in the Paula Jones case."
Clinton: "When I am out of office I will
have a lot to say about this."
brought aboard Tim Russert. Brokaw asked:
"What about those charges that he didn't
have enough time? How long has he known that this vote would be
Russert explained: "Republicans and
Democrats in Congress would point out that when Trent Lott said let's
schedule this debate and vote, it took unanimous agreement from the
Democrats in the Senate to do just that. So the White House had a good
solid week to ten days to know this was coming. They realized too late,
far too late that they didn't have the votes."
But that's a lot
milder than what MSNBC viewers heard at about 3:06pm ET when Russert told
Brian Williams that what Clinton claimed "was not true." Russert
observed: "The President said that this was a surprise, the
scheduling and the timing of the vote. That's not true. The fact is the
vote could not have come to the Senate floor without the unanimous consent
of the Democrats in the Senate. They approved the timetable."
Cameron made the same point on Special Report with Brit Hume. But, of
course, none of the evening show stories pointed out Clinton's whopper.
What "controversy"? As noted in the September 13 CyberAlert,
none of the broadcast networks picked up on complaints about the
impropriety of the Clinton home mortgage loan guaranteed by Democratic
fundraiser Terry McAuliffe. But Thursday night, Tom Brokaw reported the
Clintons have come up with a new financing plan after some "tough
criticism" of their original plan, "tough criticism" NBC
never now or earlier explained to viewers.
On the October 14
NBC Nightly News Brokaw relayed:
"The First Family has a new mortgage. After
some very tough criticism of their original loan, which was guaranteed by
a controversial Democratic fundraiser, the Clintons decided to get some
conventional financing for their new home in New York. It's a thirty
year adjustable rate loan through PNC Bank. After a down payment of
$340,000 the mortgage is for $1,360,000. The interest rate for the first
three years: 7.5 percent. The loan is secured by the property
Businessmen are greedy and uncaring to most of the media -- see coverage
of tobacco and HMOs -- unless they favor a liberal regulatory scheme to
limit free speech and how much can be spent on campaigns, which thereby
enhances the power of the media, and then they are thoughtful leaders
worth profiling without a critical word.
World News Tonight reporter Linda Douglass promoted the Council for
Economic Development, a group of businesses pushing for the elimination of
"soft money," currently the only way conservative candidates can
raise enough money, given the onerous and never inflation-adjusted $1,000
direct donation limit rules, to overcome hostile media coverage.
her one-sided October 14 piece on Texas company Cross Timbers Oil and how
its President "says he is sick" of all the soft money requests.
Steffen Palko asserted: "I think everyone is tired of the extortion,
essentially, that occurs."
Douglass pumped up the cause: "Palko is one
of a group of executives who are demanding that Congress put a stop to the
growing demand for money, beginning with a ban on those huge contributions
called soft money. It is called the Committee for Economic Development and
includes the names of some big name companies like Sara Lee, John Hancock
and Phizer. Their crusade has put particular pressure on Republican
leaders who oppose campaign finance reform and have traditionally been
allied with business."
Charles Kolb, CED: "Some people see this as
a man bites dog story because you know it's the business community
saying okay we're tired of this."
Douglass concluded: "All of this has angered
the Senate's chief Republican fundraiser, Mitch McConnell, who fired off
a letter accusing one CEO of trying to 'eviscerate private sector
participation in politics.' But instead of backing down the business
group labeled McConnell's letter a veiled threat and used it to recruit
one hundred more executives to support campaign reform."
Bill Clinton concerned about having too much sex? Appearing on
Wednesday's CBS This Morning to plug his new book of radio essays, See
You on the Radio, CBS radio "Osgood Files" commentator and
Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood related an encounter he had with a
then-unknown Clinton in 1991.
Recalling how he
used to do commentaries for the old CBS Morning News in the same studio
now used by CBS This Morning, he told This Morning's Russ Mitchell in an
exchange caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"Eight years ago when Wilt Chamberlain's
book came out, I looked at that and it said he claimed to have had sex
with 20,000 different women. There was a lot of discussion about whether
this was possible, whether any human being could do this. And I did, I
suppose at the risk of being called a prig, I did a piece in which I said
you know I think that it's unfortunate that somebody like this, this was
at a time when Magic Johnson had been diagnosed with HIV, I said it's too
bad that there's no reference in here to any moral dimension at all. No
sense of right and wrong, it really needs to be talked about, and it's a
bad example for young people.
"Well anyway, the next morning I came down
to do a follow-up on this, and when I finished doing it, I walked right
over there [points across studio]. And there was a man standing in the
corner on the way out. He was about to begin the next segment. And I did
not know who it was, didn't recognize him at all. And he said I heard
what you said yesterday, and he said I could not agree with you more. And
he said I'm glad that that really got said. He said 'I'm Bill
of Chamberlain's competition for the babes.
+++ Watch Osgood
recount his 1991 encounter with Bill Clinton. Friday morning MRC Webmaster
Sean Henry will post a RealPlayer clip of Osgood telling his tale. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
From the October 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Donald Trump Campaign Slogans." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants,
10. "He'll Make Our National Defense
As Impenetrable As His Hair."
9. "A New First Lady For Each Year Of His Candidacy."
8. "He'll Give This Country The Same Attention He Gives His Flimsy,
Poorly-Constructed Apartment Buildings."
7. "Fewer $350 Hammers -- More 99-Cent Shrimp Cocktails."
6. "Trump/Oprah -- Still Less Embarrassing Than Clinton/Gore."
5. "He'll Buy Iraq And Turn It Into A Highly Profitable Parking
4. "Friend Of The Working Man, And Even Better Friend Of The Working
3. "You've Placed Losing Bets At His Casinos -- Now Place A Losing
Bet On His Candidacy."
2. "Finally A President Who Knows When To Get Out Of A Bad
1. "Because He Really Needs To Boost His Self-Esteem."
And, from the Late
Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it
into the Top Ten."
-- "He'll Fix Health Care Just Like He
Fixes Prize Fights!"
-- "Bringing Atlantic City Values To The Entire Country"
-- "Vote For Him And He'll Let You Touch His Hair"
-- "Isn't It About Time For A Really Hot First Lady With Fake
If they're 38
Double D's maybe Jesse Ventura will move into the White House too.
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