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Ted Koppel: ‘Very Legitimate’ Argument That Democrats Treated Clinton’s Accusers Worse Than Kavanaugh’s

"Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel at the taping of his last broadcast

WASHINGTON – Legendary news anchor Ted Koppel said the Democratic Party is treating Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accusers differently than they treated former President Clinton’s accusers.

Juanita Brodderick, who came forward in the 1990s and accused Clinton of rape, recently said Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) ignored her deposition to independent counsel Ken Starr.

Feinstein and other Democrats currently serving on the Judiciary Committee, such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), ultimately voted against Clinton’s impeachment.

PJM asked Koppel, who extensively covered Clinton’s impeachment as the anchor of ABC’s Nightline, about Brodderick’s recent statements.

“It’s true. I think it’s a very legitimate point. What do I think? It depends on whose ox is gored, right? It all depends on where you’re coming from on the political spectrum,” Koppel said after appearing on the Kalb Report for a discussion about “journalism in the age of Trump” at the National Press Club on Monday evening.

“Back then, you had an awful lot of feminists who were supporting Bill Clinton openly, against the interests of people whom he had clearly violated. You know, politics – the shoe's on the other foot,” he added.

Koppel said he has “no idea” where the controversy surrounding Kavanaugh is going to end up.

“I think it depends on a large measure of what the FBI is able to discover in a few days,” he said. “It’s not a criminal investigation.”

During the panel discussion, Koppel said members of the media “need a little humility about the people who are so frustrated with us that they find themselves turning in desperation to Donald Trump.”

“We have become so arrogant,” Koppel said of the media.

Koppel argued that part of Trump’s appeal is “he pisses us off and people love that, just love it, because we have become so arrogant in their perception and maybe for real that they’re just looking for someone to take us down, not just a peg or two, but four or five pegs and beyond that – and that’s not going to change.”

Koppel said the establishment includes the mainstream media.

“I’m not just talking about reporters; I’m talking about the establishment,” he said. “We’re a part of that establishment. They don’t like Congress. They don’t like the courts. They don’t like the FBI. They don’t like the intelligence agencies, and Trump has done an absolutely brilliant job of focusing on them. And we are merely part of that establishment, more visible perhaps, in their homes every day and it’s that which gives so much staying power to depicting the press as being an enemy of the people.”

In response to Koppel, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter said, “It’s grievance politics. It’s a conservative victimhood complex that is in effect.”

Stelter criticized Fox News, one of his main competitors.

“A lot of its programming is about resentment and rage – some of the things they are describing, against the establishment, even though they are multimillion stars that are evidence of an elite in this country,” he said.

Koppel said Trump “has been wonderful” for cable news ratings.

“Your boss acknowledged as much months ago during the campaign,” he told Brian Stelter, host of Reliable Sources on CNN, referencing Jeff Zucker.

“If ratings are up, that means what?” Stelter said to Koppel.

“Oh, the ratings are up – it means you can’t do without Donald Trump. You would be lost without Donald Trump,” Koppel replied. “CNN’s ratings would be in the toilet without Donald Trump.”

Stelter replied, “You know that’s not true. You’re playing for laughs.”

Koppel asked, “What were the ratings before Trump and what are the ratings now?”

Stelter responded, “I would say we might be up 20, we might be up 30 percent, we might be up 40 percent. If we go back down 40 percent, that’s OK, too.”

Moderator Marvin Kalb jumped in, saying, “Well, it might not be OK.”

Stelter replied, “Of course it is. I reject the premise that these networks are making so much money off of Trump and thus we benefit from it.”

Koppel said CNN and MSNBC focus on Trump and related news almost all day and they are missing other important stories.

“Is there a moment of the day when they are not focusing on Donald Trump or some intimately related subject? It is, essentially, all I know, every once in a while. You know, if the number of people who died in Indonesia gets up to 1,000 they will give it a mention or two.”

Later in the discussion, Stelter said the next president would “have to be” someone with “television star power.” He predicted that Trump is going to have his own show on Fox News or his own network after the presidency.

“I kind of think every president from here on out is going to have television star power. Like it or not, love it or hate it, they’re going to have to be television stars. Trump has shown that,” he said. “And I don’t know what kind of television star we’re going to get next but hopefully we can rebuild a little bit of the trust between the presidency and the press, even though it always has been adversarial and always should be adversarial – that is a good thing.”