Only One Side to Campaign Finance "Reform;" Clarence Thomas is "Wrong"
1) Monicagate still topped ABC, CNN and FNC Monday night as Dan Rather claimed Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life." NBC's Bob Faw, however, contended that Clinton fueled the "low-brow culture" now engulfing his presidency.
Of the broadcast networks, only ABC led Monday night with Monicagate as did CNN and FNC. CBS and NBC went first with the heat wave. All the networks noted the White House decision to appeal to the Supreme Court the lower court decision ordering Bruce Lindsey to appear and all but CBS squeezed in at least a brief mention of a leak about the leaks, specifically, that a higher court had decided that while Judge Norma Holloway Johnson may probe leaks from Starr's office she cannot let Clinton's lawyers question Starr's staff.
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather again asserted how Starr is probing Clinton's "personal life," but CBS reporter Scott Pelley emphasized how even top White House aides don't really believe Clinton's story. NBC Nightly News dedicated its In Depth segment to the scandal with Andrea Mitchell running through options of what Clinton could now say followed by Bob Faw with a very tough piece on how the scandal reflects a cruder culture. Asserted Faw about Clinton: "The low-brow culture he cultivated has engulfed his presidency. And traditionalists argue that hurts everyone."
Here's a run down of Monday night, August 3 coverage of the Monicagate scandal:
-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with Jackie Judd on the dress and how the FBI should know by now "if semen stains are on the dress." Judd noted that FBI Director Louis Freeh has warned against any leaks of test results before announcing: "ABC News has learned that the appeals court ruled that Judge Norma Holloway Johnson was wrong is authorizing the President's attorney, David Kendall, to obtain documents from Starr as well as interview prosecutors."
Anchor Charlie Gibson then asked about Clinton: "Will he take back his claim that he had no sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky? A virtual chorus of politicians and pundits are now saying perhaps he should." From the White House Sam Donaldson found no evidence he will revise his story line, though he ran soundbites from Leon Panetta and Orrin Hatch urging such a course change and observed that with polls showing the public against impeachment Republicans will "pay a price" if they have to move against the President.
-- CBS Evening
News. Following stories on the National Guard delivering hay in Oklahoma
and on how the heat has reduced crime in Dallas, Dan Rather intoned:
-- CNN's The
World Today at 8pm ET. Wolf Blitzer opened the show by asserting that
Clinton's "advisers fear the worst" on what the FBI will find
on the dress. Blitzer then ran competing soundbites about whether Starr
should let Clinton know the results before the President's August 17
testimony and told viewers that the January search of Lewinsky's
apartment missed the dress because Lewinsky had moved it last fall to her
mother's apartment in New York City.
-- FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report began with Jim Angle on how Mike McCurry's fill-in, Barry Toiv, maintained Clinton will not change his story. Angle also covered the Lindsey appeal before FNC went to David Shuster, who passed along this picture of Lewinsky's debriefing by Starr's team: "Sources close to her describe the session on Monday as especially intense. They said she was questioned on the most intimate aspects of her relationship with the President, including how Mr. Clinton allegedly stained her dress."
-- NBC Nightly
News. For the In Depth segment Tom Brokaw wondered "what story will
Mr. Clinton tell?" Recalling Clinton's 60 Minutes interview, Andrea
Mitchell asserted and then asked: "Over and over he has proved he is
the Houdini of politicians. But this time is there an easy escape?"
Intermingled with clips from David Gergen and David Shrum on the
advisability of each move, Mitchell forwarded three choices:
Tom Brokaw then
ruminated: "What does this scandal, and the way it's taken on a
life of its own, say about who we are and what we care about. There's a
good deal of evidence the country is at once repulsed and fascinated by
what it is seeing and reading."
In television news coverage of campaign finance reform there's only one side that deserves air time -- those in favor. The latest example: an August 3 World News Tonight story on a successful House vote for the liberal Shays-Meehan bill which would curb free speech and protect incumbents by restricting what issue groups could tell voters. But ABC viewers heard neither of those points. Instead of portraying "reform" opponents as civil rights and free speech champions, Linda Douglass didn't even find their views worth mentioning.
Instead, her idea of a news story was to present the views of four supporters. Douglass began: "Tonight, against all odds, they pulled off an upset, persuading a majority of the House to vote in favor of a sweeping campaign reform bill that would ban large, unregulated political contributions."
from a Democratic Congressman in favor and the co-sponsor, liberal
Republican Chris Shays, Douglass depicted the tricky opposition Shays and
Massachusetts Democrat Marty Meehan had to overcome:
Douglass then let Democratic leader David Bonier denounce Republicans who fought "reform" and ran a soundbite from Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 who contended that the "corrupt system" must be reformed. Alas, Douglass lamented, victory may not yet be at hand, concluding her one-sided story: "But even if campaign reform survives in the House this week, it must then go on to the Senate and one Senator predicted we are more likely to see Elvis alive than see it pass there."
Monday night Nightline focused on the glow of the success of Shays-Meehan with Forrest Sawyer following Shays around Capitol Hill as he battled toward victory. At least Nightline grudgingly conceded there is another side and allocated a few minutes in the otherwise all pro-reform show to Senator Mitch McConnell so he could explain how someone could actually oppose "reform."
It isn't as if
opponents are hard to find. As a July 13 press release from the National
Right to Life Committee (NRLC) reported, 53 "issue-oriented citizen
advocacy organizations" oppose Shays-Meehan. As the MRC's Tim
Graham reminded me, the NRLC Web page features a whole section on
arguments against the liberal "reform" bills: http://www.nrlc.org .
Here are a couple of excerpts from one analysis on how reformers will
restrict free speech:
Deborah Mathis of the Gannett News Service has shown that she's a
liberal black activist first, a reporter second. MRC news analyst Jessica
Anderson caught her on this past weekend's Inside Washington denouncing
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his "wrong" thinking.
He should be attacked, as he was before his speech last week to the
National Bar Association, because his rulings are not "more sensitive
to the right way of thinking," meaning the liberal way.
But it's admirable for liberal blacks to try to force their views on him?
A bit more on Clinton's fundraising trip to the Hamptons detailed in the
August 3 CyberAlert. In the August 3 Washington Post reporter John Harris
offered two more items worth highlighting.
Second, Harris also reported that "after the Baldwin-Basinger fundraiser in Amagansett, the Clintons repaired with that couple for dinner at the nearby Turtle Crossing restaurant." Joining them: Chevy Chase, Steve Spielberg and U.S. News & World Report owner and Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman, all of whom had attended the fundraiser.
Back on the July 7
Good Morning America, MRC news analyst Clay Waters noticed, Zuckerman
decried media interest in Monicagate and praised the public for not
No wonder Clinton invited him to dinner. -- Brent Baker 
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