CyberAlert -- 10/30/2000 -- Bush To Be a "Harsh Conservative"

Bush To Be a "Harsh Conservative"; Hume: Media Focus on "Daisy II" Showed Bias; Distressed at Nader Hurting Gore -- Extra Edition

1) Most biased assumption of the weekend, ABC's Cokie Roberts to Trent Lott: If the GOP maintains control of the House and Senate and Bush wins "there's some concern that the 'compassionate conservative' George Bush would suddenly become the 'harsh conservative.'"

2) ABC's This Week ignored the anti-Bush scare calls and NAACP ad while CBS's Face the Nation raised one call with Joe Lieberman. Tim Russert asked Lieberman about the NAACP ad and played it and the "Daisy II" ad during his roundtable. On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume suggested the media focus on "Daisy II" over the NAACP ad presents "a wonderful example" of media bias.

3) "I love that ad!" exclaimed Time's Margaret Carlson about a DNC-produced scare phone call from a mother: "Governor Bush has accepted $1.3 million from corporate polluters and he's allowed them to keep polluting while my kids suffer."

4) Joe Lieberman appeared Sunday on the ABC, CBS and NBC interview shows. CBS and NBC, but not ABC, asked him to explain his statement that he has "respect" for Louis Farrakhan.

5) Reporters are distressed about how Nader may hurt Gore. "In the tightest presidential race in 40 years, Ralph Nader is wrecking havoc," worried NBC's Norah O'Donnell on Nightly News. ABC's Charles Gibson spent most of an interview trying to convince Nader that Gore, unlike Bush, will advance his goals.

6) A CyberAlert close encounter with Bill Clinton.

>>> "No Surprise: Media Ignore Goregate; Secret Weapons Deals Only a Scandal When Republicans Make Them." The November 3 Human Events cover story by the MRC's Tim Graham is now online. The article contrasts the media's lack of interest in Gore's secret deal with Russia with much greater media interest in 1992 in Bush's "Iraqgate." To read the Human Events piece, go to:
For other articles in the issue, go to: <<<


Most biased assumption of the weekend: ABC's Cokie Roberts during a This Week interview with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

In a discussion about the budget battle between Clinton and the Congress Lott predicted a President Bush would not generate the same kind of "bad atmosphere." To which, Roberts argued:
"He might not have this kind of atmosphere if you have a Republican Senate and a Republican House of Representatives because the Democrats would not have much of a voice at all and there's some concern that the 'compassionate conservative' George Bush would suddenly become the 'harsh conservative' that has been characterized by some as the leadership of this Congress. Does this become a much more conservative city on November 8th if it's an all Republican city?"

Lott contended it would be a city with a "government that works to produce results."

Those "some" people cited by Roberts are probably she and her ABC News colleagues.


Picking up where the October 28 CyberAlert left off, here's rundown of Sunday morning coverage of the "Daisy II" ad produced by a little-known entity compared to official DNC anti-Bush scare phone calls and the ad by the NAACP in which James Byrd's daughter argued Bush's decision to oppose a hate crimes bill "was like my father was killed all over again."

Of the four broadcast network Sunday interview shows, ABC's This Week ignored the whole matter as Cokie Roberts failed to raise any of the ads or calls with Joe Lieberman; on CBS's Face the Nation Gloria Borger did ask Lieberman to defend the call blaming George Bush for a nursing home death; and on NBC's Meet the Press Tim Russert played Lieberman a clip of the NAACP ad and later during his roundtable played both the NAACP ad and the "Daisy II" commercial.

On Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow raised the nursing home calls with Bob Shrum and Brit Hume later suggested the media focus on the "Daisy II" ad over the NAACP ad presents "a wonderful example of the kind of bias you see, particularly in the late stages of a campaign like this." Even the liberal Juan Williams condemned the NAACP ad.

For a description of the "Daisy II" ad and its full text, go to:

-- NBC's Meet the Press. For guest Joe Lieberman, Tim Russert played this portion of the NAACP ad narrated by James Byrd's daughter: "So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again."

Russert told Lieberman how Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey called the ad "offensive, divisive and counterproductive." Lieberman claimed this was the first he'd heard of the ad, but asserted: "I'll give you a first reaction, which is that's a sincere expression of her personal opinion."

He very well may never have heard about it since Sunday's clip on Meet the Press represents the first and only Big Three broadcast network mention of the ad which has yet to be shown on an ABC, CBS or NBC morning or evening newscast.

Later, during a roundtable with David Broder, David Maraniss, Gwen Ifill and Bill Kristol, Russert lumped the NAACP ad together with the "Daisy II" commercial and played large portions of each, including most of the NAACP ad: "I'm Renee Mullins, James Byrd's daughter. On June 7, 1998, in Texas, my father was killed. He was beaten, chained and then dragged three miles to his death -- all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again."

After Russert pointed out how the Bush campaign asked the producers of the "Daisy II" ad to not run it, PBS's Gwen Ifill observed: "You know, Al Gore did not call the NAACP and ask them to stop running that ad, which I think tells you which campaign is prepared to be nastier in the closing days of this campaign."

The Gore campaign is certainly feeling no media pressure to pull an ad journalists are ignoring.

-- Fox News Sunday. Interviewing Bush campaign manager Karl Rove and Gore strategist Bob Shrum, Tony Snow asked Shrum about the accuracy of the nursing home call given that the man referred to in it died during Bush's first year in office -- before any of his policies could have made an impact.

(In that "nursing home" call created by the DNC a woman claimed about her husband: "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.")

Fox played a hunk of the "Daisy II" ad during its roundtable segment. Brit Hume outlined the media's peculiar news judgment:
"This is a news media story, this is not an ad war story. What happened here is this ad got out there, was circulated shrewdly by its producers which had no intention really of distributing it or buying its presence anywhere, got into the news media, gave reporters something to talk about and ran to Bush with. Meanwhile, an arguably more scurrilous ad by the NAACP received none of that same-"

Hume was cut of mid-sentence by other panelists, but his point was clear. Next, Fox ran a chunk of the NAACP ad. Afterward, NPR talk show host Juan Williams declared: "That is playing to the lowest common denominator. That's a scare tactic ad, without a doubt."

Hume made the case that the differing media reactions to the two ads demonstrated bias: "There's a huge difference between a major institution like the NAACP running that ad, which is running a lot of places, and somebody you never heard of until the ad landed on your doorstep, making a cable buy somewhere for some tacky little ad that looks a little bit like an ad from 1964. The media attention, however, has almost all been focused on that Daisy re-make and almost none of it focused on the NAACP ad, which is where I think the focus belongs simply because of the nature of the ad and the nature of the institution putting it out. The New York Times critiqued that Daisy ad, ignored the NAACP ad. That's a wonderful example of the kind of bias you see, particularly in the late stages of a campaign like this."

To view via RealPlayer the NAACP ad as shown and evaluated by Hume and his FNC panel last week, go to:


"I love that ad!" exclaimed Time magazine's Margaret Carlson about a DNC-produced scare phone call from a mother who linked donations to Bush from "polluters" with the inability of her kids to play outside.

Bob Novak made the call, being placed to residents of Michigan, his "Outrage of the Week" on Saturday's CNN Capital Gang. He played a bit of the audio of the call from a woman in Houston: "The air in Houston is so filthy that my two kids are frequently not allowed to go outside for recess. Governor Bush has accepted $1.3 million from corporate polluters and he's allowed them to keep polluting while my kids suffer."

Novak asserted: "That's a smarmy and disgusting tactic for a campaign for the nation's highest office."

To which Margaret Carlson chirped: "I love that ad!"


An update on network attention to Joe Lieberman's statement he has "respect" for Louis Farrakhan, a subject MRC Media Reality Check reports have documented the networks have avoided.

Lieberman made a guest appearance Sunday on the ABC, CBS and NBC interview shows. Face the Nation co-host Bob Schieffer brought up the subject with guest Joe Lieberman as did NBC's Tim Russert, but not ABC's Cokie Roberts.

For the background on coverage of this subject and how it compares to media attention to Jack Kemp's favorable comments in 1996 about Farrakhan, check out the October 19 Media Reality Check by Tim Graham, "Jack Kemp Ripped, Joe Lieberman Skipped: Boston Globe, CBS, U.S. News & World Report Have Perfect Double Standard on Farrakhan Flaps." Go to:

For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:


Reporters' distress at the prospect that Ralph Nader could cost Al Gore the election and allow George Bush to win is seeping into network campaign coverage. Four years ago, of course, they weren't so upset that Ross Perot would hurt Bob Dole.

Here's how Norah O'Donnell began an NBC Nightly News story Sunday night, October 29: "In the tightest presidential race in 40 years, Ralph Nader is wrecking havoc. His support in some of the battleground states is actually growing, despite the Gore campaign's counter-offensive. Polling data out today measuring Nader's impact in the toss-up states show votes for him could tip six states, with a total of 68 electoral votes, to Bush."

She may have meant "wreaking havoc," but she said "wrecking havoc."

The six states: Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri.

Sunday morning on This Week, ABC's Sam Donaldson spent his entire interview with Nader arguing about how he will hurt Gore and why he should be concerned about that since Bush is more antithetical to his views.

Donaldson's questioning closely matched the themes expressed Friday on Good Morning America by Charles Gibson during his interview with Nader. As MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, he spent virtually the entire interview trying to convince Nader he shouldn't be a "spoiler" since Gore will better advance his agenda.

Gibson set up the October 27 segment: "Well, the key political question this morning: Is Ralph Nader a crusader or is he a spoiler? The Gore campaign is increasingly concerned that Mr. Nader could draw enough votes to throw this election to George W. Bush, to the point that yesterday Al Gore, for the first time that we know of, actually mentioned Ralph Nader by name on the stump."

Gibson's arguments in the form of questions:

-- "If you awake on the morning of Wednesday, November 8 and find that you cost Al Gore enough electoral votes to cost him the election, is that going to upset you in the least?"

-- "Well, but the only thing you can be sure of when you awake on November 8 is that you're not going to be elected President. You may have a movement, but you don't have enough votes, you don't have a prayer for enough electoral votes to get elected, and really the only tangible effect you can have on the outcome, it would seem, if the polls are to be believed, is that you could cost Gore the election....And if that means electing George W. Bush, so be it?"

-- "Well, you say you're starting a progressive movement, but a lot of the people who support you are worried about what it is you are doing. Executive Director of the Democrats in Oregon: 'It is irresponsible and reckless for the progressive movement,' he says. 'All the things he, Nader, has worked on for 30 years, he is willing to jeopardize for his own ego.' Twelve of your original Nader's Raiders, I saw, took out a newspaper ad the other day: 'It is now clear,' this is an open letter to you, 'it is now clear that you might well give the White House to Bush. You would set back social progress.'"

-- "Well, you keep saying, and I've heard you say over and over during this campaign, there's not much difference between these candidates, but in many respects this is a more classic race between a traditional Democrat and a traditional Republican than we've had in a long time. You just mentioned campaign finance reform. We have a candidate on the Democratic side who supports McCain-Feingold. We have a candidate who does not. There are real differences on prescription drugs, on tax relief, on abortion, on hate crimes, on affirmative action, and there are real differences on Social Security between these candidates."

-- "You've also been very critical of this administration for giving a pass to a lot of the regulatory agencies, ignoring the fact that really since 1995 it is the Republican-based Congress that has, that has put the fiscal brakes on the regulatory agencies that you champion so."


President Bill Clinton came within 500 feet of CyberAlert HQ on Sunday morning, but the CyberAlert news team and database of the media's pro-Clinton bias survived unscathed.

As part of his effort to boost black voter turnout for incumbent Virginia Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, Clinton spoke Sunday morning at the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, a church across the street from the Media Research Center's offices.

Fortunately, I was safely at home several miles away. -- Brent Baker

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