Only FNC Hinted at Clinton-Lewinsky Collusion; Starr Targeted; Tax Cuts Help Rich
1) ABC & CNN described
Lewinsky as "poised." All agreed she offered nothing new, but
only FNC reported that "knowing glances" between the lawyers for
her and Clinton occurred as she was stopped from giving any substantive
responses to Ed Bryant.
2) David Kendall's complaint
about Ken Starr succeeded in shifting attention to Starr's supposed
wrongdoing. The foreign press, CBS relayed, has concluded that the U.S.
has "gone completely mad."
3) Charles Gibson argued with
Charles Bakaley about how Starr really is guilty as Diane Sawyer demanded
of Robert Bork: "At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that
it's time to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too
4) "Democrats argue a ten
percent across the board tax cut favors the rich," declared NBC's
David Bloom in a charge echoed by ABC's John Cochran. But neither
offered any numbers from a conservative.
Reviewing Monica Lewinsky's performance, on Monday night the networks
delivered remarkably similar assessments of how she offered nothing new
and showed a "poised" and "professional" demeanor. All
highlighted an apology to her from a White House lawyer. Only FNC dared to
report that she gave "snippy answers" and that there were
"knowing glances" between her lawyers and Clinton's lawyers as
her lawyers cut her off before she gave any substantive responses.
Douglass described Lewinsky as "poised and very prepared." Over
on CNN Bob Franken employed the same terminology, relaying that "Lewinsky
was poised, precise and still sympathetic to the President" while
CBS's Bob Schieffer announced: "It was all very business-like and
Here's how the
networks described on their Monday, February 1 evening shows, what
happened during the deposition of Monica Lewinsky at the Mayflower hotel:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Linda Douglass: "Sources say there were no surprises in
Lewinsky's testimony. Several said she was poised and very prepared. One
described her as guarded. White House lawyers asked Lewinsky no questions.
Instead, they read a statement on Mr. Clinton's behalf apologizing to
her for what she has been through. Tonight White House officials said they
did not ask her questions because nothing she said required following
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather opened by stressing how this was "the 23rd official
questioning of Monica Lewinsky." Bob Schieffer described the session:
"The House prosecutors did get their chance to depose Monica Lewinsky,
but apparently they did not find out very much. We're told there were no
blockbusters, nothing really new. One source says she only reaffirmed her
grand jury testimony. But White House lawyers, who had never had a chance
to meet Miss Lewinsky, did take the opportunity to apologize to her for
all they said that she and her family had been put through."
Schieffer later added: "We're told it was
all very business-like and professional. Ms. Lewinsky was poised, she wore
a black pant suit and pearls and one source said there were even a couple
of laughs along the way."
-- CNN's The
World Today. Bob Franken began: "Several sources present tell CNN the
President's attorneys asked no questions." He later elaborated:
"Several sources present tell CNN that tape will show Lewinsky did
not depart from her earlier grand jury testimony, that she did not add
anything new. One source said that fact will please the President's
side, which can argue there is no reason now for Lewinsky to testify
publicly before the Senate. But House managers will claim that she helped
their case by repeating an account damaging to the President."
Franken concluded: "Lewinsky was poised,
precise and still sympathetic to the President sources say, she was
clearly not trying to be helpful to those who would use her to reverse the
rush to the exit."
-- NBC Nightly
News. Gwen Ifill: "In the presidential suite of a downtown Washington
hotel, White House lawyers got their first chance today to question Monica
Lewinsky. But, sources say, White House lawyers Nicole Seligman, Cheryl
Mills and David Kendall asked Lewinsky nothing. And they say Seligman, on
behalf of the President, actually apologized to Lewinsky, in the words of
one source, quote 'for all he put her through.'"
Ifill emphasized: "But sources say Lewinsky
today offered nothing beyond her previously sworn testimony that allows
prosecutors to prove that's what happened."
-- FNC's Fox
Report, co-anchored by Jon Scott and the leather-clad E.D. Donahey,
delivered quite a different description of what occurred in the room,
portraying an uncooperative Lewinsky whose lawyers were in collusion with
the White House.
Rita Cosby told viewers: "Sources at the
deposition tell Fox News that at times Monica Lewinsky appeared to be
quite frustrated with the questions that were thrown at her. At several
points she was shaking her head, she was rolling her eyes and was giving
what's been described as snippy answers. Also, it appeared that any time
she was providing information that was helpful to prosecutors in terms of
their obstruction of justice case, her attorney stepped in and interrupted
her and would not let her answer those questions in full detail."
Next, Carl Cameron
looked at the White House anger at Starr and competing exit strategy
ideas, but concluded by returning to the Lewinsky deposition when asked by
a co-anchor about anything else that happened Monday:
"Well, Monica Lewinsky's deposition today
-- not very forthcoming. A number of people inside the deposition say that
she was cut off repeatedly by her attorneys and that there was an awful
lot of signaling seemingly going on between Lewinsky's attorneys and
White House attorneys. At one point Nicole Seligman, the White House legal
counsel, objected to the entrance of some exhibits, in terms of what
Monica Lewinsky had said in the past, and when prosecutor Ed Bryant began
to ask questions about that, sources say, there were knowing glances --
the equivalent of winks and nods going on -- between Lewinsky's
attorneys and the White House lawyers."
the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post on the MRC home page
a RealPlayer video clip of this part of Cameron's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org)
The White House once again managed to make Ken Starr the issue as every
network showcased David Kendall's complaint that Starr is guilty of
"illegal and partisan leaking" in the Sunday New York Times
story on how he has decided he can indict a sitting President. ABC
included the item in Linda Douglass's story on Lewinsky, but all the
other networks on Monday night ran separate stories with Kendall setting
NBC's Tom Brokaw
introduced a full report from Pete Williams by noting that "Starr
tried for damage control." Pete Williams began: "White House
lawyers are reacting angrily today to a report that Kenneth Starr has
concluded he could charge the President with a crime. They're asking a
federal judge to punish Starr, accusing him of violating court ordered
Following a Kendall soundbite Williams read from
a Starr statement on how he's investigating the leak.
Schieffer concluded his Lewinsky story by saying there was even some
joking in the deposition, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather declared:
"On another front, the President's lawyers were in anything but a
joking mood today. This has to do with the possibility that Ken Starr,
whatever happens in the Senate, could indict the President."
Scott Pelley summarized the Kendall complaint,
noting "the story is curious because if its timing" and how
"today the article was an orphan, all sides denied being the
(The CBS Evening
News ended with a piece from Mark Phillips in London on how the world, at
least the world media, view the Lewinsky scandal: "For all the
multitude of languages and accents being used to report this story around
the world, the general impression is being expressed with one voice."
A woman from French TV declared: "Why is America going mad?" A
man with the BBC agreed: "America, or at least Washington, has gone
completely mad." Phillips did highlight the foreign hypocrisy as
while they complain they all cover it, with the BBC offering
gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate trial.)
The Starr story about thinking it's okay to indict Clinton really
enraged the Good Morning America team on Monday morning, MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson observed. Charles Gibson argued with Charles Bakaley
about whether the leak came from Starr's office. When Bakaley denied it,
Gibson countered: "How do you know that. There've been leaks from the
Talking with Robert Bork, Diane Sawyer repeated how the White House says
the story shows Starr is "out of control" as she then asked him:
"At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time to
shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"
Gibson's February 1 questions to Charles Bakaly, Ken Starr's spokesman,
which assumed Starr is in the wrong:
-- "Why did your office leak this and leak
-- "The Times story says it comes
from your office."
-- "Well, the Times story says it
comes from associates of Judge Starr's, and I'm curious that you know for
certain that it couldn't have come from the office. How do you know that?
There've been leaks from the office before."
-- "But I'm struck that you can say this so
certainly, that you can speak with absolute assurance about everybody in
that office, that they wouldn't have leaked this story."
-- "It is public record that one
constitutional scholar, who is a consultant to Judge Starr, has said that
he feels it would be constitutionally correct, or constitutionally
alright, if the President were indicted while in office. Can you confirm
that, that Judge Starr is at least exploring the idea?"
Robert Bork came aboard to discuss the substance of Starr's analysis as
Bork believes you cannot indict a sitting President, but Diane Sawyer soon
pressed him to take on Starr for the alleged improper leak and how it
supposedly has intruded upon the Senate's work:
-- "Well, there's another possibility,
indicting the President under seal, holding it in secret until he leaves
office. Is that also constitutionally sound?"
-- Bork asserted, "If Judge Starr decides he
wants to indict, that would be well within his discretion. We would then
find out from the courts whether he could or not." To which Sawyer
responded: "Within his discretion, but if what you say is true, that
the President has singular responsibilities, is it a good idea to have him
open to the possibility of indictment by prosecutors all around the
-- "Another question, the timing of this
story. As you must have read, members of the Senate on both sides have
criticized Judge Starr's office for, in effect, they say, trying to
intervene in the impeachment process. What do you think about it?"
-- "I guess one of the questions is, some,
some, the White House certainly has said, that it's a sign that he's out
of control. At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time
to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"
ABC and NBC pounced on the Republican proposal for tax cuts, as if they
wished to discredit the idea before it got any momentum. On Monday's
World News Tonight Sam Donaldson summarized the officially released
Clinton budget proposal. In a second story, ABC's John Cochran looked at
the disagreement over tax cuts with Republicans wanting a broad one while
Clinton advocated some targeted ones. Cochran announced: "Republicans
are trying to get the public's attention with one of their favorite
tactics: promising tax cuts for everyone."
Noting that Senator Pete Domenici wants a 15
percent income tax reduction over 15 years while Congressman John Kasich
prefers a ten percent cut immediately, Cochran allowed Kasich to say that
if taxes are not cut the government will spend the money. Cochran then
pounced with "facts" from a group he grudgingly conceded leans
"Democrats and other critics say across the
board cuts favor the rich. Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning
group, says a ten percent cut in rates for taxpayers making less than
$38,000 would mean an average cut of only $99 a year. Taxpayers making
more than $300,000 would get an average cut of $20,000 dollars. Other
critics say the country should not count on budget surpluses to fund tax
cuts or spending hikes because the money may not be there."
In a soundbite Carol Wait of the Committee for a
Responsible Federal Budget then asserted that budget projections are
Cochran failed to provide counter numbers to
those from (CTJ), but did allow as how "Republicans answer that tax
cuts, especially for wealthy Americans, would further boost the economy
and boost tax revenue as well."
On the NBC Nightly
News reporter David Bloom also highlighted Republican interest in a tax
cut, but portrayed Republicans as the ones with a bad attitude: "The
President's proposed budget arrived on Capitol Hill today to a rude
reception from Republicans, who are demanding that some of the trillions
of dollars in a projected surpluses be spent on a broad tax cut."
Bloom ran soundbites from both sides, but like
Cochran, offered only the anti-tax cut numbers from the liberal group.
Though he used the identical $300,000 versus $38,000 example, he failed to
identify the source, saying only "Democrats argue a ten percent
across the board tax cut favors the rich. By their calculations the
wealthiest Americans, those who make more than $300,000 a year would
receive, on average, a $20,000 tax break. But most Americans earn $38,000
a year or less and, Democrats say, their tax break would average
How outrageous. Someone who makes more an pays
more in taxes would get a bigger numerical tax reduction than someone
making and paying less. -- Brent Baker
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