Geraldo Depressed; Gloomy Network Reporters; Judge Stops Abortion
1) Hillary Clinton is
going to Bulgaria while Geraldo Riverastews: "So melancholy on this
rainy day. God, give me an aspirin."
2) Nets find "not a lot
to be happy about." CBS featured a poll showing most oppose an
inquiry. Robert Bennett rebuked Clinton, saying that Lewinsky's affidavit
was false. Zilch on ABC, CBS and CNN.
3) CNN's Bill Schneider posed
a series of "what ifs" about how the scandal could have been
avoided, but none dealt with Clinton's actions.
4) CBS decried: "Locked
inside this Ohio jail is a 21-year-old pregnant woman who wants to have an
abortion." But a judge won't let her.
5) Newsweek's Evan Thomas
upset "we framed a guilty man" in a "sex trap," so it
does not justify impeachment.
6) CNN moves Capital Gang to
accommodate repeat airings of its Cold War series.
Correction: As those reading the October 7
CyberAlert on the MRC Web page may have noticed, after seeing the
accompanying video clip of Geraldo Rivera standing next to a sign for
Dozhier's Bait Shop, the CyberAlert misspelled the name. It's Dozhier, not
A sad and depressing day for Geraldo Rivera, but at least he didn't flee
to Bulgaria. On CNBC's Upfront Tonight on Thursday night Rivera had this
exchange with his co-host about Bill and Hillary:
"They'll be celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary Diane on the
11th of October, that's a Sunday. And as of now the First Lady plans on
spending it in Bulgaria on a four day trip to Bulgaria and the Czech
"Interesting that she would not want to be in Washington at the White
House with her husband today."
Rivera: "So melancholy. So melancholy on
this rainy day. God, give me an aspirin."
generally gloomy tone set by the networks on Thursday night. Bob Schieffer
concluded his CBS Evening News piece: "All the spin aside, Bill
Clinton now becomes the third President to face a serious impeachment
challenge. There's not a lot to be happy about in that."
Earlier in the
day, wrapping up live coverage at about 3:15pm ET, Peter Jennings
remarked: "The bottom line is that the House Judiciary Committee is
now going to have an impeachment investigation of William Jefferson
Clinton. That is only the third time in the history of the country that
the House of Representatives has done that and if that aint history I
don't know what is."
And late in the
evening Nightline took "the pulse in the heartland" where Ted
Koppel determined "many in LaCrosse, Wisconsin are fed up."
Koppel introduced the set up story: "As John Donvan now reports,
folks in the heartland simply want to put this thing behind them."
Donvan showed that during the vote people in LaCrosse were in a bar
watching baseball, at a weekly bridge game and participating in the final
dance at the Oktoberfest.
The full House
vote in favor of the Republican resolution to proceed with an impeachment
inquiry led every network with multiple stories. CNN devoted the first 25
minutes of the World Today and FNC over half of its Fox Report to the
ABC, CNN and FNC
highlighted how all but a few Democrats voted to proceed with an
investigation of some sort, as even the Democratic resolution called for a
further inquiry. But the networks couldn't agree on a number. Ten
Democrats voted against both resolutions according to ABC's Cokie Roberts
and FNC's Carl Cameron; five did said CNN's Bob Franken. Neither CBS or
NBC pointed out the overwhelming support for an inquiry of some kind.
The CBS Evening
News highlighted a poll showing most of the public wished that their
member vote against an impeachment inquiry. FNC's David Shuster reported
on an offer from a New Yorker to pay Paula Jones $1 million. Only NBC
considered very newsworthy a letter from Robert Bennett to the Jones judge
saying that Monica Lewinsky's affidavit was false. ABC, CBS and CNN
ignored Bennett's public rebuke of Clinton while FNC mentioned it briefly.
Two White House
reporters offered contrasting assessments from the North Lawn. On ABC Sam
Donaldson assured viewers: "No one here is trying to spin today's
vote as favorable to the President." Not so, insisted NBC's Claire
Shipman: "It may seem hard to believe, but the White House is trying
to find some way, even a small way, to cast today's vote in a positive
Here are some
highlights from the Thursday, October 8, evening shows.
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the broadcast:
"Good evening. We knew in advance what the
outcome would be, but it was a dramatic turning point anyway and it was
sobering. For only the third time in the country's history the
Congress will decide whether a President deserves to be impeached, and
perhaps removed from office. After all the countries been through in
thelast eight or nine months it may seem merely an extension of Mr.
Clinton's crisis. But now that there's going to be an impeachment process
there is no turning back."
introduced soundbites from the floor debate: "The debate was deeply
partisan, very fervent. The Democrats were charging that the Republicans
are conducting a witch hunt but the Republicans argued that the charges
against the President are not trivial." Viewers saw clips of
Republicans Henry Hyde, Charles Canady and George Gekas before Democrats
Robert Wexler, John Lewis and Zoe Lofgren. Actually, Lewis delivered a
yellingbite. Douglass also showed clips of Democrats Patsy Mink and David
Bonior as well as Republicans James Sensenbrenner and Bill McCollum.
Douglass set up two more bites: "What seemed to catch fire with
Democrats who lined up to criticize the Republican plan is the notion that
the public doesn't want a wide-ranging investigation." After a clip
of Dick Gephardt she led into a comment from Hyde: "Popular or not,
Republicans argued they have a duty to investigate fully and
Next, from the
White House Sam Donaldson relayed: "No one here is trying to spin
today's vote as favorable to the President. Obviously they're happy that
Democratic defections were no greater than they were."
Donaldson played a clip of Clinton talking about
moving forward with the process in timely manner and how his fate is now
in the hands of God.
Donaldson concluded by uniquely noting how
Hillary is away: "Tonight President Clinton is home alone. Mrs.
Clinton is away in Arkansas. There are no fundraising dinners to go to, no
banquets to attend. As far as we know, the President will be having dinner
all by himself. After which, if his habits hold Peter, he'll be on the
telephone, reaching out to friends across the country hoping for a little
sympathy on this the darkest day so far of his presidency."
Dinner alone? What
about desert? He needs a little cheering up and Hillary's away? HELLO
Roberts told Jennings: "It is significant that the Democrats did have
their own inquiry plan too and almost all of them voted for it, so one way
or the other, almost every single member of the House of Representatives
today, only ten voted against proceeding with some kind of inquiry of
impeachment against the President of the United States."
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather began by delivering the pro-Clinton spin on Democratic
evening. The U.S. House of Representatives voted today for a wide-ranging,
open-ended impeachment investigation of President Clinton. The President
said he hoped Congress would be quote, 'fair, constitutional and
timely.' The final tally showed 258 votes favoring an impeachment inquiry.
The Republican were unanimous. Not of them voted no. 31 Democrats voted
yes. Now this last number was less that the worst fears in the President's
Up first, Bob
Schieffer ran soundbites from Wexler, Gekas, and Sensenbrenner before
getting to one Douglass missed: "During the debate Kucinich of Ohio
and McHale of Pennsylvania were the only Democrats who spoke in favor of
the inquiry. McHale's criticism of the President was withering."
Paul McHale: "His actions were not
inappropriate. They were predatory, reckless, breathtakingly arrogant for
a man already a defendant in a sexual harassment suit."
Schieffer followed up by showing how Charles
Rangel argued that the public opposes impeachment. Schieffer noted that
Henry Hyde was "anything but gloating." Hyde, lacking the moral
condemnation of McHale, remarked: "It's our duty. It's an onerous,
miserable, rotten duty but we have to do it or we break faith with the
people who sent us here."
Just before his conclusion quoted in the first
paragraph of this item, Schieffer observed: "Although 31 Democrats
voted with the Republicans, the President's defenders claimed victory of
sorts, saying they feared it would be worse."
Maxine Waters at a pres conference: "We
didn't win, but we did darn good."
showcased two poll results. First, "How should your Representative
vote on impeachment inquiry?" For said 40 percent; against replied 55
percent. Second, on punishing Clinton, 54 percent favor "punish in
some way," 64 percent "oppose removal from office" and 67
percent "oppose resignation."
From the White
House Scott Pelley explained how Clinton said he has surrendered to the
impeachment process and that his fate is now in the hands of God. Pelley
concluded on a dour note: "We asked a member of the President's
defense team whether the White House took any encouragement from the fact
that only 31 Democrats voted for the Republican resolution. He told us
'no silver lining can be found when the Congress vote an impeachment
inquiry against the President of the United States.'"
-- CNN's The World
Today opened with an overview from Bob Franken who emphasized that the 31
Democrats represented "fewer defections than some predicted." He
featured clips from Wexler, McCollum and Hyde before concluding:
"Only five members of the House, all of them Democrats, only five,
failed to vote for either form of the impeachment inquiry and that Jim
does not bode well for President Clinton."
Next, from the
White House John King relayed Clinton's reaction and reported that Clinton
is now reaching out to old friends, but they may not offer him a lot of
comfort as King concluded: "The President says his top priority is
restoring the trust of the American people, but even many close allies
wonder how effective, how persuasive a leader he can be under the cloud of
CNN the ran a
trilogy of stories on Democrats in flux: Candy Crowley on Jay Johnson of
Wisconsin who voted no on the GOP resolution and Jim Maloney of
Connecticut who voted for both resolutions; Frank Sesno on Lynn Rivers who
ended up backing the Democratic resolution; and Ed Garston on Michigan
freshman Democrat Debbie Stabenow and the mixed views in her district.
As noted in the October
5 CyberAlert, a Secret Service officer contradicted steward Byani Nelvis.
Thursday night CNN became the first network to pick up on the revelation
on Starr's documents. Pierre Thomas explained that Starr is looking
at more than one contradiction: "Sources tell CNN Ken Starr's
investigating whether Mr. Clinton lied before the grand jury not only
about Monica Lewinsky but also about an alleged encounter with Kathleen
Willey in November 1993." After detailing the Willey contradictions,
Thomas moved on:
"Other White House figures at risk because
of their grand jury testimony, include Steward Byani Nelvis. In testimony
before the grand jury on March 12, Nelvis was asked: 'Did you ever find
lipstick-stained towels or tissues anywhere in the are of the Oval
Office?' Nelvis: 'No ma'am.' But on July 23, Secret Service officer
Brent Chinery testified: 'Nelvis made a statement to me one time that he
was tired of cleaning up the mess after Monica and the president had been
back in the pantry. He would find tissues in the garbage can.' According
to a source close to Starr investigators want to know if Nelvis was
telling the truth, and if not did someone at the White House try to keep
Jonathan Karl recounted Hillary's warm welcome in Arkansas and how
Democratic candidates are "flocking" to her.
-- FNC's Fox
Report. Carl Cameron checked in from Capitol Hill with soundbites from
Hyde, Bonior, Wexler and Republican Steve Chabot before running the same
clip of Paul McHale as had CBS. Agreeing with the number mentioned by
ABC's Cokie Roberts, Cameron asserted: "Most Democrats voted only for
the limited impeachment investigation and only ten Democrats flatly
opposed any inquiry and accused Republicans of an election year
Cameron added later that the Judiciary Committee
will be looking at the affidavits from Jane Does 1 to 7 in the Jones case
to see if any of the denials of relations with Clinton were false.
Jim Angle filed
from the White House followed by co-anchor Jon Scott interviewing Lee
Hamilton and David Dreier. After a piece on public reaction Scott noted
that Newscorp had offered Lewinsky $3 million for an interview on Fox and
a book deal. Dick Morris and Cal Thomas discussed the implications of the
House vote before David Shuster explained how New York parking garage
magnate Abe Hirschfeld has offered to pay Jones $1 million to settle her
-- NBC Nightly
News. Tom Brokaw announced at the top of the show:
evening. Tonight Bill Clinton knows that whatever else happens in his
presidency, he will always have a black mark by his name. Only the third
President to formally become the subject of an impeachment inquiry which
could lead to his removal from office. It was a mostly party-line vote
with 31 Democrats joining the Republicans in approving an open-ended
inquiry. Most of the other Democrats favored going forward with the
process, but they wanted a time limit."
Gwen Ifill began:
"On a gloomy Washington day four hours of debate brimming with
emotion, frustration and some bitterness, ending in a wrenching and
historic moment." Ifill played the Hyde bite about rotten duty and
the McHale soundbite also picked up by CBS and FNC before pointing out how
two who normally vote with Clinton, Lee Hamilton and Carolyn McCarthy,
voted for the GOP resolution.
Contradicting ABC's Sam Donaldson and CBS's Scott Pelley, NBC's Claire
Shipman declared from the White House: "It may seem hard to believe,
but the White House is trying to find some way, even a small way, to cast
today's vote in a positive light. Fewer Democrats defected than expected
they point out, only 31. This they say was a partisan vote. But you don't
have to push very hard to get them to admit here that the vote itself was
Next, Lisa Myers
delivered a broadcast exclusive, though the same information was featured
on Thursday's Today, so the others had plenty of time to catch up. Noting
that Judge Susan Weber Wright will release Jones case documents that could
embarrass Clinton, Myers revealed:
"And if that weren't bad enough, even
Mr. Clinton's own lawyer now has written a letter raising questions about
the President's truthfulness. In a sealed letter to the judge in the Paula
Jones case, the President's lawyer, Robert Bennett, writes that Monica
Lewinsky's affidavit denying sexual relations with the President was in
fact 'misleading and not true.' That puts Bennett directly at odds with
his client the President who testified in January that the affidavit was,
quote 'absolutely true.'"
Later, the In
Depth segment looked at "lost opportunities" because of the
scandal. Bob Faw answered the Nightly Question: "Is this the do
nothing Congress?" Faw concluded: "Our preoccupation says a lot
about our priorities and to some it suggests that our priorities are all
Erica Jong, author: "The world is going to
Hell in a handbasket and America is busy snooping into the private lives
of public officials. It's tragic really."
Faw: "The President, the intern, the
prosecutor, the process, the diversion has been costly."
(Hours later, on
ABC's Politically Incorrect, Erica Jong declared: "I think it's Ken
Starr who's guilty of treason.")
if Bill Schneider wasn't so biased? As the September 24 CyberAlert
detailed, Schneider dismissed parallels to Watergate: "Then it was
about corruption. Now it's just about sex."
Inside Politics Schneider posed a series of what ifs, explaining:
"Back during Watergate, the favored 'what if' question was: What if
President Nixon had destroyed the White House audio tapes? No smoking gun.
Watergate would have been Iran-Contra."
So, he then
proceeded to pose some for this scandal, but unlike his Watergate example,
none of his contemporary what ifs dealt with actions by the President
himself, focusing instead on what others did. (To save space I'll just run
Schneider's questions and skip his explanations of what the players have
done, assuming CyberAlert readers are up on the history of the case.)
"What if David Brock had never
mentioned a woman named Paula in his 1993 Troopergate article in the
"What if the three-judge panel had not
fired Whitewater independent counsel Robert Fiske in 1994 and replaced him
with Kenneth Starr? Would Fiske have turned his attention from an
incomprehensible land deal to a lurid sex scandal? Instead of Starr wars,
would we have gotten only a Fiske fight?
"What if the Republicans had not taken over
Congress in 1994? Would a Democratic Congress have gleefully pursued
Whitewater or Travelgate or Filegate or the Lewinsky saga?....
"What if the government shutdown in November
1995 had never occurred?....
"What if Lewinsky had not been
transferred to the Pentagon in April 1996 on orders from resident White
House meany Evelyn Lieberman? If she had not been banished to the
Pentagon, Lewinsky would never have made friends with another disgruntled
White House exile named Linda Tripp....
"What if Ken Starr had gone to
Pepperdine University in February 1997, as he originally intended?....
"What if the Supreme Court had not decided
in 1997 that the Jones lawsuit could go forward while Clinton was still in
"What if presidential attorney Bob Bennett
had not insinuated to Newsweek that Linda Tripp was a liar?....
"What if Lewinsky had cleaned the
"What if this whole thing had never
happened? We'd be in the middle of a sleepy campaign leading to a status
quo election. The big excitement this fall might have been another
"What if we had a shutdown instead of a
scandal? Then federal employees would be furloughed and the White House
would have to use interns to fill in. Some calculating intern might end up
delivering a pizza to the President, and then, oh, never mind."
As MRC news analyst Paul Smith pointed out
to me, there's one obvious "what if" that Schneider skipped:
What if Bill Clinton hadn't lied for eight months?
inside this Ohio jail is a 21-year-old pregnant woman who wants to have an
abortion. Sitting inside this courthouse is a judge who won't let it
happen." So bemoaned reporter Diana Olick in opening an October 8 CBS
Evening News story.
explained that the woman with the last name of Kawaguchi (I couldn't even
guess at how to spell her first name) pled guilty for forgery in a
Cleveland case involving credit card fraud. Judge Patricia Cleary
sentenced Kawaguchi to six months so she couldn't get an abortion, or so
her lawyer told Olick, claiming probation is normal for a first offender
like Kawaguchi. Olick let Cleary deny the charge before countering:
"But according to court documents, when she
told Judge Cleary she was planning to have an abortion, the judge said she
is not and sentenced her to enough time in jail to make abortion legally
On screen graphic of transcript of what judge
said in court: "I'm saying that she is not having a second term
Olick jumped to Kawaguchi via phone, who
complained: "She did not give me the right to choose...she pretty
much de-humanized me, she took away all my rights."
Cleary then got a chance to explain that she
considered her sentence charitable since she set up Kawaguchi with a
social agency to help her after her release.
Before concluding by noting how probation
is most common in such cases but it's always up to the judge, Olick
declared: "When Kawaguchi is released in about a month she'll be
close to seven months pregnant, forced to have her child."
At no point in the
story did Olick tell viewers how much time Kawaguchi will have served when
she is released in a month when she will be seven months into her
pregnancy. The natural implication: she was sentenced when she was
one-month pregnant, just when she discovered she was pregnant and in
plenty of time to have a first-trimester abortion.
Now, reviewing the above transcript do you
catch what I noticed? Scan back a few paragraphs and read the on-screen
transcript of the judge's words, words not uttered by Olick: "...a
second term abortion." That suggests to me Kawaguchi's only serving a
portion of the six months and she had been pregnant more than three months
when she appeared before Cleary. So, not quite the case CBS implied of a
woman just wanting to exercise her rights to a first-trimester abortion,
but one who had already waited until her child was well along, to a time
when even many pro-choicers find abortion inappropriate.
"We framed a guilty man" in a "sex trap" so it does
not justify impeachment, declared Newsweek's former Washington bureau
chief on this past weekend's Inside Washington. MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson picked up this exchange between Newsweek Assistant Managing
Editor Evan Thomas and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer:
President lying in front of a grand jury is a serious, serious thing. But
you can't divorce it from the context, which is this weird sex trap. Yes,
Clinton was completely guilty, but he was also entrapped. Both are true,
we framed a guilty man."
Krauthammer: "You can argue that he
was entrapped and surprised in the civil deposition, but then he lied for
seven months. He was not trapped and surprised for the seven months.
That is deceiving the American people for a very long time."
Thomas: "I agree with all that, I just don't
think that's, I don't think, I mean, to me, Gordo [host Gordon Peterson]
asked what's an impeachable offense. I think it has to be a more serious
attempt to subvert the system of government than that one lie."
not only has a new set, it has also changed its schedule. Capital Gang no
longer repeats at 10:30pm ET/7:30pm PT on Saturday, though the initial
telecast still occurs at 7pm ET/4pm PT. The repeat now airs at 7:30am
ET/4:30am PT on Sunday. The previous repeat time had to be dropped
to accommodate repeat airings of the Cold War series which now runs six
times each week: 8pm and 12am ET Sunday nights; 10pm and 1am ET Friday
nights; and 10pm and 1am ET Saturday nights. So, you still have four more
chances to see part two of the 24-parter: "Iron Curtain:
1945-47." Up next on Sunday, part 3: "Marshall Plan:
Cold War and its
30-minute follow-up on Sunday nights only, CNN Postscript, have also
knocked out the 10pm PT showing on Sundays of NewsStand: CNN & Time.
It still airs three times, however: 10pm ET Sunday and 10pm and 1am ET
Rick Kaplan is turning CNN into the Classic
News Network. -- Brent Baker
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