Sex Assault in '78 "Unsubstantiated"; Breast-Rubbing Squeezed Out
1) ABC and CBS relayed the
White House spin disparaging the Jones charge that Clinton assaulted a
woman in 1978, but NBC's Lisa Myers acted like a reporter, offering
details and a witness account.
2) Who simulates oral sex,
jokes about sex with animals, and after 40 minutes won't give up rubbing
a woman's breast as his wife sleeps nearby? The President, according to
a flight attendant's recollections the networks have yet to pick up.
3) "Clinton and Mandela:
Paying Mutual Homage," announced a Washington Post headline. But
other papers offered a contrasting take.
The networks all ran stories Saturday and Sunday night about the Paula
Jones court filing complaining about how the Clinton team suppressed the
Willey letters and citing a woman who Clinton supposedly assaulted in
On Saturday night NBC's Lisa Myers took
the assault charge seriously, detailing how the incident became public,
citing the woman's name and running soundbites from the man whose
knowledge the Jones lawyers cited. She even added supporting evidence from
another contemporary witness. ABC, in contrast, referred to the woman only
as "Jane Doe #5" as Linda Douglass emphasized the lack of
credibility of those making the charge, dismissing them as Clinton
enemies. Sunday night ABC again punctuated the weakness of the charge
instead of exploring it as CBS also framed the story around White House
On Friday night none of the broadcast
networks or CNN's The World Today mentioned any aspect of a Clinton
scandal. Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for the fourth, fifth and sixth
nights in a row, the broadcast networks led with Jonesboro. Each also
featured full reports on Clinton's trip to Africa.
Here are some noteworthy highlights from
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights:
-- Friday, March 27. Reporting on
Clinton's visit to Mandela's Robben Island prison cell Sam Donaldson
observed on ABC's World News Tonight: "Rarely does
the President of the United States find himself overshadowed by someone
else, but Mr. Clinton seemed not to mind today. In fact he was clearly
awed and moved by Mandela's story and presence. A great power is one
thing, a great human being is quite another."
On the CBS Evening News
reporter Scott Pelley told viewers:
"Mandela made a point of embracing
Cuba, Libya and Iran, calling them friends who helped in his darkest
Mandela: "The United States as the
leader of the world should set an example and one of the best ways of
doing so is to call upon its enemies to say let's sit down and talk
Pelley: "Even if he couldn't agree,
the world's most powerful leader was clearly humbled by a man whose
courage made his people free."
-- Saturday, March 28. (NCAA basketball
meant no CBS Evening News.)
On ABC's World News Tonight
Saturday anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced:
"A court document filed for lawyers
for Paula Jones is making news today. It was filed after the President's
lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the case. The documents from Jones's
lawyers contain new allegations which show just how ugly this case is
Reporter Linda Douglass explained how the
Jones team accused Clinton of perjury, obstruction of justice and
suppression of evidence for denying in response to a subpoena that the
White House had any correspondence related to Kathleen Willey and then
releasing letters immediately after the 60 Minutes interview.
Douglass proceeded to the "ugly"
charge: "But Jones's lawyers didn't stop at obstruction of
justice. They also claim to have 'significant evidence' which suggests
Mr. Clinton 'sexually assaulted' a woman, Jane Doe #5, twenty years
ago. But the main evidence they produced was a second-hand account from a
man named Phil Yoakum, who says in a letter that Jane Doe #5 told him
about the alleged assault. Yoakum says his account can be corroborated by
Sheffield Nelson, a Republican who is Mr. Clinton's arch-enemy in
Arkansas. Legal sources tell ABC News that Jane Doe #5 told Jones' lawyers
under oath that the incident did not happen, but the lawyers did not
include her denial in their court papers today. The President's lawyer
called the Jane Doe #5 allegations 'reckless and outrageous,' a sign
he said that Jones's lawyers are becoming desperate. The judge in the
Jones case is expected to rule on the President's motion to dismiss the
case in the next several weeks."
NBC's Lisa Myers provided a more complete
overview of the charge so viewers could decide for themselves its
credibility. On NBC Nightly News she began: "The
explosive new allegation tonight is that President Clinton sexually
assaulted a woman twenty years ago in Arkansas..."
After noting that Clinton was Attorney
General at the time he supposedly forced himself upon campaign worker
Juanita Broaddrick, Myers relayed: "In court documents today
Jones's lawyers claim Clinton quote 'forcible raped and sexually
assaulted' then quote 'bribed and intimidated her' to remain
Broaddrick has denied the charge under
oath, Myers noted, before continuing: "NBC News has talked to four
people from Arkansas who say Broaddrick told them of such an assault years
Specifically, she told Phillip Yoakum.
"In an interview with NBC News Yoakum
said Broaddrick told him that Clinton invited himself to her hotel room,
allegedly to discuss her nursing home business. She told you in 1981 that
Bill Clinton assaulted her?"
Yoakum: "Yes, 1981 is when she told
Myers: "Did you believe her at the
Yoakum: "I believed her."
Myers: "Yoakum admits he is no fan of
the President and that he unsuccessfully tried to get Broaddrick to
publicly tell her story when Bill Clinton first ran for President."
Yoakum: "And she says who would
Myers: "There was another woman at
that hotel that day, a nurse and friend of Broaddrick who says she iced
her friend's face after the alleged assault. In a telephone interview
with NBC News, this woman, who admits she dislikes Clinton, said
Broaddrick was 'distraught,' her 'lips were swollen, at least double
in size.' She told me they had 'intercourse against her will.'"
-- Sunday, March 29. ABC and NBC only gave
the assault charge a couple of sentences while CBS, which did not have a
Saturday newscast, gave it a bit more time:
ABC's World News Tonight Sunday.
In the second half of a story which began with how Republicans attacked
Clinton for failing to release the Willey letters when subpoenaed,
Mike Von Fremd delivered this one sentence
on the assault charge, an introduction to a soundbite from Senator Robert
Torricelli: "...The White House and other Democrats also denounced
the Jones lawyers for making public an unsubstantiated twenty year-old
allegation of sexual assault that even the woman in question denied under
Following Torricelli Von Fremd concluded:
"Despite the White House outrage Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr
this past week subpoenaed more documents from Paula Jones's attorneys
related to the most recent allegations of improper sexual conduct by Mr.
On the CBS Evening News
reporter Sharyl Attkisson first went to the "gross suppression of
evidence" charged by Jones. Then she jumped to the assault charge,
but she provided none of the details relayed by NBC and led with White
House denials instead of explaining the allegation:
"...The White House describes as
outrageous and false other allegations in the new Jones documents --
unsubstantiated claims that Bill Clinton raped a woman back in 1978 when
he was Arkansas's Attorney General, then suppressed her story through
bribes and/or threats. Outraged Clinton defenders say the woman is on the
record denying that it ever happened."
After a soundbite from Torricelli,
Attkisson delivered this less than definitive conclusion:
"And adding to the confusion, when we
asked the woman's attorney about the rape allegation he told CBS News,
quote 'we do not deny it, we do not admit it. People will have to judge
this kind of crock on their own,' end quote. But with overlapping
investigations and sealed documents that will be hard to do."
In a NBC Nightly News
story on reaction to the Willey letters controversy John Palmer gave a
sentence to how White House aide Rahm Emanuel denied the sexual assault
charge of a 1978 assault got some coverage over the weekend, but not the
story in this week's Star magazine about how Clinton groped a flight
attendant, among other things, simulated oral sex, during the 1992
As a public service made possible by the
New York Daily News and New York Post, here's what Christy Zercher says
in the new Star:
-- From Friday's New York Daily
"A former flight attendant on Bill
Clinton's 1991-92 campaign plane claims in a paid interview with a
supermarket tabloid that Clinton fondled her on the jet while his wife
slept a few feet away.
"Cristy Zercher told the Star magazine
that the future President also barraged the flight attendants with rude
gestures and crude sexual jokes about barnyard animals...."
"Zercher said she was shocked by
Clinton's alleged behavior, which she charged started in late 1991 as his
campaign got under way and he first met her and the two other attendants
on the jetliner. 'His immediate reaction was, 'Wow, this is great!
What'd they do, go out and hire models?' Zercher claimed.
"Clinton's behavior got more lewd and
crude, and by the end of the campaign was so bad, 'if he'd been a
passenger on a commercial plane, or even a regular charter, under FAA
rules he would have been prosecuted or fined,' she said.
"Zercher said that on an overnight
flight from New York to California, Clinton began rubbing her left breast
and asking her intimate questions about her two failed marriages while
Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.
"Zercher said the groping went on for
about 40 minutes before another flight attendant, Debra Schiff, told
Clinton, 'I really think you'd be more comfortable in your chair,' and
Schiff got a White House job and now works
in the State Department's protocol office. She's the woman arm in arm
and arm to thigh with Clinton in the video available on the MRC's Web
In Friday's New York Post,
Deborah Orin relayed some other claims made by Zercher, such as how
"Bear-hugged her from behind, grabbed
her breast and asked: 'How's that?'
"Stood in the plane's bathroom with
his pants unzipped and invited her to 'come on in and shut the door.'
"Simulated oral sex every time he was
brought tea with honey for a sore throat -- by stirring it with his little
finger, then moving his finger suggestively in and out of his mouth and
saying: 'Um, um, good.'
"Barraged her with graphic sex talk
including tales of a 'really close' friend who liked sex with barnyard
animals and was being divorced by his wife. She said he asked her: 'How
are you going to compete with that?'
"Kept trying to get the three blonde
flight attendants on the plane to stay at the same hotel as he did.
Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey reportedly made sure it didn't happen.
"Was thrilled when the flight
attendants bought the 1992 Star magazine report in which Gennifer Flowers
claimed she'd had an affair with Clinton. 'He loved it that we were
reading it,' Zercher said. 'He said, 'I don't have time now, but,
later tonight, all of us can sit down and read it together' -- and
pressed them to tell him what they thought was 'the best part' of
Flowers' explicit account. One attendant singled out Flowers' claim that
Clinton was good at giving oral sex and Clinton replied: 'That's pretty
accurate. It's one of my favorite things,' Zercher said...."
Sounds like the inspiration for Primary
Colors that he was.
The Washington Post is sure out of sync with the rest of
America's newspapers. Saturday morning Post readers were greeted with
this headline: "Clinton and Mandela: Paying Mutual
Compare that to the assessments provided by
several other newspapers on March 28 that I bought or found on the Web:
Washington Times --
"Mandela Lectures Clinton on Peace: Says U.S. Should Reach Out to
Iran, Libya, Other Foes."
over an AP story -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton: U.S. Exhorted to
Embrace Iraq, Cuba, Iran."
Los Angeles Times --
"Mandela Gives Clinton a Lecture on Libya, Cuba."
Boston Globe --
"Mandela Lectures Clinton on Peace: Backs Cuba, Libya, Iran; Calls
for Conciliatory U.S."
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram,
over a Knight-Ridder story -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton on
The New York Times offered
a headline that partially agreed with the Post but also led with
Mandela's criticism -- "From Mandela, a Gentle Admonishment: He
Praises Clinton, But Urges That U.S. Reach Out to Foes."
It's not just conservatives who say
you can't trust the Post. The contrasting headlines show that on one day
at least neither did their journalistic colleagues.
-- Brent Baker
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