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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday September 11, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 146)

Geraldo Lost?; Clinton "Hurting" & "Close to Tears"; A Witch Hunt?

1) Even Geraldo Rivera suggested this "may be the beginning of the end of the Clinton presidency."

2) Death watch-like coverage Thursday night, but Dan Rather insisted impeachment talk contradicts bi-partisanship; CBS and NBC painted Clinton as pained victim not schemer, referring to how he "was hurting" and "close to tears."

3) ABC's Lisa McRee hoped: "Couldn't this be just a witch hunt, couldn't the Democrats and President Clinton's people who've been defending him all these months be right?"

4) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs You're About To Be Impeached."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Has Bill Clinton lost Geraldo Rivera? A dejected Rivera, until now Clinton's Defender-in-Chief, opened Thursday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC: "Hi everybody and welcome to what may be the beginning of the end of the Clinton presidency..."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) With so much media coverage it's hard to keep track of it all. Thursday afternoon CNN expanded Inside Politics from 30 to 150 minutes (4 to 6:30pm ET) and again aired a one-hour special at 8pm ET. FNC dedicated the entire 7pm ET Fox Report to the Starr report fallout. (This time co-anchor Jane Skinner wore pants.)

     All the network evening shows outlined how Starr's report charges Bill Clinton with 11 offenses in four broad areas, but on the broadcast networks only ABC's Jackie Judd raised the pattern Starr suggested linking Monica Lewinsky and Webster Hubbell. CBS and NBC explained that the report will detail Clinton's sexual encounters with Lewinsky in order to demonstrate how they don't match his denial of sex based even on his narrow definition. NBC's Lisa Myers vaguely broached a story broken by the Drudge Report weeks ago, saying that among the "lurid details" is "a sexual episode involving a cigar." She's the first network reporter to mention the cigar episode.

     While the overall tone of the broadcast networks Thursday night reflected a crisis for a President in deep trouble, there were some noteworthy cases of reporters still pushing spin favorable to Clinton, portraying him as a victim or as one suffering pain instead of as a schemer still just deceiving people by pretending to be sorry:
     -- Peter Jennings emphasized how the report is just "a prosecutor's document."
     -- Talk of impeachment contradicts the promise of "bi-partisan cooperation and caution," contended Dan Rather in noting how Clinton won't even get an advanced look at the report.
     -- ABC's Peggy Wehmeyer served up cues for Clinton's minister and Clinton himself to say he deserves forgiveness,
     -- In the meeting with his Cabinet Clinton "was hurting" insisted CBS's Scott Pelley. He was "close to tears" claimed NBC's David Bloom.
     -- CBS's Bill Plante repeated the canard that Hillary first learned of the Lewinsky affair just days before August 17.

     Most bizarre point of the night: ABC's Jack Smith worrying about how the "have-nots," the supposed 83 percent without access to the Internet.

     Some highlights from September 10:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings cautioned at the top of the show: "In the Congress today they are wrestling with the possibility of impeaching the President, now that he's accused of numerous crimes. Important note: This is purely a prosecutor's document. There has been no defense, so far."

     Up first, Jackie Judd reported: "According to sources, prosecutors say Mr. Clinton cited executive privilege not to protect the office of the presidency, but only to protect himself and to keep witnesses away from prosecutors."
     She added a point not made by CBS or NBC: "Prosecutors tried to establish a pattern of obstruction. The claim is made that the efforts to get Monica Lewinsky a job are similar to efforts made on behalf of the President's friend Web Hubbell when Starr was trying to gain Hubbell's cooperation in the Whitewater investigation. The report concludes that in both cases the motive was the same: Keep witnesses happy and less inclined to offer evidence damaging to the President."

     Next, Linda Douglass checked in from Capitol Hill, concluding: "One Democrat said if Starr's report is bad and credible Democrats will start running from the President."

     Jennings turned to Jack Smith to explain how the report will be available on the Internet. Smith first considered the fear of Web overload and then worried: "There's also concern about the 83 percent of American households who do not have access to the Internet. There is the Government Printing Office, which promises to have copies a day later, but most American will have to rely on the print media..."

     ABC religion correspondent Peggy Wehmeyer opened a unique, enterprising story: "Bill Clinton, a life-long Southern Baptist, has professed a deep commitment to his Christian faith. But leaders of the Presidents own denomination now say his public proclamation of faith is in such contradiction to his private behavior that he should resign."
     After a soundbite from Paige Patterson, President of the denomination, she spent the rest of the piece knocking down the suggestion. Noting that Rex Horne, pastor of Clinton's church in Little Rock, has no intention of expelling Clinton, Wehmeyer then tossed softballs at the minister.
     Question #1: "What would you want people to know about him that only you might know?" Horne answered that Clinton has tension in his life and "does things he does not want to do." Question #2: "What advice would you give him as pastor if you could at this crossroads." The piece then ended with a long Clinton soundbite from 1994 on God's forgiveness. The last words of the story were Clinton's: "The God I believe in is a God of second chances."

     -- CBS Evening News. Scott Pelley told viewers: "The report also alleges Mr. Clinton lied before a federal judge when he swore 'I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. Starr says Mr. Clinton then lied to the grand jury when he said that statement was accurate. It was a claim he repeated to the nation."
     After a clip of Clinton's "legally accurate" claim Pelley uniquely added: "Sources tell CBS News some grand jury members became angry when Mr. Clinton said that in testimony. Their questions became pointed and skeptical..."
     Pelley later noted: "Because Mr. Clinton insisted his conduct was not technically sex, the Starr report describes his encounters in the Oval Office in great detail..."
     Pelley concluded with a late update from the late afternoon Cabinet meeting: "Cabinet officers have told CBS News the meeting was extraordinary. One of them said quote 'the President was hurting.' Dan."

     Dan Rather then introduced Bob Schieffer on Capitol Hill by castigating Republicans:
     "For all of the talk of bi-partisan cooperation and caution, there's plenty of impeachment talk in the air, plenty of resignation talk in the air, and a definite push for fast public release of the details of Starr's report even before the Clinton camp sees it. With that in mind, House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt said today, and I quote, 'You don't overturn the results of an American election on a whim,' unquote."

     A few stories later Rather interviewed Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. One question: "What are you hearing from the people back home? You come from a pretty conservative area of the country. What are they telling you?"
     Yeah, his state of South Dakota is so conservative it now has two liberal Democratic Senators and gave the nation George McGovern.

     Later in the show Bill Plante looked at Hillary Clinton, passing along the White House spin: "Over the weekend before his speech to the nation, when she reportedly first learned that he had lied about the Lewinsky affair, Mrs. Clinton went to church with the President."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers picked up on one of Starr's points: "At key times, when there's more pressure on Monica to tell what she knows, the President's efforts to help her get a job intensify."
     After noting that the report concluded Vernon Jordan did not do anything wrong and may have been unwittingly used by Clinton, Myers said the report will provide "lurid details of the President's encounters with Lewinsky, offered as proof that he lied in his deposition in the Jones case in January....One example legal sources say will be made public in the report, a sexual episode involving a cigar."

     Reporting on the Cabinet meeting, David Bloom told viewers of Clinton's pain: "I spoke with several people who were inside the room. They described the President as close to tears, at times barely audible..."

     Later, looking at how the scandal has rattled the market, Tom Brokaw interviewed Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin: "A tough question to begin. If the market continues to fall precipitously because of the President's troubles, is there a point when you go to him and say it's in the country's interest that he must resign?"


Lisamc2cap.jpg (11249 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee just can't resist forwarding Democratic anti-conservative spin, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. MRC analyst Clay Waters caught this question during a September 10 interview with humorist P.J. O'Rourke to promote his new book, "Eat the Rich." After O'Rourke marveled at Clinton's ability to fib, suggesting he'd make a good car salesman at O'Rourke Buick, and admitting he'd done some bad things, but nothing that would take 140 pages to explain, McRee countered:
     "Couldn't this be just a witch hunt, couldn't the Democrats and President Clinton's people who've been defending him all these months be right, that even though he screwed up there's some political motivation there. Couldn't that be right?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) From the September 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs You're About To Be Impeached." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. When you call to congratulate Mark McGwire, he lets his machine get it.
9. Your press secretary keeps introducing you as "President William Milhous Clinton."
8. You're invited to appear on Jeopardy's "Impeached Presidents Week."
7. Tipper Gore's in your office measuring it for drapes.
6. Even the sluttiest new intern won't give you the time of day.
5. Library of Congress stops letting you sign out books.
4. You walk into the Capitol commissary and 500 people simultaneously say, "Shhh! He's here!"
3. Somebody changed the locks on Monica Lewinsky.
2. Suddenly, everyone's kissing Al Gore's big cinder-block ass.
1. Your new Secret Service code name: "Roadkill."

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

-- You now have to pay for the headset rental on Air Force One
-- The ghost of Nixon appears before you, says, "Dude, you're screwed."
-- The Post Office puts you on their "Disgraced Presidents" series of stamps.
-- Your limo has a moving company flier stuck under the windshield wiper.
-- Your behavior has caused even Ted Kennedy to say, "That boy's got problems."
-- Those 21 guns aren't pointing in the air.

     If events warrant I'll be distributing a CyberAlert this weekend.  -- Brent Baker

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