CyberAlert -- 08/27/1996 -- MRC CyberAlert: From Chicago

***MRC CyberAlert: From Chicago***

Quote of the Day | Another Day of Questions from the Left Liberal Delegates | Poor Hillary, Wondering If It's Worth It | Networks Worry Democrats Not Liberal Enough | For Second Day, Focus is on Evils of Welfare Reform | Sidebites: Dole's Harsh, but not Clinton; Another Gumbel Shot at the GOP


"We were just reminded in that moving film that we saw here of your lifelong work as an advocate for children's causes. And yet, late last week, your husband signed a welfare reform bill that as you know, Senator Patrick Moynihan and other welfare experts are saying is going to throw a million children into poverty. Does that legislation threaten to undo so much of what you've worked for over the years?"

-- CNN's Judy Woodruff to Hillary Clinton, August 26 interview

Another Day of Questions from the Left Liberal Delegates, But Party's Too Conservative

Viewers of last night's network coverage could have learned how Democratic delegates are outside the mainstream, but they heard nothing about controversies like abortion, as the networks again worried Clinton had gone too far right.

-- CBS and CNN attempted to make Hillary Clinton the martyr of harsh San Diego attacks and ask her welfare questions from the left.

-- Network reporters worried that the party has become too conservative as they grilled Democrats for not opposing the welfare reform bill.

-- ABC, CNN and PBS mentioned the liberal nature of the delegates at least once, but not NBC or CBS in prime time. "We know from our survey that these delgates are far to the left of the mainstream just as the Republicans were to the right of the mainstream," ABC's Sam Donaldson declared last night. Unions also got brief attention. Tom Brokaw referred to "a very unusually high representation of labor down on the floor" and on CBS Dan Rather also noted the labor angle.

-- Three networks mentioned tobacco funding of the convention, but none noted the hypocrisy of Democrats taking money from an industry they rail against. On CNN in prime time Bill Schneider explained that the NRA and tobacco lobby are the "least popular" special interests "and those are the two that the Democrats are going to try to showcase as linked to the Republican Party." On World News Tonight yesterday ABC's intrepid Brian Ross cited a brunch cruise for delegates "put on by the Brown and Williamson tobacco company" and how "Philip Morris has the most extensive operation with the same group of back room operatives who ran things in San Diego." NBC's Tom Brokaw referred to a tobacco-sponsored event where delegates wore "Keep the FDA off the farm" buttons.

-- Only two reporters questioned the authenticity of Democratic claims to moderation. During the PBS-NBC joint broadcast, Lisa Myers asked a delegate: "You have a President who talks like a Republican, you have a platform that is so centrist that some critics say it's a con job. Is this essentially, though, a liberal party?" CNN's Judy Woodruff asked Bob Kerrey if Clinton will go left after the election.

After scant attention Sunday, Democratic suppression of abortion debate fell completely off TV screens. In all of Monday's prime time coverage no reporter or anchor raised the topic, though Bob Casey, the pro-life former Governor of Pennsylvania, gave a speech at another Chicago location on the party's intolerance.

CNN, CBS Ask First Lady About Harsh GOP Attacks, Welfare: Poor Hillary, Wondering If It's Worth It

In 1992, then-PBS anchor Judy Woodruff gave a soft convention interview to Hillary Clinton in July, but blistered Barbara Bush in August in Houston with a welter of accusatory questions about the inappropriateness of Bush campaign tactics. On last night's Inside Politics on CNN, Woodruff devoted her interview to eliciting Hillary Clinton's responses to Republican attacks:

-- "Let me take you back to San Diego. Bob Dole said it doesn't take a village, a collective, the state, which he said has made mistakes in raising children, it takes a family. Is this something that is going to become a major issue in this fall campaign?"

-- "Also in San Diego, former president George Bush told the delegates he `worked hard,' I'm quoting here, `to uphold the dignity and the honor of the presidency, to treat it with respect. And then he added, quote, `it breaks his heart, when the White House is demeaned, the presidency diminished.' Does that hurt coming from your immediate predecessor?"

-- "He then went on, Mrs. Clinton, he made a point of saying that his wife, Mrs. Bush, quote, `unquestionably upheld the honor of the White House.' Is that an insult to you?"

-- When Mrs. Clinton failed to answer sharply enough, Woodruff insisted: "But he was clearly drawing a contrast're not hurt?"

Stories of Mrs. Clinton's rough-house approach to politics, such as her reported role in firing and lodging criminal accusations against seven workers of the White House Travel Office, did not prevent CBS This Morning co-host Jose Diaz-Balart from also presenting the First Lady as the beleaguered martyr of unfortunate Republican attacks:

-- "In the San Diego Republican convention, you were the subject of much conversation, and I think the target, I think many would say, of some very serious attacks."

"Do you ever, seriously, in the White House, when all the doors are closed, do you ever say `Is this worth it'?"

Diaz-Balart also asked the First Lady two welfare questions from the left:

-- "One thing you care very deeply about is children, and even your supporters that work for children's rights have criticized President Clinton's decision to okay the welfare reform bill. What were your conversations with him when he was in that period of really making a determination?"

-- "What would you say to the people in the Children's Defense Fund [the liberal group she used to chair] who have criticized it? What is your response to them?"

Woodruff also peppered the First Lady with welfare reform questions, all six of them from the left. Here are three, another is the quote of the day.

-- "Your close friend, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, said the President's signing and this is a quote, 'makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children,' she said, 'it will leave a moral blot on his presidency and the country that will never be forgotten.'"

-- "But if the bill is so flawed, why sign it? Why not work to fix it, and sign it later?"

-- "Eleanor Roosevelt, whom you admire, mentioned her again just now, said that much of the time she kept her disagreements with the President to herself in private, but there were times that she felt it was important to disagree publicly. Does there ever come a time with you, and if not welfare reform, then what?"

Democrats and Clinton Have Gone Too Far to the Right? Networks Worry Democrats Not Liberal Enough

Last night network correspondents worried how wise it has been for Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party to have moved to the right and, in so doing, abandoned their liberal princples. Tom Brokaw placed the party, which fought Republican efforts to slow the rate of growth of government, to the right of center.

-- During PBS-NBC coverage, Margaret Warner asked Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center: "Does the President pay any political price for turning his back on traditional liberalism, that is, among enthusiasm among traditional Democrats?"

-- Later during NBC's solo time, Tom Brokaw interviewed VP Al Gore and then observed to NBC's Tim Russert: "The Vice President was saying no no no, this is not forced on us by the Republicans, we really always had this kind of thing in mind in the first place. But since 1994 they have slid across the political spectrum to really right of center. And they've got a guy by the name of Dick Morris who's advising them on a daily basis how to be more pragmatic."

-- On CBS, Dan Rather asked Jesse Jackson: "Bill Clinton's been running pretty hard to the right, so far that some Democrats now call him a `Republicrat.' Do you go that far?"

-- Talking to Tom Hayden, Ed Bradley of CBS wondered: "Senator Hayden, there are people who say the Democratic Party has become very pragmatic in an effort to win this election, they've given up their principles. Your response to that?"

For Second Day, Focus is on Evils of Welfare Reform "Slightly Terrified" of New Democrat Promises

Just as on Sunday, last night the networks repeatedly pressed Democrats from the left on Bill Clinton's signing of the welfare reform bill. A PBS reporter wondered if it meant the dismantling of the "safety net that took so long to put together."

-- CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun: "How does it feel, tell us, you voted against the welfare reform bill, you're now obviously very supportive of the President, tell us do you feel that he sort of betrayed some of those values that you expressed. How can you go forward now and support him after his decision to sign that welfare reform bill into law?"

-- HHS Secretary Donna Shalala got it from the left during PBS-NBC coverage as Tom Brokaw inquired: "If you were a poor single mother in a poor rural state in America, without many resources, and you wanted to go to work, you want to do all the right things, but there aren't many jobs for people who have real skills, wouldn't you be slightly terrified looking into the next two years?"

-- Earlier in the evening, Elizabeth Farnesworth of PBS grilled White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes: "We're looking tonight at this whole question of who the Democrats are. Did the President turn his back on fundamental Democratic principles when he signed the welfare bill?" She also forwarded a liberal argument: "Does it worry you that the welfare, signing the welfare bill is unraveling the safety net that took so long to put together?"

-- ABC's Jeff Greenfield highlighted bewilderment in network ranks about the acceptance of Clinton's retreat from liberalism on the issue. Interviewing Congressman Charles Rangel, he asked: "Congressman it used to be said that when the Democrats make a firing squad they form a circle, they love to rebel against an incumbent President, and you have the welfare bill and the move to the center. You're from one of the most liberal cities in the country, why is the dog not barking in the night? Why are you staying with the President given that discontent?"


Harsh or Enthusiastic?

Bill Clinton and Bob Dole attacked each other on Sunday, but for CBS This Morning, only Bob Dole was harsh. Sandra Hughes reported Monday: "Dole's big moment yesterday came when he stormed Chicago, and launch-ed a harsh attack against the man of the hour there, Bill Clinton."

But a few minutes earlier Bill Plante reviewed Clinton's train trip, admiringly noting that "at each whistle stop Mr. Clinton threw himself enthusiastically into campaign mode, leaning deep into every crowd and lacing his remarks with partisan fire."

So are the Democratic candidates avoiding harsh personal attacks? On Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson asked Senator Christopher Dodd: "You said the other day that `I got the word out,' that I don't want to hear personal attacks against the Republicans at this convention. Yesterday on his train trip the President accused Republicans of blackmail to get their budget. Al Gore, yesterday, accused the Republicans of ignorance and audacity, talked about the two-headed monster of Dole and Gingrich. Dick Gephardt, the leader of the House, of the Democrats, talked about Republican extremism, said they're radicals. Talk about getting the word out?"

Gumbel's Gripe

Monday Bryant Gumbel couldn't stop from taking one more shot at Republicans for an image he helped create. Interviewing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on Today, he queried: "The Republicans, as you know, took a lot of criticism for the scripting of their convention and for presenting an image that was contrary to their platform. How do you figure this convention is going to be different?"

Ignoring Casey's Case

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, banned from the Democratic convention podium for the second party gathering in a row, gave an impassioned pro-life speech yesterday at Chicago's Fischer Center. Despite a reported heavy media presence at his speech (which he wanted to make at the convention), none of the networks aired the Casey speech story on last night's evening news shows.

In his new book Fighting For Life, Casey remembered the 1992 platform hearings: "There were many Democrats, I said, who opposed our party's embrace of the radical pro-abortion lobby. Often it seemed the Democratic National Committee had become little more than an auxiliary of NARAL -- the National Abortion Rights Action League."

On Monday's Nightline, ABC's Chris Bury gave Casey 15 seconds of fame: "The Democrats in Chicago, like the Republicans in San Diego, have tried to script any spontaneity right out of the program. Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, whose strong anti-abortion views defy the party's position, had to find cameras outside the convention hall."

At Hillary's Side

As a CBS camera panned the United Center last night it came upon a man standing beside Hillary Rodham Clinton. Dan Rather identified him: "The gentleman in the dark suit to the right of the frame, who was just framed out, Les Moonves of CBS. And the chant takes up `four more years.' The lady, the First Lady from Chicago with the smashing smile, is age 48. She and President Clinton have been married for 20 years." Moonves's job with CBS? President of the entertainment division.