CyberAlert -- 10/21/1997 -- Clinton Call Letter; Starr's Gestapo Tactics Toward McDougal
Clinton Call Letter; Starr's Gestapo Tactics Toward McDougal
1) Congressman Dan Burton's suggestion on Sunday's Face the Nation that the White House may have altered or edited the videotapes generated a few broadcast network mentions Sunday night and Monday morning. But only CBS picked up a Newsweek item on a donor who said Clinton called him.
-- A World News Tonight story Sunday night by Karla Davis led with Burton's allegation that the abrupt ending of some tapes shows they may have been altered, but the Sunday CBS Evening News ignored it. Monday morning (October 21) Good Morning America news reader Kevin Newman read a brief item on Burton during the 7am and 8am newscasts, MRC news analyst Eric Darbe noted. NBC's Today, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, gave Burton an anchor-read brief during the 7am, 7:30am and 8am news updates by Ann Curry. Even This Morning news anchor Jane Robelot on CBS gave Burton a couple of sentences.
-- Monday morning, MRC news analyst Steve Kaminski noticed, This
Morning news anchor Jane Robelot read one sentence about a Newsweek
report confirming that Clinton made fundraising calls. Neither GMA or
Today mentioned the evidence of calls. Monday night, of the broadcast
networks, only the CBS Evening News reported the Newsweek discovery.
Dan Rather read this 30-second story:
Rather stopped reading the letter before finishing what viewers saw on screen. The rest of what CBS put up on the chyron: "You said you wanted to raise $2 million from 40 good friends."
So, not only proof that Clinton called one business executive but that call was part of a plan to contact at least 39 other potential givers. All in the face of What House "don't recalls." Yet, neither ABC or NBC found it newsworthy.
2) Yesterday's (October 20) CyberAlert noted that none of the networks picked up on Friday's Washington Post story detailing the relationship amongst Molten Metal Technology, Al Gore, Peter Knight, DNC contributions and government grants. The CyberAlert also reported that when Time broke the story back in June the networks ignored the story, even CNN.
Update: All true, but CNN did air a piece on it during an October 15 Money Trail special at 10pm ET last Wednesday. MRC news analyst Clay Waters informed me that CNN ran a story by Time's Michael Weisskopf, author of the June magazine item. Afterwards, anchor Judy Woodruff posed a couple of questions about the matter to White House counsel Lanny Davis.
up on some bias from a couple of weeks ago, Dateline NBC ran a
two-part interview with Susan McDougal on October 5 and 6. But instead
of treating her an uncooperative impediment to justice NBC's Stone
Phillips portrayed her as a victim of Kenneth Starr's vindictiveness.
Here are some excerpts from the stories without most over the soundbites from McDougal, as transcribed by MRC intern Rebecca Hinnershitz. From the October 5 Dateline:
Stone Phillips: "Last year Susan McDougal was convicted of fraud in the ongoing Whitewater investigation. Prosecutors offered her a deal. If she'd give them something incriminating about her old friends the Clintons, they'd give her a lighter sentence. She refused and went to jail rather than testify before a Whitewater grand jury. But Susan McDougal had no idea what was in store for her. Tonight a Dateline exclusive: Susan McDougal and her family speak out on a prosecution they say became persecution..."
"At first, she went to this minimum security federal facility in Texas where inmates are free to walk around and visit with one another, but in December she was moved to a county jail in Los Angeles for a court hearing on unrelated criminal charges. That's when her family says authorities began a deliberate pattern of persecution, aimed they say at breaking Susan's silence, starting when she was locked in a cell alone for forty-eight hours -- allowed out for just fifteen minutes to call her brother Bill...."
"And Dateline discovered it's not just Susan McDougal's family that's saying her treatment in jail has been unusually tough.... By her own admission Lorraine Overbaugh, who goes by the nickname Butch, is a street-scarred former junkie well-acquainted with life inside the L.A. County Jail. Butch told Dateline that while Susan McDougal was locked in her cell for up to 23 hours a day, other prisoners, even the accused murderers, were allowed out to watch TV and socialize..."
"And as hard as K10 was, it got eve tougher in June when Susan was moved to the new county jail into a cell like this one -- spotless but soundproof, adding to her sense of isolation..."
"But what angers Susan's family even more is that she continued to be held in the county jail on lockdown in spite of a judge's repeated orders like this one last December. It ordered her released on the local charges pending her trial and returned to federal custody, but for months Susan McDougal was not moved."
Phillips proceeded to explain how it took a lawsuit from the ACLU to get her moved to a nicer facility.
Not only is she being persecuted by Starr, but Phillips told Dateline
viewers, the case against her in California is also a bogus set up to
further Starr's goal.
Phillips outlined the California case and how McDougal supposedly stole $150,000 while working as personal assistant to Hollywood actress Nancy Kovac. Phillips finally got around to challenging McDougal, asking her about how she set up mail drop addresses for credit cards. But he soon returned to the theme of McDougal the victim: "She clearly has some explaining to do in court, but her lawyer Mark Gerigos claims he can prove that when the allegations first came to light more than five years ago the case was considered too weak to prosecute." The piece ended with Phillips relaying a denial from the LA District Attorney's office.
If you think part one was biased, wait to you read what NBC delivered the next night. Here are some excerpts from the October 6 Dateline:
Stone Phillips: "....It's been more than a year since Susan
McDougal was caught in the Whitewater net. But unlike others,
including her ex-husband, who caved and cooperated she has remained
silent. And though she has served harder time than many murderers,
locked down in isolation, left in a county jail for months in spite of
a judge's order that she be transferred, she says it has only
stiffened her spine and her belief that prosecutor Kenneth Star and
his investigators will stop at nothing in what she calls the
'Whitewater witch hunt.'"
The story soon moved to a review of the Whitewater land deal, what McDougal was convicted of doing and how Hillary Clinton pushed the project forward. As the segment neared its conclusion Phillips finally got tough with McDougal, showing her examples of how she had lied on job applications, incidents that lead prosecutors to consider her deceitful.
The final inquiry from Phillips: "Your family says that you could make two phone calls. One to the prosecutors one to a publisher and you'd be free and you'd be rich. Are those phone calls you'll ever make."
More than 20 minutes of airtime, but instead of portraying her as obstructing justice by refusing to say whether the President lied at her trial, NBC turned her into a martyr, treating seriously her outlandish equating of the Gestapo and the independent counsel. If Watergate figures had claimed that Archibald Cox reminded them of Stalinist tactics do you think NBC News would have treated the allegation as credible, worthy of elaboration in prime time?
-- Brent Baker