CyberAlert -- 06/24/1997 -- Jumping on Jones

Jumping on Jones; Blaming Capitalism for Chinese Oppression

  1. If it hurts Jones it's germane. NBC and CNN ignored Stuart Taylor last fall but jump on his story this week.
  2. CBS says it's "no coincidence" that Jones' lawyers announced questions for Clinton just as he's "being presidential."
  3. Dan Rather blames Beijing protests on too much capitalism and sympathizes with the difficulties faced by China's dictators.
  4. In his PBS series Robert Hughes noted that Reagan filled the "country with oceans of borrowed money," but on the other hand "his economic policies created the art boom of the 1980s."

1) It took NBC's Meet the Press 11 weeks to bring on Stuart Taylor after his American Lawyer piece which showed that Paula Jones had a strong case. His article appeared in late October, but Meet the Press host Tim Russert didn't interview him until January 12. Taylor has now written a Legal Times story that may detract from Jones' case. But Tim Russert didn't wait 11 weeks. This time he showcased Taylor immediately on Sunday June 22 -- before his article even hit the newsstands.

Similarly, while CNN's Inside Politics didn't bother reporting Taylor's discoveries last October, on Monday (June 23) the show reported his story in the Legal Times which said that Jones didn't mention the "distinguishing characteristic" to her original lawyer in Little Rock who has now decided to leave the case.

2) Saturday night the CBS Evening News aired a piece on the questions lawyers for Paula Jones wished to pose to President Clinton. "Lawyers for Paula Jones are turning up the heat on President Clinton. CBS News has exclusively obtained a copy of the questions they want Mr. Clinton to answer under oath. Bill Plante takes a look at what they are asking," announced anchor Paula Zahn.

One problem with this "exclusive:" Saturday's Washington Times carried a Scripps-Howard story with the same information.

Reporter Bill Plante, as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Anderson, relayed the questions:

"In the wake of the unanimous Supreme Court decision, which allows Paula Jones's suit to proceed, her lawyers quickly filed a short list of questions, which Mr. Clinton must answer under oath. There are just six queries, but as one lawyer unconnected with the case observed, they go right for the jugular. The President is asked if he was alone with Jones in a room at the Excelsior Hotel on May 8, 1991, and whether he ever requested sex from her. Mr. Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, is asked to identify anyone he directed to bring Jones to the room. Jones's lawyers also want to know whether Mr. Clinton ever discussed Jones with her boss, the head of an Arkansas state agency. Finally, they ask whether he talked about her subsequent charges against him with any Arkansas state troopers, and whether he got jobs or money for those troopers. The questions, known as interrogatories, are the first step in the pretrial process. Mr. Clinton's attorney wasn't available for comment today, but the release of the questions seems designed to place maximum pressure on Mr. Clinton by serving notice that Paula Jones wants a quick trial."

Plante then concluded by endorsing some conspiratorial paranoia: "And it's probably no coincidence that they became available now just as President Clinton was here in Denver being presidential with other world leaders. Bill Plante, CBS News, Denver."

Maybe they did "become available" just as Clinton tried "being presidential," but those worrying about the interrogatories tarnishing the President's great weekend had two of the three networks on their side: Neither ABC's World News Tonight or NBC Nightly News on Friday, Saturday or Sunday ran a story.

3) With China's takeover of Hong Kong just days away the two network anchors are already on their way to the island. CBS anchor Dan Rather swung by Beijing on the way and came across a housing protest shut down by Chinese authorities. A sign that the quest for freedom still rings in the Chinese capital, a yearning the communist leaders ruthlessly suppressed in a very ominous signal as to what awaits Hong Kong? Nope, nothing to worry about, Rather assured viewers.

In barely a minute Friday night Rather managed first to blame the housing shortage not on communist controls but on too much capitalism and then second, to empathize with the difficulties of ruling faced by China's communists.

On the June 20 Evening News Rather declared:
"Just 10 days before Hong Kong is due to be handed back over to China, today's protest is a headache for Chinese communist leaders. They want the world to focus on Hong Kong's prosperity, and their triumph in getting the place back, and on the overall increased business opportunities in China. In a way, the business boom here fueled today's protest. A thin layer of the top of Chinese society has made tons of money, but the masses have been left behind and increasingly, lack of housing and unemployment makes those at the bottom very restless. That's why some 200 people boldly demonstrated for about three hours today in a symbolic part in the heart of Beijing. Each protester was grabbed by two police and forced aboard a bus. A few protesters walked away to avoid being loaded onto the buses. One shouted, 'I have no home to go to.' Police ordered local residents to return to their homes and urged curious onlookers to disperse.

"Today's protest is more notable for its timing than for its size, coming less than two weeks before the Hong Kong transfer. This protest today is a reminder to the Chinese leadership, and all who watch, that this is a complicated country, which even for the Chinese, is hard to understand and difficult to rule. Dan Rather, CBS News, Beijing."

One can only imagine the CBS stories in the late 1930s on Germany as a "complicated country" with all those troublesome Jews that made it "difficult" for the Nazis to rule.

4) The ten hour American Visions series has now completed its run on PBS, but not before host Robert Hughes, art critic for Time magazine, squeezed in a shot at Ronald Reagan. On the final hour shown on most stations on June 18, MRC development associate David Young caught this historical theory from Hughes:

"Ronald Reagan, like most American Presidents, including John Kennedy, had no particular interest in the visual arts, beyond film, of course. Yet his presidency had large indirect effects upon the American art world, more, perhaps, than anyone since Franklin Roosevelt's. Why? Because in the course of quadrupling America's national deficit to about a trillion dollars, and filling the country with oceans of borrowed money, his economic policies created the art boom of the 1980s. This bubble had a blinding iridescence while it lasted, and every new investor was aware that if he bought new art, he'd come up smelling like Lorenzo de Medici's aftershave."

At least Hughes is the first Time staffer to discover anything good about Reagan.

-- Brent Baker