CyberAlert -- December 23, 1996 -- Scandals Skipped
Scandals Skipped; Bias? Ridiculous; Clift's Year-End AwardsBryant Gumbel Countdown Calendar: 11 Days to Go
1. In October Tim Russert called a Clinton scandal development "dead serious." On Friday he called another revelation "deadly serious." But, again, it's hardly big news on NBC.
2. ABC's Cokie Roberts insisted nobody can "not be appalled" at how large donors get a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. But World News Tonight never told viewers about it.
3. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter dismissed as "ridiculous" a reporter's contention that Clinton's ethics were underplayed, but MediaWatch showed how wrong Alter remains.
4. Time magazine endorsed calling Bob Dornan a "national disgrace" and lamented that he'll have more time to sub for Rush Limbaugh.
5. Parade magazine forwarded the standard liberal spin on how Reagan's defense build-up caused the deficit.
6. Eleanor Clift announced her year-end awards. She bashed Dornan and Starr, was saddened that Republicans retained House.
set up today's first item we need to review a comment from Tim Russert and
media coverage from late October. On October 25 a panel of judges
authorized independent counsel Kenneth Starr to investigate whether former
White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum lied about his knowledge of Hillary
Clinton's involvement in the FBI files matter.
Now, fast forward
to the Friday Today show of December 20. Katie Couric interviewed Russert
at about 7:20am. After asking about Newt Gingrich she turned to the
President and the decision of Justice Department officials to probe
Clinton's defense fund.
Well they needn't worry about TV network coverage. The 7am Today newscast didn't mention this development nor the front page Washington Post story that day which revealed how Clinton had included in a fundraising gathering the head of the Chinese arms manufacturer accused of smuggling weapons into the U.S. But Today dedicated three minutes to two stories on OJ. In fact, the defense fund subpoena development was overshadowed by the Newt Gingrich case. Here's a network evening show breakdown:
ABC's World News
Tonight: On December 19 ABC ignored the defense fund subpoenas, but did
find time for a brief item on the status of Newt Gingrich. On December 20:
2) On the same theme (of what's big news on Sunday morning isn't always reported on network newscasts), on the December 22 This Week George Will recalled the December 15 Washington Post story on how Clinton is "treating the Lincoln Bedroom as Motel 6." Cokie Roberts chimed in: "It's offensive. It's offensive to anybody. I mean nobody can look at that and not be appalled."
Nobody apparently except producers for ABC's World News Tonight, which failed to report the revelation of how large contributors get a night in the White House.
The December 9 CyberAlert reported how in his first piece for the New
Republic William Powers, a former Washington Post reporter, showed how the
networks underplayed the Clinton character issue during the campaign.
Other reporters have not appreciated his analysis. Powers and Newsweek's
Jonathan Alter are exchanging a series of memos on the Slate magazine Web
Well, welcome to the club Mr. Powers.
In his December 17 retort, Alter dismissed Powers's series of examples of under coverage: "As for Filegate, do you honestly believe that Newsweek, or any other news organization, wouldn't have loved a good, juicy Craig Livingstone story to liven up October? Of course we would have. But what are we supposed to do -- make one up?"
Alter should read
MediaWatch. As we reported in our October Study, the networks largely
ignored Filegate. On September 25 Senator Orrin Hatch revealed a six month
gap in the log which listed who at the White House accessed the FBI
background files. CNN's World Today did a story and it got one mention on
ABC's Good Morning America. But zilch on CBS and NBC as well as World News
Here's Number 7 from the December 23 Time magazine "Worst Public
Performances of 1996."
5) A question listed in "Walter Scott's Personality Parade" in the December 15 Parade, the Sunday newspaper magazine, asked "if the federal budget was ever in the black?" The Parade writer explained that Louis Fisher, a political scientist with the Library of Congress, reported that there's been a surplus in 27 budgets this century. "The other years showed deficits, but most were manageable until 1981, when 'President Reagan's plan to increase defense spending while cutting taxes threw the deficit into the $200 billion range,' says Fisher."
6) On this past weekend's McLaughlin Group Newsweek's Eleanor Clift showed that the gap between the official White House line and what she mouths is near impossible to quantify. The Group issued its year-end assessments. Here are a few from Clift:
Winner: "Linda Sanchez who toppled Bob Dornan, the scourge of all
thinking people. And also awakened us to the power of the Hispanic vote,
even in Republican stronghold Orange County."
That's not quite the line many liberals in the media took when President Bush tapped Clarence Thomas.
This is the last CyberAlert until after Christmas. So, from the Media Research Center and the CyberAlert team, Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays.
-- Brent Baker