CyberAlert -- 02/02/2000 -- Bush Hit "Boulder," But Don't Go Right

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Bush Hit "Boulder," But Don't Go Right; Pro-McCain Press; GumbelAid 2000

1) Did Bush hit "a boulder" or "a big chug hole"? Newsweek's Howard Fineman warned that he'll be hurt in the fall if he goes right. Carl Bernstein vilified McCain's "reactionary record" but asserted "everybody knows" he's right about campaign finance.

2) "McCain is riding media momentum," noted CNN's Bill Schneider. CNBC's Chris Matthews pointed out how "the press seems to be totally pro-McCain." Two reporters for major media outlets agreed.

3) Dan Rather: "A lot of reporters...made the mistake of saying, 'oh, well, Clinton fatigue is going to be a very big factor in the race.' Hasn't proved to be the case so far."

4) ABC's GMA provided an election morning gift to the Gore team, a softball interview with mother/daughter Tipper and Karenna. Diane Sawyer explored what mother told daughter about Mighty Mouse.

5) CBS News maintained that the GOP's "hard line" against abortion put it out of touch with New Hampshire independents who are pro-choice by two-to-one, but the poll found 53 percent want abortion either banned or more strictly controlled.

6) News judgment at the New York Times. Action on offensive words from an athlete showcased on the front page. News that an athlete stabbed two people to death buried inside.

7) In filing for separation from Bryant Gumbel, his wife June claimed the $5 million-a-year star only pays her $250 a month. That prompted radio's Don Imus to initiate "GumbelAid 2000."

Correction: Number 3 in the February 1 table of contents plugged an item on how Tim Russert pressed John McCain "from the left about how he wants to return to 'back ally abortions.'" Ally should have read "alley," as it did in the subsequent item.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)"It appears, you might say, that the Straight Talk Express has rolled through New Hampshire and left Texas Governor George W. Bush in its wake," assessed Judy Woodruff during CNN's prime time coverage Tuesday night of the New Hampshire primary. At about 9:20pm ET on MSNBC Tim Russert told Brian Williams, in reference to Bush: "Tonight was a little bit more than a bump, it was a boulder put in the way of the frontrunner." About thirty minutes later on CBS's 60 Minutes II Bob Schieffer employed his own unique vernacular: "It may be more than a bump in the road, it may be a big chug hole in the road here, it seems to me."

Most cable coverage stuck to horse race assessments, but some noteworthy and biased analysis came through and was documented by the MRC's analysts who stayed late to monitor coverage: Mark Drake, Jessica Anderson, Geoffrey Dickens and Brad Wilmouth.

CNN's Bill Schneider attributed Bush's loss to a vote drain caused by Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, Time's Margaret Carlson argued tax cuts don't resonate any more, Newsweek's Howard Fineman warned that Bush will now be hurt in the fall by having to go to the right in South Carolina, Geraldo Rivera conceded that even with him McCain's attacks on Clinton's "truth-twisting" actually "resonated" and Carl Bernstein both denigrated McCain's "rather reactionary record" and asserted "everybody knows McCain is right about" campaign finance reform.

Before getting to the cable quotes, a note about the broadcast networks which offered little coverage, but more than there would have been if not for regularly scheduled news magazine shows. ABC delivered only a two-minute update at 8pm ET. CBS squeezed in interviews by Dan Rather with George W. Bush and John McCain at the end of the 9pm ET 60 Minutes II, but couldn't get the sound to work with Bill Bradley so had to dump him and Rather assigned Gore's absence to Gore running behind schedule. NBC had better luck as Tom Brokaw got all four live simultaneously for a few minutes of MSNBC's coverage which popped up in the middle of the 10pm ET Dateline NBC. As usual, Nightline provided analysis from two former Clintonites: David Gergen and George Stephanopoulos.

Now to some interesting quotes from Tuesday night, February 1, cable coverage:

-- Forbes and Keyes hurt Bush and tax cuts just don't resonate anymore. Both themes were pressed on MSNBC and CNN as shown in these representative remarks on CNN taken down by the MRC's Jessica Anderson.
Bernard Shaw: "Bill, why is Bush in this fix tonight?"
CNN analyst Bill Schneider: "Well, we have some evidence about this, and first of all, let me say that the Republican voters were split. About half of them were moderates. Well, today to call a Republican a moderate is an insult. Moderates went two-to-one for John McCain, but look at how conservatives voted. McCain carried conservatives, four points over George Bush. Why did Bush lag among conservatives? Because a lot of their votes went for Forbes and Keyes. As long as Forbes and Keyes stays in this race, stay in this race, Bush is going to have problems with his hard-core conservative base."

Time's Margaret Carlson opined during a mini Capital Gang segment: "Nine percent of people thought it [tax cuts] was important. It was way below the other issues, Social Security for one, which McCain is emphasizing, paying the debt. It just doesn't have the resonance it used to have. Now congressional Republicans have learned that it doesn't sell. Even in New Hampshire it doesn't sell. And, you know, it's not 'live free or die' anymore. It's New Hampshire dot com. It is a new New Hampshire and they don't feel the way they used to feel. It's not as conservative a state. It is a state that cares about issues that, Independents, moderate Republican issues."

-- Going right will hurt Bush. During much of MSNBC's 8pm ET hour viewers were treated to a panel moderated by Brian Williams of Newsweek's Howard Fineman and liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin joined by ex-Clintonite Dee Dee Myers and Democratic activist Lawrence O'Donnell, with a brief appearance by conservative Laura Ingraham.

During this time, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, Fineman forecast dangers ahead for Bush:
"I think what McCain's campaign manager said is correct, which is that George W. Bush is in something of a box here. Going to South Carolina, he's going to have to attack McCain from the right. He's going to have to make himself, that is Bush, more conservative and more of an attacker, which may help him in South Carolina but won't help make him a better general election candidate in the fall."

Of course, no such fears were expressed about Bradley going to the left to attack Gore.

-- McCain has even swayed Geraldo, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted while watching the special two-hour 9 to 11pm ET Rivera Live on CNBC. Geraldo Rivera admitted: "Here you have a man who said the 'truth-twisting politics of Gore and Clinton.' If any other Republican had said that over the last couple of years I might have gagged. Yet this man, this noble man, who is indeed a truth-teller. It resonated even with me."

-- Don't ever forget, McCain is really a reactionary conservative, though there may be hope as he's "evolving." On Rivera Live, veteran reporter Carl Bernstein declared: "Something is going on. I mean I wrote about McCain, as you know, in the December issue of Vanity Fair and he has this remarkable appeal. He's a down the line conservative. He's voted for every item in the Contract for America and yet he has this appeal to centrists and even some liberal Democrats despite a rather reactionary record in many ways. He is evolving."

-- On target on campaign finance reform. An exchange from Rivera Live.
Rivera: "Is that why liberals love him, just because conservatives hate him or at least the establishment does?"
Bernstein: "Well part of McCain's appeal has to do with the issues he's chosen. He's chosen campaign finance reform which-"
Rivera: "Good issue! My son can relate to that. He's 20."
Bernstein: "Not only a good issue the fact remains the Congress in the United States is governed by money today. Not by real politics. Everybody knows McCain is right about that."

At least everybody in the media.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)McCain the media candidate? Tuesday night CNN's Bill Schneider acknowledged McCain is "riding media momentum." A night earlier on CNBC, Chris Matthews, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter all agreed the press is "totally pro-McCain."

-- During CNN's February 1 prime time coverage, CNN analyst Bill Schneider assigned credit for McCain's success:
"Remember: McCain is riding media momentum. There is a reason why he has spent about 12 hours a day talking to every reporter in sight. It's because he doesn't have a lot of money. Of all the four major candidates, he's the least well funded. He's depending on the free media -- they call it the earned media -- to carry his message, a big sensation, covers of news magazines, going into South Carolina and Michigan."

-- Monday night two reporters for major outlets admitted their profession is in the tank for McCain. Here's an exchange from the January 31 Hardball on CNBC as observed by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens.

Host Chris Matthews: "First of all the press seems to be totally pro-McCain, totally pro-McCain. Everybody I know seems to be pro-McCain."
NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell: "Completely."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "There's a lot of that."
Mitchell: "I mean we have a race and we love the straight talk bit."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Hours before New Hampshire voters almost dealt Al Gore a surprise defeat and did give John McCain a huge upset win, in an election in which exit polls found personal qualities of trustworthiness and honesty ranked high, Dan Rather concluded "Clinton fatigue" would not be a factor in voting this year.

Making an appearance on the Imus in the Morning radio show from New Hampshire on February 1, Dan Rather asserted, as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake:
"For better or for worse, we Americans are a forward looking people. Americans always have their eye on the far horizon. Clinton and what happened to him in his personal life and elsewhere is near history. People are not voting on that basis. A lot of reporters, including this one, made the mistake of saying, 'oh, well, Clinton fatigue is going to be a very big factor in the race.' Hasn't proved to be the case so far and I'll be amazed if it's much of a factor in the race this fall. A lot of people want it to be and therefore they will be talking it up but people are concerned about their future. They want to know what will happen with them, that is to say their pocketbook, and what's going to happen to their kids, their grandkids and that's the basis on which they make their vote."

When's the last time you heard Gore boasting of his close ties to Clinton?


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Good Morning America delivered an election morning gift to the Gore campaign, a nice softball mother/daughter interview with Tipper and Karenna Gore. In the February 1 segment Diane Sawyer provided Karenna with an opportunity to shore up her feminist credentials by recalling how while watching Mighty Mouse cartoons as a child her mother supposedly taught her to be independent.

Here are most of the questions from the interview, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:

-- Diane Sawyer: "Well, in this election season, Al Gore, the Vice President, has a couple of secret weapons. Some secret. They are his wife, Tipper, and 26-year-old daughter Karenna, who somehow, between law school and the birth of her first child, has also became a key advisor in her father's campaign. And we are so happy to welcome Tipper Gore and Karenna Gore Schiff this morning, joining us from Nashua, New Hampshire, their first network television interview together, mother and daughter. It's great to see you both. Mrs. Gore, after all these months, in a sense, today is the day it begins, the first primary in New Hampshire. What did you and the Vice President say to each other last night about your expectations of today?"

-- Sawyer: "Karenna, every family has an intense optimist and a pessimist. Which are you?"
-- Sawyer: "Mrs. Gore, Bill Bradley, Senator Bradley has said recently that the Vice President has a pattern of misrepresentations, which is troubling. Do you think he believes this and why would he be saying it if he didn't believe it?"

-- Sawyer: "Karenna, how angry is the family at Bill Bradley?"

-- Sawyer: "Well, Karenna, I've got a question for you, as well, just a family question because I was so interested to read when you were growing up, your mother was instrumental in a couple, in more than a couple of ways, but one was, you said, from early on, when you would sit and watch Mighty Mouse cartoons, she was there leaning over your shoulder, telling you what?"
Karenna Gore Schiff: "Oh, well, she wanted me to recognize that although Mighty Mouse always rescued the girl mouse in the cartoon, that women could get themselves out of any situation and could stand up and act on their own. And she wanted her daughters to have that feeling themselves, and I appreciated it."

-- Sawyer: "And Mrs. Gore, when you were campaigning to make sure there were parental advisories on some music, were you ever worried that Karenna would be, I guess, isolated at school? Did the two of you talk about that?"

-- Sawyer: "Alright, a quick question to both of you. We've read that you are both key advisors to the Vice President. Have you disagreed on anything ever and which one wins?"


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)Last week CBS News reporter Bill Whitaker asserted that a CBS poll found that by two-to-one New Hampshire women rejected the "hard line" anti-abortion position espoused by Steve Forbes, but the poll actually determined that most either wanted abortion banned are more strictly limited than it is now and so are at least as much out of alignment with the Democratic Party position.

In his January 27 CBS Evening News story Whitaker stressed that Forbes's "hard line may secure Forbes a third place finish here and end up hurting the Republican Party. Why? According to a CBS News poll out today, for every woman in New Hampshire who says this:"
Woman: "I am definitely pro-life."
Whitaker: "Two or more disagree."
Second woman: "I'm very pro-choice."

Whitaker concluded: "The most pro-choice segment of the votingpopulation: independent voters, and most of those are and youcan't win here without winning them over and right now, most ofthem are moving toward McCain. No wonder he'd like this abortion issue just to go away."

In fact, as the MRC's Tim Graham noticed, though the CBS poll found that 43 percent of independent voters in the Granite State agreed "abortion should be generally available to those who want it," an identical percentage said "abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now." Another ten percent thought "abortion should not be permitted," for a total of 53 percent in conflict with the liberal abortion-on-demand position espoused by Al Gore and Bill Bradley.

To see all the questions and answers in the CBS News poll, go to:


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)Words don't kill and knives do, but at the New York Times saying some impolite things about people is more newsworthy than stabbing a couple of people to death. Just check the paper's placement of two stories on February 1.

On the bottom half of the front page, this headline: "Baseball Suspends Rocker Till May for Comments."

On the bottom of page C-29, the front page of the sports section tucked inside the "Business Day" section, this headline appeared over an AP story: "Police Accuse Ravens' Lewis of Two Murders."

Times reporter Murray Chass outlined the latest development in the Rocker case:
"Commissioner Bud Selig, saying John Rocker had dishonored Major League Baseball by disparaging many groups of society with his harsh comments in a magazine interview, suspended the Atlanta Braves' No. 1 relief pitcher yesterday for 73 days, marking the first time a baseball player has been disciplined for speech."

His offending words appeared in Sports Illustrated in December, the Times explained: "Talking about playing for a New York team, he said: 'Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing.'"

Hardly enlightened, but not deadly as in the case the buried AP story outlined. The January 31-datelined AP dispatch began: "Ray Lewis, the Pro-Bowl middle linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, was charged by the Atlanta police with murder tonight in the slayings of two people outside a nightclub hours after the Super Bowl ended."

The Rocker story may have a local New York angle, but it still seems an odd news judgment. In contrast, USA Today managed to showcase both sports stories while giving higher priority to the double murder. "Ravens' Lewis Charged in Murder" announced the headline across the top of the sports section -- above the Rocker story which ran below it: "Baseball Suspends Braves' Rocker."


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes)gumbelaid0201.jpg (16882 bytes)Bryant Gumbel's divorce fight jumped into New York's gossip columns late last week when the lawyer for his angry wife went public, asking a judge to order Gumbel to make some payments to his wife larger than the paltry $250 a month the $5-million-a-year network star supposedly pays her now.

Gumbel's alleged stinginess prompted morning radio talk show host Don Imus, whose show is simulcast on MSNBC, to send staffers on Friday to the sidewalk outside The Early Show studios to hold "GumbelAid 2000." At one point, as shown on MSNBC, they sang a Gumbel-oriented parody of the We Are the World song.

While his wife, June, remains in their suburban house, Gumbel now lives in Manhattan with another woman. Below are excerpts from recent USA Today and New York Daily News articles relaying conflicting charges from June and Bryant, followed by the lyrics to the song sung by Imus's crew and a New York Post story on how CBS had the police remove the pranksters.

-- Jeannie Williams in her USA Today Life section column, January 27:

After two years of estrangement, June Gumbel has filed for a separation from husband Bryant Gumbel and today will ask for emergency financial relief in Westchester Supreme Court in New York.

"The poor woman is in my office; she's practically destitute," her lawyer, Barry Slotnick, said Wednesday. Slotnick portrays June, 51, wed 26 years to the CBS Early Show co-host, as maxed out on credit, getting just $250 monthly from Gumbel, and having depleted her savings. He says that while Gumbel has been paying college costs for their son, Bradley, 21, the son's phone was shut off recently for non-payment....

The former Today show star, who reportedly makes some $5 million annually, currently lives with former Goldman Sachs staffer Hilary Quinlan.

June Gumbel filed this month for the separation, but Slotnick explains, "she was at her wits' end. When the (CBS) show started (last fall), she would not allow us to file anything. She didn't want to hurt his career. She's a very decent woman. Revealing all she has to tell about him in open court will hurt him as a TV personality. She didn't want to do that. And he looked at that as some sort of weakness."....

June lives in the Westchester home she owns with her husband, Slotnick says. She met Gumbel, now 51, when she was a flight attendant and he "had a broken-down pair of sneakers" and was seeking work. June, a deeply religious Roman Catholic, has been in touch with the New York archdiocese about an annulment, "but it doesn't look good," Slotnick says....

END Excerpt

-- "Rush & Molloy's" column in the January 28 New York Daily News ran through the same charges from June, but then relayed Bryant's view:

Bryant Gumbel's lawyer, Stanley Arkin, tells us that his client "will follow the court's order," but that he has been "sumptuously" supporting June Gumbel and their children, Bradley, 21, and Jillian, 16, in the four years since he began asking for a divorce.

"June has cars, trainers, hairdressers, vacations," Arkin said. "She would go out and charge gobs of jewelry and cases of wine."

Arkin also said that even though his client gave June Gumbel and their two children primary use of homes in Manhattan and Westchester County, she made his life "miserable" by "locking him out" of the Westchester pad.

Arkin also disputed the claim of June Gumbel's attorney, Barry Slotnick, that the newsman was a "Scrooge" who gave his kids nothing more than "trinkets" for Christmas....

END Excerpt

-- Friday morning, to mock Gumbel's situation, New York City radio host Don Imus sent his producer, Bernard McGuirk, and some staffers over to the sidewalk outside The Early Show studios. They held up signs urging people to contribute to what Imus dubbed "GumbelAid 2000."

Just before 8am, MRC analyst Mark Drake observed, the group sang a take-off on "We Are the World" with lyrics geared to Gumbel's situation. The lyrics:

We Are the World
Let's Help the Gumbels
Bryant's the One Who Dissed His Mom in the Projects
Where She Was Living

Hey, Bryant Gumbel
Help Out Your Family
You Are the One Who Makes a Lot of Pay
So Let's Start Giving

There's a Choice You're Making
You Want a Hot Blonde Wife
That's Cool but Buy Your Mom Some Teeth
And Feed Your Children

You Are a Turd
A Cheap Chubby A-Hole
Just What You Spent on Jeri Curl Alone
Could Feed a Nation

We Are the World
Let's Help the Gumbels
This Crew Will Make the Bastard Pay Some Day
Just You and Me

Okay, not the most high-minded comedy, but you couldn't have a better target than Gumbel and it is pretty funny to see this going on just in front of a big picture of Gumbel above an Early Show window. So, Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer video clip of the Imus gang singing this song parody.

Gumbel's CBS colleagues didn't take kindly to the stunt, as Don Kaplan reported in a January 29 New York Post story caught by Mark Drake:

Pranksters from the Don Imus radio show were threatened with arrest outside CBS's Early Show yesterday after they tried to collect money to help support co-host Bryant Gumbel's estranged wife and kids....

"Bryant Gumbel is a hideously unlikable person so [we'll do] anything [we] could do to [mess] with him," Imus told The Post yesterday. "We saw a need, and we thought we'd try to address it."....

They waved white plastic buckets with Gumbel's picture on them at passersby, asking for donations of canned food and money to help the $5 million-a-year TV host pay child support for his 16-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son....

Gumbel had taken the day off and did not see the episode.

About 10 police officers showed up around 8:30 a.m. after Early Show Executive Producer Steve Friedman called 911. The pranksters were ordered to leave because Imus in the Morning did not have a permit to park its broadcasting truck on the street, Friedman said....

In her lawsuit, June Gumbel calls Gumbel a "serial adulterer."

June Gumbel's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told a reporter that a therapist has been helping the family cope with the Early Show host's relationship with Hilary Quinlan, a blond bombshell with whom he now lives.

END Excerpt

He's living Bill Clinton's dream life. -- Brent Baker

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