CyberAlert -- 10/28/2000 -- Daisy Ad Over Anti-Bush Scare Call

Daisy Ad Over Anti-Bush Scare Call; 2.7% GDP Good News This Year But Bad News for President Bush in 1992

1) As they played it Friday night, ABC conceded the creator of the "Daisy II" ad designed it to get media attention without having to buy any spot time. Like NBC, ABC gave it far more prominence than an official Democratic scare call against Bush. CNN and FNC gave equal time to each. On FNC, Fred Barnes marveled at how the networks have ignored the DNC's phone call scaremongering.

2) A rundown of the text and visuals in the much-condemned "Daisy II" commercial.

3) The NAACP ad finally got a bit of non-FNC cable attention Thursday night, but only because Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating raised it on MSNBC.

4) Peter Jennings highlighted Al Gore's condemnation of special interest groups for "scaring people into believing that he wants to take away their firearms."

5) The 2.7 percent 3rd quarter GDP growth announced Friday was identical to the rate announced on the same date in 1992. Dan Rather suggested this year's number may be "good for the economy to keep it from overheating." ABC and NBC ignored the plunge, but eight years ago when it represented the sixth quarter of growth, all three stressed bad news. "That is more than economists had projected, but in many cases, less than meets the eye."


A guy in Texas produced an anti-Gore TV ad designed, ABC's Aaron Brown conceded Friday night in a story which fulfilled the producer's plan, "to get attention for nothing" spent money-wise. ABC, CNN, FNC, MSNBC and NBC Friday night all ran clips and condemnations of the so-called "Daisy II" ad made by a man working out of a mail drop in a strip mall while ABC and NBC gave far less attention to officially-sanction Democratic Party scare phone calls placed into Michigan which blame Bush's policies for causing a man to die in a nursing home. The CBS Evening News avoided the campaign altogether -- see item #4 below.

On Friday's World News Tonight, ABC's Aaron Brown admitted that on the "Daisy II" ad: "We've been able to confirm only four stations that have actually run the ad at a cost of about a thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the ad has received extraordinary attention." Attention the networks decided to give it while continuing to ignore the ad produced by the NAACP, a group closely aligned with the DNC, which features James Byrd's daughter claiming of Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill: "It was like my father was killed all over again."

NBC Friday night failed to credit the scare phone calls to the Democratic Party, as David Gregory referred only to "phone calls being made to Michigan voters," but Claire Shipman falsely described the "Daisy II" commercial as a "new Republican attack ad," only later noting that it was not produced by the Bush campaign.

CNN's Candy Crowley gave equal time to both the anti-Bush phones calls and anti-Gore ad and properly identified who was responsible for each, though she also passed along the unsubstantiated Democratic charge that the Daisy II "ad comes from friends of their favorite enemy: Newt Gingrich."

Only FNC's Jim Angle pointed out how Gore was issuing blame for the "Daisy II" ad without evidence: "The Gore campaign gave it plenty of publicity on its own and with no particular evidence, blamed it on Bush cronies." On FNC, Fred Barnes marveled at how the networks hyped an independent ad that has never aired while ignoring official party phone calls which are ongoing.

MSNBC played the "Daisy II" ad numerous times during the day Friday.

Now the details from Friday night, October 27, coverage:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Over ad video of a girl plucking flower pedals in the new "Daisy II" ad, labeled on-screen as "Anti-Gore Ad," Aaron Brown began ABC's only full campaign story of the night: "Every ad is designed to get your attention. This one attacks Al Gore. It says he sold out to China for campaign funds."
Ad video with portion showing girl with voice of LBJ from the 1964 ad booming: "Nine, eight."
Brown picked up as the ad video continued to play, ending with an atomic bomb explosion: "It mimics a 1964 ad on whether Republican Barry Goldwater could be trusted with nuclear weapons. In '64 the ad's sponsors never intended to pay much money to place it on television. It ran only once. The news media gave it all the play, and here we go again."

No one forced ABC News to give it publicity.

Brown continued, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "We've been able to confirm only four stations that have actually run the ad at a cost of about a thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the ad has received extraordinary attention. It was the subject of an article in today's New York Times. It aired in part on Good Morning America and on cable channels, and it's all part of a plan by its producer, Carey Cramer, to get attention for nothing."
Carey Cramer: "There have been fifty news stations that have received copies of the ad itself."
Brown: "The Bush campaign has asked that the ad be pulled. Cramer's group, whose address is a Texas mail drop, will decide tonight. By then, the ad will have been seen by millions for free and without much analysis."

Whose fault is that?

Brown turned to the always annoying Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of Annenberg School for Communication: "It's hoping that by getting aired without commentary about its inaccuracy and its hyperbolic nature, that the ideas will seep through in news and thus have an impact."

Brown then finally got to the official Democratic calls against Bush: "Here is another way voters are being influenced."
George W. Bush: "If you can forget all the phone calls that are coming into this state trying to scare people-"
Brown: "The phone calls he referred to go like this:"
Woman's voice in phone call: "My husband passed away nearly four years ago-"
Brown: "Paid for by the Democratic Party, the caller suggests that her husband would be alive if not for a bill signed by the Governor that partially deregulated nursing homes in Texas."
Caller: "Tell Governor Bush to stop breaking promises."
Brown: "The Bush campaign's response:"
Karen Hughes: "We think it's just despicable."

Seeing no difference between some guy on his own in Texas and an officially party-sanctioned effort, Brown concluded: "You can expect more of this as we get closer to election day as groups with political agendas see how much they can get away with."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced the latest MSNBC/Reuters poll now had Bush up 44 to 43 percent over Gore. He then went to back-to-back reports from his correspondents with Bush and Gore.

David Gregory in South Bend ran through Bush's travel itinerary before getting to how "both campaigns and their parties are also stepping up the attacks. In a highly unusual move, Republicans now showcase an opponent -- Ralph Nader featured in a new ad to air in Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin -- where the consumer advocate now threatens the Vice President."
Narration of "Republican Leadership Council" ad: "What's Al Gore's real record?"
Nader in ad: "Eight years of principles betrayed and promises broken."
Narrator: "Ask Al Gore"

Gregory then offered a very mild description of the anti-Bush phone call, failing to mention how it blames Bush for a death or credit it to the Democratic Party: "And the Bush campaign today complains about phone calls being made to Michigan voters accusing the Governor of weakening nursing home standards in Texas."
Woman's voice in telephone call, with words on screen: "Tell Governor Bush to stop breaking promises and start fighting to protect American seniors."

Up next, Claire Shipman in Pittsburgh outlined Gore's appearance strategy to concentrate on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. Shipman then arrived at the new ad for which she falsely attributed the source: "And as they plot their strategy, the Gore campaign also loudly complaining today about this new Republican attack ad accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of giving China nuclear secrets."
NBC put "Republican Campaign Ad" above the ad re-play graphic. Ad narrator: "Our security has been sold to communist Red China."
Shipman, over ad video of girl plucking flower pedals, video soon changes over to 1964 black and white video with atomic explosion: "It's a re-make of the infamous 1964 'Daisy' ad that Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater, suggesting Goldwater might get the nation into a nuclear war. That 1964 commercial created such an uproar it was pulled off the air after just one showing. Now today's commercial wasn't created by the Bush campaign but by an independent organization. The Bush campaign says it doesn't condone it and has asked that it be pulled off the air as well."

-- CNN's The World Today. Candy Crowley gave equal time and weight to the anti-Bush and anti-Gore tactics and properly labeled the source of each, though she also gave air time to the Gore campaign's unsubstantiated speculation blaming the anti-Gore ad on "shadowy special interests" tied to Newt Gingrich.

Crowley reported that Bush's "aides are steaming over a series of taped phone calls the Democratic Party is making across Michigan. One features a Texas woman whose husband died four years ago in a nursing home."
Over call credited on-screen to the "Michigan Democratic Coordinated Campaign," the audio of a woman in a phone call: "He could be alive today if it weren't for the neglect he experienced. When George W. Bush ran for Governor, he promised to improve the quality of life for nursing home residents. But Governor Bush broke that promise when he signed legislation that weakened nursing home standards."
Crowley: "Bush communications director Karen Hughes slammed the phone calls as the exploitive use of an elderly woman's tragedy, wrong on the facts, despicable, and, she says, typical."
Karen Hughes: "This is an officially sanctioned ad that proves that Vice President Gore's campaign will sink to the absolute depths in their effort to do anything and say anything to win election."
Crowley: "Gore aides say the phone messages are absolutely accurate and fair. And while they were on the subject, they had a complaint of their own: this ad suggesting the Clinton-Gore administration made deals with China that put the U.S. in danger."

CNN's on-screen graphic properly attributed the ad to "Aretino Industries." CNN played a clip of the ad narrator and video of girl plucking flower pedals: "In exchange for campaign contributions, Red China was given access and sold vital technology that will now give China the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear warheads."
Crowley: "Now showing in a number of battleground states, the ad is an echo of one of the most famous political ads of the TV age."
CNN then played a bit of the original 1964 ad with LBJ's voice: "Five, four, three, two, one, zero. These are the stakes."
Crowley passed along unsubstantiated speculation: "The Gore people say those people responsible for the 2000 ad are 'shadowy special interests' trying to save George Bush. Other Democrats suggest the ad comes from friends of their favorite enemy: Newt Gingrich. In truth, it's not clear who put this out. But their political persuasion seems obvious. The Bush campaign says there is no comparison between Democratic phone calls and the anonymous TV ad, which it is trying to track down."
Hughes: "Governor Bush condemns those type of anonymous attack ads. Our campaign has called this morning -- our campaign political strategist, Karl Rove, has called the individual who was quoted in the newspaper about that ad and urged that group, whoever they are, to pull down that ad."

-- FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. Jim Angle played a bit of the "Daisy II" ad, properly attributed to "Aretino Industries," before highlighting how the Gore camp had no evidence for its charges: "The Gore campaign went nuts over this amateurish ad reminiscent of a famous one LBJ ran against Barry Goldwater. It isn't even clear if the ad has run anywhere, but the Gore campaign gave it plenty of publicity on its own and with no particular evidence, blamed it on Bush cronies. Gore himself just talked about how 'they' use special interest money-"
Gore at rally: "-to put misleading advertisements on the TV screen every few minutes to try to make you think that up is down and black is white and outside is inside."

Angle noted how Bush's campaign had asked the ad maker to cancel it and that they suggested Gore's complaints are meant to distract attention from Gore's anti-Bush phone calls. FNC played a clip of the phone call: "My husband passed away nearly four years ago from an illness that his nursing home attendants failed to notice. He could be alive today if it weren't for the neglect he experienced."

Later, in the panel segment, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, marveled at media fixation on the "Daisy II" ad: "I'm amazed that that is the issue today and not these three taped phone messages that are being phoned, particularly to voters in Michigan, that are sponsored not by somebody that neither campaign has any control over but by the Democratic National Committee and thus Al Gore has control over them."

Barnes listed the three scare calls as the nursing home one plus two which have yet to get network attention: One in which a woman claims Houston is so smoggy her kid can't go outside to play and another one taped by Ed Asner which falsely charges that "George W. Bush has a proposal that would undermine Social Security, even threatening current benefits."

Barnes argued the media have no excuse for not denouncing the phone calls: "The Bush campaign has taped all of these messages. They deliver the tapes to reporters and so reporters are whipped up about some ad that has never appeared? These phone calls are going on. I would think if there's going to be any indignation about dirty pool by any of these campaigns, the indignation of the press ought to be geared towards these phone calls rather than some ad that hasn't even been on television yet."

So you'd think, but the media's guy seems to be losing.


As a public service, since it's being talked about so much but largely only being shown in part, here's a complete rundown of the so-called "Daisy II" commercial produced by some enterprise calling itself "Aretino Industries." I have no idea who they are and they did not provide me with a transcript. I produced this one myself off a complete running of the ad on Friday's Equal Time on MSNBC.

Male narrator voice over white text on black screen "The Republicans Ended the Cold War": "Under Republican leadership and vision the Cold War was ended, securing our children from the threat of a nuclear confrontation."
Video switches to girl plucking flower pedals as she says: "One, two, three."
Narrator, over text "Clinton/Gore Sold Our Security": "Now under eight years of Clinton-Gore, our security has been sold to communist Red China. In exchange for campaign contributions ["...for Campaign Contributions" added on screen], Red China was given access and sold vital technology that will now give China the ability to threaten our homes with long-range nuclear warheads."
Back to girl: "Four, five, six."
Narrator, as video changes from girl to on-screen graphic of "Can We Really Afford Eight More Years?": "If Clinton-Gore are capable of selling our children's security what else are they capable of? Can we really afford to take that chance?"
Back to the girl once again: "Seven, eight, nine."
As the girl says "nine," camera zooms in on girl's face and voice changes to LBJ in the original 1964 ad booming: "Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one."
Video cuts to original 1964 ad of black and white image of atomic bomb exploding which fades to on-screen graphic: "Don't take a chance. Please Vote Republican."


The NAACP ad finally got a bit of non-FNC cable attention Thursday night, but only because a guest raised it and MSNBC still didn't show it. Jesse Jackson suggested there would not be an NAACP anti-Bush ad if he had just "embraced" the Byrd family.

MRC analyst Paul Smith caught the exchange on Thursday's The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC between Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and Jesse Jackson over the NAACP ad in which, over video of chains being dragged behind a pick-up truck, James Byrd's daughter claims of Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill: "It was like my father was killed all over again."

Keating: "That NAACP ad was a disgrace. I'm the former counsel to the NAACP in Oklahoma and it was a libel on George Bush, a wonderful, decent, honorable person that doesn't have one ounce of prejudice, one ounce of racism in him and I hope that Jesse Jackson tonight calls Al Gore and tells him to pull that awful, disgraceful, unfair and inaccurate ad.
Williams: "Rev. Jackson, your reaction."
Jackson: "I mentioned when a girl is saying her father was dragged to death and he was lynched. Senator Hutchison was at the funeral. I was at the funeral. George Bush did not come to the funeral. But when that family went to George Bush and asked him to support the hate crimes legislation, he did not. He said he stood with the man who had lost his home because of a flood and they cried together. We can't stop floods but we can stop and mention he never embraced the Byrd family so the family is expressing the fact that he is not to them compassionate."
Keating: "The point is that is utterly false. In 1993 a hate crimes law was passed before George Bush became governor of Texas. In 1997, he signed a hate crimes law to increase the penalties for misdemeanors. These individuals were tried under the law in Texas. Two got the death sentence and one got life in prison. You can't do any more than that to make a statement against hate and crime and he did absolutely the right thing."
Jackson: "I suppose that when a family is grieving, to embrace the family whose father was lynched is just as compassionate as embracing the man whose home was lost in a flood. They did appeal to him for a stronger-"
Keating: "All of us embraced that family!"
Jackson: "-for a stronger hate crime legislation and of course he did not support it just as he did not support a patients' bill of right when he said he did. He vetoed the patients'-"
Keating: "That is also false."

To see the NAACP ad as played and evaluated by FNC, view the RealPlayer clip at:


ABC's Peter Jennings on Friday night highlighted Al Gore's condemnation of special interest groups for "scaring people into believing that he wants to take away their firearms." CBS ignored both the "Daisy II" ad and the phone calls Friday and touched on the campaign only to explore the impact of a smaller surplus on campaign promises.

Leading into the Aaron Brown ad story detailed in item #1 above, World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings offered a brief summary of the candidate themes of the day:
"On the campaign trail today, Al Gore was stumping in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. But he made a rare mention of guns, accusing special interest groups of scaring people into believing that he wants to take away their firearms. He said he only wants to take guns away from people who use them illegally. George W. Bush was in Michigan and Indiana today. He continues to campaign under the theme of 'responsible leadership' and he has been working today on his plan for tax cuts."

On the CBS Evening News, John Roberts picked up on the Concord Coalition's forecast that spending now being approved by Clinton and Congress could cut the surplus by up to 60 percent. If they fulfill their campaign promises Roberts warned, "both candidates would drown in a sea of red ink." So they'll have "tough choices: raise taxes, go back to the days of running deficits, or renege on some of those remarkable campaign promises."


The 2.7 percent 3rd quarter GDP number announced Friday was identical to the number announced on the same date in 1992, but the three broadcast networks treated the news quite differently eight years apart I found by pulling some tapes from the MRC's video archive.

The 2000 number represented a drop of more than half from the previous quarter, but Friday night, October 27, Dan Rather assured viewers: "There is a school of thought that says this is overall good for the economy to keep it from overheating." ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News ignored the plummeting GDP report.

But back on October 27, 1992 when an identical 2.7 GDP number for the 3rd quarter represented the sixth straight quarter of economic growth under President George H. W. Bush, all three networks led with the number but quickly dampened the good news for the senior Bush:
"That is more than economists had projected, but in many cases, less than meets the eye," Peter Jennings cautioned on October 27, 1992. "There is some doubt about the accuracy of the figures," Dan Rather warned before adding how "it was also announced today" that "consumer confidence in the economy continues to fall." Tom Brokaw said the 2.7 percent rate was "well above what most economists predicted, but in this unusual economy that's not enough, not with another report out today showing a sharp drop in consumer confidence."

No doubt fueled by this kind of reporting.

-- CBS. Friday night, October 27 this year, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather asserted: "The government reported today a slowdown in the U.S. economy. New figures indicate the economy was growing in the just ended third quarter at an annual rate of 2.7 percent. That is less than half the rate of the red hot second quarter [5.6 percent]. There is a school of thought that says this is overall good for the economy to keep it from overheating, but many analysts disagree with that."

Eight years ago, on October 27, 1992, which was the Tuesday before election day, Rather opened the CBS Evening News:
"Just one week before the election and the Bush administration says the U.S. economy has turned the corner and started expanding again. But there is some doubt about the accuracy of the figures and, even if they are accurate, they may be too little too late to help President Bush because, it was also announced today, consumer confidence in the economy continues to fall, down now to its lowest level since February."

In the subsequent story Susan Spencer cautioned that Bush "crowed today at upbeat news of a third quarter growth rate of 2.7 percent, though some economists warn that rate may not hold."

In fact, it soared in the next quarter, jumping 5.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 1992.

Don't take any stock tips from Spencer.

My source: The Web site for the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis. Its table lists quarter-by-quarter growth rates in something called "chained 1996 dollars." For the 3rd quarter of 1992 it shows a 3.1 percent growth rate, but this same column lists the 2.7 percent growth rate for 3rd quarter 2000 announced Friday, so I think it's the correct table to cite and probably just means a later revision or mathematical recalculation upped the 1992 figure a bit. For this table, go to:

-- ABC's World News Tonight didn't utter a word about the GDP Friday night, but back in 1992 Peter Jennings led the broadcast by defining GDP and then announcing:
"In the third quarter of the year it went up by an annual rate of 2.7 percent. That is more than economists had projected, but in many cases, less than meets the eye."

Reporter Bob Jamieson followed: "The increase in economic growth was driven by a surge in consumer spending. The best news came from spending for big appliances and furniture, which rose by nearly nine percent. But many economists say the report is not proof the economy is taking a sharp turn for the better."

As if that were not enough, Jennings returned the next night to further dampen the good news: "The President may complain about the news media, but the economic growth figures which he is so pleased about are not that definitive, according to a great many independent economic analysts...The government reports that personal income and consumer spending were up in September, but orders for durable goods, for such long-lasting items such as cars and household appliances, were down for the third straight month. And all over the country, millions of people hardly need any statistics to tell them what is happening."

-- NBC Nightly News. Like ABC, zilch Friday night. Tom Brokaw started the October 27, 1992 show by explaining away the relevance of the GDP growth:
"The President tonight finally has an economic number that he can brag about, but at the same time consumers were checking in today and they're yet to be persuaded that this economy is turning around. The good number is the Gross Domestic Product, that's the rate of economic growth, July through September. It hit 2.7 percent. That's well above what most economists predicted, but in this unusual economy that's not enough, not with another report out today showing a sharp drop in consumer confidence."

Another example of why viewers should have little confidence in network consistency. -- Brent Baker

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