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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday September 25, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 158)

CBS: Public Wants No Punishment; Celebrities Denounce Starr

1) Clinton wants to move on to what's really important, but the GOP insists on still dragging the process out, was the theme of network stories Thursday night. A CBS poll: Most reject punishment.

2) "Victory in America over this prosecutor will be victory for those across the world who support the principles of freedom," declared Anthony Hopkins, Gerard Depardieu, Vannessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson and many other international celebrities.

3) Letterman's "Top Ten Kenneth Starr Turn-Ons."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The threat and damage caused by Hurricane Georges led he ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening shows Thursday night. I did not have access to FNC's Fox Report, but Thursday afternoon at about 3:20pm ET the network highlighted an angle on the Clinton scandal not considered by the other networks in the evening. After Carl Cameron summed up Barney Frank's press conference by describing how the Massachusetts Democrat accused Republicans of, in Cameron's words, "partisan gamesmanship," anchor Jon Scott observed: "Interesting Carl that the President denied his relationship with Monica Lewinsky for about seven months before finally owning up to it and yet the Democrats are complaining that the Republicans have been stalling the process."

     ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Clinton's Rose Garden request that "The way out here, and the only way out, is for people in Washington to do what the folks in America want them do to which is take care of their concerns, their children and their future." (CNN ran a similar soundbite.) But all contrasted Clinton's hope by lamenting the reality that Republicans plan to lengthen the process by proceeding with impeachment hearings. Dan Rather stressed how out touch the GOP is, announcing that "the latest CBS poll indicates more than half of the public would be satisfied with no punishment for the President at all." Only NBC's David Bloom bothered with Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde's response to Clinton, noting "Hyde rejected Mr. Clinton's claim that it would be a mere distraction or diversion. This is, he said, about the rule of law."

     And a quick Geraldoism of the night from Geraldo Rivera in the opening of Thursday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC: "Regardless of what America may want, Republicans in Washington seem hell-bent on pushing ahead toward impeachment."

     Now some highlights of evening news scandal coverage from Thursday, September 24:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight offered one piece from Sam Donaldson. Peter Jennings introduced it by stressing how Republicans are dragging out the process:
     "In Washington today there is every sign that disciplining President Clinton for his behavior, whatever finally happens, is going to be a lengthy affair. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says his committee will not even decide for another week or two whether to conduct an impeachment inquiry. For its part the White House is trying to get out the word that from their point of view the President can run the country anyway."

     Sam Donaldson began: "White House officials are resigned to a formal impeachment inquiry, although the President himself made another try today at saying this pursuit of him is a foolish diversion from the truly important business of the country. At the conclusion of a Rose Garden ceremony the President actually waited for a question on whether he could avoid an impeachment inquiry, even shushing the crowd to make certain he would hear it."
     Clinton: "It is utterly foolish for people to be diverted or distracted from the urgent challenges still before us. The way out here, and the only way out, is for people in Washington to do what the folks in America want them do to which is take care of their concerns, their children and their future."

     Donaldson then moved on to how Henry Hyde plans to hold a committee vote the week after next followed quickly by a full House vote on holding impeachment inquiry hearings. Noting Democrats are "not buying" Hyde's claims of "evenhandedness," Donaldson played a soundbite from Barney Frank. Donaldson also noted how Hillary Clinton is calling Democratic members of Congress to urge their support for her husband and that Clinton has talked to Bob Dole. Donaldson ended by telling Jennings that to show he's still in charge Clinton has invited to the White House Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and PLO leader Arafat.

Poll9251cap.jpg (22936 bytes)     -- CBS Evening News. At the top of the show, Dan Rather teased: "The Republican-led House schedules key votes on an impeachment inquiry as the latest CBS poll indicates more than half of the public would be satisfied with no punishment for the President at all."

     After the hurricane stories Rather ran through the latest CBS News/New York Times poll numbers. Clinton's job approval has jumped from 61 percent before the Clinton video was shown to 67 percent now. His personal approval is up from 39 to 45 percent and support for censure has declined to 46 percent with 31 percent favoring impeachment hearings and the same percent saying he should resign. Rather continued: "All tolled, more than half [53 percent] now say they'd be satisfied with no punishment and just drop the whole matter. But as CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer reports tonight, Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican-led House made it clear today it won't do anything of the sort."

     Schieffer explained how Hyde plans a vote the week after next on an impeachment inquiry. He ran a Hyde soundbite before transitioning to a reply from Barney Frank by emphasizing how Democrats are "furious" at what they see as a plan to drag the process past the elections. Schieffer ended by noting that Hyde is not interested in censure or a deal and if the House approves he plans hearings after the election but before the end of the year.

     Dan Rather moved to CBS's second of two full stories, declaring: "For his part, what President Clinton did today included trying to re-focus public attention on the economy, on America's own social problems and on a very important international problem. Not on his problems."

     From the White House Scott Pelley introduced a Clinton soundbite by observing that he "seemed to be scolding Congress to lay impeachment aside."
     CBS then added to what ABC showed, with the .... indicating where the CBS clip of Clinton jumped from one part of his answer to another: "The right thing to do is that we all put progress over partisanship, put people over politics, put the American people first. What would we do? Well, we would keep the budget balanced, we would save Social Security before we squandered the surplus....The way out here, and the only way out, is for people in Washington to do what the folks in America want them do to which is take care of their concerns, their children and their future. That's what I mean to do and I'm going to do my best."

     Pelley picked up afterward: "And that's the defense strategy: tell voters the impeachment process is the problem, not the President. Then accuse Republicans of prolonging the process." Pelley also noted how the First Lady is making calls to Congress and that Clinton is keeping a high profile by inviting Netanyahu and Arafat to visit next week.  

     The show ended with an Eye on America look at how baby boomers view Clinton. The CBS News poll found that by two-to-one they approve of Clinton's job performance and don't want him to go.

     -- CNN's The World Today. John King reported that with the White House "all but throwing in the towel" on stopping impeachment hearings, their new strategy "begins with having the President look presidential." King played a different Rose Garden clip than ABC or CBS, but one with a similar theme.
     Clinton: "The right thing for me to do is what I'm doing. I'm working on leading our country and I'm working on healing my family."
     King then led into a clip of Gore by explaining: "Attacking Republicans as obsessed with scandal is another White House staple."
     King concluded by saying that Republicans are ignoring Clinton's policies, a sign they think Clinton is too weakened to drive the agenda.

     Next, Bob Franken ran through Hyde's plan for a vote, playing clips of Hyde and Frank's response, explained how the Judiciary Committee on Friday will squabble over whether to release Tripp's audio tapes or just transcripts and ended by raising the Democratic claim, which Hyde denied, that the committee decisions are all being choreographed by Speaker Newt Gingrich.

     -- NBC Nightly News provided one story and in it David Bloom got right to Clinton's Rose Garden statement: "Buoyed by public opinion polls showing his support holding, the President lingered after a Rose Garden event today for a question he knew was coming."
     Audio of what sounded like Bloom: "Do you see any way out of an impeachment inquiry?"
     Clinton: "The way out here, and the only way out, is for people in Washington to do what the folks in America want them do to which is take care of their concerns, their children and their future. That's what I mean to do and I'm going to do my best."
     Bloom then jumped to Capitol Hill and Hyde's decision for a vote, but Bloom uniquely allowed Hyde to counter Clinton: "And Hyde rejected Mr. Clinton's claim that it would be a mere distraction or diversion. This is, he said, about the rule of law."
     Hyde: "The foundation of out legal system is based on telling the truth."

     Bloom noted how Hillary Clinton is making calls and then highlighted a public blast from Hillary not played by the other networks: "Outside Denver Colorado this afternoon the First Lady went public, sharply attacking congressional Republicans."
     Hillary Clinton: "They'd rather spend their time diving our country, diverting our resources, doing anything but focusing on the real problems of America."

     Bloom concluded by reporting hat NBC News had learned that the FBI will not investigate Republican charges that the White House was behind the Hyde affair story because they don't believe spreading rumors amounts to obstruction of justice.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Clinton's Hollywood supporters have not been dissuaded one bit by all they've seen and heard over the past few weeks. They still think the scandal is an unworthy distraction from the great policies espoused by Clinton and that Starr is a "fanatical prosecutor."

     -- At a restaurant anniversary party USA Today's Jeannie Williams caught this from Bill Cosby, as run in the September 16 edition. (Ellipses and parentheses hers): "How much does a guy like (President Clinton) have to be punished and brutalized when...he's doing (his job) very, very well?...I just say for each and every person, if it was your family, when is enough enough?"

     -- On Tuesday's (September 22) ShowBiz Today on CNN, Mark Scheerer played some reactions to Clinton's video from Hollywood stars:
     Movie actor Jeff Daniels: "I think that Congress was -- the members of Congress were elected to make decisions, they're big boys and girls, and to blatantly use the American public to determine which side of the impeachment issue they come down on by releasing the Starr report like that on the Internet, by throwing this videotape out, is cowardly."

     Movie actor Robert DeNiro: "We have so many important things in this world to worry about and to preoccupy ourselves with this. I mean, people in other countries laugh at us. We have nothing better to do with our money and our time?"

     Kelsey Grammar, star of NBC's Frasier: "I don't think it's necessary to watch them. I don't think they're going to make a significant contribution to anybody's opinion."

     -- Here's a relatively brief Reuters story from September 23 that I caught on Yahoo about some very angry actors denouncing Ken Starr. Headlined "Entertainers' Appeal Backs Clinton, Slams Starr," the dispatch from Paris reported:

A group of international entertainers and intellectuals Wednesday backed President Clinton, saying the right wing was using the Lewinsky sex scandal to undermine his social program.

"The democratically elected President of a free nation has been subjected for eight months to inquisitorial harassment by a fanatical prosecutor with unlimited power," the 67 signatories said in a statement published by the influential daily Le Monde.

The campaigners included Nobel peace prize winners, Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos Horta, a Nobel literature winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Nobel physics laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes.

They appealed to the American people to support Clinton.

"Kenneth Starr's arbitrary and unfair procedures must not have the upper hand. Victory in America over this prosecutor will be victory for those across the world who support the principles of freedom," they said, adding that Starr was breaking the "sacred right" to privacy.

Clinton is seeking a deal with Congress to avoid impeachment over his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"The judicial show orchestrated by Prosecutor Starr is only a cover. His real fight is political. Backed by the extreme right, he is seeking to undermine President Clinton's ideas of freedom and his social and liberal program," the statement said.

Appeal signatories included film stars Anthony Hopkins, Gerard Depardieu, Vannessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson, Jeanne Moreau, writers William Styron, Guenter Grass and Carlos Fuentes, singer Peter Gabriel, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and the chairman of the French National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee, Jack Lang.

"Oppression begins whenever a power, whatever it is, intrudes into an individual's private space and personal affairs," they said.

END of story


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) From the September 22 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Kenneth Starr Turn-Ons." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. A woman who's willing to wear a wire on the first date.
9. The shapely, impossibly muscular legs of Senator Trent Lott.
8. Long, moonlit walks on our nation's dignity.
7. Playboy's special, "Woman of the Supreme Court" issue.
6. Exhibits "S" and "M", if you know what I mean.
5. Subpoenaing himself.
4. One night of ecstasy with CNN's Greta Van Susteren and Bernard Shaw.
3. Depositions by candlelight.
2. Pina coladas, gettin' caught with a stain.
1. Big women and narrow definitions.

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

-- Phone sex operators who whisper the entire Constitution to him.
-- Women who wear concealed tape recorders.
-- That innocent look women have when they don't know you're taping their conversations.
-- Being able to use pick-up line "I subpoena you to go to bed with me."

     I've run many anti-Clinton Top Tens, so I thought it would be fair to show how popular culture perceives and makes fun of Starr.  -- Brent Baker

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