Blaming the investigator and the whistle-blower. Monday night CBS again
questioned how Ken Starr traveled from Whitewater to sex and scrutinized
Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp, questioning their motives, as if that
Dan Rather informed viewers
of the January 26 CBS Evening News:
"The President may be
helped by a public feeling that his troubles may be due more to others
than himself. A CBS News/New York Times poll indicates a majority, 51
percent of Americans, feel the President's political enemies are more to
blame than he is for creating the current situation. As for special
prosecutor Republican Ken Starr, by nearly five to three people say he is
conducting a partisan rather than an impartial investigation."
Gee, I wonder where they
could get that idea. Could it be because a news anchor keeps calling him
"Republican Ken Starr"?
With Clinton under media
fire, after an ad break, Rather promised something new at CBS: accuracy
"With facts, accuracy
and fairness always as our guideposts, we're trying to dig deep as part
of our coverage of the White House under fire. As part of that, we've
taken a closer look for you at the link between the two people who ignited
this story: Linda Tripp, the former Bush and then Clinton White House
aide, who betrayed, by secretly taping, her friend Monica Lewinsky. And
Lucianne Goldberg, the one-time Nixon campaign dirty trickster who got
Tripp to do the taping. As CBS's Wyatt Andrews reports, the motive, at
least some of it, may have been financial."
As pointed out in the
January 25 CyberAlert, Goldberg also worked for Lyndon Johnson and John
Kennedy, but mentioning that would have ruined a perfectly good portrayal
of Goldberg has a Clinton hater.
In the subsequent story
Andrews reported that before taping Lewinsky, Tripp tried to sell a
gossipy book about the White House. Agent Goldberg was looking for an
expose of Clinton, but found Tripp's material too tame. Andrews asked:
"So could it be that Linda Tripp was taping Monica Lewinsky to get
the raw material for a salacious book? Goldberg admits she encouraged the
taping to enhance Tripp's credibility."
But, Andrews did mention,
Goldberg denied Tripp made the tapes in order to make money since there
was no book proposal. "Still," Andrews concluded, "the
public portrait of Linda Tripp is that of a woman who chanced upon a story
of presidential sex and lies. Now it's clear, at a minimum, she was
weighing what that story was worth."
This from a network
enjoying a news rating boom from its "White House Under Fire"
Following another ad break
Rather got to Starr, but managed to not tag him as a Republican in this
loaded introduction to a "Reality Check" from Eric Engberg:
"From the beginning,
critics of Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr have charged he is
ideologically and politically motivated in his investigation of the
Clintons, that he is, quote 'out to get the Clintons.' Now, the
question now becomes how did Starr's investigation go from a 20 year old
failed real estate deal in Arkansas to the sex life of a 24 year old
former White House intern."
Another history lesson on how the media greeted and dismissed as
unnewsworthy Flowers and Jones. Here's the front page article for the
January MediaWatch, written Monday by Associate Editor Tim Graham:
Media Jolted by Lewinsky
Story After Years of Saying Truth Wasn't Relevant
As the allegations erupted
that President Clinton told White House intern Monica Lewinsky to lie
about their sexual relationship, the combination of sex and perjury
charges jolted the media into action. But when questions of Clinton lying
about his sex life arose in the past, the media suggested that whether
Clinton was telling the truth was beside the point.
When the Gennifer Flowers
story arrived in Time in 1992, writer Lance Morrow scolded: "If the
public is going to behave like an idiot on the subject of sex, the
candidate will naturally do almost anything to avoid telling the truth
about any behavior less than impeccable." Morrow added: "Given
the size of the job that needs to be done, it is time for America to get
serious. At the very least, turn off the television set. And grow up about
After the election, Morrow
crowed in Time that Clinton "served to rehabilitate and restore the
legitimacy of American politics" and that a Bush victory would have
rewarded the use of "irrelevant or inflammatory issues...or dirty
tricks and innuendo."
In December of 1993, The
American Spectator broke the story of then-Governor Clinton using state
troopers to secure sexual conquests. National Public Radio reporter Nina
Totenberg noted: "When the American people hired Bill Clinton for
this job, they knew he was no saint. He virtually told them he was a
sinner." Newsweek's Joe Klein argued: "As long as the
peccadilloes remain within reason, the American people will have great
tolerance" for Clinton.
Paula Jones' 1994
allegation of earlier sexual harassment by Clinton got 16 seconds on
ABC's World News Tonight; zilch on CBS and NBC. Newsweek's Eleanor
Clift complained on C-SPAN: "It seems to me that the discussions
about Bill Clinton's sexual life came up during the campaign."
When Jones filed suit in
May of 1994, Tom Brokaw defended NBC's three-month smothering of the
story by echoing Eleanor Clift, insisting on CNBC's Tim Russert:
"It didn't seem to most people, entirely relevant to what was going
on at the time. These are the kind of charges raised about the President
before. They had been played out in the Gennifer Flowers episode."
Had the American voters clairvoyantly known that Clinton would be accused
of sexual harassment?
It shouldn't have been
surprising that the media's most desperate Clinton defenders stuck to
the same voters-don't-care mantra in the Lewinsky case. On January 21,
Clift defended Clinton in live coverage on MSNBC: "Well, he's been
elected twice with people knowing that he has had affairs. Now is the fact
that this woman is 21, I mean she's still of age I suppose."
Besides, Clift argued, "libido and leadership is often linked."
Yesterday's CyberAlert cited one comment from Eleanor Clift on the
McLaughlin Group. Here are a couple of more examples, caught by MRC news
analyst Geoffrey Dickens, of Clift impugning Starr and Lewinsky:
-- "What's going on
now are negotiations between Ken Starr and her lawyer, where Ken Starr is
going to try to find out what she can offer up in testimony and he's
playing hardball. And Mr. Ginsburg has already complained on television
that Ken Starr is squeezing his client and that the FBI already
interviewed her for six hours without her having benefit of attorney. And
it does bring Mr. Starr's tactics into question in this whole
-- "There's no way,
based on what we know now that this stuff holds up in court. These tapes
initially were made in, under questionable circumstances, state where
there's a felony. We've got hearsay....This would not hold up in court
which is why Kenneth Starr is putting it out into the public. His notion
is, his notion is to turn public opinion and to get as much of the lurid
details that are in these tapes, whether they are true or not and that is
the one aspect we don't know. There may be a delusional quality here
From the January 26 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
White House Jobs That Sound Dirty." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide
10. Polishing the
9. Unwrapping the Big Mac
8. Taking Buddy for a walk
7. Handling the Hotline
6. Vacuuming under the Oval
5. Waxing Air Force One
4. Shaking hands with the
3. Giving the President an
2. Taking dictation
> Finally, Tuesday's
Investor's Business Daily features a very informative front page story
recounting how the media have given Clinton a pass in previous scandals.
"A 6-Year Conspiracy of Silence" includes several quotes
provided by the MRC illustrating journalistic disdain for Jones, Flowers,
Troopergate and Gary Aldrich.
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