CyberAlert -- 12/04/1998 -- Dan Rather: Hillary for Chief Justice

Dan Rather: Hillary for Chief Justice; Smaltz Empty?; Olbermann's Last Days

1) Dan Rather confirmed that he hates the Lewinsky story, believes Hillary Clinton should be Time's "Person of the Year" and urged Al Gore to make her the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

2) On CBS Rather trumpeted "Confusion, retraction and retreat in the impeach the President investigation." ABC led with college players indicted for perjury to a grand jury, but made no link to Clinton.

3) Tom Brokaw on Espy: "Another expensive investigation by an independent counsel adds up to nothing." But Brokaw and ABC's GMA ignored the 15 convictions and $11 million in fines won.

4) One of Keith Olbermann's last shots: "If this investigation... has not just been just about sex, how come the two witnesses the Republicans trotted out today before that kangaroo court...were two women who've both been rung up for lying under oath about sex?"

5) Dan Rather discovered an area where "laws are not supposed to be enforced on the basis of public opinion polls."

>>> "Major Media Ignored Case of VA Psychiatrist Barbara Battalino's Perjury About Sex in a Civil Case: The Idaho Shrink: Washington's Missing Link." This latest MRC Media Reality Check fax report is now up on the MRC home page. In it the MRC's Tim Graham explains how the Weekly Standard first revealed Battalino's case in June but the news weeklies never picked it up while it took until late October for the Los Angeles Times, until November for the New York Times and until the night before she testified for USA Today. To read the report go to the MRC home page or: <<<


rather1204.jpg (19305 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Thursday night on CNN's Larry King Live Dan Rather confirmed that he "hated" the Lewinsky story "from the very beginning," believes Hillary Clinton should be Time's "Person of the Year" and thinks she may be the next Democratic nominee for President, and recommended to Al Gore what "I'd do" to insure the nomination: promise to make Hillary Clinton the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Here are the three relevant comments from CBS News anchor Dan Rather from the December 3 Larry King Live:

-- Rather on the Lewinsky story and his reaction when it broke while he was in Cuba covering the Pope's visit:
"I have hated it from the very beginning and I have hated right the way through, you see? Well, wait a minute, you just said that sometimes a big story you like, bad news? I realize that it's somewhat contradictory. But this story is, from the beginning, it's the kind of story that, you know, I have no apology. I hate it. I have hated it all the way through. It's one reason I tried to stay in Cuba, when the Pope, it turned out that that would have been a foolish thing for us to do, I suppose, but I was the last out of there because I kept hoping. I just said, oh, we have got a great story, the Pope in Cuba, and we're going to go back to cover something as sleazy as this. Naturally, we all came back and the rest is history. But I hate it, as well."

-- Rather on Hillary's presidential future and how she should be Person of the Year:
"I would not be astonished to see Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee in 2000. Listen, I agree that Al Gore is the odds-on favorite. He's probably going to be the nominee. But, you know, you and I know, having covered politics for a lifetime, overnight's a long time in politics, a week is forever. Here we are talking about a race almost two years away. Hillary Clinton, as far as I'm concerned, she's the Person of the Year, if Time magazine doesn't put her on the cover, they may put Mike, Mark McGwire, or Alan Greenspan, or somebody, but Hillary Clinton is the Person of the Year in that, you talk about a comeback kid -- she makes her husband look like Ned in knee pants in terms of comeback from where she was early in the Clinton administration. You know, you add it all up, and you can make a case that Hillary Clinton might, might -- mark the word -- be the strongest candidate for the Democrats. But I'm not predicting it, I'm just raising it as a possibility."

Or a hope?

-- After King wondered if Hillary's chances in 2000 might be better if back room deals were still possible, Rather expounded on how he'd put Hillary on the Supreme Court.

Rather: "Now, we've had so many blue plate specials. If you're Al Gore -- listen he's been a loyal Vice President. He is the odds-on favorite for the nomination. If you were Al Gore what would you do?"
King: "Make her, ask her to be Vice President. Is that what you think? Is that where you're leading me?"
Rather: "No, I think maybe I would say, 'You know, we want the goals of the Clinton administration to be achieved and to go forward. I need your help, First Lady, friend of mine, Hillary Clinton, and if I'm elected President, I will make you the next Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.' That's what I'd do, but Al Gore is a better man than I am and I doubt that he'd do it."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Earlier Thursday Dan Rather jumped on Henry Hyde's decision to drop campaign fundraising and stressed White House disgust with the whole process. CNN also led with the Hyde decision while NBC Nightly News went first with the warm weather and later ran a story by Gwen Ifill which Tom Brokaw introduced by hoping "so tonight, it looks like the end of this process may be in sight." In an unusual source of a soundbite, Ifill played a clip of the Family Research Council's Gary Bauer saying it's a Congressman's job to do the tough thing sometimes even if that goes against the polls.

ABC's World News Tonight led with a piece by Brian Ross on how a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted four former Northwestern University college football players for.... Well, as Ross put it: "According to the indictment, the four Northwestern players lied about their roles before the grand jury." They supposedly lied about their roles in point shaving games to help bookies. One lied about a deliberate 1994 fumble, the three others about betting against their team.

Ross never used the word perjury, but the AP reported that's what the four were indicted for: perjury before a grand jury. Sound familiar? But ABC made no link to Clinton. After all, as Geraldo Rivera would say, if you're going to fix football games, deliberately fumble the ball and bet against your own team, naturally you're going to lie about it.

Later in the show Linda Douglass provided a full report on Hyde's decision and how incoming Speaker Livingston wants the matter wrapped up this year.

While ABC, CNN and NBC delivered calm, deliberative stories, Dan Rather was in full-hype mode maximizing Republican embarrassment over the short-lived campaign angle. At the top of the December 3 CBS Evening News Rather teased:
"Confusion, retraction and retreat in the impeach the President investigation. Some Republicans now openly float a non-impeachment deal as the Judiciary Committee drops the whole campaign funding angle."
He then opened the show: "Good evening. It's the incredible shrinking impeachment inquiry tonight, just days after the Republican led House Judiciary Committee expanded it. The President's camp and others call the committee highly partisan, unfair, out of bounds and out of control. That was then, this is now. CBS News Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has the latest on the fast-breaking, Republican back tracking and retreat."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) "A stunning verdict in the corruption trial of a former Clinton cabinet member. Another expensive investigation by an independent counsel adds up to nothing." So declared Tom Brokaw at the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News.

But as MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, independent counsel Donald Smaltz got more than nothing despite former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy being found not guilty. His prosecutions of other Agriculture officials and food industry lobbyists were successful. As Smaltz pointed out in a soundbite run in the subsequent story by Pete Williams: "Those prosecutions have resulted in 15 convictions and we have collected over $11 million in fines and penalties.")

Geoffrey also found Geraldo Rivera in full righteous indignation mode, declaring on the December 2 Rivera Live on CNBC:
"A man devoted to public service. A four year long relentless multimillion dollar investigation conducted by an independent counsel who insisted in pursuing the trivial. A time for decent people on both sides of the aisle to end the insanity. Ladies and gentlemen could our long national nightmare finally be coming to an end? No. No such luck."

Rivera tied Espy to the Lewinsky probe: "Washington's other insane and relentless investigation into the trivial continues tonight full force."

Thursday morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, during the 8am news update on Good Morning America news reader Bob Woodruff noted how Smaltz's probe cost $17 million but that he collected $11 million in fines.

In the previous hour, however, the GMA team ignored Smaltz's 15 convictions and $11 million collected.
Co-host Lisa McRee: "A major legal victory for a former top Clinton administration official. Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was acquitted yesterday of 30 corruption counts. The independent counsel in the case, Donald Smaltz, spent four years and $17 million bringing Espy to trial....I just want to get this clear. This man was accused of taking $33,000 or so worth of football tickets, plane tickets, fine meals, a crystal bowl. So they spent $17 million to investigate him."
Jeffrey Toobin, ABC legal analyst: "Correct."
McRee: "Proportionality, does that mean anything in Washington?"
Toobin: "You know, the question that's so haunting from this one is one that was asked by Raymond Donovan, who was Secretary of Labor under Ronald Reagan, who also was the victim of a long and ultimately unsuccessful prosecution, and he said, 'Where do I go to get my reputation back? Who do I see about that?' and that's the question Mike Espy's gotta be asking today, and I think the prosecutorial mentality in Washington is just taken over to such a degree, and I think cases like this are an absolute tragedy."
McRee: "Cokie, you talk to these people a lot. do they feel like they're targets of the inquisition?"
Cokie Roberts: "Oh, sure, but I have to tell you another person who should be asking today where he goes to get his reputation back is Don Smaltz, the prosecutor. Throughout this investigation, he has been considered a runaway prosecutor, much more so than Kenneth Starr, and he tried to drag into this case all kinds of people and there was always, from the beginning, a sense that this was overreaching, but this is the problem with the independent counsel law. The minute the Attorney General goes to a three-judge panel and says, the law requires me to seek an independent counsel, then that, whoever is named can go off with unlimited resources, one case, and go for it."

Later, McRee again displayed her hate of the impeachment probe: "Real quickly, what does this mean for President Clinton as they, hopefully, wind up this impeachment process?"
Roberts: "Well, I think President Clinton's lawyers have now said that they are going to mount a defense. We expect to hear from them next week before the Judiciary Committee, and depending on how long their defense takes, the Judiciary Committee expects to start voting at end of next week on impeachment, but look, Lisa, this case is over. We're just going through the motions here now. The American people decided that case."

With some encouragement from leading media figures.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Friday night is Keith Olbermann's last night with MSNBC before he jumps to Fox Sports. Here are two of his almost last shots on the Big Show picked up by MRC news analyst Mark Drake.

-- On the December 1 Big Show Olbermann twisted the appearance of two woman, brought out to demonstrate people are prosecuted for lying about sex in a federal civil case so Clinton's case is not about sex but about being punished for lying, into evidence the whole Lewinsky matter is just about sex:
"Hello, good evening and welcome. For three hundred and fifteen days now, I have sat here with an eye varying from jaundiced to naive. I have doubted everything I've heard then I've gone back and doubted those doubts, then doubted the whole thing out to the parking lot and back just to come back inside and doubt it all over again. Against that backdrop of skepticism bordering on paranoia, let me ask you this question: if this investigation, this whole blessed turning upside down of our political machinery for nigh under a year has not just been just about sex, how come the two witnesses the Republicans trotted out today before that kangaroo court they call the Judiciary Committee were two women who've both been rung up for lying under oath about sex. Gee, maybe it was just a freak coincidence. Round up the usual suspects because good economy or bad one, we're still spending a measurable part of the gross national product on this whatever it is."

-- Olbermann to Republican Congressman George Gekas on the December 2 Big Show:
"Congressman Gekas, there is a point in what in Mr. Meehan says. That sort of from a bi-partisan point of view, which we have tried to maintain here, is there something odd about an impeachment hearing that gets the full story of this ill fated former South Carolina college basketball coach but does not hear from Monica Lewinsky or one of the lesser material witnesses in this process. Did this seem odd to you?"


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Laws not made on the basis of public opinion polls? At least on matters not related to Clinton perjury. MRC news analyst Brian Boyd caught this unintentionally ironic item from Dan Rather on the Thanksgiving Eve CBS Evening News. On the November 25 show he summarized a poll about reaction to 60 Minutes showing Kevorkian's video of a very assisted suicide:
"As for public reaction, a CBS News Poll out tonight suggests that by more than two to one Americans do not consider what Kevorkian did, injecting a terminally ill patient with legal drugs at the patients request, to be the same as murder. You may want to note that laws are not supposed to be enforced on the basis of public opinion polls."

Maybe that's a point Rather could make the next time he trumpets a CBS poll on how most think Starr is "a partisan out to get the Clintons." -- Brent Baker

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