Hailing Maverick McCain; "Gipper Was an Airhead"; Leftist West Wing
1) Without raising doubts about his sincerity, CBS and NBC relayed how Bill Clinton thanked the "power of grace" and "the God in whom I believe." Dan Rather added how he's seeing religious counselors.
3) The networks hopped aboard John McCain's campaign, stressing how he's a "maverick" and a "renegade" who's willing to "buck the odds for what he believes in." His Big Government ideas were deemed an asset as reporters still labeled him a conservative.
While ABC ignored President Clinton's prayer breakfast appearance, without any judgment on his sincerity Tuesday's CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News both played the same soundbite of Clinton thanking the "pure power of grace" and "the God in whom I believe."
-- CBS Evening
News, September 28. Dan Rather announced:
Yes, Rather said "sinned Monica" though I assume he meant to say a word in between.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw stated:
Washington, one year after he admitted to being a sinner for his
relationship with Monica Lewinsky, President Clinton spoke this morning to
the national prayer breakfast. He said the past year has been the most
difficult of his life and that he is continuing spiritual counseling. He
also said he has learned about forgiveness."
The privacy of a whistle-blower is improperly violated in an effort to discredit the person's testimony about wrongdoing by high-level government officials. Normally, you'd assume the media would be outraged and treat his or her lawyer as a hero fighting to correct an injustice. But not if the victim is Linda Tripp.
Tripp is suing the Defense Department and White House officials civilly for invading her privacy by releasing her personnel file to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker who was working on an article aimed at discrediting her.
Tuesday morning Tripp's lawyer, Stephen Kohn, appeared on ABC's Good Morning America. Co-host Charlie Gibson hit him with four questions, all of them hostile MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, as Gibson assumed Tripp is the one in the wrong:
-- "I suspect
a lot of people would find it the height of irony that Linda Tripp files a
suit for invasion of privacy."
Kohn explained how the request to the DOD was for a specific form which meant Mayer had to be tipped by the White House.
For more on this
subject, check the October 5, 1998 MediaWatch Review which offered this
overview of the controversy:
The article runs
through several subsequent developments in the case which most outlets
ignored. Go to:
Coverage of John McCain's official presidential announcement demonstrated he really is the media's candidate. Network stories Monday night all stressed how he is a maverick -- Tom Brokaw tagged him a "renegade" and Dan Rather said he's willing to "buck the odds for what he believes in" -- and, by labeling him a conservative, gave him cover against the view that his liberal anti-free speech stands on campaign finance and tobacco make it impossible to consider him conservative. ABC's World News Tonight gave his entry just a sentence, but the September 27 evening shows on CBS, CNN and NBC all provided full reports.
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather introduced the story:
-- CNN's The World Today. Candy Crowley reported: "Even as he strays from party positions in very public ways, McCain remains conservative at his core. He is pro-business, pro-defense, pro-voluntary school prayer, anti-abortion, and anti-gun registration. He considers himself a Goldwater conservative, but conservatives picket his campaign, while his liberal partner on campaign finance reform can't say enough."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw seemed in awe:
"A man who
promises to shake up the American political system formally announced that
he's a presidential candidate. Republican Senator John McCain: war hero,
McCain's bill would prevent conservatives from buying ad time to spread
their views in the weeks before an election, a restriction that would
increase the influence of journalists, it's no surprise media figures
favor shutting out competing voices. But on CNN's Inside Politics on
September 27, MRC analyst Paul Smith noted, Bruce Morton suggested
nobler-sounding reasons for why reporters love McCain:
Of course, governing on conservative principle didn't earn Reagan much media support.
journalists assume McCain's liberal principles are correct and so instead
of challenging them they act bewildered in wondering why most Republicans
don't "get it." For instance, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
caught how on Monday's Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer didn't
challenge McCain's campaign finance ideas and instead tossed this softball
With the exception of NBC's Today, network stories on the Reagan biography by Edmund Morris relayed both his negative and positive assessments of Reagan, though giving precedence to the derisive comments, as the controversy over Morris's use of fictional characters sometimes became the lead. All the stories let former Reagan aides contradict Morris's claims and Dan Rather dubbed the book "a controversial new fiction biography."
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens pointed out how NBC's Today twice opened the show this week by highlighting how Morris dismissed Reagan as an "airhead."
At the top of Monday's broadcast, co-host Katie Couric exclaimed: "Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That's one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that's drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today, Monday, September the 27th, 1999."
Today featured a taped interview with President Bush who denied Morris's
claims that he and Reagan were distant, but co-host Matt Lauer still
opened by citing the "airhead" charge: "Good morning. For
the first time President Bush is responding to the controversial new
biography of Ronald Reagan. And in particular the author's assertion that
Reagan was a great President but an airhead."
Here's a look at Monday night, September 27, stories:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings stressed the controversy:
"The official biography of President Reagan will arrive in bookstores this week to considerable controversy about the methods and the ideas of the biographer, Edmund Morris. When Mr. Morris first met President Reagan in 1981 he found him to be largely benign. In his words, 'I couldn't conceive of writing more than a paragraph about him.' Morris ended up spending 14 years on Reagan."
Barry Serafin started his piece: "The author of the Reagan biography describes the former President in both harsh and glowing terms -- 'bland' and 'boring,' an 'airhead' and a cultural 'yahoo.' But also, 'a great President,' 'the bravest and most incorrupt figure I've ever studied.'"
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather plugged an upcoming story: "The Reagan inner circle, including Nancy Reagan, responds to a controversial new fiction biography of the 40th President."
Rather's intro to the story will never make it onto the back cover of the paperback edition of the Morris book:
"Excerpts from a controversial new book about Ronald Reagan hit newsstands today. It's a mixture of fact and fiction and the author wrote himself into the book as a character. You may have seen the writer last night on CBS's 60 Minutes. He's under fire from associates of the former President, who chose him to write the book, and from literary critics who say the book just isn't very good."
Bill Plante began: "First Lady Nancy Reagan hand picked Edmund Morris to write her husband's biography. Now that the book is finally about to appear, a close friend says that Mrs. Reagan is definitely not please with what she's heard."
Plante allowed Michael Deaver to take on some premises in the book and aired a clip of former Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon complaining about how Morris missed a great opportunity.
-- CNN's The World
Today. Bruce Morton began his piece, that MRC analyst Paul Smith watched,
with some balance:
But following a comment from Marlin Fitzwater, Morton uniquely added some specific negatives: "Morris writes of a Reagan with bizarre beliefs, that North and South Vietnam had been separate countries for centuries, that the Soviets wanted to invade the United States through Mexico, adding: 'His beliefs are as unerasable as the grooves of an LP.'"
Morton later noted
that Morris "was around for the Iran-Contra crisis." After
playing a clip of Reagan in he 1980s denying a arms for hostages swap,
Morton asserted: "Morris told 60 Minutes: 'His will was so enormous
that it resisted logic. It resisted protest. What Reagan willed, what
Reagan believed was fact.' Things worked for him, as in this debate with
George Bush during Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign."
Deaver got a chance to react before Morton concluded with the positive side, sort of: "Morris, in the excerpts published so far, describes a Reagan with little curiosity, a man of the surface, but a winner. 'I can only note that what Dutch believed has largely come to be.' And he writes of Reagan, 'his optimism unquenchable...his laugher impossible to resist.' The Cold War, restoring America's belief in itself -- he used to talk about the little boy who, confronted with a pile of manure, knew there had to be a pony around somewhere. Ronald Reagan was good at finding ponies."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw asked: "What new information does the author, Pulitzer prize winner Edmund Morris, reveal about Reagan the man and his presidency? Why do some people say it's really a work of fiction? Some answers tonight from NBC's Andrea Mitchell."
Of the broadcast
network and CNN stories Mitchell uniquely raised Morris's bizarre blood
tale: "In his book, Morris says the President almost died -- lost,
quote, 'well over half his total supply of blood,' but Reagan friend Ed
Meese disagrees with Morris....Even more sensational, Morris says some of
the blood transfusions were still cold -- not properly warmed, what Morris
calls, quote, 'a major physiological insult from which he would never
raised how "Morris describes Reagan as, quote, 'vacuous, shatteringly
banal,' 'culturally a yahoo,' 'boring,'" but she countered that's
"not the Reagan described by his friends and another biographer,
journalist Lou Cannon" who told Mitchell:
That's a good sign of how anti-Reagan Morris is. His portrait is so negative that even a liberal reporter like Cannon feels compelled to come to his defense.
+++ See Stahl stew. The September 27 CyberAlert quoted how Lesley Stahl took on Reagan over homelessness and argued to Morris that Reagan's supposed lack of compassion is a character flaw. Upon his return Tuesday after being out for a few days, MRC Webmaster Sean Henry posted a RealPlayer clip from Sunday's 60 Minutes. To watch it, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1999/cyb19990927.html#1 
The second episode of NBC's drama, The West Wing, will air Wednesday night at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT. Last week in the premiere viewers saw how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry Democratic "President Josiah Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, indignantly telling ministers: "You can all get your fat asses out of my White House."
Reviewers last week uniformly denounced the show for lacking minority characters, but in having an all-white cast the show matches reality.
First, a review of the September 22 show made possible thanks to some transcribing by MRC intern Ken Shepherd.
Controversy ensues after Deputy Chief-of-Staff "Josh Lyman" says to a Ralph Reed-type character, named "Mary," on a TV show: "Lady, the God you pray to is too busy being indicted for tax fraud."
For some reason this concerns the Democratic White House and the staff call in Mary and several other male Christian Right types so that Josh can apologize. Mary then demands that in return for "insulting millions of Americans" the liberal President come around to their viewpoint: "Sunday morning radio address: public morals, school prayer, or pornography, take your pick."
Mary soon says to
Josh: "It was only a matter of time with you, Josh. That New York
sense of humor was just a little..."
The show soon
portrays the ministers as confused by basic religious facts:
In walks "President Bartlet," limping from a bike accident: "'I am the Lord your God, thou shalt worship no other god before me.' Boy those were the days, huh?"
The Reverend asks
Bartlet: "If our children can buy pornography on any street corner
for five dollars, isn't that too high a price to pay for free
+++ Watch this scene. Wednesday morning MRC substitute Webmaster Eric Pairel will post a RealPLayer clip from The West Wing. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
TV critics focused on the color of the actors:
-- On the
September 19 Sunday Morning on CBS John Leonard complained: "Not
since Murphy Brown has a prime-time series been both witty and edgy about
politics. It is of course scandalous that a liberal President like Martin
Sheen has a staff entirely white. They promise to fix this."
Actually, it's the one part of the show which is accurate. The program features six characters. Five are white males: The President, Chief-of-Staff, Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Communications Director and Deputy Communications Director. The sixth is a white female, the Press Secretary.
Sound familiar? Just like the Clinton White House in 1993 with Dee Dee Myers as the only non-male in a top position. None of the positions portrayed as being held by a white male has ever been held by anyone but.
Tonight, Hollywood solves the problem. As revealed in the promo shown last week, the show will add a black character as the "personal aide" to the President, in other words, his valet.
Now that's progressive thinking. But since the show lacks a National Security Adviser I wouldn't be surprised if the producers soon have this garment bag-carrier solving an international crisis. -- Brent Baker 
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