CyberAlert -- 06/22/1998 -- Clinton Lied, Then So What?
Clinton Lied, Then So What?; Affidavit Waved by 3 Nets; "Hitlerian" CNN
1) The story: Lewinsky will testify that the President lied about not having sex with her. The CBS spin: Starr's "investigation could end up nothing more than he said, she said." Chung details how he laundered money and insists a top DNC official played along: Total broadcast network time: 19 seconds.
2) NBC labeled the appearance by Frank Carter, to explain Lewinsky's affidavit, "very serious," but ABC, CBS and CNN ignored it while CNN highlighted claims from "hostile" sources about Starr's wiring.
>>> The June 15 MediaWatch and Notable Quotables as well as the June edition of MediaNomics are now online, posted on the MRC home page by the MRC's Sean Henry and Kenny Lemay. MediaWatch newsbites include "Ads for Aliens," a newsbite by Eric Darbe about CNN campaigning for more food stamp spending; "Ferris's Day Off" by Geoffrey Dickens about a glowing NBC profile of the new NEH chief; and "Newt vs. Peace" by Clay Waters about ABC's selective concern for foreign policy pronouncements by Congressmen. MediaNomics Editor Tim Lamer put together articles on one-sided global warming coverage and the latest round of SUV-bashing. At the top of the MRC home page you'll find links to all three newsletters: http://www.mediaresearch.org <<<
Corrections: The June 18 CyberAlert referred to NBC News reporter Gwen Iffil. That's Ifill. Another sentence read: "Lott illustrated the impact of Lott's thinking by, probably for the first time ever on network TV, mentioning the name of an ambassador-nominee to Luxembourg..." The first Lott should have been "Cochran," as in ABC News reporter John Cochran.
The weekend, in reverse chronology: Sunday night ABC and CBS featured
stories based on a Washington Post story on how Monica Lewinsky's new
lawyers are willing for her to testify that she had sexual relations with
Bill Clinton. But CBS spun the news, that Lewinsky would contradict what
the President told the public, into a story of how Starr's case has
fallen apart and is no longer worth pursuing.
Here are the weekend evening show highlights, from Sunday back to Friday.
-- Sunday, June 21. Both ABC and CBS led with the U.S.-Iran soccer game:
ABC's World News
Tonight/Sunday. Anchor Deborah Roberts announced:
CBS Evening News.
Anchor John Roberts took the same facts as ABC and formulated a very
-- Saturday, June
20. "Chung Alleges DNC Sought Illegal Funds: Justice Dept.
Probe Enters New Phase," announced the front page headline in the
Washington Post. Reporter Roberto Suro divulged:
Coverage? CNN ran a story along the same lines the night before, but Saturday night not a word from ABC and a mere 19 seconds from CBS. ABC's World News Tonight led on Saturday with the bus crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Late in the show anchor Elizabeth Vargas took a few seconds to note how U.S. News heard some of the Tripp/Lewinsky tapes and "the magazine says the tapes suggest there was a sexual component to phone conversations between Lewinsky and the President, but do not make clear whether the two had a physical relationship."
The CBS Evening
News began with the federal jurors visiting Oklahoma City. Here's the
totality of broadcast network coverage of the Post disclosure:
Not a word on CNN's The World Today at 8pm, but he network had aired a piece Friday night. On Saturday Bob Franken provided a look at the lack of progress in talks between Lewinsky's new lawyers and Starr's office.
-- Friday, June 19. Kaiser Permanente's decision to not pay for Viagra rose to the top of ABC's World News Tonight. CNN went first with the drought in Texas while the GM strike led both CBS and NBC. More dire warnings about global warming got air time on NBC. Neither ABC or NBC uttered a word about any Clinton scandal:
CBS Evening News.
Anchor Ed Bradley, with an earring in place, took 23 seconds to introduce
a Clinton soundbite:
Later, Dan Rather checked in from Beijing with a one-minute quickie to plug his pieces from China which will air this week.
CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET featured back to back Clinton scandal stories. First, without naming Richard Sullivan, Pierre Thomas summarized the same basic facts delivered the next morning by the Washington Post, beginning: "This September 1995, Clinton-Gore fundraiser, attended by controversial donor Johnny Chung, is now the focus of a Justice Department investigation. Chung later pleaded guilty to illegally funneling $20,000 in donations for the event to the Democrats. CNN has learned the handling of those donations by Clinton-Gore staffers is now under intense scrutiny by Justice Department investigators. Sources familiar with the investigation say Chung took at least 20 guests to the event, some of them foreign nationals, and handed over a check for $20,000. By law he was only allowed to give $1,000. According to one version of the story, the next day, a Clinton-Gore official called Chung's office and said the money had to be returned. At that point, one of Chung's employees recruited 20 people to write $1,000 checks. The employee allegedly took the checks to the Clinton-Gore official and got back Chung's original check that same day..."
Second, John King looked at how "independent counsel Ken Starr is asking a federal appeals court to order Secret Service officers to testify about Monica Lewinsky's relationship with President Clinton." In a development the broadcast networks have yet to share with their viewers, King noted: "The independent counsel got some high profile support from four former attorneys-general. William Barr, Griffin Bell, Ed Meese and Richard Thornburgh, argue in a brief, supporting Starr, that Secret Service personnel, quote, 'are bound to assist in the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes -- not withhold relevant evidence of criminal conduct.'..."
NBC Nightly News
allocated about half the Friday show to an "In Depth Special
Report" on "extreme weather." Robert Hager set the dire
tone. Reviewing current weather extremes and the forecast of more with the
upcoming La Nina, Hager intoned:
Last Thursday night NBC's Brian Williams declared that the day's grand jury activity showed there are "some very serious matters at stake here and very serious evidence," but ABC and CBS didn't air a word about the appearance by Lewinsky's first attorney, though it led NBC. FNC also ran a short item on the grand jury's day. Only CNN mentioned the successful formation of a special House committee to look into the China connection, and CNN also ran a full report on charges that despite his claims Starr planned to wire Lewinsky to record Clinton.
On Thursday night,
June 18 Brian Williams opened NBC Nightly News:
On CNN's The
World Today anchor Martin Savidge noted how the House had approved a
special nine member panel to "investigate whether U.S. satellite
exports to China compromised national security and whether Democratic
campaign donations influenced the administration's export
At the end of Sunday night's edition of CNN NewsStand/Time co-hosts
Bernard Shaw and Jeff Greenfield acknowledged the controversy over the
June 7 show and promised its validity would be checked. Shaw began:
CNN naturally failed to convey the anger felt by Smith that prompted him to quit CNN. As noted in the June 18 CyberAlert which explained some of the problems with the show, Smith declared that by airing the piece CNN "has damaged the United States of America quite seriously."
Here are a couple of quotes I've come across since which demonstrate just how betrayed Smith feels and who he blames:
-- Perry Smith to Washington Times reporter Jennifer Harper in a June 18 story: "CNN vowed they would never sink to tabloid journalism, that they would be honest and straight-forward. Then they air this story, which is almost Hitlerian in concept."
-- Peter Arnett narrated the CNN piece and shared a byline on the Time story. Referring to Arnett's time as an AP reporter in Vietnam, Smith told the New York Post's Tracy Connor: "Peter Arnett had a difficult time in Vietnam and he became rather embittered and cynical." In her June 18 story Connor recalled what Smith said of Arnett during the Persian Gulf War: "Arnett's a prisoner of the 1960s, and talking to him is like talking to Rip Van Winkle."
At least Rip Van Winkle is a fairy tale. Arnett is a recurring nightmare for those hoping to escape life as seen through his 1960s liberal prism. -- Brent Baker
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