CyberAlert - 09/13/1996 - "Nasty" Dole & Public Thinks Media Want Clinton to Win

Two items today:

RE: Copy of: MRC Alert: "Nasty" Dole & Public Thinks Media Want Clinton to Win

  1. The Clinton-Gore campaign runs a non-stop negative ad campaign against Bob Dole full of false claims about "slashing" Medicare etc, so when Bob Dole reacts and criticizes Clinton who do the networks say has made it a "nasty" campaign? Bob Dole.
  2. A new poll finds that by a wide margin the public thinks that reporters want President Clinton to win re-election. Front

On Thursday

Bob Dole demanded that Bill Clinton release his medical records and complained that Clinton's ads were little more than character assassination. Instead of examining the tone of Clinton ads, ABC and CBS portrayed Dole as the villain who has dirtied the until now clean campaign. Only NBC looked at Clinton's role. On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings announced: "The campaign for President took a nasty turn today. First, Bob Dole departed from his standard stump speech in Kentucky, lashing out at the Democrats for what he says they are saying about him, and negative advertising was the kindest thing Mr. Dole had to say." Reporter Jim Wooten showed clips of Dole complaining about Clinton and of Dole raising the medical records issue. Then he explained:

"Press Secretary McCurry was asked by reporters today if the records would show indication of a number of diseases, including a sexually transmitted one. He said, no."

McCurry: "This has been put into play no doubt by those who seek to destroy the President. The President's physician reported on May 24th of this year he was in excellent overall health. Shecould not have done that if any of the allegations about diseases were true."

Wooten, concluding his piece: "It was bound to come to this no doubt as Senator Dole has been under considerable pressure from his campaign tacticians to begin attacking the President on issues of personal character. So far he's resisted. Today may have been a signal that he's changing his mind."

So Dole's to blame for a reporter asking about a "sexually transmitted" disease.

Then, Peter Jennings got to the second part of the how the campaign "took a nasty turn today" premise. Immediately after Wooten finished he introduced the next story: "The President is going to come under further Republican attack with the release next week of the House Committee on Government Operations and Oversight's report on the firings at the White House travel office."

On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather followed the same Clinton as victim theme: "Now for his part, Bob Dole re-opened one of his favorite lines of attack today about President Clinton's health records. Phil Jones is our man with the Dole campaign, Phil." Jones provided a very short piece which dealt only with the medical records issue, and concluded: "Dan, this campaign is headed exactly where everybody expected it to go: personal..." Only NBC Nightly News bothered to show viewers what so upset Dole. Tom Brokaw declared: "Bob Dole on the ropes and looking for a way to boost his sagging campaign made it clear today he is taking off the gloves in the war of the political airwaves." Reporter David Bloom began: "Stung by a barrage of negative television advertising, Bob Dole today accused Bill Clinton of running a campaign of fear, of engaging in character assassination." After a clip of Dole, Bloom continued: "At the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago the President made this pledge:"

Clinton: "This must be a campaign of ideas, not a campaign of insults. The American people deserve it." Bloom: "But since then, the Dole camp claims the Democrats have run only 42 positive ads with 4,200 negative ads running across the country."

Clips of Clinton ads, including: "If Dole sits here [Oval Office] and Gingrich runs Congress what could happen. Medicare slashed. A woman's right to choose gone."

Following another Dole soundbite of Dole and reaction from the Clinton campaign, Bloom concluded: "Dole aides say the campaign will double its ad budget next week, unveiling new attack ads blaming Clinton for rising teen drug use, ads even tougher than this one." Ad: "Bill Clinton said he'd lead the war on drugs and change America. All he did was change his mind." Bloom then ended his story by forwarding the "nasty" theme: "At a Dole rally today the music blared 'get ready.' Get ready, that is, for a very nasty campaign."

On Friday

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press will be releasing the results of their survey of 1,508 people. Here are some of the more interesting findings:

- All in all, how would you rate the job the press has done in covering the presidential campaign so far?

44% Good 29% Only fair 13% Excellent 11% Poor

- How much influence do you think news organizations have on which candidate becomes President? (Posed only to the 1,141 registered voters in the sample)

64% Too much 30% About the right amount 4% Too little

- Would you say the press has been fair or unfair in the way it has covered Bill Clinton's election campaign? (Again, registered voters only, but this time sample of 565)

67% Fair 24% Unfair

- Would you say the press has been fair or unfair in the way it has covered Bob Dole's election campaign? (565 registered voters)

65% Fair 25% Unfair

- Who do you think most newspaper reporters and TV journalists want to see win the presidential election - Bill Clinton, Bob Dole or Ross Perot? (Posed to sample size of 576)

59% Clinton 17% Dole 1% Perot

So, the media are fair in coverage of both candidates, but the public thinks that the media have too much influence on who wins and perceives that reporters hope Clinton will win. Very confusing.
- Brent Baker