Hyde Hit Topped ABC; NBC: Starr Gone Too Far?; Starr's "Sexual McCarthyism"
The Salon online magazine hit on Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde led ABC's World News Tonight. CBS anchor Dan Rather read a short item on the charge Hyde had an affair in the 1960s, CNN gave it a couple of sentences in a larger story, FNC raised it three times in questions to reporters and analysts but NBC didn't touch it. NBC Nightly News did, however, feature a slanted In Depth piece on whether Ken Starr "went too far" in his report. NBC's answer: Yes. (See item #2)
CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC all led with Clinton's press conference with the President of the Czech Republic. CBS and CNN emphasized how Clinton refused to dispute the specifics of the narrative about Lewinsky. NBC first stressed Clinton's refusal to resign. All the networks raised the controversy over release of the video of Clinton's testimony, with CBS, CNN and FNC running full stories, but only FNC political analyst Cal Thomas turned Democratic arguments against them, pointing out they released the testimony video of Reagan and misleadingly edited video of Gingrich for an ad. Dan Rather repeatedly insisted that the video of Clinton's testimony is "widely" considered "secret."
Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, September 16 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight allocated the least time of any network Wednesday to the
scandal-front. Peter Jennings opened:
Douglass then explained that Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde had
warned that things might get rough, with the White House possibly
disseminating derogatory information about committee members as part of a
"scorched earth" policy. He warned that he'd consider such
intimidation to be obstruction of justice. Douglass got to the news of the
No mention by ABC or the other networks about the FBI files and how they may have provided the White House with some good leads on Republican dirt. ABC also failed to point out the difference in relevance between an affair with a contemporary and carrying on with a subordinate in the office and then lying about it in a court procedure.
Next, Jennings talked with Cokie Roberts about the video, more Democrats saying it would be better if Clinton resigned and how polls taken by Congressmen and Senators show less support for Clinton among "likely voters" than media polls find among the general population.
ABC's third and final item: Jennings played a couple of clips from the press conference of Clinton evading a question about the Starr report's accuracy and whether he lied.
Scott Pelley hit
Clinton hard: "Dan, at the press conference today the President did
not dispute the devastating testimony of Monica Lewinsky."
After his report, Rather harped on the video release: "Scott, how is it that the President's, what was supposed to be secret grand jury testimony, can be made public?" Pelley explained that Starr got court permission to give it to Congress and they are not bound by rules of secrecy. Pelley did not tell viewers that the session was videotaped because Clinton refused to go to the grand jury and then insisted on appearing on a day they were out of session, so it had to be taped so the grand jurors who couldn't come in could see it later.
Next, Bob Schieffer looked at the fight over the tape on the Hill, running soundbites from those on both sides, including Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee who referred to a "Salem witch hunt." Schieffer concluded: "Democrats are hoping against hope that somehow it might backfire on the Republicans and they can be painted as purveyors of smut. So far, Republicans seem willing to take the risk."
Rather followed up by highlighting how a new CBS poll determined 70 percent oppose the release of the Clinton video. Even Republicans do, by 58 to 41 percent.
In what I'd
guess is a reference to ABC, in the 7pm ET feed of the Evening News Rather
read this item about Henry Hyde:
Finally, reporter Wyatt Andrews explored how congressional Democrats are vainly trying to focus public attention on issues like HMO reform and a patient's bill of rights.
"Under siege is an understatement," declared John King in a piece on the White House staff and how they'd like to drop the "legally accurate" defense but are concerned about later indictment.
From Capitol Hill Candy Crowley worked in this brief mention of Hyde in her piece on how he's refereeing the arguments over the video release. In the midst of that, Crowley asserted, "news of a Hyde affair more than 30 years ago hit the Internet. He called it a youthful indiscretion. The only purpose for this being dredged up now, he said in a written statement, is an obvious attempt to intimidate me and it won't work."
Jonathan Karl explained that there would be no video if Clinton had testified in person and raised the issue of Reagan's testimony, but said it was different because that was at a criminal trial for John Poindexter, not before a grand jury. Charles Zewe checked in with a piece on how George W. Bush is having second thoughts about a presidential bid because Clinton has "sullied" the system.
After an ad break,
Scott interviewed Republican Rep. of Florida Mark Foley and asked him
about Hyde. David Shuster recounted how the Starr report shows Lewinsky
thought Clinton in love with her, Julie Kirtz looked at the split amongst
religious leaders on Clinton and, finally, Juan Williams and Cal Thomas
assessed the press conference and the decision to release the video. Cal
Up first David
Bloom, who asserted: "Tom, asked point blank whether he lied under
oath, the President refused to answer. It was at that point that he urged
Americans not to get mired in all the details, but it's a critical
question. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that a
majority of Americans now believe that if the President lied under oath to
the grand jury impeachment proceedings should go on."
Next, Lisa Myers explored how an obstacle to a plea bargain with Congress is that Starr is still investigating and would prosecute if Clinton left office. Myers explained that Starr is still looking into many matters, such as intimidation of Kathleen Willey, use of Pentagon files to impugn Linda Tripp and the silencing of Web Hubbell, so there may be more trouble ahead for Clinton staffers.
"In Depth: What many people are asking. Did Ken Starr go too far?" Tom Brokaw asked at the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News. Leading into the first ad break on the September 16 show he delivered this plug: "Did the Ken Starr report to Congress go over the top? Still ahead tonight NBC News In Depth. Were all those graphic and intimate details about the President's Oval Office affair really necessary?"
And, just before the next ad break Brokaw struck again: "When we come back, NBC News In Depth tonight. Did Ken Starr go too far and reveal a lot more than Americans needed or wanted to know?"
Finally, after the three plugs NBC got to the hit piece. First, Brokaw highlighted how when asked "how much confidence do you have that Starr's report is fair and impartial," the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found just 36 percent said a "great deal" or "quite a bit," while 62 percent replied "some" or "very little." NBC did its part to reenforce that view with a full screen graphic: "The Nightly Question: Did Ken Starr go too far?"
began the story: "As the nation studies the complete Starr report now
in bookstores as an instant paperback, many Americans, even Clinton
opponents, accuse Starr himself of going overboard, going too far in the
level of detail..." After a couple of examples from the report,
his list of Starr's transgressions: "But some defense lawyers say
the Starr report really is about sex, not cover-ups."
Bill Clinton never faces the press except when he's with a foreign leader, but Geraldo Rivera still considered the scandal questions out of bounds. And he worried about "sexual McCarthyism."
Wednesday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC: "How can he stay focused on
the nation's business when the press remains focused on him?"
Plugging the same Pete Williams hit on Starr as ran on NBC Nightly News, Rivera warned: "And does the Starr report herald the beginning of the era of sexual McCarthyism? Why the gory detail, and who gets hit next? We'll give you the latest."
Rivera read a short item on Salon's Hyde hit, but did not suggest that might reflect "sexual McCarthyism."
And from the
Freudian slip department, introducing a story on overwhelming support for
Clinton among blacks, Rivera noted that one out of step black paper called
for Clinton to resign. Setting up that point, he stated: "More than
100 newspaper editorials across our country are calling for President
Nixon to resign...."
From the September 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Alternatives To Impeachment." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Must take 63 swings to the head from
And from the Late Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- One out of every six cans of soda he
opens has been shaken up.
The Clintons avoid
Letterman's Clinton jokes according to an anecdote highlighted by
Time's Margaret Carlson. She opened a piece on Hillary in the September
CyberAlert delivers what the Clintons can't handle. -- Brent Baker 
Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions
which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible
donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert
readers and subscribers:
>>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a
blank e-mail to:
>>>You can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org . Or, go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters .<<<