ABC to McCain: "Okay" Being Seen as Hero?; Clinton Disbarment Dismissed
1) ABC approvingly showcased John McCain's positive campaign in which he's trying to prove "he can rise above politics as usual," but castigated Bush for his "relentless attacks" on McCain and how he's gone "so far" right that he'll alienate moderates. ABC and NBC highlighted how Bush refused to condemn the Confederate flag.
3) From McCain's bus ABC's Jack Ford gushed: "You offer much more candor and access to reporters than perhaps any other candidate in recent memory." Ford delivered the payoff, fawning about how young people "view you as a true hero. Are you okay with that?"
5) Amazingly, two CBS News reporters asked Bill Clinton Wednesday about official moves in Arkansas to act on ethics complaints which would lead to his disbarment. Naturally, the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening shows ignored the story which only FNC has explored.
latest MagazineWatch, about the February 21 editions of the three weekly news
magazines, is now up on the MRC Web site thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul. Topics
covered in the issue compiled by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:
John McCain set out Thursday to "reassure voters who want to believe that he can rise above politics as usual," announced ABC's Linda Douglass. In the very next story on World News Tonight colleague Dean Reynolds delivered a more dour look at the Bush campaign, stressing his "relentless attacks" on McCain.
Reynolds warned that Bush has put himself "so far" to the right that "some supporters worry he could lose moderate votes here and elsewhere." An example: "His reluctance to offer his personal views on flying the Confederate flag atop the state Capitol." NBC's David Bloom also focused on the flag issue and how Bush "bristles at the suggestion" he's sent "the wrong message for a candidate who preaches racial harmony."
CBS's Phil Jones noted how "the Republican establishment is really nervous" about Bush's future. Jones raised Bush's charge that Democrats are causing "mischief" by voting for McCain because they think he's the weaker candidate, but discredited the idea via one McCain backer.
Here's a rundown of how the three broadcast networks on Thursday night, February 17, handled the South Carolina primary:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Linda Douglass provided
an upbeat story on the McCain campaign, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson. Douglass began:
Rounding out ABC's coverage, Jim Wooten contributed a third piece on why Democrats in South Carolina plan to vote for McCain.
-- CBS Evening News. Phil Jones revealed: "The Republican establishment is really nervous. Privately, one of the big GOP givers over the years, has told CBS News quote, 'if George Bush loses South Carolina on Saturday then I'd expect him to lose Michigan on Tuesday, and then it would be over for Bush.'"
Jones noted how McCain is courting non-Republicans and
then discredited Bush's complaint: "Democrats, who are showing up at
McCain rallies, deny charges from the Bush camp that they are up to mischief
by voting for the Republican who'll be the weakest in November."
-- NBC Nightly News.
Tom Brokaw opened the program by emphasizing the importance of South Carolina:
Reporter Anne Thompson filed a story from the McCain camp on how he "can smell victory" as he delivers a positive message. Turnout, Thompson, relayed, will be the key to who wins.
Up next, David Bloom checked in from the Bush campaign,
noting how he complained about the non-Republicans McCain is relying upon.
After reporting how the voices of various Republican leaders are being used in
phone calls from the Bush campaign to voters, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brad Wilmouth, Bloom suggested Bush's downfall could be linked to going too
far to the right:
NBC then ran a piece on how character is trumping any
issues as South Carolina voters want an end to the Clinton era. Brokaw set up
As ABC and NBC did Thursday night to Bush, the networks continue to scold Republican presidential candidates for refusing to take the media-preferred position against allowing the Confederate flag to fly over the South Carolina State Capitol building, without bothering to mention how a Democratic Party-controlled state hoisted the flag in 1962 under Governor Ernest Hollings, but last Sunday a Charleston paper scolded the networks for distorting the issue.
Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, alerted me to a February 13 editorial in The Post & Courier. Here's an excerpt:
Hours after Sen. John McCain's victory in New Hampshire, Ted Koppel went straight to the Confederate flag, expressing surprise that the candidate believed there was any other issue to consider in his South Carolina campaign.
In the inane observations expressed in his interview with Sen. McCain, the host of ABC's "Nightline" revealed a faulty premise unfortunately shared by millions of Americans. It has created a heavy burden indeed for South Carolina's abused reputation.
National perceptions are forged, in large part, by network news. And what America has been seeing on the network news is an unflattering, stereotypical presentation of South Carolina....
Superficial reporting and commentary routinely cast South Carolina as a relentlessly stubborn foe of racial progress -- and routinely perpetuate the erroneous concept that the state is still digging in its heels against moving the flag.
The major media invariably overlook this highly pertinent reality: South Carolina has changed its mind about the flag. A solid majority of the state's citizens did long resist removing it, and as recently as last October, only 51 percent favored taking it down. But as of three weeks ago, more than two-thirds of South Carolinians told pollsters that they want the flag moved....
How many Americans know about South Carolina's decisive public-opinion switch on the flag? How many Americans know that this supposedly spiteful state, before making that attitude shift (and before the NAACP's flag boycott), commissioned an African-American History Monument for the Statehouse grounds?
Such clarifying details rarely survive the media's feeding frenzy on the flag fight....
To read the whole editorial, go to:
Good Morning America didn't splurge for helicopters to enable a live broadcast from John McCain's bus as NBC's Today did on Tuesday (see the February 16 CyberAlert), but Thursday morning ABC viewers were treated to a lengthy taped piece from Jack Ford celebrating the rise of the McCain "phenomenon."
ABC's Jack Ford gushed: "You have probably the most open, free-wheeling approach. You offer much more candor and access to reporters than perhaps any other candidate in recent memory. Why are you doing it that way?" Minutes later Ford "asked" McCain about how "young people...view you as a true hero. Are you okay with that?" Answer to first question: So he gets that kind of sycophantic coverage.
Recounting his day with the McCain campaign, Ford interspersed reporting with clips of his interview with McCain in which he posed no challenging questions. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson transcribed much of the segment aired on the February 17 Good Morning America.
Ford began: "From the beginning, the McCain camp has said that it's a battle of David versus Goliath. George W. Bush, the Goliath who has already spent a record-setting $50 million, filling the airwaves with campaign advertising. And John McCain, the David who has spent roughly half that amount. McCain knows he can't hope to outspend his rival."
To McCain, Ford asked: "When you look at the money that the Bush campaign has spent and the position they're in right now in terms of polls and successes, do you think there's a message there?"
After McCain's answer Ford picked up his story: "In the run-up to Saturday's critical South Carolina primary, he's traveled from town to town aboard his now legendary bus, holding town meetings, shaking hands, attending rallies, even signing copies of his book -- meeting every potential voter he can find, all in just one very typical day. Each of these days starts on his bus, the Straight Talk Express, packed with reporters."
Ford gushed to McCain: "You have probably the most
open, free-wheeling approach. You offer much more candor and access to
reporters than perhaps any other candidate in recent memory. Why are you doing
it that way?"
Ford then really sucked up, telling McCain: "I've spoken to a lot of the young people at your rallies, and one of the answers I've gotten frequently from them has been not that they're plugged into your policies or issues, but they view you as a true hero. Are you okay with that?"
Wrapping up the piece, Ford asked McCain if he thinks he must win South Carolina and "Looking back, three or four months from now, are you surprised at where you are and where your campaign is here on the eve of the South Carolina primary?"
While ABC viewers Thursday morning saw a piece reflecting great admiration for McCain, those watching NBC's Today saw a story picked up from the agenda of some liberal groups questioning why Bush isn't doing anything to stop the execution of "a 62 year-old great grandmother." A great grandmother convicted of shooting her husbands and burying them.
Katie Couric set up the February 17 piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "The state of Texas and its Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush are feeling some heat over yet another controversial death penalty case. One week from today Texas is scheduled to execute a 62 year-old great grandmother convicted of murder."
With ellipses marking where soundbites aired in order to
save space, here's a nearly complete transcript of Jim Cummins' story,
which began: "62 year-old great grandmother Betty Lou Beets insists she's
innocent and should not be executed by the state of Texas....
But after that I'm sure there will be another scheduled execution for the networks to showcase.
At President Clinton's Wednesday afternoon press conference, John Roberts of CBS News surprisingly asked Clinton about proceedings in Arkansas to disbar him. But none of the networks mentioned the exchange, which generated a follow-up question, on that night's evening newscasts, not even the CBS Evening News. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume and CNN's Inside Politics did give it a brief citation in larger stories about the press conference. So far, only the Fox News Channel has pursued the story.
During the February 16 press conference John Roberts
Clinton avoided the issue, claiming: "I don't think I should be spending my time on this. I think I'm working for the American people, and I'm going to do my best to adhere to that. And, as a result, I have refrained from saying a lot of things I would otherwise have said as an American citizen and as a lawyer."
Later, Roberts' colleague Mark Knoller, also of CBS
News, followed-up: "Mr. President, by your answer earlier to John
Roberts, did you mean to say that you or your lawyers would not offer a
defense to the committee on professional conduct?"
Not a word about any of this Wednesday night on ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, CNN's The World Today or NBC Nightly News. CBS aired a full report from John Roberts on Clinton's announcement at the press conference about fuel aid, but didn't go into other subjects. On the NBC Nightly News Claire Shipman reviewed several of Clinton's comments, but not the disbarment issue. She showed him commenting on fuel aid, how he understands why the name the Bill Clinton is a "political punching bag for Republicans," negative campaigning, Al Gore's truthfulness ("my experience is he's exceedingly honest and exceedingly straightforward") and his wife's campaign.
Back on February 10, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth found,
FNC uniquely raised this subject in a story on Special Report with Brit Hume,
a shorter version of which ran on the 7pm ET Fox Report the same night.
FNC's Rita Cosby outlined the complaint:
"Judge Judy," the shorthand name for the star of a syndicated TV show of the same name in which Judge Judy Sheindlin resolves disputes, made clear in a Tuesday night Tonight Show appearance that she has little respect for Hillary Clinton's Senate bid.
In her February 15 guest shot, to which MRC analyst Mark Drake alerted me, she offered admiration for how Rudy Giuliani has improved New York City while calling it "a shame" that New York ended up with an outsider as a candidate. She added that picking Hillary because of her celebrity is "a travesty" given the many more talented women available.
Asked about the race by Jay Leno, Sheindlin responded:
She soon added: "This gal has another problem and that is I think there are so many talented women that when you choose someone solely because she has a name that is recognizable, is really a travesty when you're talking about all the other women who've really worked hard, who are good civil servants and deserve that opportunity."
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