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CyberAlert -- 05/20/1998 -- Gingrich on China Gets Seconds

Gingrich on China Gets Seconds; Fearing Social Security Reform; Latest NQ

1) Networks gave just seconds Tuesday night to Gingrich's plan for a select committee, finding "fish-cams," Powerball and jet ski safety more newsworthy. Opposition to raising retirement age and the unfairness of the market stressed on Social Security reform.

2) May 18 edition of Notable Quotables: "Tonight's Special: CNN vs. Burton" and "Not Another Costly Counsel!"

3) "If there's any job where you should be able to....it should be the President. Now, Kenneth Starr -- somebody needs to...." A crude suggestion from a Grammy-winning band leader.


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cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The broadcast networks continue to avoid the China connection. Tuesday morning neither Today or Good Morning America uttered a word about any aspect of it. The fires in Mexico, breast cancer treatment and "Powerball fever" filled GMA's 7am half hour, MRC news analyst Clay Waters noted. Today's 7am features started with a look at the case in Chicago where hospital workers refused to go outside to retrieve the body of a shooting victim. (Today has yet to mention China: nothing Friday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday morning.)

In the evening, the networks each gave a few seconds to announcing Newt Gingrich's plan to establish a select committee to examine if political donations prompted the Clinton administration to grant a waiver to allow the transfer of missile technology to China. But those items still left the total time devoted over five nights by the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News to the China connection at under one minute on each show.

CBS, CNN and NBC all ran full reports on the recommendations released by a commission which studied Social Security, but all emphasized opposition to raising the retirement age. CNN highlighted the unfairness that would result from more private investment and NBC allowed only negative comments from the liberal AARP.

Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, May 19 evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight led with a look at India's "elaborate effort to fool the United States."
Next, anchor Peter Jennings took 17 seconds to tell viewers about Gingrich's plans: "Other news in Washington. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said today he will seek a special House inquiry into the Clinton Administration's export of sensitive missile technology to China. The Republican leader says the panel wants to know whether national security was breached. The Democratic minority leader, Richard Gephardt, says he will oppose the investigation."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened:
"A special commission is out tonight with the most sweeping plan yet for changing this nation's Social Security system. Under this proposal, workers could direct a portion of their payroll tax into a personal investment account and the age for collecting Social Security benefits would be raised ever closer to the current life expectancy of 75."
Eric Engberg began his story with opposition from those not even affected: "For workers, the biggest and most likely controversial change suggested, raising the retirement age to 70 by the year 2029. That's a change hitting those born after 1969, including workers with physically punishing jobs, like those we talked to today."
Viewers saw complaints from two construction workers obviously older than 18 -- so unaffected by the proposal. Engberg then ran down the other ideas suggested, noting: "Another big change recommended, allowing people to shift a small slice of their payroll tax money to a variety of private investment funds the government would approve."

The Eye on America segment, in Dan Rather's words, highlighted "how the gun industry, with help from Hollywood and television, is legally marketing gun products to children."

Earlier in the show Dan Rather allocated 18 seconds to Gingrich:
"House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now proposing another new committee to investigate President Clinton and those around him, this time over the transfer of U.S. missile technology to China. Gingrich says administration waivers that granted U.S. missile know how to China for civilian purposes may have in fact helped China's military."

Total CBS Evening News time given to the China connection since the story broke on May 15: 45 seconds. (27 seconds on May 15, 18 seconds on May 19. Zero on May 16, 17 and 18.)

Just 18 seconds for China, 45 in total, so CBS Evening News viewers still have never heard anything but the vaguest summary of what's involved. What is more newsworthy to CBS? Tuesday night viewers were treated to a full story on a new weather satellite that offers 3-D pictures of storms, a full report on the controversy over the use of "fish-cams" by those fishing in Minnesota and a piece on the incident in Chicago where friends of a teen shooting victim drove him to a hospital and left him in an ally within sight of the emergency room, but he died after hospital workers refused to leave the hospital to get him. CBS, like ABC's World News Tonight and NBC's Today, had plenty of time for those blaming the hospital workers. But, all failed to put any blame on the moronic or lazy friends who left him in an ally instead of driving up to the emergency entrance.

-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET opened with the Social Security commission report. Eileen O'Connor ran through the proposals and then offered this reaction leading into two matching soundbites: "For many, raising the retirement age raises problems." O'Connor also found the private investment problematic: "Experts also say people will need to be taught how to invest in the personal savings accounts."
Don Marron of Paine Weber, a commission member, worried about unequal results: "One thinks the right thing to do is to be conservative and buy bonds. The other buys stocks. Thirty years later, one has four times as much money as the other. I think it's a big social issue."

As if everyone gets the same amount from Social Security now.

As for 70 being too old for a new retirement age, CNN then ran a story about how 12 percent of workers eligible for Social Security are still working past the current retirement age. More than halfway through the show CNN offered a piece showing how much better the market serves retirees than the Social Security system. Charles Zewe checked in from Galveston County Texas where a special exemption decades ago allowed the county to opt out of Social Security and invest county workers' money in annuities. "The results have been phenomenal," two to three times Social Security's payout, Zewe discovered.

-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report began with the shooting of three police officers followed by a standoff in Florida. Co-anchor Catherine Crier noted Gingrich's plan and added that the Speaker told Human Events that the world sees Clinton's White House as the "rough equivalent of the Jerry Springer show."

-- NBC Nightly News led with Indonesia and Suharto's status. Gwen Ifill's piece on the Social Security reform proposal began by noting many are skeptical since "Social Security promises have already been broken." After running down the basics (moving retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2029, sliding early retirement from 62 to 65, and allowing people to invest two percent of their withholding in stock market), Ifill turned to one man for expert analysis, John Rother, head of the left-wing AARP. Ifill declared:
"But the American Association of Retired Persons says worker want to retire sooner, not later....Another problem according to AARP, older workers can expect to encounter age discrimination. The White House and Congress will wrestle with this latest plan to fix Social Security, but the reality is beginning to hit home: Americans will have to work harder and invest more to get the same benefits their parents took for granted."

Actually, the commission did not propose any tax increase and if retirees had invested their money in the stock market over the past 50 years they would have more than they now get from Social Security. So, stock market investing would mean more benefits for the same amount invested.

Later Brokaw gave 23 seconds to explaining: "House Speaker Newt Gingrich said tonight that he wants to set up a special investigative committee with far-reaching powers to get to the bottom of reports the Clinton administration traded campaign contributions from Chinese nationals for missile technology deals. The White House and Chinese officials are denying that. It is not clear whether Democrats in Congress will go along with Gingrich's plan."

Total NBC Nightly News time given to the China connection since the story broke on May 15: 38 seconds. (15 seconds on May 15, 23 seconds on May 19. Zero on May 16, 17 and 18.)

And what did NBC consider more newsworthy Tuesday night: the danger of jet skis and the long odds, 80 million to 1, of winning the Powerball jackpot of $175 million. Reporter Jim Avilla relayed how one analyst called it a "tax on the mathematically challenged" and Avilla noted that taxes make it an even worse way to gamble as the government operators take 50 percent, but bingo handlers usually take 26 percent, horse tracks 19 percent and casinos 11 percent from slot machines.

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cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The May 18 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 "Buy This Deadly Book," a quote in Time from Barbara Ehrenreich tying the Communist Manifesto to Jesus, noticed by MRC analyst Tom Johnson; and some worry from Judy Woodruff under "Not Another Costly Counsel!" caught by analyst Eric Darbe.

The issue follows below:

May 18, 1998 (Vol. Eleven; No. 11)

Wolf's So-Called Objectivity

"John, what is the White House strategy right now in dealing with all of these late breaking developments involving this so-called scandal?" -- CNN Late Edition host Wolf Blitzer to John King, May 3.

Not Another Costly Counsel!

"I can hear people out there saying, 'What? Another one?' I mean, Brian Ross reported that it's already cost something like $63, $73 million for the previous six. How much is this going to cost?" --Good Morning America host Kevin Newman to ABC legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on the independent counsel assigned for Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, May 12.

"At a time when many Americans are uneasy about the work of independent counsels, and the Clinton administration is downright fed up, another counsel appointment may be in the offing...The prospect of another independent counsel probe may have taxpayers seeing dollar signs. After all, in some people's minds, investigating the Clinton administration has become a costly cottage industry." -- CNN anchor Judy Woodruff's first two introductions on the May 11 Inside Politics, before the probe was announced.

Incivility, Put in Perspective

CBS reporter Mark Knoller: "Dan Burton referred to the President, as a quote, 'scumbag.' It sent the incivility index in Washington to a new low. But the President made a strategic decision not to respond in kind to the vulgar name-calling." Clinton: "A President can not repair the breaches in a country, cannot unify a country, and cannot lift its vision if he takes personally personal assaults." -- CBS News Saturday Morning, April 25.

Reality Check:

"The use of a two-syllable vulgarity by the Chairman was rather ambitious." -- Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry, April 23.

Get This Harsh, Outrageous Stand

Reporter Thalia Assuras: "Democrats in New Hampshire walked out on the Speaker this week because of his harsh words against the President."
Newt Gingrich: "That you have the right to know what happened if a law is broken." -- May 9 CBS Evening News.

Tonight's Special: CNN vs. Burton

"Tonight, a CNN special report, 'Burton vs. Clinton.' Thank you for joining us. It is a remarkable political and personal battle, even for a President who has been under attack from Day One, even for a Congressman known for harsh words and partisan hardball. As we will explain in the next hour, 'Burton vs. Clinton' is about the Webster Hubbell tapes and so much more, including Dan Burton's power, his tactics, and even his personality." -- Judy Woodruff introducing CNN's May 5 prime time special "Burton vs. Clinton."

"Dan Burton pulled a stunt that was so outrageous it enabled Democrats today, this week to seize the initiative. They were able to distract attention from Starr's campaign to build a case for a cover-up and have enabled Democrats to try to discredit the whole investigation as partisan and unfair. Starr and Burton and Gingrich have been doing that all along. Their behavior has allowed the White House to depict them as zealots and partisans out to get the President, and Democrats hope that discredits anything they could turn up." -- CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, same program.

"In this tale of truth, lies and audiotapes, the media is smack in the middle of a confusing, complicated, and constantly changing story. Critics say journalists were too late to question being handed only a one-hour edited version out of 150 hours of recorded jail house conversations....News organizations argue that there is intrinsic news value when the chairman of a major congressional committee releases information, but there is no doubt that some are somewhat uncomfortable with the role they played in this episode. But are they uncomfortable enough to change the way the media is covering this continuing saga in the nation's capital?" -- CNN reporter Linda Pattillo on the media, same program.

Media Too Scandal-Obsessed?

"At least he did acknowledge the presence of network correspondents this time Claire. In the last news conference he pretty much avoided all of you. Most of the questions that did come from what we would call the prominent members of the White House press corps had to do with the Lewinsky scandal. Is there a possibility that he is only building more political capital by letting you ask those questions, batting them away and the American public beginning to say there is a kind of obsession with the subject?" -- Tom Brokaw to NBC reporter Claire Shipman on MSNBC after Clinton's April 30 press conference.

Rather's "Personal Life" Spin

"President Clinton today said little and shrugged off any similarity between a federal court rejecting his assertions of executive privilege in the Ken Starr investigation of his personal life, and the Richard Nixon executive privilege claims during the crimes of Watergate. But, President Clinton's spokesman Mike McCurry put it bluntly, and I quote, 'In Watergate crimes were committed,' unquote." -- Dan Rather, May 6 CBS Evening News.

"In a CBS News poll out tonight just 29 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial investigation of President Clinton. And 57 percent want Starr to drop his investigation of the President's personal life." -- Rather, May 8.

Immoral House Republicans

"You're also talking to people who are not popular because they closed the government; they're not popular because they never came up with campaign finance reform, which they promised -- that could be a moral issue, too, taking money from people to vote. So morality covers a lot of areas and some of the people you're talking to have the questionable morals themselves." -- CNN's Larry King to Focus on the Family head James Dobson, May 6 Larry King Live.

Hunt's Helping of Burton Bashing

"I think the idea of taping a prisoner is absolutely good, desirable, should happen, and if they say something incriminating, it ought to be used against them by a prosecutor. But to go to what Tom Lantos said, I think what Dan Burton did, if the Justice Department had done it, it would have been against the law, would have made Joe McCarthy proud. And one more point I would make is that these tapes were selectively edited and given Dan Burton's track record, I would not be at all surprised if we find out that some of it was done quite dishonestly." -- Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, May 2.

"I think Republicans are doing a rendition -- remember that old Zero Mostel parody Springtime for Hitler? I think that's what they're doing. The moral charge against Bill Clinton is being led by Newt Gingrich, the only Speaker in history to be sanctioned for unethical conduct, the most unpopular political figure in America. Dan Burton, the committee chairman, now has, at least according to the Washington Times, has his staff wearing latex gloves because he says left-wingers are sending him condoms in the mail. His staff aide, Mr. Bossie, most reporters I know think was a duplicitous wacko." - Hunt, May 9 Capital Gang.

Dan Burton Plays Pinochet?

"From the outset of the campaign finance hearings, Dan Burton has been a lightning rod for partisanship and accusation. His adversaries say he has run the committee with authoritarian zeal, that he's steamrolled Democrats and shattered precedent." -- CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno beginning a profile of Burton, May 4 Inside Politics.

Buy This Deadly Book

"The Communist Manifesto is well worth the $12 that Verso is asking. Despite the hype, its message is a timeless one that bears repeating every century or so: The meek shall triumph and the mighty shall fall; the hungry and exhausted will get restless and someday -- someday! -- rise up against their oppressors. The prophet Isaiah said something like this, and so, a little more recently, did Jesus." -- Time columnist Barbara Ehrenreich in an April 30 book review for the Web site Salon.

White House Disavows Hillary, Rather Disavows Republicans

"President Clinton is sending his top Middle East negotiator, Dennis Ross, back to Israel tonight at a crucial point in the peace process. This amid new Republican attacks aimed at First Lady Hillary Clinton for remarks she made yesterday telling international students that she favors the idea of a Palestinian state. The White House says that's just her opinion." -- Dan Rather, May 7 CBS Evening News.

For Bashing the NRA: Four Stars

"It could easily be argued that any movie that upsets the National Rifle Association has to be worth something. The Long Island Incident: The True Story of Carolyn McCarthy is worth plenty and, as it happens, will give the NRA fits. Hooray.... News footage of Babsy's [Executive Producer Barbra Streisand] pal Bill Clinton is included showing him favoring the assault weapon ban. The bill passes but then a new Congress comes in and then-Sen. Bob Dole (not shown on-screen) vows to have the bill repealed. Dole likes to romp around TV now, in commercials and sitcom cameos, playing the cuddly geezer. The film is a reminder that in his day he was one of the most vicious hatchet men ever to wield an ax in Washington. Eventually McCarthy is entreated to run for Congress, and though she's a Republican the Republicans are happy with their incumbent, dull Daniel Frisa. So McCarthy runs as a Democrat and fries Frisa in the election. You'll want to cheer." -- Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales in a May 2 review of the May 3 NBC movie.

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

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cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Much of the Washington press corps have little respect for Ken Starr as the preceding and earlier editions of NQ have demonstrated, but he's even more reviled by those in the entertainment community. The latest example: Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band. MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson caught the following bit of wisdom from Matthews as quoted in a profile in the June issue of Details magazine. BE WARNED: If slang references to sexual acts upset you, read no further. I put this quote at the end of the issue so you won't miss anything else if you stop reading now.

-- Brent Baker (Matthews quote follows)

Dave Matthews, as quoted in a profile by David Keeps in the June Details:
"If there's any job where you should be able to get a blow job, it should be the President. Now, Kenneth Starr -- somebody needs to suck the hell out of that man's dick."

-- Brent Baker


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