CyberAlert -- 01/18/1999 -- Discrediting Judge Nixon Comparison
Discrediting Judge Nixon Comparison; Hyde: "Rabid" Conservative to "Statesman"
4) ABC couldn't agree whether Senators "sat in rapt attention" or were "tired," NBC refused to tag Tom Daschle as "partisan" when he rejected a GOP overture and demanded if it's "fair of Henry Hyde to bring in the honor of those who gave their lives" in battle.
Judge Nixon's impeachment finally raised, but only to be undermined. The House managers on Saturday referred to how the Senate had impeached federal judges for perjury, including Judge Walter Nixon in 1989. The broadcast networks all ignored the point Saturday night as did NBC Nightly News on Sunday night as well. (NFL football pre-empted CBS in the east on Sunday.)
But on Sunday's World News Tonight, ABC reporter Tim O'Brien took it up only to discredit the comparison. ABC opened on January 17 with a story by Mike Von Fremd on Clinton preparing for the State of the Union and the debate over calling witnesses. He began: "President left church this morning with the First Lady on one hand and his Bible in the other..."
started his story on the judge comparison by noting that Clinton defenders
contend that lying about sex is not sufficient for removal even if all the
charges are true. He then got to the GOP point: "But Republican House
managers pointed out this week that a number of federal judges, most
recently Walter Nixon in Mississippi, had been removed from office for
committing perjury. Republican Senators argued today the standards for
removing Presidents should be no different than for removing judges."
The Judge Nixon comparison has yet to make it onto NBC Nightly News, but
Tim Russert did raise it twice on Sunday's Meet the Press. On the
January 17 show he pressed guests from both parties with the tough
questions their opposites would want asked. To Republican Congressman Bill
McCollum, for instance, he demanded:
challenged two Democrats about impeaching a judge for perjury. To former
Senator George Mitchell:
To Senator John
Kerry in a subsequent segment:
Sam Donaldson and George Stephanopoulos to the right of Cokie Roberts? And Bob Schieffer announced his opposition to removing Clinton. Two more item from the Sunday morning shows:
-- An exchange from the roundtable segment of ABC's This Week in which not only is Sam Donaldson more impressed with the arguments of the House managers than is Cokie Roberts, but so is George Stephanopoulos.
talking about Judge Nixon: "The question of good behavior does make a
difference to me. The idea that the judges behavior in matters that do not
have to do with their official duties are more evidence of, or more reason
to remove than for a President. There are other ways to remove a
President. In this case he can't run again. So he's not going to be
there anyway. And I do think that that argument is an argument to be
Schieffer proceeded to recall how Lindsey Graham "reminded us" that whether Clinton is removed or not the country will survive and the constitutional system will work, leading Schieffer to conclude his remarks: "Bill Clinton set a bad example and will answer to history for it. But it is not his survival as President that matters the most. It is the survival of the Constitution."
Then why is Schieffer so interested in his survival?
Saturday night two ABC reporters couldn't agree whether Senators "sat in rapt attention" or were "tired" and "frustrated," only NBC highlighted an uncooperative, partisan reaction by Tom Daschle to a proposal from Trent Lott, but NBC refused to tag Daschle as "partisan," and Brian Williams demanded to know "was it fair of Henry Hyde to bring in the honor of those who gave their lives" in battle.
-- On the January 16 World News Tonight Linda Douglass summarized the last day of the House case. At one point she relayed: "Most Senators sat in rapt attention as the managers focused for the first time on their conviction that Mr. Clinton must be removed from office."
After Douglass finished, anchor Aaron Brown asked ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who spent the day in the Senate gallery, if any minds had been moved. Toobin answered: "Not really. I was watching the Senators and they looked like they were faithfully reflection the views of their constituents. They were tired, they were frustrated, they wanted out. Paul Wellstone has a bad back. Fritz Hollings was wearing Blues Brothers sunglasses because he doesn't like the light on his eyes. They want to get out but no one has a clear route at this point."
Note the lack of the word "partisan" being applied to Daschle, as it surely would if Lott had rejected a Daschle idea.
-- Immediately after Ifill, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams interviewed Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Max Cleland. In a question to Cleland he suggested Hyde was out of line: "Senator Cleland, was it fair of Henry Hyde to bring in the honor of those who gave their lives in Vietnam for United States, in Normandy for the United States, and somehow tangentially tie them into this Clinton case?"
To MSNBC Times Square reflects the thinking of America and Henry Hyde used to be considered "as a rabid a conservative you could find" but he's become more of a "statesman" as he's now considered by many to be "almost a moderate Republican." Here are two items I caught during MSNBC's Saturday, January 16 coverage.
-- At 1:43pm ET during the lunch break, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams announced: "We are going to fit a break in here and when we come back we're going to take up the question, once again, do Americans really care about this? What better place to ask about that than the crossroads of America, Times Square in New York."
After the break, from 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.
-- At 2:53pm ET,
immediately after Hyde finished, Williams allowed that Hyde might be an
okay guy now that he's considered relatively moderate:
All the networks led Friday night with multiple stories on the second day of the case presented by the House managers. ABC uniquely and strangely led by claiming Republicans delved into "the most graphic language yet heard on the Senate floor."
Jackie Judd began
her January 15 World News Tonight report:
"Breasts" and "genitalia." Cover your eyes! How "graphic." I'm sure far more graphic language has been uttered many times by Senators in the chamber. But the true measure of Judd's over-sensitivity: neither CBS or NBC mentioned anything about Republicans getting graphic.
The American Medical Association's decision to fire the editor of its journal for running a politically timely survey on how most college students don't believe oral sex means you've had sex, was picked up by every network Friday night. Geraldo Rivera, naturally, jumped on it as proof that Monica Lewinsky's affidavit and Bill Clinton's statements were truthful.
On ABC's World News Tonight Peter Jennings told viewers the survey "found that 60 percent agreed with Mr. Clinton that oral sex is not really sex." NBC gave the news half a story while the CBS Evening News devoted a whole piece to it. Elizabeth Kaledin explained that the 1991 poll of 599 college students determined that 59 percent did not consider oral sex to mean they had sex. Kaledin emphasized that the study author, Dr. June Reinisch, "maintains it's good science." Concluded Kaledin: "While some see the firing of Dr. [George] Lundberg [the editor] as a threat to editorial freedom, others are more concerned that it means the far-reaching implications of an impeachment trial are now touching the medical community."
Later, CNBC's Rivera Live opened with Geraldo talking with the study author, Dr. June Reinisch, Director Emerita of the Kinsey Institute. Reinisch insisted: "These students were in vast majority moderate to conservative in their political views. We asked them, 78.5 percent said they were moderate to conservative and of those who were registered to vote, and the majority were registered to vote, the majority two-to-one were Republicans."
An excited Rivera asked Marcia Clark, his usual Friday fill-in who was on as a guest as Rivera decided events warranted an unusual five day work week for him: "Marcia, it does have legal significance does it not, at least in so far as the encouraging, the filing of Monica Lewinsky's allegedly false affidavit, if she didn't believe they had sex then the affidavit wasn't false."
As to the accuracy and relevance of what a bunch of college students thought eight years ago, Washington Times reporter Joyce Howard Price noted on Friday and Saturday that an October ABC News poll found 81 percent of Americans considered oral sex to constitute sexual relations.
Indeed, a fifth of these college students have a pretty narrow definition of sex. Reinisch told Rivera that 19 percent did not believe "penile-anal intercourse" represented sex.
Now that's graphic. -- Brent Baker
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