CyberAlert -- 03/15/1999 -- GOP: Witch Hunting, "Stupid" Cold Warriors; The Murdoch Conspiracy
GOP: Witch Hunting, "Stupid" Cold Warriors; The Murdoch Conspiracy
1) Firing on the GOP over Chinese espionage. Evan Thomas asserted that he's reminded of "witch hunts." Tom Friedman said Republicans are "stupid and proud of it" while Steve Roberts claimed "they want to say Red China" often and they "really miss the Cold War."
4) Stephanopoulos the betrayer of Clinton, not a liar to the media and public for 7 years. MSNBC's Brian Williams urged a privilege be invoked to stop him' Katie Couric compared him to Linda Tripp, CBS tagged him an "ingrate" and PBS condemned him from the left.
The Clinton administration is alleged to have taken years to make changes after being warned to crack down on security at Los Alamos, hidden evidence from Congress and granted waivers to large corporations which donated to Democrats so they could help China build missiles that could deliver the sophisticated warheads they stole.
So who came under fire from the networks over the weekend? Naturally, Republicans and especially conservatives.
Friday night Ted Koppel dismissed the Republican charge that policy was impacted by campaign fundraising and failed to ask Sandy Berger about the idea. Newsweek's Evan Thomas, on Inside Washington, asserted that Republican concerns reminded him of "witch hunts." On Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer suggested Republicans are moving to foreign policy since Clinton "whipped them" domestically while Tom Friedman charged: "When I listen to the Republicans in Congress on foreign policy there's such an 'I'm stupid and proud of it' attitude." Steve Roberts mocked conservative concerns, claiming "they want to say Red China as often as they can. They really miss the Cold War."
-- "Spy or
Scapegoat?" was the title of Friday's Nightline, referring to fired
Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. Ted Koppel wrapped up his intro to the
March 12 show:
In his subsequent report Chris Bury featured soundbites from both sides and outlined the charges about policies for donations. Interviewing National Security Adviser Berger Ted Koppel pressed him about the delay in taking action, but never raised the campaign fundraising issue.
-- Evan Thomas,
Newsweek's Assistant Managing Editor, on Inside Washington:
-- Bob Schieffer
to Senator John McCain on the March 14 Face the Nation:
New York Times
columnist and former reporter Tom Friedman to McCain:
-- Steve Roberts
of U.S. News & World Report, answering Wolf Blitzer's question about
whether Republicans are pushing China because they can't attack Clinton
over the economy. March 14 Late Edition on CNN:
-- At least one
journalist did put the burden on Clinton's team and raise campaign
fundraising. On Meet the Press NBC's Tim Russert asked Sandy Berger:
"This is dead serious," Tim Russert intoned about the Chinese espionage on the March 8 Hockenberry on MSNBC. Yet Sunday night, after every Sunday interview show focused on the matter and NBC's own Meet the Press hosted by Tim Russert landed the biggest guest of the day, Sandy Berger, NBC Nightly News allocated a piddling 25 seconds to the topic. Since the story broke in the March 6 New York Times the NBC Nightly News has carried just two stories, plus this March 14 item.
After a report
from John Palmer on Kosovo which included a clip of Berger from Meet the
Press commenting on that situation, anchor Len Cannon did not run a China
soundbite from Berger in announcing:
NBC may not have
found what Berger said on their own show worth mentioning, but ABC did.
World News Tonight provided a full story by Martha Raddatz, the show's
third on the scandal though its first since March 8. Raddatz opened with
battling soundbites from Bill Richardson on This Week and Tom DeLay on Fox
News Sunday. Raddatz reported that Berger claimed that a 1996 briefing did
not ring alarm bells, playing this clip of him from Meet the Press:
"At that stage we did not know who, we did not really know how, and
we didn't really know what."
Friday night FNC added a reason for Hillary's anger at Bill, NBC cryptically noted how "President Clinton went home alone today to his birthplace," and then later MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams delivered the strangest bit of news judgment of the weekend: a discussion on MSNBC about a New York Times story on the state of the Clinton marriage, a discussion which soon evolved to wondering about a possible conspiracy behind how only Murdoch-owned media outlets had reported the story.
Picking up on her March 10 exclusive story about how Bill and Hillary fought during their ski trip weekend in late February, on the March 12 Fox Report FNC's Rita Cosby added: "Sources now say Mrs. Clinton was furious with her husband over comments Monica Lewinsky had made and the recent allegations that he raped an Arkansas woman in 1978. The sources say Mrs. Clinton said the President's conduct was quote 'ruining the family,' end quote..."
Over on the March 12 NBC Nightly News, over video of Bill Clinton in Hope, anchor Brian Williams reported: "President Clinton went home alone today to his birthplace, the little town of Hope, Arkansas. On a gloomy, rainy day he got a warm welcome from old friends and neighbors as he dedicated the plain wood frame home where he was born as a historic site."
Williams never informed viewers of any relevance to noting how Clinton was "alone."
None of the other
networks produced a story last week on the status of the Clinton marriage,
though it was raised in some morning show interviews, but Friday night
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams brought aboard New York Times
reporter Frank Bruni for its feature on what appears in the next day's
New York Times. In this case, not a story about the marriage but about
rumors and news stories about the marriage. Bruni's March 13 story
In the midst of
discussing, on MSNBC, this New York Times story Brian Williams bizarrely
Indeed, Bruni did
consider the Clinton team's paranoia worth highlighting, writing in his
March 13 report:
Al Hunt pointed out on Saturday how George Stephanopoulos lied in 1992 to cover up Clinton's lies, but most of the network reaction to the book by George Stephanopoulos focused on how he's a betrayer of Clinton, not on how he concedes he and Clinton dissembled during the 1992 campaign and since or how he failed to inform his ABC viewers over the past two years about this, waiting until he got $2.75 million before discovering Clinton is a liar.
A special Friday afternoon extra edition of CyberAlert briefly showed how NBC's Katie Couric hit Stephanopoulos with the ultimate media insult about how "a lot of people...see you as a turncoat, a Linda Tripp type." That same Friday morning CBS's Mark McEwen at least waited until the third question before charging: "A lot of people call you an ingrate, backstabber."
Here's a rundown of noteworthy Friday through Sunday coverage for Stephanopoulos. (See the March 12 CyberAlert for details on the slant on Good Morning America and 20/20.)
The Wall Street
Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, recalling what happened in
1992 when he was the Washington Bureau Chief:
But not one of concern to most journalists apparently since they are focusing on how he betrayed Clinton, not how he betrayed them.
delivered the more typical media reaction. On Friday's The News with
Brian Williams he asked liberal Democratic activist Doris Kearns Goodwin,
identified on-screen as a "presidential historian," this leading
"I remember when Dave Stockman wrote a book about the Reagan Revolution. Washington pundits said 'oh it's honest, it's refreshing.' They weren't saying he betrayed," observed Republican Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, whose district includes the home base for CyberAlerts, on CNN's Capital Gang. Indeed, they are now focusing on Stephanopoulos the betrayer as best illustrated by Friday's morning show interviews.
-- Couric jumped on Stephanopoulos: "A lot of people, George, think that this is just kinda creepy, that you've done this. They see you as a turncoat, a Linda Tripp type, if you will, who sort of ingratiated himself with the people inside the White House. They made you who you became and now all of a sudden, you're telling, you're airing all the dirty laundry and some people just think that's sorta gross."
-- "But aren't some situations off limits? I mean you talk very candidly about the President's relationship with Mrs. Clinton. You had entree to situations that most people wouldn't. I mean you were sitting there -- or standing there -- once when the President was in his boxer shorts and Hillary came in and they kissed and you witnessed conversations. It seems to me that, I mean is nothing sacred?"
-- Acting afraid
of learning anything, Couric asserted: "Why now George? Couldn't
this have waited until the President was out of office?"
-- After exploring Clinton's appeal and how Lewinsky made him recall the Gennifer Flowers episode, Couric finally got around to how Stephanopoulos had long been part of the duplicity: "You talk about the Gennifer Flowers' tapes. Again, how you felt so duped and betrayed and yet you continued to stand by your man and in a way you became in a way 'an enabler.'"
-- Couric demanded: "Why not, if you felt so repulsed by his values, which clearly you came to that point later on. No, but I mean clearly was something you didn't feel comfortable with. I mean why didn't you leave then, George? Why didn't you say this guy's values system does not gibe with mine?"
She used much of the rest of the interview to ask about the state of the Clinton marriage and whether she'll run for the Senate.
/// See and hear Couric's opening exchange with Stephanopoulos in which she compares him to Linda Tripp. Monday morning the MRC's Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell will post, on the MRC home page, a RealPlayer clip. Go to: http://www.mrc.org \\\
Smith's panel discussion included no conservatives or critics of Clinton -- Rahm Emanuel, the former Clinton flack; Kennedy intimate and historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; and Peter Carlson of The Washington Post, who, Smith explained, "wrote an article earlier this week about what he called 'the American game of cashing in.'"
Smith began: "Rahm Emanuel, let me begin with you. George Stephanopoulos is a friend of yours, of course, a former colleague. Do you have any problem with what he's done?...You think that George has been disloyal?" Emanuel hesitated to criticize Stephanopoulos, saying he hadn't read the book, but "I've argued and talked on this program and other programs about a zone of privacy for public officials. I've done that in the face of press kind of piercing in on that privacy. I never thought I would have to argue about that or argue for that in the face of staff." Emanuel dominated the segment with long answers.
Smith asked Schlesinger the same question, but Schlesinger responded differently, that "As a historian, I'm delighted at anything that enriches the historical record." After Carlson detailed how Stephanopoulos was "getting while the getting was good," he also noted "When George Stephanopoulos worked for the President, his job was to make him look good. Nobody complained about that. Now he comes forward to present a more three-dimensional view, and his morals are called into question. That seems odd to me."
But Smith drove the segment back to disdain: "Arthur Schlesinger, you said you read the excerpts in Newsweek. some of those are very intimate detail about the President, the First Lady, anger, moments of despair, et cetera. Does that cross a line in your view?" Schlesinger said "Well, it's a question of taste, I suppose. If we had equal eyewitness accounts of relations between Abraham Lincoln and his wife and so on, we'd cherish them. I think that, as a matter of taste, one might feel this is too early to have these disclosures. But when you look at historical figures, anything like that is of great value." Smith retorted in conclusion: "Okay. In other words, questionable taste, but still useful history."
Clinton cries, so he can't be a rapist. Catching up on an item from last week, on a tip from a CyberAlert reader MRC analyst Mark Drake went back to the March 6 Charles Grodin show to take down the MSNBC host's insightful analysis.
Reacting to a clip
of Bill Bennett on Meet the Press asserting that Bill Clinton has
demonstrated a pattern of forcing himself on women, Grodin sagely observed
on his weekend 8pm ET diatribe-fest:
Gore ridiculed by most but defended by Blitzer. Sunday's This Week on ABC and Late Edition on CNN played the clip of Vice President Al Gore claiming on Tuesday's Late Edition/Prime Time: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Panelists on both shows noted how Trent Lott has now claimed in jest to have created the paper clip while Dick Armey says he created the interstate highway system.
The entire exchange with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, in RealPlayer format, can be viewed by going to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/biasvideo.html
Time's Margaret Carlson made it her Outrage of the Week on CNN's Capital Gang, wondering: "Is being a heartbeat away from the Whopper-in-Chief rubbing off on Gore?"
But on Late Edition, Blitzer, who wasn't fazed by Gore's remark in the first place during their March 9 interview, defended him: "He was involved in supporting legislation that promoted the Internet. I think that's probably what he meant to say."
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