CyberAlert -- 04/27/1998 -- Hillary Cheered

Hillary Cheered, Paula Jeered; Kaplan Sorry CNN Showed Clinton's Hug

1) Hillary Clinton got a standing ovation while the correspondents booed Paula Jones at their big dinner. Margaret Carlson denounced the presence of Jones as an "insult" to Bill Clinton.

2) Dateline landed an exclusive with Elizabeth Ward Gracen, but instead of pressing her about who told her to lie in 1992, Jane Pauley highlighted her contention that Clinton isn't a harasser.

3) CNN President Rick Kaplan insisted it was a "big mistake" to have aired the video showing Clinton hugging Lewinsky.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)The annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday night showed what the Washington press corps values. The attendees gave Hillary Clinton a standing ovation and booed Paula Jones. Peter Jennings even avoided coming in contact with Jones.

Saturday night association chief Larry McQuillan of Reuters introduced the head table. President Clinton received applause but when McQuillan got to Hillary Clinton she was greeted with sustained applause which lasted long enough for people to begin standing. The C-SPAN camera at the time was focused on the half of the head table where Mrs. Clinton sat and the first person to stand up was two seats down from the First Lady: Ron Fornier (sp?) of the Associated Press.

Not quite the enthusiastic reception that greeted Paula Jones at the Washington Hilton. On Sunday's Meet the Press host Tim Russert reported: "When she entered the ballroom there were scattered boos toward Paula Jones." NBC's Lisa Myers acknowledged to Russert "that was tacky."

Tony Blankley found Jones more gracious than the press corps. On Sunday's CNN Late Edition he confirmed to host Wolf Blitzer that he sat next to Jones: "She was exactly to my right, and it was a very lovely evening. She is a delightful, unassuming lady. I thought that the people who were ugly last night were the American, the Washington political class, some of them booed her. They chased her around the halls. There were -- I had reporters coming up to me before, because they knew I was going to be sitting at her table, asking sort of class-based, sneering kind of questions, which were unjustified. And I was sort of embarrassed for the political class rather than for her. She carried herself like a lady."

Could Margaret Carlson have been among those booing? Here's her Outrage of the Week from the April 25 Capital Gang taped hours before the dinner:

"Tonight, if we ever get out of here, the White House correspondents hold their annual dinner where the press hosts the President, journalists invite sources and the occasional celebrity like Robert DeNiro. This year, Insight magazine, whose parent is the Moonie paper, The Washington Times, decided on an in-your-face guest, Paula Jones, in order to insult the guest of honor. That demeans not just the President but the presidency. Too bad the President didn't insult the press corps by staying home.

On Late Edition, just after Blankley completed the comments quoted above, Blitzer asserted: "But a lot of people say that it was inappropriate for her to be there with the President and the First Lady."

Blankley countered the assumptions accepted by Carlson and Blitzer: "She is the aggrieved party. I don't understand the argument that here's a person who may have been wronged and she can't appear in public, but the person who may have done the wronging is free to stride the streets in pride. I don't think so. I think she had every right to be there."

Indeed, even if it upset the news and entertainment elite. In Monday's (April 27) Washington Post Michael Colton reported:

"...Before Jones arrived as a guest of Insight magazine ('a conservative magazine affiliated with the Washington Times,' went the refrain), she was much anticipated by tuxedo-clad men and sequin-enhanced women who walked by the Times party hoping for a glimpse. Many people, though, professed indifference to her appeal.

"'I certainly won't go out of my way to say hi to her,' said ABC anchor Peter Jennings. Filmmaker Ken Burns said, 'I have no interest in her whatsoever. I'll say hello to the President, though.' Jon Bon Jovi had a planned greeting in case he met up with Jones: 'Lighten up, babe.'..."

What a novel approach for network news hound like Jennings: Avoid meeting a major figure in the news.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Friday night, April 24, Dateline NBC interviewed Elizabeth Ward Gracen, the former Miss America who now admits having sex with Clinton in the early 1980s. In 1992 she says the Clinton campaign asked her to lie and deny the story, which she did. But instead of pressing Gracen about who was involved in this latest example of Clinton dissembling, Jane Pauley prompted Gracen to exonerate the Clinton operation, dismiss the idea that Clinton could harass anyone and paint Hillary Clinton as a victim of Gracen, not of Bill Clinton.

Pauley asked Gracen if she got a quid pro quo in 1992 for her denial, specifically help in landing acting jobs. Gracen adamantly rejected the notion before Pauley announced:

"If lawyers for Paula Jones are looking for someone to say she was sexually harassed by the President, Elizabeth Ward Gracen would be of little help. [to Gracen] You don't think that the man you knew would be capable of sexual harassment?"

Gracen: "Doesn't fit the image I have of him at all."

Pauley: "Did you see him again after that [sex]?"

Gracen: "He called me, I guess, a week or so after that and I just sort of politely told him that this wasn't something I could continue, that I wasn't comfortable and he was a gentleman and it was never spoken of again."

Pauley: "Did you think about the effect it might have on Hillary Clinton?"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)One more sign of how CNN President Rick Kaplan is sympathetic to Bill Clinton and is willing to alter news coverage to protect the Democratic President. A FNC producer alerted me to this item from "The Scoop" section of the May issue of George magazine:

"CNN President Rick Kaplan recently admitted it was a 'big mistake' to have aired exclusive footage of the now infamous hug between Clinton and a beret-headed Monica Lewinsky. 'Clinton probably gave 79 other hugs on that line,' says a contrite Kaplan, adding that Al Gore 'also gave God knows how many hugs -- not that anyone would care.'"

Where to begin on this one. First of all that video provided the public with the first ever look at Lewinsky, so it was newsworthy no matter what it showed Clinton and her doing. Second, no one will care who Gore hugs until there are charges that he had sexual relations with a huggee and lied about it. Third, an R-rated observation made by the MRC's Tim Graham: Clinton may have given hugs to 79 others but did they all go down on him?

This bit of damaging footage got onto CNN, but given Kaplan's attitude we'll never know in the future what we didn't get to see. -- Brent Baker

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