CyberAlert -- 08/25/1998 -- Hillary the Clueless

Hillary the Clueless; Everyone Lies but Clinton Just Got Caught

1) Hillary Clinton really didn't know about Lewinsky, insisted Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Gannett's Deborah Mathis.

2) NBC reported that Ken Starr is pursuing an "abuse of power" theory and in an In Depth piece NBC portrayed Clinton as a victim in a society in which everyone lies. Only CNN ran a full story on the 2000 census sampling ruling, but pushed liberal complaints.

3) With CNN and CBS in the lead, the networks delivered some evidence that the Sudanese plant did really make chemical agents.

4) The smaller the market the less important local TV news directors find the Lewinsky story, a poll determined.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Two Washington reporters really seem to believe that the First Lady, whom we've been told is the smartest women in America, did not believe the stories about her husband and Monica Lewinsky. MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson caught this exchange on Inside Washington from over the weekend:

evan1cap.jpg (24433 bytes) Evan Thomas, Newsweek: "You know, I couldn't believe it when I first read that she didn't hear about it 'til Thursday. It seemed improbable to me because she's so smart and because she's been here before. But I am beginning to believe it now. I mean, our reporting indicates that she, it sounds implausible, but marriages are complicated things and she may have just willfully decided she didn't need to hear it straight from Clinton and Clinton may have held out to the last minute before telling her."
Deborah Mathis, Gannett News Service: "Yeah, I think that, you know, she, when she first heard this, she probably thought, Oh, boy, could it be true? And as the evidence and the testimony developed, she thought, Oh, this very well may be true, but not until she heard it from his mouth, and that was the first time she may have heard it, was the weekend prior to his confession, that she absolutely knew it was true. I think she is honestly devastated. She looks heavy to me, but not bowed, which I think is important. And I think that she's showing some uber-feminism here."

I have a better explanation: if she managed to dismiss seven months of news stories as part of some grand right-wing conspiracy then maybe she's even more paranoid about people "out to get" her and her husband than we realized.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Hurricane Bonnie, soon to make landfall along the Atlantic shore, topped the CBS, FNC and NBC evening shows Monday night. ABC went first with flooding in Texas followed by the hurricane. CNN began with its exclusive that Clinton plans to address the Lewinsky matter again. The federal appeals court decision throwing out the Clinton plan to use statistical sampling for the 2000 census was skipped by ABC, CBS and NBC. FNC gave it a brief mention while it generated a full story on CNN which approached it from the liberal side, concentrating how it will supposedly mean Latinos will not have fair representation.

On the Monicagate front, ABC speculated about the likelihood of a censure vote, CBS held coverage to a few seconds of anchor Ed Bradley saying Speaker Newt Gingrich said he is not interested in rushing to impeachment for one personal lapse as he wants to see a pattern of abuse before launching hearings and Ed Bradley showed clips of Bill and Hillary making separate lunch sojourns on Martha's Vineyard. Gingrich's comments prompted stories on CNN and FNC. CNN highlighted a poll showing Dole would still lose today and FNC looked at possible Clinton defense strategies.

Only NBC's intrepid Lisa Myers added any fresh news, reporting that Ken Starr is pursuing an "abuse of power" theory. Then NBC's Fred Francis portrayed Clinton's only offense as getting caught since everybody lies: "To tell the truth, we all lie. Some small fibs, some tall tales and some, like the President, get caught."

Some highlights from the Monday, August 24 evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Forrest Sawyer noted that an ABC News poll found 67 percent oppose resignation and 70 oppose impeachment, but 55 percent say yes to a congressional censure for Clinton. John Cochran explored that possibility, observing that Congress can censure its own, but for a President it would just be symbolic.

Cochran asked: "So if censure has no teeth why would Congress do it? Because it would be popular with voters." And answered: "Censuring the President could offer a solution to many in both parties. To Republicans that do not want to be blamed for prolonging an investigation that many Americans find distasteful. And to Democrats who want to separate themselves from the President without impeaching him."
After political analyst Charles Cook tagged it an "attractive" option, Cochran concluded by putting a damper on the idea: "Attractive, but not to everyone. Not to those who wonder how a President could govern after being censured by another branch of government. And not to those who, after they read Ken Starr's full report to Congress, may decide that no matter what the public thinks, the President deserves more than just condemnation."

-- CNN's The World Today led with Carl Rochelle in Martha's Vineyard insisting that "a source close to the President tells CNN that after listening to all of the analysis Mr. Clinton has realized last Monday's speech did not put the Lewinsky issue to rest. Just how he will deal with the issue is unresolved. Perhaps a question at a news conference, but another formal address is highly unlikely...."

Joie Chen then ran through some numbers from the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey, including this illuminating discovery: "If the 1996 election were held over again right now, 46 percent of the registered voters say they would vote for Mr. Clinton, 36 percent say their ballot choice would be Bob Dole. Ross Perot would win 11 percent."

Finally, Bob Franken took the pulse of Capitol Hill, beginning by noting how Gingrich feels "a pattern of lawbreaking" is the threshold for hearings.

Just past halfway through the show CNN got to the 2000 census decision, but instead of painting it as a victory for accuracy and fairness, CNN's Jonathan Aiken emphasized the liberal angle that it will hurt minorities. Aiken began by asserting that the 1990 census was "criticized for undercounting minorities." After noting this court ruling was a victory for Republicans who had sued, Aiken charged:
"African American and Latino groups say head counts, like the 1990 census, undercounted their true numbers because urban populations are hard to reach and people don't always trust the motives of census takers, government employees paid to ask personal questions."
Ingrid Duran of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials then claimed that Hispanics were undercounted by 5 percent in 1990, thus losing three House seats.
Aiken drew the political implications of the court ruling: "A significant increase in black or Hispanic population totals could shift the balance of political power in Congress."
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg suggested sampling could have shifted seats from the Southwest to Northeast and upper Midwest.
Aiken blandly concluded: "Time is a factor here. The census deadline is looming and this issue will no doubt go to the Supreme Court."

-- FNC's Fox Report. Wendell Goler checked in from Martha's Vineyard with lunch video, noting that Clinton dined with Bruce Lindsey who is refusing to answer questions. David Shuster outlined the defense planned by Clintonites. First, since Lewinsky was thrown out of the Jones case the perjury doesn't matter and second, they are also floating the idea there was no obstruction because gifts were not destroyed. Shuster concluded: "In a courtroom that argument wouldn't go very far either, but the Clinton camp is aiming at Congress and hoping that lawmakers are looking for a way out."

-- NBC Nightly News. The In Depth segment featured two pieces. First, Lisa Myers on the latest from Starr. Second, Fred Francis on how everyone lies.
Lisa Myers informed viewers: "While the President today tried to enjoy his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, NBC News has learned that prosecutors in Washington are focusing a possible new charge: abuse of presidential power to try to cover up the Lewinsky affair. The idea comes right out of Watergate when President Nixon was accused of abuse of power during impeachment proceedings..."
Among Clinton's abuses: "Misuse of the Secret Service to keep agents from testifying, and misuse of government-paid White House lawyers to coordinate testimony of friendly witnesses and help discredit unfriendly ones."

Fred Francis then explained that fibbing has always been a Bill Clinton flaw, but after all, "The absolute truth about lying is that we all do, whether we like to admit it or not. To differing degrees, with different motivations. And studies show we're lying now more than ever before."
After a psychologist explained that we lie when the truth won't get us what we want, Francis continued: "One study found we deceive 30 percent of the people we interact with each week. Take deception at work. One survey of 40,000 people found that 93 percent admit they lie habitually on the job. So it's not just our politicians."
Francis cited some non-politician liars and played a clip from the movie Liar, Liar which showed that "white lies are, as one expert notes, the lubricant of a polite society."
But, Francis cautioned, "bigger lies like Clinton's causes ripples through the country."
Bill Bennett: "This is awful thing. Everybody can tell the difference between that and 'Gee Aunt Gladys your hair looks beautiful today.' They're just not in the same ballpark."
Francis: "And worst of all, studies say, we save our bigger lies for the ones we love. One in every three spouses has covered up an extramarital affair."
Clinton in the Monday speech: "I misled people, including even my wife."
Francis: "How did we sink his low? Psychologists say the family unit, once strong and united, has been fractured and in many cases mom and dad no longer teach right from wrong."
Following another soundbite from a psychologist, Francis concluded by painting Clinton as just another victim of a culture of lies: "To tell the truth, we all lie. Some small fibs, some tall tales and some, like the President, get caught."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) "Sudan has been insistent the pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum was making much needed medicine. And with news reporters combing the ruble and finding only innocent looking pill bottles, the U.S. was on the defensive," CNN's Jamie McIntyre observed in opening an August 24 World Today story.

As any reader of the August 24 CyberAlert would know, that's just what the U.S. networks have been doing, with stories about the end of medicine production, destroyed candy plants and no evidence of chemical weapons making.

McIntyre went on to explain that the CIA took soil samples near the plant and they tested positive for a chemical that's one step from nerve gas, EMPTA. McIntyre also noted ties between the Sudan plant and the founder of Iraq's chemical weapons operation.

Over on ABC's World News Tonight on Monday John McWethy got to the same evidence, but took his time. McWethy began:
"U.S. officials are increasingly worried they may lose the public relations battle. Sudan's President insisted today that the facility the U.S. hit made only medicine and he invited the United Nations to inspect the ruble for traces of chemical used to make poison gas. Worse for the U.S., a British engineer who once managed part of the plant said it was not built to deal with those kind of toxic chemicals."
Only after a soundbite from the Brit did McWethy allow that "hiding evidence of a small amount of poison gas production is not that difficult," a point explained by a former UN inspector. Then McWethy got to the CIA's evidence:
"Intelligence sources tell ABC News that the CIA secretly collected soil samples outside of the plant and found very strong evidence of a chemical called EMPTA that has no known use except to make VX nerve gas..."

Over the weekend pieces from Sudan by Vicki Mabrey stressed the lack of proof that the plant was used to make dangerous chemicals. (See the August 24 CyberAlert.) But Monday night CBS reporter David Martin delivered the evidence:
"U.S. intelligence officials say a soil sample secretly taken from the vicinity of that pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan contained a chemical compound know as EMPTA, whose only known use is to make nerve gas. That is what convinced the Clinton administration to target the plant in last week's cruise missile attacks...."
After a soundbite from Mike McCurry and noting that the Sudanese President labeled Clinton a war criminal, Martin explained that the plant could be used for more than one thing at once: "Intelligence officials say the plant may well have turned out legitimate medicines as a cover, but it belonged to the Sudanese military industrial complex, an organization to which Osama bin Ladin gave money..."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) With local television news directors, those at Fox affiliates find the Lewinsky story the most important and the smaller the market the less important the news directors find the scandal. The August 24 Electronic Media relayed the results of a August 11-14 survey of 125 TV news directors conducted by Audience Research & Development. The key findings, as summarized by New York Bureau Chief John Lafayette:

-- "News Directors at Fox affiliates were most likely to think the story was important, with 67 percent saying the story was either important or extremely important....ABC affiliate news directors were least likely to say the story was important (21 percent)..."

-- "Fifty-five percent of the news directors working in the top 20 markets felt the story was important or extremely important. But just 38 percent of the news directors from markets 100 and smaller felt the story was important, with just 10 percent of those saying it was extremely important."

So much for the axiom that the smaller the town the less liberal the local media. -- Brent Baker

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