CyberAlert -- 08/24/1998 -- Clinton the "Amazing" Compartmentalizer
Clinton the "Amazing" Compartmentalizer; No More Medicine and Candy
The counter-strike against the terrorists certainly knocked Monicagate down the news priority list. Sunday night none of the broadcast network evening shows ran any clips of Sunday morning talk show guests discussing Clinton scandals. Instead, the missile attacks and the cabinet shake-up in Russia dominated. The Sunday morning shows did offer a few interesting items as ABC's This Week featured as a guest Congressman Paul McHale, the Democrat who has called for Clinton to resign. During the week all the other networks had mentioned McHale, but not ABC's World News Tonight which maintained that blackout Sunday night. On NBC's Meet the Press Tim Russert brought aboard James Carville and made him react to his January assurances of Clinton's truthfulness.
Saturday night only ABC broached Clinton scandals, but only so reporter Mike Von Fremd could marvel at Clinton's "amazing" ability to compartmentalize so he could simultaneously prepare for testimony and launching a military strike.
Friday night ABC focused on how Clinton's credibility has not been hurt in this incident, but continued media focus could cause problems in the future, and the "bitter irony" of how the CIA armed the terrorists. Of the broadcast networks, on Friday night only NBC told viewers about the revelation that Clinton gave Lewinsky gifts after she was subpoenaed, and neither ABC or CBS caught up over the weekend. NBC's Claire Shipman portrayed a President having to fend off an "assault" from Ken Starr and repeated the White House line that "the need for the U.S. to appear strong made it impossible" for Clinton "to offer a more abject apology" and that Clinton is "unable to understand why" the public doesn't believe his story over Lewinsky's.
Here are some highlights from Saturday and then Friday night:
-- ABC's World News Tonight on Saturday, August 22. Anchor Aaron Brown summarized a new ABC poll showing that Clinton has 66 percent job approval but only 28 percent rate him honest and trustworthy, and yet 67 percent say he should not resign. Suggesting that shows how the public is able to separate Clinton the man from Clinton the President, Brown asked Mike Von Fremd in Martha's Vineyard about Clinton's ability to compartmentalize.
Von Fremd marveled: "Aaron, it's amazing. Bill Clinton is such a master at separating different parts of his life that his team of legal advisers and his team of national security advisers were totally in the dark last week about what he was doing and saying as he was walking between different meetings in the White House. Aaron, as the President was preparing for the most important testimony of his life his legal advisers only knew that they weren't getting enough time with him. And last week while he was simultaneously planning the details of his most bold military attacks, his national security advisers say that Bill Clinton never for a moment seemed distracted by his enormous personal and legal crisis. He has said that his mother taught him how to put different parts of his life in little separate boxes in his head and, Aaron, his mother apparently taught him well."
Now on to Friday, August 21:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Forrest Sawyer announced: "...Since the
President's admission Monday night that he did not tell the truth about
Monica Lewinsky there's been concerns about his credibility and
influence in the world might be irreparably harmed. Today that influence
was put to the test."
Like he was able to do that pre-Lewinsky.
Forrest Sawyer later noted: "Yesterday's attacks in Afghanistan do raise a note of bitter irony: the United States helped create the very problem of terrorism it is now trying to solve. In fact, it was the CIA that armed the terrorists, ensured they were properly trained and built at least one of the bases the U.S. attacked yesterday..."
Shipman delivered a sympathetic look at how Clinton handled the twin
crises: in command now, a few days ago under siege. As Shipman put it:
From "confessor-in-chief to commander-in-chief." So, "how
does he manage both?" Shipman answered:
Even more naive than Clinton is Shipman for giving credibility to such White House nonsense.
Only one U.S. television reporter made it into Iraq, so we only had Peter Arnett giving credibility to the claims of the enemy. Now everyone has a reporter in Sudan, so we have many Arnett's delivering Arnett-like "reporting."
For the Saturday
CBS Evening News, from Khartoum CBS reporter Vicki Mabrey showed protests
in the Sudanese capital as she relayed how officials there claim the
destroyed factory did not make chemical agents but 70 percent of the
nation's medicine. She concluded by making the U.S. the bad guy:
Mabrey didn't recall for viewers how U.S. soldiers were murdered by mobs in Sudan back in the Bush years, long before these missiles landed.
Over on the August
22 NBC Nightly News reporter Ron Allen spoke with the plant manager,
insisting: "He claims the plant makes common medications to treat
malaria, tuberculosis, nearly half the drugs used in a country of 28
million people. A crucial medical facility, he says, destroyed by
Not to be outdone, ABC's Morton Dean discovered that an errant missile destroyed a "candy factory."
No medicine and now the kids will die without candy! In Iraq the U.S. hit a "baby milk factory" and now this. It's amazing how our missiles never hit a metal stamping plant or something less attractive.
Mabrey was back with more woe on the CBS Evening News. She found a plant
employee who is "sure the United States made a mistake." Driving
home the impact of this "mistake" Mabrey stood in front of the
rubble while holding medicine in her hands as she lamented:
Maybe taking medicine and candy out of the hands of children will cause Hollywood to waver in its support for Clinton. But don't count on it. After his Monday speech some major Hollywood figures are still behind him, as demonstrated in an August 19 cnn.com report caught by the MRC's Clay Waters. Here's an excerpt from the report by Paul Vercammen:
"I wouldn't look to Mr. Clinton for moral guidance, but I look to him for dealing with the issues that, historically, other Presidents have avoided, and I look for him -- to him for caring about humanity and caring about our country and keeping us out of war and keeping the budget, and he's done all those things," said actress Kathy Najimy of the TV sitcom "Veronica's Closet."
She added that she wished "he wouldn't do things that would embarrass himself," but that it is "none of my business who he has sex with, none."
Veteran television producer Aaron Spelling also remained upbeat about Clinton. "Here's a man that the public loves, he's doing a great job for our country, a great job. He made a mistake," Spelling said, adding that the country should forgive and go on. But it was the producer of "The Love Boat" who didn't like the acting or the script in the Clinton-Lewinsky melodrama.
"I hope we don't go any further on this. I think we're all sick of it. It's like a bad soap opera, and had I written the soap opera, I would have had probably Lewinsky pull off her wig and reveal herself to be a man or something, I don't know, so he could have gotten out of it easier," Spelling said.
Some in Hollywood were unabashed in their support of Clinton. Former "90210" actor Luke Perry said he felt that "in the toughest of situations, the tightest of tight boxes, he handled himself very eloquently, as nobly as they would allow it to be."
Actor Dylan McDermott, who stars in the legal drama "The Practice," said he thought the country is wrong to "want to know everything about everybody." He acknowledged that Clinton "was painted into a corner, and the truth was exposed." His bottom line, however, is that "it's really nobody's business."
Even wackier and more enthusiastic in their defense of Clinton and denouncing of Starr are rock stars. The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to an August 18 collection of rock star reactions listed on the MTV News Web site. I've never heard of most of these people and so have no idea who is higher profile or better known, so I'll just run them all. I can't decide whether they are more frightening or amusing, at least the ones I can even understand:
"They should leave the man alone. He's doing a good job running the country and there's nothing wrong with him having a little fun." -- rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard
"It's nobody's business but his wife's." -- Brian Vander Ark, frontman for the Verve Pipe and a two-time Clinton voter
"I don't think anyone is satisfied with 'inappropriate and wrong relationship'. I think people want to know what actually went down, at least I do." -- Mike Simpson, the Dust Brothers
"I love Bill Clinton. He's just like any other man. It ain't his fault he's not a player. He just crushes a lot." -- rapper Fat Joe
"Kenneth Starr is not a prosecutor. Kenneth Starr is a Right Wing political bulldog. He has just been digging for dirt the entire time. No one cares about the President's private life except for the people who can not stand the fact that there is a Democrat sitting in the White house. This matter is over, let's move on." -- Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method
"It's a two-fold problem -- one problem is that no one cares, the other is that someone actually does." -- Jeff Scheel of Gravity Kills
"I think it's amazing that he confessed. It's not anyone's business anyway. Ken Starr should be shot." -- Tommy Stinson of The Replacements and Perfect
"It's sad that they would try to impeach him for something that not only 50 percent of married men do, but many Presidents in the past as well....Kennedy got Marilyn and Clinton got Monica -- what's up with that? He got the wrong end of the deal." -- T-Bone Willy of Save Ferris
"I'm a little disappointed that Monica didn't complete her task. If she wouldn't have made such a mess, this wouldn't be such a mess and a distraction for the United States and the world." -- John Bush, singer for Anthrax
"Give back your President his privacy and be sorry that $40 million was paid to a politically motivated gossip monger, cynic Ken Starr. All on Clinton to do his job and wake up and smell the coffee, flush the system of the wolves from the interior, and get rid of the first one to come out, Ken Starr." -- Peter Murphy of Bauhaus
"Who gives a damn? His personal life has nothing to do with his political life. It is a separate thing and should be treated separately." -- Daniel Ash of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets.
Back on August 14 on CNBC's Hardball, Matthew Miller of U.S. News &
World Report, offered this insight caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
He's even more delusional than the rock stars. -- Brent Baker
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