All a "Partisan Hit Job"; Donaldson: "Expel" Clinton; Newt Deserved It
1) Two reporters, Evan Thomas
and Nina Totenberg, were less impressed with the managers than a liberal
columnist. Thomas: Clinton's lawyers "absolutely demolished the
2) ABC's Linda Douglass
insisted the Blumenthal/Hitchens conflict is "likely to have little
bearing on the case" against Clinton. CBS's Bill Plante relayed how
Clinton supporters think in 20 years people will realize "that the
whole thing was a partisan hit job."
3) Christopher Hitchens may be
a left-winger who opposes Clinton, but he told Tim Russert he won't
testify against Blumenthal.
4) Sam Donaldson said that if
Senators "decide that this President has committed crimes they ought
to vote to expel him from office."
5) Dan Rather insisted it
really is all about sex and MSNBC's "man on the street"
reaction: A college professor from Boston who charged the scandal is
driven by the Christian Right trying to void the Bill of Rights.
6) Newt not vindicated. Two
reporters on Fox News Sunday justified the Democratic attacks in a matter
for which the IRS has cleared Gingrich. Brit Hume on his colleague's
7) Alec Baldwin is back,
telling a conservative how "the Clintons have basically kicked your
ass" and that he knows "Henry Hyde and those people, they must
feel really empty and low."
8) An actor in the NBC
mini-series "The '60s" regrets that the youth of today are not
similarly committed to political causes.
Two reporters less impressed with the Republican House managers than a
Democratic political activist. Saturday night on CNN's Capital Gang Mark
Shields, a former Democratic operative turned columnist, assessed the day:
"I thought from watching Huthinson and
Graham and Rogan today, that I thought they made a strong case, I really,
I thought it was a persuasive case."
Of course the Wall
Street Journal's Al Hunt disagreed. As did two reporters over on Inside
Washington, the syndicated show carried by many PBS stations. Newsweek
Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on the videotape of Monica Lewinsky:
"At first I thought that she was helping the
defense, but then the President's lawyers stood up and absolutely
demolished the prosecutor's case. I mean I thought it was a real
mismatch and helped the President."
Nina Totenberg of
NPR and ABC News agreed, claiming that despite being denied the
opportunity to put on their case in a normal fashion, it was the House
managers who demanded too much:
"It is indicative of the House managers that
they have consistently asked for too much and ended up with too little.
They probably ought to have asked, you know, for just two counts and
limited it to the perjury. They now come over here and they lay out a case
in a manner that is so selective that it allows them to be blown up like
as my husband, my wonderful late husband used to say, like 'gone
goslings,' and it's, I don't think it's just a mismatch between
good lawyers and less good lawyers. This isn't just a matter of quality
of breeding so to speak. It's a matter over bad judgment, overstating
Saturday night all the broadcast networks led with highlights of what each
side played from the Monica Lewinsky videotaped deposition. "Good
evening. The case against the President that has so far had to do with sex
and lies today turned to videotape," announced NBC Nightly News
anchor Brian Williams. The three shows also featured one clip of Vernon
Jordan and ABC and CBS, but not NBC, showed a bite from Sidney Blumenthal.
in a mention of the affidavit from left-wing journalist Christopher
Hitchens contradicting Blumenthal as Hitchens recounted a March 1998 lunch
during which Blumenthal described Lewinsky as a stalker who made sexual
demands on the President. ABC's Linda Douglass insisted the revelation
is "likely to have little bearing on the case against the
President." But over on CBS Bob Schieffer passed on how prosecutors
think it "bolsters their contention that there was an organized White
House effort to obstruct justice by smearing Ms. Lewinsky."
Barely a minute
later on CBS Bill Plante relayed how a White House operative suggested
that in 20 years people will remember how "the whole thing was a
partisan hit job."
highlights from the Saturday, February 6 evening shows.
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Linda Douglass summarized the case made by the managers,
illustrated with deposition clips. After playing a soundbite of Blumenthal
recalling how Clinton told him Lewinsky was a stalker, Douglass concluded:
"The managers accused Blumenthal of peddling that story to reporters.
Under oath Blumenthal denied it, but tonight journalist Christopher
Hitchens filed a sworn affidavit saying Blumenthal told him such a story.
Tonight Blumenthal denied that. Senators say all of this might cause
trouble for Blumenthal, but is likely to have little bearing on the case
against the President."
presented the case made by the White House lawyers before Cokie Roberts
appeared to show excerpts from her interview with Senator Robert Byrd set
to run on This Week the next morning. Byrd said Clinton's actions are
covered by high crimes and misdemeanors and he is guilty, but the question
is should he be removed.
-- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer began his
summary of the case made by both sides: "The tapes rolled and
suddenly the tedious written transcripts came to life..." Schieffer
found "the most striking contrast" was between Clinton saying he
did not know what Jordan was doing job search-wise versus Jordan saying he
kept Clinton fully informed. Schieffer concluded with the Hitchens
affidavit: "Prosecutors say that bolsters their contention that there
was an organized White House effort to obstruct justice by smearing Ms.
From the White
House Bill Plante checked in on the debate over censure, concluding by
conveying the Clinton spin that all people will remember is that whole
scandal was "a partisan hit job." Plante relayed:
"The President's defenders say they can
live with any form of censure as long as it doesn't say he broke the
law. They say that the President will survive this particularly if he can
keep to his agenda and they can't resist gloating a little bit even
though they promised not to. One White House official told me today, in 20
years, he said, people will remember three things about this: that the
President was impeached in the House, that he was acquitted in the Senate
and that the whole thing was a partisan hit job."
-- NBC Nightly News. Gwen Ifill opened her story:
"Monica Lewinsky, poised confident and apparently unflappable,
finally spoke to the Senate today, appearing on videotape to re-tell a
familiar story, but with an immediacy that kept Senators riveted."
Ifill concluded with Blumenthal:
"Outside the Senate chamber today lawmakers
circulated a signed affidavit from a journalist who disputes Sidney
Blumenthal, the senior White House aide, when he says he never leaked
damaging information about Lewinsky to reporters. Not a direct connection
to the President, but potentially damaging to another member of Bill
Clinton's inner circle."
Brian Williams interviewed manager Asa Hutchinson. After asking if any
minds were changed and the impact of the Blumenthal/Hitchens development,
Williams wondered if the managers are willing to go away: "Are you --
the thirteen House managers -- prepared as a group to say we made our
last, best effort and withdraw, fade away now as a group, and let the
Senate go into final arguments?"
Christopher Hitchens, a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair and The
Nation, may, as he said on Sunday's Meet the Press, "have nothing
but contempt for President Clinton," but he despises conservatives
even more. Only Meet the Press devoted a guest segment to the Hitchens/Blumenthal
story with Hitchens appearing as the opening guest. But when Tim Russert
asked if he'd be willing to testify against Blumenthal, Hitchens was
adamant in rejecting the idea of cooperation:
"If Mr. Clinton is acquitted and allowed to
walk and a separate case is brought against Sidney, that would be a
scandal and a disgrace and no I would not. I would rather be held in
contempt than, than support such a scandalous outcome, I won't testify
if its just against him."
Sam Donaldson says if Clinton is guilty then Senators should "vote to
expel him from office." Hardly an outrageous view -- following the
rule of law -- but not one heard too frequently from a member of the
media, especially one who works at the White House weekdays.
Senator Byrd told Cokie Roberts about how he is conflicted about whether
to vote to remove Clinton, though he believes he is guilty, in the
February 8 This Week roundtable segment Donaldson suggested:
"I would like the Senators to look at the
evidence and the facts. But if they decide that this President has
committed crimes they ought to vote to expel him from office. I think if
Mr. Clinton, and I know it's not going to happen perhaps, but if he were
taken from office by a vote of the Senate the next day people would go to
work, the masters of the universe would day trade their stocks, mothers
would take their children to day care centers, there would not be rioting
in the streets and the country would go on."
George Stephanopoulos: "Sam, it's not
going to happen. It's not even close."
Donaldson: "I didn't say it would happen.
I'm simply saying I think if the Senate did that -- because Senator Byrd
says what is good for the country -- I think the country would go on and
the rule of law, if they believed he committed these crimes, would be
(A RealPlayer clip
of these comments from Donaldson will be placed on the MRC home page
Monday morning by Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry of the MRC. Go to: http://www.mrc.org)
On Saturday, of the broadcast networks, only CBS provided live coverage,
showing the House managers from 10 to about 11:30am ET. While the
Washington Post reported that both ABC and NBC offered a feed to
affiliates, neither Washington's ABC affiliate or NBC-owned station
picked it up.
items from Saturday daytime coverage. First, Dan Rather insisted the whole
thing really is about sex. Second, as the network did three weeks earlier,
MSNBC used the lunch break to showcase anti-impeachment process comments
from people in the streets of Manhattan.
-- Wrapping up live CBS News coverage around
11:40am ET, Dan Rather proposed to Phil Jones:
"Some, not all, but some of the Republicans
-- I'd have to say a majority, if you disagree say so -- have
continually said look this is not about sex, it's about the law. Roughly
what percentage of those Republicans pressing to have the President
removed from office insist on that because when you boil it down, there
obviously was some lying by someone. There obviously was some lying by the
President. It was all part of a cover story at base to cover up a sexual
relation. Is that the view or not?"
Jones agreed that some Republicans believe sex is
at the base of the scandal, but are trying to make the case that it's
more about obstruction and perjury.
-- At 12:54pm ET, during the lunch break, MSNBC
anchor Brian Williams turned to Nanette Hansen for a take on public
reaction. From a restaurant in Manhattan she aired the views of two
people: a "college instructor" and her husband, "historian
and author" Richard Rosenfeld. Both are from Boston. How
representative of "the American people" are college professors
The wife told
Hansen: "I have to say that with respect to Monica Lewinsky I think
that if the religious right had not been after the man she was in love
with none of this would have come to our attention and she would have had
an interesting story to tell her grandchildren. As it is I don't think
that covering up a sexual matter has anything to do with
Her husband, who
first offered his name, continued her liberal reasoning: "I remain
part of the 75 percent of Americans who feels that the country's
treasure and government should not be spent on investigating the private
life of the President and his efforts to keep private."
Hansen asked: "Does this have anything to do
with politics for you or this is just the way you see it?"
The man took another shot at conservatives:
"I think it's entirely about politics and unfortunately the
politics of the very far right, not even the politics of the Republican
Party, the politics of one part of the Republican Party which is trying to
get involved in governing in a way that they're prevented from doing by
the Bill of Rights, religious extremists."
MSNBC's first time to find and highlight only liberal opinion. During
the lunch break on January 16 MSNBC went to Times Square. Lisa Kim checked
in: "We've been out here pretty much all morning and will be this
afternoon. People are not really paying attention to the trial. A lot of
people are telling me that they're just sick and tired of this coverage,
that they want this whole deal to end very shortly."
Kim turned to "Bill and Robin"
supposedly in from Atlanta. Bill offered: "I think it's been a
Republican witch hunt from the beginning..." Robin agreed.
Sunday morning only Fox News Sunday mentioned the IRS vindication for Newt
Gingrich and how his much maligned college course was not partisan, so it
did not violate tax laws by accepting tax deductible donations. Not a word
on the This Week or Late Edition end of show roundtables.
On Fox News Sunday
Juan Williams and NPR's Mara Liasson dismissed the vindication, claiming
Democratic attacks were just politics as normal with Liasson actually
suggesting Gingrich got what he deserved as Democrats treated him the same
way he treated Jim Wright. All this was too much for Brit Hume, who
scolded his two Fox News contributors.
Host Tony Snow
began the segment by playing this December 21, 1996 soundbite from
Democratic Congressman David Bonior: "Mr. Gingrich engaged in a
pattern of tax fraud, lies and coverups in paving his road to the second
highest office in the land. He is not worthy of that office."
Juan Williams soon
asserted: "David Bonior was engaged in a fight with a man who was the
head of the Republican revolution at the time and who was standing up on
his high horse and pretending to be totally above any impropriety and he
was making it clear 'you are coming close to the line'..."
Cutting him off, Hume interjected: "Coming
close to the line? He accused him of tax fraud, that's not coming close
to the line that's accusing him of an illegality."
Williams continued: "That's what prompted
the IRS investigation. He's playing politics and I must say you
wouldn't say the Republicans are above playing politics in the Clinton
case would you?"
suggested he didn't recall Democrats being accused of partisanship at
the time as Republicans are being charged now in the Clinton scandal,
"I think it was recognized that Bonior was
taking a page out of Newt Gingrich's book. Newt Gingrich mounted an
attack on Jim Wright. That was considered audacious and insurrectionary at
the time and Bonior learned his lesson from him. You know you just wonder
when does all this will stop, is there ever some kind of truce where both
sides feel like they've had enough."
Of course one
difference is that Wright was guilty.
rationalization of the Democratic hit on Gingrich was too much for Hume,
"I'm amazed at what my colleagues are
saying here. Here you have a man accused of a crime and the agency charged
with identifying such crimes comes out and says absolutely not and you
guys are shrugging this off and saying it's all politics, it's dirty
and so forth. Bunk. This was wrong, what was said about him. It was wrong,
it was factually wrong and to excuse it as being okay because it's in
the political arena seems to me to be off the mark. David Bonior ought to
be offering an apology. This is not what happened in the case of Bill
Clinton. Bill Clinton was the subject of an investigation by the executive
branch of the government, acting through the independent counsel, and was
found in the judgment of the independent counsel to be involved in what
might be high crimes and misdemeanors, which were referred to the
appropriate body, the House of Representatives. That is way different from
being cleared by the IRS."
For details on the
IRS ruling and the lack of media attention, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990204.html#4
Alec Baldwin is back. On Friday's Politically Incorrect he celebrated,
telling a conservative guest how "the Clintons have basically kicked
your ass" and that he knows "Henry Hyde and those people, they
must feel really empty and low." In a December 11 appearance on
NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien the actor shouted: "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!" It was his idea of a comedy skit, but even Hollywood
insider Jack Valenti soon condemned the outburst.
relevant exchange from the February 5 Politically Incorrect:
Alec Baldwin: "Let's just face facts about
Clinton and his wife. The fact is that these people have been the target
of a conservative campaign to bring them down on every conceivable
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch: "There was no
conservative involved in the FBI files, Alec. There was no conservative
there. That was his White House."
Baldwin: "Richard Mellon Scaife, all those
kinds of people."
Fitton: "Richard Mellon Scaife wasn't
there when the President was with Monica Lewinsky."
Baldwin: "The fact remains that we are into
the final moments, we're involved in an end game now and it's going to
result in one thing. That is, the Clintons have basically kicked your ass.
And I know that's painful. I know that's painful. I feel like Henry
Hyde and those people, they must feel really empty and low because they
gave it everything they had. It looks like they're going to come up
three lemons now."
You can watch via
RealPlayer the December 11 Late Night outburst from Alec Baldwin. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1998/cyb19981215.html#5
"Like wow man" the '60s were really neat. Sunday night NBC
aired the first part of a two part mini-series called "The
'60s." Part two airs Monday night, February 8. On Friday's Today,
MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, one of the actors revealed his longing for
a return to the values of that decade.
On the February 5
Today actor Jerry O'Connell told Katie Couric: "When I first read
the script my initial reaction was wow. As a child of the '80s, as an
'80s generation person, I know that scares people when I say that, but,
you know I didn't really do anything. I write. I never protested. I
never, you know, stormed the streets of Chicago. I've never been to a
political rally in my life and I never painted a sign and picketed and
really believed in a cause and it kind of made me a little embarrassed for
my generation. You know I feel like maybe we could have done more."
Couric: "You feel like, you know, you're
envious of people who could care that deeply, and be so committed to
O'Connell: "Because basically the youth of
the '60s really changed this nation and changed the world and the whole
world was watching and I mean that was just not me. I felt very bad about
it, so maybe this will inspire the millennium generation to become a
little more politically active."
He and his generation could care and show less
apathy about Clinton's scandalous behavior, but I don't think that's
the kind of "politically active" cause that would please
O'Connell. -- Brent Baker
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