CyberAlert -- 01/25/2000 -- Bush Pushed Right Out of Mainstream

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Bush Pushed Right Out of Mainstream; Clinton: Victim of Teen Oral Sex Culture

1) To win in Iowa, NBC's stars contended Monday night, George Bush moved right, which will hurt with the wider electorate. "Bush had to run with Jesus Christ," remarked Brian Williams. Tim Russert expressed concern about how Forbes pushed Bush into a big tax cut.

2) Katie Couric griped about how "Forbes has forced George W. Bush to...turn right...on taxes and abortion." When Forbes said that his policies have "broad-based" appeal, Bryant Gumbel scoffed: "Do you really expect to win moderate votes in this country?"

3) Live TV flubs by NBC and ABC. Off camera but on mike Peter Jennings asked: "What happened, did this camera crap out?"

4) Ratings for ABC's This Week without Bill Kristol are down and, USA Today relayed, CBS's "Early Show scored its lowest numbers yet -- well below what predecessor CBS This Morning was doing."

5) ABC's Charles Gibson praised "Granny D": "This is very worthy work that you do, bringing attention to campaign finance reform."

6) Talk magazine's Lucinda Franks claimed "the teenage culture caused the President's behavior" in accepting oral sex from Monica Lewinsky. "That is insane," exclaimed FNC's Bill O'Reilly.

7) Give me money! A college student explained why young people are apathetic toward politics, complaining on CBS about politicians: "They're not telling me how I can get federally subsidized loans."

>>> Latest Notable Quotables newsletter now online thanks to the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul. Notable Quotables is a bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings in the January 24 edition: "Stop That Scary Religious Talk"; "Feeding Red Meat To the Right"; "Tim the Tax Man"; "CBS's Global Warming Mantra"; "Centrist Dems, Hard Right GOP"; "ABC's Toobin Agrees with Hillary"; "Avoiding 'Partial-Birth Abortion'"; and "224-Year-Old Bias." To read all the quotes in the issue, go to: <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) George W. Bush won the Iowa caucus Monday night, but NBC's stars argued that in securing his victory he had to sell his soul, consorting with religious types and conservatives, which Tim Russert warned, "could hurt" Republicans "with a mainstream electorate in a general election."

Network analysts could just as easily point out how Al Gore was driven left by pressure from Bill Bradley to propose universal health coverage and from teacher unions to hold a hard line against voucher programs, thus pushing Democrats out of the mainstream. But viewers didn't hear that kind of interpretation last night nor, as previous CyberAlerts have detailed, in recent weeks as the networks have only portrayed Republican candidates as the targets of ideological pressure.

Monday night MSNBC anchor Brian Williams asserted that to win "George Bush had to run with Jesus Christ. George Bush invoked Christ's name during a debate, labeled him as a philosopher in so doing. He posed in front of a mural of Jesus Christ and talked about the topic of abortion in order to appeal" to religious conservatives. Later, Russert contended that because of the strong challenge from Steve Forbes, "George W. Bush had to put forward a tax cut plan of over a trillion dollars over a ten-year period. He had to agree with Steve Forbes on the language in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions."

In fact, as National Review's John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out in the magazine's Washington Bulletin e-mail report on Monday, Bush hasn't moved right on abortion:
"The press, along with President Clinton, is a twitter because Bush said last week that Roe v. Wade was an 'overreach' by the Supreme Court. Where's the news here? Bush said the same to NR in December (see the interview in our Dec. 31 issue). Asked if he thought Roe was bad law, Bush replied, 'I thought it was an overreach of the law. I do.' Asked if he hoped his judicial appointees would vote to overrule it, he smiled and said, 'I will be appointing judges who strictly interpret the Constitution.' Similarly, Bush's position in favor of the current Republican platform on abortion is nothing new."

As for putting forward a "trillion dollar" tax cut, proposing a tax cut that over ten years totals only a fraction of one year's federal budget hardly makes one an extremist conservative who is out of the mainstream.

MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens and Mark Drake stayed late Monday night at the MRC and their MSNBC-viewing tag team caught these assessments from Williams, Tom Brokaw and Russert:

-- Brian Williams to Tim Russert during MSNBC's 8pm ET special, hour early, edition of The News With Brian Williams:
"Tim, in order to do as well as he [Bush] did tonight, and the following is meant with no disrespect and in capital letters, George Bush had to run with Jesus Christ. George Bush invoked Christ's name during a debate, labeled him as a philosopher in so doing. He posed in front of a mural of Jesus Christ and talked about the topic of abortion in order to appeal to the group, the demographic you were just talking about. Absent that tonight may not have been such pretty a result for him."
Russert: "I agree completely. The fact is George Bush held his own amongst conservative Christians. And I think it is important to note that George Bush is convincing in his belief in faith and it is part of his political leadership and he's not afraid to say that. Is it a political asset in the state of Iowa? Absolutely. We also asked our people coming out of the voting booth what was the big issue tonight. And this is really interesting to me. Far and away the most important issue were moral values. 35 percent, followed by taxes 23 percent. Social security, Medicare 10, abortion just 10 percent. Education just 4 percent."

-- At the top of MSNBC's 10pm ET "Decision 2000" special, host Tom Brokaw asked John McCain via satellite in New Hampshire:
"Senator McCain, one of the things that happened here in Iowa as a result of the presence of Steve Forbes, who was well organized, well financed and Ambassador Keyes, who is very articulate on these issues, is that it did become a contest for the social conservative vote. It was driven slightly to the right from where it might have begun. Do you think that's going happen now in New Hampshire?"

-- Near the end of the 10pm ET hour, Tim Russert told Brokaw how Bush had been pushed to the right and out of the mainstream:
"There is a local TV station in Manchester which calls part of its news building the Steve Forbes Wing because of the amount of money he spent in 1996 but Tom, I think his role is more important in looking at a general election. Right now George W. Bush had to put forward a tax cut plan of over a trillion dollars over a ten-year period. He had to agree with Steve Forbes on the language in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions. President Clinton seized on that yesterday, saying if George W. Bush is elected, you're gonna see Roe v Wade overturned. The Democrats in Congress seized on the Bush tax cut plan, saying it's Gingrich II and George W. Bush did not want to have to stake out those kind of strong conservative positions in a primary campaign that could hurt them with a mainstream electorate in a general election."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The media tenet that other Republicans pushed George W. Bush to the right, and thus made him less appealing to the general electorate, was also reflected on the ABC and NBC morning shows on Monday, January 24. Meanwhile, CBS's Bryant Gumbel countered Steve Forbes' claim that he has a broad message, caricaturing his conservative positions and then asking in bewilderment: "Do you really expect to win moderate votes in this country?"

-- NBC's Today talked to The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol about the upcoming Iowa caucus. MRC intern Ken Shepherd observed that after questions about how the caucus system works, what a big Gore win would mean for Bradley and whether Bush should be concerned about complacency, Katie Couric hit him with this ideologically-loaded statement in the form of a question:
"Forbes has forced George W. Bush to, to turn right if you will, on taxes and abortion. Is that going to, are those positions that he's had to take, in the face of a challenge by Forbes, will they be difficult to defend in a general election?"

-- Over on ABC's Good Morning America Diane Sawyer hit William Bennett with the same argument, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted. Previewing the caucus with Bennett and former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, Sawyer pressed Bennett:
"Well Bill, what about George W. Bush -- you mentioned abortion -- having to go fairly far now in being explicit about his pro-life stance, when 66 percent of Republican soccer moms nationwide are pro-choice. Gonna get him in trouble later on?"

-- Bryant Gumbel sure doesn't find any appeal in the Steve Forbes platform. Interviewing the GOP candidate on The Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that Gumbel vehemently countered the idea that Forbes may have "broad-based" appeal.

Responding to Gumbel's doubts about his ability to win over the wider electorate, Forbes asserted that many of his positions have "broad-based" appeal. Gumbel shot back:
"You say it's broad-based, but you oppose Roe v Wade, you oppose gays in the military, you oppose the teaching of evolution, you oppose the ban on school prayer, you oppose a waiting period on gun purchases. Do you really expect to win moderate votes in this country?"

Forbes replied that people want to keep more of what they earn, which is a position he offers. Gumbel quickly jumped in and talked over him, declaring: "But on a social agenda, you can't win without moderates."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Going live from a remote location isn't as easy as CNN makes it look, at least judging by some flubs committed live from Iowa by ABC and NBC.

-- During the 6:30pm ET feed of Monday's World News Tonight the show switched from a shot of anchor Peter Jennings outdoors in Des Moines to a taped piece by him on the caucus tradition, but the video did not have sound for about its first ten seconds. During that time viewers could hear an exasperated Jennings ask: "What happened, did this camera crap out?"

-- Sunday night during the 6:30pm ET feed NBC Nightly News twice switched briefly to a live shot of Tom Brokaw in Des Moines, only Brokaw was not supposed to be on in those moments and so was caught looking away.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) People are avoiding ABC's This Week without Bill Kristol and CBS's The Early Show with Bryant Gumbel, new ratings figures show. According to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz in December, ABC News President David Westin cited a 25 percent drop in ratings for the Sunday interview show as the reason for dropping Kristol from the roundtable. So far, the move hasn't improved things.

Though he didn't cite any specific numbers, in Monday's "Inside TV" column for USA Today, reporter Peter Johnson relayed the downward trend for both programs:
"Some bad news for both CBS and ABC News in the arenas of morning shows and Sunday public affairs programs. For the second consecutive week, CBS's new Early Show scored its lowest numbers yet -- well below what predecessor CBS This Morning was doing a year ago and deep in third place, behind ABC's No. 2 Good Morning America and NBC's top-rated Today. Meanwhile, ABC's struggling This Week was beaten for the second week in a row by CBS's Face the Nation."

While on Peter Johnson's reporting, an update on how time has proven him correct about Kristol. The January 11 CyberAlert noted how on January 10 Johnson had reported that Kristol appeared the day before on NBC's Meet the Press. CyberAlert pointed out that though he appeared on the January 2 Face the Nation, he did not show up on the January 9 Meet the Press.

Well now he has. And on Today too. On the January 23 Meet the Press Kristol appeared during the roundtable segment along with Tom Brokaw and Joe Klein. Monday morning he got a solo spot on Today to discuss the Iowa caucus with Katie Couric. Since ABC dumped him he's also shown up frequently on FNC, including during FNC's Monday night caucus coverage.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Endorsing a liberal political cause. At the top of the 8am hour on Monday's Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, praised the efforts of the poster oldster for "campaign finance reform."

Introducing "Granny D," who walked across the country to promote campaign finance reform, Gibson paid homage to her cause:
"I remember when Diane and I had just started this show, we celebrated your 89th birthday with you when you were just starting out in California. Today we celebrate your 90th, and this is very worthy work that you do, bringing attention to campaign finance reform."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Teenagers are supposedly increasingly participating in oral sex, but it's not because they decided to experiment after hearing so much about it during the Lewinsky scandal. No, it was Bill Clinton who was induced into it by them. Talk magazine's Lucinda Franks seriously suggested to FNC's Bill O'Reilly on Friday night that "the teenage culture caused the President's behavior."

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth caught this gem of reasoning uttered on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor on January 21. O'Reilly brought aboard Franks, most famous for her fawning interview last summer with Hillary Clinton, to discuss her new article in the magazine about teenage sexual activity. She explained how she learned, from interviews with 12 to 18 year-olds, that oral sex is now part of "mainstream life" for 13 year-olds with girls performing oral sex two to three times a weekend now considered acceptable behavior among young teens.

At this point O'Reilly wondered if Clinton's behavior might have made oral sex seem more acceptable: "But do you believe this has anything to do with the President, now I'm not saying this in a gratuitous, I'm not asking a gratuitous or cheapshot question here, but because the publicity of the Monica Lewinsky thing was so all pervasive, this had to seep into the culture somewhat-"
Franks jumped in: "You're wrong. Do you know what?"
O'Reilly: "As I often am. Alright, go ahead."
Franks then offered her reverse analysis: "I think you're wrong because after about two years of working on this, you know, on and off, I think the President, that the teenage culture caused the President's behavior, in the way he behaved, in, with the oral sex."
O'Reilly shot back: "I think you're crazy, Ms. Franks, with all due respect. I think that's one of the most insane statements I've ever heard."
Franks: "Let me, let me explain to you-"
O'Reilly cut her off: "You're telling me that teenage behavior affected the way President Clinton went about his business with Monica Lewinsky?"
Franks remained steadfast: "Because Monica Lewinsky was almost out, just out of teenagerdom, and she said, 'Let me give oral sex to you.' No big thing, and, you know, ten years ago, she wouldn't have said that."
O'Reilly: "Now I know Talk magazine is friendly to the Clintons, but let's put that aside, but I just want to tell the audience: That is insane."

"Friendly to the Clintons," indeed. As detailed in the August 3, 1999 CyberAlert, Franks appeared on the August 2 Good Morning America, along with Talk Editor Tina Brown, to plug the premiere issue's interview with Hillary. Amongst Franks' adoring comments about Bill and Hillary:
-- The Clinton marriage, she maintained, "is quite wonderful in its, you know, in its interdependence of conversation, of ideas, of excitement, of chemistry, sexual chemistry."

-- And: "People who are close to them see this kind of chemistry. I mean, it's a real love."

-- ABC's Diane Sawyer asked: "Did you talk to her about any specific women and specific allegations? Kathleen Willey." Franks saw Elvis in Clinton: "I did not. I did not feel, I felt that that part of it was an invasion of her privacy. I felt, you know, ethically, as a journalist, that this had been covered and covered and covered and covered, and I also feel that many of these encounters are, began way back in Arkansas when women would throw themselves at him. Even at Yale, I mean, he's a very handsome man, and he looked like a Beatle back in Yale, you can see pictures of him, I mean, he was gorgeous. You had women, even stars, who tried to get what they could out of being close to him, pretending they had an affair with him, so a lot of this is, has been taken with a grain of salt, I think."

One thing remains constant with Franks: It's never Bill's fault.

To read more of what Franks said on GMA last August, go to:


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) Me, Me me! Tell me how to get other people's money and I'll vote for you. For a story wrapping up the January 24 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather looked at the apathy of young people toward politics. Rather featured one unusual Iowa college student involved in politics who cares deeply....deeply about getting other people's money.

Rather played this clip of Drake University junior Scott Horrigan expressing his frustration with politicians: "They don't look at issues that relate to younger voters. They're not telling me how I can get federally subsidized loans to help pay for my school. I pay $10,000 in loans a year. That's incredible."
Over video of Horrigan shaking hands with Bill Bradley, Rather intoned: "The more he feels snubbed, the more Scott Horrigan feels the need to maintain his grip on politics."

Maybe apathy isn't such a bad thing. -- Brent Baker

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