1) The day
after the re-sentencing of the au pair the story still led one
network's evening show. In fact, three stories in a row on the au pair
topped the November 11 CBS Evening News: a story by Kristin
Jeannette-Myers on reaction to the reduced sentence, an interview
conducted by Dan Rather with a juror upset by the judge's decision to
free Louise Woodward, and a short item read by Rather about how au
pair applications from Britain are down. Then CBS got around to
World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News led with Iraq. NBC didn't
get to the au pair until after the second ad break.
2) In a
humiliating defeat for a sitting President, Clinton had to ask Newt
Gingrich to cancel a vote on fast track trade legislation because he
(Clinton, that is) couldn't get more than a few dozen House members of
his own party to support him. So, how did the networks play it Monday
night? ABC relayed how Clinton blamed conservative demands as both ABC
and CBS argued it did not show that Clinton has lost any clout.
November 10 World News Tonight ABC's John Cochran asserted, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Gene Eliasen:
in the end, despite all the deal making, there was one deal Bill
Clinton could not cut. That was a demand by Republican conservatives
that he put some anti-abortion language in a foreign aid bill. If he
had done that, there's just a chance, just a chance he might have won
on fast track, but he said no."
"And so who are the winners and losers in all this?"
"Big winners: Labor unions, who opposed the President and showed
they still have a lot of political clout in this town. Big winner,
Dick Gephardt, the House Democratic leader, who took on the President
and won. Big losers: Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich, who
supported the President. The biggest loser, of course, Bill Clinton
himself. Already, and probably unfairly, people are asking, 'Is he a
lame duck who can no longer win the big ones?'"
Well, he just
lost a big one.
Over on the
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather intoned:
"President Clinton today was beaten and sounded retreat in his
effort to pass so-called fast track trade legislation. The President
says he will return and try again to get the measure through Congress.
But first he has to twist more arms on both sides of the aisle and
promise a lot more and shake speculation that he is losing some of his
legislative clout in his second term...."
3) Last Thursday during the 7am news update Ann Curry told Today
prosecutors may have made some potentially damaging discoveries in the
files of an Arkansas Savings & Loan. Witnesses say they turned up
a cashiers check for more than $20,000 made out in Bill Cinton's name.
The President has testified under oath that he never borrowed money
from the S&L."
phrase: "potentially damaging." That 17-second item read
just once on Today represented the totality of broadcast network
coverage of the Whitewater check discovery until a story appeared on
Monday's NBC Nightly News. But through Tuesday's evening shows nothing
yet on ABC or CBS.
announced on November 10: "For four years now the Whitewater
investigation has taken numerous and sometimes bizarre twists and
turns. Well tonight the latest. A discovery in an Arkansas car repair
shop that could challenge the veracity of President Clinton and
transcribed by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens, NBC reporter Fred
mystery begins at Johnny's Transmission shop in south Little Rock. An
unlikely place to find what could be key evidence in the Whitewater
investigation. Last spring a tornado ripped through this neighborhood,
damaging hundreds of cars. Nine years ago one of the cars had been
abandoned over a repair dispute. It belonged to this man, Henry Floyd,
a courier for Jim McDougal a now jailed Whitewater business partner of
President Clinton. Floyd had worked at McDougal's failed savings and
loan. And incredibly he says he forgot that he left six years of bank
documents in the car. Before junking it mechanic Johnny Lawhorn pried
open the trunk and found a cashier's check for $27,600 payable to Bill
to the mystery, Bill Clinton has testified that he never borrowed
money from his Whitewater partner. But the amount of the check
corresponds exactly to the amount of a Whitewater loan repayment. So
why was it made out to Bill Clinton? That's what the Whitewater grand
jury wants to know. And although Clinton's attorneys discredit the new
documents there are a trunk full of bank records. Some of them
relating to a time when Hillary Clinton worked as a lawyer on another
McDougal land deal, Castle Grande. Castle Grande is a thousand acre
track that McDougal wanted to sell as trailer home sites. The grand
jury is now examining these documents to help answer the question
whether Mrs. Clinton has honestly portrayed her role in the financing
of that project..."
Francis ran a
soundbite from Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before
concluding that "the Whitewater grand jury has until next May to
make something of this mystery or ask for yet another extension."
uncovered that shows the President probably lied, yet ABC and CBS have
yet to find the discovery of any interest.
4) How does a
crusading liberal reporter catch the wrath of his journalistic
colleagues? He writes a book that destroys the myth built around a
liberal icon. That's just what has happened to Seymour Hersh, a hero
to liberals during the 1960s and 70s, in reaction to his new book on
President Kennedy. While he offers some new details and eyewitness
accounts, virtually all the charges in his book -- from the Mob buying
the Illinois election to women in the White House -- were long ago
reported. But if you've seen any of the stories on Hersh you know that
reporters are acting as if Hersh is passing along new and unbelievable
As a case
study, look at Today's two-part interview aired Monday and Tuesday.
Matt Lauer didn't treat Hersh as a journalistic hero digging out the
truth, but as an irresponsible rumor-monger. As the MRC's Director of
News Analysis, Tim Graham, reminded me, that's quite a different
greeting than Today offered Kitty Kelly when she wrote her salacious
book on Nancy Reagan. On the April 8, 1991 Today, Bryant Gumbel
author Kitty Kelly has proven both her courage and her credibility
with her no-holds-barred biographies of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth
Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Now she's out with her most
difficult and explosive book yet. Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized
Biography goes on sale this morning, and already people are running
for cover, issuing denials from all around the nation."
first question: "This book paints a picture of a totally
unethical, scheming social climber who lied and faked her way through
life. Is that the picture you set out to create?"
to Lauer with Hersh. Running all the questions would take at least
four pages, so here are some representative questions, as transcribed
by MRC intern Rebecca Hinnershitz:
book, The Dark Side of Camelot, is out today, but the
controversy began earlier this fall when a collection on
Hersh's source documents on some of the most titillating
topics proved to be fakes. Seymour Hersh, good
handle the legacy of JFK with about as much tenderness as a
steamroller. What was your goal with the book?"
talk about the controversy. The documents you obtained in
question was apparently a contract between JFK and Marilyn
Monroe, hush money paid to Marilyn Monroe to keep her quiet
about their alleged affair. You insisted that those
documents were authentic long after others began to question
do you say about the problem that might now exist where
people may look at the other stories in the book and the
other sources in the book and say that because there was a
bogus document that we continued to believe for so long
these other stories may not be true."
say that in 1960, John F. Kennedy stole the election. Let's
begin with the fact that you say he paid $2 million in a
primary election to win the state of West Virginia. And you
go further and you say Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy
personally delivered some of that money to local state
politicians. Based on what proof?"
Bobby Kennedy's not around to defend himself. A spokesperson
for Ted Kennedy said 'We don't intend to comment on this
kind of malicious gossip and innuendo.'"
have heard this about you before. People think that you have
strong opinions and that often your opinions cloud your
journalism. I know you've done wonderful works in the past,
but they think that possibly you've been twisting the words
of sources. Some of your sources in this book have now come
out and said you twisted their words. As a matter of fact,
one gentleman, Jerry Bruno, a former Kennedy advance man,
says after being interviewed by you and reading the final
product that you should have called this book the Dark Side
of Seymour Hersh."
the November 11 Today:
have been stories circulating for years about alleged
affairs between JFK and a variety of women. Very few facts
have surfaced. Or pictures have surfaced or interviews with
people involved in those affairs over these years to back
them up. What new ground have you broken?"
years have passed. Why would they [Secret Service agents]
talk to you now and not have told their stories to anyone
else over that time period?"
right you mention women. The way you put it out in the book
it seems like once he was elected he turned the White House
into basically a sex club. That there were women in the
White House all the time. Almost on a daily basis you say.
And a lot of them were, you used the word hookers I'll use
the word prostitutes. Who was bringing these women to the
you're saying they are standing outside the door of the
Lincoln bedroom or the pool in the White House. They're
guarding what they know is going on inside which is the
President, according to you frolicking with prostitutes and
basically their job has now become to make sure that Jackie
doesn't come down the hall?"
we are talking about prostitutes and we are talking about
over the course of a presidency in the White House we must
be talking about dozens of prostitutes. Would you agree with
these are women who sell their bodies, sell sexual favors
for money. Are you gonna try to tell me that these women
over the period of 35 years wouldn't sell what is an amazing
story for money, to someone?"
about an author? How about write a book? How about go to
someone and say, 'Look what I did with the President of the
United States. Let's write a book. Let's make a
have circulated about the possibility that John F. Kennedy
did have a venereal disease at one time or another. You
basically say he had venereal diseases on and off for 30
years. Do you have any medical records? Did you find proof,
talk to doctors who said, 'Yes I treated JFK for venereal
talk about one period where a Secret Service agent goes to a
Washington gallery with photos, nude photos of the President
frolicking with women and has them framed as keepsakes. Now
as you know in Time magazine Sydney Mickelson, the owner of
that gallery in question, has said that the story was very
different. That none of the people, this is what you said in
the book that they were nude in bed. He says none of the
pictures showed anyone naked. That first of all the three
people in the pictures he saw, the two pictures, were
wearing masks and they had covers pulled up right to their
necks. Which story is true?"
couldn't tell they were the President, they had a mask
on....But in the book you called them sexually explicit
photographs of a naked President with various
paramours....But just a simple point was the President naked
in these photos or not?...Covers up, covering his body or
Lauer ended with a note of scorn: "Again stories have been going
around for years. And I think that's one of also the complaints on
this book by the way Seymour. Is that all these stories have been out
there. That you're basically taking a lot of, I guess, stories that
have never been proven putting them together and making them fact. But
the one story you do talk about in the book was that JFK was married
before Jackie. That he actually married Durie Malcolm, a Palm Beach
socialite. Basically you call it a one night stand. Durie Malcolm, as
you know, is still alive. She has always denied that she was ever
married to JFK. There are no records to prove it. Why are you right
and why is she lying?"
5) From this
week's CBS "Eye Opener" e-mail report:
at 10:00 PM, ET/PT, finds the CBS premiere of UNSOLVED MYSTERIES.
Subjects on host Robert Stack's agenda include Elvis Presley's alleged
suicide, whether Michael Landon has contacted his stepdaughter from
beyond and a homicide in Kentucky."
too different than the usual 48 Hours fare aired in that time slot.