During Brent Bozell’s Thursday interview promoting our book Whitewash on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mentioned that ABC’s Jake Tapper had a new story out Thursday morning about how three people pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001 had donated to Hillary for President. Scarborough used that as an example of how the networks can’t be so isolated anymore in an era of New Media challenges. But there’s just one problem with that theory. Tapper’s story was isolated: it only appeared online, not on-air.
Tapper did appear on ABC's airwaves on Wednesday evening's Nightline to forward the story Hillary really wants circulated: John McCain’s campaign struggling with a supporter calling Hillary the B-word. Here’s the MSNBC exchange on Tapper:
SCARBOROUGH: This morning, let's talk about ABC is breaking a story this morning, Jake Tapper has a story about how three people that Bill Clinton pardoned in 2001 at the end of his presidency, have contributed money to the Clintons. Isn't that example again, because again, I'm not saying that story would have broken in 1992, but because you have all of these other voices on all sides of the ideological spectrum, you don't have networks. Networks can't be as isolated and insulated as they've been.
BOZELL: You wonder where that story was at the time. I mean, why aren't they reporting on the fact that he [Clinton] received a $300,000 gift from a lieutenant colonel in the Chinese army, in the Chinese military? Johnny Chung testified before a congressional committee. That was left out there, wasn't put on the table. If a Republican received money from a Chinese government official, illegally, you know the -- you know that time would stop until they got to the bottom of that story. Yet they didn’t with the Clintons. So it’s great they report it now, but where were they when the pardons were going on?
(By the way, Brent was referring to Johnny Chung’s relationship with Chinese Lt. Col. Liu Chaoying. Chung was the Asiagate scandal figure most closely associated with Hillary. Her chief of staff Maggie Williams suggested Chung "bordered on the worshipful" around Hillary. In other words, she behaved like most media people. More detail on the TV apathy around Chung is here.)
Here’s a snippet of Tapper’s McCain piece for Nightline:
JAKE TAPPER: It was not Senator John McCain's most chivalrous moment.
AUDIENCE MEMBER (FEMALE): How do we beat the bitch?
TAPPER: Asked this nasty question about Senator Hillary Clinton, McCain grinned through an awkward moment and then said this.
JOHN McCAIN: But that's an excellent question.
TAPPER: Though he added...
McCAIN: I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat Party. But I think there are fundamental, philosophical differences.
TAPPER: McCain was not referring to the differences between a boy and a girl. But he's now getting heat for calling, 'How do we beat the, rhymes with witch," an excellent question, and for not standing up more against the harsh language. It's a dilemma for Republicans who will need to rely upon Hillary hatred for help in what's anticipated to be a difficult year for the GOP, but don't wanna make her a sympathetic figure with nasty attacks against her as a woman.
Dear Jake Tapper: could you please avoid the "Hillary hatred" bilge? He did go on to imply that Hillary benefits from a gender double standard, and joked it might be a "woman's prerogative."
Here’s a little more of the Scarborough interview (video under Mark Finkelstein’s earlier blog):
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think that this is just a Republican/Democratic battle, a split, or do you think that the Clintons specifically get preferential treatment?
BOZELL: I think Hillary Clinton gets preferential treatment. She gets better treatment than her husband did -- and frankly, I think it is because there are a lot of people in the news media, particularly women, who see her as their icon. They see her as womanhood, as the uber-feminist who also happens to share their philosophical agenda and their liberal agenda so she's the perfect package for them. They've loved her since day one. Katie Couric is a perfect example of that. Katie Couric could never say anything critical of Hillary Clinton.
At this point of the interview, the viewer could hear a howl of disagreement from news anchor Mika Brzezinski (daughter of Jimmy Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, now such an ardent Bush hater he could be called the Notorious Z.B.I.G.), who arrived to question Brent icily about how Hillary’s going to be "demonized" by the Republicans.
SCARBOROUGH: I’ve got one person here who has said something critical of Hillary Clinton. Or two. Mika?
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, look, [forced laugh] I spread the wealth. I just look at what people are saying and we have debated whether or not Hillary Clinton can handle the general and whether the Republicans want her there and the argument we've had is that they do because they can demonize her. Um, that hasn't been popular with some. But I think my point, though, in response to what you've been saying, sir, is that it does seem lately like people are really picking on her.
BOZELL: Well, I think it is very true that in the last week she's gotten negative press. In the last about eight or nine days. But then the question that I'll challenge you with or anybody else is, name me the last time, going back to 1992, that for this period of time she got this kind of negative press?
Mika asserted you can’t say scandals were "swept under the rug." No, these scandals did get coverage (and as Brent replied, they always received better print coverage than network coverage). What we’re suggesting is they were almost never resolved. Even at moments of some resolution -- for example, the Clintons' Whitewater business partners being convicted of oodles of felonies in 1996 -- the media insisted these convicts weren't really something you could connect to the Clintons. These scandals weren’t resolved because the media and the Clintons don’t want the scandals to say anything about who Hillary is now, and what these scandals say about the Big Picture of her character.