CyberAlert -- 06/06/2001 -- Bush's "Defiance" of Moderation

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Bush's "Defiance" of Moderation; GOP Hit on Torricelli; Darling Daschle; Civil Rights Commission's Report Hyped; Felons for Gore

1) The ABC and NBC White House reporters on Tuesday night scolded Bush for his "defiance" in not acquiescing enough to moderates. ABC's Terry Moran warned: "Today's display of bi-partisanship masks a certain defiance within the administration." NBC's David Gregory bemoaned how "in the face of this power shift" there is "still among top Bush advisers defiance."

2) The CBS Evening News caught up with the probe of Senator Robert Torricelli, but Dan Rather impugned it by citing what "he sees as a Republican-motivated and led criminal investigation." Phil Jones shook his head as he warned Torricelli's resignation "could give Senate control back to [pause] the Republicans."

3) Media Reality Check. "Bouquets, Not Barbs, For Darling Daschle: NBC's Lisa Myers: "This Unpretentious Midwesterner...Is Adept At Striking Just the Right Political Note."

4) The politically-motivated leak of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights draft report which claimed the Florida vote was marred by "injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency" which disproportionately hurt blacks, was picked up by ABC and NBC from newspaper accounts. Tuesday's Nightline focused on it as John Donvan vouched for its import: "In the report's own words it is the 'most extensive investigation to date.'"

5) FNC's Brit Hume observed that in two recent stories on people denied the right to vote in Florida the Washington Post never told readers about how the Palm Beach Post determined over 5,000 felons voted, 68 percent of whom were registered Democrats.

6) Self-parody? Newsweek's Jonathan Alter defended himself against the charge he's "never written anything positive about a Republican" by reminding accusers "of the columns I wrote praising John McCain during the campaign."


President Bush must do more to acquiesce to "moderates" if he hopes to please the network White House reporters who on Tuesday night scolded the administration for its "defiance" of the new reality of a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Bush hosted Jim Jeffords and other Senators from both parties to discuss the education bill but, warned ABC's Terry Moran, "today's display of bi-partisanship masks a certain defiance within the administration." NBC's David Gregory was concerned that "in the face of this power shift" there is "still among top Bush advisers defiance, even cockiness." CBS's John Roberts relayed how "Democrats are still wary of the President's renewed commitment to bi-partisanship," though that followed his very unusual acknowledgment that "conservatives...are now up in arms" over the massive spending in the education bill.

More detail about these takes on the June 5 broadcast network evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran wrapped up his piece from the White House on Bush's meeting with Senators:
"But today's display of bi-partisanship masks a certain defiance within the administration. White House chief-of-staff Andy Card says the Senate changeover will not change the President's basic strategy."
Moran to Card: "So if I'm hearing you right, there will be no change really in the way the President proposes-"
Card: "That's your word, it's not my word. I'm saying the President has an agenda that he campaigned on. He's true to his principles. He owes it to the American people to do what he said he would do when he was running for President."

-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts actually allowed criticism of Bush from the right: "The education bill, said Jeffords and the Democrats, is a lesson in what's possible. With school funding increased and vouchers left out, the bill is as much the Democrats' as it is Mr. Bush's. Ironically, it's conservatives who are now up in arms."
David Boaz, Cato Institute: "It's a bad bill, it will not improve education and we would be better off if the switch in the Senate and the political turmoil caused this bill to fail."
Roberts then let Democrats judge Bush's "commitment" to adequate bi-partisanship: "But Democrats are still wary of the President's renewed commitment to bi-partisanship."
Joe Lieberman: "Too much of the first four or five months of this administration have been governing from the right in a partisan way."

-- NBC Nightly News. David Gregory asserted that "this week the President has shifted gears to seem more moderate" by appearing at a National Park to announce more money for them and by highlighting funding for religious groups by helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house. He then concluded:
"There is, in the face of this power shift, still among top Bush advisers defiance, even cockiness, in the course of the Bush agenda. They believe even if Democrats try to obstruct the agenda somewhat, they will not be able to deny Bush his signature achievement, the tax cut, which he'll sign into law Thursday."


The CBS Evening News finally caught up with the probe of New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli, but only so Dan Rather could taint the investigation by referring to it as what "he sees as a Republican-motivated and led criminal investigation of him." Reporter Phil Jones piled on, asserting that "Torricelli believes the Republican-controlled Justice Department is out to get him," before concluding by shaking his head as he warned that Torricelli's resignation "could give Senate control back to [pause] the Republicans."

Rather introduced the June 5 story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "With the power shift in the Senate, attention is shifting to one member of the new majority: Democrat Robert Torricelli of New Jersey-and the possibility of what he sees as a Republican-motivated and led criminal investigation of him, could lead to yet another change of power back to the Republicans."

Jones began: "Dan, Senator Torricelli believes the Republican-controlled Justice Department is out to get him." Jones proceeded to report that Torricelli will soon decide if he wants to request that the probe be moved to a special counsel and showed Torricelli back in April denying the charge that a man named David Chang gave him illegal gifts, including suits. Viewers saw a sound bite of a New Jersey tailor recalling he was told to give Torricelli 10 to 15 suits.

Jones then noted: "Trying to avoid attacks of political partisanship, the Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused himself along with four of his most senior aides."

Back on camera in front of the Capitol, Jones ominously concluded: "This is high political drama. If Torricelli were to leave the Senate this year, the GOP Governor back in New Jersey would name a Republican, and that could give Senate control back to [pause, shaking head] the Republicans."


Text of a Media Reality Check compiled by the MRC's Rich Noyes and distributed on Tuesday afternoon, titled, "Bouquets, Not Barbs, For Darling Daschle: NBC's Lisa Myers: "This Unpretentious Midwesterner...Is Adept At Striking Just the Right Political Note."

To view it as fax recipients saw it, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:

The text of the June 5 Media Reality Check:

When Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1995 -- after an election, not an inside-the-Beltway defection -- the media tried hard to deflate his triumphant moment.

Bias flashback: "You called Gingrich and his ilk, your words, 'trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion and fear,'" Bryant Gumbel, then co-host of NBC's Today, reminded Democratic leader Dick Gephardt on January 4, 1995, the day the last party changeover became effective. "Do you think middle-class Americans are in need of protection from that group?"

This morning, as Democrats prepared to seize the Senate, the networks gave no Republican the chance to rain on the liberals' parade, and no host infer-red that incoming Senate leader Tom Daschle is surrounded by "ilk," is a divisive "terrorist" or poses a threat to middle-class taxpayers. Instead, ABC and NBC celebrated Daschle's rise with gushing profiles which were completely devoid of criticism of the one-man coup that roiled the Senate, or of any other aspect of the liberal Daschle's partisan career.

"If you happened to catch Tom Daschle at a South Dakota airport, you'd never guess he's about to become the most powerful man in a Capitol full of very large egos," NBC's Lisa Myers enthused on Today. "Once a year, this unpretentious Midwesterner drives across his prairie state alone, without any aides, visiting all 66 counties. At home and in Washington, Daschle, who is 53, is described by colleagues as mild-mannered, straightforward, even nice."

Myers assured viewers that Daschle will be an effective champion of liberal causes: "Beneath the friendly exterior is a shrewd, tenacious politician with 23 years in Congress, skilled at holding his party together...Married to a former Miss Kansas with three grown children, Daschle is adept at striking just the right political note."

NBC even raised the prospect that Daschle could duplicate the performance of the last Democratic majority leader, George Mitchell who, Myers related, "was what one Bush aide called 'a partisan pit bull,' regularly ripping then-President Bush to shreds. Some Republicans now worry that what Mitchell visited on the father, Daschle will visit on the son."

On Good Morning America, ABC's Claire Shipman used some of the same talking points to compliment Daschle: "Being underestimated is the story of Daschle's political life, but as his colleagues and adversaries always discover, he may be 5 feet, 7 inches and mild-mannered, but he has a steely determination behind his consensus-building style. Every year, the self-labeled 'Prairie Populist' methodically visits all 66 counties in his home state. Last week, he found himself in Lake Preston, where he was full of chuckles for the locals' jokes."

ABC and NBC could have pointed out that Daschle's partisan assaults of the past five months are wildly at odds with his advice that both parties must "work together." Daschle delighted in condemning President Bush's delay of strict new arsenic standards, even though he voted with 18 other Democratic Senators in October 2000 for a similar delay. That audacious bit of hypocrisy has been widely disseminated by Rush Limbaugh, among many others, but ABC, CBS and NBC have so far failed to include it in their hyped environmental coverage.

On the May 27 Meet the Press, NBC's Tim Russert uniquely challenged Daschle for his condemnation of a GOP fundraiser held at Vice President Cheney's residence; Russert informed viewers that Daschle had charged donors $5,000 each to join him at the top of Mount Rushmore. National Review later reported that Daschle's declaration to Russert that such excursions are done "regularly...almost every week," isn't true, according to their interviews with National Park officials.

But none of these criticisms were voiced this morning, as the networks greeted Daschle's ascendancy with bouquets, not barbs.

END Reprint of Media Reality Check


Whoever gave the media a copy of a draft report from the liberal-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) achieved their goal on Tuesday of making its left-wing assessments -- of how the Florida presidential vote was marred by "injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency" which disproportionately hurt blacks -- the news of the day as ABC and NBC picked up on it after a summary of its harsh criticism of Florida Republicans ran in the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Neither the Washington Post or Los Angeles Times, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, bothered to point out how the sole Republican on the commission never saw the draft before it was delivered to the media, a fact acknowledged by ABC's Good Morning America and Nightline, but not by World News Tonight or NBC's Today.

CNN made the point during an interview segment on Inside Politics with a commission Democrat and the Chairman of the Florida Republican Party. CBS did not pick up on the story on either The Early Show or CBS Evening News.

None of the ABC or NBC stories pointed out, as did FNC's Brian Wilson on Special Report with Brit Hume, that though the commission draft claims blacks were ten times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected, the report ignored "the fact that the number of Florida black voters participating in the last election was up nearly 70 percent over 1996."

Instead of ignoring the vitriolic report released as part of a liberal political agenda, ABC's Nightline devoted its entire Tuesday show to it. While host Chris Bury acknowledged how not all members saw it ahead of time and reporter John Donvan conceded that neither Florida Governor Jeb Bush or Secretary of State Katherine Harris were allowed, as promised, to review it in advance of its public release, Donvan vouched for its import: "In the report's own words it is the 'most extensive investigation to date.'"

Donvan somberly relayed the draft report's unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo about how while there was no nefarious "conspiracy," the "system did discriminate." After a sound bite of Florida Republican Jim Smith arguing that since Republicans were not provided with an advanced copy, the report is a political hit job, Donvan proceeded to outline the case made in the leaked copy. He began with a hanging clause:
"But one of the report's conclusions, that Florida's election apparatus discriminated against African-Americans and other minorities. The strongest evidence is pages of statistics establishing, the commission says, that African-Americans were far more likely than non-African-Americans to have their ballots rejected in the 2000 Florida presidential election. The report is vague about why this would be so. Statistically, it says, ballot rejection rates cannot be attributed to the educational level of African-Americans in Florida. Nor is it simply the prevalence of older voting technology in minority precincts. 'There remains a statistically significant relation,' it reads, 'between race and the rate at which ballots are spoiled, even when the best technology is used.'"
Donvan asked: "So what explains why black voters were 'disenfranchised,' as the report puts it? A conspiracy? Well, the report specifically says there is no proof of a conspiracy, but it points out that under the law you don't have to prove that anyone intended to discriminate. What matters are results. And the results, the report says, are clear: An astounding number, 54 percent it says, of the rejected ballots were cast by African-Americans. The causes may be fuzzy. Voter error is not mentioned. But the draft report argues that 54 percent is enough to establish that the system discriminated."

"Voter error is not mentioned"! The irrational dismissal of that most likely cause is what should have been Nightline's focus. With many blacks voting for the first time, thanks to an intensive NAACP voter drive, many made errors, such as seeing nothing wrong with voting for two presidential candidates.

Nightline's Chris Bury went on to interview Commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry, officially an "independent" though Donvan noted she was a Gore donor, and its only Republican, Abigail Thernstrom.

The commission now has four Democrats, three independents and one Republican. But that "independent" category includes Berry who is to the left of most Democrats.

For a list of the eight commissioners and bios for each, go to the commission's Web site info page and scroll down a bit:

Here are the headings for each member as listed on the USCCR Web page:

Presidential Appointees(4):

Mary Frances Berry (Chairperson)
Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought
Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cruz Reynoso (Vice Chairperson)
Professor of Law
University of California at Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California

Yvonne Y. Lee
Yvonne Lee Consultants
San Francisco, California

Victoria Wilson
Vice President and Associate Publisher
Alfred A. Knopf
Vice President, PEN Executive Board
New York, New York

Congressional Appointees (4):

Christopher Edley, Jr.
Professor, Harvard Law School
Founding Co-Director, The Civil Rights Project,
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Elsie M. Meeks
Executive Director, Lakota Fund
Co-owner and operator of Lone Creek Store in Wanblee, South Dakota
Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

Russell G. Redenbaugh
Partner and Director, Cooke & Bieler, Inc.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Abigail Thernstrom
Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
New York City, New York

END Web page reprint

Earlier in the evening, World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings announced: "The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in a draft report which was leaked to the press, says that Florida's handling of last year's presidential election was marked by 'injustice' and 'ineptitude.' Black voters, it says, were ten times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected, though there was no conspiracy. There are more Democrats on the Commission and the senior Republican says she hasn't even seen the report."

In the morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, Good Morning America news reader Antonio Mora noted during his 8am update: "In what's immediately become a controversial follow-up to last year's presidential election, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission reportedly has found that Florida unfairly penalized minority voters. According to published reports, the commission sharply criticizes top Florida officials without claiming, though, that they deliberately disenfranchised minority voters. The commission is dominated by Democrats and The New York Times quotes its two Republican members as saying they were not consulted on the report." (See below for why ABC cited "two Republican members.")

NBC's Today, however, skipped over the obviously political leak as MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed news reader Ann Curry didn't tell viewers how the Republican member didn't see the report: "The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has reportedly found that last November's Florida election was unfair to minorities. According to today's Washington Post the Commission found that blacks were nearly ten times as likely as whites to have their votes rejected. The Commission puts much of the blame on unequal access to modern voting equipment, but found no evidence of conspiracy."

That front page June 5 Washington Post story by Robert E. Pierre and Peter Slevin breathlessly began:

Florida's conduct of the 2000 presidential election was marked by "injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency" that unfairly penalized minority voters, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has concluded in a report that criticizes top state officials -- particularly Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris -- for allowing disparate treatment of voters.

Unequal access to modern voting equipment and "overzealous efforts" to purge state voter lists most harshly affected African Americans in the state that decided the November election for President Bush, the commission declared in a 167-page final draft report obtained by The Washington Post. The inquiry found no "conclusive evidence" that officials "conspired" to disenfranchise minority and disabled voters.

Fifty-four percent of votes rejected during the Florida election were cast by black voters, according to the report, scheduled for a commission vote Friday. African Americans accounted for 11 percent of voters statewide.

"The disenfranchisement was not isolated or episodic. State officials failed to fulfill their duties in a manner that would prevent this disenfranchisement," said the report, the product of a six-month investigation. "Despite the closeness of the election, it was widespread voter disenfranchisement and not the dead-heat contest that was the extraordinary feature in the Florida election."...

END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to:

While the post assigned two reporters, it only took one New York Times reporter, Katharine Q. Seelye, to realize the political agenda behind the leak. Her piece, in which she identified a commission member as "Republican" who is listed as an "independent" on the USCCR Web page, opened:

A fractured United States Commission on Civil Rights has prepared a sweeping broadside against Florida officials over last year's presidential election, calling them "grossly derelict" and saying their "lack of leadership" led to the disenfranchisement of countless Floridians, a majority of whom were African-American.

But not all members of the commission have been involved in putting together the report, which was to be made public on Friday. The two Republican appointees who serve on the eight-member commission said they had not been consulted and suggested that with the report being obtained early by the news media today, the report itself could well be overshadowed, making it unlikely that there would be a resolution about what happened in Florida.

One of the two Republican appointees, Russell Redenbaugh, said the report's conclusions of discrimination were not supported by the evidence. Mr. Redenbaugh said the early release of the report was intended to further the political agenda of the chairwoman, Mary Frances Berry, who supported former Vice President Al Gore....

END Excerpt

For the entire story, go to:


FNC's Brit Hume observed Tuesday night that in neither Tuesday's Washington Post story, which listed how Florida's felon purging system improperly denied the vote to some, or one last week about problems with the felon purging, told readers about how the Palm Beach Post determined over 5,000 felons voted. And 68 percent were registered Democrats.

A "Scrapbook" item in the June 11 Weekly Standard recalled how a front page Washington Post story last week highlighted how "at least 2,000 felons whose voting rights had been automatically restored in other states were kept off the rolls and, in many cases, denied the right to vote." After a bunch of anecdotes from victims, the same story included this one sentence: "At the same time, some felons who should not have been allowed to vote slipped through and cast ballots."

As the bewildered Weekly Standard asked, "Some?"

The May 28 Palm Beach Post reported:

Thousands of felons voted in the presidential election last year, despite a three-year, $3.3 million campaign by state officials to keep them off the voter rolls.

A Palm Beach Post computer analysis has identified more than 5,600 people who voted on Nov. 7 though they appeared to perfectly match names on a statewide list of suspected felons.

Each of these voters had exactly the same name, date of birth, race and gender as a felon identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

These illegal voters almost certainly influenced the down-to-the-wire presidential election.

It's likely they benefited Democratic candidate Al Gore: Of the likely felons identified by The Post, 68 percent were registered Democrats....

END Excerpt

(This story is no longer online.)


Newsweek reporter/columnist and MSNBC commentator Jonathan Alter in a June 4 story by Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz about personal attacks on journalists emanating from online sites:
"People send me e-mails full of dopey attacks -- 'I bet you've never written anything positive about a Republican in your whole life' -- obviously never having read any of the columns I wrote praising John McCain during the campaign."

As National Review's "Washington Bulletin" suggested, file that under "Department of Self-Parody." -- Brent Baker

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