Clinton Cocaine Clemency Clipped; Hillary Furniture Excuse Skipped; Morning Hawks; Reagan "a Failure" on the Economy
1) CBS and NBC led Monday
night and ABC aired a story on developments on the Rich probe front as
well as Bill Clinton's decision, as Tom Brokaw put it, to move "up
town. Way up town. To the heart of Harlem." Only NBC mentioned
Hillary's comments on how government furniture ended up in her house.
2) Clinton's decision to commute the sentence of a
cocaine trafficker "has sparked disbelief and outrage from nearly
everyone involved in his case," the Los Angeles Times reported
Sunday. So far, not a word about it on CBS or NBC.
3) The Chairman of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter apologized
late last week for paying Bill Clinton $100,000 to speak at a company
conference, but his mea culpa has generated only scattered network
4) President Bush's decision to hold off on a major
increase in Defense spending until after a review of strategy turned
ABC's Charles Gibson and CBS's Bryant Gumbel into hawks as both
demanded Condoleeza Rice explain Bush's "broken campaign
5) "On the economy," Time's Margaret Carlson
insisted, Reagan "was a failure." Al Hunt: "We spent 12
years trying to undo the effects of the '81 tax act." But otherwise,
"he did wonderful things, nonetheless, and we remember him fondly on
his 90th birthday."
6) Letterman's "Top Ten Least Popular News Anchor
he's out of office, the networks have latched onto a non-Monica Lewinsky
scandal involving Bill Clinton. Both CBS and NBC led Monday night with the
latest developments related to his office space and congressional
investigators moving to give immunity to Denise Rich. Only NBC's Lisa
Myers, however, picked up on how Hillary Clinton commented publicly on why
furniture which belonged to the government ended up in the Clinton house
ABC's World News Tonight, which led with how NASA
successfully landed a probe on an asteroid, ran a piece by Jackie Judd who
concentrated on how Bill Clinton has decided to put his office in a
cheaper building in Harlem. She also briefly noted how Attorney General
John Ashcroft seemed favorable toward granting immunity to Denise Rich and
that the House Government Reform Committee will subpoena Clinton library
Dan Rather opened the February 12 CBS Evening News:
"Former President Bill Clinton is under fire on several fronts
tonight. Congress is stepping up its investigation of his pardon of
fugitive financier Marc Rich. At issue is whether the pardon was bought. A
House committee will issue subpoenas tomorrow for financial records from
Rich's former wife Denise and from the Clinton presidential library. The
Chairman of a Senate panel raised the possibility, as he sees it, of a
second Clinton impeachment. And tonight, after a public outcry, the former
President reportedly is scrapping plans to rent premium office space in
mid-town Manhattan and is now considering some less expensive space."
At the top of the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw
announced: "Bill Clinton, who's been under steady attack for the
high rent at the mid-town Manhattan high rise he wanted for office space
is moving. Moving up town. Way up town. To the heart of Harlem, New
York's historic black neighborhood. And the President's decision to
move here, to this building, is expected to boost an area that's been
undergoing an economic revival. Clinton's change of plans came as
congressional critics were threatening hearings on the financial
arrangements for the original office space."
Unlike ABC and CBS, in the subsequent, after running
through the latest on the Rich probe, report NBC's Lisa Myers brought up
a development on the furniture front: "In more damage control today,
Senator Hillary Clinton blames a bookkeeping error for the fact that 16
pieces of White House furniture, all government property, were sent to the
Clinton's New York home, then had to be returned."
Clinton: "We thought we were doing the right thing, they thought they
were doing the right thing and apparently there were some cataloging
errors made seven or eight years ago. They're sorting those out and, you
know, it's all going to be all, you know, worked out."
Yes, now that she's been caught. All very
innocent. We all make mistakes.
the broadcast networks have focused on the Marc Rich pardon, CBS and NBC
have avoided that on the same day Clinton gave clemency to cocaine
trafficker Carlos Vignali, a move which the Los Angeles Times put on its
front page on Sunday.
ABC's World News Tonight on Sunday picked up on
outrage over the decision to release Vignali before the halfway mark in
his sentence, but not a word about it aired Sunday night on NBC nor on
ABC, CBS or NBC Monday morning or evening. CNN didn't touch it Sunday
night on CNN Tonight. (Golf bumped the Sunday CBS Evening News in the
eastern and central time zones.) A full story about the clemency, and how
Vignali's father contributed $160,000 to Democratic politicians in
California, aired Monday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume.
On Sunday's World News Tonight ABC's Josh
Gerstein related how "prosecutors opposed Vignali's release and so
does U.S. District Court Judge David Doty who tried and sentenced the man.
A surprised Doty told ABC News, Vignali 'was a central player' in the
drug ring and he 'did nothing positive' before or during his jail
"Drug Kingpin's Release Adds to Clemency
Uproar," declared the February 11 headline over the front page story
in the Los Angeles Times. The subhead: "An outcry ensued when Clinton
honored the longshot request of a cocaine dealer. His father's political
donations increased sharply after the 1994 conviction."
An excerpt of the story by Washington bureau
reporters Richard A. Serrano and Stephen Braun:
In the waning days of his presidency, Bill Clinton promised to use his
clemency powers to help low-level drug offenders languishing in prison.
When Carlos Vignali walked out of prison on Jan. 20 and returned
home to his family in Los Angeles, he appeared to fit the broad outlines
of that profile.
But the 30-year-old Vignali, who had served six years of a 15-year
sentence for federal narcotics violations, fit another profile entirely.
No small-time offender, he was the central player in a cocaine ring that
stretched from California to Minnesota.
Far from disadvantaged, he owned a $240,000 condominium in Encino and
made his way as the son of affluent Los Angeles entrepreneur Horacio
Vignali. The doting father became a large-scale political donor in the
years after his son's arrest, donating more than $160,000 to state and
federal officeholders -- including Govs. Pete Wilson and Gray Davis -- as
he pressed for his son's freedom.
The grateful father called the sudden commutation of his son's sentence
by Clinton "a Hail Mary and a miracle." The improbability that
such a criminal would be granted presidential clemency, as well as the
younger Vignali's claim that he alone steered a pardon application that
caught the president's attention and won his approval, has sparked
disbelief and outrage from nearly everyone involved in his case.
"It's not plausible; it makes no sense at all," said Margaret Love, the pardon attorney who oversaw all
Justice Department reviews of
presidential clemency applications from 1990 to 1997. "Somebody
had to help him. There is no way that case could have possibly
succeeded in the Department of Justice."...
As criminal justice authorities in Minnesota learned of Vignali's sudden freedom, they reacted with the same
indignation that has greeted several
other beneficiaries of the 140 pardons and 36 commutations
Clinton granted in his last hours as President.
The Vignali case also illustrates the secrecy that enshrouds the clemency process. A federal prosecutor who had
urged Justice Department superiors to reject clemency for Vignali demanded
an official explanation -- only to be denied information from his own department. The judge who sentenced Vignali is
openly aghast at the decision, which
was made without his knowledge. And they all
-- from defense attorneys to street detectives to former pardon attorney
Love -- scoffed that Vignali could have walked free without the
intervention of politically connected helpers.
Key details of the case remain a mystery. Did political officials and other authoritative figures appeal for
Vignali's freedom to the President or high-ranking Justice Department
officials? What action, if any, did the
Justice Department recommend to the White House?
Vignali could not be reached for comment. But his father strongly
denied that he or anyone else in the family asked politicians to press
their case with Clinton. "I didn't write him a letter, I didn't do
anything," Horacio Vignali said. "But I thank God, and I thank
the President every day."
For now, the Vignali case is a curious tale of how an inmate buried
deep in the federal penal system won presidential help while others in
more desperate straits remained behind.
"Go figure," said an exasperated Craig Cascarano, the lawyer
for one of Vignali's 30 co-defendants, many of them poor and black.
"How is it that Carlos Vignali is out eating a nice dinner while my
client is still in prison eating bologna sandwiches?"
To read the entire story, go to:
by numerous complaints from clients, the Chairman of Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter apologized late last week for paying Bill Clinton $100,000 to speak
at a company conference in Florida on February 5. But his mea culpa has
generated only scattered network coverage.
On Sunday morning Tim Russert raised it on Meet the
Press and the comments were noted on Fox News Sunday. Charles Gibson
brought it up this morning on Good Morning America.
Of the broadcast network evening shows, CBS has yet
to touch it. ABC's Josh Gerstein included it in a larger story on
ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday as he
relayed how the invitation to Clinton "prompted some Clinton critics
to cut their ties with the firm." Gerstein quoted from an e-mail sent
by company Chairman Morgan Purcell, who called the invitation "a
mistake" as the company "should have thought twice...in light of
Mr. Clinton's actions in leaving the White House."
Monday night on the NBC Nightly News, in her story
recited in #1 above, Lisa Myers raised the Morgan Stanley CEO's e-mail
and recited this excerpt: "I fully understand why you are upset...We
clearly made a mistake."
hawks? President George Bush's decision to hold off on a major increase
in Defense Department spending until after a review of strategy, though
he's going ahead with pay increases and improving housing, turned
ABC's Charles Gibson and CBS's Bryant Gumbel into hawks Monday morning
as both demanded NSC adviser Condoleeza Rice explain Bush's "broken
Both interviews began with questions about the
submarine accident off Hawaii. Good Morning America co-host Gibson then
switched to Bush's military proposals, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
observed: "Let me turn to the President's emphasis on the military
this week. During the campaign he said he would end eight years of neglect
-- those were his words -- in the military, and he talked about eroded
military equipment and morale. Now he says he won't increase defense
spending at least for a year. Is that a broken campaign promise?"
Gibson followed up: "If the problem was so
apparent to him in the campaign, so obvious and so immediate, why do you
need to study to review all of it?"
He pressed again: "So when Dick Cheney said,
'Help is on the way,' during the campaign, the next phrase was, 'Help on
the way, but maybe it won't be for a year or two'?"
Gibson argued: "Well, the Clinton budget had
already included a 3.9 percent pay raise for the military. This pay raise
that President Bush is now suggesting only bumps that up to 4.6 percent.
There are members of Congress who say there are immediate needs, $30, $40
billion, maybe even more, for materiel. That's on hold?"
Bryant Gumbel was less argumentative on The Early
Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted. Gumbel asked Rice: "Let's turn
our attention to the President's initiatives this week. He's turning his
attention to the military and focusing attention there, to your mind what
does he want to accomplish, what are the priorities this week?"
He followed up: "Let's talk about some of those
developments, first of all the pay raise. As a candidate George Bush
criticized the Clinton administration for supposedly allowing the military
to be weakened by defense cuts, lack of investment, but now as President
with the exception of that pay raise he's not looking at increasing
spending for defense, why not?"
Reagan doesn't deserve too much credit for ending the Cold War and his
economic policies were a failure, two media liberals contended on CNN's
Capital Gang, but Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson grudgingly conceded his
"steadfastness" and "optimism" left a positive legacy.
On Saturday's Capital Gang, in a segment prompted
by Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday, Wall Street Journal Executive
Washington Editor Al Hunt countered positive comments from conservative
panelists Kate O'Beirne and Bob Novak:
"I think he
does deserve some credit for ending the Cold War, but so does Harry Truman
and George Marshall and Dean Atcheson, the architects of containment back
50-some years ago. And I would certainly disagree with them on the
economic claims. We spent 12 years trying to undo the effects of the '81
tax act....But I also think there is an extraordinary legacy. I really do.
I'll tell you what I think it is. I think Ronald Reagan came in office at
time when people were saying our system doesn't work. You can't govern in
America. There's no confidence. We were really -- it was with the
hostages. It was a feeling -- there was malaise or whatever. And
Ronald Reagan, with his courage of his convictions, his steadfastness, his
incredible optimism, proved they were wrong, proved the system worked and
I think that was an extraordinary legacy."
Margaret Carlson of Time magazine conceded
Reagan's optimism was effective, but she denounced his policies:
"Reagan does show what a sunny, optimistic nature can do for you and
what communicating does for a President. It's more important than almost
anything else when you think about it. On the economy, he was a failure
and didn't do what he said he would do. I mean, government spending didn't
go down. The government work force didn't go down. And deficits went way,
way up. And the tax cuts were only on marginal rates on the rich. But he
did wonderful things, nonetheless and we remember him fondly on his 90th
During his presidency reporters denigrated his
policies and his demeanor, complaining that his communication skills
fooled people into supporting his awful policies. Now they only denounce
his policies. Maybe on his 100th birthday they'll come around on his
policies, but that's probably too much to expect.
February 9 Late
Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Least Popular News Anchor
Sign-Off Lines." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc. These were
all presented in taped segments read by anchors at CBS affiliates.
10. "For Kelly Bostic, this is Joe Dawes wishing you a miserably
unfulfilling evening" -- Joe Dawes and Kelly Rostic from KOLR in
9. "Thanks for watching and peace out, homeys" -- Jerry Anderson
from WTOL in Toledo, OH
8. "Let's take a few moments to notice just how handsome I am"
-- Tim Cable from WJHL in Johnson City,
7. "That ought to hold you little bastards" -- Amy Turledge from
KDLH in Duluth, MN
6. "Good night from all of us. And a special good night to all of our
viewers who are doing it right now" -- John Mercer and Wendy Wyness
from KTVN in Reno, NV
5. "I'm Mike Stafford, and I make a boatload more money than
you" -- Mike Stafford from KSWT in Yuma, AZ
4. "If I had a pet monkey, I'd name him after you" -- Matt
Mulcahy and Maureen Green from WTVH in Syracuse, NY
3. "Good night from all of us. David Letterman is next, so for God's
sake change the channel now" -- Jade Moon from KGMB in Honolulu, HI
2. "Thank God we're at the end -- I've got to take a wicked
leak" -- Matt Schmidt and Angie Quigley from KHQA in Quincy, IL
1. "By the way, honey, if you're watching tonight, I'm sleeping with
your sister" -- Don Shriver from WSEE in Erie, PA
Tonight on the Late Show: "Stupid Pet
Tricks." -- Brent Baker
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