GOP Abused Power, Not Clinton; Afraid of Video But There's Sex in Prime Time
1) Judges, lawyers and
prosecutors have damaged the institution of the presidency, but not Bill
Clinton, who was dragged through the muck. So argued the guest expert on
Saturday's NBC Nightly News.
2) House Republicans are
guilty of "a flagrant abuse of power" in asking the FBI to probe
the White House role in the Hyde story, Al Hunt declared. But he's not
convinced Clinton abused his power.
3) Keith Olbermann blasted
Newt Gingrich: "He himself divorced his first wife while she was
undergoing treatments for cancer." And CBS's Bob Schieffer found
the Starr report wanting.
4) Peter Jennings and Dan
Rather just can't say "partial birth abortion." Instead,
Rather referred to "a type of late term abortion."
5) The pleasures and dangers
of a large penis and using cigars to simulate oral sex. That's all in
the family hour on the networks, but CNN's Wolf Blitzer blamed
Republicans for exposing kids to it.
6) Letterman's "Top Ten
Clinton Campaign Slogans If He Were to Run Again."
Too, Clinton at UN & Note to Those Without Cable. Just like ABC's
World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, as reported in the September
19 CyberAlert, NBC Nightly News will expand to one hour on Monday night.
Many affiliates will run the shows at their usual time, but any which
normally run them at any time later than 6:30pm ET may start them a half
hour earlier than usual.....For those not interested in the tapes, at
10:45am ET CNN's Headline News channel will carry President Clinton's
address to the United Nations.....And for those in the Washington, DC area
without cable television, WJLA-TV will dump ABC and run the Clinton video
live as it's fed from the Rayburn HOB. <<<
Judges, lawyers, the House Judiciary Committee and prosecutors, meaning
Kenneth Starr, have damaged the institution of the presidency, but not
Bill Clinton. So argued the sole guest expert anchor Brian Williams
interviewed on Saturday's NBC Nightly News. American University
professor Allan Lichtman contended that Clinton had been dragged through
the muck, as if he didn't steer the White House there in the first
On the September
19 show, Brian Williams asked Lichtman about the "damage thus far to
the institution of the presidency."
"The toll is enormous. First, you can't
drag a President through the muck without leaving a permanent stain on the
presidency. Beyond that this whole matter has undermined the legal
foundations of the American presidency which, if it sticks, will leave us
with a President who is more isolated than ever before and who is less
able to get candid criticism and subject to political attack through the
legal system. Presidents can now be sued civilly while in office.
They'll be more subject to subpoenas, which can be issued by a single
federal judge. Their Secret Service agents, their top White House aides,
their White House lawyers can testify against them. We could have
independent counsels looking into their affairs public and private.
Issuing not simply information to Congress but in effect drawing up
articles of impeachment. And we've done this without having a national
conversation on this, without reaching consensus. It's been done case by
case by judges, lawyers and prosecutors and now the House Judiciary
Committee, without anyone taking an overall look at what this has done to
our presidency and our country."
Of course, none of
those precedents would have occurred if Clinton did not appeal every step
of the way in his effort to cover up his lie.
posed the second of his two questions, in the form of an observation:
"And all of this amid promises that it would be bi-partisan or
Lichtman argued: "Well, let's put it to
the test. If this was really to get the judgment of the American people
then let the House Judiciary Committee abide by that judgment. If the
public says go on, let them go on. But if the public says stop, let them
stop. That's the test of whether this is for real or just for partisan
Why bother having
a republican form of government with constitutional duties assigned to
each branch? Let's just hire Gallup and follow the results.
Al Hunt declared that Tom DeLay and the House Republican leadership
committed "a flagrant abuse of power," but Hunt's not
convinced that Bill Clinton abused his power as Kenneth Starr concluded.
Compare the assessments issued by the Wall Street Journal's Executive
Washington Editor on two successive editions of CNN's Capital Gang.
First, in date
order, Hunt on September 12 as he reacted to Starr's report:
"I got home late last night. I started to
read that report. It is sleazy. It is kinky. It is repulsive and I
couldn't wait to turn the page. If anybody had any doubt that President
Clinton committed perjury in the Paula Jones case last January, this puts
an end to it. I don't think anybody really did, but clearly he lied last
"On the more substantive charges of abuse of
power and obstruction of justice, the Starr charges are less convincing.
We may learn more later. And what I think is the far more serious perjury,
namely lying to that grand jury in August, again I think it's far more
tenuous. And so based on what we've seen in those more clear, more
demonstrably impeachable cases, I don't think we're there yet."
Second, Hunt this
past Saturday, September 19, on Tom DeLay asking the FBI to investigate
the White House role in pushing sexual affair stories about Dan Burton,
Helen Chenoweth and Henry Hyde:
"As awful as this story was [Hyde], I think
for the Republican leaders to get the FBI to investigate a news source is
a flagrant abuse of power. The FBI ought to be investigating criminals,
Mark [Shields], not news sources."
Catching up on a couple of items from last week: Keith Olbermann took a
shot at the timing of Newt Gingrich's divorce and Bob Schieffer was less
than impressed with the Starr report, concluding: "There's not much
-- On the
September 16 Big Show with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC the host set up the
show on Clinton being sidetracked by the Lewinsky scandal by asking:
"Is the effort to keep him from doing his constitutional necessity or
just the first step toward turning this country into the northern most
Later, in a remark
caught by the MRC's Tim Graham, Olbermann picked up on Newt Gingrich
labeling Clinton a misogynist, and ruminated: "Can the Speaker of the
House claim any moral high ground when today he says the President is a
man who hates women but he himself divorced his first wife while she was
undergoing treatments for cancer?"
-- A week ago, on the September 13 Face the
Nation, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed host Bon Schieffer's
dismissal of the Starr report. He asked Senator Orrin Hatch:
"Senator, a Democrat on the House Judiciary
Committee, Zoe Lofgren, told CBS News Friday night the President should be
impeached for threatening the Constitution. She says you can't impeach a
President because he's a bum, or you ought not to. Hasn't this come
down to just about that? I mean, once you get through the Starr report --
and I, like you, sat down yesterday and read it from start to finish, all
400-plus pages -- once you get past all the sex and the nasty business,
there's not much there besides a President who's trying to, and he did
lie, to get around a marital infidelity."
Network anchors just can't bring themselves to utter the phrase
"partial birth abortion." Witness how the ABC and CBS anchors
delivered news Friday night, September 18, about a vote in the Senate.
On ABC's World
News Tonight, Peter Jennings intoned: "On Capitol Hill today the
Senate failed to overturn President Clinton's veto of a bill banning
some late term abortions. Supporters of the bill fell three votes
announced on the CBS Evening News just after an item on speakers at a
Christian Coalition convention denouncing Clinton: "As the Christian
Coalition was meeting Republicans in the U.S. Senate were voting, trying
again to deliver on one of the group's top agenda items: overriding
President Clinton's veto of a ban on a type of late term abortion. The
vote to override the President's veto failed by three votes."
Erections, using cigars to simulate oral sex and the pleasures and dangers
of a large penis. Material unsuitable for children that will be discussed
in Clinton's video? No, it's what already airs on the networks during
the "family hour," the first hour of prime time. Yet the network
news divisions are suddenly concerned with the impact the video and other
documents may have on children.
On Sunday's Late
Edition on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer blamed Republicans for irresponsibly
exposing children to sexual material, asking House Republican Conference
Chairman John Boehner:
"How do you feel about the fact that a lot
of school children are going to be home tomorrow? It's Rosh Hashanah,
the Jewish New Year, and major school districts around the United States,
in New York City for example, 1.1 million children are going to be off
school. In Los Angeles 1.6 million children are not going to be attending
school. And there are a lot of other school districts in major urban areas
around the country which won't have school tomorrow. How do you feel
about releasing all of these videotapes and this other salacious material
at a time when children are going to obviously be exposed to it?"
Of course, no one
is forcing the networks to run the video live during the day.
But the networks
already deliver sexually-oriented material in the family hour, as
demonstrated by the MRC's Tim Graham in a Media Reality Check fax report
released last week: "Networks Wary of 'Salacious Language' on
Monicagate Air It Nightly in Prime Time Sitcoms: The Newest 'Family
A whole episode of ABC's Spin City was devoted to erections. When the
mayor character fails to stand up after a speech, Michael J. Fox's
character asks: "What's the matter, your foot asleep?" The
mayor answers: "No, there's another part of me that's very, very
awake." Later, when a woman asks Fox "Can't you guys control
those things?", he says, "You can scold it. Smack it around a
little bit. That only seems to encourage it."
Now, the rest of
the report, in full:
The Starr report quickly drew media fire for being too sexually graphic.
"It's so salacious. It's so graphic. There will be many people
who will feel it's disgusting, wonder what they'll tell their
children. It might cause a backlash for Ken Starr," warned ABC's
Barbara Walters on 20/20 the night of September 11.
USA Today reported Thursday that ABC, CBS,
and NBC will air excerpts of Clinton's videotaped grand jury testimony
and "probably bleep out salacious language." CBS News
spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said: "This is an instance where it may
not be best to be first."
But are the networks really worried about
children sneaking upstairs to watch the news? If the networks were so
concerned about salacious material on TV, why don't they air a segment
about their own sitcoms? MRC entertainment analysts Tom Johnson and
Melissa Caldwell provided many examples, including:
-- CBS's The Nanny: In one show, the
title character, Fran, and two other women go to a cigar bar. One woman
says: "Look at those men over there staring at us smoke. It's not
very feminine. I wonder why it turns them on so much?" The women put
cigars in their mouths and stare back at the men, clearly suggestive of
oral sex. Another Clintonesque metaphor came in a show when Fran referred
to a female cousin who'd "ground her teeth down to the gums...her
[husband] has never been happier."
-- ABC's Spin City: One of Michael J.
Fox's female underlings tells her boyfriend on the phone: "It was
just a run-of-the-mill orgasm. I didn't mean to scare you." When
she notices Fox's character nearby, she claims it's her mother on the
phone. Fox jokes: "I'll let you get back to your mom before she
loses her erection."
-- Fox's Getting Personal: Milo is
slow-dancing with a woman who thinks he's gay. She asks, "What is
that?" He replies "a pack of Certs," to which she soon
replies: "Those Certs just turned into a can of Pringles."
-- ABC's The Drew Carey Show: Mimi says,
"I guess you'd better call your four girlfriends and a thumb and
tell them you're going to be late." Drew replies: "Since
you're staying, maybe my four girlfriends and a thumb can go out to
dinner with 'Pleasure Me Pete.'"
-- NBC's Friends: Joey emerges from the
bedroom, naked except for a dartboard he's holding over his crotch, and
tells his roommate he and his girlfriend "aren't exactly gonna be
sleeping," but asks him to turn down the TV.
-- Fox's Living in Captivity: In the
show's debut last Friday, a couple's baby is 10 days overdue, and a
neighbor suggests the two have sex to hasten the arrival. The husband begs
off, telling his wife he's afraid he might "dent" the baby's
head. She barks, "I don't care if you poke his eyes out."
The latest study by the Parents Television
Council found the networks averaged more than two sexual references an
hour in the first hour of prime time, or "family hour," with ABC
leading with almost 3.5 per hour. All the shows cited here aired in the
"family hour," except The Drew Carey Show. (Spin City is moving
to a later slot this year.)
The networks don't really have a problem
with children being exposed to salacious materials, or these programs
wouldn't air these lines. They don't mind TV characters acting like
horny oafs, trading lines about their sex organs and fantasies. They just
don't want to expose America to a President who resembles them.
END of reprint
From the September 18 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Clinton Campaign Slogans If He Were To Run Again." Copyright 1998 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "The Other Candidates Are Close,
But No Cigar"
9. "It Couldn't Possibly Get More Embarrassing"
8. "You Gotta Admit He Keeps You Interested"
7. "He's Through Fooling Around With Interns...Unless There's A
Really Hot Crop Next Semester"
6. "Clinton -- In Touch With America's Young People"
5. "Who Knows, Ladies, Maybe You'll Be Next"
4. "Come On, Haven't We All Had Sex With An Employee Young Enough To
Be Our Daughter And Lied About It Under Oath?"
3. "Now More Like JFK Than Ever"
2. "Marv Got To Go Back To Work -- How 'Bout Bubba?"
1. "Peace, Prosperity, And Big Daddy Lovin'"
And, from the Late
Show Web Page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it
into the Top Ten."
-- "Because I'm Not Yet Done
Destroying The Moral Fabric Of Our Nation"
-- "A Chicken In Every Pot, A Stain On Every Dress"
-- "He's Done More For Comedians Than Any Other President"
-- "He Hasn't Actually Murdered Anyone"
-- "Bill Clinton -- Drawing Attention Away From Your Affairs"
-- "Just Wait Til You See The Trouble He'll Get Into This Time!"
-- "Keep Bill In Washington -- Or He Might Come Cruising In Your
-- "Be Like Monica -- Give Me The Job"
-- "I've Had More Sex Than Any Other President In History!"
-- "If You Vote For Only One Philandering Womanizer This Fall, Vote
I especially liked
#4. If there's any particularly noteworthy media reaction/commentary
Monday morning or afternoon I'll send a second CyberAlert later today.
Otherwise, expect another edition in about 24 hours. -- Brent Baker
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