CyberAlert -- 09/14/1998 -- Starr Went Too Far

Starr Went Too Far; Reagan & Bush Like Clinton?; Hillary the Idol

1) George Will asked about recalling pizza versus oral sex and Tim Russert wondered if Clinton might seek professional counseling.

2) NBC relayed how Starr's report was called "worthy of...the inquisition" in France. At home, it's causing "harsh" rhetoric.

3) Starr went too far, contended Barbara Walters, Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley. Phillips: "Should the President be subjected to that kind of embarrassment?" Pauley: Why so "adversarial"?

4) Everybody does it, NBC argued, claiming many Presidents, including Washington, Reagan and Bush wandered sexually. "Ronald Reagan was quite a man about Hollywood."

5) Countering "the assault on his presidency," Jane Pauley oozed that Hilary "does what she does best, she goes to work." Brokaw blamed "all sides" for destructive "self-righteousness."

6) Geraldo Rivera dismissed the report as a "low blow" which is "all about sex and sex lies," not important matters.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Other Impeachable Offenses."

>>> CNN's John Holliman, dead at 49. Holliman, one of the "Boys of Baghdad" who has been covering space issues recently and had been picked to co-anchor, with Walter Cronkite, CNN's coverage of John Glenn's return to space, died Saturday morning in a car crash in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He was a familiar face on CNN having signed-on as a Washington reporter when the network began in 1980. CNN has posted an obituary and tribute on its Web site. Go to: <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Best questions of the weekend.

George Will to Clinton lawyer David Kendall on ABC's This Week:
"He [Clinton] could remember being alone with Ms. Lewinsky when she was delivering pizza but not when she was delivering oral sex?"

Tim Russert to White House Counsel Charles Ruff:
"No less than five women have come forward and complained about the President's sexual behavior. Is there any consideration given, being given by the President to seek professional help?"


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Clinton lawyers were grilled on ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet the Press about Clinton's unique definition of sex. On Saturday, because of college football, the ABC and CBS evening shows were bumped and tennis eliminated CBS again in the east on Sunday. But the Starr report aftermath dominated the three broadcast networks shows that aired on Saturday (NBC) and Sunday (ABC and NBC).

Some highlights.

-- NBC Nightly News, Saturday, September 12:
Keith Miller checked in with the reaction overseas, noting at one point: "In France, Le Monde described the report as 'a monster...worthy of the reports of the inquisition...where deviants and heretics were hunted down to the depth of their souls.'"
Woman in Paris: "It's horrible. I hate Kenneth Starr and I think it's horrible for Clinton but, because he loses credibility about the world."

Next war let's save Belgium and skip France.

From Indiana Jim Avila looked at the Starr report from the campaign trail:
"...Bedford is the heart of the 8th District, a region familiar with raw politics. Limestone made the area's reputation, but it's nickname is the bloody 8th, stained with a history of bare-knuckled politics -- an image anything but softened by today's harsh rhetoric."
Republican incumbent John Hostetler on stage in a debate with his Democratic challenger: "I continually hear veterans talk about a Commander-in-Chief that they can not any longer trust."

That's harsh?

-- Sunday, September 13:
ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News dedicated over half the show to Starr's report, beginning with a run down of what the lawyers said on the Sunday talk shows. ABC ran three stories on public reaction around the country. Both featured stories on how churches greeted the news. ABC anchor Carole Simpson announced: "At churches all over the country today, the President and his self-admitted moral lapses, were the topic of sermons and prayers. As ABC's Steve Osunsami reports, there was forgiveness but also disappointment."

Over on NBC, Kenley Jones opened his piece: "In churches from one end of the nation to the other, prayers were offered today on behalf of President Clinton and the nation. And the message from the pulpit in many of them, like the Brookins Community AME church in Los Angeles, was about forgiveness."
Minister: "We're sitting around wondering what Bill Clinton did behind closed doors. I could care less. I could care less. God knows. God knows. God is the judge." (I assume he meant "could not care less.")

Jones did go on to highlight tougher assessments, including a soundbite from New York Cardinal O'Connor.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Has Starr gone too far? That was a common question Friday night as some network stars revealed their initial reaction to Starr's report, portraying him as the one out of control.

-- On Friday's 20/20, ABC's Jackie Judd provided a thorough overview of Starr's main conclusions. Barbara Walters then interviewed Judd, posing these three questions:
"When you read this report it is so salacious, it is so graphic. There will be many people who will feel it's disgusting, wonder what they'll tell their children. There could be a backlash against Ken Starr. I asked the prosecutor's office today why it had to be so salacious and was told that the answer is in the report." (Judd explained how the details were needed to show how Clinton's denial of sex didn't match what happened.)
"Is Ken Starr now finished Jackie. Does he turn out the lights, close the doors and go home?"
"Jackie, isn't it ironic that this started off with Whitewater and there is nothing in this report about Whitewater?"

-- During a special two-hour Dateline on Friday night Stone Phillips demanded of guest Bill McCollum, a Republican Congressman from Florida:
"Did this report have to be that detailed, that explicit? I mean you cringe when you read it. Does the Congress need it, do the American people need to hear it, should the President be subjected to that kind of embarrassment?"

Later, after a profile piece on Starr, Jane Pauley talked with NBC legal analyst Jack Ford about Starr's approach:
"Jack, when the investigation turned from real estate to Monica Lewinsky did the special prosecutor have to go there, did he have any discretion to say, 'that's really not related'?"
"What about the report. He was obligated to write a report and deliver a report to Congress. Was he also obligated to make it as adversarial as it turned out to be?"

As opposed to Clinton who is so cooperative.

-- No matter what Clinton does, he cannot deflect Al Hunt's anger at Ken Starr. On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN the Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal declared:
"Let's not pretend for a moment that for all the legitimate criticism of President Clinton which there ought to be, let's not pretend for a moment that the Starr report is a balanced, judicious presentation. It's not. It is a partisan prosecutor with some zealous aides who's trying to make a case against a guy he despises."

Sort of like Hunt feels toward Starr?


ronaldcap.jpg (22825 bytes)cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Bring everyone down with him. Why just focus on Clinton when you can impugn past Presidents? Indeed, Friday night NBC argued that 14 of 41 past Presidents, including George Washington, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, have had affairs or had questions raised about their sexual propriety.

On Friday's two-hour Dateline reporter Rob Stafford ran through the allegations against several of the 14, starting with Washington who supposedly carried on with his best friend's wife. Others he cited: Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy. After noting that Carter admitted to "lust" in his heart, Stafford forwarded this vague charge about Reagan and raised a never substantiated allegation about Bush:
"Before he settled down into his political career, and his marriage with Nancy, Ronald Reagan was quite a man about Hollywood. And stories even surfaced about George Bush and a long- time government employee. Stone Phillips asked him about his personal life during a Dateline interview in 1992."
Phillips in the 1992 interview: "Have you ever had an affair?"
Bush: "I'm not going to take any sleaze questions, I gave you a little warning."
Stafford: "But the assault on President Clinton's character has taken on an entirely new dimension, which has given rise to concern over the very office he occupies..."

"Assault" on Clinton's character. Clinton had admitted his misdeeds. It is NBC which has assaulted the past Presidents by equating what they did with Clinton's improper relationship in the workplace with a powerless subordinate and by raising never substantiated charges against Bush.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) NBC's pro-Hillary crusade continued Saturday night and instead of blaming Clinton's seven months of lying and continuing legal word games for the decline of the political climate, Tom Brokaw held both parties accountable for "bickering" and "self-righteousness."

The September 12 CyberAlert detailed Andrea Mitchell's September 11 Nightly News story portraying Hillary as a victim instead of as a co-perpetrator of the lies. Jane Pauley picked up on her theme Saturday night, September 12. In another two-hour Dateline special at 9pm ET, titled "The President and the People," she checked in on the plight of the First Lady. The "he" in this quote I think refers to Bill Clinton as Pauley passed along the White House spin on the Today interview instead of suggesting Hillary owes an apology for her "vast right-wing conspiracy" charge:
"....She had believed his denials and indeed last January, as she told Today show's Matt Lauer, he seemed to take for granted that she wouldn't believe everything she read in the papers."
Lauer in January Today interview: "So these charges came as big a shock to you as anyone?"
Hillary: "And to my husband. You know he woke me up Wednesday morning and said 'you're not going to believe this, but' and I said 'what is this?' and so yeah it came as a very big surprise."
Lauer: "When he said but, he said but what."
Hillary: "But I want to tell you what's in the newspapers."
Pauley: "Then silence. As the investigation turned up the heat on friends and colleagues, even as he testifies under oath before a grand jury, she says nothing. Balancing a threat to her marriage against the assault on his presidency, she does what she does best, she goes to work. In July, a bus tour to preserve historic places."
Following a clip from the glowing Maria Shriver interview during that bus tour, in which Hillary recounted the outpouring of support for her, Pauley continued: "By August people are looking into her eyes for an idea of what she's going through..."
After noting the irony that the woman who said in 1992 she's not just standing by her man now is, Pauley asserted:
"Once vilified for ambition and political overreaching when she took on health care, now she's admired for being the faithful, loving wife."

Concluding the two-hour show, Tom Brokaw blamed "all sides" and insisted that somehow now was a unique time when the country could have found "common goals." Brokaw opined:
"Despite the assurances from all parties they can pursue this matter and still do the business of the nation, it will be a discomforting distraction at several levels. It will harden and it will widen divisions just at a time when America had the opportunity to find common goals again. It will also keep good people of all ideologies from entering the political arena be cause they are repulsed by the bickering and the behavior and the self-righteousness on all sides. It will, as it has already, lead to more disclosures about the private lives of public people..."


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) The Starr report gave Geraldo Rivera hope as he rejoiced in how it's only about "sex lies" and accused Starr of a "low blow." Here's how Rivera opened the Friday night, September 11 Rivera Live on CNBC:
"...This avalanche of lurid allegations, legal arguments and political pornography. The 455 sex-filled pages of Ken Starr's brutal and unforgiving report to the Congress of the United States of America. Hi everybody, I'm Geraldo Rivera. When you read the incredibly detailed, at times sick descriptions contained in the report of the independent counsel, you may be moved to search this document for a fold-out centerfold of a naked woman, because no matter what weighty language Starr and his staff used, this humiliating opus is about seduction, stupid sex and a President so hungry for sex that he puts at risk his marriage, his presidency and his legacy. But it is all about sex and sex lies and as humiliating as the X-rated details are, therein lies his only hope of political salvation. There is no Whitewater her. There is no Travelgate here. There is not Filegate here. There is no talk of talking points here. There is only talk of the sad, salacious story of Monica and Bill...."

Later, after introducing former Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Rivera read from the report and posed a question:
"'According to Miss Lewinsky, she performed oral sex on the President on nine occasions. On all nine of those occasions the President fondled and kissed her bare breasts. He touched her genitals both through her underwear and directly, bringing her to orgasm on two occasions. On one occasion the President inserted a cigar into her vagina. On another occasion she and the President had brief genital to genital contact.' The question I pose for the Congresswoman. Does this sound like Watergate? High crime or low blow?"

Blow may not be the best word to use under the circumstances.


cyberno7.jpg (1724 bytes) From the staff of the Late Show with David Letterman, a Top Ten list for September 11 posted on the Late Show Web page that did not air on the program, the "Top Ten Other Impeachable Offenses."

10. Asking Janet Reno, "How's the air up there?"
9. Using the word "scrumpdily-icious" during a State of the Union address.
8. Attempting to reheat unpopped microwave popcorn.
7. Whistling a "Backstreet Boys" song in public.
6. Ever, under any circumstances using the expression, "Cool beans!"
5. Your name is Charles, but you call yourself "Chaz."
4. Taking an intern up in an F-16 fighter plane to join the "7 G's" club.
3. Failure to "get jiggy with it."
2. Moving your late night talk show from NBC to CBS.
1. Whatever President Clinton did today.

And the only "extra" one from the Web site worth repeating:

-- Committing enough dirty, despicable crap to fill 36 boxes.

Okay, not so good, which probably explains why it didn't make it onto the show. -- Brent Baker

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