As "Rough" on Bush as on Clinton?; Rather Gullible to Clinton Whoppers; More Gore Votes; West Wing to Be "Pain in Ass" to Bush?
1) CNN's Judy Woodruff
seriously wondered: "Will Bush have as rough a time" with the
media as did Bill Clinton?
2) Dan Rather tossed softballs and questions matching
the Democratic spin to Bill Clinton in his 60 Minutes II interview, such
as "you say what" to those "convinced that the Supreme
Court...voted politics not the law?" Rather didn't bat an eye
when Clinton offered whoppers about Whitewater, Tom DeLay, impeachment,
3) Tuesday night CBS portrayed Bush's AG pick as a
measure "of how willing George Bush is to break with conservatives
in his effort to govern from the center." NBC allowed a
conservative to push a tax cut, highlighted a newspaper's recount
which found 130 more net votes for Gore and featured a graphic showing
the "Gore margin of victory" in the popular vote.
4) On Today Chris Matthews argued that Bush must give
Tom Ridge and Christie Whitman prominent posts and that making Dan Coats
Secretary of Defense would be "a disastrous idea. That is just
pandering to the far right."
5) West Wing creator/writer Aaron Sorkin on the impact
of Bush's victory on his show: "I hope we're a real pain in the
>>> CyberAlert Countdown Calendar to the 1,000th edition.
Today's is the 992nd numbered issue since April 1996, so 8 more to go.
of the day. CNN's Judy Woodruff at 6pm ET Tuesday night plugging an
interview with Howard Kurtz in the third half hour of Inside Politics:
"Plus, media coverage of the next President. Will Bush have as rough
a time as his predecessor?"
Bush already has received rougher coverage. For
Bush, rough coverage came automatically from the media. For Clinton, he
had to behave scandalously for any reporters to turn on him and then many
of them directed more fire at law enforcers for daring to impugn a
President America loved.
Rather tossed softballs and questions matching the Democratic spin to Bill
Clinton in his interview aired Tuesday night on 60 Minutes II and when
Rather did raise uncomfortable topics, Clinton replied with baseless
charges against conservatives and historical revisionism, but Rather never
cast doubt on any of it.
Instead of pressing Clinton to defend Al Gore's
needless prolonging of the election, Rather assumed the Supreme Court had
done wrong: "To those who are absolutely convinced that the Supreme
Court had a Republican majority and wanted a Republican President and
voted politics not the law. As an attorney, and as our President, you say
Asked to recommend a movie for incoming President
Bush to see, the outgoing President suggested "High Noon," but
Rather didn't burst into laughter when Clinton explained he found it
relevant to being President "because Gary Cooper does the right
thing, even when people leave him."
Four whoppers asserted by Clinton which elicited no
reaction from Rather: a) Impeachment "was like the second big battle
of the Gingrich revolution. The first was when they shut the government
down. And that was the second one." b) Whitewater: "The biggest
bogus issue in modern American politics. Classic, it was a fraud from the
get-go, and a lot of the people that were propagating it knew it was a
fraud." c) On Tom Delay: "His whole deal about how you should
treat your opponents if very different from mine. I just think he's got a
total scorch and burn policy....I think he thinks that's the way you're
supposed to treat your political opponents. And I just don't agree with
that....I never would have sent, I wouldn't let someone from the White
House go to a contested state and try to intimidate vote counters. I
wouldn't do that. I just don't believe that. That's just not who I am. I
don't think, I think that a great country has to have some voluntary
restraint on the exercise of authority."
Tell that to the impugned and then fired Travel
Office workers or the residents of Western states who keep having their
land appropriated by Clinton for national monuments.
And d) Unnamed forces put Ken Starr "in there
because Fiske was a fair, balanced man. And he was, the whole thing was
going be over before the '96 election and they didn't want that. So they
put him in there to drag it out."
Here's a rundown of the interview taped Monday as edited for Tuesday
night's 60 Minutes II:
-- Rather: "The country's still in the midst of
an almost eight-year boom. The country's at peace. You've had by many
measurements, if not most, reasonably successful presidency. Why are we
having a Republican President come in behind you?"
-- "To those who are absolutely convinced that
the Supreme Court had a Republican majority and wanted a Republican
President and voted politics not the law. As an attorney, and as our
President, you say what?"
Clinton: "I say
when I get out and start teaching constitutional law again I'll tell you
exactly what I think about it. But I think [laughter] the case was, the
important note there, the five to four vote, there are actually three
separate opinions. But the five to four vote, was a vote to stop the vote
was the clincher."
days before, six days in advance of the Electoral College meeting. And the
American people will just have to make their own decisions about
-- Rather: "As one who taught law, as an
attorney, were you surprised that this Supreme Court ever took the
let me say, I think most lawyers, or a lot of them were surprised they
took the case. Even those that were surprised they took the case were
shocked when the vote count was stopped on the Friday."
No, not after eight years in Washington, I wasn't. They had the power to
do it and they did it and it's done. And we should accept it, because the
country has to go on."
-- Rather: "Do you agree or disagree, that some
of your failures, policy as well as personal failures, in the White House
had an impact on Al Gore's losing?"
to the first, no, to the second. To say that people would hold him
responsible for any personal mistake I made is an insult to the American
people. I mean, you know, people just aren't that unfair....There are a
lot of surveys along toward the end of the campaign that showed that if I
could have run again, I'd have done fine...."
"When you look back over your eight years, what's the one thing now
that you wish you had known eight years ago?"
-- Rather: "Your finest hour as
"That's very, very hard to say. I had a lot of great times, and which
I'm grateful. But I think when we prevailed in both houses by one vote on
the economic plan in '93, that's what really turned the economy around and
made possible so much else that happened..."
-- Rather: "Your darkest hour?"
Clinton: "I had
more than one of them, too. Certainly one of them was when those 18
American soldiers were killed in Somalia. It was awful...."
-- Rather: "Impeachment had to be a dark
Clinton: "Well, no, by the time they got around to
voting, I knew what was gonna happen. And, I didn't, no my darkest day
came long before that, when I had to come to terms with the fact that I'm,
you know, I did, I made a terrible, personal mistake, which I tried to
correct in private. Which then got dragged into public. That was dark for
me. By the time they got around to voting on impeachment, I knew what it
was. And it didn't have any, you know, I felt that to me, if we could
defeat impeachment, it was like the second big battle of the Gingrich
revolution. The first was when they shut the government down. And that was
the second one. That doesn't mean that
I didn't make a terrible mistake. But there were
800 people, including a lot of Republicans who were legal and
constitutional scholars, who wrote a letter saying this hadn't, was not an
impeachable offense. And shouldn't even be considered. And they all knew
that, too. They knew this was, that was a political battle we were
involved in and I didn't seek it. I didn't want to fight it. But I was
only to happy to take it up because I believe the real purpose of it was
to try to weaken me and our side and what we believed in and to strengthen
their side, and what they believed in."
that, they succeeded."
I'm not sure they did. In 1998 we won seats in the House of
Representatives for the first time since 1822, in the sixth year of a
President's term. So I'm not sure they did. It may be that after the fact,
that what they did will acquire some historical legitimacy. But what I
regret about that, was what I did wrong, not the fact that they impeached
me because that was wrong, too."
-- Rather: "Do you expect to be indicted after
your, after you leave the presidency by the current independent counsel,
the successor to Kenneth Starr?"
that's up to them. You know, we had a bipartisan panel of prosecutors
testified in the Congress that no ordinary prosecutor would do such a
thing, even think of it. They were five of them that testified to that.
And the Republicans in the Congress argued that they didn't have to have
an indictable offense, you could impeach somebody for something that you
wouldn't indict 'em for...."
-- Rather: "Do you think President Bush will
pardon you to keep, possibly prevent an indictment or in case an
know, I haven't given any thought to that. But I doubt it..."
-- Rather: "Let's talk about the economy. The
incoming Bush administration is trying to position the economic picture,
in the following way: The economy has started downward, maybe towards a
recession. 'Whatever happens on the downside, particularly if we have a
recession, don't forget, it's the Clinton, Gore administration, not this
new, incoming administration.'"
-- Rather, repeating Clinton's assessment of the
economy: "Quite a bit of life left in it, you say. Mr. President,
with respect, you know as I know that in politics a lot of it is trying to
pin the tail on somebody else. This economy goes down even a little,
fairly clear, that the tail is going to at least going try to pin the tail
-- Dan Rather: "Let's have some fun. If you
could recommend one book that the incoming President, George Bush, read,
what would it be?"
"That's hard. But if it were only one book, I'd probably tell him to
read David Herbert Donald's biography of Abraham Lincoln."
Rather: "If you
could recommend he see one movie, that you think might help him in his
years here, however long they would be, what would that be?"
Noon, 'cause Gary Cooper does the right thing, even
when people leave him. And even though he's scared, he doesn't
pretend to be macho. He's scared to death and he does the right
-- After asking about whether Hillary will run for
President in 2004 or 2008, Rather inquired: "Now, the First Lady,
going to be paid, now go to my notes here, because this figure is a
whopping figure, $8 million for her memoirs. What's she going to say about
you in that book?"
"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know that there's $8 million
worth to say, you all know it all already."
"Well, I want
to say this respectfully, Mr. President, surely you don't want her writing
about Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and all those things again. Is she
likely to do that?"
ought to ask her. She can write about whatever she wants. I tell you, I
bet it'll be a good book."
That ended part one, after an ad break Rather noted
how Clinton is "subdued," aware his time in office is almost
over. Then the interview resumed with
Rather asking Clinton for "first impressions" of names he
-- Rather: "George Bush."
don't know him very well. I like his father very much..."
-- Rather: "Al Gore."
Vice President this country ever had, and a partner without whom I could
not have been successful as President."
-- Rather: "Newt Gingrich."
brilliant adversary and a complicated man."
-- Rather: "The National Rifle
effective adversary, but I think on balance, a negative
force. because they're trying to convince their people that what we're
trying, that we're trying to do something we're not trying to do: Take
everybody's guns away."
-- Rather: "Going on down the list. Janet
woman. Tried really hard to do a good job. She's
a good person."
-- Rather: "Your mother."
Clinton: "First thing
that comes into my mind? I still miss her every day."
-- Rather: "Hillary
love her, and I'm really proud of her."
-- Rather: "Chelsea Clinton."
love her, and I'm really proud of her."
expect her to run for something someday? Run for a public office?"
Lord. I kind of doubt it. Although, you know, I'm proud of her..."
-- Rather: "Whitewater."
biggest bogus issue in modern American politics.
Classic, it was a fraud from the get-go, and a lot of the people that were
propagating it knew it was a fraud. It, and I, you know, in that sense,
people will look at this years from now and be amazed that it, that
anybody rode it as hard as they did for as long as they did."
-- Rather: "Special prosecutor Ken Starr.
title is better than the second. But I don't have any, you know, I don't,
he just did what he was supposed to do. I don't have any particularly bad
feelings about him."
Rather: "He did
what he was supposed to do? What was he supposed to do?"
put him in there because Fiske was a fair, balanced man. And he was, the
whole thing was going be over before the '96 election and they didn't want
that. So they put him in there to drag it out and, you know, get a bigger
body count. And that's, he just did what he was supposed to do. But I
don't really have any, you know, that group, that faction of the
Republican Party control those independent counsels, and that's what they
did. But I don't have any personal animosity toward him...."
-- Rather: "The Republican leadership on
got a lot done together. And could have gotten more done if they hadn't
given their right-wingers veto power from time to time....We had a
majority for a patient's bill of rights. We had a majority for an increase
in minimum wage. I believe we had a majority for closing the gun show
-- Rather: "Tom Delay."
whole deal about how you should treat your opponents if very different
from mine. I just think he's got a total scorch and burn policy, you know.
Take 'em out, whatever the cost, whatever you have to do. And he's real
nice about it, he smiles, you can have a very cordial conversation with
him. I think he really believes that. I think he thinks that's the way
you're supposed to treat your political opponents. And I just don't agree
with that. And, you know if, for example, I never would have sent, I
wouldn't let someone from the White House go to a contested state and try
to intimidate vote counters. I wouldn't do that. I just don't believe
that. That's just not who I am. I don't think, I think that a great
country has to have some voluntary restraint on the exercise of authority.
But he's a very able guy. And if you don't stand up to him, he'll run
right over you. And so he's a worthy adversary."
-- Rather: "At the end of my list, and you
expected it, Monica Lewinsky."
chapter in my life that I wish were not public. But it's in the past, and
for her I wish her well. I hope she has a good life."
Rather: "Do you take
the responsibility, personal responsibility, full responsibility?"
I did, I did and I do."
Rather wrapped up by asking if Clinton might run for
Mayor of New York City or Governor of Arkansas and whether he's been
offered a TV job? "No."
For a transcript of the entire interview, go to:
The transcript has no relation to the order of
topics raised in the edited version shown on TV and it contains quite a
few errors, but I did catch a gem from Rather which did not make TV.
Following up on his question about whether Bush might pardon Clinton,
Rather opined: "I mean, there are those who say, 'It'd be a great,
unifying thing for the country,' quote, unquote, for him to do
stuff in Tuesday night broadcast network coverage of Bush meeting
separately with Clinton and Gore: CBS's John Roberts proposed that
whether Bush picks Marc Racicot or Frank Keating for Attorney General
"may be an indication of how willing George Bush is to break with
conservatives in his effort to govern from the center" and NBC's
David Gregory actually allowed a conservative to suggest the argument for
a tax cut is boosted if there's any economic downturn.
Plus, NBC Nightly News
highlighted as newsworthy how the Orlando Sentinel did a recount "in
conservative Lake County and the net gain for Gore there was 130
votes." NBC also featured a graphic of showing the "Gore margin
of victory" in the popular vote.
-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts previewed how Bush
was expected to soon name Don Evans as Commerce Secretary, Al Martinez for
HUD, Paul O'Neill for Treasury and Tommy Thompson for HHS. Roberts
tell CBS News that the President-elect may tomorrow name Montana Governor
Marc Racicot as Attorney General, a move that would put him at odds with
conservatives in the party who are pushing Oklahoma Governor Frank
Keating. His final choice may be an indication of how willing George Bush
is to break with conservatives in his effort to govern from the
-- NBC Nightly News. David Gregory on the
Clinton-Bush meeting in the Oval Office: "Behind the smiles and
hearty handshake, Bush appears hesitant sitting beside the man he'll
succeed, especially when asked whether he'll inherent a recession from
Bush: "I really
don't have any comment."
it's clear he is worried, repeating his concerns in recent days that the
economy is slowing down. The President dismisses the idea of a recession,
but predicts Bush won't have an easy road."
think they'll be things to manage, he'll have an economic challenges
and you ought to give him a chance to meet them and not try to figure it
all out in advance."
fact, some Bush advisers believe, this may be the best time yet to push
his huge $1.3 trillion tax cut proposal."
Heritage Foundation: "If, and it's a big if, but if we're heading
into an economic downturn then this would be a very serendipitous time to
reduce marginal tax rates."
Anchor Tom Brokaw set up the next story by noting
how the news media and a "conservative advocacy group," Judicial
Watch, are doing recounts in Florida. Kerry Sanders concluded the
subsequent report: "For those still questioning Florida's official
result there is this: The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has already finished
its count in conservative Lake County. And the net gain for Gore there was
130 votes, with 66 more counties still be reviewed in this the latest
unofficial vote recount."
Going into the first ad break, NBC Nightly News put
some numbers of the screen. First, the percent of the vote won:
Then, below that, NBC added a graphic headlined
"Gore margin of victory" with this line below:
"539,897 (Popular vote)"
matter how anti-Clinton or anti-Gore Chris Matthews may be, it's good to
remember that at heart he's a liberal who once toiled for Speaker Tip
O'Neil. That sentiment came through clearly in a Monday appearance on
Today caught by MRC analyst Paul Smith as Matthews argued that Bush must
put Northeastern liberal Republicans into high posts and that making Dan
Coats Secretary of Defense would be "a disastrous idea. That is just
pandering to the far right."
On the December 18 Today, Katie Couric asked the
CNBC/MSNBC Hardball host: "It was interesting to hear Trent Lott on
Meet the Press kind of demur when it came to people like Christie Todd
Whitman and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. They're both pro-choice Republicans
and he basically said I don't want to see them in certain positions. I
sort of assumed he meant secretary, you know, Health and Human Services,
things like that where their abortion views might come into play,
"Yeah, smart thinking Trent. The problem is with that thinking and
all the guys with the white shoes and the white belts down on Main Street,
Jackson is they don't understand that as long as they keep thinking Sun
Belt, they're gonna lose Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York,
every single election. They lost Michigan, they lost Illinois with that
kind of thinking. You gotta put pro-choice people in your cotillion or
you're gonna have an awful small club down there on Capitol Hill and I
think he has gotta put in Christie Todd Whitman somewhere. He's gotta give
Tom Ridge Secretary of Defense, some heavy lifting job so that we'll be
convinced up north that the Republican Party is interested in carrying the
northern suburbs which they got blown away in this past election. They ran
behind Dole this last time with that kind of thinking a lot."
Chris, it looks like Dan Coats is going to be the Secretary of
"Well, that's a disastrous idea. That is just pandering to the far
right. That is the kind of thing that got the Republican Party the Bible
Belt and nothing else."
The West Wing returns tonight with the new episode that was bumped last
week to make room for the Gore and Bush speeches. (For those scoring at
home, contrary to television guides, Law & Order and Ed are new too
And how does the creator/writer of The West Wing
feel about Bush's win? A bit angry it sounds like. CyberAlert reader
Steve Allen alerted me to what Aaron Sorkin told the syndicated TV show
Extra! last week. When asked about the impact of Bush's victory on his
show, Sorkin shot back: "I hope we're a real pain in the ass."
I'm sure they will be if Martin Sheen has anything
to say about it. --
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