CyberAlert -- 11/30/1998 -- Sawyer's 20/20 Starr Slam
Sawyer's 20/20 Starr Slam; Hating McConnell; Starr = "Pure Evil"
1) Diane Sawyer portrayed Ken Starr as an out of touch square, arguing with him about why he raised Clinton's comment about small breasts and use of a cigar, contending he mistreated Lewinsky, and giving credence to the VRWC by alleging a "one degree of separation" from Scaife.
2) Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson despise Mitch McConnell so much that they support a conservative to replace him. Hunt declared: "Mitch McConnell, every bit as much as the Clinton campaign in 1996, personifies the addiction to sleazy big money."
Diane Sawyer's 20/20 interview with Ken Starr turned out even more slanted than suggested in the preview delivered in the November 25 CyberAlert. Go to the November 25 edition to read the promos and some preview excerpts run on the ABC News Web page: http://www.mediaresearch.org//cyberalerts/1998/cyb19981125.html#1
Though Starr and his deputies, including Robert Bittmann and Julie Myers, got a few chances to make their points without being discredited, Sawyer spent most of the hour not only putting Starr and associates on the defense by forcing them to respond to Carville-like criticisms, but she often took the anti-Starr side by arguing with him.
Referring, for instance, to the details about the cigar and other sexual matters Sawyer insisted it "cannot be denied that they are there to outrage and they are there to shock." After Starr said he was sure of the propriety of his decisions, Sawyer responded: "There is something about certainty that scares a lot of people."
For a flavor of
the November 25 show, which dealt solely with Starr for the entire hour,
here's a plug run during one break:
ten months of being pounded by the media, culminating in this kind of
treatment in his one and only TV interview, the media establishment really
believe they've helped Starr. In a November 30 Newsweek piece on the
similarities between Starr and Clinton, Jonathan Alter asserted:
Compare that assessment with the reality of Sawyer's interview. Below are some of the more illustrative exchanges and questions I observed:
focusing on the irrelevant as if personality should matter most:
"What's your favorite movie?"
-- Sawyer on his
childhood as the son of a minister: "Because a childhood friend was
quoted as saying of you alls life then in the church, 'If it was fun,
you couldn't do it.'"
-- Sawyer on Starr as out of touch: "So what happens when this man becomes independent counsel and begins investigating a President charged with covering up, lying under oath about a sexual relationship? [To Starr] Do you think in that sense, you were out of touch with the political judgment of the American people who say everyone was covering up sex. There was gambling in the casino in Casablanca and you are the only one who is shocked. We are not shocked."
-- Sawyer, making David Kendall's case: "Which brings us to the question of the team's highly criticized tactics. Did they cross the line? First with Monica Lewinsky, when nine federal officers took her to a room at the Ritz-Carlton and put pressure on her to turn on the President? People see a young girl who was in tears, who was threatened with 27 years in prison possibly, who was told that her mother might be prosecuted based on things she had said about her mother, who was to wire herself or tape the President or Vernon Jordan. And they say this isn't John Gotti. This isn't Timothy McVeigh."
-- Sawyer, making
Hillary Clinton's case: "Which brings us to Linda Tripp, the woman
people love to hate, and the accusation that Ken Starr was not what he had
seemed. Are you part of a right-wing conspiracy?"
"But fairness. Fairness to be asked about all of the people that you
-- Sawyer on Clinton and America as the victims: "Driving to the White House that day, for what was -- for all intents and purposes -- a lot of people think your trial, the only trial you were going to get. Did you think to yourself, here is a man who has to deal with Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and what's going on in Russia, and we're putting him through this?"
-- Sawyer arguing
that the Starr report was inappropriate: "I'm trying to imagine you
deciding to include in those footnotes, footnotes you will not hear on TV,
that cannot be denied that they are there to outrage and they are there to
-- Sawyer, after
Starr said he was just following the statutes: "But explain to me
what possible relation it has to anything, that the President discussed
whether a woman was small-breasted or not."
-- Sawyer wrapped
up arguing that justice would have been better served if Starr bent the
law. Playing clips from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, Sawyer explained
that for the hero lawyer in the film "his commitment to duty is one
lesson of the story. But we reminded Starr that there's another. He
says, to his daughter Scout, 'sometimes it's better to bend the law a
little in special cases.' At the end of the story, Finch [the lawyer]
compromises on the law to preserve the delicate balance of justice."
To read the
transcript of the entire show, go to:
Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson advocating the election of a conservative? Yes, apparently they hate Senator Mitch McConnell so much for fighting their beloved "campaign finance reform" that on Saturday's CNN Capital Gang they actually advocated the election of Senator Chuck Hagel to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Hunt even equated McConnell's quest to gather and distribute legal donations with the 1996 Clinton and Democratic effort which raised money improperly.
Asked about the
challenge to McConnell by Nebraska Senator Hagel, Wall Street Journal
Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt declared:
National Review's Kate O'Beirne then observed: "The media loves this race because they love no one better to beat up than Senator Mitch McConnell because he has so courageously stood in the way of this unconstitutional campaign finance reform you all favor....And so this might be a chance to somehow get licks in against Mitch McConnell. But it seems to me good Senator Hagel is running a campaign designed for liberal media sensibilities, criticizing soft money while ignoring how much the Democrats get from unions and environmentalists and talking about negative ads."
Margaret Carlson soon chimed in:
Moderator Mark Shields soon tried to go to a commercial break, but before he could Carlson announced: "I'm with Hagel." Hunt seconded her: "I like Hagel, too."
"Perhaps beneath the dullness lies pure evil," syndicated Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales suggested of Ken Starr after Starr's November 19 House Judiciary Committee appearance. Catching up with a post-Starr hearing item, here's a look at what Shales had to say in his November 20, top of the "Style" section, column. In addition to aligning Starr with "evil," in the excerpts that follow Shales denigrates Starr's presentation as "a mealy-mouthed diatribe" and dismissed as a "myth" the idea that Henry Hyde earned a reputation for fairness:
Ken Starr may have disappointed his enemies by coming across as primarily calm and collected in his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, but say, how'd you like to get stuck next to this guy at a dinner party? Good Lord, what a bore.
America got its first long look at Starr during his hours and hours of testimony, and it's very unlikely there will be a huge public outcry demanding another one.
Perhaps beneath the dullness lies pure evil. Or perhaps just more dullness. He may have reminded some viewers of the most tedious teacher they'd ever had in high school -- in shop class, maybe, or algebra. The teacher whose classes you were most desperate and likely to skip....
He was supposedly offering up the facts as gathered at great expense by his costly posse of investigators, but the speech really consisted of Starr attacking Clinton and defending himself. He's a coy, sly and even coquettish attacker, however, so what he delivered was unique in its way: a mealy-mouthed diatribe. He seemed alternately mousy and weaselly.
In the course of his long monologue, he tried to make Linda Tripp sound like a courageous and public-spirited citizen; insisted that the President's affair with Monica Lewinsky was not the heart of the matter -- but still managed to bring it up again and again; and tried to equate perjury, which he claimed Clinton had committed, with bribery, which Starr said is an impeachable offense....
Everyone, meanwhile, appears to have bought into the myth that Hyde is the noblest and fairest creature ever to grace the unworthy marble halls of the Capitol. He certainly didn't seem fair on TV yesterday. He would snap angrily at Democrats when they refused to take Starr's evasive obfuscations for answers. He introduced Starr with a glowing and fawning biography. He even cut Starr off when it looked as if Starr was going to go too far in denigrating Monica Lewinsky and thus saved the independent counsel from looking bad....
Too bad an editor didn't cut off Shales before he turned in a liberal diatribe instead on an even-handed analysis. -- Brent Baker
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