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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday August 20, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 136) 


Rivera Linked Starr to Bombings; "Whip Starr's Ass;" Starr Nazi-like 

1) Wednesday the networks emphasized growing troubles for Clinton as Democrats are angry and Lewinsky will contradict his claim of one-way sex. All showed his tie and NBC discovered sunglasses.

2) Latest from Geraldo Rivera: money Starr spent could have made "embassies bombproof," Clinton a "damn good President," and Richard Scaife has "bankrolled a hate campaign."

3) Comedian Chris Rock threatens: "I would whip Starr's ass right now. I will get a crew from Brooklyn and we will stomp him."

4) MSNBC's Keith Olbermann apologized for saying Ken Starr looks like the Nazi Heinrich Himmler.

>>> MRC column in today's Wall Street Journal: Check out the editorial/op-ed page of the August 20 Wall Street Journal for a column by MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell showing how members of the media need to offer a mea culpa for their months of defending Clinton and denigrating Ken Starr. <<<


Gr-tiecap.jpg (25863 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) With leading Democrats signaling they are not satisfied with Clinton's address and evidence emerging that contradicts Clinton's one-way sex theory, the networks have decided the President is now in some real trouble. The top of the show introductions on ABC and NBC Wednesday night were amongst the toughest in months with both networks emphasizing how Clinton's problems are "growing worse." NBC's Brian Williams noted Clinton's birthday, but added how it was "a birthday his press secretary describes as the worst in his life, because of his admission he'd had a relationship with a woman closer in age to his own daughter."

     The continued fallout led every network as all highlighted how he wore a tie, on the day Monica Lewinsky first testified, that she had given him as a gift, saying "when I see you wearing this tie I'll know that I am close to your heart." NBC's Lisa Myers disclosed Clinton wore in Africa sunglasses bought by Lewinsky. Only CBS credited the story, plugged Tuesday night by the Drudge Report, to the New York Times where it appeared Wednesday morning. CBS led with how Clinton had turned over a DNA sample, an event also reported in briefer form by the other networks.

     Every network tried to explain Clinton's rationale in how he insisted his denial of a sexual relationship was "legally correct" because he simply received a sex act, but in various levels of detail each explained how Lewinsky is expected to testify Thursday about how he initiated sex acts. Only CNN and FNC specified how the "type of sex" admitted by Clinton was oral. NBC delivered the most cryptic explanation, CNN allowed a source to dismiss Clinton's rationale as "ludicrous" and FNC learned that Lewinsky is "outraged" by Clinton's suggestion he "just sat back" while she serviced him.

     ABC and FNC ran separate stories on Democratic and Hill reaction, but ABC has yet to mention Democratic Congressman Paul McHale's call for resignation. (CBS, CNN and FNC highlighted him Tuesday night.) He appeared on Wednesday's Today and Wednesday night NBC Nightly News included a clip of him insisting public officials who lie under oath are unfit for office.

     Here are some highlights from the Wednesday night, August 19 evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Forrest Sawyer topped the show:
     "Good evening. It appears the crisis surrounding President Clinton is growing worse, possibly much worse. Both Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp are scheduled to appear again tomorrow before the grand jury and Lewinsky's testimony is critical. Sources say she is prepared to say the President did not tell the truth either under oath or to the American people. At issue the nature of the sexual contact between them and whether the President may have committed perjury."

     Sam Donaldson explained how Clinton maintained his denial, in the Jones deposition, of a sexual relationship with Lewinsky was "legally accurate" because "he interpreted the definition given him as describing a one-way street. If it was Lewinsky who had touched Mr. Clinton he could say he had not had sexual relations with her." But, Donaldson reported that sources say she has already testified that Clinton "initiated contact with her." Another area where Clinton was grilled Monday, Donaldson asserted: how the gifts ended up with Currie. When asked if he asked Lewinsky for the gifts back "he did not give a definitive answer."

     Covering a lot of ground, Donaldson moved to the tie Clinton wore at an August 6 gun control event in the Rose Garden. (This is the event where the Marine Band played to drown out questions). Donaldson elaborated: "She is said to have told the President 'when I see you wearing this tie I will know I am close to your heart.' Prosecutors want to know if he wore it on the day she was to testify as signal to her, hoping she would not say anything damaging." Noting that she didn't see him wearing it until she saw that news that night, Donaldson added that "twice before this summer the President wore the same tie: on June 24th, as he was preparing to leave for China, and on July 9th in Atlanta."

     Next, Linda Douglass covered upset Democrats. Senator Patrick Moynihan, she relayed, "ripped into" Clinton's speech and said he should apologize, but "Privately many Democrats have been much harsher than Moynihan was today. One Democratic House member told ABC News he was 'nauseated' by the President's speech..." The dilemma for Democrats, she explained, is how to separate themselves from Clinton in fall elections.

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather led off: "Good evening. There is breaking hard news tonight about special prosecutor Ken Starr's investigation of President Clinton. CBS News has confirmed that Starr asked for and received a DNA sample from the President."

     Bob Schieffer covered the DNA matter before getting to the sex, disclosing that in the Map Room Clinton read a statement conceding "'inappropriate physical contact.' When prosecutors questioned him about that, he said Miss Lewinsky had performed a specific sex act on him." Schieffer noted how Lewinsky says the sex went beyond that, before quickly jumping to the New York Times tie story.

     From Martha's Vineyard Bill Plante found a President celebrating his birthday in private with a quiet dinner Thursday night at Vernon Jordan's home, but Plante asserted that aides will soon argue its time for the nation to get back to business. To illustrate that they hope to convince Clinton to leave the island next week to focus on events around popular issues.

     Finally, CBS caught up with FNC's story from he day before as Dan Rather intoned: "It's becoming increasingly possible that Vice President Al Gore may be part of renewed focus for another independent counsel when and if one is appointed to investigate campaign fundraising...."
     Phil Jones handled the story, running through the same basic fact as did FNC's Carl Cameron, including how Janet Reno is expected to ask for a 90 day review period to evaluate fundraising calls placed by Al Gore and coordinated by Harold Ickes. Unlike FNC, Jones did not include the view that Reno is missing the bigger picture of foreign funding.

     -- CNN's The World Today. Highlighting inconsistencies between Lewinsky and Clinton, Wolf Blitzer reported that "sources familiar with the President's testimony say he did acknowledge Lewinsky performed oral sex on him, but he refused to say whether he performed any sexual acts with her. She has testified, according to sources, that they engaged in oral, manual and phone sex."

     Attempting to explain Clinton's rationale, Blitzer asserted in reference to the deposition's definition of sexual relations, that Clinton thinks that "since there was no specific mention of quote, 'hands and mouth,' it did not necessarily include the type of sex they engaged in." In a soundbite, former Bush speechwriter Jennifer Grossman declared: "He didn't have sex with her, but that she had sex with him. That is absolutely ludicrous."

     John King checked in from the Massachusetts island and emphasized White House efforts to calm "Democratic jitters and outright anger."

     -- FNC's Fox Report. David Shuster revealed that "Lewinsky is outraged, according to a friend, that the President seems to be suggesting that he just sat back while she performed oral sex. Adding fuel to Lewinsky's anger, says the source, is a feeling of betrayal. Lewinsky said it is the President who suggested they had a future together after his presidency."
     Shuster moved on to report that prosecutors on Monday pressed Clinton about whether saying Lewinsky's 37 White House visits were to see Betty Currie was really a cover story.

     FNC also provided pieces from Wendell Goler in Martha's Vineyard, Julie Kirtz on how more women than men support Clinton, and Eric Burns on the dichotomy between media and public interest in the story. The media saw a bad speech, but the public "found more truth serum in it than snake oil." Plus, Carl Cameron assessed Democratic support, uniquely highlighting how Republicans fear that for Clinton "the best character defense is a tough policy offense."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams announced:
     "Good evening. The President of the United States turned 52 years old today, a birthday his press secretary describes as the worst in his life, because of his admission he'd had a relationship with a woman closer in age to his own daughter. The First Family is on summer vacation, but back home in Washington though the steady stream of leaks stemming from what was supposed to be secret testimony to the grand jury has already started. The details are graphic and personal and despite his televised confession the damage appears to be growing by the day."

     Claire Shipman in Martha's Vineyard noted the DNA sample turnover and Clinton's dinner with Vernon Jordan. Then she got vague:
     "Despite reports that Bill Clinton refused to answer specific questions about sex, sources tell NBC News that the President was pushed by prosecutors to admit having a specific type of sex with Monica Lewinsky. Sources tell NBC he argued he did not commit perjury when he denied having sexual relations in the Paula Jones case because the type of sex he is now admitting to falls outside the definition provided by the judge in that case."

     Could she have been any more cryptic?

     Shipman played a soundbite of Paul McHale from that morning's Today: "The consequences when any public official lies under oath should be forfeiture of office." Shipman added that other Democrats are mad, with Tom Daschle "especially angry since the President personally assured him none of the accusations were true."

     Lisa Myers relayed how prosecutors think wearing the tie may have been an effort to obstruct justice, adding: "NBC News has learned that Lewinsky has said they had a signaling system that also includes sunglasses she gave the President which Clinton wore in Africa." [video of Bill wearing them as he stood next to Hillary]
     Like FNC, Myers noted that Lewinsky's friends decry the lack of compassion for her and that she insists her relationship with Clinton went beyond her just servicing him sexually.

     For the In Depth segment David Bloom explored scenarios about what awaits Clinton, from impeachment to no hearings at all. Pete Williams looked at a middle ground option, a vote of censure by the House and Senate as occurred in 1834 with President Andrew Jackson.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Geraldo blames Ken Starr for the embassy bombings? In a MSNBC chat session Tuesday night Rivera wondered why the $40 million Starr's probe has consumed wasn't "spent to make our embassies bombproof."

     To help promote the 7:30pm ET Monday premiere on CNBC of Upfront Tonight, described as "a new in-depth newscast hosted by Geraldo Rivera and Diane Dimond," Rivera took time to participate in the chat session. MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught the transcript on the MSNBC Web page and highlighted some of Rivera's more passionate comments defending Clinton and bashing Starr. (Note: ellipses, abbreviations, use of lower and upper case as typed by Rivera.)

     -- "You have to make your judgments about this President. If I still had my daytime talk show, Bill Clinton would be a perfect subject for analysis, he seems dysfunctional in this aspect. He's 52 and acts sometimes as if he's 18. What I think is a more impressive fact about this man is that he's been a damn good President. Who among us is perfect, has not sinned, is going to cast the first stone?"

     -- "There is no way this man will ever resign. He believes that this whole mess was engineered by his political enemies.
     "What I want everyone to note is this: The New York Times wrote 1000 stories on Whitewater between 1992 and 1998. (i think that # is correct). Whitewater is now a Great Big Nothing, with no indictments going anywhere near the WH. Where is the apology for whitewater, travelgate, filegate and the talking points.
     "He did something terrible. He cheated on his wife and he lied about it. That's what they have after 4 years and 40 million.
     "Why wasn't that $$ spent to make our embassies bombproof?"

     -- "I ask as an atty that everyone understand that all lies ain't perjury. Once again, to be perjury in a federal case, it must be a Material Lie. This was a lie about a non-essential and discarded aspect of a dismissed civil lawsuit brought for political purposes. How would you feel if Richard Mellon Scaife bankrolled a hate campaign against you?"

     -- "I believe that Ken S. has declared a holy war Vs this prez. Again, he may not be perfect...far from it...but at what point do progressive people feel revulsion more at the pursuer than the pursued?"

     -- "The Jones case was a politically bankrolled hit job.
     "I had evidence that I was going to toss at her lawyer tonight about the inherent weakness and dishonesty of her case but ran out of time."


     -- "Did you ever see Les Mis? He IS like inspector Jaubert. At some point the pursuit became more important than the original intention to seek the truth."

     The entire 4,000 word transcript is on the MSNBC Web site. The address, as of Wednesday at least: http://bbs.msnbc.com/bbs/msnbc-transcripts/posts/ei/212.asp


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Comedian Chris Rock, once of Saturday Night Live, used a Wednesday Today show appearance as a platform to praise Bill Clinton and threaten Ken Starr and George Stephanopoulos. This Friday HBO begins a 13-week run of Friday night variety shows hosted by Rock, the hook for his Today booking. Rock's analysis is too bizarre to adequately summarize, so you'll need to read the excerpts below that were caught and transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens.

     From the August 19 Today:

     Chris Rock: "You got the President. They're all over him. I don't get it. Leave this man alone....They question everything he does, you know. They don't give him any slack. You know Clinton will spend a $100 bill and they'll put it up to the light, 'let me check that out there.'"

     Matt Lauer: "And what did you think of his apology the other night. Did you watch it?"
     Rock: "I watched it. It was good. I mean, I don't understand why people are like demanding, 'He should apologize to the nation.' He didn't cheat on us. He cheated on his wife, you know, it's his wife. He didn't do anything to me. Country's still running. The A Train, you know got me here on time."

     Lauer: "So this story doesn't interest you. So if on your talk show President Clinton were to appear you wouldn't have any major question you would want to ask him?"
     Rock: "I would ask him if it was worth it? And not the sex. Was it worth even running for President? That's what I would ask him. Was being President worth all this crap? Just imagine you cheated on your woman, then they made you apologize. They flew in your whole family for you to apologize. People from LA and Seattle. Mama I cheated, you know what I mean, it's not right."
     Lauer: "Would you want to have him on your show?"
     Rock: "I would love to have him on my show. I love Clinton. He's, I don't even understand the crime. Do you want a guy to admit he cheated on his wife? You want somebody that dumb running your country? Telling the truth then? Hey why don't you tell Saddam Hussein the truth right before you are getting ready to bomb him? I just thought you needed to know. That's not cool. Do you know how low it is to go after somebody's sex life? You know that's the lowest you can do. I mean Clinton give me a call. I will whup Starr's ass. If he would pardon me, if President Clinton would pardon me I would whip Starr's ass right now. I will get a crew from Brooklyn and we will stomp him like, like, we're Savion Glover. We'll stomp him like it's bringing da noise. Who else? Stephanopoulos. He gave this guy a job! You can't dis people that gave you jobs, man. He put my man on, he's talking, he needs to get stomped. Somebody need to whip his ass. Anybody. If I give you a job, if I give you a job, you know."
     Lauer: "You see the clock on the camera there. It says 7:53, that's AM!"
     Rock: "I know I'm just saying man. Butts! Ass, whatever. People need to get stomped. Smacks need to be given out."
     Rock: "You know add on to this Starr, you know how low this is to go after somebody's sex life? Just think about it this way. Kennedy, Martin Luther King. It's like, Martin Luther King. You are talking about civil rights era, black people hated, churches being burned, little kids being hosed down. But somebody said, 'You know he's having an affair, let's get him. No that's too low. We can shoot him in the head, that's cool but to say he's cheating on his wife, now only a scumbag would do that.'....It's like,'Let's shoot Kennedy that's cool but we can't say cheated on his wife, that's low.'"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) As several CyberAlert readers alerted me, Tuesday night on his The Big Show/White House in Crisis 8/11pm ET MSNBC shows, host Keith Olbermann suggested that Kenneth Starr looks like a particular Nazi leader. Well, he heard some complaints. So Wednesday night, August 19, he delivered this clarification and apology, though not retracting his suggestion that Starr's face reminds him of the Nazi Heinrich Himmler:

     "For months since I have looked at videotape of Kenneth Starr's face I have thought he looks like somebody famous from history, but who? Not long ago it dawned on me and yesterday, in a question to one of my guests, I mentioned it, that facially Ken Starr reminded me of Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses, the infamous Nazi. We got a number of calls from people who were offended by that remark, who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and insulting Starr or who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and demeaning the terrible importance of the Holocaust. And to those people who were offended I sincerely and humbly apologize. I meant only what I said. Facially, the two men look vaguely alike. But I am primarily of German descent, so I carry with me an inherited shame and guilt about this. So despite the innocence of the intent of my remark there, I should have been much more sensitive about invoking that name in this context and for having not been so I am very sorry."

     Olbermann's next sentence: "Still ahead for us tonight, did Olbermann's apology go far enough? We'll have the latest poll numbers on that."

     That's been my advice: When apologizing for comparing someone to a Nazi or making light of the Holocaust, always follow up with a lame joke that makes light of your apology.  -- Brent Baker

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