Great Surplus News Ruined By Starr; Stop Tax Cuts; Rivera Awed by Clinton
1) "The Republican
independent counsel" dropped "another load on President
Clinton," thus intruding on his great economic news, declared Dan
Rather. NBC revealed more about Chung's PLA connection.
2) On CNN Steve Roberts made
fun of Newt Gingrich for calling China "communist" and worrying
about their threat. How impolite.
3) The newest member of NBC
News, Geraldo Rivera, castigated Ken Starr as "the special
persecutor," but is in awe of Bill Clinton: "I watch him and I
wonder how he does it. I watch him and I wonder how much is too much for
Update: The May 26 CyberAlert reported that
the May 22 morning shows aired nothing about the China connection. I
should have noted that, as MRC analyst Clay Waters observed, the May 21
Good Morning America did run a piece by Linda Douglass on Republican plans
to hold hearings, the first GMA story all week longer than a few seconds
read by the anchor. That morning Today skipped China, meaning Today aired
nothing about the controversy last week. The MRC analysts haven't yet
watched all the holiday weekend shows but as soon as they have I'll
report on how the networks handled the Clinton scandals from Friday night
through Tuesday morning.
Corrections: The May 20 CyberAlert referred
to how a shooting victim was left in and "ally." That's an
"alley." The May 26 CyberAlert item on Thomas Ross confused his
first and last name at one point and referred to him as "Thomas"
as if that were his last name.
Tuesday night CBS, NBC and CNN led with the request from Ken Starr's
office that Monica Lewinsky submit voice, writing and fingerprint samples.
Clinton's announcement of a $39 billion surplus topped ABC while FNC
went first to an update on the Springfield, Oregon shooting.
The CBS Evening
News portrayed Starr's request as a rude move which distracted from
Clinton's great surplus news: Dan Rather declared "the Republican
independent counsel" had dropped "another load on President
Clinton." Following Clinton's surplus announcement CBS denounced as
irresponsible the idea of returning some of that money through a tax cut,
but only CBS pointed out that the federal debt far exceeds any
"surplus." On NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers asserted that
"the Chinese officer who gave Chung that money and hundreds of
thousands of dollars more turns out to be even more mysterious than
previously known," specifically, Myers discovered that she's an
CNN's The World
Today led with how "Starr hopes to listen and learn" from
Lewinsky. Following Wolf Blitzer's story Bob Franken looked at
maneuvering to overturn the Secret Service privilege ruling. Anchor Joie
Chen then briefly noted a development missed by the other networks: that
Ralph Lancaster of Portland, Maine had been named independent counsel for
Alexis Herman. On FNC's Fox Report David Shuster provided a report on
Lewinsky, noting that Starr had simply asked the court order issued in
January be enforced now that she lost her immunity case.
highlights from the Tuesday, May 26 broadcast network evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. In the 6:30pm ET edition aired in Washington, DC Peter
Jennings gave just 18 seconds to Starr's request of Lewinsky.
-- CBS Evening
News. "Ken Starr drops another load on President Clinton. He asks for
samples of Monica Lewinsky's voice, handwriting and fingerprints,"
Dan Rather teased at the top of the show. After the musical intro Rather
picked up with the theme of how Starr had rained on Clinton's parade,
though he made no request of Clinton:
"Good evening. Just as President Clinton was
enjoying a day talking up the economy, officially announcing the first
U.S. budget surplus in three decades, Ken Starr hit him again. The
Republican independent counsel and special prosecutor decided late in the
day to announce his decision to press his subpoena for samples of Monica
Lewinsky's handwriting, fingerprints and her voice."
Scott Pelley gave an overview of Starr's
request, but soon switched gears: "Throughout this obstruction of
justice investigation the President has been able to count on the good
economy to keep his popularity ratings high and again today he was in the
Rose Garden spreading more good news..."
After explaining that Clinton wishes to apply the
surplus to Social Security, Pelley was the only reporter Tuesday night to
put the "surplus" in context: "Mr. Clinton's staff
expects budget surpluses over next ten years totaling $1.5 trillion, but
there's still plenty of red ink. The national debt stands today at $5.4
Mason didn't bother with even trying to be balanced as he presented a
one-sided diatribe against tax cuts, an idea advocated by conservatives
and which Clinton said he'd consider. Mason began his story, that lasted
barely a minute, by crediting global competition which led to downsizing
and then record company profits for creating an IRS tax windfall:
"It's simple really. The more money American business rakes in the
more the IRS takes in." In addition, he contended, soaring stock
prices will hike revenue from the capital gains tax from $205 billion in
1997 to an estimated $280 in 1998. Mason then brought on his one and only
"And the smart thing to do with the money,
says Adam Pozen (sp?) of the Institute for International Economics? Save
Pozen: "You need to either need to be paying
down your national debt or you need to be putting money in he Social
Security trust fund or simply holding reserves in the government's
hands. You don't want to blow it on new spending programs or on tax cuts
that people will most likely spend on things that aren't going to have
as long a useful life."
Mason then concluded his piece: "A tax cut,
Pozen says, is simply not what the economy needs right now. While the
federal government may be getting better at saving money, Americans are
not. Our savings rate recently hit a record low."
Maybe if less was
taken in taxes people could save more.
-- NBC Nightly
News took until last Thursday to finally run a full report on China, the
last of all the networks, but Tuesday night NBC delivered the only China
story. Lisa Myers reported that Johnny Chung now fears for his own safety
and is in hiding in California worried about retaliation from the Chinese
military. Noting that he gave the DNC
$56,000 that came from a People's Liberation Army officer, Myers
elaborated: "And the Chinese officer who gave Chung that money and
hundreds of thousands of dollars more turns out to be even more mysterious
than previously known. Intelligence sources tell NBC News that Miss Liu is
in fact an arms dealer who brokered a controversial sale of missiles from
China to Pakistan, missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons."
So why did Liu use a small time entrepreneur like
Chung? Myers suggested: "Because, sources say, by the summer of
'96, Chung's access to the Oval Office at the White House was known
throughout the Chinese government." After mentioning that Chung's
$10,000 contribution to Senator John Kerry is also under investigation,
"The White House also insists it didn't
have a clue that the Chinese were funneling money into the President's
campaign. But critics charge this was willful ignorance, that as long as
Chung paid his money he could essentially bring anyone to see the
President, no questions asked."
Communist China is no threat to the United States and it's darn rude of
Newt Gingrich to suggest otherwise, asserted Steve Roberts on Sunday's
Late Edition. Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the Speaker's
recommendation that Clinton cancel his trip to China, the former New York
Times and U.S. News reporter snidely condemned Gingrich:
"Newt loves to be able to roll those words
on his tongue, Chinese communist, you know, the bears back in the woods.
You know, he loves bringing up these issues and he loves talking about,
you know, threats to national security. There are even Republicans saying
this could mean that missiles would fall on America. Give me a
those living under communist oppression will get a break from liberal
American reporters who think it's impolite to call a communist a
Tuesday night Johnnie Cochran appeared on Geraldo Rivera's CNBC show at
9pm ET and then Rivera showed up on Cochran's 10pm ET CourtTV show.
After years of bashing O.J. Simpson and Cochran Rivera managed to overcome
his disgust with Cochran, but he's not showing any inclination to cut
Ken Starr a break.
Since Rivera ended
production of his syndicated talk show in early May so he can become a
full time member of the NBC News team, one of his recent rants defending
Clinton and disparaging Starr is worth reviewing. In addition to
continuing his daily 9pm ET/PT Rivera Live show on CNBC, in early June the
network will add a daily, 30 minute, news show anchored by Rivera at 7pm
ET. His contract also promises major roles in NBC's broadcast news
shows, including Today, Dateline, live events and Nightly News, though Tom
Brokaw may block the last.
to travel to China with Clinton for the Today show. But don't count on
any digging for information about the China connection since Rivera sees
it as just the latest in a long list of vindictive attacks Clinton has
suffered. Just check out this lecture delivered on the May 19 Rivera Live,
as transcribed by MRC intern David Bozell:
"It may not be, ladies and gentlemen, a
question of life or death, but Bill Clinton has his own profound problems.
As if 'Monica Madness' wasn't distracting enough, now the President
and his party are essentially being accused of selling our secrets to the
Chinese. This man has scarcely had a day in office untainted by
accusations or scandal. His very frustrated political enemies have tried
every imaginable attack on the President's so far impenetrable political
armor. There's been Whitewater, Filegate, and Travelgate. Each trumpeted
in its time as the scandal that would bring down his presidency. All now
revealed basically as next to nonsense. Miserable flops costing taxpayers
millions. Now Zippergate saucy stories of sex, lies, Linda Tripp tapes did
come close to scoring a blow; making waves because everybody understands
allegations of adultery. But though Ken Starr's relentless investigation
still poses a real legal threat, politically it remains a non-starter with
two-thirds of the American people saying the President's private life
has no relevance to his public performance. And so his enemies for weeks
have been shouting in the wind, demanding that we pay attention as if Mr.
Clinton's sex life was what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind
when they spoke about high crimes and misdemeanors. Even many Republicans
seem embarrassed by the sexual content of the remaining allegations.
"But now folks they have some real ammo. Now
forget about oral sex and interns. Now we're talking about the end of
the world. Quote the Speaker of the House, 'this is a deeper question
than anything that has arisen before in this administration,' end quote.
The Speaker also said that a special congressional committee, one not
headed by Dan 'the man' Burton, would investigate allegations that
dirty money made for terrible foreign policy. Bill Clinton needed this one
folks, like he needed a hole in the head."
After he allowed White House Communications
Director Ann Lewis to join in his commiserating, Rivera continued his
"On Friday, the President could take some
satisfaction in playing a key role in the dramatic deal to end three
decades of blood shed in Northern Ireland. But by his Saturday radio
address, his tone had turned grim.
[Clinton on India's nuclear test]
"As the world holds its breath, fearing a
catastrophic nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan, the bloody
upheaval in Indonesia seems ever-more chaotic, and the peace process in
the Middle East seems so broken down. Yet after returning last night from
a major overseas trip, in the midst of historic developments that could
threaten world peace, how can Mr. Clinton stay focused when the House
Speaker Newt Gingrich compares him to a pornographic talk show host. And
virtuous Bill Bennett advises him to seek sex help."
Bill Bennett, on Meet the Press: "Bill
Clinton stands I think alone in the use of the Oval Office to advance his
own personal, kind of salacious interests in a way no other President has,
maybe Kennedy if some of these stories are true about Kennedy. But even
Kennedy, it seems to me, did not have the detail, that group of
individuals who are out there hushing up women. This is really pretty
pathetic and people ought to be able to see the difference between this
and, if you will, FDR and Lucy Mercer. There is a big difference."
Rivera: "Wouldn't a statement like that
about you distract you? And how much of his vital attention is being
consumed by Ken Starr's endless probe, by the Monica Lewinsky immunity
saga, by the fears that his trusted Secret Service agents will soon be
forced to rat out the maybe gory details of his private life, telling his
enemies who visited the Oval Office and why. And how can even the
world's most powerful man not be effected by Jim McDougal's charge
from the grave that the President had an affair with Susan McDougal and
promised her immunity if she and her ex-husband would hang tough and keep
their mouths shut about the Clintons' alleged involvement in shady real
estate deals. And finally, and most importantly, how can our bridge to the
21st Century feel about the slanderous charge amounting almost to treason,
that for Johnny Chung's bribe of $100,000 lousy dollars he sold
America's missile secrets to the Chinese, who now aim their deadly
devices at America's children...I watch him and I wonder how he does it.
I watch him and I wonder how much is too much for any man."
Well at least
Rivera doesn't pretend to be objective. To mark his official acceptance
across the Hudson River to NBC's Rockefeller Plaza facility (CNBC is in
New Jersey), Today brought him on back on May 7. MRC news analyst Geoffrey
Dickens caught this exchange about media bias in which Rivera boasted of
his disdain for O.J. Simpson and Ken Starr, and also conceded that all
journalists have biases which impact their reporting:
Today co-host Matt
Lauer: "You are a guy who has strong opinions."
Rivera: "I do."
Lauer: "You do not mince
words. You do not duck fights. You have said in past that O.J. Simpson is
just plain guilty."
Rivera: "He's a brutal
double, double murderer that's what he is."
Lauer: "Ken Starr is out to
get President Clinton."
Rivera: "I think he is the
Lauer: "As a journalist,
now a member of NBC News why should I expect that Geraldo Rivera is going
to be objective when covering a story about O.J. Simpson or Ken Starr in
Rivera: "I think
objectivity is a fantasy. I don't believe reporters are objective.
Everyone comes a story with their own bundle of personal
Lauer: "But most keep it
secret or keep it private."
Rivera: "But they secretly
influence the take on the story or the angle even if only subconsciously.
What I do is I layout, here I am. I'm on my, my heart is right here on
my arm. Read it. The question to ask is whether I misrepresent anything?
Am I factually correct? Is my program balanced and fair?..."
Maybe instead of
making fun of Geraldo and fearing how he will taint NBC News, the
"mainstream" journalistic community could follow his lead and
admit their biases.
-- Brent Baker
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