NBC Put Broaddrick On: Now What?
NBC finally aired its Lisa Myers interview with Juanita Broaddrick, but now what? Is this very serious allegation another one-day-and-punt story? CBS This Morning aired nothing this morning, and neither did ABC's Good Morning America.
Despite ABC's morning blackout, ABCNEWS.com is carrying a long story dated today by Josh Fine noting "ABC News also has had a series of conversations, many of which were off the record or on deep background, with the retired nursing home operator. She has now permitted us to put those statements on the record." Co-host Charles Gibson claimed interest in Broaddrick in GMA's newspaper-review segment last Friday. On Tuesday's newspaper roundup, Gibson touted a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer on a car crash that killed five girls because the driver had abused inhalants. GMA aired a complete interview segment today on that car crash.
This story started on the Internet, but you won't find it on many media Web sites today. The following sites carry no sign of Broaddrick today: NPR, Newsweek, U.S. News, CBS News, and The New York Times. Time only points toward discussing it on its message boards. PBS's "Online NewsHour" has a clip of Jim Lehrer talking to his media reporter Terence Smith, who noted how NBC was "heckled" into airing the story.
The Los Angeles Times offers its first Broaddrick story as a media navel-gazer by Josh Getlin and Elizabeth Jensen. The subheadline: "Whether a woman's allegation of sexual assault by Clinton in 1978 is true becomes secondary to competitive pressure." While Fox's Brit Hume argued public pressure "generates accountability" in the media, Times national editor Scott Kraft sniffed Broaddrick can "almost certainly not be proved or disproved today." The story ends with ex-CBS reporter Marvin Kalb complaining: "The lesson of all this is that it's hard these days for responsible journalists to uphold standards. In the current marketplace, it's become increasingly difficult to even try to do this. Even the best succumb to the worst."
The New York Times wrote its first piece yesterday as a media critique, lamenting that "smaller outlets on the Internet and cable television" are "overwhelming the slower and more sober judgments of mainstream news organizations." They called the Wall Street Journal editorial page "one of the nation's most conservative and a strident critic of Mr. Clinton."
NBC's Today aired two segments this morning. Reporter Claire Shipman carried the White House line without challenge, first floating rumors (see box), then adding: "Broaddrick isn't pressing charges. Even if she wanted to, the statute of limitations has long expired. It's not part of an ongoing investigation at this point. And at this point, the White House is hoping it will turn into a situation reminiscent of much of last year, a case of he said versus she said, an unprovable charge that will quickly fade."
Katie Couric questioned Alan Dershowitz and Wall Street Journal editorial writer Dorothy Rabinowitz, who noted other accusers without eyewitnesses: "We were not present...when [Anita Hill] worked for Clarence Thomas, and what was Thomas accused of? Telling dirty jokes. This did not prevent women members of Congress from rushing up to the Hill to demand justice. That was he said, she said, too. So this is quite a double standard." - Tim Graham