CyberAlert -- 08/17/1998 -- Starr's Arkansas Abuses
Starr's Arkansas Abuses; Hillary "Deeply Religious;" Starr's "Panty Raid"
Correction: Correcting the August 14 correction. The July 30 CyberAlert item on Geraldo Rivera is not about his reporting from China but about his exchange with Katie Couric on Today. The link address listed in the correction was accurate.
On the eve of President Clinton's testimony and with everyone expecting
Clinton to change his story in a way that would mean he's abused the
public trust and those who believed in him, 60 Minutes decided to re-run a
piece from just three months ago on Ken Starr's supposed abuses.
The August 16 edition of the CBS show carried a new introduction as Morley Safer lent credibility to Hillary Clinton's charge that anti-Arkansas bias is behind attacks on her husband:
"This week, as President Clinton was preparing for his closed-circuit testimony before the Kenneth Starr grand jury, Hillary Clinton attacked her husband's attackers, saying a lot of the criticism comes down to an anti-Arkansas bias. Well, chief among his critics, it can fairly be said, is Kenneth Starr. And the Starr Wars, it can also fairly be said, targeted Arkansas, home of the Whitewater affair and the investigation that now, four years later, seems to be winding up with the Lewinsky affair. From the beginning Mr. Starr's tactics and motives have come under fire, especially the way he went after low level targets in order to get them to testify against more prominent ones."
Clinton will just admit it will Republicans and Starr should be good
enough to drop the matter so we can all move on. That's a argument some
reporters are forwarding, putting the burden on Starr and the GOP to do
the right thing and not pursue the matter if Clinton changes his story.
Two examples from this weekend:
Tim Russert did pose some tough questions to Democrats later in the show,
here are his first two inquiries to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch:
Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and say, 'It's in the best interest for the nation to let this matter rest'?"
an Outlook section article in Sunday's Washington Post, former Post
Supreme Court reporter Fred Barbash penned a plea headlined "Tomorrow
Shouldn't Happen." Barbash began:
purpose of this plea is not to spare Clinton, but to spare us. Neither the
rule of law, nor any particular law, requires a prosecutor to bring a
target before a grand jury. It is a matter of discretion. The independent
counsel should exercise that discretion in the interests of the people,
whom he represents, and pass -- especially since the apparent purpose of
Clinton's appearance is less to elicit information about a past crime than
to get him to commit a new one. Let the House Judiciary Committee decide
whether or not a President must testify under oath...."
noble, until you skip down to his next to last paragraph and realize
Barbash is really driven by a liberal political agenda:
That's the bottom line for Clinton supporters, as long as he's protecting the right to abortion or working to expand government's role in health care, we should all excuse his personal behavior.
Clinton has lost one White House reporter. ABC's Sam Donaldson declared on
Sunday's This Week that if the President committed perjury and obstructed
justice he should be removed from office. Donaldson asserted:
the Media's Hero. The network newscasts over the weekend relayed plenty of
disdain for Bill Clinton trying to creatively define "sexual
relations," but nary a negative word for Hillary Clinton. CBS and NBC
featured pieces Friday night on the First Lady, ABC on Saturday night.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell delivered the most glowing profile. Mitchell
conceded that "close friends" say Mrs. Clinton knowingly lied in
her January Today interview, but instead of chastising the First Lady
Mitchell portrayed that as evidence she "is deeply religious."
Engberg on the August 14 CBS Evening News opened by noting that Hillary
"does not regard herself as the wife betrayed." Instead, she
sees herself as the victim of a political vendetta. Engberg highlighted
how friends says the "crisis has not unhinged her" and though
she initially blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy," she now
blames her husband's problems on anti-Arkansas bias even though, Engberg
noted, she's from Illinois. Engberg concluded by emphasizing public
Mitchell delivered a tribute on the August 14 NBC Nightly News, beginning:
"Politician, strategist, lawyer, protector -- in a marriage that
friends say is based on brutal honesty and unconditional love."
Lying will bring us together.
-- ABC got
into the Hillary hailing act on Saturday's World News Tonight. Reporter
Juju Chang began: "As her husband prepares to testify about whether
he cheated on her, Mrs. Clinton has seemed anything but the wounded wife.
This week she met with flood victims in Milwaukee, talked politics with
local leaders and helped the country to grieve..."
does not permit a thorough review of Friday through Sunday evening
coverage of Monicagate, but I'll try to succinctly convey some of the most
August 14. Reaction to the trial balloon in the New York Times about how
Clinton might concede "intimate sexual encounters," led all but
the CBS Evening News which started with the appeals court ruling that the
FDA does not have authority to regulate cigarettes.
News Tonight. Sam Donaldson outlined the new White House line: "At
the deposition Jones's lawyers had given Mr. Clinton a written description
of sex, which as edited and allowed by the judge defined several physical
points of sexual contact 'with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual
desire of any person,' but did not explicitly cover all the points of
contact involving oral sex. Further, the definition might be read to apply
only if the President was initiating the contact, rather than the other
way around. Last January White House Communications Director Ann Lewis
said there was no loophole in the President's denial."
Judd added some information that would contradict Clinton's spin:
"Sources familiar with Monica Lewinsky's story say that what she
described to investigators about alleged sexual encounters with the
President, clearly falls within the definition used in the Paula Jones
deposition. The sources say any suggestion that Lewinsky alone was
aggressive in her contact with the President is wrong. What they described
is two-way physical contact. One source said if Mr. Clinton testifies to
the contrary what he would be saying is 'he used a young woman just to
News. Scott Pelley ominously began: "This is a moment of extreme
peril for the President. At 1 O'clock on Monday a federal grand jury is
going to watch Mr. Clinton raise his right hand and swear to tell the
whole truth. Between now and then the President and his lawyers will be
debating just what that story will be."
CNN's The World Today. John King examined the internal debate about what Clinton should say. Bob Franken explained the logistics of the Monday set up and then Brooks Jackson tried to explain how the President defines sex: "We're going to be discussing the President's definition of sex, so you may want to send small children out of the room." After listing the definition offered in the Jones deposition, Jackson marveled that "Some Clinton advisers are claiming that definition technically does not cover, for example, oral sex if she contacted his private parts but he didn't contact hers, well, you get the idea." Jackson humorously concluded: "Okay, you can bring the kids back now. And when they ask, 'daddy, mommy, what's sex,' you can say 'let's ask a lawyer.'"
FNC's Fox Report. Jim Angle emphasized how the White House is "throwing cold water" on speculation that Clinton's story will change, but are looking at what if scenarios. David Shuster explained the physical on logistics of Monday's event and Steve Centanni reviewed the claims made by "all the President's women," specifically Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey.
News opened with a story by Claire Shipman sympathetic to the President's
plight: "If the President is feeling the weight of his upcoming
testimony it didn't show in public. But those close to Bill Clinton say he
is thoroughly shaken by his situation."
NBC's Lisa Myers showed the network realizes Clinton is not the victim:
"NBC News has learned the former intern has described encounters with
the President in which he touched her in intimate ways. Sources familiar
with Lewinsky's account say these encounters unquestionably would be
considered sex, even under the narrowest definition given the President in
Williams looked at how "if two people have an affair and agree to
keep it secret that's not necessarily a federal case" and Tim Russert
outlined Clinton's options.
August 15. Golf bumped the CBS Evening News on both Saturday and Sunday,
at least in the eastern and central time zones. Saturday night the bombing
in Northern Ireland topped ABC and NBC.
News Tonight. Mike Von Fremd ran through Clinton's day with his lawyers,
the set up in the Map Room and the options for what Clinton could say.
Nightly News. David Bloom argued that the public would buy Clinton's novel
and narrow definition of sexual relations:
Man: "Some people just want to hear
some kind of closure to it."
August 16. The upcoming testimony topped ABC and NBC as ABC's Peter
Jennings traveled to Washington to anchor the weekend show.
News Tonight/Sunday. Mike Von Fremd noted how "The President's
supporters were busy doing damage control on the Sunday talk shows,
insisting the public would be sympathetic to an admission of wrongdoing by
Nightly News. From Washington, anchor Brian Williams set the scene:
"Bill Clinton, the first President ever subpoenaed to testify before
a federal grand jury in office will do so tomorrow via live television. He
may, in the process, become the first leader in the history of this
Republic to admit to an illicit relationship with a young co-worker inside
the White House while in office."
Williams reviewed Starr's term. Williams opened by observing it has lasted
longer than a presidential term. Though he highlighted how Starr has
earned 15 convictions or guilty pleas in Arkansas, he concluded with this
Rivera is disgusted with Kenneth Starr, a view he made clear Thursday
night. Near the top of the August 13 Rivera Live on CNBC he declared:
Taxpayers paying the legal tab for an official's abuses? Sort of like the huge tab Clinton has run up with everything from lawyers for the Secret Service officers to his use of government lawyers to appeal rulings about government lawyers, such as Bruce Lindsey. -- Brent Baker
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