Who Owes $36 M?; Just Sex Lies, So Let's Move On; Court-Martial Clinton?
1) Only NBC questioned the
sincerity of Clinton's move to consult ministers; CBS highlighted poll
showing most think Starr's sexual details were
"inappropriate." All look at videotape controversy.
2) Geraldo Rivera upset by
call for Clinton to pay the $4 million cost of the Lewinsky investigation:
"Who's going to be paying for the other $36 million that Ken Starr
spent and came up empty?"
3) ABC's Lisa McRee insisted
it's just lying about sex, so why not drop impeachment, censure him and
"let us get on with it as a country."
4) CBS actually raised the
issue of a double standard for Clinton. Observed David Martin: "In
the military he would be relieved of his command and probably
5) Letterman's "Top Ten
Bill Clinton Tips For a Happy, Healthy Marriage."
The controversy over Republican plans to release the videotape of
Clinton's deposition topped the ABC, CNN and FNC evening shows on
Tuesday night. CBS and NBC went first with Democrats angry at Clinton and
how a Senator raised the subject of resignation in a meeting with top
broadcast networks, but not CNN or FNC, ran full stories on Clinton's
decision to consult weekly with two ministers: Tony Campollo (sp?) and
Gordon MacDonald. But only NBC dared wonder "is it a real search for
answers or a smart political move?"
the plight of Clinton aides burdened by legal bills and only FNC focused
on how the White House is still using executive privilege claims to block
testimony. CBS's Dan Rather showcased a poll which found most believe it
was "inappropriate" for Starr to release the sexual details.
(But CBS also delivered a surprising story on how many in the military are
upset that Clinton does not have to meet their conduct standards. See item
Here are some
highlights from the Wednesday, September 15 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show: "Good evening. Sex,
lies and videotape. That is what the Congress is fighting about today. The
White House is in it too. Whether the videotape of the President's
testimony to the grand jury should be made public..."
explained how Judiciary Committee members viewed the tape Wednesday and it
is expected to be released within days. It doesn't make Clinton look
good, Judd reported: "Sources say even the grand jury became
frustrated with the President's testimony. And one source who spoke to
Democrats after they watched the tape said grand jurors passed questions
on to prosecutors that 'were pointed and reflected their impatience with
Mr. Clinton's tortuous answers.'"
After noting that Democrats don't want it
released, she concluded with their spin: "But Democrats also say that
if the tape is released Ken Starr and his prosecutors will take some hits
too for their insistent questioning of the President for the sexual
details of his meetings with Monica Lewinsky."
From Capitol Hill
Linda Douglass told Jennings that a meeting between Senate Democrats and
top White House aides turned "nasty" and Senator Biden raised
the idea of resignation. Senator Hatch, she added, is in some trouble
among his colleagues for floating the idea of brokering a deal.
Jennings then went
to Sam Donaldson at the White House who explained that Clinton aides are
concerned that in choosing clips from the tape the media will play
excerpts showing Clinton getting angry but not the prodding that led to
Up next, Peggy
Wehmeyer with a brief look at the two ministers Clinton says he will
consult with weekly: Tony Campollo and Gordon MacDonald. ABC finished its
coverage by briefly noting that Democratic Congresswomen met with Hillary
Clinton and praised her afterward. Later, ABC's A Closer Look examined
the difference in opinion between the public which wants Clinton to stay
and Washington politicos who want him to resign.
-- CBS Evening News. At the top of the show Dan
"Good evening. President Clinton and
Congress are digging in over survival of the Clinton presidency. House
Judiciary members wrangled over a Republican push to make public the
President's videotaped, what was supposed to be secret testimony, to the
Ken Starr grand jury. The President has recruited a pastoral counseling
team and a new political team to deal with Congress. The latest CBS
News/New York Times poll indicates the public favors censure and move on,
nothing more. But that's not option A in Congress where some support of
the President is eroding."
Up first, Bob
Schieffer intoned: "For the first time here, Democratic office
holders are actively and seriously, discussing among themselves whether
the President ought to resign for the good of the country and the party.
One prominent Democratic Senator told me today, and I quote, 'this
presidency is over and the President ought to leave.'"
On the videotape, Schieffer discovered: "Our
sources say the President was not just evasive, but profane, at times lost
his temper and at one point stormed out of the room."
highlighted some poll numbers, asserting: "There's a gap tonight
between Congress's view and what the public wants next."
Specifically, 57 percent favor censure compared
to 36 percent who want impeachment hearings to begin and 32 percent who
think Clinton should resign. Rather emphasized public disgust with Starr:
"Nearly two-thirds polled say the explicit content of Starr's
report is quote 'inappropriate.' Majorities of those polled say
Congress was wrong to release the sexy details and that the special
prosecutor's motive was to quote 'embarrass' the President."
The exact numbers: 65 percent called the release
of sexual details inappropriate; 59 percent thought it wrong for Congress
to release them and 59 percent said they were meant to embarrass Clinton.
Third, from the
White House Scott Pelley reported that top Democrats told the White House
aides in the meeting Schieffer referred to that the legal perjury defense
must end, but Clinton is digging in. Pelley observed: "Here's one
reason: a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that today only 39
percent believe Mr. Clinton should leave office. But, if he lied under
oath 49 percent say he should be impeached or resign."
(Question: Can we
take the vote away from the 10 percent who don't yet realize he lied
Hughes highlighted how Clinton's problems are having an impact on
support from women with his favorable rating falling to 37 percent from 43
percent before the report.
Fifth, Dan Rather
introduced a profile piece on Tony Campollo, from the archives by Harry
Smith, by declaring: "In addition to the Secret Service agents who
protect the President's body, he now has a team to save his soul. Or at
least bring him peace." Smith noted that Campollo says "his role
now is to rescue a fallen brother."
-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET started with
the video, as John King offered the most thorough preview of what it
"The White House is bracing for public
release of videotaped testimony that shows an angry President sparring
with prosecutors, refusing to detail his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Sources tell CNN, the tape captures several angry outbursts, a President
being evasive as he is questioned under oath, walking a fine line in
acknowledging sexual contact with Lewinsky, but insisting he did not lie
under oath in the Paula Jones case, when he testified he and Lewinsky did
not have a sexual relationship."
provided reactions from Capitol Hill before anchor Jim Moret played a clip
of Defense Secretary Cohen insisting Clinton's problems are having no
impact on military morale. Jonathan Karl delivered a piece on Clinton's
unwavering, solid support among African Americans.
Later in the show,
Bruce Morton highlighted the disconnect between public opinion across the
country and the assessment of Clinton in Washington. He began: "A
funny thing has happened on the way to the impeachment: the chattering
class, the Washington columnists and commentators, the liberal media, are
really down on the President..."
After running some pro-Clinton soundbites from
citizens, Morton asked: "Why the split between voters and
Andrew Kohut of the Pew Center answered:
"The public thinks that things like this are fairly commonplace and
go on all the time in Washington. They have a very cynical view of
Washington leaders, they think, you know, this is not unusual. The people
within Washington, the leadership class, say, 'Hey, there's a lot of sex
in Washington, but it doesn't go on between the big boss and the kid who
goes out for pizza or runs the Xerox machine. This is really
Morton elaborated in concluding: "And
reporters don't like being lied to, and know that all politicians aren't
liars. The voters are less sure of that, and seem to be saying, anyway,
'Things are pretty good right now, leave the President alone, media;
don't rock the boat."
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report led with the
videotape release. Carl Cameron told viewers: "The President is said
to have lost his temper when asked about specific sex acts with Monica
Lewinsky, refused to answer some questions..."
Cameron uniquely picked up on Newt Gingrich's
comment that impeachment hearings could begin this year after the election
and instead of citing just Biden or one anonymous Senator upset at Clinton
in the big meeting between Democratic Senators and top White House
officials, Cameron asserted that "during that meeting two U.S.
Senators openly discussed the merits of resignation."
Jim Angle checked
in from the White House, reporting they are trying to shift topics to
things like the farm crisis, and have added three people to the staff to
handle the impeachment matter. Co-anchor Jon Scott then talked with Dick
Morris about potential bad news for Hillary: a line buried in Starr's
report says that the investigation of Madison is nearing conclusion on the
Castle Grande deal she handled.
FNC also featured:
David Shuster on how the White House is still using executive privilege
claims to block testimony from Bruce Lindsey, Cheryl Mills and Lanny
Breuer; Gary Matsumoto on whether Clinton has the moral authority to lead
the country; Jon Scott interviewed the Reverends Joseph Lowrey and Robert
Schuller about that question; and Julie Kirtz on how Betty Friedan still
says Clinton's problems are not relevant while Patricia Ireland is
willing to criticize, but both say Clinton's policies "have been
good for women," so critics call them both hypocrites.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened:
"Good evening. President Clinton tonight has
a new team of spiritual leaders. He has implored America's military
leaders not to let their guard down. He's scheduled a news conference
for tomorrow. At the same time congressional Republicans are considering
releasing the President's grand jury transcripts. And Senate Democrats
held a heated closed-door meeting today trying to decide what they should
do. It is not business as usual in Washington and it won't be for some
From the White
House David Bloom noted how Senator Biden raised the resignation issue and
reported that Clinton won't drop his legal defense because tat would
leave him vulnerable to indictment later. On the video, Gwen Ifill said
only that it shows Clinton "determined to dodge the truth."
Starr estimated the Lewinsky portion of his investigation cost about $4
million, Tom Brokaw turned to Pete Williams for a review of how legal
costs have burdened all involved. For example, Williams noted: "Legal
sources estimate presidential secretary Betty Currie, who earned $60,000 a
year, could owe at least $50,000 to her lawyers. For a few top staffers,
like Deputy White House counsel Bruce Lindsey, legal bills for all the
investigations into Whitewater now total more than a million
Williams acknowledged that taxpayers will pick up
the tab for anything involving government duties, but failed to point out
how Lindsey's tab his so high because he refuses to cooperate and is
constantly in appeal. Williams then portrayed Starr as the villain:
"...the Washington book store owner who
successfully fought off a Starr subpoena for records of the books Monica
Lewinsky bought. He ran up $125,000 in legal bills and says Starr's
prosecutors were out of control."
Bill Kramer: "They've been doing this for
three, four years. And there wasn't anybody who was putting an
appropriate governor on their actions."
Williams did, however, conclude: "Even
though most White House staffers think Starr has gone overboard, some now
say if he President had just told the truth earlier, many would never have
needed a lawyer in the first place."
Clinton's decision to consult with two ministers, Tom Brokaw made NBC
the only network to actually raise doubts about Clinton's sincerity:
"But is it a real search for answers or a smart political move?"
Jim Miklaszewski noted that Gordon MacDonald,
"who had his own extramarital affair 12 years ago, sought redemption,
then wrote a book about it that the President says he's already read
Third time's the
allowed Jesse Jackson to praise Clinton's decision, before raising the
doubts plugged by Brokaw: "But political foes like the Reverend Jerry
Falwell say religious redemption is still not good enough."
"Even some of the President's closest friends question his
sincerity and worry today that these weekly prayer meetings are more about
political salvation than personal redemption."
Republican Senator Frank Murkowski's suggestion that Clinton reimburse
taxpayers for the $4.4 million the Lewinsky investigation cost did not sit
well with Geraldo Rivera. He opened Tuesday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
"Is it adding insult to injury? Now they want him to pay for his own
Later, during an
interview with the Alaskan, Rivera proposed:
"I wonder, if that is fair then why not reimburse the President his
legal fees for Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate since nothing has been
found either to merit indictment or of the quality to be sent to the Hill
for inquiry of impeachment? Fair is fair. Why not have him
And Rivera pressed
his point again: "I was just wondering who's going to be paying for
the other $36 million that Ken Starr spent and came up empty?"
Clinton hired three more lawyers Tuesday to handle the impeachment probe,
but the White House press office won't need any beefing up. It already
has the co-host of a network morning show advancing its spin. Here are the
questions posed by Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee on Tuesday
morning, as MRC analyst Clay Waters caught them, to Republican Rep. Bill
McCollum and Democratic Rep. Martin Meehan:
-- "But if
there is no obstruction of justice, abuse of power proven, if it is simply
about lying about a sexual relationship, is that impeachable?"
voters have twice elected this man President. Is it worth overturning the
will of the people in order to impeach him if the only thing you can prove
is that he lied about a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky?"
(Of course, Gore
would become President, not Dole, so the will of the people would not be
-- "In fact
in 1974 the House Judiciary Committee staff wrote a guideline for
lawmakers saying, quote, not all Presidential misconduct is sufficient to
constitute grounds for impeachment. It seems that the polls indicate that
the public feels the same way, that censure may make the public happy. Why
not make a deal with the President? Get him to admit he was untruthful,
and make a deal for censure, and let us get on with it as a country?"
Is Clinton the beneficiary of a double standard that upsets many in the
military? CBS actually gave its tough defense reporter David Martin time
to explore the subject on Tuesday's Evening News. Using Clinton trip to
Fort McNair to discuss military readiness with top military leaders as his
peg, Martin observed:
"He is the Commander-in-Chief and he had an
adulterous affair with a woman who is the equivalent of a buck private.
And then he lied about it. In the military he would be relieved of his
command and probably court-martialed."
Martin ran soundbites from a man and a woman in
uniform who thought Clinton should be punished followed by Secretary
Cohen's assurance that Clinton's action are not hurting morale.
Martin then gave voice to a point often made by
conservatives but absent from network news:
"But Air Force Lieutenant Kelly Flinn was
forced to resign to avoid being court-martialed for almost identical
transgressions: committing adultery and lying about it. And when the Air
Force's top General justified the seemingly harsh treatment of this
young woman, he did it in terms that could just as well apply today to
General Ron Fogelman, May 21, 1997: "This is
not an issue of adultery. This is an issue of about an officer, who is
entrusted to fly nuclear weapons, who disobeyed an order, who lied.
That's what this is about."
Martin then concluded: "The simple fact is
that although he commands the military the President is not subject to
military law. If he were his career would be in ruins. But he is subject
to civilian law and to public opinion and they could end his career as
surely as a court-martial."
I recall some
passing references to this kind of military comparison, but I'm pretty
sure this is the first time a network has so clearly raised the
From the September 15 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Top Ten Bill Clinton Tips For a Happy, Healthy Marriage." Copyright
1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Try not to preface sex with,
"Do I have to?"
9. Don't embarrass her in front of the entire world -- women hate that.
8. Never ever wife-swap with the Shalalas.
7. Every few months, let her run the country.
6. If you must smoke cigars, get an actual humidor.
5. Six key words: deny, deny, deny, apologize, apologize, apologize.
4. Have them geniuses at NASA develop a space ray that makes her forget
what a bastard you are.
3. Remember, it takes two people to maintain a cold, loveless marriage of
2. Celebrate anniversary with a passionate night of lovemaking, and let
her know how it went.
1. Don't get caught.
And from the Late
Show Web page, some of the "extra jokes that didn't quite make it
into the Top Ten."
-- Three words: Spray 'N' Wash
-- Have several marriages at once -- chances are one of them will yield a
happy, healthy marriage
-- Build time machine, go back to year when there were no such things as
tape recorders and DNA tests
-- Build bridge to the 21st century, push loose-lipped interns off it
-- Tell her she looks just as young as the first time you cheated on her
-- Never let a day go by without looking your wife in the eye and
reminding her that you're the victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy
-- Try and make sure at least one out of every 30 sexual encounters is
with your wife
-- Only date women with same name as wife, to avoid embarrassing
exclamations during sex
-- Nothing says "I love you" like a half-assed apology
-- The romantic gifts that you've retrieved from your intern make lovely
-- Share a hobby with your wife, like making shady real estate deals
-- Two words: "Dry clean"
One of the
Letterman staff's better collections, especially numbers 3 and 2. -- Brent Baker
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