Freeh Named Clinton & Gore, But ABC & CNN Ignored; Top 10 Clinton Nicknames
1) FBI Director Freeh
specifically identified Clinton and Gore as subjects of the campaign
finance probe, but ABC and CNN ignored that, focusing instead on the
Burton/Reno dispute over memos.
2) FNC offered the most House
hearing coverage Tuesday. When Freeh appeared MSNBC was discussing the
"switched at birth" story, but when Janet Reno denounced Dan
Burton MSNBC went live.
3) Rather insisted that "Rehnquist
cleared the way" for Starr to further probe "the President's
personal life." CNN highlighted the latest ridicule of Starr by
4) Letterman's "Top Ten
Clinton Nicknames or Ben and Jerry Flavors."
At a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday
Chairman Dan Burton asked FBI Director Louis Freeh, regarding his
contention that an independent counsel should be appointed for campaign
finance because credible charges have been raised about covered persons,
"Does that include the President and the Vice President?" Freeh
replied: "Yes sir."
Big news, the FBI
Director saying Clinton and Gore are personally being investigated for
law-breaking? Not to ABC or CNN which ignored the exchange Tuesday night.
NBC played it deep in their story. Only CBS and FNC made it the lead of
their reports. Instead, ABC and CNN focused on the dispute between Burton
and Attorney General Reno over his subpoena of the memos written by Freeh
and Charles LaBella, the man until recently in charge of the campaign
finance probe, recommending the appointment of an independent counsel.
(But at least now their analysis got some
coverage. When at a hearing with Reno Senator Fred Thompson read part of
Freeh's memo, the networks ignored it. See the July 21 CyberAlert. The
next week the New York Times revealed how LaBella had urged Reno to name
an IC. That generated a few seconds on Today and stories on CBS and CNN in
the evening, but zilch on ABC or NBC in the evening. See the July 24
ABC, CBS and NBC
led with the stock market plunge. FNC went first with the switched at
birth story and Monicagate topped CNN. Here's how they each handled
Reno, Burton and the House hearings on the Tuesday, August 4 evening
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charlie
Gibson emphasized the Burton/Reno dispute, not how two top officials think
an IC should be named:
"On Capitol Hill today Republicans
threatened Attorney General Janet Reno with a contempt of Congress
citation unless she hands over memos from the Justice Department's
campaign fundraising probe. A House committee will vote Thursday on
whether to take that step. Reno insists that releasing the information
where it might become public could torpedo the whole investigation."
Linda Douglass began: "Janet Reno said no
Attorney General should be forced to turn over to Congress confidential
memos about an ongoing criminal investigation."
Reno, at her press conference: "If I give in
to that suggestion then I risk Congress turning all decisions to prosecute
into a political football. That is simply wrong."
how Burton wants Reno held in contempt, noting that "Democrats
howled" at the idea. Referring to Freeh and LaBella, here's as
close as Douglass came to Freeh's suggestion that Clinton and Gore are
being looked at: "They had told Reno that they had found evidence of
potential crimes by high White House officials and they told Congress that
After soundbites from the two saying an IC should
be named, Douglass offered more ammunition for Reno's side of the
dispute: "Even so, both Freeh and LaBella pleaded with Republicans
not to force Reno to turn over their memos because it would give suspects
too much information about where the investigation is going."
Douglass concluded: "The FBI Director told
Congress Reno is not motivated by politics. Republicans say they'll
believe that if she asks for the eighth independent counsel since
President Clinton took office."
-- CBS Evening News picked up on Freeh's
revelation and made it the lead of their story. Dan Rather intoned after a
"The White House was under fire on another
front, including blistering criticism, not all of it Republican, of U.S.
Attorney General Janet Reno for not appointing a special prosecutor to
investigate alleged sleazy, possibly even illegal fundraising, in the 1996
Phil Jones began: "For the first time FBI
Director Louis Freeh today publicly included President Clinton and Vice
President Gore in a group which may have violated criminal law in 1996
Burton, at the hearing: "I don't know if
you're going to want to answer this, but does that include the President
and the Vice President?"
Freeh: "Yes sir."
Jones went on to
note that Freeh and LaBella urged Burton to not demand the release of
their memos and showed a soundbite of Reno from her press conference.
-- CNN's The World Today. Co-anchor Joie Chen,
like ABC, stressed the memo dispute as CNN did not even show Freeh's
"yes sir" reply to Burton:
"Attorney General Reno says she may or may
not appoint an independent counsel to head a campaign financing
investigation. Either way though she says she is determined not to release
subpoenaed internal memos on the matter. After being denied a chance to
testify at a congressional hearing, Reno called a news conference to
explain her position."
Thomas asserted that the hearings set the stage for a showdown over the
memos. Thomas showed a clip of Reno before noting that Democrats accused
Burton of "trying to bully" Reno. Viewers saw a soundbite from
Congressman Henry Waxman and then Thomas got to the IC issue: "And
Freeh suggested the investigation could touch key Democrats and senior
White House officials. He said Reno may have a conflict of interest
because some of the suspects have ties to the President and Vice
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. Carl Cameron opened
his report by leading into the big Burton/Freeh exchange:
"The FBI Director told Congress that
Attorney General Janet Reno should seek an independent counsel because the
investigation of campaign finance abuse reaches all the way to the
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced:
"The Attorney General, one of her top aides
and the Director of the FBI are in an open dispute about what to do about
charges the Democrats violated campaign finance laws in the last
presidential election. And powerful Republican Congressman is also in this
fight, he's threatening to cite Attorney General Janet Reno for
Reporter Pete Williams opened by noting Freeh's
call for an IC, and like CBS and FNC did run the Burton/Freeh exchange:
Burton: "Does that include the President and
the Vice President?"
Freeh: "Yes sir."
that LaBella agreed, as he had in a memo, and then ran soundbites from
Burton and Reno about their subpoena dispute.
During the day Tuesday MSNBC skipped the hearings, running a couple of
updates from Pete Williams. When Freeh made his opening statement at
11:52am ET CNN and FNC showed it, but MSNBC viewers were treated to an
interview about the "switched at birth" case. After ignoring the
hearing all day, at 2:30pm MSNBC did go live to cover Reno's press
conference in which she denounced Burton.
CNN offered live
coverage of the hearing from 11:30am ET to about 12:10pm ET and also
showed Reno's press conference at 2:30pm ET.
FNC provided the
most live coverage with analysis throughout the day from Carl Cameron. FNC
started at about 10:10am ET and stuck with it, interrupted only by ad
breaks and news updates, through to about 11:20am ET when anchor David
Asman got reaction from Eleanor Clift and Deborah Orin. FNC re-joined the
hearing at 11:30am ET and stuck with it for over an hour. They showed a
bit more at 12:50 and 1:30pm before, like CNN and MSNBC, going to the
switched at birth press conference at 2pm and Reno at 2:30pm ET.
ABC and NBC held Monicagate Tuesday night to a few seconds on how Chief
Justice Rehnquist rejected Clinton's appeal on attorney-client
privilege, so special counsel Lanny Breuer was forced to appear, and that
the FBI test results on the dress have not been released. Here's how
CBS, CNN and FNC handled the latest on the Monica front:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather again forwarded the White House spin on how Starr is
probing Clinton's "personal life." Rather declared:
"In Washington, for the second time in a
month, the Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist, cleared
the way for prosecutor Ken Starr's demand for testimony about the
President's personal life from those closest to Mr. Clinton..."
revealed that Lewinsky turned over a photo, explaining: "Sources say
the still photo carries a personal inscription that Lewinsky claims is
written by Mr. Clinton. The inscription is said to be very personal."
Up next, Bob
Schieffer previewed a Wednesday meeting between congressional Democrats
and Clinton. Schieffer asserted that Democrats are "increasingly
nervous" about impact of Lewinsky no matter what they say publicly.
-- CNN's The
World Today opened with Bob Franken on the Lindsey decision and appearance
by Lanny Breuer. Second, from the White House Wolf Blitzer reported that
"the President goes about business as usual, but behind closed doors,
he's spending several hours each day huddling with his private attorney,
David Kendall, preparing for his August 17th grand jury testimony..."
Karl reviewed Starr's four years as independent counsel. Here's how
co-anchor Jim Moret introduced the lengthy piece: "The Ken Starr
investigation turns four this week. The original probe into an Arkansas
land deal has led to sometimes lurid allegations about sex and a scheduled
presidential appearance before the grand jury. CNN's Jonathan Karl looks
at Starr's wins, his losses and what lies ahead."
At least Karl did raise a subject rarely
highlighted by the networks: the convictions Starr has won. After running
attacks from Bill Ginsburg, Sidney Blumenthal and James Carville, Karl
pointed out: "Amidst the furor, Starr has had his victories: 12
convictions and guilty pleas, netting some pretty big fish," such as
Webster Hubbell and Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker.
Karl, CNN played this clip from Bill Ginsburg, in a Los Angeles speech,
disparaging Ken Starr:
"Continued gargantuan efforts of Kenneth
Starr to bring this President down is also perceived as a contest financed
by the right, a personal challenge that this twice passed over Supreme
Court candidate, who has a grudge with the government to settle
-- FNC's Fox
Report. Jim Angle provided a full report on the Lindsey decision and the
appearance of Lanny Breuer. Then David Shuster ran through what happened
at the courthouse with speculation as to what Breuer was asked about and
testimony from Secret Service agents.
From the August 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Clinton Nicknames or Ben and Jerry Flavors." Copyright 1998 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10) Slick Willie
9) Chunky Monkey
8) Double Nut Joy
7) Subpoenas 'n Cream
5) Candy Pants
4) Chocolate Chip Doughboy
3) Chilly Hillbilly
2) Draft-Dodging Pot-Smoking Intern-Nailing Raspberry Swirl
Pretty good from
#9 to #2 but it kind of petered out at the end. -- Brent Baker
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