Clinton An "Honorary Homeboy"; Nets Focused On Celebration for Clinton's Office; Have v Have-Nots Computer Chasm; Olbermann Back
1) ABC and CBS allocated valuable air time to the celebration for Bill Clinton's office opening. Before a clip of "Stand by Me," ABC's Dan Harris asserted: "The reception for this oft embattled former President could be summed up in the ceremony's closing song." CBS's Byron Pitts credited Harlem's renaissance to "federal tax incentives supported by then-President Clinton." On Sunday, NBC's Pat Dawson cheered: "The Comeback Kid in a neighborhood staging its own comeback."
2) Monday's Good Morning America allowed former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos to interview a current one, Joe Lockhart, about Clinton's good works. Robin Roberts saw no dishonest Bill Clinton, only "one who loves glamour" and "one who wants to make the world a better place." She raved: "Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy."
3) In reporting on the Code Red worm, NBC News made it sound like it will impact all computers, leaving out the fact that it is only destructive on computers running specific software from the MS in MSNBC.
5) After a two year-plus absence from cable news, Keith Olbermann popped up on CNN Monday night. Back in 1998 he asserted: "It finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses."
During the day Monday, CNN, FNC and MSNBC all carried much of the Clinton event live, cutting away from a speech by George W. Bush, the current President, to do so. Only MSNBC, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, later showed viewers a tape of Bush's remarks to a police group which really weren't all that newsworthy -- but neither, it could be reasonably argued, was an office opening by a former President. A story for the CNN and FNC political shows, but for the 22-minute broadcast network shows?
On World News Tonight ABC's Dan Harris lamented how "aides say the first few months after the White House were tougher on Clinton than impeachment," but, he assured viewers, "today, as he luxuriated in all that attention, he insisted he is now happy." Before a chorus of Clinton and others singing "Stand by Me," Harris concluded: "The reception for this oft embattled former President could be summed up in the ceremony's closing song."
Harris earlier played, without rebuttal, a clip of Clinton taking credit for Harlem's renaissance: "Welfare cut in half, record amounts of investment in new police on the street, new housing, new transportation. I think I kept my word to Harlem, and the best is yet to be." CBS's Byron Pitts agreed: "It's now within the midst of a comeback thanks in part to federal tax incentives supported by then-President Clinton." The very "enterprise zone" tax incentives ridiculed by liberals and journalists as giveaways to the rich when first proposed by Jack Kemp.
Comparing Clinton's office space to what he first wanted in Manhattan, the night before NBC's Pat Dawson credited Clinton for "saving a lot of taxpayer money." He failed to mention how Clinton's space is larger and costs more than the rent for any other former Presidents' offices.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas, who mistakenly uttered the first syllable of President, as in "Pre," before she said "Bill Clinton," set up the July 30 story: "Here in New York City today, Bill Clinton returned to the national stage with thousands of people cheering him on. The former President officially opened his new office in the historic Harlem neighborhood. The day's event sometimes seemed more like a political campaign stop. Here's ABC's Dan Harris."
Harris checked in, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Seven months after the pardons scandal broke,
Bill Clinton used today's event to relaunch his public life. He
couldn't have chosen a more adoring audience."
After a clip of DNC chief Terry McAuliffe
lightheartedly recalling how Clinton kept cutting off phone calls as he
fumbled with his cell phone, Harris concluded:
Harris's piece ended with a group, including Clinton, singing Stand by Me.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced in a fairly low-key manner: "Former President Clinton opened a new phase of his life today as he opened offices in Harlem, the historic African-American neighborhood here in New York City. CBS's Byron Pitts reports the social, financial, and political impact on the streets and in the business suites."
Pitts began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth: "It's a long way from Hope, Arkansas, but today for Bill
Clinton Harlem felt like home."
-- NBC Nightly News held itself to a short item read by anchor Brian Williams, who referred to how "thousands turned out for what looked like a campaign rally," followed by a clip of Clinton at the event.
The night before, however, as MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, NBC reporter Pat Dawson delivered a very favorable spin for Clinton on the cost of his new office space. Instead of pointing out how it will cost more per year to rent than for the offices of any other former President, Dawson compared it to Clinton's much higher-priced first choice: "It's saving a lot of taxpayer money. His first choice, the top of this skyscraper on Manhattan's tony 57th Street with chic neighbors and a price tag to match. More than $700,000 a year in rent. More than the cost of all the other former Presidents' offices combined. So after an invitation to look in Harlem, he settled on offices here: 70 blocks north at a more modest $350,000 for the first year."
Dawson concluded his July 29 piece by previewing the next day's activities: "So Monday they'll throw a big party for his arrival. The Comeback Kid in a neighborhood staging its own comeback."
Bill Clinton "an honorary homeboy" who is "always thinking about tomorrow." Monday's Good Morning America made the odd ethical judgment that instead of having Diane Sawyer handle the subject, they would allow former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos, the substitute co-host of the show, interview current Clinton spinner Joe Lockhart, who orchestrated the PR for Clinton's office opening. But Stephanopoulos wasn't the ABC reporter who gushed the most over Bill Clinton.
Before the interview, Robin Roberts checked in from Harlem to preview the upcoming celebration. She maintained that there are two Bill Clintons, "the one who loves glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place." How nice. Where's the mean, dishonest and disreputable Clinton? Later, she raved: "Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy." That gush led into another from Clinton's former Chief-of-Staff, John Podesta, who exalted: "He's a person who always is thinking about tomorrow."
Next, Stephanopoulos marveled at the peculiarity of being given a forum by ABC News to interview a former colleague of his at the Clinton White House about Clinton: "I'm sure you never thought you'd be a spokesperson for the re-launch of an ex-President -- I certainly never thought I'd be asking you about it." Stephanopoulos naturally didn't ask any tough questions, instead starting by worrying about how Clinton's mood during the pardon controversy "was even darker than it had been during the height of the impeachment scandal. Just how bad did it get?"
Stephanopoulos moved on to whimsically raising the revelations that Clinton "put a million dollars in a checking account and wasn't sure how to work the ATM machine."
Neither CBS's The Early Show on Monday or NBC's Today aired an interview segment on the office opening as both held themselves to unremarkable taped stories.
Stephanopoulos set up the 7am half hour segment on the July 30 Good Morning America: "Former President Bill Clinton reports for his first day of work this morning in his new neighborhood, Harlem. There are going to be parades, speeches, fanfare, all as he re-launches his ex-presidency."
That celebratory tone carried through to the GMA staff, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed.
Live from Clinton's office site in Harlem, Robin Roberts, who is usually with ABC Sports and ESPN, introduced her taped report: "George, this soon will be Mr. Bill's neighborhood -- Mr. Bill Clinton of course. Thousands are expected at this morning's block party, including Senator Hillary Clinton. Harlem is indeed rolling out the red carpet. Now, the former President -- who is the newest tenant here in Harlem -- according to his friends, his transition to private life has at times been difficult."
Following a clip of Clinton saying he misses
the job, Roberts asserted: "This is a latest installment of the
Clinton story, a chance to reemerge as the ex-President he really wants to
be, but once again it is the tale of two Clintons: the one who loves
glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place."
Back on live, Roberts concluded: "Now, I spent a lot of time here on Friday in Harlem, talking to the folks here, and they have mixed reaction to Clinton coming here, what his presence will truly mean. They are hopeful, though, that the former President coming here to Harlem will bring more people and more money to the most famous African-American neighborhood in the world."
Up next, Stephanopoulos announced: "And joining us now from Harlem is former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart...Joe, this is an unusual situation. I'm sure you never thought you'd be a spokesperson for the re-launch of an ex-President -- I certainly never thought I'd be asking you about it -- but let's go back a few months. The Washington Post reported yesterday that at the beginning of his ex-presidency, during all of the controversy over the pardons, President Clinton's mood was even darker than it had been during the height of the impeachment scandal. Just how bad did it get?"
Lockhart replied that he's not one to gauge dark moods, but Clinton liked being President yet has now found his stride and is "excited about the future."
Stephanopoulos shared inside giddiness with Lockhart over his former boss's fumbles: "How about just the little things of daily life? I mean, one of the stories I heard is that he just, that he put a million dollars in a checking account and wasn't sure how to work the ATM machine."
After Lockhart defended Clinton by pointing out how Presidents gets things taken care of for them, Stephanopoulos feted Clinton's financial success: "But he has had a pretty good run in private life. The Post also reported that in the last several months he's made, what, $5 million in speeches, he's expected to have about an $8 million book deal, and turned down $65 million in other business opportunities. Is that all true?"
Lockhart offered the incredible answer that "for the first time he's able to provide for his family, for the first time as an adult he's not on a government salary. So he enjoys speaking, he'll enjoy writing and it's a nice side benefit that he'll enjoy making the money too."
How does that correlate with identifying with the little people who supported a family on the same $35,000 a year salary he earned as Governor or Arkansas? And what "family" does he have to support now? Hillary has a job and already made a lot of money and Chelsea is a college graduate.
The last inquiry from Stephanopoulos: "How about his relationship with Vice President Gore? It's been reported that there's a real chill there. When's the last time the President spoke with him?"
To read the Sunday Washington Post story from
which the anecdotes about Clinton having trouble with phones and ATMs were
taken, anecdotes which were delivered as lighthearted glimpses into
Clinton's life and not as proof of his disconnect from the average
person, as was 41's exaggerated trouble with a cutting-edge supermarket
scanner, go to:
NBC's MS Code Blackout about "Code Red." Monday's NBC Nightly News devoted nearly two minutes to the "Code Red" computer worm, but in relying on MSNBC.com's Washington reporter for an expert report he and anchor Brian Williams left out a fairly relevant point in warning about the potential widespread impact on computers: The worm only infects certain specific Microsoft software packages and it is only because of a Microsoft software flaw, one that does not exist in Sun or Oracle Web servers, that the Code Red worm can use MS servers to inundate and thus disable other non-MS server-run Web sites.
While ABC and CBS on Monday night vaguely referred to a threat to "computer systems worldwide," both did note the specific Microsoft component. World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas hinted at Microsoft's role as she set up a story: "In Washington today officials from Microsoft and federal agencies joined to warn about the contagious computer worm called Code Red..."
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather made it sound like an unavoidable problem: "Electronic security experts are waving a red flag about quote 'Code Red,' that's a major new threat to computer systems worldwide." But reporter Sharyl Attkisson later pointed out: "The Code Red worm attacks computers which use Microsoft Internet software."
But on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams avoided the MS in NBC's MSNBC: "The FBI tonight has issued a strong new warning about a computer virus called Code Red, which has already infected hundreds of thousands of computers and may launch new attacks tomorrow evening. Our colleagues at MSNBC.com are watching this new virus very closely."
Not closely enough, however, to acknowledge their own central role as MSNBC.com Washington Bureau Chief Brock Meeks didn't mention Microsoft in his subsequent "In Their Own Words" report.
As Robert Vamosi noted Monday on C-Net.com, the worm impacts "Microsoft Windows NT version 4.0 and Windows 2000 Professional, Server and Advanced Server."
For more on the worm set to attack Tuesday
night, go to:
Katie Couric on Monday morning advanced a point off the left's agenda sheet as she worried about what is usually referred to as the "digital divide." She asked about the "increasing... chasm between the haves and the have-nots as a result of the computer."
Her question, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noticed, came during a July 30 Today interview with author Michael Lewis
about the Internet. She inquired:
What about the cell phone divide. Or the DVD divide? Or the back yard pool divide?
He's tanned, he's rested -- and he certainly looks like he's lost some weight. On Monday night Keith Olbermann returned to cable news as the substitute host of CNN's 10:30pm/1:30am EDT Greenfield at Large.
The ESPN veteran left MSNBC at the end of 1998, where he had hosted The Big Show with Keith Olbermann, to go to Fox Sports Net. He recently left that gig, making him available to CNN.
Back in 1999 he earned runner-up status in the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" in the MRC's Dishonor Awards for the Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Bias.
Here's his quote as uttered on MSNBC's Big
Show, to Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren, on August
18, 1998, a day or two after Clinton's speech in which he acknowledged
an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky:
To view a RealPlayer clip of Olbermann's
comparison, go to:
The next night, he opined: "We got a number of calls from people who were offended by that remark, who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and insulting Starr, or who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and demeaning the terrible importance of the Holocaust. And to those people who were offended I sincerely and humbly apologize. I meant only what I said. Facially, the two men look vaguely alike. But I am primarily of German descent, so I carry with me an inherited shame and guilt about this. So despite the innocence of the intent of my remark there, I should have been much more sensitive about invoking that name in this context and for having not been so, I am very sorry. Still ahead for us tonight: did Olbermann's apology go far enough? We'll have the latest poll numbers on that."
At least he, unlike most network news stars, is able to acknowledge it when he makes a ridiculous remark, though notice how he did not retract his suggestion that Starr was more "persecutor" than "prosecutor." -- Brent Baker 
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