GOP Blamed for Partisanship & "Lynch Mob Mentality"; Tape Release "Smells"
networks have announced special coverage Monday for the Clinton videotape.
All the broadcast networks will go live at 9am ET/8am CT/7am MT/6am PT,
but none will run the tape in its entirety. The media will by then have a
full transcript and should be able to report anything interesting, though
they won't be able to show those sections until the feed reaches those
portions. CNN, MSNBC, FNC and CourtTV all plan to run it live as it's
fed from the Rayburn House Office Building. It's four hours long, so it
should run until at least 1pm ET. ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS
Evening News will double their length to one hour, starting at 6:30pm ET,
so some local affiliates may adjust the normal air time. No word yet on
NBC, but NBC will have Dateline at 10pm ET/PT and ABC will extend
Nightline to at least one hour starting 35 minutes, in the Eastern and
Central time zones, after the end of Monday Night Football.
Victory for Republican partisanship or a triumph over Democratic efforts to suppress the truth? The House Judiciary Committee vote Friday afternoon to release the videotape of Clinton's grand jury testimony was seen by the networks through the eyes of Democrats upset by losing to the GOP majority. Instead of portraying it as a great victory for openness and the people's right to know over efforts to cover up, the broadcast networks stressed how it showed "nasty" partisan behavior, with Republicans taking most of the blame.
Peter Jennings sighed that "the Republicans had their way," before Linda Douglass opened her story: "Democrats came out of the House Judiciary Committee hearing and said 'so much for bipartisanship.'" Dan Rather delivered only the Democratic reaction, charging: "President Clinton's spokesman is calling it a rush to pre-judgment. Others in the Clinton administration call it quote, 'a lynch mob mentality.'"
CBS and NBC offered previews of what the tape will show. CBS reporter Bob Schieffer learned that those who have seen it say Clinton's definitions of sex are "laughable." NBC's Lisa Myers relayed that while he's "often irritable," contrary to rumors, he "does not lose control" and does not "storm out of the room." (See item #3 for more.)
Friday night ABC assessed reaction from women and found most mad at Lewinsky for using her charms and angry at Clinton for deceiving them. NBC's David Bloom highlighted a 1974 quote from Clinton saying disgracing the office is justification for impeachment. NBC also tracked down the man who provided the story of Henry Hyde's affair. Dan Rather warned that Clinton is also "under fire" again from Paula Jones and, he ominously intoned, "the forces behind her." And Rather took a shot at a conservative group by refusing to accept their name, announcing: "Speaker after speaker addressing the political lobbying group that calls itself quote, 'the Christian Coalition,' laced into President Clinton..."
Here are some highlights from the Friday night, September 18, broadcast network evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
began and ran with the Democratic spin:
Up next, Jackie Judd explained how the committee argued bitterly over what to remove from Lewinsky's testimony in which she detailed ten sexual encounters. What remains is still very graphic, such as "what he did to arouse her." Judd noted that Republicans complained that Democrats wanted to take out much more and Democrats complained that the Republicans so wanted to embarrass Clinton that they kept in descriptions of phone sex that do not impact the perjury charge.
Later in the show, Erin Hayes took A Closer Look at how women are reacting to Lewinsky. She learned: "Many women, in light of the Starr report, find themselves reassessing Ms. Lewinsky." Reassessing negatively, that is. A woman with a baby asserted: "What I learned was Ms. Lewinsky really pursued the President and the President was interested." Another women opined: "She's one of the most willing victims I've ever seen."
Hayes summed up reaction: "Women's talk about Monica Lewinsky reveals little sympathy." But that doesn't get Clinton off the hook, letting one woman explain that he should have resisted. Hayes concluded: "Many women feel deceived by the man once hailed as the feminist President. And disappointed that a young woman could acquire enough power to threaten a presidency using some of the oldest tricks in the book."
CBS's lead story then barely touched the House fight, focusing instead on the tape's content. See item #3 for more.
Then Dan Rather
announced: "President Clinton is under fire tonight on another front.
It's a move by Paula Jones, and the forces behind her, to have the
President cited for contempt."
Rather, who works
for a company that calls itself quote, "CBS News," then turned
his fire on, well I'll let him tell you their name:
Finally, from the Kansas State Fair, where people "get together for carousels and candy apples," Jim Axelrod found that because Clinton lied most want him to leave office.
From Capitol Hill
Gwen Ifill let Democrats complain about "obscene and sexually
explicit" material and Republicans charge Democrats with trying to
cover up. Noting that more documents will probably be released later next
week, Ifill warned that will happen "even as both sides are watching
the polls that say Americans may not want to learn any more details of the
President's sex life." She then concluded:
checked in with the White House reaction and how they are trying to show
business as usual but at an event to release a report from the race
advisory panel "the event, overshadowed by scandal, served as a
poignant reminder of how much the Lewinsky affair's cost Mr. Clinton's
presidency in lost momentum. And his talk of the need for reconciliation
sounded very personal."
(Though he didn't say so, the quote ran a few days ago in the New York Times and on Friday in the Washington Post and came from an interview conducted by a then-law student with Clinton, then a congressional candidate. The law student: John Whitehead, now head of the Rutherford Foundation which is funding the Jones case. A small world.)
Later, for the In
Depth segment, Kerry Sanders tracked down in Florida Norm Sommers, the man
who told Salon about Hyde. Sommers claimed that while playing tennis six
years ago Fred Snodgrass told him how Hyde had destroyed his marriage.
Sanders picked up the story: "Fast forward six years. Clinton
supporter and life long liberal Democrat Sommers says he's troubled the
same Henry Hyde will now sit in judgment of the President."
In a second piece for the In Depth segment, Bob Faw looked at what all the sexual outing is doing to politics. Leading into a soundbite from a liberal author, he summarized her view: "And writer Erica Jong says if we want only squeaky clean we will pay a price."
Speaking of Jong, author of "What Do Women Want?", she appeared on Friday's Today along with Anita Blair of the Independent Women's Forum. MRC news analyst Mark Drake noticed that Jong went too far even for Katie Couric but Couric also countered Blair.
about how Clinton had appointed Ruth Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, named
the first female Secretary of State, and vetoed the "misnamed partial
birth abortion" bill. So Couric asked if his public accomplishments
should overshadow his personal indiscretions. "Yes they should,"
declared Jong, claiming: "I think he's been the victim of a witch
suggested we need a President we can trust, which is why Clinton must go,
Friday night CBS and NBC delivered previews of what we can expect to see on the Clinton video.
-- On the CBS
Evening News, Bob Schieffer reported: "Dan, sources who have seen the
videotapes say the President's attempt to explain how he did not have
sex with Monica Lewinsky, as he explains and defines sex, is laughable,
that it may cause people to laugh out loud. They also say that the tape
raises real questions about whether the President tried to get others to
lie for him. But these sources also add that at the times when the
President talks about how Ken Starr has hounded him, he is very
Can't we stop this tape release, pleaded ABC's Lisa McRee hours before NBC's Edie Magnus denounced Republicans for a decision she declared "smells."
-- Questioning ABC
legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin Friday morning, Good Morning America co-host
Lisa McRee posed a plea in the form of a question, noticed MRC analyst
-- At 3:16pm ET on Friday MSNBC host Edie Magnus made clear how upset
majority rule made her. Opening a roundtable with four guests she went
first to former federal prosecutor and Jones lawyer Gilbert Davis, but her
question was more of a declaration of misdeed by the House Republicans:
What smells is that no matter what Clinton does and no matter how far Democrats go to hide his deeds, many in the media still are unable to rise above their long-held assumptions that Republicans trample on fairness. -- Brent Baker 
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