Tripp Cursed, Called "Pathetic...Loser"; Livingston: Will "Grow" & Has "Matured"
1) The networks used the tapes to denounce Tripp not Clinton as only NBC said it's Clinton's actions that matter. Only ABC played the Clinton on drugs comment but ignored the latest Hubbell evidence which got just a few seconds on the other networks.
>>> The November 16 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC Web page: http://www.mediaresearch.org or http://www.mrc.org. Articles include a front page story titled, "Stamping Dirt Down on Newt's Grave"; an analysis by the MRC's Tim Graham: "Was 1998 'The Year of the Moderate?'"; and an On the Bright Side by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson on how only FNC and Fox News Sunday highlighted how Democrats played the race card. Plus, Newsbites: "Body Double" on contrasting reasons given for Ventura's victory, "CBS's Ad Blitz for Team Clinton" by MRC analyst Mark Drake on how CBS ran only soundbites from top Democrats the two weeknights before election day, and "Fonz the Fascist" by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens on how the networks which jumped on Al D'Amato this year for calling his opponent a "putzhead" weren't so disgusted when his opponent, in 1992, denounced him as a "fascist." The issue is featured at the top of the MRC home page at www.mrc.org.
The voice of Monica Lewinsky, heard for the first time in the tapes released of her conversations with Linda Tripp, topped the ABC, CNN, FNC and NBC evening shows on Tuesday night. CBS went first with the Fed's decision to cut the interest rate again.
Matching the White House spin, the three broadcast networks made Linda Tripp's behavior, not the President's, the issue. CNN and FNC refrained from such hits on Tripp. Dan Rather combined a hit on Tripp with giving credence to Clinton spin about "the timing behind the committee's release today of the actual tapes of Linda Tripp's secret betrayal of her unsuspecting friend Monica Lewinsky." Incredibly, only NBC's Lisa Myers noted that Clinton's actions are all that really is at issue and that without Tripp's foresight Clinton would have gotten away with it: "Linda Tripp had nothing to do with...the President's decision to get involved with an intern in the first place. But without Tripp and her tapes chances are the President would never have been caught."
The networks showed similar interests in which clips they chose to play, but of the broadcast networks and CNN only ABC's Jackie Judd aired a clip of Tripp saying that Lewinsky told her that she thought the President was on drugs, though only to illustrate Tripp's betrayal as she passed this anecdote along to Lucianne Goldberg. (FNC's Fox Report played extensive excerpts that I was not able to thoroughly review.) Only FNC's David Shuster raised how Lewinsky made a racial comment about Betty Currie.
Where's Whitewater? That was the media refrain for months. But after Ken Starr on Tuesday sent the Judiciary Committee new evidence about payoffs to Web Hubbell for his silence on Whitewater, including new testimony from John Huang about a payoff, the networks yawned. ABC's World News Tonight ignored the development, the CBS Evening News gave it 19 seconds, CNN's The World Today a very vague 11 seconds and NBC Nightly News a comparatively great 29 seconds.
Here are highlights of tape coverage from the Tuesday, November 17, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
Jackie Judd played
clips of Lewinsky "talking to a woman she believed was her
friend," starting with the one in which she was crying about how he
hadn't called her in weeks. In it Tripp sympathizes with Lewinsky's
plight, prompting Judd to counter:
Judd continued with clips about the dress and Lewinsky trying to get Tripp to lie.
Peter Jennings then briefly noted how Starr will testify Thursday and that White House lawyers will be able to question him.
Schieffer began with a clip of Lewinsky saying she's still in love with Clinton. Ruining the mood, Schieffer asserted: "The tapes also underline the cynicism of Linda Tripp, who repeatedly expressed sympathy even as she secretly recorded the conversations." After soundbites from the tapes of Lewinsky crying, asking about the double clicks, arguing about the definition of sex and, at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia, offering to pay Tripp to lie, Schieffer concluded: "Why are the tapes being released only now on the eve of the impeachment hearings? Just happenstance says the committee. It took this long to get them edited and reproduced."
Rather picked up
on Schieffer's line: "Happenstance or not, the timing of today's
tape drop is just one of the stress cracks in the Judiciary Committee now
verging on an open partisan split."
Next, Rita Cosby ran soundbites to illustrate Monica's mood swings toward Clinton from "infatuation to anger." Then Carl Cameron checked in on the Thursday hearings and the latest about hush money to Hubbell. Dick Morris came aboard for a live interview before FNC spent the next 20-plus minutes interspersing tape excerpts with comment from Susan Carpenter-McMillan and Eleanor Clift.
Lisa Myers began
with Lewinsky and Tripp discussing Lewinsky's sexy voice followed by the
soundbite of Lewinsky crying. Myers hit Tripp, but unlike ABC and CBS, at
least gave her reason for making the tape: "Tripp taped conversations
to protect herself she says once she became aware of wrongdoing. From the
outset, she appears to manipulate Lewinsky and gathers evidence against
The fact that only Myers made this seemingly obvious point Tuesday night shows just how biased against Starr and Tripp the networks have become. Without Tripp's foresight about saving the dress, Clinton never would have admitted his lie, at least sort of. He'd still be denying all and impugning Lewinsky as a stalker.
But no reporter portrayed Tripp as a hero to whom the nation owes thanks for exposing presidential deceit. Apparently whistle-blowers are only worth revering when they expose Pentagon cost over-runs.
Back to NBC: Brokaw then played three more clips: Lewinsky on buying a $20 tie at Marshalls for Clinton, Lewinsky saying she lied to her parents all the time and Lewinsky recounting how her mother and aunt joined her at an arrival ceremony, leading Clinton to say "they're cute."
From the White House, David Bloom reported in a larger story about Democratic anger and boycott threats: "Today new evidence from independent counsel Kenneth Starr: four boxes delivered to Congress focusing on allegations that the White House tried to buy the silence of former Justice Department official Webster Hubbell. And tonight new signs that Republicans are pointing their impeachment investigation in the same direction. Late today Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee met, in part to consider whether to seek the testimony of John Huang, a Clinton ally and former Democratic fundraiser who helped steer a $100,000 payment to Web Hubbell."
introduced a profile of Jennifer Dunn: "In a way no one anticipated,
the election two weeks ago is breaking up one of the most powerful cliques
on Capitol Hill -- the Republican leadership of the House, all
conservative white males, most of them from the South."
Rivera and Olbermann demand showers, they're so disgusted with Linda Tripp.
Opening Tuesday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC Geraldo Rivera promoted how the show would focus on "the taped evidence of one woman's absolute betrayal of her young and much too trusting friend. After hearing Tripp's treachery, you may feel the need of a shower. Example: on November 20, 1997 Tripp convinces Lewinsky to save her infamous semen-stained blue dress."
Later, he asked:
"Remember when Linda Tripp said she was just like us?"
(The November 13 CyberAlert noted that MSNBC was running Rivera's 9pm CNBC show at 10pm and 1am. This week MSNBC is running a show hosted by John Hockenberry, the man slated to replace Olbermann, at those times.)
Minutes later over
on MSNBC Keith Olbermann opened his variously named Big Show or White
House in Crisis: "Stand by to feel like you need a shower."
After the theme music, he declared:
(He said what sounded like "palonius," so I assume he was referring to Polyphemus, who in Greek mythology, according to my Grolier's CD, "was a Cyclops, a one-eyed giant, who lived in an island cave on Sicily." I'm not up on ancient or Greek history, so I may have guessed the wrong historical reference.)
An often cited illustration of liberal bias offered by conservatives is how the media will praise a conservative who goes left by saying they have "grown" or "matured." The Washington Post delivered a classic example on Monday in a front-page profile of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston. It's too early know how good a Speaker he'll be or how much he'll compromise, but one thing is for sure, he's the kind of conservative the Washington press corps can tolerate.
Seven paragraphs into their November 16 profile, reporters Eric Pianin and George Hager wrote that despite his conservative opinions he has shown "enormous capacity to grow" and even though he arrived in Congress with "knee-jerk conservative views" he has "matured into an adroit legislator." Here's an excerpt:
Though his biggest challenge will be placating conservative activists within his own party who believe he is too accommodating, Livingston is no moderate: He opposes abortion, supports increased spending on the military and on missile defense, backs business causes and wants tax cuts.
But he has shown an enormous capacity to grow, something that suggests he is more apt to see the subtleties of issues and the possibilities for compromise. He has also become a creature of modern Washington. Once seen as something of a crusading reformer, Livingston now freely dispenses corporate campaign contributions to colleagues, with an eye to consolidating power.
Livingston first arrived in Washington in 1977 with a reputation as an occasional hot-head, with knee-jerk conservative views and a strong moral streak. His past experience as a tenacious New Orleans prosecutor were already legendary, such as the time in a burst of nervous excitement he knocked a glass of water into the lap of a judge during a bench conference -- and still won the case. The onetime Democrat seemed destined for a permanent spot in the Republican back benches.
But once thrust into the insular, go-along-to-get-along world of congressional appropriations, Livingston matured into an adroit legislator capable of unifying his colleagues....
Monday night, November 16, all the networks led with Iraq, but amazingly only one included a syllable of criticism for Clinton's policy.
In an "In Depth" piece for NBC Nightly News Jim Miklaszewski examined efforts to get Saddam Hussein, noting that since the end of Gulf War the U.S. has launched six covert operations against him. Milaszewski wrapped up his report:
critics claim, the failure to oust Saddam lies not with Iraqi opposition
but with the lack of a coherent White House strategy."
(Monday night ABC devoted its "A Closer Look" to the Millennium. First, Peter Jennings talked with Stephen Jay Gould about whether the next century begins in 2000 or 2001. Since there was no Year Zero, obviously the century began on January 1, 1901 and will end on December 31, 2000. But since gimmicks and marketing will prevail, Gould resigned himself to the fact that this will be a 99 year century. Second, Peggy Wehmeyer looked at Christians and the belief by some in the impending end of the world.)
From CNN host Larry King's November 16 column in USA Today, this thought in its entirety between ellipses:
"If he had to testify, do you think Thomas Jefferson would have been impeached? No chance, there was no talk radio."
At least Jefferson was able to go through life without having to endure the inanities of Larry King. --Brent Baker
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