Rivera: Hillary "Right About a Right-Wing Conspiracy"; "Easy" to Hate Tripp
The broadcast networks all led Monday night with the all-day House Judiciary Committee hearing on whether to recommend to the full House an impeachment inquiry, though the broadcast networks only devoted two stories at most to the topic. The final vote in favor did not take place until 7:50pm ET, after the broadcast networks had already completed their ET/CT feeds. FNC squeezed in a Fox Report during a break at 7pm ET and CNN was able to show its the World Today, as usual, at 8pm ET. CNN, FNC and MSNBC showed the hearings all day, interrupted only for ad breaks and occasional commentary.
Every network stressed how the vote spilt along partisan lines, with Dan Rather inserting the word "Republican" into almost every sentence. Only FNC's Carl Cameron noted that the Democrats spent most of the day attacking Ken Starr. ABC, CNN and FNC explained how Majority Counsel David Schippers dropped Starr's charge of abusing power, changed Starr's perjury charge to making false statements and added charges of organizing a conspiracy to coverup and failing to report crimes by others. Incredibly, CBS and NBC only noted how Schippers had expanded the charges and failed to mention any of his other adjustments.
CBS highlighted a poll showing most oppose an impeachment inquiry, obligingly relayed Clinton's complaint about how Congress is ignoring the important issues and passed along a White House grievance that House Republicans are not displaying "statesmanship." NBC contended that "constitutional scholars" side with the Democratic interpretation of impeachable offenses and that "Ford's idea resonates with some historians."
Here are some highlights from the Monday, October 5, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
Linda Douglass ran through the committee's day, reporting: "Schippers charged the conspiracy was carried out when the President and other gave false statements and allegedly concealed evidence." She explained his changes to Starr's charges before running a soundbite from Minority Counsel Abbe Lowell. Remaining even-handed she next ran clips from Democrat Robert Wexler and Republican Bob Barr.
Why all this talk of conspiracy?, Jennings asked ABC legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who replied: "The Republicans showed that in this respect they're being even more aggressive than Ken Starr." Is their argument "impressive" wondered Jennings? Not really, assessed Toobin: "Certainly a very circumstantial case."
Bob Schieffer went through some highlights from the day but did not detail Schippers' adjustments to Starr's charges. Dan Rather then displayed a CBS poll asking: "Should Judiciary Committee begin a formal impeachment inquiry?" Yes, said 38 percent; No, answered 56 percent.
CBS then offered
time to the White House spin as Dan Rather intoned: "For his part
President Clinton's public reaction was to criticize the Republican
majority for running a do-nothing Congress. The President accused
Republicans of ignoring the U.S. federal budget and allied problems and
the global economy, health care and Social Security."
But emphasizing how White House operatives are upset by a lack of "statesmanship" in the House? Wouldn't a statesman have resigned by now? And does it display statesmanship to discuss troop deployment with a Congressman when your intern has your penis in her mouth?
Bob Franken reviewed the cases presented by both sides in the House committee. Next, Wolf Blitzer highlighted how the White House organized "a hastily arranged opportunity for top Democrats to urge approval of several spending bills. They insisted they're focused on the nation's business while Republican are pre-occupied with the President's sex life." Blitzer later added that Clinton lawyer David Kendal has sent a letter to Janet Reno urging her to investigate Starr for misleading her about the reason for expanding the probe to include Lewinsky. (See item #2 for more.)
Finally, Candy Crowley detailed the contrasts between how the two counsels, Schippers and Lowell, interpreted the same evidence.
Cameron ran through some of the comments from members on both sides and then David Schuster detailed the new charges laid out by Schippers and how Lowell countered. Next, from the White House, Jim Angle played a soundbite of Dick Gephardt attacking Republicans for lack of action. Angle moved on to note how the White House saw as good news the fact that Democrats in the committee said nothing Starr charged is worth impeachment, before concluding by noting the letter from Kendall to Reno. FNC allocated most of the rest of the show to a roundtable amongst Cal Thomas, Matthew Rees and Ruth Coniff.
Gwen Ifill covered
the committee's day, but offered no details on the adjustments made by
Schippers other than to allude to the new conspiracy charge:
"Hyde's handpicked investigator, Chicago prosecutor and long time
Democrat David Schippers, argued for an expansion of the inquiry."
Brokaw then raised
the "Ford factor," the op-ed the former President wrote for
Sunday's New York Times urging impeachment be stopped and Clinton be
rebuked in the well of the House. Lisa Myers read a passage: "I do
care, passionately, about rescuing the country I love from further
turmoil." Noting that's similar to reasoning he employed in
pardoning Nixon, Myers wondered if Ford is again advocating a pardon. A
Ford biographer agreed.
Brokaw nicely transitioned into te world economic crisis by focusing on how Clinton is on top of the matter: "While Capitol Hill was debating and voting on the impeachment investigation tonight, President Clinton was dealing with the economy here at home and overseas. He met with top officials of 22 countries gathered in Washington to try to figure out how to stop the growing financial crisis..."
"What are the implications of Hillary Clinton being right about a right-wing conspiracy to get her husband?" wondered Geraldo Rivera Monday night in endorsing the implications of a New York Times story. But as National Review documented the story delivered more insinuation than fact and Greg Pierce of the Washington Times detailed a false charge the New York Times made about Ken Starr.
"Starr Said to Have Received Tip on Affair Before Call by Tripp: Information Came From Lawyers with Ties to Jones Legal Team," announced a top of the fold, off-lead headline in Sunday's New York Times. As detailed in the October 5 CyberAlert, ABC's Mike von Fremd picked up the October 4 story, declaring on World News Tonight: "This has given even more ammunition to the First Lady's claims that all of this is part of 'a vast right-wing conspiracy.'"
agrees. On CNBC's 7:30pm ET/11:30pm PT Upfront Tonight on Monday night,
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera announced:
Rivera went on to show a clip of Clinton during his testimony saying he was set up. Rivera added: "Starr's office does not deny that someone in their office got a call from an unnamed lawyer. But the independent counsel's spokesman, Charles Bakaly, said today quote, 'We believe these kinds of allegations that something was improper or inappropriate are merely efforts to divert attention from the facts and evidence that was gathered by this office,' end quote."
But Rivera wants
to divert attention. Interviewing Watergate counsel Richard Ben-Veniste
later in the show Rivera moved from asking if Hillary were on target to
declaring her so:
Remember, Upfront Tonight is Rivera's "news" program, not his 9pm ET/PT talk and advocacy show.
Monday night National Review's Internet Update by Ramesh Ponnuru and John J. Miller delivered a better rebuttal than I could provide of the New York Times story, so here it is:
NO SMOKING CIGAR
The story includes a lot of allegations and half-allegations, but here's the main one: Jerome Marcus, a conservative lawyer "with ties to the Jones legal team" -- i.e., he filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Jones v. Clinton -- tipped off a friend in Ken Starr's office about the Lewinsky affair "at least a week" before Linda Tripp called. Marcus and two other conservative lawyers helped Mrs. Tripp find a lawyer and conferred with Tripp's friend Lucianne Goldberg about how to get her information to Starr.
That's it: basically, one phone call. Starr's office did nothing about it. Van Natta and Abramson quote Starr spokesman Charles Bakaly III: "A person in our office did get a heads-up call that some information may be coming or may be out there. And this person was instructed that we accept information through the front door, and that the appropriate person to contact is Jackie Bennett, the Washington deputy." Only when Mrs. Tripp called Bennett bearing tapes was any action taken.
Van Natta and Abramson repeatedly note that the phone call was "not disclosed" in Starr's request to the Justice Department to expand his investigation or in his report last month. Of course it wasn't; it was irrelevant. But look at the sandcastle of speculation the Times builds on this foundation: "The tip in early January indicates that the independent counsel's office could have been developing a strategy to persuade the Justice Department to expand the scope of the stalled Whitewater inquiry before the call from Mrs. Tripp." The "could have been" isn't nearly good enough cover: the tip "indicates" nothing of the sort. Van Natta and Abramson produce zero evidence to support this accusation.
Instead, they produce more insinuations -- in fractured English: "[T]he role of go-between played by a group of conservative lawyers with ties to the Jones case created an early and previously undisclosed back-channel between Mr. Starr's office and Mrs. Tripp." The implication of words like "go-between" and "back-channel" is a two-way flow of communication. But all Starr's office told Marcus was: brush off.
To read or sign-up for NR's Washington Bulletin report, go to: http://www.nationalreview.com 
In his October 6 Inside Politics column in the Washington Times, Greg Pierce observed that the New York Times story "said Mr. Starr had been briefly involved in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case: 'Before becoming the Whitewater independent counsel in August 1994, he helped the Independent Women's Forum, a conservative organization, file a friend of the court brief in the Jones case. Mr. Starr was not paid for his services.'"
Pierce documented how the effort to show Starr's sympathy for the Jones case is based on fallacy: "Barbara Ledeen, executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, told this column yesterday that her group never filed such a brief in the Jones case -- and that the New York Times previously had published two corrections on the subject, with another one in the offing. 'This is the third time. This is a world record, I will bet, for the New York Times on corrections,' she said."
To read Pierce's weekday compilation of political items, go to: http://www.washtimes.com/politics/inside.html 
NBC's Katie Couric warned of a backlash against Republicans for pushing Clinton too hard and ABC's Lisa McRee asked a Democrat if there's "anything you can do" about Republican efforts to inflict "political damage," suggested a New York Times story supports Clinton's contention that he's the victim of a political hit and laughed about how "easy" it is to hate Linda Tripp. Another day on the network morning shows.
-- On Monday's
Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that after pressing Republican
Judiciary Committee member Asa Hutchinson about alternatives to
impeachment and Gerald Ford's idea for a rebuke in the well of the
House, this exchange took place between the Arkansan and co-host Katie
She tossed to
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California on the Judiciary
Committee, this set up question:
Talking with ABC
News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin in the 7:30am half hour, McRee endorsed
the idea that Starr is part of a political conspiracy to get Clinton:
And showing that
you just never know where liberal bias will pop up, Mark caught this
insult at Linda Tripp uttered during an interview with New York Daily News
sports columnist Mike Lupica about the Yankees, the team that finished
with the best record in the American League.
Linda Tripp Halloween masks? Yes, predicted Bob Schieffer on Sunday's Face the Nation. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed this little shot from Schieffer as he concluded an end of the show "final thought" on the fate awaiting players in Monicagate:
"And then there's Linda Tripp. Before she fades into history, my guess is you'll see her face at a lot of Halloween parties."
I bet you'll see a lot more of Monica Lewinsky. -- Brent Baker 
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