CyberAlert -- 09/26/2000 -- Pro-Bush "Politicization" of Military

Pro-Bush "Politicization" of Military; Gore Not Asked About E-Mail & Fabrications; Geraldo Popped Out of Cake for Walters

1) Policy night on ABC and CBS with stories on the Gore and Bush plans for Medicare and education. ABC failed to criticize the tone of Al Gore's charge that Bush "supported Newt Gingrich's assault on Medicare."

2) Instead of exploring why so many retired military officers have rejected Gore and are backing Bush, CBS News saw the military's political preferences as a nefarious development. Dan Rather warned about the "increasing politicization of the military."

3) FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night highlighted how two network evening shows on Friday skipped the release of the White House sleepover list. "Sleepovers List Caught CBS and ABC Napping?"

4) E-mails confirmed that Gore staffers knew that money would be raised at the temple, but other than 24 seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday morning Today landed Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to ask about the disclosure or mention any of Gore's fabrications from last week.

5) Did George Stephanopoulos say "I sure hope not" after George Will suggested Bush could win by running on the issues? Back in 1992, Stephanopoulos recalled, Warren Beatty urged Bill Clinton to lace his speeches with a swear word that rhymes with "truck."

6) Geraldo Rivera popped out of a cake on Monday's The View to celebrate the birthday of Barbara Walters. He recounted his attempted conquest of Walters, extolling: "To me Barbara was always a sensual, sexual woman."

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Policy night on ABC and CBS Monday night as both ran stories outlining the Bush and Gore proposals on education and Medicare reform. NBC Nightly News held itself to a few seconds on the campaign day before Claire Shipman looked at the controversy over Joe Lieberman running simultaneously for Vice President and Senator.

It doesn't take much to be chided by an ABC reporter. "Vice President launched one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in weeks," insisted ABC's Terry Moran before a clip of Al Gore claiming: "The other side has called Medicare a government HMO. I'll take Medicare over the real HMOs any day of the week." But Gore's claim that Newt Gingrich "assaulted" Medicare went unremarked.

Bush "is adopting a considerably tougher tone" reporter Dean Reynolds maintained after showing a clip of Bush suggesting, to a question about how to get young people involved in politics, "tell the truth for starters."

In a refreshing spin, FNC's Carl Cameron actually took on Bush from the right, pointing out on Special Report with Brit Hume: "The irony for Bush, a conservative advocate of local control attacking the federal government for not doing enough on education is not lost on the Texas Governor, but he defends his plans as conservative, saying he will demand accountability and measurable success."

Tom Brokaw was back in New York City to anchor the NBC Nightly News after a week in Sydney, but the Olympics still dominated the show which opened with controversy over drug testing.

Brokaw briefly summarized how Bush claimed the nation is in an "education recession" as he advocated aggressive testing. Al Gore, Brokaw relayed, spent the day in Florida: "He told seniors that Governor Bush's plan would force some of them to get their prescription medicine through local welfare offices." Brokaw then introduced a piece on Lieberman, noting his decision to not drop out of the Connecticut Senate race has "some critics saying he's hedging his bets in a self-serving way."

-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with the Yugoslav election before getting to the campaign. Peter Jennings meandered into ABC's coverage, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, it's Monday, and now it is six weeks until election day. We can anticipate with some justification that the presidential candidates will try to jack up the rhetoric another notch or two. The campaigns have already said this another week which begins with emphasis on a single issue. Governor Bush on education and Mr. Gore on Medicare. Let's start with Medicare, or as it is sometimes called in a political campaign, 'Medi-scare.'"

From Florida Terry Moran checked in: "Once again, Al Gore is here in Florida. This is the ninth time he's visited the state since he wrapped up the Democratic nomination last spring, and once again he is taking aim squarely at the state's two-and-a-half million senior citizens. Appearing with his wife Tipper in St. Petersburg, the Vice President launched one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in weeks."
Al Gore: "The other side has called Medicare a government HMO. I'll take Medicare over the real HMOs any day of the week."
Moran: "The only new proposal Vice President Gore offered today was a modest one -- stricter penalties on insurers who pull out of communities without warning. The real purpose of today's event: Draw the sharpest possible differences between the candidates on the crucial issue of Medicare."

Moran summarized the Gore and Bush proposals for Medicare and allowed Gore to denounce Bush's idea for vouchers to allow the elderly to buy private insurance: "Gore blasted that approach today and tried to link Bush to a very unpopular Republican."
Gore to Moran: "When they say reform they sometimes mean dismantle the program. He supported Newt Gingrich's assault on Medicare."

Moran then concluded: "Peter, some health care policy experts are struck by how this year's campaign echoes the original debate on Medicare thirty-five years ago, and they say, that given the intense financial pressures the program faces, the very nature of Medicare is the issue."

Peter Jennings moved on to the Bush campaign: "For his part, George W. Bush has produced what amounts to a book on education in which he says that the Clinton-Gore administration has neglected education to the point where there has been an 'education recession,' in his words."

Dean Reynolds began: "The Texas Governor attacked the Democratic administration for letting America's public schools drift toward mediocrity or worse."
George W. Bush: "America today is in the midst of an education recession that can threaten our very future."

Reynolds went through the basic points of the Gore and Bush approaches to education, ending with a Bush quip about Gore's three R's of "relationship," "resilience" and "readiness": "That sounds nice, but what happened to reading?"

Reynolds continued: "While education was the main point of attack today, the Governor also assailed the Vice President on a range of issues, from the environment to health care to military preparedness and to truthfulness. That last point came up when one member of the audience today asked Bush the best way to get young people involved in the political process."
Man in audience: "-and how could I help?"
Bush: "Well, tell the truth for starters."
Reynolds concluded: "With the election fast approaching and the first debate just a week away, the Texas Governor is adopting a considerably tougher tone."

-- CBS Evening News led with doping at the Olympics followed by a look at more thorough drug testing methods.

Bill Whitaker reviewed Bush's charges on education, running this soundbite from Bush: "There are too many of our schools not meeting the challenge, expectations are not high enough, performance is not strong enough, and our leaders are not bold enough to reverse this slide."

After summarizing the Gore and Bush plans, Whitaker reported: "In big city schools, like in Los Angeles where Bush goes tomorrow, there's no doubt help is needed....But there is doubt about what any president can actually do. Federal money accounts for only seven-percent of school funding. Educators doubt post-election reality can match the candidates' rhetoric."

Whitaker concluded: "With other Democratic issues Bush is trying to seize like Social Security, Gore beats him in the polls. But on education, people think Bush can do as good a job."

John Roberts checked in from Florida with Gore: "Campaigning in the Sunshine State today, Al Gore reached out to voters in the twilight of their lives."

Roberts went on to show how middle class families with kids are also swing voters key to winning the state. He concluded: "Gore will turn the heat up here next week. His campaign plans to pump millions of advertising dollars into this fourth largest prize in the election -- a state the Vice President doesn't need so much to win as one the Texas Governor can't afford to lose."


This week the Joint Chiefs of Staff will tell Congress the military needs more money to meet the commitments made by the Clinton administration, but instead of exploring the state of the armed forces, on Monday night CBS News contrived a story about concerns retired military officers have crossed a politicization line in supporting George W. Bush for President. The wholesale rejection of Al Gore by so many military experts would seem a logical focus for a story, but not for CBS News.

CBS reporter David Martin intoned: "There's no law against it, but the sight of so many former admirals and generals throwing their prestige behind a candidate causes concern among other retired officers."

CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather introduced the September 25 story by reaching deep into a Sunday New York Times "Week in Review" story about how Al Gore would be only the fourth enlisted man to become President. Quoting from the 13th and 14th paragraphs of the 15 paragraph story which ran on page 5 of the section, Rather asserted:
"Reporting on changing times and traditions in the U.S. military, the New York Times says, and I quote, 'In recent years, people in uniform, particularly in the officer corps, have tilted increasingly toward the Republican party,' end quote. The tradition of American military leaders, especially generals and admirals considering themselves independent, is weakening, the Times reported. Adding, and again quote, 'A trend that has raised concerns about the increasing politicization of the military.' With that as background, CBS's David Martin has a report on the involvement of high military officers in the presidential campaign."

Not quite the flavor of the New York Times piece by Steven Lee Myers, which began: "Much has been made in the presidential campaign about Vice President Al Gore's stint with the Army in Vietnam, but one striking fact has gone largely unnoted: If elected, Mr. Gore would be the first President in a century to have served as an enlisted man and one of only four ever."

Back to Monday's Evening News diatribe, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, reporter David Martin opened his story: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff like to do their talking in this secure conference room, but their message to Congress this week that the military needs billions more dollars will be heard loud and clear on the campaign trail, the last place Chairman Hugh Shelton wants to be heard."
Hugh Shelton, Joint Chiefs Chairman: "We in the military have been for many, many years, since the beginning of this nation, had a policy of not, of being apolitical, making sure that we in fact did not get caught up in the politics-"
Martin lamented: "But that has not stopped scores of retired military officers from Colin Powell on down from endorsing the Bush-Cheney ticket."

After a clip of Bush introducing a retired officer, Martin warned: "There's no law against it, but the sight of so many former admirals and generals throwing their prestige behind a candidate causes concern among other retired officers."
General Wesley Clark: "I think this is dangerous for the country and harmful for the armed forces."
Martin: "General Wesley Clark, the now retired commander of the war against Serbia, says endorsing candidates throws a shadow across the active duty military."
Clark: "I think the shadow is to encourage people who are still wearing the uniform to align themselves, or consider aligning themselves politically."
Martin pointed out: "Some of those who have endorsed Bush, like the former Chief of Naval Operations, served until very recently under President Clinton."
Lieutenant General Terry Scott: "Former generals and admirals should know the complexities that they're involved in, and should be very careful about oversimplifying and making it sound like a bumper sticker."

Finally, in concluding the piece Martin gave a clause in defense of the retired generals: "To those who say the nation's defense is too important to be left to campaign slogans, the retired generals say they are doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights -- after a lifetime spent defending the Constitution."
David Martin is usually out of place at CBS News as he normally files straight-forward and balanced pieces, so I'll attribute the politically-charged premise of this story to him following orders from Dan Rather Central in New York. After all, a bit more than a week ago Martin was the only network reporter to highlight how a top Navy commander complained his forces are overstretched.

In a September 15 CBS Evening News story Martin looked at the high number of Naval accidents, suggesting: "It's impossible to pinpoint a single cause for these accidents, but they have occurred at the same time Navy admirals are becoming increasingly vocal about being asked to do too much with too little money. The latest is Vice Admiral John Nathman, commander of Naval Air Forces in the Pacific."
Vice Admiral John Nathman, Commander, Pacific Naval Air Forces, on August 23: "The fact is that we have reached such a low level of funding, it will soon be impossible to meet the expectations of this nation in executing our operations in completing the mission."
Martin added: "That has now become ammunition for Governor George Bush, who quoted Nathman today as further evidence of declining military readiness. Readiness has been declining, but most Pentagon officials say it is still at acceptable levels...."


FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night highlighted how two network evening shows on Friday skipped the release of the White House sleepover list. Over a graphic of the White House with the words "Sleepovers List Caught CBS and ABC Napping?" beneath, Hume picked up on an observation also made in Saturday's CyberAlert about the networks:
"That list of hundreds of people who have stayed at the White House and donated to the Clintons and the Democratic Party was front page news in the New York Times and Washington Post and elsewhere but there was not a word about it on the CBS Evening News or on ABC's World News Tonight. NBC Nightly News did carry a report by correspondent Andrea Mitchell and anchorman Tom Brokaw said quote, 'it appears the Lincoln bedroom has been busier than ever.'"

For CyberAlert's details about Friday night coverage, go to:


E-mails released late Friday confirmed that Gore staffers knew well in advance that money would be raised at the Buddhist temple, but other than 24 seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday morning Today landed Al Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to ask about the disclosure or mention any of Gore's gaffes from last week.

Neither ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News on Friday touched the e-mail revelations and I didn't see anything in a quick scan of Friday's The World Today on CNN or The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC. Saturday's Today, MRC analyst Paul Smith noted, didn't utter a word about it.

On Friday night, September 22, Dan Rather took 24 seconds to announce: "Some just recovered White House e-mail dealt with what Vice President Gore has long-acknowledged are past mistakes in fundraising activities. This includes the fundraiser he attended in 1996 at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. The new e-mails suggest Gore staffers, at least, were well aware it was a fundraiser. The Gore campaign says the e-mails contain quote, 'nothing new.'"

On Monday morning Today co-host Matt Lauer pressed Gore about his flip-flops on the strategic oil reserve but failed to raise the e-mail disclosure or ask about his fabrications with regard to the dog versus in-law drug costs and the union jingle.

Here are all of Lauer's inquiries posed from Sydney via satellite to Gore in Washington DC, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

-- Matt Lauer: "Let me start, Mr. Vice President, by talking about oil. The President, last week made a decision that he is going to dip into the strategic reserve in this country for some 30 billion gallons over the next several months. He's concerned about home heating prices. It's always been my understanding that, that reserve was meant for cases of national security. Do you think we're in a situation where national security is being threatened now?"
-- "But you were not in favor of doing something similar about 10 months ago when oil prices were high, production was low, gas prices in this country were going through the roof. Yet you urged the President to take this course of action this time. And you know what the critics are saying. They are saying this is very convenient, Mr. Vice President. We are six weeks away from a presidential election and this is gonna help you curry favor with people in the northeast and the north."
-- "Is this going to give the appearance though, Mr. Vice President, of you riding in on a white horse or the President riding in on a white horse, when over the past eight years crude oil prices have doubled during this administration? Our dependence on foreign oil has increased and our production here at home has decreased. What do you think the Clinton administration record on oil has been?"
-- "When you say the apologists for big oil are you talking about Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney?"
-- "I think you're saying you'll extend it [Medicare trust fund] to 2030. One of the elements of this Medicare plan from what I've read in advance is that you're gonna take the Medicare surplus, Mr. Vice President. You're putting it in that lockbox that everybody likes to talk about and you're saying it will not be touched. Do you foresee any situation, financial disaster, energy crisis that would force you to dip into that lockbox?"
-- "Mr. Vice President let me ask you briefly about the polls. And I know you like to say the only poll that counts is election day. But about a week and a half ago you were leading by double digits. In the last several days Governor Bush has closed that gap substantially according to major national polls. Is he doing something right or do you think that maybe you've gotten off-message a bit?"


Did George Stephanopoulos say "I sure hope not" after George Will suggested Bush could win by running on the issues of Medicare and Social Security reform and tax cuts? Judge for yourself by playing the video now posted on the MRC Web site by Webmaster Andy Szul.

I'm catching up on an event caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson two weeks ago. On the September 10 This Week roundtable George Stephanopoulos asked George Will: "Do you believe that if there is a debate, let's say on three issues -- Medicare, Social Security and tax cuts -- that George Bush can win that debate with the American people?"
Will replied: "I do."
To which Stephanopoulos blurted out: "Boy, I sure hope not."

Or did he? That's what Jessica thought she heard Stephanopoulos say and it's what the Burrelle's transcript on listed him as retorting, but other panelists talked over the second half of what Stephanopoulos said so it's hard to decipher.

To check for yourself, play the RealPlayer clip. Go to:

You'll see the video in the top right corner of the page.

And while we're talking about Stephanopoulos, three days after the above exchange he appeared on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien where predicted Gore will win and revealed some very strange advice Warren Beatty offered the Clinton campaign in 1992.

Asked on the September 13 show for a prediction, Stephanopoulos forecast: "It's going to be really, really close. If you put a gun to my head and said, 'You had to bet right now,' I say Gore, this close [holds thumb and index finger up close together]."

O'Brien also asked about Warren Beatty: "Do you have any idea, does he have sharp political instincts because he's always been interested in politics, he's thought about running. Do you know what this-"
Stephanopoulos: "He's played with it. I mean, he thinks about politics a lot. I'm not sure he's got it cut out to be a political strategist. He actually tried to give Clinton some advice when Clinton was running way back in '92, and this was when we were in third place. And his big idea -- Clinton went out to Hollywood -- his big idea was that Clinton should start using swear words in his speeches."
O'Brien: "And I hear that George W. has stolen his talent, yeah."
Stephanopoulos: "He makes it four or five syllables longer, right? Subliminally."
O'Brien: "What word did he want Clinton to use?"
Stephanopoulos: "Not going to say it on national TV, but it rhymes with 'truck.'"
O'Brien: "He wanted a presidential candidate to start using that word, throwing it around?"
Stephanopoulos: "He did, he did, and you saw Bullworth.
O'Brien: "It's probably where he got the idea, yeah."

Bill Clinton didn't take Beatty's advice. We've learned since that Clinton prefers to do it, not say it, at least not publicly.


Geraldo Rivera popped out of a cake on Monday's ABC show The View to celebrate the birthday of Barbara Walters.

After giving her flowers and a hug she proclaimed: "Geraldo is the one who always says that I'm sexy and I love you for that darling." He repaid the compliment: "To me Barbara was always a sensual, sexual woman." Indeed, he recounted his failed conquest attempt in Panama in the 1970s when she rebuffed him.

Turning serious for a moment, he told the group of women who host the ABC daytime show along with Walters that he's thinking of running for Mayor of New York City because Rudy Giuliani has "emotionally segregated the city and I want to bring the city back."

+++ See a shot of Geraldo kissing Walters and a video clip from earlier as Geraldo emerged from the big fake cake. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted a RealPlayer clip on the MRC home page. Go to:

Okay, this has nothing to do with campaign coverage, but it's so surreal it's worth seeing. -- Brent Baker

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