"Clique" of "Clinton Haters"; Moyers' Liberal Diatribe; Blumenthal Admonished
1) ABC and NBC avoided the
impeachment debate Tuesday night while Dan Rather said the Republicans are
set to probe "President Clinton, his sex life and lies he told to
2) Latest from Geraldo Rivera:
"David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of
right-wing Clinton haters" funded by "that prince of Clinton
haters -- Richard Mellon Scaife."
3) "Both parties
contrived to bend and break the law," Bill Moyers argued on Frontline
with Republicans more culpable because they bury campaign finance reform
"so the arms race in dollars continues to escalate. And so does the
selling of democracy."
4) FNC's David Shuster
disclosed that "grand jurors were infuriated" by Sidney
Blumenthal's false blast at prosecutors and "took the unusual step
of admonishing him in person."
Correction: Schippers on
the brain. The October 6 CyberAlert errantly spelled FNC reporter David
Shuster's name as Schuster.
President Clinton's efforts to deal with the world economic crisis led
the ABC and CNN evening shows Tuesday night while the buildup toward a
NATO airstrike in Kosovo topped CBS and NBC. FNC went first with
maneuvering before Thursday's expected House vote on an impeachment
ABC and NBC ran no
stories on the impeachment front and only alluded to it in intros to
stories on Clinton addressing the IMF/World Bank convention. CBS ran a
full piece by Bob Schieffer after a loaded intro by Dan Rather about how
Republicans plan to investigate "President Clinton, his sex life and
lies he told to hide it." CNN and FNC ran multiple
impeachment-related stories with FNC's David Shuster delivering a unique
piece on how the grand jurors were angry about how Sidney Blumenthal
misled the public about what questions he faced from them and prosecutors.
(See item #4 for details on Shuster.) Only CNN reported that EPA
Administrator Carol Browner testified at Mike Espy's trial.
For a fairly quiet night, here are some brief
highlights from the Wednesday, October 6 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened with ABC's only allusion to
impeachment: "Good evening. It was a very nervous day in Washington
and while the subject of impeachment is the background for almost
everything there, it is the state of the world's economy that we begin
began the subsequent story: "With a whiff of panic spreading through
financial markets everywhere, President Clinton made it clear today he
thinks there may be very little time left to avert a worldwide financial
Later, for the
"A Closer Look" segment, Robert Krulwich explained how the IMF
works, but did not examine any of the complaints offered by conservatives,
though Jennings noted Republicans oppose Clinton's request for $18
million for the IMF "unless the IMF requires borrowers to abide by
U.S. trade agreements."
-- CBS Evening News opened with how NATO is
gearing up for airstrikes in Kosovo. A couple of stories later Scott
Pelley focused on Clinton's economic speech and how he warned that
"every nation is threatened by the economic crisis."
Jerry Bowen blamed
a large hole in the ozone layer on global warming (more on that in a
future CyberAlert), before Dan Rather intoned:
"On Capitol Hill the Republican-dominated
House now plans to vote Thursday to approve an official impeachment
investigation into President Clinton, his sex life and lies he told to
explained how the White House wants the vote Thursday to look as partisan
as possible, but White House lobbying of Democrats may backfire.
-- CNN's The World Today led with John King on
the economic crisis followed by Bob Franken on how Democratic members are
telling Dick Gephardt they don't want to be lobbied by the White House.
examined how Majority Counsel David Schippers had upped the charges from
11 to 15 and how he outlined his conspiracy charge by illustrating all the
phone calls over a few hours amongst Clinton, Currie and Jordan. Meserve
"In contrast to the Starr report, what Schippers appears to have
done, legal experts say, is make a stronger case for a weaker charge:
conspiracy to obstruct justice rather than obstruction of justice
Next, Bruce Morton
highlighted how Maryland Governor Parris Glendening, who snubbed Bill
Clinton in early September, campaigned Wednesday with Hillary and now
would welcome Clinton's help.
Moret then made CNN the only network Wednesday night to raise Mike
Espy's trial for accepting $35,000 in illegal gifts. FNC noted when the
trial began last week, but the broadcast networks have yet to utter the
name "Espy" this month. Moret explained that in court Wednesday,
"EPA Administrator Carol Browner says the former Agriculture
Secretary told her planned to disregard the strict Clinton administration
ethics rules. She recounted a conversation involving two other cabinet
members over drinks in 1993. When ethics rules came up, Browner testified
Espy said something to the effect of 'It's a bunch of junk. I'm
going to do like I did in Congress.'"
-- FNC's Fox Report led with co-anchor Todd
Connor's declaration: "Capitol Hill is about to become Capitol Hell
for President Clinton."
revealed that Henry Hyde plans to delay hearings until after the election
and that Dick Gephardt will use a privileged resolution on Thursday to
allow a vote on the Democratic alternative. Jim Angle relayed that the
White House is resigned to approval of a full inquiry and how new Press
Secretary Joe Lockhart claimed Republicans are just stringing the process
out to benefit them on election day. Co-anchor Jane Skinner then
interviewed Democrat Jerrold Nadler. Following the Shuster piece detailed
in item #4 below, Heather Nauert and Time's Jay Carney discussed
-- NBC Nightly News led with Clinton's warning
to Slobodan Milosevic about possible NATO action soon. Jim Miklaszewski
began by reporting how Senate Republicans posed "harsh questions
about what the U.S. is really doing" to Defense Secretary Bill Cohen.
After the first ad
break Tom Brokaw, like Jennings, referred to impeachment in introducing a
piece on Clinton's economic speech:
"President Clinton was facing still another
crisis today beyond the Balkans and upcoming vote on impeachment hearings
against him. He today opened a joint meeting of the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund with a combination pep talk and a very stern
warning on how to deal with the growing worldwide economic turmoil."
Claire Shipman emphasized how "Both the
White House and U.S. allies are frustrated that the Republican Congress
has yet to approve an $18 billion payment to the International Monetary
Fund whose job it is to help bail out failing economies. Republicans
question how the IMF will spend the money."
Geraldo Rivera is so passionate about vindicating Clinton that he flew to
Arkansas to prove how "David Hale's testimony was bought and paid
for by a clique of right-wing Clinton haters" and that Hale "was
in the hip pocket of a group of hardline right-wingers." And, Rivera
charged, it was all paid for by "that prince of Clinton haters --
Richard Mellon Scaife."
From Little Rock,
on CNBC's 7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight of October 6 Rivera
"It was right here in Little Rock that the
special prosecutor began his zealous pursuit of Bill Clinton. Whitewater,
as you know, generated reams of newspaper and television stories, most of
which cast the President and First Lady as crooks. But now serious
questions being raised about the Whitewater investigation in itself."
how David Hale, a key Whitewater witness, appeared today in court on a
state fraud charge and that he claims Clinton pressured him into making an
illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, he allowed McDougal to denounce
the idea. After some clips of supposed Hale friends saying he never told
them about Clinton's role under he faced prison, Rivera insisted:
"In fact, none of Hale's charges have ever been
launched his jihad over how conservatives ganged up to destroy Clinton:
"Now a separate federal grand jury is
investigating allegations that David Hale received thousands of dollars
from a group of Clinton's enemies to encourage his testimony against the
President. The allegation is that the money for Hale, like the more than
$2 million to bankroll an operation to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton called
the Arkansas Project, came from that prince of Clinton haters Richard
Mellon Scaife. Scaife allegedly funneled the money through a right-wing
magazine called The American Spectator. The Spectator's eyes and ears in
Arkansas was a man named Parker Dohzier."
Now standing in
front of Dohzier's bait shop, Rivera continued his diatribe:
"The grand jury is investigating whether
David Hale's testimony was bought and paid for by a clique of right-wing
Clinton haters. One strong piece of evidence comes from this unlikely
setting: a modest fishing resort located just outside of Hot Springs
Arkansas. While he was a protected witness under the watchful eye of FBI
agents working for Ken Starr, David Hale often stayed here, free of
charge, even got use of an automobile. Here's the connection: this place
is owned by Parker Dohzier, the same Parker Dohzier who worked for the
American Spectator magazine and who was being paid to dig up dirt on Bill
Clinton. Did Dohzier pay off Hale? The grand jury also wants to know
whether Ken Starr knew or should have known that his star witness, David
Hale, was in the hip pocket of a group of hardline right-wingers
determined to take down the President by any means necessary."
A few minutes
later as the show ended Rivera told co-host Diane Dimond: "I just
want to point out that after four years and $40 million dollars the
naughty cigar trick and the semen-stained dress got more mention than all
of the Whitewater investigation."
Bill Moyers is back. The usual PBS omnipresence has been off PBS and NBC
for the past year because of health reasons, but Tuesday night he
returned, full of liberal righteousness. The venue: a Frontline titled
"Washington's Other Scandal." But instead of focusing on the
law breaking of Democrats on behalf of Clinton in 1996, Moyers devoted the
PBS hour to showing how both parties are equally corrupt with Republicans
a bit worse because they oppose Moyers' preferred solution: more
regulation, aka campaign finance reform.
video of Clinton's fundraising dinners and coffees and another narrator
read from memos from Dick Morris and Harold Ickes about how to avoid the
spending limits by using soft money for issue ads. But other than one
reference to John Huang Moyers failed to explore the allegations of
illegal foreign contributions to the DNC. That would ruin his 'the
system is what's wrong' theme.
He only profiled
one Democratic donor and portrayed him, an Indian tribe's leader who
gave to buy access but never got what he wanted, as a victim. Two
conservative donors to Republicans, in contrast, were painted as schemers
who gave only to avoid responsibility for their products which killed
children and polluted the environment.
Moyers opened the
show by laying out his both sides are equally guilty/the system is the
problem theme. Over video of Clinton at a fundraiser at the Hay Adams
Hotel, Moyers intoned:
"These White House videotapes reveal the
heart of a Washington where money, not sex, is the obsession. The story is
not what two consenting adults did in private, but what our two political
parties are doing to an unsuspecting republic. The campaign of 1996, which
cost $2.2 billion, was the most expensive in history and one of the most
corrupting. Tonight, we will show you how both parties contrived to bend
and break the law. While Janet Reno reluctantly investigates White House
fundraising and Senate Republicans buried campaign finance reform, we will
piece together the outlines of Washington's other scandal."
to recount how the 1994 congressional losses motivated a Democratic effort
to run pro-Clinton ads in 1995. Eventually, Clinton, Morris and Ickes
decided to use DNC soft money, even though the ads couldn't explicitly
mention Clinton's campaign. PBS showcased memos from Morris and Ickes
about how to get around the federal limit. Though supposedly separate from
Clinton-Gore, Moyers showed how Clinton himself edited and reviewed ads
and at the Hay Adams boasted of how the "issue" ads boosted his
approval ratings in key states.
About 20 minutes
into the show, Moyers flipped to the evils of the other party: "The
Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, 1997. Even as the Senate is investigating
Democratic campaign fundraising excesses the Republicans Party gathers its
biggest donors, those who gave at least $100,000 in soft money in 1996.
They're called Team 100."
Moyers offered this condemnation: "The
Republicans too have found ways to raise and spend campaign money outside
the limits of the law."
Jumping to Sam
Brownback's Senate campaign in Kansas, Moyers highlighted last minute
ads against his opponent run by something called Citizens for the Republic
Education Fund which, Moyers soon revealed, is really a front for Triad, a
Washington group which promises anonymity to donors.
Viewers then saw
Bob Cone in a promotional video for Triad as Moyers asserted: "But
Cone had shown little interest in politics until 1994 when at least ten
children had died in the swing cradles produced by his company, Graco
Children's Products. When the parents threatened to sue, Cone and his
brother begin contributing to candidates who promised to limit a citizens
ability to sue corporate America."
(Moyers missed the
irony given that his favored campaign finance reform would "limit a
citizens ability to" express their views about candidates.)
The other big
donor to Triad for the ads on Brownback's behalf: the Economic Education
Trust. That's really, Moyers revealed, Koch Industries, "a
Like he did with
Cone, Moyers impugned the Koch family. Over video of newspaper headlines
about polluting violations and oil spills, Moyers announced: "The
Koch's begin putting a lot of money into politics when their company's
behavior created legal difficulties and unwanted attention. By 1996 in
state after state at the center of Koch's business empire, legal
problems were piling up" so they poured money to candidates in those
Moyers then jumped
to last summer's Thompson Senate hearings. Though the video he showed of
Brownback featured the Buddhist nuns of Al Gore fame in the background, he
skipped that illegal activity. Instead, Moyers noted that "Koch's
man, the single largest recipient of Triad's secret money, won" and
"Senator Sam Brownback was named a member of the committee charged to
investigate campaign finance abuses. His campaign would not come under
But that's not
even the real scandal for Moyers. The real scandal is the failure of a
"Three weeks before the investigation was
shut down, Senate Republicans had killed efforts to eliminate soft money
from campaigns. Just last month another attempt at reform reached the
Senate floor with majority support. The Republican leadership, one again,
buried it. So the arms race in dollars continues to escalate. And so does
the selling of democracy."
Switching back to
Clinton and the Hay Adams fundraisers, Moyers scolded: "But the real
scandal is the legal bribery built into a system where your political
worth is determined by your net worth."
To illustrate he
recounted how Cheyenne Arapaho tribe leader Charles Surveyor of Oklahoma,
who wanted land back the government confiscated in 1883, had to give money
the tribe could not afford in order to get attention.
The hour concluded
with Ickes commiserating with Moyers about how "the system" must
Expanding upon the discovery highlighted on Friday's Nightline that
Sidney Blumenthal mischaracterized how he was pressed by the grand jury
(see the October 5 CyberAlert), FNC's David Shuster delivered a unique
piece Tuesday night on how Blumenthal angered the grand jurors.
On the October 6
Fox Report Shuster recalled:
"It was the first time White House adviser
Sidney Blumenthal appeared at the grand jury. He fueled speculation that
the independent counsel had gone too far. The record shows that most of
Blumenthal's testimony focused on his conversations with the President
about Monica Lewinsky. There were also some questions about White House
damage control. Advisers were using talking points, said Blumenthal, to
criticize Kenneth Starr and his staff."
Shuster then read
grand jury testimony:
Blumenthal: "They're summaries of
published reports and obviously they expressed the view of the research
department of the DNC."
Question: "And you received this from the
Prosecutor: "Did you distribute it to anyone
outside the White House?"
Blumenthal: "If reporters called me or I
spoke with reporters I would tell them to call the DNC to get those
talking points, and those included news organizations ranging from CNN,
CBS, ABC, New York Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, New York
Observer, LA Times."
showed the conflict in Blumenthal's attack on Starr: "Even though
Blumenthal had mentioned the organizations on his own, here's how he
described the session to the press."
Blumenthal on courthouse steps, February 26:
"I was forced to answer questions about my conversations, as part of
my job, with, and I wrote this down, the New York Times, CNN..."
Shuster broke in: "Prosecutors, restricted
by grand jury rules of secrecy, could do nothing to counter the public
perception. The grand jurors were infuriated and even four months later
when Blumenthal returned they took the unusual step of admonishing him in
Shuster read aloud the testimony of the grand
jury foreperson: "We are very concerned about the fact that during
your last visit that an inaccurate representation of the events that
happened were retold on the steps of the courthouse. We would hope that
you will understand the seriousness of our work...and that you would
really represent us the way that events happened in this room."
with an illuminating observation about how playing by the rules hurts
"Still the entire episode underscores the
huge advantage the White House had in shaping the public debate, because
even when misleading statements were spinning through the media there was
nothing the prosecutors or the grand jury could do about them."
Back on February
26 the network hyped Blumenthal's blast. Here are a two examples from
the February 27 CyberAlert.
-- On NBC Nightly
News David Bloom led into the Blumenthal soundbite by reporting:
"Presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal testified before the grand
jury today and then launched into an attack, a tirade against independent
prosecutor Kenneth Starr. At issue: is the White House trying to smear
prosecutors to derail their investigation, or is Starr abusing his powers
to intimidate political opponents."
-- On CNN's
Inside Politics John King began by putting the burden on Starr:
"White House aide Sidney Blumenthal was the witness before the Monica
Lewinsky grand jury, yet many say independent counsel Ken Starr is the one
with questions to answer." After dueling soundbites from Blumenthal
and Starr, King insisted: "Even some longtime friends question
Former U.S. Attorney Henry Hudson explained "When Ken Starr began
sending out subpoenas to gather information about people that may be
criticizing his staff -- if that's his intention, I'm concerned about
that, and yes, it does cause me to rethink just how much support I can
have of Ken Starr."
The next day CBS
also played Blumenthal's ranting about Starr's police state tactics.
When will CBS, CNN
and NBC correct the record? None have so far. -- Brent Baker
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