ABC and CBS Shut Out Secret Service Agent; Left Coast Admirers
1) A Secret Service agent went
on the record about knowing Clinton and Lewinsky were alone, but ABC and
CBS skipped the news Wednesday night. NBC painted Clinton as a victim of
2) More Hollywood praise for
Clinton. One actress exclaims it's great we "have a President who
gives in to his nature and is relaxed and happy."
Corrections. The February
11 CyberAlert stated that "Bob Schieffer highlighted bad news for
Clinton: the judge in Arkansas turned down Bob Bennett's request to delay
the Jones trial." Actually, as noted earlier in the edition, the
judge turned down Bennett's request to move up the trial date. The last
CyberAlert also misspelled the name of National Review magazine's new
editor. It's Rich Lowry, not Lowery.
Washington Post reported that a retired Secret Service agent claimed he
knew Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton were once alone together in the Oval
Office, the first agent to go on the record with such a recollection. But
Wednesday night neither ABC's World News Tonight or the CBS Evening News
mentioned the major development and latest bit of evidence that
contradicts the Clinton line. Only NBC and CNN found it newsworthy.
Attorney General Reno's decision to ask for an independent counsel to
investigate Bruce Babbitt generated just a few seconds on the three
"Clinton, Lewinsky Met Alone, Former
Guard Says," declared the February 11 front page headline. Washington
Post reporter Susan Schmidt revealed:
"Monica S. Lewinsky spent part of a
weekend afternoon in late 1995 alone with President Clinton in the Oval
Office, a retired Secret Service officer said yesterday.
"Clinton testified last month that he
does not recall ever being alone with Lewinsky, either while she was
employed at the White House or later at the Pentagon, except perhaps on
brief occasions when she dropped off papers
in his office, according to sources familiar with Clinton's testimony.
"Former uniformed Secret Service
officer Lewis C. Fox said in an interview yesterday that Lewinsky, then a
White House intern, spent at least 40 minutes alone with Clinton while Fox
was posted outside the Oval Office door. She had arrived with papers for
the President, he said, and Clinton instructed Fox to usher her into his
"Clinton was questioned in a
closed-door deposition Jan. 17 in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case
about whether he had sexual relationships with Lewinsky and other
"Fox is the first person to publicly
say that he saw the president and Lewinsky alone together. As a result,
his statement could be critical to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's
attempt to determine whether Clinton did have a relationship with Lewinsky
and then attempt to conceal it...."
Wednesday morning's Today led with the
Lewis Fox news and Good Morning America at least included it in Ann
Compton's reports from the White House on the Lewinsky case. On one of
the news updates CBS's This Morning squeezes between Olympic highlights
CBS reporter Bill Plante also relayed the Secret Service agent's
But by Wednesday night network interest had
fallen away with nothing on it on ABC or CBS. Not even FNC's 7pm ET Fox
Report uttered a word about it, though FNC did carry a full report on how
Tripp did indeed overhear Clinton calling Lewinsky. On CNN's The World
Today, MRC analyst Eric Darbe found, Bob Franken's piece included the
Fox assertion and the White House explanation that it would not have been
normal for a uniformed officer to let someone into the Oval Office.
The broadcast networks allocated only a few
seconds each to Attorney General Reno's decision to ask for an
independent counsel to investigate the Interior Secretary. CNN and FNC ran
full stories on Babbitt, though CNN's The World Today buried the piece
from Pierre Thomas late in the hour.
Here's a rundown of February 11 broadcast
network evening show coverage:
-- ABC's World News Tonight
opened with two pieces on the showdown with Iraq. In the third spot,
evidence that US jets have flown too low in Italy. Fourth, news that bomb
residue was found on truck owned by man wanted for the abortion clinic
After the ad break, Jackie Judd reported
that William Ginsburg said Lewinsky is reluctant to talk because she's
trying to protect someone she loved, President Clinton that is. Noting
that Lewinsky's mother was pale and shaken after her second day before
he grand jury, Judd concluded by suggesting the relevance of Ginsburg's
"The statement from her lawyer today
that she was trying to protect someone she loved suggests there is a
fuller story here that has yet to be heard."
Next, Peter Jennings took 20 seconds to
report Reno's decision on Babbitt.
-- The CBS Evening News
began with how the Republican Congress is out of sync with everyone else
on the wonders of Clinton's Iraq policy. Dan Rather intoned:
"Good evening. Polls show the U.S.
public is solidly behind President Clinton in his showdown with Saddam
Hussein. Most U.S. allies have been giving at least limited support. And
as more U.S. forces take up positions in the Persian Gulf the military
said today it will be fully ready to launch an air assault against Iraq in
about a week. The mission even has a name now: Operation Desert Thunder.
But, tonight, support for the President in the Republican-led Congress is
In the story Bob Schieffer did at least add
that support among Democrats is "wavering too."
Following another Iraq story Rather went to
Scott Pelley at the White House. He ignored the Secret Service agent and
stuck with Monica's mother, explaining that the tapes show she knew of
the affair and coverup. Pelley also reported that she was overcome
emotionally in the session before explaining how investigators were
grilling her about two mysteries: how Betty Currie got the gifts and who
wrote the memo encouraging Tripp to lie. Pelley ended by relaying Hillary
Clinton's assertion that the scandal will fade away by the weight of
"its own insubstantiality."
Babbitt then got 28 seconds from Rather.
-- Only NBC Nightly News
bothered with the Secret Service agent. After reviewing the appearance by
Monica's mother, Bloom summarized the Post story on Lewis Fox and aired
a soundbite from Fox confirming his recollection. Bloom gave time to the
White House spin, but also countered it:
"Mr. Clinton's aides said plain
clothed Secret Service agents, not a uniformed officer like Fox, guard the
President in the White House, that it would be implausible for Fox to have
escorted Lewinsky into the Oval Office. Not so claims an author who
studied the workings of the White House."
Ronald Kessler: "Actually, it's
perfectly normal for a Secret Service agent, whether uniformed or not
uniformed, to bring someone into the Oval Office, especially on the
Bloom moved on to First Lady Hillary
Clinton's comments about the scandal fading away and then ran battling
clips from Capitol Hill -- Senator Torricelli attacking Starr and Senator
Nickles attacking the effort to divert attention from Clinton by smearing
Next, Brokaw took 38 seconds to tell
viewers about an independent counsel for Babbitt.
Later, NBC portrayed Clinton as a victim of
an insidious new trend: people secretly taping each other. Here's how
Brokaw introduced the piece from Pete Williams:
"NBC News In Depth tonight. The tale
of the secret tapes and a big question of privacy. If Linda Tripp could
tape hours of conversation with Monica Lewinsky, what does that mean for
everyone else in this country? Who is taping whom? In Maryland, where
Linda Tripp lives, it is illegal to tape someone without his or her
consent. Prosecutors there will have to decide whether to bring charges
against Tripp. But secret taping is perfectly legal in most states, and as
NBC's Pete Williams tells us In Depth tonight, watch out because more
and more people are doing it."
Williams ran through the status of the Trip
case in Maryland, aired a clip from a lawyer saying that taping is
essential for whistle blower cases, explained that parents often secretly
tape their nannies and cited the case of a college student caught taping
his sexual exploits. Too much taping is eroding trust, Williams let an
One case of illegal secret taping not
mentioned by NBC: the Floridians who taped the cellular transmission of a
conference call among Republican House leaders.
Hollywood remains almost solidly in Clinton's corner. Picking up where
we left off in the February 3 CyberAlert, here are some more examples
collected by MRC entertainment analyst Melissa Caldwell with one contrary
quote at the end from an actor who doesn't accept the
rationalization's offered by the President's defenders.
-- Dustin Hoffman on the February 3
Entertainment Tonight: "If each of us had Ken Star and his staff on
us, we could interest the world...Thankfully, it's wonderful that the
country is able to separate while due process is being done."
-- Several Hollywood stars flew east last
Thursday for the State Dinner in honor of British Prime Minister Tony
Blair. The February 6 New York Times, MRC analyst Tom Johnson noticed,
relayed a couple of comments from two of Clinton's biggest admirers and
donors: Barbra Streisand and film mogul Steven Spielberg:
"Spielberg, who said he had already
called Mr. Clinton to bolster him during his personal travails said:
'We've already sent our message of support to him, and now is a night
to have fun.' Ms. Streisand said she, too, backed the President and was
pleased that 'the American people have shown great support and good
"'We elected him President, not
Pope,' she said."
-- Musician Coolio offered this unique
analysis on the February 3 Politically Incorrect: "We have to look at
it like this, I think. The President grew up in this country just like
everybody else did. He's been under the same social pressure, he had to go
through the same mental pressure that all of us did growing up. And you
know, I had a lot of uncles, and my uncles, they took pride in having more
than one woman, and for a while in my life, I went through the same
thing...I'm just saying the President is human just like everybody else,
and I'll bet you this. I bet he won't do it again, and if he does, I bet
he won't get caught...First balanced budget in 30 years..."
-- Actress Joely Fisher, star of ABC's
Ellen, delivered this insightful gem on the same show: "Wouldn't we
rather have a President who gives in to his nature and is relaxed and
happy and can lead, as opposed to someone who is frustrated and
-- No, thinks actor Tom Selleck who on the
February 2 Entertainment Tonight offered this bit more reasoned take:
"I'm getting a little sick of hearing
him acquit himself of wrong doing by convicting himself of incompetence --
a la 'Oh, it's just a bureaucratic snafu,' and worst of all, what I
think most of the public is sick of in general in politics, and from him
in particular, is invoking the doctrine of relative filth, which is 'I'm
not so bad, as long as I can find somebody else who's doing the same thing
or worse...I've met this President, I've worked with this President, and
he's a very talented man who cares deeply about what he believes in, but I
do think that he has an obligation, and I wish he'd remember, to do more
than just lawyer the truth."
At least one person in Hollywood has a
little common sense and expects a minimum level of moral leadership from
the President. -- Brent Baker
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