Clintons & Cronkites Set Sail; Hillary's Conservative "Moral Compass"
1) The Clintons pulled up the
anchor with former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. NBC's David Bloom relayed
how an adviser complained "we can't eat enough crow to satisfy our
2) ABC's Lisa McRee decreed:
it was "courageous professionalism" for Clinton aides to stand
by their boss afer lying for him, but Starr's office is staffed by
"zealots" on a "witch hunt."
3) With a "blend of her
conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham Clinton defies the
pigeon-hole," Bill Kurtis contended on A&E as he certified her
right-wing conspiracy claim.
4) When U.S. News reporter
Matt Miller smeared ex-Presidents in arguing they did what Clinton did,
CNBC's Chris Matthews got mad.
5) For Time the real scandal
is that people didn't realize the "unvarnished truth" of
Bush's voodoo economics comment.
Corrections: First, the
August 25 CyberAlert contents list referred to Deborah Mathis as Deborah
Matthews. Second, the August 24 CyberAlert asserted that "U.S.
soldiers were murdered by mobs in Sudan back in the Bush years." I
confused two Sunni Muslin-dominated African "S" nations. In
fact, as reader Michael Friedman of Hong Kong pointed out, the incident
occurred in Somalia, not Sudan, and though the troops went in during
Bush's years they were killed in Clinton's term after the late Defense
Secretary Les Aspin denied armored vehicles to the on-scene commander.
The President, Hillary and Chelsea went out for a sail Tuesday with Walter
Cronkite, his wife and grandson. Every network but ABC showed video of the
excursion from Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday night. In fact, ABC's
World News Tonight did not run anything about Clinton's vacation or
Monicagate. Hurricane Bonnie topped every August 25 evening show.
CBS showed a
Cronkite boat clip as anchor Ed Bradley claimed that Clinton is
"increasing his visibility" by planning a speech and
"creating a food safety council." Catching up with news broken
by NBC's Lisa Myers on Monday, CNN and FNC looked at Ken Starr's plan
to charge Clinton with "abuse of power." Putting a damper on
CNN's Monday story that Clinton plans to again address his lying about
Lewinsky, FNC and NBC reported there are no plans to do so as NBC's
David Bloom relayed how an adviser complained "we can't eat enough
crow to satisfy our critics," so Clinton will move on.
the networks devoted little, if any, time to politics. ABC's Good
Morning America delivered one segment while CBS's This Morning didn't
have a word. This one item read by Today news reader Sara James, MRC news
analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, represented the totality of August 25
Today coverage of anything political: "President Clinton was out in
public Monday on Martha's Vineyard. He stopped at a store for coffee and
shook some hands during what has been mostly a private vacation."
Here are some
highlights from the Tuesday, August 25 evening shows:
-- CBS Evening
News. After a story on how sunglasses can prevent glaucoma, over video of
the Clinton family in former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite's sailboat,
anchor Ed Bradley tied in the previous story:
"On the Clinton family vacation today
President Clinton had no sunglasses on, but the First Lady did. They and
daughter Chelsea joined Walter Cronkite for a ride on his ketch off
Martha's Vineyard. Increasing his visibility in several ways, Mr.
Clinton signed an executive order today creating a food safety council.
He'll also make a speech Thursday in Worcester, Massachusetts. Subject:
Actually, it's a
fundraiser for Democratic House member Jim McGovern.
-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Anchor Joie
Chen showed some video of the Clintons on Cronkite's boat and then went
to Bob Franken for a look at a possible Starr approach. Franken began:
"Abuse of power was the essence of the
second article of impeachment voted against Richard Nixon for Watergate.
And now sources familiar with Ken Starr's investigation tell CNN his staff
is debating whether to report to Congress that President Clinton abused
the power of his office for what one source calls 'his conduct during
the investigation.' The independent counsel's staff may have to decide,
he went on, whether the tactics were designed to delay the investigation,
specifically, did the President abuse the privilege of the presidency by
using White House lawyers to fight seven months of legal battles over
attorney-client and executive privilege issues."
Franken went on to note angry White House
reaction and how Starr also thinks the Secret Service appeals were a
delaying tactic, though those motions were not filed by people working
directly for Clinton, before concluding:
"Whatever the merits of the accusations
President Clinton may have committed obstruction of justice or perjured
himself or caused others to, a Starr charge he abused power or his office
could become significant. That's because while not a violation of criminal
law it could give Congress grounds to argue for impeachment since the
constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors has no precise
-- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET aired two Clinton
scandal-related pieces. First, Wendell Goler checked in from Martha's
Vineyard with video of the Clintons and Cronkites and news that Clinton
will go to Worcester on Thursday. Goler insisted that "his aides
denied he has plans to make a second address to the nation about his
relationship with Monica Lewinsky, though they admit privately some
advisers are urging him to do so." Goler added that Republicans on
Capitol Hill hope Starr's report deals with more than just Lewinsky and
that Clinton talked by phone with Boris Yeltsin.
Second, Rita Cosby examined the abuse of power
theory, an idea which "comes right out of Watergate." After
summarizing Starr's claims about the misuse of government-paid lawyers
and the Secret Service, Cosby suggested how the charge could make
Starr's report go beyond Lewinsky:
"Some political observers say if Starr
includes a charge of abuse of power in his report he may also list aspects
of past White House scandals, such as Filegate and Travelgate, in an
attempt to show how this President displayed a pattern of abuse that
didn't start with Monica Lewinsky."
-- NBC Nightly News. From Martha's Vineyard
David Bloom relayed:
"The President's closest advisers say
he's well aware of the criticism of last week's speech, namely that he
wasn't contrite enough. As one adviser put it today, we can't eat
enough crow to satisfy our critics, so tonight Mr. Clinton is trying to
move on. The President, who many Americans now say they don't trust, set
sail today with the man many Americans say they trust the most: newsman
After showing video of the Clintons with Cronkite,
Bloom asked whether Clinton can "survive and lead?" Thomas Mann
of the Brookings Institution assessed him as weakened before Bloom noted
that Clinton will "hit the road to campaign" in Worcester since
he needs Democratic allies now to help in any impeachment proceeding.
Clinton lies, so everyone lies; it's "courageous
professionalism" to not be ashamed of lying; and the biggest thing to
fear in Washington is not more White House deceit but Ken Starr's staff
who are "zealots" out on a "witch hunt." Catching up
with an item from last week, MRC analyst Clay Waters went back and
transcribed a couple of the questions/comments Good Morning America
co-host Lisa McRee proposed on August 19 to Washington Post media reporter
-- McRee decreed
everyone is equally guilty: "People have said that the media has
manipulated stories for years, and in this story it looks as if the media
was manipulated. All sides were spinning and leaking. Can we trust any of
these people now?"
-- Kurtz observed:
"It's interesting to watch them, Ann Lewis and others, dutifully
drag themselves before the cameras yesterday and saying, 'I know I've
been telling you for months that this didn't happen. Well it did happen,
but no one cares and lets move on.' So their own credibility has taken a
McRee disagreed and admired their deceit:
"But it's also courageous professionalism, some would say."
-- Later in the
interview McRee, who asserted that Clinton aides who lied for months had
displayed "courageous professionalism," saw less to admire in
Starr's staff: "Lot of people in Washington are expecting the White
House to go on the offensive with regard to Kenneth Starr and his
investigation. And people are expecting detailed questions to leak out of
that grand jury testimony, questions that make Kenneth Starr and his
attorneys look like zealots who are on some sort of witch hunt. Do you
think that might happen?"
Monday night, August 24, Bill Kurtis opened A&E's
"Investigative Reports" look at Hillary Clinton by asserting:
"Her story plays like a Greek drama: the
quest for power, the intoxication of success, the labyrinth of personal
and political intrigue. It's about triumph and tragedy, it's a love
story set against a backdrop of war [clip of Ken Starr], fraught with the
dangers of what the Greeks called hubris. It is a play not finished, yet
it's storyline captivates the world. In this edition of Investigative
Reports, we focus on a main player in this drama and aim for a glimpse
into the inner-workings of perhaps the most influential woman of the last
half-century: the 43rd First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham
Under the rubric
of Investigative Reports you might expect a probe into what she really
knew about the secret health care policy panel a federal judge declared
illegal, her husband's fooling around, her aide Sidney Blumenthal
spreading rumors about prosecutors, Whitewater or how her billing records
suddenly appeared or how she really made $100,000 on a $1,000 investment.
But no, Kurtis, once co-host of one of CBS's many attempts at a morning
show, promised "a search for the core of her values." And
he decided they are not liberal as "her moral compass, even 30 years
later, has never really left Park Ridge."
MRC news analyst
Jessica Anderson reviewed the show, observed its slant and then
transcribed quotes reflecting the tone. Time magazine's Karen Tumulty,
Hugh Sidey of Time, historian James MacGregor Burns and NOW President
Patricia Ireland served as the on-camera experts.
-- Kurtis, with
Hillary Clinton in October 1997 as she celebrated her 50th birthday:
"Surrounded by family and a brace of friends, Mrs. Clinton is at the
top of her powers. A two-year span had seen her introduce sweeping reforms
of our country's childcare system, spearheaded international movement
for women's rights, and articulate a new vision for the next millennium:
the concept of a fairer, more civil society. In a word, this First Lady
was on a roll."
Hillary as she visited some places from her childhood in her
"village" of Park Ridge, Illinois, showed her at the White as
she made preparations for a state dinner and tracked her childhood in Park
Ridge, talking to members of her family and friends about how the interest
in politics of the Goldwater girl grew.)
"Hillary Rodham's commencement address at Wellesley marked her
entre into the world of politics. She gained national attention for
supporting the right to student protest, in the process, taking to task
then-Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. As she met her husband-to-be and
moved into public life, her politics continued to move unquestioningly to
the center. Yet her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really
left Park Ridge."
Kurtis to Hillary: "Well, that was my
impression, seeing you go back to the school and the church and the home,
a nurturing, warm village, if you will, that gave you a confidence and a
security to be anything."
-- Kurtis, talking
about her book, It Takes a Village: "That traditional view includes
the subject of divorce. For the First Lady, simply put, divorce means
failure. Stated most plainly in her book, Mrs. Clinton has had to, quote,
'Bite my tongue more than a few times,' in order to preserve her own
marriage. It's a distinct position, evocative of another time and
-- Kurtis: "A
blend of her conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham
Clinton defies the pigeon-hole, and it would appear, that is just the way
she likes it."
-- After showing
Mrs. Clinton on Today claiming a vast right-wing conspiracy, Kurtis
contended she was correct: "As events unfolded, the First Lady's
counterattacks seemed measured and effective. Reporters picked up her
spin, and found the fingerprints of right-wing conservatives on some of
the allegations. Ms. Lewinsky refused to testify before a grand jury.
Vernon Jordan stood by the President. And Kenneth Starr's investigation
showed signs of slowing."
-- Kurtis, to
Hillary a month into Lewinsky scandal: "What do you think it will
take to kind of quiet everything down and get back on track for the
-- After running
some expert soundbites on how it may not have been wise to put her in
charge of health care, Kurtis asked her: "Do you think the town was
not ready for such a strong role for the First Lady?"
-- Having learned
her lesson, Kurtis contended that she moved away from politics: "For
the First Lady, It Takes a Village was not just a book, but the first step
in a comeback. This time the tone was softer, the approach less partisan.
Mrs. Clinton would seek out the ideological high ground, and leave the
legislative arm-twisting to others."
-- Viewers saw
clips of a 1995 speech to a women's conference in China, an address
Tumulty claimed delivered the "strongest statement ever" made
about human rights in China. Kurtis inquired of Hillary: "Whoever we
talk to always comes back to that, and the gleam in women's eyes who
were there, they all say, 'I was in Beijing.'"
-- The final
segment returned to Lewinsky as the "deception comes home to
roost." But Kurtis painted Hillary as the duped victim. After quoting
her statement about standing by Bill, Kurtis went to Hugh Sidey, who
asserted: "She's making the point because otherwise would be to
suggest that she lied on the Today show, where she said this was all
untrue. Terribly difficult position for her that she's handled very well
at this point, and I suppose there's a good deal of respect for
-- Noting that she
urged on her husband's attack on Ken Starr, Kurtis wondered: "Will
the attack on Starr backfire? In venting her anger has the First Lady
unwittingly entrusted a weapon into the hands of the enemy?" Then he
reassured: "For the moment, the reality seems to be anything but.
Hillary Clinton remains Bill Clinton's lifeline. Her shear force of will
appearing to hold together a family and perhaps a presidency."
concluded his "investigation" with apprehension over whether
Hillary Clinton will be able to triumph:
"A sense of nobility. As her days in the
White House dwindle to a precious few, it provides, perhaps, a last refuge
for this First Lady, her work in childcare, education and women's rights
affording a safe harbor from the taint of scandal, and a glimmer of hope
for her own political future. For now, the Clinton administration is a
drama without a final act, but the elements are there for a suspenseful
conclusion: the spreading stain of scandal, the politics of power, the
weight of history. For Hillary Rodham Clinton, there is something else at
stake: Is there enough time to put the legacy she wants together before
the final act is written?"
U.S. News & World Report Washington reporter Matt Miller has
enthusiastically embraced all the White House spin machine's lines. An
earlier CyberAlert noted that back on August 14 Miller suggested Clinton
sue for a third term. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens came across and
transcribed some amusing exchanges Miller had with Chris Matthews last
week when Matthews challenged the validity of Miller's charges and
pointed out the obvious, that Miller is a professional Clinton defender.
From the August 20
Hardball on CNBC:
-- Matt Miller:
"I think that we never should have been pursuing this matter and as a
matter of prosecutorial discretion. This kind of thing as Judge Walsh has
said on this show, only last week, this kind of thing should never have
been pursued and most prosecutors would not. That's not exonerating the
President for his behavior but at a moment like today when we are talking
about the moral authority of a President when there is military action,
FDR, LBJ and Dwight Eisenhower were all known to have involvements outside
marriage. We did not know about them contemporaneously. That's the
difference and I think the reason for that has to be laid at the
discretion of prosecutors and the press."
Chris Matthews: "What Presidents did you
just smear then Matt? Run through that list again."
Miller: "I didn't smear."
Matthews: "Yes you just did. Which
Miller: "FDR, LBJ and Dwight Eisenhower are
known to have involvements outside their..."
Matthews: "Okay, well I think you're gonna
have to check your history. We had Stephen Ambrose on and he said there
was no extra, any, not outside marriage relationships with Eisenhower. We
had Doris Kearns Goodwin who denied your smear right then about FDR so I
think you better be careful."
"Let's take someone else you won't dispute. How about Martin
Matthews: "Okay you obviously cannot defend
what you said before about FDR or Ike so let's move on....I just don't
like this. You know Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York calls it
'defining deviancy downward.' It's a way to bring everybody down
with you when you got a little problem with morality and I really resent
the fact that people come on the show, I don't mind defending President
Clinton, that's what you're here for Matt, but don't do it at the
cost of FDR, or Ike Eisenhower okay?"
Miller: "I'm not here to defend President
Clinton. What I'm doing..."
Mathews: "Ike, Eisenhower won a big war
okay? It was bigger than this little thing going on right now. It was a
big one. He received a Nazi surrender and for you to dig up his grave on
this show and go after him to defend Bill Clinton, who now we have
evidence against, we will have DNA evidence against him, we will have
proof positive even for you. And for you to destroy the record of Ike
Eisenhower on this program is disgusting and let's drop it right
"Do you believe that the President's conduct in the Oval Office
with an underling at the bottom of the food chain is in fact a private
Miller: "I don't like it, but I'd rather
not know about it."
Mathews: "No I'm not asking you that. Is
it a private matter?"
Matthews: "And is it a private matter in the
military when a general is bumped out of line for Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs because of a relationship with a woman not his wife even if he
happens to be as was a recent case of a General who was not even with his
wife, he was separated at the time. Do you think the President is the
Commander in Chief?"
Miller: "I'm not saying that was a correct
judgment by the military."
Matthews: "Oh and in other words, okay, I
get it. So the President is only. How about a CEO of corporation like at
US News and World Report or anywhere else where the CEO is involved with
somebody very small in terms of bureaucratic power way below him or her.
You don't think that, that is in fact a relevant question for the
corporation. In other words it's not a private matter as far as the
corporation is concerned?"
Miller: "Chris all I know is I think there
is a fair amount of hypocrisy on this matter. As you know there are at
other networks instances of senior people involved with people junior to
them that have been quite public and have not ended up in
Matthews: "He's now trashed all the
Presidents, he's now making the rounds of the networks."
[Cacophonous reaction from panel]
Miller: "Why is everyone so upset?"
Finally, to Time magazine "the truth" occurs when someone
disparages a conservative policy, but unfortunately, the magazine
contended, not all appreciate it at the time. The MRC's Tim Graham
caught this passage in the special early-released August 31 edition, but I
didn't get to it yesterday and noticed it highlighted in Tuesday's
Washington Bulletin from National Review. Time Senior Editor Richard
Stengel asserted in a news story:
"Inside the Beltway, the scandal is not the
lie but the unvarnished truth. George Bush's campaign barb about Reaganism
being voodoo economics raised far more hackles than his claim that
Clarence Thomas was the most qualified man in America to be on the Supreme
As NR's John
Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru observed, "two examples of liberal bias in
one sentence -- a new land speed record." -- Brent Baker
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