CNBC: "On Many Issues" Dean "Centrist," But Lauer: Too Liberal? --8/6/2003
2. Hollings Stories Laud Racial Record, Skip Segregationist Work
3. Conservatives Follow "Like the Members of a Moose Lodge"
Monday night on CNBC, David Shuster delivered another effort to portray Howard Dean as less than liberal. On the News with Brian Williams, Shuster contended: "On many issues, Dean is a centrist. He supports the death penalty, gun ownership and balanced budgets." As if supporting massive new spending and further government intervention into peoples' lives makes you a centrist so long as you raise taxes to pay for it and, therefore, maintain a balanced budget.
But Shuster's story did go on to recount how competitors Joe Lieberman and John Kerry are calling Dean too liberal to win a general election, thus showing how much of the national media are the left of the Democratic field.
And on Tuesday's Today, during an interview with Dean, Matt Lauer asked Dean to respond to Lieberman and Kerry and actually took Dean on from the right, squeezing in this question at the very end of the segment: "Ten seconds left. Are you too liberal to win the general election?"
These approaches to Dean follow recent efforts by other outlets to disguise his liberalness. The August 4 CyberAlert recounted: Before former Vermont Governor Howard Dean can be painted as a far-left ideologue, the national media are coming to his aide, penning stories about how he's not only not liberal, he's really a conservative. "He remains a fiscal conservative," declared a New York Times story last Wednesday. Then on Sunday, the front page of the Washington Post carried this unequivocal headline: "As Governor, Dean Was Fiscal Conservative." In Time, John Cloud argued that "the truth" is that Dean "is a rock-ribbed budget hawk, a moderate on gays and guns, and a true lefty on only a few issues." Cloud insisted that "Dean, who has been compared so often to George McGovern and Ralph Nader, is far more like George W. Bush." Cloud's evidence: Dean's patrician upbringing in a Republican family who "belonged to the super-exclusive Maidstone golf club, which for decades had no minority or Jewish members."
For details: www.mediaresearch.org
David Shuster began his August 4 piece on CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, though anchored by Dawn Fratangelo, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "This weekend in Nashua, New Hampshire, they were lined up past the garage. The Dean campaign was expecting 50 voters, a successful house party by any measure, but Dean found 200. The curiosity and buzz over the former Governor of Vermont has both energized and terrified the Democratic Party. On many issues, Dean is a centrist. He supports the death penalty, gun ownership and balanced budgets."
Lauer's questions to Dean on the August 5 Today on Tuesday morning, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
-- "Well listen here's the good news. You've got the trifecta in terms of magazine exposure this week. Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report. The bad news is you've gotten full the attention of your Democratic competitors. The head of the Kerry campaign said quote, 'It would be absolutely impossible for you to be elected President.' Joe Lieberman said yesterday, 'Your candidacy is a ticket to nowhere.' How does it feel to be so popular?"
-- "Well here's what Senator Lieberman said about you. He said, 'a candidate who is opposed to the war against Saddam, who's called for the repeal of all the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle-class, I believe will not offer the kind of leadership American needs to meet the challenges that we face today.'"
-- "The President, as you know, is enjoying about a 58 percent approval rating according to our latest polling. He's gone off on a working vacation in Texas and I guess in, in keeping with your in-your-face style you've decided to start running campaign ads right in his own backyard. I guess you feel he's gonna be watching some local television. Let me show you a clip of one of your ads."
-- "On the subject of Iraq, as you mentioned before, you opposed the war, you didn't think the reasons were right for committing U.S. troops. Now we're there, okay, that's a given. And we've got a shaky peace and we've got Americans being attacked almost on a daily basis. If you were President today Governor Dean, what would you do?"
-- "Well the President wants to inter-, the President wants to internationalize the force there too. He would like NATO to send a significant force. The French and Germans say they're not gonna do that without a UN mandate and let's face it they may set the bar so high that we can't accept their troops anyway. So if we aren't going to get that NATO support what would you do? Would you send more American troops?"
-- "If, if you were President of the United States right now on the subject of Saddam Hussein would you want him captured or killed?"
-- "You talk about balancing the budget. There's a huge federal deficit right now between $4 and $5 hundred billion. You'd like to repeal the President's long-term tax cuts but most experts say that would only solve part of the problem. You'd have to make major cuts. Where would the bulk of those cuts come?"
-- "The Time profile in the issue this week starts with an interesting paragraph. Let me read it to you and get your reaction. 'Look back at nearly every campaign trail to the White House and you'll find imbedded in the asphalt the flattened-form of a once captivating outsider. The story line plays out as follows. He seizes the imagination with a compelling message and personality. He upsets the dynamic of the race, the media lavish attention and praise on him, he makes a rookie mistake or two under the TV lights, the reporters turn on him and his fanatical legions realize he wasn't the guy they thought he was.' How do you avoid, Governor, becoming that flattened-form in the asphalt of this race?"
-- "Ten seconds left. Are you too liberal to win the general election?"
Washington Post and New York Times stories Tuesday, on the decision of South Carolina Senator Ernest Hollings to not seek re-election, lauded the Democrat for how, in contrast to what occurred in other Southern states, as Governor he had presided over "the peaceful" and "orderly desegregation" of South Carolina's public schools.
But in offering such a positive review of Hollings' record on race, the newspapers skated over his role as a dogged defender of segregation who only gave in when he realized the fight was hopeless, a favor not afforded to Southern Republicans with an unpleasant history on race. Recall how Trent Lott was portrayed as a racial retrograde, not as a relative moderate on race for not participating in the most virulent anti-black activity when he belonged to a segregated fraternity.
Neither the Post nor Times reminded readers how Hollings managed to vote, decades apart, against the two blacks ever nominated to the Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Nor did they remind readers how, as a symbol of anti-desegregation defiance, it was Hollings as Governor who had the Confederate flag raised over the South Carolina statehouse. As Deroy Murdock wrote in January on National Review Online:
For Murdoch's piece in full in the wake of Lott's resignation: www.nationalreview.com
But the very same newspapers and, in the case of the Post, the very same reporter, in earlier stories had recounted Hollings' less admirable record in the 1950s.
First, the relevant paragraphs from the August 5 stories on Hollings' retirement, and then what those same newspapers recalled back in the 1980s about Hollings:
-- Helen Dewar asserted in her Tuesday story: "Hollings's public career spans 55 years, starting when, as a World War II veteran, he was elected to the South Carolina legislature in 1948 at age 26. He went on to become Lieutenant Governor and Governor, presiding over the peaceful desegregation of South Carolina public schools at a time when many southern states were bitterly resisting integration."
That story is online at: www.washingtonpost.com
For the article in its entirety: www.nytimes.com
Now compare those summaries of his civil rights record to what those same newspapers recounted in the early 1980s, as I found via Nexis, though even then they tried to put the best positive spin on it:
-- Washington Post reporter Helen Dewar in a January 10, 1984 profile of then presidential candidate Hollings, a piece which carried a headline which trumpeted, "A colorful Marverick: An Achiever With a Solid Senate Record." The excerpt:
For any southern politician, civil rights is a litmus test, and the testing time for Hollings came on Jan. 9, 1963, when he was delivering his farewell address as governor to the South Carolina Legislature.
Within days, the first black student was to be admitted under federal court order to state-run Clemson University. With shouts of defiance echoing from Alabama and Mississippi, the atmosphere throughout South Carolina, including inside its state capitol, was tense.
"If he'd wanted to stand in the schoolhouse door, he would have had strong support," said former governor Robert E. McNair, who said Hollings had been advised by many friends simply to hand over the problem to his successor, Donald Russell.
Instead, Hollings said simply that "South Carolina is running out of courts." It must choose "a government of laws rather than a government of men," he told the hushed legislature, and do its duty "with dignity."...
But he was elected governor as a defender of state's rights, and he fought for segregation in the courts to the bitter end, even though, as he concedes now, he knew it was wrong and doomed.
He acknowledges that the realization came as early as 1952, when he sat in the Supreme Court, as a lawyer for South Carolina in a case that eventually figured in the landmark 1954 school decision, and thought of black soldiers with whom he had fought in World War II.
"I realized then that the game was over," he said.
"We fought the same oppression and won the same fight, but they were on the back of the bus when we got home," he observed in a recent Senate speech in which he candidly admitted his earlier wrongs on the issue.
As with his subsequent vote in the Senate against confirmation of Thurgood Marshall as the first black justice of the Supreme Court, he says simply, "It wasn't racist; it was politics."
In addition to voting against Marshall in 1967, one of only 11 to do so, Hollings has more recently supported anti-busing legislation, a combination that led to a failing grade last year from the NAACP....
END of Excerpt
-- A bit earlier, in the June 8, 1983 New York Times, some reporter named Howell Raines -- I think he went on to bigger and greater things, but it didn't last -- recalled:
In 1959, he was elected Governor of South Carolina as a defender of segregation, having promised to protect "the Southern way of life" against "the dictation of a power-happy Federal Government."
'We'd Run Out of Courts'
"I knew it was wrong, but there wasn't anything you could do about it, coming along politically," Senator Hollings now says of his behavior in those days.
He conducted what he calls "a separate but equal kind of governorship." He opposed Ku Klux Klan violence, but at the same time he committed the state to a policy of using every available legal maneuver to defend segregation.
END of Excerpt
Reminiscent of how a Washington Post reporter in 1993 claimed in a news story that Christian Right leaders can easily generate support because "their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command," Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief Peter Canellos on Tuesday passed along a similar stereotype in a story about a new liberal legal group. Canellos opined: "While conservatives answer a call to order like the members of a Moose Lodge, liberals fall to cat-fighting like contestants on a reality-TV dating show." He did at least add, "or so the thinking goes."
The thinking of liberals who don't accept that they already control most of the news media and somehow see themselves as underdogs to an organized conservative onslaught.
In his page A-3 "National Interest" column on the creation of the liberal American Constitution Society, Canellos also adopted the liberal spin on the 2000 election as he warned of the reach of the conservative Federalist Society:
Before getting to the rest of the August 5 Canellos piece about how liberals have recognized "that conservatives have created a dominant network linking politics and private organizations," the 1993 Washington Post quote in full. In a February 1, 1993 Post news story, then Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf wrote: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."
Now, an excerpt from the August 5 news section column by Canellos in the Boston Globe:
....The first convention of the American Constitution Society, devoted to connecting left-leaning law professors, politicians, and practicing attorneys, drew a crowd of 800 under a banner proclaiming "Human Dignity, Individual Rights, and Genuine Equality."
Founded to "counter the conservative dominance of the law," the group aims to be a counterweight to the right-leaning Federalist Society, which over the last 20 years has promoted conservative thinkers, including scores of Bush judicial appointees. The American Constitution Society is merely the toniest example of the liberals' recent attempts to close the message gap with conservatives. It springs from essentially the same impulse as Al Gore's proposal to create a liberal cable network to match up against Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and the yearning from some quarters to put populist filmmaker Michael Moore on the radio to go belly-to-belly with Rush Limbaugh.
There is more than a desire for payback behind these efforts. They are part of a broader recognition that conservatives have created a dominant network linking politics and private organizations. GOP fund-raisers support a shelf-full of right-wing magazines, which in turn promote provocative conservative authors like Ann Coulter. These writers then bestow the movement's approval on chosen thinkers, many identified by the powerful 30,000-member Federalist Society....
But as the liberals start to hook up the cars in their own ideological train, much of the political world is awaiting the inevitable crash. While conservatives answer a call to order like the members of a Moose Lodge, liberals fall to cat-fighting like contestants on a reality-TV dating show. Or so the thinking goes.
So it was a surprise that the convention, a mix of seminars and get-togethers, including a "Janet Reno Dance Party" hosted by the former attorney general, went off over the weekend without missing a beat....
But merely agreeing to fight the Bush administration is not, by itself, a measure of success. The conservative movement rose to power because it concentrated on a few simple principles and held to them ruthlessly. The Federalist Society missed no opportunity to assert that the Constitution had been stretched way beyond the Founding Fathers' intentions. They taught, studied, and spoke out so diligently that even many liberals came to accept their view....
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.boston.com
# Tonight on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Arnold Schwarzenegger announces his gubernatorial intentions.
-- Brent Baker