Screen grab via Newsbusters.
What with all the talk over the last month as to whether or not witnesses would be called in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, now is a good time for a flashback as to just how differently the mainstream media viewed impeachment and calling for witnesses during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.
Bill D’Agostino and the team at Newsbusters have done a fantastic job compiling video clips of “journalists” like CBS News’ Dan Rather and ABC News’ Charlie Gibson, who were seen on camera visibly agitated when interviewing Republicans like former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) as to why Republicans were “dragging this thing out”:
The media have also changed their minds on the need for witnesses. During Clinton’s impeachment, the prevailing wisdom on TV news was that witnesses and depositions were pointless time-wasters. Pundits grumbled that Republicans who insisted on witness testimony just trying to embarrass President Clinton with sound bites from the likes of Monica Lewinsky.
■ “But, Senator, if there’s no way that this is going to turn around, if the votes aren’t there, why is your party dragging this thing out?…Why go through all this business about witnesses? Why not just get it done?…But if you have witnesses, it’s going to add months to this thing and tie up the Senate, isn’t it?”
— Co-host Charlie Gibson to GOP Senator Bob Dole on ABC’s Good Morning America, January 18, 1999.
■ “Do we really need more evidence, more witnesses? … Or did today’s votes prove beyond any doubt, as Senator Daschel believers, that there will never be the needed two-thirds majority to convict the President, and that it is, indeed, time to move on.”
— Host Geraldo Rivera on MSNBC’s Rivera Live, January 27, 1999.
Journalists chanted unceasingly that Americans were sick and tired of impeachment — not to mention angry at their government for daring to subject them to it. When a visitor to the Capitol one day shouted his frustration at the process from the Senate gallery, the enthralled news media dubbed him a “hero,” and touted his outburst as “the voice of the people.”
■ “We begin tonight with the voice of the people heard from the Senate gallery today during yet another procedural vote at the President’s impeachment trial….‘God almighty,’ the man said, ‘take the vote and get it over with.’ He was arrested….He may think it was worth it, speaking as he does for so many Americans.”
— Anchor Peter Jennings opening ABC’s World News Tonight, February 4, 1999.
Watch the full video mashup below, and remember it as Democrats and mainstream media types (but I repeat myself) ratchet up their calls for witnesses in the days ahead:
FLASHBACK: The liberal media hated the idea of calling more witnesses during Bill Clinton's impeachment, saying it was a "distraction" and a "sham." pic.twitter.com/ibHWKLJjfk
— MediaResearchCenter (@theMRC) January 20, 2020