Clinton the Provider; Geraldo Gunning for Brokaw; Gumbel's Staff Sacked
1) All but CBS ran a Monicagate story Wednesday night. CNN found that aides believe her and Bill Schneider called Clinton "a good provider." Starr will write his report, NBC promised, at "warp speed."
2) Geraldo Rivera is gunning for Brokaw's anchor chair, called Peter Jennings "little Petey" and conceded he "went over the top" in praising Clinton. Then on CNBC he gushed about Clinton, "I want to hug you" and challenged Starr to be "man enough" to go away.
ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all led Wednesday night with at least two stories on the Africa bombings and all but CBS included a Monicagate-related story. No mention of Starr or Lewinsky on the CBS Evening News which ran pieces on what Rather introduced as "the growing woe for an HMO," losses at the Oxford Health Plans, as well as the hunt for Eric Rudolph in caves and the oil boom in Baku, Azerbaijan.
With no actual events occurring on the Monica-front each of the other networks delivered stories speculating about what Clinton and/or Starr will do, say or report. ABC's Sam Donaldson looked at how Clinton is juggling his official duties with testimony preparation and relayed how he might be able to change his story while maintaining both versions are not in conflict. CNN's Wolf Blitzer relayed how White House officials insist Clinton will answer all questions but that aides privately fear the dress tests could prove Lewinsky's story true. "He may not always be truthful, but he's a good provider," asserted CNN's Bill Schneider is explaining Clinton's popularity.
After quoting the anatomically-detailed definition of "sexual relations" used in the Jones deposition, FNC's David Shuster determined that by issuing a denial based on that definition "legal experts say Mr. Clinton closed any potential loophole." Ken Starr's report will focus on Jones-related issues of perjury and obstruction, NBC's Lisa Myers suggested, and after Clinton testifies the prosecutors plan to move at "warp speed" to get that report to Congress.
Highlights from Wednesday night, August 12 coverage:
ABC's World News Tonight. Sam Donaldson set up his story: "The
demands of the presidency and the demands of this President's personal
survival are colliding this week as never before, but Mr. Clinton's
having to juggle both as best he can."
(Here's a lesson on why we always transcribe ourselves or check network
transcripts against the actual story. Compare what Blitzer actually said
in that last paragraph with what CNN's transcript at www.cnn.com/transcripts
says Blitzer said:
Bill Schneider examined how Clinton's popularity rides on the economy,
beginning: "The Cold War is over, but President Clinton is still
Commander-in-Chief of the economy. That's been Clinton's salvation. It
explains the vast discrepancy between his high job performance ratings --
76 percent say he can get things done -- and his low personal ratings --
just 34 percent consider him honest and trustworthy. He may not always be
truthful, but he's a good provider.
Is the "NBC Nightly News with Geraldo Rivera" coming soon? Yes, in Rivera's dreams. "Geraldo Rivera wants nothing less than to be 'news anchor for the next millennium,' a pronouncement that may not sit very well with the anchors of this millennium," reported J. Max Robins in an August 15 TV Guide story. To promote his new CNBC news program, Upfront Tonight, Rivera shared his plans and dreams with Robins: "Openly hoping that his new show will catapult him to a top slot at NBC News, Rivera brashly announces, 'I'm running for the center chair at the desk of the wise men.'"
Robins reported that Rivera promised a "crusading" newscast, that NBC News personnel are concerned about his partisan reporting and that in another interview Rivera insulted Peter Jennings, dubbing him "little Petey." (MRC intern Carrie Hale typed up these excerpts for me from the only article not on the TV Guide Web page.)
Upfront Tonight will debut on Monday, August 24 and is expected to replace Equal Time at 7:30pm ET, though CNBC has yet to cancel Equal Time. Robins characterized his new show as "the newscast of the future that draws on a style from the past." Robins explained: "'We're going retro,' says Rivera. 'The audience doesn't care about space-age presentation, they care about content.' Rivera promises a newscast with passion, something of a return to WABC's Eyewitness News in New York City, where he established his reputation as a crusading reporter."
Rivera's role at NBC News, where he's been promised four prime time specials and is now part of the Today team, does not please Tom Brokaw. Robins observed: "As both anchor and managing editor, Brokaw has made it clear that he doesn't favor Rivera's contributions and, say NBC News sources, doesn't even want promos for Upfront Tonight or Rivera Live airing during his newscast."
(One factor I'd suggest for Brokaw's distress: at 7:30pm ET Rivera's new show will air in the Pacific (4:30) and Mountain (5:30) time zones before NBC affiliates show Brokaw's Nightly News, so Rivera will deliver to two time zones NBC's first take on the day's news.)
Robins also discovered that "the truth is, Brokaw (who declined
comment) is not alone in taking umbrage at the reemergence of Rivera as a
legitimate network journalist. Some reporters suggest that Rivera,
covering Bill Clinton's recent trip to China for Today, snagged an
exclusive interview with the President because of his partisan reporting,
and even [Katie] Couric and [Today Executive Producer Jeff] Zucker thought
Rivera went too far on a subsequent Today show when he called Clinton
'the most maligned and assailed man in the history of the executive
office' and questioned how Congress could impeach Clinton for 'doing
something that virtually every member [of the House and Senate] has done
at some time in their lives.'"
the July 30 CyberAlert for details about Rivera's Today exchange: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19980730.asp
Giving me a good excuse to check out the October Playboy when it comes
out, Rivera issues some hits on his colleagues in the upcoming Playboy
interview. Robins provided a preview:
After the TV Guide story broke last week, Rivera retreated from the clear implication of his comments about becoming a star anchor. USA Today "Inside TV" columnist Peter Johnson relayed on August 10: "In a statement Friday, Rivera said he's not gunning for Brokaw's job. 'When I said I wanted to be an anchorman for the next millennium, I meant as the host of Upfront Tonight and Rivera Live. Tom Brokaw is a great newsman who does a terrific job, and the rivalry between us is grossly overstated.'"
Meanwhile, Rivera continues to use his current CNBC show, Rivera Live, as
a platform to sympathize with Clinton and lash out at Ken Starr. One
recent example occurred on August 6, hours after Lewinsky testified that
she performed fellatio. Rivera complained:
Rivera then offered the take of his "excellently placed source"
on what took place:
couple of CyberAlert readers sent to me what Hotline reported that Rivera
said later in the show. I checked the quote, and can now run it in a more
accurate form. After showing a clip of Clinton promising to answer all the
questions, Rivera urged him to refuse to cooperate:
Going to a commercial break minutes later, Rivera challenged Starr: "I would give Ken Starr the Nobel Peace Prize were he to be man enough not to refer a sex lie to the House for impeachment."
There you have your "news anchor for the next millennium."
Bye-bye Bryant for good? Several months ago CBS News announced that Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel would not return in the fall, but held out the promise that it would be a mid-season replacement. But on Tuesday CBS News President Andrew Heyward informed the 40 or so staffers they are being let go. There goes any chance of a return of Public Eye. CBS apparently has chosen to rest its hopes for a successful new magazine show on a second night of 60 Minutes expected to debut next year.
Michelle Greppi reported in the August 12 New York Post: "It was
strictly a business decision, they were told. Gumbel was not present at
the meeting because, said a spokeswoman, the taping time for elements in
tonight's show had been rescheduled and he had to go home to change
Well, that's the least Bryant can do with his $5 million a year.
Geppi continued: "CBS News strenuously insists that it retains the 'flexibility' to gear up again for mid-season, but insiders say the odds against that are now insurmountable. The Eye staff exodus will begin as individuals wrap up outstanding stories. There are a number of stories in the bank, which will allow the show to remain on the air until Sept. 16."
Staffers may be absorbed by the new 60 Minutes. As for what Gumbel will do for his $5 million, USA Today's Peter Johnson wrote on August 12: "CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves has offered him specials 'to keep my face on the screen, but I'm really trying to get through mid-September. Then I'll think of my options.' A return to sports? Unlikely. He has his HBO show, Real Sports. Morning TV? Nope. 'I've had enough perkiness for a lifetime.' Talk show? 'What, become another Geraldo?'"
Politically, he already is.
some of his more vitriolic attacks while at CBS on Ken Starr, Linda Tripp
and anyone in Clinton's way, check out:
"As news magazines often do, Public Eye has shown signs of ratings life in summer, finishing among the top 20 shows for the first time last week," asserted New York Times reporter Bill Carter in an August 12 story passed along to me by the MRC's Clay Waters. Actually, last week Public Eye did not air. But CBS did quite well with a Countryfest '98 special in Gumbel's usual 9pm ET/PT Wednesday time slot. -- Brent Baker
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