CyberAlert -- 11/09/1999 -- Anchor to Clinton: "How Does It Feel Talking to Me?"; Focusing on Bush Quiz, Not Gore or Wolf

Anchor to Clinton: "How Does It Feel Talking to Me?"; Focusing on Bush Quiz, Not Gore or Wolf

1) Monday night the networks focused on how Microsoft's stock fared. ABC found a culprit for malaria: "Some scientists say one reason for these unusual outbreaks is global warming."

2) Usually reporters credit Mikhail Gorbachev with bringing down the Berlin Wall. CNN's Christiane Amanpour blamed him, citing how "the unbridled capitalism that followed communism has unleashed misery on citizens who had all their social needs taken care of."

3) Fox's Brit Hume quipped that the Microsoft judge "is not the sharpest knife in the legal drawer here" and Charles Krauthammer joked about who doesn't know the leaders Bush couldn't name.

4) It's all about me. Look at me! ABC anchor Carole Simpson put herself front and center, equating her professional success with President Clinton's rise, asking him: "How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"

5) Last Friday night ABC's World News Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush could not identify some obscure world leaders, but the show has yet to utter a word about Naomi Wolf and never noted Gore's missed answers to a farm quiz on 20/20 back in June.

6) Last week the Norwegian media highlighted how long Clinton shook the hand of a Monica Lewinsky "look-alike."

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cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Monday night the three broadcast network evening shows, as well as CNN's The World Today, led with the announcement by the second largest HMO, United HealthCare, that reviewing decisions costs more money than they saved so they are switching decision-making to doctors. NBC Nightly News unveiled new a new opening sequence, graphics and desk for Tom Brokaw, but the show still played the same music.

The ABC, CBS and NBC shows all ran pieces on the Microsoft monopoly ruling, but not about its soundness. Instead, all followed how the stock performed during the day. CBS's Anthony Mason stressed how a breakup of the company could even help investors as they'd get stock in both halves of any new entities. NBC's Mike Jensen pointed out how well investors have done with the stock as $100 of Microsoft stock bought 1989 would now be worth $65,000. NBC added two "In Depth" reports. First, a look at arguments about whether Microsoft's dominance has helped or hurt consumers and then a piece on how many in Microsoft's home base in the Seattle area are worried while those in Silicon Valley who compete with Microsoft are happy about the ruling.

ABC's World News Tonight delivered another panic story, as they did in August, about how "global warming" is causing an outbreak of malaria in North America. Citing recent cases in New York, California, Texas, Michigan and New Jersey, reporter Deborah Amos asserted:
"Some scientists say one reason for these unusual outbreaks is global warming, which can cause extreme weather. Prolonged droughts followed by heavy rains have helped provide the right conditions in which mosquitos thrive."

Though she conceded only "some scientists" believe this, she didn't bother with conveying the majority view. Instead, she only relayed the claim of Harvard University's Dr. Paul Epstein, who said: "In order for there to be local transmission of malaria, one needs a lot of mosquitos and enough warmth to increase the transmission."
Amos elaborated: "When it is cold it can take thirty days for the malaria parasite to mature. But a mosquito only lives for fourteen days, so no transmission. But when it's hot the malaria parasite can mature rapidly, ready to infect someone before the mosquito dies."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Marking the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, CNN's The World Today on Monday featured an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. Christiane Amanpour followed the usual media pattern of crediting Gorbachev with bringing down the wall, but she also blamed him for it.

After opening her November 8 piece by asserting that some say Gorbachev should get a statue in every eastern European capital, she asked him: "How did you feel yourself watching that wall come down?"

Later, after Gorbachev praised socialism and noted how Western Europe is led by social Democrats, Amanpour replied by raising the dark side of the end of communism:
"Indeed, ten years later, many are saying the unbridled capitalism that followed communism has unleashed misery on citizens who had all their social needs taken care of, especially in the former Soviet Union."
To Gorbachev: "Mr. President, you are regarded by many people in this world as a hero for causing the end of tyranny and the collapse of communism. But you are also criticized heavily by those who say you opened a pandora's box. And they say look at the strife now, look at the economic chaos, look at the Mafia structure, look at the corruption. They say that you opened and started a plan that you did not know how to finish."

Amazing. Hitting a communist from the left.


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Two best lines of the weekend on the interview and talk shows: Fox's Brit Hume didn't pretend Microsoft is some heroic, benign company as he questioned the legal mind of federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer put into perspective George W. Bush's inability to name the leaders of three places.

-- Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday: "Microsoft is a big, rough, mean, ruthless company. And it has dealt ruthlessly in many instances with its competitors. Does that translate into violations of the law? That is the question. And I think that it is a big leap and the judge made it completely, almost, it seems to me, suggesting that he is not the sharpest knife in the legal drawer here."

-- Charles Krauthammer on Inside Washington: "That was ridiculous. Chechnya, India and Pakistan. The people who live in those countries have no idea who their leader is."


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Simpson1116.jpg (12137 bytes) Forget about focusing on your news subject and not yourself. In an interview of President Clinton shown on Sunday's World News Tonight ABC anchor Carole Simpson put herself front and center, recalling how she "grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you." Incredibly, she then asked: "How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?" Even Clinton seemed surprised by her hubris.

Earlier, Simpson, who is black, had told Clinton: "You're the first black President. How does that make you feel?" And, she worried: "Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after you leave office?"

Simpson's November 7 piece was pegged to Clinton's visits to poor areas. Simpson explained: "For millions of Americans the booming economy and bull market have been all but meaningless, because they've had no share in the prosperity. This past week President Clinton called attention to this gap in his second New Markets tour."

Simpson explained his proposal and allowed Clinton to promote it before showing excerpts from her interview aboard Air Force One. Simpson complained: "The poverty issue is, of course, tied somewhat to race. And blacks are still disproportionately poorer, Latinos are. Today we were in Newark, and we saw Latinos in Hartford. Your race commission was to come out with a report. Where is it?"

Clinton answered: "Of all the issues that I deal with, this is one that I have perhaps the strongest feelings about, and the longest years of experience with, and the, and the clearest ideas about the future of our country and the future of our world."

To that, Simpson responded: "You want to do it right. You joke about it, so I don't see why I can't joke about it: You're the first black President. How does that make you feel?"
Clinton began a long answer by saying "I think it's a compliment, and I take it as such."

Simpson's piece then moved to a new venue and the sucking up moved up a notch. "Later, in an Arkansas tomato factory, I chatted with President Clinton about his future." She told him: "I've watched you the past few days and how the crowd responds to you, and how you respond to them." And: "You've got the big plane, you've got the big house, you've got the cars, the protection. Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after you leave office?"
Clinton answered: "I don't know, I hope not. I'll hate to give up Air Force One. You know, air traffic has gotten a lot tougher since, in the last eight years. And I've really tried to help other airline passengers get a better deal, so I kind of dread that. And I'll miss the job. The work is what I'll miss. I love living in the White House. I love Camp David. I love working in the Oval Office." (What has he ever done to "help other airline passengers get a better deal?")

Now we get to the hard to believe part. But this is all accurate. Simpson then showed video of her standing in front of Clinton as she proclaimed: "I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas..."
Clinton jumped in: "A place like this."
Simpson continued: "Place like this. I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"
Clinton: "It's a great country. You know, we should never get discouraged, we should never give up on America, we should never, it's okay to be mad at things that happen, it's okay to be frustrated. But, just look at it, I mean, both of us, yeah we worked hard to get here, but we had a lot of help along the way. And we had a country capable of continuing improvement. The founders were smart people, and we have been very lucky for over 200 years now, and I would hope the American people would always believe that."

That ended the taped story and viewers then saw Simpson back in the anchor chair saying: "President Clinton said that when he leaves office, he will divide his time between homes in New York and Little Rock."

This self-centered "reporting" is really hard to believe until you see it, but unfortunately we can't let you see it for at least a few more days. Because of our office move our computer equipment and computer phone lines are not yet all up and running, so we can't post new video clips on our Web page. But as soon as we can, we will post this exchange between Simpson and Clinton.


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) Last Friday night ABC's World News Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush could not identify the leaders of Chechnya, India or Pakistan when quizzed by a reporter for NBC's affiliate in Boston, but the show has yet to utter a word about Al Gore trying to hide the hiring of controversial feminist author Naomi Wolf -- despite the fact Gore was asked about it on ABC's own This Week on October 31 and the show brought Wolf aboard a week later. And, back in June, when Gore could not answer some farm questions posed by Diane Sawyer on 20/20, World News Tonight failed to note it.

Picking up on the Wednesday WHDH-TV interview highlighted on the front page of the Friday, November 5, Washington Post, that morning ABC's Good Morning America dedicated an entire segment with George Stephanopoulos to assessing the damage from the quiz, but in all of last week the Wolf hiring earned only this joking exchange on Wednesday's show:
Diane Sawyer: "So, what is the Vice President going to do? We read that he has brought in Naomi Wolf, who is an author and who has analyzed, among other things, what it takes to be an alpha male as opposed to a beta male."
George Stephanopoulos: "Yeah, I think he probably regrets that decision right now, and that's all about taking on President Clinton and separating himself from the President. What's troubling about this is that every time Gore gets a move on, some staff snafu trips him up."
Sawyer: "All right. George Stephanopoulos, following this race carefully. And what kind of male are you, George? Just checking." Stephanopoulos: "Well, you know, Charlie is the only alpha male on this program, Diane."

This past weekend all the interview and debate shows featured this type of joking about Wolf's assessment that Gore is the beta male to Clinton the alpha male, with panelists asking each other if they are alpha or beta males. All the shows also looked at the Bush quiz. But only the Bush story last week earned a broadcast network evening show story.

On Friday's World News Tonight ABC anchor Peter Jennings intoned: "In political circles throughout the country, and among quite a number of normal people, too, the Republican candidate for President George W. Bush was getting something of a roasting. Yesterday Mr. Bush found himself in one of those interviews with a reporter that turned out to be more than he counted on. He was asked to name the leaders of four places which have been pretty consistently in the news: Taiwan, Chechnya, Pakistan and India. He got one out of four."

Aaron Brown opened with Bush defending himself in a taped interview with Sam Donaldson to be shown two days later on This Week. Brown then played an excerpt from the exchange with WHDH-TV's Andy Hiller, emphasizing how "he also showed a flash of temper and defensiveness" and how "there were questions of policy, too, as Bush seemed to suggest he supports the military coup in Pakistan."
Bush on WHDH: ""It appears he is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that's good news for the subcontinent."
Brown: "It was that answer that Vice President Gore jumped on. In a statement, Gore said, 'I find it troubling that a candidate for president in our country, the world's oldest democracy, would characterize this military takeover as good needs.' Pat Buchanan, as you would expect, was more direct."
Buchanan: "There's a gnawing concern that Mr. Bush does not know the world."
Brown argued: "And that's why this might prove so dangerous for Governor Bush, because it feeds a persistent criticism that in this important area of foreign policy he is not by experience or temperament up to the job."
Howard Kurtz, Washington Post: "What's made news is not this little game of Jeopardy! but the fact that Governor Bush couldn't answer the questions and seemed a little off balance as he attempted to provide the names of these foreign leaders."
Bill Kristol, ABC News analyst: "I think it was a cheap shot at Governor Bush, but sometimes cheap shots do damage."
Brown concluded: "And, fair or not, for a candidate like Bush, in many ways still unknown, these little moments can develop a life of their own."

Certainly if the media want them to.

As the Washington Post's Mike Allen noted on Sunday, on Friday morning "Bill Bradley, perhaps the nation's most famous scholar-athlete, refused to take a quiz on world leaders like the one that flummoxed another presidential candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. During a long-scheduled interview, Andy Hiller, political reporter for WHDH-TV, the NBC station in Boston, asked, 'Can you identify the leader of North Korea?'
"'I'm not going to get into this -- I'm not going to play this game," Bradley answered. 'I think these are pop questions, and I don't think they illustrate, really, the qualities that are important to be President.'"

The MRC's Tim Graham reminded me of how back on June 16 Diane Sawyer tested Al Gore's knowledge of farm issues, since Gore claimed to have been raised on a farm. GMA showed his responses in a preview of the upcoming 20/20 interview, but did not focus on his inability to answer two questions. World News Tonight, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson confirmed, did not choose to inform its viewers of Gore's missed answers -- and nor did any other major network show.

Sawyer: "All right. My cousins are all tobacco farmers and cattle farmers. So I have a test for you. Ready for a pop quiz?"
Gore: "All right."
Sawyer: "How many plants of tobacco can you have per acre?"
Gore: "Oh, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I'll flunk that test."
Sawyer: "What is brucellosis?"
Gore: "I know that there are five to seven on a stick when you put them in the -- in the barn."
Sawyer: "And what are cattle prices roughly now?"
Gore: "Too low."
Sawyer: "What was the other thing? Brucellosis?"
Gore: "Oh, that's hoof and mouth disease."
Tipper Gore joked: "Not confined to cattle."
Sawyer: "And this is my mother's question. My mother says when a fence separates two farms, how can you tell which farm owns the fence?"
Gore: "It depends on what kind of fence it is. I mean, which -- if the poles are on the inside, that's the -- the side where the farm is."
Sawyer, to the audience: "So he got two out of four. Not bad."

Not a bad escape of media scrutiny for Gore in this instance.


cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes) Catching up on an item from last week that I do not believe got any wider attention, a November 3 Washington Post story revealed that while in Oslo President Clinton zoomed in on a Monica Lewinsky look-alike, shaking her hand so long, according to the local media, that she "blushed brighter than ever before in her life."

Here's an excerpt from the Washington Post story by T.R. Reid, headlined: "Norwegian News Media Are Smitten by Clinton."

OSLO, Nov. 2--Presidents, prime ministers and dignitaries from a dozen countries gathered in Oslo this week, but to judge from the Norwegian media, you'd think there was only one man in town: Bill Clinton.

Newspapers and TV networks here have focused almost totally on the

President since Air Force One touched down here early Monday -- with the arrival covered live on every channel. Since then, the media have provided inordinately detailed coverage of the first visit by a U.S. President in Norway's history.

The papers have reported what Clinton wore (three different ties in one day!); what he drank (Diet Coke); what he read (Sue Grafton's "'O' Is for Outlaw," spotted on his lap in the limousine); and how long he shook the hand of fourth-grade teacher Ingeborg Heldal (so long that she "blushed brighter than ever before in her life," according to the tabloid newspaper Verdens Gang)....

To a degree, this kind of response is standard operating procedure for any U.S. President in almost any country. People everywhere are fixated on the military, political and cultural might of the only remaining superpower. And Norway may be even more smitten than other places, because virtually every Norwegian family has relatives in the United States.

But the intense response to Clinton's visit also says something about this particular President. Clinton's impeachment and his history of sex scandals makes him an object of fascination wherever he travels.

Thus, it was probably inevitable that the Norwegian media would come upon something during this week's visit to remind them of last year's White House turmoil. Sure enough, they found it Monday when the President shook hands for a second or two outside the royal palace with Heldal, the 26-year-old teacher -- a woman whom Verdens Gang described as a "Monica Lewinsky look-alike."

"A pretty, dark-haired girl in the crowd catches the President's eye and extends a hand to him," the newspaper said. "Haven't we seen something like this before?"

END of Excerpt

If Hillary moves to Chappaqua maybe Clinton can move to Oslo and move in on the teacher. It sounds like that in Norway he may have an even more worshipful media than in the U.S., though it's hard to beat Carole Simpson who both worships herself and Bill Clinton. -- Brent Baker


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