CyberAlert -- 08/26/1998 -- Clintons & Cronkites Set Sail

Clintons & Cronkites Set Sail; Hillary's Conservative "Moral Compass"

1) The Clintons pulled up the anchor with former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. NBC's David Bloom relayed how an adviser complained "we can't eat enough crow to satisfy our critics."

2) ABC's Lisa McRee decreed: it was "courageous professionalism" for Clinton aides to stand by their boss afer lying for him, but Starr's office is staffed by "zealots" on a "witch hunt."

3) With a "blend of her conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham Clinton defies the pigeon-hole," Bill Kurtis contended on A&E as he certified her right-wing conspiracy claim.

4) When U.S. News reporter Matt Miller smeared ex-Presidents in arguing they did what Clinton did, CNBC's Chris Matthews got mad.

5) For Time the real scandal is that people didn't realize the "unvarnished truth" of Bush's voodoo economics comment.

Corrections: First, the August 25 CyberAlert contents list referred to Deborah Mathis as Deborah Matthews. Second, the August 24 CyberAlert asserted that "U.S. soldiers were murdered by mobs in Sudan back in the Bush years." I confused two Sunni Muslin-dominated African "S" nations. In fact, as reader Michael Friedman of Hong Kong pointed out, the incident occurred in Somalia, not Sudan, and though the troops went in during Bush's years they were killed in Clinton's term after the late Defense Secretary Les Aspin denied armored vehicles to the on-scene commander.


Bcboatcap.jpg (12492 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The President, Hillary and Chelsea went out for a sail Tuesday with Walter Cronkite, his wife and grandson. Every network but ABC showed video of the excursion from Martha's Vineyard on Tuesday night. In fact, ABC's World News Tonight did not run anything about Clinton's vacation or Monicagate. Hurricane Bonnie topped every August 25 evening show.

CBS showed a Cronkite boat clip as anchor Ed Bradley claimed that Clinton is "increasing his visibility" by planning a speech and "creating a food safety council." Catching up with news broken by NBC's Lisa Myers on Monday, CNN and FNC looked at Ken Starr's plan to charge Clinton with "abuse of power." Putting a damper on CNN's Monday story that Clinton plans to again address his lying about Lewinsky, FNC and NBC reported there are no plans to do so as NBC's David Bloom relayed how an adviser complained "we can't eat enough crow to satisfy our critics," so Clinton will move on.

Tuesday morning the networks devoted little, if any, time to politics. ABC's Good Morning America delivered one segment while CBS's This Morning didn't have a word. This one item read by Today news reader Sara James, MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, represented the totality of August 25 Today coverage of anything political: "President Clinton was out in public Monday on Martha's Vineyard. He stopped at a store for coffee and shook some hands during what has been mostly a private vacation."

Here are some highlights from the Tuesday, August 25 evening shows:

-- CBS Evening News. After a story on how sunglasses can prevent glaucoma, over video of the Clinton family in former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite's sailboat, anchor Ed Bradley tied in the previous story:
"On the Clinton family vacation today President Clinton had no sunglasses on, but the First Lady did. They and daughter Chelsea joined Walter Cronkite for a ride on his ketch off Martha's Vineyard. Increasing his visibility in several ways, Mr. Clinton signed an executive order today creating a food safety council. He'll also make a speech Thursday in Worcester, Massachusetts. Subject: school safety."

Actually, it's a fundraiser for Democratic House member Jim McGovern.

-- CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET. Anchor Joie Chen showed some video of the Clintons on Cronkite's boat and then went to Bob Franken for a look at a possible Starr approach. Franken began:
"Abuse of power was the essence of the second article of impeachment voted against Richard Nixon for Watergate. And now sources familiar with Ken Starr's investigation tell CNN his staff is debating whether to report to Congress that President Clinton abused the power of his office for what one source calls 'his conduct during the investigation.' The independent counsel's staff may have to decide, he went on, whether the tactics were designed to delay the investigation, specifically, did the President abuse the privilege of the presidency by using White House lawyers to fight seven months of legal battles over attorney-client and executive privilege issues."
Franken went on to note angry White House reaction and how Starr also thinks the Secret Service appeals were a delaying tactic, though those motions were not filed by people working directly for Clinton, before concluding:
"Whatever the merits of the accusations President Clinton may have committed obstruction of justice or perjured himself or caused others to, a Starr charge he abused power or his office could become significant. That's because while not a violation of criminal law it could give Congress grounds to argue for impeachment since the constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors has no precise definition."

-- FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET aired two Clinton scandal-related pieces. First, Wendell Goler checked in from Martha's Vineyard with video of the Clintons and Cronkites and news that Clinton will go to Worcester on Thursday. Goler insisted that "his aides denied he has plans to make a second address to the nation about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, though they admit privately some advisers are urging him to do so." Goler added that Republicans on Capitol Hill hope Starr's report deals with more than just Lewinsky and that Clinton talked by phone with Boris Yeltsin.
Second, Rita Cosby examined the abuse of power theory, an idea which "comes right out of Watergate." After summarizing Starr's claims about the misuse of government-paid lawyers and the Secret Service, Cosby suggested how the charge could make Starr's report go beyond Lewinsky:
"Some political observers say if Starr includes a charge of abuse of power in his report he may also list aspects of past White House scandals, such as Filegate and Travelgate, in an attempt to show how this President displayed a pattern of abuse that didn't start with Monica Lewinsky."

-- NBC Nightly News. From Martha's Vineyard David Bloom relayed:
"The President's closest advisers say he's well aware of the criticism of last week's speech, namely that he wasn't contrite enough. As one adviser put it today, we can't eat enough crow to satisfy our critics, so tonight Mr. Clinton is trying to move on. The President, who many Americans now say they don't trust, set sail today with the man many Americans say they trust the most: newsman Walter Cronkite..."
After showing video of the Clintons with Cronkite, Bloom asked whether Clinton can "survive and lead?" Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution assessed him as weakened before Bloom noted that Clinton will "hit the road to campaign" in Worcester since he needs Democratic allies now to help in any impeachment proceeding.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Clinton lies, so everyone lies; it's "courageous professionalism" to not be ashamed of lying; and the biggest thing to fear in Washington is not more White House deceit but Ken Starr's staff who are "zealots" out on a "witch hunt." Catching up with an item from last week, MRC analyst Clay Waters went back and transcribed a couple of the questions/comments Good Morning America co-host Lisa McRee proposed on August 19 to Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz.

-- McRee decreed everyone is equally guilty: "People have said that the media has manipulated stories for years, and in this story it looks as if the media was manipulated. All sides were spinning and leaking. Can we trust any of these people now?"

-- Kurtz observed: "It's interesting to watch them, Ann Lewis and others, dutifully drag themselves before the cameras yesterday and saying, 'I know I've been telling you for months that this didn't happen. Well it did happen, but no one cares and lets move on.' So their own credibility has taken a hit."
McRee disagreed and admired their deceit: "But it's also courageous professionalism, some would say."

-- Later in the interview McRee, who asserted that Clinton aides who lied for months had displayed "courageous professionalism," saw less to admire in Starr's staff: "Lot of people in Washington are expecting the White House to go on the offensive with regard to Kenneth Starr and his investigation. And people are expecting detailed questions to leak out of that grand jury testimony, questions that make Kenneth Starr and his attorneys look like zealots who are on some sort of witch hunt. Do you think that might happen?"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Monday night, August 24, Bill Kurtis opened A&E's "Investigative Reports" look at Hillary Clinton by asserting:
"Her story plays like a Greek drama: the quest for power, the intoxication of success, the labyrinth of personal and political intrigue. It's about triumph and tragedy, it's a love story set against a backdrop of war [clip of Ken Starr], fraught with the dangers of what the Greeks called hubris. It is a play not finished, yet it's storyline captivates the world. In this edition of Investigative Reports, we focus on a main player in this drama and aim for a glimpse into the inner-workings of perhaps the most influential woman of the last half-century: the 43rd First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Under the rubric of Investigative Reports you might expect a probe into what she really knew about the secret health care policy panel a federal judge declared illegal, her husband's fooling around, her aide Sidney Blumenthal spreading rumors about prosecutors, Whitewater or how her billing records suddenly appeared or how she really made $100,000 on a $1,000 investment. But no, Kurtis, once co-host of one of CBS's many attempts at a morning show, promised "a search for the core of her values." And he decided they are not liberal as "her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really left Park Ridge."

MRC news analyst Jessica Anderson reviewed the show, observed its slant and then transcribed quotes reflecting the tone. Time magazine's Karen Tumulty, Hugh Sidey of Time, historian James MacGregor Burns and NOW President Patricia Ireland served as the on-camera experts.

-- Kurtis, with Hillary Clinton in October 1997 as she celebrated her 50th birthday: "Surrounded by family and a brace of friends, Mrs. Clinton is at the top of her powers. A two-year span had seen her introduce sweeping reforms of our country's childcare system, spearheaded international movement for women's rights, and articulate a new vision for the next millennium: the concept of a fairer, more civil society. In a word, this First Lady was on a roll."

(Kurtis followed Hillary as she visited some places from her childhood in her "village" of Park Ridge, Illinois, showed her at the White as she made preparations for a state dinner and tracked her childhood in Park Ridge, talking to members of her family and friends about how the interest in politics of the Goldwater girl grew.)

-- Kurtis: "Hillary Rodham's commencement address at Wellesley marked her entre into the world of politics. She gained national attention for supporting the right to student protest, in the process, taking to task then-Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. As she met her husband-to-be and moved into public life, her politics continued to move unquestioningly to the center. Yet her moral compass, even 30 years later, has never really left Park Ridge."
Kurtis to Hillary: "Well, that was my impression, seeing you go back to the school and the church and the home, a nurturing, warm village, if you will, that gave you a confidence and a security to be anything."

-- Kurtis, talking about her book, It Takes a Village: "That traditional view includes the subject of divorce. For the First Lady, simply put, divorce means failure. Stated most plainly in her book, Mrs. Clinton has had to, quote, 'Bite my tongue more than a few times,' in order to preserve her own marriage. It's a distinct position, evocative of another time and place."

-- Kurtis: "A blend of her conservative past and political present, Hillary Rodham Clinton defies the pigeon-hole, and it would appear, that is just the way she likes it."

-- After showing Mrs. Clinton on Today claiming a vast right-wing conspiracy, Kurtis contended she was correct: "As events unfolded, the First Lady's counterattacks seemed measured and effective. Reporters picked up her spin, and found the fingerprints of right-wing conservatives on some of the allegations. Ms. Lewinsky refused to testify before a grand jury. Vernon Jordan stood by the President. And Kenneth Starr's investigation showed signs of slowing."

-- Kurtis, to Hillary a month into Lewinsky scandal: "What do you think it will take to kind of quiet everything down and get back on track for the country?"

-- After running some expert soundbites on how it may not have been wise to put her in charge of health care, Kurtis asked her: "Do you think the town was not ready for such a strong role for the First Lady?"

-- Having learned her lesson, Kurtis contended that she moved away from politics: "For the First Lady, It Takes a Village was not just a book, but the first step in a comeback. This time the tone was softer, the approach less partisan. Mrs. Clinton would seek out the ideological high ground, and leave the legislative arm-twisting to others."

-- Viewers saw clips of a 1995 speech to a women's conference in China, an address Tumulty claimed delivered the "strongest statement ever" made about human rights in China. Kurtis inquired of Hillary: "Whoever we talk to always comes back to that, and the gleam in women's eyes who were there, they all say, 'I was in Beijing.'"

-- The final segment returned to Lewinsky as the "deception comes home to roost." But Kurtis painted Hillary as the duped victim. After quoting her statement about standing by Bill, Kurtis went to Hugh Sidey, who asserted: "She's making the point because otherwise would be to suggest that she lied on the Today show, where she said this was all untrue. Terribly difficult position for her that she's handled very well at this point, and I suppose there's a good deal of respect for that."

-- Noting that she urged on her husband's attack on Ken Starr, Kurtis wondered: "Will the attack on Starr backfire? In venting her anger has the First Lady unwittingly entrusted a weapon into the hands of the enemy?" Then he reassured: "For the moment, the reality seems to be anything but. Hillary Clinton remains Bill Clinton's lifeline. Her shear force of will appearing to hold together a family and perhaps a presidency."

-- Kurtis concluded his "investigation" with apprehension over whether Hillary Clinton will be able to triumph:
"A sense of nobility. As her days in the White House dwindle to a precious few, it provides, perhaps, a last refuge for this First Lady, her work in childcare, education and women's rights affording a safe harbor from the taint of scandal, and a glimmer of hope for her own political future. For now, the Clinton administration is a drama without a final act, but the elements are there for a suspenseful conclusion: the spreading stain of scandal, the politics of power, the weight of history. For Hillary Rodham Clinton, there is something else at stake: Is there enough time to put the legacy she wants together before the final act is written?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) U.S. News & World Report Washington reporter Matt Miller has enthusiastically embraced all the White House spin machine's lines. An earlier CyberAlert noted that back on August 14 Miller suggested Clinton sue for a third term. MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens came across and transcribed some amusing exchanges Miller had with Chris Matthews last week when Matthews challenged the validity of Miller's charges and pointed out the obvious, that Miller is a professional Clinton defender.

From the August 20 Hardball on CNBC:

-- Matt Miller: "I think that we never should have been pursuing this matter and as a matter of prosecutorial discretion. This kind of thing as Judge Walsh has said on this show, only last week, this kind of thing should never have been pursued and most prosecutors would not. That's not exonerating the President for his behavior but at a moment like today when we are talking about the moral authority of a President when there is military action, FDR, LBJ and Dwight Eisenhower were all known to have involvements outside marriage. We did not know about them contemporaneously. That's the difference and I think the reason for that has to be laid at the discretion of prosecutors and the press."
Chris Matthews: "What Presidents did you just smear then Matt? Run through that list again."
Miller: "I didn't smear."
Matthews: "Yes you just did. Which ones?"
Miller: "FDR, LBJ and Dwight Eisenhower are known to have involvements outside their..."
Matthews: "Okay, well I think you're gonna have to check your history. We had Stephen Ambrose on and he said there was no extra, any, not outside marriage relationships with Eisenhower. We had Doris Kearns Goodwin who denied your smear right then about FDR so I think you better be careful."

-- Miller: "Let's take someone else you won't dispute. How about Martin Luther King?"
Matthews: "Okay you obviously cannot defend what you said before about FDR or Ike so let's move on....I just don't like this. You know Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York calls it 'defining deviancy downward.' It's a way to bring everybody down with you when you got a little problem with morality and I really resent the fact that people come on the show, I don't mind defending President Clinton, that's what you're here for Matt, but don't do it at the cost of FDR, or Ike Eisenhower okay?"
Miller: "I'm not here to defend President Clinton. What I'm doing..."
Mathews: "Ike, Eisenhower won a big war okay? It was bigger than this little thing going on right now. It was a big one. He received a Nazi surrender and for you to dig up his grave on this show and go after him to defend Bill Clinton, who now we have evidence against, we will have DNA evidence against him, we will have proof positive even for you. And for you to destroy the record of Ike Eisenhower on this program is disgusting and let's drop it right here."

-- Matthews: "Do you believe that the President's conduct in the Oval Office with an underling at the bottom of the food chain is in fact a private matter?"
Miller: "I don't like it, but I'd rather not know about it."
Mathews: "No I'm not asking you that. Is it a private matter?"
Miller: "Yes."
Matthews: "And is it a private matter in the military when a general is bumped out of line for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs because of a relationship with a woman not his wife even if he happens to be as was a recent case of a General who was not even with his wife, he was separated at the time. Do you think the President is the Commander in Chief?"
Miller: "I'm not saying that was a correct judgment by the military."
Matthews: "Oh and in other words, okay, I get it. So the President is only. How about a CEO of corporation like at US News and World Report or anywhere else where the CEO is involved with somebody very small in terms of bureaucratic power way below him or her. You don't think that, that is in fact a relevant question for the corporation. In other words it's not a private matter as far as the corporation is concerned?"
Miller: "Chris all I know is I think there is a fair amount of hypocrisy on this matter. As you know there are at other networks instances of senior people involved with people junior to them that have been quite public and have not ended up in dismissals."
Matthews: "He's now trashed all the Presidents, he's now making the rounds of the networks."
[Cacophonous reaction from panel]
Miller: "Why is everyone so upset?"


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Finally, to Time magazine "the truth" occurs when someone disparages a conservative policy, but unfortunately, the magazine contended, not all appreciate it at the time. The MRC's Tim Graham caught this passage in the special early-released August 31 edition, but I didn't get to it yesterday and noticed it highlighted in Tuesday's Washington Bulletin from National Review. Time Senior Editor Richard Stengel asserted in a news story:
"Inside the Beltway, the scandal is not the lie but the unvarnished truth. George Bush's campaign barb about Reaganism being voodoo economics raised far more hackles than his claim that Clarence Thomas was the most qualified man in America to be on the Supreme Court."

As NR's John Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru observed, "two examples of liberal bias in one sentence -- a new land speed record." -- Brent Baker

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