Networks: Hillary "Candid," She "Unwittingly" Defended Husband --6/5/2003
2. Hume Notes How Blumenthal Book Contradicts Hillary's Claims FNC's Brit Hume pointed out how Hillary Clinton's claim, about being very angry at Bill Clinton and not talking to him for weeks after she "learned," just two days before he was to testify before a grand jury, that he really did have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, is at odds with Sidney Blumenthal's account of how the two were getting along fine just fine hours after the grand jury appearance. Hume also asked: "Is Hillary's account of her rage at the President in the time when she only at the last realized that this Lewinsky story was true, is this credible?" NPR's Mara Liasson thought so.
3. Jennings Fears Israelis, Not Palestinians, Will "Sabotage" Peace Peter Jennings, Palestinian propagandist. On Wednesday night Jennings he Islamic Jihad and Hamas simply as "Palestinian groups," characterized their terrorist actions as "fighting Israel," and concluded the newscast by arguing that Israeli extremists are the ones scuttling peace efforts -- not Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks and refuse to even recognize Israel's right to exist. After recalling Yitzhak Rabin's assassination and how "Yasser Arafat was boycotted and placed under house arrest," Jennings concluded over video of protesting Israelis: "In the territories and in Israel, there are people tonight who are furious with their leaders, which is why there is fear that anger will sabotage the hope for peace once again."
4. "Sean Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," Feeling the Pain of Dissent The second installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word screed which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times. Penn lamented how he "experienced firsthand the repressive condition of public debate in our country, as it prepared for war. I was beginning to feel the price to paid by a citizen exercising a position of dissent."
Though Hillary Clinton's tale in her new book is barely plausible at best, if not much more believably an outright ludicrous claim, about how she didn't figure out that the stories about her husband and Monica Lewinsky were true until her husband admitted the sexual relationship on August 15, 1998, after eight months of ongoing revelations in the media about connections between the intern and President, the networks bought her line without a scintilla of doubt.
Morning, evening and cable news shows on Wednesday were full of statements from reporters and anchors about how Clinton "reveals how she learned" of the Lewinsky reality and "writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he'd been unfaithful."
None suggested that if she really was in the dark for eight months she must be one of the stupidest people alive.
The stories were prompted by an overnight AP story which relayed Senator Clinton's claim that when Bill Clinton told her about the relationship just two days before he was to testify before Ken Starr's grand jury and address the nation, she now claims, "I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, 'What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?' He just stood there saying over and over again, 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.'"
But the phrase "claim" was never uttered Wednesday morning or evening in any television or cable network news program I saw, excerpt for FNC. See item #2 below for more on FNC's take.
ABC's Charles Gibson trumpeted at the top of the June 4 Good Morning America: "Overnight, Hillary Clinton's new book bombshell: Bill's confession made her gulp for air, cry and yell at him, 'why did you lie to me?'" Reporter Bill Ritter proceeded to read the AP's quotes without casting any doubt on Hillary's version.
NBC's Katie Couric heralded at the start of Today: "Hillary's heartache, Senator Clinton reveals how she learned the painful truth about her husband and Monica Lewinsky." Couric also dubbed the book "very candid." In the subsequent story, Sara James insisted: "Bombshell new details are emerging this morning from Hillary Clinton's book going on sale next week. In it Mrs. Clinton writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he'd been unfaithful."
No story suggested that she owes an apology for smearing conservatives in her Today show appearance when at the time everyone knew the Lewinsky story was accurate. NBC's Norah O'Donnell, for instance, in a story which aired on both Today and in the evening on MSNBC shows including Countdown with Keith Olbermann, recalled how "before Bill's confession, Hillary vehemently defended him on the Today show."
Incredibly, CNN's Jonathan Karl, in a piece which ran on both Inside Politics and later on NewsNight, simply repeated Hillary Clinton's line without even adding a mild caveat like "she says," never mind a "she claims." Karl reported with a straight face: "Months earlier, when he made his famous public denial, he was also lying to his wife in private. Mrs. Clinton believed him and, famously, went on national television, unwittingly repeating his lies and denouncing the reports about Lewinsky as the product of a vast right-wing conspiracy."
An hour after Karl's story aired in Inside Politics, Wolf Blitzer Reports featured an interview about the new book with Democratic operative Ann Lewis. CNN's on-screen text: "Hillary Clinton's Version New Book Bares the Pain"
A bit later, on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Tom Brokaw announced that "leaked excerpts" of Mrs. Clinton's new book "show that she's a lot more candid about her personal life and feelings than many had expected." Andrea Mitchell's story did not include any doubters, but did feature soundbites from two Clintonista's vouching for her. Her former Press Secretary, Lisa Caputo, maintained: "She didn't know. I mean I remember that time very well. She had no idea."
Over on the CBS Evening News, Byron Pitts bought without any question her spin: "The wounded wife's account of her husband's, in this case, not so secret sins. Just days before President Clinton made this confession to the nation-"
ABC's World News Tonight previewed its exclusive first interview with Hillary Clinton conducted by Barbara Walters who compliantly related how "Mrs. Clinton reveals that from the moment the very first headline broke the story, Bill Clinton lied not only to the country about this relationship, but he lied to her as well." When Clinton told Walters, "I did believe him," Walters prompted Hillary to agree: "One more false rumor?"
Walters, however, was the only broadcast network reporter, or cable reporter in a pre-taped story, to point out how a lot of information about Bill and Monica came out during the eight months Hillary claims to have been in the dark: "Even as the late-night phone calls between the President and the intern were discovered and the logs of gifts and visits became public, Senator Clinton says she cross-examined her husband again and again, and still the President claimed nothing happened until just two days before he was to testify under oath about the affair."
Now, more detail about several of the June 4 stories quoted above:
-- ABC's Good Morning America. After Charles Gibson's opening tease quoted above, Gibson set up a longer look, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
Sara James soon introduced NBC's story of the morning reported, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "Bombshell new details are emerging this morning from Hillary Clinton's book going on sale next week. In it Mrs. Clinton writes candidly about the moment her husband admitted he'd been unfaithful. NBC's Norah O'Donnell reports."
-- CNN's Inside Politics and NewsNight. Jonathan Karl began his piece: "At the time, her body language seemed to tell the story, but, until now, she hasn't. As the Clintons left for vacation in Martha's Vineyard in August 1998, after President Clinton admitted betraying his wife, their dog Buddy was the only member of the family willing to keep the President company. If the excepts obtained by the Associated Press are any indication, she vividly recounts how, during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the President woke her up one morning in the White House to tell her the truth about his affair only 48 hours before testifying about it and telling the rest of the world.
Karl concluded with a soundbite from Hillary Clinton about how she's "a private person" and about how Bill Clinton's memoirs will also soon be published.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw teased: "Hillary's story: The former First Lady reveals her pain and suffering over the Lewinsky affair. And what are the political consequences?"
Brokaw set up the story by celebrating how "candid" she is: "NBC News 'In Depth' tonight, surprisingly revelations from a book due out next week from former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Leaked excerpts show that she's a lot more candid about her personal life and feelings than many had expected."
Andrea Mitchell began by seeming to rue how Hillary is not meeting the feminist standard: "She's a power broker in the Senate and perhaps some day even a presidential candidate. But today the new Hillary was trying to explain why she portrays herself in her book as a woman wronged."
Mitchell ran through the quotes of how Hillary supposedly reacted when Bill told her the truth and then, without citing a scintilla of doubt, featured two soundbites supporting Hillary's take:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. With Peter Jennings in Jordan, fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas handled the domestic stories and set up a preview of the Walters interview: "Now to the new book by Hillary Clinton. It gives the former First Lady's account of her years in the White House. Mrs. Clinton spoke to us exclusively about the memoir and how she came to learn all the details surrounding the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She writes simply, 'As a wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck.' In the aftermath, Mrs. Clinton said, 'The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York.' But before her husband confessed, Hillary Clinton was one of his most loyal defenders. Barbara Walters has more now from her interview with the author."
Now indoors, ABC played this exchange from the interview in which Walters helpfully prompted Senator Clinton to agree that the Lewinsky story was "one more false rumor." The exchange:
With that, ABC's excerpt ended.
To watch that story online: abcnews.go.com
ABC's one-hour special with Walters interviewing Hillary Clinton titled, "Hillary Clinton's Journey: Public, Private, Personal," is scheduled to air Sunday night at 7pm EDT, 6pm CDT and after the NBA finals game in the West, so at about 8pm PDT, 9pm MDT.
FNC's Brit Hume pointed out how Hillary Clinton's claim, about being very angry at Bill Clinton and not talking to him for weeks after she "learned," just two days before he was to testify before a grand jury, that he really did have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, is at odds with Sidney Blumenthal's account of how the two were getting along fine just fine hours after the grand jury appearance.
On his Special Report with Brit Hume show on Wednesday night Hume also recounted Hillary's story and then asked: "Is Hillary's account of her rage at the President in the time when she only at the last realized that this Lewinsky story was true, is this credible?" NPR's Mara Liasson thought so. She passed along how he has "no problem believing" what Hillary wrote about not realizing the Lewinsky truth for eight months.
Hume set up a panel discussion on his June 4 program, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by raising the conflict with Blumenthal's book, an observation also made Rush Limbaugh on the radio earlier in the day. Hume noted:
NPR reporter Mara Liasson thought so. She chimed in: "You know what? There is no marriage more complicated than the Clintons. Most marriages are complicated. But you know what, I have no problem believing this because these are people who compartmentalize things. She was furious at him, but did she want to leave him or did she want him to lose his job? Absolutely not, and she was going to do what she could to help him keep it even though she was furious at him."
Peter Jennings, Palestinian propagandist. Anchoring from the site of the Middle East summit in Aqaba, Jordan, on Wednesday's World News Tonight, Jennings described Islamic Jihad and Hamas simply as "Palestinian groups," characterized their terrorist actions as their "fighting Israel," and concluded the newscast by arguing that Israeli extremists are the ones who have consistently scuttled peace efforts -- not Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks and refuse to even recognize Israel's right to exist.
Jennings recalled how Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and that in 1993 "Shimon Peres, another Israeli Prime Minister, deposed; Bill Clinton failed; Yasser Arafat was boycotted and placed under house arrest." Jennings then concluded by seeing the Israelis as the impediments as he adopted the assumption that the "territories," which her earlier called the "occupied territories," and Israel are two separate entities: "In the territories and in Israel, there are people tonight who are furious with their leaders, which is why there is fear that anger will sabotage the hope for peace once again."
Following stories on the June 4 ABC broadcast about the summit, Jennings relayed: "At least two Palestinian groups today described the event, the agreement today as an American-Israeli plot to dominate the Palestinians. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas said they had not yet agreed to stop fighting te Israelis, which the Palestinian Prime Minister very much wants them to do."
Jennings wrapped up the broadcast with his thoughts on the situation: "Finally this evening, from here in Jordan, a reality check. You have heard from the Middle East tonight, including from the President himself, that millions of people here hope, with the President's help, there will be a Palestinian-Israeli agreement. Land for peace. But we are reminded tonight in excerpts from two Israeli newspapers just how tough it may be.
Over video of protesting Israelis holding up signs all but one in Hebrew, Jennings concluded by seeing Israelis, not Palestinian terrorism, as the greatest threat to peace: "In the territories and in Israel, there are people tonight who are furious with their leaders, which is why there is fear that anger will sabotage the hope for peace once again."
The one sign in English: "Bush's War on G-D Who gives this Land to Israel?"
For the MRC's year-old compilation, "Palestine Pete: Peter Jennings and the Palestinians," go to: www.mediaresearch.org
Today, the second installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word ad which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times.
As noted in the June 4 CyberAlert, it's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
For more of Snow's take and for the first installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," culled from the first three paragraphs of his diatribe headlined "KILROY'S STILL HERE," see the June 4 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Saint Augustine said that "Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to change them." Beside me, my little girl tugged at the blue ribbon in her blond hair, her eyes forward, gentle but unblinking; her front teeth nipped a french fry, one slow bite at a time. As I started the car, I wondered if her future and my son's would befriend or be vanquished by Saint Augustine's daughters of hope. And I had to ask myself, "What remaining hope did I have? What example was I to them?" I carried troubling questions to the President of the United States, in a public letter printed October 18, 2002, in the Washington Post.
I'm neither a peace activist nor a partisan politico and the letter I printed did not represent the platform any movement, or speak with determination against any necessity. My letter spoke to questions of an American man and father, protected and encouraged by our Constitution, and obliged by my own individual sense of democracy and civic responsibility. I had been inspired to speak up by my love of my children, which recalled my admiration for our founding fathers, and the tradition of thousands of engaged men and women before me. In my own way, I sought to join all of them in waving the American flag.
Following the printing of that letter, my public flag, was hit by a tidal wave of media misrepresentation, and even accusations of treason. I experienced firsthand the repressive condition of public debate in our country, as it prepared for war. I was beginning to feel the price to paid by a citizen exercising a position of dissent.
If my hope as an American was not dwindling, it was certainly under siege. Hope though, like truth, is a stubborn creature.
END of Excerpt
Some later paragraphs are longer than those four put together.
For a PDF of the ad, go to Penn's Web site: www.seanpenn.com
The direct address for the PDF, from which I plucked the above text: www.seanpenn.com
For picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
Another installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day" in the next CyberAlert.
Barbara Walters is scheduled to appear tonight, Thursday, on the Late Show with David Letterman to plug her Hillary Clinton interview.
-- Brent Baker