Russert Asked Hillary to Apologize; Hillary's Suspect Fundraising; Cheney Chastened on "Humorous" Murder Lyrics -- Extra Edition 
1) A network reporter finally put Hillary Clinton on the spot. Moderating the NY Senate debate, NBC's Tim Russert asked if she regretted "misleading the American people?" and "Would you now apologize for branding people as part of a 'vast right-wing conspiracy'?"
2) FNC revealed the story the New York Times suppressed: "White House staffers have voiced concern that the First Lady has been offering large donors to her campaign...overnight stays in the Lincoln bedroom and even Camp David."
3) ABC castigated Lynne Cheney for her concern about a rap lyrics glorifying rape and murder, suggesting they "were meant to be humorous." NBC ran a tough piece on Gore's hypocrisy: "He has a lot to answer for as the number two man in the administration that's had a cozy and profitable relationship with Hollywood."
6) NBC's Today actually treated as newsworthy the PR gimmick of two liberal Senators saying they will ask the FCC to investigate the "subliminal" rat ad. CBS's Bryant Gumbel wondered if Bush should "go back to hard-line Republican conservative themes."
Corrections: After spelling it correctly hundreds of times, I slipped up in the September 13 CyberAlert and misspelled the last name of ABC's political analyst. It's Stephanopoulos, not Stephanopolous. The September 12 CyberAlert quoted Al Gore as answering "Beetles" when asked by Oprah Winfrey to name his favorite music group. That should have read "Beatles." In the same issue, an item on Wen Ho Lee quoted NBC News reporter George Miller. His name is actually George Lewis.
Finally, over two-and-a-half years after she impugned her political opponents, a  network television reporter put Hillary Clinton on the spot for her January 1998 "vast right-wing conspiracy" claim in which she falsely denied her husband ever lied to cover up sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Moderating the first Rick Lazio-Hillary Clinton debate on Wednesday night, NBC's Tim Russert raised the issue of "trust and character," played the infamous VRWC soundbite, demanded "Do you regret misleading the American people?" and requested: "Would you now apologize for branding people as part of a 'vast right-wing conspiracy'?" Of course, she declined and insisted: "I didn't mislead anyone."
MSNBC played the 7pm ET debate from Buffalo on tape delay at 10pm ET Wednesday night. Two Buffalo-area reporters joined Russert in the questioning and from my cursory review the three seemed to do an even-handed job of pressing each candidate with the toughest arguments against them forwarded by their opponents' camps.
A little more than 20 minutes into the debate, or as Dan Rather would dub it, a "joint appearance," Russert set up a segment: "To both the candidates, Mrs. Clinton first, the issue of trust and character has been raised repeatedly in this campaign. Mrs. Clinton, I want to start with you. In January of '98, you went on the Today show and talked about what had occurred at the White House. I want to play that for you and our viewers and our voters and give you a chance to respond."
Viewers and audience
members then saw excerpts from Today:
Back to the debate, Russert lamented: "Regrettably, it was proven true. Do you regret misleading the American people? And secondly, in that same interview, you said that those who were criticizing the President were part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. Amongst those eventually criticizing the President were Joe Lieberman. Would you now apologize for branding people as part of a vast right-wing conspiracy?"
still played the victim: "Well, you know, Tim, that was a very
painful time for me, for my family and for our country. It is
something that I regret deeply that anyone had to go through. And I
wish that we all could look at it from the perspective of history, but
we can't yet. We're going to have to wait until those books are
written. But from my perspective, you know, I'm very hopeful that we
can go forward in a united way. That certainly is what I've tried to
do. And I've tried to be as forthcoming as I could, given the
circumstances that I've faced. Obviously I didn't mislead anyone. I
didn't know the truth. And there's a great deal of pain associated
with that, and my husband has certainly acknowledged that and made it
clear that he did mislead the country as well as his family.
Russert followed up: "In trying to unite people, however, is it appropriate to brand anyone who criticized the President as part of a 'vast right-wing conspiracy'?"
Clinton re-wrote events: "Well, I certainly didn't mean to extend that to anyone who might criticize the President, especially after the truth came out. You know, I have the greatest respect for Senator Lieberman. I've known him for 30 years. He and I share a lot of the same concerns about media violence, for example..."
+++ Watch the above exchange via RealPlayer. Late Thursday morning ET MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a video clip of it. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Russert's simple and obvious question stands out from the softball questions and general sucking up displayed by other network correspondents when Hillary has granted a rare TV interview. Recall her most prominent appearances over the last 16 months as detailed in past CyberAlerts:
-- May 1999. Dan
Rather slobbered all over Hillary Clinton on 60 Minutes II, urging her
to run for President and gushing: "Once a political lightning
rod, today she is political lightning." For many more quotes and
a RealPlayer clip, go to:
-- March 2000.
"Unfortunately that was defeated," complained the co-host of
a new ABC News-produced Lifetime show, about Hillary Clinton's
health care plan. Other topics raised in the interview with her:
Grocery shopping and what she'll do "to help women" get
day care. Go to:
-- May 2000. NBC's
Today promised a diverse audience for Hillary's town meeting, but 61
percent of questioners were from New York City and 73 percent of the
questions hit her from the left or very far left. Go to:
-- June 2000. Bryant
Gumbel hoped he and his fellow New Yorkers would get a two-for-one
deal: Hillary, plus her husband's "expertise." An audience
member placed Hillary and Lazio on the Survivor island. For more
details about her Early Show welcome illustrated by a RealPlayer video
clip, go to:
The New York Times won't tell you what it learned about Hillary improperly using overnight White House stays to fund her Senate campaign, but Fox News Channel broke the veil on what the paper has been suppressing.
In picking up on information first reported Tuesday night by the Drudge Report (http://www.drudgereport.com ), Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume opened with FNC's Hume uniquely letting viewers in on what D.C. insiders already know, noting that "political and media circles have been buzzing for several days with word the New York Times has a major story in the works."
In a live report
Rita Cosby filled in the details, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
Murder and rape, such a humorous topic. The Senate hearing, chaired by John McCain, on the FTC report on how the entertainment industry targets kids for its adult-rated products, generated full stories Wednesday night on ABC, CBS and NBC.
ABC's John Martin ignored how the very media moguls now being criticized by Gore-Lieberman are among their biggest funders and instead castigated Lynne Cheney for her critique of a rap song: "Cheney misunderstood the lyrics" as the murder and rape theme which upset her "were meant to be humorous." CBS's Bob Schieffer asserted that in noting how one mogul has organized a big Democratic fundraiser, Cheney had "stuck in a partisan knife."
Only NBC made up for its cheap shot reporting the night before, on the phoney concerns about the letters "R-A-T-S," by delivering some balance through a tough piece on Gore's hypocrisy. Claire Shipman constructed the conflict: "By night, raising big bucks from Hollywood elite. By day, applauding the FTC report that criticizes the entertainment industry."
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led September 13 with Wen Ho Lee but soon got to the
hearing. John Martin described the complaint and industry reaction
before getting to the presidential politics. Martin noted that Joe
Lieberman "said the Columbine high school shootings were a
Martin did not
question Lieberman's comment but he did challenge Lynne Cheney whom,
he relayed, had "blasted award winning rap singer Emenem for
singing about killing."
Maybe that's the problem -- youth who find humor in rape and murder.
-- CBS Evening News.
The show led with electricity shortages in California. On the hearings
front, Bob Schieffer also played Lieberman and Lynne Cheney soundbites.
Lieberman insisted: "Vice President Gore and I have demanded an
immediate cease-fire in the marketing of adult-rated products to
-- NBC Nighty News. Lisa Myers related how Joe Lieberman decried the "culture of carnage" and how Lynne Cheney targeted Emenem, in her testimony, for lyrics which "are both vulgar and violent." To illustrate, Myers played an audio clip with the words on-screen for the rap-challenged: "Touch this chainsaw, left his brains all dangling from his neck while his head barely hangs on. Blood, guts, guns, cuts."
Now that's a laugh riot.
Cheney contended the lyrics "could not be more despicable." Myers added that "in a shot at her husband's opponent, she notes that studio chief Harvey Weinstein, who's been criticized for excessively violent films, is actually helping the Democrats."
Tom Brokaw picked up on that theme in introducing the next story: "For Vice President Al Gore, this is a tricky and important issue as he targets those crucial undecided voters, but as Republicans are quick to point out, he has a lot to answer for as the number two man in the administration that's had a cozy and profitable relationship with Hollywood."
Claire Shipman, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, began: "It's a
delicate dance for Al Gore. By night, raising big bucks from Hollywood
elite. By day, applauding the FTC report that criticizes the
Shipman explained the differing standard: "That may also be because Gore has spent a long time courting Hollywood, a skill he learned the hard way. When his wife Tipper crusaded against rock music lyrics in the 1980s, she created a firestorm. And in 1987 when Gore was running for President he was forced to mend fences, reportedly holding a closed door meeting with Hollywood bigwigs to clear the air. So when Gore more recently championed the V chip used to give parents more control over what their kids watch, he did it with the help of insiders. Why all the special treatment? Money. In this election cycle the Democrats have raised more than seven and a half million dollars so far from Hollywood compared to just over five for Republicans. And Gore's recent attacks haven't hurt the cash flow. He'll raise about eight million dollars this week at three star studded fundraisers, including one at Radio City Music Hall tomorrow. Monday night he heads to Los Angeles for what his aides hope will be a three million dollar bash, and that would beat even Bill Clinton's record Hollywood take."
As for that Radio City Music Hall event, Wednesday's Entertainment Tonight reported that Julia Roberts, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Michael Douglas will serve as celebrity emcees.
ABC and CBS ran short, somewhat confusing, items Wednesday night about a strange campaign event and Dan Rather added his own odd twist.
About 20 minutes into the September 13 World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings intoned: "A former Congressman who was helping Al Gore prepare for the debates got a package in the mail, documents and a video tape allegedly describing George Bush's debate preparations. The question is how was the material obtained. The Gore campaign says the package was unsolicited, when they saw it they called the FBI. The Bush campaign is eager to find out more."
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather relayed the same basic facts before going off on his
own wacky tangent: "A strategist helping Al Gore prepare for
possible face-to-face television meetings with George Bush reports he
received a package, a package containing papers and a videotape of
Bush preparing for these face-offs. The package came from someone
named Amy who promised more to come. The material was turned over to
the FBI. The FBI is investigating.
Strictly speaking, Dan Rather is not a stable individual.
Judge James Jackson's "stunningly sharp attack" on whom? Wen Ho Lee's release from jail generated full stories Wednesday night on ABC, CBS and NBC and all relayed the judge's sharp rebuke, but of whom or what entity exactly? Each delivered slightly different descriptions which altered the perception of whether he was specifically criticizing Clinton appointees.
Only ABC noted he was a Reagan appointee and was talking about "top decision-makers" inside two executive branch departments. CBS's Jim Stewart also named the Justice and Energy departments, but NBC's George Lewis referred only to "the government's handling of the case" by "the executive branch."
Peter Jennings opened World News Tonight by highlighting how "the judge says government has embarrassed the nation." Barry Serafin quoted U.S. District Judge James Parker: "I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the unfair manner in which you were held in custody." Serafin added: "The judge, a Reagan appointee, pointed to those he called 'top decision-makers' in the departments of Justice and Energy, declaring 'they have embarrassed our entire nation and each one of us who is a citizen of it.'"
On the September 13 CBS Evening News, Jim Stewart proclaimed: "The judge who freed him issued a stunningly sharp attack on the government for the way the case was handled. 'I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the unfair manner in which you were held.' The departments of Justice and Energy 'have embarrassed our entire nation' said Judge James Parker."
George Lewis on the NBC Nightly News announced only: "Federal Judge James Parker stunned the entire courtroom by blasting the government's handling of the case, calling it an 'embarrassment to the entire nation,' adding quote: 'I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the unfair manner in which you were held in custody by the executive branch.'"
Rats removed. Wednesday morning the "rats" ad story only animated NBC's Today for a second day as the show actually treated as newsworthy the PR gimmick by two liberal Senators who promised they will request that the FCC investigate the "subliminal" ad. The show also brought Newsweek's Howard Fineman aboard to point out how the media-generated controversy is blocking Bush from getting his message out.
ABC's Good Morning
America only aired a few anchor-read briefs on the rats ad while
CBS's The Early Show moved on to new poll numbers and Bush's
troubles in general. Gumbel trumpeted:
Discussing the campaign with Mario Cuomo and Jack Kemp, Gumbel actually posed a question which picked up on conservative concerns, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed. Gumbel added his own edge in asking Kemp: "Some Republicans are now saying that Bush should get out and go back to hard-line Republican conservative themes. Is that an admission that their make-nice convention was misguided?"
Kemp argued that's not the way to go.
On Today, Ann Curry ominously warned: "There is more fallout this morning from the so-called 'rats' ad from the Republican National Committee. The ad is no longer running but two members of Congress now want the FCC to investigate."
David Gregory promoted the gambit, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "Democratic senators Ron Wyden and John Breaux in this letter obtained by NBC News request a Federal Communications Commission investigation. Writing the Republican ad contains quote, 'subliminal messages in violation of the public interest.' Nonsense claimed Governor Bush in Florida, Tuesday."
Gregory relayed the Bush team defense of the ad before concluding: "The timing of this latest flap couldn't be worse for the Texas Governor. He spent most of last week fending off distractions like his use of an expletive to describe a reporter and Republican criticism of his campaign. And now two days before the start of the Olympics when advisors expect the public's attention to turn away from politics, aides fear Bush is losing the opportunity to turn things around. Today Bush talks about the environment. Aides promising a new policy initiative with the hope that talking about issues again, instead of politics can help the Governor get back on stride."
Wednesday night broadcast network coverage of Bush's environmental policy speech: Zilch.
Fineman piled on, never considering the media's role in creating the
distraction: He told news reader Ann Curry: "Well it's damaging
Ann in that he can't get his message out. He wanted to talk about
prescription drugs. He wanted to say his plan was better. Instead all
of the attention and focus was on the ad. And this all too typical of
the way the Bush campaign has been. Are they for ads or not? Are they
turning nasty or not? Do they hate The New York Times or not? It's
just another distraction from a campaign that very much needs to focus
on big ideas and a big message if it's gonna have a chance to
Like the media would then actually focus on policy issues? -- Brent Baker 
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