1) Cokie Roberts blamed the
inability of Senators to agree upon how to proceed on "conservative
Republicans who just want to torture the President for as long as they
humanly can." ABC and NBC led Tuesday night by emphasizing
2) "Whatever the
verdict, Robert Byrd will make sure it's done right, for the Senate
and for history" because he's "a Democrat known for
integrity and independence." So gushed NBC's Lisa Myers in
skipping Byrd's pork-barreling and Klan membership.
3) Today's Matt Lauer
wondered if people in the future will consider the Clinton scandals
"much ado about nothing" and seemed baffled that Gary Bauer
did not see Elizabeth Dole "as catering to the people on the far
right of the party enough."
4) On Tailwind, Perry Smith
declared Tuesday that CNN is "well short of doing all the right
things." The former CNN military affairs consultant complained:
"They didn't get rid of Peter Arnett and Rick Kaplan, which they
should have done."
5) Elizabeth Dole has won
Dan Rather's blessing. He argued that getting females to vote
Republican "will be a hard task given the Republican Party's
official position on abortion and some other issues directly affecting
women," a problem Dole can solve.
>>> Amplification. The January 5
CyberAlert cast doubt about the accuracy of referring to Elizabeth Dole
as a "social conservative" and quoted Cal Thomas as saying on
FNC that "she does have a liberal streak." Though she has
never advanced any conservative policies as far as I know, I may have
assumed too much. In their January 5 Washington Bulletin (available at http://www.nationalreview.com),
National Review's John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru wrote that in the
wake of John Ashcroft's decision not too run, "The leadership of
the Christian Coalition desperately wants to get behind a single
candidate in 2000; Robertson and his top lieutenants had hoped Ashcroft
would be their man. Now they might look to a woman: Robertson is close
to the Doles, and she is well-liked by grassroots social conservatives
unaware of her dodgy record on abortion."
ABC and NBC led Tuesday night by emphasizing seeming Senate disarray as
the Thursday swearing-in approaches as every network (ABC, CNN, FNC and
NBC) but CBS, which began with Iraq, started with the impending Senate
action. "Impeachment chaos," declared NBC's Tom Brokaw. But
NBC Nightly News seemed to display the chaos as seconds apart David
Bloom referred to how "Senate Republicans are in disarray about how
to proceed" and to how "a Republican consensus is emerging
On ABC, Cokie
Roberts blamed the inability to come to an agreement on
"conservative Republicans who just want to torture the President
for as long as they humanly can," a group she unfavorably
contrasted with Democrats like Robert Byrd who are "serious
constitutionalists who really think the process should play out."
Here are some
highlights from the Tuesday, January 5 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
"Good evening. It's less than 48 hours
now until the President's impeachment trial is supposed to begin in
the Senate. It does not get any more serious than that. And still the
men and women of the country's most thoughtful, deliberative political
body cannot figure out what to do."
looked at how Trent Lott could not sell conservatives on a four day
|Jennings then asked Cokie
Roberts "Why is it so difficult to get started?"
Roberts answered by implying
conservatives are unprincipled political hacks while more
liberal members with concerns about Clinton are "serious
constitutionalists." Roberts told Jennings: "I
can't answer it in a phrase because it is complicated. Part
of it is that you have conservative Republicans who just want
to torture the President for as long as they humanly can. But
part of it is that you have serious constitutionalists who
really think the process should play out -- Senator Byrd among
-- CBS Evening News. "In an atmosphere of
fierce partisan politics, a trial that could remove President Clinton
from office is now scheduled to start Thursday in the U.S. Senate,"
Dan Rather announced in introducing a piece from Bob Schieffer. From the
White House Scott Pelley explained how Clinton's lawyers are
"prepared for war" in a real trial.
Dan Rather then
cited two CBS News poll results. First, that when asked what the Senate
should do first, 64 percent said "vote on charges" while just
29 percent replied "begin a full trial." Second, "Is a
full trial necessary?" No said 63 percent versus just 32 percent in
Engberg profiled new House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He began: "The
portly ex-teacher known to all as Denny is not an accidental Speaker.
He's sturdy workhorse who benefits from bizarre times and the right
-- CNN's The World Today. Bob Franken raised
the issue of how House managers might cite the Jane Does, women not
named in Starr's report, including the one woman Tom DeLay has been
denounced as a McCarthyite, by Al Hunt and Evan Thomas, for mentioning.
(See the January 4 CyberAlert.) Franken told viewers:
"Among them, Jane Doe #5. Several
congressional sources who have seen the documents say she claims she was
pressured to sign an affidavit in which she denied 'unwelcome sexual
advances' by Bill Clinton 20 years ago. According to these
congressional sources, the FBI agent and Starr investigators who
interviewed her decided her claim was quote 'inconclusive.'"
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw's tease
"Impeachment chaos 48 hours before the President's trial. Still,
no agreement on what the Senate really wants to do."
Brokaw then opened with the same theme:
"Good evening. It may be the trial of the century, the most
important vote a Senator will cast, the impeachment of a President, the
political life of Bill Clinton and his place in history. But tonight,
the Senators can't agree on how to proceed. The wrangling within and
between the parties is expected to continue right up to the beginning of
the trial with preliminaries scheduled for Thursday."
began: "Tonight Senate Republicans are in disarray about how to
proceed and NBC News has learned there's a hitch."
The hitch: Because of the Supreme Court
schedule, a trial start may have to be delayed until late next week. But
just seconds after stressing Republican disarray, Bloom discovered
"A Republican consensus is emerging
tonight to hold a full-fledged trial, with a limited number of witnesses
followed by an up or down vote on whether to convict or acquit the
Robert Byrd, you're my hero. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News and
MSNBC's News with Brian Williams reporter Lisa Myers, who normally
delivers some of the most solid and insightful reporting seen on a
broadcast network, provided a gushing tribute to Democratic Senator
Robert Byrd which didn't manage to mention what he's known best for
-- pork-barrel spending for his home state -- or, in praising his
"unflinching devotion to principle," did she recall his
opposition to the Civil Rights Act or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
saw a piece full of superlatives. Myers began by describing him as
"The Senate's most respected voice on impeachment, a Democrat
known for integrity and independence." After noting that he
doesn't think witnesses are necessary, she explained the importance of
"The Senator's words carry special
weight because he's a scholar, has written books on the Senate, and
its rules and traditions. Most politicians quote public opinion polls,
Byrd quotes the founding fathers and Greek and French
quick clip of Byrd citing the names of some philosophers, admired Myers:
"This from an orphan who grew up in
grinding poverty, worked first as a butcher and earned his law degree at
night after he was elected to the Senate from West Virginia. His only
known indulgence, his fiddle, which he gave up in sorrow after his
grandson died. For Byrd it was a matter of sacrifice, a matter of
principle. And it is that unflinching devotion to principle that Byrd
puts above everything, including his party."
Myers showed how Byrd called Clinton's post-impeachment pep rally
"an egregious display of shameless arrogance." But he also
told her censure would damage Clinton, a point right out of the
Democratic spin machine. Myers concluded by effusing: "Whatever the
verdict, Robert Byrd will make sure it's done right, for the Senate
and for history."
over some parts of Byrd's life that are not so admirable. In a January
18 New Republic article titled "Byrd Brain," David Plotz, a
Senior Writer with the Slate online magazine, reminded readers:
"In 1964, he demonstrated his growing
mastery of procedure by filibustering the Civil Rights Act for more than
14 hours, one of the longest such delays in Senate history. Several
years later, Byrd voted against the Supreme Court nomination of Thurgood
Marshall. (Byrd briefly belonged to the Ku Klux Klan in his twenties, a
misstep he has apologized for but never adequately explained. He has
written that, at the time, he believed the Klan was 'an effective
force in the struggle against communism and in the promotion of
traditional American values,' which sounds more like a Klan
advertisement than sincere remorse.)
"And, as a legislator, Byrd has
accomplished little -- unless you count getting most of the state of
West Virginia named after him. In 1988, he retired from the Majority
Leader's job to chair the Appropriations Committee. He used that
position to uproot government agencies from D.C. to West Virginia,
relocating parts of the Coast Guard, Treasury Department, FBI, ATF and
other departments to the Mountain State...."
What are the
chances a network profile of a Republican Senator would not mention his
or her dedicated opposition the Civil Rights Act and to the first black
ever nominated for a Supreme Court seat, never mind membership in a
violent, racist group?
On Tuesday morning Today's Matt Lauer wondered if people in the future
will consider the Clinton scandals "much ado about nothing"
and seemed baffled that Gary Bauer did not see Elizabeth Dole "as
catering to the people on the far right of the party enough." MRC
news analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted how in separate interviews Lauer hit
both Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and conservative leader Gary
Bauer from the left about getting beyond a Senate trial.
pushing Daschle about getting Clinton to sign aboard a censure deal, on
the January 5 show Lauer suggested:
"Let's talk about pure politics for a
second and not necessarily what's in the best interest of the country.
Wouldn't it be in the best interest of Democrats, Senator, for the
Republicans to drag this out for month after month in the Senate?
Wouldn't they take a beating at the polls or in the polls, and at the
election or in the election in the year 2000 if they do that?"
question to Daschle: "Let me just finish with one thing that the
Los Angeles Times reported this past weekend that when asked how
impeachment felt President Clinton answered quote, 'Not bad.' Senator
Daschle do you think in the years to come that people will look back on
this as much ado about nothing?"
During the 8am
hour Today brought on Gary Bauer, who just announced he'll be leaving
the Family Research Council in anticipation of a presidential bid. Lauer
pressed repeatedly about how a trial is unnecessary:
-- Lauer: "They're basically saying on,
you know, one day you have the House version of the events. The second
day the White House responds and then a couple of days later the
Senators vote their conscience. What's the matter with that?"
-- "You say the American public polls
should not matter, they should be ignored. But even when you talk to
members of the Senate and members of Congress they don't seem to think
that they rise to the level of an impeachable offense."
-- "Let's be very honest here. This
President has been severely damaged already. He's a lame duck. He's
going away in two years anyway. Come 2000 people like you can run for
the presidency on issues like virtue and character. But why not get
back, especially within the Republican Party, to the issues that the
American people say they want talked about now? Taxation and healthcare
and social security. Wouldn't that help rejuvunate the Republican Party?
-- "I want to talk about your plans for
the future in a second but you say its possible to walk and chew gum at
the same time. Surely you're not suggesting that during some long drawn
out trial in the Senate we can continue the process of running the
-- After Bauer explained why he may run, Lauer
retorted: "You don't see Elizabeth Dole as catering to the people
on the far right of the party enough?"
Peter Arnett and Rick Kaplan should go. Perry Smith, the former CNN
military affairs consultant who departed after the network failed to
heed his advice on the inaccuracy of the Tailwind story, complained the
network is "well short of doing all the right things" to truly
repent for its misdeed.
Tuesday night's Late Late Show with Tom Snyder on CBS, Smith cited
four CNN shortcomings in how it handled the June story it later
retracted. Tom Snyder asked: "I just wonder, if because of this,
they have tightened up their investigative unit, they take more
precautions than they may have taken before. Do you think there may be a
positive fallout to what happened to them here?"
Smith replied: "Yes, I think so. They've
done a lot of things to try to correct this, but there are four things
they haven't done. They didn't say it really didn't happen. They
didn't do a full retraction. They didn't get rid of Peter Arnett and
Rick Kaplan, which they should have done. And they never gave the
warriors a chance to full air time to explain what actually happened on
that mission. So they're well short of doing all the right things, but
they certainly have taken some steps."
your recollection" as they say in another scandal, Arnett was the
reporter on the NewsStand: CNN & Time story about how a U.S.
military unit went into Laos during the Vietnam War in order to use
deadly sarin gas to kill defecting U.S. servicemen. Kaplan is the
President of the CNN.
the gravity of the charge made by CNN:
"If it had been true, it would have been a
much bigger story than My Lai. It would have been in fact the worst war
crime in the history of America. And it never happened, none of those
things happened and yet CNN still has not said that what they did was
wrong and totally in error in this great expose."
Dan Rather believes Elizabeth Dole is just the candidate Republicans
need to win female voters. In a "Dan Rather's Notebook"
radio commentary posted Monday night, January 4, on the CBS News Web
page, the CBS News anchor contended winning over women "will be a
hard task given the Republican Party's official position on abortion and
some other issues directly affecting women." Here's an excerpt of
what he wrote/announced:
Republicans are increasingly aware that
if they are to win the presidency in 2000, they must do something to do
better among women voters. Most especially women who consider themselves
either Republicans or independents -- swing voters.
Republicans have lost the past two
presidential elections in no small part because they have not done well
among women voters. By any objective analysis, Bill Clinton would not be
President if the GOP had made a stronger showing among female GOP and
independent voters in 1992 and 1996.
What the Republicans need, and would like
to have next time, is a ticket that not only will hold the Republicans
base among GOP women but one that will also draw in independents and, at
best, even pull away some women from the Democrats.
That will be a hard task given the
Republican Party's official position on abortion and some other issues
directly affecting women. With all of this in mind, it is not difficult
to see why Liddy Dole believes she may have a chance to be on the next
Republican ticket as a vice-president, perhaps even a presidential
By Rather's reasoning, the pro-choice Lynn Martin should have won her
Senate race as a moderate Republican versus Paul Simon in Illinois. -- Brent Baker
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