Media Reality Check

H eckling's never been more popular. All three news magazines share their TV brethren's passion for Mr. Richard Douglas Llamas, otherwise known as the heckler who shouted in the Senate gallery, "Good God Almighty, take the vote and get it over with!" Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report made it their quote of the week, while Time made it number two. Time 's Nation section began with a mish-mash titled "What's Next for Bill and Hillary?" Nancy Gibbs cheered the anti-climactic appearance of Monica Lewinsky [See box]. In "Waiting for the Bell," James Carney and John F. Dickerson noted... continue reading
N BC News isn't responding well to Internet gossip Matt Drudge's claim that they're spiking a Lisa Myers interview with Juanita Broaddrick, also known from the Paula Jones case as "Jane Doe #5," who claims then-state AttorneyGeneral Bill Clinton raped her in 1978. When asked by Don Imus, Tim Russert snapped: "I mean, you know there's a videotape available if you want where it says President Clinton murdered people. I mean, you know, put it on the screen." [For more, see box.] No one expects NBC News to put on scurrilous, uninvestigated charges against the President. But has NBC News... continue reading
A fter Deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills defended the President before the Senate on January 20, the media touted a new star. But almost none of them mentioned that she's facing her own investigation for perjury and obstruction of justice. On November 6, 1997, Mills admitted to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee that she and White House Counsel Jack Quinn withheld documents for 15 months, including a memo suggesting Clinton wanted the $1.7 million White House Office Data Base shared with the DNC. Last fall, Rep. David McIntosh asked the Justice Department to investigate Mills. Neither of... continue reading
A s the Paula Jones case headed for the Supreme Court two years ago, Meet the Press host Tim Russert asked fellow journalists: "What's the most important thing the media can learn from this case?" Stuart Taylor, a former Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times, proposed this credo: "Look past your first impression and ideological orientation. Look hard at the evidence, and take it where it leads. No double standards." This makes Taylor a rare bird among Washington journalists. In the January 16 National Journal , he reported on the obvious double standard being completely overlooked by the... continue reading
S even years ago, Peter Jennings regretted running the Gennifer Flowers story as "a bad beginning to the year that probably alienated a public already critical of news media." But on Tuesday night, Jennings and his show World News Tonight were the only one of the Big Three to peddle Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt's attack on Rep. Bob Barr. John Cochran began: "Whatever you think of Larry Flynt or his pornographic magazine, he has shown that if you've got enough money you can put an ad in the paper offering up to one million dollars for dirt on Congressmen... continue reading
W ith President Clinton's political future in question, journalists have been raising a favorite liberal spectre: the ghost of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who charged that hundreds of communists had infiltrated the government almost fifty years ago. Liberals invented the word "McCarthyism" to imply the punishment of innocents through guilt by association. So why would the word "McCarthyism" apply to Bill Clinton, who hasn't suffered from guilt by association, but from guilt? Some of the allusions came early in the Lewinsky scandal. On February 28, CBS host Charles Osgood trapped the audience of Saturday Morning in his poetry corner, concluding his... continue reading
Journalists might have noticed that Jesus Christ was quoted as saying "My kingdom is not of this world." They presume conservatives think Jesus is a Buchanan delegate. But the media have too often suggested Jesus is comparable to Marxists in Russia or the Caribbean, or lovable Southern Democrats, or anybody else with whom they agree culturally or politically. In the strange world of the media, to be a leftist is to be godlike - or better: Jesus as Marxist: " The Communist Manifesto is well worth the $12 that Verso is asking. Despite the hype, its message is a timeless... continue reading
L iberal Democrats have insisted that Clinton's perjury and obstruction is not impeachable. But what will they say today when some prominent voices against impeachment are on record with a much looser standard of impeachment for Ronald Reagan, particularly for his failure to consult Congress before military action? Will they now support an article of impeachment for Clinton's use of arms without consultation in Iraq, not to mention Sudan? Will reporters ask about these quotes? March 16, 1983 Washington Post: Washington Post: "Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) told the crowd that President Reagan should be impeached and House Speaker Thomas P... continue reading
A BC's Diane Sawyer carried a lot of the outrage of her friends and colleagues into her guns-blazing November interview with Kenneth Starr. "I cannot tell you how many people have said to me, 'ask him.' Do I have a right to ask about your sex life?" Starr could have replied that's usually the territory of TV journalists ("Did you ever, as this young boy said you did, did you ever, sexually engage, fondle, have sexual contact with this child or any other child?" - Sawyer to Michael Jackson, July 14, 1994). But Starr probably didn't study Sawyer's body of... continue reading
T he Weekly Standard 's David Tell felt goaded. Geraldo Rivera on CNBC claimed "in our research - and it's been furious and in-depth - we've found scarce precedent for a federal prosecution of a sex lie in a civil case." On CNN's Crossfire, liberal co-host Bill Press asserted, "there's never been another case in the history of this nation where someone has been indicted for lying about sex in a civil case." Both Geraldo and Press's guest that night, Democratic lawyer Stanley Brand, offered bets that no one could find a precedent. So the Standard found one, as Tell's... continue reading