Starr's Arkansas Abuses; Hillary "Deeply Religious;" Starr's "Panty Raid"
1) Hours before Clinton is
expected to concede he abused his trust, CBS's 60 Minutes re-ran a hit
piece on how Starr abused his power to hurt "small fish" in
2) NBC's Tim Russert pushed
Orrin Hatch to agree that if Clinton admits his lie Republicans should
drop the matter. Washington Post reporter Fred Barbash begged Starr to
cancel Clinton's testimony.
3) If Clinton obstructed
justice and committed perjury, Sam Donaldson has decided "he is not
qualified to be President."
4) ABC, CBS and NBC all ran
admiring profiles of Hillary Clinton. NBC's Andrea Mitchell conceded that
"close friends" admit she lied on Today, but Mitchell stressed
how she's "deeply religious."
5) Friday-Sunday: ABC reported
Clinton was sexually aggressive, NBC displayed sympathy toward Clinton's
"turmoil" and contended "many Americans" will accept
his she had sex with me line.
6) Geraldo Rivera complained
that "you and me" are picking up Starr's legal tab in appealing
the leaks ruling. "It will be piled onto the tens of millions his
panty raid has so far chalked up."
Correction: Correcting the August 14
correction. The July 30 CyberAlert item on Geraldo Rivera is not about his
reporting from China but about his exchange with Katie Couric on Today.
The link address listed in the correction was accurate.
On the eve of President Clinton's testimony and with everyone expecting
Clinton to change his story in a way that would mean he's abused the
public trust and those who believed in him, 60 Minutes decided to re-run a
piece from just three months ago on Ken Starr's supposed abuses.
16 edition of the CBS show carried a new introduction as Morley Safer lent
credibility to Hillary Clinton's charge that anti-Arkansas bias is behind
attacks on her husband:
week, as President Clinton was preparing for his closed-circuit testimony
before the Kenneth Starr grand jury, Hillary Clinton attacked her
husband's attackers, saying a lot of the criticism comes down to an
anti-Arkansas bias. Well, chief among his critics, it can fairly be said,
is Kenneth Starr. And the Starr Wars, it can also fairly be said, targeted
Arkansas, home of the Whitewater affair and the investigation that now,
four years later, seems to be winding up with the Lewinsky affair. From
the beginning Mr. Starr's tactics and motives have come under fire,
especially the way he went after low level targets in order to get them to
testify against more prominent ones."
Clinton will just admit it will Republicans and Starr should be good
enough to drop the matter so we can all move on. That's a argument some
reporters are forwarding, putting the burden on Starr and the GOP to do
the right thing and not pursue the matter if Clinton changes his story.
Two examples from this weekend:
Tim Russert did pose some tough questions to Democrats later in the show,
here are his first two inquiries to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch:
-- "If tomorrow the President of the
United States goes under oath and acknowledges he had sex with Monica
Lewinsky, admits he misled the American people and apologizes for his
behavior, would you be willing to close this matter down?"
-- "Two weeks ago, Senator, you urged
the President on this program to pour his heart out. If tomorrow he takes
your advice, tells the full truth, unvarnished, doesn't try to thread the
needle and play semantic games about what's sex and not sex, but
acknowledges sex, apologizes for his behavior, will you, then, go to the
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Henry Hyde, the
the House, Newt Gingrich, and say, 'It's in the best interest for the
nation to let this matter rest'?"
an Outlook section article in Sunday's Washington Post, former Post
Supreme Court reporter Fred Barbash penned a plea headlined "Tomorrow
Shouldn't Happen." Barbash began:
"At this historic moment, as we
cross the threshold to the first-ever grand jury interrogation of a
President, I respectfully suggest that we step back. Kenneth Starr should
cancel Clinton's grand jury appearance, finish his report and walk it over
to Capitol Hill where it belongs. Sooner or later, under our constitution,
the fate of the President must be a political question, not a legal one.
Why not sooner?
purpose of this plea is not to spare Clinton, but to spare us. Neither the
rule of law, nor any particular law, requires a prosecutor to bring a
target before a grand jury. It is a matter of discretion. The independent
counsel should exercise that discretion in the interests of the people,
whom he represents, and pass -- especially since the apparent purpose of
Clinton's appearance is less to elicit information about a past crime than
to get him to commit a new one. Let the House Judiciary Committee decide
whether or not a President must testify under oath...."
noble, until you skip down to his next to last paragraph and realize
Barbash is really driven by a liberal political agenda:
"...how will posterity judge a
government preoccupied with sex and lies, while children are gunned down
in schoolyards; while the economies of Asia and Russia implode; while war
rages in Kosovo and Angola, and while starvation ravages Sudan; while U.S.
embassies are bombed in Africa, money for Social Security runs out, and 41
million people limp along without health insurance?"
bottom line for Clinton supporters, as long as he's protecting the right
to abortion or working to expand government's role in health care, we
should all excuse his personal behavior.
Clinton has lost one White House reporter. ABC's Sam Donaldson declared on
Sunday's This Week that if the President committed perjury and obstructed
justice he should be removed from office. Donaldson asserted:
"I think the question now is not
whether Bill Clinton deserves compassion as a human being, understanding,
we're all fallen agents, but is he qualified to be and should he continue
to be the leader, the man to whom we look up to in this country if in fact
he has done these things. I say, if he has done these things, he is not
qualified to be the leader. Brother, I'll help you up, I'll give you a
dollar if you need it but you can't be the President of the United
After some protest from George
Stephanopoulos, Donaldson clarified his assessment:
"I'm talking about the whole
suggestion of accusations which include subornation of perjury and
obstruction of justice. I don't want to pre-judge the evidence. I'm saying
if it turns out he has committed all those acts he is not qualified to be
President of the United States and ought to be removed."
the Media's Hero. The network newscasts over the weekend relayed plenty of
disdain for Bill Clinton trying to creatively define "sexual
relations," but nary a negative word for Hillary Clinton. CBS and NBC
featured pieces Friday night on the First Lady, ABC on Saturday night.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell delivered the most glowing profile. Mitchell
conceded that "close friends" say Mrs. Clinton knowingly lied in
her January Today interview, but instead of chastising the First Lady
Mitchell portrayed that as evidence she "is deeply religious."
Engberg on the August 14 CBS Evening News opened by noting that Hillary
"does not regard herself as the wife betrayed." Instead, she
sees herself as the victim of a political vendetta. Engberg highlighted
how friends says the "crisis has not unhinged her" and though
she initially blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy," she now
blames her husband's problems on anti-Arkansas bias even though, Engberg
noted, she's from Illinois. Engberg concluded by emphasizing public
"As for the public's assessment."
Man: "I think she's tip top"
Women: "I love her."
Woman: "I like her a lot."
Engberg: "A new CBS News poll shows she's viewed favorably
two-to-one. Mrs. Clinton in 1992 defended her husband [60 Minutes video]
in an earlier controversy and said she wasn't just standing by her man as
in the country song. Now she appears to be doing just that."
Mitchell delivered a tribute on the August 14 NBC Nightly News, beginning:
"Politician, strategist, lawyer, protector -- in a marriage that
friends say is based on brutal honesty and unconditional love."
Following a January Today clip of Hilary
Clinton proclaiming her love for Bill Clinton, Mitchell insisted:
"Some people may see her as a woman wronged. But friends and White
House officials insist Hillary Rodham Clinton is no victim."
Mitchell ran a soundbite from a friend
before maintaining: "Toughened by years of scandal and innuendo, she
is a key player on the Clinton defense team. And as his wife Mrs. Clinton
cannot be subpoenaed to answer questions about her legal or political
Lisa Caputo, a former aide to the First
Lady, then offered how she has "an incredible legal mind."
Mitchell picked up: "In fact, after
yesterday's emotional memorial service for victims of the Nairobi bombing,
a close adviser tells NBC News Mrs. Clinton was more focused than her
husband, aAt the White House legal strategy session, zeroing in on the
bottom line which for her is save the presidency, don't lie to the grand
jury, even if that means making embarrassing admissions."
Viewers head a soundbite from a First Lady
historian and then Mitchell made this surprising assertion: "Close
friends say she knew everything from day one and still went on NBC in
January to deny all."
Hillary Clinton on Today: "If
all that were proven true I think that would be a very serious offense.
That is not going to be proven true."
But instead of offering a rebuke of
the First Lady for her complicity in seven months of duplicity, Mitchell
worried about her emotional well-being: "So how does she cope? What
other wife would tolerate so much embarrassment? Two clues to Hillary
Clinton's character: friends say she is deeply religious and incredibly
angry, blaming Ken Starr, not her husband."
Mandy Grunwald: "She insists on doing
her job and refuses to give in to the President's opponents and to buckle
under pressure would be a victory them for that she would never allow
Over video of Bill and Hillary walking from
the helicopter hand-in-hand, Mitchell concluded: "And, friends say,
because the Clinton's are now each other's best counsel, if anything this
crisis has brought them closer together."
Lying will bring us together.
-- ABC got
into the Hillary hailing act on Saturday's World News Tonight. Reporter
Juju Chang began: "As her husband prepares to testify about whether
he cheated on her, Mrs. Clinton has seemed anything but the wounded wife.
This week she met with flood victims in Milwaukee, talked politics with
local leaders and helped the country to grieve..."
Chang focused on how "her unflinching
loyalty has earned her a new level of respect" in high public
approval numbers. Chang ran a soundbite from Grunwald on how they love
each other and then from Mary Matalin on how Hillary is just trying to
maintain her powerful position, before concluding: "Whatever her
motivations, Hillary Clinton has used her fierce determination, which used
to be seen as a negative, to turn what could have been a humiliating
experience into a position of strength."
does not permit a thorough review of Friday through Sunday evening
coverage of Monicagate, but I'll try to succinctly convey some of the most
August 14. Reaction to the trial balloon in the New York Times about how
Clinton might concede "intimate sexual encounters," led all but
the CBS Evening News which started with the appeals court ruling that the
FDA does not have authority to regulate cigarettes.
News Tonight. Sam Donaldson outlined the new White House line: "At
the deposition Jones's lawyers had given Mr. Clinton a written description
of sex, which as edited and allowed by the judge defined several physical
points of sexual contact 'with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual
desire of any person,' but did not explicitly cover all the points of
contact involving oral sex. Further, the definition might be read to apply
only if the President was initiating the contact, rather than the other
way around. Last January White House Communications Director Ann Lewis
said there was no loophole in the President's denial."
But, Donaldson reminded viewers, look at
Gennifer Flowers. In 1992 he denied sexual relations, but this year he
admitted sex with her. Still, at a press conference he maintained both
answers were truthful.
Judd added some information that would contradict Clinton's spin:
"Sources familiar with Monica Lewinsky's story say that what she
described to investigators about alleged sexual encounters with the
President, clearly falls within the definition used in the Paula Jones
deposition. The sources say any suggestion that Lewinsky alone was
aggressive in her contact with the President is wrong. What they described
is two-way physical contact. One source said if Mr. Clinton testifies to
the contrary what he would be saying is 'he used a young woman just to
News. Scott Pelley ominously began: "This is a moment of extreme
peril for the President. At 1 O'clock on Monday a federal grand jury is
going to watch Mr. Clinton raise his right hand and swear to tell the
whole truth. Between now and then the President and his lawyers will be
debating just what that story will be."
World Today. John King examined the internal debate about what Clinton
should say. Bob Franken explained the logistics of the Monday set up and
then Brooks Jackson tried to explain how the President defines sex:
"We're going to be discussing the President's definition of sex, so
you may want to send small children out of the room." After listing
the definition offered in the Jones deposition, Jackson marveled that
"Some Clinton advisers are claiming that definition technically does
not cover, for example, oral sex if she contacted his private parts but he
didn't contact hers, well, you get the idea." Jackson humorously
concluded: "Okay, you can bring the kids back now. And when they ask,
'daddy, mommy, what's sex,' you can say 'let's ask a lawyer.'"
Report. Jim Angle emphasized how the White House is "throwing cold
water" on speculation that Clinton's story will change, but are
looking at what if scenarios. David Shuster explained the physical on
logistics of Monday's event and Steve Centanni reviewed the claims made by
"all the President's women," specifically Gennifer Flowers,
Dolly Kyle Browning, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Paula Jones and Kathleen
News opened with a story by Claire Shipman sympathetic to the President's
plight: "If the President is feeling the weight of his upcoming
testimony it didn't show in public. But those close to Bill Clinton say he
is thoroughly shaken by his situation."
After explaining the push to get him to
admit a "limited sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky,"
Shipman offered this empathetic assessment: "The President's staff
threw a surprise party for him today in advance of his birthday next week
and many there were surprised at his good cheer. But privately those close
to him say they are starting to see his turmoil as he searches for a safe
path and one with some dignity."
NBC's Lisa Myers showed the network realizes Clinton is not the victim:
"NBC News has learned the former intern has described encounters with
the President in which he touched her in intimate ways. Sources familiar
with Lewinsky's account say these encounters unquestionably would be
considered sex, even under the narrowest definition given the President in
Myers made clear Clinton put himself in the
very spot Shipman found so worthy of empathy: "Even long time
supporters say that at times in his career Bill Clinton has told as little
of the truth as possible, as slowly as possible. That instinct, they say,
may make Monday's testimony even more legally treacherous."
Williams looked at how "if two people have an affair and agree to
keep it secret that's not necessarily a federal case" and Tim Russert
outlined Clinton's options.
August 15. Golf bumped the CBS Evening News on both Saturday and Sunday,
at least in the eastern and central time zones. Saturday night the bombing
in Northern Ireland topped ABC and NBC.
News Tonight. Mike Von Fremd ran through Clinton's day with his lawyers,
the set up in the Map Room and the options for what Clinton could say.
Nightly News. David Bloom argued that the public would buy Clinton's novel
and narrow definition of sexual relations:
"The President's lawyers are
said to believe Mr. Clinton can admit to a limited sexual relationship
with Lewinsky without committing perjury. Under this scenario, the
President's defense would come down to she may have had sexual relations
with him, but he did not have sexual relations with her. A tortured
explanation perhaps but one many Americans, sick and tired of scandal
talk, appear ready to accept, like those in Maryland at today's Howard
Man: "Some people just want to hear
some kind of closure to it."
Woman holding baby: "Personally I don't care, I really don't, I
really don't care if he lied or not."
Woman: "Basically I'm tired of the whole, hearing about the whole
August 16. The upcoming testimony topped ABC and NBC as ABC's Peter
Jennings traveled to Washington to anchor the weekend show.
News Tonight/Sunday. Mike Von Fremd noted how "The President's
supporters were busy doing damage control on the Sunday talk shows,
insisting the public would be sympathetic to an admission of wrongdoing by
Jennings then discussed the situation with
Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and Jackie Judd. Tim O'Brien provided a
profile of David Kendall.
Nightly News. From Washington, anchor Brian Williams set the scene:
"Bill Clinton, the first President ever subpoenaed to testify before
a federal grand jury in office will do so tomorrow via live television. He
may, in the process, become the first leader in the history of this
Republic to admit to an illicit relationship with a young co-worker inside
the White House while in office."
Claire Shipman relayed the latest
speculation that Clinton will maintain "through linguistic
loopholes" that he did not commit perjury, reported that Lanny Davis
urged the White House to release a transcript of Clinton's testimony and
mentioned that NBC learned Clinton and Lewinsky conducted at least 75
Williams reviewed Starr's term. Williams opened by observing it has lasted
longer than a presidential term. Though he highlighted how Starr has
earned 15 convictions or guilty pleas in Arkansas, he concluded with this
"About the only commonly held view
about Kenneth Starr is a wish that his investigation would end, now. A
view that even some of his own prosecutors share."
Rivera is disgusted with Kenneth Starr, a view he made clear Thursday
night. Near the top of the August 13 Rivera Live on CNBC he declared:
"Bill Clinton is paying his own
legal fees. Guess who's paying Ken Starr's? Almost overlooked in the midst
of the enormous attention being paid to next Monday's showdown, is the
fact that the independent counsel tonight is in real peril himself,
profoundly threatened by Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's decision that Mr.
Starr show cause why he should not be held in contempt for what the judge
feels is a pattern of allegedly illegal leaks of secret grand jury
information. That's just like an indictment. It's very serious business in
which the special prosecutor could actually face a stiff fine, possible
disbarment or even imprisonment, however unlikely that last possibility
is. As to the question of whose paying his legal tab: you and me. It will
be piled onto the tens of millions his panty raid has so far chalked
Taxpayers paying the legal tab for an official's abuses? Sort of like the
huge tab Clinton has run up with everything from lawyers for the Secret
Service officers to his use of government lawyers to appeal rulings about
government lawyers, such as Bruce Lindsey. -- Brent Baker
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