Sex Assault in '78 "Unsubstantiated"; Breast-Rubbing Squeezed Out
2) Who simulates oral sex, jokes about sex with animals, and after 40 minutes won't give up rubbing a woman's breast as his wife sleeps nearby? The President, according to a flight attendant's recollections the networks have yet to pick up.
On Saturday night NBC's Lisa Myers took the assault charge seriously, detailing how the incident became public, citing the woman's name and running soundbites from the man whose knowledge the Jones lawyers cited. She even added supporting evidence from another contemporary witness. ABC, in contrast, referred to the woman only as "Jane Doe #5" as Linda Douglass emphasized the lack of credibility of those making the charge, dismissing them as Clinton enemies. Sunday night ABC again punctuated the weakness of the charge instead of exploring it as CBS also framed the story around White House outrage.
On Friday night none of the broadcast networks or CNN's The World Today mentioned any aspect of a Clinton scandal. Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for the fourth, fifth and sixth nights in a row, the broadcast networks led with Jonesboro. Each also featured full reports on Clinton's trip to Africa.
Here are some noteworthy highlights from Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights:
-- Friday, March 27. Reporting on Clinton's visit to Mandela's Robben Island prison cell Sam Donaldson observed on ABC's World News Tonight: "Rarely does the President of the United States find himself overshadowed by someone else, but Mr. Clinton seemed not to mind today. In fact he was clearly awed and moved by Mandela's story and presence. A great power is one thing, a great human being is quite another."
On the CBS Evening News reporter Scott Pelley told viewers:
"Mandela made a point of embracing Cuba, Libya and Iran, calling them friends who helped in his darkest hour."
Mandela: "The United States as the leader of the world should set an example and one of the best ways of doing so is to call upon its enemies to say let's sit down and talk peace."
Pelley: "Even if he couldn't agree, the world's most powerful leader was clearly humbled by a man whose courage made his people free."
-- Saturday, March 28. (NCAA basketball meant no CBS Evening News.)
On ABC's World News Tonight Saturday anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced:
"A court document filed for lawyers for Paula Jones is making news today. It was filed after the President's lawyer asked the judge to dismiss the case. The documents from Jones's lawyers contain new allegations which show just how ugly this case is getting."
Reporter Linda Douglass explained how the Jones team accused Clinton of perjury, obstruction of justice and suppression of evidence for denying in response to a subpoena that the White House had any correspondence related to Kathleen Willey and then releasing letters immediately after the 60 Minutes interview.
Douglass proceeded to the "ugly" charge: "But Jones's lawyers didn't stop at obstruction of justice. They also claim to have 'significant evidence' which suggests Mr. Clinton 'sexually assaulted' a woman, Jane Doe #5, twenty years ago. But the main evidence they produced was a second-hand account from a man named Phil Yoakum, who says in a letter that Jane Doe #5 told him about the alleged assault. Yoakum says his account can be corroborated by Sheffield Nelson, a Republican who is Mr. Clinton's arch-enemy in Arkansas. Legal sources tell ABC News that Jane Doe #5 told Jones' lawyers under oath that the incident did not happen, but the lawyers did not include her denial in their court papers today. The President's lawyer called the Jane Doe #5 allegations 'reckless and outrageous,' a sign he said that Jones's lawyers are becoming desperate. The judge in the Jones case is expected to rule on the President's motion to dismiss the case in the next several weeks."
NBC's Lisa Myers provided a more complete overview of the charge so viewers could decide for themselves its credibility. On NBC Nightly News she began: "The explosive new allegation tonight is that President Clinton sexually assaulted a woman twenty years ago in Arkansas..."
After noting that Clinton was Attorney General at the time he supposedly forced himself upon campaign worker Juanita Broaddrick, Myers relayed: "In court documents today Jones's lawyers claim Clinton quote 'forcible raped and sexually assaulted' then quote 'bribed and intimidated her' to remain silent."
Broaddrick has denied the charge under oath, Myers noted, before continuing: "NBC News has talked to four people from Arkansas who say Broaddrick told them of such an assault years ago..."
Specifically, she told Phillip Yoakum. Myers explained:
"In an interview with NBC News Yoakum said Broaddrick told him that Clinton invited himself to her hotel room, allegedly to discuss her nursing home business. She told you in 1981 that Bill Clinton assaulted her?"
Yoakum: "Yes, 1981 is when she told me."
Myers: "Did you believe her at the time?"
Yoakum: "I believed her."
Myers: "Yoakum admits he is no fan of the President and that he unsuccessfully tried to get Broaddrick to publicly tell her story when Bill Clinton first ran for President."
Yoakum: "And she says who would believe me..."
Myers: "There was another woman at that hotel that day, a nurse and friend of Broaddrick who says she iced her friend's face after the alleged assault. In a telephone interview with NBC News, this woman, who admits she dislikes Clinton, said Broaddrick was 'distraught,' her 'lips were swollen, at least double in size.' She told me they had 'intercourse against her will.'"
-- Sunday, March 29. ABC and NBC only gave the assault charge a couple of sentences while CBS, which did not have a Saturday newscast, gave it a bit more time:
ABC's World News Tonight Sunday. In the second half of a story which began with how Republicans attacked Clinton for failing to release the Willey letters when subpoenaed, reporter
Mike Von Fremd delivered this one sentence on the assault charge, an introduction to a soundbite from Senator Robert Torricelli: "...The White House and other Democrats also denounced the Jones lawyers for making public an unsubstantiated twenty year-old allegation of sexual assault that even the woman in question denied under oath."
Following Torricelli Von Fremd concluded: "Despite the White House outrage Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr this past week subpoenaed more documents from Paula Jones's attorneys related to the most recent allegations of improper sexual conduct by Mr. Clinton."
On the CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson first went to the "gross suppression of evidence" charged by Jones. Then she jumped to the assault charge, but she provided none of the details relayed by NBC and led with White House denials instead of explaining the allegation:
"...The White House describes as outrageous and false other allegations in the new Jones documents -- unsubstantiated claims that Bill Clinton raped a woman back in 1978 when he was Arkansas's Attorney General, then suppressed her story through bribes and/or threats. Outraged Clinton defenders say the woman is on the record denying that it ever happened."
After a soundbite from Torricelli, Attkisson delivered this less than definitive conclusion:
"And adding to the confusion, when we asked the woman's attorney about the rape allegation he told CBS News, quote 'we do not deny it, we do not admit it. People will have to judge this kind of crock on their own,' end quote. But with overlapping investigations and sealed documents that will be hard to do."
In a NBC Nightly News story on reaction to the Willey letters controversy John Palmer gave a sentence to how White House aide Rahm Emanuel denied the sexual assault charge.
As a public service made possible by the New York Daily News and New York Post, here's what Christy Zercher says in the new Star:
-- From Friday's New York Daily News:
"A former flight attendant on Bill Clinton's 1991-92 campaign plane claims in a paid interview with a supermarket tabloid that Clinton fondled her on the jet while his wife slept a few feet away.
"Cristy Zercher told the Star magazine that the future President also barraged the flight attendants with rude gestures and crude sexual jokes about barnyard animals...."
"Zercher said she was shocked by Clinton's alleged behavior, which she charged started in late 1991 as his campaign got under way and he first met her and the two other attendants on the jetliner. 'His immediate reaction was, 'Wow, this is great! What'd they do, go out and hire models?' Zercher claimed.
"Clinton's behavior got more lewd and crude, and by the end of the campaign was so bad, 'if he'd been a passenger on a commercial plane, or even a regular charter, under FAA rules he would have been prosecuted or fined,' she said.
"Zercher said that on an overnight flight from New York to California, Clinton began rubbing her left breast and asking her intimate questions about her two failed marriages while Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.
"Zercher said the groping went on for about 40 minutes before another flight attendant, Debra Schiff, told Clinton, 'I really think you'd be more comfortable in your chair,' and he left."
Schiff got a White House job and now works in the State Department's protocol office. She's the woman arm in arm and arm to thigh with Clinton in the video available on the MRC's Web page.
In Friday's New York Post, Deborah Orin relayed some other claims made by Zercher, such as how Clinton:
"Bear-hugged her from behind, grabbed her breast and asked: 'How's that?'
"Stood in the plane's bathroom with his pants unzipped and invited her to 'come on in and shut the door.'
"Simulated oral sex every time he was brought tea with honey for a sore throat -- by stirring it with his little finger, then moving his finger suggestively in and out of his mouth and saying: 'Um, um, good.'
"Barraged her with graphic sex talk including tales of a 'really close' friend who liked sex with barnyard animals and was being divorced by his wife. She said he asked her: 'How are you going to compete with that?'
"Kept trying to get the three blonde flight attendants on the plane to stay at the same hotel as he did. Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey reportedly made sure it didn't happen.
"Was thrilled when the flight attendants bought the 1992 Star magazine report in which Gennifer Flowers claimed she'd had an affair with Clinton. 'He loved it that we were reading it,' Zercher said. 'He said, 'I don't have time now, but, later tonight, all of us can sit down and read it together' -- and pressed them to tell him what they thought was 'the best part' of Flowers' explicit account. One attendant singled out Flowers' claim that Clinton was good at giving oral sex and Clinton replied: 'That's pretty accurate. It's one of my favorite things,' Zercher said...."
Sounds like the inspiration for Primary Colors that he was.
Compare that to the assessments provided by several other newspapers on March 28 that I bought or found on the Web:
Washington Times -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton on Peace: Says U.S. Should Reach Out to Iran, Libya, Other Foes."
Richmond Times-Dispatch, over an AP story -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton: U.S. Exhorted to Embrace Iraq, Cuba, Iran."
Los Angeles Times -- "Mandela Gives Clinton a Lecture on Libya, Cuba."
Boston Globe -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton on Peace: Backs Cuba, Libya, Iran; Calls for Conciliatory U.S."
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, over a Knight-Ridder story -- "Mandela Lectures Clinton on Peace."
The New York Times offered a headline that partially agreed with the Post but also led with Mandela's criticism -- "From Mandela, a Gentle Admonishment: He Praises Clinton, But Urges That U.S. Reach Out to Foes."
It's not just conservatives who say you can't trust the Post. The contrasting headlines show that on one day at least neither did their journalistic colleagues. -- Brent Baker
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