CyberAlert -- 06/14/1999 -- Bush Spins; Christian Coalition = Inquisition; Anchorman Stephanopoulos

Bush Spins; Christian Coalition = Inquisition; Anchorman Stephanopoulos

1) ABC found support in Iowa for Bush's "call for compassionate conservatism," NBC determined they are only backing "a Republican who they think is going to win," while CBS insisted "the Texas Governor is still more curiosity than candidate."

2) Suggesting that Democrats will paint George W. Bush as a "hardline conservative," CNN's Jeanne Meserve asserted they will only be following what his father did to the "moderate" Dukakis.

3) Newsweek's Evan Thomas compared the Christian Coalition's activities to the Spanish Inquisition.

4) CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements.

5) Geraldo Rivera: "I think Bill Clinton has to take a lot of credit for healing the racial divide. He's the first President ever to be comfortable with black people."

6) Bob Woodward disclosed that Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett really feared Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a post-election Clinton liaison.

7) George Stephanopoulos anchors ABC's World News Now this week and with his three-year deal almost up, USA Today revealed "There's talk that anchoring is in his future."

8) A Cliche Attack from Dan Rather as he referred to "a Trojan Horse sent by e-mail, a gift bearing a killer computer virus even Microsoft got caught with its portals down."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) One candidate in one trip to one state on Saturday, but conflicting spins from the three broadcast networks. Saturday night, June 12, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows all provided full stories from Iowa on George W. Bush's first presidential foray, but while ABC found support for his "compassionate conservatism," NBC attributed support to his father and hatred of Clinton while CBS asserted Iowans have yet to make up their minds about him. Specifically:

-- Leading into two glowing assessments of Bush's policies from two Iowans, ABC's Dean Reynolds asserted: "Bush is banking on his call for compassionate conservatism to play well here in the cornbelt and in other contests next year."
-- Referring to those in the crowds, NBC's David Bloom decided it's not his policies which they support: "Asked why they're backing Bush, these supporters say they like his father, the former President; they don't like Bill Clinton. Mostly, they say, they want to back a Republican who they think is going to win."
-- But CBS's Bob McNamara found they haven't even decided whether to support him yet: "To most Iowans today the Texas Governor is still more curiosity than candidate."

In a second piece from Iowa Saturday night, NBC's Lisa Myers looked at all the other Republicans and featured this soundbite from Elizabeth Dole: "I think they want people with the courage of their convictions and that's what I call courageous conservatism and that's what I'm bringing to the table."

Here are more details on how each June 12 evening show characterized Bush's trip. (CNN's The World Today held the item to a few seconds read by the anchor and on FNC's Weekend Report Carl Cameron uniquely relayed the only real news of the day: Bush will participate in the August straw poll in Iowa.)

-- ABC's World News Tonight. From Cedar Rapids Dean Reynolds reported:
"Bush is banking on his call for compassionate conservatism to play well here in the cornbelt and in other contests next year."
Older woman: "This guy's for real. I like the way he talked."
Older man: "He's calling for responsibility and I think this is what's been missing in society over the past number of years."

After some bites from Bush, Reynolds concluded: "For the most part it was a successful first day on the stump for Bush befitting his position as frontrunner in the Republican Party race. But now as a candidate he occupies a perilous place in American politics: he is riding so high he has almost nowhere to go but down."

-- CBS Evening News. Filing from Amana Iowa, Bob McNamara opened: "With the security detail, seasoned campaign organizers and media coverage of papal proportions, Bush displayed the hand-to-hand campaign style of his bloodlines..."

Following a comment from David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register and a clip of Bush before a crowd, McNamara got to what those in attendance thought and found them less enthused than did ABC: "To most Iowans today the Texas Governor is still more curiosity than candidate."
Loretta Prostine, Iowa voter: "It looks good for him, I'll say that, but I think he has to prove himself, I think he has to tell us more what his policies are."

McNamara concluded: "His job today was to make his first impression a good one. He seemed to succeed, but the road to the White House is a long one and good days can often be few and far between."

-- NBC Nightly News. "Like a Texas twister George W. Bush stormed into Iowa today, wife Laura at his side as he stepped off his campaign plane and into the fray," David Bloom began his piece from Des Moines.
Following a soundbite from Bush, Bloom relayed:
"Asked why they're backing Bush, these supporters say they like his father, the former President; they don't like Bill Clinton. Mostly, they say, they want to back a Republican who they think is going to win."
Middle-aged man: "If he's anything like his dad, I'll support him."
Woman next to ten year or so old boy: "He's for family values, he's there for the kids."
Younger man: "I believe I can trust what he says. I mean as simple as that."

As they walked side-by-side in one of the short one-on-one interviews granted each network, Bloom asked a question a supporter of any of the other candidates would appreciate: "Your critics, lots of Democrats, a few Republicans, say that if your last name wasn't Bush you wouldn't be the Republican frontrunner, that you're untested and not ready for the job. How do you answer that?"

After Bush answered that he's not part of the DC political scene and knows he's ready to be President, Bloom concluded with the toughest, but probably most on target, conclusion of the day:
"Bush, the self-described compassionate conservative, promised to cut taxes but offered few specifics. The ten point plans, he said, will come later. For now, even many Bush supporters acknowledge, they don't really know what he stands for but they're backing him anyway."

Up next, Lisa Myers looked at the other Republicans in the field, starting with Elizabeth Dole who attacked Bush for not taking solid positions. Dole told Myers: "I think they want people with the courage of their convictions and that's what I call courageous conservatism and that's what I'm bringing to the table."

Memo to Dole: Before you can be "courageous" in your conservatism you have to have conservative views. (On this point, I would recommend picking up a copy of the June American Spectator to read James Bovard's piece titled, "Liddy Dole's Regulatory Ride: Her passion for big government and aversion to free-market solutions make her the perfect presidential candidate. For the Democrats.")

Myers ran though the status of Alexander, Dole, Kasich and McCain, before implicitly saying they are not conservative: "On the right, six candidates are vying for the votes of religious and social conservatives [on screen: photos of Keyes, Buchanan, Smith, Forbes, Bauer, Quayle] The most prominent: Former Vice President Dan Quayle, commentator Patrick Buchanan and publisher Steve Forbes..."

-- While on George W, Saturday night on CNN's Capital Gang Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal took a swipe at the Americans for Tax Reform anti-income tax hike pledge he agreed to:
"Well, for GOP nominating politics, it was smart. It was smart politics. For governing, it's neither credible nor smart, as his father learned, Mark. Look, there is no case for increasing taxes right now, but circumstances could change."

I'm sure Hunt's opposition to a tax hike won't last long.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) CNN: Dukakis was really a moderate. Suggesting that Democrats will paint George W. Bush as a "hardline conservative," CNN's Jeanne Meserve asserted they will only be following what Republicans did to the "moderate" Dukakis in 1988. MRC analyst Paul Smith picked up on this bit of analysis from Meserve on the June 8 Inside Politics last week:
"In 1988, campaign strategists for the senior Bush decided to change Dukakis' image to define him for the voters themselves. While Dukakis had been regarded as a moderate, the Bush forces succeeded in portraying him as a liberal elitist out of touch with average Americans. Today George W. Bush is considered a centrist by many Republicans but Democrats and activist groups are already starting to portray him as a hardline conservative."

"Regarded by a moderate" by whom? The media?


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The Christian Coalition is religious just like the Spanish Inquisition, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas declared over the weekend on Inside Washington.

In a brief discussion about how the IRS revoked the Christian Coalition's tax-exempt status, this exchange ensued:
Host Gordon Peterson: "You are not persuaded that this is religious organization?"
Syndicated columnist Jack Germomd: "Well it may be a religious organization as well and that's their business. The part we know about is very political."
Newsweek's Evan Thomas, talking over Germond and referring to how the Christian Coalition is religious: "So was the Spanish inquisition."
NPR's Nina Totenberg: "Geez Evan! You get to answer your own mail."

You've got to go pretty far left to outrage Totenberg.


kaplan0614.jpg (9208 bytes)cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Several University of Chicago students refused to shake President Clinton's hand on Saturday, which reminded me of a commencement address from CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan shown over the Memorial Day weekend by C-SPAN. Kaplan complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" and while he conceded the Lewinsky affair tarred Clinton he maintained that Clinton has had "extraordinary" accomplishments.

(This past Saturday, June 12, CBS and FNC noted how, as CBS anchor John Roberts put it in a brief item about what happened to Clinton at the University of Chicago: "About a dozen graduate declined, for various reasons, to shake the hand of guest speaker President Bill Clinton. Some appeared to oppose his actions in Kosovo, others wore stickers protesting U.S. free trade policies." The NBC Nightly News included a full report from John Palmer about Clinton's Chicago commencement speech in which he called for an end to child labor around the world, but Palmer didn't bother to mention the unpleasantness.)

Now to Kaplan's May 16 commencement address at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign transcribed by MRC analyst Paul Smith. Kaplan recalled his early days as a liberal political operative:
"I got a precinct job in Richard J. Daley's Democratic Party. By the way, it was there I learned the practical use of new math, but I don't want to digress. In 1968 I went on to be a twenty year old speechwriter and advance man for Senator Eugene McCarthy in his challenge to President Lyndon Johnson. But the turbulence of the times and the assassinations of Dr. King and Robert Kennedy saddened me and soured me....But my year in the McCarthy campaign gave me a great appreciation of what journalists did and what they could mean to our lives."

Going through some of the challenges the students will face, including how the media have coarsened society and how Milosevic shows man's inhumanity to man as does the Columbine shooting, Kaplan got to "hypocrisy." Kaplan rebuked Starr, and while acknowledging Clinton misdeeds, the CNN chief stood by his friend, Bill Clinton:
"In the past eighteen months, we have seen a Congress damage itself in the shameless partisanship of the House. We have seen a Senate run from the light to debate the future of a President in secret. The independent counsel law seems destined to die but Ken Starr is still around and many believe still putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation. And then there is the President, who if not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, well, it may have been because our Founding Fathers never thought a President would get caught acting in such a manner.
"Is there a lesson here? We have learned more about perjury and fidelity in the presidency of Andrew Johnson than I ever thought imaginable. Our young children learned more about sex than I may know right now. But if in the wake of this national tragedy, how many of you now believe that with the right connections, you can get away with anything. The President got impeached but he didn't lose his job so did he get away with it? I'm here to tell you that there is always a price to be paid. Not always paid on demand but paid in the end, always.
"As many of you may know, I've been privileged to be a friend of Bill Clinton's for more than twenty years and like many, I had high expectations for his presidency. His intellect and his heart and his drive to help people should have guaranteed his success, his greatness. But as it stands now, when history writes this President's story, his accomplishments, while noteworthy, even extraordinary at times, will be listed after an explanation of who Monica Lewinsky was. He kept his office, but at a very high price and I'm only talking about his public life. Well, before it's all over others will pay, I trust, as well. But remember there is always a price. You are not going to be perfect. We all make mistakes." (He went on to discuss Tailwind)

+++ See what Kaplan looks and sounds like. As the power behind CNN and the man behind the Tailwind show, as well as the Executive Producer of ABC's Prime Time Live when it produced the hit piece on Food Lion, Kaplan is a major media player -- but off-camera. Just last week he was cited in news reports about the departure of Lou Dobbs. So, to allow you to get a gander at him, on Monday morning MRC Webmaster Sean Henry will post a still shot and a clip of his commencement address. To see an image of him or hear him via RealPlayer, after 10am ET, go to:


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Geraldo Rivera also admires Clinton's "extraordinary" achievements. Last week on Today when he appeared as the guest expert on police brutality Rivera credited Clinton with "healing the racial divide." MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this from Rivera on the June 9 show:
"I think we're changing and I think Bill Clinton has to take a lot of credit for healing the racial divide. He's the first President ever to be comfortable with black people. Black people look at him and they say 'My goodness this is someone who respects our dignity as human beings? And maybe we can fix this thing.' Louima's verdict is a very positive indication also that maybe we are getting beyond justice for one, injustice for the others."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Clinton's post-election basement liaisons revealed. Sunday's Washington Post carried the first of a three-part excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. The first installment began by outlining the story of a woman Robert Bennett feared would be more trouble than Willey or Lewinsky:

Robert S. Bennett, leaning close to his client in the private study off the Oval Office, announced his suspicion in an aggressive baritone. "Mr. President," he said, "I find your explanation about one of the women frankly unbelievable."

"This is what impeachment is made of," said Bennett, President Clinton's lawyer in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. "Your political enemies will eat you alive if there's anything in that deposition that isn't truthful."

There can be no fudging or finagling, Bennett said. It would be better to have to deal with the first lady if there is a problem. "If..." Bennett said, stopping for effect, making it clear there could be no evasion. He shook his head, almost feeling electricity in the air. "You are dead. You are dead!"

"I hear you," the President said.

Every case, every witness, every client has a point of greatest vulnerability -- an Achilles' heel. Locating it is a lawyer's, and ultimately the client's, insurance policy.

It was Jan. 16, 1998, the day before Clinton was to give his deposition in the Jones case, and Bennett believed he had located the real problem Clinton faced the next day. It was not Kathleen Willey, the former White House volunteer who claimed Clinton groped her in 1993, because that had never been a relationship. It was not Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern. It was totally improbable that the president had taken up with a young woman, age 23 or 24, who apparently brought pizza and mail to the Oval Office.

No, Bennett believed, he had smoked out the real liability -- Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a beautiful marketing executive whom Clinton had known for more than a decade. Jenkins was a longtime employee of the Arkansas Power and Light Co. Her name had been linked to Clinton in published reports, but only in vague references.

She had met with Clinton in his basement office in the Arkansas governor's mansion four times in the less than three months between his election in 1992 and his inauguration in 1993. Three of the meetings took place about 5:15 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. Phone records showed that from 1989 to 1991 Clinton had placed 59 calls to Jenkins's home or office. Arkansas state trooper Danny Ferguson had brought gifts from Clinton to Jenkins.

Clinton had denied to Bennett that he had a sexual relationship with Jenkins. Bennett was not buying it. He noticed that Clinton reacted differently when Jenkins's name came up. The president paused in a forlorn and wistful way. Bennett couldn't quite put his finger on it, but Clinton's manner seemed to be a definite tip-off.

Bennett reminded the President that the judge would make a final ruling the next day at the deposition about the questions relating to women. Supposedly, Clinton was going to be asked only about women who had been state or federal employees, and Jenkins had never worked for either government.

He was going to object, but the judge could rule either way, Bennett said....

At the deposition, the Jones lawyers spent the morning asking primarily about Lewinsky. After lunch, they asked the president about his relationship with Jenkins, but the judge ruled that they could not ask further questions about her -- a victory for Clinton....

END Excerpt of the excerpt

I bet many reporters knew about this pre-Inauguration behavior, so they really had no reason to doubt later charges of reckless behavior.

To read the Woodward book excerpts in full, go to:


cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes) George Stephanopoulos, anchorman. The day after Memorial Day former Clinton hack George Stephanopoulos co-hosted Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. This week he'll spend three days anchoring ABC's overnight show, World News Now. Imagine journalistic indignation if a Reagan or Bush aide got a tryout as a network anchor while their former boss was still in office.

In the June 10 USA Today Peter Johnson revealed ABC's current plans and long term hope to make him a permanent anchor:

"....ABC has tapped Stephanopoulos to co-anchor the overnight newscast World News Now with JuJu Chang for three days next week, starting Tuesday. His answer? Sure.

"I'm easy, right?" Stephanopoulos laughed Wednesday, saying it makes him feel like Mikey in the old Life cereal ad.

In that one, two kids are challenging each other to try Life. Get Mikey to do it, one kid says to the other. Mikey ends up doing what they ask -- and liking Life.

So exactly what's going on here, Mikey?

"It's always good to learn new things," says the former White House communications chief. "I'll be there for the insomniac set." Between sitting in on GMA and doing World News Now, "I'm trying to have my sleep patterns irrevocably altered."

ABC is talking to Stephanopoulos about a new contract; his three-year deal is almost up. There's talk that anchoring is in his future, and viewers should expect to see more of him.

End Excerpt

Before you dismiss World News Now, which airs for various lengths of time on ABC affiliate between 1 and 5am, remember that more people watch it than tune in to CNN during prime time. Amongst the World News Now vets who went on to greater network prominence: Aaron Brown (ABC reporter and fill-in WNT and Nightline anchor), Thalia Assuras (co-host of CBS's This Morning) and Lisa McRee (former co-host of GMA.)


cyberno8.gif (1522 bytes) Dan Rather's Attack of Cliches. In a 24-second introduction to a story on the June 11 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather managed to squeeze in six cliches, plus a gratuitous bit of hype about the reporter. Over a graphic reading "Virus Attack," Rather announced:
"One of the oldest battle strategies in the book is up and running today for a hack attack in cyberspace. The FBI is warning of a Trojan Horse sent by e-mail, a gift bearing a killer computer virus inside. One of our best writers, Richard Schlesinger, has the 'you've got mail' story and how even Microsoft got caught with its portals down."

"Caught with its portals down" may sound cute, but it makes no sense and probably few CBS Evening News viewers know what an Internet portal even is.

Leading into an end of show piece on how people in the town of Livermore, California cannot locate their buried time capsule, Rather refrained from cliches but delivered a silly rhyme and another plug for a staff member:
"There's something of a scavenger hunt going on in Northern California, a search for lost time. Another of our very good writers, John Blackstone, reports on this great history mystery."

Sounds like Dan had one too many cocktails before Friday's show. -- Brent Baker


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