CyberAlert -- 03/24/1998 -- All But FNC Ignore Hillary's Tie to Brown's Scheme

All But FNC Ignore Hillary's Tie to Brown's Scheme; Latest NQ

1) What's an Academy Awards show without a hit on Republicans or conservatives?

2) Commerce sold trade mission slots to donors, Ron Brown's business partner said Monday, asserting that Leon Panetta told Brown to defy a court order. Nothing on ABC, CNN or NBC. CBS aired a story, but only FNC revealed it was Hillary Clinton's idea.

3) The March 23 edition of Notable Quotables: Tripp bashing, Starr bashing, Scaife bashing and conservative bashing, but Clinton's the victim.

"The Man from Grope." The March 30 Weekly Standard out this week features in its "Scrapbook" section the photo of Clinton and the flight attendant recently featured on the MRC Web site and first described in the February 19 CyberAlert. The Weekly Standard identifies the flight attendant, with her arm around Clinton's as he rests his hand inside her leg, as Debra Schiff. After the 1992 campaign she got a receptionist slot in the West Wing where, the March 11 Washington Times list of White House salaries pegged her annual take at $39,000. Not bad for a receptionist. The magazine added that she just last week jumped to the State Department as an assistant to the protocol chief. The Weekly Standard photo is in black and white, so to see multiple color stills from the video, go to where Rush Limbaugh recommended on his show last Thursday:

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Just after showing a clip of Jack Nicholson in the Best Picture nominated film "As Good as It Gets," Academy Awards emcee

Billy Crystal delivered this joke during ABC's Monday night broadcast:

"That is a tough role playing that, really. Playing a bigoted anti-women, anti-gay, anti-minority millionaire. Not only won an Oscar but he's the front-runner for the Republican nomination."

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)On Monday Nolanda Hill, business partner with the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown filed an affidavit in Judicial Watch's civil suit and gave testimony in court. What did she say? ABC, CNN and NBC viewers have no idea since those networks skipped the development that CBS and FNC found newsworthy. Both of those networks reported that she asserted that Commerce sold inclusion on trade missions to businessmen who donated to the Democratic Party or Clinton-Gore. CBS also reported that top White House officials told Brown to defy a court order demanding release of documents showing the scheme. FNC added that Hill claimed the "scheme was First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's idea."

Meanwhile on the First Lady front, reports on Monday indicated that the White House will claim that executive privilege covers conversations Hillary Clinton had with Sidney Blumenthal. (And reporters scoffed at conservatives who once dubbed her the "Co-President.") But while FNC mentioned the ploy Monday night and CNN talked about it on Inside Politics, the broadcast networks did not utter a word about it in the evening. Even NBC, which ran a full story on Monday's Today by Lisa Myers about the decision to demand the privilege for Mrs. Clinton, did not mention it on NBC Nightly News.

Monday night, March 23 ABC, CNN, and CBS began with Clinton in Ghana, leading with the scare of the surging crowd. NBC put Boris Yeltsin's Russian shake-up first and FNC topped it prime time news show with the Nolanda Hill bombshell. Here are some highlights:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Zilch on executive privilege for anyone or the Commerce scheme. Sam Donaldson concluded his report from Ghana by noting how foreign trips let Presidents escape bad news:

"This trip may be of historic significance as white House officials insist, but such foreign travel also gives Presidents a great stage on which to walk, particularly useful when like Mr. Clinton they have trouble at home. It changes the subject and it's worth noting that today not a single question was asked the President about the current Washington scandal. But tomorrow is another day."

-- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley opened his piece on Clinton in Ghana: "The President reached out to Africa and thousands of hands lunged back..." After showing the progress Ghana has made, in such areas as vaccinations, Pelley concluded with another reference to the crowd surging Clinton: "....and even he was unprepared for how a deprived continent would react to the promise of progress."

Half way through the show, Dan Rather made a vague reference to executive privilege, but said nothing about Hillary, in introducing a story on Hill's charges:

"While President Clinton is away in Africa there's a whole new dimension developing tonight in the White House under fire story in Washington. The concerns about the President and his top aides reportedly invoking executive privilege in the Ken Starr investigation. Those concerns are fueling impeachment talk and Watergate comparisons among Republicans on Capitol Hill while on another front the investigation into sleazy and possibly illegal political fundraising took a very interesting turn during the day."

Bob Schieffer reported: "Like other Commerce Secretaries the late Ron Brown organized overseas trade missions like this one with business leaders to promote American business overseas. But in a sworn affidavit filed in federal court, Nolanda Hill, Brown's former business partner, said Brown told her before his death, 'the trade missions were being used as a fundraising tool for the upcoming Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic Party.' She said 'Ron told me that domestic companies were being solicited to donate large sums of money in exchange for their selection to participate.'

"And, when a conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, became suspicious and filed suit to get government documents about the trips, she said Brown told her former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and presidential aide John Podesta urged him to hold back the documents until after the 1996 elections and to devise 'a way not to comply with the court's orders.'

"Hill is under indictment for income tax evasion and other business schemes tied to Brown, but White House officials call these allegations false in every respect. While they seemed stunned that she made the charges they would not speculate on why she did."

-- At the top of FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report anchor Uma Pemmaraju announced an angle missed by CBS on a story skipped by the rest:

"It was another embarrassment for the White House today. Sworn testimony that the President and Mrs. Clinton took part in a plan to use trade missions as fundraisers for the Democratic Party."

Reporter Carl Cameron explained: "Hill said Brown told her that the scheme was First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's idea to raise money for the 1996 campaign, testifying, quote: 'Ron expressed to me his displeasure that the purpose of the Commerce trade missions had been and were being perverted at the direction of the White House.' Hill implied that the President knew about the scheme and said former White House Deputy Chief-of-Staff Harold Ickes and Alexis Herman, now the Labor Secretary, implemented it..."

-- NBC Nightly News led with two stories on the Yeltsin shakeup before Tom Brokaw got to news that Clinton was "caught in what was close to a stampede in Ghana."

Claire Shipman in Ghana observed that "the huge turnout was an embarrassment of riches for the President and a welcome escape from the hothouse atmosphere in Washington..."

Shipman concluded: "Advisers acknowledge that this trip is mainly about symbolism, that Africa its people and its problems count. But of course symbolism matters at home too and the image of a President at work, even overwhelmed by crowds, is more favorable than that of a President besieged by scandal."

Well, we wouldn't want reality to intrude on Clinton's wonderful trip. NBC did its part, ignoring the controversy over Hillary Clinton's executive privilege claim and the testimony from Nolanda Hill.

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The March 23 edition of Notable Quotables, the Media Research Center's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. As usual, quite a few of these have already appeared in CyberAlerts, but seven have not, including the one under "Campaign Reform Opponents Are Like Terrorists" and two quotes of reporters denouncing Illinois Republicans for picking a conservative Senate nominee, under "The Overnight Scoop: Conservatives Are Losers."

The headline contrast is fresh and "Time Turns 75: More Objective Now?" contrasts a reporter's assertion, caught by the MRC's Tim Graham, that Time magazine is now objective with two quotes from recent issues picked out by MRC news analyst Gene Eliasen. In one Time gushes over Clinton's brilliance, in the other the objective news journal decries Ken Starr's tactics.

The NQ follows below. -- Brent Baker

Notable Quotables
March 23, 1998 (Vol. Eleven; No. 6)

Linda Tripp: Evil Clinton-Bashing Snoop

"And Kathleen Willey also spoke about Linda Tripp, a Clinton-basher who seems to be at every ugly turn in this controversy. Tripp was outside the Oval Office when Willey emerged from her encounter with the President. Just how is it that Linda Tripp is so often conveniently involved in the President's troubles? For some clues let's bring in The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who has profiled the controversial Miss Tripp in this week's issue. You write that co-workers often viewed her as an inveterate busybody. Has she always been a snoop and a gossip with a particular interest in other people's romantic lives?" - Bryant Gumbel on Public Eye, March 17.

Dick Scaife: Bill Clinton's Darth Vader?

"The alleged conflicts involve this man, Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon family fortune and the 148th richest American according to Forbes magazine. Scaife is the financial patron of conservative causes, donating tens of millions of dollars a year. To the Clinton White House Scaife is the Darth Vader of the alleged right-wing conspiracy against the President, having helped bankroll a Pittsburgh newspaper that specializes in anti-Clinton conspiracy theories; the American Spectator, which broke the story about Arkansas troopers soliciting women for Clinton; lawyers once involved in Paula Jones' suit against the President, and a group that ran ads in search of other women." - Lisa Myers on Ken Starr, March 5 NBC Nightly News.

While Clinton Slimes His Accusers,
Media Paint Him As the Victim

"But ever since agents began guarding Presidents after the assassination of William McKinley, the Secret Service has kept its secrets. Now the man investigating the President may want to ask agents in the White House what they know about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And that's made a lot of current and former agents wonder who they're supposed to protect the President from - an assassin, or a character assassination?" - Reporter Josh Mankiewicz, February 27 Dateline NBC.

"I do think there is some value in [David Brock's] apology because it does illuminate some larger facts about our times. I think when historians look back on all this, they're gonna be less concerned about all the legal details of who said what to whom when, and more concerned about the way we drove this truck into the muck. And if David Brock, who helped drive the truck into the muck, wants to help push it out now, great." - Newsweek Senior Editor and NBC analyst Jonathan Alter, March 10 Today.

Putrid Poetry Corner

"The best defense it seems somehow is going on the offense now. While seedy stories in the media seem to be getting ever seedier. Each reporter in his turn sounds more and more like Howard Stern. A great investigative boom reporting who did what to whom. We see so many different styles of accusations and denials. When so much mud around you flies, you are bound to get some in your eyes. When such a war has been declared, everyone's in, nobody's spared. The jokes, the snickers, and the flippery. The slope we're on is long and slippery. And there is something in the air which this country best beware: for there is danger in the dirt and lots of people could get hurt. And what we sow, we someday reap. Last night as I laid down to sleep I dreamed an apparition swarthy, the unshaved ghost of Joe McCarthy." - Charles Osgood, CBS Saturday Morning, February 28.

Campaign "Reform" Opponents Are Like Terrorists

"It was a bill that was doomed to die. The last time you heard people so eager to claim responsibility for something like this, they were terrorists." - NBC reporter Gwen Ifill, February 27 Washington Week in Review.

Three Cheers for Clintonomics

Dan Rather: "With the economy humming, CBS's White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports, President Clinton was singing his own praises, this time with the facts and figures to back him up."

Scott Pelley: "The recovery began before Mr. Clinton took office. The fact that it's run so long is credited to what some call the great odd couple - Mr. Clinton and Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Chairman. Simply put, when Mr. Clinton made deficit reduction his top priority, Greenspan felt confident driving interest rates down. America did the rest. If the recovery continues to December, it will be the longest peacetime recovery in history." - March 6 CBS Evening News.

The Overnight Scoop: Conservatives are Losers

"It could be the Republican Party's worst nightmare as it tries to retain control of Congress - and it's a recurring one in Illinois. State Republicans threw away their chance of winning a U.S. Senate seat two years ago by nominating a pro-gun, anti-abortion conservative who was crushed by a Democrat in the fall election. They may have done it again." - Associated Press reporter Mike Robinson's lead paragraph on Peter Fitzgerald winning the March 17 Illinois Republican Senate primary, March 18.

"Some Illinois Republicans say results of yesterday's Senate primary may have hurt their hopes of beating Democrat Carol Moseley-Braun in November. Conservative Peter Fitzgerald, who wants to legalize concealed weapons and ban abortions, won the GOP nomination over moderate Loleta Didrickson. Many Republicans say she would have had a better chance of beating Moseley-Braun, who's running for a second term." - Reporter John Roberts, March 18 CBS Evening News.

Public Trust in Government Waning or Growing?

"Survey Finds Americans Have Underlying Distrust of Federal Government" - Minneapolis Star Tribune headline, March 10

"Uncle Sam Gets a Tip O' the Hat from a More Trusting Public" - St. Paul Pioneer Press, same day (Thanks to Jason Lewis, KSTP Radio)

Time Turns 75: More Objective Now?

"After [Time founder Henry] Luce died in 1967, his successors gradually transformed his brainchild into a more objective, more conventional, less controversial and perhaps less lively magazine. Like so many other once-feisty publications, Time has mellowed." - Washington Post writer Peter Carlson, March 6.

Reality Check:
"In the gaudy mansion of Clinton's mind there are many rooms with heavy doors, workrooms and playrooms, rooms stuffed with trophies, rooms to stash scandals and regrets. He walks lightly amid the ironies of his talents and behavior, just by consigning them to different cubbies of his brain. It's an almost scary mind, that of a multitasking wizard who plays hearts while he talks on the phone with a head of state, who sits through a dense briefing on chemical weapons intently doing a crossword puzzle, only to take reporters' questions hours later and repeat whole sections of the briefing word for word." - Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs opening a news story in the March 2 issue.

"Though Starr was operating within the law, not many people have seen up close how rough the law can get when a determined prosecutor pulls out all the stops. And the very notion of turning mother against daughter plays into the hands of the critics who say the independent counsel is on a mad tear." - Time Senior Writer Richard Lacayo, February 23 issue.

Larry King, Master of Subtle Allusions

Susan McDougal: "What kind of country has a mother go in and testify against her daughter?"

Larry King: "But that they could always do, right?"

Mark Geragos, McDougal's attorney: "They can always do that, but..."

King: "Germany did it, too." - Exchange on CNN's Larry King Live, February 24.

L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher
Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
Eric Darbe, Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen,
Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts
Kristina Sewell, Research Associate
Michelle Baetz, Circulation Manager
Rebecca Hinnershitz, Karen Sanjines, Interns

-- Brent Baker

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