Light on Lieberman; Zuckerman's Late Grasp; NPR's "Balanced Journalism"
Senator Joseph Lieberman's remarks on the Senate floor late Thursday afternoon (September 3), in which the Connecticut Democrat said Clinton's behavior was "immoral," that his lying sent a bad message to children, and that his behavior is not a private matter, is already proving to be a pivotal moment in Clinton's descent, but last Thursday evening CBS and NBC only gave it a few seconds. And supporting floor remarks moments later by Democratic Senators Bob Kerrey and Patrick Moynihan went unnoticed that night and the next by all but ABC and FNC.
Last week had a lot of developments on the Monicagate and campaign fundraising front. With the input of the MRC analyst team of Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson, Paul Smith and Mark Drake, and the coordination of Tim Graham, here's a rundown of how ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today, FNC's Fox Report and NBC Nightly News, as well as the three morning shows, covered these advances.
-- Tuesday, September 1: A Washington Post story revealed that, in a footnote to a new ruling on the Paula Jones case, Judge Susan Weber Wright raised the possibility of holding Clinton in contempt for "misleading testimony" during the deposition she supervised. Also, Attorney General Janet Reno announced a 90-day probe of Harold Ickes.
Evening Coverage: On Wright's ruling, zilch on ABC and NBC; brief items read by the anchor on the other three. The probe of Ickes for possibly misleading statements about fundraising: brief items on all five networks. For a sense of the priority put on these stories, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts dispensed with both in a mere 33 seconds, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson clocked.
Morning Coverage: ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and NBC's Today all ran full reports on Clinton's comments in Moscow. ABS and CBS also ran short items on Wright and Ickes. But Today stood out with a full story by Lisa Myers on the implications of Wright's comments followed in the second half hour by an interview about the development with Georgetown University law professor Paul Rothstein.
Evening Coverage: All ran full stories on Clinton's lack of contrition in his press conference and, unlike the broadcast networks, on CNN Wolf Blitzer did mention Clinton's efforts to allow Lewinsky to return to the White House staff. Picking up on an item first revealed by the Drudge Report, but not giving Matt Drudge any credit according to a story posted at drudgereport.com, NBC's Lisa Myers delivered a full piece on an Easter Sunday tryst. Through Friday night neither ABC or CBS had picked up on Clinton's post-Church activities. Myers asserted in her network exclusive: "Monica Lewinsky had a sexual encounter with the President in his White House study, hours after Clinton attended Easter services with his family."
Some of the reporting on Clinton's press conference performance was pretty tough, especially from ABC's Sam Donaldson and CBS's Scott Pelley. Here's some of what CBS Evening News viewers heard from Pelley, as transcribed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson:
appears on his face now. At the Moscow news conference, Mr. Clinton
confronted questions for the very first time since he acknowledged lying
to the American people. With the prosecutor's report to Congress now only
weeks away, Mr. Clinton mentioned forgiveness...
Morning Coverage: Naturally, the SwissAir crash that broke the night before dominated all the shows. ABC's GMA managed a few seconds on the new fundraising probe and caught up with Clinton's job help for Lewinsky.
CBS, CNN, and NBC delivered brief items on the new probe and ABC included
the news in a larger report by Linda Douglass on Lieberman. FNC caught up
with CNN as David Shuster noted Clinton's job help.
glowing story by Scott Pelley on Clinton's reception in Northern
Ireland, CBS Evening News anchor Paula Zahn read two brief items. The
first took 18 seconds, the second 20 seconds as timed by the MRC's
While ABC and CBS
dealt with the plane crash and moved on, NBC Nightly News spent almost the
entire show on it. Anchor Tom Brokaw, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens, matched Zahn's sequence:
Well, at least NBC ran a Lieberman soundbite unlike CBS.
Morning Coverage: ABC's GMA ran a full story on Lieberman, Moynihan and Kerrey as well as a full story on Clinton's "I'm sorry." This Morning stuck to brief items on both topics. Today delivered multiple segments on each with, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noted, two pieces by David Bloom on Lieberman and the "I'm sorry," a discussion segment on Lieberman with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. And, somewhat making up for Thursday night, a tough piece from Gwen Ifil which also included clips from Moynihan and Kerrey. Ifill opened: "A stinging rebuke from one of the President's closest political allies....essentially turned his back on Bill Clinton, accusing the President not of high crimes but of low ones."
Evening Coverage: ABC and NBC led again with the Swiss plane crash, but both ran full stories on Clinton's "I'm sorry." NBC did not air any of Lieberman, Moynihan or Kerrey from Thursday, but did get a reaction soundbite from Lieberman. CBS led with Clinton's latest as Scott Pelley did include a Lieberman clip from Thursday, but not anything from the other two Democratic Senators who rebuked Clinton. Following Pelley reporter Phil Jones looked at how Democratic candidates are growing nervous about their ties to Clinton.
The September 7 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Web Manager Sean Henry and Research Associate Kristina Sewell: http://www.mrc.org . Here are a couple of items from the issue, put together by Tim Graham in my vacation absence, which should be fresh to CyberAlert readers:
-- A Newsbite:
But the press never made his recklessness an issue. Take for example, the same Zuckerman in the February 10, 1992 U.S. News, ripping into Gennifer Flowers and an alleged Clinton-hating press: "The prospect of bringing down one of the best candidates in the Democratic field was far too exciting for second thoughts and clouded otherwise sound minds....Legitimate press standards do not include rummaging in the garbage of White House contenders."
-- An item under the heading of "www.bias.com"
Sober and Sensible Polls?
"As the Monica Lewinsky affair spins toward its rendezvous with destiny, it's worth celebrating what has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the scandal: the sober and sensible way average Americans have responded to the whole brouhaha....Pundits hate this kind of thing; Those who declared him dead have had to reconfigure their best lines to accommodate -- drat! -- actual public opinion."
Langer explained: "It turns out that most Americans have responded to the Lewinsky affair with more of a head scratch than a knee jerk. Their message on this score has been steady: Clinton's personal behavior, however unsavory it's alleged to be, is indeed personal."
As the President's admission drew nearer, Langer endorsed the White House spin that a strong economy negates sex, lies, and perjury: "Lewinsky's a far juicier story, but when it comes to evaluating presidential performance, average Americans check their wallets. The lowest unemployment in a generation, trivial inflation, growing personal income: What's a stained dress in the face of these? So far, not much."
END of article
National Public Radio denies blacklisting Steven Emerson. As detailed in the September 2 CyberAlert, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby learned that NPR had caved into left-wing pressure and promised to no longer use Emerson, an expert on Islamic terrorism. The September 4 Globe ran a letter responding to Jacoby's August 31 column. NPR Vice President for news and information, Jeffrey Dvorkin, insisted:
accuse NPR of blacklisting is inflammatory, sensationalistic, and just
His next to last sentence really detracts from his believability. -- Brent Baker 
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