Jennings: Washington "Somber"; GOP Support Plummeting; Couric Gushed Over Clintons
1) ABC's Peter Jennings
twice claimed there's a "somber" mood in Washington and NBC
visually contrasted how the Clinton were lighting a Christmas tree just as
Republicans were announcing the four articles of impeachment. NBC also
stressed how Republicans are losing public support as 68 percent oppose
2) If the House doesn't
allow a censure vote, "they are being dictatorial" declared
3) Katie Couric gushed over
the Clintons, saying Hillary "looks incredible" and admiring how
in a recent trip "you got such an incredibly positive response.
That's sort of an early Christmas gift."
4) Letterman's "Top Ten
Items on President Clinton's Resume."
5) Bryant Gumbel's CBS News
special tanked in the ratings.
>>> Where's your ballot? Join
the over 600 people so far who have cast their ballot as a judge for the
special Web edition of "The Best Notable Quotables of 1998: The
Eleventh Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Just go to
our home page to make your picks. And for sharing your assessments, you'll
get a free "Don't Believe the Liberal Media" magnet. Balloting
is open until 9am ET on Tuesday, December 15. To vote, click on the
"Best of NQ" button at http://www.mrc.org.
Or, go directly to the sign-up page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/nqbest/nq1998signupa.html
All day Wednesday the cable networks and PBS carried the hearings live,
cutting out at about 5:30pm to report on the just-released four proposed
articles of impeachment. In he evening, coverage consumed half of FNC's
Fox Report and CNN's The World Today as CNN dropped its 10pm ET/PT
NewsStand: CNN & Fortune in order to run an impeachment special.
On the broadcast
network evening show front, ABC's Peter Jennings twice insisted
there's a "somber" mood in Washington. Bob Schieffer on the
CBS Evening News described how Democrats are "circulating a harshly
worded resolution of censure." NBC Nightly News visually contrasted
how the Clinton were lighting the National Christmas Tree, "seemingly
unconcerned," just as Republicans were announcing the four articles
NBC also stressed
how Republicans are going the wrong way as David Bloom highlighted poll
results showing "68 percent of all Americans oppose impeachment, and
61 percent say the House should not even send articles of impeachment to
Here are some highlights from the Wednesday,
December 9 broadcast evening shows:
ABC's World News
Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
"Good evening. We begin again tonight with
the President's fate. The country may not be paying close attention but
unless there's a dramatic change in the Congress the President is one
step closer tonight to being impeached. The articles of impeachment have
been drawn up...."
Jennings summarized the four proposed articles,
"Washington is in a very somber mood
tonight. Now there's still a powerful tug of war in the full House of
Representatives about what to do. So today four Democrats in the House
have tried to head off the impeachment by offering a motion to censure the
President by, as they put it in their motion, 'reprehensible action.'
Nothing decided. Washington is also nervous..."
reviewed Charles Ruff's appearance and how he called Clinton's
behavior morally reprehensible but not impeachable as Republicans
"peppered him" with questions about lying.
talked with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Donaldson reported the White
House will accept a censure and a fine, anything to avoid impeachment.
Roberts explained how the swing moderates want Clinton to admit he lied.
Wrapping up the segment, for he second time Jennings pointed out how
"somber" this process has left Washington: "Cokie Roberts
in the Washington bureau, Sam Donaldson at the White House. As we said, a
very big and somber evening in Washington."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather excitedly began
with a series of strung together phrases:
"Good evening. Breaking developments tonight
in the slow-speed run-up to the House Judiciary Committee's
impeach-the-President vote. Here's the latest: The Republican-dominated
committee drew up four impeachment charges. Committee Democrats came up
with a censure alternative they know is sure to lose in committee. The
President's counsel Charles Ruff called the President's conduct
'reprehensible' but not impeachable, capping the President's
marathon, two-day 14-witness defense."
summarized the four counts, noted how Bill Weld proposed a fine and how
Ruff labeled Clinton's actions "morally reprehensible." The
Democrats are just as tough as the Republicans, at least that's how
Schieffer spun the Democratic resolution, stating Democrats are
"circulating a harshly worded resolution of censure."
From the White
House Scott Pelley, like ABC's Roberts, emphasized how the moderates
want to hear Clinton concede that he lied. Pelley featured clips of an
interview with Republican Mark Foley.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw, in Washington,
launched the broadcast by stressing how Republicans won't budge:
"Good evening. For two days now the
President's lawyers, professors and other politicians have argued before
the House Judiciary Committee that the President's behavior was, as one
put it, 'morally reprehensible but not an impeachable offense.' The
Republican majority, however, was not moved. Not one vote and tonight they
are preparing four articles of impeachment against the President. It is
now all but certain to go the full House and, perhaps, to the Senate for
summarized the "blunt critical case" in the four prosed articles
and then reviewed the testimony of the day from Ruff.
Brokaw then jumped
to David Bloom, who used video and polls to prove the Republicans are out
of sync with public concerns. Over video of the Clintons lighting the
tree, he announced:
"Tom, the contrast could not have been more
striking tonight. At the very moment the Republicans were releasing their
four articles of impeachment the President and First Lady were lighting
the National Christmas Tree, festive, seemingly unconcerned."
Bloom went on to
acknowledge that the White House is lobbying moderates and saying Clinton
will accept a fine. After Bloom played a soundbite of Dick Gephardt
insisting a censure vote is required for fairness, Bloom picked up on the
"It seems most people agree. A new NBC
News/Wall Street Journal poll shows 68 percent of all Americans oppose
impeachment, and 61 percent say the House should not even send articles of
impeachment to the Senate. As Republicans push ahead their support is
going down while support for Democrats is going up. Still, there's a
dilemma for the White House: 52 percent of those surveyed believe that if
the President is to be censured rather than impeached, he must first admit
he lied under oath."
We can't go a day without at least one Geraldoism. Wednesday night he
accused the Republican leadership of being "dictatorial." On the
December 9 Upfront Tonight, after Diane Dimond interviewed Democratic
Representative-elect Jay Inslee about how he's upset that the Republican
he beat is still in office to vote on impeachment, Rivera picked up on one
of Inslee's other complaints:
"He's absolutely right. If they deprive
the members of the ability to vote they are being dictatorial. Let them
vote on censure and impeachment. Whoever wins, wins."
NBC and Katie Couric delivered an early Christmas gift to the Clintons: a
chance to appear on television together without being pressed about his or
her lying and, instead, get heaped with admiration from Couric. Over the
weekend Couric and Today's camera got a preview look at the White House
Christmas decorations. At one point Couric cooed to the First Lady how
"everywhere you went" in a recent trip to New York "you got
such an incredibly positive response." Couric gushed: "That's
sort of an early Christmas gift."
Couric only made a
mild attempt to talk about anything serious. At the top of the 8am hour on
the December 9 show Couric teased:
"The White House is about to begin its
second day of defense before the House Judiciary Committee. In just a few
minutes actually. Impeachment hangs in the balance. I visited the Clintons
at the White House last weekend to check out the holiday decorations. But
I did take the opportunity to ask the President if he had any comment on
the events of this week."
Couric to Bill Clinton: "Before we go you
don't want an opportunity to talk about anything else do you Mr.
Bill Clinton: "Nope."
Couric: "Big week coming, big week coming
up. I just wanted to give you the opportunity if you so desire."
Bill Clinton: "I'm just gonna try to do my
job this week and hope everyone else does theirs."
Couric: "We'll show you more of that
conversation as well as the incredible holiday decorations in just a few
minutes. Talk about a strange juxtaposition of events."
Following the news
update Today played Couric's piece, which began with a tour of the
decorations and some comments from staffers involved in the project. Then
the Clintons walked into the room. As transcribed by MRC news analyst
Geoffrey Dickens, here are all of Couric's questions/prompts/praise
uttered to the Clintons:
-- "And now
the holiday season officially begins. Hello, don't you guys look great. Hi
Mrs. Clinton nice to see you. Hi Mr. President. Fine thank you. Happy
-- "This is
-- "It's a
very glam look here at the White House this year. I mean very gold, very
silver, very glam don't you think?"
are you all looking forward to the holidays?"
-- "Do you
all have any big plans for the holidays?"
I guess this is a time of year when people count their blessings and
reflect on sort of the things they have to be thankful for. Anything in
particular that leaps to mind for you all this year?"
-- "Any New
Year's resolutions? 1999 is around the corner."
your wife looks incredible. You're wearing the dress you wore on the cover
-- "And you,
she spent a lot of time in New York last week going to many events. And
everywhere you [Hillary] went you got such an incredibly positive
response. That's sort of an early Christmas gift. Are you grateful or
gratified by that display of affection that you really see wherever you go
done your Christmas shopping yet?"
-- "How about
you Mrs. Clinton are you all finished?"
-- "And more
and more people, you know, are giving gifts that will actually go to
someone needy in that individual's name and that's a really nice gesture I
you. Appreciate it. Same to you and your family Mr. President."
It's one thing
to agree to stick to happy talk in order to get a nice holiday-themed look
inside the White House, but after Bill Clinton has spent months avoiding
media questions did Couric really have to be so affectionate and full of
praise after all both of the Clintons have done this year to deceive the
From the December 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Items on President Clinton's Resume." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide
10. 1986-89: Body Double for Pillsbury
9. 1973: Voted Yale Law School "Most Weaselly."
8. References available upon subpoena.
7. June 1988: Secretly married Carmen Electra.
6. Career objective: Keeping my fat ass out of prison.
5. 1997 Winner of the Golden Moonshine Jug for Outstanding Hillbilly
4. Executive Director, American Society of Bubbas.
3. 1997: Cruller Tester, Winchell's Donuts.
2. Proud father of over 200 students at Little Rock Junior High.
1. Can lie fluently in seven languages.
And from the Late
Show Web page, here are some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite
make it into the Top Ten."
-- 1969: Oxford "Draft Dodger" of
-- August 2, 1992: Sees Tipper Gore in a bikini.
-- August 4, 1992: Chooses Al Gore as running mate.
-- 1947-1996: Didn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky.
-- Incredible phone skills.
-- Uncredited appearances in over 300 porn films.
may be disappointed with how the public is reacting to Clinton's lies,
but at least they aren't showing much affection for one liberal media
star. From the December 9 Washington Post media column by Lisa de Moraes,
an item on the ratings for shows aired last week:
"People of the Century. The CBS News
special, produced in conjunction with Time magazine, scored the
network's smallest audience this season in the Wednesday 10pm hour.
That's not good news for show host Bryant Gumbel, whose future at the
network is under discussion. He's one of the highest paid people on the
broadcast networks without a regular slot; CBS signed him for about $5
million a year."
A couple of years
ago Gumbel was delivering his liberal sermons to a huge morning broadcast
network audience. Now his show has been canceled and people don't tune
in to see his occasional appearances. Keith Olbermann is now off to Fox
Sports and Geraldo Rivera, annoyingly liberal as he is, is on a cable
network and hardly ever makes it onto NBC. So, in some ways, things are
getting better. -- Brent Baker
Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions
which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible
donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert
readers and subscribers:
>>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a
blank e-mail to:
@topica.com. Or, you can go to:
Either way you will receive a confirmation message titled: "RESPONSE
REQUIRED: Confirm your subscription to firstname.lastname@example.org."
After you reply, either by going to the listed Web page link or by simply
hitting reply, you will receive a message confirming that you have been
added to the MRC CyberAlert list. If you confirm by using the Web page
link you will be given a chance to "register" with Topica. You DO
NOT have to do this; at that point you are already subscribed to
To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Send problems and comments to: email@example.com.
can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by
subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday
afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters.<<<
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe