Gore Ignored; Mother Teresa Crushed by Diana
1) Princess Diana's death couldn't have come at a better time for Al Gore. Just as the fundraising hearings focused on him the media were in the midst of obsessing on Diana. Saturday's newspaper's conveyed three developments on the Gore front:
During Friday's hearing a former top aide to Al Gore defended his boss, but as the Saturday Washington Times reported, he may have broken the law: "Vice President Al Gore's former Deputy Chief-of-Staff told a Senate committee yesterday he 'staffed' four of the fundraising calls Mr. Gore made from his White House office, prompting concern from some Senators that the aide may have violated federal law."
Saturday's Washington Post, reviewing the Republican contention that Gore knew the Buddhist temple event was designed to raise money, reported that "their strongest evidence was an elliptical memo written by Gore himself weeks before the event, on March 15, 1996. Gore was replying to an aide's query about a scheduling conflict. The aide wrote that since Gore had 'fundraisers' set for April 29 in California, could he attend a Jewish group's event in New York the night before? Gore replied electronically that 'if we've already booked the fundraisers,' then decline the New York event."
The most explosive news of the day came on page one of the Washington Post. The headline announced: "Justice Did Not Review Legality of Gore White House Solicitations: Report of Hard Money Deposits Prompted Reno to Act." The Post discovered that in the five months since Gore claimed in March that his calls were legal, the Justice Department never looked into the matter -- not until Bob Woodward did their job for them with his September 3 story. Saturday's Post quoted Republicans who said this contradicted Reno's claims that Justice was aggressively investigating all fundraising-related charges.
Coverage: Zilch on the broadcast networks. Friday night on CNN's The World Today anchor Leon Harris briefly mentioned that Gore aide David Strauss denied the temple event was a fundraiser. But nothing Friday night on ABC, CBS or NBC nor on Saturday's NBC Nightly News, the only broadcast network with an evening show in the east. Diana obliterated Saturday's Today on NBC and CNN aired a Diana special from 8 to 11pm ET on Saturday night. Diana consumed virtually the entire Today and Good Morning America on Sunday.
Time columnist Margaret
Carlson on the Saturday, September 6 Capital Gang:
An exchange from the
September 5 Washington Week in Review on PBS:
Moderator and CNN reporter Ken Bode jumped in: "Originating in the Bush Administration."
Speaking of giving the most positive spin possible, look at how the New York Times headlined its Friday story.
The Los Angeles Times told readers: "Buddhist Nuns Admit Misdeeds in Fundraising."
USA Today announced: "Nuns Admit Destroying Documents."
But the New York Times headline declared: "Nuns Say Temple Event With Gore Was Not a Fundraiser."
3) All the networks but one led Friday night with Diana-related events over the passing of Mother Teresa. And neither the CBS or NBC remembrances mentioned her opposition to abortion. Here's a Diana vs. Mother Teresa rundown of Friday, September 6 shows:
The CBS Evening News led with
Diana in stories lasting nearly nine minutes. Richard Threlkeld got
2:40 for a review of Mother Teresa's life, but he never noted her
pro-life stand. Dan Rather ended the broadcast by saying that Diana
and Mother Teresa were incomparable, but introduced a two-and-a-half
minute story doing just that:
NBC Nightly News began with
Diana and devoted nearly 13 minutes of a 22 minute show to her, her
upcoming funeral and the status of the Royal Family. And that's before
counting an end of show 2:30 piece on whether the media went
"overboard" on Diana coverage. NBC squeezed in a profile of
Mother Teresa by reporter Richard Roth that lasted just over two
ABC's World News Tonight was
the only network Friday night to put Mother Teresa at the top of the
show. In the second of two pieces, Bill Blakemore raised abortion near
the end of his story, which concluded:
Those pieces took 5:45 but
were followed with nine minutes on Diana, plus another 2:40 in two
items that compared and contrasted the two women.
World News Tonight did not
pick a Person of the Week on Friday night, but instead closed with
Peter Jennings saying "it is not possible to compare" Diana
and Mother Teresa. Then he did so. Below is the entirety of the story
by Jennings. Notice about whom of the two women he decided to relay
CNN's The World Today not only cited Mother Teresa's opposition to abortion, but provided the only soundbite by her on abortion aired on any network. In a three-and-a-half minute retrospective on her life, Richard Blystone noted:
personality and unswerving beliefs put her in conflict with several
Western liberal ideals. Among them, the notion that feeding the poor
only perpetuates poverty and hunger should be attacked at its root
with seeds and hoes and population control. Not her job she said. Her
calling was to serve not theories but individual humans. And her
opposition to contraception, divorce and abortion drew active and
vocal criticism but she was not to be turned."
4) Mother Teresa did not move up the news agenda by Sunday as two of the Sunday shows allocated time to a music video and the only show which dealt with Mother Teresa allocated four times as much time to Diana.
Of the five Sunday morning
interview shows (Fox News Sunday, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This
Week and CNN's Late Edition and NBC's Meet the Press) all dedicated at
least one interview segment to post Diana funeral analysis, but only
NBC's Meet the Press brought anyone on to discuss Mother Teresa's
legacy. Following sixteen minute and seventeen minute segments on
Diana, host Tim Russert spent eight minutes talking with two Catholic
leaders about Mother Teresa.
ABC's This Week also ended with a full rendition of the Elton John song, but its video montage stuck to Diana.
For the record, This Week devoted most of the show to Diana, but also interviewed Bill Weld. CBS's Face the Nation took up Diana followed by the fundraising hearings. CNN's Late Edition looked at the Middle East, followed by Diana. Fox News Sunday proved the most substantive, running lengthy segments on the Middle East and fundraising after a short opening talk with Brit Hume about Diana.
The question is, how much coverage will the networks devote to Mother Teresa's funeral on Saturday? I'm betting very little compared to Princess Diana, unless a pop singer creates a song for her.
-- Brent Baker