PEOPLE AND THE PRESS
August 19, 1998
Poll after poll indicate that the public is tired of the stories about the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky, but journalists continue to produce wall-to-wall scandal coverage. Should the press drop the story and move on to other issues? After a background report, media correspondent Terence Smith leads a panel discussion.
A RealAudio version of this report is available.
August 19, 1998:
A discussion of the latest coverage of the Starr investigation.
Ask Terence Smith about the media's coverage of the Starr investigation.
August 18, 1998:
A look at the media's coverage of the Starr investigation.
August 17, 1998:
A special package of coverage on the president's testimony.
August 17, 1998:
What is the grand jury's role in the Starr investigation?
August 13, 1998:
What impact will Starr's investigation have on the presidency?
July 30, 1998:
Should Clinton address the public about the Lewinsky matter?
July 28, 1998:
Ken Starr makes an immunity deal with Monica Lewinsky.
July 27, 1998:
Ken Starr subpoenas the president to testify in front of a grand jury.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Starr Investigation.
The White House
CORRESPONDENT: Words of guilt from Pennsylvania Avenue. An extraordinary and controversial mea culpa from the President of the United States.
CORRESPONDENT: Overnight polls showed the speech worked-
TERENCE SMITH: It was morning in America, the day after President Clinton told the American people-
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
SPOKESPERSON: One of the mistakes I think that was made was that he did not seem really sympathetic.
TERENCE SMITH: A parade of pundits, virtually the entire chattering class, appeared to critique the president's performance.
JIM CANNON, Presidential Historian, Ford Biographer: Last night's speech was disappointing. It was pure Clinton but disappointing. Here he is, asking, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, in effect, and at the same time attacking those who he calls his accusers.
TERENCE SMITH: Followed by a succession of past and current Clinton loyalists.
SPOKESMAN: When you met with the President yesterday, James, did he offer any apology?
JAMES CARVILLE: Frankly, there were a lot of people in the room. It would have been hardly appropriate.
REPORTER: Do you feel at all betrayed?
RAHM EMANUEL, Senior Adviser to the President : No. I'm satisfied with the answer I heard last night, and I think it's time now to move on.
TERENCE SMITH: The front pages spoke of lies, liaisons, the president's deception, and Ken Starr's personal prying. The Los Angeles Times editorial page found the speech too little and seven months too late. And today the Washington Post labeled it "mea, not so culpa." The New York Times went further, dubbing it a "betrayal and embarrassment."
ELIZABETH SHOGREN: There's this combined sense of how everyone's going to forgive Clinton-A story that won't go away.
TERENCE SMITH: Elizabeth Shogren covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times. Her story led the paper, describing the speech as a "grudging" public admission.
TERENCE SMITH: It sounds as though you, and I must say others in the press, are almost disappointed with the president's speech.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN, Los Angeles Times: I tried very hard from the very beginning to keep my own personal opinions out of this. I think it's very dangerous, and I thought the president didn't want to give that speech, and that's what I meant by grudging-not that it wasn't the speech I wanted to hear.
TERENCE SMITH: Shogren acknowledges that the public is growing weary of the Lewinsky saga.
ELIZABETH SHOGREN: The majority of Americans will be eager to try to put this behind them. I think the media is not going to do that, and there's one very important reason, which is that the consequences are still not clear. If Congress-Congress's action is still uncertain, Kenneth Starr's, the independent counsel's actions, are still also uncertain, and so there's no way to let go of the story, even if the president says to and the American people say, please.
TERENCE SMITH: Even overseas, the president's predicament is a big story.
CORRESPONDENT: Question 1: "Did you ever have a sexual affair with Ms. Lewinsky?". The president's answer: "No." Lie 1. Question 2: "When was the last time you spoke with Lewinsky?" "I'm trying to remember-sometime before Christmas." Lie 2.
TERENCE SMITH: And last night's evening newscast made it clear that despite the almost universal fatigue with the story, it's not going away.
TOM BROKAW, NBC: How does the president repair his relationship with his wife and daughter after lying to them for so long?
DAN RATHER, CBS: President Clinton and his family left Washington behind today but not questions about the future, even the survival, of his presidency.