Pro-Impeachment "Morons"; Nets Impugn GOP Doubts About Iraq Decision
2) Instead of scrutinizing Clinton's decision to bomb Iraq, ABC and NBC cast disrepute upon GOP doubts. Peter Jennings bemoaned how "there was not the traditional rally around the leader support" as both networks focused on White House anger.
4) Brian Williams, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings blamed everybody but Clinton for doubts about his decision. Williams: "Is it the height of cynicism in the '90s that we are discussing this at all? That anyone doubts the purity of a President's moment when committing troops in action militarily?"
>>> "John Conyers, Jesse Jackson, and Activist Groups Backed Impeachment for Reagan's Military Actions: Will Liberals Waive Their War-Powers Stand?" This latest Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. Introducing some historical quotes he dug up, the MRC's Tim Graham opens the report: "Liberal Democrats have insisted that Clinton's perjury and obstruction is not impeachable. But what will they say today when some prominent voices against impeachment are on record with a much looser standard of impeachment for Ronald Reagan, particularly for his failure to consult Congress before military action? Will they now support an article of impeachment for Clinton's use of arms without consultation in Iraq, not to mention Sudan? Will reporters ask about these quotes?" Go to http://www.mrc.org or directly to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/reality/1998/fax19981217.html
Some name-calling Thursday night from CBS's Tom Snyder on his Late Late
Show. He discussed impeachment with historian Douglas Brinkley and
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift. After Clift complained about how House
Republicans are ignoring public sentiment as they insist on impeachment,
Snyder piped in:
ABC's Peter Jennings on Thursday night bemoaned how "there was not the traditional rally around the leader support that usually results while American forces are in action overseas." NBC's Gwen Ifill concluded a story with the Democratic spin on impeachment: "With the nation at war the question is whether it's even appropriate to act now." ABC and NBC focused on supposed White House surprise at the "vehemence" of Republicans who believe Bill Clinton decided to attack Iraq in order to put off impeachment. None of the networks put the burden on Clinton for creating the climate of distrust.
ABC's John Cochran added a story looking at why Republicans don't trust Clinton. Cochran suggested it's based on pettiness because "he had beaten them" in the 1995 budget showdown. Both CBS and NBC highlighted poll numbers showing most think Clinton's decision was not directed by trying to avoid impeachment.
Minutes before the end of the 6:30pm ET feed of World News Tonight Peter Jennings went to Linda Douglass for the breaking news about Bob Livingston admitting affairs. The 7pm ET editions of the CBS and NBC broadcasts also squeezed in a mention of the sketchy information. After Douglass, ABC's Cokie Roberts told Jennings: "I will tell you Peter that someone close to the White House did tell me a rumor along those lines a couple of weeks ago and I was shocked to have that person spreading that rumor."
Here are some highlights from the Thursday, December 17, broadcast network evening shows which all led with multiple stories on Iraq before they got to impeachment.
Later in the show
John Cochran portrayed Republicans as sore losers. Cochran began:
"From the start it was clear Republicans were not going to give this
President the benefit of the doubt." Viewers saw several soundbites
of Republicans questioning Clinton's Iraq decision before Cochran delved
into some history to explain the GOP's distrust:
Note how Cochran
failed to mention the media's role in aiding Clinton in his effort to
convince Americans the House conservatives were out to cut Medicare and
slash school lunches.
minutes later Brokaw introduced a story from Gwen Ifill on the impeachment
debate by acknowledging that Democrats want to delay because they
"are looking for any advantage in what they now know is a losing
battle." But after running battling soundbites from House members
from both parties and reporting that Republicans decided to start the
floor debate Friday morning, Ifill concluded by echoing the Democratic
spin of the day:
Opening Thursday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC Geraldo Rivera charged:
The night before, on Wednesday's Rivera Live, he first trotted out this line of attack on conservatives. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that he suggested to Oliver North: "During Vietnam, sir, I believe you would have called those kinds of criticisms of the Commander-in-Chief treason."
He posed this leading question to Richard Ben Veniste: "Do you also believe Mr. Ben Veniste that what has been revealed today is the depth, the profound depth of the ugly partisan hatred of the President of the United States by his political enemies."
The attacks on Clinton from Republicans turned the liberal Rivera into a pro-military defender of soldiers. Check out this complaint from a depressed-sounding Rivera: "It crushes me. I hate to be overly melancholy. This whole process has been so devastating, but to hear it tonight with our troops in harm's way, the partisan bickering that continues and lies at the very root of this and has from day one is to me a message for the generations."
Rivera may say it most dramatically, but he reflects the widespread network media disgust with Republicans for daring to question the purity of Clinton Iraq decision. Here are three examples of how the networks on Wednesday night, December 16, distanced themselves from the Republican concerns:
-- On MSNBC's
The News with Brian Williams, instead of considering that the
President's decision may not have been pure, Williams blamed
"cynicism" of others for such thoughts in this question at
9:34pm ET to William Bennett, which was caught by MRC analyst Mark Drake:
Note how, in this question transcribed for me by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, Clinton's intentions are not categorized but impeachment is a "juggernaut."
Good Morning America's hosts peppered guests Thursday morning with questions which assumed Republican reservations, about the purity of Clinton's decision-making, were illegitimate. MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson caught and transcribed a few from the December 17 show:
-- Co-host Lisa McRee to Weekly Standard Publisher Bill Kristol: "Bill Kristol, Trent Lott very publicly skeptical of the timing and the attack itself. Bad form?"
-- McRee to ABC's Cokie Roberts: "There is a new poll, Cokie, 30 percent feel he was trying to delay the impeachment vote, but 62 percent of the Americans believe he felt that what he was doing was right. That skepticism the Republicans have had, don't they have to keep it under their hat, or face a backlash?"
-- McRee to Senator John McCain: "Trent Lott was very publicly skeptical of the motive and the timing. Is that harmful to your party for him not to be completely in support of a military operation at this time?"
-- Co-host Kevin Newman also got into the act, lecturing former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: "This is, as I said, such an extraordinary time for a military campaign. I mean, on the very day that it looked like the President was about to face impeachment by the House of Representatives, this military campaign went on. It was also an extraordinarily personal day in the reaction of some of the Republicans on the Hill. Did you have to conduct foreign policy in that kind of milieu, when so much, when there's so much bitterness and so much personal animosity, it seemed, against the President?"
-- Newman to Secretary of Defense William Cohen: "You're a former Republican Senator, sir, and you know that usually when this happens, politics ends at the water. But yesterday there were several very senior Republicans who suggested that this was, or questioned the motives of this particular attack. I'd like to know what your thoughts are about that. Does it trouble you that there is not the usual support?"
NBC's Today did not follow the same pattern. In fact, Today took the
Republican reaction seriously. Check out these questions from Katie Couric
to Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton:
Other than Today, the networks Wednesday night and ABC Thursday morning certainly gave Clinton another chance to appear presidential.
Clinton used impeachment to out-fox Hussein? Thursday's Today offered the most novel spin of the day, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed in watching an interview with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter.
Co-host Matt Lauer
inquired about Clinton's ability to excel despite adversity: "We've
been talking a lot this morning about questions of the President's
leadership and ability to lead based on the fact that so many are doubting
his motives here. But Jonathan let's flip the coin over and say what does
it say about the President's ability to lead that he can balance these two
major crises at the same time?"
From the December 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things That Would Get Santa Claus Impeached." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Posting naked pictures of his lap on
the world wide web.
And from the Late Show Web site, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- The day after Christmas, TVs and VCRs
suspiciously missing at every single house in the world.
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