Tripp Trumped; Corroboration for Freeh Skipped; Erbe: Expect "Conservatives to Lie"
2) CBS's John Roberts labeled as "best intentions" the quest to eliminate soft money and on the United purchase of US Airways, ABC took a nice shot at United's bad service: "United currently ranks among the worst carriers in every category."
3) Pressure on Janet Reno to drop fundraising corroborated, but only FNC cared. Brit Hume: "What had been a top Justice Department official's word against that of a top FBI official became the top Justice man's word against that of two FBI men."
4) After asserting that older women don't need a gun because they won't be raped, a comment which led Linda Chavez to quit a PBS talk show, its host, Bonnie Erbe, wrote her: "I expect insecure people and especially conservatives to lie and play games." Just the latest example in Erbe's long history of conservative-bashing.
>>> Chat Friday
with the MRC's Tim Graham about the MRC's Special Report on Elian
coverage. Friday, May 26, at 10am EDT, the Washington Post will host the
one-hour session. Here's the plug from the Post Web site:
Networks largely ignored decision to end pursuit of Linda Tripp. Wednesday night, CNN's The World Today and the NBC Nightly News ran brief items on the announcement from the Maryland prosecutor that the case is being dropped, but neither ABC's World News Tonight or the CBS Evening News touched it. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams only mentioned it in the end of show run-down of "tomorrow's headlines." FNC's Fox Report did carry a full story by Rita Cosby.
Tom Brokaw took 20 seconds to read this item on the May 24 NBC Nightly News: "The woman whose tape recording almost brought down the President will not face trial after all. The prosecutors in Maryland today dropped all criminal charges against Linda Tripp for illegally taping phone calls with Monica Lewinsky. They say they had no way to prove their case because the judge had severely limited Lewinsky's testimony."
CBS labeled as "best intentions" the quest to eliminate soft money and ABC took a nice shot at United Airlines for bad service which its merger with US Airways may only exacerbate.
Wednesday night the networks reflected conflicting news judgments with four different choices of lead stories amongst six networks. ABC's World News Tonight led with the United buy-out of US Airways, the CBS Evening News and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams started with the audio tapes from the Alaska Air crash, CNN and NBC began with the China trade vote while FNC's Fox Report pushed Fox's tabloid side, going first with the Ramsey's taking a lie detector test.
Both ABC and CBS ran pieces, pegged to the DNC's gala tribute to President Clinton set for Washington's MCI Center Wednesday night, on big money fundraising, what Dan Rather dubbed "mega-bucks political fundraisers."
John Roberts handled the
story for the CBS Evening News and after noting how the event will raise
the very soft money Clinton had vowed to outlaw, he allowed Common Cause
President Scott Harshbarger to criticize Clinton followed by a soundbite
of Clinton blaming Republicans for blocking reform. Roberts then turned to
the network source for wisdom on fundraising:
Over on ABC, liberal Fred Wertheimer served as John Cochran's expert on fundraising. Later, the show ran a "Money Talks" piece on how, as Peter Jennings put it, "the broadcast industry has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo" because of all the money it makes off of campaign ads. John Martin explained how in the last 18 months the networks and the National Association of Broadcasters have devoted $7 million to lobbying.
Switching to the airline merger plan, in her lead story ABC's Betsy Stark took this probably all too accurate shot at United Airlines: "Fares are already an average 23 percent higher at airports dominated by one airline than they are at airports with more competition, according to a recent study. The other issue for generally disgruntled airline passengers is what impact a merger would have on service. United currently ranks among the worst carriers in every category, from on time arrivals to baggage handling, and some see little reason to expect improvement."
At a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday a top Justice Department official corroborated FBI Director Louis Freeh's recollection that a top Justice Department official had said in 1996 that the White House had made it clear that Attorney General Janet Reno's job was on the line if she pursued Democratic campaign fundraising by naming an independent counsel. But only the Fox News Channel noticed, running a piece on Special Report with Brit Hume.
Not a word about the development aired on any of the three broadcast network evening shows for May 24 nor on CNN's The World Today or Inside Politics. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams skipped it but devoted a lengthy segment to the role of comedy shows in the campaign followed by an interview with Jay Leno. In a synergy of news judgments, both ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News ended with pieces on the movement to get pets to be treated by the law as more than mere property. Both featured soundbites from the same "animal rights" attorney, Robert Newman, and his client, a woman in a custody fight with her ex-boyfriend over a dog. FNC's own general interest news show, the 7pm ET Fox Report, also ignored the hearing.
When this allegation first broke late last week, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today each gave it 20 seconds while all the broadcast network evening shows as well as CNN's Inside Politics and The World Today skipped it. MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams picked up on it and FNC ran a full story.
FNC's Brit Hume set up
the May 24 story on his 6pm ET/9pm PT program:
As transcribed by the
MRC's Brad Wilmouth, David Shuster reported: "Lee Radek, the
prosecutor in charge of the Justice Department probe into the campaign
fundraising scandal, denied that he ever said he was under pressure to
protect Janet Reno's job."
+++ See what the infamous Lee Radek looks like and hear from Neil Gallagher. Late Thursday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of Shuster's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Bonnie Erbe, host of PBS's To the Contrary, has only disdain for conservatives. In a recent e-mail message to Linda Chavez she castigated her: "I know and accept your insecurities. And I expect insecure people and especially conservatives to lie and play games." In another message she dismissed National Review: "Nobody reads that magazine anyway."
The missives, reported May 23 by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, came after Chavez quit Erbe's show to protest Erbe's less than sensitive suggestion that older woman should not have any fear of being raped and thus have no need to own a gun for protection. On the show which aired the weekend of May 12-14, Chavez explained how she owns a gun for protection because she live in a rural area where it would take 30 minutes for a police response. Erbe, a former reporter for Mutual Broadcasting and NBC Radio (not affiliated with GE's NBC, but owned by Westwood One until absorbed by CBS) shot back, shall we say: "And if you look at the statistics, I would bet that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, Linda, than living where you live, and at your age, being raped. Sorry."
Chavez argued to Kurtz that "if a conservative said something very politically incorrect," such as how "women of a certain age are not going to be raped because they're beyond their sexual years, that would be considered beyond the pale."
The exchange was first reported by National Review's e-mailed Washington Bulletin, which asked Erbe about her comment. Erbe, who is also a Scripps-Howard columnist, stood by it, adding: "Women buying guns for their self protection have gone completely bonkers."
To read a transcript of
the full exchange, as well as to watch it via RealPlayer, go to the May 17
In the May 23 Washington Post Howard Kurtz picked up on the ongoing off-air battle between Chavez and Erbe. In a story titled "'Contrary'-ness Strikes PBS Talk Show," Kurtz revealed (all ellipses after start of first graph as they appeared in the Post story):
....After the May 13 show, Chavez, 52, who lives in Loudoun County [Virginia], sent the program's producer statistics that said she indeed has a far better chance of being raped than felled by lightning. When National Review's Web site ran a piece on the flap -- co-authored by a man who once worked for Chavez at the nonprofit Center for Equal Opportunity -- Erbe responded with a series of e-mails to Chavez.
"I think your reaction (especially looking up the stats on lightning strikes) goes beyond histrionic," Erbe wrote. Calling Chavez an "overgrown Catholic school girl" who "planted" the National Review story, Erbe said: "If you think you zinged us, think again. We don't care. Nobody reads that magazine anyway.... I must say I'm shocked at your reaction. I thought you were a much bigger, more mature person than you're showing yourself to be."
In another missive, Erbe wrote: "I know and accept your insecurities. And I expect insecure people and especially conservatives to lie and play games....I suggest you get into therapy, otherwise you're going to continue to be miserable and in denial the rest of your life."
Erbe now says that "I did offer Linda an on-air apology if I hurt her feelings. She has yet to take me up on that. Other than that, I find the whole situation very amusing and think Linda is going off the deep end....The door is open for her to come back to the show." She says Chavez has quit the program before "in a snit."
Chavez, a former GOP Senate candidate in Maryland, says she left the show for a couple of years in the mid-'90s both for scheduling reasons and because another panelist kept calling her a liar. She says that people in her office undoubtedly notified National Review about Erbe's on-air comments, but that she declined to comment for the piece.
Erbe says the story must have been orchestrated by Chavez's friend Kate O'Beirne, Washington editor of National Review -- and an original "To the Contrary" panelist who also quit the show years ago. But O'Beirne says she had "absolutely nothing to do with it."
"I never had a cross word with Bonnie," O'Beirne says. "I hate to disappoint her, but there's no cabal."
Chavez, a prominent conservative, says she is "offended by a kind of double standard in journalism: If a conservative said something very politically incorrect, that women of a certain age are not going to be raped because they're beyond their sexual years, that would be considered beyond the pale....It struck me as meow! What a catty thing to say."
Although she once wrote a syndicated point-counterpoint column with Erbe and has been on the all-female show for most of its eight-year run, Chavez says she's had it with the program.
In a final e-mail last week, Erbe said an apology would be a "no-brainer" if Chavez would "extend me the courtesy of a phone call." As for Chavez's insistence that she had nothing to do with the National Review item, Erbe wrote: "I was born at night but not last nite....This is getting sillier and sillier. This will be my last communication with you. Please let it be your last to me."
If only it could be Erbe's last insult of conservatives, a pattern for which she has a long record. The MRC does not regularly watch her weekend PBS talk show since it rarely features active reporters, but over the last few years we've caught a few of her most egregious attacks on conservative thinking from when she was still an active radio reporter in the 1995-97 range:
-- From the November 20,
1995 Notable Quotables, a quote headlined "Abortion: Just as Bad as
Eating Meat." Erbe on partial- birth abortion, November 3 To the
-- From the September
23, 1996 Notable Quotables, Erbe on the August 16 To the Contrary,
commenting on the Republican convention:
-- From the October 7,
1996 Notable Quotables, Erbe responding to conservative criticism on
Westwood One's Jim Bohannon Show on August 30:
-- From the April 7,
1997 Notable Quotables, a quote headlined, "If We Kill Them Before
They're Born, Then Conservatives Can't Hurt Them." The quote came
from a column, which appeared in the March 29 Washington Times, on claims
of how pro-choicers lie about partial-birth abortion:
-- From the June 30,
1997 Notable Quotables, a quote from a June 7 column:
-- From the March 9,
1998 Notable Quotables, a bizarre assessment of the 1980s in her column
run in the February 28 Washington Times:
-- And finally, just for
fun, from the September 6, 1999 Notable Quotables, Erbe, in the wake of
drug allegations against George W. Bush, boasting of her history as a
heroin user. This quote taken from her Scripps-Howard column as it
appeared in the August 24 Denver Rocky Mountain News:
Apparently a drug-filled brain isn't conducive to appreciating conservative ideology.
From the May 24 Late Show with David Letterman -- prompted by a New York Daily News story that the 61-year-old media mogul is dating Karen Rosenfeld, a 28-year-old Marymount Manhattan College English instructor -- the "Top Ten Ted Turner Pickup Lines." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "One more drink and I'll be ready
for a merger."
And, from the Late Show Web page, some of the "also-rans" as Late Show writers "keep producing more brilliant jokes than can fit in a Top Ten List."
-- "You know, Jane Fonda couldn't
handle my workout."
I wonder, was Jane Fonda too liberal for Ted Turner or was he too liberal for her? -- Brent Baker 
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