"S" Word Avoided; CBS Says Public Doesn't Care; Shooting Tied to Reagan
All the networks Thursday night led with the testing of Lewinsky's
dress, how she had given it to her mother to hide so when the FBI searched
her apartment in January they did not find it, and how she turned over
answering machine tapes with messages from Clinton.
But first, a brief
rundown on other Monicagate, or given the dress Fellategate, topics
covered Thursday night, July 30 in addition to the dress and polls:
-- CNN's The World Today. After Wolf Blitzer on the dress, Pierre Thomas looked at the evidentiary impact of the dress and audio tapes and then Candy Crowley took the temperature of Capitol Hill where she found no interest in commenting or pursuing the scandal. John King summarized CNN's poll before Jonathan Karl profiled Marcia Lewis. Karl relayed allegations about her credit card habits and desire for expensive cars, charges based on papers filed by her husband in divorce proceedings ten years ago.
-- On FNC's Fox Report Jim Angle reported in from Clinton's trip to North Carolina to highlight river clean up and like Donaldson he played Clinton's "that woman" soundbite. Later, Eric Burns evaluated Linda Tripp's complaints about being vilified in the news and entertainment media.
Now, to how each network Thursday night described what Lewinsky maintains is on her dress. In many cases if you didn't know already you'd not know after watching the network stories.
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather assured viewers that "Our check and double checked,
determined to be accurate coverage begins with CBS White House
correspondent Scott Pelley." But then Pelley may have been accurate,
but he was hardly specific:
-- CNN's The
World Today. Wolf Blitzer disclosed: "CNN has learned President
Clinton was unaware that Monica Lewinsky was turning over possible
physical evidence of an alleged sexual relationship when he agreed to
testify. Two sources familiar with Lewinsky's immunity agreement say the
former intern handed over a dress that Lewinsky claims may contain that
-- FNC's 7pm ET
Fox Report. David Shuster opened his top of the show piece: "These
are good days for prosecutor Kenneth Starr. As part of Starr's deal with
Monica Lewinsky this week his investigators received a dress that she
allegedly kept as a type of souvenir. Sources close to Lewinsky say she
has told prosecutors President Clinton stained the dress during a sexual
encounter at the White House."
-- NBC Nightly
News. Anchor Brian Williams was a vague as possible: "Former White
House intern Monica Lewinsky, the next big witness here who today met yet
again with members of Ken Starr's staff, has apparently turned over
evidence that might bolster the case against the President."
-- Only ABC's World News Tonight actually told viewers what Lewinsky claims Clinton left on her dress. Jackie Judd reported: "Legal sources say Lewinsky told prosecutors the dress was stained with semen and would offer proof of a sexual relationship with Clinton."
Amazing how grown men and women, at least network news executives, are so afraid of that two-syllable word.
ABC and CBS highlighted their own polls Thursday night showing high approval for Clinton and how they proved the public really doesn't care about the Lewinsky scandal and that he certainly should not be impeached over it. CBS went to St. Louis and Hollywood to demonstrate how most don't care if Clinton had an affair. The question facing Starr is whether the President committed perjury, but CBS didn't ask about that. NBC discovered similar numbers with similar questions, but NBC's Claire Shipman concluded the NBC News poll shows the President "may need to reconsider his strategy" and offer an explanation.
ABC anchor Charlie
Gibson announced on World News Tonight:
Over on the CBS
Evening News Dan Rather highlighted how "The President was in North
Carolina today, where despite all his legal and political troubles, he got
a warm welcome. The President and Vice President Gore were there to
announce a restoration and preservation program for 14 American
rivers." Rather continued: "A new CBS News poll out
tonight finds President Clinton's job approval rating still riding high
at 61 percent, little changed from the week before [when it was 64
percent]. And what do Americans think about the investigation of the
In stark contrast,
NBC painted Clinton as in some trouble with the public. Noting Clinton's
policy of denial and refusal to offer an explanation, on NBC Nightly News
Claire Shipman asserted:
delivered a contrasting spin, Shipman left out two very interesting
numbers reported in the results listed on the msnbc.com Web site:
Capitol shooting: It's Reagan's fault. As sure as sunrise follows sunset, whenever anything bad happens that someone can tie to federal spending eventually a member of the media will blame it on Ronald Reagan. Now that Bryant Gumbel is no longer o TV everyday and the CBS brass has reigned him in on his CBS show it took a bit longer than usual this time, but five days after the shooting NBC's Today and Katie Couric came through.
In the second half
hour on Wednesday, July 29, Kelly O'Donnell provided a set-up piece on
schizophrenia and how "Russell Weston Jr. is among an estimated two
and a half million Americans who have this chronic mental disorder which
often involves delusions and in extreme cases can lead to violence."
Observing that John Hinkley and the Unabomber were schizophrenic,
O'Donnell wondered: "Could any of it have been prevented? Did the
mental health system do enough?"
In the segment
O'Donnell set up Katie Couric questioned two psychologists. Her final
inquiry, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
Of course, it was really liberals who pushed through laws in the late '70s making it much harder for states to involuntarily commit the mental ill. With fewer patients to care for funding naturally fell. But the shooting is the responsibility of the one man who pulled the trigger.
As the quote from the Hollywood screenwriter in item #2 above demonstrated, that community will always stand by Clinton. Tomorrow, they will show their support again with a big fundraiser on Long Island.
As reported by Annie Groer and Ann Gerhart in their Reliable Source column in the July 2 Washington Post, actor Alec Baldwin "and his wife, Kim Basinger, are throwing open the doors of their Amagansett home to President Clinton for a DNC fundraiser Aug. 1. The gathering, advertised as a 'summer lawn party,' is expected to draw Robert DeNiro, Helen Hunt and other glittery people among the 100 or so guests. Tickets: $250 to $1,000. It's just one of the stops Clinton will make on a dining-for-dollars weekend in the Hamptons."
Basinger will be the second actors to host a fundraiser for Clinton in
under a month. Three weeks ago actor Sylvester Stallone provided his home
for a big Democratic fundraiser. As detailed by Tom Fielder and Manny
Garcia in the July 10 Miami Herald:
Hollywood will at least make sure the Democrats have all the money they need to buy TV advertising to throw those punches at Republicans and conservatives. -- Brent Baker 
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