Surplus Credit; CBS Admired Hillary; Starr "Worrisome" to Time
1) The surplus got stories on
all the networks, but none noted it's only a surplus if you count Social
Security revenue and none mentioned spending has soared since Reagan.
Another Clinton donor was indicted, but ABC, CBS and NBC skipped the
2) Tuesday night CBS and CNN
blamed pork-barrel spending by Congress, not Clinton cuts, for the
military's readiness problems.
3) CBS's Bill Plante admired
how Hillary is overcoming adversity: "To the astonishment of
many," she's still "intensely supportive of the President and
4) "Bill Clinton may
behave badly, but the really worrisome guy is Ken Starr," read the
headline over a Time article this week.
5) Letterman's Top Ten, or
make that Top 41, "Other Clinton Scandals."
>>> The History Channel is
repeating the 10am to 3p ET playing of the 1974 House Judiciary Committee
impeachment hearings this week, noted in the September 28 CyberAlert, from
3pm to 8pm ET. So far I haven't seen the often recalled
"bipartisanship" of the era. The majority party wins and the
minority party loses every vote. Just like now, but the parties are
Clinton's announcement of a $70 billion budget surplus generated a story
on all the networks Wednesday night and it led the evening shows on ABC
and NBC. CBS jumped right to falling mortgage rates while FNC went first
with how the Tripp tapes will show that Lewinsky told her Clinton and
Jordan told her to lie. A massacre in Kosovo topped CNN and the broadcast
networks also featured stories on the just-discovered atrocity which
occurred last week.
All the networks
spread credit around for the surplus, but none mentioned that the budget
is really about $40 billion in debt if you don't count Social Security
FICA tax revenue which currently exceeds outflow. Only CBS's Scott
Pelley and NBC's Mike Jensen observed that there is still a $5.5 billion
outstanding debt and Jensen uniquely gave some credit to President Bush.
Clinton says we cannot afford a tax cut, but only FNC and NBC pointed out
the billions allocated for Clinton's "emergency spending" for
Bosnia and the Year 2000 computer problem.
noted that spending has been held down or cut recently, though that's
really not true. As Scott Hodge pointed out in a Heritage Foundation
report earlier this year, "during the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan
cut real domestic discretionary spending by 15 percent before 'spending
caps' were enacted....But since Reagan left office, domestic
discretionary spending has jumped 23 percent in real terms, even though
'spending caps' have been the norm."
Clinton-Gore donor in Miami was indicted Wednesday with 17 counts related
to serving as a straw donor, but the broadcast network ignored the
development. CNN and FNC ran short items. In fact, not a word about the
Clinton scandals on the broadcast networks Wednesday night.
Here are some highlights on the budget-front from
the network newscasts for Wednesday, September 30:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. After showing Clinton saying when we last had a surplus in
1969 Bonanza was on TV and Neil Armstrong was on the Moon, Cochran got
right to who gets credit:
"There are a lot of people who can take a
share of the credit. Five years ago the President pushed through an
unpopular budget that increased gasoline taxes and raised a lot of tax
revenue. Economic growth provided still more tax dollars. Republicans in
Congress held down spending and passed a balanced budget. And ordinary
Americans should get credit for paying all those taxes and increasing
their productivity on the job."
He moved quickly
to the debate over what to do now:
"As for what to do with the surplus it is
the politicians who will decide. House Republicans want to set aside 90
percent of the surplus to protect Social Security but use the rest for a
huge tax cut. President Clinton argues all the money should be set aside
until the Social Security issue is resolved."
If 10 percent is
"huge" how huge is the 90 percent?
that Clinton's on the popular side: "The President says he will
veto any big tax cut until the future of Social Security is guaranteed.
And the polls, which he pays a lot of attention to, show he is on the
popular side in this debate."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened te show:
"It's New Year's Eve. Fiscal New
Year's Eve and there's important news tonight about the U.S. economy
and your money. The White House estimates Fiscal 1998 is ending with a
U.S. budget surplus of $70 billion."
After noting and IMF report predicting no
recession in the U.S. and lower oil prices ahead, Rather went to Anthony
Mason for a look at falling mortgage rates. Barry Petersen then examined
Japan's economic problems before Dan Rather glowed:
"On this side of the globe, President
Clinton with considerable factual justification, was talking up
America's budget fitness, officially announcing the first U.S. federal
budget surplus in three decades."
Scott Pelley reported that with the election in a
few weeks Clinton "used the surplus announcement today to castigate
Republicans, suggesting they are investigating too much and legislating
Clinton: "How can we possibly walk away from
this session of Congress when there is no pain in doing the right thing,
without saying we're going to save Social Security first, put education
as our first investment priority, pass a patient's bill of rights and
keep America and the world's economy growing. How can we do that?"
But Pelley also gave the other side: "Today
Republicans insisted that Mr. Clinton is stealing credit for their
After a clip of Senator Phil Gramm crediting the
1994 elections and how Clinton gave in to the mandate for a balanced
budget, Pelley offered this summary of who should get credit:
"Actually many important factors behind the
surplus are beyond politics: the demise of the Soviet Union cut billions
in cold war spending, the roaring stock market has pumped vast capital
gains tax revenues into the federal treasury. And the Federal Reserve bank
set the nation on a course of high growth and low inflation. For all the
talk about balancing the federal budget today, there wasn't much talk
about the national debt. The United States owes $5.5 trillion, today's
surplus amounts to only a little over one percent of that."
-- CNN's The World Today. Carl Rochelle handled
the surplus story. After battling soundbites from Clinton and Gramm, he
let Robert Reischauer, of the Brookings Institute, and formerly head of
the CBO when Democrats controlled Congress, assign credit, saying
"one key financial analyst says these are the real reasons for the
Reischauer asserted: "Sensible fiscal
policy. In other words, reduced spending and increased taxes. Enlightened
monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and a good dose of luck."
Crowley explained how Democrats are considering the advantages of crafting
an alternative procedure on the Clinton-front, either censure or
advocating an inquiry with a timetable for after the election. The fewer
Democrats who support the Republican plan, she noted, the more the
Republicans will look partisan. Bill Schneider explored how the election
will be interpreted as referendum on impeachment.
Joie Chen took a few seconds to report: "A Miami business executive
stands accused of making illegal contributions to several Democratic
campaigns, including the Clinton-Gore reelection effort. Mark Jimenez, CEO
of Future Tech International has been indicted on 17 counts of violating
federal election laws. Attorney General Janet Reno notes that Jimenez is
the 12th person charged by the campaign finance task force."
-- FNC's Fox Report led with Rita Cosby on the
tape transcripts about to be released. Referring to what is revealed on a
tape Tripp made while wired by he FBI, Cosby reported: "Although
President Clinton has denied under oath ever telling Monica Lewinsky to
lie, one tape tells a different story. Lewinsky says the President and his
close friend Vernon Jordan advised her to lie about her sexual
relationship with Mr. Clinton, saying if we deny it no one will catch
Cosby added that her sources concede Tripp
"comes off as aggressive and manipulative" and since Lewinsky
told the grand jury she lied to Tripp about Jordan's role the tapes will
contain "fodder for both sides."
Next, Carl Cameron
caught another Democratic flip-flop: "Democrats had argued that any
impeachment of the President should follow procedures established during
Watergate. Now they're changing their tune." He went on to run a
clip of John Conyers demanding a narrow inquiry on he Starr report instead
of a broad investigation Conyers supported during Watergate. But Cameron
was balanced, also hitting Trent Lott by contrasting his comment on
Tuesday that "bad conduct" justifies impeachment with his 1974
argument that only serious crimes warrant impeachment.
Scott took a few seconds to note the Jimenez indictment before he talked
with Dick Morris about what Morris told the grand jury about Clinton's
use of private investigators to silence women by intimidating them with
On the surplus,
Wendell Goler ran clips from Clinton and Senator Don Nickles, explaining
Republicans credit their takeover and push for a balanced budget while
Clinton thanks his 1993 budget plan. After noting that Clinton says the
country cannot afford a tax cut, Goler concluded with a Republican point
about Clinton's "emergency spending" plans:
"The Republican tax cut would take about $7
billion of the surplus the first year, the troops in Bosnia and computer
fixes cost about $14 billion. Republican Senator Pete Domenici says if the
country can afford the big package, it can afford the little one."
-- NBC Nightly News. "Money to spend. After
years in the red now the government in $70 billion in the black, but can
Congress and the President agree on how to spend the surplus?" So
teased Tom Brokaw at the top of the show.
explained that both Clinton and Republicans think they deserve the credit,
"The real argument is over how to spend the
money. The President points out that after a wave of baby boomers retire
around 2020 Social Security could go broke in just 12 years. Save the
money for Social Security he says, arguing today that Republicans just
want to serve up an election year tax cut."
After a clip of Clinton, Bloom continued:
"But Republicans point to the billions of
dollars of so-called emergency spending Mr. Clinton has proposed -- for
everything from U.S. troops in Bosnia to the Year 2000 computer glitch,
from farm disaster relief to U.S. embassy security."
Next, Mike Jensen
looked at "what does the surplus mean?" He answered that $70
billion can do a lot but there is still a national debt of $5.5 trillion
costing 14 cents of every federal dollar for interest. Who gets the
credit? Jensen suggested:
"Economists say it's a long list. Former
President Bush for his policies that paved the way for this seven-year
expansion, Congress for cutting government spending, the Federal Reserve
for keeping interest rates low, American companies for becoming more
competitive. Then there's President Clinton. Most experts say he's
done a good job with the economy and of course he's the one who gets to
take a public bow."
No CyberAlert on Wednesday, so here's a brief run down of Tuesday night
coverage. (Some detail of another admiring look at Hillary Clinton, this
time by CBS, in item #3).
quarter point reduction in its loan rate led all the newscasts Tuesday
night, September 29. ABC, CBS and CNN featured full reports on the top
military Generals telling a Senate committee that readiness is falling to
a dangerous level, but both CBS and CNN blamed pork-barrel spending by
Congress, not Clinton administration decisions to reduce defense spending
and force size.
On the CBS Evening
News David Martin began: "For the first time in a generation the
Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Congress the military is in decline and in
danger of going into a nosedive..."
Martin later observed: "Military spending
has gone down while the pace of operations has gone up. Bosnia alone is
costing $2 billion a year. Congress has made things worse by forcing the
military to buy unwanted hardware which keeps assembly lines open in their
districts, and by refusing to close unneeded bases which provide
CNN's Jonathan Karl highlighted wasteful
projects like more cargo planes the military does not want which are
manufactured in Newt Gingrich's district.
On the Monicagate-front,
zilch on ABC and NBC. Dan Rather noted House Republicans "are
floating plans" to give the Judiciary Committee authority for an
open-ended probe. Scott Pelley reported that the White House is writing a
new rebuttal to Starr's report as Clinton defenders maintain that even
if true the charges do not warrant impeachment. CNN's John King provided
a piece on how word of a pro-Clinton ad campaign has upset Capitol Hill
"Congressional Democrats are outraged, saying money is hard to come
by and should go directly to the most competitive House and Senate races,
not to any effort to help the President." Candy Crowley delivered a
piece on how Democrats are trying to make the public believe Gingrich, not
Henry Hyde, is running the show.
Carl Cameron, on
FNC's Fox Report, picked up on how the about to drop document dump will
reveal that Sidney Blumenthal told Hillary about "the Monica
problem" but she said Clinton was "just ministering to a
troubled young person" and "as for the Tripp tapes, sources say
Linda Tripp comes across as a schemer and a manipulator, but in those
tapes Monica Lewinsky did in fact ask her to lie. And about the White
House Lewinsky said quote 'I wouldn't cross those people for fear of
on Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, Gwen Ifill did mention the
Blumenthal/Hillary exchange and Dick Morris's charge about intimidating
women, but none of that has made it onto NBC Nightly News.)
Catching up with NBC News, Tuesday night CBS featured its own admiring
look at how Hillary Clinton is overcoming adversity, instead of focusing
on the possibility she is shamelessly playing the part of the hurt but
supportive wife when she was really part of the scam all along. (See the
September 23 CyberAlert for the latest from NBC.)
Bill Plante began
his September 29 CBS Evening News piece: "Hillary Rodham Clinton is
in Puerto Rico tonight, comforting victims of Hurricane Georges, out in
public as she has been almost every day since the release of the
President's videotaped testimony and still, to the astonishment of many,
intensely supportive of the President and his agenda. Accepting an award
she underscored that it's for"
Hillary Clinton: "The President's
Plante: "But she still refers to him in a
more personal way, as her husband."
Hillary Clinton: "Everyone who applauded my
Plante: "For those who wonder how she can
even say that word, the First Lady's friends say she wouldn't do it
any other way."
Mandy Grunwald: "What would you have her do?
Hide under the bed? Walk out the door? She believes in marriage and she
believes in for better and for worse. And this is certainly for worse but
I don't think she's walking away. I think she's throwing herself
into her work."
Plante: "As a campaigner Hillary Clinton may
be more in demand this year than her husband. She skewers Republicans in
Congress, this time for not spending money on education."
Hillary Clinton: "They'd rather spend
their time dividing our country, diverting our resources. Doing anything
but focusing on the real problems of America."
After showing her
applauding Martin Luther King's daughter when she said Bill Clinton
deserved forgiveness and noting that no one really knows what she says in
private, Plante concluded:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to have no
intention of answering the question many people have about her marriage:
why do they stay together. What she does seem willing to do is to put her
own public image on the line, for her husband and for their shared
In other words,
she's doing it to maintain her own political power.
The weekly newsmagazines have joined the Clinton defense team this week.
"Enough Already" declared the headline over the October 5 cover
story in the latest Newsweek about how "in the real world, people
want the Monica Madness to end."
In Time, opposite
a full page drawing of Linda Tripp's face made to look like a tape
recorder, the headline: "There's Something About Linda." The
subhead: "Tripp may have helped trigger the Lewinsky scandal, but her
manipulations may now be key to Clinton's counterattack."
A few pages later
Time allocated a whole page to an attack on Ken Starr headlined
"Cover That Keyhole: Bill Clinton may behave badly, but the really
worrisome guy is Ken Starr." Time Senior Writer Richard Lacayo
insisted: "What the President did ranged from the silly to the
squalid, but the investigation is worse, turning a private mess into a
In this excerpt,
we pick up Lacayo's diatribe slightly short of midway, after he's
shown his disgust with how Starr's team questioned Clinton about the
specifics of his sexual activities with Lewinsky. Lacayo then contended:
have to care much for Clinton to know that any number of things about
Starr's inquiry feel unsound. His indifference to the niceties of
nonpartisanship, his way of delivering the evidence without the
exculpatory alternatives that prosecutors generally offer would be enough.
What's really unsettling is the larger dynamic. At a time when the notion
of a protected personal realm is beginning to seem quaint and sepia toned,
even people who don't expect government investigators on their doorstep
sense that Starr has breached more than just the President's tattered
defenses. By its very example, his investigation furthers a truly
unwholesome idea: that relations between consenting adults -- even
juvenile, unappetizing and wrongful ones -- can be criminalized. All you
have to do is corner the people involved, question them under oath and
make them squirm."
liberals who pushed through all those sexual harassment laws which
criminalized supposedly consensual sex between two people of unequal power
in the workplace?
to lay out how Starr will damage society:
"It will be a while before we understand all
the ways Starr has changed things. To be sure, the notion of privacy has
suffered. But even civic moralizing has taken a hit. From now on it takes
place in an even more muddled context. It will be interesting to watch the
House debating pornography on the Internet now that its own Judiciary
Committee has launched the President's cigar into cyberspace. Or to watch
cities attempt to zone porn shops to the margins now that the Starr report
has been sold next to the cash register at Barnes and Noble. Or to sit
through the next election season of family-values campaigning by
candidates fending off news about past 'indiscretions.'"
clinical recitation of a few sexual encounters with true pornography meant
to arouse is rather preposterous. Just compare the Starr report to a
romance novel, never mind a Penthouse Letter.
A paragraph later
Lacayo concluded that Starr was more sinister than Clinton:
"Clinton made the truest statement of his
testimony when he was asked whether he had tried to keep his Lewinsky
interlocks a secret. 'I did what people do when they do the wrong
thing,' he said. 'I tried to do it where nobody else was looking at
it.' We would all be better off if Starr had exercised his prosecutorial
discretion and left the White House Kama Sutra a closed book. What the
President did ranged from the silly to the squalid, but the investigation
is worse, turning a private mess into a public eyesore. It's Starr, after
all, who has given us the dirtiest paperback ever to top the best-seller
list. And it's Starr who produced thousands more pages of clammy evidence,
much of it devoted obsessively to proving that someone's mouth touched
someone else's penis. And for all the assurances that now it's up to the
American people, don't expect it to end soon. 'Back to the touching of
your breasts for a minute.'"
From the September 29 Late Show with David Letterman, the Top Ten, or make
that the Top 41, "Other Clinton Scandals." Copyright 1998 by
Worldwide Pants Inc.
10. Kicked 12 year-old boy to get McGwire
home run ball
9. He's the real reason behind Matt Damon-Minnie Driver breakup
8. Wedding ring he gave to Hillary? Cubic Zirconia
7. Sold secret puffy thigh technology to Yeltsin
6. Once tried to build a bong out of Al Gore
5. Broke into the Watergate just for the hell of it
4. When family goes to movies, makes Chelsea pretend she's under 13
3. Paid Ken Starr to write a report that would "make him look like a
2. At state dinner, once accidentally hit on Hillary
1. Secretly sold Delaware to Chinese for $500
Now, three more:
3. During last State of the Union Address,
bit the head off a live bat
2. Blew off Russian summit to follow Phish around the country
1. Never had sex with Eleanor Mondale, but Walter's another story
And two more:
2. Fathered the entire population of
Tyson's Corner, Virginia
1. Completely ignored existence of brothers Marlon and Tito
And another 26, for 41 in total:
26. Let O.J. live in Lincoln bedroom for a
25. During visit to Europe, played paintball in the Sistine Chapel
24. Buddy the dog actually a cat
23. Socks the cat actually a dog
22. Hillary actually a man
21. Frequently seen in "I Love Communism" T-shirt
20. Reproduces by dividing in two like an amoeba
19. Killed Lorne Greene
18. Used black magic to raise Lorne Greene from the dead
17. Killed Lorne Greene again
16. He tugged on Superman's cape
15. He spit into the wind
14. He pulled the mask on the ol' Lone Ranger
13. He messed around with Jim
12. Publicly referred to Mexico as "Nacho-rific"
11. Secretly tested new drug on Emmy voters causing them to give The Late
Show an Emmy
6. Bill Gates-gate
5. Didn't dial 10-10-321-gate
Just too many
potential scandal possibilities to contain in a Top Ten list. -- Brent Baker
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