Rivera Suicidal; Starr "Very Violent"; Actress Believed Clinton
1) Starr's report dominated
the Wednesday night newscasts. CNN's Frank Sesno complained that
"Clinton's lawyer was not even given the chance to see the
report" before it went to Congress.
2) Geraldo Rivera, distraught
about how Clinton's plight means the loss of heroes for a generation,
admitted: "I would have been suicidal, except for McGwire."
Rivera scoffed at Dan Burton for "howling like a stuck pig."
3) Didn't Clinton's August
17 speech mean that he "held up his end of the bargain?" asked
ABC's Lisa McRee. On fundraising, "Has he done anything that
anybody else wouldn't have done?"
4) NBC's Gwen Ifill
castigated Ken Starr's delivery of his report as "a very violent
action" in the political process.
5) Dan Rather again tagged
Starr as the "Republican Special Prosecutor."
6) Clinton greeted by parents
supportive of his education spending or by angry protesters? AP and
7) Actress Andie MacDowell
conceded "I thought Clinton was innocent"; declared his speeches
"make you want to stand up and scream, 'God bless America!'"
and hoped Hillary could become President.
The arrival of the Starr report in 36 boxes delivered by a van to Capitol
Hill led and consumed half of the broadcast network shows Wednesday night.
CNN devoted an hour-long 8pm ET special to the development and all but a
few minutes of FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report focused on Starr's report.
Every network reported how the report alleges perjury, obstruction of
justice and abuse of power to suppress the truth and that the boxes
contained grand jury transcripts, the Tripp tapes and a video of
Clinton's testimony. All also played David Kendall's short statement
in full, ran a soundbite from Senator Robert Byrd comparing Clinton to
Nixon and played an excerpt from Clinton in Florida admitting to donors
that he let the country down.
Of the broadcast
networks, only CBS's Scott Pelley pointed out that Starr delivered the
report Wednesday in order to avoid White House appeals which could have
delayed it for months. ABC's Jackie Judd and FNC's David Shuster noted
that Starr's report included exculpatory material. NBC's Lisa Myers
uniquely asserted that amongst the documents delivered is an FBI lab
report which concluded the DNA on the dress matches Clinton.
There's far more
coverage than I have room to summarize, so I'll focus on the broadcast
networks. But first a bit on CNN and FNC. Frank Sesno and Judy Woodruff
hosted CNN's special and earlier in the day Sesno characterized the
unannounced decision by Starr to deliver the report as unfair to Clinton.
At 5:30pm ET, midway through a special one-hour Inside Politics, CNN's
Washington Bureau Chief complained:
"If you're just joining us it has been a
momentous day. President Clinton's lawyer was not even given the chance
to see the report from the Independent Counsel, Ken Starr, before that
report, all 500 pages of it, 18 boxes, went to Congress today..."
FNC's Fox Report
featured two diverse panel discussions. One with Brit Hume, Dick Morris
and Eleanor Clift and the other with former RNC counsel Ben Ginsburg,
conservative activist Amy Moritz Ridenour and comedian/satirist Harry
Shearer. But more memorable: co-anchor Jane Skinner's clothing, or lack
thereof. Sitting behind FNC's clear plastic or glass anchor desktop with
no front to it she wore skirt or something, it was so short I couldn't
tell what it was, that ended a good foot above her knees.
Now on to the
broadcast network evening shows for Wednesday, September 9:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Jackie Judd summarized what's in the report, adding:
"And, sources say, the report cites weaknesses in the case. That
would allow Starr to pre-empt the expected criticism of the President's
allies that the case doesn't hold up."
Donaldson at the White House, Peter Jennings intoned: "However this
turns out it is a turning point in Mr. Clinton's presidency. It is not
an exaggeration to say that he has less control of his destiny than at any
time since he was elected."
Donaldson highlighted how "After meeting
with the President at the White House this morning to discuss the scandal,
a group of House Democrats appeared shaken by what they'd heard."
Linda Douglass looked at how Congress is
preparing and then Jennings talked with Cokie Roberts who found it
significant that Democrats are no longer automatically defending Clinton
and asserted that they are worried there may be more bad stuff coming.
-- CBS Evening News. Opening tease from Dan
"Congress receives special prosecutor Ken
Starr's findings. The future of the Clinton presidency rides on the back
of a van as boxes of Starr's conclusions, evidence and accusations
arrive on Capitol Hill for potential impeachment proceedings."
He then began the show: "Good evening. It
was a history making day in Washington for special prosecutor Ken Starr,
President Clinton and the nation..."
Up first, Bob
Schieffer from Capitol Hill. Next, from the White House, Scott Pelly
relayed: "Sources tell CBS News that Ken Starr moved his report to
Capitol Hill today because he was afraid the President's attorneys would
try to block it with a motion in federal court."
tracked the changing mood in DC with a crisis mentality setting in and
impeachment now seen as possible. Finally, Rather posed one question each
to Schieffer, Pelley and Gloria Borger who said the Cabinet members are
"depressed" but all are staying.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw ominously
intoned: "Tonight, the future of the Bill Clinton presidency is in a
locked vault in a congressional office building..."
First, David Bloom
checked in from Florida with Clinton. Second, Lisa Myers reviewed
Starr's report, offering this tough assessment: "Legal sources tell
NBC News the report is overpowering, relentless. That it lays out the
story of a President allegedly subverting the very legal process he took
an oath to uphold."
She uniquely relayed: "Among the goods
believed to be the report: an FBI lab report on Lewinsky's blue cocktail
dress. A law enforcement source outside Starr's office told NBC News
that the semen on Monica's dress was found to have virtually the same
DNA as a sample provided by the President."
Third, Gwen Ifill examined how the "House is
an uproar trying to decide what to do next." Later, Ann Thompson
provided a glowing profile of Henry Hyde, Chairman of the Judiciary
Committee whom friends say is a "man of the highest principle."
Thompson asserted: "The man who votes against Mr. Clinton 64 percent
of the time on Capitol Hill must now sit and judge the President."
After a clip of Hyde, Thompson offered some imbalanced labeling as she led
into a positive soundbite from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: "Such
independent thinking makes Hyde popular with the right wing and with
Democrats who respect his fairness and willingness to reach across the
Mark McGwire saved Geraldo Rivera from suicide. A bad day for Bill Clinton
is a worse day for his hero-worshiper Geraldo Rivera. On Wednesday's
Upfront Tonight, Rivera's new 7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT half-hour news show
on CNBC, Rivera mourned for Clinton and flailed at Starr.
At the top of the
September 9 show Rivera painted Starr as the unfair aggressor:
"Starr's surprise attack stung Congress and left the White House
numb with shock and raw with anger."
Later, over video
of the boxes being carried into a building, he relayed one of his
one-source swipes at a White House enemy, this time Ken Starr:
"The timing and manner of the delivery did
not please the people around Monica. A source close to the Lewinsky team
told me late today that it was outrageous, saying quote, 'Why did he do
it? After all that Monica and her family have been through for Mr. Starr
to parade secret grand jury information before the world, like it was a
contestant in a beauty contest, speaks volumes about this man's
motivations. He could have called the Sergeant at Arms and arranged for
the private delivery. They could have gone into the FBI garage or one of
the warehouses in the Capitol. Why the spectacle?' End quote."
That makes perfect
sense. Deliver a report to Congress by dumping it in the parking garage of
an executive branch agency.
But that idea
seems brilliant compared to the penetrating analysis offered from the
White House lawn by Rivera's co-anchor, Diane Dimond, who is fresh from
co-anchoring Paramount's Hard Copy. She told Rivera:
"It makes you wonder, standing here, if
history won't repeat itself. It was one month ago today, and many, many
years ago, August 9th 1974, that Richard Nixon resigned. I didn't
realize that 'til I did a little research."
This kind of
insight takes "research"? (And yes, her name is Dimond, not
introducing a piece on how home run hitter Mark McGwire is filling the
role of hero, Rivera lamented:
"Perhaps the biggest loser today wasn't
the First Family after all, but rather this generation's sense of
innocence. If the President is and adulterer and a liar, where are our
concluded her McGwire story: "....And for a nation looking for some
good news, his timing could not have been better."
To which Rivera responded in wrapping up the
show: "You know, Diane, I would have been suicidal except for McGwire,
Dimond: "What great news, huh? A lot of bad
Rivera, echoed Dimond's assessment of the
Clinton news: "A lot of bad news."
Rivera's new show because with it Rivera, who is now part of the NBC
News staff, has been given the credibility or imprimatur of NBC News. All
this Clinton spinning aired around stories from NBC News reporters, such
as David Bloom, Lisa Myers and Gwen Ifill.
Last week Rivera
took joy in announcing how Congressman Dan Burton admitted an old affair,
sneering at the idea that Burton is another victim of a White House-run
smearing operation. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens picked this up from the
September 2 Upfront Tonight:
"Of all the President's enemies on Capitol
Hill none has been as vocal or as melodramatic as Indiana's veteran
Republican Congressman Dan Burton. He's the guy who had the melon shot
in his backyard in a futile attempt to prove that Vince Foster's suicide
was really a murder. He's the one who released selectively edited
transcripts of Web Hubbell's prison phone calls. And if politicians are
remembered for a single phrase or incident Dan Burton will forever be
known as the Congressman who called the President of the United States a
scumbag. Now Mr. Burton is howling like a stuck pig. In a bizarre town
hall meeting he accused the White House of conducting a campaign of
character assassination against him by orchestrating a story in Vanity
Fair magazine that may expose Mr. Burton's own sexual adventures."
If Good Morning America's plummeting ratings ever leads ABC to dump
co-host Lisa McRee, she's well qualified to jump aboard one of
Rivera's shows. Check out two of her Wednesday morning, September 9,
questions, both transcribed by MRC analyst Clay Waters. First she
suggested Clinton has met his burden and then she insisted he didn't do
anything different fundraising-wise in 1996 than everybody else.
To Congressman Jim
"But Congressman, at the same time. Members
of the President's party as well as Republicans begged him to talk, to
go public, to say if he did something wrong, to apologize. He goes on
television, he makes the speech. Whether or not he said the words,
'I'm sorry,' in it, we all knew what he meant. Is this fair? Now
everyone's distancing themselves from them and ready to attack him even
though he sort of held up his end of the bargain?"
To ABC's Cokie
"Thirty seconds, but I want to get this in:
Janet Reno, ninety-day investigation to look into whether a special
prosecutor should be appointed for this campaign finance thing. Is that a
big problem for the President? Has he done anything that anybody else
wouldn't have done?"
For months media figures have complained about Ken Starr's slow pace,
urging him to finish his report and deliver it to Congress ASAP. But when
he did on Wednesday NBC's Gwen Ifill characterized Starr as some kind of
criminal perpetrator, calling the delivery "a very violent
MRC news analyst
Clay Waters caught this assessment from Ifill on MSNBC at 4:06pm ET over
live video of the boxes containing Starr's report being unloaded from
"...Already, some of the more thoughtful
members of the House and Senate have admitted, yes they expect to be
overwhelmed. There's very little they can do about this, when someone
drives, as one House Judiciary Committee member put this some weeks ago, a
truck bomb up to the steps of the Capitol and just dumps it on them. Now
this is probably not the most advisable comparison when you consider what
happened on these very steps not so many weeks ago, but it is in some
ways, politically, a very violent action for Ken Starr to leave this on
them weeks before an election when they're trying to decide how to deal
House leaders Newt Gingrich and Dick Gephardt agreed Wednesday to set
aside partisanship as they handle possible impeachment hearings, but not
Dan Rather. Tuesday night he once again added a Republican tag to Ken
Starr's job title. MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson caught this
September 8 CBS Evening News introduction by Rather to two stories:
"There's fast-breaking news tonight about
President Clinton's political stock. Republican Special Prosecutor Ken
Starr tonight rejected a bid by the President's personal lawyers for an
advanced copy of Starr's soon-to-be-given-to-Congress report. The
President has a pivotal meeting with key House Democrats tomorrow, as two
more important Democrats today went public with criticism and others kept
their distance for the fall campaign."
was the more newsworthy portion of Clinton trip Tuesday to a Silver
Spring, Maryland elementary school: his rhetoric demanding more spending
and one parent's sign telling the media to ignore the scandal or the
hostile reception he received from protestors? As MRC analyst Clay Waters
noticed, on September 8 the AP and Reuters delivered contrasting spins on
-- The lead from
an Associated Press dispatch by Sandra Sobieraj headlined: "Clinton
Pushes Education Agenda."
"The Democratic Governor turned up his nose
and refused to share the stage with President Clinton, but a half-block
from Pine Crest Elementary, one parent's sign warned off talk of scandal
Tuesday: 'Dear Press, The topic is education.'
"Inside, Clinton hewed to the theme and
pressed a returning Congress to spend $5 billion to outfit public schools
for a record 52.7 million children enrolling this fall -- a 500,000
increase from last fall that has pushed many of this 'baby boom echo'
into temporary classrooms...."
-- In contrast,
here's the lead of Timothy Ryan's story for Reuters, headlined:
"Clinton Has Tough Ride As He Returns To Public Eye."
"It was a tough first day of school for
"The President went to a suburban Maryland
elementary school Tuesday to talk about education, trying his best to
shift the spotlight away from his affair with former White House intern
"But there were reminders everywhere of the
scandal, in which Clinton has lied about his relationship with the young
woman and has failed to satisfy some of his own Democratic supporters with
his admission of the affair and his expressions of regret.
"About 25 protesters turned out to jeer
Clinton on his way to the Pine Crest Elementary School in Silver Spring,
holding signs that read 'Time to Resign,' 'Get Lost' and 'You're
"Another banner at the top of the lane
leading to the school read: 'Embarrassed, disheartened, disgusted by our
And, the Oscar for the Stupidest or Most Gullible Actress in a Political
Drama, goes to....Andie MacDowell.
upcoming movie the actress, who broke into stardom a decade ago in the
film Sex, Lies & Videotape, appeared Tuesday night on CBS's Late
Show with David Letterman. She conceded she really believed Clinton's
denials and started to explain how he's really, even now, still the
victim of a Republican conspiracy. This exchange, transcribed by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson, is worth reading, if only to gain a better
understanding of how enthralled the artistic community is with Clinton:
"My husband's been giving me a real hard time lately."
David Letterman: "What's his
MacDowell: "Oh, well, maybe I'm very naive
or foolish or something, I don't know, but up until a couple of weeks
ago, I thought Clinton was innocent."
Letterman: "Oh, so you're the one. We've
MacDowell: "I have been defending him from
everybody. I have these big debates."
Letterman: "Now, do you know the man?"
MacDowell: "Well, I've seen him give some
speeches, and he gives these amazing, I mean, just so intelligent, so
bright, and gives these charismatic speeches, that just make you want to
stand up and scream, 'God bless America!' And then the whole time
he's been sleeping with that girl in the crowd. You know, I just, I
couldn't believe it."
Letterman: "So what has this done now to
your support, to your feeling about the man, and so, can you rebound from
this or not? Because this, this is the key question, you know: Can he
regain your trust? Because that's..."
MacDowell, cut in: "Okay, well,
here's the thing, here's the thing: What if it still was all a set-up,
which is what I've been trying to tell everybody [laughs]. That it was a
Republican thing, you know, I mean, it's all a political move, and
it's actually, okay, wait a minute [laughs]. That Monica was, like, in
on this thing, right? And that other lady, the tape-recording lady. I
mean, you know, she saves the dag-gone dress -- what's that about, you
know? And the tape recorder, I mean, the whole thing is just so
Letterman: "So you're saying Newt Gingrich
breaks into the Oval Office..."
MacDowell jumps in: "Planned, yeah, he
planned the whole thing!"
Letterman: "...puts a gun to Clinton's
head and says, 'Okay, pull down your zipper.'"
MacDowell, laughing: "Yeah! Yeah!"
Letterman: "Alright, well, I'll make some
calls, see what we can find out. But getting back to the earlier, more
elemental question, can you get over this, put this behind you? Because in
a microcosm, this is the question we all must ask ourselves, now."
MacDowell: "Oh, I don't know. I mean the
whole thing is just, I'm just fed up with the whole thing."
Letterman: "Yeah, I think it is. It's
certain we've had enough of this, but yet it seems now to have a new
momentum that it did not have, obviously, a month ago or so, don't you
MacDowell: "Oh, I think Hillary should be
President. Just let him step aside. Let Hillary do it."
joking around about really thinking it was "all a set-up" and
would have held to her theory if Letterman hadn't embarrassed her by
making fun of it. -- Brent Baker
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