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MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

CyberAlert -- 10/03/2000 -- Bush Not Prepared to Be President

Bush Not Prepared to Be President; CBS's Self-Contradiction; Tipper Tossed Softballs; CNN's Campaign Finance Reform Agenda -- Extra Edition

1) ABC and CBS highlighted pre-debate polls which put Gore ahead. Dan Rather stressed how "only 49 percent say Bush is prepared well enough for the job of President." NBC's Claire Shipman gushed of the "citizen advisers" for Gore: "It's almost as if he has his own group of private...public opinion pollsters right here with him."

2) CBS contradicted itself. Dan Rather reported that "73 percent of voters polled say the next President's power to appoint new justices will be an important influence election day," but seconds later a CBS reporter maintained "polls suggest" the impact of the Supreme Court is "just not registering with the public."

3) NBC's Matt Lauer admitted he was "a little disturbed" to learn the race had tightened after Bush went on Oprah. Katie Couric tossed softballs at Al Gore's daughter, but she demanded a Bush operative respond to Bob Dole's assessment that "there's a feeling" that Bush isn't ready, "that he doesn't fill the suit."

4) Tipper Gore appeared on both ABC and CBS Monday morning, but neither raised Al Gore's most recent spate of fabrications. Instead, they tossed softballs. CBS's Julie Chen wanted to know if in the White House Tipper and Al will still go to the movies.

5) Time-Warner will use post-debate town meetings on CNN to advance its liberal agenda, National Review revealed. CNN boasted: "The series of town meetings is part of Time Warner's plan to support campaign-finance reform through voter education."

6) On Fox News Sunday Brit Hume asked Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley about Al Gore's promise that he would favor granting the same privileges for immigration to same sex couples planning on a civil union as provided those in a traditional marriage.

7) Media Reality Check Quick Take: While Hillary Clinton refuses to be quizzed on any Sunday interview show, three networks have given her town meeting forums, an opportunity they have failed to extend to Rick Lazio.

8) MRC ad in today's Boston Herald: "Where is the Balance? How the TV Networks are Covering Up for Al Gore."


>>> Latest Notable Quotables now online. The October 2 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now up on the MRC Web site thanks to Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul. Amongst the quote headings: "Military Junta Forming for Bush"; "Rape, Murder: Now That's Funny"; "Like Hillary: Praise or Slander?"; "Hillary, the Victimized Guinea Pig"; "Credit Gore, Blame Both Sides"; "Berke, Led Around by the Nose"; "'Headline Exceeded the Facts'" and "Do Me, JFK."
To read all the quotes, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/nq20001002.asp
For the issue as a life-like Adobe Acrobat PDF file, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/pdf/oct022000nq.pdf <<<

1

Just in time for what Tom Brokaw hyped as what "may be the most important debate since John Kennedy and Richard Nixon 40 years ago," ABC and CBS Monday night announced the results of their new polls. ABC's put Gore up by 48 to 46 percent while CBS found Gore ahead 45 to 41 percent as Dan Rather stressed how "only 49 percent say Bush is prepared well enough for the job of President."

CBS reporter Bill Whitaker noted how Bush "knows fumbled facts, verbal stumbles" could hurt him. On ABC's World News Tonight, Terry Moran quizzed Gore on the beach about being "too aggressive" in the debate. All three broadcast network evening newscasts showed video of Gore walking along a Florida beach with his "citizen advisers." NBC's Claire Shipman gushed: "It's almost as if he has his own group of private and constant public opinion pollsters right here with him in Florida."

Some quotes and reporting of note from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows on Monday, October 2, all of which aired back-back-stories from reporters traveling with both camps. ABC and NBC both led with violence in Israel while CBS put the campaign at the top of its show.

-- ABC's World News Tonight debuted new graphics and a new mix of its same theme music. Peter Jennings announced how an ABC News/Washington Post poll put Gore ahead 48 to 46 percent.

Jennings read some other poll findings, including how 60 percent supposedly prefer smaller government. But that question revealed a gender chasm since 70 percent of men but only 48 percent of women "prefer smaller government." On that same gender split theme, women back Gore 56 to 38 percent while men prefer Bush 53 to 40 percent.

Gore won in three other areas listed by Jennings. On who do you "trust to handle education," Gore said 50 percent compared to 39 percent for Bush. On who do you trust to "hold down gas and oil prices," Gore won 45 to 36 percent and Gore was preferred 44 to 42 percent on who do you trust to "hold down health care prices."

Terry Moran checked in from the Gore campaign in Florida. Moran set up his mini interview: "Gore also addressed another criticism of his debating style in an interview on the beach, of course."
Moran to Gore: "There've been people who say in the past you're too aggressive, you're mean in debates."
Gore: "I can't believe that."
Moran: "You're going to be nice to Governor Bush this time?"
Gore: "Look, it's not about me and him."
Moran: "So if he hits you you'll turn the other cheek?"
Gore: "Well, I'm not saying that. I'm not sure that there will be attacks. There won't be any from me. If there are from him I'll deal with that at the time."

Moran noted that Gore has worn a suit in his practice sessions, "as if he wants to practice in his full battle armor."

Dean Reynolds recounted Bush's public appearance in Huntington, West Virginia where he warned that a Gore administration would spend away the surplus.

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather led with how a CBS News/New York Times poll found Gore in the lead 45 to 41 percent. Rather ran through some other findings in the poll, including how at 67 percent for Bush and 73 percent for Gore most think both can be "effective" as President. But, Rather cautioned, "only 49 percent say Bush is prepared well enough for the job of President, 71 percent say Gore is."

Gore is also favored 68 to 48 percent on having the "skills to negotiate with foreign leaders" and by 71 to 59 percent on having the skills to "work with Congress."

Rather declared: "By some analyses, these brand new poll results indicate that Bush may have the greater challenge tomorrow night, but also the greater opportunity since he has what the Gore team sees as the advantage of lower expectations. However one feels about that, it is part of the context of tomorrow's Bush-Gore face-off, available to the biggest mass audience by far in the campaign to date, although some broadcast networks refuse to carry it."

Just as CBS refused to show some debates in 1992 because of baseball playoffs.

CBS went first to Bill Whitaker with Bush. Whitaker relayed: "Over the weekend he practiced for hours. He knows fumbled facts, verbal stumbles or an unsure demeanor with tens of million watching can critically hobble his run for the White House.'

John Roberts filed from the Gore camp where he reported on how Gore spent the day talking with his "so-called real people advisers."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw hyped the importance of an event his network won't even broadcast: "Now to that presidential debate tomorrow night. Gore and George W. Bush will face off for the first time ever in front of what is expected to be a huge television audience. It may be the most important debate since John Kennedy and Richard Nixon 40 years ago."

(NBC is feeding both the playoff baseball game and the debate to affiliates so a small number may carry the debate. One which will show the debate instead of baseball is Washington, DC's WRC-TV.)

David Gregory checked in from the Bush campaign in wild, wonderful West Virginia. From Florida with Gore, NBC's Claire Shipman found him focusing on "relating to the public." She concluded: "The campaign insists that even though this group of so-called citizen advisers might seem like a big PR ploy, that they are actually helping Gore stay focused on communicating. It's almost as if he has his own group of private and constant public opinion pollsters right here with him in Florida."

2

CBS contradicted itself seconds apart. Dan Rather introduced a story by noting how CBS's new poll determined most say the new President's impact on the Supreme Court "will be an important influence election day" for them. But seconds later in the subsequent report Jim Stewart maintained the opposite, asserting "polls suggest" the impact on the Supreme Court is "just not registering with the public."

Dan Rather announced on the October 2 CBS Evening News: "The future of the Supreme Court is now an issue in the presidential campaign. In the CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, 73 percent of voters polled say the next President's power to appoint new justices will be an important influence election day, with abortion the driving concern."

Seconds later reporter Jim Stewart countered: "Other push button issues ranging all the way from gun control to patients rights are also coming up for a vote, but even so polls suggest it's just not registering with the public."
Stewart to Walter Dellinger of the Duke University Law School: "Is that a determining factor for them when they vote?"
Dellinger, who like Stewart apparently hadn't seen the new CBS poll, insisted: "I don't think voters think much about the Supreme Court when they vote. I don't think they ever have."
Stewart: "That's true even though some court issues, especially abortion, strike deep emotional chords and despite the fact that just one vote either way could totally change how the court decides that issue in the future...."
You just can't believe CBS News. CBS News doesn't even believe CBS News.

3

NBC's Matt Lauer told Tim Russert Monday morning that he was "a little disturbed" to learn the race had tightened after Bush went on Oprah. On the same show, while Katie Couric tossed softballs at Al Gore's daughter, getting no tougher than wondering how her Dad will come across stylistically, she pressed Bush operative Don Evans about the ineffectiveness of Bush's tax cut proposal and demanded he respond to Bob Dole's assessment that "There's a feeling that he's not quite ready for prime time. That he doesn't fill the suit."

Just back from the Olympics, Lauer told Russert: "You said the word issues a second ago. I was a little disturbed when I was in Australia to hear that the race had tightened and some people were saying it's because George W. Bush did well on Oprah and Regis. Is there some substance in these polls as well?"
Russert replied: "Absolutely Matt. On the issues like social security, education, people do care. But they also care about personality. They ask, they want to know about the totality of a person. That's why this debate is so critical for George W. Bush. I think even more so than Al Gore."

Was Lauer so upset when the Gore kiss propelled him in the polls?

Russert later offered his view of what each candidate must do Tuesday night: "I think the American people have two things. One, they want George W. Bush to show capacity. Capacity to be President of the United States. To sit in that Oval Office and make tough decisions. They want to see from Al Gore, character. Who is the real Al Gore? Is he someone who embellishes or even misstates the truth, or someone who is his own person who can articulate a vision for the country? One pundit said the other day that George W. Bush sometimes treats English like a second language. Another said that Al Gore treats us as if our second language, or first language was English."

Katie Couric tossed softballs at Karenna Gore Schiff. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down her inquiries:

-- "How did the mock debate go yesterday?"
-- "You know much has been made about the fact that your dad is considered an excellent debater. Are you afraid that he might lose or win on points and lose on style? In other words, what he says may be very effective but the way he says it, might not be as effective?"
-- "You know everyone has been saying this is all about expectations. Having said that, what are your expectations for tomorrow night?"
-- "Speaking of expectations many people say there's more at risk for your father, because expectations are high for him as a debater versus for George W. Bush, they are fairly low expectations. So if he can just hold his own, he'll do very well. But people are expecting more from your father. Is that a fair evaluation of the situation?"
-- "Tell me about these 13 ordinary citizens who have been sort of ad hoc advisors for your father as he prepares for this debate. How exactly are they helping him?"
-- "Can you give us some idea of what kind of advice their giving?"
-- "You know, finally let me ask you as a native Tennessean why your dad is behind in the polls in his home state. What do you think the explanation is for that?"

Couric then turned to Don Evans, Chairman of the Bush campaign, but in addition to the same types of questions she posed to Karenna Gore, she challenged him on substantive issues:
-- "How important is tomorrow night in your estimation for Governor Bush?"
-- "How did preparations go this weekend?"
-- "You heard me talking with Karenna Gore Schiff about expectations. It seems that expectations, in terms of debating prowess are lower for Governor Bush. Do you think that works to his advantage?"
-- "Let me, let me just interrupt for a second and just read a quote by Bob Dole, who of course was the nominee the first time around. He said last week in a speech at Dennison, quote, 'There's a feeling that he's,' George W. Bush, 'not quite ready for prime time. That he doesn't fill the suit.' While Bob Dole says he doesn't agree with that he said, that was in fact the perception. So is one of the goals of the debate tomorrow to prove to the American people that George W. Bush can in fact, fill the suit?"
-- "Speaking of tax cuts. At the Republican Convention Governor Bush promised that his tax cut would mean lower taxes for all Americans. But a bipartisan congressional analysis now shows that his tax cut would actually mean either no change or less than they would expect. So how big a problem do you think this will pose for the Governor?"
-- "But, but, but I'm sorry to interrupt this bipartisan congressional analysis shows that it's gonna be no change or a lot less."

4

Tipper Gore popped up Monday, October 2, on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show. Like Katie Couric with Al Gore's daughter, both shows tossed softball questions and failed to raise the issue of Al Gore's most recent spate of fabrications, though ABC's Charles Gibson offered a bouquet to Bush as he wondered of Al Gore: "Has he ever debated someone quite so engaging, quite so affable?"

CBS's Julie Chen seemed enthralled: "You have said in the past that people find it surprising that quite often you and your husband will go to the movies. Now if you become the First Lady is that still going to happen?"

-- ABC Good Morning America. Here are the questions posed to Tipper Gore by Charles Gibson, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
-- "Mrs. Gore, if the polls are to be believed, we have an election that is dead even. So how important is tomorrow night?"
-- "But is it really so good for one evening to be so important and do you think it's as important as everyone else seems to?"
-- "Your husband known as a tough debater. He's had more than 40 political debates in his career, but can you compare any past opponent to Governor Bush? Has he ever debated someone quite so engaging, quite so affable?"
-- "What's the harder role: to actually be the debater or to be the spouse of and sit and watch?"
-- "You know him better than any human being. What key, what indicator do you look for when he debates that indicates to you that he's doing what it is he wants to do?"

Over on CBS's The Early Show Julie Chen of Big Brother embarrassment handled the Tipper appearance. MRC analyst Brian Boyd transcribed her questions, which sometimes came in the form of fawning statements:
-- "In your opinion what do you think is the most critical point that your husband needs to make tomorrow night in the debate?"
-- "What do you think your husband's strong suit is?"
-- "You know him better than any of us, what would you say is his weak spot then?"
-- "We are 36 days away from the election and we are in a deadheat, are you surprised by that?"
-- "Let's talk about the famous kiss at the convention. What happened at that moment and do you think that moment won over some of the women voters out there. I mean that is like a key vote to get out there in this election."

Yeah, like it really is, like, man.

-- "You have said in the past that people find it surprising that quite often you and your husband will go to the movies. Now if you become the First Lady is that still going to happen?"

5

Does Time-Warner plan to misuse post-debate "town meetings" on CNN to advance its liberal pro-campaign finance "reform" agenda? In their daily Washington Bulletin e-mail report Monday evening, National Review's John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru disclosed:

A CNN press release dated today says that the cable network will provide "the most complete election coverage" between now and November 7, and notes that it will hold televised town meetings after each of the three presidential debates.

The statement continues: "The series of town meetings is part of Time Warner's plan to support campaign-finance reform through voter education. Time Warner has recently announced a four-point program to change the company's policies on its involvement in the U.S. political process: to eliminate soft money contributions; strengthen its PAC; support campaign finance reform; and enhance campaign coverage."

In other words, CNN will host television events -- ostensibly news shows -- as part of a parent-company "program" to "support campaign finance reform."

Last November, Time-Warner CEO Gerald Levin said he wanted to "add momentum to the bipartisan effort to make the process by which we Americans choose our political leadership fairer and more open, less subject to manipulation and more representative."

Can't you see Judy Woodruff doing her thing after the first debate tomorrow night? "There should have been more discussion of Gore's participation in the Buddhist temple fundraiser! He still hasn't explained himself! Our political process has suffered enough from manipulation and misrepresentation!"

END Excerpt

Don't count on that last paragraph actually being the spin CNN will apply. But it's a nice fantasy.

6

On Fox News Sunday Brit Hume asked Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley about Al Gore's promise to a questioner at last Tuesday's MTV forum that he would favor granting the same privileges for immigration to same sex couples planning on a civil union as are guaranteed for those in a traditional marriage situation.

No network touched the major policy change proposal last week except, as noted in the September 28 CyberAlert and September 29 Media Reality Check, the Fox News Channel. The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to this exchange, on the October 1 Fox News Sunday, which flustered Daley:

Brit Hume: "Vice President Gore seemed to say this week that he favors civil -- or civic unions for gays and that he would favor immigrants who are involved in such relationships with gays who come to this country having the same rights as spouses in marriage under immigration law and policy. Is the Vice President prepared to offer the changes in law that would be required to put that into effect?"
Bill Daley: "I don't know, to be honest with you, Brit, whether it requires a change of law or whether it's the regulations, but I'd look into that and get back to you."
Hume: "Well, what is, have I described his position at least correctly as far as you know?"
Daley: "I believe so. I believe you have described it correctly, but I'm not sure whether or not that requires a legislative change, but I'll get back to you."
Hume: "Well, would the Vice President be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to put what he said he believes in into effect as President?"
Daley: "If it needs legislation, then we'll look at that."

Given the lack of interest by the rest of the media don't count on Daley feeling any pressure to provide a real answer.

7

Prompted by Rick Lazio's appearance Sunday on Meet the Press, Monday afternoon the MRC's Tim Graham produced a Media Reality Check "Quick Take" fax on how while Hillary Clinton refuses to be quizzed on any Sunday interview show, three networks have given her town meeting forums, an opportunity they have failed to extend to Lazio.

You can read it online at:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2000/20001002.asp

For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2000/pdf/qt1002.pdf

Or, you can go nowhere and just read it here. This is the text of the October 2 Campaign 200 Media Reality Check Quick Take:

IT'S OCTOBER, AND THE TOWN MEETING STAR IS MISSING...WHY CAN'T TIM, BOB, WOLF, TONY, SAM & COKIE INVADE HILLARY'S SPACE?

-- Number of Sunday Morning Show Interviews since April 1999 by Rudy Giuliani or Rick Lazio Vs. Number of Sunday Morning Show Interviews by Hillary Clinton in the Same Time Frame:
19 to 0

-- Number of Network-sponsored Town Meetings for Giuliani or Lazio Compared to Network-sponsored Town Meetings for Hillary:
0 to 3 (CBS's The Early Show, NBC's Today, and CNN in prime time)

-- While Giuliani and Lazio have subjected themselves to nearly 20 interviews with network anchors, Hillary Clinton or her aides have never even promised she would show up for Sunday morning scrutiny. When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked about her absenteeism on the May 21 Late Edition, spokesman Harold Ickes committed her to nothing: "Well, she's focused on New York. She has had innumerable one-on-one interviews with New York media, both electronic and press. She has been at a number of editorial boards. She's been on your wonderful town hall out of Buffalo, your hometown. So I think if you look at where she's been, she's been focusing her attention on New York and the New York press and has been very accessible."

"It's not fair that CBS, CNN, and NBC granted one candidate a scripted town-meeting forum without any promise of a risky Sunday interview, and her opponents get grilled by Russert, Schieffer, and Blitzer on Sunday with no town meeting," said MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham. "Her Sunday absenteeism only adds value to the tender town-hall moments."

END Reprint

8

MRC ad in today's Boston Herald. As noted in yesterday's CyberAlert, coinciding with the arrival of reporters in Boston for the presidential debate, the Tuesday, October 3 Boston Herald features an ad placed by the MRC. It declares above supporting examples of missed coverage: "Where is the Balance? How the TV Networks are Covering Up for Al Gore."

Those outside the Boston area or who did not see it in Monday's New York Post, can see the ad, created by the MRC's Bonnie Langborgh, on the MRC's Web site. To view it as a quick-loading HTML reproduction, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/news/balancead2000.html

To view a full size graphic image of the actual ad, complete with a subliminal message, go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/balancead2000-org.html -- Brent Baker


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