CyberAlert -- 10/24/2000 -- Bush Too Partisan

Bush Too Partisan; Nader's Threat to Gore; Afraid of Being Abandoned by Clinton; Exhibit of Dan Rather Odds & Ends -- Extra Edition

1) The Gore campaign's worry about the impact of Ralph Nader generated ABC, CBS and NBC stories Monday night. ABC and NBC led Monday by stressing the closeness of the race. ABC's Dean Reynolds rebuked Bush: "For all the talk about crossing partisan lines, Democrats on Capitol Hill are hardly likely to appreciate Bush's attack today on the issue of Social Security."

2) Arnold Schwarzenegger upbraided Matt Lauer on Today for saying the race is even. He told Lauer about polls which put Bush well ahead and suggested "NBC's a little bit behind."

3) Today's Matt Lauer and Tim Russert speculated Monday about the possibility one candidate could win the electoral college and the other the popular vote. Russert decided "it could" occur.

4) Time's Lance Morrow urged Al Gore to campaign with Bill Clinton since the public's "biggest fear is that the Clinton years are going to go away; they suffer from abandonment anxiety."

5) The Washington Post corrected its formulation which assumed a 100 percent tax rate: "Someone making $200,000 might get a 10 percent reduction in taxes, but that would mean $20,000 in tax cuts."

6) Actor James Garner on George W. Bush: "They're bypassing over his lack of intelligence. I have trouble picturing Bush sitting with the leaders of the world." And he liked Gore's sighing.

7) Boston University has opened an exhibit of oddities Dan Rather has sent them, including "the gas mask and native garb he wore to sneak into 1980." Deep in a story on the exhibit Rather conceded he's not always objective.

>>> You can now see what Katie Couric's sister Emily looks like. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul added a still shot, from Emily Couric's Voters for Choice Virginia TV ad in support of Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, to the posted version of Monday's CyberAlert about her ad. For the picture and the ad text, go to:
This address also includes a link to Voters for Choice's RealPlayer formatted version of the ad that you can play. <<<


ABC and NBC led Monday night by stressing the closeness of the race and then going to stories on Democratic concerns about how Ralph Nader could cost Gore the election. It's "excruciatingly even in state after state," Peter Jennings asserted. "Polls indicate this remains a race too close to call," insisted Tom Brokaw who also maintained Gore "is picking up." CBS reported a two-point Bush lead before examining the threat to Gore from "independent environmentalist-crusader Ralph Nader."

While ABC's Terry Moran passed along, without criticism, the Gore strategy to overcome Nader, Dean Reynolds rebuked Bush: "For all the talk about crossing partisan lines, Democrats on Capitol Hill are hardly likely to appreciate Bush's attack today on the issue of Social Security."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the October 23 broadcast: "Good evening. There is so much intensity in the presidential campaign now the campaigns can feel it county by county. Al Gore and George Bush excruciatingly even in state after state, it could go either way. Crucial decisions being made almost hourly about where to go, what to say to whom, where to spend money on television advertising. There were eight major national polls released over the weekend. George W. Bush has a narrow lead in seven of them. The latest ABC News Washington/Post poll shows the race is now even -- 47 percent for Mr. Gore, 47 percent for Mr. Bush, and three percent for Ralph Nader. And we're going begin tonight with that three percent for Ralph Nader because that's where Al Gore's mind was today as he campaigned in the Pacific Northwest."

Terry Moran looked at how Gore realizes he must convince Nader voters to back him or he could lose in the states of Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine. His tactic: Warn Democrats of the threat Bush would pose to the Supreme Court. Moran highlighted the efforts of a group of former Nader's Raiders to convince Nader to drop out since Gore is closer to Nader on the issues.

Next, Peter Jennings introduced a story on Bush's day by claiming voters want to know of their candidate, "Is he up to the job?"

Dean Reynolds showed how Bush is answering that worry: "For several days, leading Republican supporters have been vouching for Bush's qualifications, and today it was Republican governors who are campaigning alongside him and assuring audiences that he is absolutely qualified to be President and is ready for the White House.
"Stumping across the Midwest today, the Governor was running a carefully controlled campaign. To guard against making mistakes on his chosen headline of the day, Bush is now using Teleprompters more often. He's adopted an uncommonly serious demeanor recently and is following a new determination to avoid reporters. No press conferences to knock him off message. As a consequence, Bush's words these days come through unfiltered, though increasingly partisan."
Bush: "The Clinton-Gore administration has blocked reform at every turn."
Reynolds: "Today the message was that Bush is a reformer who alone can end the partisan bickering in Washington that blocks change."
Bush: "Reformers need partners, and I've got some of the best. I trust these governors, and I thank'em for trusting me."

Reynolds, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, took on Bush's strategy: "To accomplish reforms, Bush will need Congress as a partner, but during this race, he has pointedly chosen not to campaign with Congressman, even leading Republicans, because they may remind voters of impeachment, and for all the talk about crossing partisan lines, Democrats on Capitol Hill are hardly likely to appreciate Bush's attack today on the issue of Social Security."
Bush: "Scare tactics, distortions, and yes, of course, exaggerations, but that's all he's got left."

Reynolds concluded: "Now Peter, the Bush campaign claims not to be concerned about these recent polls that show Al Gore gaining ground. They say their own surveys indicate they're up maybe five points nationally and holding."

-- CBS Evening News led in the east with what probably became the ABC and NBC lead too in West coast feeds, the terrorist alert for U.S. forces in Bahrain and Qatar.

Later, Dan Rather relayed how a CBS News/New York Times poll put Bush ahead 44 to 42 percent. "Could handle an international crisis?" Yes for Gore said 57 percent, yes for Bush replied 45 percent.

John Roberts looked at Gore and Bush and found: "Both of them are playing to their biggest strengths: their opponents perceived weaknesses. Analysts says it's likeability versus substance."

Next, CBS examined the Nader threat to Gore. Rather announced: "The Gore battleground now also includes more than a handful of states that could tip to Bush because of independent environmentalist-crusader Ralph Nader."

Phil Jones found Nader's candidacy is "looking like a real threat to Gore's chances." Jones listed the same states in danger as did ABC's Moran and highlighted the quest of former Nader's Raider Gary Sellers to get him to drop out.

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw led the show: "Well now it's a sprint to the finish. Two weeks from tomorrow America will select its first President of the 21st century. That means 15 days until the election, 14 days of campaigning left. And all the polls indicate this remains a race too close to call. Those same polls also show a slight Al Gore pick up in the last few days. According to the latest MSNBC/Reuters tracking poll, last week's dead-even tie went to a four-point Bush lead over the weekend. But now it's tightened back to a two-point lead for Bush today. Gore is picking up. What that tells us more than anything else is that this race is so close the lead is liable to change on the slightest breeze."

Brokaw played Bush and Gore soundbites from the campaign trail before Lisa Myers zoomed in on how Gore has a "new headache, consumer advocate Ralph Nader." Myers listed Bush as ahead in 24 states with 209 electoral votes compared to Gore with 175 electoral votes from 12 states, with the rest toss-ups. Myers continued: "Complicating Gore's task in six of those states, the little-known Nader. He draws only about five percent of the vote nationally, but his unabashedly liberal views are pulling enough votes in Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Maine to possibly tip those states to Bush."

Like ABC and CBS, she too cited the efforts of ex-Nader's Raider Gary Sellers to convince Nader to drop out.


Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, media bias correcter? On Monday's Today when Matt Lauer told Schwarzenegger that Bush and Gore "are neck and neck," Schwarzenegger chastised Lauer and insisted Bush is way ahead in the polls, though "NBC's a little bit behind in those things." Lauer promised to show him other polls which prove the race is tied.

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught the October 23 exchange during Today's new third hour. Schwarzenegger was invited aboard to plug an auction of watches worn by celebrities to benefit Muhammad Ali's Youth Center and a group called Inner-City Games.

Near the end of the interview, Lauer raised the campaign: "I've got just a few seconds left. I never let you sit here without giving me a little word on politics. The candidates are neck and neck two weeks to go. Why do you think neither guy has been able to pull ahead?"
Schwarzenegger: "I really love the way, the way you slip those things under. Well first of all I think you should read the current news because he's, I mean, George W. Bush is ahead 11 points."
Lauer: "No, no, no. That's one poll, Arnold!"
Schwarzenegger: "No, no. There's every poll he's ahead."
Lauer: "We have him up two points."
Schwarzenegger: "But NBC's a little bit behind in those things. But let me just tell you that, I mean, I think that, I think that the debates really crystallized everything. Because I think you know, how many times can you have a guy like Al Gore go and, and stretch the imagination or say things that are not true. I mean that's how he gets busted. He's a great, you know, campaigner and but he's beating himself right now and that's the sad story for him."
Lauer: "So you're, you're, you're reading the poll that has him up 11 points. Which poll is Maria reading?"
Schwarzenegger: "I think George W. Bush is going to win. I think he's going to be terrific. I think the opportunities if the Republicans win the House, Senate and the White House. They have a great opportunity in the next four years to really take care of some of the issues that were not done like health care, education reform and all those kind of things and come up with a really good foreign policy."
Lauer: "You're gonna talk to Al Roker in a little while before you get out there I'm gonna show you a couple of other polls you can take with you to read, alright?"
Schwarzenegger: "Don't worry. Everything is under control."

+++ Watch Schwarzenegger take on Lauer. On Tuesday afternoon MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the above exchange. Go to:


Some members of the media are so confident of a really close finish that they are already speculating about the possibility a candidate might win the electoral college but not the popular vote.

A couple of hours before his clash with Arnold Schwarzenegger, NBC's Matt Lauer ruminated to Tim Russert, as noted by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"More and more people these days, Tim, are starting to talk about a split election. That's where one candidate would actually win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote. What are the chances it happens?"
Russert suggested it's possible: "It could. 1888. Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, Matt. Take a look at this, as you'll see on our board. While 5,438,000 Americans voted for Mr. Harrison, 5,540,000 voted for Cleveland and yet Harrison had 233 electoral votes, he became the President. That also happened in 1876 with Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. It has happened in our nation's history."


"The Gore campaign may think President Clinton is too politically radioactive for their man to campaign with, but leading media commentators do not agree." So noted FNC's Brit Hume on his show Monday night before citing quotes from three media figures. He relayed how New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that Clinton "may be the most popular and articulate leader in the world" and news editor Joan Walsh called Clinton, "a master politician, the best Democrat since JFK."

Plus, in this week's Time magazine, Lance Morrow described Clinton as "the Mozart from Arkansas...the political genius of our time," and the public's "biggest fear is that the Clinton years are going to go away."

That Morrow piece is worth more space, so below is an excerpt from his story in the October 30 issue titled, "Why Gore Should Embrace Clinton: Al may not like the idea, but the only real humiliation is losing."

Morrow opined:

....Gore is the Salieri of American politics. He wants so desperately to be a genius. He has mastered the techniques. He knows everything. And yet the spark of genius is not in him. And there in the Oval Office sits the Mozart from Arkansas, the natural, the casually smutty debaucher of interns who is also the political genius of our time.

So, the dilemma: Does Salieri, seeing that he is losing the audience, invite Mozart to join the tour? My answer, if I were Gore's manager, would be yes. Absolutely. Immediately. I would tell Gore, What is humiliation, next to winning? The only humiliation is losing. In this case, the humiliation is only in your mind anyway, and in the spin of things.

Mobilizing Clinton need not be an affront to your own gifts. Turn it into a positive. You have worked with him for eight years -- been a crucial part of a successful Administration. Play to the theme of continuation, play to the successes.

Americans have demonstrated an interesting maturity (or a disgusting moral slackness, depending on your point of view) in their willingness to separate Clinton's squalid personal behavior from his official stewardship. Right now, their biggest fear is that the Clinton years are going to go away; they suffer from abandonment anxiety.

Therefore: Brag on the Clinton years! Promise more of the same! Bring Clinton out to brag on you! He's a narcissist, to be sure, but the smartest one in America. He knows what has to be done....

END Excerpt

For Morrow's entire piece, go to:,3266,58381,00.html


The Washington Post caught up Saturday with Thursday's CyberAlert which had pointed out an error in a formulation a Post reporter had employed to show how much more the wealthy would benefit from Bush's tax plan.

In the October 18 Post, reporter Glenn Kessler asserted that in the debate the night before Bush was "misleading" since someone earning "$22,000 may get a 100 percent reduction in taxes...they only pay $110 in federal income taxes," while "someone making $200,000 might get a 10 percent reduction in taxes, but that would mean $20,000 in tax cuts."

The October 19 CyberAlert pointed out that in order for a person earning $200,000 to get a $20,000 reduction from a 10 percent tax cut they would have to be paying a 100 percent tax rate.

The Washington Post agreed, as the October 21 paper included this correction: "An Oct. 18 article on the candidates' statements in the presidential debate incorrectly stated a hypothetical example. If a person has $200,000 in tax liability and receives a 10 percent tax cut, they would pay $20,000 less in taxes."


"Jim Rockford" doesn't think George W. Bush is very intelligent. Catching up with another item in the Washington Post from last week, the Post's The Reliable Source column by Lloyd Grove and Beth Berselli plugged actor James Garner's upcoming role in The Last Debate, "a political thriller airing Nov. 5 on Showtime and based on the novel by real-life moderator Jim Lehrer."

In their October 17 item, the day of the third debate, they relayed Garner's assessment of the presidential contest:
"I'm a Democrat. I'm for Gore. I worry about Bush a lot. They're bypassing over his lack of intelligence. I have trouble picturing Bush sitting with the leaders of the world around a table. I watched pieces of last week's debate, but I got so angry sometimes that I'd have to turn it off. Bush was coached very well, but it was just coaching."

As for Gore, he liked the sighing: "I don't know what Gore needs to do tonight. His personality is just so dull. I thought he was better when he was making eyes and sighing or whatever, but just to sit there and take it like he did last time, I don't think that was too smart. I just had to flip it off. My wife listens to every word, but I guess I'll probably just watch bits and pieces again. I just get too upset."


Dan Rather has admitted that he's sometimes not "objective," but "I'm always trying to be." Rather's admission came buried deep in an October 22 Boston Globe "Metro/Region" section story on a previously little-know habit of Rather's over the years. As summarized by Globe reporter Rick Klein:
"Over 36 years, Rather has sent some 250,000 items to Boston University -- everything from Emmy awards to paper scraps to press credentials. His propensity to ship seemingly trivial items to the university became something of a running joke among intimates; even his wife, he said, would jokingly suggest that he send household trash to Boston."

Jim Romenesko caught this story and highlighted it on his MediaNews Web page:

The Globe story was pegged to how BU has opened an exhibit of the oddities Rather has sent to the university. Here's an excerpt of Klein's story:

In close to half a century of journalism, Dan Rather has covered presidents, dictators, wars, and summits -- just about every event to touch the nation's consciousness during that time.

But yesterday, even with his personal papers going on display at Boston University, the veteran CBS News reporter and anchorman maintained that he had no interest in covering at least one subject: Dan Rather's own place in history.

"If I did cover it, I would give it very short shrift," Rather said. "One paragraph would be fine."

His terse reportage wouldn't be for lack of material. Over 36 years, Rather has sent some 250,000 items to Boston University -- everything from Emmy awards to paper scraps to press credentials.

His propensity to ship seemingly trivial items to the university became something of a running joke among intimates; even his wife, he said, would jokingly suggest that he send household trash to Boston.

For a new exhibit on his life, BU archivists have culled a handful of gems from boxes sitting along the 63 shelves of vault space dedicated to Rather. Included are letters and photographs from newsmakers and friends, boyhood photos, and even the gas mask and native garb he wore to sneak into Afghanistan for a story in 1980.

The exhibit is called "Dan Rather: Reporter of History, Maker of History," but Rather said he takes issue with the second part of that title.

While he strives to be an "honest broker of information" as well as a "reliable eyewitness," he said, "A maker of history is too much for me."

Rather conceded that his reporting has at times strayed from the totem of objectivity, a value he said he considers fundamental to journalism.

"I've made every mistake in the book at least five times," said Rather, who turns 69 on Oct. 31. "Sometimes I'm not [objective], but I'm always trying to be."....

A Texas native, Rather never attended the university or lived in Boston, but BU has served as the repository for his personal items since 1964. That year, the school's special collections director, Howard Gotlieb, asked CBS's new White House reporter to allow BU to keep his papers....

END Excerpt

For the full story, go to:

Maybe we should organize a CyberAlert field trip to Boston to check out the Dan Rather memorabilia. And if anyone in Boston is willing to trek over to Commonwealth Avenue, maybe you could provide a first hand field report on what you learn about "Gunga Dan." -- Brent Baker

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