Partisan GOP "Rammed Through" Its Plan; Rather Castigated Senators
1) ABC's Linda Douglass
asserted that "Republicans rammed through a plan of their own"
and CBS's Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer both referred to how Republicans
"pushed through" their plan.
2) Senate Republicans and
Democrats disagree. Guess which party the Washington Post blamed for
ruining the "bipartisan spirit"?
3) Geraldo Rivera insisted the
witnesses "should be pitied" because "they are three
private citizens." Sidney Blumenthal?
4) MSNBC's John Hockenberry
wove the usual tale about the VRWC and wondered if Clinton "could sue
for false arrest if he's not allowed to present a case" before the
5) Dan Rather complained that
while the "trial drags on" because of Republicans,
"Questions such as what to do about Social Security, improving the
nation's schools....are on hold."
6) Correction: Today did
recall how Hillary Clinton said that if the Lewinsky story were true it
would be "a very serious offense." But Bob Woodward insisted
that showed "she really did not know."
7) Three instances of the
media raising conservative angles: Ted Koppel on declining public concern
for morality, Jeff Greenfield labeling the Democratic position
"extreme," and a CNN guest noting that potential blackmail made
Clinton's activity a public concern.
>>> "Why Do Reporters Lionize
Clinton Aides Who Advocate Lying or Giving Nothing to Reporters? Cheryl
Mills: Liar, Obstructor... Heroine?" The latest MRC Media Reality
Check fax report is now featured on the MRC home page. Tim Graham opens
the report: "After Deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills defended
the President before the Senate on January 20, the media touted a new
star. But almost none of them mentioned that she's facing her own
investigation for perjury and obstruction of justice." To read the
entire fax report go to http://www.mrc.org
or directly to it at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1999/fax19990128.html
Partisan "partisanship" by Republicans became the network mantra
Thursday night after Democrats and Republicans each backed their own plans
for what to do next. ABC's Linda Douglass asserted that
"Republicans rammed through a plan of their own," as if it were
done unfairly. CBS's Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer both referred to how
Republicans "pushed through" their plan.
ABC and NBC
focused on White House anger at Republican unfairness, though at least
ABC's Peter Jennings noted that Clinton's lawyers had threatened to
delay the process. CNN's Wolf Blitzer explained that the "White
House reacted angrily" to the video depositions as "what
frightens them is the mere spectacle of Lewinsky openly discussing the
most embarrassing and humiliating moments in the Clinton presidency."
Blitzer uniquely showed a clip of Lawton Chiles' daughter at his
memorial service lashing out at Republicans, demanding they "...sow
mercy so that God can then bestow upon you his harvest of mercy."
Colleague John King credited "extraordinary pressures from the
conservative base of the Republican Party" and the managers for
encouraging the Republican Senators to move ahead.
Every network led
Thursday night, January 28, with the just completed Senate votes, except
the CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened with how the Governor of Missouri
agreed to the Pope's request to commute a death sentence: "Good
evening. Josef Stalin once mocked the power of the Pope, asking, 'How
many divisions does he have'? He doesn't have any, but again today
there was on display the power of John Paul II to prevail over
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings began by emphasizing how "as of tonight
partisanship only looks to become more intense."
Linda Douglass opened her piece by portraying the
Democrats as helpless victims of a Republican onslaught: "Peter,
you're absolutely right. The Senate simply degenerated into partisan
warfare. First the Democrats tried to get a vote up or down on the
articles of impeachment. That failed. Then the Democrats tried to get a
vote on their plan for how to proceed with the depositions. That failed.
And then Republicans rammed through a plan of their own."
From the White
House Sam Donaldson relayed: "The President's aides are saying
tonight that the Republican plan is terribly unfair to the President, that
it's vague and allows the mangers on the Republican House side to run
amuck if they want, stretch this thing out for months and that it most of
all is back to partisanship..."
Peter Jennings countered: "On the other hand
Sam the White House has threatened to drag it out if it doesn't get its
Donaldson agreed, and then concluded with these
remarks, which make sense until the end where he lost me: "...but if
necessary the President's lawyers are prepared to ask for their own
witnesses, look over those 60,000 pages of depositions and string it out
themselves. Linda was exactly right. It is in partisanville. And as one
White House aide says, 'they tell us not to celebrate. What should we
do? Not cancel the Fourth of July fireworks?'"
-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Dan Rather declared:
"Senate Republicans have just pushed through their plan for the next
phase of the impeachment trial." In the subsequent story Bob
Schieffer employed the very same terminology, referring to the plan
"Republicans pushed through tonight."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw began:
"Good evening. Any illusion of a bipartisan
spirit in the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate blew up tonight as the
two sides now are fighting bitterly over how to handle witnesses and their
testimony. The negotiations went on all day, but when they began to call
the vote the Republicans were plainly in control."
actually highlighted how the Democrats wanted to limit public access,
contrasting the vote with how the parties were reversed on the dismissal
debate: "Another party line vote, but this time it's the Democrats
who wanted to keep the secrets, the Republicans who want to open witness
testimony to the public."
NBC gave Claire
Shipman time to deliver the unrebutted White House spin: "They do not
like this at all. What they're saying tonight is that this vote makes
plain from their point of view that bipartisanship in this trial is dead.
As one adviser said tonight, 'we've been had.' They think the
proposal is blatantly unfair because, as they see it, it means Republicans
could keep the trial going for months, could call more witnesses, could
bring in outside information. Now, what can they do about it? Not very
much. They're continuing to study the proposal. They don't feel they
have any choice but to participate in the process obviously, but you can
bet they're going to keep complaining about it."
Media definition of bipartisanship: Republicans do what Democrats want.
Media definition of lack of bipartisanship: Republicans use their majority
to win passage of a plan opposed by the minority Democrats.
textbook example -- The headline over a January 27 Washington Post
"analysis" piece by Eric Pianin:
"Republicans Seem Poised to Call Witnesses,
Risk Bipartisan Spirit."
Rivera thinks the three witnesses should be pitied. MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens caught this whining on the January 27 Rivera Live:
"Henry Hyde called them a pitiful three.
Referring to the cut down witness list. But Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan
and Sidney Blumenthal should be pitied. They are three private citizens
now again being forced to answer humiliating painful questions about a
man, at least one of them loved, maybe they are all loved and admired.
It's not the first time they've told their stories obviously but sure
hope it will be their last."
I'll buy. But Jordan is a high-profile lawyer used to the public
spotlight and Sidney Blumenthal is hardly just a "private
citizen." He's a political operative for the White House best known
for encouraging Hillary Clinton to impugn others with his tales of a vast
Speaking of the VRWC, MSNBC host John Hockenberry is striving to match
Geraldo Rivera's enthusiasm for trying to prove Hillary Clinton correct,
despite the weakness of the case.
Before getting to
Richard Scaife as Godfather of the VRWC, Wednesday night on his show, now
bumped to 10pm ET, Hockenberry suggested Clinton could sue for false
arrest, asking law professor Jonathan Turley: "Although Jonathan, if
the Senate does go ahead with this finding of fact idea after the
Republicans argued so strongly against censure, doesn't that make this a
show trial? And you might even go as far to suggest, as Lanny Davis almost
does, that the President could sue for false arrest if he's not allowed
to present a case?"
got to the one year anniversary of the vast right wing conspiracy charge.
MRC analyst Mark Drake documented how instead of dissecting its weakness,
he presented evidence in support:
"Well, let's see if the elements add up.
Start with conservative millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, referred to a
moment ago, who poured money into something called 'the Arkansas
project,' a private investigation aimed at digging up dirt on Bill
Clinton. One of the journalists who took back-channel funding from Scaife,
David Brock. He then wrote a story in the Scaife supported American
Spectator and named a 'Paula' who claimed Clinton had approached
her for sex. Enter Paula Jones and her sexual harassment case against the
Following a soundbite of Jones Hockenberry
continued: "While Jones had three legal teams helping her at
different times and has the legal bills to prove it today, she also had
crucial and very private help from what the New York Times called
'a small secret clique of lawyers who share a deep antipathy towards the
President.' Sounds like a conspiracy yet? Well, add this to the mix. One
of those lawyers went on to tip off Ken Starr's office about Linda
Tripp's tapes, which, of course, were the key evidence in exposing the
President's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Other lawyers belonging to that
clique later arranged for Tripp to take her evidence directly to Starr,
kicking off the investigation which finally triggered the President's
impeachment and brought us all to this moment. Let's not forget New York
book agent Lucianne Goldberg, the former political operative for Richard
Nixon's Watergate tainted 1972 campaign who got Tripp taping or talking
to Lewinsky in the first place and taping Lewinsky in the first place...So
do the First Lady's charges add up?"
"America's Business Is On Hold" read the headline over a January
25 "Dan Rather's Notebook" commentary on the CBS News Web
page. In the text of what was also a radio commentary announced by Rather,
the CBS anchor blamed Republicans for putting the trial ahead of the
public interest. Rather began:
"The Republican leadership has decided, and
spoken. They do not want an end, any end, to the drive to remove President
Clinton from office. Not now, and perhaps not any time soon..."
Rather wrapped up:
"They want the calling of witnesses and the
lengthening out of the process.
"This is where the matter now stands.
"Questions such as what to do about Social
Security, improving the nation's schools, and the drug menace among
America's youth basically are on hold. So is what to do about threats to
health of the U.S. economy by what is happening in Asia and Brazil; the
threats to U.S. security posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; and the
peril represented by a collapsing Russia and an emerging China -- all
important parts of the people's business -- all remain pretty much on
hold, while the trial drags on."
As if any of those
items would have been solved during these few weeks. And the impeachment
trial does not involve the House, but what are they now doing?
Correction and elaboration: An item in the January 28 CyberAlert, on the
Today show's interview with two Hillary Clinton defenders to mark the
one-year anniversary of her infamous Today interview, concluded:
"'Enough time' on the VRWC? But Today had no time to explore
Hillary Clinton's admission on Today that if the charges were true that
would be 'very serious.'" (Bob Woodward assured Today viewers
that "based on the best evidence we have at this point she obviously
was speaking from the heart" and Today co-host Matt Lauer asked him:
"And Bob real quickly she said there if, 'The real story here if
anyone wants to take the time to investigate it.' Has enough time been
spent on that aspect of that story?")
In fact, after the
portion of the interview quoted in CyberAlert, Lauer did play the part of
the January 1998 interview in which Hillary Clinton stated: "Well, I
think that if all that were proven true I think that would be a very
serious offense. That is not gonna be proven true."
Lauer then asked
Woodward: "How does that sound a year later?" Making CyberAlert
"legally accurate," Woodward did not "explore" the
issue by looking into the hypocrisy of Clinton backers or at her
disingenuousness. Matching the pro-Hillary tone of the rest of the
interview, he instead contended her reply only proved she really didn't
know the allegations about her husband and Lewinsky were true: "Well
I think it shows that she really did not know and that in fact for her to
say that it would be a very serious offense if this is true, I mean I take
her at her word there. I do not think this is an act."
For a change of pace, today we'll end on an upbeat note by showcasing
three instances from the past week of ABC and CNN raising rarely mentioned
conservative agenda angles on the Lewinsky scandal: Ted Koppel asking two
Democrats whether public support for Clinton reflects badly on the values
of Americans; CNN's Jeff Greenfield suggesting to a Democratic Senator
that his party's stance, that even if Clinton is guilty of obstruction
and lying under oath Senators should vote to acquit, is "a rather
extreme" view; and former Senator Sam Nunn on CNN pointing out that
since Clinton's phone calls with Lewinsky could have been tapped, thus
opening him up to blackmail, his behavior is not just a private matter.
-- Doesn't it
bother you that the President does not have to be ethical to be popular?
From the January 22 Nightline:
Ted Koppel to Mario Cuomo: "You've got a
President who is nevertheless popular because he's been very successful.
But what does this say about our country, our values?"
Koppel to Senator Dianne Feinstein: "Does
that bother you at all, that sort of, the fact that we've seem to have
almost dismissed the notion that the President of the United States ought
to be ethical, moral, a good example to young people?"
-- It's the Democrats, not conservatives for a
change, who have taken an "extreme" position. From CNN's Trial
of the President 10pm ET special on January 27:
Jeff Greenfield to Senator Dick Durbin: "Let
me take up a point that Russ Feingold made in explaining his vote. With
the single exception of Senator Feingold, every single Democrat, by voting
to dismiss, had to assume as true every inference the House managers made.
That means that you have said, 'Even if President Clinton was at the
center of an attempt to buy Monica Lewinsky's silence, even if he enlisted
Vernon Jordan in that effort, even if he lied under oath at the grand
jury, even if he obstructed justice, we're not -- we're going to vote to
acquit.' Isn't that a rather extreme statement, saying, 'We don't care
what witnesses might say, we're not going to vote to remove him from
-- Clinton's acts were public because they
opened him to blackmail. From CNN's Trial of the President on January
21, an excerpt of an interview with former Senator Sam Nunn:
Nunn: "There's also the question that I
think must be asked, perhaps not directly related to these articles of
impeachment, maybe even after it's over, but it seems to me that the
Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee must ask the
question about espionage. For people to say that the President of the
United States having -- allegedly -- telephone sex, is strictly private,
has nothing to do with official duties. It means they've never been
acquainted with the world of espionage and the world of blackmail. And,
certainly, the White House itself is one of the most targeted places in
the world in terms of foreign espionage.
"And so you have to ask the question: What
if a foreign agent heard a young woman carrying on discussions, and then
tapped her telephone? Those are the kind of questions that have to be
asked, and we have the understand there are consequences, and risks and
dangers anytime the President has conversations on the phone, which could
be intercepted and could be embarrassing to him personally."
Bernard Shaw: "Let's underscore that. Can
you elaborate on that, when you say there are 'consequences?'"
Nunn: "The consequences are there's exposure
and risk. I have no idea whether there was any kind of intercept here. I'm
not on the committees, but those questions have to be asked because you
don't want any President, or any high-ranking official in a position, to
be leveraged by any kind of, either foreign power, or even domestic
source. So that's the danger here. And private conduct that can be used in
that way becomes a matter of great public concern."
Nunn later added: "They may not go to the
articles of impeachment, but I keep hearing people say that strictly
private behavior has nothing to do with official duties. And I just don't
see how anybody can come to that conclusion that knows anything about how
the world operates."
Some non-liberal views you don't hear expressed
very often on the networks. -- Brent Baker
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