CyberAlert -- 10/16/2000 -- Gore Vs. Bush Mistakes

Gore Vs. Bush Mistakes; Reagan Worse Liar Than Gore; Pro-Hillary Character Had Abortion; Bill Maher Unleashed on HBO

1) Best comeback of the weekend. To Al Hunt's assertion that George Bush is held to a lower standard on mistakes than Al Gore, Kate O'Beirne shot back that Gore "would have claimed that he had apprehended the three killers of James Byrd."

2) Little campaign news over the weekend as the terrorist bombing and violence in Israel have dominated the network news.

3) Newsweek and Time defended Al Gore's penchant for making things up. Jonathan Alter grumbled: "If these slips had been made by any other politician, they would have caused barely a peep." Margaret Carlson claimed: "Gore fell within the margin of political error by scoring 95% for anecdotal accuracy." Both painted Ronald Reagan as a worse offender.

4) When George W. Bush mis-used the term "honed in on," the Washington Post added a "[sic]" to bring attention to his error. But, the Weekly Standard determined, over a dozen top Post writers have made the same mistake recently.

5) Zero stars from CyberAlert for the new movie, The Contender. The ending is both preposterous and stupid.

6) Pro-Hillary character has an abortion. Last March on NBC's Third Watch, while male cops bashed Hillary Clinton, "Officer Faith Yokas" defended her. In the first show this season Yokas deceived her colleagues and had an abortion.

7) ABC's Bill Maher declared about Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal: "I'm glad he lied." Maher predicted: "I think that in history" it "will be seen as his shining moment, that he stood up to that witch hunt." Then Maher turned vulgar.

>>> See what you missed. It took us a few months, but the MRC now has produced a VHS videotape of our December 1999 "Dishonor Awards: The Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Media Bias" presentation banquet at Washington's Monarch Hotel. For a special CyberAlert reader price of $19.95 now you can watch Michael Reagan and Cal Thomas present awards and Clarence Thomas accept in jest the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)."
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Best comeback of the weekend: National Review Washington Editor Kate O'Beirne to Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt.

From Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN:

Al Hunt on Al Gore: "He's not held to the same standard that Al Gore is held to when he makes mistakes, though, is he, Kate?"
Kate O'Beirne: "No, no. There are different kinds of mistakes. I mean, he said that all three of the killers of James Byrd have been sentenced to death. Well, it turns out two had been sentenced to death, one, life imprisonment. But an Al Gore mistake, he would have claimed that he had apprehended the three killers of James Byrd, you know, and personally prosecuted them. It's a different sort of thing, Al."


A quiet few days on the campaign news front as the terrorist bombing and violence in Israel have dominated the network news.

Friday night neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News aired a campaign story. ABC's World News Tonight ran a canned piece on the likelihood of future surpluses. Zilch campaign-wise Saturday night on NBC Nightly News, the only broadcast network with an east coast newscast Saturday night. On Sunday, both ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News featured stories on how overseas news has overtaken the campaigns. CBS also ran a story on the high price of prescription drugs and what each candidate proposes to do about it.

The Sunday interview shows were also dominated by the terrorist bombing and Middle East peace challenges, so spent little time on the presidential campaign.


Last week Newsweek and Time defended Al Gore's penchant for making things up in the first debate. Jonathan Alter grumbled: "If these slips had been made by any other politician, they would have caused barely a peep." Margaret Carlson claimed: "Gore fell within the margin of political error by scoring 95% for anecdotal accuracy."

Both painted Ronald Reagan as a worse offender. Alter insisted Reagan "practically turned falsehoods into an art form" and Carlson called Reagan "the President who told the tallest of tales."

Here's an excerpt from the MRC's MagazineWatch by MRC analyst Paul Smith about the October 16 issues:

A common theme in this week's news magazines was their focus on Gore's now well-known exaggerations and lies. One of Gore's chief apologists on this issue, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, continued his tortured defense of Gore's misstatements and complains that the media are spending far too much time and space correcting them:

"Now none of this is the slightest bit unusual in politics. In fact, if you scan transcripts of presidential speeches, press conferences and debates over the past half century, they are studded with fabrications. Some are to protect national security (Ike on the U-2 in 1960), some are to protect the president's own skin (Nixon, Clinton) and some are just boasting (Jimmy Carter falsely claimed to be a 'nuclear engineer'). Ronald Reagan, who once claimed he had helped liberate Nazi concentration camps, practically turned falsehoods into an art form. Which brings us to Velcro Al, whose every misstatement sticks to him. Several of the reports of his lies have themselves been exaggerated. Take last week. After dozens of trips with FEMA chief James Lee Witt to other disaster sites, it's understandable how he might confuse them, and say he had accompanied Witt to the Texas fires. (In fact, Gore was briefed in Texas by one of Witt's deputies.) And the embellished story about the Sarasota, Fla., student who had to stand in class in her overcrowded school was the result of bad staff work; no one double-checked the original story. If these slips had been made by any other politician, they would have caused barely a peep."

Alter's story:

Margaret Carlson's article in Time on "Gore's infuriating fibs" took Alter's arguments a step further by making the outrageous claim that Gore's false anecdotes were 95 percent accurate (if this were the case, why did Gore go on record the next day admitting he was wrong about going with James Lee Witt to the Texas fires?) followed by a slap at Reagan and concluded by claiming Bush is the worse liar of the two:

"Gore served up several juicy targets -- that standing-room-only classroom in Florida, Winifred Skinner's picking up cans to buy medicine, his being in Texas during the floods with James Lee Witt. Bush's truth squad quickly put the word out that Gore had not gone with Witt but with FEMA's regional director (although he had gone on 17 other Witt trips to disaster areas). In fact, Kaylie Ellis isn't still standing at Sarasota High School, but her lab built for 24 is squeezing in 36, and other students are still deskless. Kids at that other school Gore mentioned are eating lunch at 10 a.m., not 9:30. And when a well-off son appeared to cast doubt on Winnie's need to recycle aluminum, she reiterated her desire not to take charity from anyone. In my warped view, Gore fell within the margin of political error by scoring 95% for anecdotal accuracy, although I don't want to suggest for a second that his overall affect, especially the sighing, didn't make me want to shake him....

"For Gore, there's zero tolerance for anything but the literal truth. Reagan, the President who told the tallest of tales, won his debate by employing the famous line 'There you go again' against Jimmy Carter, who told the fewest tales. Reagan claimed he took pictures of Nazi death camps and was happy like other vets after the war to be able to finally 'rest up, make love to my wife...,' though he never left the country....In the end, Gore's fibs, which have to do with his life, should matter less to voters than Bush's fibs, which have to do with our lives."

Carlson's story:,3266,57111,00.html

END Excerpt

Two other items in MagazineWatch:

-- U.S. News owner Mort Zuckerman worried about the negative psychological impact of tax cuts on American voters: "A big tax cut like that proposed by Bush would very likely cause massive voter unease, raising questions about our ability to sustain the promise of Social Security for millions of older Americans."

-- Bill Clinton may be a lout, but he sure knows how to treat his wife on their silver wedding anniversary, reported U.S. News.

To read these two items, go to:


When George W. Bush mis-used the term "honed in on," the Washington Post added a "[sic]" to bring attention to his error. But, the Weekly Standard determined, over a dozen top Post writers have made the same mistake recently without any correction or scolding from Post editors. A week ago, the Post ombudsman took up the complaint about the paper adding the "[sic]" but she failed to acknowledge how often Post reporters and editors have made the same error.

Catching up with this pre-debate item, here's an excerpt from the "Scrapbook" page in the October 9 Weekly Standard:

Except when they want to ridicule someone, reporters (or their editors) "clean up" the spoken words quoted in their stories. The stammers and ahems and false starts and missteps of a speaker -- any speaker -- look um, uh, ah, er, ridiculous in print.

Thus it was a particularly snappish bit of bad manners by the Washington Post last week to offer the following selection from a George W. Bush appearance on Hardball:

"I look forward to finding out the facts, but someone is sweating bullets right now. They're beginning to hone [sic] in on it."

That sic represents extra exertion by the Post to spotlight a Bush error. "Hone in," though now acceptable to the permissive editors of modern dictionaries owing to its frequent misuse, is a solecism that comes from confusing the verb "to hone," meaning to sharpen, with the similar sounding "home in on," meaning to approach one's target.

Slate's Scott Shuger took note of the Post's glaring sic in his column the next day and wondered, "If a candidate makes the same hones-for-homes mistake as 90 percent of the adult population, should he be sicmatized?" The answer in this case is obvious: no. The Posties were behaving badly in subtly mocking the candidate for a usage error that is rampant in their own ranks.

A quick glance at Nexis shows a veritable honor roll of the paper's own reporters have failed through the years to achieve the same purity of expression they now chide Bush for falling short of. Here's a partial list of Post bylines that have appeared over "honed in on" in recent years: Thomas Boswell, David Broder, Edward Cody, Ceci Connolly, Ann Devroy, John Feinstein, Tony Kornheiser, George Lardner Jr., Myra MacPherson, Courtland Milloy, Liza Mundy, Steven Pearlstein, Tom Shales, Phyllis Richman, and Jonathan Yardley. (And of course it's because worthies like this can't get it right that the dictionary editors have thrown in the towel.)

Post defense reporter Bradley Graham deserves special recognition for bungling the expression in a March 1999 story on "a new missile topped with a 'seeker' for honing in on a target." Which is kind of like homing your blade to a fine edge.

By the way: In the dozens of times the hone/home confusion has been perpetrated in the pages of the Washington Post -- whether in its own writers' words or the words of subjects being quoted -- only once, when it served to make George W. Bush look foolish, was sic inserted. Not to hone the point too fine: The Post owes Bush an apology.

END Weekly Standard item

The Weekly Standard Web address:

A few days later, Washington Post ombudsman E.R. Shipp took up the case. Here's an excerpt from her October 8 column:

Some readers thought they'd honed in on what they consider an annoying predilection of The Post: its liberal tilt. I use the phrase "honed in on" deliberately because it became, for conservatives and for grammarians, an issue after it was used in two Sept. 27 articles about the possibility of spies who are working in the George W. Bush camp on behalf of Al Gore.

The articles, obviously picking up on a theme of Bush's malapropisms, chose this way to report what he'd said in an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball": "I look forward to finding out the facts, but someone is sweating bullets right now. They're beginning to hone [sic] in on it." It was that "[sic]" part that riled some readers, especially because the headline chose a different formulation: "Homing In on a Campaign 'Mole'?; Bush Aides Want Gore Computers Seized in Probe of Debate Tape Mailing." Both the headline and the "[sic]" made Bush look rather foolish. But they made The Post look even more so.

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "hone in" means "to move toward or focus attention on an objective." It's not the best choice of words; "home in" or even "zero in" are preferred. A Post copy editor noted: " 'Hone in on' is a misuse of the language, but unfortunately, it's also a misuse so widespread that it has become acceptable in some quarters. I'm not surprised it's appeared in The Post before, but we try to avoid it."

Said a reader: "I guess The Washington Post has decided they're going to be the word-usage police for the presidential campaign, and we'll see the term 'sic' more frequently." What that reader and others detected was a form of editorializing that's rarely acknowledged but should be. There are any number of occasions where reporters and editors selectively quote speakers so as not to make them appear to be illiterate, foolish or worse. There are also occasions on which reporters and editors go out of their way to point up the foibles of others.

END Excerpt

For Shipp's entire column, go to:


CyberAlert rewards zero stars to the new movie, The Contender. As noted in the October 13 CyberAlert, a star of the film, Gary Oldman, claimed DreamWorks had made the final movie cut more pro-Gore and less balanced that originally intended.

The film is about a Democratic vice presidential nominee, played by Joan Allen, who is picked to succeed a VP who died in office. She must go before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Republican "Congressman Shelly Runyon," played by Gary Oldman. (The October 13 CyberAlert referred to him as a Senator, but in the film the House for some reason handles the confirmation.) The Oldman character digs up scandalous sexual behavior and uses it to try to destroy the VP choice played by Allen, Ohio Senator "Laine Hanson."

I went to see the movie over the weekend and came away quite unimpressed. Whatever the film had going for it was ruined by the preposterous and beyond stupid "surprise" conclusion which I won't give away here since you probably wouldn't even believe it.

But the film is flawed from the start by a Hollywood Left point of view in which even right-wing rogues were once liberal champions. "Congressman Runyon," a right wing Republican, is scolded by his wife for his "McCarthyistic" tactics which will mar his legacy of championing a bill to make "hate crimes" a capital offense.

"Senator Laine Hanson," who was once a Republican who voted to convict President Clinton, is now a Democrat who is pro-abortion, an atheist and advocates the removal of every gun from every home in the country. In a rare pro-conservative moment in the movie, "Hanson" explains that she voted to convict because military officers had been punished for affairs.

Don't waste your money on this one.


Pro-Hillary character has an abortion. Last Spring an episode of NBC's Third Watch, a drama about cops and paramedics in New York City, evolved around some cops hanging around the kitchen of a hotel during a Hillary Clinton-Rudy Giuliani Senate debate. In that show, while the male cops bashed Hillary, "Officer Faith Yokas" defended her and criticized Giuliani. "Just admit that you cannot handle a strong woman," Yokas told her partner. "She's only the brains behind the whole administration. She deserves credit."

Last week in the season premiere of the Monday night show, "Yokas" deceived here friends and family and had an abortion. She had become pregnant at the end of last season and was upset about it because her husband is an alcoholic. In the October 9 episode she chased a rape suspect into the subway where he whacked her in the abdomen with a pipe. At the hospital she was told it was too early too know if any damage had been done to the fetus. But she took advantage of the situation and told her partner and husband the injury caused her to lose the baby. As the show ended, however, viewers saw her lay down on an doctor's table to have an abortion performed.

Third Watch airs at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT on Monday nights. Tonight's show may continue the story line.

To read about the Hillary-Rudy debate show, go to:


Bill Maher, unleashed. On HBO's The Chris Rock Show over the weekend, Maher, who hosts ABC's Politically Incorrect, let loose in viewpoint and language with what he really thinks of the Lewinsky scandal. He even defended Clinton's quibbling over the definition of the word "is."

Talking about the GOP convention, Maher remarked: "That was a sham, that thing. The last time Republicans had that many black people on a stage they were selling them."

But earlier in the interview the was much more vulgar. WARNING, the following is an accurate transcript, complete with vulgarities and slang terminology for male genitalia. This is the last item in the CyberAlert so you can skip it and not miss anything else.

Referring to the Lewinsky scandal, Maher told Rock: "I think that in history, I mean you know we're talking 50 years from now, will be seen as his shining moment, that he stood up to that witch hunt. I don't see that as a big badge of dishonor for Clinton."
Rock: "As time goes on no one's going to give a fuck."
Maher: "It will be seen as what it was, a sort of political act where they criminalized someone's sex life. The fact that he lied. In mean yes he lied. Good. I'm glad he lied. He lied about something that deserves a lie. When he disputed the word is, I was like 'you go girl!' You tell them that. That was like the shining moment of his presidency -- to me -- when he was on the grand jury thing, because that set the bar for liars [motions hand to show high bar]. To be able to look into their eye and go what 'is' is. You mean 'is she sucking my dick right now? No, I can honestly say there is no oral sex going on during the grand jury testimony. While I'm discussing people sucking my dick, no one is actually sucking my dick.'"

One advantage to Politically Incorrect being on a broadcast network: We don't have to hear what Bill Maher really thinks. -- Brent Baker

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