Jennings: Washington "Somber"; GOP Support Plummeting; Couric Gushed Over Clintons
1) ABC's Peter Jennings twice claimed there's a "somber" mood in Washington and NBC visually contrasted how the Clinton were lighting a Christmas tree just as Republicans were announcing the four articles of impeachment. NBC also stressed how Republicans are losing public support as 68 percent oppose impeachment.
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All day Wednesday the cable networks and PBS carried the hearings live, cutting out at about 5:30pm to report on the just-released four proposed articles of impeachment. In he evening, coverage consumed half of FNC's Fox Report and CNN's The World Today as CNN dropped its 10pm ET/PT NewsStand: CNN & Fortune in order to run an impeachment special.
On the broadcast network evening show front, ABC's Peter Jennings twice insisted there's a "somber" mood in Washington. Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News described how Democrats are "circulating a harshly worded resolution of censure." NBC Nightly News visually contrasted how the Clinton were lighting the National Christmas Tree, "seemingly unconcerned," just as Republicans were announcing the four articles of impeachment.
NBC also stressed how Republicans are going the wrong way as David Bloom highlighted poll results showing "68 percent of all Americans oppose impeachment, and 61 percent say the House should not even send articles of impeachment to the Senate."
ABC's World News
Tonight. Peter Jennings opened:
Linda Douglass reviewed Charles Ruff's appearance and how he called Clinton's behavior morally reprehensible but not impeachable as Republicans "peppered him" with questions about lying.
Next, Jennings talked with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Donaldson reported the White House will accept a censure and a fine, anything to avoid impeachment. Roberts explained how the swing moderates want Clinton to admit he lied. Wrapping up the segment, for he second time Jennings pointed out how "somber" this process has left Washington: "Cokie Roberts in the Washington bureau, Sam Donaldson at the White House. As we said, a very big and somber evening in Washington."
Bob Schieffer summarized the four counts, noted how Bill Weld proposed a fine and how Ruff labeled Clinton's actions "morally reprehensible." The Democrats are just as tough as the Republicans, at least that's how Schieffer spun the Democratic resolution, stating Democrats are "circulating a harshly worded resolution of censure."
From the White House Scott Pelley, like ABC's Roberts, emphasized how the moderates want to hear Clinton concede that he lied. Pelley featured clips of an interview with Republican Mark Foley.
Gwen Ifill summarized the "blunt critical case" in the four prosed articles and then reviewed the testimony of the day from Ruff.
Brokaw then jumped
to David Bloom, who used video and polls to prove the Republicans are out
of sync with public concerns. Over video of the Clintons lighting the
tree, he announced:
Bloom went on to
acknowledge that the White House is lobbying moderates and saying Clinton
will accept a fine. After Bloom played a soundbite of Dick Gephardt
insisting a censure vote is required for fairness, Bloom picked up on the
We can't go a day without at least one Geraldoism. Wednesday night he
accused the Republican leadership of being "dictatorial." On the
December 9 Upfront Tonight, after Diane Dimond interviewed Democratic
Representative-elect Jay Inslee about how he's upset that the Republican
he beat is still in office to vote on impeachment, Rivera picked up on one
of Inslee's other complaints:
NBC and Katie Couric delivered an early Christmas gift to the Clintons: a chance to appear on television together without being pressed about his or her lying and, instead, get heaped with admiration from Couric. Over the weekend Couric and Today's camera got a preview look at the White House Christmas decorations. At one point Couric cooed to the First Lady how "everywhere you went" in a recent trip to New York "you got such an incredibly positive response." Couric gushed: "That's sort of an early Christmas gift."
Couric only made a
mild attempt to talk about anything serious. At the top of the 8am hour on
the December 9 show Couric teased:
Following the news update Today played Couric's piece, which began with a tour of the decorations and some comments from staffers involved in the project. Then the Clintons walked into the room. As transcribed by MRC news analyst Geoffrey Dickens, here are all of Couric's questions/prompts/praise uttered to the Clintons:
-- "And now the holiday season officially begins. Hello, don't you guys look great. Hi Mrs. Clinton nice to see you. Hi Mr. President. Fine thank you. Happy holidays."
-- "This is quite exciting."
-- "It's a very glam look here at the White House this year. I mean very gold, very silver, very glam don't you think?"
-- "Meanwhile are you all looking forward to the holidays?"
-- "Do you all have any big plans for the holidays?"
-- "Meanwhile I guess this is a time of year when people count their blessings and reflect on sort of the things they have to be thankful for. Anything in particular that leaps to mind for you all this year?"
-- "Any New Year's resolutions? 1999 is around the corner."
-- "Meanwhile your wife looks incredible. You're wearing the dress you wore on the cover of Vogue."
-- "And you, she spent a lot of time in New York last week going to many events. And everywhere you [Hillary] went you got such an incredibly positive response. That's sort of an early Christmas gift. Are you grateful or gratified by that display of affection that you really see wherever you go now?"
-- "You've done your Christmas shopping yet?"
-- "How about you Mrs. Clinton are you all finished?"
-- "And more and more people, you know, are giving gifts that will actually go to someone needy in that individual's name and that's a really nice gesture I think."
-- "Thank you. Appreciate it. Same to you and your family Mr. President."
It's one thing to agree to stick to happy talk in order to get a nice holiday-themed look inside the White House, but after Bill Clinton has spent months avoiding media questions did Couric really have to be so affectionate and full of praise after all both of the Clintons have done this year to deceive the public?
From the December 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Items on President Clinton's Resume." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. 1986-89: Body Double for Pillsbury
And from the Late Show Web page, here are some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- 1969: Oxford "Draft Dodger" of
may be disappointed with how the public is reacting to Clinton's lies,
but at least they aren't showing much affection for one liberal media
star. From the December 9 Washington Post media column by Lisa de Moraes,
an item on the ratings for shows aired last week:
A couple of years ago Gumbel was delivering his liberal sermons to a huge morning broadcast network audience. Now his show has been canceled and people don't tune in to see his occasional appearances. Keith Olbermann is now off to Fox Sports and Geraldo Rivera, annoyingly liberal as he is, is on a cable network and hardly ever makes it onto NBC. So, in some ways, things are getting better. -- Brent Baker 
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