CyberAlert -- 05/08/1997 -- No Thinking from Rush; Family Hour Full of Sex & Obscenities

No Thinking from Rush; Family Hour Full of Sex & Obscenities

1. ABC emphasizes that Mexicans don't care about Whitewater. Networks don't care that Freeh urged an independent counsel.

2. New York Times TV reviewer Walter Goodman sneaks in some Limbaugh bashing.

3. The MRC's Parents Television Council releases a study titled: The 'Family Hour': No Place for Your Kids. Summary below.

4. From the Late Show with David Letterman: "Top Ten Things Overheard During President Clinton's Trip To Mexico."

>>> Thursday's USA Today is scheduled to carry an op-ed piece by MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III on how the networks have skipped over many recent Clinton scandal revelations. MediaWatch Associate Editor Tim Graham helped put it together based upon the day-to-day documentation provided in MRC CyberAlerts. <<<

1) The Clinton scandals got some coverage Tuesday night, but Wednesday revelations were skipped by the networks. Yesterday's CyberAlert provided a partial run-down on the attention given to the disclosure that Kenneth Starr considers Hillary Clinton a "central figure" in his investigation because her statements have changed and don't match the testimony of others. Nothing aired on any of the morning shows, NBC Nightly News covered it in a story about Clinton in Mexico and CBS Evening News ran a full story.

UPDATE: CNN's The World Today Tuesday night also ran a full story by Bob Franken. On ABC's World News Tonight John Donvan turned to the revelation in the second half of his report from Mexico City. After a soundbite of President Clinton insisting that "I know of no factual discrepancy, period," Donvan concluded:

"That answer, which the President has given before, will no doubt be scrutinized back in Washington but it has not ruined this Mexico trip. Mexicans could care less about Whitewater. They are joining the administration in calling this summit a success. John Donvan, ABC News, with the President in Mexico City."

NBC's David Bloom was a bit less awed, concluding his May 6 story:

"U.S.-Mexican relations have been strained of late -- the flashpoints drugs, immigration, trade. And it's not at all clear that today's good will gestures will help mend those differences."

Wednesday morning's Washington Post and Los Angeles Times arrived with front page news that FBI Director Louis Freeh had told Attorney General Janet Reno that the Democratic fundraising scandal warranted an independent counsel.

Up in the Big Apple, a headline in Wednesday's New York Post colorfully declared "Hil Was Web's Check-Mate: Co-Signed Scamster Hubbell's Payments." Post Washington reporter Brian Blomquist explained: "Hillary Rodham Clinton co-signed 'two or three' checks Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell wrote while stealing $485,000 from his law partners, the firm's top officer has told investigators. Testimony doesn't suggest Mrs. Clinton...intentionally helped Hubbell defraud the firm. But her involvement might have heightened the Clinton's awareness of the Hubbell situation more than they have let on."

For the third weekday morning in a row, on Wednesday neither ABC's Good Morning America or CBS This Morning aired a syllable about any Clinton scandal. During the 7am news on Today NBC's Jim Miklaszewski did a story on Starr/Hillary and provided NBC's first reference to Monday's New York Times story on how two lawyers close to Clinton knew of Hubbell's legal trouble long before he resigned and how one of them at least informed the President, contradicting his claim of ignorance.

A few minutes later Today, which has yet to tell viewers about how the White House has appealed to the Supreme Court to hide Hillary Clinton-related notes from Starr, aired an interview segment on the plight of Susan McDougall. Katie Couric talked with Blood Sport author James Stewart about a hearing in Los Angeles to explore if her incarceration for contempt is justified.

2) New York Times television critic Walter Goodman took a couple of potshots at Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk show hosts in a Wednesday review caught by MRC news analyst Clay Waters. First, Goodman's May 7 review column looked at "The History of Talk Radio," a special that aired at 10pm ET/PT Wednesday night on Bravo. Goodman noted that the show looked at "yakkers from Barry Gray, whom you may not remember, to Oliver North, whom you may prefer to forget." Goodman later opines:

"Due attention is given to the right-wingers who now play so noisy and noisome a part in drive-time radio: Bob Grant, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, G. Gordon Liddy, [Oliver] North. Mr [Michael] Reagan says they appeal to people who feel left out or ill served by the liberal press and national television. Less admiring observers find that their show-biz polemics fuel ignorance, fear and prejudice."

Second, Goodman reviews "The World of Elie Wiesel," a PBS show airing Thursday night (at least in New York). Wiesel has conversations with Jesse Jackson and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners. In the midst of praising Wiesel, Goodman ends the review with a cheap shot at Limbaugh:

"Mr. Wiesel's conversation with Mr. Goldhagen about his thesis that hundreds of thousands of Germans were implicated in the Holocaust is better grounded. The men's reflections on such tangled issues as guilt and responsibility may even get one thinking. When was the last time Rush Limbaugh did that?"

(If you missed the Bravo show, you didn't miss much. It was a misuse of valuable electrons that could have been better put to use in creating a colorful test pattern. The show about talk RADIO spent most of the first half-hour looking at the TELEVISION shows hosted by Larry King and Mort Downey. King also served as the expert on the history of talk radio. About the only thing he's an expert at besides debt payment avoidance is how to get married and divorced in one afternoon.)

3) Thursday morning before a Senate subcommittee holds a hearing on the content of television's "family Hour," the Media Research Center's Parents Television Council will release a new study, written by MRC analyst Tom Johnson, on the content of the 8-9pm ET hour. As he presents the findings, MRC Chairman Brent Bozell will be joined by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

In short, the study determined that family hour viewers see lots of vulgarity, obscenity and references to sex, even a few fairly steamy sex scenes. Not even all TV-G shows are clean, but even if they were they only represent about a third of the family hour time since most are rated TV-PG.

MRC web manager Joe Alfonsi assures me that the full study will be available by mid-morning on the MRC home page: GOTO -- on the MRC Web Site for the full study.

Here's an edited version of the summary page:

Ratings Fail to Help Parents

The 'Family Hour':
No Place for Your Kids

The Parents Television Council, a project of the Media Research Center, has explored the ratings and content of the family hour in a study which examines prime time fare airing between 8 and 9 ET during the February 1997 sweeps period. In 93 hours of programming -- 144 shows -- researchers found:

Vulgar language is even more frequent than it was in the fall of 95, the period examined in our first family hour study. Then, there was an average of 0.62 obscenities per hour between 8 and 9 ET; this time, the figure jumped to 0.88.

Fox was easily the most foulmouthed network, with more than two obscenities per hour on average.

Forty-eight -- exactly one-third -- of the programs contained vulgar language.

There were sixty references to sexual intercourse, an average of 0.65 per hour. References to sex outside of marriage outnumbered references to sex within it by a ratio of 3.6 to 1, but that represents an improvement over '95's ratio of 8 to 1.

Fox was also the most sexually obsessed network, with 1.06 references per hour. Fox led in 95 as well, with 0.88.

Only thirty-two percent of program hours were rated G. In other words, even by the permissive standards of the networks, which rate their own shows, less than a third of programming met the definition the G rating states, "suitable for all ages."

Of the 86 family-hour shows rated PG, meaning they're supposedly appropriate for everyone except young children, 31 (36 percent) contained sexual references, and 42 (49 percent) included obscenities.

Brent Bozell will also testify at the hearing,
which may be shown on C-SPAN or C-SPAN 2.

4) From the May 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard During President Clinton's Trip To Mexico." Copyright 1997 by Worldwide Pants, Incorporated.

10. "Hello, room service? Fry me up a couple burros!"
9. "Look at what I found in the pinata -- shredded Whitewater documents."
8. "Wow -- the President just caught and ate a live iguana."
7. "Hey Gore, more salsa!"
6. "Janet Reno is muy, muy grande."
5. "What's the Spanish word for 'supersize'?"
4. "Sorry, there's no presidential discount here at the Mexico City Hooters."
3. "These Mexicans sure know how to run a Taco Bell."
2. "That's not a pinata -- but don't stop whacking it!"
1. "Hola, Tubby."

A larger portion of the Late Show deals with Clinton scandals most nights than does NBC Nightly News.

-- Brent Baker