CyberAlert -- 03/07/2000 -- Bush's "Hard Right Edge"

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Bush's "Hard Right Edge"; Temple Event Attack Skipped; Lifetime's Gift to Hillary

1) CBS's Bill Whitaker on Bush's strategy: "Soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina." Jimmy Breslin on ABC: "We don't come from a low IQ state." NBC's Tom Brokaw compared the campaign to TV wrestling: "Let's get ready to rumble."

2) George Bush attacked Al Gore for the Buddhist temple event, but ABC and NBC ignored him. CBS picked up on it, but didn't mention Maria Hsia's name, the woman convicted for it last week.

3) The RNC urged its supporters to call and e-mail the networks to complain about the lack of Hsia coverage.

4) "Unfortunately that was defeated," complained the co-host of a new ABC News-produced Lifetime show, about Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Other topics raised in the interview with her: Grocery shopping and what she'll do "to help women" get day care.

5) Bush made up for Letterman with a well-received appearance with Jay Leno.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Campaign Is Doomed."

>>> Now online, the March 6 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "Kamikaze Conservatism'; "No Compassionate Conservative"; "McCain No Moderate"; "Bush Makes McCain Fans Cry"; "Disgusting Whiff of Cold War"; "Gore: A Better Son Than Bush"; "Poisonous Free Speech" and "Bryant's Reagan Double Take." To read these quotes, go to: <<<

Clarification: The March 6 CyberAlert quoted NPR's Nina Totenberg as saying on Inside Washington, in defense of Al Gore's affiliation with Maria Hsia, that he didn't know the event at the Buddhist temple was a fundraiser. She added: "But that's undoubtedly true of Bob Dole and one of his top campaign people last time, in the middle of the campaign, had to plead guilty to major campaign finance abuses but there's no film in that case. In this case there's film at 11." The MRC's Tim Graham suggested that Totenberg was referring to Simon Fireman. The October 24, 1996 CyberAlert relayed: "Dan Rather announced that Simon Fireman, a former Dole fundraiser, had been ordered to pay $6 million in fines for laundering money to avoid contribution limits. NBC's Tom Brokaw also mentioned Simon as he introduced a piece by Lisa Myers on soft money fundraising by both parties." Hmmm. Nothing there about being a foreign agent or arranging money from monks.

Corrections: The March 6 CyberAlert said Anne Heche "claimed she's both male than female." The "than" should have been "and." The same issue quoted NBC's Matt Lauer, in an interview of John McCain, referring to "you're challenges to Pat Robertson." That should have read "your."


George W. Bush's strategy on the day before Super Tuesday: "To soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina," insisted Bill Whitaker on the CBS Evening News. In a story looking at how John McCain must win New York, ABC's John Cochran also raised the Bob Jones issue, allowing New York columnist Jimmy Breslin to take a swipe at those in South Carolina: "We don't come from a low IQ state." Even if McCain loses big on Super Tuesday he may not go away as CBS Bob Schieffer reported that some Republicans have "concluded Bush-McCain may be the strongest ticket Republicans can field."

Opening the March 6 NBC Nightly News, anchor Tom Brokaw compared the presidential contest to wrestling:
"In the closing hours before the biggest Tuesday in this free for all presidential primary campaign, it is beginning to resemble the television wrestling shows. Let's get ready to rumble. On the eve of Super Tuesday, it's looking like a lock for Al Gore among the Democrats and a decided advantage for Governor Bush among the Republicans."

NBC's David Bloom looked at how McCain spent the day complaining about Bush's ads while Bush touted his education plans with his wife at his side. Bloom noted that in New York women were reacting badly to Bush's anti-McCain ads on breast cancer funding as they are "irate that the issue's being politicized." Claire Shipman checked in on the Gore/Bradley battle before Tom Brokaw examined how Hispanics are the key to who wins California.

Here's more on how the March 6 ABC and CBS evening shows approached Super Tuesday:

-- ABC's World News Tonight ran back-to-back pieces on McCain and Bush. Linda Douglass began her take on McCain's day:
"John McCain's rhetoric is increasingly bitter as he tries to get voters to share his outrage over the big ad campaign being run against him by George Bush's supporters."
McCain: "And we ask Governor Bush to tell his sleazy Texas buddies to stop these negative ads. Take your money back to Texas where it belongs."

Dean Reynolds looked at Bush, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Twenty-four hours before the most critical day of voting in his campaign, George W. Bush addressed his strengths and weaknesses. In San Diego this morning, the Governor stressed public education and his desire to improve it. The campaign thinks education is his strongest issue, and today Bush's wife Laura helped out."
Reynolds soon raised the issue which the media will never let go: "Then this afternoon in Los Angeles, Bush spoke on the issue that has hurt him in this race and may well in the general election to come. Addressing the center dedicated to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Bush sought to dispel the notion his campaign curries favor with bigots."
Bush: "Tolerance can never be assumed, and it always must be taught. We don't believe in tolerance in spite of out faith. We believe in tolerance because of our faith."
Reynolds added: "The bigotry charge is an indication of how tough the race with Senator McCain has been."

Next, John Cochran showed how McCain must win New York if he wants his campaign to continue, but he too soon arrived at Bob Jones University: "To win McCain must get big help from Catholics, who comprise half of the state's Republican voters. Columnist Jimmy Breslin, a Catholic, believes Bush's visit to Bob Jones University will hurt him here."
Breslin: "I mean if you go to a place like that, he should, he knew what he was doing. Come on. He went in there. He'd rather have the 6,000 in the audience, and he figured those people up North won't mind. Well, we don't come from a low IQ state."
Cochran did then balance him out: "But some Catholics say Bush has apologized for failing to defend Catholics in South Carolina, and that should be the end of it."
William Donohue, President of Catholic League: "McCain then tried to exploit the issue, and now when the, Bush apologized, I think most Catholics feel like, 'let's move on, we've had it with this issue.'"
Cochran concluded by suggesting the end may be near for McCain: "No show runs forever. Even Cats will soon close and if McCain fails to squeak through in New York his show could close here too."

Later, World News Tonight dedicated "A Closer Look" segment to a piece by Terry Moran taking on Al Gore from the left. Moran outlined the complaint by far-left environmentalists, naturally unlabeled, about how they claim that because Gore controls his father's estate, which includes $500,000 in Occidental Petroleum stock, he is not taking the side of Indians in Colombia who are fighting plans by the company to drill on their land.

-- CBS Evening News. Up front, Phil Jones uniquely reported that McCain has already spent $40 million, putting him just a few hundred thousand short of the total candidates who accept matching funds are allowed to spend during the entire primary season.

Bob Schieffer then told Dan Rather about conflicting advice being delivered to McCain: "Dan, the McCain campaign is all smiles out front, but behind the scenes, some key supporters now believe his quest for the Republican nomination is all but over, and how to end it could explode into a nasty fight. Here is why. One group of advisors is so angry about the Bush team's tactics, they want McCain to continue his campaign for the presidency as an independent, something McCain has always said he'd never do. But these same supporters hope a new poll showing McCain could get a quarter of the vote as an independent might help to change his mind.
"That group is very much at odds with other supporters who are now urging McCain to find some way to make peace with Bush and end his campaign on a positive note. They are pushing McCain as a vice presidential running mate for Bush, but they say that can't happen given the current animosity. The question, of course, is whether Bush would even consider McCain as a running mate, something McCain has always said he never wanted. Bush himself has never said who he wants, but we've learned that some of his key supporters have discussed it with some of McCain's key supporters, and that group has concluded Bush-McCain may be the strongest ticket Republicans can field against the Democrats this fall."

Next, Bill Whitaker checked in on Bush and applied some loaded labeling: "His strategy, to soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina. Labeled intolerant there, in Los Angeles today he visited the Museum of Tolerance, dedicated to Holocaust victims. He's wooing women and Latinos, stressing issues like education and as much as possible he's ignoring John McCain."


On the campaign trail on Monday George W. Bush attacked Al Gore over the Buddhist temple fundraising event, but though it was organized by Maria Hsia who was convicted for it last Thursday, Bush's citation still didn't prompt a word about her on ABC or NBC Monday night. Only the CBS Evening News picked up on Bush's attack, but failed to mention Hsia.

As noted in the previous two CyberAlerts, last Thursday ABC's World News Tonight gave Hsia's conviction, for illegal funneling of straw donor money, just 19 seconds while it got 23 seconds on the CBS Evening News. NBC Nightly News skipped it then and again Monday night and all three morning shows ignored it Friday morning.

In a March 6 CBS Evening News story on Gore reporter John Roberts focused on how Gore is already employing "the nasty tone usually reserved for general elections." After playing a soundbite of Gore claiming Texas is the 50th state in health insurance for women and attacking Bush for having a donor pay for ads bashing McCain on the environment, Whitaker noted:
"Bush quickly fired back at Gore and today vowed to remind Americans of the campaign finance scandals of the past seven years."
Bush: "The man must have amnesia when he's talking about campaign funding reform. He must have forgotten that he went to a Buddhist temple here in California."
Roberts: "Gore is attempting to deflect criticism by embracing John McCain's call for campaign finance reform."
Roberts to Gore: "Republicans would say that you can't legitimately assume a mantle of reform given what happened in 1996. True or untrue?"
Gore: "Both parties made mistakes in 1996 and the important point is what is learned from those mistakes."

Lesson #1: If the networks are on your side you don't have to worry about them making the conviction of a fundraiser into a big issue.

(Clarification: The last two CyberAlerts have featured a headline including the words "Hsia Shunned" in reference to the networks ignoring the conviction of Maria Hsia. I failed to note how her last name is pronounced: "Shaw," thus creating a headline rhyme.)


Speaking of Hsia shunned, the Republican National Committee (RNC) made sure Monday that network staffers who handle calls and e-mail weren't shunned. Monday morning Cliff May and Mike Collins, of the RNC's communications office, sent an e-mail message under the name of RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson to RNC activists around the country urging them to call or e-mail the networks to complain about the lack of coverage of Hsia's conviction.

In his Tuesday "Inside Politics" column for the Washington Times, Greg Pierce summarized the result:

The Republican Party yesterday gave out the phone numbers of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and urged Republicans to call the network anchors to protest coverage of a Democratic fund-raising trial.

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson told the Associated Press that the evening news programs didn't devote enough time to Thursday's conviction of Vice President Al Gore's former fund-raiser for arranging illegal contributions to Democrats during the 1996 campaign.

Maria Hsia was convicted of five felonies over more than $100,000 in illegal contributions. The "CBS Evening News" devoted 23 seconds to the story Thursday evening, Mr. Nicholson said, while ABC's "World News Tonight" logged 19 seconds. NBC's "Nightly News" did not mention the story at all, he said.

Both The Washington Times and The Washington Post put the story on the front page. "I think it's neglect," Mr. Nicholson said. "If she had been a Republican operative who had brought money to a Republican candidate, there would have been an absolute uproar."

Network representatives say Mr. Nicholson's protest was unusual in including the office phone numbers of the anchors and their bosses and, in some cases, their e-mail addresses. His call to arms was issued via e-mail to about 10,000 Republican activists and radio talk show hosts across the country.

Yesterday, Mr. Nicholson said the networks had responded to the protest by disconnecting their anchors' e-mail accounts. "The callers who can actually get through to Peter Jennings' office are being hung up on -- right after they mention Maria Hsia," Mr. Nicholson said.

END reprint

The information the RNC distributed:

-- ABC News
World News Anchor -- Peter Jennings -- 212/456-4025

News Chairman -- Roone Arledge -- 212/456-4000

News President -- David Westin -- 212/456-6200
Fax -- 212/456-2795

-- CBS News
Evening News Anchor -- Dan Rather -- 212/975-6677
News President -- Andrew Heyward -- 212/975-7825

News Executive Vice President -- Jonathan Klein -- 212/975-2730
Fax -- 212/975-1893

-- NBC News
Nightly News Anchor -- Tom Brokaw -- 212/664-4214

News President -- Andrew Lack -- 212/664-4611
Fax -- 212/664-6044


Empathizing with Hillary. On Monday the Lifetime cable network debuted a new 12pm ET/PT one-hour talk show co-produced with ABC News called Lifetime Live. Hillary Clinton was the first guest but she hardly got a grilling from co-hosts Dana Reeve and Deborah Roberts, a veteran of NBC News and ABC News who has frequently filled-in on Good Morning America.

Reeve sympathized with Hillary: "You had major efforts to reform, major reform of health care in this country, and unfortunately that was defeated." The next question from Roberts: Tell us about your grocery shopping experience. Later Roberts wondered about how much Hillary will do to solve day care problems: "Have you thought much about what you want to do to try to help women in this area?"

Early on in the interview Deborah Roberts set up Hillary with this softball, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"Let's talk a little bit about gun violence, if you would. As you know, the country was shaken last week when a six-year-old girl was shot and killed by a six-year-old classmate. Over the weekend, the President has called for some stricter gun control measures, among them safety locks on guns, licensing of handguns, a number of other things. Is this enough to make a difference?"

Reeve soon shifted topics to health care and how much Hillary cares: "Let's talk a little bit about health care because we know in '94, you had major efforts to reform, major reform of health care in this country, and unfortunately that was defeated. We're also aware, of course, that you have new ideas. What did you learn from your experience in '94 and how has that affected your policy now?"

Reeve moved on, gushing: "And we're sort of neighbors now, and what is it like to be, after all these years, in civilian life, somewhat?"

Hillary claimed it's "really exciting for me and for Bill to have our own home again."

ABC News veteran Roberts didn't ask when they had their first one, since they've always lived in government housing or rented, but instead asked about grocery shopping: "Now I heard you say the other day that you were going grocery shopping. Now is that really possible? Can you go grocery shopping?"

Hillary assured her she does go to the grocery store, though she feels like Rip Van Winkle, adding it's neat to see the new stuff and meet her neighbors.

After an ad break, Reeve told Hillary: "You might be interested to know that actually we sent some cameras out on the street, and the vast majority of the people, of course, were interested in your personal life, as I think they are with any kind of public figure. And you've described a little bit of how you've not let that get in the way. Now that you've seen that in your life and your career and how people really delve into personal life, what about Chelsea? Would you recommend the same kind of career for Chelsea? Is Chelsea at all interested in politics? Is it something - we're so protective of our children."
Hillary: "With good cause, yes."
Reeve: "And that's something, yeah, and I'm just curious about that."

Later in the interview Roberts set up Hillary: "Mrs. Clinton, so many women are concerned about child care. Sixty-nine percent of the women in this country who are -- 69 percent of the mothers in this country are working. And so obviously child care and affordable child care is bound to become an issue. Have you thought much about what you want to do to try to help women in this area?"

Very late in the interview Roberts did get around to some mildly challenging questions about why women don't seem to be flocking to her candidacy.

In 1992 Bill Clinton used MTV to bring his message to a new audience. This year it looks like Lifetime has put itself at Hillary's service.

++ See a video excerpt of Hillary Clinton on Lifetime. Tuesday afternoon MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip. Go to:


Bush did better Monday night with Leno live and in person than he fared last week on Letterman via satellite. His sit down chat with Leno on the Tonight Show went at least as well as McCain's session last Thursday on the same show.

In Tuesday's Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce recounted some of the interview banter and an earlier show-opening bit involving Leno, Bush and another celebrity:

Less than a week after he bombed with David Letterman, George W. Bush sought a comedic rebound Monday on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

The comedian asked the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate about his family and his courtship of his wife, but also made light of Mr. Bush's conceded partying past. "When you were out at a frat party, having a good time at Yale, partying with the boys, were you ever thinking, 'You know, I don't want to have that beer. I might be running for President.' Did that ever cross your mind?" Mr. Bush deadpanned: "No."

The late-night talk show opened with a skit making fun of Mr. Bush's performance on a pop quiz earlier in the campaign. Mr. Leno was filmed searching the studio before finding Mr. Bush in his dressing room.
"Who is Tony Blair?" said Mr. Bush. "Who is Boris Yeltsin?"
Mr. Leno looked incredulous that a candidate would not know the names of such contemporary British and Russian leaders. Mr. Bush, indignant himself, said he was having a daily briefing with an adviser. The camera then panned back to show Mr. Bush with Alex Trebek.

"All right governor, once again the category is foreign leaders. Who was the prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999?" said the host of "Jeopardy." Mr. Bush replied: "Who is Benjamin Netanyahu?" Thrilled with the correct answer, Mr. Leno pumped a fist and said, "Yes."

END reprint

To read Pierce's Monday through Friday columns of political items, go to:


From the March 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the first political Top Ten list since Letterman's return two weeks ago: "The Top Ten Signs Your Campaign Is Doomed." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Campaign bus adorned with catchy slogan "Greyhound"
9. Your staffers already refer to day after "Super Tuesday" as "Crushing Depression Wednesday."
8. Your name: Michael W. Dukakis
7. John Rocker won't shut up about how great you are.
6. You ask wife who she voted for; she says, "That's personal."
5. You own one suit, and it's starting to get ripe.
4. You've done the bulk of your campaigning in Mexico.
3. Only "celebrity" supporting you is guy who sort of looks like Roy Scheider.
2. When McCain mentions years in Vietnamese prison, you brag, "In junior high I was, like, always getting detention."
1. Voters refer to you as "The dork in the pirate outfit."

Since CyberAlert last ran a Letterman Top Ten list the Late Show has debuted a new Web page with access to video clips from the show, a complete Top Ten archive and the Wahoo Gazette: -- Brent Baker

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