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.
3) Sunday night CNN's
NewsStand acknowledged the controversy over its nerve gas report, but
failed to note that its military consultant described the story as
"almost Hitlerian in concept."
>>> 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:
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
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.
Saturday Washington Post readers were greeted
with the disclosure that Johnny Chung has asserted that top Democratic
officials knew he was delivering illegal foreign money, but didn't care.
ABC skipped the news and CBS gave it just 19 seconds. (The U.S. Open Golf
tournament bumped NBC Nightly News, at least in the east, on Saturday and
Friday night, ABC and NBC went Clinton
scandal-free, CBS raised the China issue briefly in summarizing
Clinton's latest denial of any wrongdoing and CNN featured two full
scandal stories: one on Chung and one on the battle over Secret Service
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:
"Monica Lewinsky is reportedly offering
prosecutors a new deal. Today's Washington Post reports that she's
willing to admit, under oath, that she had sex with President Clinton. But
as ABC's Karla Davis reports, that may not be enough for independent
counsel Kenneth Starr."
Davis proceeded to explain how Lewinsky is
willing to admit sex, but not that she was asked to lie about it, and how
authorship of the talking points given to Linda Tripp is key to Starr's
investigation of whether there was any obstruction of justice.
CBS Evening News.
Anchor John Roberts took the same facts as ABC and formulated a very
"How much of a case independent counsel
Kenneth Starr has against the President is in question tonight after a
report Monica Lewinsky is ready to admit she had intimate relations with
Mr. Clinton but that he did not tell her to lie about it. Sharyl Attkisson
reports if Lewinsky testifies to that, the investigation could end up
nothing more than he said, she said."
Attkisson asserted: "With President Clinton
away at Camp David the nation's capital is abuzz over the report in the
Washington Post that Monica Lewinsky is ready to deal, willing to testify
that she did have sex with the President despite his vehement denial. But
if that's all she's willing to say, a noted Democratic attorney
insists independent counsel Ken Starr doesn't have a case."
After a soundbite from Stanley Brand on Face the
Nation Attkisson moved on to how U.S. News is reporting that a two hour
tape of phone calls between Tripp and Lewinsky suggested they had phone
sex and that she asked Clinton about getting a better job before she was
contacted about giving a deposition in the Jones case.
-- 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:
"Democratic contributor Johnny Chung
has told Justice Department investigators that top Democratic National
Committee officials knowingly solicited and accepted improper donations
from him, according to sources familiar with his account.
"Chung, as part of a plea bargain deal with
the department, has claimed that then-DNC finance director Richard
Sullivan personally asked him for a $125,000 donation in April 1995, the
sources said. Sullivan took the money despite having previously voiced
suspicions that Chung was acting as a conduit for illegal contributions
from Chinese business executives, they added. Sullivan's lawyer said he
denies Chung's account of their dealings...."
After recalling how Sullivan turned down
Chung's request to let five Chinese associates view a Clinton radio
taping, Suro added this new information:
"According to Chung, however, Sullivan
contacted Chung less than a month later and solicited $125,000 from him
for an April 8, 1995, fundraiser at the home of director Steven Spielberg.
Sullivan has denied to investigators that he asked Chung for the donation,
although he has acknowledged that he was involved in accepting the funds
at the DNC, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.
"Chung has also told Justice Department
investigators, the sources said, that DNC and Clinton-Gore officials were
aware that he was bringing foreign guests to a September 1995 Los Angeles
fundraising dinner when he arrived with an entourage of 20 people.
At the event, campaign officials rejected Chung's $20,000 check because
contributions to the dinner were subject to a legal limit of $1,000 per
person. The following day Chung had 20 friends and employees write
individual $1,000 checks, which were accepted by the campaign. Chung later
reimbursed the check-writers in what he acknowledged in his guilty plea
was an illegal scheme to evade federal contribution limits...."
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
The CBS Evening
News began with the federal jurors visiting Oklahoma City. Here's the
totality of broadcast network coverage of the Post disclosure:
Anchor Paula Zahn: "A donor at the center of
the Democratic fundraising probe reportedly is fingering a top Democratic
National Committee official. Today's Washington Post says Johnny Chung
told investigators former DNC finance director Richard Sullivan accepted
contributions he suspected were illegal. Sullivan's lawyer denies
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
CBS Evening News.
Anchor Ed Bradley, with an earring in place, took 23 seconds to introduce
a Clinton soundbite:
"President Clinton once again today defended
his decision to go to China next week. Among other things critics cite
China's alleged attempts to buy political influence by making secret
U.S. campaign donations and allegedly diverting U.S. satellite technology
from civilian to military use. Today Mr. Clinton rejected the idea of
putting the trip off or of slapping U.S. sanctions on China."
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
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:
"Just more crazy weather or is something
going on? Could it be the globe is warming and a warmer globe will mean
more extremes, not just more drought but also heavier rain. Researchers
say evidence of a warming earth building fast now." After a matching
clip from a government scientist, Hager ominously relayed: "Even the
glaciers are melting." Without bothering to tell viewers that most
scientists disagree, Hager explained why warm weather will cause more rain
and storms: "Hot temperature warm the Pacific, bring on more frequent
El Nino's. The heat also dries things, causes more drought in a lot of
areas. But heat also evaporates more water up into the air, until it gets
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:
"Good evening. This was a big day before the
grand jury investigating the President of the United States. Another
reminder after a week of leaks and accusations and counter-charges, that
there are some very serious matters at stake here and very serious
evidence that will come out shortly. Today the effort was clearly to see
if the young former White House intern at the center of this case has told
the truth throughout. Her former lawyer was asked what he knows. Others
will be asked what they know as Ken Starr zeroes in on Bill Clinton."
Lisa Myers characterized it as "bad news for
Monica Lewinsky" that Frank Carter was called, explaining that he
drew up the affidavit denying any sex. He told NBC, Myers relayed, that he
"never even suspected Lewinsky might be lying." Myers then
explained the import of the original affidavit:
"Starr wants to know whether efforts by the
President's confidant Vernon Jordan to get Lewinsky a job were tied to
her signing what may have been a false affidavit. Lewinsky reportedly has
said she held up filing the statement until Jordan delivered on her job.
Consider this: January 7, Jordan who introduced Lewinsky to Carter, drives
her to his office to sign the affidavit. The 8th, Jordan calls Revlon
trying to get Lewinsky a job. The 12th Carter officially informs others of
the affidavit. The 13th, six days after signing the affidavit, Lewinsky
gets a job offer from Revlon in writing."
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
Next, Wolf Blitzer asked: "Did independent
counsel Ken Starr's prosecutors ask Monica Lewinsky to be wired so they
could ease drop on conversations with the president or his friend Vernon
Jordan last January. Now, CNN has learned sealed FBI affidavits could
answer that question. Two sources from different camps, hostile to Starr,
tell CNN, three or four FBI agents, working for the independent counsel
have given secret affidavits in recent months, in which they detailed a
plan to wire Lewinsky..."
Blitzer noted that "in his 19-page letter to
the new magazine Brill's Content this week, Starr writes, 'This office
never asked Ms. Lewinsky to agree to wire herself for a conversation with
Mr. Jordan or the President...we had no such plans.'
Blitzer ambiguously asserted: "The emphasis
in Starr's statement is on Jordan and the President. Several sources
familiar with the discussions that day at the Ritz- Carlton hotel in
Northern Virginia tell CNN Starr did have a plan to eavesdrop on
Lewinsky's phone conversations with Mr. Clinton's private secretary Betty
Currie and perhaps others, but not necessarily with the President or
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:
"And this note: as you're aware, and as
we're certainly aware, controversy has erupted over our June 7th report on
Greenfield picked up: "On that 1970
operation into Laos, our sources told us, nerve gas was used as part of
the operation to find and to kill American military defectors. This week,
CNN's military consultant, retired General Perry Smith, resigned in
protest over that story. Other voices have been heard calling that story
into doubt. We take these voices seriously. And we mean it when we say we
intend to hold ourselves to the same standards we ask other institutions
to meet. We will have an extended look at the controversy and the
criticism in the near future."
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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