Only One Side to Campaign Finance "Reform;" Clarence Thomas is "Wrong"
1) Monicagate still topped
ABC, CNN and FNC Monday night as Dan Rather claimed Starr is probing
Clinton's "personal life." NBC's Bob Faw, however, contended
that Clinton fueled the "low-brow culture" now engulfing his
2) ABC's Linda Douglass
championed campaign finance "reform" with four soundbites from
advocates but not one syllable from an opponent.
3) Clarence Thomas "is
wrong," declared Gannett's Deborah Mathis. "We expected a
black Supreme Court judge to be more sensitive to the right way of
thinking," meaning the liberal way.
4) More from the Hamptons:
Alec Baldwin declared Hillary Clinton "the most effective First Lady
in the history of the United States." U.S. News owner Mort Zuckerman
dined with the Clintons.
Of the broadcast networks, only ABC led Monday night with Monicagate as
did CNN and FNC. CBS and NBC went first with the heat wave. All the
networks noted the White House decision to appeal to the Supreme Court the
lower court decision ordering Bruce Lindsey to appear and all but CBS
squeezed in at least a brief mention of a leak about the leaks,
specifically, that a higher court had decided that while Judge Norma
Holloway Johnson may probe leaks from Starr's office she cannot let
Clinton's lawyers question Starr's staff.
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather again asserted how Starr is probing Clinton's
"personal life," but CBS reporter Scott Pelley emphasized how
even top White House aides don't really believe Clinton's story. NBC
Nightly News dedicated its In Depth segment to the scandal with Andrea
Mitchell running through options of what Clinton could now say followed by
Bob Faw with a very tough piece on how the scandal reflects a cruder
culture. Asserted Faw about Clinton: "The low-brow culture he
cultivated has engulfed his presidency. And traditionalists argue that
Here's a run
down of Monday night, August 3 coverage of the Monicagate scandal:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight opened with Jackie Judd on the dress and how the FBI should
know by now "if semen stains are on the dress." Judd noted that
FBI Director Louis Freeh has warned against any leaks of test results
before announcing: "ABC News has learned that the appeals court ruled
that Judge Norma Holloway Johnson was wrong is authorizing the
President's attorney, David Kendall, to obtain documents from Starr as
well as interview prosecutors."
Gibson then asked about Clinton: "Will he take back his claim that he
had no sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky? A virtual chorus of
politicians and pundits are now saying perhaps he should." From the
White House Sam Donaldson found no evidence he will revise his story line,
though he ran soundbites from Leon Panetta and Orrin Hatch urging such a
course change and observed that with polls showing the public against
impeachment Republicans will "pay a price" if they have to move
against the President.
-- CBS Evening
News. Following stories on the National Guard delivering hay in Oklahoma
and on how the heat has reduced crime in Dallas, Dan Rather intoned:
"President Clinton moved today to counter
special prosecutor Ken Starr's latest push to investigate his personal
life. Lawyers for the President asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject
Starr's demand for testimony from Clinton aide and confidant Bruce
Scott Pelley focused on nervousness at the White
House over the dress test results: "Senior aides find themselves
publicly defending and privately doubting. Today one senior adviser began
a conversation by saying 'I believe him.' Then, the same adviser
lamented 'The President does not feel free to turn to any of us and say,
'Here are the facts, here's what happened.'"
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET. Wolf Blitzer opened the show by asserting that
Clinton's "advisers fear the worst" on what the FBI will find
on the dress. Blitzer then ran competing soundbites about whether Starr
should let Clinton know the results before the President's August 17
testimony and told viewers that the January search of Lewinsky's
apartment missed the dress because Lewinsky had moved it last fall to her
mother's apartment in New York City.
Next, John King examined the decision to appeal
over Bruce Lindsey, co-anchor Jim Moret jumped in with breaking news that
Starr had subpoenaed White House counsel Lanny Breuer to appear Tuesday
and then co-anchor Joie Chen relayed the leaks decision. Finally, Bob
Franken provided a full report on comments Starr made during and after a
speech in Toronto to the ABA. Franken emphasized how Starr denied running
roughshod over political institutions in his investigation.
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report began with Jim Angle on how Mike McCurry's fill-in, Barry
Toiv, maintained Clinton will not change his story. Angle also covered the
Lindsey appeal before FNC went to David Shuster, who passed along this
picture of Lewinsky's debriefing by Starr's team: "Sources close
to her describe the session on Monday as especially intense. They said she
was questioned on the most intimate aspects of her relationship with the
President, including how Mr. Clinton allegedly stained her dress."
-- NBC Nightly
News. For the In Depth segment Tom Brokaw wondered "what story will
Mr. Clinton tell?" Recalling Clinton's 60 Minutes interview, Andrea
Mitchell asserted and then asked: "Over and over he has proved he is
the Houdini of politicians. But this time is there an easy escape?"
Intermingled with clips from David Gergen and David Shrum on the
advisability of each move, Mitchell forwarded three choices:
"Option One: Deny Everything, hang
tough....Option Two: Admit Everything, a full mea culpa....Option Three,
if he has not told the truth, a Carefully Worded Admission."
Concluded Mitchell: "In fact, more and more
Democrats worried about their own re-election say until the President
comes forward with a full explanation there will be only more confusion.
And more battles over who is telling the truth."
Tom Brokaw then
ruminated: "What does this scandal, and the way it's taken on a
life of its own, say about who we are and what we care about. There's a
good deal of evidence the country is at once repulsed and fascinated by
what it is seeing and reading."
Bob Faw asserted that the country is getting
cruder and crude sells as TV's South Park and Jerry Springer
demonstrate. Faw insisted Clinton has no one to blame but himself:
"Now the circle is complete. The President
who went on MTV and was asked about his underwear finds his presidency
hinges on a blue cocktail dress. As one columnist put it, the low-brow
culture he cultivated has engulfed his presidency. And traditionalists
argue that hurts everyone."
Viewers then heard a rare soundbite from a
cultural conservative, in this case Carmen Pate of Concerned Women for
America. Faw balanced her with leftist Mark Crispin Miller who blamed not
Clinton or the public but sensationalistic media values. Faw concluded by
blaming the public. Over video of Springer and the new video of Clinton
hugging Lewinsky, he lamented that "most of the country is right at
home" with both.
In television news coverage of campaign finance reform there's only one
side that deserves air time -- those in favor. The latest example: an
August 3 World News Tonight story on a successful House vote for the
liberal Shays-Meehan bill which would curb free speech and protect
incumbents by restricting what issue groups could tell voters. But ABC
viewers heard neither of those points. Instead of portraying
"reform" opponents as civil rights and free speech champions,
Linda Douglass didn't even find their views worth mentioning.
Instead, her idea
of a news story was to present the views of four supporters. Douglass
began: "Tonight, against all odds, they pulled off an upset,
persuading a majority of the House to vote in favor of a sweeping campaign
reform bill that would ban large, unregulated political
from a Democratic Congressman in favor and the co-sponsor, liberal
Republican Chris Shays, Douglass depicted the tricky opposition Shays and
Massachusetts Democrat Marty Meehan had to overcome:
"Last Spring House Speaker Newt Gingrich
tried to prevent a vote on the measure, but members of his own party
forced him to back down. Then GOP leaders tried to strangle the bill with
political tricks, loading it up with controversial amendments and debating
it sporadically late at night."
Douglass then let
Democratic leader David Bonier denounce Republicans who fought
"reform" and ran a soundbite from Fred Wertheimer of Democracy
21 who contended that the "corrupt system" must be reformed.
Alas, Douglass lamented, victory may not yet be at hand, concluding her
one-sided story: "But even if campaign reform survives in the House
this week, it must then go on to the Senate and one Senator predicted we
are more likely to see Elvis alive than see it pass there."
Nightline focused on the glow of the success of Shays-Meehan with Forrest
Sawyer following Shays around Capitol Hill as he battled toward victory.
At least Nightline grudgingly conceded there is another side and allocated
a few minutes in the otherwise all pro-reform show to Senator Mitch
McConnell so he could explain how someone could actually oppose
It isn't as if
opponents are hard to find. As a July 13 press release from the National
Right to Life Committee (NRLC) reported, 53 "issue-oriented citizen
advocacy organizations" oppose Shays-Meehan. As the MRC's Tim
Graham reminded me, the NRLC Web page features a whole section on
arguments against the liberal "reform" bills: http://www.nrlc.org.
Here are a couple of excerpts from one analysis on how reformers will
restrict free speech:
They "would generally prohibit corporations
(including issue-oriented corporations such as NRLC) and unions from
paying for communications to the public at any time of the year that
federal regulators consider to be 'for the purpose of influencing a
Federal election,' if that communication is pursuant to any 'general
or particular understanding' with the candidate (for example, an
understanding that responses to a candidate questionnaire will be
disseminated to the public), or if the sponsoring organization has any of
10 broad categories of links (direct or indirect, actual or presumed) to a
member of Congress or other candidate, including the mere sharing of
"Even if a group avoids both direct and
indirect contacts (so-called 'coordination') with 'candidates' and
avoids commentary on 'candidates,' the bill would prohibit the group
from paying for broadcast communications that even mention the name or
contain the likeness of a member of Congress, or candidate for Congress,
for 60 days before a primary or general election....
"All of these restrictions would apply even
to communications that seek to alert citizens to approaching votes on
critical issues in Congress -- for example, the September, 1996 votes in
the U.S. House and U.S. Senate on whether to override President Clinton's
veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act."
Deborah Mathis of the Gannett News Service has shown that she's a
liberal black activist first, a reporter second. MRC news analyst Jessica
Anderson caught her on this past weekend's Inside Washington denouncing
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his "wrong" thinking.
He should be attacked, as he was before his speech last week to the
National Bar Association, because his rulings are not "more sensitive
to the right way of thinking," meaning the liberal way.
Mathis asserted: "Well, he has it right that
he has that right to depart from what is considered to be the black
mainstream in a way of thinking -- that's fine. We're the first to
agree with that. I would champion him on that. What is, the reason the
people oppose him is that because that thinking is wrong, and that's
why. And we expected a black Supreme Court judge to be more sensitive to
the right way of thinking than he turned out to be. It's not that he
doesn't have the right to do it, and he is a black man, a man in
America, as he says. But he's not just any black man in America. He's
someone who has the power to force his ideas and his way of thinking upon
the rest of us. He's a life-altering black American man."
admirable for liberal blacks to try to force their views on him?
A bit more on Clinton's fundraising trip to the Hamptons detailed in the
August 3 CyberAlert. In the August 3 Washington Post reporter John Harris
offered two more items worth highlighting.
First, another gushing tribute from actor Alec
Baldwin, who along with his wife, actress Kim Basinger, hosted a big
fundraiser. Harris relayed: "'One Democrat stands alone in her
contribution to the President's success,' Baldwin said, calling
Hillary Clinton 'the most effective First Lady in the history of the
also reported that "after the Baldwin-Basinger fundraiser in
Amagansett, the Clintons repaired with that couple for dinner at the
nearby Turtle Crossing restaurant." Joining them: Chevy Chase, Steve
Spielberg and U.S. News & World Report owner and Editor-in-Chief
Mortimer Zuckerman, all of whom had attended the fundraiser.
Back on the July 7
Good Morning America, MRC news analyst Clay Waters noticed, Zuckerman
decried media interest in Monicagate and praised the public for not
"I think, not to underestimate the American
public. If you just look at one story where the press really almost
entirely went one way and the public went the other way, was the whole
episode Monica Lewinsky. I mean there you had a story where the press was
so consistently hostile on this story, and the public stood back and said
'Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, we're not going to go
along with it until we're a lot further down the road.' The public is
a lot more sophisticated because they've been exposed to too many
stories that turned out not to be true."
No wonder Clinton
invited him to dinner. -- Brent Baker
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