ABC Put Sex Survey Ahead of "Real Issues"; CNN: Clinton Accepts Responsibility
>>> February 8 Notable Quotables,
the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometime
humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online. Quote headings
include "Clinton, A Republican?"; "Republicans Remind One
of Nazis...And/Or Stalinists"; "'Secret Clique' of
Conservatives," and "Thank Heaven for Dan Quayle and His
'Backward Remarks.'" To read all of the quotes in the issue go to
the MRC's home page or go directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19990208.html 
We must "move on" so we can address the "real issues" that concern Americans. That's been the media mantra over the past several month with pundits and reporters insisting the obsession with Clinton scandal has prevented the media from focusing on issues like Social Security and education.
With the Senate session closed on Tuesday and the trial generating little news, ABC decided to lead World News Tonight with something other than the Lewinsky scandal, which is after all not that important because at its base it's all about sex. Or so goes the liberal/media line. So, what did ABC consider the most important story of the day, a story they put ahead of a new analysis of Clinton's Social Security plan? A survey about how satisfied people are with their sex lives.
opened the February 9 broadcast:
Dr. Tim Johnson proceeded to explain how 31 percent of men and 43 percent of women reported a problem, mainly a "lack of desire, arousal problems or inability to climax." Johnson added: "As many as 33 percent of all women and 15 percent of all men surveyed reported lack of interest in sex."
It's a safe bet Bill Clinton is part of the 85 percent of men who don't lack interest.
And just how hot, shall we say, is this news which ABC considered compelling enough to lead with? Johnson told Jennings the survey results were actually published in a book in 1992 and the AMA Journal article just delivered a fresh extrapolation of the numbers.
(With sex out of the way, Jennings introduced the second story of the night: "There was a very harsh review today of the President's Social Security plan..." John Cochran reported on the Senate testimony of David Walker, the Comptroller General.)
The other networks managed to control their excitement. NBC's Tom Brokaw gave the sex article 25 seconds and while the CBS Evening News brought aboard Dr. Bernardine Healy to talk about it with Dan Rather, CBS placed the story deep into the show. When Healy explained that the dissatisfaction of young women came as a surprise, Rather expressed concern: "Doctor, we know that Viagra has been a solution for many men in taking care of sexual dysfunctional problems. Is there any such magic pill on the horizon for women?"
(Wednesday morning the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will work together to post on the MRC home page a RealPlayer clip of how Jennings began World News Tonight. Go to: www.mrc.org )
While ABC led with sex and NBC went first with the work slowdown at American Airlines, the Senate trial topped the CBS, CNN and FNC evening shows. ABC allocated the least time to the trial, a 13 second item from Peter Jennings on how they decided to debate in private. Displaying her feelings on the decision, NBC's Gwen Ifill complained that "the people who voted for these lawmakers will never get to see how they voted to convict or acquit the President." Only CNN's Bob Franken offered any detail about what happened behind closed doors.
CNN ran a piece by Chris Black who insisted "Mr. Clinton's friends say he genuinely regrets the pain he inflicted on his wife and daughter" and while angry "at Republicans for turning a personal failing into a political crime," they "say he accepts his responsibility for his misbehavior." Really? Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News reported the opposite seconds later on Inside Politics, a perspective missing from The World Today.
"And one more sideshow," CNN's Franken dismissively remarked in reporting on Trent Lott's request that Ken Starr investigate the possibility that Clinton's calls with Lewinsky were recorded. FNC's Carl Cameron also noted Lott's request, but not stories on ABC, CBS or NBC.
Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, February 9 evening shows:
-- CBS Evening
News opened with Bob Schieffer hoping: "Dan, it may be hard to
believe, but the end is near..." After explaining how the vote to
open debate fell short of the needed two-thirds and reporting how support
for censure is fading, Schieffer concluded by both explaining the
conservative view and accurately summarizing its downside:
reported falling support for censure and that Democrats blocked a request
to depose witnesses in a probe of possible perjury by Sidney Blumenthal.
In the second of
CNN's two scandal-related stories Chris Black provided a piece assuring
viewers that Clinton is quite contrite and will not gloat. She asserted
that his advisers know he must avoid saying he was vindicated and not hold
any celebrations or rallies as he did after the House impeachment vote.
Political analyst Charlie Cook suggested he should "show real
sorrow" and apologize. After a clip of a Saturday Night Live skit
with Clinton celebrating, Black ran an old soundbite of Joe Lockhart
promising the White House is a "gloat-free zone." Black then
launched into this unanswered recitation of a Clinton-friendly take on his
The World Today then went to a commercial break. But when her piece aired earlier on Inside Politics, CNN followed up with an interview with Black and two other reporters, including Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News who reported over the weekend that "according to several well-placed sources who recently have spoken with Clinton, his private demeanor is notably lacking in remorse." On Inside Politics he revised his assessment a bit but still delivered a different flavor than did Black. DeFrank told Judy Woodruff: "He apparently feels some remorse Judy. But if you define contrition by a feeling he didn't lie, he didn't lie under oath, he didn't commit perjury, he didn't obstruct justice then he's not contrite."
Of course, they will see how they voted just not the arguments they forwarded.
Geraldo Rivera suggested the Senate decision to go into closed session is more suited to a time of graft and is a "far greater" scandal than whatever Sidney Blumenthal may have done. But maybe Rivera is just jealous of Christopher Hitchens, who he disparaged as "Snitchens," because he maintained Blumenthal never told him the "stalker" story.
-- Rivera opening
the February 9 Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
-- On Monday
night's Rivera Live, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera did a
little name calling toward Hitchens:
Guns don't kill people, blocking lawsuits does. A bunch of liberal mayors in cahoots with trial lawyers have hit upon an idea to raise money. Instead of holding people responsible for their actions, sue gun manufacturers. An assault on the rights of a legal industry to make and sell their product without interference? Not to Dan Rather who portrayed the gun manufacturers as the aggressors though they are reacting to a first strike by opportunistic politicians.
Note the loaded
language in this introduction to a February 9 CBS Evening News story:
CBS reporter Byron Pitts subsequently delivered a story more balanced than Rather's slanted intro. He featured two soundbites from the NRA's James Baker and two from mayors: Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell who blamed gun makers for "carnage on the streets" and Miami Mayor Alex Penelas who asserted the manufacturers have chosen profit over the "blood of children."
The media, lead brigade in fighting impeachment and removal. On Monday's 10pm ET Trial of the President special on CNN, Bernard Shaw asked Senator Sam Nunn: "For both parties, what are the perils and the fallout from this impeachment process?"
MRC analyst Paul
Smith picked up on Nunn's response which hit both conservatives and
liberals, but note his take on the role of the news media:
Bottom line, even a Democrat realizes the news media have served as a force against impeachment and removal.
Monday night on
ABC's Nightline anchor Forrest Sawyer acknowledged: "We should
mention there might be a backlash against the media because so many
journalists will be wearing black armbands when this is over and they
don't have anything to talk about."
Rejoice in victory, that is.
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