CyberAlert -- 12/14/1998 -- Donaldson: Press Corps Wants Clinton to Fight
Donaldson: Press Corps Wants Clinton to Fight; Disgraceful, Unfair & Totalitarian
2) Eleanor Clift charged Republicans will "disgrace" themselves more than did Clinton if they impeach. Al Hunt blasted Hyde's committee for mimicking a totalitarian state. Bob Schieffer warned Hyde that blocking censure will "leave a sense of unfairness."
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The White House press corps is upset that the Clinton team isn't doing enough to fight back against impeachment. So revealed ABC's Sam Donaldson in a report from Jerusalem aired on Sunday's This Week. In describing how reporters want Clinton "to get out there and fight," Donaldson ran through three press corps recommendations resisted by Clinton's staff: Personally lobby Members of Congress, return early from Israel to fight and make a national TV address on the broadcast networks, not CNN.
At the top of the
December 13 roundtable Donaldson told Cokie Roberts, Bill Kristol, George
Stephanopoulos and George Will:
I guess Clinton really is the media's guy. The fact that Donaldson thought his information is innocuous, about how the press corps is on a mission to save Clinton, shows why journalists are unable to understand complaints about liberal bias.
[((tried it, tried it)) is in the double parentheses to note that it sounded like "tried it, tried it" but I realize that doesn't really make sense. The remainder of the paragraph is as he said it though the sentence with Craig in it also doesn't express a complete thought.]
A collection of media wisdom from the weekend: Eleanor Clift and Jay Carney charged Republicans will "disgrace" themselves more than did Clinton if they impeach; Steve Roberts was in sync, saying the House will be "disgraced" by a partisan vote; Al Hunt blasted the Judiciary Committee for an un-American process better-suited to a totalitarian state; Cokie Roberts insisted that Republicans should follow the polls and by not doing so they are "compounding" the problem of a lack of trust in government; and Bob Schieffer warned Henry Hyde that preventing a censure vote will "leave a sense of unfairness."
-- The McLaughlin
Group, December 12:
Jay Carney, Time reporter: "I think Eleanor is right at least for those handful of members who will turn this tide one way or the other. If he is voted out, or rather impeached next week, he will, it will be because enough Republicans who were wavering were convinced impeachment is an inconsequential act. And they will be convinced of that by Tom DeLay and other Republican leaders who want impeachment as a political bone to give the social conservatives in the party, the base voters who matter so much...."
December 12 Capital Gang:
George Will, a
minute later: "For all that conservatives have done to preach
disrespect for government, try to lower confidence in the political class,
nothing the conservative movement has done over the years has matched what
the President has done since January 21st."
Later, co-host Gloria Borger to White House Chief-of-Staff John Podesta: "Well Chairman Hyde says he's acting out of what he calls a constitutional duty. Do you think there's something else going on here? Are they out to get the President?"
ABC and NBC showcased stories over the weekend either reflecting bewilderment at public indifference to the GOP's impeachment march or warning that the Republicans might soon feel the public's wrath for defying opposition to impeachment.
-- A story on
Friday's World News Tonight opened with this from a radio news
announcer: "Debate will resume shortly on four articles of
impeachment against the President."
Friday's show ended with this plug: "Stay with ABC News this weekend. Saturday: Is there a disconnect between what Americans want and what the Judiciary Committee is doing? Watch ABC's World News Tonight/Saturday."
Jumping ahead to
Saturday, World News Tonight ended with the promoted story. Mike von Fremd
began with a lengthy soundbite of Democrat Robert Trexler's "dire
warning" about how a Senate trial will immobilize the country. After
some clips of Americans upset by the GOP push, von Fremd noted that the
cable ratings for the hearings were one-third what OJ generated. Von Fremd
concluded by pointing out that 60 percent opposes impeachment,
Over on NBC
Nightly News on Saturday, December 12, Rick Davis made ABC seem perfectly
balanced. From New York City he opened his piece with two pro and two
anti-impeachment "man on the street" soundbites. I'll pick up
with the last anti one as that's where the balance ended as Davis used
it to launch his anti-impeachment case.
Here's a rundown of some noteworthy aspects of Friday to Sunday night broadcast network coverage of the historic impeachment vote, including the show openings from Friday night. On Saturday ABC's Charlie Gibson asked for confirmation that pushing impeachment will hurt Republicans and on CBS Bob Schieffer highlighted how a liberal accused the GOP of staging a coup. Friday night Peter Jennings tagged those favoring impeachment as "the more militant partisans in the party."
Sunday night, December 13 ABC's World News Tonight led with Sam Donaldson on Clinton in Israel again denying perjury. Karla Davis focused on Henry Hyde suggesting Clinton resign and how polls back censure but Republicans are resisting allowing such a choice. Mike von Fremd profiled Ray LaHood of Peoria who will preside over the House session starting on Thursday. NBC Nightly News began Sunday with Claire Shipman on Clinton's denial of perjury. Joe Johns reviewed the Sunday talk shows and Pat Dawson dropped in on Cedar Rapids Iowa, home of uncommitted Republican Jim Leach. (Golf meant no CBS Evening News in he east.)
Saturday, December 12 all three broadcast network evening showss, including the first World News Tonight on Saturday since college football started, opened with the passage less than an hour before of a scaled back version of article 4.
ABC anchor Charlie Gibson asked Cokie Roberts: "Cokie, are there any Republicans who are worried about what their party is doing in all of this? A lot of people feel the Republicans didn't do as well as they might have in the midterm elections because they were pushing impeachment so hard as yet they continue to push it and push it and push it?"
CBS Evening News Bob Schieffer highlighted how John Conyers accused
Republicans or orchestrating a coup. Schieffer noted how Republicans
dropped Clinton's executive privilege appeals from the last article,
adding: "Democrats saw that as the only moment of mercy in another
long day of tedious, often repetitive debate which to them was no more
than a railroading of the President."
From the White House Scott Pelley relayed that Clinton's Friday mini-speech failed: "Today reaction was decidedly negative. Mr. Clinton's refusal to acknowledge lying under oath antagonized even his supporters."
Just after Clinton
finished up, at about 4:17pm ET, ABC's Cokie Roberts declared that
Clinton didn't go far enough to pick up support from moderates. Peter
Jennings responded by applying an extremist label to those favoring
The networks ran multiple stories Friday night on the historic House Judiciary Committee vote (of two articles of impeachment by the time of the east coast feeds). Here's how each of the three broadcast networks opened their December 11 shows and the thumbs-down assessments of the effectiveness of Clinton's late afternoon speech:
Jennings opened the show: "Good evening. It was remarkable day in Washington, one of those where were you when days. There is no historic tone to debate in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, but they've certainly put a marker down for historians to debate...."
Asked if Clinton's talk changed minds, Cokie Roberts replied: "I don't think so, Peter. In fact one member said to me it didn't even give people cover to vote for the President, against impeachment, if they were looking for that cover."
Rather then opened the broadcast: "Good evening. History-making and fast-breaking news tonight that will determine whether the Clinton presidency survives and will determine much else about the future of country..."
CBS uniquely played the entire four-minutes or so long Clinton speech before Scott Pelley pronounced that it came up short: "He once again refused to acknowledge the allegations, such as perjury, that do carry real legal weight and the threat of impeachment. Even some of the President's Democratic supporters have said that they believe he lied under oath....the President gave them no relief today..."
Brokaw then opened the show: "Good evening. For only the third time in history, the House Judiciary Committee has voted to send articles of impeachment against the President of the United States to the full House, which could very well send those charges on to the Senate for trial. President Clinton made a somber appearance outside the Oval Office to say he would accept censure, but it's what he didn't say that swing members of Congress are pondering tonight."
David Bloom later relayed from the White House: "They're hoping that moderate Republicans are listening. Tonight one of the President's closest advisers conceded there's an eery silence out there. He said it's unknowable whether the President will survive next week's House vote. And these advisers said, more than one of them, you may not have heard the last word from Mr. Clinton."
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