Starr: "Flynt with Subpoena Power"; "A Legislative Coup d'etat"; GOP McCarthyism
3) Led by the "repulsive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife," Geraldo Rivera charged, conservatives enacted "a legislative coup d'etat" as part of their "pathologically ideological movement to oust our very popular and effective President."
>>> "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Go to http://www.mrc.org and click on the "Best of NQ" button, or go directly to the Best of NQ page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq1998.html. Either way, you'll find both: a) The Print Edition sent to subscribers. The annual special 8-page version of Notable Quotables with award winners and runners-up in 14 categories as judged by a panel of 50 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and other leading media observers who generously gave of their time. Web Bonus: RealPlayer video and audio clips of the biased quotes from television. Don't just read the bias -- hear and see it too. b) Special Web Edition. See which quotes visitors to the MRC Web site voted as the most biased of the year.
Holiday or not, you can always count on Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt to deliver the liberal view. For the "Outrage of the Year" Time's Carlson impugned Ken Starr as Larry "Flynt with subpoena power and a grand jury" and the Wall Street Journal's Hunt denounced the "extraordinary hypocrisy" of those who voted to impeach Clinton but had opposed punishing Newt Gingrich.
At the end of
CNN's Capital Gang on December 26 Margaret Carlson declared:
Al Hunt then
offered his Outrage of the Year:
Of course, applying the same reasoning means that all the Democrats and Republicans who voted to punish Gingrich but voted no on the impeachment articles are also hypocrites. But that's not the kind of hypocrisy Hunt cares about. And that's "extraordinary hypocrisy."
Complementing Carlson's theory that Larry Flynt is just following through on Ken Starr's work, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that last week on ABC's Good Morning America substitute host Cynthia McFadden kept arguing that Flynt is doing what the Christian Right wants by outing adulterers. McFadden missed the fact that the Christian Right hasn't outed anybody.
Falwell on December 22, she pressed:
Geraldo Rivera of NBC News. Over the past few months a few CyberAlert readers have asked why I cite comments from Rivera when he's a known liberal advocate with a talk show, not a newsman. His appearance on Today last week explains my reasoning. Rivera is a member of the NBC News team that NBC News shows off.
The Tuesday, December 22 show featured a discussion between the pro-Clinton Rivera, who had "NBC News" beneath his name on screen, and G. Gordon Liddy, properly identified as a "radio talk show host." As with shows such as Capital Gang and the McLaughlin Group, the liberal advocate is part of the mainstream media.
Far from pretending to be fair, Rivera's staff boasts of his slant. In the December 28 New York Post columnist Adam Buckman looked at Roger Clinton's appearance the week before on CNBC's Rivera Live. Quoting the show's Senior Producer, Steve North, Buckman relayed: "He requested to appear on Rivera Live because of his long relationship with the program and because host Geraldo Rivera 'has been the President's most vocal supporter,' North said."
On Today, Rivera charged that with the help of the "repulsive billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife," conservatives enacted "a legislative coup d'etat" as part of their "pathologically ideological movement to oust our very popular and effective President." He added that "the GOP has now been kidnaped by the hard right" and he told Liddy: "I compare you to Susan McDougall. I think you're both people of great principle, however quirky."
Here are some excerpts of his December 22 appearance with Liddy as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake:
-- Today co-host
Matt Lauer to Rivera: "Hey Geraldo. I want you to set this up for me.
Tell me what this is cultural war is supposed to be about, and why it has
had such a direct impact upon what is going with the President for the
-- Lauer's next
question: "So what you're saying is that they're going after him
because what he represents, not actually what he did?"
-- Rivera to Liddy, declaring a legislative coup d'etat: "That was the party with the slender majority and two weeks to live that impeached the man because they could. It was a spiteful action, an action that they performed absolutely in violation of the framers' intent. It was a legislative coup d'etat, and it has been rejected utterly by the American people, 73 percent of whom now say they approve of the President's performance in office."
-- After denigrating Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg as "the snitches, the rats," Rivera compared Liddy to Susan McDougall: "You didn't say anything because you didn't want to be a snitch. You didn't want to take down the boss who sent you on a serial felony mission to sabotage the opposition. That's why you didn't testify. That's to your credit. I compare you to Susan McDougall. I think you're both people of great principle, however quirky."
-- Rivera's final shot: "In my view, the GOP has now been kidnaped by the hard right. What you saw with, here was Amo Houghton, the scion of a wealthy family, an aristocrat who's been a congressman for a long time from the Western district. He now, for the first time, has a primary opponent because he stood for the President. This Republican Congressman, this moderate, this Rockefeller Republican now has a primary opponent who's a fundamentalist minister. That's the threat that kept the Republicans in line. That is now the party that has kidnaped the GOP. It's the hard right, the religious conservatives. There's no more coalition Republican. It's just an ideological war now."
As if he and the other Clintonistas never made it ideological by making war on the "vast right-wing conspiracy."
NBC's Brian Williams was disappointed that a liberal Democrat's
invoking of the rallying cry against McCarthyism didn't generate more
traction. Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, alerted me
to a question Williams posed to the Judiciary Committee's Democratic
counsel Abbe Lowell on December 21. On MSNBC's The News with Brian
Williams, referring to Democrat Robert Wexler, Williams lamented:
Clinton and rape. The networks may be ignoring the story now, but they did cover it back in March.
Chris Matthews suggested on a special Saturday Hardball on December 19 that never-released evidence about a charge of sexual assault against Bill Clinton is what convinced many moderate Republicans to back impeachment, fueling discussion on talk radio shows, including Sean Hannity filling in for Rush Limbaugh on December 21 and 23. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay stoked the speculation when he urged on December 23: "Before people look to cut a deal with the White House or their surrogates who will seek to influence the process, it is my hope that one would spend plenty of time in the evidence room. If this were to happen, you may realize that 67 votes may appear out of thin air. If you don't, you may wish you had before rushing to judgment." The White House denounced him while the Washington Post and New York Times on December 24 suggested he was referring to the case of "Jane Doe #5."
While at least some of the networks cited DeLay's comment on their December 23 evening shows, on December 24 the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows failed to pick up on the simmering feud between DeLay and the White House, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reported to me.
But despite any current consternation over the appropriateness of reporting the sexual assault allegation, the networks did report on it back in March when first raised by lawyers for Paula Jones. To "refresh your recollections" of the specifics, here's an excerpt from the Monday March 30, 1998 CyberAlert:
The networks all ran stories Saturday and Sunday night about the Paula Jones court filing complaining about how the Clinton team suppressed the Willey letters and citing a woman who Clinton supposedly assaulted in 1978.
On Saturday night NBC's Lisa Myers took the assault charge seriously, detailing how the incident became public, citing the woman's name and running soundbites from the man whose knowledge the Jones lawyers cited. She even added supporting evidence from another contemporary witness. ABC, in contrast, referred to the woman only as "Jane Doe #5" as Linda Douglass emphasized the lack of credibility of those making the charge, dismissing them as Clinton enemies. Sunday night ABC again punctuated the weakness of the charge instead of exploring it as CBS also framed the story around White House outrage....
Saturday, March 28. (NCAA basketball meant
no CBS Evening News.) On ABC's World News Tonight Saturday anchor
Elizabeth Vargas announced:
Douglass proceeded to the "ugly" charge: "But Jones's lawyers didn't stop at obstruction of justice. They also claim to have 'significant evidence' which suggests Mr. Clinton 'sexually assaulted' a woman, Jane Doe #5, twenty years ago. But the main evidence they produced was a second-hand account from a man named Phil Yoakum, who says in a letter that Jane Doe #5 told him about the alleged assault. Yoakum says his account can be corroborated by Sheffield Nelson, a Republican who is Mr. Clinton's arch-enemy in Arkansas. Legal sources tell ABC News that Jane Doe #5 told Jones lawyers under oath that the incident did not happen, but the lawyers did not include her denial in their court papers today. The President's lawyer called the Jane Doe #5 allegations 'reckless and outrageous,' a sign he said that Jones's lawyers are becoming desperate. The judge in the Jones case is expected to rule on the President's motion to dismiss the case in the next several weeks."
NBC's Lisa Myers provided a more complete overview of the charge so viewers could decide for themselves its credibility. On NBC Nightly News she began: "The explosive new allegation tonight is that President Clinton sexually assaulted a woman twenty years ago in Arkansas..."
After noting that Clinton was Attorney General at the time he supposedly forced himself upon campaign worker Juanita Broaddrick, Myers relayed: "In court documents today Jones's lawyers claim Clinton quote 'forcible raped and sexually assaulted' then quote 'bribed and intimidated her' to remain silent."
Broaddrick has denied the charge under oath, Myers noted, before continuing: "NBC News has talked to four people from Arkansas who say Broaddrick told them of such an assault years ago..."
Specifically, she told Phillip Yoakum.
Sunday, March 29. ABC and NBC only gave the assault charge a couple of sentences while CBS, which did not have a Saturday newscast, gave it a bit more time....
On the CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson first went to the "gross suppression of evidence" charged by Jones. Then she jumped to the assault charge, but she provided none of the details relayed by NBC and led with White House denials instead of explaining the allegation:
"...The White House describes as outrageous and false other allegations in the new Jones documents -- unsubstantiated claims that Bill Clinton raped a woman back in 1978 when he was Arkansas's Attorney General, then suppressed her story through bribes and/or threats. Outraged Clinton defenders say the woman is on the record denying that it ever happened."
After a soundbite from Torricelli,
Attkisson delivered this less than definitive conclusion:
Margaret Carlson's strange neighborhood, somewhere in the Washington, DC
area. Asked on the December 26 Capital Gang to name her "sleeper
issue for the new year," Time's Margaret Carlson replied:
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