For Those Who Don’t Remember Watergate… Here’s What To Expect

If you were old enough to remember October 8, 1998. That’s the date when Impeachment proceedings were launched against President Bill Clinton. The process itself took 16 months from the House authorizing an Impeachment vote by a count of 258–176. Republicans were supported by 35 Democrats who supported the proceedings.

The year before the Impeachment started was marked by Independent Counsel Ken Starr holding a Grand Jury and steadily leaking his findings to tarnish Clinton. He eventually presented his 3,183-page report to the House of Representatives, dropping off 18 boxes of supporting material and dropping the mike. The Senate trial presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, began January 7, 1999.

There were breaking news highlights including Monica Lewinski presenting the semen-stained blue dress she’d saved for years without ever cleaning. Her alleged friend Linda Tripp appeared before the grand jury four times producing secret tapes she made of Lewinski baring her soul. When it was all said and done, it was a highly partisan affair and Clinton was acquitted on the two counts presented for trial. Republicans lost seats in the House of Representatives after failing to Impeach Clinton and Newt Gingrich who headed up the charge, resigned as House Majority Leader. Clinton apologized and went on to finish his second term with a high approval rating. That was how Clinton’s Impeachment went, Trump’s will be more like Watergate.

Watergate got very little traction in the beginning. On June 17, 1972, five inept burglars were caught breaking into the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. One of the five, James McCord, was a security coordinator for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Committee to Re-Elect the President, aptly named CREEP. He was fired from both positions the day after the break-in. The story would have died out but for the dogged reporting of the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The saga was played out in the film, “All The President’s Men,” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. If you’ve seen the movie or know your history (perhaps lived it). You already know the ending. Nixon resigned when a few Republican Senators told him he “didn’t have the votes” and he quit to spare his pride the nation the trouble of kicking him out. I don’t expect Trump to have the decency to resign, but here’s where the similarities will be between the upcoming Trump Impeachment and Nixon’s Watergate.

The power of television is what made Trump the President and it’s what will bring him down. Television killed Nixon’s first chance of becoming President as he came off poorly in a televised debate with John F. Kennedy. Nixon had a five-o’clock shadow and came across sour and stiff. Kennedy was youthful and passionate and won the election. Nixon had the experience, Kennedy had the looks and energy. Trump was famous because of his television show, “The Apprentice” and reveled at any chance to perform. He took control of every media opportunity and even those who didn’t like him often watched to see what he’d say next. Impeachment will be different, and Trump will be without control.

Impeachment hearings will be a daily reminder of all the failings of a President with many. Clinton was generally well-liked and his sins as they were, weren’t viewed as that outside the norm by most Americans. Only in recent years has Bill Clinton been viewed as a negative and his popularity helped him. Trump has had negative approval ratings since his first day in office. Even the Republicans in Congress that have steadfastly supported him don’t like him. They stay with him out of fear of reprisal from either Trump’s tweets or his base. As long as the public stays with him, they will too. That’s where television comes in.

During the time of Watergate, there were but a few television networks and all but Ted Turner’s were fixated on the hearings carrying basically the same material. You’ve heard the expression, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” That came from having John Dean testify on live TV about Nixon’s secret tapes. Nixon tried to keep them out but eventually, the nation heard that Nixon led the cover-up of Watergate and even approved the break-in in advance. Nixon was paranoid and would do anything he could to get an edge. Sound familiar?

There was no Fox News at the time or a network of right-wing media outlets to keep Nixon loyalists in a bubble. Trump’s problem today is that Fox is already planning for a post-Trump era. New board member Paul Ryan is already suggesting they move away from Trump. Sean Hannity has conceded the recent coverage “looks bad” and on-air personalities Shepard Smith and Carlson Tucker have hurled broadsides at each other on their shows over coverage of Trump. Impeachment will bring us all the witnesses that Trump has blocked, copies of financial records including his taxes. There have always been suggestions Trump has committed fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and more but they’ve never been dragged out on live television with his own employees testifying against him. That plus evidence he disregarded national security in favor of his personal business interests and re-election ought to be enough to make his most ardent supporters in the Senate consider putting the nation first just one time.

The Trump Impeachment will consume the news cycle on a daily basis. New reports will break regularly and people will flip on him to save themselves, just like Watergate. My interest in politics stemmed from reading all the books published afterward by the participants, especially the guilty ones like John Dean and H.R. Haldeman. The only way they got to be heroes was by baring their souls, at the expense of Richard M. Nixon. Such will be the case with Trump. they’ll all turn on him, and their evolution will be televised.

Roseanne Barr: “I Am Truly Sorry For Making a Bad Joke…”

When Roseanne Barr woke up this morning, she was the star of a controversial but undeniably hit television show. By early afternoon, her show was canceled, she’d been dropped by her agent, and racists everywhere are crying foul. In response to a political tweet about African-American former Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett; Barr described Jarrett as the child of “Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.”

The outrage began immediately, Consulting Producer Wanda Sykes tweeted out she had quit the show. “ I will not be returning to @RoseanneOnABC.”

Co-star Sara Gilbert disavowed the tweet. “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show.”

A couple hours later, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey ended speculation about Roseanne’s future; “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show”

Throwing dirt on the body, ICM Partners her agents, dropped her as a client. In an internal memo they wrote, “ “We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning. What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client.”

Roseanne herself began a series of effusive apologies including one that said it was a “bad joke about her political views and looks.” She really should have run that apology by someone before issuing it. Racists on twitter are threatening a boycott of ABC and we’ve yet to hear from our President who she admires and tried to emulate. ABC doesn’t get a pass either for just now recognizing that Roseanne is abhorrent and repugnant, she was all those things before the tweet and you didn’t care. Trump has previously said that “Roseanne” was “about us.” I couldn’t agree more.

“InContempt” Live Tweet Every Tuesday Night at 10 pm Eastern

From the first preview of the legal drama InContempt, I was hopeful. The series focuses on a group of public defenders and could have as easily been named Injustice or Rigged System. The ensemble cast starring Erica Ash, Christian Keyes, Mouna Traore, Eugene Clark, Richard Lawson, and Tobias Truvillion had the talent. Law & Order veteran writer Terri Kopp had the pedigree. I watched the first episode and it left me unimpressed. It had moments of brilliance but in my mind spent too little focus on the courtroom and too much on the inability on seemingly anyone to control their libido. I had intended to write a review of the first episode, but reminiscent of Oran “Juice” Jones in his one Top 10 hit “The Rain,” I chilled.

After the second episode, I wrote the review, but was still mildly disappointed. Erica Ash as Gwen Sullivan had some great scenes but was disappointing outside of the courtroom. I wanted her to take more control of her life as opposed to being weak and reactive every moment in her personal life. The series seemed to have reached the lowest common denominator of now canceled, “The Quad,” and other BET series, focusing on sex and sensationalism and not giving us characters we could care about. Still there were moments, and I persevered.

View at

I watched the third episode, the fourth, and the fifth. Lo and behold the supporting characters began developing and being less stereotypical, the issues got real, InContempt had become everything I had hoped for and now it’s must see TV.

Join me each Tuesday night at 10 pm Eastern as I Live Tweet “InContempt” at #InContemptBET, #InContempt and #BET. Help out with the running commentary and your take on the action. See you there!

William Spivey

AAMBC Journal Writer

InContempt: A Review

BET premiered a new series, “InContempt,” a legal drama focusing on public defenders, starring Erica Ash. I am a fan of legal dramas and the fact writer Terri Kopp with experience from; Law & Order, Justice, and In Justice, was behind the project was a plus. I saw a preview of a strong courtroom scene and immediately programmed my television to record the series with high expectations.

I watched the first episode and couldn’t decide whether I was more excited or disappointed. Instead of trying to survive on a strong premise and a talented cast (Mouna Traore, Christian Keyes, Eugene Clark, Megan Hutchings, Tobias Truvillion, and Richard Lawson co-star). InContempt tries to be too many things to too many people. Erica Ash as fiercely opinionated Gwen Sullivan, is out of control in every aspect of her life including her finances, sex life, family, and courtroom demeanor, with weekly panic attacks thrown in for good measure. Her outstanding legal scenes and eyeopening portrayal of the uphill battles clients face in a system designed to herd them to sentencing like cattle, are offset by making her personally weak and susceptible to anything to appeal to what I presume BET thinks its fans need to see. “The Quad,” another less than ambitious BET Series was canceled early into its second season by trying to be more prurient than relevant. Let’s hope InContempt doesn’t follow the same path.

The second episode was better than the first, several of the cast are beginning to break away from their stereotypical roles although not yet to the point where we care about them. I’m trying real hard to like this series and will continue to watch the series in hopes it hits a stride and reaches its potential. They would do well to stop trying to reach too many audiences and settle on one or two.

%d bloggers like this: