FROM THE TV COLUMN
Cable to Air Clinton Tape Unedited
Thursday, September 17, 1998; Page D01
Cable news networks CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and C-SPAN plan to telecast unedited and in its entirety President Clinton's videotaped testimony to the grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. Television news operations expect the tape to be released to them tomorrow.
The broadcast networks, meanwhile, are inclined not to air the entire four-hour grilling, and certainly not before reviewing it.
While the House Judiciary Committee may vote as early as this morning to release the Aug. 17 interrogation of Clinton about his affair with the former White House intern, news division execs presume the tape won't be released until tomorrow, when a complete transcript also would be ready to hand out to print journalists.
Last week, when independent counsel Kenneth Starr's 453-page written report on Clinton came out, people flocked to the Internet, where the document was available in its entirety. Meanwhile, television news operations could only excerpt the sexually explicit report.
Tomorrow, however, the unfolding story may be told visually with the videotape of Clinton's testimony, and cable news networks will grab the spotlight.
Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN confirmed they would carry the full videotape and put it out "live" and unedited, as they receive the feed from the House.
C-SPAN will telecast full coverage of the tapes unedited on either C-SPAN or C-SPAN2 as soon as it's able. C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 are committed to gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House and Senate, respectively, and airing of the Clinton tape must wait until one of the chambers is not in session. "We are all about providing context. We will air this in its entirety, but we are not in a race to get it on first," said C-SPAN spokesman Rick Fahle.
Each of the cable news networks will run frequent advisories, on the screen and verbally, to let viewers know the material may be inappropriate for children.
For the broadcasters, the tape's four-hour length and its subject matter helped make up their minds not to carry it in its entirety.
"We will approach the idea of putting it on the air with extreme caution but will aggressively report the story," said CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius. "It's a little more complicated" than the Starr report, she said, which the reporters could scan and paraphrase where appropriate.
NBC will once again demonstrate its advantage over its broadcast colleagues. Its all-news cable network, MSNBC, will telecast the tape, while the broadcast network covers it with news reporting and excerpts.
ABC will take the feed and review the tape in its entirety before deciding how to cover the video, a network source said yesterday.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company