CyberAlert -- 02/28/2000 -- McCain Aide Boasted of Media "Base"

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McCain Aide Boasted of Media "Base"; Day Trading Will Kill You

1) CBS marveled at how Bush "is the first Republican candidate who's being held to account for the intolerance and bigotry" of the Christian Right. ABC actually focused on McCain's dissembling over calls linking Bush to anti-Catholicism.

2) The McCain campaign used their "base," the news media, to tar Bush in Michigan by linking him to Bob Jones and Pat Robertson, a top McCain aide boasted to the Wall Street Journal. CBS claimed Bush's rhetoric was so "tough it made one McCain supporter cry."

3) The New Republic endorsed McCain because he's "seeking to remake his party into something other than the political arm of the privileged few," so two parties pushing "the public good."

4) On Friday CBS claimed that "Bush found himself under siege" over Bob Jones University. CBS's story highlighted Bush's inarticulateness which will provide plenty of ammo for the media.

5) Carl Bernstein on Bush at BJU: "Probably the ugliest political gesture by a presidential candidate since Willie Horton."

6) On FNC last week Michael Barone ruminated about media hypocrisy on BJU versus Sharpton and interest in South Carolina's Confederate flag over the flags in other Southern states.

7) NBC highlighted a hearing on the supposed dangers of day trading as Robert Hager claimed that one man "lured into the world of day trading paid with his life."

8) In Investor's Business Daily Michael Medved condemned the A&E movie which denigrated the Revolutionary War's fight against taxation as killing "for profit."

>>> "Look for the liberal label: If George W. Bush's appeals to conservative voters will hurt him in the general election, as the media story line goes, why won't Al Gore's embrace of liberal causes do the same?" This article by the MRC's Tim Graham appears in the March 4 edition of World magazine. To read it, go to: <<<


George Bush's acknowledgment Sunday that he should have spoken out earlier against the policies of Bob Jones University led the ABC and CBS evenings shows on February 27. (NBA basketball bumped the NBC Nightly News in the east.) CBS took advantage of the opportunity to smear all Christian conservatives for the "intolerance and bigotry" at the "core" of their cause, but ABC decided to also give some air time to dissembling by John McCain in denying involvement in phone calls clearly designed to suggest Bush is anti-Catholic.

After a story on Bush's Sunday remarks about Bob Jones University, Jacqueline Adams delved deeper into the meaning of his visit. She began her CBS Evening News piece by noting how Republicans have been going to the college for twenty years, everyone from Ronald Reagan to Bob Dole. The visit hurt Bush in Michigan with Catholics, Adams relayed, before giving air time to a left-winger to bash all religious conservatives:
"No one better understands the political power of religion than the Reverend Doctor Calvin Butts of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church."
Butts asserted: "Religion is playing less of a role, or less of a direct role, than it played, shall we say, in the election of Mr. Reagan."
Adams gave credibility to his charge: "It's ironic, Butts says, that the self-described compassionate conservative is the first Republican candidate who's being held to account for the intolerance and bigotry which, Butts thinks, have formed the core of the fundamentalist Christian crusade."
Butts sighed: "If the evangelicals embraced him because he went to Bob Jones University, God help us all."

Adams moved on to explaining how New York Congressman Peter King switched allegiance from Bush to McCain and let King claim that Bush had looked the "other way at a bigoted institution." Wrapping up the story, Adams did at least let Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore denounce the attacks on Bush over Bob Jones as "a smear tactic."

An inconvenient fact Adams and Butts ignored so they could impugn the entire Christian Right: Bob Jones University is far from typical. What other Christian college or Christian Right leader opposes inter-racial dating, believes blacks are an inferior race, or equates the Pope with Satan?

Over on ABC's World News Tonight reporter John Yang noted Bush's regrets about not making clear earlier his disagreements with the college, but then picked up on John McCain's dissembling about phone calls keying off BJU aimed at turning Catholics against Bush. Yang explained: "First he personally approved calls to Catholic voters in Michigan."
ABC played a brief clip of the audio of the phone call: "While Governor Bush has remained silent while gaining the support of Bob Jones University."
Yang: "Then he denied it."
Clip of David Gregory on NBC's Today: "You had allies criticizing him."
McCain responding on Today: "No, that's not so."
Yang: "Only to acknowledge it later. Today McCain said he denied the calls because of how they were being characterized."
McCain earlier in the day on ABC's This Week where he was pressed about it: "Then they were portrayed as some calls that were somehow accusing Governor Bush of being anti-Catholic or a bigot. That's not true and that's not what I take responsibility for."
Yang: "Bush used that defense to go on the attack."
Bush: "Senator McCain, when given the chance to set the record straight on TV, couldn't come to the truth."
Yang concluded: "The Bob Jones visit could hurt Bush on Super Tuesday in New York, where half the Republican voters are Catholic. But McCain's handling of the issue could tarnish him as well, making him look like just another mud-slinging politician."

Wow. A bit of negative press for McCain.

As for whether the phone call was meant to lead recipients to believe Bush is anti-Catholic, judge for yourself. Sunday morning on Meet the Press, in a discussion/yelling match amongst Karl Rove, Warren Rudman, Peter King and David Dreier, moderator Tim Russert played a tape of the entire call:
"This is a Catholic Voter Alert. Governor George Bush has campaigned against Senator John McCain by seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Several weeks ago Governor George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the Pope the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church a satanic cult. John McCain, a pro-life Senator, has strongly criticized this anti-Catholic bigotry, while Governor Bush has stayed silent while gaining the support of Bob Jones University. Because of this, one Catholic pro-life Congressman has switched his support from Bush to McCain, and many Michigan Catholics now support John McCain for President."

Bush strategist Karl Rove reminded viewers that both of McCain's co-chairs in South Carolina have links to BJU: Lindsay Graham accepted an honorary degree last year and the other is a graduate of the school, a point also raised on Fox News Sunday on which Graham appeared.


So why did the Bob Jones University appearance become such a major issue in the media? Because, a top McCain aide confided to the Wall Street Journal, the McCain campaign used their "base" -- the news media -- to make it into one.

In a February 25 editorial, the Journal admired how the McCain team "turned a potentially fatal defeat in South Carolina into a pyrrhic victory for George W. Bush." The editorial explained:
"The way they did it was to spin a story line that made their candidate the victim of a vicious, negative, horrifying right-wing hit job. This week we called Mike Murphy, Mr. McCain's megawatt strategist, to congratulate him on this megaspin, and he appreciated it, adding, 'They used their base, the Christian Right. So we had every right to use ours, which is the media.'"

The Journal proceeded to outline how after Bush's win McCain's team decided to try to cause a backlash in Michigan against how Bush won in South Carolina:
"Top aide John Weaver started the Sopranos theme music by telling reporters that, 'Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are to be congratulated. We don't know if you can run as a Dixiecrat in Michigan, but we'll find out.'....The media bought this like a seaside Florida property. After his Iowa comeback, Al Gore got credit for tenacity and toughness. After his New Hampshire upset, Mr. McCain was the fresh-thinking insurgent. But after his rebound in Carolina, Mr. Bush got credit for selling his soul to Pat Robertson."

Picking up on a quote from CBS News reporter Bill Whitaker reported in the February 22 CyberAlert, the Journal observed:
"CBS paid Mr. Weaver the ultimate spin tribute of wholesale theft, 'reporting' on Monday that 'the conservative with compassion had turned hard right down South,' but that 'whistling Dixie may not work in Michigan.'"

That CBS quote aired Monday night, February 21, and reminded me of another Whitaker story slamming Bush's tactics, a story not yet mentioned in CyberAlert but worthy of attention. On the Friday, February 18 CBS Evening News, the night before the South Carolina primary, Whitaker claimed Bush's rhetoric was so "tough it made one McCain supporter cry."

Whitaker portrayed McCain as a victim of a Bush onslaught: "Bush has plowed well over $3 million into a relentless barrage of radio and TV commercials, trying to blow up John McCain's campaign, with anti-abortion surrogates firing from the sidelines. If compassion and commercials don't turn you on to Bush, perhaps stealth mudslinging will turn you off to McCain. The Bush campaign and groups that back him have made hundreds of thousands of mailings and calls, blasting McCain with language so tough it made one McCain supporter cry."
Woman in a crowd, in tears: "I believe in you."
Whitaker provided a less emotional retort: "Bush's response? McCain is blasting him with nasty fliers, too."
Bush: "There's nothing factual about this."
Whitaker then concluded his loaded story: "Bush launched this all-out assault because he can't afford to lose here. After New Hampshire, another failed primary could deal a fatal blow to his presidential hopes."


Speaking of the media as McCain's "base," more evidence arrived in my mailbox on Saturday: The March 6 edition of The New Republic, the ever more liberal weekly political magazine popular with the national media. The cover features a drawing of Gore and McCain to highlight endorsements of both.

McCain gained the magazine's first ever endorsement of a Republican in a primary. He earned it for pushing his party left, the magazine made clear in the opening paragraph of its endorsement:
"This magazine has never before endorsed a candidate in a Republican primary. We are breaking precedent because, for the first time in recent memory, a serious Republican presidential candidate is seeking to remake his party into something other than the political arm of the privileged few. There are many issues on which we think John McCain is wrong, and even more on which he has been so vague that we cannot fully know. But his battle for the character of his party is so important that all Americans concerned about the integrity and decency of our political system should make his cause their own."

The magazine later approvingly noted how McCain "represents the beginnings of an alternative to the plutocratic conservatism that has defined the Republican Party for more than two decades."

The last sentence of the endorsement from the magazine owned by Gore friend Martin Peretz: "For, if his crusade succeeds, America will have two parties advocating some reasonable approximation of the public good rather than one."


Friday night CBS News still considered the Bob Jones appearance to be the most important campaign issue of the day as Bush supposedly "found himself under siege" over it. The story by reporter Phil Jones also illustrated Bush's inarticulateness, a problem that if not corrected will feed the media with Dan Quayle-like ammunition all fall, assuming Bush makes it that long.

CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather introduced the February 25 story: "While the countdown to the Super Tuesday batch of primaries on March 7th has top billing, George W. Bush had his eye today on the immediate future, Virginia, early next week. But CBS' Phil Jones reports Bush found himself under siege about events last week in another Southern state."

Jones began: "George W. Bush was in Virginia today looking ahead to the state's Tuesday primary. However, it was a past primary that continued to haunt him. The problem: his appearance at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bush was asked again today why he had not denounced the university's attitudes against Catholics and interracial dating."
Bush before a crowd at AOL headquarters in Loudoun County, Virginia: "I did denounce it. I denounced it. I denounced interracial dating. I denounced anti-Catholic bigacy -- bigotry."
Jones: "Realizing he had misspoken when he said he denounced interracial dating, Bush tried again."
Bush: "The Bob Jones policy on interracial dating, I spoke out against that."
Reacting to a reporter who could not be heard in the CBS story, Bush stumbled: "No. No, I, I, I, I spoke out against interracial dating. I mean, I support inter, the policy of interracial dating."
Bob Dole-like, Jones continued: "Whatever. Bush knows religious conservatives are powerful in Virginia. In 1996, Republican voters were asked if they were a 'part of the religious right.' Thirty-eight percent said yes. So he was trying not to offend religious conservatives today when he was asked if he'd told the father of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, not to make anti-McCain phone calls like he did in Michigan...."

Of course, Bush was only "under siege" from reporters, not AOL employees or the general citizenry of Virginia.


Proclaiming a self-fulfilling prophecy, last Tuesday night veteran reporter Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, promised that if Bush wins the GOP nomination he'll be "dogged" by his Bob Jones University visit. In the ultimate media attack, Bernstein castigated the appearance as "the ugliest political gesture.... since Willie Horton."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Bernstein's remarks on the February 22 edition of CNBC's Rivera Live:
"I think that if George Bush is the nominee he is gonna be dogged by this to the point where it might make it impossible for him to win. Because he crawled on his belly into Bob Jones University. He didn't make a peep about the intolerance of its record, of its President. It's probably the ugliest political gesture by a presidential candidate since Willie Horton."

Would that be in releasing a murderer to kill again or in creating a TV ad to inform the public about it?

Bernstein soon added a more reserved admonishment: "George Bush is not a bigot. He is not a Catholic basher. What is so disappointing and so horrible about what George Bush did is that for political expediency he entered a bigoted, racist tinged citadel."


Friday and Saturday night, in stories on the Diallo verdict in New York, the broadcast networks all ran soundbites from Al Sharpton. None, of course, pointed out his history as a race-baiter and instigator of the Tawana Brawley fraud. Catching up on another item I didn't get to last week, on FNC last Tuesday Michael Barone raised the issue of media hypocrisy in condemning Bush over going to BJU while ignored ties between leading Democrats and Sharpton. Picking up on media demands that Bush and McCain denounce the flying of the Confederate flag over South Carolina's state Capitol, Barone, a Senior Editor at U.S. News & World Report, also challenged the media to press Democratic candidates and Governors over elements of the Confederate flag featured in other state flags.

On February 22 Barone was interviewed on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume by the host of the same name. MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth checked this transcript against a tape for accuracy.

Barone noted: "It is interesting that the national press has gone after George W. Bush, a candidate ninety percent of them surely would not support for President, would oppose, on the grounds of his association with people, they haven't gone after some of the other candidates on their opposition. We've seen in the last few days Bill Bradley, Al Gore and Senate candidate and probably future presidential candidate, if she wins, Hillary Rodham Clinton, go and strain to beg leave to speak before Al Sharpton of New York. Al Sharpton has a record certified in a court legal suit in Dutchess County, New York, of having committed libel and slander in a situation which was a racially inflammatory case. He is guilty of making inflammatory remarks that led in time to the murder of shopkeeper -- a non-black shopkeeper in Harlem. He's made all sorts of false statements and rabble-rousing of different kinds. And stirring up trouble-"

Hume observed: "Well, there he was being recognized -- the first person recognized in the Democratic debate in Harlem last night as one of the organizers."
Barone recalled: "I asked on a program last October what are Al Gore and Bill Bradley, whose motives in these areas I think are genuinely good, doing meeting with a character like Al Sharpton? And why is, where's the press, ninety percent of whom backs the Democratic Party? Where is the press in asking questions, tough questions, about what they're doing meeting with Al Sharpton? Is this seeking racial reconciliation? Somebody who has been guilty, found guilty in a court of lying about a highly racial charged situation? That's pretty, that's pretty shocking sort of thing. Nor do we hear questions asked of candidates who speak at other colleges which may have policies of racial segregation in the dormitories, common in many Northeastern schools, a separate black dormitory, that have racially segregated orientations, which have sanctioned racially segregated dining hall tables. Now, they may not put that stuff on their Web site, but it's not beyond the capacity of good reporters to find out what's going on. And why don't they find out about those things and ask the candidates, who are probably of both parties, whether or not they approve of such policies? If the questions of George Bush and Bob Jones are fair, those questions are fair, as well."

Later, Hume raised the flag issue and media interest in going beyond South Carolina's situation: "But what about those flags in other states? What about the other states, Mississippi and Georgia, in particular, where the Confederate battle flag is part of the actual emblem of the state flag?"
Barone: "Well, I guess you may have to go and, and you may have to explain that. Are these people changing planes in Atlanta, Georgia, which has the Georgia state flag as having part of the Confederate emblem on it, is changing planes in Atlanta, Georgia, showing a disrespect for the spirit of equality and racial fairness-"
Hume: "Well, they're all gonna go there and campaign, I presume, at some point."
Barone: "I would assume they are. Perhaps we should ask them some questions about the flags there."
Hume: "Well, once, do you think it has anything to do with the fact that the current governors of those states do not happen to be Republicans?"
Barone: "Well, in Georgia, you have the Democrats controlling both houses of the legislature and the governorship, a very popular governor, Roy Barnes. In Alabama, you have some division there, but the Democrat, they also have a Democratic governor there, Don Siegelman. Be interesting to see if the press goes after Siegelman, Barnes and the Democratic candidates and asks them when they're gonna change the flag."

Don't count on it.


Forget personal responsibility, day trading is so awful it caused a guy to be murdered. Friday's NBC Nightly News featured a story on a Senate hearing chaired by Maine Senator Susan Collins about the dangers of day trading, as if anyone is forced into the activity. While reporter Robert Hager did run a soundbite from a day trading firm executive complaining of an "ambush," he started with a government agency report on how it's hard to make money day trading and ended by allowing a mother to blame day trading for getting her son murdered.

Anchor Tom Brokaw introduced the February 25 story: "The popular and high risk form of dealing in stocks which is called day trading, continues to get congressional attention. And the testimony is not very reassuring."

Robert Hager began: "What are your chances of making money as a day trader? A longshot a Senate investigating committee heard today, from the Securities and Exchange Commission's Laurie Richards.
Richards, SEC: "We found that day trading is extremely expensive."
Hager elaborated: "SEC says by the time an average trader pays commissions and other expenses, just to break even they have to make $200,000 a year. That's $17,000 a month just to break even. No surprise to the Senate committee's chair, Susan Collins."
Senator Collins: "The best evidence we have is that 77 percent of all day traders will lose some or all of their money."
Hager: "Alice Wenzel says her son, like many, thought he could beat the odds."
Alice Wenzel complained: "I don't think Scotty fully understood what it was all about. In Scotty's mind the picture that was painted for him is that he was going to become rich."
Hager gave a few seconds to a contrary view: "The day trading industry says the committee's investigation is one sided. Harvey Houtkin heads a firm called All Tech Direct."
Harvey Houtkin: "What it is, is a search-and-destroy mission. A crucifixion. An ambush."
Hager countered: "But the committee accuses firms of using flashy ads or Internet appeals to entice customers, even altering documents to make it easier for customers to trade. Alice Wenzel's son, lured into the world of day trading, paid with his life. Murdered in that Atlanta massacre last July when another day trader went on a shooting spree."
Wenzel, in tears: "It's over for him."
Hager ominously concluded: "For many the penalty's less severe, but Senate investigators said today very often it's financial ruin."

Apparently the freedom to fail must be stopped. I hope the penalty is less severe than just "for many" or we should be having dozens of murders every day. As for day trading leading to a murder in the workplace, by that logic we should have closed down the Post Office a few decades ago.


Some more publicity for a bit of historical bias highlighted by CyberAlert in January. Friday's Investor's Business Daily featured an opinion piece by Michel Medved titled, "George Washington: Hollywood Thinks He's Just Another Supply-Sider." If the subject seems familiar, you probably read about it in the January 14 CyberAlert which detailed the same scene from an A&E movie as Medved criticized.

The January 14 CyberAlert reported how in the cable movie, The Crossing, about the Continental Army victory over the Hessians at Trenton, Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene is sent to tell George Washington he should see the Hessian commander, Colonel Rall, before he dies from a gunshot wound.
As the two sit on horseback beside each other, viewers hear this exchange between actor David Ferry as General Greene and Jeff Daniels as Washington:

Greene: "General Washington, Colonel Rall is dying. General Mercer says you cannot let him die without speaking to him. It's a courtesy of war."
Washington: "Courtesy? There are no courtesies of war, Nathaniel. This is not a parlor game where I must pay my respects to that stinking mercenary who killed five hundred of my men in Brooklyn. Slaughtered them when they tried to surrender, skewered them in the backs with bayonets. You want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?"
Greene: "Our own cause is, at its heart, a fight against British taxation, is it not? In the end sir, we all kill for profit -- the British and the Hessians, and us."

As Medved wrote, "to this asinine assertion, the father of our country solemnly nods his assent and rides off to comfort his fellow mercenary."

Watch this scene from A&E's movie. The MRC still has posted a video clip in RealPlayer format. Go to: -- Brent Baker

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