Richardson's Lewinsky Job Creation Skipped; CBS Marked Starr's 4th
1) FNC's Catherine Crier
asked a feminist leader the difference between Clayton Williams getting
"serviced" and an "intern showing up on her knees for 20
minute escapades with the President?"
2) The U.N. Ambassador did not
have an opening for Lewinsky, but all the nets skipped the revelation. Dan
Rather misstated a poll, insisting that most think it would have been
better "if the Starr investigation into Mr. Clinton's personal
life" never started.
3) Saturday night ABC kept the
focus on alleged Starr improprieties. CBS's Phil Jones lent credibility
to the substance of attacks on Starr in reviewing his four years in
4) The media spotlight on
himself made Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle realize the
"strength" it takes for Clinton to endure.
>>> The August 10 editions of
MediaWatch and Notable Quotables are now up on the MRC Web page thanks to
MRC Web Manager Sean Henry and Research Associate Kristina Sewell: http://www.mrc.org.
Our printer once again messed up the printing of the hard copy versions by
using a wrong font so our lettering is squished while there are huge space
gaps between words, but that's one advantage of the online HTML edition:
bad printing is no impediment to your reading enjoyment. Notable Quotable
categories include "Linda Tripp, Wiretapping Witch;"
"Clinton Should Stonewall;" "Thomas: Slave to the White
Right;" and "Public Apathy About Lying? Good."
MediaWatch features a Review by Associate Editor
Tim Graham of Geraldo Rivera's work titled "The White House's
Favorite 'Reporter.'" Another article focuses on how in hurling
criticisms at each other, U.S. News owner Mort Zuckerman and the Editor he
fired, James Fallows, highlighted the liberal views each pushed into the
magazine. Newsbites include "Sticking to Sex," an item by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson on how the networks have ignored developments in
the fundraising scandal and with the probe into the violation of Tripp's
personnel file; in "Grand Old Losers" MRC analyst Eric Darbe
recounted CNN analyst Bill Schneider's tribute to liberal Republicans,
whom he misleadingly dubbed "moderates;" and under "Roman
Roadblock" MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens detailed how Peter Jennings
complained about how hospital mergers mean Catholic hospital
administrators can deny abortions to entire communities by applying their
Correction: The August 7
CyberAlert contents list stated that "Every network but CBS had a
unique bit of info on Lewinsky: FNC reported that she didn't write the
talking points, NBC that Lewinsky not at White House during many
visits...." As the subsequent item made clear, that should have read
"NBC that Betty Currie not at White House during many visits."
Quote of the Weekend. Filling in for NPR's Mara Liasson on Fox News
Sunday, FNC's Catherine Crier put a question to NOW President Patricia
Ireland that Liasson certainly never would have dared pose. Crier, a civil
court judge in Texas before launching her media career with CNN in 1989,
"I remember when Clatie Williams, Clayton
Williams ran for Governor in Texas against Ann Richards and he made a
statement, he said 'we always went across the border to get serviced by
women.' And of course women went nuts. How is that any different than a
22-year-old intern showing up on her knees for 20 minute escapades with
the President of the Unites States?"
The terrorist bombings dominated the evening shows from Friday through
Sunday, but each managed to squeeze in a story Friday night about the
release of Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's ruling demanding the Office of
the Independent Counsel prove it is not guilty of releasing grand jury
Friday morning The
Washington Times revealed that UN Ambassador Bill Richardson did not have
a position open for Lewinsky when he interviewed her for a job and only
"created" one after Starr subpoenaed him. The August 7 Times
headline announced, "Richardson Didn't Have Post to Offer: Evidence
Doesn't Support His Statements on Lewinsky." None of the three
morning shows on Friday uttered a word about the Times discovery and ABC,
CBS, CNN and NBC all skipped it in the evening. So did FNC, though the Fox
Report opened with a plug for a story on it that never materialized.
reporter Bill Sammon disclosed:
"U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, contrary
to what he told Congress last month, did not have an opening on his staff
when he offered to hire Monica Lewinsky last October, according to
informed sources and documents obtained by The Washington Times.
"Mr. Richardson, who was recently confirmed
as President Clinton's new energy secretary, planned to create a new
position to accommodate Miss Lewinsky's desire for employment in New York
City, said sources at the United Nations, the State Department and on
Capitol Hill. He panicked when the scandal broke in January and scrambled
to find a slot that he could claim had existed long before he interviewed
Miss Lewinsky, the sources said.
"Despite Mr. Richardson's repeated, sworn
assertions, he did not create the position until after independent counsel
Kenneth W. Starr served him with a subpoena demanding all documents
relating to the job offer. Mr. Starr is trying to determine whether the
offer was aimed at distancing Miss Lewinsky and keeping her quiet about
her relationship with Mr. Clinton...."
Coverage: Not a
word Friday morning. Though the morning shows focused much time on the
bombings, ABC's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Clay Waters pointed
out, had time for a first hour interview segment about high schoolers
denied National Honors Society admission because they are pregnant. Over
on CBS, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that This Morning allocated
time in its main 8am half hour to "savvy shoppers" buying
groceries over the Internet and, not letting a major terrorist incident or
Clinton scandal get in the way of what made them #3 in the morning, a
"Great American Weight Loss" series feature on exercise. NBC's
Today made time to interview Mike Barnicle (see item #4 below.)
Zilch in the
evening too, though every network ran a Monicagate story. ABC and FNC
spilt their stories between Starr's censure and a Lewinsky update, CBS,
CNN and NBC focused only on Starr with Dan Rather highlighting poll
results showing most think it would have been better if Starr had never
launched an investigation into Clinton's "personal life."
Friday night, August 7:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. In the only non-bombing field report, Jackie Judd reported
that Lewinsky testified "she had a number of sexual encounters with
President Clinton in the Oval Office suite" as "a source
familiar with her testimony says the importance of the dress has been
exaggerated. The source says there is, quote 'so much other information
out there you don't need the dress. The President is going to have a
tough time' whether or not the FBI finds DNA evidence on the
Judd then spent the rest of her report on the
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced about
half way through the show:
"A legal setback for federal prosecutor Ken
Starr today in the U.S. federal appeals court. The court agreed with
President Clinton's lawyers and said an investigation is warranted into
whether special prosecutor Ken Starr may have broken the law through
criminal acts of leaking secret grand jury testimony and on more than one
Bob Schieffer explained how the appeals court
gave Johnson the green light to investigate and the burden to rebut lies
with Starr. Schieffer's ending sentences: "Starr has always denied
leaking information to the press and tonight his spokesman said the office
said it would welcome an investigation. White House aides were pleased
with all this of course, hoping it would cast new doubt on Starr's
motives. For sure, it is a new complication as Judge Johnson must now
decide how to investigate the Starr investigators."
followed up: "Results are in tonight from a CBS News poll taken since
Monica Lewinsky's testimony to the Ken Starr grand jury. 63 percent of
those polled said even if there was wrongdoing by the President it would
have been better for the country if the Starr investigation into Mr.
Clinton's personal life and whether he lied about it had never started.
Half blamed the President's political enemies, not the President
himself, for creating the current situation."
A bit of Rather
editorializing? The on-screen version of the first question did not
include Rather's "personal life" mantra, but maybe his
constant use of that terminology helps explain the second poll number.
Here's what CBS put on-screen for the first question: "Whatever
happened, would it have been better if the investigation had never
begun?" Yes, said 63 percent. No, replied 31 percent. For the second
inquiry, "Who's more to blame," 51 percent thought
"Clinton's political enemies," 39 percent said "Clinton
-- CNN's The World Today held Monicagate to
just one story from Bob Franken on the leaks decision. "It could
cause big problems for Ken Starr's investigation," Franken began. He
concluded: "The White House immediately jumped on these rulings
saying, 'for the first time a federal court has found prima facie
evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing by an independent counsel.'
The independent counsel's office responded by saying, it was gratified by
the ruling, which protects the integrity of the grand jury investigation,
and went on to say it would welcome the opportunity to prove it did not
violate rule 6(e). It will get that opportunity."
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. At the top of the
show co-anchor Lauren Green plugged an upcoming story: "A new Monica
mystery: sex, lies and job offers. Did one of the President's men [video
of Bill Richardson] tell the whole truth to Congress and did Ken Starr
tell too much to the media?"
But nothing about Richardson aired during the
next hour. FNC did run a piece from David Shuster which covered a lot of
ground, but not anything about Richardson. Shuster reported that
prosecutors are getting ready for Clinton, but since he agreed to testify
before he knew about the dress prosecutors are worried he may try to get
out of his deal. Shuster then moved to the leaks decision, showing video
of Starr in May calling a ruling "magnificent." That, Shuster
relayed, was a comment Johnson considered a violation of her order to keep
her ruling secret.
-- NBC Nightly News devoted all but the last
seven minutes to the bombing. Tom Brokaw gave 21 seconds to the leaks:
"There's an embarrassing and potentially damaging setback for
independent counsel Ken Starr tonight. A federal appeals court ruled there
is evidence that his office may have illegally leaked grand jury material
to the press. That may warrant a hearing on the matter, that could lead to
contempt of court. No date set yet for the hearing."
Saturday's Washington Times revealed that Senator Frank Murkowski,
Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that
confirmed Bill Richardson for the Secretary of Energy post, asked
President Clinton to not swear in Richardson. "Committee aides,"
the Times reported, said he "was furious" about the Friday Times
report on how Richardson did not create the position Lewinsky applied for
until after he was subpoenaed by Starr.
Not a word about
this development Saturday night on the broadcast networks. NBC Nightly
News went Monicagate-free, ABC ran a full story about Starr and leaks, and
CBS marked Starr's 4th anniversary with a derisive history from Phil
August 9, CBS skipped the scandals, and ABC featured a piece from Tim
O'Brien on how ABC News had confirmed a Newsweek story about how
Starr's report will deal only with Lewinsky and thereby ignore
Whitewater, Hubbell, the travel office firings, Vince Foster and the FBI
files. On NBC Nightly News Joe Johns checked in with a short story on how,
following the Republican lead, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee
are hiring staff for possible impeachment hearings. NBC's In Focus
segment examined the controversy over ending bilingual education in
California. Minutes later NBC viewers saw a story on "the rush"
in China to learn English
Back to Saturday
night, ABC's World News Tonight/Saturday
aired a full report from Tim O'Brien
detailing the decision from Judge Johnson, offering this illustration:
"Johnson pointed to Starr himself as the source of lawful
disclosures. The day was May 6th. Starr, leaving home for work, was asked
about a secret ruling rejecting White House claims of executive
Reporter to Starr: "What's your opinion of
Judge Johnson's ruling?"
Starr, getting into his car: "The matter is
under seal. I would love to comment more. All I will say is it's a
O'Brien: "But even that was saying too
much according to Johnson who called Starr's confirmation of the
existence of the ruling, and that it was favorable to him, 'a prima
facie violation of federal rules and a violation of a court order not to
discuss the ruling.'"
After relaying how Clinton lawyer David Kendall
called Starr's leaks "highly unprofessional and utterly
indefensible," O'Brien concluded: "This new development will
not derail Starr's investigation, but it is at minimum a distraction at
a critical time."
For Saturday's CBS Evening News Phil Jones
marked the 4th anniversary of Starr's time as independent counsel. Jones
"Starr is the most vilified independent
counsel prosecutor in history. Yet Arkansas citizens, sitting as grand
jurors, agreed with him and returned 13 criminal indictments....But Starr
has still not connected the Clintons to a Whitewater conspiracy he first
suggested three years ago."
Following a soundbite from Starr, Jones
highlighted the usual attacks on Starr, but gave them credibility by
illustrating each. Jones claimed Starr called Hillary into the cold
outdoors and Jones seemingly belittled concern about personal attacks on
prosecutors by immediately noting they had taped Lewinsky:
"Starr has been accused of squeezing
witnesses, like Susan McDougal, to get incriminating evidence against the
Clintons. In a display of toughness and frustration in 1996, he ordered
Hillary Clinton to the courthouse on a cold winter day to explain just how
her Whitewater billing records had mysteriously appeared in the White
House. Starr's allies say the one criticism that has irked him the most
is the constant personal attacks on his team of prosecutors, prosecutors
who secretly recorded a conversation with Monica Lewinsky and then asked
her to help record the President."
Noting that Starr has won most court battles with
the White House, Jones continued: "But in the court of public opinion
he continues to lose his argument that this is about more than sex."
(See Dan Rather's constant referral to how
Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life" for an idea of why
that may be.)
Concluded Jones: "Beyond the price tag of
$30 to $40 million for this investigation, is the personal cost to both
Starr and the President. For regardless of how this ends, both Bill
Clinton and Kenneth Starr will probably spend the rest of their lives
explaining and defending their use of the nation's laws."
A very balanced
ending, in which Jones suggests moral equivalence between the law-breaker
and the investigator.
What a little vilification will do. Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle
is in trouble for running, without attribution, some George Carlin jokes
in his column. Barnicle is usually liberal in his opinions and, though a
"Metro/Region" section columnist, has gained some national
notoriety through appearances on Imus in the Morning, PBS and MSNBC's
The News with Brian Williams.
In July 21
appearance on the PBS NewsHour, recalled by MRC news analyst Mark Drake,
he put the burden of Clinton's predicament on Clinton:
"The President, on the other hand, ought to
be indicted because he has allowed his public appetite to become his
private appetite, to become a public humiliation and dragging the country
through this for five or six months when a few simple, declarative
sentences spoken to the truth of this relationship would clear the whole
Fast forward a
couple of weeks until Friday morning, August 7, just days after the Boston
Globe asked Barnicle to resign. Mark Drake caught a contrasting assessment
from Barnicle on NBC's Today. Katie Couric wondered: "Does it make
you think twice about things you write about other people?"
Barnicle replied: "I'll tell you what it
makes me think twice about. It makes me think twice about the strength
somewhere in the President of the United States who has to get up every
day and endure this at a far, far more vociferous level than I have to. It
makes you think about that."
Now all the
Clintonistas have to do the next time a media figure holds Clinton
responsible for his actions is dig up evidence showing that journalist
once plagiarized or made something up. In a matter of hours they'll turn
him or her into someone who shares Clinton's pain.
-- Brent Baker
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