Indignation About Starr Clients; North's Wife & Jones' Mother Did It Too
1) CBS focused on the
"evolving" White House storyline. On Saturday ABC gave more time
to fundraising for Paula Jones than to Monicagate. Sunday night:
indignation over Starr's "private" clients.
2) Starr demanding testimony
from Lewinsky's mother outraged reporters, but the media yawned when
Clinton's lawyers hauled Paula Jones's mother in for a deposition.
3) Last week the New
York Post editorialized: "None of those who currently profess
shock...at Starr's efforts even said boo about Walsh's far more serious
attacks on privacy and privilege."
4) Al Hunt: The
Clinton White House is not like the Nixon White House, except when they
act like the Nixon White House.
night ABC led with an exclusive on how a big Democratic contributor tried
to alter Kathleen Willey's testimony and CBS offered, almost as an after
thought, news that Clinton would say Monica kissed him only on the mouth,
while NBC skipped Monicagate altogether. On Saturday, NBC allocated a few
seconds to White House denials of the CBS story which CBS stood by on the
Evening News as ABC devoted more time to a controversy over fundraising
for Paula Jones than to Monicagate. On Sunday night ABC featured a story
on supposed questions about Kenneth Starr's clients and ties to Clinton
Here's how the broadcast networks treated
the scandal Friday night, February 27:
-- Peter Jennings opened ABC's World News
Tonight by announcing:
"A reminder: the Monica Lewinsky case,
as in did she have a sexual relationship with the President, was first
taken up by the independent counsel to investigate whether the President
or any of his associates had tried to influence her testimony in the Paula
Jones sexual harassment case against the President. Much of the public,
whatever people's opinion about the President's and Mrs. Lewinsky's
personal relationship, has been much less forgiving about possible the
obstruction of justice. Today, ABC News has learned that a Democratic
fundraiser with connections to the President is suspected of just that.
Same Paula Jones case, but involving another woman."
Jackie Judd explained: "Sources have
told ABC News that a key witness in the Paula Jones case has claimed that
a top Democratic fundraiser tried to persuade her not to offer damaging
information against the President. The witness is Kathleen Willey, a
former White House aide, who according to sources, said in her deposition
the President made an unwanted sexual advance during an Oval Office
meeting in 1993. Sources, with knowledge of her account, say she claims
prior to that deposition Nathan Landow encouraged her to say Mr. Clinton
had nor made any sexual advance...."
After noting that Landow has contributed
$247,000 to the DNC and pitched in another $600,000 for Democratic
candidates, Judd reported that Willey stuck to her story. Judd concluded:
"What's of interest to Starr is not the allegation of sexual
misconduct, but whether someone tried to change Willey's testimony as
part of a pattern of witness tampering to protect the President."
Over the weekend the other networks failed
to pick up on ABC's story, not even CNN Friday or Saturday night.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's
introduction to Scott Pelley's story didn't even mention what became
the news of the weekend. Rather told viewers that Starr is zeroing in on
Lewinsky as a target. Pelley's piece filled in the details and then
ended by offering another item:
"CBS News has learned details of Mr.
Clinton's evolving defense strategy. The White House story is that Mr.
Clinton did have a physical relationship with Lewinsky, but it involved
only kissing. The White House story says Lewinsky exaggerated when talking
to friends. Well placed sources tell CBS News that the President has been
shaken to the core by all of this and he is angry with himself because of
the toll it has taken on his presidency and on his family."
-- NBC Nightly News did not utter a word
about the scandal. But it was hardly a busy news day. The show had time
for full stories on medication errors, which Tom Brokaw hyped as "the
growing danger from prescription drugs," the future impact of El
Nino, an Ohio town making a comeback, and the debate over making Lake
Champlain the sixth Great Lake.
Saturday, February 28:
-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with a
piece from Ann Compton on Clinton's Utah vacation: "Today more
stories emerged from Washington that supporters of the President are
testing out new explanations of his still unexplained relationship with
Monica Lewinsky. Some reports suggesting a scenario in which the President
was simply physically affectionate with Lewinsky..."
After noting White House denials, Compton
moved on to a matter played on the front page of Saturday's Washington
Post: "And in the case that started it all, there may be a conflict
emerging between Paula Jones and her benefactors..." Compton
explained how Bruce Eberly's direct mail firm sent a letter saying
lawyers for Jones needed $250,000, but the Rutherford Institute has seen
none of it. ABC included a soundbite from Rutherford chief John Whitehead
complaining about Eberly's fundraising.
Total time Compton gave Clinton and
Lewinsky: 32 seconds. Time for Paula Jones: 39 seconds.
-- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley stood by
his Friday story: "Two sources close to the President's defense
tell CBS News the relationship with Lewinsky started as a platonic one,
became physical, but stopped well short of sex. These sources say Mr.
Clinton's defense suggests Lewinsky exaggerated when talking with
friends about the relationship..."
Pelley added: "This account is a new
wrinkle in an evolving White House defense..."
After showing Clinton denying sex
"with that woman," Pelley continued: "Later spokesman Mike
McCurry said the relationship could be 'very complicated.' If there
was 'a simple explanation,' he said, 'we would have offered that up
That's the first broadcast network
citation of McCurry's February 17 comment to the Chicago Tribune about
how they would have offered up the simple explanation if there was one. As
detailed in the February 18 CyberAlert, at the time only CNN mentioned
that portion of his comments.
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams
took 25 seconds to report that the White House was "forced to deny a
broadcast report that some sort of new communications strategy is emerging
at the White House whereby the President would admit to a physical but not
sexual relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky..."
Later, John Palmer contributed a story
based upon Clinton's Saturday radio address about education. Palmer
emphasized Clinton's leadership: "President Clinton launched a
volunteer tutoring program for children a year and a half ago. Since then
hundreds of volunteers -- parent, grandparents and students -- have joined
the program which will ultimately give reading help to three million
children at risk..."
Palmer concluded: "The
administration's goal is to ensure that every child in America can read
by the time he or she enters the third grade."
Sunday, March 1:
In the east, golf bumped the CBS Evening
News and NBA basketball pushed aside the NBC Nightly News, leaving ABC's
World News Tonight which opened with a preview piece on Vernon Jordan's
expected Tuesday testimony. Reporter Mike von Fremd began:
"Vernon Jordan today refused to
discuss reports that he may be given limited immunity when he appears
before the grand jury on Tuesday. Which raises a question: Why would
Jordan need immunity when he so adamantly denied the most serious
accusation concerning Monica Lewinsky's relationship with the
Next, anchor Carole Simpson turned to the
misdeeds of Ken Starr: "You may not know it, but being the
independent counsel is not Starr's only job."
Liberal CNN commentator turned ABC News
reporter Farai Chideya began: "In 1995 Wisconsin tried to give poor
children public money to attend religious schools. Challenged in court,
the school choice plan is controversial. So is its defender."
Following soundbites of Starr and a
spokesman for the Governor, an indignant Chideya continued: "The
decision three years ago to hire the Whitewater independent counsel
surprised many in Wisconsin. Even more surprising, the fact that Starr's
bills are being paid for by the conservative Bradley Foundation, which
funds critics of President Clinton."
Wisconsin's Attorney General impugned
Starr as a "highly political counsel," but Bradley President
Michael Joyce reassuringly noted: "Defending a voucher program for
poor families in Milwaukee is not an anti-Clinton project."
Nonetheless, Chideya elaborated on
Starr's tainted behavior: "Starr is too busy to argue the next
phase of the case. But questions about his outside obligations persist.
The Wisconsin school voucher isn't the only example of Starr's outside
legal work. In fact, the Whitewater independent prosecutor continues to
represent a wide variety of private clients. While investigating the
President, Starr has earned over $3 million from companies including
Meineke Mufflers and Hughes Aircraft. And he represented big tobacco
companies, often criticized by the Clinton administration."
Viewers heard a law professor denounce
Starr before Chideya concluded: "Starr's involvement in outside
cases is perfectly legal under federal law, but even the appearance of
conflict of interest could create another problem for independent counsel
Especially if network reporters create a
controversy out of a legal activity. And, as the March 2 Weekly Standard
noted, there's one group skipped by Chideya that the Bradley Foundation
funds which is not populated by "critics of President Clinton"
-- the Democratic Leadership Council.
you believe all the outrage in the media about Starr calling Monica
Lewinsky's mother you'd think it's something never done by previous
independent counsels. But you'd be wrong, as explained by Washington
Times reporter John McCaslin in his "Inside the Beltway" column
on Friday, February 28:
"While we're at it, let's blame
independent counsel Kenneth
W. Starr for El Nino, too. He's been
denounced for everything
else, including 'abusive behavior' in
the handling of Monica
Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis....
"Mrs. Lewis might be comforted to know
that she isn't the
first mother forced to answer difficult
questions dealing with a
daughter's relationship with Bill Clinton.
Albeit with little
fanfare, Delmer Lee Corbin, the mother of
Paula Corbin Jones,
was ordered by President Clinton's
attorneys to give a similar
deposition under oath, which also lasted
"She was summoned several months ago
to the Little Rock law firm of Wright, Lindsey and Jennings, where Mr.
Clinton's legal team pressed her about everything her daughter might have
told her concerning that infamous night in 1991, when Mrs. Jones said she
had a close encounter with then-Gov. Clinton in a Little Rock hotel room.
"The grilling by the attorneys wasn't
easy for Mrs. Corbin,
either. During one break in her testimony,
she hid her face from
cameras and declined to answer questions.
"Come to think of it, Miss Lewinsky is
lucky she doesn't have a sister. Mrs. Jones does, her name is Lydia Cathey,
and she too was ordered by the president's attorneys to testify under
Where is William Ginsburg when you need
were those now bashing Starr when Lawrence Walsh was even more aggressive
during Iran-Contra? He made Oliver North's wife testify, never mind
spousal privilege, and violated the law by publicly quoting from grand
jury testimony. A New York Post editorial last week laid out the case.
Here's an excerpt from the February 24 editorial highlighted last week
by Rush Limbaugh and Washington Times "Inside Politics" reporter
"Former Iran-Contra Independent
Counsel Lawrence Walsh has embarked on a second career assailing Kenneth
Starr's Whitewater investigation. Last week, he blasted Starr's decision
to bring Marcia Lewis, mother of alleged presidential paramour Monica
Lewinsky, before a grand jury.
"Much of the press agrees with Walsh
that forcing a mother to testify 'against' her daughter is an
unbelievably cruel and virtually unprecedented act....
"Let's take a look at Walsh's own
record. Consider: During the
Iran-Contra investigation, Walsh subpoenaed
Betsy North, the wife of Lt. Col. Oliver North, North lawyer Brendan
Sullivan -- even North's pastor. In one go, Walsh flung down and danced
upon spousal, attorney-client, and even pastoral privilege.
"To the best of our knowledge, none of
those who currently profess shock -- shock! -- at Starr's efforts even
said boo about Walsh's far more serious attacks on privacy and privilege.
Also, as the Landmark Legal Foundation's Mark Levin has pointed out, Walsh
publicly cited supposedly secret grand-jury testimony more than 600 times
in his final report. Starr, by contrast, has merely been accused of
leaking such testimony, without a shred of evidence.
"Unlike Starr, Walsh abused his office
and made a mockery out of fairness and justice. To denounce this
self-righteous Savonarola as a hypocrite would do an injustice to
Clinton White House is not like the Nixon White House, except when they
act like the Nixon White House. So reasoned the Wall Street Journal's Al
Hunt in a comment caught by MRC analyst Eric Darbe. On the February 21
edition of CNN's Capital Gang, Hunt declared:
"The White House last year assembled a
negative report on Washington Post Whitewater reporter Sue Schmidt with
the intention of complaining to her editor. This inane idea was nixed by
press secretary Mike McCurry. Sue Schmidt is a tough reporter. She's also
good. I wish she worked for us. The analogies to the genuine evil
perpetrated by the Nixon White House are far fetched, except when the
Clintonites do stupid things like that."
Another way to look at it: Nixon really
wasn't so bad, except when he acted like a Clintonite.
-- Brent Baker
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