MediaWatch: February 8, 1999

Vol. Thirteen No. 3

Magazine Fan Mail

Imbalance continued in the news magazines. In comparing the January 25 and February 1 issues, Time led the magazines with 86 words of quotes from the House managers, but they more than tripled the space for Clinton’s crew with 214 words. Time gave 86 words to Ruff’s teary rebuttal of Hyde.

And praise surrounded the quotes: "If Ruff was compelling and Craig meticulous, Cheryl Mills was a left hook," Nancy Gibbs claimed. "Her very presence there brought some electricity into the gaslit setting. All lemony charm and discipline, at times condescending, at times lethal in her sarcasm, and breathtaking in her daring, she argued that the Senators need not fear that acquitting Clinton would harm women or civil rights; she would vouch for him...Mills’ White House office quickly filled up with so many flowers from well wishers that aides joked it looked like a wedding chapel."

’s coverage arrived with this headline: "Clinton’s the one in the dock, but he’s got Republicans on the run." Howard Fineman and Daniel Klaidman surmised: "The main question is not ‘What will Monica say?’ but ‘How much will the GOP pay?’"

While Newsweek gave the House managers 10 words, they provided the White House lawyers 44. They touted the superiority of Clinton’s lawyers: "The 13 House managers did their best against the White House lawyers, but they were up against the best criminal-defense lawyers money can buy."

U.S. News & World Report printed 48 words from the managers, but quoted 39 words from Clinton counsels in a one-page trial piece. But Marianne Lavelle and Major Garrett also argued "the men from the House did, in fact, fumble some details — and the President’s team was there every time to pick up the ball." They also lionized Dale Bumpers’ closing as "the perfect ending to a defense strategy that had portrayed the President’s wrongdoing as private, not public."