Accuracy in Media

On Friday, December 11, our embattled President made another effort to convince the public and Congress that he deserved their sympathy and forgiveness. The House Judiciary Committee had been in long daily sessions formulating and debating the four articles of impeachment to be submitted to the Senate. They were to begin to vote on those articles on Friday, and it was decided that Bill Clinton should make one more effort to demonstrate the depth and genuineness of his contrition for having “misled” judges, grand jurors, Congress and the American people about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Even his staunchest defenders on the Judiciary Committee were forced to admit that Clinton had lied under oath in his sworn deposition in the Paula Jones case and in his testimony before the grand jury. They did not deny that this was a violation of the law, but they insisted that it did not rise to the level of a “high crime misdemeanor” that would justify impeaching the President. But Clinton himself had not been able to bring himself to admit that he had lied. He persisted in claiming that he honestly did not believe he had committed perjury and he said he could not confess to something he did not believe he had done.

The President had been convinced, however, that he had to make some concessions to those who felt that his answers to the Judiciary Committee?s 81 written questions were arrogant and defiant. The AP reported that some of Clinton?s advisors argued that the lawmakers wanted another sign of contrition. A draft had been prepared that said “reasonable people” could conclude his conduct had “crossed the line.” Clinton did not want to go that far, and he rewrote the speech, saying that “it is hard to hear yourself being called manipulative and deceitful.” He delivered it late Friday afternoon. Within minutes, the Judiciary committee delivered its response. It passed the first article of impeachment.

Rep. Tom DeLay, the Republican whip, again called on Clinton to resign, saying his failure to admit he had broken the law was an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. Clinton gave the impression that he was heavy-hearted, saying he had suffered through tears and torment, but a Scripps-Howard News Service story revealed a different emotion ? anger.

It said (quote), “After his statement…a reporter shouted a question. Could ?reasonable people? assume he had lied under oath? And another question: Would he resign? Head bowed, he said nothing.” (Unquote) He retreated to the Oval Office, where he could be observed by the reporters outside.

The story continued, “He slammed his hand in anger on the desk. His face was red. He yelled into his intercom. Was he angry at the questions? No aides came immediately, the door to the office of his secretary, Betty Curie, opened and his dog Buddy came running up to him. One by one, a few aides sidled back into the Oval Office.” Ann McFeatters of Scripps-Howard was not the only reporter who saw all this, but as far as we know, she was the only one to report it.

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