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CyberAlert -- 02/01/2000 -- Can't Agree on Bradley

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Can't Agree on Bradley; Reporter Stumbled into Liberal Admission

1) ABC and NBC reported that Bill Bradley laid off his attacks on Al Gore, but CBS's Dan Rather didn't agree. NBC's David Bloom contrasted how a "relaxed Bush has been frolicking across New Hampshire" while "McCain slogs from one rally to the next."

2) Bradley's attack on Gore's abortion flip-flop forced the networks to recite it. Friday night only ABC raised Clinton's "liberal" slip of the tongue, but portrayed it as a help to Gore.

3) In an unusual approach, NBC's Tim Russert pressed John McCain from the right about supporting rape and incest exceptions on abortion, but then devoted twice as much time to hitting him from the left about how he wants to return to "back alley abortions."

4) Tom Brokaw acknowledged that with Gore "there's this kind of fiction that goes out there and then there's the reality," citing Gore's tobacco hypocrisy and Internet invention claim. But Brokaw has failed to tell Nightly News viewers about either.

5) CNN's bad and good sides. The Free Market Project's MediaNomics explained how "CNN Earns Dunce Cap for Biased Newsroom Report" while meriting kudos for a contrarian take on education spending.

6) Time's Michael Duffy stumbled into a personal admission. He endorsed, as making "a lot of sense," a Clinton spending proposal he seconds earlier said "liberals had to love."

>>> The February 1 edition of MagazineWatch, about the February 7 issues of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News, is now up on the MRC home page. The subjects addressed in this week's edition compiled by the MRC's Mark Drake and Tim Graham:
1. U.S. News & World Report White House reporter Kenneth T. Walsh incredibly found Bill Clinton's last State of the Union address to be "cast in conservative terms" and bought the remarkable spin of Democratic Leadership Council President Al From that "Clinton isn't proposing the kind of big, bureaucratic government that was anathema in the '70s and '80s."
2. U.S. News owner Mortimer Zuckerman admonished George W. Bush for taking a strong pro-life position and dismissed his political philosophy as "little more than a gigantic tax cut," while Al Gore was "establishing himself as an independent candidate, even as a candidate of change."
3. Time devoted another cover story to thumping the tub for campaign "reform" with liberal writers Donald Barlett and Roger Steele: "In essence, campaign spending in America has divided all of us into two groups: first- and second-class citizens...Call it government for the few at the expense of the many."
4. U.S. News became the first news magazine to devote an article to Newt Gingrich's affair with Callista Bisek. Reporter Lynn Rosellini's Washington rules could also apply to a certain President.
5. Newsweek showed how the Gore campaign has tried to get to reporters' hearts through their stomachs.
To read these items, go to where MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted this edition of MagazineWatch: <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)The three broadcast network evening news shows all led Monday night with previews of the impending New Hampshire primary, at least the ET/CT feeds did before news of the Alaska Air crash broke at about 5pm PT. That news consumed the entirety of prime time on CNN, FNC and MSNBC from 8pm ET forward, well into the early morning hours.

On the New Hampshire front, while ABC and NBC reported that Bill Bradley laid off his attacks on Al Gore, CBS's Dan Rather insisted: "Bill Bradley pressed ahead today with his new strategy of challenging Al Gore's character and credibility."

Despite polls showing a ten point plus lead for Gore, ABC's Peter Jennings characterized the primaries in both parties as "very close contests." World News Tonight also featured a segment with George Stephanopoulos talking with Jennings about turnout. CBS's Bill Whitaker explored the reason's behind McCain's success in the Granite State. NBC's David Bloom contrasted how a "relaxed Bush has been frolicking across New Hampshire" while "Senator McCain slogs from one rally to the next." NBC colleague Lisa Myers checked the validity of Bradley's charges against Gore.

Here are some notes and quotes from the January 31 evening shows to give you a feel for the coverage. All three delighted in showing the video of Gary Bauer falling off the stage during a pancake flipping appearance. First, the contrast over Bradley's statements and then some notes on each show:

-- Bradley backing off or boring in?
ABC's Jackie Judd on World News Tonight: "Bill Bradley all but abandoned his line of attack against Al Gore today."

Claire Shipman on the NBC Nightly News: "After a weekend of stinging attacks on Al Gore, Bill Bradley turns down the volume today."

But in introducing a CBS Evening News story by Bill Whitaker on Democratic fears over the impact of Bradley's attacks on Gore's credibility, Dan Rather maintained: "Bill Bradley pressed ahead today with his new strategy of challenging Al Gore's character and credibility. Republicans love it. So some Democratic leaders are warning Bradley he is helping Republicans in the long run."

-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show:
"You don't normally think of New Hampshire as being crowded, but today you did stand a greater chance of being run over by a presidential campaign rushing through the state on the very last day of before the very first presidential primary. The basics are these: Among Republicans and Democrats, the candidates that is, they look to be very close contests. New Hampshire may be as important this year as its ever been."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather described the Bush-McCain contest as "too close to call" before Bob Schieffer alerted viewers to the obvious: "With one day to go I think it boils down to Bill Bradley and John McCain fighting for their political lives."

Rather recited the latest CBS poll, which placed McCain at 39 percent, Bush at 35 percent and Forbes at 10 percent, before Bill Whitaker looked at McCain's strategy. Whitaker asserted: "He started off last summer as Senator Who but in this state with the motto 'Live Free or Die,' the image he crafted, a war-tested Harry Truman-like straight shooter, found an audience."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw began by citing NBC's latest poll which put McCain over Bush by 38 to 32 percent and Gore over Bradley by 49 to 37 percent.

Looking at the Republican race, David Bloom portrayed it as a battle between a laid back Bush and a hard-working McCain: "For days now relaxed Bush has been frolicking across New Hampshire, dancing, snowmobiling, a photo-op with mom and dad. Meanwhile, Bush's chief rival, Senator McCain, slogs from one rally to the next, increasingly convinced that younger, less ideological voters, and the veterans who support him, will propel him to victory here."

Claire Shipman examined the Democratic battle and picked up on Bradley's theme as she asked Gore on his bus: "Is there a tendency on the part of Al Gore to sometimes stretch the truth?"
Gore retorted: "I think there's a tendency on the part of political opponents in campaigns to make all kinds of charges against candidates."

Shipman didn't contradict that, but soon cautioned: "Experts warn the infighting might do permanent damage."

Lisa Myers evaluated the charges against Gore leveled by Bradley, using the always grating Kathleen Hall Jamieson, identified on-screen as an "independent political analyst," as her expert. Myers and Jamieson decided that Bradley was correct on both of his assertions: His claim that Gore distorted his disaster relief votes and that Gore once opposed abortion. Myers concluded by again raising concerns about how Bradley's attacks could benefit Republicans:
"Tonight a Gore spokesman dismisses Bradley's attacks as an act of desperation. But privately some top Democrats fear Gore is wounded, vulnerable to attacks on his truthfulness long after this primary is history."


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Friday night, of the broadcast networks, only ABC reminded viewers of Bill Clinton's "liberal" slip of the tongue in his State of the Union address the night before, and ABC's Mike Von Fremd portrayed it as a boost to Al Gore. CBS's Bob Schieffer offered a glowing review of Clinton's proposals, but at least did note their expense.

On Saturday night, both ABC and CBS (NBA basketball bumped NBC) picked up on Bradley's charge that Al Gore has not always been pro-choice on abortion. CBS's John Roberts marveled at the subject matter on the January 29 Evening News: "The one thing voters here never thought they'd hear Democrats arguing with each other about is the issue of abortion." Indeed, the media fuel the story on the Republican side while having long ignored Gore's denial of a flip-flop on abortion. As Roberts noted, back in the mid-1980s Gore declared in a letter: "It is my deep personal conviction that abortion is wrong."

ABC's Mike Von Fremd concluded a January 28 World News Tonight piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"In their final State of the Union speeches, Ronald Reagan never mentioned his Vice President, George Bush, and Dwight Eisenhower said nothing about Richard Nixon. But last night, Bill Clinton talked about Al Gore six times, and aides say even that slip of the lip helped."
Clinton: "Last year the Vice President launched a new effort to make communities more liberal, ah livable."
Von Fremd: "In the Democratic primaries, there's nothing wrong with being liberal."

But you won't ever catch a reporter on his own referring to Gore as liberal.

On the CBS Evening News the same night, as transcribed by he MRC's Brian Boyd, Bob Schieffer painted a glowing picture of Clinton's proposals: "It was classic Clinton. Even his enemies call him one of the most adroit politicians ever, and he was on his game. As always he brought Congress a package of programs to solve most every problem. From HMO reform to prescription drugs for seniors, to stiff new gun controls, and help for education. All of it mixed with a passel of tax breaks including a proposal to end the marriage tax penalty."

Schieffer did later acknowledge: "Since the government prints only about $600 million worth of new money a day, Republicans joke that if all the President's programs pass, he'd literally be spending money faster than the government can print it."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)In a refreshing and unusual approach for a major media figure, on Sunday's Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert hit John McCain from the right on abortion, but then he undercut his potential for a balanced presentation by spending twice as much time haranguing McCain on the issue with the standard arguments from the left.

During the January 30 show, Russert asked McCain:
"Let me turn to the issue of abortion, which is a difficult one for all candidates. The Right to Life Committee had this to say about John McCain, and I'll put it on the screen for you and your viewers. They say, 'Senator McCain's positions have been conflicting, and we do not think he warrants the support of pro-life voters.' You have said that you believe life begins at conception."
McCain: "Yes."
Russert: "And, yet, you want exceptions for rape and incest."
McCain: "And the life of the mother, yes."
Russert: "That would be the taking of a human life."
McCain: "Yes."
Russert: "How is that consistent morally?"
McCain: "Because I think that these are careful balances that you have to make...."

This exchange and McCain's complete answer consumed 1:50. Russert then took nearly four minutes to press McCain with the usual liberal arguments relayed so often by reporters:

Russert: "A constitutional amendment to ban all abortions?"
McCain: "Yes sir."
Russert: "You're for that?"
McCain: "Yes sir."
Russert: "If, in fact, all abortions were banned in America under President McCain let's look at our country. What would happen to a woman who had an abortion?"
McCain: "Obviously, it would be illegal, but I would not prosecute a woman who did that...."

After McCain's lengthy answer, Russert countered:
Russert: "But, Senator, women across the country would say, 'Senator McCain, prior to Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of women a year went to the back alleys to have abortions.'"
McCain: "I understand that."
Russert: "Many died."
McCain: "I understand that."
Russert: "And here you are, want to bring that back. Would you prosecute a doctor who broke the law?"
McCain: "If a doctor violated the law, I believe that he would be prosecuted. But the fact is that if Roe v. Wade were repealed, then it would then be up to the states in the United States of America to make those decisions. It would not immediately outlaw abortion. It would mean that each state would make the decisions on that issue among the states."
Russert: "But if it's a moral issue, you would not want to have any state allow abortion either."
McCain: "I would not, but your thesis that a repeal of Roe v. Wade would immediately outlaw abortion isn't true. What would happen, it would then return those decisions to the states."
Russert: "But you would hope all the states would outlaw abortion, too."
McCain: "Yes, I would. Yes, I would."
Russert: "And so a doctor would be criminally liable."
McCain: "Would be liable."
Russert: "Not criminally."
McCain: "No."
Russert: "A woman would be an accomplice."
McCain: "Tim, look. This is..."
Russert: "This is reality."
McCain: "I know."
Russert, becoming passionate: "It's easier for people to say, 'I'm for banning all abortions' and then when you apply it in a real-life situation, circumstances of human beings are involved as well as the unborn baby."

The debate continued on for a bit more before Russert turned to the Elian Gonzalez case.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Later on the same Meet the Press Tom Brokaw agreed with Bill Bradley that Al Gore has trouble with the truth, but Brokaw has failed to inform viewers of his show about two whoppers from Gore that he cited as examples.

Talking about Bradley's criticisms of Gore for distorting his record and denying an obvious flip-flop on abortion, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed how Brokaw asserted during the January 30 show's roundtable segment:
"I think that he's exposed something in Al Gore that could be troublesome for the Vice President, should he get the nomination and run in the fall. Al Gore seems to be like those kids who believe everything their parents write about them in the Christmas letter. I mean, you know, there's this kind of fiction that goes out there, and then there's the reality. And, you know, we've talked about this before. You'll remember in Chicago when he invoked his dying sister of lung cancer, 'I'm going to fight every day for my life. I made that pledge on her deathbed against tobacco.' He was taking tobacco money at the time. He was growing tobacco himself. He was defending tobacco several years later; the Internet question, no controlling legal authority. So I think that Bradley has opened up some vulnerabilities for Al Gore here that if he'd done it earlier, he'd probably be more competitive."

Too bad Brokaw didn't bother to tell his viewers about either Gore claim at the time he uttered the preposterous assertions. Gore made the tobacco claim during the Democratic convention in August of 1996, but Brokaw didn't mention the reality that night nor on subsequent editions of NBC Nightly News. The Today show didn't alert viewers to Gore's hypocrisy until a January 24, 1997 interview with Gore conducted by Katie Couric.

Gore made his claim, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," during a March 9, 1999 interview on CNN's Late Edition, but Brokaw didn't mention the outlandish boast on Nightly News contemporaneously and I don't believe has at any time since.

To see video clips of Gore's convention comments about tobacco and/or his Internet claim, go to:


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)The second edition of the Web-posted MediaNomics report, from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), is now online. For the January 28 issue, FMP Director Rich Noyes filed two stories:

-- "CNN Earns Dunce Cap for Biased Newsroom Report. Two liberal public policy groups, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), got a lot of attention recently when they released a report alleging a sizeable and growing income gap between rich and poor workers. Their report received little critical media coverage, but perhaps none was as glowing as a pair of reports on CNN's Newsroom, a half-hour cable news program produced for use in classrooms all over the world....."

-- " CNN's Charles Feldman. All too often, it seems, the media fall into the trap of equating dollars with progress. But MRC news analyst Paul Smith caught CNN's Charles Feldman offering a contrarian position in a report that aired on The World Today on January 13...."

To read the entirety of either or both stories, just go to:


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)Time's Michael Duffy stumbled into admitting that he's a "liberal" as he endorsed, as making "a lot of sense," a Clinton proposal which he seconds earlier had said "liberals had to love."

Reviewing Clinton's State of the Union address on Friday's Washington Week in Review on PBS, Time reporter Michael Duffy asserted that much of it pushed "centrist" ideas. He then contended:
"There was stuff in there that liberals had to love. A new federally-matched retirement program for working people who don't have 401(k)s through their employer, that the federal government will give you $500 if you put in $500. A new federally-funded program to allow people who can't afford those college entrance test prep courses, Stanley Kaplan kind of stuff. You know, it makes a lot of sense. Why should some people have an advantage that way?"

Let's have spending programs to equalize every inequality and let's start with subsidizing the TV careers of all print journalists so they have equal air time. After all, why should only some have the advantage of a soapbox on PBS from which to spout their opinions? -- Brent Baker

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