Clintons & Cronkites Set Sail; Hillary's Conservative "Moral Compass"
Corrections: First, the August 25 CyberAlert contents list referred to Deborah Mathis as Deborah Matthews. Second, the August 24 CyberAlert asserted that "U.S. soldiers were murdered by mobs in Sudan back in the Bush years." I confused two Sunni Muslin-dominated African "S" nations. In fact, as reader Michael Friedman of Hong Kong pointed out, the incident occurred in Somalia, not Sudan, and though the troops went in during Bush's years they were killed in Clinton's term after the late Defense Secretary Les Aspin denied armored vehicles to the on-scene commander.
The President, Hillary and Chelsea went out for a sail Tuesday with Walter Cronkite, his wife and grandson. Every network but ABC showed video of the excursion from Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday night. In fact, ABC's World News Tonight did not run anything about Clinton's vacation or Monicagate. Hurricane Bonnie topped every August 25 evening show.
CBS showed a Cronkite boat clip as anchor Ed Bradley claimed that Clinton is "increasing his visibility" by planning a speech and "creating a food safety council." Catching up with news broken by NBC's Lisa Myers on Monday, CNN and FNC looked at Ken Starr's plan to charge Clinton with "abuse of power." Putting a damper on CNN's Monday story that Clinton plans to again address his lying about Lewinsky, FNC and NBC reported there are no plans to do so as NBC's David Bloom relayed how an adviser complained "we can't eat enough crow to satisfy our critics," so Clinton will move on.
Tuesday morning the networks devoted little, if any, time to politics. ABC's Good Morning America delivered one segment while CBS's This Morning didn't have a word. This one item read by Today news reader Sara James, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, represented the totality of August 25 Today coverage of anything political: "President Clinton was out in public Monday on Martha's Vineyard. He stopped at a store for coffee and shook some hands during what has been mostly a private vacation."
Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, August 25 evening shows:
-- CBS Evening
News. After a story on how sunglasses can prevent glaucoma, over video of
the Clinton family in former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite's sailboat,
anchor Ed Bradley tied in the previous story:
Actually, it's a fundraiser for Democratic House member Jim McGovern.
Clinton lies, so everyone lies; it's "courageous professionalism" to not be ashamed of lying; and the biggest thing to fear in Washington is not more White House deceit but Ken Starr's staff who are "zealots" out on a "witch hunt." Catching up with an item from last week, MRC analyst Clay Waters went back and transcribed a couple of the questions/comments Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee proposed on August 19 to Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz.
-- McRee decreed everyone is equally guilty: "People have said that the media has manipulated stories for years, and in this story it looks as if the media was manipulated. All sides were spinning and leaking. Can we trust any of these people now?"
-- Kurtz observed:
"It's interesting to watch them, Ann Lewis and others, dutifully
drag themselves before the cameras yesterday and saying, 'I know I've
been telling you for months that this didn't happen. Well it did happen,
but no one cares and lets move on.' So their own credibility has taken a
-- Later in the interview McRee, who asserted that Clinton aides who lied for months had displayed "courageous professionalism," saw less to admire in Starr's staff: "Lot of people in Washington are expecting the White House to go on the offensive with regard to Kenneth Starr and his investigation. And people are expecting detailed questions to leak out of that grand jury testimony, questions that make Kenneth Starr and his attorneys look like zealots who are on some sort of witch hunt. Do you think that might happen?"
Monday night, August 24, Bill Kurtis opened A&E's
"Investigative Reports" look at Hillary Clinton by asserting:
Under the rubric of Investigative Reports you might expect a probe into what she really knew about the secret health care policy panel a federal judge declared illegal, her husband's fooling around, her aide Sidney Blumenthal spreading rumors about prosecutors, Whitewater or how her billing records suddenly appeared or how she really made $100,000 on a $1,000 investment. But no, Kurtis, once co-host of one of CBS's many attempts at a morning show, promised "a search for the core of her values." And he decided they are not liberal as "her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really left Park Ridge."
MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson reviewed the show, observed its slant and then transcribed quotes reflecting the tone. Time magazine's Karen Tumulty, Hugh Sidey of Time, historian James MacGregor Burns and NOW President Patricia Ireland served as the on-camera experts.
-- Kurtis, with Hillary Clinton in October 1997 as she celebrated her 50th birthday: "Surrounded by family and a brace of friends, Mrs. Clinton is at the top of her powers. A two-year span had seen her introduce sweeping reforms of our country's childcare system, spearheaded international movement for women's rights, and articulate a new vision for the next millennium: the concept of a fairer, more civil society. In a word, this First Lady was on a roll."
(Kurtis followed Hillary as she visited some places from her childhood in her "village" of Park Ridge, Illinois, showed her at the White as she made preparations for a state dinner and tracked her childhood in Park Ridge, talking to members of her family and friends about how the interest in politics of the Goldwater girl grew.)
"Hillary Rodham's commencement address at Wellesley marked her
entre into the world of politics. She gained national attention for
supporting the right to student protest, in the process, taking to task
then-Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. As she met her husband-to-be and
moved into public life, her politics continued to move unquestioningly to
the center. Yet her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really
left Park Ridge."
-- Kurtis, talking about her book, It Takes a Village: "That traditional view includes the subject of divorce. For the First Lady, simply put, divorce means failure. Stated most plainly in her book, Mrs. Clinton has had to, quote, 'Bite my tongue more than a few times,' in order to preserve her own marriage. It's a distinct position, evocative of another time and place."
-- Kurtis: "A blend of her conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham Clinton defies the pigeon-hole, and it would appear, that is just the way she likes it."
-- After showing Mrs. Clinton on Today claiming a vast right-wing conspiracy, Kurtis contended she was correct: "As events unfolded, the First Lady's counterattacks seemed measured and effective. Reporters picked up her spin, and found the fingerprints of right-wing conservatives on some of the allegations. Ms. Lewinsky refused to testify before a grand jury. Vernon Jordan stood by the President. And Kenneth Starr's investigation showed signs of slowing."
-- Kurtis, to Hillary a month into Lewinsky scandal: "What do you think it will take to kind of quiet everything down and get back on track for the country?"
-- After running some expert soundbites on how it may not have been wise to put her in charge of health care, Kurtis asked her: "Do you think the town was not ready for such a strong role for the First Lady?"
-- Having learned her lesson, Kurtis contended that she moved away from politics: "For the First Lady, It Takes a Village was not just a book, but the first step in a comeback. This time the tone was softer, the approach less partisan. Mrs. Clinton would seek out the ideological high ground, and leave the legislative arm-twisting to others."
-- Viewers saw clips of a 1995 speech to a women's conference in China, an address Tumulty claimed delivered the "strongest statement ever" made about human rights in China. Kurtis inquired of Hillary: "Whoever we talk to always comes back to that, and the gleam in women's eyes who were there, they all say, 'I was in Beijing.'"
-- The final segment returned to Lewinsky as the "deception comes home to roost." But Kurtis painted Hillary as the duped victim. After quoting her statement about standing by Bill, Kurtis went to Hugh Sidey, who asserted: "She's making the point because otherwise would be to suggest that she lied on the Today show, where she said this was all untrue. Terribly difficult position for her that she's handled very well at this point, and I suppose there's a good deal of respect for that."
-- Noting that she urged on her husband's attack on Ken Starr, Kurtis wondered: "Will the attack on Starr backfire? In venting her anger has the First Lady unwittingly entrusted a weapon into the hands of the enemy?" Then he reassured: "For the moment, the reality seems to be anything but. Hillary Clinton remains Bill Clinton's lifeline. Her shear force of will appearing to hold together a family and perhaps a presidency."
concluded his "investigation" with apprehension over whether
Hillary Clinton will be able to triumph:
U.S. News & World Report Washington reporter Matt Miller has enthusiastically embraced all the White House spin machine's lines. An earlier CyberAlert noted that back on August 14 Miller suggested Clinton sue for a third term. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens came across and transcribed some amusing exchanges Miller had with Chris Matthews last week when Matthews challenged the validity of Miller's charges and pointed out the obvious, that Miller is a professional Clinton defender.
From the August 20 Hardball on CNBC:
-- Matt Miller:
"I think that we never should have been pursuing this matter and as a
matter of prosecutorial discretion. This kind of thing as Judge Walsh has
said on this show, only last week, this kind of thing should never have
been pursued and most prosecutors would not. That's not exonerating the
President for his behavior but at a moment like today when we are talking
about the moral authority of a President when there is military action,
FDR, LBJ and Dwight Eisenhower were all known to have involvements outside
marriage. We did not know about them contemporaneously. That's the
difference and I think the reason for that has to be laid at the
discretion of prosecutors and the press."
"Let's take someone else you won't dispute. How about Martin
"Do you believe that the President's conduct in the Oval Office
with an underling at the bottom of the food chain is in fact a private
Finally, to Time magazine "the truth" occurs when someone
disparages a conservative policy, but unfortunately, the magazine
contended, not all appreciate it at the time. The MRC's Tim Graham
caught this passage in the special early-released August 31 edition, but I
didn't get to it yesterday and noticed it highlighted in Tuesday's
Washington Bulletin from National Review. Time Senior Editor Richard
Stengel asserted in a news story:
As NR's John Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru observed, "two examples of liberal bias in one sentence -- a new land speed record." -- Brent Baker 
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