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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday August 7, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 127)

Reno Doing Her Job; A Goose Almost Cost Clinton Big Hollywood $; More Top Ten

1) Every networks but CBS had a unique bit of info on Lewinsky: FNC reported that she didn't write the talking points, NBC that Lewinsky not at White House during many visits. CBS's Dan Rather emphasized how Lewinsky "was rehearsed for days" by Starr's team.

2) "Reno is doing behind the scenes exactly what she says publicly: seriously reviewing the matter," insisted NBC's Claire Shipman on an independent counsel for fundraising.

3) Wednesday night Dan Rather again contended that Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life;" Rather stressed the "cost to taxpayers" amassed by Starr.

4) Baldwin and Basinger almost canceled their Clinton fundraiser when they learned goose was on the menu. Another actor declared that the U.S. no longer needs bullets to assassinate its Presidents -- it has CNN.

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Words You're Most Likely to Hear in Monica Lewinsky's Testimony." Plus, extra entries for the "Top Ten Clinton Nicknames or Ben and Jerry Flavors."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Monicalcap.jpg (22164 bytes) Monica Lewinsky's grand jury appearance led every network Thursday night with FNC and CNN devoting half their hour-long newscasts to her testimony and its fallout. Every network but NBC showed how immediately after Clinton spoke at a White House event the Marine Band started playing and thus drowned out questions. All the networks ran the soundbite of Lewinsky spokeswoman Judy Smith announcing that "she answered each question truthfully, completely and honestly."

     Every network but CBS delivered a unique bit of news on the Monica front. ABC's Sam Donaldson relayed that Harry Thomasson will coach Clinton for any TV address. CNN's Wolf Blitzer highlighted how his sources claim Lewinsky testified that Clinton did not consider the kind of sex they had to constitute "sexual relations." FNC's David Shuster informed viewers that testimony will show that Lewinsky did not write the talking points. He added that investigators think Bruce Lindsey was involved. NBC's Lisa Myers reported that Lewinsky conceded Betty Currie was not at the White House during several of her 37 visits.

     Here's a run down of Thursday evening, August 6 coverage of Monicagate:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight went right to Jackie Judd, who asserted:
     "Lewinsky said on one tape, 'I have lied my entire life.' And sources tell ABC News she was prepared to say she was lying seven months ago when she denied under oath having sexual relations with President Clinton. But her credibility is not as much an issue before the grand jury as it would be in a criminal trial or at a congressional hearing because here the prosecutor runs the show."

     Next, from the White House Sam Donaldson reported how the Clinton team used a band to avoid questions:
     "The President and his aides, nervous though they surely are about the Lewinsky testimony, went to great lengths today to make it appear it was business as usual here without a care in the world. But they made certain the President did not have to entertain questions on the matter. The President appeared in the Rose Garden to support extension of a key provision of the Brady gun control bill. However, when the event was over, he quickly signaled the Marine Band to play away. So much for hearing any shouted questions from the press corps."
     Donaldson uniquely added that the White House pulled the same stunt later after a speech at a hotel to a Native American group. As soon as Clinton finished drummers from a tribe began pounding away.

     Discussing the day with anchor Charles Gibson, Donaldson informed viewers: "We've learned, and it's worth noting that, the President's Hollywood producer friend Harry Thomasson, who often advises Mr. Clinton on public relations, plans a trip to Washington soon."
     Gibson: "Which means?"
     Donaldson: "Well which means that if the President does decide to address the nation Mr. Thomasson could help advise him as he did on the famous 'I have had no sexual relationships with that woman Ms. Lewinsky' statement."

     -- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley ran through Lewinsky's day and how she was expected to confirm a sexual relationship, say Clinton and she discussed denying affair and testify that Clinton suggested she get rid of gifts after they were subpoenaed.

     Next, Bill Plante focused on how the White House says it's business as usual but, Plante countered, "every presidential event is carefully scripted to avoid any opportunity for questions. As he finished up a gun control event today Mr. Clinton looked over and seemed to signal the Marine Band to lay down some musical cover."
     Plante did allow New York Democratic Congressman Charles Schumer to announce the pro-Clinton spin of how Clinton is "focused on what matters to the American people."

     After Plante, Dan Rather cautioned as he led into a brief discussion with Kristin Jeannette-Myers: "As for today's testimony by Monica Lewinsky, keep in mind we don't know for a fact what she said. We have been told some of what she said. You may also want to keep in mind that she was rehearsed for days by Starr's prosecution team."

     -- CNN's The World Today opened with Wolf Blitzer delivering unique information for the night about how Lewinsky testified that Clinton maintained that the type of sex they had did not fit the definition of "sexual relations." Blitzer revealed:
     "CNN has learned specifics of what Monica Lewinsky told the grand jury, and those graphic details given under oath directly contradict the President. Two sources familiar with her testimony say she stuck to her story, that beginning in November 1995, she had only a certain kind of sex with the President, more than a dozen times over 18 months, including in his private study off the Oval Office. Then he told her the kind of sex they had, in his mind, did not amount to, quote, 'sexual relations,' providing him with deniability; that they discussed hypothetical ways to conceal their relationship, but that the President never directly told her to lie under oath."

     Next, Bob Franken went through Lewinsky's day at the courthouse, followed by John King at the White House on how Clinton used the Marine Band to block questions. King's story also featured soundbites from Al Gore on how people are happy with Clinton and from Dick Gephardt on how only the media are obsessed with the case. Anchor Jim Moret then played a montage of video clips from reporters and talked about Clinton's situation with Jeff Greenfield who asserted that if Clinton's allies waiver, then he's in trouble.

     Next, CNN ran a mini-Burden of Proof with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack interviewing two guests. Finally, Susan Candiotti looked at Monica's new, "more refined image."

     -- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET opened with David Shuster live from the courthouse. He uniquely relayed how, in the end, we'll learn that neither Lewinsky or Tripp wrote that talking points and Bruce Lindsey may well have:
     "Fox News has learned Lewinsky has followed through on the proffer she submitted to investigators and described sex acts with the President and conversations late last year when Mr. Clinton allegedly discussed how she could cover it up. Investigation sources also tell Fox News Lewinsky's courthouse testimony, when it is finally released, will support the notion that the language in the so-called talking points memo did not come from her or Linda Tripp....Sources tell Fox News investigators are convinced Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey was involved in the origins of this key piece of evidence..."

     From up the street at the White House Jim Angle zoomed in on how "in a Rose Garden ceremony President Clinton joined police officers in calling for an extension of the five day waiting period for gun purchases which was due to expire this November. There will be even a longer waiting period before the President says anything about Monica Lewinsky or her testimony. The President pretends not to hear these days, helped in this instance by the Marine Band..."
     In another unique angle from FNC Thursday night Angle picked up on the story of John Sullivan, a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis in 1996. He can be seen standing next to Lewinsky in the new video of Clinton hugging Lewinsky at an October 1996 fundraiser. Angle recounted how event organizers asked him to keep an eye on her because, he was told, she might be disgruntled because of her transfer to the Pentagon. That, Angle suggested, shows many in the Clinton circle were well aware of Lewinsky as a possible problem.

     The rest of FNC's first half hour included a piece on how Lewinsky can make money on her story as she's already been offered $1 million by The Star and a heated roundtable argument amongst C. Boyden Gray, Eleanor Clift, Ellen Ratner and Alan Keyes.

     -- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers noted that Clinton did not tell her to lie "but did suggest ways to cover up the relationship. One example: Saying she was a friend of presidential secretary Betty Currie, not of the President, which is exactly what the President said in his deposition. But NBC News has learned that Lewinsky now has told prosecutors that Currie was not even there during some of her 37 visits to the White House..."
     Myers later added: "Friends say Lewinsky is still fond of the President and worries that her testimony might hurt him."

     Too late now.

     After a piece on the Reno/Burton battle (se item #2), Tom Brokaw asked Tim Russert whether the White House will learn before August 17 what Lewinsky told the grand jury. Eventually they will, Russert decided, but observed: "It is eery today. If information is power, this is an impotent city. No one knows anything. It's like election day without the exit polls."

     Later, for the In Depth segment Jack Ford explained what Monica probably went through inside the grand jury room and Pete Williams examined the role of and how a grand jury works.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Every network but ABC, which held itself to a brief update, ran a full report Thursday night on the House committee vote to hold Attorney General Reno in contempt for not turning over subpoenaed memos, from FBI Director and the chief fundraising investigator, urging the appointment of an independent counsel.

     NBC's Claire Shipman spun the facts on Nightly News to put Reno in the best possible light:
     "Even as frustrated Republicans on Capitol Hill took the extraordinary step of voting to cite the Attorney General for contempt of Congress, NBC News has learned that Janet Reno has started a formal 30 day review period to consider the appointment of an independent counsel. There have been review periods before, but what this means is that Reno is doing behind the scenes exactly what she says publicly: seriously reviewing the matter. It also means she has new evidence to consider..."

     CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather announced: "On another front of the White House under fire, the bitter partisan fight over demands for another special prosecutor to investigate Clinton-Gore campaign fundraising erupted today on Capitol Hill. On a straight party line vote Republicans on a House committee voted to seek a contempt citation against the Attorney General of the United States Janet Reno."

     Bob Schieffer ran a clip of Republican Congressman Mark Souder complaining about "serious potential corruption of our government" before warning: "It got so bad at one point a Democrat suggested Republican committee Chairman Burton had gone mad."
     Tom Lantos charged: "What is clear is that Burton should wipe away the froth around his mouth and stop demanding information he has no right to."

     FNC's Carl Cameron let viewers hear soundbites from both sides, but only Cameron allowed a Republican, Bob Barr, to note that they want any sensitive portions of the memos redacted before they are released. Following a clip of Henry Waxman accusing Burton of intimidation tactics against Reno, Cameron concluded by uniquely pointing out how Reno is breaking her own department's policy:
     "Republicans deny intimidation tactics. They blame Reno and say she's brought this on herself by violating the Justice Department's own rules which say all congressional subpoenas must be honored unless the President claims executive privilege."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The networks Wednesday night all ran stories previewing Lewinsky's testimony, noting the grand jury appearance by former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and at least ABC, CBS and CNN checked in on Clinton's reception on Capitol Hill where he traveled to meet Democrats. On ABC's World News Tonight Linda Douglass observed that though Democrats in public insisted the scandal does not have any impact, in private they offer another view: "One said it was like seeing someone with a big piece of spinach in his teeth. You're just too embarrassed to bring it up."

     Dan Rather, once again, claimed Ken Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life" and Rather highlighted "the cost to taxpayers" of the Starr investigation.

     Rather opened the August 5 CBS Evening News, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
     "Good evening. More people close to President Clinton became witnesses today in special prosecutor Ken Starr's push for testimony about the President's personal life. Among them, five U.S. Secret Service employees and a former White House Deputy Chief of Staff. And as CBS White House correspondent Scott Pelley reports, all is set for possible testimony tomorrow by Monica Lewinsky, flipped by Starr from prosecution target to key prosecution witness."

     After Bob Schieffer's story on Clinton's supportive Capitol Hill reception, Rather declared: "Today marks the end of four years of the Ken Starr investigation, and still counting. Cost to taxpayers so far: 40 million dollars, and counting."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Duck, duck, goose! Following up on the Hamptons fundraising headlined by Bill Clinton last weekend the New York Post reported Thursday that Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, who are active in PETA, threatened to cancel the event at their home if goose liver remained on the menu. Meanwhile, another Post reporter relayed how actor Donald Sutherland compared Ken Starr's tactics to McCarythism.

     First, the Hamptons news. From "Page Six" in the August 6 New York Post:
     "Animal rights activists Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin were prepared to cancel the fundraiser they hosted last Saturday for President Clinton when they learned foie gras was on the menu.
     "Foie gras, French for 'fat liver,' comes from ducks and geese that have been force-fed to enlarge their livers. Animal-lovers like Basinger consider it torture and would just as soon serve their guests the hind leg of a pet beagle.
     "The menu, catered by 24 restaurants in the Hamptons, was published hours before the Clintons were scheduled to arrive. Baldwin and Basinger -- both members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- immediately demanded it be removed.
     "PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told PAGE SIX what happened next: 'I spoke to Alec about this and he told me that when he found out about the foie gras, he was very upset about it. 'He called someone very high up -- very high up -- in the DNC and said, 'can you imagine...can you imagine what it feels like to have a metal pipe shoved down your throat?'
     "'He was adamant about it. He asked for the foie gras to be pulled from the menu -- and it was pulled. The foie gras was not served.'"....
     "However, it seems unlikely that the lives of any ducks were saved, and the palates of the President and his wealthy pals were not entirely deprived of foie gras. The delicacy was reportedly served at the $25,000-a-couple bash thrown by investment banker Bruce Wasserstein the night before the Baldwin fundraiser."

     So, Clinton can do and say anything, but if Monica Lewinsky were to reveal that Bill Clinton enjoyed a little foie gras after their sex sessions that would end Hollywood's support for Clinton.

      Second, New York Post columnist Neal Travis passed along this summary of how a film star denounces Ken Starr and the whole Monicagate matter in an upcoming magazine interview:
     "Beleaguered Bill Clinton still has the support of the Hollywood crowd. Donald Sutherland, for example, compares the President's troubles with Kenneth Starr to McCarthyism and thinks the whole Monica affair is 'pathetic to watch.'"

     "The star, interviewed for the September issue of Premiere, says he is still hugely 'up' on Clinton. 'You have the lowest interest rate, an economy that's going like crazy, a low unemployment rate,' he says. 'So the idea that you could have a coup d'etat because of a sex act is beyond my comprehension.'"
     "Sutherland notes that in Paris, a French journalist told him that America no longer needs bullets to assassinate its Presidents -- it has CNN. 'This used to be the land of opportunity,' Sutherland adds. 'Now it's the land of opportunism.'"


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Today, a special CyberAlert bonus. A Top Ten list, plus "extra" items from two Top Ten lists. First, from the August 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Words You're Most Likely to Hear in Monica Lewinsky's Testimony." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "McLovin"
9. "Thingie"
8. "Clintern"
7. "Disappointing"
6. "Menage-a-Reno"
5. "Cool"
4. "Ranch"
3. "Doritos"
2. "Hillary" (Oh, sorry, that's a word you're least likely to hear)
1. "Shhhhhhhh"

     From the Late Show Web page, some of the "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."

-- "Bubba-licious"
-- "Pocket Veto"
-- "Little Bubba"
-- "Powerball"
-- "Glazed"
-- "Rug-burn"
-- "Listerine"
-- "Dry cleaning"
-- "Floss"
-- "Commander-in-Briefs"
-- "Altoids"
-- "Interruptus"

     And now, for the bonus round, my favorites from "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten" from the Tuesday night list, the "Top Ten Clinton Nicknames or Ben and Jerry Flavors." (See the August 5 CyberAlert for the ten which aired.)

-- Pantsachio
-- Subpoena Colada
-- Horny Bubba Crunch
-- Subpoena Butter Cup
-- Peppermint Fattie
-- Captain Cream
-- Tubby Bubba
-- Hillary Chiller
-- Fundraising Coffee
-- Oval Office Surprise
-- Hyperactive Nuts
-- Scandalberry

     I just figured out how to get around the cbs.com top of the page frame that makes it difficult to know the address of the page you are on and thereby forces you to jump link to link to get where you want instead of going directly there. When you first go the CBS Web page you are asked for your zip code so they can display a permanent frame with the local CBS station's logo and links. Even if you don't enter one the cbs.com format still displays a frame bar. To avoid this, instead of going to www.cbs.com, go to: http://marketing.cbs.com. For CBS News, try http://marketing.cbs.com/news/ For Letterman's page, go to: http://marketing.cbs.com/lateshow/ And the direct address for the latest Top Ten: http://marketing.cbs.com/lateshow/topten/

     That's my Web tip of the day. -- Brent Baker

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