CyberAlert -- 05/04/2001 -- Bush Just Like Jimmy Carter

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Bush Just Like Jimmy Carter; Bush "Rammed" Budget; Ted Kennedy Too Conservative; Couric Indoctrinating Her Daughter; Lauer "Sexed Up"

1) Peter Jennings used President Bush's order for federal agencies in California to reduce energy use as a chance to again blame "deregulation" while CBS's Dan Rather analogized Bush's move to what Jimmy Carter did twenty-plus years ago.

2) ABC's Linda Douglass complained about how Bush decided to "ram" his budget through without the numbers being "analyzed as closely as they were" when "President Clinton was President" and with Democrats "completely shut out of the process."

3) Ted Kennedy is too conservative for ABC's Charles Gibson. On Thursday's Good Morning America Gibson demanded to know if by cooperating with Bush he'd become "complicit" with Bush's maneuver to divert money from education to tax cuts.

4) Add ABC to the networks referring to missile defense as "controversial" even though it enjoys overwhelming public support. Wednesday morning ABC's Terry Moran referred to the "very controversial proposal."

5) The networks may not have depressed Bush's vote in the Florida Panhandle by calling the race just ten minutes before the polls closed, but by spending a whole hour falsely stating all polls in Florida were already closed. FNC's Brit Hume picked up on the theory espoused by C. Boyden Gray.

6) John McCain on Bob Schieffer: "He is scrupulously fair...I could not tell you if he was Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or vegetarian." Maybe that's because of how Schieffer was a sycophant to McCain and promoter of campaign finance regulation during McCain's last appearance.

7) Katie Couric informed a guest that she has been "deliberately looking for movies that will help" her nine-year-old daughter develop "a social conscience," such as Norma Rae.

8) Matt Lauer conceded he became fixated by a lion's penis just before he was "sexed up" by the lion who made him his "bitch." A strange story told by Lauer to Conan O'Brien made all the more odd by how Lauer recounted it.

Peter Jennings and an ABC News colleague used President Bush's order for federal agencies in California to reduce energy use as a chance to again blame "deregulation" for the problem while CBS's Dan Rather analogized Bush's move to what Jimmy Carter did twenty-plus years ago.

Setting up a May 3 World News Tonight piece on the electricity shortage in California, Jennings asserted: "The West has had energy issues for many months: supply, demand, price, all of which is made more complicated by California's deregulation mess."

In the subsequent story, reporter Neal Karlinsky insisted: "The state faces huge demand at a time when deregulation has left utilities unable to pay for all the power needed."

Moving on to a story about potential power problems in the east, Jennings introduced the next story by again blaming deregulation: "Well there is something that California and New York have in common after all. The energy problem is somewhat different in the east in that deregulation is not the issue, but with the temperatures soaring today, it was 90 in some places, getting power to the consumer is everything."

Of course, the electrical market was never really deregulated in California. It should be hard to blame deregulation for anything when consumer prices remained regulated.

Over on Thursday's CBS Evening News Dan Rather, unlike ABC's Peter Jennings or NBC's Tom Brokaw, harkened back to the Carter era. Rather opened his broadcast:
"Once again an American President is adjusting the thermostat in the midst of an energy shortage. More than twenty years after President Carter ordered U.S. government buildings to turn down the air conditioning, President Bush is saying let's do it again -- at least in California."


ABC's Linda Douglass complained Wednesday night about how President Bush decided to "ram" his budget through without the numbers being "analyzed as closely as they were" when "President Clinton was President" and with Democrats "completely shut out of the process."

On the May 2 World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings noted how Bush had announced a budget deal, but he cautioned: "He may call this a bipartisan triumph, but in fact, it's anything but at the moment."

From Capitol Hill, Linda Douglass agreed as she bemoaned the process: "Well, that's absolutely right, Peter, because what the President did here was ram this budget through, bypassing a number of the normal independent analyses that are done inside of the Congress before one votes on a budget, so that the numbers really have not been analyzed as closely as they were, say, when President Clinton was President. He really passed this through with the support of his own party and with the help of just a few conservative Democrats. The Democratic leaders, most of the Democrats were completely shut out of the process, Peter."
Jennings: "I think, as you said earlier in a memo today, Linda, this is a new world for the Democrats and they don't like it one bit."
Douglass: "Well, that's exactly right because they are complaining mildly that they were not involved in this, but in fact, Republicans control the White House, Republicans control the Congress. He doesn't really need much help from the Democrats and he's really not going to ask for much."

So, what's wrong with ignoring Democrats then? It sounds like it's not only Democrats who don't like the "new world." After all, do you recall the media castigating Clinton for passing budgets without any GOP support?


Senator Ted Kennedy is too conservative for ABC's Charles Gibson, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed. On Thursday's Good Morning America Gibson pressed Kennedy from the left on his dealings with Bush on education. Gibson demanded to know if by cooperating with Bush he'd become "complicit" with Bush's maneuver to divert money from education to tax cuts. Gibson saw more money as the universal solution as he also argued that teacher salaries must be "multiplied."

Here are Gibson's four questions to Kennedy on the May 3 show:

-- "Well, the centerpiece of President Bush's agenda, the issue he talked so much about during the election, his education bill will be debated this morning in the Senate. His unlikely partner in working out a compromise on education, Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is joining us this morning....I know politics makes strange bedfellows, but you working with the President on this education bill?"

-- "Senator, there are some Democrats who say that as much money as is really needed for education will not be spent because of the tax cut that is on its way on a fast track through the Congress. Do you become, in cooperating with the President, do you become complicit in that?"

-- "As I understand this bill, he gives up, for now, on his voucher plan and you give up on some of the money that would have been spent for teachers and for the renovation of some crumbling schools. In some sense, is that a hollow compromise? I mean, does it really do much for schools and get more teachers in the system?"

-- "I'm curious, teachers are quitting in droves from the school system. Forty percent -- I saw a number just this morning -- 40 percent of teachers leaving the system before they've worked five years; beginning teacher's salary, average in this country, $27,000. Doesn't that really need to be almost multiplied for a true solution to educational problems, to get teachers going?"

A less ideologically left-wing interviewer might have pressed Kennedy about his party as an impediment to better schools, such as the Democratic Party's ties to teacher unions which oppose any real reform and why he's so "anti-choice" for parents when it comes to schools.


Make that three for three on missile defense being "controversial." As noted in the May 2 CyberAlert, on Tuesday night both CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw referred to Bush's missile defense plan as "controversial" even though it enjoys overwhelming public support. ABC's Peter Jennings had refrained for using the term, but ABC caught up on Wednesday morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed.

On the May 2 Good Morning America, White House reporter Terry Moran asserted: "Now, on missile defense, this is a very controversial proposal, but the President is determined to pursue it in the teeth of opposition from European allies, from Russia and China, from some members of Congress, and over an explicit treaty that that United States signed in 1972 which prohibits building it, but he's going to try to go ahead."

The May 2 CyberAlert cited a couple of poll numbers, including how a CBS News/New York Times poll found support for missile defense stood at 75 percent. I got that number from a CBS News Webb site story which stated "three-quarters of the public favors..." In fact, MRC Director of Communications Liz Swasey discovered that the number was really 77 percent. See "complete results" for question 27 at:


The networks may not have depressed Bush's vote in the Florida Panhandle by calling the race just ten minutes before the polls closed in the Central Time Zone, but by spending a whole hour falsely stating all polls in Florida were already closed when, in fact, they were still open in the Central Time Zone Panhandle counties. That's the theory from C. Boyden Gray, White House Counsel to 41, to which FNC's Brit Hume gave air time Thursday night.

Hume made it the lead item for his "Grapevine" segment on the May 3 Special Report with Brit Hume:
"It turns out that the TV networks' premature and incorrect call of the state of Florida for Al Gore last November might not have been the reason voting fell off in the heavily Republican Florida Panhandle where polls were still open. Instead, former White House counsel Boyden Gray, who has looked into the issue, says the voting actually began to tail off shortly after 6pm Central in the Panhandle, where it would normally be expected to pick up as last-minute voters went to the polls. The reason, he suggests, is that the networks, including this one, were wrongly reporting that all the polls had closed in Florida. CBS's Dan Rather, says Gray, reported more than thirty times after 6 o'clock Central, that Florida's polls had closed."

I'm not sure at what forum Gray made this point or how it got to FNC since, as of last night, it had not been picked up by the wires and neither Washington newspaper mentioned it Thursday or Friday. I do know Gray obtained his information from the MRC as over the last couple of days MRC Research Associate Kristina Sewell has loaned him videotape copies of election night coverage.


Everyone in Washington thinks Bob Schieffer is a great guy who is, above all, "fair," the Washington Post insisted Thursday in a story on a party marking Schieffer's tenth anniversary as host of Face the Nation. Amongst those Post reporter Roxanne Roberts quoted as gushing over Schieffer, Senator John McCain. Roberts relayed: "'He is scrupulously fair,' says McCain. 'I could not tell you if he was Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or vegetarian.'"

How about a McCain sycophant. That might explain McCain's pretend ignorance of Schieffer's politics. Here's how the March 26 CyberAlert described McCain's reception on the March 25 show:

Bob Schieffer ended Sunday's Face the Nation by admiring how Senators spent the week engaged in "real debate" about campaign finance reform. But Schieffer didn't provide any "real debate" for his viewers. Instead, he delivered a one-sided presentation with government regulation of speech advocate John McCain, whom he failed to challenge substantively.

As occurred a week earlier on NBC's Meet the Press, as detailed in the March 19 CyberAlert, McCain was only asked about the status of various amendments and how he will overcome impediments in his way. But that's no surprise given how Schieffer gushed about how "campaign finance is finally getting the airing it deserved and the Senate has never looked better."

Schieffer opened the March 25 interview by hoping: "Do you think you're going to be able to pass a ban on soft money?" A befuddled Schieffer wondered "what's that all about?" in regards to how Tom DeLay called McCain a hypocrite for using soft money to pay for ads against soft money and after McCain demurred on running against Bush in 2004, Schieffer suggested another approach: "Would you rule out running as an independent next time?"

END Excerpt

To read all of the "questions" posed to McCain by Schieffer and colleague Gloria Borger, go to:

Now for some more praise for Schieffer from the May 3 Washington Post article:

Who Loves Bob: CBS News anchor Dan Rather, NBC's Tim Russert, ABC's Sam Donaldson, PBS's Jim Lehrer and CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Sens. Trent Lott, Tom Daschle, John McCain, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Breaux, Olympia Snowe, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barbara Mikulski. Lawyers Lloyd Cutler, Bob Bennett, Bob Barnett. Plenty of writers and journalists. CBS News President Andrew Heyward and lots of CBS folks, even cranky old Andy Rooney.

"He's one of those people I'd want to be on an island with," says Daschle. Amazingly, that's the closest anyone comes to a "Survivor" joke at this party.

Why They Love Bob: First, because he's a working journalist. Schieffer, 64, has covered Washington -- White House, Pentagon, State Department, Capitol Hill -- for 32 years and knows everyone. For the past 12 years, he's been skulking through the halls of Congress when not in the studio.

"I think his distinguishing characteristic is fairness," says Heyward. "He's universally respected. He has strong sources on both sides of the aisle because he is -- and I'm not just saying this because he's a Texan -- a straight shooter."

"He is scrupulously fair," says McCain. "I could not tell you if he was Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or vegetarian."

"He's very fair," says Mikulski. "His questions are about the issues, not about himself."

Did we mention fair? They also like that he's not a "celebrity" in the bad sense of the term.

"Bob is modest," says Heyward. "Bob really sees himself as a traditional news person. He really loves politics and the story, and that's what he's looking for when the red light on the camera comes on. And, frankly, when the red light isn't on."

In other words, he's not your typical TV egomaniac.

Other Nice Things About Bob: He's very devoted to his wife, Pat, and daughters Susan and Sharon and just became a grandfather to twin girls.

He's a skilled watercolor artist and a pretty good golfer.

He does not have weird anchor-guy hair.

END Excerpt

Well, I'd agree he doesn't have a Dan Rather buzz cut.

To read the entire Post piece by Roxanne Roberts, go to:


Katie Couric practices at home what she preaches on the air. On Wednesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, she informed a guest that she had been "deliberately looking for movies that will help" her nine-year-old daughter develop "a social conscience," such as Norma Rae.

Her admission came during an exchange with Stephanie Oppenheim, a toy expert, about movies to see with kids:

Couric: "Now another extension of the sports theme-"
Oppenheim: "Is to have a movie. And this is one of our favorite sports movies of the year. Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington."
Couric: "Remember the Titans."
Oppenheim: "And it has that, you know, exciting championship game at the very end. But it also talks about some important issues."
Couric: "Like racism and-"
Oppenheim: "Right this is a team that's integrated for the first time and it really talks about how to put aside your differences to be a team."
Couric: "It takes place in Alexandria, Virginia near where I grew up at T.C. Williams High School. And I think that's great because Ellie, at nine, is really starting to develop a social conscience. And I have really been deliberately looking for movies that will help her with that like Norma Rae or To Kill A Mockingbird."


Lauer "sexed up" by a lion who made him his "bitch." Today co-host Matt Lauer recounted a very strange story on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien on Tuesday night. Strange by itself, but made more so by Lauer's odd fixation with a lion's penis and how after the lion took a certain action Lauer said he felt "sexed up."

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth took down Lauer's description on the May 1 NBC late night program of an incident which occurred last weekend when he and his wife visited the Las Vegas-area home of magicians Siegfried & Roy. Lauer was in Nevada to play in a celebrity golf tournament which raised money for prostate cancer research.

Lauer began: "So we're walking through the back yard, and this is almost disgusting." He described how the yard had cages with tigers and lions and he motioned to O'Brien how he was sitting as far from a lion as O'Brien was from him -- just a couple of feet.

Lauer continued, with ellipses where O'Brien made quips: "The lions were, two of the lions were in a bit of a horny mood. One of the lions was sort of not leaving the other lion alone, and he's [imitates horny lion growl], and she's like, get away from me, and, you know, he's rubbing on her...and of course, you know, instead of just turning around and giving them privacy, you become fascinated by this, so I was like, you know, staring at this lion, and suddenly he gets up from bugging the woman lion, and he comes and he looks right at me for like 15, 20 seconds, and we're standing there, and then it becomes uncomfortable, you know, you're staring for too long, and you're thinking, you know, is this thing, is he going to come after me...and he's just staring at me. And he gives one of these like 'Mmmm' [makes lion growl again], and I thought okay, that's it, it's over.
"And he turns away from me, and now my whole world goes into slow motion. All I can say is this all happened in slow motion, so don't think I'm an idiot. He turns away from me, and now I'm staring at the business end of the lion. And before I know it, I'm drawn to the actual business end, you know, you're looking because you don't get to see that up close that often [audience laughter]."
O'Brien: "Matt, what the hell is your problem? Maybe you're drawn to that end."
Lauer: "So I see this, and I'm going to talk about really in the business end now, something moves, and the next thing I know, I'm sexed up."
O'Brien: "What are you talking about?"
Lauer: "The lion has sprayed me and marked his territory all over me."
O'Brien: "With what? What were you sprayed with?"
Lauer: "Well, you know, I'm not sure if it was urine or if it was some other thing from a gland or something, but it was like, I mean literally, I am here, and I look down at myself, and it's like someone took the spritzer on the hose and went [makes spraying noise], and I've got spots of liquid all over me. And my wife is wiping her face. She doesn't know what's happened. She runs to the bathroom. This lion, you know, I'm like, it's bitch now. I mean, I, you know, basically it's what happened. And so, you know, I'm freaking out at this, and here comes Siegfried and Roy, and Roy is ecstatic. Roy is yelling, 'It's an honor! It's an honor! You're a part of the pride! You're a part of the pride!'"
O'Brien: "This is an honor for them?"
Lauer: "Apparently, it's only happened to one other person at their house, that they've got completely sexed up by the lion."
O'Brien: "So what did you do then? You're at this party. You're covered in this gland juice."
Lauer: "Well, it dried pretty quick. [Laughter] Well, you know, luckily, I was leaving pretty soon, so I kind of let it dry, I was like air drying it. I didn't want to let everybody know..."
O'Brien: "Did they offer you towels or anything?"
Lauer: "Roy is offering me to use his shower, which I'm not sure what was up with that..."
O'Brien: "Wait, now it's clear what's going on here."
Lauer: "He told the lion to do it."
O'Brien: "Yeah, Siegfried was like cuing the lion, 'And now get Lauer' and then you get sprayed down, and then Roy is like, 'You must use our shower now. [Laughter] That's what's going on."
Lauer: "It was the wildest thing."
O'Brien: "Let me guess, when you were in there showering, suddenly, they appear, 'Oh, we thought we'd join you.'"
Lauer: "I did not use the shower. I passed on the shower, but it was so weird. You know, it was like, I wasn't mad. I'm mad now because it's been a week and the lion hasn't called, but I wasn't mad at the time."

Another day in the wild life of Matt Lauer. You couldn't make something like this up. Now we've had an insight into Lauer's peculiar habits and interests.

Since this story is so strange and so oddly recounted by Lauer who felt compelled to share it, Friday afternoon MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of it on the MRC home page. -- Brent Baker

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