Qualms About Agent Fox; Starr Abusing Mother & Daughter; Killer SUVs
1) Thursday night ABC and CBS
caught up with NBC by relaying what Secret Service agent Fox remembered.
CBS aired a Reality Check on whether Starr's political drive is behind
"squeezing" Marcia Lewis.
2) Today wondered why anyone
would believe Gennifer Flowers over Bill Clinton and suggested that the
sex allegations put Starr on trial.
3) Clean air and fairness in
dying are "under assault" from SUVs which, in turn, are under
assault from the networks.
Former Secret Service agent Lewis Fox's arrival in DC prompted ABC and
CBS, which had ignored his story Wednesday night, to catch up and tell
viewers Thursday night about how he once showed Monica Lewinsky into the
Oval Office. The CBS Evening News added a Reality Check on whether
Starr's decision to force a mother to testify against her daughter
suggests he "is politically motivated to damage the Clintons at all
Here's a rundown of Thursday, February 12
broadcast evening show coverage of Monicagate:
-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with
Defense Secretary Cohen's clash with Russia over Iraq, followed by two
stories on El Nino. After the first ad break reporter Jackie Judd
re-capped the day's developments, beginning with Lewinsky's return to
DC and the cancellation of her mother's grand jury appearance.
She then got to Lewis Fox, telling the
former Secret Service agent's story, a revelation ABC ignored Wednesday
night though it first appeared in that day's Washington Post. Lewis
arrived Thursday in Washington to appear before the grand jury but was not
called. Judd relayed that sources say "that in the fall of 1995 Fox
remembers letting Lewinsky into the Oval Office to see the President, but
cannot say for certain whether they were alone."
Asserting that ABC had confirmed a Wall
Street Journal story, Judd explained that four White House staffers
"have banded together in what's called a joint defense agreement.
That means their lawyers can all share privileged information even with
the President's legal team." The four: Betty Currie, John Podesta,
Ashley Raines and Bayani Nelvis. Judd added: "Routine and legal, but
such arrangements, some lawyers say, could effect testimony..." Judd
recalled that the White House used the same strategy in Whitewater and the
campaign finance probe "to avoid surprises and to contain those
-- CBS Evening News. Two Iraq stories led
with Monicagate in the third slot. Scott Pelley began by saying that
Marcia Lewis was a no-show because of emotionally draining testimony the
day before. He then reported the Secret Service is in the middle of a new
fight as the White House will oppose the subpoena of a uniformed officer
who worked in a security office downstairs from the Oval Office. Like
Judd, Pelley also got to Lewis Fox, saying he will testify that he let
Lewinsky inside the Oval Office, but does not know if she was alone with
Clinton. Pelley wrapped up:
"All of this is leading to the central
question of did Mr. Clinton encourage Lewinsky to lie in sworn testimony
in order to cover up an alleged affair. Lewinsky won't be called for
days, her testimony is likely to a last a week and the investigation is
settling in for a long haul. Dan."
Next, Dan Rather delivered this rather
"Some analysts say forcing Monica
Lewinsky's mother to testify about intimate mother-daughter talk fuels
the view that Kenneth Starr is politically motivated to damage the
Clintons at all costs, and/or he's tone deaf to public distaste with
squeezing a mother and daughter this way. Starr says his job is to get and
gather the facts. So what does the law say? Time for a Reality Check from
CBS's Eric Engberg."
Eric Engberg determined that "it might
look cruel, but it has always been the law. No privilege frees parents
from having to testify against their children."
-- NBC Nightly News aired just one Iraq
story before getting to Monicagate. David Bloom, who was the only
broadcast network reporter to report Wednesday night on Lewis Fox, began
by tempering the agent's recollection:
"Tom, it turns out that retired Secret
Service officer, who's been subpoenaed to testify in the Lewinsky case,
is not prepared to say he saw the President and the former White House
intern alone in the Oval Office...." Bloom explained that while he
escorted her in and knows she stayed at least 20 minutes, he cannot be
sure she was alone with Clinton. Turning to the dispute over Secret
Service testimony, Bloom introduced a soundbite denouncing Starr:
"Today, Lewis's lawyer accused prosecutors...of trying to drive a
wedge between mother and daughter."
Bloom ended by highlighting the joint
defense deal, but did not draw the implication that it could encourage the
participants to adjust their testimony: "The White House confirmed
that the President's lawyers are conferring with lawyers for a number of
other witnesses, greatly complicating, sources say, the work of
independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Tom."
In the rush of daily Monicagate tracking we went right by two bits of bias
from NBC's Today on Sunday worth detailing, though they are a few weeks
old. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught both examples and took the
time yesterday to get them both transcribed in time for this CyberAlert.
In the first, even after Clinton admitted
he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers, co-host Jodi Applegate wondered
why people should believe her over Clinton and quizzed her about the
authenticity of her tapes. In the second, days before it became
fashionable in the media, NPR anchor Scott Simon was out in front Starr
bashing, claiming that the independent counsel "stones every turn
of" Clinton's life.
-- From the January 25 Sunday Today:
Jodi Applegate: "Some people doubted
your credibility because reportedly you did receive a lot of money from
the Star newspaper for your story. We don't know the exact number.
It's reported generally to be above $100,000. There were experts who
listened to your tapes of yourself and President Clinton who said they had
been edited at least some what. Given all of that these are still only
allegations against the President. Why should people believe you now even
Gennifer Flowers: "Well in the first
place he admits that the relationship took place, so I mean the truth is
Applegate: "According to the
Flowers: "According to the Washington
Post. But let's get something very straight once and for all. The tapes
were never altered or edited in any way. I have documents to verify that.
And I'm getting real tired of the James Carvilles and the Dee Dee Myers
out there continue to spin and lie and accuse me of that. And I don't
want to hear that from them anymore. They have nothing to prove that those
tapes were edited or doctored. And I have documents to prove that they
were not. So I don't want to hear that. That those little tapes were not
doctored they are what they are and they say what they say out of his own
Applegate: "Alright I don't want to
dwell on this too much but just for the record at the time the President
of the Forensic Audio Laboratory said that the tapes had been edited
selectively. Which doesn't necessarily mean that the content had been
Flowers: "No, no that is absolutely,
that is absolutely, that is absolutely not true."
Applegate: "That he said that or that
they had been altered."
Flowers: "My documents, my document
say that those tapes were never altered in any way. They were never
edited. They were never altered to say things that they didn't say. They
were never touched in that way at all, ever."
Applegate: "Let's move onto
something more relevant to this past week's...."
-- From the February 1 Sunday Today, what
NPR anchor Scott Simon probably considers profound analysis. The
occasional Today contributor did at least concede that the sex charges is
relevant, but his bottom line is that Starr is on trial:
"Against all expectation President
Clinton had an awfully good week. Ugly charges were thrown against him and
his approval rating only soared. Every new rumor seems to give the
President a new point in the polls. But the allegations still have the
potential to be incendiary. And the question is now who do they threaten
to burn more? The President, his accusers, the press or the public? Who
ever thought that parents would want to use the v-chip on CSPAN? Most us
thought that when independent counsel Kenneth Starr was accused of going
through the President's dirty laundry it was mere metaphor, not the
wording for a search warrant. Who would have thought that history could
turn on the question, 'Would you want your daughter to be a White House
intern?' Government proceeds regardless but government is grounded in
politics. Any proposal the President so ably makes, from standing tall
against Iraq to shoring up Social Security, still raises a wonder of if a
clever politician is making policy to obscure his problems.
"It would be nice to say that a
President's private life has nothing to do with his or her fitness for
office. But one of the ugliest parts of John F. Kennedy's legacy is that
a President's personal involvements, be it with gangsters, moles, and
alleged spies, as with President Kennedy or state employees and former
interns sent to the Pentagon, the allegations against President Clinton,
can raise at least as many questions about a President's official
integrity as who contributes to his campaign.
"As this week's polls confirm many
Americans have fierce affection for Bill Clinton. Not because they believe
he's ever been husband of the year but because they find him a smart and
charming leader who has been a good President and on the whole a good man.
They remember him in New Hampshire standing up nobly and humbly under the
first assaults of scandal and pledging:"
Bill Clinton: "I'll never forget who
gave me a second chance and I'll be there for you till the last dog
dies. And I want you to remember that."
Simon: "Many of his supporters took
that as a promise. If you forget or forgive what's past I'll make you
proud in the future. So over the next few weeks President Clinton's most
delicate relations may not be with an independent counsel who stones every
turn of his life or an old intern spinning astounding stories, but with
millions of Americans who've come to like and admire Bill Clinton and
don't want to feel foolish for believing in him.
"And to be sure prosecutor Kenneth
Starr has also put himself on trial. If after all of the agony over these
past few weeks it doesn't produce a single plausible actual charge
against President Clinton, and probably soon, it may be the independent
prosecutor who could be dismissed by the American public."
came first. Now they are coming for your SUV. Doubt the media interest in
eradicating the SUV menace. Well look at what Tom Brokaw said a couple of
months ago and how the networks jumped on a study which showed how unfair
SUVs are since those in cars they hit are more likely to die.
In the midst of the Kyoto conference Tom
Brokaw anchored the NBC Nightly News from Los Angeles. After admiring how
much less polluted the area had become, on the December 11 newscast Brokaw
delivered this sermon about how evil SUVs will drive California back to
"Clean air here is once again under
assault. The threat: the fastest selling new cars. Actually, they're not
cars at all, so-called SUVs, sport-utility vehicles. They emit two to
three time as much air pollution as cars and they're not classified as
cars. Instead, for pollution purposes, they're called light trucks and
they're allowed higher emissions. Now California has proposed all
sport-utility vehicles meet the tougher pollution standards of normal
cars. No decision is expected until next year, but now since fully half of
all cars sold here are SUVs, experts warn the skies could darken again. Do
Californians really want to be driving back to the future?"
Watching February 9 stories on an Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety study contending that in SUV versus car
crashes those in the car are much more likely to die, MRC Free Market
Project Director Tim Lamer noticed the networks treated the issue as a
matter of fairness and failed cite CAFE rules as a reason for more
Tom Brokaw asserted that "insurers say
design changes, especially to strengthen the size of cars, are now
needed," but failed to mention how the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel
Economy) rules, which are tougher for cars than SUVs, have made cars more
vulnerable and driven people to bigger SUVs.
On the CBS Evening News reporter Bob Orr
emphasized the unfairness of how SUV owners don't pay enough insurance
for all the harm they cause passenger car owners: "The new findings
could help trigger higher insurance costs. With many rates now under
review, the report is strong ammunition for those who claim SUV and
pick-up owners are not paying their fair share of the risk."
Liberal do-gooders will certainly have an
enthusiastic partner in the media when they start their campaign to rid
America of SUVs because they ruin the environment. And, besides, it's
just not fair that their owners don't die so often in two-car crashes.
Fairness demands we all get killed or injured more often so we can live in
a healthier environment. -- Brent Baker
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