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CyberAlert -- 09/19/2000 -- Bush's "Message Make-Over"

Bush's "Message Make-Over"; Gore Flub & Made Up Costs Skipped; Lynne Just Like Hillary; NY Times Found a Biased Network

1) Al Gore stumbled over words and a newspaper revealed he made up numbers in a speech, but ABC, CBS and NBC ignored that and instead focused on Bush "road-testing a new image and message make-over" aimed at the middle class. ABC checked Gore's appeal among women. NBC found a woman turned off by the "conservative Dick Cheney."

2) CNN and FNC showed Al Gore flailing as he could not remember the word "mammogram" and picked up on a Boston Globe story headlined: "Gore Misstates Facts in Drug-Cost Pitch."

3) Actor Alec Baldwin, in a clip played by FNC, claimed that "if Bush won it would be a good time to leave the United States," but he will not necessarily to leave. "I might go on a long vacation."

4) "In many ways," CNN's Bernard Shaw insisted, Lynne Cheney "is the Hillary Clinton model of a political spouse: outspoken, involved, active on the trail."

5) FNC "was the only news organization that we felt was biased against us," conceded Lanny Davis in inadvertently indicting the other networks as pro-Clinton. The New York Times discovered bias at a network, a "conservative cable channel."


>>> September 18 Notable Quotables, the MRC's "bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media," now online thanks to Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul. Amongst the quote headings: "From Frat Boy to Rat Boy"; "Dick Cheney, Bathroom Bigot"; "George Washington Crossed Line"; "Firestone Failures? Blame Reagan"; "One-Sided Take on Taxes" and "Oprah: I Wanted Tongue Too." To read this issue, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/nq20000918.asp
To see it as a life-like Adobe Acrobat PDF file, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/pdf/sep182000nq.pdf <<<

1

A bad day on the campaign trail for Al Gore as he flailed about trying to find the word "mammogram" at a campaign stop intended to demonstrate his concern for women's health while his aides had to react to a Boston Globe story about how he made up numbers in telling an anecdote about how the same arthritis drug supposedly costs more for his mother-in-law than for his dog.

But unlike when George W. Bush makes a flub or gets a fact wrong, viewers of the three broadcast networks and MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams heard nothing about either event as only CNN and FNC bothered to report them. More on the two events in item #2 below.

ABC, which did pick up on a Globe story about a glowing rabbit, CBS, MSNBC and NBC all ran full stories on the campaign Monday night focused on, as Dan Rather put it, how Bush spent the day "road-testing a new image and message make-over" aimed at the middle class. ABC also looked at why Al Gore has won over women and NBC examined the undecided swing voters in Pennsylvania, specifically a woman "lawyer who once favored Bush, now undecided. Why? She says Bush's choice of conservative Dick Cheney..."

Here's a rundown of the campaign stories aired Monday night, September 18, on the three broadcast network evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. After opening with the latest Olympic results, ABC went right to the campaign. Dean Reynolds, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, outlined Bush's new strategy:
"The stop in Little Rock marked the start of an effort to reignite Bush's campaign by refocusing on his cradle to grave concerns for Americans and their families....During a twelve-and-a-half minute speech, Bush used the word 'families' 41 times, as he explained his plan to double the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000 per child and referred to other plans outlined in a glossy new pamphlet called 'A Blueprint for the Middle Class,' a pamphlet with a woman pictured on every page. That too was no accident."

Reynolds recalled that Bush "once enjoyed a majority of women voters' support" before the conventions, "but it's been all downhill since for Bush, whose latest rating among women is no better than his father's was in 1992 or Bob Dole's in 1996." Bush is now at 38 percent with women according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Reynolds asked: "So what happened? Well, the Bush campaign says Al Gore has been distorting the Governor's record and his proposals. Others say the Governor hasn't done very well himself explaining those proposals or that record. In any case, he plans to do better this week with a special spotlight on tomorrow when he's interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and watched by her television audience of three-and-a-half million women."

Indeed, Bush will appear on today's (September 19) Oprah.

As for why Gore has won over women, anchor Peter Jennings suggested reasons include "the kiss." Terry Moran then explained Gore's strategy, but avoided his flub made at the same event from which Mora picked a Gore soundbite: "At the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the Vice President showed how he has managed to win over so many women voters, making yet another campaign promise exclusively aimed at them."
Al Gore: "I am calling for tough new patients rights legislation to make sure that women get the best health care, not just the cheapest."
Moran picked up: "Casting himself as a champion for women against corporate power, Gore said he would propose legislation to require HMOs to cover minimum hospital stays for breast cancer treatments, guarantee a second opinion in cancer diagnoses, and provide coverage for cancer screening tests, such as mammograms. It's all part of the strategy to win back many women voters from a summertime flirtation with Governor Bush..."

Moran went on to play a clip of Gore on Oprah last week as an example of how Gore is showcasing his softer side in an effort to shed his image as a stiff politician, an effort Moran noted was aided by "the kiss" and the prominent role of his daughters at the convention. On the downside, Moran conceded Gore is losing men.

Later, in "A Closer Look" segment, Jennings and George Stephanopoulos stood in an office and talked about "holdouts," undecided voters who mainly live in suburbs of major cities.

ABC skipped the Boston Globe story on how Gore "mangled the facts" about prescription drug costs, but prompted by a Sunday Boston Globe piece, ABC ended with a story about a lab in France which created a glowing rabbit by using genes from a phosphorescent jellyfish.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather declared that "reeling from plummeting polls, Republican George Bush is quickly road-testing a new image and message make-over. CBS's Bill Whitaker is watching this latest Bush strategy change in action."

Whitaker began by asserting that Gore is winning over the middle class as Gore "continues to paint Bush as the candidate of big business and special interests with huge tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy."

Gore: "Will we squander this chance with a huge tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class?"

Whitaker outlined Bush's counter-punch: "So Bush has sharpened his language and sharpened his attack. At every stop this week trying to prove his plan benefits the middle class more than Gore's, from birth to retirement. He wants tax cuts for all. Gore, he says, just targets segments of the middle class."
Bush: "It's so targeted that it misses the target. Fifty million Americans get no tax relief under my opponent's plan."

Whitaker concluded with doubts: "With some Republicans complaining of his less than strenuous campaign pace, George W. Bush now plans to spend more time campaigning and to hit Al Gore harder to win back the middle class. But challenging Al Gore on issues like taxes and health care is a tricky strategy since current polls show most people think that Democrats handle those issues better."

-- NBC Nightly News. Following a quick rundown of the Olympic medal count NBC aired two campaign stories before returning to the Olympics, which consumed over half the show.

From Sydney, anchor Tom Brokaw noted that Bush is "hoping to kick-start his campaign by focusing more sharply on the middle class, especially women voters."

David Gregory elaborated: "Losing ground to the Vice President, today Governor Bush again retools the campaign's message, the second course correction in as many weeks. Touring a maternity ward in Little Rock this morning, Bush touts what he calls his blueprint for the middle class."
George W. Bush: "My plan is one that gives people options, not orders."
Gregory: "At every stop today taxes are issue one. While Gore attacks the Republican nominee for favoring only the rich, Bush says his across-the-board cut helps the middle class more than the Vice President's targeted relief."
Bush: "It's so targeted that it misses the target. Fifty million Americans get no tax relief."
Gregory: "Aides concede recent credibility attacks on the Vice President haven't worked, creating more distractions than questions about Gore's character. Campaign sources now say Bush must focus on core issues -- education, taxes, health care, Social Security -- areas where Bush can attack Gore for favoring government solutions over individual choice."

Gregory asserted: "Seven weeks from election day, the undecideds mean everything. Campaign strategists say it's not just working families but regaining the support of women that's critical..."

Next, Lisa Myers checked out the situation in a key state: "This is Lisa Myers in Washington, where Republicans say to understand the difficulties facing Bush you need only look to Pennsylvania. Not long ago, Bush had a small lead here. Now this critical state is leaning Gore. One reason, independent voters like Melissa Kelly, a lawyer who once favored Bush, now undecided. Why? She says Bush's choice of conservative Dick Cheney as his running mate and Bush's own uneven performance."
Melissa Kelly: "A lack of preparedness and a lack of quick-thinking, which I think is very important to the office."

Myers did go on to note that Kelly's husband has a problem with Gore for his inconsistency in bashing business.

2

CNN and FNC let viewers see the Gore word flub and informed them of the Boston Globe story on how a couple of weeks ago Gore made up numbers in an anecdote about how drug companies charge humans more than dogs for the same drug.

CNN dealt with both topics on Inside Politics and on The World Today Jonathan Karl showed the mammogram flub in his taped piece. Afterward, CNN anchor Joie Chen explained the Globe disclosure and played a clip of Gore back on August 28 making the offending claim followed by a soundbite of Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes criticizing him for it.

FNC's Jim Angle included both items in his piece on Special Report with Brit Hume. Showing Gore at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Angle noted: "Crowds cheer deliriously when Gore beats up on HMOs, but they also had to help him out a little when he seemed to forget the name of a key women's exam as he explained slow treatment for breast cancer patients."
Gore: "A long waiting line before they could get a biopsy or, ah, or a ah, another kind of, what am I looking for, a sonogram or."
People in the crowd shouted "mammogram."

Angle then addressed a revelation ignored by the broadcast networks and MSNBC: "Meanwhile, the Gore campaign was trying to deflect a story in the Boston Globe which found that Gore made up part of a story about his mother-in-law in an attack on the prescription drug companies. Tipper Gore's mother lives with the Gores and the Vice President noted that she takes an arthritis drug called Lodine."
Gore, August 28 in Tallahassee: "And it costs her $108 per month. Now here is, here's the catch to this, and some of you've heard about this with some medications, this is an example in our household."
Jim Angle: "Gore went on to explain that a family dog also has arthritis and takes the same drug, but he said the cost for the pet is far less, which he called an example of unfair pricing by drug companies."
Gore, in same August 28 speech: "So while it costs $108 a month for a person, it costs $37.80 a month for a dog. Don't you think that ought to be changed, don't you think we ought to reduce the price for seniors?"

Angle explained: "Though Gore said specifically this was an example from his household, aides now concede that Gore did not know and does not know what his mother-in-law actually pays for the drug or the price that is charged the dog for that matter. But they do explain that he was using numbers instead from a Democratic study about drug pricing. They do insist that Gore's mother-in-law and the dog are in fact taking the drug."

+++ See Gore flub his terminology and tell his made up tale about drug costs. Late Tuesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of part of Angle's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

"Gore Misstates Facts in Drug-Cost Pitch," announced the headline over the September 18 Boston Globe front page story by Walter V. Robinson. Here's an excerpt from what he reported:

Vice President Al Gore, reaching for a personal example to illustrate the breathtaking costs of some prescription drugs, told senior s in Florida last month that his mother-in-law pays nearly three times as much for the same arthritis medicine used for his ailing dog, Shiloh.

But Gore, the master of many policy details, mangled the facts, and late last week his aides could not say with certainty that Shiloh or Margaret Ann Aitcheson actually takes the brand-name drug, Lodine, that Gore said they do.

Even if they take the drug, Gore's assertion that his black Labrador retriever's monthly bill is $37.80 and Aitcheson's is $108 is wrong. The Gore campaign admitted that it lifted those costs not from his family's bills, but from a House Democratic study, and that Gore misused even those numbers: They represent the manufacturer's price to wholesalers, not the retail price of the brand-name product.

What's more, the costs Gore cited presume that his dog and mother-in-law take the same dosage -- which could put 14-year-old Shiloh at risk for stomach ulcers.

Those facts aside, Gore's overall message was accurate -- that many brand-name drugs that have both human and animal applications are much more expensive for people than for pets.

But in the often bewildering debate over how to ease the national pain caused by escalating drug prices, Gore may have focused on the wrong drug. Eighty-five percent of Americans who are prescribed the popular arthritis drug now rely on a generic alternative that can be had at a quarter of the retail price of Lodine.

When they were asked last Thursday whether Aitcheson and Shiloh actually take the brand name of the drug, two of the vice president's aides were unable to say whether that was the case or how much the family pays for each....

For Gore, who has a history of embellishing facts about himself and his family, the remarks he made in Florida are a blend of erroneous family detail and questionable statistics on an election issue of growing significance.

In raising the issue during an Aug. 28 speech in Tallahassee, Gore was reading from a party script, joining Democratic congressional candidates in a populist assault on drug companies that relies in part on the Democratic House study. It concludes that a range of brand-name drugs, Lodine among them, are more costly for humans than for animals.

Jeff Trewhett, the spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America, said the higher costs for the human version of patented drugs is justified because the research, development, and approval costs can surpass $500 million per drug. But once the drug is approved for humans, the cost to test and approve it for animals is minimal, he said....

As for the arthritis medicine Gore said is used by two members of his household, a typical month's supply of the generic version can be had for less than $40. The version used for dogs, which is still under patent, costs at least $70 a month for comparable doses, and often much more when it is obtained from a veterinarian, according to pharmaceutical industry officials....

END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/262/nation/Gore_misstates_facts_in_drug
_cost_pitch%2b.shtml

Today's Globe offers a follow-up story on reactions from Bush and Gore, "Prescription Story Is a Pill for Gore." Go to:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/263/nation/Prescription_story_is_a_pill_for
_Gore+.shtml

Back to Monday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, during the roundtable segment Brit Hume wondered if other media would pick up on Gore's sonograms/mammograms confusion. Angle relayed from the campaign trail: "I heard a cameraman, for instance, saying, 'man, if that were George W. Bush doing that people would be all over him.'"

That kind of wayward thinking is why he's a cameraman and not a producer or a reporter.

3

Alec Baldwin's Clintonesque definition of "leave." Monday night FNC's Brit Hume picked up on actor Alec Baldwin's promise to "leave" the U.S. if George Bush wins, but FNC showed a soundbite of Baldwin backing off his promise once it became news.

A Sunday AP dispatch from Munich announced: "Baldwins Will Leave if Bush Wins." The story read, in full:
"If George W. Bush wins the U.S. presidential election this November, he may not be the only one moving into a new house.
"Kim Basinger said her husband, actor and Democratic party activist Alec Baldwin, was serious when he said he would leave the United States if the Republican wins.
"'Alec is the biggest moralist that I know,' she was quoted as saying in Focus magazine, which hits newsstands Monday. 'He stands completely behind what he says.'
"Asked if she'd move with him, Basinger said: 'I can very well imagine that Alec makes good on his threat. And then I'd probably have to go too.'"

Good riddance.

Monday night Hume played this soundbite from Baldwin standing somewhere outdoors: "I think my exact comment was that if Bush won it would be a good time to leave the United States. I'm not necessarily going to leave the United States."
Off-camera female reporter: "You're not really going anywhere."
Baldwin: "I might go on a long vacation."

Hume added: "Baldwin, you'll recall, suggested on late night TV during the Clinton impeachment that Henry Hyde and his family should be killed."

Indeed, on the December 11, 1998 Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Baldwin thought it was funny to stand and shout: "Stone Henry Hyde to death!" To read the full quote or to watch the outburst via RealPlayer, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/VideoBias/vidbiaswelcome.asp

4

Lynne Cheney = Hillary Clinton? On Monday's Inside Politics, CNN anchor Bernard Shaw uttered a comparison probably not welcomed by Lynne Cheney -- saying she represents the "Hillary Clinton model" of political spouse.

Shaw explained how on a Sunday interview show Cheney "ridiculed Al Gore for criticizing the entertainment industry while taking its money." He played a soundbite of her on Fox News Sunday: "Al Gore's message on this is completely craven depending upon the moment, depending upon whether he wants the entertainment industry's money, or whether he wants the votes of moms and dads around the country."

Shaw then assessed: "In many ways, Cheney is the Hillary Clinton model of a political spouse: outspoken, involved, active on the trail. But while Mrs. Clinton was judged by some to be naive when she first came to Washington, Cheney has been fighting political battles for years, as head of the National Endowment for Humanities, and later, a host of CNN's Crossfire."

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Lynne Cheney earned government positions on her own to which she was confirmed by the Senate and I bet she realizes she's not on the ballot this year.

5

Imagine this headline over a New York Times story on MSNBC: "Liberal Cable Channel Gains in Ratings War." You have to imagine it since the New York Times has never run a story focused on how a network is liberal, even though there are so many from which to choose. But Monday's paper carried a story tied to the Fox News Channel's supposedly conservative bias. "The Right Strategy for Fox," announced the September 18 headline. The subhead: "Conservative Cable Channel Gains in Ratings War."

The story by Jim Rutenberg is actually fairly informative and interesting, helped by the fact that he included a comment from the MRC's Tim Graham. To read the piece, go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/18/business/18FOX.html

Rutenberg did, however, display the usual liberal media bias in making sure readers learned about the political background of FNC's chief Roger Ailes while ignoring it for CNN's head honcho. Rutenberg wrote: "In critiques of Fox, it is usually noted that Mr. Ailes was a political consultant to Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush."

But 14 paragraphs later, Rutenberg relayed: "Tom Johnson, the CNN chairman and chief executive, took issue with accusations that the network is infused with liberal bias, saying, 'CNN's success worldwide was built by providing accurate and balanced coverage. We have never wavered from this quality and will not.'"

Rutenberg failed to point out that Tom Johnson once toiled for President Lyndon Johnson both in the White House and afterward.

The biggest admission in the article: "That was the only news organization that we felt was biased against us," said Lanny J. Davis, the former special counsel to Mr. Clinton who worked as a paid political analyst for Fox in the recent Republican and Democratic conventions.

FNC should take that as a badge of honor and evidence of how all the other networks were biased in favor of the Clinton administration, but don't count on any New York Times articles about pro-Clinton, pro-liberal or anti-conservative bias at every other network.

As for how consistently conservative FNC really is, Ailes keeps hiring veterans of the other networks, such as Linda Vester from NBC, and the latest, John "Spike" Gibson from NBC/MSNBC.

Another network veteran, Paula Zahn, hosts an hour of prime time, The Edge with Paula Zahn. Check out one of her questions to George W. Bush as played on Special Report with Brit Hume in an excerpt of her then upcoming interview shown Monday night: "But even members of your own party aren't crazy about your tax cut idea. They think it's too big, even some guys running now in November for new congressional seats. They're abandoning you. Why?"

Sounds just like the type of question a CBS News reporter would ask. Oh, that's right, Zahn was with CBS News until last year. -- Brent Baker


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