Clinton's Budget Tops; Tripp the Betrayer; Hollywood Defends Clintons
None of the broadcast network shows led Monday night with Monicagate. ABC and NBC started with Clinton's budget proposal, while CBS led with the abortion clinic bombing. Dan Rather described Clinton's new spending proposals as "$100 billion more help." What made a balanced budget possible? Sam Donaldson said "reductions in some spending," but NBC's Claire Shipman credited "a booming economy, not spending cuts." Only NBC's David Bloom noted Clinton's refusal to answer questions about his sex scandal.
Here are highlights from the Monday, February 2 broadcast network evening shows:
-- ABC's World News Tonight began with Sam Donaldson at the White House where Clinton announced his FY 1999 budget plan. Donaldson intoned: "In fact, the new budget projects a $9 billion surplus, thanks to reductions in some spending and a surge in tax revenue due to a strong economy. But there's more, and that's where the Republican's have pounced..."
After clips of Republicans complaining about $120 billion in new spending paid for by the proposed tobacco settlement and competing soundbites about tax cut plans, Donaldson concluded on a buoyant note:
"Administration officials say this balanced budget is a result of the President's sound policies. His critics say it's mainly a matter of benefitting from the strong economy that other forces are driving. But no matter why it couldn't come at a better time, just another upward push for Mr. Clinton's new, sudden, sky-high job approval rating. Peter."
Next, Peter Jennings interviewed Jackie Judd about the status of negotiations between Starr and Lewinsky and the release of Clinton's deposition which shows he denied having sex with the intern. Later, ABC devoted its "A Closer Look" segment to politicians "salivating" over what to do with the surplus. Linda Douglass looked at how Clinton wants to save Social Security while Republicans want to give the money back through tax cuts. She concluded:
"Even though Republicans probably will proceed slowly with any tax cut proposal, the White House believes it may have painted them into a corner. Said one senior White House official, saving Social Security will trump tax cuts anytime."
-- A piece from Jim Stewart on how investigators believe the same man is responsible for the Atlanta abortion clinic, Atlanta gay bar, Olympic Park and Birmingham abortion clinic bombings topped the CBS Evening News. CBS then ran two pieces on the impending execution in Texas of Karla Faye Tucker. After an ad break, Dan Rather turned to the balanced budget proposal, declaring: "This budget also calls for $100 billion more help over the next five years, mostly for child care, health care and education."
Scott Pelley explained that the new programs depend on tobacco settlement taxes, then switched topics to Monicagate, reporting that prosecutors got a copy of Clinton's deposition in Jones case and that Lewinsky told Tripp she'd get job if she lied in an affidavit. Up next: in a surprising appearance, Carl Bernstein, identified as a "CBS News consultant," told viewers that Starr has decided to send any evidence of presidential perjury directly to the House of Representatives, not a grand jury.
-- Tom Brokaw opened the NBC Nightly News by announcing:
"We have been living with and anguishing over federal budget deficits so long they seem to an incurable disease. Now, a combination of a booming economy, a Democratic President and a Republican Congress has made it possible for President Clinton to claim he has found the cure. Republicans are skeptical, but tonight the President has the stage."
Claire Shipman asked: "But what made it possible? A booming economy, not spending cuts. In fact the Clinton budget is stuffed with ambitious and costly proposals..."
David Bloom next handled the Lewinsky update, reporting that a UCLA student who dated her says she told him of an affair. Only Bloom bothered to highlight Clinton's continued stonewalling:
"Eleven days after promising not to dodge what he called very legitimate questions about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Clinton did just that again today, quickly departing this morning's budget announcement, reporter's questions drowned out by partisan applause...."
The networks keep putting Kenneth Starr on the defense, suggesting he's the one who has done wrong. Meanwhile, two Monday morning shows looked at how Linda Tripp betrayed Monica Lewinsky.
-- On Monday's Today, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, David Bloom asserted: "Now with independent counsel Kenneth Starr under tremendous pressure to justify his full-throttled investigation of the President and with no new talks planned between prosecutors and lawyers for Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern. Even Lewinsky attorney Bill Ginsburg is predicting that President Clinton will survive allegations of an affair and a cover-up."
-- Teasing an upcoming segment, Today co-host Ann Curry announced:
"And also, you know, a lot of women were really horrified to hear about Linda Tripp tape...secretly tape recording Monica Lewinsky. We're gonna find out this morning that that's not what real girlfriends do."
Curry began the 8:30am half hour segment:
"Time now for Today's Woman. Friendship means different things to different people. But few people expect to have their friendship betrayed by having their private conversations taped as Linda Tripp did to Monica Lewinksy. Well Sylvia Gearing is a psychologist who has some theories on friendship and she joins us this morning. Dr. Gearing good morning."
Dr. Sylvia Gearing: "Hi good morning."
Curry: "Exactly what kind of a friend would do to Monica Lewinsky what Linda Tripp did?"
Gearing: "A poor friend. That's the first thing I can say. I cannot believe that someone who professes to be a friend could go about scheming the way that she did and absolutely defying and violating Monica the way that she did."
CBS's This Morning, MRC analyst Steve Kaminski reported, also similarly scrutinized Tripp's betrayal.
Hollywood was quick to rush to the defense of Clinton against the charges of having an affair with a 21 year old White House intern. With some input from MRC entertainment analysts Adam Pogach and Tom Johnson, Melissa Caldwell put together the following list of quotes from celebrities backing Clinton and attacking Ken Starr that have aired recently on ABC's Politically Incorrect, the Late Show with David Letterman, Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight.
-- From the January 21 Politically Incorrect on ABC:
Host Bill Maher: "Obstructing justice has to take place with a crime. What was the crime?"
Jami Gertz, actress (ER, Twister, Less Than Zero): "I think entrapment on the part of the Republican, uh...Yeah....I think a woman wearing a wire and talking to her girlfriend and gaining her confidence. I'm more worried about that than I am...Frankly, if Hillary is not worried about who the President kisses, then I am not worried about who the President kisses...."
-- From the January 23 Politically Incorrect:
Actor, Esai Morales: "But the fact of the matter is boys will be boys, humans are humans, but we're making being human kind of illegal. We're being hypocritical about it. I'm embarrassed for the United States, that's how I feel. Because around the world they're laughing at us. Our President's trying to make peace in the Middle East, we're thinking, 'But really, did you squeeze her butt?' I mean, who gives a damn?"
-- From the January 26 Politically Incorrect:
Mark Curry, actor (Hangin' With Mr. Cooper): "I agree with the President. You know what I'm tired of? I'm tired of young ladies...always come out, and they can say one thing, 'Oh, he touched me', and suddenly you ruined somebody's career, or whatever...I think, this is our President. I think, show me the tape. Show me something...Show me the tape of that day...My man is innocent. She's [Monica] a patsy."
-- From the January 30 Politically Incorrect:
Scott Thompson, actor and comedian (Kids in the Hall, Larry Sanders Show): "She [Linda Tripp] should be screwed first, and then paddled. Because she needs both."
-- Actor Ethan Hawke (Great Expectations) made an appearance on the January 30 Late Show with David Letterman. Asked about the controversy, he replied with this illogical analogy to Reagan and Iran-Contra:
"I think if the guy wants to chase skirt, it's not my problem. You know what I mean? I mean, Ronald Reagan never went under oath for the whole Iran-Contra scandal so if this guy wants to do his business."
To which Letterman asked: "But do you want to vote for a guy who wants to chase skirt?"
Hawke answered, "Absolutely, I wouldn't have it any other way."
-- The January 30 edition of the NBC-produced Access Hollywood show featured two celebrity quotes, one condemning coverage and one accepting it as reasonable. Actor Paul Newman declared:
"It's a sad day for the whole country, all of it. I must say I fault the press. Their participation in this has been anything but glorious. Now you just float a rumor...and it goes on page one. No documentation, no question as to whether it's accurate or not...[The] first [paper] said 'someone alleged.' Then the next paper takes it and says, 'It was reported that,' and the [third] paper puts it down as fact...When it's finally retracted, the retraction is on page 87, next to the obituaries."
Actor Gene Hackman, however, was more reserved in his criticism: "In some ways, I suppose the media is right to pursue it, because if it's true, then it needs to be exposed [and Clinton] would have to resign."
-- From the January 23 Entertainment Tonight:
Kelly Lynch, actress (Homegrown, Mr. Magoo, Virtuosity): "I hope to God it's not true. I think he's been an amazing President."
Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost, The Associate, Cinderella): "I feel really bad for him. The press is really tough, and everybody
needs to lay low and let's find out what's going on."
Mary Stuart Masterson (Bed of Roses, Benny and Joon): "I think it's crazy. I think he's a terrific President. He never hit on me. I met him."
She sounds disappointed.
-- From the January 26 Entertainment Tonight:
Harry Hamlin (LA Law): "I have the deepest respect for the way that family stays together as the opposing party tries to find every possible way to discredit this President."
-- From the January 28 Entertainment Tonight:
Diane Ladd, actress (Primary Colors, Ghosts of Mississippi): "I think that Clinton's heart is in the right place on these issues, and I hope he concentrates on them."
-- From the January 30 Entertainment Tonight:
Susan Sarandon, actress (Dead Man Walking, The Client): "I guess they went after him because they'd spent so much money on
Whitewater and not gotten anywhere. And I just think it's a waste of everybody's time."
Warren Beatty, actor (Bulworth, Love Story, Dick Tracey ): "I have no reason not to believe him."
Now, contrast those attitudes to the respect shown for Ronald Reagan by actor Richard Belzer, a star of NBC's Homicide drama. Back on December 18 he appeared on the Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder. Here's an exchange from the CBS show.
Tom Snyder: "You gave it to Reagan pretty good when Reagan was in office. Now, he's a former President and an old man at the end of his trail with Alzheimers. Do you see him differently now from the way you saw him them?"
Richard Belzer: "I see the humanity of his suffering, but I have no sympathy for the man. He caused undue, he demonized the poor during his administration. He did some unconscionable things that I don't want to get into now, but everyone's aware of, its in the history books, I'm not making it up."
Snyder: "But now when you say he did some unconscionable things that's not fair because..."
Belzer: "OK, well you know he traded guns for cocaine to free hostages, that's documented. I know people argue that but let's say there's no cocaine, he did trade weapons to our mortal enemy, and he...I'll tell you, the first thing he did in office and the last thing he did in office will bookend Reagan. His first act as President of the United States..."
Snyder: "Fire the air traffic controllers?"
Belzer: "...No, that was another maniacal thing. No one has ever done a story about how many air accidents there were after he did that by the way, and there were a lot. Aside from that, his first act in office was, there is a law in the United States, the federal government cannot fund any institution that practices segregation. Ronald Reagan's first act as President was to suspend that law for Bob Jones University...."
If Bill Clinton is forced to leave office in disgrace, Eleanor Clift, Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt will find a welcome home in Hollywood.
From the February 2 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Other Accusations Against the President." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10) Uses Moscow hot line to have phone sex
with Mrs. Yeltsin.
Can't go wrong with jokes about Sam Donaldson's hairpiece. -- Brent Baker 
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