CyberAlert -- 06/12/1998 -- ABC & CBS Skip Waivers

ABC & CBS Skip Waivers; Clinton Gets Better Press Than Starr; Latest NQ

1) Clinton delivers a speech defending his China policy, but ABC and CBS didn't mention the China connection. Only CNN relayed fresh news contradicting Clinton on the waivers. The tobacco bill, CBS implied, will be sullied by "election year tax cuts."

2) So far this year Bill Clinton has benefitted from more positive evaluation on the network news than has Ken Starr. CMPA determined that 89 percent of sources offered a negative comment about Starr.

3) Sylvester Stallone, the assault-weapon toting Rambo, denounces guns and demands they be confiscated house by house.

4) June 15 edition of Notable Quotables: Intelligent Subversion of the Law; Starr Appeal Threatens America; Deadly Easter Egg Rolls.

>>> "Where Are Nightline's Investigative Resources Now That Clinton's Charged with Dangerous Exports? Will Koppel Let Clinton Get Away With It?" The latest MRC Media Reality Check fax report by Tim Graham contrasts Koppel's pursuit of Iraqgate with his less aggressive approach to the China connection. It will be posted Friday morning by the MRC Web team of Sean Henry and Kenny Lemay. They've already posted the just completed June 15 edition of MediaWatch. Just click on the MediaWatch link on the MRC home page:

Clarification: The June 11 CyberAlert spelled a CNN reporter's last name correctly once and wrong once. It's Jonathan Karl, not Carl.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Thursday night all the networks ran stories on Clinton's speech, in which he defended his China policy, including his satellite waivers, but neither ABC or CBS mentioned the controversy over the satellite waivers. While NBC's Claire Shipman alluded to the controversy, only CNN's Wolf Blitzer told viewers about information in a Washington Post story about how the National Security Council had opposed one major waiver and later determined China sold missiles parts to Pakistan.

In the June 11 Washington Post John Mintz reported:
"Months after denouncing President George Bush in 1992 for coddling 'familiar tyrants' in Beijing, newly inaugurated President Clinton endorsed his predecessor's policy in 1993 by approving deals with China to launch U.S.-made satellites. Clinton took the action, the first of many favored by U.S. companies, despite evidence that China had sold ballistic missile parts to Pakistan, declassified White House documents show.
"Clinton said Tuesday that his now controversial approval in February of a satellite deal with China by Loral Space & Communications Ltd. was 'pretty routine,' and the National Security Council papers released this week suggest that is true. The president has waved through every satellite export to China that was ever presented to him after aides laid out the national security risks and explained the number of U.S. jobs the deals would help create, the documents show...."

The three mornings shows skipped the Post disclosure, despite Clinton's claim that China is helping with preventing the spread of nuclear technology.

Every network led with a different topic on Thursday evening. ABC began with NATO efforts to suppress violence in Kosovo, the impact of La Nina topped CBS, CNN went first with the Mitsubishi sexual harassment settlement as FNC led with congressional hearings into unruly airline passengers and NBC started with the potential strike at GM.

ABC featured a piece on a bill that would bar adults from transporting, without parental knowledge, minors from a state with a parental consent law for an abortion to a state without one. The Republicans are ruining the tobacco bill, CBS suggested, by using it to "bankroll election year tax cuts."

Here are some highlights from the Thursday, June 11 evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings introduced Sam Donaldson's report on Clinton's China speech by observing: "He has been under attack by those who say he's abandoned the issue of human rights with the Chinese, something he promised never to do when he ran against George Bush in 1992."
Donaldson explained that Clinton insisted that getting tough on human rights as his critics want "would be like cutting of your nose despite your face." Donaldson relayed how "The President said engagement is paying dividends in cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation," but failed to point out how, according to the Washington Post, the NSC determined China had sold missile parts to Pakistan.
Two critics did make it into Donaldson's piece. Two liberal Democrats: Paul Wellstone, who criticized Clinton on the Tiananmen Square ceremony, and Nancy Pelosi who denounced businesses for putting profit first.

Later, Linda Douglass illustrated a new bill by looking at the experience of Pennsylvania resident Joyce Farley. Without her knowledge Rosa Hartford, the mother of the 18-year-old who impregnated her 13-year-old daughter, took her daughter to New York, which does not require parental consent, for an abortion. Douglass's summary made the proposed law seem less than rationale since abortion is legal:
"Under legislation proposed by anti-abortion forces in Congress, Rosa Hartford would be treated almost as if she had kidnaped Farley's daughter even though the girl was going anyway for a legal abortion. The proposed law would make it a crime to transport a young girl from a state that requires consent to one that does not."

-- CBS Evening News. Tax cuts will ruin the wonderful spending plan. Dan Rather intoned:
"On Capitol Hill today lobbyists swarmed and the big tobacco settlement bill is changing right before your eyes. It was originally supposed to earmark a broad new tax on cigarettes to bankroll anti-smoking efforts, especially those aimed at the young. All of a sudden this bill now has a Republican provision to bankroll election year tax cuts, especially the so-called marriage tax. CBS's Bob Schieffer is watching as big money buys a new tobacco bill."

Minutes later Rather set up the China story: "President Clinton today sought to defend himself against accusations he's about to kowtow to the Chinese in Tiananmen Square when he visits China later this month. As CBS News White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports, the President coupled his defense with some criticism of China."
Pelley began: "Dan, the Chinese will hate this speech. It was hastily arranged to confront the critics of Mr. Clinton's China policy. In it he admonished Beijing for a long list of abuses, but then said his trip to China is right for America."
Pelley reported that Clinton offered criticism on human rights and forced abortions. Pelley aired no soundbites from any critic and failed to mention the satellite deals.

-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Wolf Blitzer said Clinton "sharply defended his policy of so-called constructive engagement." After a clip of Harry Wu characterizing Clinton's approach as "appeasement policy," Blitzer raised a subject the other networks skipped:
"Mr. Clinton also justified his authorization of US satellite launchings on Chinese missiles, a policy that is now under investigation in Congress. Mr. Clinton says he was simply following the policy of George Bush and Ronald Reagan. But critics don't buy that and in fact just declassified documents show the National Security Council was initially opposed to these satellite authorizations. 'We may have sufficient evidence to sanction China,' one May 1993 memorandum concluded citing intelligence reports that China had transferred missiles to Pakistan."

-- NBC Nightly News. Claire Shipman explained that Clinton asserted "that a practical approach often counts as much as principle." Shipman failed to pick up on the Post story, but did at least highlight the China connection controversy: "The President's trip has been at the center of a firestorm lately over allegations that China illegally tried to funnel money into the 1996 campaign over a presidential decision the allow a Chinese satellite on a U.S. rocket, a move that helped generous campaign donors despite an ongoing Justice Department investigation."

A "firestorm" that burned right by ABC and CBS.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "Bill Clinton gets better press than his accusers," discovered a four month analysis of broadcast network evening news scandal stories completed by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). The just-published May/June edition of the CMPA's newsletter, Media Monitor, details the group's analysis of Clinton scandal stories from January 1 to April 30 aired by ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.

CMPA evaluates each statement in the network stories, whether from the reporter or those in soundbites. Each comment is judged positive, negative or neutral. Here are some illuminating findings lifted from their newsletter:

-- "Of nearly 1,300 soundbites containing judgments of him, the President was supported by 44 percent of news sources and criticized by 56 percent. Among the comments that specifically referenced scandal allegations or Mr. Clinton's ethics in general, however, only 35 percent were positive and 65 percent were negative. By contrast, among judgments that focused on other issues (such as his job performance, handling of specific policy issues, etc.), more than four-fifths (81 percent) were positive."

-- "By contrast, Kenneth Starr lacked defenders but not critics. Excluding his own comments and those of his staff (which were 97 percent positive), Mr. Starr was criticized by 89 percent of sources. The independent counsel received mostly bad press from all types of sources, including congressional Republicans (61 percent negative). Leading the charge against the prosecutor were various representatives of the President (96 percent negative), who accused Mr. Starr of partisan motives and professional misconduct."

-- "The President's other accusers all shared negative media profiles. Paula Jones fared worst, with 78 percent bad press, with most of the criticism originating from the Clinton camp."

Media Monitor featured a graph comparing the network evaluations of Starr and Clinton. I can't re-create that in e-mail, but I've taken the numbers and tried to devise two tables so the contrast is easy to see.










That's a gap of 18 percentage points

By network:



Clinton 42% 48% 42% 58% 52% 58%
Starr 27% 24% 28% 73% 76% 72%

This latest edition of Media Monitor is not yet up on the CMPA Web site, but the address is:


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The only way to make America safe: go house to house and confiscate every gun. Reacting to the shooting death of Phil Hartman, actor Sylvester Stallone who is best known for glamorizing in his Rambo films military weapons not even the NRA wants legal, urged the repeal of the 2nd amendment.

MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson transcribed his ranting from a June 8 segment on Access Hollywood, the show carried by NBC-owned stations and syndicated to other markets.

Stallone conceded, "I know we use guns in films," but insisted the time has come "to be a little more accountable and realize that this is an escalating problem that's eventually going to lead to, I think, urban warfare."

Access Hollywood then showed a clip from a comment he made in London a few weeks ago: "Until America, door to door, takes every handgun, this is what you're gonna have. It's pathetic. It really is pathetic. It's sad. We're living in the Dark Ages over there."

"Over there"? Yes, the man who wants to control what Americans have in their homes is now living in England. Back to Stallone's interview with the show, he demanded that the 2nd amendment be abandoned: "It has to be stopped, and someone really has to go on the line, a certain dauntless political figure, and say, 'It's ending, it's over, all bets are off. It's not 200 years ago, we don't need this anymore, and the rest of the world doesn't have it. Why should we?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) The June 15 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

Quotes fresh to CyberAlert readers include a U.S. News reporter praising the public's "intelligence" for not condemning Clinton, a quote caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens. It appears in the first category. Also, under "Monica's New Lawyer: Exhibit A for Why Starr Should Quit," a quote picked out by the MRC's Tim Graham in which a Time reporter fails to consider the possibility the independent counsel for Ed Meese lasted just six months because Meese didn't obfuscate.

The issue follows below. -- Brent Baker

June 15, 1998
(Vol. Eleven; No. 13)

Intelligent Subversion of the Law

"Stonewalling happens to be good lawyering and I'm glad the President and Monica Lewinsky have good lawyers." -- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, June 3.

"I think if a married man commits adultery, lying sort of goes with it, and committing perjury in a civil case that's been thrown out of court, I think you'd have to look long and hard to find anybody in this country who has suffered a penalty because of that....Now Sean, I've been around Washington long enough that I've heard lots of politicians tell lots of lies. And I don't know that I put lies about sex in a higher category than lies about public policy that might affect my life." -- Clift, same show.

Matthew Miller, U.S. News & World Report: "He [Clinton] either has to say the truth or decide to lie about adultery, or an affair...I don't think that the American people will actually care about that."
Suzy DeFrancis, GOP consultant: "He [Miller] thinks American people are the most lawless people..."
Miller: "Not lawless. Intelligent."
-- Exchange on CNBC's Hardball, June 9.

Put On Blinders, Not Binoculars

Ted Koppel: "It has the potential of being a terrific conspiracy story. Several members of Congress, including Speaker Gingrich, have called on President Clinton not to go to China this month as planned until he answers to Congress. But the story may not have the additional advantage of being true."
Chris Bury: "For all the sound and fury here in Washington, no concrete evidence has yet emerged to support the two most damaging allegations. It is not certain any classified missile technology was transferred to China. And no one has produced any proof that President Clinton changed policy because of campaign contributions." -- ABC's Nightline, June 3.

Unserious, Imbalanced Borger

"Translation [of GOP policy]: We can't get Bill Clinton to tell the truth about Monica Lewinsky, so let's get him to fess up to cavorting with the Chinese. Please. Through their blunderbuss tactics, Republicans are undermining their own pledges to conduct serious and balanced inquiries." -- U.S. News & World Report columnist Gloria Borger in a June 8 article titled "Commies! Treason! Yippee!"

Rather's Prosecutorial Attack

"Good evening. There is new information tonight about President Clinton's response to Ken Starr's hard press in his investigation of the President's personal life. As CBS News White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports, the President has declined Starr's unprecedented request for his testimony." -- Dan Rather, May 27 CBS Evening News.

"Good evening. There are these important developments tonight in Ken Starr's prosecutorial attack against President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky." -- Dan Rather, June 2 CBS Evening News.

Monica's New Lawyer: Exhibit A for Why Starr Should Quit

"He is a walking, talking precedent for prosecutorial forebearance. It took [Jacob] Stein just six months and $312,000 to wrap up his investigation and decide not to bring any indictments against [then-Attorney General Ed] Meese. So when he finally sits down with Starr, Stein won't be just Lewinsky's defender. He'll be Exhibit A in the argument that it may be time for Starr's nearly four-year odyssey to come to an end." -- Time reporter Adam Cohen ending June 15 Stein profile.

Starr Appeal Threatens America

"You've always thought when you talked to your lawyer it was confidential, even after you die. But not if the independent counsel has his way....Once you die, whatever you told your attorney in absolute confidence suddenly becomes fair game. What you said may hurt your reputation, or implicate your child in drug abuse or embarrass your family, it doesn't matter. A prosecutor should, Starr argues, be able to make your lawyer talk. Whatever the Supreme Court's ruling may mean to Starr's investigation of the White House, it could profoundly affect how you deal with your attorney from now on." -- ABC's Forrest Sawyer, June 8 Nightline.

"For many terminally ill people, it is one of life's final acts: talking to a lawyer and feeling safe that their secrets are protected, even in death, by the attorney-client privilege....Now the attorney-client privilege is facing its biggest challenge yet here at the Supreme Court. The case has set off alarm bells among lawyers and clients, the worry that what they discuss in the strictest confidence may one day be revealed." -- CBS reporter Stephanie Lambidakis, June 7 CBS Evening News.

We'd Sooner Forget Public Eye

"The idea of a national apology for slavery has been floated regularly over the past year, but always shot down, often by Americans who would sooner forget it ever existed." -- Bryant Gumbel at beginning of a June 3 story about Ed Ball, a wealthy Southerner who wrote a book about coming to terms with the fact his family owned slaves, June 3 Public Eye.

Goldwater, the Great Ex-Senator

"Goldwater was always honest, even when honesty didn't pay. My appreciation of Goldwater came in his and my later years when he called on Nixon to resign and when he said that Reagan was either a liar or incompetent for not knowing about Iran-Contra. He told the party to let abortion alone and to quote 'boot Jerry Falwell in the ass,' closed quote. He summed up gays in the military brilliantly. 'You don't have to be straight to shoot straight.' You don't get more honest than that." -- Time's Margaret Carlson, May 30 CNN Capital Gang.

"He was also a dangerous extremist...It [the "Daisy" ad] was a gross exaggeration and it was demagogic and it was an effective ad, but there was some truth to it. Goldwater was a guy who was in favor of unleashing the Strategic Air Command." -- Newsweek reporter (and former Washington Bureau Chief) Evan Thomas, May 30 Inside Washington.

Moderator Ken Bode: "Fast, quick trigger-finger, yes, quick to shoot."
Robert Greenberger, The Wall Street Journal: "But don't you think as Barry Goldwater aged, now maybe this is a reflection on the country, maybe the country moved center or Barry Goldwater moved left. But he seems, in his later years he seemed a lot less unreasonable than some of the rhetoric you hear coming out of contemporaries on Capitol Hill." -- Exchange on PBS's Washington Week in Review, May 29.

"In 1992, Barry Goldwater came out in favor of lifting the ban on gays in the military -- on the exquisitely conservative grounds that sexuality was none of the government's business. The tongue-clucking from the right was deafening. Gary Bauer, the President of the Family Research Council and now a kingmaker of the GOP's religious right, lamented publicly that 'it's sad...Sen. Goldwater was once the authentic voice of American conservatism.' Ah, but Goldwater didn't change his stripes, the GOP did. Bauer is the "authentic voice" of something else entirely: a radical faction that is fast taking over the party -- and trampling the philosophy -- to which Goldwater dedicated his political life." -- Time Daily online writer Frank Pellegrini, May 29.

Good Morning, Gun Nut

"Speaking of gun safety and children, Mr. Heston, as you well know and in fact as everyone in this country knows there has been a spate of school shootings recently that have been quite disturbing to all Americans. Given the fact that these seem to be happening with greater frequency has it caused you to rethink your philosophy about children and guns and the accessibility of guns for children?" -- Katie Couric to the NRA's new President, June 8 Today.

Katie Couric: "Getting back to kids and guns, if you will indulge me for a moment. You cannot think of any other position the NRA could take in terms of trying to decrease the number of school shootings? You feel like this is not your bailiwick, this is not your problem?"
Charlton Heston: "Not at all. As I told you the NRA spends more money, more time..."
Couric, cutting him off: "Other than education."
Heston: "Well what would you suppose? What would you suggest?"
Couric: "I don't know, perhaps greater restrictions."
-- Exchange on the June 8 Today.

"The Bill of Rights was written over 200 years ago. There weren't semi-automatic weapons out there. There weren't AK-47s out there. There were people who had one-shot rifles, one-shot revolvers. What do you say to people who say, 'We're in a different time right now and we are awash in guns'?" -- CBS host Mark McEwen to Heston, June 8 This Morning.

"Mr. Heston, is there no room for some limited gun control laws in this country?" -- ABC host Lisa McRee, June 8 Good Morning America.

I Always Think the Worst of Newt

"I assume the worst when Newt opens his mouth but I have no idea on this issue whether Newt was wrong." -- Newsweek's Evan Thomas on Speaker Gingrich saying Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel.

Site of Deadly Easter Egg Rolls

"Let's make it clear, though, that is the official welcoming spot in Beijing. It's a little bit like the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. That's where world leaders come for state visits." -- Today host Matt Lauer responding to Sen. Tim Hutchinson's claim that Clinton visiting Tiananmen Square "demeans the lives of those who were killed" in democracy protests, June 9. Schieffer concluding June 2 CBS Evening News story on congressional investigations of technology transfers to China. -- Brent Baker

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