Lewinsky Exculpates Clinton; Wicked Tripp vs. Dignified Hillary
1) Is not saying you did not
lie the same as admitting you did lie? ABC and CBC conflict, or do they?
All but CBS highlighted the "grievous error" of not including
Lewinsky's "exculpatory" claim.
2) To NBC News Linda Tripp is
a "Wicked Witch," but Hillary Clinton "projects a quiet
3) ABC's Lisa McRee hoped:
"Doesn't that pull the rug out from under his [Starr] justification
for continuing this Monica Lewinsky investigation or entering it in the
4) Rivera relayed how the
White House won't allow a right-wing coup and denounced Tripp: "Can
the President of the United States be brought down by the likes of Linda
Tripp, for God's sake?"
In the spirit of it depends what "is" is and what you mean by
"alone," is ceasing to insist that you did not lie the same as
admitting you did lie? Speculation about a censure deal with Congress led
the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows Tuesday night while CNN and FNC also
considered the possibility but began with the White House attacking Starr
for not including in his report a supposedly exculpatory statement from
Monica Lewinsky. ABC and NBC also highlighted the Clinton complaint, but
not CBS. Only FNC put the complaint in context by quoting from Starr's
As for the
question of whether no longer saying you did not lie is the same as
admitting you did lie, ABC's Sam Donaldson reported "the President
may be willing to stop arguing that he did not lie under oath as part of a
deal..." But on CBS, Scott Pelley maintained that "Mr. Clinton
is still unwilling to give up the one thing that Congress says it must
have, a confession that he did not tell the whole truth under oath."
highlighted poll results showing a jump in Clinton's personal and job
approval. CNN, FNC and NBC all ran pieces on unflattering information
about Linda Tripp divulged in the newly released documents. NBC Nightly
News pictured Tripp as the "Wicked Witch of the West," but later
admired "the quiet dignity" of Hillary Clinton. (See item #2 for
this NBC contrast.)
Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, September 22 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show:
"Good evening. What a difference a day
makes, or videotaped testimony makes. In Washington's political
establishment today there are the faintest signs that a political deal to
spare President Clinton the impeachment process is inching its way into
the serious debate about his future. Nothing cut and dried by a very long
shot, but now that the country has seen the President's videotaped
testimony there are hints."
explained: "No one will say it on the record, but various sources
close to the White House defense strategy suggest the President may be
willing to stop arguing that he did not lie under oath as part of a deal
with Congress that would spare him the prospect of impeachment and removal
Donaldson went on to run a soundbite from Mike
McCurry about White House interest in a deal and then Donaldson pointed
out how Clinton lawyers sent a letter to Capitol Hill complaining about
how Starr's report failed to include Lewinsky's statement that
"no one ever asked me to lie and I was never promised a job for my
silence." That's a one-sided manipulation of evidence, they
claimed. Donaldson did note without quoting anything specific that
Starr's report had actually said Lewinsky was not asked to lie, but
Clinton had suggested cover stories.
relayed some new ABC poll results: 68 percent thought the word which best
described Clinton's video was "evasive," 68 percent said
Clinton was right to refuse to discuss the sexual details and 81 percent
think believe sexual relations includes oral sex.
then checked in from Capitol Hill, reporting that instead of mumbling
behind closed doors about Clinton's problems hurting them, Democrats are
now openly saying the video helped Clinton. Democrats, she reported, are
talking about a deal: a censure which would include a fine and a reduced
pension. Douglass gave the Democratic spin: "They know Republicans
are likely to reject an effort to short-circuit the impeachment process,
but at the very least Democrats could then accuse Republicans of
prolonging the country's misery." Henry Hyde thinks deal talk is
premature, Douglass noted, concluding that the House is still headed
toward impeachment hearings.
For the last story
of the night, Jennings suggested Clinton can look overseas for
"comfort." Jennings highlighted how "the regional French
paper said the Starr investigation was 'totalitarian.' As for the
conservative German newspaper Hamburger Morning Post, under the headline
'We've Had Enough' two of their news pages were completely
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather began by getting
right to new poll numbers:
"Good evening. There was movement tonight on
some of the key indicators likely to determine the future of the Clinton
presidency. Public reaction and the Republican-led Congress's reaction.
First, public opinion. Our CBS News poll out today shows a shift among the
very same people we surveyed just last weekend. Since the Clinton grand
jury tapes aired, the President's overall job approval is up
significantly [59 to 68 percent] so is personal opinion of the President
[37 to 44 percent]. This even though some 63 percent of those who watched
found some of Mr. Clinton's answers evasive."
From Capitol Hill
Bob Schieffer found that Democrats think the Clinton video helped his
case, but not enough. So, Democrats like Robert Torricelli are saying that
to avoid long fight, work out a deal for a fine plus a censure. But
Republicans say it's too early for a deal and Orrin Hatch said he heard
grounds for impeachment so, Schieffer concluded, Republicans plan to
proceed to hearings.
Up next, from the
White House Scott Pelley contradicted Donaldson, or did he? Pelley
stressed: "Dan, the White House is looking to negotiate punishment
for the President, but Mr. Clinton is still unwilling to give up the one
thing that Congress says it must have, a confession that he did not tell
the whole truth under oath." Pelley insisted that a "senior
member" of Clinton's defense team told CBS News: "Clearly the
President is not going to give up the technical argument that he did not
lie under oath."
Later, the Eye on
America segment looked at the reasons behind Clinton's solid support
-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET opened with
fresh video from an evening White House event of South African President
Nelson Mandela praising Clinton. John King then jumped to the
"grievous error" by Starr charged by Clinton's lawyers with
leaving out one line from Lewinsky, which King relayed, they claim
"raises grave questions about the fairness" of Starr's report.
King noted talk about a deal before citing a late retort from Starr about
how the White House attack on his report represented an "intentional
effort to mislead" because the report did include Lewinsky's point
if not that quote.
Next, Bob Franken
previewed what is expected to next be released by the House on Thursday
and Candy Crowley measured the impact of the Clinton video: "It was
like some kind of national Rorschach test, everybody saw what was already
in their head."
Later in the hour,
Brooks Jackson focused on how Tripp is under investigation for perjury
because many of her tapes are duplicates so could possibly have been
altered. After showing Tripp's "I'm just like you" comment
from July, Jackson countered that the documents reveal some unflattering
facts: that Tripp told Lewinsky to save the dress and when she wanted to
wear it Tripp told her she looked fat in it. Jackson concluded by
highlighting how Lewinsky told the grand jury "I hate Linda
Tripp" and a grand juror reassured here that "whatever goes
around comes around."
-- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET. Jim Angle began
with the White House attack on Starr for not including the supposedly
exculpatory evidence, letting Mike McCurry complain. But, Angle quoted
from the Starr report, the only reporter to do so Tuesday night: "The
Starr report did say near the beginning that Monica Lewinsky testified
'the President did not expressly instruct her to lie... he did suggest
misleading cover stories.'"
Next, from Capitol
Hill Carl Cameron explained Henry Hyde's suggestion that Democrats are
complaining about partisanship as part of a strategy to confuse the
public. Rita Cosby then got to Tripp, and how new documents "cast
Linda Tripp in a new, more calculating light." She ran through the
same points as CNN's Jackson about the tapes and dress, adding that
Lewinsky said Tripp had threatened to expose all in tell all book. Cosby
did allow time for Tripp's retort: "Attorneys close to Linda Tripp
say any allegation that she was trying to set up the President is quote,
'preposterous.' They say that she was just trying to help her young
friend Monica Lewinsky. They say that Linda Tripp never did anything
illegal and never lied under oath."
Shuster examined how the documents show a pattern of stonewalling and
delay. A Secret Service officer, for instance, was told to leave the room
after each question and Clinton rejected six invitations to testify.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw topped the show
by emphasizing public disinterest:
"Good evening. The President, Lewinsky,
Starr, Congress and an exhausted nation. Now the question is how does all
of this end? No one is sure tonight. The capital is abuzz with
possibilities. While President Clinton was in New York today meeting with
the Japanese Prime Minister about the global financial crisis, in Congress
the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said the President would be
welcome to testify. And there is continuing speculation about a
Bloom raised the White House quest for a deal, but Bloom added that since
Republicans are not interested, Clinton operatives are on the attack.
"Today the President's lawyers jumped on the fact that Starr's
report, for all its sexually explicit sexual detail, makes no mention of
this line from Monica Lewinsky's grand jury testimony, quote 'no one
ever asked me to lie and I was never promised a job for my
silence.'" In a letter, Bloom added, Clinton lawyers claimed that
undermines the obstruction of justice charge.
Immediately after Bloom NBC went to Andrea Mitchell for a piece on Linda
Tripp. A few sentences in Mitchell observes that "she's been
portrayed as everything from the Wicked Witch of the West to a soccer
mom." Mitchell then proceeded to prove she's more of the Wicked
Witch. But minutes later on September 22 the NBC Nightly News ran a piece
on a woman the network likes a lot more, asking "how much more can
Hillary Clinton take?" and asserting that she "projects a quiet
First, the Tripp
Andrea Mitchell: "Investigators now believe
some key evidence that helped launch the investigation of the President
may have been altered: Linda Tripp's tapes."
Clinton soundbite on how Tripp stabbed Lewinsky
in the back
Mitchell: "New grand jury documents say nine
of Tripp's 27 tapes are not originals and one was stopped, in other
words, could have been altered, casting doubt on her credibility. Her
friends deny it."
Jonah Goldberg soundbite on how Tripp taped in
order to avoid being accused of lying
Mitchell: "She's been portrayed as
everything from the Wicked Witch of the West to a soccer mom."
Tripp in front of the courthouse in July:
"I'm an average American who found herself in a situation not of
her own making."
Mitchell: "Not of her own making? According
to Monica Lewinsky's newly released testimony Tripp had a lot to do with
this entire drama. For example, the blue dress. Tripp tells Monica to put
it in a safe deposit box because it could be evidence some day. Monica
says quote 'ludicrous.' Tripp later advises her not to clean and wear
it because it makes her look fat, thus saving the critical DNA evidence.
Another example: Vernon Jordan. Lewinsky says it may have been Tripp who
first suggests involving the President's best friend in a job search.
Also, Monica's computer records. Lewinsky says Tripp suggested they do a
spreadsheet to chart the dates she saw or talked to the President. More
evidence for the prosecutor.
"And most fateful of all, Tripp's
cooperation in the FBI sting of Monica. What Lewinsky calls the wired
lunch. According to Lewinsky Tripp at first pretends she too has been
caught by the FBI, tries to hug Monica and then while Lewinsky is being
questioned by prosecutors, Tripp goes shopping. On Lewinsky's last day
of testimony the jurors tell her Tripp will have to give an accounting of
what she did. Lewinsky's last words to the jurors: 'I hate Linda
Tripp.' Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington."
Maybe Tripp should
be praised for her foresight in making sure evidence was saved and records
Now, let's fast
forward about 20 minutes to the last story of the night, an admiringly
look at Hillary Clinton:
"What many people, especially women, are asking tonight is how much
more can Hillary Clinton take? Now the President's videotaped testimony
accompanied by thousands of pages of lurid details of his relationship
with Monica Lewinsky. In fact, she seems to be winning more admirers than
detractors during this crisis."
Kelly O'Donnell: "Today many American
women see her in a different light. Not simply as the First Lady, but now
as the first defender, first protector of her family. A role no
President's spouse ever played before, thanks to excruciatingly painful
revelation's about her husband's infidelity. A role no American woman
O'Donnell played soundbites of women sorry for
her followed by a mother daughter contrast with the daughter saying it's
great she stands by him and the mother suggesting that means we all might
as well be stomped on.
O'Donnell: "Counselor Sue Berger says
woman's anger toward Mrs. Clinton is more of a reflex than a
recommendation of what the First Lady should do."
After a clip of the counselor O'Donnell went a
swim fitness class in Glendale, California where "some here
personalize her pain and know the damage caused by infidelity."
One woman insisted sympathy for Hillary is well
deserved and another urged her to dump him after he leaves office.
O'Donnell concluded: "But that choice is
her's alone. For now Hilary Clinton's public face projects a quiet
dignity, while many women who support her say that speaks volumes."
A quiet dignity
NBC will not allow Linda Tripp.
Let's forget the whole thing, the whole Starr probe has been
illegitimate, ABC's Lisa McRee argued Tuesday morning based on a few
quotes dug out of thousands of pages of testimony. And NBC's Today led
Tuesday by highlighting how most don't want impeachment.
MRC news analyst
Clay Waters caught these two questions, better described as arguments,
from Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Republican U.S. Rep.
Charles Canady on the September 22 broadcast:
"Congressman, there apparently is also a lot of exculpatory evidence
within those mounds of testimony that were delivered to Capitol Hill. The
New York Times highlights a number of things today. For example, very
clearly Monica Lewinsky says that no one ever asked her to lie nor was
there any sort of deal made of silence in exchange for a job. She says
that very clearly. She also says she lied to Linda Tripp when she claimed
that she told her that she had told Vernon Jordan she wanted a job in
exchange for her signature on an affidavit denying a sexual relationship.
What if there is more of this exculpatory evidence? Doesn't that damage
Ken Starr's case?"
statement from Monica Lewinsky saying that she never made a deal to
exchange her silence for a job is very important, because that is one of
the reasons that Janet Reno gave Kenneth Starr permission to go ahead with
this Monica Lewinsky investigation in the first place, is it not? So if
she had told investigators from the very beginning, 'No one told me to
lie, Vernon Jordan was not trying to get me a job to keep me silent,'
doesn't that pull the rug out from under his justification for
continuing this Monica Lewinsky investigation or entering it in the first
Tuesday, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented, with this upbeat spin
Bill Clinton: "Yes, I'd give anything in
the world not to be here talking about it. I'd give anything in the
world not to have to admit what I've had to admit today."
Matt Lauer: "Good morning. Overnight polls
show that most Americans don't think the President told the whole truth
in his grand jury testimony."
Bill Clinton: "We have seen this four year,
$40 million investigation come down to parsing the definition of
Lauer: "But those same polls show a majority
of Americans do not think he should resign today, Tuesday, September 22,
Geraldo's back in top form. After a one-day vacation, Geraldo Rivera
returned to CNBC Tuesday night and didn't disappoint, picking right up
on the White House line and denouncing their enemies.
He opened CNBC's
7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight by reading a White House-fed attack
on right-wingers who supposedly want a coup:
"Who won this confrontation between our
adulterous President and his zealous and self-righteous foe? So Upfront
Tonight, where in the world do we go from here? And Diane [Dimond] permit
me to read this statement from my source very close to the President: 'I
know the right wing of the Republican Party would like to see President
Clinton resign and save them the embarrassment of voting in public on an
attempted coup. It sure as Hell won't happen.'"
After running the
Andrea Mitchell hit piece on Linda Tripp, detailed in #2 above from
Nightly News, Rivera indignantly exclaimed: "Can the President of the
United States be brought down by the likes of Linda Tripp, for God's
A bit more than an
hour later on CNBC's Rivera Live at 9pm ET and PT, he opened the show
with Mike McCurry complaining about "...exculpatory evidence that was
not mentioned by the office of independent counsel. That is a grievous
wrong to the President."
Rivera agreed: "Please think about that. The
report Ken Starr sent to Congress, 445 pages long. 445 pages filled with
filthy, salacious, intimate, explicit descriptions of sex and oral sex, of
sex with a cigar, even blatant double hearsay remarks attributed to the
President, to his girlfriend, to her girlfriend about the allegedly shaky
state of his marriage. But in all those 445 pages the eminent judge Starr
found no room to squeeze in the following sentence from Monica
Lewinsky's grand jury testimony, quote: 'No one ever asked me to lie
and I was never promised a job for my silence.' No ever asked me to lie
says the star witness and I was never promised a job for my silence. My
God, is this a coincidence? An omission in editing that judge Starr
happened to leave this out of his encyclopedic report?"
My God, can NBC
News really consider Rivera capable of balanced journalism? -- Brent Baker
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