DNA Dress; Rivera "Deeply Ashamed" About Treatment of Clinton
1) ABC learned the
semen-stained dress really exists; Dan Rather tagged Starr as a
Republican; CNN's Jim Moret was upset by Tripp's failure to note her
surreptitious taping; CNN & NBC recalled how Clinton's advice to
Lewinsky matches what he told Flowers.
2) We should be
"ashamed" of how we treated "the most maligned and
assailed" President ever, Geraldo Rivera insisted on Today. No wonder
the White House extended a favor to the "open-minded" reporter.
3) ABC News broadcast a
remarkably positive story on Clarence Thomas's address before a hostile
liberal group: "Today's deeply personal speech may mark his
4) Letterman's "Top Ten
Things on Clinton's To Do List."
Monicagate developments were big news again Wednesday night, with the
decision by Clinton to testify on August 17 leading all the evening
network shows. ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all showed a clip of Clinton
lawyer David Kendall making the announcement in the White House driveway,
all explained how Clinton will provide his answers during a videotaped
session at the White House with his lawyer present and all pointed out
that the Clinton decision followed a meeting Tuesday night in which Judge
Norma Johnson made clear she did not see any reason to delay the testimony
In some form, all
the networks explained that Starr is focusing on the return of the gifts
to Betty Currie and how even if Clinton did not explicitly ask Lewinsky to
lie, he offered suggestions and hypothetical ideas on how to avoid telling
anyone about their relationship. Clinton's supposed suggestion to
Lewinsky that if both issue denials no one can prove otherwise reminded
CNN's John King and NBC's Lisa Myers of what Clinton told Gennifer
Flowers. Both played a clip of the tape she released back in 1992 of
Clinton telling her to lie.
CNN and FNC ran
virtually the entirety of Linda Tripp's statement, CBS and NBC featured
stories on her, but ABC gave her just a few seconds.
The semen-stained dress is back in action.
ABC's Jackie Judd, who was ridiculed by Steven Brill for a January 23
story on the existence of the dress, reported Wednesday night that
Lewinsky saved it with its forensic evidence and has agreed to turn it in
to Starr's office.
Here are some
highlights and a rundown of how each network handled the latest scandal
developments Wednesday night, July 29:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Charlie Gibson opened the show: "After six
months, it certainly seems like everything is happening at once in the
Monica Lewinsky investigation..."
Sam Donaldson summarized the Clinton decision to
testify, emphasizing how the judge wanted testimony by mid-August, so
"this was sort of like a shotgun marriage and the stern parent was
Next, Jackie Judd delivered the exclusive of the
night: "Legal sources tell ABC News that as part of the
immunity deal with prosecutors Monica Lewinsky agreed to turn over
evidence she claimed would back up her story that she had a sexual
relationship with the President. The sources confirm that one piece of
evidence is in fact the dress Lewinsky said she saved after an encounter
with Mr. Clinton because it had a semen stain on it. Lewinsky's claim of
the dress's existence was first reported by ABC News six months ago. The
dress may provide Starr with forensic evidence of a relationship."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather went back to his
old policy, which he had abandoned for a few weeks, of tagging Starr with
the partisan "Republican" label:
"Good evening. It is unprecedented. For the
first time a sitting President of the United States will give grand jury
testimony in a criminal investigation and one in which he himself may be a
target. Faced with a subpoena from Republican special prosecutor Kenneth
Starr, the President agreed today to testify in the Monica Lewinsky case
next month, on videotape, in the White House."
looked at the White House decision and how the investigation is now
"centering" on Clinton's help with hiding the gifts. Next,
Bill Plante relayed Tripp's comments, beginning his piece: "A
visibly shaken Linda Tripp came out of the courthouse and talked to
reporters for the first time, insisting that she had never asked to be in
Dan Rather then
asked Kristin Jeannette-Myers to explain the advantages for Clinton of the
arrangement he agreed to for his testimony and from Capitol Hill Bob
Schieffer provided congressional reaction. He found Democrats
"getting the shivers about" Lewinsky's immunity "because
they know prosecutors rarely grant total immunity to any witness unless
they believe that witness can dramatically help their case. So the
Democrats here are left to wonder what has Monica Lewinsky told the
independent counsel that was good enough to get her total immunity."
-- CNN's The World Today opened with 18 minutes
straight, without an ad break, on the Monicagate developments.
First, Wolf Blitzer reviewed the Clinton
testimony decision and how Starr is focusing on December 28 and whether
Clinton's comments encouraging her to offer misleading answers and
suggestion she return gifts to Currie are solid enough to constitute
obstruction of justice. Catching up with the Tuesday report from NBC's
Lisa Myers he ended by noting that Lewinsky will turn over answering
machine tapes featuring Clinton's voice.
Second, John King
reported that while his testimony is "voluntary," the White
House agreed only after Starr's subpoena "shattered the
President's six month strategy of silence."
Third, Bob Franken set up Tripp's statement and
then took three minutes and 40 seconds to play them in their entirety.
Afterwards, anchor Jim Moret challenged Franken:
"Bob, Linda Tripp seemed to try to cast
herself as a victim in this case, almost an unwilling participant. No
mention of those 20 hours of tapes that she surreptitiously recorded with
Monica Lewinsky. Is that curious from your perspective?"
Fourth, John King
filed a second story, this time on Lewinsky and the impact of her changed
story: "The new star witness in the investigation of the President
could have a giant credibility problem."
King also acknowledged that "Lewinsky isn't
the only one with a credibility problem. Polls show a majority of
Americans believe the President had an affair with the former White House
intern, Lewinsky, despite his forceful denial. And privately, a few
longtime Clinton advisers admit an eerie sense of deja vu. Flashback to
January 1992, Gennifer Flowers alleging an affair with then-Governor
Clinton in taped played by Flowers in January
1992: "If they ever hit you with this, just say no and go on. There's
nothing they can do. But I just think that if everybody is on record
denying it, you've got no problem."
King: "Sources say Lewinsky is telling
prosecutors that President Clinton told her to do much the same: that if
they both denied an affair, no one could prove it. Now the President is
preparing his side of the story under oath."
Randall examined congressional reaction before CNN's last story, Bruce
Morton on how this scandal has hurt the President and the political
system. After soundbites from Senators Hatch and Leahy on how the scrutiny
is making good people avoid government service, Morton concluded:
"We've been reminded this week that there are government workers
willing to die for, yes, the government. But it is also true that if good
people leave government, we'll be governed by worse people and governed
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. Jim Angle handled
the Clinton testimony, David Shuster played some clips of Tripp and looked
at Starr's probe of what Clinton told Lewinsky and then co-anchor
Catherine Crier talked with U.S. Rep. James Rogan of the Judiciary
Committee. Later, FNC played Tripp's nearly four-minute-long statement.
-- NBC Nightly News. Up first, Claire Shipman
dealt with Clinton's decision to testify.
Next, Lisa Myers began her piece on Tripp:
"After six months of silence, eight days before the grand jury and
painful public scorn, an emotional Linda Tripp finally broke her
silence." After some Tripp soundbites, Myers switched topics:
"NBC News has learned that Lewinsky now says
she and the President both agreed to deny their relationship. According to
legal sources Lewinsky says once she became a potential witness in the
Paula Jones case, the President helped her concoct cover stories to
conceal the relationship and gave her hypothetical suggestions on how to
"One source outside Starr's office says
Lewinsky quotes the President telling her last December, 'If there are
two people in the room and something happens and they both deny it there
is no way to prove it.' This is similar to what then-Governor Clinton
said on tape to Gennifer Flowers."
Clinton, in a tape played by Flowers in January
1992: "I just think that if everybody's on record denying it you
got no problem."
Myers: "The President has since admitted
that he and Flowers had a sexual relationship."
Brian Williams turned to Tim Russert for analysis. Russert suggested
it's no longer Clinton versus Starr but Clinton versus the evidence and
polls already show slippage in respect for Clinton among suburban and
On Wednesday's Today Geraldo Rivera displayed the kind of
"open-minded" view that earned him the only interview Mike
McCurry allowed with Clinton during the China trip. On the July 29 show
the new member of the NBC News team was paired with Laura Ingraham.
Here's the ending exchange caught by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"Let me ask you this question Laura. If Monica Lewinsky wrote the
talking points herself the White House is reportedly, according to the New
York Times, quite jubilant about this latest development because it blows
a hole in Ken Starr's theory that this was a case of obstruction of
Geraldo Rivera: "Amen!"
Couric: "If Monica Lewinsky wrote the
talking points herself is this a case of obstruction of justice?"
Laura Ingraham: "Well it's certainly not
on that point Katie. You are absolutely right. If she wrote the talking
points, maybe with the help of her mother or maybe her mother's friend,
then of course that piece of evidence will not link the White House to
obstruction. But apparently what we read in the New York Times today there
are other suggestions of 'we don't have to tell the full truth, you
can tell prosecutors that Betty Currie was the person you were visiting
not me, Monica.' Now that seems like a pretty clear suggestion to
Rivera: "But my God Laura! As a lawyer where
was the, the talking points were the banner that the right wing ran up the
hill and said, 'Bruce Lindsey suborned perjury, he's the one, the
talking points are going to bring down this President.' And now suddenly
the talking points are history. Just like Whitewater, just like Travelgate,
just like Filegate. It's going to turn out that this President is the
most maligned and assailed man in the history of the Executive Office and
we'll all be deeply ashamed."
Ingraham: "Have you been talking to Sid
Blumenthal again today?"
Couric: "And that will have to be the last
word. I'm getting better at cracking the whip with you two."
Rivera: "Oh, I love a strong woman."
Sounds like just
the man for Hillary.
No wonder the
White House loves Rivera, a fact illustrated by Mary Murphy in "China
Chronicle," a day by day look in the August 1-7 TV Guide at how the
networks covered Clinton's China trip. Here's one of her entries for
Geraldo Rivera's Suite. Rivera is beaming. 'I've been to see the
boss,' says Rivera, referring to Clinton. 'McCurry took me up to the
45th floor to an alcove outside the President's bedroom. He came out. He
told me he's just gotten a message from the Dalai Lama and that the Dalai
Lama was ecstatic that progress had been made.' Rivera was not permitted
to bring a cameraman with him upstairs, but his informal audience is
nonetheless an obvious mark of favor. I ask McCurry why Rivera -- and not
[CBS reporter Scott] Pelley -- got the interview. 'Because Geraldo was
arguably the biggest network name on the trip,' he says. 'Besides,
when it comes to scandal stuff, Geraldo has been as open-minded as you
would want a journalist to be. We notice things like that. So we felt a
little private time with Clinton was not inappropriate.'"
And it has paid
off then and since. On Today back in June he offered a glowing account of
his Clinton encounter and relayed the "joke" he told about Bill
Clinton: "I was thinking if they give him any more airtime he's going
to have to register as a pro-democracy dissident." For more on
Rivera's "reporting" that day, see the July 1 CyberAlert.
ABC News delivered a novelty Wednesday night, a positive story about
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Reporter Terry Moran traveled to
Memphis to hear Thomas address the National Bar Association, an appearance
that generated lots of protest and outrage among the membership of the
black association. Last weekend ABC News ran a story relaying the
criticisms from liberal blacks who painted Thomas as a sell-out to his
race. Last night viewers heard from Thomas.
On World News
Tonight Moran characterized it as "a remarkably personal speech"
as Thomas told those who oppose his views that he has a right to think for
himself. Moran showed several excerpts from the speech. He "scorned
the notion," Moran relayed, that he has turned his back on his race,
arguing that affirmative action paints blacks as inferior.
Moran concluded: "Justice Thomas has had a
tough time making public appearances around the country, almost always
meeting with opposition. But today's deeply personal speech may mark his
You can't get
any more positive than that.
From the July 29 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things
on Clinton's To Do List." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Meet with advisors to settle on prison
9. Erase score-keeping marks from Air Force One lavatory.
8. Get hillbilly friends to ride past Kenneth Starr's house, hit mailbox
with baseball bat.
7. Call FTD -- Send "You Better Not Talk Bouquet" to Cokie
6. Check out Paula Jones after nose job. Hit on her?
5. Wedding gift for Barbra and what's-his-name.
4. Have Webster's Dictionary change definition of the word "lie"
so it has a more positive ring to it.
3. Executive order re-opening New York City sex shops.
2. Explore possible "I'm gay" defense.
1. Check out real estate prices in hell.
And now from the
cbs.com Web site, my favorites from some of the "extra jokes that
didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- Get Pentagon to plant severed head of an
alien in Kenneth Starr's bed.
-- Make sure the Gore girls still intend to keep quiet.
-- Practice saying phrase, "President Gore."
-- Make sure video testimony isn't taped over one of his "Hee
-- Destroy photos of three-way with Monica and Gennifer.
-- Just to bug him, nail Ken Starr's wife.
-- Send First Lady on 26-month 63-country goodwill tour.
-- Blather, lie, repeat.
That's three Top
Tens in a row from Letterman on Clinton scandal, the first time that's
happened since February. -- Brent Baker
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