CyberAlert -- 06/15/1999 -- Unlike Dad, W's No "Race-Baiter"; Rather Can't Say Gore's Wrong

Unlike Dad, W's No "Race-Baiter"; Rather Can't Say Gore's Wrong

1) Bush "made little news" insisted ABC Monday night, but Dan Rather maintained "Bush made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." FNC noted the press corps likes his "compas-sionate conservatism" and is giving him a pass on policy details.

2) Unlike other conservatives, Newsweek's Howard Fineman told Today, Bush cares about the poor. On GMA Time's Micheal Duffy admired how "he's not taking the extreme positions that some in his party have taken," such as his father's "race-baiting."

3) NBC's Tom Brokaw declared as "simply wrong" Al Gore's claim that 18 to 20 year-olds can buy a handgun, but Dan Rather made it sound like a partisan political dispute: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself today."

4) ABC highlighted how Lawrence Walsh opposes Starr writing a report critical of Hillary, then admired how the First Lady, who has been a public policy advocate, "is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining at the White House."

5) Bob Woodward suggested Bill and Hillary Clinton are in psychotherapy, but the media so far have yawned.

6) In an ABC story about a lawsuit against a baseball team for giving discounts to those with a church bulletin, the plaintiff suggested the team "broaden the promotion" to include Satanists.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Monday night reporters marveled over the crowds of potential voters and hordes of reporters who followed George W. Bush around New Hampshire. "It feels more like a coronation than a campaign," suggested NBC's David Bloom.

"Bush did have a press conference today. He made little news and no mistakes," asserted ABC's Dean Reynolds, but CBS's Dan Rather found the press conference quite newsworthy: "CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." Of the broadcast network stories only NBC's Bloom allowed a conservative to criticize Bush's abortion position.

The media's free ride for Bush became a topic of discussion on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. From Manchester, NH Fred Barnes found: "While some conservatives may not like the compassionate conservative theme, the press does." Reporter Carl Cameron agreed:
"He has shrugged off talking about specifics of his tax cut and he's sort of beaten around the bush, pardon the pun, on a lot of the specifics on a variety of issues but the media and a lot of the voters here in New Hampshire, saying 'well, for now it's a enough.' As if it's only his first trip and he's at least touching on some of the things that he thinks are important and we'll give him an opportunity down the road to sort of flesh it out and when you hear reporters saying, 'Well it's enough for now.' That is a courtesy that the national political media has in my memory never offered anyone else."

(For evidence of how the Washington press love W's compassionate conservatism, which they see as a rejection of the Reagan and Bush senior's years, see today's item #2.)

Here's how the three broadcast networks handled Bush on Monday night, June 14:
-- ABC's World News Tonight focused on Bush's popularity. Dean Reynolds opened his report from New Hampshire:
"It is truly remarkable. George W. Bush is turning into a political phenomenon for reasons almost no one can explain. Here is the Governor of Texas, who acknowledges talking about issues in only the broadest of terms with no specifics, but a huge press corps is hanging on his every word and no one seems to know why."

And Reynolds concluded:
"Bush did have a press conference today. He made little news and no mistakes. And that may be the truth about why his Republican opponents and reporters, even reporters covering reporters, are watching him so closely: To see who he is, why he's so popular and whether he will stumble."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced: "Bush is on his first big campaign swing. Today, New Hampshire. CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy but generally stuck to generalities."
McNamara began: "It looks like a made for the movies campaign. George W. Bush in the clutch of a crowd and image maker's image a man for America backdrop, the symbolism thing."

After playing a Bush answer about Kosovo at his press conference, McNamara pointed out: "No litmus test issues, like would he appoint anti-abortion judges to the federal bench."
Bush: "I am not a lawyer. My job is to pick judges who are qualified to sit on the bench and that would be my criteria."
McNamara: "And no details about youthful indiscretions."
McNamara: "I made mistakes, 20 or 30 years ago but I've learned from my mistakes."

I don't recall any questions to Clinton in mid-1991 about such matters.

After noting how Bush's popularity is hurting the fundraising ability of the other candidates, McNamara concluded: "Today the Bush campaign is in no hurry to be anything more than symbols over substance and so far it appears to be working and protecting a big early lead."

-- NBC Nightly News. David Bloom opened his piece:
"It feels more like a coronation than a campaign, Texas Governor George W. Bush stumping for the first time in New Hampshire today...."
Bloom showed Bush at his news conference promising to uphold the dignity of the office. Bloom attributed Bush's popularity to the family name and the bandwagon effect, marveling that polls show he has more support than all the other candidates combined.

Bloom then arrived at abortion: "Today Bush said there will be no litmus test on abortion, meaning he might appoint pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court. Conservative rivals pounced."
Gary Bauer: "I am shocked that compassionate conservatism does not include protections for the most defenseless among us."

Bloom showed some Democratic protesters who called Bush an "empty vessel." Bloom concluded:
"Bush refuses to talk specifics and makes no apologies. Details he said today will come on my timetable. 'Let's get to know one another,' Bush seems to be saying to voters, 'I'll tell you more about myself later.'"

Up next, Lisa Myers assessed Bush's war chest, reporting that he's bringing in $750,000 a week as the other candidates complain they are starved for cash.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) The Monday morning shows discussed the Bush phenomenon, highlighting how he cares so much more about people, unlike "extreme" conservatives and his "race-baiting" father.

-- On NBC's Today, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, marveled at how unusual it is for a conservative to care about education and the poor:
"He's giving a general election message now, Katie. He's telling the Republicans at the grassroots, 'Look you want to win here's how you do it.' Yes tax cuts, yes less government, yes decency back in the Oval Office but also we've got to be concerned about educating every American child and helping out the poor. It's an unusual message really to hear from a Republican rostrum but the people clapped if only because they think this is how to win."

-- Never mind that, on Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson first wanted to know about Bush's dialect, asking reporter Dean Reynolds: "One thing that I'm sort of curious about. The Bush family are New Englanders who transplanted to Texas, but George W. is governor of Texas, was raised there, and there's that Texas twang in his voice. Does it go away when he's up in New England, in New Hampshire campaigning today, or do you think it stays?"
Reynolds assured Gibson: "That's one thing we're going to be looking at very closely. I'm also going to try to see whether he's wearing his cowboy boots, which were very prominent in Iowa, and his sort of wrangler-style belt buckle that says 'Governor George Bush.' That kind of stuff works in some parts of the country. The Texas twang hasn't always been a favorite up here in Yankee-land."

GMA brought aboard Michael Duffy of Time magazine and their own Cokie Roberts to assess Bush. Gibson asserted: "Alright, talk to me a little bit about where this guy stands on issues, and Michael let me start with you. He talks about himself as a compassionate conservative. That sounds a little bit like one from Column A, one from Column B. I don't know what it means. Does he?"
Michael Duffy, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted, answered by insulting conservatives as well as Bush's father, two groups normally seen as separate:
"Well, what he says it is is, essentially, is he's not taking the extreme positions that some in his party have taken for the last four or five years. He said on Saturday, you know, I'm not, I'm conservative, but I'm not uncompassionate. I believe in education, I believe essentially in the environment, I'm not going to say the kind of race-baiting things that perhaps my father or others in the party have said. He's going to be much more, I think, moderate on health and safety issues, things that appeal particularly to suburban women, that have run away from this party in the past."


gore0615.jpg (10164 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Vice President Al Gore on Monday falsely claimed that there is no law barring 18 to 20 year-olds from buying a handgun. NBC's Tom Brokaw showed Gore making the assertion and then declared: "That's simply wrong." But CBS's Dan Rather downplayed the gaffe, instead first highlighted how "Gore sees gun control as one way to define himself and his differences with Bush." Rather couldn't bring himself to call Gore wrong, making it sound like a partisan political dispute instead of a matter of fact: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself today."

On the June 14 NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced:
"Vice President Al Gore was addressing the U.S. Conference of Mayors today, talking about gun control and how young people between the ages of 18 and 20 commit almost a quarter of all gun murders. And then he said this:"
Gore: "Right now they can walk into any gun shop, any pawn shop, any gun show, anywhere in America and buy a handgun."
Brokaw: "That's simply wrong. The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal to sell a handgun to anyone under the age of 21 and other laws make it illegal for anyone under 18 to posses a handgun."

But CBS Evening News viewers heard a gentler correction for Gore as anchor Dan Rather first stressed how Gore is out front on the issue of juveniles and guns:
"Governor Bush said nothing today in New Hampshire about his gun control views, but the Democrat who'd like to run against him did in New Orleans. Vice President Al Gore sees gun control as one way to define himself and his differences with Bush. Today, addressing a Mayor's conference, Gore noted almost a quarter of gun murders are committed by young people under age 20."
Gore: "Incredibly, while these 18 to 20 year-olds cannot legally buy a beer, cannot purchase a bottle of wine and cannot order a drink in a bar, right now they can walk into any gun shop, any pawn shop, any gun show, anywhere in America and buy a handgun."
Rather: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself today. Handgun sales to those under 21 are forbidden by federal law though other firearms are available."

So if his "critics" didn't point this out Dan Rather wouldn't have?

(ABC's World News Tonight did not mention Gore's false claim.)

+++ Watch this Rather item on Gore. The MRC's Jessica Anderson and Sean Henry have posted it in RealPlayer format on the MRC home page. Go to:


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Hillary Clinton, SuperWoman: "The First Lady, who has been everything from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a supportive wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining at the White House," oozed ABC's Andrea McCarren on Sunday night.

On Sunday's World News Tonight ABC first warned off Ken Starr about taking on Hillary and then delivered a glowing piece about how many roles Hillary plays in her life.

Prompted by a New York Times story on how Starr is considering a tough report on Hillary Clinton's activities, ABC reporter Tim O'Brien assessed his record and let Lawrence Walsh urge he restraint: "Starr's efforts did lead to Mr. Clinton's impeachment and at least one former Independent Counsel today counseled against anything further."
Lawrence Walsh: "All you're doing is prolonging a very expensive operation, torturing a person who served the country. You have to decide for your, is it worth it?"
O'Brien concluded: "Sources report there is some debate in Starr's office over whether he should say anything about Hillary Clinton if a decision is made not to indict her. With his own investigation criticized by some for being overzealous, a badly-timed attack on the First Lady could be more damaging to Ken Starr's legacy than anyone else's."

Starr's reputation can and has been trashed by the media, but the same cannot be said about Hillary Clinton who much of the media continue to admire.

Immediately after O'Brien's June 13 story, anchor Aaron Brown declared: "Whatever Mr. Starr chooses to do, it will be but a part of the changing public perception of Mrs. Clinton. And just when you thought you knew everything about her, there is something new and unexpected in the works. More from ABC's Andrea McCarren."

As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Andrea McCarren opened: "Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to don yet another hat. The First Lady, who has been everything from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a supportive wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining at the White House."
Lisa Caputo, former press secretary for the First Lady, got time for this glowing assessment: "Hillary Clinton is the sum of many parts: She's a wife, a mother, a daughter, an advocate, a White House hostess, a lawyer, a public policy champion, an advisor to her husband. So she's the sum of many parts."
McCarren continued: "The book is expected to be released this fall, but skeptics have already emerged."
Columnist Arianna Huffington got time for a comment, but ABC picked a soundbite that hardly countered the story theme: "Nobody's thinking that she's really seriously going to sit down and work out the 30 recipes and they're going to be included in the book."

McCarren did allow as to how critics find the new interest ironic, but soon countered with evidence she's always cared about the traditional: "The First Lady's critics find the irony of such a book palpable, especially after a year in which things on the homefront were anything but cozy, and since long ago, she claimed to be anything but a typical homemaker."
Hillary Clinton in 1992: "You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession."
McCarren: "But one White House historian points out she has had a fervent interest in entertaining and decorating at the White House from the very beginning of her husband's administration. She completed the sculpture garden and created a collection of American arts and crafts."
Carl Anthony, First Lady historian: "This more traditional side of her, which perhaps people haven't paid attention to, is as strong an urge in her as it was in Jacqueline Kennedy."]
McCarren concluded with this set of words which really didn't say anything: "So as Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be stepping out from behind her husband's shadow, it is clear this time she's writing herself a leading role."

+++ A video clip of Hillary Clinton's warm reception on the Today show last week in which Katie Couric asked about the Knicks and let Hillary blast Republicans on guns, is up on the MRC home page. Just click on the "Media Bias Videos" icon that is in the upper right corner and then scroll down to June 10.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) The Clintons are in psychotherapy, but the media yawn? The MRC's Tim Graham passed along to me a June 14 Slate "Chatterbox" item by Timothy Noah about how the media failed to pick up on Monday on a very interesting nugget at the end of the Washington Post's Monday excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.

Noah wrote:
....Chatterbox hasn't read Shadow, so he can't say for certain what if any particular revelation is likely to define this book in the public imagination. But he is struck by the uncharacteristic way the press, and Woodward himself, are soft-pedaling what, based on Chatterbox's reading of the first two excerpts, is probably a strong contender: Namely, Woodward's suggestion that Bill and Hillary are in psychotherapy!

Here is the passage in question, which ends the second Post excerpt. Its implications went unmentioned in the summary stories in both the Post and Newsweek, and appear not to have yet caught the attention of the news wires:

"By fall 1998, as the House moved toward impeaching her husband, Hillary was still uncertain about her own course. A close friend told her about a high-profile, public couple. They had been married 40 years, the friend told Hillary. The man had lots of affairs and the woman finally caught him. 'She was devastated,' the friend said, 'but she thought hard about it. They had a great friendship, and she decided he is worth fighting for, and it would be unwise to turn him out or to give him to someone else. Her decision was that it was better to fight for him and to fight for the relationship.'

"'Man,' Hillary said, 'that's exactly what I'm thinking now.'

"A therapist can stop the bleeding, Hillary's friend said. That was the key to making progress and saving the marriage. Hillary said she and Bill knew that counseling was the right thing to do. 'We are doing the right thing.'"

What is Woodward suggesting? He is clearly suggesting that the Clintons are in couples therapy. Chatterbox, who is a great believer in (and consumer of) psychotherapy, would never criticize -- indeed, would heartily praise -- the first couple's decision to seek help from a psychotherapist, which they obviously need. At the same time, however, Chatterbox thinks that the first instance in which a President is found to receive psychotherapy, especially if it's while holding office, merits some public attention, if only to mark the passing of a taboo. (Remember the grief Candidate Dukakis suffered in 1988 when false rumors circulated about his seeing a shrink?)

For now, though, it's hard to escape the impression that Woodward wants readers to think the President and his wife are seeing a psychotherapist -- or rather, wants to take credit for breaking that story if it pans out -- but also wants to duck responsibility for suggesting this if it turns out not to be true.

END Excerpt

To read Chatterbox and other features of Slate, edited by Michael Kinsley, go to:

Tuesday's part three of the three-part excerpt from Woodward's book, on Ken Starr, as well as Sunday's part one and Monday's part two cited above, can be read by going to:


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes) Catching up on a humorous item from just over a week ago, on the Sunday, June 6 World News Tonight ABC's Tim O'Brien explored the controversy over minor league baseball teams giving an admission discount on Sunday's to patrons who arrive with a church or synagogue service bulletin.

Specifically, O'Brien looked at how Carl Silverman, joined by the ACLU, is suing the Hagerstown, Maryland Suns. They claim the team's discount policy discriminates against non church-goers.
O'Brien took note of what Silverman thinks should be done: "Silverman maintains the team could promote all kinds of values without using religion as a means to discriminate."
Silverman suggested: "All they needed to do was to broaden the promotion to allow not only church bulletins but any non-profit organization bulletin, such as the Audubon Society or say a Satanist group bulletin."

Would you seat the Satanists side-by-side with the church-goers, or would each get their own seating section? -- Brent Baker


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