Worried Clinton Out of Time; Rivera Advising Clinton; "Stone Henry Hyde to Death!"
1) Sam Donaldson worried that
by putting peace ahead of himself, Clinton will only have one day to
fight. Dan Rather interrupted his newscast: "Let's pause now for a
moment to underscore the importance of this week for the United States of
2) MSNBC's Brian Williams
demanded in two segments that his guest assess the ethics of Henry Hyde
suggesting Clinton resign.
3) Peter King was labeled a
"conservative" and a "moderate" by the same morning
show host during the same interview.
4) In a New York magazine
profile which described Geraldo Rivera as a "voice of reason,"
Rivera boasted of how he advises the Clinton spin team: "There was a
time when I thought they had lost their courage, they were droopy and
scared. I stiffened them up."
5) Actor Alec Baldwin:
"If we were in other countries, we would all right now, all of us
together, all of us together would go down to Washington and we would
stone Henry Hyde to death!"
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Corrections. You weren't
seeing double. The December 14 CyberAlert was distributed twice, about an
hour apart, on Monday morning. Twice the CyberAlert meant twice the
errors: As my MRC associate Tim Graham delighted in pointing out, I once
again referred to Florida's Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler as
There's too much impeachment coverage for me to see it all and Monday
night all the networks led with multiple stories. ABC and CBS highlighted
polls showing most oppose impeachment. ABC's Sam Donaldson, matching his
concern expressed Sunday about how Clinton isn't fighting hard enough,
worried that upon returning from Israel he'll only have a day before the
fateful vote. In the midst of the CBS Evening News Dan Rather intoned:
"Let's pause now for a moment to underscore the importance of this
week for the United States of America...."
Here are some
highlights from the Monday evening, December 14, broadcast shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight opened with Sam Donaldson with Bill Clinton and how he became
the first President to visit Palestinian territory. Donaldson ominously
"The President may have nudged the peace
process forward here, but he may have done so at his own expense. He'll
have only one full day after getting home late tomorrow night to save
himself from impeachment. And there's a sense that Mr. Clinton is
stealing for the worst, preparing for a defeat that a few short weeks ago
few people thought would occur."
profiled the undeclared Ann Northrup, Republican in a Democratic district
in Kentucky, and noted that previously undecided Frank LoBiondo of New
Jersey will vote for impeachment.
Jennings then highlighted two ABC News/Washington Post polls results.
"Should the President be Impeached?" No said 61 percent, yes
replied 38 percent. "If impeached Clinton should" resign replied
58 percent, fight said 38 percent.
After and ad
break, Jennings held an "Impeachment Watch" discussion with
Cokie Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Bill Kristol.
-- CBS Evening News. After Scott Pelley checked
in with Clinton in Israel, Dan Rather cited a new CBS News/New York Times
poll number. Asked "Are the charges serious enough for
impeachment?" 66 percent said no, 31 percent said yes.
looked at how a sure no vote, Chris Shays, is now wavering, as Frank
LoBiondo and Zach Wamp came out for impeachment while two dozen remain
undecided and are feeling the pressure. From the White House Bill Plante
reported how Al Gore attacked the GOP as out of step and that People for
the American Way, which Plante actually described as a "liberal
lobbying group," is buying radio ads in DC, Columbus, Ohio and
Philadelphia with a "move on" message.
After all that,
Rather brought the show to a halt:
"Let's pause now for a moment to
underscore the importance of this week for the United States of America.
For only the second time in our country's history, the House of
Representatives, your elected representatives, will decide whether to
impeach the President, to officially accuse him of high crimes and
misdemeanors. That would lead to a trial in the Senate, removal from
office if convicted and the swearing in of a new President: Al Gore. It
would be impossible to overstate how serious this is and how fast it is
now moving. We want you to know that CBS News is committed to bringing you
fair, accurate, crystal clear coverage as the House makes this momentous
President Al Gore?
Maybe we should just move on.
-- NBC Nightly News opened with Claire Shipman
with Clinton in Israel followed by David Bloom at the White House on how
Clinton is losing votes with the wavering of Shays. He explained the
Clinton spin that not allowing a censure vote is unfair and that Jesse
Jackson is planning an anti-impeachment protest.
Lisa Myers checked
in on the moderates who are getting pressure from both sides: Jay Dickey,
Bob Ney and Brian Bilbray. Later in the show, Andrea Mitchell examined how
Hillary is no longer Bill's "Defender-in-Chief," as she's
now pushing her issues instead as aides concede their relationship has
turned icy with her now riding in a separate Air Force One compartment.
Henry Hyde's suggestion, made on Sunday's Face the Nation and This
Week that Bill Clinton should resign, really bugged MSNBC's Brian
Williams. He demanded Monday night that guests in two separate segments
pass judgment on the appropriateness of the chair of the hearings making
such a judgment.
On the December 14
The News with Brian Williams, aired at 9pm ET and PT on MSNBC and 10pm
ET/7pm PT on CNBC, he inquired of Republican Congressman Peter King:
"Were you surprised at Henry Hyde, after presiding over the hearings
and taking great pains to say that we're trying to do this in a
bipartisan way, went on one of the Sunday morning talk shows and called on
the President to resign?"
later Williams asked Democratic Congressman Howard Berman, a member of the
"I'm curious for your reaction Congressman
about Henry Hyde going on one of the Sunday shows and calling for the
President's resignation after he had just presided over so many weeks of
Is Peter King a "moderate" or a "conservative"? It
depends which minute of Monday's Good Morning America you saw. MRC news
analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that when ABC's Lisa McRee introduced
an interview segment with the Republican from Long Island she asserted:
"Congressman King is a conservative Republican who does not want the
But barely a
minute later, he had been transformed into a moderate as McRee inquired:
"But this weekend that was rejected, so let's set that aside and say
that censure option is not going to be available. The key for the
President are all of the moderate Republicans, like yourself. How many of
you are there this morning?"
Good to see McRee
back on message. In the current media lexicon a "moderate" is
anyone who is opposed to impeachment.
Geraldo Rivera is advising the Clinton team and is proud of how he has
"stiffened them up" in their battle with Ken Starr, a New York
magazine profile piece out last week disclosed though it has generated
little notice. The magazine story also revealed that David Bloom won't
appear live with Rivera and named who Rivera was referring to when he once
complained on air about the "hypocrisy" of "a network
anchor and his White House reporter" who have been "married
eight times between them."
But first, the
latest liberal rant from Rivera. Here's an exchange from Monday's
Upfront Tonight on CNBC:
Rivera: "Is it fair though for lame duck
Congressmen defeated, at least two of them because of their firm stance
against the President, will be voting his impeachment as their last
official act and then will go off into the shadows of the political
history of the country?"
Former Republican Congressman Bob Walker:
"Well I would remind you Geraldo that the reason why we are
attempting to get this done before the end of the year is because that was
the wish of the administration and the Democrats back when this issue
first came up. They wanted it done speedily. In fact, they wanted it done
by the end of November and so Henry Hyde attempted to accommodate that by
saying he would have it done by the end of the year. That does bring us to
a vote here at the end of this Congress but it is in line with the
obligation that the Republicans decided they needed to carry out in order
to do what the White House and the Democrats said they wanted."
Rivera: "Oh, come on Congressman Walker.
You're saying that because the President wanted it over by the end of
the year that's why we're letting the lame ducks vote? Is that being
disingenuous, is that not a symbol, a symptom of?" [Rivera cut off by
Walker and co-host Diane Dimond]
Now to the
December 14 New York magazine profile by David Brock, once of the American
Spectator, or at least I assume it's the same guy who denounced his
conservative past. He's never identified. Headlined "Geraldo's Last
Laugh," here's the top of the article summary: "Just when
Geraldo Rivera scored a $36 million NBC contract and a shot at network
legitimacy, he came out as Bill Clinton's passionate prime-time defender,
driving his already scornful brethren mad. does broadcasting's outlaw
really want to join the establishment, or is he having too much fun being
impressed with Rivera's exploration of the vast right-wing conspiracy,
insisting: "Time and again, Rivera's journalistic instincts -- from
seriously pursuing the 'right-wing conspiracy' to pointing out the
political implications of the racial divide on the scandal -- have proved
prescient. In a media sea of scolds and hysterics, Geraldo Rivera has
emerged as the voice of reason."
Here are the most
interesting items from the rest of Brock's story:
-- Rivera has long
mixed his politics into his journalism: "In 1970, the telegenic
attorney was spotted by the news director of WABC, who offered him a job
as a reporter, but not before suggesting that Gerald change his name to
Geraldo to exploit his Hispanic roots. From the start, he had difficulty
balancing journalistic notions of objectivity with his personal passion.
In 1972, he was suspended from the station for his vocal support of George
McGovern's presidential candidacy. In a subsequent effort to embarrass
Rivera, a conservative radio-show host put out the false story that
Rivera's surname was actually Rivers, painting him as an ethnic
-- Bloom won't
go on air with him: "NBC White House correspondent David Bloom won't
appear live on any Rivera broadcast because he doesn't want to 'get beat
up by Geraldo,' according to one NBC exec. The feeling is mutual. One
evening off-air, Rivera referred to NBC reporter David Gregory as a
'slightly less-well-informed guest.'"
-- Calls Jennings
and Donaldson hypocrites. "On a recent Rivera Live, Rivera became so
impassioned in demanding that the New York Times apologize to Clinton for
its incessant coverage of the Whitewater scandal that he threw his note
cards at the camera and went to an early break. 'My wife yelled at me
for losing it,' he says. Another time, he railed against the 'pretense
and hypocrisy' of those who set themselves up as moral arbiters,
referring to 'a network anchor and his White House reporter' who have
been 'married eight times between them.' (Off-air, he says he was
talking about ABC's Peter Jennings and Sam Donaldson.) On the Today show,
where he appears as an NBC 'legal analyst,' his friend Katie Couric
upbraided Rivera for his lack of balance."
-- Advising the
President's team while reporting on them. Picking up on Couric's
point, in the next paragraph of the profile Brock revealed:
"Certainly, eyebrows would be raised at NBC if his bosses knew, as
Rivera confesses, that he also offers political advice to the Clinton team
privately while reporting the story. 'They try out ideas on me and see
what my reaction to it is,' he says. 'There was a time when I thought
they had lost their courage, they were droopy and scared. I stiffened them
up.' Far from being repentant about his bias, Rivera charges that his
view of the scandal as a sexual witch hunt is impeding his career at NBC
News. NBC executives, he says, have 'shot down' his proposal to do a
Clinton-scandal special on the network.
Now that NBC knows
about his crossing the line into political consulting, what will they do
Serious political commentary that should be condemned, or a humorous skit?
As reports circulating the Internet have asserted, on Friday's Late
Night with Conan O'Brien on NBC actor Alec Baldwin jumped from his chair
to scream "We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to
their homes and we'd kill their wives and their children!"
Baldwin is a
well-known defender of Clinton who held a fundraiser for him last summer
at his Long Island home. Monday night on CNBC's Upfront Tonight he
charged that "the ultimate goal" of impeachment advocates
"is what I would call 'election nullification'" as
"this is a group of people who want to undo the '96 election."
On the December 11
NBC show host Conan O'Brien wrapped up his interview with Baldwin by
asking Baldwin about Clinton's plight. Baldwin answers but as he
proceeds his voice rises as he jumps up from his chair and is screaming
and flailing his arms by the time he's finished. Cutting to the punch
line, O'Brien then jumps up and puts an air mask over Baldwin's mouth
to calm him down. Funny political satire or, even if meant in jest,
mean-spirited and violence-inciting words that would be condemned if
uttered by a conservative?
exchange as transcribed by MRC news analyst Paul Smith.
Conan O'Brien: "Before we leave, I gotta
ask you. It's no secret that you are very political. You are a very
political person. It's no secret that you have actually had some
associations with the Clintons. That you're a liberal man and I thought
you know today, this is a historic day and you're one of the most
politically active actors out there. What do you think?"
Alec Baldwin: "I was in Africa. I go to
Africa. I mean ladies and gentlemen I am in Africa. For three months I am
in the bush and I come back. I come back here and I come back to what? I
mean what is happening right now as we speak? Right now the Judiciary
Committee, the President has an approval rating of 68 percent. The
President is very popular and things are going pretty good and they are
voting to impeach the President. They voted on one article of impeachment
already. And I come back from Africa to stained dresses and cigars and
this and impeachment. I am thinking to myself in other countries they are
laughing at us twenty four hours a day and I'm thinking to myself if we
were in other countries, we would all right now, all of us together,
[starts to shout] all of us together would go down to Washington and we
would stone Henry Hyde to death! We would stone him to death! [crowd
cheers] Wait! Shut up! Shut up! No shut up! I'm not finished. We would
stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we'd kill
their wives and their children. We would kill their families. [stands up
screaming] What is happening in this country? What is happening? UGHHH
Now, in your mind
substitute the name Al Gore or Hillary Clinton for Henry Hyde and the name
of a conservative for Baldwin. What kind of reaction would the media
establishment be expressing?
To see this
exchange, go to the MRC home page where MRC Webmaster Eric Pairel has
posted a RealPlayer clip of what is transcribed above. Unfortunately, we
taped the show on a bad VCR so, Sean reports, the sound level is rather
low but if you turn your volume way up you should be able to hear it.
After all, Baldwin is yelling. -- Brent Baker
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