CyberAlert -- 05/10/2000 -- Bush "Not Qualified?"

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Bush "Not Qualified?"; Untrue Not "False" Skipped; West Wing's Left Wing

1) McCain's endorsement of Bush topped ABC and NBC Tuesday night. Tom Brokaw asked McCain if he were disappointed that Bush failed to "condemn" Pat Robertson and if he had now "endorsed somebody who's not qualified to be President in terms of foreign policy?"

2) The broadcast networks managed to avoid mentioning the party affiliation of Louisiana's Edwin Edwards in noting the corruption convictions of "the state's colorful former Governor."

3) Bill Clinton's argument that though his testimony implied "facts that are not true," it was not "false," and so he should not be disbarred, generated a few seconds on ABC's GMA and full stories on FNC, but zilch on the other morning and evening shows.

4) Bryant Gumbel played David Letterman's "love interest" on Monday's Late Show, striding across the stage to kiss Letterman.

5) A presidential aide on NBC's The West Wing to a Senator opposed to liberal campaign finance reform: "Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass." Plus: "mandatory minimums" are "racist" and should be replaced by "drug treatment."

6) Network "town meetings" to push liberal causes. Hillary to get an hour on Thursday's Today; GMA to promote the Million Mom March by bringing moms to the White House who "can make a difference."

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons John McCain Endorsed George W. Bush."

Corrections. Three errors in the May 5 CyberAlert: "Dan Rather noted how O'Connor had did after a battle with cancer" should have read "had died." The item on the e-mail hearing referred to the "Wahite House" instead of the "White House." And American Investigator's Marc Morano reported that a) the first name of the wife of Chevy Chase is spelled "Jayni," not "Jayne," and b) the Chase's did not hop "out of their limousine," but got out of a sedan. Though by Clintonian definition any motor vehicle driven by a hired driver is a limousine, so maybe I was accurate in thee first place.


John McCain's grudging endorsement of George W. Bush topped the ABC and NBC evening newscasts Tuesday night while CBS ran a piece on it after leading with the National Weather Service's announcement that La Nina is "fading."

NBC Nightly News featured an interview with McCain in which Tom Brokaw asked if he were disappointed that Bush failed to "condemn" Pat Robertson for saying McCain's temper would make him a "dangerous" President and, recalling how McCain had said he was "the only one running for President who knows the military and understands the world," had he now "endorsed somebody who's not qualified to be President in terms of foreign policy?"

Brokaw opened the May 9 NBC Nightly News, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "It may not be love, but in politics it's the next best thing. Today Texas Governor George W. Bush was formally endorsed by his strongest opponent, Arizona Senator John McCain. They met for ninety minutes in Pittsburgh, and later I talked to McCain in his Washington office. The Pittsburgh meeting had been on the calendar for some time, but it was only recently that McCain decided to endorse. What one reporter called, 'taking your medicine now, not later.'"

After a soundbite from McCain at the Westin William Penn hotel, saying he's "taking his medicine," NBC went to Brokaw's taped interview. Brokaw's first inquiry: "You described what you did today as, 'taking your medicine now, rather than later.' That doesn't sound to me like a ringing and enthusiastic endorsement." McCain called it a joking response before Brokaw next asked: "Was the office of Vice President mentioned in any form?" and "I asked the Senator about his differences with Governor Bush over campaign finance reform."
Brokaw then brought up Pat Robertson: "On NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, the evangelist and political activist Pat Robertson questioned McCain's stability."
Robertson in a clip from Meet the Press: "Can you imagine dealing with our foreign powers and you get mad and you fly off the handle. It could be very dangerous."
Brokaw to McCain: "When given a chance to condemn those remarks today, Governor Bush failed to do so. Did that disappoint you?"
McCain: "Yes."
Brokaw: "What did you think when you heard Pat Robertson's remarks?"
McCain called them vicious and bad for the Republican Party before Brokaw helpfully reminded viewers: "During the campaign McCain attacked Robertson as an 'agent of intolerance' who hurts the Republican Party."

Brokaw next inquired: "During the course of your campaign against George Bush, you also said you're the only one running for President who knows the military and understands the world, the only one. Have you endorsed somebody who's not qualified to be President in terms of foreign policy?"
McCain replied that he's the best qualified, but Bush is very well versed on foreign policy.

Brokaw's last question: "Is it fair to say that you and George W. Bush have a good professional understanding but not a very close personal relationship?"
McCain answered: "I think that's fair to say because I don't know him very well."

NBC then went to David Gregory for a summary of the Pittsburgh meeting and what led to it. He opened his piece:
"However forced McCain's endorsement is, Bush will take it. And what he gets is a bridge to the independent swing voters McCain courted and attracted along the way..."

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings began the show by announcing: "We begin tonight with the presidential campaign. The Republican Party got its ducks in a row today. Senator John McCain, who almost derailed the best-financed campaign in history a few months ago, that of George W. Bush, took his medicine today and said, 'I do.'"

ABC's Aaron Brown explained: "John McCain arrived to the meeting exactly two months after he gave up his campaign against Governor Bush, and after the ninety-minute private meeting Governor Bush got exactly what he wanted." After some soundbites from McCain, Brown suggested: "Set aside, if not forgotten, were those nasty days of winter, when McCain all but called Bush a liar or something worse." Brown then showed a clip of the McCain ad saying Bush "twists the truth like Clinton." Brown concluded: "Politics is a pragmatic business, and today was proof of that. Republicans can now say they are united for the fall, the McCain problem solved."

Dan Rather introduced the CBS Evening News story: "In the long presidential campaign John McCain did the expected today. He said yes he is endorsing Bush for President and no he doesn't want to be his running mate. This came at the end of the much ballyhooed and hyped Bush-McCain summit in Pittsburgh."

Bob Schieffer asserted before running old clips of the two candidates attacking each other: "Bush flew in knowing he needed McCain to woo independents, but in truth both men dreaded this meeting and why not. Remember: They once promised never to go negative and shook on it."


The corrupt man without a party. CBS and NBC managed to run items Tuesday night on the corruption convictions against former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, without mentioning his party affiliation. ABC's Peter Jennings also failed to explicitly note it, but made an indirect reference.

Here's what viewers of the May 9 CBS Evening News heard from Dan Rather: "The odds caught up today with former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. After years of beating government investigations and charges, Edwards and his son were found guilty of federal racketeering charges and other crimes. The case involved alleged payoffs for river boat gambling licenses. The stunned Edwards says he faces a long, large prison term and he will appeal."

NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced: "In Louisiana tonight the state's colorful former Governor, Edwin Edwards, has been found guilty on 17 counts of fraud and racketeering. Edwards, who is 72-years-old, was convicted of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen eager to get licenses to run river boat casinos. Edwards was acquitted on nine counts."

ABC's World News Tonight similarly avoided party identification in citing his conviction, but anchor Peter Jennings went on to offer some background history on Edwards and offered this hint as to which party he belonged: "Edwards is equal parts polished politician and classic rogue. He was a consummate wheeler-dealer, he got support from old line white Democrats, blacks and Cajuns. He was one of them."

Louisiana may have open primaries, but I bet if the corrupt politician were a conservative Republican the network anchors would have found that bit of biographical information to be worth highlighting.


Depends what your definition of "false" is. Bill Clinton's argument that though his Paula Jones grand jury testimony was "misleading" and implied "facts that are not true," it was nonetheless not false and so he should not be disbarred, generated little network interest.

Tuesday's Good Morning America ran a short item on the Southeastern Legal Foundation's revelation of Clinton's response to their complaint to the ethics committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report aired full stories the night before, but ABC, CBS, MSNBC and NBC skipped it in the evening as did CBS and NBC in the morning.

In a front page story in the May 9 Washington Times reporter Andrew Cain relayed Clinton's reasoning. To lessen quote mark confusion, this is the paragraph as it appeared in the Times story, sans any quote marks which would normally be added by me to show it's a quote:
"Many categories of responses which are misleading, evasive, nonresponsive or frustrating are nevertheless not legally 'false'" such as "literally truthful answers that imply facts that are not true," his attorneys say in an 80-page legal brief under seal since it was filed last month.

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that Tuesday morning, May 9, GMA viewers heard this short item from Antonio Mora at 7:30am in which he found time to add an ideological label:
"A conservative group that wants President Clinton to lose his law license says the President is arguing that he didn't lie in the Lewinsky scandal. The Southeastern Legal Foundation says the President has filed still sealed court papers arguing that he deserves no worse than a reprimand."

The night before FNC's Brit Hume zoomed in on Clinton's argument about what "false means," topping his 6pm ET, 9pm PT show by marveling:
"It was one of the most memorable lines from the Clinton investigations. Asked about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, the President responded, quote 'it depends on what the definition of is is.' Now, in an effort to keep from being disbarred in Arkansas, Mr. Clinton is arguing over what the definition of 'false' is."

Reporter David Shuster explained, in also tagging the group involved: "According to a conservative group that is trying to have his law license revoked, President Clinton argues in court papers that his testimony about Monica Lewinsky was not false, as he defines that term. The President has refused to make public his definition of 'false' or release his arguments against a possible disbarment. But the Southeastern Legal Foundation is using strong words."
Matthew Glavin of the Southeastern Legal Foundation at a National Press Club press conference: "He responded with an 85 page attempt, pathetic attempt, to defend the indefensible."
Shuster elaborated: "According to Glavin, the President argued that his testimony in the Paula Jones lawsuit was not a crime and therefore no sanction should be imposed stronger than a reprimand. But in a response to Clinton's filing, Glavin's foundation notes that the threshold for disbarment in Arkansas is lower than the threshold for finding somebody guilty of perjury. The foundation charges that under rules of the Arkansas bar, it is professional misconduct to be dishonest. And the group says Mr. Clinton clearly violated those standards through his verbal gymnastics over Monica Lewinsky."
Clinton, January 17th, 1999: "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her."
Shuster: "The President was asked if he was ever alone with her in the hallway near the Oval Office."
Clinton in same testimony: "I don't believe so unless we were walking back to the back dining room with the pizza. I just -- I don't remember. I don't believe we were alone in the hallway, no."
Shuster reminded viewers: "That response was one of several cited last summer by Judge Susan Webber Wright when she held the President in contempt. She ruled that he gave 'false, misleading and evasive answers' that were designed to obstruct the judicial process. That's enough, according to the Southeastern Legal Foundation, to conclude Mr. Clinton violated Arkansas rules and made a mockery of the guidelines established by the American Bar Association."

After another soundbite from Glavin, Shuster concluded by noting how Clinton attorney David Kendall issued a "statement suggesting the Southeastern Legal Foundation is part of the so-called 'right-wing conspiracy' and is only interested in slinging mud."

Depends on your definition of "mud."


Bryant Gumbel planted a big kiss on David Letterman on Monday's Late Show, a clip The Early Show replayed Tuesday morning to Gumbel's seeming consternation.

On the May 8 edition of his CBS program, Letterman ran through some items under the heading of "What's New at the Late Show." Here's the eighth and final item, as recounted by Michael Z. McIntee on the Late Show's Web page report, The Wahoo Gazette:
"Ah, a love interest. What better way to pump up excitement than to create the sexual tension of a love interest and so that's just what the suits at CBS decided to do. They've given Dave a love interest. CBS morning man Bryant Gumbel then made an entrance, walked over to Dave and planted the biggest, longest, and wettest kiss on the cheek of our host. OK, OK, so it was only a peck but it was a big step for CBS. Not only was it two men but it was interracial too! So risque! If they weren't already asleep for two hours, the Matlock crowd would have been up in arms."

Just before Tuesday's Early Show ended, at about 8:52am, as Mark McEwen sat with Gumbel and news reader Julie Chen, he cut Gumbel off: "Before you talk I have to do something. Last night-" Gumbel jumped in, exclaiming "Oh, c'mon!" as he tossed his pen. Viewers then saw a Late Show clip in which Letterman announced how "the network had this idea, they're providing me on the show with a love interest." On sauntered Gumbel, walking across the stage to Letterman's desk where he kissed Letterman on the cheek, then looked longingly toward Letterman before walking away.

+++ Watch Gumbel kiss Letterman. Wednesday morning the MRC's acting Webmaster, Eric Pairel, will post a RealPlayer clip of what Early Show viewers saw -- McEwen's set up, the Letterman show clip, and laughter afterward amongst the Early Show team. Go to:


Another new episode of The West Wing airs tonight, Wednesday May 10, on NBC and should continue the show's liberal crusading as it approaches the season-ending episode. As noted in the May 3 CyberAlert, the week before the 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT show unveiled plot lines having "President Josiah Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, launch a quest to push for liberal campaign finance reform and allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Last week the show continued the campaign finance reform cause and added replacing "mandatory minimums" for drug convictions, which were repeatedly called "racist," with more funding for drug "treatment."

As transcribed by MRC intern Michael Ferguson, the May 3 episode opened with President Bartlet making a speech in a hotel room: "I get nervous around laws that fundamentally assume that Americans can't be trusted. You'd better have mandatory sentencing because judges can't be trusted to disperse even handed justice. You'd better have term limits because voters can't be trusted to recognize corruption. Oh, and by the way, I say by the way, when the playing field is level and the process is fair and open, it turns out we have term limits. They're called elections."

The show then jumped to the office of a Senator played by Bruce Weitz, who was "Belker" on Hill Street Blues. He and some staff watch Bartlet on TV and hear him announce: "Tomorrow morning we're going to begin to change the way elections are supervised."

The Senator's aide, "Steve," informs the Senator: "He's going to name two finance reformers to the FEC."
The Senator, turning angry: "What the hell are you talking about?"
Steve: "Listen."
Senator: "You said it wasn't going to happen."
Steve: "I was wrong."
The Senator, in an angry growl: "You were wrong?"
Steve: "He's going to name -- damn it, somebody-"
Female aide: "Jon Bacon and Patty Calhoun."
Senator: "You told him they take on campaign finance reform, I roll out a legislative agenda that'll make his boys sit down and cry?"
Steve: "I made it very clear."
Bartlet, on TV: "I am proud to nominate Jonathan Bacon and Patricia Calhoun to the Federal Election Commission."
The Senator demanded: "Get him on the phone."
Steve: "Who?"
The Senator, very angry: "Josh Lyman. Get him on the phone. I'm going to reach down his throat and take out his lungs with an ice cream scoop."

As if an FEC appointment would so anger a Senator.

Cutting to the back of the room where the President is giving the speech, Bartlet's Deputy Communications Director "Sam Seaborn," played by Rob Lowe, reminds Deputy Chief-of-Staff "Josh Lyman," played by Bradley Whitford, that the Senator's staff had warned that they'd bring up popular legislation opposed by the President if the President dared to name liberal reformers to the FEC. Josh is then handed a cell phone and says into it: "Hi Senator. Why don't you take your legislative agenda and shove it up your ass."

That missed the family hour by about three minutes.

Later, in an effort to head off opposition to "mandatory minimums," which are called "racist," and to ensure support for more money for "treatment," Chief-of-Staff "Leo" pulls a big stunt. He gathers seven staff members who works for Congressmen who have had close relatives escape tough sentencing for drug crimes. Leo threatens them, warning that the President is "not going to stomach hypocrisy. If we start hearing soft on crime, soft on drugs from any of the people you work for, we've got seven stories ready for page one."

Talking with President Bartlet later in the day, Communications Director "Toby Ziegler," played by Richard Schiff, tells him: "Mandatory minimums are considerably higher for crack than for powder cocaine."
Bartlet: "Yes."
Toby: "The vast majority of crack users are black. The vast majority of drug users are white. Mandatory minimums are racist."
Bartlet: "Yes they are."
Toby: "It should be part of the discussion."
Bartlet: "And it will be."

For summaries/quotes from past West Wing plot lines, check out these CyberAlert articles, which also feature RealPlayer clips from the program:

-- May 3 CyberAlert: After some dialogue backing school vouchers, NBC's West Wing went left wing on campaign finance and gays in the military. Go to:

-- March 22 CyberAlert: Left and Right West Wing. NBC's The West Wing delivered scenes linking census sampling opponents to the Constitution's definition of blacks as 3/5ths a person and aired a candid admission that liberals don't trust people to spend their money correctly. Go to:

-- January 27 CyberAlert: NBC's liberal dream State of the Union. On The West Wing the President abandons "the era of big government is over" theme and agrees "government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left instrument of good." Go to:


Two network "town meetings" scheduled this week to promote liberal causes:

-- The first hour of Thursday's Today on NBC will be devoted to a "town meeting" with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

-- Friday morning, tied to the so-called "Million Mom March" set for Sunday, ABC's Good Morning America will return to the White House for a broadcast devoted to gun control, the same theme examined in a White House visit back in June. GMA Executive Producer Shelly Ross conceded to USA Today that the last White House town meeting with high school kids "gave me goose bumps. It was an incredible example of free speech and democracy."

This week instead of kids, USA Today's Peter Johnson reported Tuesday, ABC will feature "moms who are for and against gun control -- women Ross says 'can make a difference' in the national debate on the issue."

Instead of balanced presentation, ABC used its June 4 White House broadcast to push gun control. Charles Gibson, for instance, lectured Bill Clinton from the left: "But when you went to Littleton, a friend of yours, who supports you on gun control, said to me in the last 48 hours, the President, because as he said Littleton has seared the national conscience, the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed, and that was a friend of yours. There are very basic measures that could be taken that people agree on. We register every automobile in America. We don't register guns. That's a step that would make a difference."

For more on that show, go to:


From the May 9 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Reasons John McCain Endorsed George W. Bush." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Setting record -- "Endorsing most dumb rich white guys"
9. The fact that people who don't endorse him often end up in the electric chair
8. Bush hinted might be able to bring back "Beverly Hills 90210"
7. George W. has videotape of McCain partying with him in 80s
6. Figured, "What's the difference -- Gore's gonna whip him like a gimp donkey anyway"
5. The skip in his step, the twinkle in the eye...the man's in love!
4. Bush vowed to brush up on foreign leaders, like that French what's-his-face
3. Four horrendous years with Bush equals President McCain in 2004
2. Very persuasive argument presented by Bush's drug kingpin friends
1. Tired of Bush calling in middle of night screaming, "Pleeeeease!"

Bush may have won over McCain, but he certainly hasn't won over the late night comedians. -- Brent Baker

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