Video Will Help Mafia; Clinton Enticed; Geraldo: Gingrich a Misogynist
1) FNC's Carl Cameron
uniquely reported Clinton's personal intimidation and that Democrats
also threatened. CBS's Eric Engberg insisted the video release means
Clinton's being treated worse than John Gotti and it will make Mafia
2) Clinton deserves sympathy,
suggested GMA's Lisa McRee, since Lewinsky enticed him by "snapping
the straps of thong underwear."
3) Today's Couric and Lauer
upset by video release, think it's reasonable to make Ken Starr pay and
blame GOP for being partisan.
4) Outing Henry Hyde thrilled
Geraldo Rivera. "Aren't these suddenly panicked members of Congress
now reaping what Ken Starr has sowed?" Rivera: Gingrich also an oral
sex loving misogynist.
>>> The September 21 edition of
MediaWatch is now on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Web manager Sean
Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. Articles include a page one
look at NBC's promotion of Hillary Clinton; a Review of how the networks
reacted to Starr's report; a page 4 piece on network admiration for
Clinton's prayer breakfast "contrition"; and an On the Bright
Side by the MRC's Clay Waters on how Clinton's lawyers were pressed on
two Sunday morning shows. Plus Newsbites: "Tiny Cup of Joe" by
MRC analyst Mark Drake documents how little coverage Senator Lieberman's
floor speech generated, in "Ducking Donna" MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson points out how only NBC picked up on the angry exchange between
Donna Shalala and Bill Clinton, and "Stafford Smears" by MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens highlights how NBC reporter Rob Stafford
contended Reagan slept around too. <<<
Correction: The September
16 CyberAlert misspelled the name of one of the ministers to be consulted
weekly by Clinton. His name is Tony Campolo.
The all-day House Judiciary Committee meeting on the release of
Starr-gathered evidence, including the video of Clinton's grand jury
testimony, led the ABC, CNN and FNC evening shows Thursday night. Only ABC
highlighted how the committee Democrats spent the day delaying the process
by offering "amendment after amendment." CBS went first with the
"vicious fight" over the hit on Hyde and how Republican leaders
demanded the FBI investigate any White House involvement. NBC combined the
two stories into one, as reporter Gwen Ifill offered this bit of moral
equivalence between the raising of Hyde's relationship from 30 years ago
and Clinton lying in a grand jury a month ago: "The President's
future hanging in the balance as Republicans and Democrats face off over
how far they should go in exposing the private lives of public
credibility to GOP concerns about White House involvement in smearing
Republicans, CBS's Bob Schieffer and CNN's Candy Crowley played a clip
of Roger Clinton saying those in "glass houses" should be
cautious. FNC's Carl Cameron uniquely asserted that 20 Judiciary
Committee members from both parties feel their private backgrounds are
being checked. Cameron also tied Clinton directly to the effort, relaying
that three Democratic lawmakers "felt the President was making a
veiled threat when he suggested that the current atmosphere of scandal
means no public official should expect private matters to remain
Only CBS's Scott
Pelley, on Clinton lawyer David Kendall's complaint about how Starr gave
it to the House in order to "embarrass" the President, pointed
out how Clinton had refused six appearance requests and had to be
subpoenaed, then refused to go to the courthouse. But, minutes later, CBS
reporter Eric Engberg portrayed Clinton as a victim being treated worse
than Nixon, Noriega and the Mafia's John Gotti, insisting the video
release would have a "bad effect on the legal system."
Here are some
highlights from the Thursday, September 17 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings began the show:
"Good evening. The House Judiciary Committee
argued for most of the day about the videotaped testimony of President
Clinton before the grand jury. The argument about releasing it and other
material to the public was extremely partisan and will continue
handled the video story, emphasizing how Democrats delayed a decision by
forcing votes on "amendment after amendment." She also
highlighted how calls to Senator Diane Feinstein's office are running
two-to-one against Clinton.
noted that the judge in Arkansas had provided the Judiciary Committee with
a tape of Clinton's Jones deposition, Sam Donaldson reviewed Clinton's
day, starting with praise from Senator Tom Harkin at a union convention in
DC where Clinton was "warmly received." Then on to Cincinnati
where both papers have called for him to resign. ABC showed demonstrators
outside of the fundraiser Clinton headlined. Donaldson moved to the Hyde
case, noting that White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles promised a
firing if the leak came from the White House. Following a clip of Tom
DeLay demanding an FBI probe, Donaldson assured viewers:
"Presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal, widely suspected of being the
leaker, denied it in a written statement."
Brown compared Clinton's situation to that faced by past politicians
caught on tape: "We did see President Reagan testify in an Iran
Contra trial and he didn't look very good, but he was already out of
office and national life had moved on. Here will be the President facing
prosecutors in a forum, the grand jury, that by design is one-sided and by
law almost always forever secret...."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened by
"Good evening. President Clinton's
videotaped testimony to the Ken Starr grand jury will most likely be out
by the weekend, possibly sooner. The House Judiciary Committee debated
into the evening then adjourned, but the committee's Republican majority
has the votes to release the tapes. Mr. Clinton's personal attorney said
today said he asked that the tapes be erased after the grand jury no
longer needs them. Starr refused."
Up first, Bob
Schieffer on how "another vicious fight has broken out" as
Republicans asked the FBI to probe the Hyde story for any connection to
the White House. Sidney Blumenthal denies any involvement Schieffer noted,
"but the Republicans are furious."
Schieffer added that the matter has "created
such a furor that top fundraisers for House members in both parties
announced an extraordinary bi-partisan agreement" to deny campaign
funds to any member who initiates an attack on the private life of an
Schieffer observed how Bowles pledged to fire
anybody who circulated derogatory stories, "but last month on CNN's
Larry King Live, the President's brother issued a veiled threat to
politicians investigating the President."
Roger Clinton: "There's some of the
political people that had best watch themselves because of the old glass
Schieffer, unlike the other networks, named who
did push he story: "Several Washington reporters told us a Florida
man named Norman Sommers distributed this letter in July pushing the Hyde
letter and saying 'I sincerely believe that explosion of this
story...will remove the morals matter from the hypocritical Republicans,
resulting in the Democrats retaking the House.' But Sommers says he was
operating on his own, not at the request of the White House."
Dan Rather next
asserted: "For his part President Clinton said he and the First Lady
are, quote 'doing fine.' They attended fundraisers in two cities and
implemented shifts in the President's legal strategy even as his legal
problems just multiplied."
Scott Pelley reported that the White House
strategy is to discredit the tape. Pelley quoted David Kendall complaining
that embarrassing the President is the motivation behind releasing the
tape. Pelley countered: "But the tape was made as part of an
accommodation with Mr. Clinton. The President refused six invitations to
testify, prompting the first subpoena in history for a President's
testimony. Then, prosecutors agreed to question Mr. Clinton in the Map
Room and transmit the testimony to the courthouse live. They wanted the
tape in case any grand jurors were absent that day."
Pelley uniquely explained that the political
advisers are taking over from the lawyers, so "the strategy now is to
argue that perjury is not serious enough for impeachment."
third story of the night, Dan Rather complained: "What happened to
the long established practice that testimony before a grand jury is and
remains secret. So what's going on here?"
Eric Engberg answered by painting Clinton as being treated worse than
several notorious figures: "Secrecy in the grand jury is so sacred
prosecutors never disclosed what the testimony was about disgraced former
President Nixon, or thug dictator Manuel Noriega or Mafia kingpin John
Gotti. No such luck for Bill Clinton. One of the few people in America
whose grand jury testimony can be made public."
Engberg let a former federal prosecutor whine
about how the "system is being turned on its head" before
Engberg explained that in a "secret" ruling a federal judge
allowed Starr to give the tape to the House which does not have to follow
court rules on secrecy. But that's not good, Engberg concluded:
"Legal scholars warn all this could have a
bad effect on the legal system. Said one, the next time a prosecutor tells
a Mob informant that his grand jury testimony will be secret, he'll
answer, 'oh yeah, look what happened to Clinton.'"
Later, the CBS
show ended with a story by Richard Schlesinger, featuring feminist Naomi
Wolf as the only expert run in soundbites, on how the Starr report shows
Lewinsky thought she was owed a job and it was she who pushed Clinton to
help her get one.
-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Up first,
Bob Franken on how the Judiciary Committee's "day was consumed with
partisan wrangling" over transcripts of Lewinsky's testimony and
release of the tape.
Crowley pointed out that the story on Hyde followed revelations about Dn
Burton and Helen Chenoweth, all fueling GOP demands for an FBI look into
any White House involvement. After allowing Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart
to accuse the GOP of exploiting the event, Crowley observed:
think just because the White House didn't uncover a story doesn't mean
they didn't pass it along. And there is some basis for Republican
Roger Clinton on LKL: "There's some of the
political people that had best watch themselves because of the old glass
Third, John King
on how Clinton is trying to prove he still has political power, but he
"is shadowed by controversy wherever he goes." He was welcomed
at a union meeting and is able to raise money, but "the road is no
refuge from scandal" as both Cincinnati papers demanded resignation.
CNN anchor Joie
Chen noted that daughters of both Starr and Clinton are now at Stanford,
and that calls are flooding Capitol Hill and have doubled to 15,000 per
day. Garrick Utley asked if Clinton's confession was genuine or slick
political maneuver? It's a question religious leaders are debating as
they must decide if forgiveness means he can keep his job.
-- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET. Julie Kirtz ran
down the basics over the video debate. Then Carl Cameron delivered several
bits of information not mentioned by any of the other networks. Cameron
opened by revealing:
"As many as 20 members of the Judiciary
Committee, both Republicans and Democrats sources say now believe they
have reason to suspect that they too are having their private lives being
After showing Tom DeLay asking the FBI to look
into the Hyde matter, Cameron suggested the Republicans should have reason
"When Democrats from both the House and
separately the Senate had private fence-mending meetings with the
President at the White House recently, sources say at least three
lawmakers felt the President was making a veiled threat when he suggested
that the current atmosphere of scandal means no public official should
expect private matters to remain secret."
The White House denies any intimidation, Cameron
added before pointing out something not raised by the other networks: that
the White House already had to admit it spread false information about the
military record of Democrat Paul McHale who had called for Clinton to
The twice divorced Bob Barr expects to be the
next target, Cameron asserted before telling viewers that Democrats are
targets too as eight Democrats on the committee "believe their
private lives are being investigated. And it may seem counterproductive
for the President to be allegedly smearing members of his own party, the
problem is some Democrats now believe the President is willing to do just
about anything, even attack them, in an attempt to intimidate their
lockstep support, perhaps bolster his denials and ultimately create a
cynicism in the American public so that voters won't pay attention to
anything that's going on here."
Later in the show,
FNC became the only network to report that after Attorney General Reno
refused another request for fundraising memos, Congressman Dan Burton
filed a contempt report with the full House.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw started the show
"Good evening. It could not get much uglier.
The bitter, partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol
Hill and Republicans and the Clinton White House. The House Judiciary
Committee was locked in a heated debate all day on just how much of Ken
Starr's supporting documents to release as well as the President's
videotaped testimony. Congressional Republicans accused the White House of
orchestrating an attack on the personal lives of GOP members. And on and
suggested both sides are just as guilty: "The President's future
hanging in the balance as Republicans and Democrats face off over how far
they should go in exposing the private lives of public officials..."
Ifill summarized GOP complaints and White House
denials about the Salon story on Hyde before moving on to the arguments
over he Clinton video. Ifill highlighted how Senator Diane Feinstein
"broke her silence today," and ran a soundbite about how Clinton
had shaken her faith in him.
In NBC's second
of just two scandal stories, David Bloom honed in on how the GOP letter to
the FBI singles out Sidney Blumenthal. Bloom claimed the White House was
already on top of the problem:
"NBC News has learned that when Republicans
first alleged, weeks ago, that Blumenthal might be spreading rumors about
Congressman Hyde's sex life, White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles
went to the President and received permission to fire the White House aide
on the spot if the allegations proved true."
The MRC's year-end Best of Notable Quotables always features the
"Good Morning Morons Award." Here's a top contender caught by
MRC news analyst Clay Waters.
conservative columnist Betsy Hart on September 17 Good Morning America
co-host Lisa McRee suggested Clinton deserves sympathy as Lewinsky's
victim, unable to resist her enticements:
"But, do you give the President at least a
little, not credit, but a little sympathy, when you read details like
snapping the straps of a thong underwear, her thong underwear to entice
him, asking for a job. Do you think that it mitigates our view of the
President in any way?"
The Today tag team of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer are disturbed
Clinton's videotaped testimony will be released and Lauer wondered why
Starr should not have to pick up the tab for the money spent by his
-- At the top of
Thursday's Today, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, Couric whined: "I
guess while Congress decides, a lot of people in this country are groaning
at the very prospect of seeing this videotape and networks are grappling
with how to show it."
Russert later, Lauer portrayed the Republicans as the non-partisan
obstructionists, not the Democrats who are blocking the wish of the
majority of the House to release all the evidence:
"But what happened? A week ago the
Republicans were saying: 'We're going to handle this in a bi-partisan
manner. It's not going to be politics, just the law.' What could be a
reason, other than just partisan politics, to release this
-- On Wednesday,
September 16, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented how Couric and Lauer
found legitimacy in Clintonite claims that Starr owes money for not
delivering evidence of wrongdoing on non-Lewinsky matters.
"The President will face reporter's questions today just as some
members of Congress are asking some new and very interesting
Couric agreed: "That's right. Questions
like should President Clinton pay for Ken Starr's $4.4 million
investigation? Should his grand jury videotape be released when many
Americans have had, quite frankly, quite enough? Well those are some of
the questions that members of Congress are being asked or asking
themselves and we're gonna be talking with two of them in our first half
hour this morning."
interviewing Senator Frank Murkowski who proposed that Clinton be fined by
being made to pay the cost of the Lewinsky investigation, Today showed a
clip of Mike McCurry saying Starr should then pay for the other $36
million. Lauer found the idea appealing: "Senator, he brings up an
interesting point. If there were no major revelations in the Starr report
about all the gates, Filegate, Travelgate, Whitewater, why shouldn't Ken
Starr then pick up the other portion of the tab?"
Outing Henry Hyde thrilled Geraldo Rivera, prompted him to bring aboard
the wronged husband and to claim that Newt Gingrich is just as much a
misogynist as Clinton since he too prefers oral sex. On Thursday's
Rivera Live on CNBC he exalted: "Isn't this new era of the sexual
witch hunt inevitable? Aren't these suddenly panicked members of
Congress now reaping what Ken Starr has sowed?"
Fred Snodgrass, the husband of the woman with whom Hyde had an affair in
he 1960s. He said that he told his story to Norman Sommers and it was he
who publicized it. Though Sommers called the White House and left
messages, Snodgrass assured Rivera that no one ever called back. Snodgrass
blamed Hyde for how two of his three children won't talk to him. Rivera
asked: "Do you believe that Mr. Hyde is a hypocrite?" Snodgrass
agreed Hyde is not qualified to judge Clinton.
But Rivera was
just getting warmed up, proclaiming: "In recent weeks we have heard
the sexual confessions now of Republicans Dan Burton and Helen Chenoweth.
And earlier this program reported on long ago allegations that Republican
Majority Leader Dick Armey sexually harassed several female students when
he was a college professor back in Texas."
Then he jumped on
Speaker Newt Gingrich, quoting from an AP story on how Gingrich told
colleagues in a Wednesday meeting that Starr's account of Clinton
"depicts him as a 'misogynist'" since Clinton got oral sex
without touching or satisfying Lewinsky sexually. Rivera made sure viewers
understood that the word misogynist is defined as a hater of women.
Holding up a 1995
copy of Vanity Fair, Rivera then read from an August 10, 1995 AP story on
Gail Sheehy's profile of Gingrich in that magazine. Sheehy had reported
that Gingrich had affairs during his first marriage, including one with
campaign volunteer Anne Manning in 1976-77. Rivera read aloud the AP
story, interspersing a few comments and clarifications of his own:
"'In the spring of 1977 Miss Manning said
he,' Gingrich, 'took her to dinner and then met her back at her hotel
room where they had oral sex.' Now pay attention to this part folks,
this next part.' Quote 'he,' meaning Gingrich, 'prefers that modus
operandi,' meaning oral sex, 'because then he can say 'I never slept
with her,' Ms. Manning told writer Gail Sheehy,' end quote."
An indignant and
angry Rivera, his voice rising as he went, then declared:
"Is it distasteful? Is it criminal to dig up
this old dirt on our current political leaders? Maybe. But isn't it also
the height of hypocrisy to try to humiliate the President of the United
States by releasing graphic details of his sexual misadventures and then
trying to disguise it as a nonpartisan search for truth?"
even finish the show, turning it over to Marcia Clark, so he could go on
vacation. Rivera explained that he wants to sail around the world, but his
job won't let him so he's just sailing three or four days at a time
and will take advantage of Monday's Jewish holiday. Too bad he isn't
taking off for a trip around the world.
And finally, from
the "Top Ten Ways to Get Disqualified from the Miss America
Pageant" as announced on the September 17 Late Show with David
Letterman, number 6: "My name is Monica and my talent is....Well,
here I'll show you." -- Brent Baker
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