CyberAlert -- 09/25/2000 -- Clayson Played Oprah to Bush

Clayson Played Oprah to Bush; Washington Post Took Up Pro-Gore Bias; Guests "Not Illegal" & Hume's Retort

1) CBS's Jane Clayson played Oprah, asking George Bush: "Without talking policy, what would you say to women about the kind of person that you are?" On CNN Tucker Carlson argued that those who rely on Oprah "are exactly the people who shouldn't vote."

2) Front page Washington Post story: "Over the past month, many conservatives, Republican voters and even some journalists themselves have concluded that the mainstream media are tilting heavily toward Vice President Gore."

3) The public and even Democratic political experts perceive liberal, pro-Gore bias. Editor & Publisher discovered "almost two-thirds of those who perceive bias feel that the candidate who has been 'favored' is: Al Gore." Charlie Cook: Reporters are "larding their stories with their own ideological biases."

4) It took three nights for CBS and four nights for NBC to mention Gore's dog versus in-law tale. It turns out ABC eventually reported it too -- at 4am. The Boston Globe followed up and determined the Gore claim that his larger point is true, which the networks all relayed, is also wrong. So far, no network coverage.

5) Best retort of the weekend: Brit Hume after Paula Zahn argued the White House hotel operation isn't illegal according to Janet Reno: "If Bill Clinton declared war on England it wouldn't be illegal..."

6) Former CNN President Rick Kaplan may not have donated $2,000. Eleanor Clift: "Hillary is not much help when it comes to getting the truth." One guest has been indicted for bribery and extortion.


Encouraging those who shouldn't vote and CBS's sexist question as Jane Clayson played Oprah: "Without talking policy..."

On the CNN Late Edition roundtable on Sunday host Wolf Blitzer raised the subject of presidential candidate appearances on shows like Oprah: "A lot of people do make up their minds based on these kinds of shows, don't they?"

Tucker Carlson of The Weekly Standard shot back: "They do, and those are exactly the people who shouldn't vote."

Monday morning CBS's Jane Clayson gave credence to the view that policy is just too tough for women to figure out and they vote purely on emotion and feelings. In a taped interview with George W. Bush aired on the September 25 Early Show, Clayson queried: "Without talking policy, what would you say to women about the kind of person that you are, about the kind of man that you are. What would you say to women about that, about why should they vote for you?"
Bush began his reply: "Well I'd tell them I wake up every single morning and make my wife coffee...."

If a man posed that kind of question he'd be condemned as a sexist for assuming women put emotion ahead of policy issues.


The media's liberal bias for Al Gore and against George W. Bush is becoming so obvious that even the Washington Post was willing to run a front page story today headlined, "Are the Media Tilting to Gore?" The subhead: "Charges of Bias Hang Over Campaign Coverage."

Reporter Howard Kurtz recounted adamant denials from some media insiders, but he relayed concerns from media observers and even used as an example a coverage pattern detailed last week in CyberAlert about how all the networks jumped on the "RATS" ad but it took days for any mention of Gore's dog versus in-law tale.

Kurtz also briefly cited a new poll by Editor & Publisher which found even a significant percentage of Gore backers admit there's a pro-Gore tilt and he quoted from Democratic polling expert Charlie Cook who credited liberal bias for boosting Gore. More details on both of those points in item #3 below after an excerpt from Kurtz's September 25 story:

It is the elephant in the room, the talk of the radio airwaves, the shadow that some believe is hovering over the presidential race.

These days, at least, no subject is more likely to cause teeth-gnashing on the right, waves of e-mail complaints and defensive-sounding explanations by journalists.

Over the past month, many conservatives, Republican voters and even some journalists themselves have concluded that the mainstream media are tilting heavily toward Vice President Gore.

Never mind that George W. Bush enjoyed a solid year of largely favorable press coverage while Gore was depicted as a bumbling, wardrobe-changing stiff. Never mind that reporters tend to follow the polls, heaping praise on front-runners and skewering candidates who fall behind. The sudden reversal of fortune that began with The Kiss has fueled suspicions that Gore has the fourth estate not-so-subtly on his side.

Even as nonpartisan an observer as political analyst Charlie Cook felt compelled to declare in the National Journal that reporters are "larding their stories with their own ideological biases" in favor of Gore.

Many journalists say this is nonsense, but the perception has clearly taken hold. More than half of all Bush supporters say the press is biased against the Texas governor, according to an Editor & Publisher poll. Only a minority of Gore backers see the media as biased, not surprisingly, but 35 percent of those who do concede that their man has gotten more than an even break.

"There's a coming-home factor in the late stages of a campaign in which the Democratic candidate tends to do very well and the Republican candidate doesn't do very well," said Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News. "The media are not disposed toward Republican presidents -- any Republican president -- and really never have been."

"I don't buy it," replied Ronald Brownstein, political writer for the Los Angeles Times. "Bush by and large has better relations with his press corps than Gore does with his. When Gore was behind in the spring, his campaign was portrayed as constantly making mistakes. What's changed for Bush? What's changed is that he's losing."

Since Sept. 4, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, comments about Gore on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts have been 55 percent positive, compared with 35 percent positive for Bush. By contrast, Bush got 62 percent positive evaluations in July....

"Bush did get good press for a long time," said Robert Lichter, the center's director. But, he said, "the pattern has been that in the general election, Democrats get balanced coverage and Republicans get terrible coverage."....

Cook, who publishes the Cook Political Report, said the pre-convention coverage of the 2000 campaign was "fairer and more balanced than I'd seen in a long time." But, he added, "when there was the perception that Gore could win and might win, suddenly the cheerleading started. It's like football: When their team seemed hopelessly behind, there was very little rooting -- until the team started scoring."

Most journalists dismiss such charges of liberal bias as a stale stereotype.

First, they say reporters personally like Bush, who enjoys slapping backs and giving journalists nicknames, and that the governor garnered plenty of favorable headlines from the moment he jumped into the race in the summer of 1999.

Second, they say that once Gore shed his lackluster image and surged in the polls after the Democratic convention, it was inevitable that the media spotlight would focus on how he managed to overtake Bush.

Finally, they argue that Bush has stumbled badly in recent weeks -- on everything from calling a reporter a vulgar name to getting sidetracked in a debate over debates --and that the recent coverage reflects this uneven performance....

What really riles those on the right is the conviction that not all gaffes are treated equally by the media. For example, they say, the rats were big news and the dog was not.

The New York Times ran a front-page story on a Republican ad that included the word "rats" for 1/30th of a second, although the same information had been reported two weeks earlier by Fox News Channel. All the networks jumped on the story, playing the subliminal image over and over.

But when the Boston Globe reported last week that Gore had misstated the prices of prescription drugs for his mother-in-law and his dog, the Big Three evening newscasts didn't touch the controversy for three days -- until "CBS Evening News" devoted part of a story to the dog tale Wednesday and "NBC Nightly News" did the same Thursday. (The Washington Post reported both the rats ad and the dog story on inside pages.)

Mike Rosen, a conservative radio host at Denver's KOA, says Gore's canine flub was worse because there is no evidence that Bush knew about the rats image.

Most journalists "philosophically and ideologically are liberal Democrats, and even if they think they can set aside their biases and report objectively, I think they delude themselves," Rosen said. "In their souls they desperately don't want the Republicans to control Congress and a Republican president to name the next two or three Supreme Court justices. This is the most egregiously spun campaign that I've seen since I've been following politics, and I'm 55."

Fox's Hume called the rats story "ridiculously overplayed. The Times coverage overall, of late, has been very pro-Gore and anti-Bush....Mean Republicanism is an idea that journalists find has the ring of truth."

But Michael Oreskes, the Times's Washington bureau chief, said flatly: "I don't see any evidence that the coverage right now of this campaign is being tilted by the political predilections of reporters."...

To read the entire story, go to:


The public and even Democratic political experts perceive liberal, pro-Gore bias this campaign season. As noted in the September 23 CyberAlert, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that the public called coverage of Gore "fair" over "unfair" by 71 to 17 percent but labeled coverage of Bush "fair" over "unfair" by just 53 to 31 percent.

A survey to be released today by Editor & Publisher magazine, which covers the newspaper industry, discovered "almost two-thirds of those who perceive bias feel that the candidate who has been 'favored' is: Al Gore. Surprisingly, many Democrats, along with Republicans, feel this way."

Last week Democratic political analyst Charlie Cook contended: "When Gore took off in the polls, it seemed like a firehouse bell going off, with reporters larding their stories with their own ideological biases."

-- An excerpt from the E&P poll first highlighted last week by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews:

From the E&P Web site:

E&P Poll Finds Voters Feel Press Bias Favors Gore
Newspapers Beat Network News For Political Coverage

by Greg Mitchell

A new Editor & Publisher/TIPP national poll of 1,956 adults finds that a large number of Americans perceive press bias in election coverage this year. Revealing a dead-even race between Al Gore and George W. Bush among likely voters, the poll finds that almost four out of 10 believe that the newspaper they read the most "has favored one candidate over the other in their news coverage of the campaign."

Political commentators often allege media bias, but this is the first national poll this year to examine voter opinion on this subject. Among voters who are considered regular readers of newspapers, 44% perceive bias in the news coverage.

And almost two-thirds of those who perceive bias feel that the candidate who has been "favored" is: Al Gore. Surprisingly, many Democrats, along with Republicans, feel this way.

Conservatives have long charged that the media is "liberal-oriented," and indeed this belief is reflected in the new poll in the finding that fully half (53%) of all Bush supporters allege bias. And among Republicans who perceive bias, four out of five feel the press favors Gore.

To an extent, this may simply reflect a tendency to blame-the-messenger for Bush's political slide since mid-summer. But it makes the returns on the Democratic side all the more intriguing.

Fewer Gore backers perceive bias, about three in 10, and 57% of Democrats who claim bias believe the press has favored Bush in their coverage. No surprise there. But a significant number of these Democrats (35%) acknowledge that it is Gore who has gotten more than an even break from the press....

The E&P/TIPP poll was conducted Sept. 7-10 with a margin for error of plus or minus three percentage points. TIPP, based in Oradell, N.J., is a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence.

END Excerpt

For more, go to:

-- In a September 19 commentary Charlie Cook, publisher of the Cook Political Report, reviewed how candidates have ups and downs in the media, observing: "When you are ahead in the polls, everything seems to go right. Mistakes and misstatements go largely unnoticed by the press corps. But when you are behind, even the smallest errors take on huge significance and are widely noted. Bush has been mangling the English language ever since he got into this race, but it has become a story only now that he is behind."

Cook then suggested: "The news media certainly have something to do with all this. While some in the Fourth Estate still vigorously deny any liberal or Democratic bias in national media coverage, most fair-minded people acknowledge at least some, if not a great deal. The media seemed to be covering this general election campaign about as neutrally as I have ever seen -- until the post-Democratic convention surge by Gore in the polls. Part of it seemed to be that the press did not particularly like Gore and did not particularly dislike Bush -- something of a switch from some recent campaigns. But when Gore took off in the polls, it seemed like a firehouse bell going off, with reporters larding their stories with their own ideological biases. It was not a pretty sight."

I'd offer the URL for the complete article, but is a subscription site.

The day after this piece was posted, Cook appeared with Stuart Rothenberg on CNN's Inside Politics to assess the presidential and key Senate races state-by-state. Of course, Cook was not asked about his contention that liberal bias is occurring.


Picking up on Howard Kurtz's example of network disparity in coverage of the "RATS" versus the dog (see item #2 above), two updates: First, ABC also ran a story on the dog claim -- at 4am. Second, the Boston Globe on Friday followed up and reported that Gore was wrong in his defense of the accuracy of his overall big picture point, but the networks have so far ignored the update.

-- Last week neither ABC's World News Tonight, which led with the "RATS" story back on September 12, or Good Morning America which featured discussion segments about the "RATS" ad, uttered a syllable about the Gore dog versus in-law drug cost tale, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson confirmed. But, ABC News did air a full story on the Gore tale, MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham noticed -- between 2 and 5am, depending where you live.

The September 20 World News Now, ABC's overnight news show, carried a full story on Gore's fabricated anecdote. It didn't air the night before on World News Tonight, Tuesday September 19, or later that day on Good Morning America, Wednesday September 20. But the hour aired at 4am ET featured a full report by Terry Moran on the controversy, complete with a photo of Gore's dog Shilo.

-- Boston Globe contradicted Gore claim that his overall point about how drugs cost more for humans than dogs.

ABC's Terry Moran concluded his overnight story by relaying how Gore maintained "that the real issue was not what his mother-in-law pays but that some senior citizens are charged two to three times more than animals for the same drugs."

On the Wednesday, September 20 CBS Evening News, John Roberts played a soundbite of Gore spinning his larger point: "The issue is not her, the issue is what seniors around the country are paying and the wholesale price is between two and three times as much as what is charged for pets."
See the September 21 CyberAlert for more on this story and a link to the September 20 CyberAlert with a link to the original Boston Globe story:

The next night, NBC's Claire Shipman stressed how "the Gore campaign says the general idea is right but citing privacy issues, won't give the actual numbers." In a soundbite Gore insisted: "Well, the issue is not her. The is issue is what seniors around the country are paying."
See the September 22 CyberAlert for more on this NBC Nightly News story:

In fact, a September 22 Boston Globe front page headline on Friday announced: "Democrat is Faulted Anew Over Drug Costs." Reporter Walter V. Robinson, unlike anyone at a network, did a little investigation and learned:

Vice President Al Gore's claim that his mother-in-law's arthritis medicine costs three times what Gore pays for the same drugs for his dog has been discredited. But even as his claim was questioned, Gore and his campaign insisted that his underlying point remains valid -- that humans often pay more for the same drug than their pets.

But of the top 100 brand-name drugs in worldwide sales, only five are prescribed for both humans and animals, according to an analysis done for the Globe by Kathleen D. Jaeger, a Washington attorney who is also a pharmacist.

Even the House Democratic study from which Gore lifted manufacturer wholesale prices and presented them as his family's own retail cost notes that just eight of the 200 best-selling drugs in the United States can be used for both humans and animals.

Those numbers suggest that comparing human and animal drug costs to underscore the high cost of prescription drugs, as Gore has done, is irrelevant except for a tiny fraction of the drugs that are prescribed.

Jaeger, after reviewing actual worldwide sales, said it is also misleading to contrast human and animal drug costs, given how unusual such crossover use is, especially for the drugs that are prescribed most commonly....

Last week, Jaeger looked at the 14 brand-name drugs cited in the House study that cost substantially more for humans than for animals. Ten of the 14 can be prescribed in cheaper generic form.

Then at the Globe's request, Jaeger examined the 100 top-selling drugs worldwide. She found that just five are also prescribed for animals; and just three of the five are given to both animals and humans in the same dosage form and for the same illness. The three are Prilosec, used to treat ulcers; Vasotec, which is used for hypertension; and Diprivan, an anesthetic agent....

END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to:


Best retort of the weekend, from Fox News Sunday's roundtable segment discussion of the White House release of the names of over 400 overnight guests from July 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000.

Brit Hume, Washington Managing Editor for Fox News: "The use of the White House like this, and Camp David, as kind of a revolving hotel, where just from the sheer numbers of these people there had to be somebody in there almost every other night. I think the public was offended by the whole Lincoln bedroom business and it appears the Clintons instead of stopping it have accelerated it dramatically."
Paula Zahn, host of FNC's The Edge and a former CBS News reporter/anchor: "But don't we need to make the point that it appears that nothing illegal went on here? I mean Janet Reno said in her news conference the other day 'it's his right, it's his house.'"
Hume: "If Bill Clinton declared war on England it wouldn't be illegal but it would be inappropriate and we'd be talking about it. In order for something to be judged badly by the public it doesn't have to be subject to indictment!"


Speaking of the White House guest list, a bit of an update on the CyberAlert item which relayed reports that former CNN President Rick Kaplan donated $2,000. Plus, guess which liberal media figure conceded, "Hillary is not much help when it comes to getting the truth"? And on Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN Robert Novak noted how one guest has been indicted for bribery and extortion, a fact reported in a story Friday by not mentioned in network stories.

For those reading this online, a special Saturday CyberAlert ran down Friday night coverage of the guest list, including how neither ABC or CBS touched it. Go to:

-- The Fox News Web site listed overnight guest Rick Kaplan as a $2,000 contributor and the Saturday Washington Times also marked him as a donor, the September 23 CyberAlert relayed. However, the analysis of the guest list by the Center for Responsive Politics does not list him as a donor.

The group's Web site features a list of all the gust names with the total amount contributed, by those who donated, to various DNC and Hillary for Senate-related committees in both hard and soft money. Go to:

For a link to a PDF of the actual White House list, go to:

-- "Hillary is not much help when it comes to getting the truth," Eleanor Clift conceded in a surprising admission noted by Brit Hume on his FNC show last week. Indeed, in a piece posted September 19 on, before the names were released, the Newsweek contributor revealed the frustration of Hillary's staffers in not being able to trust their candidate.

She began her piece:
"Just when we thought we'd heard the last of White House sleep-overs, the word is that big-ticket donors to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign get to overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom, just like the good old days when Bill Clinton was scrounging for campaign money. Hillary's aides are bracing for what may -- or may not -- be a damaging story about trading campaign contributions for White House favors. 'God, here we go again,' groaned one of the first lady's allies. Friends and aides don't really know what's out there, and Hillary is not much help when it comes to getting the truth. James Carville once said that Bill Clinton was the political equivalent of a blind date. Hillary Clinton is equally opaque when it comes to matters she regards as personal."

To read the rest, go to:,1175,2-12980-,00.html

-- ABC and CBS didn't mention the list Friday night and the networks which did cover the list, CNN, FNC and NBC, didn't note how one guest has been indicted for bribery and extortion. reporter Justin Torres caught the name and made it the lead of his September 22 story:

"Among the names on a list of overnight guests at the White House and Camp David released by the Clinton administration today is Paul Adler, a New York Democrat county chair who was charged last month with corruption.
"The 404-person list was released today amidst allegations that donors to First Lady Hillary Clinton's New York Senate campaign have been rewarded with overnight stays at Camp David and the White House Lincoln Bedroom.
"Adler, chairman of the Rockland County Democratic Party, was indicted last month after allegedly enriching himself by nearly $375,000 through fraud, extortion and bribery. He donated $1,500 to the first lady's campaign and hosted a fundraiser for her Senate bid...."

Torres later listed some better-known celebrity names: "The list -- which covers July 1, 1999 to August 31, 2000 -- also includes Arkansas friends, officials and media stars such as actress Meg Ryan, singer Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, actor Danny DeVito, former Cable News Network executive Rick Kaplan, Clinton advisor Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles."

To read the rest of the story, go to:\Politics\archive\200009
-- Brent Baker

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