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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday November 19, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 187)

CBS: Starr "Politically Motivated," Tripp Coordinated Betrayer; Starr Looks Like a Nazi?

1) CBS zeroes in on Starr and Tripp: "Time Out! The tapes show her carefully coordinating her betrayal of Lewinsky with an accomplice -- Lucianne Goldberg -- book agent and self-proclaimed Clinton-hater."

2) Geraldo Rivera posed "just five of the scores of questions I would like to ask the special prosecutor."

3) On Today Rivera claimed the tapes show Lewinsky had "serviced" many men so Clinton didn't take advantage of her. Katie Couric argued about Tripp and Lewinsky on the tapes: "Doesn't this add more fuel to the fire that these two individuals were somehow in cohoots and planned together to lie under oath?"

4) A new MRC fax report: "Will Media Continue To Resemble James Carville's Marionettes as Starr Finally Speaks on Capitol Hill? Ken Starr Gets His Day; Media Had All Year." And, recall how Keith Olbermann said Starr looks like a Nazi.

Correction: The November 18 CyberAlert quoted Keith Olbermann, referring to Lewinsky and Tripp: "One of them will read the part of the irresponsible adolescent, the other will narrate the lines of the pathetic, self-destroying, older loser and you an I will be Polyphemus hiding ourselves behind the Aris." In fact, as several readers have suggested, Olbermann was referring to "Polonius," an adviser to Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet who hides behind the "arras," a tapestry or curtain for those of you like me who are literature-challenged. From behind the arras he overhears Hamlet talking with his mother Gertrude and Hamlet kills him with a sword through the arras when Hamlet mistakenly believes he's heard Claudius.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The impending Thursday testimony of Ken Starr, Henry Hyde's decision to call more witnesses and White House railing about unfairness topped all the evening shows on Wednesday night. CNN, FNC and NBC all also raised how Clinton has yet to respond to confirm or deny Hyde's 81 questions submitted weeks ago, but not ABC and CBS.

     CBS's focus: The evils of Ken Starr and Linda Tripp, not the actions of Bill Clinton. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather highlighted a poll showing, in Rather's hype, that most perceive Starr as "politically motivated and out to get the Clintons." CBS then set out to prove that perception with a Reality Check segment by Eric Engberg on "the Linda Tripp tapes of Lucianne Goldberg, a former member of the Richard Nixon dirty tricks squad and an up front Clinton-basher these days."

     (The House Republican leadership election generated brief mentions from the anchor on ABC, CNN and FNC, full stories on CBS and NBC.)

     CNN's The World Today and FNC's Fox Report opened with multiple impeachment-related stories as CNN's Bob Franken, holding a copy of Starr's testimony, characterized it as "a very aggressive presentation" of how Clinton abused power. At 8:30pm ET CNN ran a half hour special hosted by Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

     Here's a quick rundown of the Wednesday, November 18 broadcast network evening shows, with an emphasis on CBS:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Jackie Judd concluded her opening story: "Those familiar with Starr's thinking say he is prepared to defend the credibility of his evidence but that he will not be an advocate for impeachment and cross that line. There are Democrats who no doubt will argue Peter that he long ago crossed that line."

     Peter Jennings then talked with Linda Douglass who reported that the Democrats plan to make Starr "the issue" and that Hyde plans to call four other witnesses: Bruce Lindsey, Bob Bennett and two related to the Willey case. 

     -- CBS Evening News. Following the Democratic game plan, Dan Rather opened by focusing on Republican unfairness, highlighted how most find Starr unfair and then took a potshot at Tripp with Eric Engberg sarcastically concluding: "Just another average American helping out a friend."

     Dan Rather began: "Good evening. New details are emerging tonight for a shifting, expanding and more politically explosive and partisan session for tomorrow's Republican-led House Judiciary Committee impeach the President inquiry. CBS News White House correspondent Scott Pelley has late-breaking information, including the committee Chairman's last-minute list of new witnesses and why the President's lawyers are saying that's unfair."

     Pelley gave the White House spin and relayed Hyde's and Starr's plans before Bob Schieffer looked at the leadership races and the victory by "lanky Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston."

     Next, Rather highlighted two CBS News poll questions: First, "Would you be satisfied if inquiry were dropped?" Yes said 57 percent, no replied 38 percent. Second, on screen the graphic read: "Opinion of Starr's investigation?" Answers: "Partisan" said 62 percent and "impartial" replied 28 percent. But here's how Rather characterized that result: "Also, 62 percent in the CBS survey perceived special prosecutor Ken Starr as not impartial, but rather politically motivated and out to get the Clintons."

engberg1119.jpg (28831 bytes)     Rather's very next words: "So is there any basis for this perception? You may want to consider the following. You heard the tapes Linda Tripp secretly made of her supposed friend Monica Lewinsky. Tapes that triggered the heart of the Starr investigation as it now stands. Tonight, consider the Linda Tripp tapes of Lucianne Goldberg, a former member of the Richard Nixon dirty tricks squad and an up front Clinton-basher these days. CBS News correspondent Eric Engberg checked hard and deep for this Reality Check complete with reality soundbites."
     Engberg began his hit job: "Before the tapes came out Linda Tripp told us she only did what anyone in her shoes would have done."
     Tripp: "I'm just like you. I am an average American who found herself in a situation not of her own making."
     Engberg: "Time Out! The tapes show her carefully coordinating her betrayal of Lewinsky with an accomplice -- Lucianne Goldberg -- book agent and self-proclaimed Clinton-hater. October 6, 1997, Tripp pumps a distraught Lewinsky for possible dirt."
     Tripp on one of the tapes: "So let's not burn the bridges. are you going to...what are you going to do?"
     Lewinsky: "I don't know. I need to go home."
     Tripp: "Alright. I would really like to hear from you.

     Engberg: "Then, Tripp excitedly calls Goldberg and reports the taping is going well"
     Tripp: "What I want to tell you, things are hitting the fan over there with her."
     Goldberg: "Really?"
     Tripp: "You know what she said on tape last night to me?"
     Goldberg: "What?"
     Tripp: "I think he's on drugs."
     Goldberg: "Wow. On tape. You got it on tape."
     Tripp: "Yep."
     Goldberg: "Good for you."
     Tripp: "Yep."
     Goldberg: "Well, I tell you, that justifies everything. That son of an [expletive deleted]."

     Engberg: "Occasionally, Tripp sounds concerned about Lewinsky's fragile emotional state."
     Tripp: "I worry about her. She, she cries all the time."
     Engberg: "But then makes it clear the dirt-gathering is the main priority."
     Tripp: "So anyway, what I got on tape is very little. I mean, I'll get more."
     Goldberg: "Yeah."
     Tripp: "Because this isn't over, in terms of what she'll want to re-hash over and over."
     Goldberg: "Right."

     Engberg concluded: "Tripp tells Goldberg that the broken-hearted Lewinsky is in such bad shape she may have a breakdown. She says that she's anxiously awaiting a phone call, because, as Tripp puts it, 'if she's flipping out, I want to get that on tape.' Just another average American helping out a friend."

     (As CyberAlert noted in January, a nice touch, tainting Goldberg's by dismissing her as a corrupt Nixon hack. A front page profile in the January 24 Washington Post offered a more complete resume, one that suggests she just as accurately could have been "known for performing dirty tricks for the Kennedy White House." Reporters David Streitfeld and Howard Kurtz explained: "This is not the first time Goldberg has been involved in presidential politics. She worked for Lyndon Johnson during the 1960 presidential campaign. 'When you're tall, thin, blond and have big boobs, you can have any job you want,' she told People magazine in 1992. She later worked for President Kennedy's speech-writing staff." Streitfeld and Kurtz also noted another aspect of Goldberg's past, a journalistic one as she "worked at the Washington Post as a copy aide in the mid-1950s.")

     -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened by noting how "...a majority of Americans may not want the President to be impeached but this process is underway and it is historic."
     David Bloom reported the new witnesses, previewed Starr's testimony and relayed White House complaints about unfairness, but added: "Republicans charge he's stalling, pointing out that Mr. Clinton has so far refused to answer 81 questions put to him almost two weeks ago by Henry Hyde."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "On Thursday the much maligned and wildly unpopular Mr. Starr finally gets to speak." That's how Geraldo Rivera, who spends most days doing the maligning, opened Wednesday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC.

     Later, Rivera fell in line and announced "just five of the scores of questions I would like to ask the special prosecutor, if given the opportunity." He won't have a chance, but check today to see how closely Rivera's thinking matches the Democratic members. Here are his questions:

     -- "Mr. Starr, do you admit or deny that your friend, former law partner and former Justice Department colleague Ted Olson played a key role in the anti-Clinton Arkansas project, which included funneling money and/or other benefits, including legal representation, to your key Whitewater witness, the ex-convict David Hale?"
     -- "Mr. Starr, do you admit or deny that your friend and former law partner Richard Porter played a role in funneling money and/or other benefits, including legal representation to Paula Jones and others involved in investigating Mr. Clinton's private life, including but not limited to individuals involved in Troopergate; and part two of that question: do you admit or deny that your friend and former law partner Richard Porter played a role in steering Linda Tripp and her secretly recorded tapes, to your office?
     -- "Mr. Starr, do you admit or deny that agents of your office, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, told Monica Lewinsky that she would be indicted and/or suffer other substantial detriment if she attempted to call her lawyer?
     -- "Mr. Starr, do you admit or deny that your office asked Monica Lewinsky to secretly tape record conversations with Vernon Jordan and/or the President as she has since testified before your grand jury?
     -- "And finally Mr. Starr, do you admit or deny that your office leaked material to lawyers and/or reporters and/or others with the intention that that material thereby become public?"

     My question to Rivera: "Mr Rivera, do you admit or deny that you are a liberal political activist using your journalism role as a cover to impute more credibility to your pro-Clinton and anti-conservative political views?"

     Monday night on Upfront Tonight Rivera wondered: "How did the so-called Independent Counsel come to rival Saddam Hussein in unpopularity?"

     His answer: "Even his most ardent supporters admit he has a tin ear to public relations. How else to explain his indicting poor Web Hubbell for the third time?...Perhaps typical of how Starr has operated, he re-indicted Webb as America and Iraq stood on the brink of war. Because expectations are so low, and animosity so high, some Democrats fear Starr will prove a potent witness when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. They fear a repeat of Iran-Contra, when Ollie North, resplendent in his Marine dress uniform, made a surprisingly sympathetic witness."

     On the November 16 show Rivera ran through why Starr is such an evil guy, as if any of this alters what Clinton did:
     "Item: Starr is anything but independent, his critics allege, pointing to his ties to the hard right, including that prince of Clinton haters, Richard Mellon Scaife.
     "Item: allegations conflict of interest abound, including the fact that two of Starr's close friends and former law partners, Ted Olson and Richard Porter, have played leading roles in pursuing stories of President Clinton's alleged sexual misdeeds....
     "Item: his less than candid and inconsistent testimony before various courts. Item: His dumping of Triple X-rated material on Congress and the world, including unnecessary details about cigars, etc. And triple hearsay, the purpose of which could only have been to damage the Clinton's marriage.
     "Item: His exclusion of exculpatory evidence from his 445 page report..."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) More Geraldo! Don't blame me, you can't avoid the guy. Wednesday morning he appeared on Today with fellow CNBC host Chris Matthews.

     Here are some highlights of Rivera impugning Tripp and suggesting Lewinsky's no little intern but an experienced sexual dynamo Clinton couldn't resist, with helpful prompts from Katie Couric. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught and transcribed these most relevant portions:

     Rivera: "I thought that Linda Tripp now takes her place in the Hall of Infamy as a betrayer of the order of Benedict Arnold in the, in the, at least in the love '90s. I thought Monica Lewinsky also revealed herself to be and I like Monica Lewinsky, I think she's very, very glib, very articulate, very ebullient. But she also came across as a very experienced sexually, experienced woman. She had been with eight men had serviced with oral sex many more. I think that in terms of the President and the young ingenue intern that image is destroyed forever."
     Couric: "Yet at the same time hearing Linda Tripp asking her questions made you feel pretty bad for Monica Lewinsky."
     Rivera: "I think anybody who wrapped themselves around Linda Tripp and her tapes is now soiled. You felt the need to take a shower. What that woman did to her young friend is beyond the pale. I think it's much worse than anything Bill Clinton did."

     NBC then played some tape excerpts.
     Couric noted how Lewinsky said "that she and the President will both lie to cover their rear ends and they will be okay."
     Rivera countered: "That's what she is telling Linda Tripp. To me what is more revealing is how Linda Tripp was goading her, how she was exacerbating the situation, how she was making Monica angry at the President. How she tried to drive a wedge between the President and Monica. I agree that the two lovers had agreed to keep their affair secret like lovers usually do."
     Rivera won Couric over, as she then demanded of Matthews: "Chris, how do you think this will affect the impeachment hearings. I mean doesn't this add more fuel to the fire that these two individuals were somehow in cohoots and planned together to lie under oath?"

     After playing a clip of Lewinsky recalling how she called Clinton a "butthead," Couric wrapped up the segment: "I mean how embarrassing, how demeaning is this for the President of the United States?"
     Rivera blamed not Clinton but Chris Matthews: "It's awful, it's awful. How much more Chris do you want him to suffer? How much more humiliation can a man suffer? Will censure be worse than playing these tapes on the Today show?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) As you watch Ken Starr today, see if his appearance matches the caricature painted by the media over the past few years. And does he remind you of a Nazi? I urge you to go to the MRC home page and read a collection of 16 quotes from the media, none of them from Geraldo -- we're talking about real reporters -- put together Wednesday by the MRC's Tim Graham: "Will Media Continue To Resemble James Carville's Marionettes as Starr Finally Speaks on Capitol Hill? Ken Starr Gets His Day; Media Had All Year."

     The collection begins with this from Dan Rather on August 12, 1994: "New disclosures are fueling questions about whether or not Starr is an ambitious Republican partisan backed by ideologically motivated anti-Clinton activists and judges from the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon years."

     Hey, that sounds just like Rivera.

     To read the whole Media Reality Check fax report, go to http://www.mrc.org where MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has it posted up top, or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1998/fax19981118.html

     As for looking like a Nazi, recall this from MSNBC's Keith Olbermnann on August 18:
     "Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?"

     The next night he apologized, sort of, but maintained his basic assertion of how Starr reminded him of Himmler:
     "We got a number of calls from people who were offended by that remark, who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and insulting Starr, or who thought I was comparing Starr to Himmler and demeaning the terrible importance of the Holocaust. And to those people who were offended I sincerely and humbly apologize. I meant only what I said. Facially, the two men look vaguely alike. But I am primarily of German descent, so I carry with me an inherited shame and guilt about this. So despite the innocence of the intent of my remark there, I should have been much more sensitive about invoking that name in this context and for having not been so, I am very sorry. Still ahead for us tonight: did Olbermann's apology go far enough? We'll have the latest poll numbers on that."

     Not even committee Democrats will be that extreme today in how they treat Starr. Probably not.    --Brent Baker

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