Brock Bought; NBC's Widow Labeling; ABC's Shot at Limbaugh
CNN anchors could not agree on whether Brock had retracted the accuracy of his story which appeared in the January 1994 issue of the American Spectator. On Inside Politics Judy Woodruff told viewers:
"In an opened letter to President Clinton, published in next month's Esquire magazine, David Brock says the Arkansas State troopers he interviewed for the article were, quote, 'greedy and had slimy motives,' end quote. Their description of procuring women for President Clinton, including one apparently named Paula led to the Jones lawsuit. That in turn sparked the Monica Lewinsky allegations. Brock writes to the President, again quote: 'My ransacking of your personal life has given your political adversaries,' who were now funding and fighting the Jones case, 'an opportunity to use the legal process to finish the job that I started.'"
Bernard Shaw then discussed this and other matters with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial page editor Paul Greenberg. His first question:
"Paul, you just heard the story...David Brock saying he had regrets. He questions the state troopers' motives, as Judy indicated. He said they had slimy motives, but he never says what they told him was untrue. Your reaction?"
But three hours later on the 8pm ET World Today Martin Savidge contradicted Shaw, asserting Brock is now saying his story was untrue:
"The reporter whose article set the wheels in motion for the Paula Jones suit is having second thoughts about its accuracy. The self-described conservative journalist David Brock now says that Mr. Clinton's enemies were behind that article. He focused on the President's alleged sexual escapades. In an open letter to Mr. Clinton in the current issue of Esquire Brock says, quote [on screen] 'Surveying the wreckage my report has wrought four years later I've asked myself over and over: What the hell was I doing investigating your private life in the first place?' unquote. A White House spokesman says the letter is an interesting correction of the record."
CNN moved on to a story from Wolf Blitzer on Lott, followed by a piece on McDougal, which Savidge introduced by insisting:
"The death of James McDougal yesterday leaves Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation without a badly needed key witness...."
Finally, Savidge briefly noted how Johnny Chung had surrendered his passport and Republican Congressman Jay Kim was sentenced to two months of home confinement as penalty for accepting illegal campaign donations.
FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report included a story
by Julie Kirtz on Lott, McDougal and Brock apologizing because he
"now doubts the credibility of his sources." Anchor Jon Scott,
like CNN, paired Johnny Chung's court appearance with Jay Kim's
Here's how the March 9 broadcast evening shows covered Monicagate and Brock's comments:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson began: "As the old saying goes, there's good news and there's bad news for the President today in the tactical battle for headlines. The bad news came from Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who retreated from his weekend suggestion that Kenneth Starr should wind up his investigation now..."
After showing Lott's Saturday comments followed by his Monday assertion that Clinton's lack of cooperation is dragging out the investigation, Donaldson moved to the good news:
"But if the White House lost Lott it appears to have gained David Brock. Brock wrote troopergate [video of the American Spectator's cover], the article in which Arkansas state troopers accused Mr. Clinton of sexual indiscretions when he was Governor. Because her first name was in the article, Paula Jones sued the President. But today in an open letter to President Clinton in Esquire, Brock said he now doubts the trooper's credibility. He's not proud of his role in making Paula Jones famous. And he tells the President [words on screen] 'What the Hell was I doing investigating your private life in the first place?'"
-- CBS Evening News delivered the most bizarre spin of the night, implying Republicans are blocking Clinton's legislative efforts because they are upset with his stonewalling on Monicagate. Dan Rather intoned:
"President Clinton's effort to re-focus public attention on his agenda, instead of the Ken Starr investigation, ran into new and rougher resistance today. The President took his health campaign against cigarettes to a convention of American Medical Association doctors, but the Republican response was 'not so fast.'"
Reporter Scott Pelley explained: "It appears the Monica Lewinsky matter is driving a wedge between the President and the Congress that could even affect legislation. Today Republicans demanded the whole truth while the President was pressing Congress to pass his coveted tobacco bill."
Pelley ran a clip of Clinton, noting that he wants tobacco taxes in order to pay for new programs but Trent Lott, Pelley relayed, said Clinton's stonewalling is "getting in the way of progress."
Rather asked Pelley about the impact of McDougal's death. Pelley offered an assessment opposite of CNN's Savidge, claiming that while he "provided prosecutors with many valuable documents," his contradictory stories meant "his credibility was shot."
Next, Rather focused on Brock:
"President Clinton got an unusual public apology today from the
journalist whose 1993 article in a Republican-connected journal, helped
set in motion, among other things, the Paula Jones case. Reporter David
Brock says he no longer believes in the credibility of the Arkansas state
troopers who were sources for his story. He now says they were, and I
quote, 'greedy' and had, quote, 'slimy motives.'"
Up next: David Bloom on how Lott "got the message" from other Republicans and shifted blame to Clinton, asking him to tell the truth.
Later, on MSNBC's 9pm ET/PT The News with
Brian Williams, the namesake anchor treated Brock's comments as a
religious rite: "Some major developments over the past 24 hours in
the Whitewater investigation, including a confession from one of the
one-time principle players. David Brock" now says he's "not
sure the story is true."
"David Brock's book about Hillary Clinton was a notorious flop. But the onetime conservative writer has found a subject that he thinks may be more salable: himself.
"His third book will be an expanded version of 'Confessions of a Right-Wing Hit Man,' his Esquire magazine mea culpa last July about how he and other conservatives stretched the truth and ignored facts to puff up Republicans or pound President Clinton.
"But the book -- for which Brock, 35, said he got a six-figure advance from Random House -- will, naturally, be part personal memoir...."
Write about the misdeeds of a liberal hero and the media denounce you. Write about the misdeeds of conservatives and you get hundreds of thousands of dollars and the networks jump at your every syllable.
On Mary Bono: "Like her late husband, she's a conservative Republican. But she's a political neophyte who plans to pick up where he left off..."
On the other widow: "Democrat Lois Capps is also trying to pick up the political pieces. Voters decide tomorrow whether she should succeed her husband Walter in Congress. He died of a heart attack last fall..."
And who must Capps beat? "Lois Capps' race against conservative Republican Tom Bordonaro has attracted national attention..."
There you have Gwen's prism: On Tuesday a "conservative Republican" is in one race while the other presents a "Democrat" of no ideological bent who must overcome another "conservative Republican."
Ray: "I wonder if she's a Republican."
Maureen: "You say that about everyone you don't like."
Ray: "She criticized my homiletic technique."
Maureen: "You mean open your mouth and hope for the best, that technique?"
Ray: "It works for Rush
-- Brent Baker
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