Who Owes $36 M?; Just Sex Lies, So Let's Move On; Court-Martial Clinton?
The controversy over Republican plans to release the videotape of Clinton's deposition topped the ABC, CNN and FNC evening shows on Tuesday night. CBS and NBC went first with Democrats angry at Clinton and how a Senator raised the subject of resignation in a meeting with top Clinton aides.
The three broadcast networks, but not CNN or FNC, ran full stories on Clinton's decision to consult weekly with two ministers: Tony Campollo (sp?) and Gordon MacDonald. But only NBC dared wonder "is it a real search for answers or a smart political move?"
NBC highlighted the plight of Clinton aides burdened by legal bills and only FNC focused on how the White House is still using executive privilege claims to block testimony. CBS's Dan Rather showcased a poll which found most believe it was "inappropriate" for Starr to release the sexual details. (But CBS also delivered a surprising story on how many in the military are upset that Clinton does not have to meet their conduct standards. See item #4 below.)
Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, September 15 evening shows:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show: "Good evening. Sex, lies and videotape. That is what the Congress is fighting about today. The White House is in it too. Whether the videotape of the President's testimony to the grand jury should be made public..."
explained how Judiciary Committee members viewed the tape Wednesday and it
is expected to be released within days. It doesn't make Clinton look
good, Judd reported: "Sources say even the grand jury became
frustrated with the President's testimony. And one source who spoke to
Democrats after they watched the tape said grand jurors passed questions
on to prosecutors that 'were pointed and reflected their impatience with
Mr. Clinton's tortuous answers.'"
From Capitol Hill Linda Douglass told Jennings that a meeting between Senate Democrats and top White House aides turned "nasty" and Senator Biden raised the idea of resignation. Senator Hatch, she added, is in some trouble among his colleagues for floating the idea of brokering a deal.
Jennings then went to Sam Donaldson at the White House who explained that Clinton aides are concerned that in choosing clips from the tape the media will play excerpts showing Clinton getting angry but not the prodding that led to his upset.
Up next, Peggy Wehmeyer with a brief look at the two ministers Clinton says he will consult with weekly: Tony Campollo and Gordon MacDonald. ABC finished its coverage by briefly noting that Democratic Congresswomen met with Hillary Clinton and praised her afterward. Later, ABC's A Closer Look examined the difference in opinion between the public which wants Clinton to stay and Washington politicos who want him to resign.
Up first, Bob
Schieffer intoned: "For the first time here, Democratic office
holders are actively and seriously, discussing among themselves whether
the President ought to resign for the good of the country and the party.
One prominent Democratic Senator told me today, and I quote, 'this
presidency is over and the President ought to leave.'"
highlighted some poll numbers, asserting: "There's a gap tonight
between Congress's view and what the public wants next."
Third, from the White House Scott Pelley reported that top Democrats told the White House aides in the meeting Schieffer referred to that the legal perjury defense must end, but Clinton is digging in. Pelley observed: "Here's one reason: a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that today only 39 percent believe Mr. Clinton should leave office. But, if he lied under oath 49 percent say he should be impeached or resign."
(Question: Can we take the vote away from the 10 percent who don't yet realize he lied under oath?)
Fourth, Sandra Hughes highlighted how Clinton's problems are having an impact on support from women with his favorable rating falling to 37 percent from 43 percent before the report.
Fifth, Dan Rather introduced a profile piece on Tony Campollo, from the archives by Harry Smith, by declaring: "In addition to the Secret Service agents who protect the President's body, he now has a team to save his soul. Or at least bring him peace." Smith noted that Campollo says "his role now is to rescue a fallen brother."
Candy Crowley provided reactions from Capitol Hill before anchor Jim Moret played a clip of Defense Secretary Cohen insisting Clinton's problems are having no impact on military morale. Jonathan Karl delivered a piece on Clinton's unwavering, solid support among African Americans.
Later in the show,
Bruce Morton highlighted the disconnect between public opinion across the
country and the assessment of Clinton in Washington. He began: "A
funny thing has happened on the way to the impeachment: the chattering
class, the Washington columnists and commentators, the liberal media, are
really down on the President..."
Jim Angle checked in from the White House, reporting they are trying to shift topics to things like the farm crisis, and have added three people to the staff to handle the impeachment matter. Co-anchor Jon Scott then talked with Dick Morris about potential bad news for Hillary: a line buried in Starr's report says that the investigation of Madison is nearing conclusion on the Castle Grande deal she handled.
FNC also featured: David Shuster on how the White House is still using executive privilege claims to block testimony from Bruce Lindsey, Cheryl Mills and Lanny Breuer; Gary Matsumoto on whether Clinton has the moral authority to lead the country; Jon Scott interviewed the Reverends Joseph Lowrey and Robert Schuller about that question; and Julie Kirtz on how Betty Friedan still says Clinton's problems are not relevant while Patricia Ireland is willing to criticize, but both say Clinton's policies "have been good for women," so critics call them both hypocrites.
From the White House David Bloom noted how Senator Biden raised the resignation issue and reported that Clinton won't drop his legal defense because tat would leave him vulnerable to indictment later. On the video, Gwen Ifill said only that it shows Clinton "determined to dodge the truth."
Starr estimated the Lewinsky portion of his investigation cost about $4
million, Tom Brokaw turned to Pete Williams for a review of how legal
costs have burdened all involved. For example, Williams noted: "Legal
sources estimate presidential secretary Betty Currie, who earned $60,000 a
year, could owe at least $50,000 to her lawyers. For a few top staffers,
like Deputy White House counsel Bruce Lindsey, legal bills for all the
investigations into Whitewater now total more than a million
Clinton's decision to consult with two ministers, Tom Brokaw made NBC
the only network to actually raise doubts about Clinton's sincerity:
"But is it a real search for answers or a smart political move?"
Third time's the charm?
allowed Jesse Jackson to praise Clinton's decision, before raising the
doubts plugged by Brokaw: "But political foes like the Reverend Jerry
Falwell say religious redemption is still not good enough."
Republican Senator Frank Murkowski's suggestion that Clinton reimburse taxpayers for the $4.4 million the Lewinsky investigation cost did not sit well with Geraldo Rivera. He opened Tuesday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC: "Is it adding insult to injury? Now they want him to pay for his own prosecution."
Later, during an
interview with the Alaskan, Rivera proposed:
And Rivera pressed his point again: "I was just wondering who's going to be paying for the other $36 million that Ken Starr spent and came up empty?"
Clinton hired three more lawyers Tuesday to handle the impeachment probe, but the White House press office won't need any beefing up. It already has the co-host of a network morning show advancing its spin. Here are the questions posed by Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee on Tuesday morning, as MRC analyst Clay Waters caught them, to Republican Rep. Bill McCollum and Democratic Rep. Martin Meehan:
-- "But if there is no obstruction of justice, abuse of power proven, if it is simply about lying about a sexual relationship, is that impeachable?"
-- "The voters have twice elected this man President. Is it worth overturning the will of the people in order to impeach him if the only thing you can prove is that he lied about a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky?"
(Of course, Gore would become President, not Dole, so the will of the people would not be reversed.)
-- "In fact in 1974 the House Judiciary Committee staff wrote a guideline for lawmakers saying, quote, not all Presidential misconduct is sufficient to constitute grounds for impeachment. It seems that the polls indicate that the public feels the same way, that censure may make the public happy. Why not make a deal with the President? Get him to admit he was untruthful, and make a deal for censure, and let us get on with it as a country?"
Is Clinton the beneficiary of a double standard that upsets many in the
military? CBS actually gave its tough defense reporter David Martin time
to explore the subject on Tuesday's Evening News. Using Clinton trip to
Fort McNair to discuss military readiness with top military leaders as his
peg, Martin observed:
I recall some passing references to this kind of military comparison, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time a network has so clearly raised the double-standard issue.
From the September 15 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Top Ten Bill Clinton Tips For a Happy, Healthy Marriage." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Try not to preface sex with,
"Do I have to?"
And from the Late Show Web page, some of the "extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- Three words: Spray 'N' Wash
One of the Letterman staff's better collections, especially numbers 3 and 2. -- Brent Baker 
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