CyberAlert -- 09/23/1998 -- Lewinsky Exculpates Clinton
Lewinsky Exculpates Clinton; Wicked Tripp vs. Dignified Hillary
In the spirit of it depends what "is" is and what you mean by "alone," is ceasing to insist that you did not lie the same as admitting you did lie? Speculation about a censure deal with Congress led the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows Tuesday night while CNN and FNC also considered the possibility but began with the White House attacking Starr for not including in his report a supposedly exculpatory statement from Monica Lewinsky. ABC and NBC also highlighted the Clinton complaint, but not CBS. Only FNC put the complaint in context by quoting from Starr's report.
As for the question of whether no longer saying you did not lie is the same as admitting you did lie, ABC's Sam Donaldson reported "the President may be willing to stop arguing that he did not lie under oath as part of a deal..." But on CBS, Scott Pelley maintained that "Mr. Clinton is still unwilling to give up the one thing that Congress says it must have, a confession that he did not tell the whole truth under oath."
Dan Rather highlighted poll results showing a jump in Clinton's personal and job approval. CNN, FNC and NBC all ran pieces on unflattering information about Linda Tripp divulged in the newly released documents. NBC Nightly News pictured Tripp as the "Wicked Witch of the West," but later admired "the quiet dignity" of Hillary Clinton. (See item #2 for this NBC contrast.)
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show:
explained: "No one will say it on the record, but various sources
close to the White House defense strategy suggest the President may be
willing to stop arguing that he did not lie under oath as part of a deal
with Congress that would spare him the prospect of impeachment and removal
Next, Jennings relayed some new ABC poll results: 68 percent thought the word which best described Clinton's video was "evasive," 68 percent said Clinton was right to refuse to discuss the sexual details and 81 percent think believe sexual relations includes oral sex.
Linda Douglass then checked in from Capitol Hill, reporting that instead of mumbling behind closed doors about Clinton's problems hurting them, Democrats are now openly saying the video helped Clinton. Democrats, she reported, are talking about a deal: a censure which would include a fine and a reduced pension. Douglass gave the Democratic spin: "They know Republicans are likely to reject an effort to short-circuit the impeachment process, but at the very least Democrats could then accuse Republicans of prolonging the country's misery." Henry Hyde thinks deal talk is premature, Douglass noted, concluding that the House is still headed toward impeachment hearings.
For the last story of the night, Jennings suggested Clinton can look overseas for "comfort." Jennings highlighted how "the regional French paper said the Starr investigation was 'totalitarian.' As for the conservative German newspaper Hamburger Morning Post, under the headline 'We've Had Enough' two of their news pages were completely blank."
From Capitol Hill Bob Schieffer found that Democrats think the Clinton video helped his case, but not enough. So, Democrats like Robert Torricelli are saying that to avoid long fight, work out a deal for a fine plus a censure. But Republicans say it's too early for a deal and Orrin Hatch said he heard grounds for impeachment so, Schieffer concluded, Republicans plan to proceed to hearings.
Up next, from the White House Scott Pelley contradicted Donaldson, or did he? Pelley stressed: "Dan, the White House is looking to negotiate punishment for the President, but Mr. Clinton is still unwilling to give up the one thing that Congress says it must have, a confession that he did not tell the whole truth under oath." Pelley insisted that a "senior member" of Clinton's defense team told CBS News: "Clearly the President is not going to give up the technical argument that he did not lie under oath."
Later, the Eye on America segment looked at the reasons behind Clinton's solid support among blacks.
Next, Bob Franken previewed what is expected to next be released by the House on Thursday and Candy Crowley measured the impact of the Clinton video: "It was like some kind of national Rorschach test, everybody saw what was already in their head."
Later in the hour, Brooks Jackson focused on how Tripp is under investigation for perjury because many of her tapes are duplicates so could possibly have been altered. After showing Tripp's "I'm just like you" comment from July, Jackson countered that the documents reveal some unflattering facts: that Tripp told Lewinsky to save the dress and when she wanted to wear it Tripp told her she looked fat in it. Jackson concluded by highlighting how Lewinsky told the grand jury "I hate Linda Tripp" and a grand juror reassured here that "whatever goes around comes around."
Next, from Capitol Hill Carl Cameron explained Henry Hyde's suggestion that Democrats are complaining about partisanship as part of a strategy to confuse the public. Rita Cosby then got to Tripp, and how new documents "cast Linda Tripp in a new, more calculating light." She ran through the same points as CNN's Jackson about the tapes and dress, adding that Lewinsky said Tripp had threatened to expose all in tell all book. Cosby did allow time for Tripp's retort: "Attorneys close to Linda Tripp say any allegation that she was trying to set up the President is quote, 'preposterous.' They say that she was just trying to help her young friend Monica Lewinsky. They say that Linda Tripp never did anything illegal and never lied under oath."
Finally, David Shuster examined how the documents show a pattern of stonewalling and delay. A Secret Service officer, for instance, was told to leave the room after each question and Clinton rejected six invitations to testify.
NBC's David Bloom raised the White House quest for a deal, but Bloom added that since Republicans are not interested, Clinton operatives are on the attack. "Today the President's lawyers jumped on the fact that Starr's report, for all its sexually explicit sexual detail, makes no mention of this line from Monica Lewinsky's grand jury testimony, quote 'no one ever asked me to lie and I was never promised a job for my silence.'" In a letter, Bloom added, Clinton lawyers claimed that undermines the obstruction of justice charge.
Immediately after Bloom NBC went to Andrea Mitchell for a piece on Linda Tripp. A few sentences in Mitchell observes that "she's been portrayed as everything from the Wicked Witch of the West to a soccer mom." Mitchell then proceeded to prove she's more of the Wicked Witch. But minutes later on September 22 the NBC Nightly News ran a piece on a woman the network likes a lot more, asking "how much more can Hillary Clinton take?" and asserting that she "projects a quiet dignity."
First, the Tripp
Maybe Tripp should be praised for her foresight in making sure evidence was saved and records kept.
Now, let's fast forward about 20 minutes to the last story of the night, an admiringly look at Hillary Clinton:
"What many people, especially women, are asking tonight is how much
more can Hillary Clinton take? Now the President's videotaped testimony
accompanied by thousands of pages of lurid details of his relationship
with Monica Lewinsky. In fact, she seems to be winning more admirers than
detractors during this crisis."
A quiet dignity NBC will not allow Linda Tripp.
Let's forget the whole thing, the whole Starr probe has been illegitimate, ABC's Lisa McRee argued Tuesday morning based on a few quotes dug out of thousands of pages of testimony. And NBC's Today led Tuesday by highlighting how most don't want impeachment.
MRC news analyst Clay Waters caught these two questions, better described as arguments, from Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee to Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Canady on the September 22 broadcast:
-- "Congressman, there apparently is also a lot of exculpatory evidence within those mounds of testimony that were delivered to Capitol Hill. The New York Times highlights a number of things today. For example, very clearly Monica Lewinsky says that no one ever asked her to lie nor was there any sort of deal made of silence in exchange for a job. She says that very clearly. She also says she lied to Linda Tripp when she claimed that she told her that she had told Vernon Jordan she wanted a job in exchange for her signature on an affidavit denying a sexual relationship. What if there is more of this exculpatory evidence? Doesn't that damage Ken Starr's case?"
-- "The statement from Monica Lewinsky saying that she never made a deal to exchange her silence for a job is very important, because that is one of the reasons that Janet Reno gave Kenneth Starr permission to go ahead with this Monica Lewinsky investigation in the first place, is it not? So if she had told investigators from the very beginning, 'No one told me to lie, Vernon Jordan was not trying to get me a job to keep me silent,' doesn't that pull the rug out from under his justification for continuing this Monica Lewinsky investigation or entering it in the first place?"
Tuesday, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented, with this upbeat spin
Geraldo's back in top form. After a one-day vacation, Geraldo Rivera returned to CNBC Tuesday night and didn't disappoint, picking right up on the White House line and denouncing their enemies.
He opened CNBC's
7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight by reading a White House-fed attack
on right-wingers who supposedly want a coup:
After running the Andrea Mitchell hit piece on Linda Tripp, detailed in #2 above from Nightly News, Rivera indignantly exclaimed: "Can the President of the United States be brought down by the likes of Linda Tripp, for God's sake?"
A bit more than an
hour later on CNBC's Rivera Live at 9pm ET and PT, he opened the show
with Mike McCurry complaining about "...exculpatory evidence that was
not mentioned by the office of independent counsel. That is a grievous
wrong to the President."
My God, can NBC News really consider Rivera capable of balanced journalism? -- Brent Baker
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