CyberAlert -- 02/02/1999 -- Only FNC Hinted at Clinton-Lewinsky Collusion; Starr Targeted; Tax Cuts Help Rich

Only FNC Hinted at Clinton-Lewinsky Collusion; Starr Targeted; Tax Cuts Help Rich

1) ABC & CNN described Lewinsky as "poised." All agreed she offered nothing new, but only FNC reported that "knowing glances" between the lawyers for her and Clinton occurred as she was stopped from giving any substantive responses to Ed Bryant.

2) David Kendall's complaint about Ken Starr succeeded in shifting attention to Starr's supposed wrongdoing. The foreign press, CBS relayed, has concluded that the U.S. has "gone completely mad."

3) Charles Gibson argued with Charles Bakaley about how Starr really is guilty as Diane Sawyer demanded of Robert Bork: "At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"

4) "Democrats argue a ten percent across the board tax cut favors the rich," declared NBC's David Bloom in a charge echoed by ABC's John Cochran. But neither offered any numbers from a conservative.


cameron0202.jpg (17117 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Reviewing Monica Lewinsky's performance, on Monday night the networks delivered remarkably similar assessments of how she offered nothing new and showed a "poised" and "professional" demeanor. All highlighted an apology to her from a White House lawyer. Only FNC dared to report that she gave "snippy answers" and that there were "knowing glances" between her lawyers and Clinton's lawyers as her lawyers cut her off before she gave any substantive responses.

ABC's Linda Douglass described Lewinsky as "poised and very prepared." Over on CNN Bob Franken employed the same terminology, relaying that "Lewinsky was poised, precise and still sympathetic to the President" while CBS's Bob Schieffer announced: "It was all very business-like and professional."

Here's how the networks described on their Monday, February 1 evening shows, what happened during the deposition of Monica Lewinsky at the Mayflower hotel:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass: "Sources say there were no surprises in Lewinsky's testimony. Several said she was poised and very prepared. One described her as guarded. White House lawyers asked Lewinsky no questions. Instead, they read a statement on Mr. Clinton's behalf apologizing to her for what she has been through. Tonight White House officials said they did not ask her questions because nothing she said required following up."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened by stressing how this was "the 23rd official questioning of Monica Lewinsky." Bob Schieffer described the session: "The House prosecutors did get their chance to depose Monica Lewinsky, but apparently they did not find out very much. We're told there were no blockbusters, nothing really new. One source says she only reaffirmed her grand jury testimony. But White House lawyers, who had never had a chance to meet Miss Lewinsky, did take the opportunity to apologize to her for all they said that she and her family had been put through."
Schieffer later added: "We're told it was all very business-like and professional. Ms. Lewinsky was poised, she wore a black pant suit and pearls and one source said there were even a couple of laughs along the way."

-- CNN's The World Today. Bob Franken began: "Several sources present tell CNN the President's attorneys asked no questions." He later elaborated: "Several sources present tell CNN that tape will show Lewinsky did not depart from her earlier grand jury testimony, that she did not add anything new. One source said that fact will please the President's side, which can argue there is no reason now for Lewinsky to testify publicly before the Senate. But House managers will claim that she helped their case by repeating an account damaging to the President."
Franken concluded: "Lewinsky was poised, precise and still sympathetic to the President sources say, she was clearly not trying to be helpful to those who would use her to reverse the rush to the exit."

-- NBC Nightly News. Gwen Ifill: "In the presidential suite of a downtown Washington hotel, White House lawyers got their first chance today to question Monica Lewinsky. But, sources say, White House lawyers Nicole Seligman, Cheryl Mills and David Kendall asked Lewinsky nothing. And they say Seligman, on behalf of the President, actually apologized to Lewinsky, in the words of one source, quote 'for all he put her through.'"
Ifill emphasized: "But sources say Lewinsky today offered nothing beyond her previously sworn testimony that allows prosecutors to prove that's what happened."

-- FNC's Fox Report, co-anchored by Jon Scott and the leather-clad E.D. Donahey, delivered quite a different description of what occurred in the room, portraying an uncooperative Lewinsky whose lawyers were in collusion with the White House.
Rita Cosby told viewers: "Sources at the deposition tell Fox News that at times Monica Lewinsky appeared to be quite frustrated with the questions that were thrown at her. At several points she was shaking her head, she was rolling her eyes and was giving what's been described as snippy answers. Also, it appeared that any time she was providing information that was helpful to prosecutors in terms of their obstruction of justice case, her attorney stepped in and interrupted her and would not let her answer those questions in full detail."

Next, Carl Cameron looked at the White House anger at Starr and competing exit strategy ideas, but concluded by returning to the Lewinsky deposition when asked by a co-anchor about anything else that happened Monday:
"Well, Monica Lewinsky's deposition today -- not very forthcoming. A number of people inside the deposition say that she was cut off repeatedly by her attorneys and that there was an awful lot of signaling seemingly going on between Lewinsky's attorneys and White House attorneys. At one point Nicole Seligman, the White House legal counsel, objected to the entrance of some exhibits, in terms of what Monica Lewinsky had said in the past, and when prosecutor Ed Bryant began to ask questions about that, sources say, there were knowing glances -- the equivalent of winks and nods going on -- between Lewinsky's attorneys and the White House lawyers."

(Tuesday morning the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Sean Henry will post on the MRC home page a RealPlayer video clip of this part of Cameron's story. Go to:


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The White House once again managed to make Ken Starr the issue as every network showcased David Kendall's complaint that Starr is guilty of "illegal and partisan leaking" in the Sunday New York Times story on how he has decided he can indict a sitting President. ABC included the item in Linda Douglass's story on Lewinsky, but all the other networks on Monday night ran separate stories with Kendall setting the agenda.

NBC's Tom Brokaw introduced a full report from Pete Williams by noting that "Starr tried for damage control." Pete Williams began: "White House lawyers are reacting angrily today to a report that Kenneth Starr has concluded he could charge the President with a crime. They're asking a federal judge to punish Starr, accusing him of violating court ordered secrecy."
Following a Kendall soundbite Williams read from a Starr statement on how he's investigating the leak.

After Bob Schieffer concluded his Lewinsky story by saying there was even some joking in the deposition, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather declared: "On another front, the President's lawyers were in anything but a joking mood today. This has to do with the possibility that Ken Starr, whatever happens in the Senate, could indict the President."
Scott Pelley summarized the Kendall complaint, noting "the story is curious because if its timing" and how "today the article was an orphan, all sides denied being the source."

(The CBS Evening News ended with a piece from Mark Phillips in London on how the world, at least the world media, view the Lewinsky scandal: "For all the multitude of languages and accents being used to report this story around the world, the general impression is being expressed with one voice." A woman from French TV declared: "Why is America going mad?" A man with the BBC agreed: "America, or at least Washington, has gone completely mad." Phillips did highlight the foreign hypocrisy as while they complain they all cover it, with the BBC offering gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate trial.)


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The Starr story about thinking it's okay to indict Clinton really enraged the Good Morning America team on Monday morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed. Charles Gibson argued with Charles Bakaley about whether the leak came from Starr's office. When Bakaley denied it, Gibson countered: "How do you know that. There've been leaks from the office before."
Talking with Robert Bork, Diane Sawyer repeated how the White House says the story shows Starr is "out of control" as she then asked him: "At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"

Here are Gibson's February 1 questions to Charles Bakaly, Ken Starr's spokesman, which assumed Starr is in the wrong:
-- "Why did your office leak this and leak it now?"
-- "The Times story says it comes from your office."
-- "Well, the Times story says it comes from associates of Judge Starr's, and I'm curious that you know for certain that it couldn't have come from the office. How do you know that? There've been leaks from the office before."
-- "But I'm struck that you can say this so certainly, that you can speak with absolute assurance about everybody in that office, that they wouldn't have leaked this story."
-- "It is public record that one constitutional scholar, who is a consultant to Judge Starr, has said that he feels it would be constitutionally correct, or constitutionally alright, if the President were indicted while in office. Can you confirm that, that Judge Starr is at least exploring the idea?"

Former judge Robert Bork came aboard to discuss the substance of Starr's analysis as Bork believes you cannot indict a sitting President, but Diane Sawyer soon pressed him to take on Starr for the alleged improper leak and how it supposedly has intruded upon the Senate's work:
-- "Well, there's another possibility, indicting the President under seal, holding it in secret until he leaves office. Is that also constitutionally sound?"
-- Bork asserted, "If Judge Starr decides he wants to indict, that would be well within his discretion. We would then find out from the courts whether he could or not." To which Sawyer responded: "Within his discretion, but if what you say is true, that the President has singular responsibilities, is it a good idea to have him open to the possibility of indictment by prosecutors all around the country?"
-- "Another question, the timing of this story. As you must have read, members of the Senate on both sides have criticized Judge Starr's office for, in effect, they say, trying to intervene in the impeachment process. What do you think about it?"
-- "I guess one of the questions is, some, some, the White House certainly has said, that it's a sign that he's out of control. At any point have you suggested to Judge Starr that it's time to shut the office down or that he may be pressing too hard?"


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) ABC and NBC pounced on the Republican proposal for tax cuts, as if they wished to discredit the idea before it got any momentum. On Monday's World News Tonight Sam Donaldson summarized the officially released Clinton budget proposal. In a second story, ABC's John Cochran looked at the disagreement over tax cuts with Republicans wanting a broad one while Clinton advocated some targeted ones. Cochran announced: "Republicans are trying to get the public's attention with one of their favorite tactics: promising tax cuts for everyone."
Noting that Senator Pete Domenici wants a 15 percent income tax reduction over 15 years while Congressman John Kasich prefers a ten percent cut immediately, Cochran allowed Kasich to say that if taxes are not cut the government will spend the money. Cochran then pounced with "facts" from a group he grudgingly conceded leans left:
"Democrats and other critics say across the board cuts favor the rich. Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning group, says a ten percent cut in rates for taxpayers making less than $38,000 would mean an average cut of only $99 a year. Taxpayers making more than $300,000 would get an average cut of $20,000 dollars. Other critics say the country should not count on budget surpluses to fund tax cuts or spending hikes because the money may not be there."
In a soundbite Carol Wait of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget then asserted that budget projections are always wrong.
Cochran failed to provide counter numbers to those from (CTJ), but did allow as how "Republicans answer that tax cuts, especially for wealthy Americans, would further boost the economy and boost tax revenue as well."

On the NBC Nightly News reporter David Bloom also highlighted Republican interest in a tax cut, but portrayed Republicans as the ones with a bad attitude: "The President's proposed budget arrived on Capitol Hill today to a rude reception from Republicans, who are demanding that some of the trillions of dollars in a projected surpluses be spent on a broad tax cut."
Bloom ran soundbites from both sides, but like Cochran, offered only the anti-tax cut numbers from the liberal group. Though he used the identical $300,000 versus $38,000 example, he failed to identify the source, saying only "Democrats argue a ten percent across the board tax cut favors the rich. By their calculations the wealthiest Americans, those who make more than $300,000 a year would receive, on average, a $20,000 tax break. But most Americans earn $38,000 a year or less and, Democrats say, their tax break would average $99."

How outrageous. Someone who makes more an pays more in taxes would get a bigger numerical tax reduction than someone making and paying less. -- Brent Baker


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