CyberAlert -- 08/11/1998 -- Stop the "Madness" of Starr's Probe
Stop the "Madness" of Starr's Probe; Embracing Gore's Global Warming Jihad
The CBS and NBC evening shows went Monicagate-free Monday night as every network began with multiple stories on the aftermath of the embassy bombings. ABC, CBS and CNN picked up on Al Gore's claim that July was the hottest month ever, but though only CNN ran a soundbite from Gore both CNN and ABC delivered stories pushing his global warming theory despite evidence July actually was not the hottest month ever. More on the global warming stories in item #4 below.
ABC featured a story on Hollywood producer Harry Thomason being subpoenaed by Starr and how Starr has come across a discrepancy in Secret Service testimony. CNN devoted full stories to how aides are encouraging Clinton to pull out of his deal to testify and the role Thomason has played. While CNN's Wolf Blitzer emphasized how Clinton aides had rejected the notion of spreading dirt about Lewinsky, FNC's David Shuster asserted that Clinton lawyer David Kendall is gathering it.
Here are some highlights of Monday night, August 10 Monicagate coverage:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Jackie Judd began by reporting that Harry Thomason, the man
behind the "that women" damage control statement, had been
subpoenaed to appear as soon as Tuesday. Judd suggested: "That could
have a chilling effect on any plans to have Thomason help the President
prepare for his testimony next Monday, because it serves to remind
Thomason he could always be brought back again and questioned about such
conversations with Mr. Clinton."
Next, Bob Franken
explored the role of Harry Thomason, explaining his importance: "For
more than a month, right after the Monica Lewinsky matter erupted in
January, Harry Thomason moved into the White House. Now, sources familiar
with Ken Starr's investigation say the independent counsel has subpoenaed
Thomason to find out just what he did while he was there. According to
White House insiders, one thing he did was coach the President on how to
clench his jaw while delivering his strongest denial."
Some veteran Washington media players just want the whole Lewinsky story to go away, the sooner the better, as they see it not as a matter of perjury and other criminal violations but just of sex.
Appearing on Sunday's Meet the Press, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, insisted Starr's probe is not nearly as important as what they uncovered during Watergate. A citation Monday by Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce reminded me to retrieve these statements, which are run below in fuller form.
Woodward, who is still a Post reporter, dismissively asserted: "Monica Lewinsky is allegedly the chief accuser of Clinton. If you go back to Watergate, it was John Dean, the White House counsel, and when Dean left the White House, he spirited away evidence. And if you go back to what that evidence was, they were top-secret documents in which President Nixon essentially said, 'We're going to use the FBI and the CIA to break into people's homes and offices, wiretap and open their mail.' In other words, he authorized a police state. Now, 25 years later, the issue turns on not something of that magnitude, but a dress."
Carl Bernstein, who I think is now in the free-lance world, agreed: "This is about the private consensual sexual life of the President. Watergate, as Bob notes, was about a vast and pervasive abuse of power by, really, a criminal President of the United States, who ordered break-ins, who ordered fire bombings, who ordered illegal wiretappings, who took the agencies of government and used them for his own political purposes and then who tried to thwart the electoral process itself through illegal means. I mean, there's just no proportionality here."
Later, Bernstein added: "I think there are thoughtful people, and, hopefully, the President is the most thoughtful of these people who if, indeed, he has been less than truthful, that he, through his lawyers, will look to find a way to come up with some kind of statement of the facts in some kind of very basic way and, perhaps, talk to the country, I don't know, but move back from this idea of a legal confrontation involving the presidency of the United States over a consensual sexual affair. I mean, I think in 10, 20, 30 years, people are going to look back on this episode as, perhaps, a kind of national madness."
Meet the Press was not the only Sunday show used as a platform to denounce the legitimacy of Starr's subject matter. In his "Last Word" segment for CNN's Late Edition of August 9 Bruce Morton argued that "common sense may be taking a beating" as the courts side with Starr's efforts to learn what really happened.
Morton began: "The judges, from the Supreme Court on down, presumably got the law right, but common sense may be taking a beating. For instance, okay, there's no legal reason Secret Service agents shouldn't testify about the Presidents they guard, but it's a bad idea. Presidents get investigated these days -- Jimmy Carter over farm holdings; Ronald Reagan over Iran-Contra; now Clinton. And if his successors think the agents are also spies, they'll keep those agents at a distance."
Next, Morton used language right out of the anti-Starr handbook: "Investigators asking bookstores what we read is presumably legal, but it's ugly. Exploring whether a Monica Lewinsky might wear a wire when talking to a President is ugly. And bright young people aren't going to want to work at the White House if they think they'll have to hire expensive lawyers as a routine part of the job."
But they'll only have to if the boss gets involved in a scandal and then uses every legal maneuver to avoid telling the truth. As for books, Starr was just trying to match up events Lewinsky recounted to Tripp, such as buying a particular product, with store records.
Morton continued his diatribe: "But worst of all, maybe, was the Supreme Court ruling -- legal, of course -- that sure, a President could handle a civil suit -- Paula Jones' -- and not be distracted from his job. All of the Lewinsky stuff, of course, grew out of Jones' suit. And if you think that hasn't distracted the White House, the President, his staff, you just haven't been watching lately...."
Of course, he could have settled and avoided the whole thing.
Morton concluded by echoing the thoughts expressed hours earlier on Meet the Press: "And one other effect: this isn't about politics and government, as Watergate was. This is about sex, lies and audiotape. It has lowered the tone of this place. Reporters don't like writing this stuff. Many of us long for a little good, old-fashioned graft and crookedness."
Like the campaign finance scandal the networks are largely ignoring?
"July Was World's Hottest Month on Record: High Temperatures Fuel Global Warming Debate," announced an August 10 Washington Post headline. As usual, the networks delivered plenty of heat but no debate.
Al Gore held
another press event Monday to push his global warming theory and, as
always, a couple of networks jumped. When Gore held an event back on July
14 to blame hot weather in the summer on global warming caused by man, ABC
and NBC ran ominous stories backing up Gore's warning. (See the July 15
Or August MediaNomics: http://www.mediaresearch.org/fmp/medianomics/1998/199808pg1.html)
Monday night NBC did not air another piece and CBS displayed the most restraint. ABC focused on how global warming will encourage disease and while CNN pretended to be balanced its reporter came down on Gore's side. Here are some excerpts from each, followed by some Reality Checks.
-- Dan Rather
declared on the August 10 CBS Evening News:
REALITY CHECK on the hottest July, as asserted by ABC, CBS, CNN
and The Washington Post. As pointed out in an August 10 "Issue
Highlight" from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (http://www.cei.org):
A bulletin last week from the National Center for Public Policy Research pointed out: "The heat waves in the south and west are not particularly unusual, nor have the high temperatures this year been record-breaking. Los Angeles hit 109' on July 12, 1891, ten degrees warmer than this year's high; Little Rock broke 112' in July 1986, eleven degrees warmer than this year's top temperature; and Death Valley hit 134' on July 10, 1913, five degrees warmer than this year's high." To read the entire report, go to: http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA206.html
environmental advocate/ABC reporter Ned Potter then illustrated how more
rain in New Mexico brought more vegetation which led to more deer mice
which spread more cases of the deadly Hantavirus to humans. In other parts
of the world moisture created more mosquitos to spread malaria, Potter
insisted, and more rainfall led to more cholera. And, Potter added,
drought in Southeast Asia caused fires which led to lung ailments.
+++ REALITY CHECK: An article in the November issue of Science magazine, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, begins: "Predictions that global warming will spark epidemics have little basis, say infectious-disease specialists, who agree that public health measures will inevitably outweigh effects of climate." The 2,400 word article specifically takes on the claims made by Epstein. The Science and Environmental Policy Project has posted the article titled "Global Warming: Apocalypse Not" on their Web site. Go to: http://www.sepp.org/controv/apocnot.html
+++ REALITY CHECK: As noted in a May 4 MediaWatch article about how 15,000 scientists signed a petition contending there is no link between "greenhouse gasses" and warming: Frederick Seitz, a past President of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a statement urging rejection of the Kyoto treaty: "The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind." Seitz asserted: "This freely expressed vote against the warming scare propaganda should be contrasted with the claimed 'consensus of 2,500 climate scientists' about global warming. This facile and oft-quoted assertion by the White House is a complete fabrication."
To read the petition and see who signed it, go to: http://www.sepp.org/pressrel/petition.html
Given the availability of information on both sides of the argument, the one-sided reporting on this issue shows that network reporters, producers and executives are putting their personal political views ahead of journalistic professionalism. -- Brent Baker
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