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
3) Letterman's "Top Ten
Kenneth Starr Turn-Ons."
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
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
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."
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
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."
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.
-- 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."
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
-- 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
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
-- 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
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
"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
"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
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
-- Being able to use pick-up line "I subpoena you to go to bed with
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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