Shooting Shows Need for Gun Control; Top 10 Post-Impeachment Plans
1) CNN's Greta Van Susteren
urged Clinton to defy the subpoena. Clinton wants to delay testimony,
making Peter Jennings wonder how much time it takes to "prepare"
2) If we made it harder to get
guns, CBS's Bob Schieffer argued, we wouldn't need so many barricades
3) "The Republican Party
leadership talks about its big tent...But is there room for diverse
opinions on sensitive social issues?" asked CBS News in concentrating
on the GOP's abortion rift.
4) Letterman's "Top Ten
Bill Clinton Post-Impeachment Plans." Plus nine more that didn't
make the cut for Monday's show.
The triple whammy to hit Clinton led every evening show Monday night
followed by the latest on the Capitol shooting. ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC
all ran through the same basic facts: how at a secret location in New York
City Monica Lewinsky, for the first time, talked directly with Starr
staffers; how a federal appeals court, citing his role as a
government-paid lawyer, had rejected the attorney-client privilege claim
made by Bruce Lindsey; and how though Clinton will not have to appear
Tuesday before the grand jury, he has been subpoenaed so his lawyers are
trying to work out an arrangement.
Though they all
agreed on those basic facts, each network offered a distinctive fact or
spin. ABC's Sam Donaldson revealed that Clinton's lawyers want to
delay testimony until September, a bit of information also relayed later
by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Starr's team has agreed to allow Clinton to
avoid the grand jury and give a videotaped deposition in the White House,
FNC's David Shuster asserted. NBC's Lisa Myers concluded that
Starr's office has already written much of its report which details
"substantial and credible evidence of possible impeachable offenses
by the President."
acting as Clinton's defense lawyer in the guise of analysis for The
World Today, CNN's Greta Van Susteren urged Clinton to defy the subpoena
and declared that Lewinsky "would be easy to destroy in terms of
credibility. But, unfortunately, in this particular case you can't look at
just from a legal standpoint. There are huge political
Here are some
Monicagate highlights from the Monday, July 27, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led with Jackie Judd's run down of Lewinsky and Lindsey.
From Albuquerque Sam Donaldson reported that Clinton's lawyers will
argue that his testimony should be put off to September to accommodate
planned trips and his vacation: "So they will say we'd like
to do it in September because we need time to prepare. This is a very
That prompted anchor Peter Jennings to wonder:
"Well this may be a cynical approach Sam, but how much preparation do
they think would be required to tell the truth as the President said he
wanted to at the very beginning?"
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather began: "Good evening. Monica Lewinsky is talking --
a lot. The woman at the center of the criminal investigation of President
Clinton finally met today with prosecutor Ken Starr's
investigators..." Scott Pelley, in Albuquerque, asserted that
Lewinsky still may get full immunity if Starr is satisfied with her
answers. Amongst the questions, "Prosecutors are asking whether the
President encouraged Lewinsky to deny an affair. Lewinsky has said on an
FBI recording that he did..."
Following Pelley, reporter Bill Plante back in DC
ran through the court ruling on Lindsey.
-- CNN's The
World Today opened with a live North Lawn standup from Wolf Blitzer with
what he dubbed "new information." Specifically, that Lewinsky
said she and Clinton had a sexual relationship but she's not willing to
say he urged to lie about it. Blitzer suggested that Clinton wants to
delay his testimony until September so he can be the last witness and
avoid a "perjury trap." Next, Bob Franken looked at Lindsey
followed by analysis from Greta Van Susteren and a piece from John King on
the political implications and how top Democrats say they won't support
a fight over the subpoena.
Now, back to
Susteren. Here's what the CNN legal analyst told anchor Jim Moret about
the threat Lewinsky posed to Clinton:
"Well, you know, it's too bad we can't just
look at it in a legal vacuum, Jim, because if this were the only evidence
being hurdled in the direction of the President, the President wouldn't
have any particular problem. Because, frankly, Monica Lewinsky is the
dream of anyone who's ever cross examined a witness on the witness stand.
Apparently, on the tape she has bragged about lying; she's made a
statement under oath in a written affidavit, saying she never had a sexual
relationship. She would be easy to destroy in terms of credibility. But,
unfortunately, in this particular case you can't look at just from a legal
standpoint. There are huge political ramifications.
Moret: "Well, Greta, hasn't she, in essence
according to Wolf's report, admitted perjury, and if so that's what your
talking about as far as the credibility being injured, but what does it do
as far as potentially pressuring the President to testify before the grand
jury, or in some other capacity?"
Van Susteren: "Frankly, I think it would put
pressure on the President not to testify. I simply do not understand why
the President would agree to testify. The grand jury apparently has
subpoenaed him, but I would push it to a constitutional showdown for the
simple reason: these are unchartered waters. The Supreme Court has never
spoken, as to whether a sitting President can be compelled to testify
before a federal grand jury. So rather than leave us in sort of a legal
limb, why not take it through the court system, let the Supreme Court
review all the facts, all the evidence and make a determination whether or
not the Separation of Powers doctrine bars a sitting President from having
to answer to the subpoena."
-- FNC's Fox
Report at 7pm ET. David Shuster announced: "Fox News has learned
Starr's backing away from the request that President Clinton show up at
the grand jury in person. Instead, according to sources, prosecutors are
willing to accept a possible videotaped deposition at the White
House..." Shuster added that if Clinton and Starr cannot come to an
agreement, Starr will not press the issue and will instead just include
Clinton's refusal to answer questions in his report to Congress.
-- NBC Nightly
News. Anchor Brian Williams declared: "Suddenly, and seemingly out
nowhere, there are rapid and major developments to report tonight on the
investigation into the President..."
Lisa Myers relayed that "a source outside
Starr's office says Lewinsky told prosecutors that she did indeed have a
sexual relationship with the President. That would contradict her original
affidavit denying such a relationship. It would also cast doubt on sworn
statements by the President."
Myers concluded: "Tonight Starr seems to be
building toward a grand finale around Labor Day. So far no official
decision on a report to Congress, but NBC News has learned that at least
300 pages of that report have already been drafted, finding substantial
and credible evidence of possible impeachable offenses by the
From the White
House Claire Shipman offered an update on negotiations over testimony,
reporting: "Sources say if no deal is reached the White House would
likely try to paint Starr as an out of control prosecutor and fight the
subpoena on constitutional grounds."
In the July 27 CyberAlert I expressed pleasant surprise that the networks
had refrained from using the Capitol shooting as a peg to push gun
control. I spoke too soon. I saw Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, This
Week and Late Edition. But I missed Face the Nation and as a couple of
CyberAlert readers and MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Face the
Nation host Bob Schieffer used his final thoughts segment to sermonize
about how the shooting demonstrates the need for more gun control.
So, from the July
26 Face the Nation, Schieffer's commentary as transcribed by Jessica:
"Finally today, guns don't kill people,
people kill people. That little slogan from the gun lobby kept running
through my mind when I heard that those Capitol policemen had died. It
made me wonder what might have happened if the deranged man who shot them
had walked into the Capitol with another kind of weapon, say a baseball
bat, or a hammer, or even a knife. My guess is not much would have
happened. When a man is wielding a baseball bat, people notice. He might
strike one person, but before he could swing at another, people would
scream, or duck, or run. But you don't notice a man with a gun in his
pocket until it's too late, even in a building like the Capitol, where
they have metal detectors, and you can't outrun a bullet.
"Maybe it's not guns that kill people, but
in this case, it's hard to see how a deranged ne'er-do-well could have
killed 2 police officers and wounded a bystander without a gun. Already
there's talk, you heard it here this morning, about more security for
the Capitol. But if we face up to the hard fact that there are a lot of
deranged people out there, and that we need to make it harder for them to
get guns, then perhaps we wouldn't need more security around our
national shrines. As it is, there are so many barricades, and fences, and
police around the White House now, it's beginning to look like the home
of some banana republic dictator. It shouldn't be that way in a
The Republican Party leadership asked a black former Congressman to
address a meeting and suggest how the party could attract black voters.
Instead of the positive story they wanted the GOP move simply provided CBS
with another hook for a story on the party's intolerance.
CBS Evening News, reporter Jeffrey Kofman showed former U.S. Rep. Floyd
Flake addressing a national RNC meeting in New York. Kofman asserted:
"And so the Republican Party leadership
talks about its big tent, meaning there's room for diversity. But is
there room for diverse opinions on sensitive social issues? Some
Republicans aren't so sure, like Tim Lambert, an RNC member from Texas.
He led the campaign last January to cut off funding to any Republican
candidate who supports late term abortions. The move was defeated, but the
After Lambert explained that anybody can be a
Republican but extremists who support partial-birth abortions are not in
the mainstream, Kofman continued: "New Jersey Governor Christine Todd
Whitman is one of those moderate Republicans conservatives like Lambert
have attacked. As Whitman sees it Republicans should be emphasizing
education and economic issues."
Someday it would
be nice to see a network story on how the GOP "moderates" show
intolerance toward conservatives or whether there is room in the
Democratic Party for those who stray from the feminist-left line on
From the July 27 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Bill
Clinton Post-Impeachment Plans." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants
10. Spend more quality time with Chelsea
and her 13 half-brothers and sisters.
9. A tour of the nation's prisons to improve conditions, visit friends.
8. Step one: appear on "Oprah." Step two: hug Oprah. Step three:
all is forgiven.
7. Attend UFO conventions, show off preserved bodies of aliens he smuggled
out of the Pentagon.
6. Write book: "The American Presidency: An Oral History."
5. Buy a Hooters franchise.
4. Buy a Burger King franchise.
3. Buy a Hooters franchise.
2. Come to grips with the fact that regular people just can't go around
dropping their pants.
1. Trash the dump before Gore moves in.
The Late Show page
on the cbs.com Web site now features "the extra jokes that didn't
quite make it into the Top Ten." Here are my favorites of the 20 or
so listed, all under the category of "Top Ten Bill Clinton
-- Catch up on eight-year stack of
-- Search for new outlet to best utilize well developed lying and cheating
-- Continue his work counseling interns.
-- Start eating vanilla cake frosting right out of the can.
-- Stop using fake names in all those personal ads.
-- A crateful of Quarter Pounders, a keg of Bud, the wait staff from
Hooters, and the greatest last-ride ever on Air Force One.
-- Writing his autobiography: "The American People Can Kiss My Fat,
-- Get to know those Gore girls better.
-- Take little Buddy out three times a day -- also walk the dog.
To the extent that
the topics of Letterman's Top Lists reflect what his staff believe a
wide national audience knows enough or cares enough about to understand,
Monday's list might be a sign that public interest in Monicagate is on
the upswing after a couple of months when many tuned out. This is the
first Monicagate-related Top Ten list from Letterman since the "Top
Ten Other Executive Privileges" on June 4. -- Brent Baker
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