CyberAlert -- 02/28/2000 -- McCain Aide Boasted of Media "Base"
McCain Aide Boasted of Media "Base"; Day Trading Will Kill You
1) CBS marveled at how Bush "is the first Republican candidate who's being held to account for the intolerance and bigotry" of the Christian Right. ABC actually focused on McCain's dissembling over calls linking Bush to anti-Catholicism.
2) The McCain campaign used their "base," the news media, to tar Bush in Michigan by linking him to Bob Jones and Pat Robertson, a top McCain aide boasted to the Wall Street Journal. CBS claimed Bush's rhetoric was so "tough it made one McCain supporter cry."
"Look for the liberal label: If George W. Bush's appeals to conservative
voters will hurt him in the general election, as the media story line goes,
why won't Al Gore's embrace of liberal causes do the same?" This article
by the MRC's Tim Graham appears in the March 4 edition of World magazine. To
read it, go to:
George Bush's acknowledgment Sunday that he should have spoken out earlier against the policies of Bob Jones University led the ABC and CBS evenings shows on February 27. (NBA basketball bumped the NBC Nightly News in the east.) CBS took advantage of the opportunity to smear all Christian conservatives for the "intolerance and bigotry" at the "core" of their cause, but ABC decided to also give some air time to dissembling by John McCain in denying involvement in phone calls clearly designed to suggest Bush is anti-Catholic.
After a story on Bush's Sunday remarks about Bob Jones
University, Jacqueline Adams delved deeper into the meaning of his visit. She
began her CBS Evening News piece by noting how Republicans have been going to
the college for twenty years, everyone from Ronald Reagan to Bob Dole. The
visit hurt Bush in Michigan with Catholics, Adams relayed, before giving air
time to a left-winger to bash all religious conservatives:
Adams moved on to explaining how New York Congressman Peter King switched allegiance from Bush to McCain and let King claim that Bush had looked the "other way at a bigoted institution." Wrapping up the story, Adams did at least let Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore denounce the attacks on Bush over Bob Jones as "a smear tactic."
An inconvenient fact Adams and Butts ignored so they could impugn the entire Christian Right: Bob Jones University is far from typical. What other Christian college or Christian Right leader opposes inter-racial dating, believes blacks are an inferior race, or equates the Pope with Satan?
Over on ABC's World News Tonight reporter John Yang
noted Bush's regrets about not making clear earlier his disagreements with
the college, but then picked up on John McCain's dissembling about phone
calls keying off BJU aimed at turning Catholics against Bush. Yang explained:
"First he personally approved calls to Catholic voters in Michigan."
Wow. A bit of negative press for McCain.
As for whether the phone call was meant to lead
recipients to believe Bush is anti-Catholic, judge for yourself. Sunday
morning on Meet the Press, in a discussion/yelling match amongst Karl Rove,
Warren Rudman, Peter King and David Dreier, moderator Tim Russert played a
tape of the entire call:
Bush strategist Karl Rove reminded viewers that both of McCain's co-chairs in South Carolina have links to BJU: Lindsay Graham accepted an honorary degree last year and the other is a graduate of the school, a point also raised on Fox News Sunday on which Graham appeared.
So why did the Bob Jones University appearance become such a major issue in the media? Because, a top McCain aide confided to the Wall Street Journal, the McCain campaign used their "base" -- the news media -- to make it into one.
In a February 25 editorial, the Journal admired how the
McCain team "turned a potentially fatal defeat in South Carolina into a
pyrrhic victory for George W. Bush." The editorial explained:
The Journal proceeded to outline how after Bush's win
McCain's team decided to try to cause a backlash in Michigan against how
Bush won in South Carolina:
Picking up on a quote from CBS News reporter Bill
Whitaker reported in the February 22 CyberAlert, the Journal observed:
That CBS quote aired Monday night, February 21, and reminded me of another Whitaker story slamming Bush's tactics, a story not yet mentioned in CyberAlert but worthy of attention. On the Friday, February 18 CBS Evening News, the night before the South Carolina primary, Whitaker claimed Bush's rhetoric was so "tough it made one McCain supporter cry."
Whitaker portrayed McCain as a victim of a Bush
onslaught: "Bush has plowed well over $3 million into a relentless
barrage of radio and TV commercials, trying to blow up John McCain's campaign,
with anti-abortion surrogates firing from the sidelines. If compassion and
commercials don't turn you on to Bush, perhaps stealth mudslinging will turn
you off to McCain. The Bush campaign and groups that back him have made
hundreds of thousands of mailings and calls, blasting McCain with language so
tough it made one McCain supporter cry."
Speaking of the media as McCain's "base," more evidence arrived in my mailbox on Saturday: The March 6 edition of The New Republic, the ever more liberal weekly political magazine popular with the national media. The cover features a drawing of Gore and McCain to highlight endorsements of both.
McCain gained the magazine's first ever endorsement of
a Republican in a primary. He earned it for pushing his party left, the
magazine made clear in the opening paragraph of its endorsement:
The magazine later approvingly noted how McCain "represents the beginnings of an alternative to the plutocratic conservatism that has defined the Republican Party for more than two decades."
The last sentence of the endorsement from the magazine owned by Gore friend Martin Peretz: "For, if his crusade succeeds, America will have two parties advocating some reasonable approximation of the public good rather than one."
Friday night CBS News still considered the Bob Jones appearance to be the most important campaign issue of the day as Bush supposedly "found himself under siege" over it. The story by reporter Phil Jones also illustrated Bush's inarticulateness, a problem that if not corrected will feed the media with Dan Quayle-like ammunition all fall, assuming Bush makes it that long.
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather introduced the February 25 story: "While the countdown to the Super Tuesday batch of primaries on March 7th has top billing, George W. Bush had his eye today on the immediate future, Virginia, early next week. But CBS' Phil Jones reports Bush found himself under siege about events last week in another Southern state."
Jones began: "George W. Bush was in Virginia today
looking ahead to the state's Tuesday primary. However, it was a past primary
that continued to haunt him. The problem: his appearance at Bob Jones
University in South Carolina. Bush was asked again today why he had not
denounced the university's attitudes against Catholics and interracial
Of course, Bush was only "under siege" from reporters, not AOL employees or the general citizenry of Virginia.
Proclaiming a self-fulfilling prophecy, last Tuesday night veteran reporter Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, promised that if Bush wins the GOP nomination he'll be "dogged" by his Bob Jones University visit. In the ultimate media attack, Bernstein castigated the appearance as "the ugliest political gesture.... since Willie Horton."
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught Bernstein's
remarks on the February 22 edition of CNBC's Rivera Live:
Would that be in releasing a murderer to kill again or in creating a TV ad to inform the public about it?
Bernstein soon added a more reserved admonishment: "George Bush is not a bigot. He is not a Catholic basher. What is so disappointing and so horrible about what George Bush did is that for political expediency he entered a bigoted, racist tinged citadel."
Friday and Saturday night, in stories on the Diallo verdict in New York, the broadcast networks all ran soundbites from Al Sharpton. None, of course, pointed out his history as a race-baiter and instigator of the Tawana Brawley fraud. Catching up on another item I didn't get to last week, on FNC last Tuesday Michael Barone raised the issue of media hypocrisy in condemning Bush over going to BJU while ignored ties between leading Democrats and Sharpton. Picking up on media demands that Bush and McCain denounce the flying of the Confederate flag over South Carolina's state Capitol, Barone, a Senior Editor at U.S. News & World Report, also challenged the media to press Democratic candidates and Governors over elements of the Confederate flag featured in other state flags.
On February 22 Barone was interviewed on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume by the host of the same name. MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth checked this transcript against a tape for accuracy.
Barone noted: "It is interesting that the national press has gone after George W. Bush, a candidate ninety percent of them surely would not support for President, would oppose, on the grounds of his association with people, they haven't gone after some of the other candidates on their opposition. We've seen in the last few days Bill Bradley, Al Gore and Senate candidate and probably future presidential candidate, if she wins, Hillary Rodham Clinton, go and strain to beg leave to speak before Al Sharpton of New York. Al Sharpton has a record certified in a court legal suit in Dutchess County, New York, of having committed libel and slander in a situation which was a racially inflammatory case. He is guilty of making inflammatory remarks that led in time to the murder of shopkeeper -- a non-black shopkeeper in Harlem. He's made all sorts of false statements and rabble-rousing of different kinds. And stirring up trouble-"
Hume observed: "Well, there he was being recognized
-- the first person recognized in the Democratic debate in Harlem last night
as one of the organizers."
Later, Hume raised the flag issue and media interest in
going beyond South Carolina's situation: "But what about those flags in
other states? What about the other states, Mississippi and Georgia, in
particular, where the Confederate battle flag is part of the actual emblem of
the state flag?"
Don't count on it.
Forget personal responsibility, day trading is so awful it caused a guy to be murdered. Friday's NBC Nightly News featured a story on a Senate hearing chaired by Maine Senator Susan Collins about the dangers of day trading, as if anyone is forced into the activity. While reporter Robert Hager did run a soundbite from a day trading firm executive complaining of an "ambush," he started with a government agency report on how it's hard to make money day trading and ended by allowing a mother to blame day trading for getting her son murdered.
Anchor Tom Brokaw introduced the February 25 story: "The popular and high risk form of dealing in stocks which is called day trading, continues to get congressional attention. And the testimony is not very reassuring."
Robert Hager began: "What are your chances of
making money as a day trader? A longshot a Senate investigating committee
heard today, from the Securities and Exchange Commission's Laurie Richards.
Apparently the freedom to fail must be stopped. I hope the penalty is less severe than just "for many" or we should be having dozens of murders every day. As for day trading leading to a murder in the workplace, by that logic we should have closed down the Post Office a few decades ago.
Some more publicity for a bit of historical bias highlighted by CyberAlert in January. Friday's Investor's Business Daily featured an opinion piece by Michel Medved titled, "George Washington: Hollywood Thinks He's Just Another Supply-Sider." If the subject seems familiar, you probably read about it in the January 14 CyberAlert which detailed the same scene from an A&E movie as Medved criticized.
The January 14 CyberAlert reported how in the cable
movie, The Crossing, about the Continental Army victory over the Hessians at
Trenton, Continental Army General Nathaniel Greene is sent to tell George
Washington he should see the Hessian commander, Colonel Rall, before he dies
from a gunshot wound.
Greene: "General Washington, Colonel Rall is dying.
General Mercer says you cannot let him die without speaking to him. It's a
courtesy of war."
As Medved wrote, "to this asinine assertion, the father of our country solemnly nods his assent and rides off to comfort his fellow mercenary."
Watch this scene from A&E's movie. The MRC still
has posted a video clip in RealPlayer format. Go to:
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