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CyberAlert -- 01/25/2001 -- McCain "Mobbed by the Media"

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McCain "Mobbed by the Media"; Brokaw Distorted Ashcroft on Robert E. Lee; Two Women a Year for Gumbel; FNC Beat CNN Head-to-Head

1) Who else but Dan Rather could deliver this sentence about Bush's "big tax cut"? Rather relayed: "Democrats continue to view" the tax cut as "a giveaway to the wealthy that spends the budget surplus and leaves no money for such things as seniors to pay for prescription drugs." Rather warned it's all part of Bush's "Republican-right agenda for Congress."

2) John McCain left the White House meeting with President Bush "like a rock star, just mobbed by the media as he walked down the driveway towards his car," ABC's Terry Moran announced as he conceded the continued media adoration of McCain.

3) Dan Rather highlighted liberal complaints: "The divisions over the Bush nomination of John Ashcroft to be Attorney General grew sharper today, mostly around the issues of civil rights, race relations and women's issues."

4) Last week Tom Brokaw claimed "Ashcroft defended the Confederate agenda of Robert E. Lee in an interview with the Southern Partisan." In fact, as The Weekly Standard showed, Ashcroft defended "not the pro-slavery views of Civil War-era Confederate leaders but the anti-slavery views of the nation's Revolutionary War-era Founders."

5) NBC's Andrea Mitchell picked up on how Senator Clinton had people give her gifts and money in a manner to avoid Senate gift rules and Mitchell tied in Denise Rich, ex-wife of Marc Rich, the fugitive pardoned by President Clinton.

6) Bryant Gumbel took on Secretary of Education Rod Paige from the left on Wednesday morning, arguing vouchers will make bad schools worse and that national, not state, testing is necessary.

7) New York Post: "TV host Bryant Gumbel, who finally admitted to adultery yesterday, slept with more than 50 women during his 27 years of marriage, his estranged wife's lawyer claimed."

8) "Fox News Trounces the Cable Competition on Inauguration Saturday," announced an Inside.com story.

9) FNC's Brit Hume summarized the Tuesday CyberAlert item on the contrasts between how ABC, CBS and NBC characterized Clinton's abortion orders in 1993 versus Bush's on Monday.


Corrections: Two errors in the January 23 CyberAlert caught by the MRC's Tom Johnson: It quoted George Stephanopoulos as saying: "Instead of facing trial he went on the lamb...." He didn't go on an eating spree, so lamb should have read "lam." Another item quoting George Clooney at the Golden Globe Awards joking "I am actually the illegitimate love child of John Ashcroft," misspelled the last name of the brothers who produced his movie, Oh Brother Where Art Thou? They are the "Coen" brothers, not "Cohen."

1

Dan Rather's campaign to discredit Bush's "big tax cut" continued Wednesday night. Rather opened the CBS Evening News by asserting President Bush is "keeping up his drumbeat of negative talk about the health of the U.S. economy and using that in his efforts to sell Congress on a big tax cut." Rather maintained there are really "mixed signals" on the economy. Later, after referring to Bush's "Republican-right agenda in Congress," Rather eagerly relayed how "Democrats continue to view" the tax cut as "a giveaway to the wealthy that spends the budget surplus and leaves no money for such things as seniors to pay for prescription drugs."

Rather opened his January 24 broadcast: "Good evening. President Bush is keeping up his drumbeat of negative talk about the health of the U.S. economy and using that in his efforts to sell Congress on a big tax cut. By most independent assessments the economy is sending mixed signals. Four major corporations are cutting 20,000 jobs, but the Federal Reserve says laid off workers should find new jobs quickly. A new survey of business people says their confidence in the economy is at a 20-year low, but consumer spending shows signs of coming back, interest rates have just been cut and America's bankers say they don't expect a recession."

Later, Rather summarized only the view of those against the tax cut as he reviewed Bush's day: "Power politics was part of the drill today at the White House as President Bush invited top Democrats over to take each other's measure and talk about prospects for his Republican-right agenda in Congress. Beyond the pleasantries and pledges of cooperation afterward, Democrats made it clear that they will cooperate up to a point. One of those points, the Bush tax cut plan. Democrats continue to view it as, among others things, a giveaway to the wealthy that spends the budget surplus and leaves no money for such things as seniors to pay for prescription drugs."

Without even checking, I think with a high degree of certainty I can say that in 1993 Dan Rather never reported how President Clinton talked to congressional leaders "about prospects for his Democratic-left agenda in Congress."

2

"John McCain was here and he left the building like a rock star, just mobbed by the media as he walked down the driveway towards his car," ABC's Terry Moran announced on Wednesday's World News Tonight as he exposed the continued media adoration of McCain.

Both CBS and NBC also ran full stories on McCain's late afternoon visit with Bush and Cheney to push them to join his liberal increased regulation "campaign finance reform" bill to limit free speech.

Tom Brokaw introduced the NBC Nightly News story by adopting McCain's negative description of soft money: "In Washington, D.C., tonight, a reunion of sorts for the new President. George W. Bush met at the White House today with his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain, and the issue was McCain's crusade for campaign finance reform, especially for the so-called 'soft money.' Legal but unregulated and almost always not traceable."

David Gregory began the subsequent story: "Well, Tom, Senator McCain, his aides say, carried low expectations into this one-on-one meeting with the President, and he leaves tonight apparently right where he started, sharing little common ground with Bush on campaign finance reform."

3

Only the CBS Evening News on Wednesday night noted the Senate Judiciary Committee's delay of a vote on John Ashcroft as Dan Rather highlighted liberal complaints: "The divisions over the Bush nomination of John Ashcroft to be Attorney General grew sharper today, mostly around the issues of civil rights, race relations and women's issues. Senate Democrats put off a confirmation vote for at least a week."

Without really explaining the problems on those issues, Bob Schieffer outlined how Senate Democrats are under pressure from their interest groups and so are "hoping something may turn up to disqualify" Aschcroft. Meanwhile, in addition to pressure from "civil and women's rights groups against him," Republicans are now bringing pressure on Senators from states Bush won. Schieffer listed Baucus of Montana, Johnson of South Dakota, Cleland of Georgia, Rockefeller of West Virginia and Landrieu of Louisiana.

4

Speaking of liberal smears of John Ashcroft compliantly endorsed by the news media, this week's Weekly Standard excerpted, in context, Ashcroft's now infamous interview with Southern Partisan magazine.

A full reading shows how many journalists, most prominently Tom Brokaw, deliberately distorted the interview in order to suggest Ashcroft is a racist who favored the South's agenda to preserve slavery.

As quoted in the January 15 CyberAlert, on the Sunday, January 14 Dateline NBC Brokaw demanded of George W. Bush: "Already people are saying: Look, your nomination of John Ashcroft as the Attorney General is a divisive gesture within the African-American community. Here's a man who enthusiastically embraced an honorary degree from a university with racist policies, Bob Jones. And a man who said he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E. Lee."

The next night, January 15, Brokaw opened the NBC Nightly News: "Good evening on this Martin Luther King holiday, a prelude to what begins tomorrow in Washington -- the confirmation hearings for John Ashcroft, the former Missouri Senator who is George W. Bush's choice to be Attorney General. Race will be a major issue in the contentious hearings, especially since Ashcroft defended the Confederate agenda of Robert E. Lee in an interview with the Southern Partisan, a magazine promoting the culture of the Old South."

No he didn't, as the January 29 Weekly Standard demonstrated. Here's their "Scrapbook" item as posted on their Web site last week: http://www.weeklystandard.com/election2000/index.html#story3

Are Liberals Illiterate?
No, John Ashcroft Didn't Defend the Confederacy

Liberal organizations lobbying the Senate against John Ashcroft's confirmation as attorney general have fixed on an interview the nominee gave in 1998 to Southern Partisan. Southern Partisan is the kind of publication for which the phrase "more commented upon than read" was invented: a magazine of unabashed Confederate irredentism, given to venting indignantly about how the Old South has gotten a bum rap. Whichever of his staff assistants recommended that Ashcroft sit for an interview with that journal did the man no favor.

That said, however, we thought it worth reading Ashcroft's Southern Partisan interview in the unabridged original, just to make sure the quotations from it cited by People for the American Way -- and routinely reprinted in the mainstream media -- are fair and accurate. Ashcroft is supposed to have praised Southern Partisan for "defending Southern patriots like Lee, Jackson, and Davis" against the "malicious attacks" of "revisionists" who claim that slavery was a "perverted agenda." Can this really be true?

Nope. Here's the actual passage in which the above-quoted words appear:

Ashcroft: "Revisionism is a threat to the respect that Americans have for their freedoms and the liberty that was at the core of those who founded this country, and when we see George Washington, the founder of our country, called a racist, that is just total revisionist nonsense, a diatribe against the values of America. Have you read Thomas West's book, Vindicating the Founders?"
Interviewer: "I've met Professor West, and I read one of his earlier books, but not that one."
Ashcroft: "I wish I had another copy: I'd send it to you. I gave it away to a newspaper editor. West virtually disassembles all of these malicious attacks the revisionists have brought against our Founders. Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like Lee, Jackson, and Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."

So in Southern Partisan, it turns out, we have John Ashcroft defending not the pro-slavery views of Civil War-era Confederate leaders but the anti-slavery views of the nation's Revolutionary War-era Founders. In proper context, Ashcroft's "controversial" mention of Lee, Jackson, and Davis seems simply a polite aside to his interviewer. And an insincere one, to boot. For three sentences later, Ashcroft makes clear that he, too, believes slavery a "perverted agenda" from which the honor of the American founding can and must be rescued. "These people," Ashcroft insists, most definitely weren't "giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda." There can't be any serious question about it: "These people" are the Founders, which is why Ashcroft explicitly refers to the Declaration's final words. And slavery, in the view of our next attorney general, is indeed a "perverted agenda."

We find a sliver of comedy in the fact that John Ashcroft should now be smeared as a crypto-racist on the basis of his conversation about Thomas West's fine book Vindicating the Founders (reviewed by James Ceaser in the November 10, 1997, issue of The Weekly Standard). There's nothing at all funny about the smear itself, however.

END Excerpt

Yes, liberals proved themselves illiterate in this case and Tom Brokaw should be ashamed of giving credibility to such a distortion.

5

On the bright side, NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday night picked up on how Senator Clinton had people give her gifts and money in a manner to avoid Senate gift rules and Mitchell tied in Denise Rich, ex-wife of Marc Rich, the fugitive pardoned by President Clinton.

On the January 24 NBC Nightly News Andrea Mitchell, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, reported that Hillary Clinton is "ducking questions about what even friends are calling 'the Clintons' loot.' More than $190,000 in luxurious gifts" she received last year, including china, silver, artwork and a dining room table.

Mitchell explained: "Gifts donated by friends and Democratic Party contributors just before Mrs. Clinton is sworn in, donors say to avoid violating Senate ethics rules, disturbing to some Senators." After a soundbite from Richard Shelby, Mitchell elaborated: "Mrs. Clinton registered her choices last November just like a new bride, a spokesman said because friends wanted to give her special farewell presents. But donors tell NBC News a very different story. They say they were solicited by Clinton Beverly Hills contributor Rita Pynoos, told to send a $5,000 check to the store quickly before the Senate ethics deadline. The donors also say they have no idea what their money purchased."
Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity asserted: "This is excessive by any measure, and it's another example of poor taste, bad taste."

Mitchell raised the situation of Denise Rich, who donated $7,300 for two chairs and two coffee tables while "at the same time on December 6, she sends this personal appeal to the President, pleading for a pardon for her ex-husband fugitive Marc Rich."

Mitchell concluded: "The Clintons' gift registry is not illegal. Her office says the gifts were consistent with Senate ethics rules and obligations. Still, some of Senator Clinton's own supporters say that her buying spree shows terrible political judgment."

Maybe Hillary Clinton assumed a lack of media interest, a judgment that will be confirmed if neither ABC or CBS pick up on it.

6

Bryant Gumbel took on Secretary of Education Rod Paige from the left on Wednesday morning, arguing vouchers will make bad schools worse and that national, not state, testing is necessary. Most of Bush's plan envisions a greater federal role in education, traditionally considered by conservatives to be a local concern, but Gumbel did not make Paige defend the expansion of federal control over local schools.

Gumbel started by asking "how committed is the President to vouchers?" and: "The President avoided using the 'v' word. You tell me what viable alternatives to vouchers would the President be willing to consider, willing to accept?"
Paige answered: "What is the argument for continuing to put money into schools that are not working?"
Gumbel became an advocate: "Well I would counter to that, the question would be, how would you compensate those already strapped schools with a loss of more funding, they're only going to get worse."

Gumbel soon moved on to testing: "The President's proposal calls for annual testing but no national testing. Why not?"

When Paige said tests are best administered by each state, Gumbel countered: "But the President puts a premium on who's failing. Without national testing how can you possibly tell whether or not children in a particular state are falling behind the others?"

Finally, Gumbel seemed to suggest that maybe Bush's black cabinet secretary didn't have much influence: "How much input into this program did you have, Mr. Secretary?" Paige assured Gumbel that he's been working for years with Bush in Texas on education.

7

Bryant Gumbel's ex-wife, the New York Post reported Wednesday, claims that "he slept with more than 50 women during his 27 years of marriage."

An excerpt from the January 24 New York Post story by Andy Geller and Neil Graves which was plugged on Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page: http://www.poynter.org/medianews

The excerpt:

TV host Bryant Gumbel, who finally admitted to adultery yesterday, slept with more than 50 women during his 27 years of marriage, his estranged wife's lawyer claimed.

The lawyer for the host of CBS's "Early Show" dismissed the bombshell allegation as "notorious and stupid gossip."

The charges flew after a Westchester Supreme Court hearing at which Gumbel -- after a year of wrangling -- agreed to his wife June's demand that adultery be grounds for their divorce.

A bitter June had accused Gumbel of being a "serial adulterer."

The TV host also agreed to give June $15,000 in court-ordered payments, including $6,500 for a new water system and $5,000 for her personal trainer.

June's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, said that if Gumbel had not agreed to his wife's demands, he could have produced evidence Gumbel slept with over 50 women in the 27 years of his marriage, "starting from Day 1."

"We had enough proof if we had to go to trial -- 50 times over," he said.

Gumbel's lawyer, Stanley Arkin, said the TV host, who is living with his blonde girlfriend Hilary Quinlan, "has acknowledged he is living with a woman he loves."

He called Slotnick's claim "notorious and stupid gossip."

Slotnick said that as a result of Gumbel's admission, both sides will be able to proceed rapidly to a divorce and "move on in their lives."

The next phase is the financial settlement. Slotnick said June wants $10 million -- half of what he estimates as Gumbel's net worth of $20 million -- and annual payments of $1.5 million. Gumbel is now making support payments of $18,000 a month. Slotnick said Gumbel earns $7 million a year from hosting the "Early Show."....

END Excerpt

For the complete story, go to:
http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/20899.htm

50 women in 27 years? That's not even quite two per year on average. Bill Clinton long ago left Gumbel in the dust.

8

More people watched inauguration coverage on CNN than FNC because many homes don't get FNC, but in 8 households with the a choice of both CNN and FNC, the Brit Hume-anchored FNC team won the head-to-head competition, Inside.com reported earlier this week. MSNBC trailed both. "Fox News Trounces the Cable Competition on Inauguration Saturday" announced the headline over the story plugged by drudgereport.com.

In his Tuesday afternoon-posted story, Inside.com's Tom Bierbaum reported:

Cable viewers flocked to Fox News Channel to see George W. Bush sworn in as President, boosting that channel past CNN in inauguration Nielsens and giving Fox News its third-highest-rated day ever.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Fox News averaged a 2.5 rating in homes that receive the service, to beat CNN's 2.0 and MSNBC's 1.6. CNN won in total households, with 1.6 million to Fox News' 1.42 million, but that's with CNN available in 80 million homes while Fox News currently reaches just 57 million. MSNBC's household average Saturday was 954,000.

The big Bush numbers for Fox News reinforce the perception that conservatives and Republicans favor Fox News while liberals and Democrats prefer the cable-news competition. Last summer, Fox News challenged CNN's ratings during the Republic National Convention (1.3 for CNN, 1.1 for Fox News, 0.6 for MSNBC), but fell to third during the Democratic event (1.6 for CNN, 0.9 for MSNBC, 0.7 for Fox News)....

Fox News averaged a 1.3 rating for the entire day Saturday, making it the channel's third-highest-rated day ever, behind only results for Dec. 12 and Dec. 8, key junctures during the post-election dispute.

Despite trailing Fox News' rating, CNN enjoyed a 54 percent increase over its household total during the 1997 Clinton inaugural (when numbers were held down because that event took place on a Monday morning). In 1997, CNN averaged 1.04 million homes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with its Monday coverage, while this past Saturday, CNN rose to a 1.60 million in 10 a.m.-3 p.m. averages. Fox News and MSNBC weren't regularly measured by Nielsen in 1997....

END Excerpt

For the entire story, go to:
http://www.inside.com/jcs/Story?article_id=21577&pod_id=11

This is great news for admirers of FNC's "we report, you decide" approach since it shows that when given a choice cable viewers pick FNC over CNN and MSNBC. If FNC can get into as many homes as CNN and MSNBC it probably will become the most watched of the three.

9

FNC's rise also means more people will hear about the MRC's documentation of bias at the older networks. Wednesday night Brit Hume summarized a Tuesday CyberAlert item during the "Grapevine" segment of his show, Special Report with Brit Hume:

"Eight years ago, when Bill Clinton issued an executive order to allow U.S. taxpayer money once again to be used to support abortions overseas, Dan Rather said he had quote, 'delivered on a campaign promise,' unquote. Peter Jennings said Mr. Clinton had quote, 'kept his word,' and Tom Brokaw said he had quote, 'kept a campaign promise.'
"When President Bush reversed that order this week Rather said quote, 'he did something to please the right flank in his party.' Jennings called it quote, 'designed to appeal to conservatives' and Brokaw said Mr. Bush had quote, 'started on a controversial note.' Thanks to the Media Research Center for those quotes."

And we thank Hume and FNC for the news judgment to pick up the item and give credit to the MRC. -- Brent Baker


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