CyberAlert -- 11/24/1997 -- Nets Never Touched Arlington
Nets Never Touched
Arlington; But Some Admit Believability
>>>> MRC in the Wall Street Journal. Friday's (November 21) Journal featured an op-ed piece by the MRC's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham titled "An NRA Victory? That's Not Fit to Print." If you subscribe to the WSJ you might want to check it out, but it should be up on our Web site in a few days. <<<<
Correction: As many of you let me know, Friday's CyberAlert mistakenly referred to the multiple births in Iowa as sextuplets. They are septuplets.
Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry on Friday and some members of the media over the weekend condemned both talk radio and the "mainstream" media for relaying the Arlington Cemetery allegation. But there's one big problem with blaming the mainstream media for spreading the apparently disproved charge: The broadcast networks, with one 18 second exception, never reported it and three of the four most influential newspapers buried the story inside.
Friday night on CNN's Prime News reporter Bob Franken reviewed how the
charge came forth and how Army Secretary Togo West refuted it at a
press conference earlier on Friday. Franken then noted that "The
White House is also incensed at the mainstream media." Franken
showed a soundbite from White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry:
"Shame ought to extend to people who failed to report and make
editorial judgements about whether they want to pursue stories before
they put them in print and put them on the air, too."
fact, while CNN did air a story Thursday night on the allegation, none
of the broadcast evening shows (ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening
News and NBC Nightly News) ever touched it. Neither did NBC's
Today or CBS's This Morning. This 18 second item read by Good Morning
America news reader Kevin Newman during the 7:30am news update
represents the totality of broadcast network coverage through Friday
was it for the networks. Of the four most influential dailies, on
Friday only the Los Angeles Times played Arlington on the front page.
And the LA Times had a local angle, a name revealed Wednesday night by
Washington's WJLA-TV, not talk radio. The LA Times lead: "M.
Larry Lawrence, the late owner of San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado and a
major donor to President Clinton, is a focus of a House panel's
investigation into whether the administration rewarded contributors
with burial plots in Arlington National Cemetery..."
But, as noted above, CNN did air a story Thursday night. The November 21 CyberAlert suggested that CNN did not have time for an Arlington story since a sextuplet -- just kidding -- a septuplet press conference went through the time for Inside Politics and a special on the septuplets replaced the World Today at 10pm ET. Well, I wrongly assumed the special would last an hour. It only aired for a half hour and during the shortened 10:30 to 11pm ET World Today CNN aired a piece from Bob Franken. But while Franken did relay the key charge made by Insight magazine, he heaped plenty of doubt on it and made sure viewers knew the story came from a "conservative" and "right-leaning" publication.
With the help of the CNN transcript Web page and MRC news analyst Clay Waters, here's Franken's November 21 story:
Franken: "Arlington National Cemetery, the nation's hallowed
resting ground for heroes felled in battle. Generally, only highly
decorated military personnel, their families, and some very
distinguished civilians are permitted burial at Arlington. So
allegations made by a conservative magazine that the Clinton
administration is trading precious burial space for political
contributions has caused a political uproar, particularly on the
volatile radio talk show circuit."
The weekend chat shows also brought some surprises on the Arlington front: ABC's Cokie Roberts and USA Today's Susan Page realized that people were so willing to believe the worst about Clinton and Arlington because the administration has lied so many times before.
the very end of ABC's This Week on November 23 Sam Donaldson and Cokie
Roberts reviewed how the Arlington story unfolded. Roberts concluded:
CNN's Late Edition USA Today reporter Susan Page recalled another
One difference between Arlington and the grocery scanner story: The February 1992 scanner story first appeared on the front page of the New York Times. And I don't recall any consternation about how a "liberal" or "left-leaning" publication had first publicized the tale.
Concluding her "Outrage of the Week" on the November 22 Capital Gang on CNN, Time columnist Margaret Carlson insisted that in the Arlington cemetery story, "Republicans succeeded in spreading this despicable lie because the press is as addicted to scandal as they are."
We wish. Some outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times and CNN, pick up on credible developments, but the broadcast networks refuse to cover them most of the time. Two examples from last week:
"Whitewater Prosecution Scouring White House Videotapes:
CNN caught the White House in another fib. On Friday's Inside
Politics, Bernard Shaw intoned: "Now, the latest release of White
House tapes. The videos don't seem quite as 'ho-hum' as the
administration suggests. Our John King reports on the connection to a
controversy involving Indian casinos and Democratic donations."
Coverage: Nothing on either item on any broadcast network show last week.
Final note: The November 21 CyberAlert said that the latest MRC Media Reality Check fax report, on coverage of the Teamsters, could be read on the MRC Web site. Unfortunately, it is not yet up on our site, but I hope it will be by sometime Tuesday.
-- Brent Baker