Economy Rules; Gingrich Ruined Bipartisanship; NBC Goes Left, Fox Right
1) ABC and CBS honed in on
Clinton's stonewalling, but NBC highlighted the good economy while CNN
led: "Clinton finds scandal comes before accomplishments."
2) "Any aura of
bipartisanship in Washington dissolved this week," Katie Couric
judged, when Gingrich asked Clinton to respect the political system.
3) CBS's Mark Knoller
insisted that Clinton decided "not to respond in kind to the vulgar
name-calling" by Dan Burton. But his Press Secretary did respond in
4) NBC's Sunday night movie
will denounce the NRA. Last Sunday Fox's King of the Hill denounced the
CBS, CNN and NBC led Thursday night with the indictment for tax evasion
charges of Webster Hubbell, his wife, his lawyer and his accountant. Then
they went to Clinton's press conference. FNC flipped the order, hitting
the press conference first.
Friday, April 24, The Washington Post reported that the House Government
Reform and Oversight Committee discovered that Hubbell received $700,000
in payments while being pursued for Whitewater testimony in 1994. That's
up $200,000 from the previous estimate of $500,000. None of the broadcast
networks or CNN reported the disclosure last Friday, but all included the
higher figure in their April 30 reports on Hubbell's indictment.)
especially CBS emphasized how Clinton refused to answer questions about
the Lewinsky matter, but NBC stressed Clinton's announcements regarding
the booming economy. CNN devoted more than half of the 8pm ET The World
Today to Hubbell, the press conference and Lewinsky and featured side by
analysts grouching about how Ken Starr's indictment of Hubbell is out of
bounds. (Nightline played audio tapes of Hubbell in prison talking to his
some highlights from the April 30 evening shows:
-- ABC's World News Tonight: Jackie Judd
handled the Hubbell story, noting that the indictment claims he paid
little in taxes on about $1 million in 1994-97 income. "Nothing will
make him betray his friends," Judd intoned leading into a soundbite
of Hubbell saying Starr can indict his or cat or dog, "but I'm not
going to lie about the President" or Hillary Clinton.
concluded: "Prosecutors do clearly hope Hubbell will feel enough
pressure to now reveal why he got all of that financial help, whether it
was about blocking Ken Starr's investigation and obstruction of
Donaldson checked in from the White House: "Peter, the subject was
scandal and politics. Lots of questions, not always lots of answers."
Leading into a clip of his question to Clinton, Donaldson explained:
"At one point the President even declined to say whether he thought
as a general principle Presidents should obey the law."
also noted: "And he came close to agreeing with his wife that there
is a conspiracy working against him."
Clinton: "This has been a hard, well
financed, vigorous effort over a long period of time."
Donaldson showed another soundbite in which Clinton insisted his enemies,
like Newt Gingrich, can't effect his character, before concluding:
a news conference the President had to hold eventually. His aides
convinced him that continued delay would only prolong the agony. But in
light of his failure to answer so many questions, Peter, it is a news
conference he will probably have to hold again."
Evening News: Phil Jones looked at Hubbell:
"Much of Hubbell's income came from
various companies friendly to the Clinton White House and the Democratic
Party. Hubbell allegedly did little or no work for this and there have
been charges that it was hush money."
running Hubbell's soundbite about indicting his dog and how he's
"not going to lie about the President," Jones concluded:
"Investigators believe Web Hubbell knows everything about the
Clinton's Whitewater activity. But Hubbell claims he knows
delivered the toughest story of the night on Clinton's press conference.
Dan Rather declared: "Questions about the Starr investigation came
fast and furious, but not the answers."
asserted: "He took 14 questions on the Monica Lewinsky obstruction of
justice investigation, but he turned almost all of those aside, saying
that he has offered all the explanation he intends to give."
showed the complete exchange between Pelley and Clinton at the press
conference. Pelley's piercing question: "It was suggested at the
beginning of this news conference, sir, that you've answered the questions
about Monica Lewinsky. But respectfully, there has been no explanation for
her dozens of visits to the White House after her employment here ended.
No explanation for the Secret Service concern about her behavior in the
West Wing. No explanation about the extraordinary effort by your secretary
and your closest friends to find her a job. Sir, could you now give us
some better sense of what appears to be an extraordinary relationship that
you had with this woman and fulfill your promise to the American people of
'more rather than less, sooner rather than later'?"
curt retort: "Well, first of all, you have more information than you
did when I said that. And secondly, I have nothing else to say. I have
been -- I have been advised -- and I think it's good advice under the
circumstances, but I just, I just don't have anything else to say about
The World Today at 8pm ET. "Overshadowed by Monica Lewinsky and
Whitewater, President Clinton finds scandal comes before
accomplishments," announced anchor Jim Moret at the top of the show.
Hubbell CNN's John King specifically cited the $100,000 from Revlon
arranged by Vernon Jordan and $62,000 from the Lippo Group.
Blitzer reviewed the press conference, but the only suggestion of
stonewalling came in this one sentence at the end of the piece:
"Despite repeated questions, Mr. Clinton refused to go beyond his
earlier comments on former intern Monica Lewinsky." Previously in the
piece Blitzer noted how Clinton had raised the name of Starr deputy
Hickman Ewing whom, Blitzer added, Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal
"has accused" of "being a religious zealot out to get the
President." Blitzer highlighted Clinton's conspiracy theory and
showcased Clinton's diatribe against his opponents: "Like First
Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Clinton suggested he's the target of a
"This has been a hard, well-financed, vigorous effort over a long
period of time, by people who could not contest the ideas that I brought
to the table, couldn't even contest the values behind the ideas that I
brought to the table, and certainly can't quarrel with the consequences
and the results of my service. And therefore, personal attack seems
Chen then discussed the day's developments with Jeff Greenfield,
followed by a background story on Hubbell delivered by Bob Franken. CNN
legal analyst Greta Van Susteren appeared next and she stressed the
weakness of the indictment.
after a report from Pierre Thomas on Lewinsky's options without the
immunity deal, anchor Joie Chen talked to two analysts, both of whom were
more upset by Starr's crime-fighting than by Hubbell's crime-doing.
Norman Ornstein, resident liberal at the
American Enterprise Institute, charged: "They're using the kinds of
tactics that an Elliot Ness would have used against street criminals and
Mafioso. In this case, not just Webb Hubbell, but his wife, and what seem
to be awfully stretched charges of tax evasion. I'm not sure people are
going to see that as a legitimate use of prosecutorial power."
From Los Angeles, Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe,
identified only a "political analyst," agreed: "Out here it
looks a little bit more like the mad tea party. This is crazy....It is a
bunch of people running around after one another on bizarre charges.
People out here, people outside the beltway are focused on far different
things. This is complex; this is eyes glazed over. And perhaps, more
importantly, this is a charge that's leveled against someone for, sort of
cutting corners around the IRS, at the same time that the Republicans in
Congress are going after the IRS."
Fox Report at 7pm ET began with Wendell Goler on the news conference and
how Clinton "may never say more about his relationship with the
former intern." Summarizing Pelley's question, Goler relayed that
Clinton "wasn't swayed by a reminder that he promised in January
more information rather than less, sooner rather than later." Next,
David Shuster gave a run down of the Hubbell story.
Nightly News began with Lisa Myers: "Showing just how far he's
willing to go to get evidence against the Clinton, the Independent Counsel
indicted not only Hubbell but also his wife Suzie for tax evasion and
Myers' story Brokaw introduced a piece on the press conference, but he
took his time getting there, putting the emphasis on the good economy, not
his part President Clinton today held a nationally televised news
conference before the Hubbell indictment was announced. He opened with
today's news on the continuing growth of the American economy. And today
there were more signs of tremendous growth, no signs of inflation. The
gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of the economy's strength,
up an impressive 4.2 percent for the first quarter. At the same time
inflation is holding at its lowest level in 35 years. As a result, the Dow
was up almost 112 points in very heavy trading, the NASDAQ gained almost
17 points. However, as NBC's Claire Shipman reports tonight, the news
conference was not all economy all the time."
illustrating Clinton's obtuseness by showing an exchange, she just ran
two brief clips of Clinton: "I have nothing else to say" and
"I just don't have anything else to say about that." She then
ran a clip of him defending his character, said he "offered
occasional flashes of anger at Ken Starr" and ran down his points on
some non-scandal topics before stating: "And he insisted that he can
rise above recent attacks by Newt Gingrich." Shipman concluded:
"Now, what we saw today was yet
another illustration of the current White House strategy: avoid the
allegations, stick to the high road. Many think it's working well, but
as Ken Starr continues to reveal his hand the investigation may become
harder to ignore."
Yes, it's working because networks like
NBC play along.
the day, on MSNBC just after the press conference ended, Brokaw
telegraphed how Nightly News would handle the event a few hours later. He
was concerned that his colleagues gave too much emphasis to the Monica
mess, asking Shipman to react to this thesis:
"At least he did acknowledge the presence of network correspondents
this time Claire. In the last news conference he pretty much avoided all
of you. Most of the questions that did come from what we would call the
prominent members of the White House press corps had to do with the
Lewinsky scandal. Is there a possibility that he is only building more
political capital by letting you ask those questions, batting them away
and the American public beginning to say there is a kind of obsession with
in doubt, blame Newt. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this on
Wednesday's Today (April 29) from Katie Couric. She told Tim Russert:
"Tim, as you know any aura of bipartisanship in Washington dissolved
this week when Newt Gingrich had this to say about the President and Ken
Starr's other investigation involving Monica Lewinsky. Let's
Viewers saw two clips of Gingrich. First:
"If he doesn't want to fire Ken Starr he should tell his staff to
shut up." Second, "This is the heart of America. This is what
the Constitution means. This is what Richard Nixon had to resign over. No
person in America is above the rule of law."
outrageous observations. Russert explained the immediate cause of
Gingrich's anger: Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight
Committee refused to grant immunity to four fundraising witnesses even
though the Justice Department approved. Coverage of this April 23
committee action: zilch on any of the networks that night or the next
morning. But the morning of the partisan vote Today featured a story on
Democrats upset by Chairman Dan Burton calling Clinton a
partisan actions get more attention than others.
of people condemning Burton's remark, MRC news analyst Clay Waters
noticed a distorted report filed by CBS Radio reporter Mark Knoller. In
his weekly appearance on the CBS show Saturday Morning on April 25 he
"In an interview this week, Republican
Congressman Dan Burton referred to the President, as a, quote,
'scumbag.' It sent the incivility index in Washington to a new low.
But the President made a strategic decision not to respond in kind to the
played this soundbite from Clinton: "A President can not repair the
breaches in a country, cannot unify a country, and cannot lift its vision
if he takes personally personal assaults."
He just has
his henchmen do the name-calling for him. Contrary to Knoller's
assurance that the White House is better than Republicans, on April 23
Press Secretary Mike McCurry issued this slam on Burton: "The use of
a two syllable vulgarity by the Chairman was rather ambitious."
entertainment update: NBC's upcoming liberal crusading movie and a
Sunday night series on Fox featured a plot that could have been written by
the Cato Institute.
Sunday night, May 3, at 9pm ET/PT NBC will broadcast "The Long Island
Incident," a made-for-TV movie about the commuter rail shooting that
propelled Democrat Carolyn McCarthy into the House of Representatives. Her
husband was murdered in the 1993 tragedy. Liberal Clinton buddy and
financier Barbra Streisand is among the Executive Producers.
In his April
7 Daily Variety column Army Archerd reported: "The NBC TV movie
attacks the NRA and what the show calls the NRA's 'fraudulent'
claims of gun protection under the Second Amendment."
elaborated in the column caught by MRC entertainment analyst Melissa
"A lobbyist in the movie states,
'Did you know that former Chief Justice Burger called the NRA's
misrepresentation of the Second Amendment one of the greatest pieces of
fraud on the American public by special interest groups that he'd ever
seen -- the Second Amendment has never been about the right of an
individual to bear arms! It's about the right to arm a militia. A
The movie cites real names of those on the
wrong side, such as Bob Dole. Archerd added that "Streisand 'went
out of her way' to get this idea pitched to NBC."
about the political purpose of the movie. As MRC entertainment analyst Tom
Johnson noticed in reading the May 2 TV Guide, actress Laurie Metcalf who
plays Carolyn McCarthy in the movie and was a star of
"Roseanne," told the magazine: "I want to help Carolyn
reach a bigger audience with her message of gun control."
Sunday night, April 26, Mike Judge, creator of Fox's "King of the
Hill" and a self proclaimed "social conservative" (People,
April 26) took on the Americans with Disabilities Act, illustrating how
easily it is abused. The animated comedy series airs at 8:30pm ET/PT and
revolves around the life in a Texas town of Hank Hill, a propane
distributor, his wife Peggy and early teen-age son Bobby. It often
reflects small town values and disdain for liberal culture, but this
episode was more overtly political than usual.
Caldwell wrote up this show summary based on the database input of Tom
In the episode, Hank hires Leon for a job,
not realizing at the time that Leon is an irresponsible, unreliable drug
addict. Because Leon's addiction qualifies him under the ADA as
disabled, he can't be fired. In one scene this exchange occurs between a
fellow employee and Hank Hill after Hill has fired Leon:
Anthony: "You have to rehire this man,
Mr. Hill. Legally, drug addiction is a disability, and now that Leon's in
rehab, the law prohibits you from firing him."
Hank: "Rehab? Since when?"
Leon: "Since 4:30 yesterday afternoon,
and I wasn't officially fired till 5."
Anthony, posting a document: "This is
the Americans With Disabilities Act. It ensures that no person, no matter
how disadvantaged, how short, or obese, or blind, or gay, or even stoned
can be discriminated against once his healing has begun."
employees claim to suffer from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, obsessive
compulsive disorder, "yuppie flu", priapism, bloating, and
uncontrollable anger so they can get out of doing their work as well.
Hank becomes enraged and declares to a
fellow employee: "That's right, Anthony. You see, I recently came to
realize that I too suffer from a disability. It's called GWS, Good Worker
Syndrome. I get sick to my stomach unless everyone around me is givin' 110
percent. The symptoms include pride, responsibility, and a feverish
enthusiasm. It used to be a common condition among Americans."
Anthony, another "disability" sufferer, responds "People
like you who abuse the system ruin it for the rest of us, the truly
disabled" as he holds up his left hand, on which he wears a glove
indicating he has carpal tunnel syndrome.
Fed up with the attitude in the office, and
frustrated over not being able to have Leon fired, Hank resigns from his
job so that the company will have fewer than fifteen employees, and
therefore no longer be subject to ADA regulations. As he leaves, he tells
his employer: "With me gone, you're down to fourteen employees, and
that makes this your business, not the government's."
In the same episode, Judge also criticized
the welfare state. Interviewing applicants for a job opening, Hank asks
one elderly man about some gaps in his resume. The applicant responds
"'33 to '45, FDR was in the White House, so I was on the
welfare... And in the '60's, you had Kennedy and LBJ, so I was on the
welfare, and then from '77 to '81, Jimmy Carter, so I was on the
Finally, a tip for the most bizarre TV video of the weekend: Friday night
and Sunday night Dateline NBC will be showing the new BBC documentary on
OJ Simpson featuring OJ flailing a banana, as if it were a knife, toward
the neck of the female reporter as he utters a menacing laugh.
-- Brent Baker
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