night NBC Nightly News caught up with ABC's World News Tonight and
featured a piece on Larry Lawrence. ABC ran one on Thursday night. But
the CBS Evening News still hasn't mentioned the revelation that
Lawrence's claim of suffering an injury while serving in the merchant
marine during World War II has been discredited. Nothing about it on
Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.
Also AWOL on
the story: all three morning shows, though the Lawrence revelation
prompted the Washington Post to move the story on Friday from the
Metro section to the front page. Through Friday morning ABC's Good
Morning America, CBS's This Morning and NBC's Today had yet to mention
the controversy over Lawrence, reported MRC news analysts Gene Eliasen,
Steve Kaminski and Eric Darbe.
5 Nightly News dedicated an "In Depth" piece to questions
about the justification for Larry Lawrence being granted a waiver for
burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Reporter David Bloom explained:
he died last year, Lawrence, then America's Ambassador to Switzerland,
and a huge Democratic donor, was eulogized by President Clinton,
buried in coveted space near the Tomb of the Unknowns. But if, as is
now suspected, Lawrence lied about his World War II service, he may
not be buried at Arlington for long. Today the President said serious
questions have been raised..."
viewers how Lawrence earned the waiver because of his claim that he
suffered a head injury when his ship was torpedoed during World War
II, but his name does not appear on the ship's crew list. Bloom added:
"This afternoon Lawrence's former personal assistant said she'd
long suspected he'd made the story up after asking her for research on
Merchant Marine ships."
NBC then ran
a clip from Norma Nicolls, the same woman cited by ABC's Nightline on
Thursday night: "The only names I could remember were the
Bushnell and the Battle or Murmansk. I gave it to him and I didn't see
that Lawrence family members call her a disgruntled former employee,
Bloom concluded by relaying that the White House said that if he did
not serve he will be moved.
Evening News had no time for Lawrence, but did make room for multiple
stories on El Nino and a piece on a dispute over whether the producers
of the "Armistad" movie plagiarized a book. Saturday's New
York Post brought more evidence that Lawrence did a bit of resume
enhancing. The Post discovered that during the month he supposedly
suffered his injury he was actually taking at least 12 credit hours at
Wilbur Wright Junior College in Chicago. But still no interest by CBS.
Sunday night, this 17-second item read by Dan Rather on November 21,
in which he dismissed the matter, stands as the totality of CBS
Evening News coverage:
been considerable publicity lately about accusations that President
Clinton quote, 'perhaps provided burial space at Arlington National
Cemetery to major campaign donors,' unquote. Spokesmen for President
Clinton flatly and unequivocally denied this today to CBS News and
they called it 'a deliberate political smear,' unquote."
2) No matter
what the Clintonites do or did they are never to blame for anything,
if you follow the creative spin and blame shifting forwarded by Time
columnist Margaret Carlson. On the cemetery flap, first she blamed the
media for spreading a lie. Two weeks later when the lie was a bit less
clear, she blamed money in politics.
her "Outrage of the Week" on the November 22 Capital Gang on
CNN, Carlson insisted that in the Arlington story, "Republicans
succeeded in spreading this despicable lie because the press is as
addicted to scandal as they are."
two weeks. On the December 6 Capital Gang Margaret Carlson announced
this as her Outrage of the Week:
dug into Larry Lawrence's past before making him an ambassador, which
then allowed him the higher honor of burial at Arlington. While the
non-rich get an FBI check that includes asking the neighbors whether
you take out your trash, no one bothered to check whether the rich
campaign donor Lawrence was injured at sea, or in the merchant marine
at all. Yet another reason for taking money out of campaigns."
the idiocy of proposing that campaigns could be run without money,
maybe the Arlington controversy is yet another reason to take money
out of reporter's paychecks. The entire Washington media establishment
dropped the ball. We probably still wouldn't know about Lawrence's
resume enhancement if it weren't for conservative columnist Arianna
Huffington, who convinced Norma Nicolls to tell what she knew.
3) After Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in 1994
most business PACs and associations shifted their contributions to
favor the new incumbent party. But not the two biggest media
companies. They stuck with the Democrats. On December 2 the Washington
Post ran the findings from a study of the top 50 political givers
conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics. The study counted
money from PACs, employees and members of their families donated in
the 1995-96 election cycle.
Company, owner of ABC, contributed $1,637,130. Of that, 75 percent
went to Democrats and just 25 percent to Republicans.
Inc., owner of Time magazine and CNN, donated $1,400,163. They were a
bit more balanced, but still tilted to the party out of power, giving
54 percent to Democrats and 46 percent to Republican candidates.
writers can shape a story even though they don't write them. Check out
some Friday headlines over stories about Winnie Mandela's appearance
before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
in the December 5 Washington Post --
"Winnie Mandela: Murder Accusers 'Liars'"
The same day,
the headline in the International Herald Tribune announced:
"'Begged' by Tutu, Mandela Says She's Sorry.".
similarity between the two headlines: Both appeared over the identical
story written by Post reporter Lynne Duke.
story carried a subhead which added some context:
"In Testimony, She Denies Responsibility for Abuses, but
Apologizes to Families."
The same day,
the Boston Globe declared:
"Madikizela-Madela Denies Allegations."
Did she? Here
are two headlines which contrast with the angle highlighted by the Washington
Post and Boston Globe:
Mandela Offers Apology" -- Richmond Times Dispatch.
Mandela Admits 'Things Went Horribly Wrong'" -- Baltimore
but not necessarily true -- a demonstration that in deciding which
part of an event to emphasize a headline writer can influence public
perception of what happened