CyberAlert -- 10/11/2000 -- CBS Stressed Bush's Unfitness

CBS Stressed Bush's Unfitness; Landlord Gore Finally Mentioned; "Gasbag" Limbaugh; Philbin for Bush -- Extra Edition

1) The ABC and NBC polls cited Tuesday night put Bush ahead of Gore, but with Bush behind by one point in the CBS poll, Dan Rather stressed that on "dealing wisely with an international crisis, Gore is a full ten points up on Bush. Gore's lead is even bigger on the question of being prepared for the presidency."

2) Only NBC ran a full story on the presidential campaign Tuesday night, thus uniquely noting how Griffin Bell endorsed Bush. NBC also relayed Bush's "taunting" of Gore over his tenant problems and NBC also showed viewers Bush's "meandering and labored attempted to give an undecided voter a reason to support him." NBC and ABC raised "credibility concerns" about Gore.

3) Confronted with how his Web site denounces George Bush for "bumbling and babbling," Al Gore told FNC: "I wouldn't say it that way." But Brit Hume noted the language remains up on his Web page.

4) Bernard Shaw defended his VP debate question about racial profiling in which told Cheney and Lieberman: "You are black for this question. Imagine yourself an African-American."

5) After Today allowed Rush Limbaugh to explain his views, MSNBC's Paul Begala took a mean-spirited shot at him: "He's lost a lot of weight. You know, I guess we've got to downgrade him from blimp to just gasbag."

6) The Early Show's Jane Clayson threw a curve ball at Karenna Gore-Schiff, asking if she wouldn't want for herself the Social Security private investment option proposed by Bush.

7) One celebrity for Bush. To stunned silence from the audience, Tuesday night Regis Philbin affirmed "absolutely" when David Letterman asked if he'll vote for George W. Bush.


George Bush has moved ahead of Al Gore in the ABC and NBC polls cited Tuesday night, but only NBC led with the development. The CBS poll had Bush behind by one point and anchor Dan Rather stressed his bafflement with how Bush could be faring so well given "that on the question of dealing wisely with an international crisis, Gore is a full ten points up on Bush. Gore's lead is even bigger on the question of being prepared for the presidency."

World News Tonight viewers did not hear about the ABC News/Washington Post poll until about half way through Tuesday's newscast, but in contrast to CBS, ABC's Peter Jennings listed areas where Bush is preferred, pointing out how "the public trusts Mr. Bush to hold down the size of government," prefers Bush "for holding down taxes" and believes Bush is the best to "give the country a fresh start."

Here's how the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows handled the latest presidential poll numbers on Tuesday night, October 10:

-- ABC's World News Tonight led with the ongoing violence in Israel. Peter Jennings compared Bush's standing in the ABC News/Washington Post poll to where he was a week earlier before the first debate:
"Overall, Mr. Bush has improved his position. Among people who say they are likely to vote, 48 percent prefer him, 45 percent Mr. Gore. Most people still think that Mr. Gore has the right experience to be President: Bush 58, Gore 74 percent. The public trusts Mr. Bush to hold down the size of government, which more people prefer: 49 percent think Bush would do it better, 39 percent think Mr. Gore. As for holding down taxes, it's Mr. Bush's message 49 percent of the people like; 39 percent Mr. Gore. Mr. Bush has made progress with women. Last week he was 18 points behind Mr. Gore; men still favor Bush by a large margin."

An on screen graphic showed Gore ahead with women 52 to 43 percent and Bush favored by men 54 to 37 percent.

Jennings continued: "Finally this week, asked which candidate can best give the country a fresh start: 54 percent of registered voters say Mr. Bush, 33 percent say Mr. Gore."

-- CBS Evening News began with, as Dan Rather dubbed it, the "Firestone-Ford fiasco."

He later cited the latest CBS News poll, apparently sans the New York Times, which put Gore ahead 43 to 42 percent. Rather stressed areas where Gore had a more commanding lead:
"It indicates Gore with a one point lead over Bush, well within the poll's margin of error. This is so even as our poll indicates that on the question of dealing wisely with an international crisis, Gore is a full ten points up on Bush [50 to 40 percent]. Gore's lead is even bigger on the question of being prepared for the presidency [70 to 48 percent]. However, that leads to the conclusion that Bush scores well on questions of demeanor and presentation. You may want to note that some national polls indicate Bush is ahead of Gore, but the Bush lead is within the margin of error in most of those polls."

-- NBC Nightly News led with the campaign. Tom Brokaw announced: "One month from today, American voters will be at the polls choosing the next President of the United States. And with four weeks to go this election could not be any closer or more difficult to predict. The advantage, which is always slight, is now shifting back and forth week to week. According to the MSNBC/Reuters daily tracking poll, Al Gore was up six points a week ago, a lead that gradually narrowed to one point yesterday and vanished today as George Bush overtook him. Bush up one point 43 to 42 percent, which is of course inside the poll's margin of error."


Tuesday night, of the broadcast networks, only NBC aired a full story on the presidential campaign, thus uniquely noting how Jimmy Carter's Attorney General endorsed George W. Bush as NBC also relayed Bush's "taunting" of Gore over his tenant problems, a subject ignored for over three months by NBC Nightly News. NBC also showed viewers an edited clip of Bush's "meandering and labored attempted to give an undecided voter a reason to support him."

NBC's story, as well as a brief ABC item, raised the subject of Gore's "exaggerated" claims and "credibility concerns," a topic ignored by the CBS Evening News which followed up its poll numbers with a piece on what Dan Rather described as "the unlimited shoveling of cash into political parties by the special interests is a growing concern." Anthony Mason highlighted how major corporations are "so tired" of demands for donations for politicians "that major corporations including Time Warner, General Motors, and Honeywell have sworn off giving soft money. An association of executives called the Committee for Economic Development has called for radical campaign finance reform, signing up nearly 300 corporate leaders."

After running down ABC's poll numbers listed in item #1 above, World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings noted that Bush spent the day in Tennessee where "he accused the Vice President of being the candidate of Washington and claimed that Mr. Gore would spend away the nation's surplus."

As for Gore, Jennings briefly reported that he "was campaigning in Florida and ABC's Terry Moran asked him today if he was sensitive about the charges that he exaggerated or embellished during last week's debate."
Gore: "I will try to do better in getting all the details right and not giving people reason to think that I have stretched a story to make a point."

The NBC Nightly News actually aired not one but two campaign stories after Tom Brokaw led the show with the poll numbers.

Checking in from the Bush campaign, David Gregory asserted, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Tonight there is an exuding confidence coming from this Bush campaign, somewhat unexpected, but renewed today with that slight edge you referred to...a reflection, aides assert, of the fact that there is growing credibility concerns for the Vice President, concerns and problems that Bush will eagerly try to exploit during tomorrow night's debate and beyond."
Gregory explained: "Bush in Tennessee today, where the race on the Vice President's home turf is surprisingly tight, announcing the endorsement of prominent Democrats, including Jimmy Carter's Attorney General Griffin Bell. And taunting Gore, who earlier this year was accused by a tenant of failing to properly maintain rental property he owns in the state."
George W. Bush: "Tennessee is a fine place to live. I guess it though depends on who your landlord is."
Gregory: "With the race so close, both sides have gone negative, but advisors say Bush will avoid getting personally involved for fear of a backlash, leaving his top aides to attack Gore, as they did this weekend, by calling him a quote, 'serial exaggerator.' A bigger worry to some advisors is that it's Bush himself giving Gore room to attack his readiness to be President. Over the weekend in Florida, Bush offers a tangled description of his tax plan and has to turn to his brother to ask if the numbers add up....Late last week, a meandering and labored attempted to give an undecided voter a reason to support him."
Bush: "Share this story with her. Groping for the right answer as you can tell, kind of weaving around. [NBC jumped to another point in Bush's response] You tell your friend that I think I've got the capacity to reach across the partisan line."
Gregory: "Now Bush advisors maintain such gaffes are hardly decisive, that the election will turn on a general comfort level that undecided voters have with both candidates, terrain where they believe Bush still has an advantage."

Up next, Claire Shipman looked at how Gore is targeting Florida: "Experts agree that Bush can't win without Florida, and it was supposed to be easy for him. But now the polls are extremely tight, and the Gore campaign is on the offensive predicting an upset victory here. Al Gore in Bradenton, Florida today, confident he'll be only the second Democrat in two decades to win the state....He and running mate Joe Lieberman have been to Florida ten times since labor day, erasing a fifteen-point Bush lead. And today a substantial new ad buy by the DNC, $850,000, attacking Bush on issues like environmental pollution."

After a clip of the ad which asked, "imagine Bush's Texas record in Florida's everglades," Shipman noted that Gore now leads in the Sunshine State 46 to 43 percent. She observed: "For a long time, Florida has leaned conservative, but it can be unpredictable. George Bush's father barely won here in 1992, and Bill Clinton took the state in 1996. Still Bush's brother is a popular governor here."
Dr. Lance Dehaven Smith, Florida State University Political Scientist: "It's a surprise that Jeb Bush has not been more of a factor in being able to deliver the state for George W. Bush..."
Shipman concluded: "Now, the Bush campaign and Republicans have outspent Gore and the Democrats here since Labor Day, eight million dollars to three million. But tonight the Gore campaign says it is willing to spend a million dollars a week in Florida to win."

Back to reporter David Gregory's reference to Bush's "taunting" of Gore over his rental property. That's the first broadcast network evening show mention of Gore's landlord performance, though Gregory did not really explain Bush's point about the complaints by Gore's former tenant. In early June when the story first broke, while FNC ran full stories, ABC and CBS never mentioned it. CNN's Inside Politics ran a brief item with video and NBC's Today gave it a few seconds without video.

To remind yourself of the issue, check out two past CyberAlert items with accompanying RealPlayer clips of FNC stories:

-- Monday night, June 5, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and Fox Report both carried full stories by David Shuster on the condition of the Al Gore-owned rental home occupied by a family and Gore's promise to resolve the situation without evicting them:

-- The Mad Mayberrys. Only the Fox News Channel bothered to update viewers on how the Mayberrys, the family renting the run-down house from Al Gore, gave up on him and moved to Ohio after he failed to fulfill his promised repairs:


FNC's Jim Angle asked Al Gore if he agreed with a statement by one of his top campaign aides that George Bush is incapable of making policy pronouncements without "bumbling and babbling." Gore took the high road, insisting: "I wouldn't say it that way."

Despite Gore's assurance his attitude applies to his whole campaign, Brit Hume observed on Special Report with Brit Hume Tuesday night that the anti-Bush blast is still featured on Gore's Web site. Indeed, the Web site still has up the October 8 "Statement By Mark Fabiani, Gore/Lieberman Deputy Campaign Manager for Communications." It begins:
"Governor Bush seems incapable of talking about the important issues in this campaign in a coherent way. The American people deserve to hear him explain his policies and address the issues without bumbling and babbling. They expect someone running for president to be held to presidential standards, and that includes talking clearly about the important policy matters that impact people's lives."

Check out the entire statement at:

Picking up on an old Gore claim uncovered last week by the DrudgeReport, Hume later relayed:
"A transcript of a House hearing twenty-one years ago reveals that Vice President Gore's agricultural experience is apparently greater than even he now says. He said proudly in the past that he raised tobacco throughout most of his life. His Web site says he also fed livestock, cleaned out the hog parlors and helped clear and plow the fields, during his summer vacations in Tennessee. At that 1979 hearing, then Congressman Gore also said he'd quote, 'raised chickens myself, ten thousand of them at one time, five thousand in each of two houses.' At other times, Gore has said his father had a commercial egg production house with 10,000 chickens."

The latest column by MRC President L. Brent Bozell examines how the Gore "exaggerations" have become news despite the best efforts of many in the media as the MRC's Tim Graham dug back to old examples and found the media hardly jumped on his past bloopers. Here's an excerpt:

The furor that ultimately followed does not prove that the media love to pick on Al Gore, as hardcore Gore partisans in the press like Time's Margaret Carlson suggest. It proved something quite different -- that liberal media spin does not always win the day, especially when millions of Americans have seen the politician's spiel for themselves. Instead, the furor and sudden plunge in Gore's polls proved that alternative media outlets, from talk radio to the Internet to newspaper columnists to Republican researchers, have a power all their own to overcome the spin the liberal media prefer.

Nearly every Gore gaffe that's become part of the campaign talking points was originally ignored by the major media, which attempted to strangle the mistakes and embarrassments in the crib. Now that they're resonating, liberals are huffing and puffing about how Gore's gaffes aren't really gaffes. He didn't really say he "invented the Internet," they complain, he "took the initiative in creating it." The real point here isn't the complete lack of distinction between "inventing" and "creating" the Internet. It's that Gore said this on March 9, 1999, to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and Blitzer didn't even blink. He didn't follow up. His eyebrows didn't even move. He just asked another question. The statement went completely unreported on television for ten days.

END Excerpt

To read the entire Creators syndicate column, go to:


Friday night on Crossfire CNN's Bernard Shaw defended the bizarre racial profiling question he posed as moderator of the VP debate when he asked both candidates to pretend they were black. During the October 5 debate Shaw proposed:
"Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman: You are black for this question. Imagine yourself an African-American. You become the target of racial profiling either while walking or driving. African-American Joseph Lieberman, what would you do about it?"

The next night on Crossfire, broadcast from The George Washington University, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed an audience member asked about the question. Shaw defended his approach:
"It's an issue, first not in the campaign, but an issue within our society. It's on the minds of a lot of people. It goes to the fabric of our Constitution, our system of government. We're all Americans, and presumably we should be treated fairly. And I wanted to ask the question of the candidates to see what their thinking was, to see what their feeling was."


For Today Lisa Myers quizzed radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh about his disdain for Al Gore and asked him to defend his other views on the campaign, but the questions from Myers allowed Limbaugh to fully outline and defend his positions in the pre-taped interview. Today followed up, however, with "balance" in a live interview with Gore debate coach/MSNBC Equal Time co-host Paul Begala who, as the MRC's Tim Graham alerted me, took this shot at Limbaugh:
"First, you got to give him his due. You know, look, he's lost a lot of weight. You know, I guess we've got to downgrade him from blimp to just gasbag, Matt. I mean I could not believe the stuff he's putting out there and he's trying to rally a right wing audience that is candidly very dispirited and they should be."

I thought liberals deplored mean-spirited personal attacks?

As for the taped Limbaugh interview, it aired in two parts over the October 10 and 11 Today shows.

Katie Couric introduced part one on October 10, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, by stressing Limbaugh's conservatism: "On Close Up this morning, Rush Limbaugh. He's the most popular radio talk show host in America. One of the most influential political voices in this country. As the race for the White House tightens his staunchly conservative views carry great currency with the right. But Limbaugh rarely sits down for TV cameras. So when he sat down recently with NBC's Lisa Myers he wasted no time in expressing his opinions."

Myers got right to Gore's lies in the first debate, but soon challenged Limbaugh: "But how can you say the, the lie is deliberate? I mean if it's so easy to check why would anyone deliberately lie about it? You're gonna get caught!" She followed up: "Rush, are you saying that in your view Al Gore is an even bigger liar than Bill Clinton, that's a really harsh statement?"

She later asked him to defend his assessment that the private sector experience of Bush and Cheney make them better qualified to be President: "You've said that Al Gore is not qualified to be President. He's been in public office for 24 years. House, Senate, Vice President. You may disagree with his views, but experience Al Gore does have." She followed up: "But George Bush only has six years as Governor of Texas. The only business in which, at which he was a success was running a baseball team. What makes him more qualified than Al Gore?"

Myers later let Limbaugh expound on how he thinks Clinton made soccer moms think he cared more about them than do their husbands, but that Gore reminds women of their first husband whom they divorced.

+++ See how a major media outlet treated Limbaugh. Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of a portion of the Today interview. Go to:


An actual devil's advocate question to a liberal from CBS's Jane Clayson. Interviewing Karenna Gore-Schiff Tuesday morning, the Early Show co-host tossed the usual softballs, but she also threw a curve ball, asking Gore-Schiff if she wouldn't want for herself the Social Security private investment option proposed by Bush.

Clayson began the October 10 interview, as observed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd, by asking: "You advised your father on the first debate, how are you going to advise him for this one?"

She next inquired: "After last week's debate critics accused your father of exaggerating the facts. They also criticized those long sighs when George W. Bush said something that he didn't like. Are we going to see a different Al Gore tonight?"

Clayson wondered: "The Democratic National Committee is coming out with a series of new ads that attack Governor George W. Bush, his record in Texas. Let's listen to a couple....Karenna, as an advisor to your father did you support him going negative?"

Clayson then arrived at her unusual line of inquiry: "Social Security, as you know, is a big issue in this campaign and there are a lot of young people not unlike yourself who say that they want to take some of their own money and invest it themselves, instead of putting it in a so-called lockbox, like your father recommends. What are your feelings about that? Do you not want to have that kind of option yourself?"

But Clayson ended with a softball: "I know you've been out on the campaign trial night and day, Karenna, how are you juggling being a new mom, and a wife, helping your dad these days?"


One celebrity for Bush. Virtually all of Hollywood may back Al Gore, but to disapproval from a New York audience a New York-based celebrity on Tuesday night affirmed his preference for Bush.

On Tuesday's Late Show, David Letterman asked Regis Philbin, host of ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and his own syndicated morning interview show on which Bush recently appeared:
"If the election were right now would you vote for George W. Bush?"
Philbin confirmed: "Absolutely."

Audience reaction inside New York City's Ed Sullivan Theater: Absolute silence. Maybe it was stunned silence. -- Brent Baker

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