Willey "Adds Up to Nothing;" Brock Makes the Morning Show Rounds
1) Kathleen Willey's
appearance generated stories on all the networks. NBC concluded, though:
"Said one White House official tonight, at the end of the day it all
adds up to nothing."
2) Instead of letting a
conservative react to Brock's mean-spirited attack, NBC's Today only
allowed Newsweek to defend itself from Brock's charge it's just as
awful as the American Spectator.
3) James McDougal's
writing partner, the Boston Globe's Curtis Wilkie, once linked Duke to
Reagan and exulted in Clinton's '92 victory.
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the second night in a row, ABC, CNN and NBC led Tuesday night with the
weather: snow in Midwest, floods in South. CBS topped its show with David
Martin's tip that all the services will reject the expected
recommendation from a commission headed by former Senator Kassebaum that
men and woman be housed separately during training.
The broadcast networks
featured one Monicagate story each, a look at the appearance of Kathleen
Willey before the grand jury. I didn't get a chance to see FNC, but
CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET ran several scandal related pieces.
First, anchor Joie Chen summarized the Willey story. Second, Bob Franken
filed a report on how a comment from a Jones lawyer during the deposition
of Bill Clinton is raising a new allegation of collusion with Starr's
investigation. Third, Wolf Blitzer asserted that the administration plans
to invoke executive privilege if Bruce Lindsey is asked about discussions
he had with the President.
The broadcast stories all
covered the same basic ground, recounting how Willey is a reluctant
witness, explaining how she says Clinton accosted her but he denies it,
how her case is tied into the famous talking points memo (Linda Tripp told
to say she thinks Willey smeared own lipstick and untucked own blouse) and
how Willey charged that big Democratic donor Nathan Landow tried to get
her to change her story.
But the three stories set up
Willey differently, so to give you a flavor of the coverage, here are some
quotes from the March 10 stories:
-- ABC's World News
Tonight. Peter Jennings noted that "a couple of weeks ago
ABC was the first to report that a Democratic fundraiser tried to persuade
Miss Willey not to reveal damaging evidence against he President. The
questions is what did she say today?" (See the March 2 CyberAlert for
Reporter Jackie Judd then
began: "Kathleen Willey was brought to the courthouse by FBI agents.
She is cooperating with Ken Starr's investigation and could support it
on several points. Was there a pattern of trying to influence witnesses
who could prove damaging to the President?"
Judd ran through the Nathan
Landow allegation before moving to the talking points Monica Lewinsky gave
Tripp: "Were there attempts to undermine Willey's credibility by
shaping the testimony of another witness?"
Finally, Judd asked: "Was
the President truthful in his sworn testimony? If Willey sticks to her
account of the Oval Office incident she would be directly at odds with Mr.
Clinton's reported denial of such an encounter. Even today the
President's allies sought to undermine Willey's credibility by
pointing out that a friend said she lied about what happened with Mr.
Clinton. That seems to underscore that until Monica Lewinsky came along,
the White House feared Kathleen Willey more than any other woman when it
came to allegations of sexual misconduct by the President."
And how much did you ever see
or read about her?
-- CBS Evening News.
Scott Pelley opened his story: "Kathleen Willey is a tragic figure
who never wanted any part of this and yet it was her encounter with the
President in 1993 that ultimately led to tody's obstruction of justice
-- NBC Nightly News.
David Bloom began his piece: "Despite all the talk about Monica
Lewinsky, sources say there's only one woman who's testified under
oath that she was the object of an unsolicited sexual advance by the
President, here at the White House..."
Bloom ended by relaying the
White House spin:
"Nathan Landow, the
Democratic donor, claims he did not try to influence Kathleen Willey's
testimony. In fact a friend of Willey's claims she's lying and has
urged others to lie. Said one White House official tonight, at the end of
the day it all adds up to nothing."
Brock was as busy Tuesday as William Ginsburg has been. Brock popped in
for interviews on all three network morning shows, but only ABC's
Charlie Gibson really challenged Brock's premise that reporters should
not explore an elected official's sex life. Instead of letting a
conservative or an American Spectator editor defend the appropriateness of
looking at Clinton's use of state employees or the accuracy of the
magazine's article that Brock wrote and now denounces, Today brought
aboard Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to defend his magazine from Brock's
suggestion it is just as bad as the American Spectator. (See the March 10
CyberAlert for Brock's apology to Clinton published in the April Esquire
First, to give you a flavor of
Brock's disgust with conservatives and how the networks are eating it
up, this exchange from Tuesday's This Morning, a show which normally
avoids politics, as transcribed by MRC analyst Steve Kaminski:
Jane Robelot: "...A lot
of people were saying you were a reporter for the Right; you've
acknowledged this morning that that was your status in 1993. Did the Right
turn on you at some point, maybe after Mrs. Clinton's book, they
weren't exactly happy about the way that turned out?"
David Brock: "Right,
yeah, I don't know that they turned on me but clearly there was a lot of
disappointment in conservative circles."
Robelot: "You weren't
invited to certain parties anymore."
Brock: "That's right
and I've written about how the fallout from the Hillary Clinton book
taught me a lesson about the movement that I was a part of and the lesson
was that I don't think they were all that interested in the truth in the
first place. They were interested in what was politically useful, they
celebrated that when it was working for them, when it wasn't working for
them they really didn't want to anything to do with it anymore. You
know, that was very disillusioning for me...."
On NBC's Today Matt Lauer
first talked to Brock, running through his main points, though he also
asked if Brock was just trying to get back at conservatives for shunning
him. Then Today went to Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. As transcribed by MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens, Alter welcomed Brock's apology for lowering
"Well I don't think
that Newsweek or the rest of the press should take any lessons from David
Brock. But I do think there is some value in this apology because it does
illuminate some larger facts about our times. I think when historians look
back on all this they're gonna be less concerned about all the legal
details of who said what to whom when and more concerned about the way we
drove this truck into the muck. And if David Brock, who helped drive the
truck into the muck wants to help push it out now, great...."
Alter denounced Brock's
charge that Newsweek's Lewinsky coverage matched the American
Spectator's trooper story:
"But I have to tell you
that I'm appalled at the idea of comparing the American Spectator to
Newsweek. You know we were not out rummaging in Bill Clinton's life from
10, 12,15 years ago. We actually held the Monica Lewinsky story for quite
some time until there was evidence of a criminal sting operation against
the President of the United States for possible conduct in the Oval
Office. And that is a news story and it's quite different from the kind
of work that the American Spectator and David Brock were doing a few years
Only Charlie Gibson on ABC's
Good Morning America challenged the foundation of Brock's remorse, MRC
analyst Gene Eliasen observed. After going through why he regrets the
story and how he now is sorry he made Clinton's sex life an issue,
"Well, but is not, David,
is not, is there not a moral component to leadership?"
Gibson followed up with
"Should we not worry about the moral makeup of the person we elect to
lead us?" and, "Then why is this a bad kind of journalism?"
stories about Jim McDougal's passing you may have seen soundbites from
Boston Globe reporter Curtis Wilkie, who was working on a book with
McDougal. Before you assume he'll be rushing to the publisher with an
untold story that will be devastating to Clinton or Democrats, check out
these past bits of "reporting" by Wilkie retrieved from the MRC
-- From a November 15, 1991
Boston Globe story linking David Duke of Louisiana with Ronald Reagan:
"Duke is exploiting the same politics of resentment that Ronald
Reagan mastered. Reagan rose to power as a critic of government waste and
excess, and he regaled audiences during his successful presidential
campaign in 1980 with accounts of a 'welfare queen' who bought vodka
with food stamps. Duke has developed his own constituency with a theme of
'welfare parasites' who are said to use their government checks to buy
drugs and lottery tickets."
-- In an August 18, 1992 Globe
story from the Republican convention: "Bush, the exponent of a
'kinder, gentler' approach to government at the 1988 convention, was
presented with a 1992 platform loaded with puritanical, punitive language
that not only forbade abortions but attacked public television, gun
control, homosexual rights, birth control clinics and the distribution of
clean needles for drug users."
-- The morning after Bill
Clinton's win with 43 percent, Wilkie extrapolated in a front Boston Globe
story: "Bill Clinton called for change, but he never dared ask for a
mandate as sweeping as the one he received last night. The magnitude of
the Democratic triumph was so enormous that it ensures Clinton a strong
alliance with Congress and an incentive to move quickly on his domestic
programs. Clinton marched to victory in state after state."
For those of you buried in snow jealous about yesterday's CyberAlert
report that it hit 72 Monday in the Washington, DC area, this morning the
CyberAlert Weather Center, that's the thermometer outside my back
window, reports a bit chillier temperature: 25 degrees.
-- Brent Baker
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