Walters Delivers Hillary Book Infomercial, Paints Her as Victim --6/9/2003
2. ABC Highlights Hillary's "Pain" Over Bush Ruining the Economy
3. ABC Insists "Everyone" Excited by Hillary, Her Presidential Bid
4. "Is the 'Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy' Bigger Than You Thought?"
5. NBC Again Distorts Topic by Saying People "Left Out" of Tax Cut
6. Hume: Clinton "Waving His Wand at Everyone Who Walked By..."
The June 6 CyberAlert predicted, based on some excerpts of the Barbara Walters-Hillary Clinton interview played last week, that "we'll be seeing a very sympathetic treatment of the former First Lady in Sunday's ABC News special promoting Hillary Clinton's new book." It turned out it could be better described as a pathetic product which should be an embarrassment to ABC News since Walters did little more than deliver an hour-long infomercial for Clinton's new book as she cued up items in the tome for Hillary to comment on, book-ended with plugs for a presidential bid.
Walters never really challenged Clinton on anything or posed any follow-ups and most of Walters' questions about the Clinton White House years presumed Clinton was the victim of events which she had no role in creating.
Headlines on the ABCNews.com Web site on Sunday night reflected the laudatory tenor of Walters' approach:
Those headlines are under "related items" in a sidebar to ABC's main story about the Hillary interview, which is at: abcnews.go.com
The announcer presumed "everyone" is as excited about a Hillary presidential run as is, apparently, the ABC News staff: "And the question everyone is asking today: Could there be another Clinton White House?"
For Walters, bad things just seemed to happen to an innocent Hillary Clinton whom Walters repeatedly saw a the poster woman for victimhood: "You made investments in the commodities markets, you dealt in real estate -- Whitewater, you worked for the Rose law firm, all of which at the time you thought were very innocent. All these things came back to haunt you. Was there anything you could have done differently?"
Walters also fretted about how Hillary "had to cope with the health care fiasco, the suicide of Vince Foster and the emergence of a woman named Paula Jones."
The criticism of First Lady Hillary Clinton came not from what she advocated or did but, Walters contended, just from daring to have her own views: "You became First Lady like no other First Lady before you. You had your own interests, you got involved in public policy. No First Lady had done that without being severely criticized. Did you realize what you were getting into?"
Walters empathized with the toll of the scandal onslaught: "I can barely remember a week went by when one of you wasn't being criticized and investigated." But when Hillary answered with a whopper about how "everything that was thrown at me, everything that was said turned out to be without basis in fact," Walters didn't bat an eye and Clinton proceeded to complain about the "out of control, zealous prosecutor who was on a partisan campaign to undermine Bill and me and everyone else."
Walters even gushed: "I don't think people realize how strong your faith is."
After all of that fawning, Walters concluded the hour by fancifully speculating on the possibility of a President Hillary Clinton and First Husband Bill Clinton: "It's not beyond the realm of possibility that she would become not only the first First Lady to be elected Senator, but also the first First Lady to become President. And that raises an intriguing prospect: Bill Clinton as the first President to become a First Man or First Spouse or whatever. So much has happened to this couple that it seems anything could happen. Stay tuned."
Now, some lengthier versions of the above-quoted highlights, at least as much as I had time to take down as ABC has not yet posted a transcript.
The June 8 infomercial in the guise of a news showed opened with Walters and Hillary Clinton on Washington's Mall with Walters pressing her about a presidential run.
The show then moved to a segment taped in Hillary's hometown of Park Ridge, Illinois where she shared how a bearded Bill Clinton at Yale "looked like a Viking" and she was attracted to his "beautiful hands" and "very long fingers."
Most of the program was based on an interview session taped inside the Clinton home in the Chappaqua section of the town of New Castle, New York.
Some of the questions and exchanges where Walters was the most supplicant:
-- Bad things just happened. "While your husband was Governor, you write that you were essentially the breadwinner in the family. You made investments in the commodities markets, you dealt in real estate -- Whitewater, you worked for the Rose law form, all of which at the time you thought were very innocent. All these things came back to haunt you. Was there anything you could have done differently?"
-- Back from an ad break, Walters set up a segment by sympathizing with how Clinton had to "cope" with problems, as if she had nothing to do with creating them: "Hillary Clinton was never simply Bill Clinton's wife. She was always a woman with her own accomplishments and ambitions and in the world of politics played at the highest level that would both set her apart and set her up for constant scrutiny and attacks. She had to cope with the health care fiasco, the suicide of Vince Foster and the emergence of a woman named Paula Jones."
-- Walters proposed this very confusing historic premise: "You became First Lady like no other First Lady before you. You had your own interests, you got involved in public policy. No First Lady had done that without being severely criticized. Did you realize what you were getting into?"
If "no other" First Lady had done it, how were those non-existent First Ladies "severely criticized" for doing what they didn't do?
-- On the Paula Jones case, Walters' idea of a tough question: "Did you for a moment believe her?"
-- Walters set up the look at Hillary's tale, about how she didn't know the Lewinsky story was true until Bill told her eight months later, by claiming Hillary wrote about it "very frankly."
-- Walters: "There is that picture that we all remember of you and the President and Chelsea, and the dog Buddy, walking into the helicopter when you were about to go off on a vacation to Martha's Vineyard, which I'm sure you had no desire to do."
-- Walters: "I don't think people realize how strong your faith is, it goes all through the book. It must have helped you then."
-- Walters, not exactly challenging the VRWC premise: "If I ask you straight up: Was there and is there a right-wing conspiracy to destroy your husband's presidency, would you today say yes?"
-- The final comments from Walters, a hope that maybe Senator Clinton will run for President: "Hillary Clinton's memoir ends with her last day in the White House. But I dare say as her journey continues, she'll have plenty of material for a second autobiography. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that she would become not only the first First Lady to be elected Senator, but also the first First Lady to become President. And that raises an intriguing prospect: Bill Clinton as the first President to become a First Man or First Spouse or whatever. So much has happened to this couple that it seems anything could happen. Stay tuned."
Minutes before ABC's infomercial for Hillary Clinton's book aired in the EDT and CDT time zones, ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Carole Simpson highlighted how it "pains" Hillary Clinton "that her husband's work to improve the economy has been reversed." Clinton bawled about how "it breaks my heart that in two and a half years we've gone back into huge deficits and debt and jobs are down and people are falling back into poverty."
Simpson set up the story/promo on the June 8 newscast: "New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's much-discussed interview with Barbara Walters airs tonight. In it she speaks out about the legacy of her husband's presidency and says it pains her that her husband's work to improve the economy has been reversed."
Simpson then endorsed her point in one area, but did at least note that the economy turned downward before Bill Clinton left office: "In fact, the deficit was cut by more than half in those first four years and Clinton left office with a surplus, but most economists agree the current decline also began under his administration."
Speak for yourself. Viewers of Sunday's This Week on ABC heard that "everyone's" been waiting for the Barbara Walters-Hillary Clinton interview, that "everyone" in Washington will be scouring Hillary's book "for clues" about her political future, and that whether she will run for President in 2004 is what "everyone's talking about."
That all may be true for "everyone" in the ABC's newsroom, but I doubt very much that most Americans care much about any of it.
The ABC announcer declared at the top of the June 8 This Week with George Stephanopoulos: "This morning, an ABC News exclusive: The interview everyone's waiting for. Barbara Walters with Senator Hillary Clinton. A special preview."
Interviewing Walters about her special promoting Hillary's book, Stephanopoulos asserted: "Everyone here in Washington, as you know, is going to be looking through the book for clues as to what it means to Hillary's political future."
Walters informed a pleased Stephanopoulos that "we did ask the question about 2004, which everyone's talking about, and 2008."
An actual question from Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs to Hillary Clinton in an interview for this week's issue which accompanies the magazine's cover story excerpt of her new book: "Is the 'vast, right-wing conspiracy' bigger than you thought when you brought that term into our vocabulary?"
So much for any notion that maybe the VRWC doesn't exist or that Hillary might owe an apology to those she smeared with the charge when the Lewinsky story turned out to be true.
But that wasn't the only question from Gibbs which presumed conservatives were in the wrong. Gibbs wondered: "In the book you have a lot to say about forgiveness. Have you forgiven Ken Starr?"
And before asking about letting a President run for a third term and if she plans to make a presidential run, Gibbs queried: "Would you call Bush a radical?"
Some of the questions posed by Gibbs in the June 16 edition of Time:
-- "In the book you have a lot to say about forgiveness. Have you forgiven Ken Starr?"
-- "Do you think President Bush inspires on the left the same kind of reaction that you and Bill inspired on the right?"
-- "Is the 'vast, right-wing conspiracy' bigger than you thought when you brought that term into our vocabulary?"
-- "Do you want to be President in 2008?"
For Time's interview in full in the June 16 issue: www.time.com
NBC Nightly News refuses to simply inform its viewers that those making between about $10,000 and $27,000 who do not get a hike in the child credit in the tax cut bill which passed, do not pay income taxes, at least not any net income tax after deductions, credits and EITC paybacks.
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, as reported in Friday's CyberAlert, NBC played off sympathy for low-paid military members, as Norah O'Donnell delivered a particularly distorted look at a military wife who "learned her family was not included in the child tax credit because they don't make enough money." O'Donnell cited a report from the liberal Children's Defense Fund as her authority in claiming that "about one million children in military families will not benefit from the new child tax credit." She ludicrously insisted that "many military families" are "facing a summer without tax relief." But, CBS's Sharyl Attkisson pointed out what O'Donnell suppressed: Those in question "pay no federal income taxes" from which to get "relief." For details: www.mediaresearch.org
Brokaw opened the June 6 NBC Nightly News: "Welcome back, President Bush. He returned to the White House today to disquieting news. The nation's unemployment rate continued to climb. And even though some analyzing the numbers think they see light at the end of the tunnel, the economy remains a tunnel with an uncertain destination. And the President's tax cut bill still is getting roughed up by Democrats, especially since it was discovered that some low-income groups were left out. NBC's David Gregory reporting tonight from the White House."
Gregory stuck mostly to the unemployment number, but did eventually get to the tax cut's supposed shortcoming: "The President's recent compromise victory on the tax cut is being undermined by new criticism that it left out a huge chunk of the working poor who wouldn't benefit from the tax plan's expanded child credit. The White House may be forced to compromise again on a more generous credit for lower-income families. It's now quickly moving through Congress."
While NBC characterized people as being "left out," on PBS's Washington Week on Friday night, Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin ludicrously asserted those in question are "hurt" by not getting the higher tax credit when their situation would not change, so they would neither benefit or be hurt.
Eilperin echoed the liberal spin as she recalled how "a huge number of liberal groups started mobilizing, pointing out who was hurt by this, we're talking about, you know 12 million children who, you know, are not getting the same kind of tax credit that people thought."
Best line of the weekend, from Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday in reaction to Hillary Clinton's charge in her new book that the Starr Report was "gratuitously graphic and degrading to the presidency."
Hume, employing a subtle euphemism, quipped during a panel segment on Senator Clinton's book: "So you've got this President, who'd been waving his wand at everyone who walked by for their entire marriage, and he does it in the Oval Office with an intern and she says that Starr's the one obsessed with sex? Hello?"
Can't beat that as a parting line.
-- Brent Baker