Clinton the Provider; Geraldo Gunning for Brokaw; Gumbel's Staff Sacked
1) All but CBS
ran a Monicagate story Wednesday night. CNN found that aides believe her
and Bill Schneider called Clinton "a good provider." Starr will
write his report, NBC promised, at "warp speed."
2) Geraldo Rivera
is gunning for Brokaw's anchor chair, called Peter Jennings "little
Petey" and conceded he "went over the top" in praising
Clinton. Then on CNBC he gushed about Clinton, "I want to hug
you" and challenged Starr to be "man enough" to go away.
3) CBS cans the
staff of Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel, ensuring it will not return
mid-season. Now how will they justify $5 million a year to Gumbel?
ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all led Wednesday night with at least two
stories on the Africa bombings and all but CBS included a Monicagate-related
story. No mention of Starr or Lewinsky on the CBS Evening News which ran
pieces on what Rather introduced as "the growing woe for an
HMO," losses at the Oxford Health Plans, as well as the hunt for Eric
Rudolph in caves and the oil boom in Baku, Azerbaijan.
no actual events occurring on the Monica-front each of the other networks
delivered stories speculating about what Clinton and/or Starr will do, say
or report. ABC's Sam Donaldson looked at how Clinton is juggling his
official duties with testimony preparation and relayed how he might be
able to change his story while maintaining both versions are not in
conflict. CNN's Wolf Blitzer relayed how White House officials insist
Clinton will answer all questions but that aides privately fear the dress
tests could prove Lewinsky's story true. "He may not always be
truthful, but he's a good provider," asserted CNN's Bill Schneider
is explaining Clinton's popularity.
quoting the anatomically-detailed definition of "sexual
relations" used in the Jones deposition, FNC's David Shuster
determined that by issuing a denial based on that definition "legal
experts say Mr. Clinton closed any potential loophole." Ken Starr's
report will focus on Jones-related issues of perjury and obstruction,
NBC's Lisa Myers suggested, and after Clinton testifies the prosecutors
plan to move at "warp speed" to get that report to Congress.
Highlights from Wednesday night, August 12 coverage:
ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson set up his story: "The
demands of the presidency and the demands of this President's personal
survival are colliding this week as never before, but Mr. Clinton's
having to juggle both as best he can."
Donaldson explained that back from fundraising in
California Clinton met with his national security team to learn about the
bombings and then with advisers about the Asian economic crisis. He then
ran some soundbites from Jonathan Turley speculating on what lawyer David
Kendall might do during Clinton's testimony.
Anchor Charlie Gibson asked what Clinton is
expected to say. Donaldson replied that officials insist he will stick to
his story. Donaldson added that one aide marveled "Remember Gennifer
Flowers," meaning, Donaldson explained, "that the President in
1992 was able to say publicly he had not had a relationship sexually with
her and yet swore this year that he in fact had sex with her on one
occasion and still say he told the truth on both matters. Well, he may
come up this time with a novel definition of sexual relations with Monica
Lewinsky that differs with Kenneth Starr's."
-- CNN's The World Today. "For the second
time this week, the White House is publicly rejecting controversial advice
from outside supporters about the President's grand jury testimony
Monday," Wolf Blitzer began. He explained: "This time those
supporters have urged the President to sidestep graphic and humiliating
questions about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky."
Blitzer concluded by highlighting evidence on the
dress: "That dress is still in the hands of the FBI, but some
presidential advisers fear the worst. They say they already assume that
what Lewinsky alleged about the dress during her grand jury testimony
could turn out to be true. That's a reality the President faces as he
prepares for his own testimony and it's one reason why several outside
supporters say he should be ready not to answer certain questions."
(Here's a lesson on why we always transcribe ourselves or check network
transcripts against the actual story. Compare what Blitzer actually said
in that last paragraph with what CNN's transcript at www.cnn.com/transcripts
says Blitzer said:
"That dress is still in the hands of the
FBI, but some presidential aides already fear the worst. They say they're
concerned that what Lewinsky alleged before the grand jury during her
testimony could in fact turn out to be true. That's a reality Mr. Clinton
will have to face as he prepares for his own testimony and why some
outside supporters believe he should be ready not to answer certain
Bill Schneider examined how Clinton's popularity rides on the economy,
beginning: "The Cold War is over, but President Clinton is still
Commander-in-Chief of the economy. That's been Clinton's salvation. It
explains the vast discrepancy between his high job performance ratings --
76 percent say he can get things done -- and his low personal ratings --
just 34 percent consider him honest and trustworthy. He may not always be
truthful, but he's a good provider.
"All that could change if the economy sours.
Is that happening? Not yet. But the Japanese yen is crashing. It's at an
eight-year low, and therein lies the biggest threat to the U.S. economy,
and to President Clinton...."
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. David Shuster
looked at how Clinton cannot change his story as an aide suggested to
Donaldson he might. After Shuster noted that Lewinsky testified to
performing oral sex on Clinton at least a dozen occasions, Fox legal
analyst Stan Goldman pointed out that someone can be convicted of perjury
only if they knew they were lying. So, did Clinton? Shuster explained that
at the Jones deposition her lawyers forwarded a three point definition of
sexual relations, but Judge Susan Weber Wright allowed only this first
part, which Shuster announced meant any "contact with the genitalia,
anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent
to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person."
Asked if he had sexual relations with Lewinsky as
defined, Clinton replied: "I have never had sexual relations with
Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her." Shuster's
assessment: "...In denying sexual relations and then adding the word
'affair,' legal experts say Mr. Clinton closed any potential loophole.
They say there is no way he can admit a relationship with Lewinsky and
still claim he was telling the truth."
-- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers told viewers:
"After four years and $40 million sources close to the investigation
say Ken Starr may now be within a few short weeks of sending a report to
Congress finding substantial and credible evidence of possibly impeachable
offenses by the President."
The report, Myers stated in picking up on print
media stories, will focus on charges stemming from the Jones suit of
perjury and obstruction and will not likely to accuse Clinton of any
wrongdoing in Whitewater. Myers elaborated: "Sources say Starr's
report will be heavily influenced by what the President tells the grand
jury Monday. Today a presidential spokesman ruled out suggestions that the
President refuse to answer key questions for privacy reasons."
Conjuring images of Star Trek, Myers concluded:
"Once the President testifies prosecutors
plan to move at what an ally called 'warp speed' to get a report to
Congress soon after Labor Day. It's a report that neither Democrats nor
Republicans seem to want weeks before an election."
Is the "NBC Nightly News with Geraldo Rivera" coming soon? Yes,
in Rivera's dreams. "Geraldo Rivera wants nothing less than to be
'news anchor for the next millennium,' a pronouncement that may not
sit very well with the anchors of this millennium," reported J. Max
Robins in an August 15 TV Guide story. To promote his new CNBC news
program, Upfront Tonight, Rivera shared his plans and dreams with Robins:
"Openly hoping that his new show will catapult him to a top slot at
NBC News, Rivera brashly announces, 'I'm running for the center chair at
the desk of the wise men.'"
Robins reported that Rivera promised a "crusading" newscast,
that NBC News personnel are concerned about his partisan reporting and
that in another interview Rivera insulted Peter Jennings, dubbing him
"little Petey." (MRC intern Carrie Hale typed up these excerpts
for me from the only article not on the TV Guide Web page.)
Upfront Tonight will debut on Monday, August 24 and is expected to replace
Equal Time at 7:30pm ET, though CNBC has yet to cancel Equal Time. Robins
characterized his new show as "the newscast of the future that draws
on a style from the past." Robins explained: "'We're going
retro,' says Rivera. 'The audience doesn't care about space-age
presentation, they care about content.' Rivera promises a newscast with
passion, something of a return to WABC's Eyewitness News in New York City,
where he established his reputation as a crusading reporter."
Rivera's role at NBC News, where he's been promised four prime time
specials and is now part of the Today team, does not please Tom Brokaw.
Robins observed: "As both anchor and managing editor, Brokaw has made
it clear that he doesn't favor Rivera's contributions and, say NBC News
sources, doesn't even want promos for Upfront Tonight or Rivera Live
airing during his newscast."
factor I'd suggest for Brokaw's distress: at 7:30pm ET Rivera's new
show will air in the Pacific (4:30) and Mountain (5:30) time zones before
NBC affiliates show Brokaw's Nightly News, so Rivera will deliver to two
time zones NBC's first take on the day's news.)
Robins also discovered that "the truth is, Brokaw (who declined
comment) is not alone in taking umbrage at the reemergence of Rivera as a
legitimate network journalist. Some reporters suggest that Rivera,
covering Bill Clinton's recent trip to China for Today, snagged an
exclusive interview with the President because of his partisan reporting,
and even [Katie] Couric and [Today Executive Producer Jeff] Zucker thought
Rivera went too far on a subsequent Today show when he called Clinton
'the most maligned and assailed man in the history of the executive
office' and questioned how Congress could impeach Clinton for 'doing
something that virtually every member [of the House and Senate] has done
at some time in their lives.'"
"Rivera's concession that he 'was too over
the top' in his Clinton comments probably won't appease his competitors,
many of whom can't or won't think of Rivera as anything but the tabloid
grandstander whose nose was busted by skinheads and who wrote a tell-all
autobiography (unsubtly titled Exposing Myself ) that detailed sexual
encounters with the famous and not so famous."
"'I wear my heart on my sleeve,' Rivera
says. 'My hair is too long. I'm an ex-hippie. I have tattoos. I'm Puerto
Rican with a mustache and a broken nose. I don't look like those guys. I
don't hang out with those guys. That's why they don't like me.'"
the July 30 CyberAlert for details about Rivera's Today exchange: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19980730.asp
And see the July 1 CyberAlert for what he
reported from China:
Giving me a good excuse to check out the October Playboy when it comes
out, Rivera issues some hits on his colleagues in the upcoming Playboy
interview. Robins provided a preview:
"Rivera takes direct aim at ABC World News
Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. Conceding the anchor has 'paid his dues,'
Rivera says he still thinks of Jennings as 'little Petey, whose father [a
prominent Canadian journalist] put him on the air.' In a double strike at
Jennings and the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who has been
critical of Rivera in the past, Rivera calls Cohen 'the sissy who got
involved with Jennings' wife.' He later says that the only way Jennings
would venture into Harlem for a story is with 'six bodyguards.'"
the TV Guide story broke last week, Rivera retreated from the clear
implication of his comments about becoming a star anchor. USA Today
"Inside TV" columnist Peter Johnson relayed on August 10:
"In a statement Friday, Rivera said he's not gunning for Brokaw's
job. 'When I said I wanted to be an anchorman for the next millennium, I
meant as the host of Upfront Tonight and Rivera Live. Tom Brokaw is a
great newsman who does a terrific job, and the rivalry between us is
Meanwhile, Rivera continues to use his current CNBC show, Rivera Live, as
a platform to sympathize with Clinton and lash out at Ken Starr. One
recent example occurred on August 6, hours after Lewinsky testified that
she performed fellatio. Rivera complained:
"Let me say that the Founding Fathers must
be turning in their graves that a President of the United States is
vulnerable to impeachment for this [hits his hand on papers held in his
other hand]. According to a source very close to the Lewinsky camp, Monica
promised to testify to multiple encounters with the President, not as many
as thirty-seven, but more than just those six nights that Hillary Clinton
was out of town."
Rivera then offered the take of his "excellently placed source"
on what took place:
"Generally speaking, the encounters took the
form of a frantic embrace and mutual fondling. The President, Monica will
or has already testified, would gratify the former intern while she
performed oral sex, but not to completion. According to my source, the
President allegedly would end the encounter by himself nearby, but on one
or two occasions might have accidentally left evidence on Monica's
couple of CyberAlert readers sent to me what Hotline reported that Rivera
said later in the show. I checked the quote, and can now run it in a more
accurate form. After showing a clip of Clinton promising to answer all the
questions, Rivera urged him to refuse to cooperate:
"Mr. President, we love you. I want to hug
you, I want to hug you, please do the right thing. This is nothing, this
is nothing. Thomas Jefferson did not have this in mind, I swear to
to a commercial break minutes later, Rivera challenged Starr: "I
would give Ken Starr the Nobel Peace Prize were he to be man enough not to
refer a sex lie to the House for impeachment."
you have your "news anchor for the next millennium."
Bye-bye Bryant for good? Several months ago CBS News announced that Public
Eye with Bryant Gumbel would not return in the fall, but held out the
promise that it would be a mid-season replacement. But on Tuesday CBS News
President Andrew Heyward informed the 40 or so staffers they are being let
go. There goes any chance of a return of Public Eye. CBS apparently has
chosen to rest its hopes for a successful new magazine show on a second
night of 60 Minutes expected to debut next year.
Michelle Greppi reported in the August 12 New York Post: "It was
strictly a business decision, they were told. Gumbel was not present at
the meeting because, said a spokeswoman, the taping time for elements in
tonight's show had been rescheduled and he had to go home to change
"The spokeswoman said Gumbel will foot the
bill for a staff party tonight at an undisclosed location."
that's the least Bryant can do with his $5 million a year.
continued: "CBS News strenuously insists that it retains the
'flexibility' to gear up again for mid-season, but insiders say the
odds against that are now insurmountable. The Eye staff exodus will begin
as individuals wrap up outstanding stories. There are a number of stories
in the bank, which will allow the show to remain on the air until Sept.
Staffers may be absorbed by the new 60 Minutes. As for what Gumbel will do
for his $5 million, USA Today's Peter Johnson wrote on August 12:
"CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves has offered him specials 'to
keep my face on the screen, but I'm really trying to get through
mid-September. Then I'll think of my options.' A return to sports?
Unlikely. He has his HBO show, Real Sports. Morning TV? Nope. 'I've had
enough perkiness for a lifetime.' Talk show? 'What, become another
Politically, he already is.
some of his more vitriolic attacks while at CBS on Ken Starr, Linda Tripp
and anyone in Clinton's way, check out:
"As news magazines often do, Public Eye has shown signs of ratings
life in summer, finishing among the top 20 shows for the first time last
week," asserted New York Times reporter Bill Carter in an August 12
story passed along to me by the MRC's Clay Waters. Actually, last week
Public Eye did not air. But CBS did quite well with a Countryfest '98
special in Gumbel's usual 9pm ET/PT Wednesday time slot. -- Brent Baker
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