Middle East Summit Motives Skipped; Nickelodeon: Lying Legally OK
3) For Nickelodeon's Clinton special Linda Ellerbee joined up with a Team Clinton lawyer to tell the kids that Clinton did not commit perjury, the Starr probe was propelled by Clinton's enemies and it violates his "zone of privacy." Some kids had better sense.
Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News, decked out in full rain gear with hood, from Pascagoula, Mississippi. The other networks anchors stayed home, but they too opened with a hurricane update. On the political front, Monday Henry Hyde held a press conference and Clinton met with Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat at the White House. All but ABC, which skipped Hyde, mentioned both.
NBC and FNC emphasized questions about whether events really warranted such a high-profile Middle East summit and if it was really little more than a staged event to show Clinton being presidential. ABC and CBS noted that the summit shifted attention from Monicagate, but neither raised doubts about the legitimacy of the meeting. CNN's Wolf Blitzer didn't even consider any ulterior motives, delivering a full report just on the details of the Middle East peace process.
Here are some highlights from the Monday, September 28 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Introducing a piece from Sam Donaldson at the White House
Peter Jennings treated the summit as a straight news story and did not
raise any doubts about Clinton's motivations:
Wrapping up, Donaldson acknowledged Clinton's political benefit: "You know some people, Peter, may think that the Middle East peace process is a dull issue, but it is important. Certainly for the President just now it provides a welcome change of subject."
Schieffer then introduced a report from Scott Pelley: "At the White House today officials were happy to keep the focus on other matters as the President met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. They are trying to get Middle East peace talks going again and in the White House view it didn't go badly today."
Bob Franken checked in from Capitol Hill, running a clip of Hyde and explaining that documents, including testimony from Currie and Jordan and transcripts of the Tripp tapes, will be released Thursday. To satisfy Democrats Hyde, Franken added, will have a subcommittee hold a hearing to examine what is an impeachable offense. From the White House John King explained that the new Clinton public face is back to business, as demonstrated by the summit, while operatives lobby Democrats to oppose impeachment hearings.
David Shuster checked in on the Paula Jones talks and found the attorneys have not discussed settlement since last week.
Later in the show
Jim Angle provided story on the summit and raised the diversionary aspect:
"....But the talks did not appear to have reached a critical turning
point, which is usually the prerequisite for the President to step in.
That prompted some diplomats to quietly wonder whether Mr. Clinton's
interest was motivated in part by a desire to be seen as a statesman
instead of a President facing impeachment. Asked what required the
President's involvement now, Secretary of State Albright struggled to
find a reason."
"Enough Already" declares the headline over the cover story in the latest Newsweek. The subhead for the October 5 piece by Howard Fineman pleads: "In the real world, people want the Monica Madness to end. In Washington, the terrain is trickier. Democrats wish it would all go away; Republicans want to get Clinton but worry about coming off as sexual witch hunters. Is there any way out of this mess?"
world" beyond the Beltway to which Newsweek attributes the disgust
with Monicagate may just be a bit closer to home, like inside the
magazine's Washington bureau. On Inside Washington over the weekend, MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Washington-based Newsweek Assistant
Managing Editor Evan Thomas displayed his disappointment with Starr's
Nickelodeon managed to squeeze plenty of Clinton defending and liberal preaching into its half-hour "Nick News Special Edition: The Clinton Crisis" aired at 9pm ET Monday night. Produced by Linda Ellerbee's Lucky Duck Productions, the network veteran co-hosted it with NBC's Katie Couric who didn't really say too much. CyberAlert normally does not deal with kids shows, but given the publicity generated by Couric's involvement and the scandal subject matter I think it's worth reviewing what the Viacom-owned cable network told kids and parents about the scandal.
The guest expert: lawyer Reid Weingarten, whom Ellerbee simply described as "a well-respected Washington lawyer who at different times has both prosecuted and defended public officials accused of crimes." Democrats affiliated with Clinton that is, but Ellerbee didn't say that. Weingarten represented former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and I know is currently serving a prominent donor in the fundraising scandal, though I'm not sure which one. His allegiances soon became clear.
For these Nick News shows about ten kids sit around on big pink furniture and share their feelings with Ellerbee. In this edition the kids often showed more commonsense than the three adults.
Ellerbee's first question: "Do you think the media has overplayed this story?"
After asking if they talked about the scandal in school and with their parents, Ellerbee inquired: "Do you think this should have been put on the Internet, the entire Starr report?" The response: a chorus of no's.
suggested that if the President lies in court that may go beyond the
personal to the public's interest, prompting Ellerbee to ask if anyone
knows what perjury is? Thereupon, the impressionable children of America
were treated to this exchange:
"Attempting to tell the truth, even if the information turns out to be incorrect" and your lie doesn't count if it does not have legal relevance. What a high standard to set for the next generation.
A bit later
Ellerbee asked Weingarten to explain how and why an independent counsel is
named. She then forwarded another liberal argument: "While all of
this has to do with the law, it also has to do with politics. And there
are some people who will tell you that what's been going on here is the
President's political enemies have been looking for ways to embarrass
Ellerbee wondered if it's hard to trust someone after they've lied. One kid demanded: "If he can lie, why can't we?" And another asserted that Clinton's a role model to kids so he should not lie.
All this condemnation of Clinton was too much for Weingarten, who tried to dissuade the youths of their moral certainty of how lying is wrong by basically saying it's okay if it's in your "zone of privacy." Weingarten insisted: "I think one thing we can't lose sight of is that one of the principle things about this country that's special, is that we are everybody, including the President, has the right to privacy. I think the question here is whether or not anything Bill Clinton did within the zone of privacy affected his ability to lead this country."
One step ahead of the Clintonista, the kids countered that if his personal problems worry him too much then he won't be able to properly handle his job duties.
Asked if they might follow Clinton's lead and lie, several kids said they would not and wouldn't want to get in trouble. Thinking like Clinton, Ellerbee jumped in: "What if you weren't going to be caught, though?" A girl replied that lying will "haunt you forever."
This actually pleased Weingarten, who found the high ideals of the kids quite promising.
But the kids
wouldn't make Bob Barr proud. Ellerbee wondered:
Couric finally got
a chance to expound a bit as the show ended. What will be Clinton's
legacy in 30 years, asked Ellerbee.
Yes, that's Nickelodeon's lesson to America's kids: Clinton's just like everybody else and it's wrong to condemn his lies because they occurred in his "private zone." I wonder how many kids can get away with that reasoning with their parents when they are caught lying. Gee, mom, I'm just a flawed kid who lies like everybody else and my room is protected by a "zone of privacy." -- Brent Baker 
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