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CyberAlert -- 07/30/1998 -- DNA Dress

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.

3) ABC News broadcast a remarkably positive story on Clarence Thomas's address before a hostile liberal group: "Today's deeply personal speech may mark his greatest triumph."

4) Letterman's "Top Ten Things on Clinton's To Do List."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) 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..."
Sam Donaldson summarized the Clinton decision to testify, emphasizing how the judge wanted testimony by mid-August, so "this was sort of like a shotgun marriage and the stern parent was the judge."
Next, Jackie Judd delivered the exclusive of the night: "Legal sources tell ABC News that as part of the immunity deal with prosecutors Monica Lewinsky agreed to turn over evidence she claimed would back up her story that she had a sexual relationship with the President. The sources confirm that one piece of evidence is in fact the dress Lewinsky said she saved after an encounter with Mr. Clinton because it had a semen stain on it. Lewinsky's claim of the dress's existence was first reported by ABC News six months ago. The dress may provide Starr with forensic evidence of a relationship."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather went back to his old policy, which he had abandoned for a few weeks, of tagging Starr with the partisan "Republican" label:
"Good evening. It is unprecedented. For the first time a sitting President of the United States will give grand jury testimony in a criminal investigation and one in which he himself may be a target. Faced with a subpoena from Republican special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the President agreed today to testify in the Monica Lewinsky case next month, on videotape, in the White House."

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."

-- CNN's The World Today opened with 18 minutes straight, without an ad break, on the Monicagate developments.
First, Wolf Blitzer reviewed the Clinton testimony decision and how Starr is focusing on December 28 and whether Clinton's comments encouraging her to offer misleading answers and suggestion she return gifts to Currie are solid enough to constitute obstruction of justice. Catching up with the Tuesday report from NBC's Lisa Myers he ended by noting that Lewinsky will turn over answering machine tapes featuring Clinton's voice.

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."
Third, Bob Franken set up Tripp's statement and then took three minutes and 40 seconds to play them in their entirety. Afterwards, anchor Jim Moret challenged Franken:
"Bob, Linda Tripp seemed to try to cast herself as a victim in this case, almost an unwilling participant. No mention of those 20 hours of tapes that she surreptitiously recorded with Monica Lewinsky. Is that curious from your perspective?"

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."
King also acknowledged that "Lewinsky isn't the only one with a credibility problem. Polls show a majority of Americans believe the President had an affair with the former White House intern, Lewinsky, despite his forceful denial. And privately, a few longtime Clinton advisers admit an eerie sense of deja vu. Flashback to January 1992, Gennifer Flowers alleging an affair with then-Governor Clinton."
Clinton in taped played by Flowers in January 1992: "If they ever hit you with this, just say no and go on. There's nothing they can do. But I just think that if everybody is on record denying it, you've got no problem."
King: "Sources say Lewinsky is telling prosecutors that President Clinton told her to do much the same: that if they both denied an affair, no one could prove it. Now the President is preparing his side of the story under oath."

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."

-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. Jim Angle handled the Clinton testimony, David Shuster played some clips of Tripp and looked at Starr's probe of what Clinton told Lewinsky and then co-anchor Catherine Crier talked with U.S. Rep. James Rogan of the Judiciary Committee. Later, FNC played Tripp's nearly four-minute-long statement.

-- NBC Nightly News. Up first, Claire Shipman dealt with Clinton's decision to testify.
Next, Lisa Myers began her piece on Tripp: "After six months of silence, eight days before the grand jury and painful public scorn, an emotional Linda Tripp finally broke her silence." After some Tripp soundbites, Myers switched topics:
"NBC News has learned that Lewinsky now says she and the President both agreed to deny their relationship. According to legal sources Lewinsky says once she became a potential witness in the Paula Jones case, the President helped her concoct cover stories to conceal the relationship and gave her hypothetical suggestions on how to avoid cooperating...."
"One source outside Starr's office says Lewinsky quotes the President telling her last December, 'If there are two people in the room and something happens and they both deny it there is no way to prove it.' This is similar to what then-Governor Clinton said on tape to Gennifer Flowers."
Clinton, in a tape played by Flowers in January 1992: "I just think that if everybody's on record denying it you got no problem."
Myers: "The President has since admitted that he and Flowers had a sexual relationship."

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.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Geraldorcap.jpg (27570 bytes) 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:

Katie Couric: "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 justice."
Geraldo Rivera: "Amen!"
Couric: "If Monica Lewinsky wrote the talking points herself is this a case of obstruction of justice?"
Laura Ingraham: "Well it's certainly not on that point Katie. You are absolutely right. If she wrote the talking points, maybe with the help of her mother or maybe her mother's friend, then of course that piece of evidence will not link the White House to obstruction. But apparently what we read in the New York Times today there are other suggestions of 'we don't have to tell the full truth, you can tell prosecutors that Betty Currie was the person you were visiting not me, Monica.' Now that seems like a pretty clear suggestion to lie."
Rivera: "But my God Laura! As a lawyer where was the, the talking points were the banner that the right wing ran up the hill and said, 'Bruce Lindsey suborned perjury, he's the one, the talking points are going to bring down this President.' And now suddenly the talking points are history. Just like Whitewater, just like Travelgate, just like Filegate. It's going to turn out that this President is the most maligned and assailed man in the history of the Executive Office and we'll all be deeply ashamed."
Ingraham: "Have you been talking to Sid Blumenthal again today?"
Couric: "And that will have to be the last word. I'm getting better at cracking the whip with you two."
Rivera: "Oh, I love a strong woman."

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.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) 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.
Moran concluded: "Justice Thomas has had a tough time making public appearances around the country, almost always meeting with opposition. But today's deeply personal speech may mark his greatest triumph."

You can't get any more positive than that.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) 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 nickname.
9. Erase score-keeping marks from Air Force One lavatory.
8. Get hillbilly friends to ride past Kenneth Starr's house, hit mailbox with baseball bat.
7. Call FTD -- Send "You Better Not Talk Bouquet" to Cokie Roberts.
6. Check out Paula Jones after nose job. Hit on her?
5. Wedding gift for Barbra and what's-his-name.
4. Have Webster's Dictionary change definition of the word "lie" so it has a more positive ring to it.
3. Executive order re-opening New York City sex shops.
2. Explore possible "I'm gay" defense.
1. Check out real estate prices in hell.

And now from the 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.
-- Make sure the Gore girls still intend to keep quiet.
-- Practice saying phrase, "President Gore."
-- Make sure video testimony isn't taped over one of his "Hee Haw" episodes.
-- Destroy photos of three-way with Monica and Gennifer.
-- Just to bug him, nail Ken Starr's wife.
-- Send First Lady on 26-month 63-country goodwill tour.
-- Blather, lie, repeat.

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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