CyberAlert -- 09/15/1998 -- Polls Back Clinton
Polls Back Clinton; Rivera: Media Must Apologize to Clinton; Probe Starr?
2) With Clinton supposedly cleared on Filegate and Travelgate, Geraldo demanded to know when the media will say "We're sorry." And he lashed out at divorcee Peter Jennings for "talking about the President's bad morals."
Top Democrats saying Clinton must drop his legalese defense, Clinton trying to show all is normal by giving a policy speech and polls showing continued public approval and opposition to resignation or impeachment, were the themes pushed by the networks Monday night. NBC Nightly News opened with a graphic of Clinton with this tag: "On the Job."
Only CBS's Scott Pelley highlighted the irony of how in his address to the Council on Foreign Relations Clinton "found himself lecturing struggling nations on the virtues of honesty, discipline and responsibility." CBS's Eric Engberg produced a "Reality Check" on the weaknesses of Starr's case. ABC's Peter Jennings interviewed Senator Orrin Hatch, but didn't mention an angle raised by Bob Schieffer on CBS that "Hatch has become so frustrated with the President's legal team he has sent word to the White House that he would personally be willing to lead an effort to see that the President is not indicted for perjury if he would just admit he lied."
CNN explored the gap between how men and women assess Clinton. FNC's delivered three unique items: David Shuster on how the Starr report shows Betty Currie was an active facilitator of the Clinton/Lewinsky trysts, Gary Matsumoto on how USA Today and other major newspapers have called for Clinton's resignation, and in poll numbers placed in an on-screen bumper, how most Americans are ashamed of Clinton.
Here are some scandal coverage highlights from Monday night, September 14:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings painted a President on the run:
Up first, Linda Douglass on how Democratic leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt issued statements urging Clinton the drop the legalese defense. She reported that they feel they can only defend Clinton if he's seen to be telling the truth. That would make censure possible and avoid impeachment, the Democrats believe.
Donaldson recounted Clinton's trip to New York City: "With a spring
in his step and his wife by his side once again looking content and
supportive, Mr. Clinton gave no indication today he feels like a man with
his back to the wall. In fact in a speech before the Council on Foreign
Relations on the global economy, he made no reference to the scandal or
his difficulties, just presented the picture of a President battling the
Republican Congress for more money for the International Monetary Fund on
behalf of American prosperity."
Third, Jackie Judd explained that the White House is pursuing the unpopular legal strategy because an admission of guilt would risk and indictment after Clinton's term ends. Next, Jennings talked with Senator Orrin Hatch about how the Senator wants Clinton to be honest. Then Jennings highlighted an ABC poll which found 45 percent think the Starr report made a "strong case," versus 42 percent who said he delivered a "weak case." That's better than for Clinton's response, which 59 found weak and just 31 considered strong.
Hayes checked out reaction among teens in Asheville, NC. One girl in a
high school class observed: "I think that now that he is weakened so
much that a lot of people find that when he gets up and says I have sinned
and I shouldn't have done this it's almost funny."
First, Bob Schieffer highlighted how both Republicans and Democrats are urging Clinton to "reign in his lawyers and just admit he lied to the grand jury. They are telling him that frustration with his legal team is the main factor driving the increased pressure here to hold impeachment hearings. We've learned that the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Orrin Hatch has become so frustrated with the President's legal team he has sent word to the White House that he would personally be willing to lead an effort to see that the President is not indicted for perjury if he would just admit he lied."
Pelley looked at Clinton's New York speech, uniquely noticing that he
"found himself lecturing struggling nations on the virtues of
honesty, discipline and responsibility."
Next, Dan Rather defined what censure would entail and then introduced a Jerry Bowen story on public reaction by noting that a CBS poll discovered 61 percent approve of his job performance. Bowen explained that while only 32 percent now want him to resign, if he obstructed justice 50 percent would want him to resign or be impeached. For now, 57 percent favor censure. Bowen added, without a specific number, that most thought Starr's report was meant to embarrass the President.
Engberg checked in with a "Reality Check" on Starr's report.
Citing Starr's claim of abuse of power by claiming executive privilege
in order to delay the investigation, Engberg protested: "But
Presidents routinely fight to protect the powers of their office."
relayed reaction from Capitol Hill, anchor Jon Scott interviewed Judiciary
Committee member Lindsey Graham, and Jane Skinner plugged a Crier Report
interview in which Clinton childhood friend Dolly Kyle Browning claims
Clinton once admitted that he's a sex addict.
Up first, David Bloom who relayed the complaints about legalese from Democrats, adding: "The President was all business today, or at least he wanted it to look that way..." After reading a bit of Daschle's statement, Bloom asserted: "But Mr. Clinton's supporters say they're bolstered by public opinion polls which show most Americans know about the Starr report, disapprove of the President's behavior but don't want to see him resign or be impeached."
Gwen Ifill offered reaction from Capitol Hill, including how top House Republican John Kasich called on Clinton to quit.
Introducing a piece by Lisa Myers, Brokaw declared: "Lying is not always a black and white issue, but Starr is convinced he has caught the President lying repeatedly." Myers highlighted some, such as how Clinton "claimed he never touched her breasts or other intimate parts of her body, quote 'that is not my recollection.' But Lewinsky said it happened ten times and is backed up by friends she told at the time."
Later, Andrea Mitchell explained how 60 percent say Congress should not drop the matter. Mitchell outlined three options for the Congress: impeach, censure, or censure plus a fine.
Geraldo's pissed and he lashed out at NBC and Peter Jennings Monday
night, demanding to know when the media will say it's sorry to Clinton
for over covering issues ignored by Starr. On CNBC's Rivera Live he
80,000. Sounds like a Nexis search that included whitewater rafting.
"We have done some research of our own," announced a crusading Rivera. On screen viewers saw story tallies from the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Without any source offered or time frame given, Rivera announced the totals: 5,456 "references" to Whitewater, 217 to the talking points, 273 to Travelgate and 157 to Filegate. Again, without any definition of parameters, for NBC he claimed 746 stories "referred to" Whitewater, 62 to Filegate, 94 to Travelgate and 52 to the talking points.
Rivera demanded: "Will all of the media, including NBC, give even a fraction of the airtime and the newsprint that we gave to these allegations to the fact that no impeachable offenses were found? When are we going to say to the President of the United States, 'we're sorry'?"
Later, he lashed out, in an apparent reference to Peter Jennings: "At one network they got an anchorman married four times and the reporter married four times, there's eight divorces between them, and they're talking about the President's bad morals!"
So, just how much attention did the media pay to these other scandal areas. Not as much as Rivera implied. Check out "Now They Decide to Cover a Scandal," an Investor's Business Daily op-ed I wrote back in January. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/oped/news/ibd19980126.html
In a January, 1997 MediaWatch study the MRC's Tim Graham documented how the networks dropped Filegate soon after it broke: from June 30 to the end of the year running "only six evening news stories and seven morning reports." To read the entire study, titled "TV's Top Ten Undercovered Stories," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/mediawatch/1997/mw19970101stud.html
Mendacity in the morning. At Good Morning America it's Starr who needs investigating and Clinton who is the victim of a prosecutor "chasing down his personal life."
-- Concluding a September 10 Good Morning America interview with former Starr deputy John Bates, MRC analyst Clay Waters noticed, co-host Lisa McRee suggested Starr has done wrong: "And finally, Mr. Bates: What does Kenneth Starr do now, and do you think he'll be investigated?"
-- On Monday's
GMA, observed MRC analyst Mark Drake, after George Washington University
law professor Jonathan Turley asserted that it will be hard to justify
prosecuting any perjury case involving an average person if Congress does
not pursue Clinton's perjury, McRee's co-host, Kevin Newman, shot
Monday morning Today's Katie Couric came at Pat Buchanan with all the most used Clinton spins, observed MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens who transcribed these questions:
-- "Pat, of
course the bottom line here is what President Clinton did is a heck of a
lot different in the minds of many Americans than what President Nixon
did, in terms of what exactly they were covering up. Can you understand
that people have a hard time feeling that President Clinton should resign
because of sexual indiscretions or because [of] an adulterous
To be fair to
Couric, she did at least ask Dee Dee Myers:
But she also delivered a pep talk: "And they've got to be heartened by the polls showing a lot of support still exists for the President. Although as Tim Russert mentioned and Matt, as well, earlier this morning they still want Congress to handle this. So they're really not home free."
Just like Rivera,
Today co-host Matt Lauer whined about media over coverage, asking liberal
columnist Molly Ivins:
And he wondered: "Do you think then that this scandal, Molly let me ask this, has this scandal done more to hurt the presidency or the press?"
Not a concern back in the Iran-Contra period.
Hollywood is still solidly in Clinton's corner. MRC Entertainment
Division Director Kasha Kelley passed along to me this blast at Ken Starr
from film director John Frankenheimer as quoted in the September 11 USA
MRC entertainment analyst Tom Johnson informed me that Frankenheimer is best known for the Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, Black Sunday and last year's movie about George Wallace on TNT. He's also director of a new film titled Ronin.
While on the topic of the entertainment community, from the September 14 Late Show with David Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard at the Emmys," here's #6: "The gown is Bob Macke but the stain is President Clinton." -- Brent Baker
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