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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday August 3, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 124)

Starr Ruined Lewinsky's Credibility; Clinton Jumps Out for Christie

1) A normal citizen would not be prosecuted, contended ABC while CBS argued immunity destroyed Lewinsky's credibility. Only FNC picked up Tripp's charge that Lindsey had threatened her.

2) Battling headlines: "Reno Refuses Bid for Prober's Memo" versus "Democrat Says Burton Made Threat Against Reno."

3) Stars bring in the dollars at DNC fundraisers featuring Clinton in the Hamptons. Alec Baldwin upset that Clinton has been smeared just before Clinton stopped his motorcade to meet a super-model.

>>> The Parents Television Council, a project of the MRC, has released its 1997-98 lists of the least & most family-friendly shows. The Dirty Dozen Shows highlight the worst offenders of objectionable prime time television for families, while the Diamond Dozen Shows highlight some of the best family-friendly prime time television fare. To read the lists, just go to: http://www.parentstv.org/press/1998/pr19980723.html. The PTC also maintains a daily updated Family Guide to Prime Time Television with content analysis for all prime time entertainment shows. Check it out at: http://www.parentstv.org/shows/Welcome.html <<<


Monic3bcap.jpg (25527 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Friday, Saturday and Sunday night the broadcast networks led with the latest on the Monicagate front. Sunday's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News opened with stories running through soundbites from the Sunday interview shows and previewing what might occur this week. (No CBS Evening News aired in Washington, DC due to sudden-death in a golf tournament.)

     Saturday night ABC raised the issue of how no normal citizen would be prosecuted for doing what Clinton has supposedly done while CBS emphasized how "some lawyers say" granting immunity to Monica Lewinsky "weakens her credibility."

     Friday night every network noted that Clinton will testify live via video to the grand jurors and all played the entirety of Clinton's four sentence non-answer answer in the Rose Garden about his upcoming testimony. All but FNC, which broke it into three parts with reporter Jim Angle pointedly commenting on each, ran it straight through. NBC's Claire Shipman declared that his non-responsive response displayed "confidence." Only FNC's David Shuster, relaying the claims of a leaker he actually named, highlighted how Linda Tripp says she was threatened by Bruce Lindsey. If Clinton comes clean and apologizes that's good enough even for most Republicans, CNN announced its poll discovered.

     Here are some highlights from Saturday and Friday night. First, Saturday, August 1:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight began with Tim O'Brien reporting that the FBI hopes to identify by Monday the stain on the dress. O'Brien noted that the key players took off for the weekend, with Clinton fundraising and playing golf in the Hamptons and Starr at an ABA meeting in Toronto. Catching up to Starr in what looked like Reagan National Airport, O'Brien inquired of Starr:
     "And our polls are showing increasingly people don't care if the President may have perjured himself. What does that mean?"
     Starr replied: "I'm not going to comment at all."
     O'Brien: "Former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste says the average citizen would never be prosecuted for lying about a sexual relationship, even if under oath."
     Ben-Veniste: "In a normal circumstance no prosecutor in any jurisdiction, who is a reasonable and experienced person, would give a second thought to pursuing such an allegation."
     O'Brien added, "But the President is not your average citizen," before letting GWU law professor Jonathan Turley assert that since the President is the chief law enforcer, violating the law himself is the "most serious type of conduct."

     -- CBS Evening News. Unlike O'Brien, CBS reporter Eric Engberg didn't even try to offer both sides on an anti-Starr agenda argument. After showing Clinton's warm welcome in the Hamptons and explaining how he's staying with Steven Spielberg and rasing money at the home of Alec Baldwin, Engberg asserted:
     "Monica Lewinsky met today with Kenneth Starr's lawyers at an undisclosed location in preparation for a still secret date with the grand jury. She will appear under a grant of near-total immunity from prosecution, a concession by Kenneth Starr some lawyers say weakens her credibility."
     Nancy Luque, former federal prosecutor: "Imagine selling your story for a get out of jail free card, and not just one get out of jail card, two. It really makes the thing that you're saying very, very questionable."

     That was it. No time for another view.

      Now, on to Friday, July 31:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight started with Sam Donaldson at the White House. He announced:
     "The President might have answered the key question as to whether he intends to stick to his story, but in the Rose Garden today he deliberately chose not to. Reporters had been advised that Mr. Clinton might take a question or two on the subject. But though he said he understood what he was being asked, here was his only response."
     Clinton: "No one wants to get this matter behind us more than I do, except maybe all the rest of the American people. I am looking forward to the opportunity in the next few days of testifying. I will do so completely and truthfully. I am anxious to do it, but I hope you can understand why in the interim I can and should have no further comment on these matters."

     -- CBS Evening News went right to Scott Pelley who explained how "he fended off reporter's questions in the Rose Garden with one simple statement."
     CBS viewers then saw and heard the same statement run by ABC. Pelley pointed out that "Mr. Clinton didn't take the opportunity to repeat his January declaration." Pelley then reminded viewers of it by playing a clip of his "that woman" denial.

     Next, Jim Stewart looked at the accuracy of DNA testing and how the FBI lab is examining if the President "left any bodily fluids" on the dress.

     -- CNN's The World Today held itself to just two stories. First, Wolf Blitzer with Clinton's long soundbite. Blitzer also reported that the dress does contain a stain and that the Starr investigation is shifting away from Vernon Jordan.
     Second, Brooks Jackson ran through the results of a new Time/CNN poll taken Thursday night. Like earlier polls it found that most people think Clinton is lying but don't care, though 55 percent favor Clinton providing a DNA sample. While 19 percent are more likely to vote for a Congressman who backs impeachment, the poll documented why Republicans are reticent as 27 percent said they would be less likely to pull the lever for such a member. Jackson concluded:
     "If the President were to make a speech saying he did have sex with Monica Lewinsky and apologizing to the American people, 69 percent said that should end Starr's investigation, including 52 percent of Republicans."

     -- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. Jim Angle broke up Clinton's statement into three parts.
     Clinton: "No one wants to get this matter behind us more than I do, except maybe all the rest of the American people."
     Angle: "That is part of an ongoing effort by the White House to trivialize the Lewinsky investigation as something the public doesn't care about, a notion reflected in many polls. But the White House is concerned that might change if the President is seen as being uncooperative."
     Clinton: "I am looking forward to the opportunity in the next few days of testifying."
     Angle: "Looking forward perhaps the same way many of us look forward to going to the dentist. As one adviser put it, he has no choice. He's got to testify. So the President has decided to make a virtue out of necessity, pledging his eagerness to answer questions."
     Clinton: "I will do so completely and truthfully. I am anxious to do it, but I hope you can understand why in the interim I can and should have no further comment on these matters."

     Next, David Shuster found a leaker willing to be identified:
     "In a leak to Fox News Linda Tripp says that a significant part of her testimony to the grand jury focused on efforts by Clinton supporters to keep her quiet. Tripp told the grand jury she was threatened repeatedly. She testified it began last summer at the time Newsweek was preparing to report an encounter between the President and Kathleen Willey. In the story Tripp was quoted as saying Willey had emerged from the Oval Office with her lipstick smeared and blouse untucked. Tripp said Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey threatened to destroy her if she repeated this assertion in the Paula Jones lawsuit..."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers began by noting how grand jurors will see the President live, observing: "The White House had wanted prosecutors to give the President questions in advance. Instead the President now must prepare not only for tough questions from prosecutors but also for unpredictable questions from fellow citizens."

     Following Myers reporter Claire Shipman looked at Clinton's comments, insisting that "aides wanted him to look confidant and forceful as he faced a barrage of questions." Viewers saw the full statement from Clinton before Shipman concluded by telling anchor Brian Williams:
     "But despite that confidence Brian there is a considerable degree of tension here behind the scenes, all eyes on that dress and the DNA tests. As one aide said tonight, if there's something there that will change everything."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) A headline contrast in stories about Dan Burton, Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, demanding Attorney General Reno provide him with a copy of Charles LaBella's memo outlining why an independent counsel is required for the campaign finance probe. The Washington Times emphasized that side of the story. The Washington Post stressed Henry Waxman's complaint that Burton said he'd not pursue the matter and not cite Reno for contempt if she named an independent counsel.

     From the August 1 Washington Times --
"Reno Refuses Bid for Prober's Memo, Irking Lawmakers: Burton Subpoenas 100-Page Report"

The Washington Post the same day --
"Democrat Says Burton Made Threat Against Reno: Chairman Presses for Outside Finance Probe"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Hollywood celebrities came east to celebrate with Clinton and raise money for the DNC at three fundraisers in the Hamptons, the wealthy vacation area in eastern Long Island, New York. The only thing that came between Clinton and getting to the money: model Christie Brinkley. Upon seeing her Clinton stopped his motorcade Saturday afternoon and hopped out, with Larry Cockell no doubt at his side.
     Clinton spent Friday and Saturday night at the home of movie director Steven Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw. Late Saturday afternoon the Clintons attended a fundraiser hosted by conductor and homosexual activist Jonathan Sheffer. Amongst the guests at the $5,000 per person fundraiser, the August 2 Newsday reported, were Julie Andrews and her husband, producer Blake Edwards.
     Later on Saturday the Clintons made it to the home of actor Alex Baldwin and his wife, the actress Kim Basinger. "Well-known Hamptonites and presidential friends were invited to the secluded 5-acre estate," the AP reported, "including singer Billy Joel, actors Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, and homemaking stylist Martha Stewart." Actor Chevy Chase made an appearance and the group "Hootie and the Blowfish" provided the musical entertainment at the biggest event of the weekend.

     Some bites about who said and did what with Clinton during his Long Island weekend:

     -- Setting the stage for his the big Saturday night fundraiser at his home, Alec Baldwin made clear he's trying to help Clinton overcome the Republican-fueled Lewinsky affair. Frank DiGiacomo wrote in his "The Transom" column for the August 3 New York Observer last week:
     "Mr. Clinton can rest assured that Mr. Baldwin won't be bringing up Monicagate when he visits....Mr. Baldwin replied, 'My attitude about that is, I really don't care. There are rock-ribbed Republicans who are part of the Republican fabric who only have one dream' -- Mr. Baldwin said he did not mean rank-and-file Republicans, the kind he might be battling himself someday, if he enters politics -- 'that is, in Clinton, they would hope they have found their Nixon. When Clinton beat Bush, they never got over it. They hate him. They will do anything they can to smear him.'"

     -- From Amagansett, New York, Washington Times reporter Paul Bedard, in the August 2 edition, quoted Baldwin as gushing:
     "My wife and I, Kim and I...we believe in Hillary Clinton and in President Clinton. With all our hearts we believe in them."

     -- Though reporters were barred from the Baldwin/Basinger event, the New York Daily News picked up a couple of quotes, reporting August 2: "The First Couple got a rock-star-style welcome from hundreds crammed into a white-peaked party tent on the front lawn of the 5-acre spread.
     "After brief speeches, the Clintons plunged into the crowd to press the flesh -- as rock stars Hootie & the Blowfish belted out their hits. 'Even an old guy like me likes them,' joked the President.
     "Flashing his trademark deadpan look, funnyman Chevy Chase refused to reveal any details of his high-priced chat with the President. 'That's between me and the President,' he said. 'We have a lot of secrets.'"

     -- Popping out for Christie. All three New York tabloids on Sunday highlighted Bill Clinton's reaction when he spotted Christie Brinkley. Here's how the New York Post's Allen Salkin described the Saturday scene:
     "As the day went on, just one person was able to halt the President's motorcade -- supermodel Christie Brinkley stopped Clinton's procession just by stepping out of her Sag Harbor house to wave at him as he drove by.
     "Clinton hopped out and chit-chatted with Brinkley and her family about his just-completed golf game.
     "Then the President posed for a few snapshots with Brinkley and her new baby, Sailor Lee, before he drove off. 'That was our baby's first photo-op,' said Brinkley's husband, Peter Cook."

      And Baldwin worries about how Republicans will "smear" Clinton as a womanizer?
  -- Brent Baker

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