DNA Dress; Rivera "Deeply Ashamed" About Treatment of Clinton
1) ABC learned the semen-stained dress really exists; Dan Rather tagged Starr as a Republican; CNN's Jim Moret was upset by Tripp's failure to note her surreptitious taping; CNN & NBC recalled how Clinton's advice to Lewinsky matches what he told Flowers.
2) We should be "ashamed" of how we treated "the most maligned and assailed" President ever, Geraldo Rivera insisted on Today. No wonder the White House extended a favor to the "open-minded" reporter.
Monicagate developments were big news again Wednesday night, with the decision by Clinton to testify on August 17 leading all the evening network shows. ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all showed a clip of Clinton lawyer David Kendall making the announcement in the White House driveway, all explained how Clinton will provide his answers during a videotaped session at the White House with his lawyer present and all pointed out that the Clinton decision followed a meeting Tuesday night in which Judge Norma Johnson made clear she did not see any reason to delay the testimony until September.
In some form, all the networks explained that Starr is focusing on the return of the gifts to Betty Currie and how even if Clinton did not explicitly ask Lewinsky to lie, he offered suggestions and hypothetical ideas on how to avoid telling anyone about their relationship. Clinton's supposed suggestion to Lewinsky that if both issue denials no one can prove otherwise reminded CNN's John King and NBC's Lisa Myers of what Clinton told Gennifer Flowers. Both played a clip of the tape she released back in 1992 of Clinton telling her to lie.
CNN and FNC ran virtually the entirety of Linda Tripp's statement, CBS and NBC featured stories on her, but ABC gave her just a few seconds.
The semen-stained dress is back in action. ABC's Jackie Judd, who was ridiculed by Steven Brill for a January 23 story on the existence of the dress, reported Wednesday night that Lewinsky saved it with its forensic evidence and has agreed to turn it in to Starr's office.
Here are some highlights and a rundown of how each network handled the latest scandal developments Wednesday night, July 29:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Anchor Charlie Gibson opened the show: "After six
months, it certainly seems like everything is happening at once in the
Monica Lewinsky investigation..."
Scott Pelley looked at the White House decision and how the investigation is now "centering" on Clinton's help with hiding the gifts. Next, Bill Plante relayed Tripp's comments, beginning his piece: "A visibly shaken Linda Tripp came out of the courthouse and talked to reporters for the first time, insisting that she had never asked to be in this position."
Dan Rather then asked Kristin Jeannette-Myers to explain the advantages for Clinton of the arrangement he agreed to for his testimony and from Capitol Hill Bob Schieffer provided congressional reaction. He found Democrats "getting the shivers about" Lewinsky's immunity "because they know prosecutors rarely grant total immunity to any witness unless they believe that witness can dramatically help their case. So the Democrats here are left to wonder what has Monica Lewinsky told the independent counsel that was good enough to get her total immunity."
Second, John King
reported that while his testimony is "voluntary," the White
House agreed only after Starr's subpoena "shattered the
President's six month strategy of silence."
Fourth, John King
filed a second story, this time on Lewinsky and the impact of her changed
story: "The new star witness in the investigation of the President
could have a giant credibility problem."
Fifth, Gene Randall examined congressional reaction before CNN's last story, Bruce Morton on how this scandal has hurt the President and the political system. After soundbites from Senators Hatch and Leahy on how the scrutiny is making good people avoid government service, Morton concluded: "We've been reminded this week that there are government workers willing to die for, yes, the government. But it is also true that if good people leave government, we'll be governed by worse people and governed worse."
Finally, anchor Brian Williams turned to Tim Russert for analysis. Russert suggested it's no longer Clinton versus Starr but Clinton versus the evidence and polls already show slippage in respect for Clinton among suburban and young voters.
On Wednesday's Today Geraldo Rivera displayed the kind of "open-minded" view that earned him the only interview Mike McCurry allowed with Clinton during the China trip. On the July 29 show the new member of the NBC News team was paired with Laura Ingraham. Here's the ending exchange caught by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"Let me ask you this question Laura. If Monica Lewinsky wrote the
talking points herself the White House is reportedly, according to the New
York Times, quite jubilant about this latest development because it blows
a hole in Ken Starr's theory that this was a case of obstruction of
Sounds like just the man for Hillary.
No wonder the White House loves Rivera, a fact illustrated by Mary Murphy in "China Chronicle," a day by day look in the August 1-7 TV Guide at how the networks covered Clinton's China trip. Here's one of her entries for June 30:
"8 P.M., Geraldo Rivera's Suite. Rivera is beaming. 'I've been to see the boss,' says Rivera, referring to Clinton. 'McCurry took me up to the 45th floor to an alcove outside the President's bedroom. He came out. He told me he's just gotten a message from the Dalai Lama and that the Dalai Lama was ecstatic that progress had been made.' Rivera was not permitted to bring a cameraman with him upstairs, but his informal audience is nonetheless an obvious mark of favor. I ask McCurry why Rivera -- and not [CBS reporter Scott] Pelley -- got the interview. 'Because Geraldo was arguably the biggest network name on the trip,' he says. 'Besides, when it comes to scandal stuff, Geraldo has been as open-minded as you would want a journalist to be. We notice things like that. So we felt a little private time with Clinton was not inappropriate.'"
And it has paid off then and since. On Today back in June he offered a glowing account of his Clinton encounter and relayed the "joke" he told about Bill Clinton: "I was thinking if they give him any more airtime he's going to have to register as a pro-democracy dissident." For more on Rivera's "reporting" that day, see the July 1 CyberAlert.
ABC News delivered a novelty Wednesday night, a positive story about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Reporter Terry Moran traveled to Memphis to hear Thomas address the National Bar Association, an appearance that generated lots of protest and outrage among the membership of the black association. Last weekend ABC News ran a story relaying the criticisms from liberal blacks who painted Thomas as a sell-out to his race. Last night viewers heard from Thomas.
On World News
Tonight Moran characterized it as "a remarkably personal speech"
as Thomas told those who oppose his views that he has a right to think for
himself. Moran showed several excerpts from the speech. He "scorned
the notion," Moran relayed, that he has turned his back on his race,
arguing that affirmative action paints blacks as inferior.
You can't get any more positive than that.
From the July 29 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things on Clinton's To Do List." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Meet with advisors to settle on prison
And now from the cbs.com Web site, my favorites from some of the "extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- Get Pentagon to plant severed head of an
alien in Kenneth Starr's bed.
That's three Top Tens in a row from Letterman on Clinton scandal, the first time that's happened since February. -- Brent Baker
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