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CyberAlert -- 10/10/2000 -- Gore Fibs Are "What We Want"

Gore Fibs Are "What We Want"; Bush Getting Just Payback; Jennings v. NRA; Most Reporters Picked Gore to Win; Lieberman's False Story -- Extra Edition

1) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift: Gore's "picayune" lies show he's "overly competitive," but "maybe that's what we want in a President."

2) CBS and NBC focused on new anti-Bush ads from the DNC. Bush has little to complain about, Dan Rather admonished, since "Gore forces" claim "Bush has been running a consistent attack campaign, going all the way back, they say, to his primary races against John McCain."

3) ABC's Peter Jennings special on the NRA painted the group as a "powerful" and nefarious force. He concluded by suggesting Gore would win if gun owners vote their larger interests, wondering of the election day results: "Did enough gun owners vote only their guns? Or did they see a larger picture?"

4) By a margin of five-to-one, reporters on George W. Bush's campaign plane -- many of them inebriated -- predicted Al Gore will win the election, Inside.com disclosed.

5) Joe Lieberman's story about a victim of "racial profiling" is about as accurate as Gore's debate tales, the Washington Times reported. But interviewing Lieberman on Sunday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to ask him to back up his claim.

6) Fox's Brit Hume confronted Gore adviser Tad Devine about how during the debate Gore denounced Bush's idea "to get Russia to use its influence on behalf of democracy" in Yugoslavia, and "that's exactly what the administration was doing," yet Gore "ridiculed that suggestion and said it was a bad idea."

7) ABC's Kevin Newman referred to how "we've already heard about" the recently released list of the Democratic donors who stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom, but ABC never bothered to report that revelation. Hillary Clinton: "I think contributing to the Democratic Party is a contribution to the country, in my view."

8) Public prefers a President who "stumbles" to one who "makes stuff up."


1

Eleanor Clift: Gore's "picayune" lies show he's "overly competitive," but "maybe that's what we want in a President."

On the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, referring to the Gore tales about his Trip with FEMA Director James Lee Witt to Texas fires and how a Florida high schooler had to stand due to a lack of desks, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift saw an up side:
"These other two examples are really picayune, but he really erred in being confronted with the question did he ever question Bush's experience. Why didn't he just say he had and address it or say 'I don't want to discuss it tonight, I want to focus on his proposals'? He seems to have this need to sort of win every point. I mean, he is overly competitive and maybe that's what we want in a President frankly, but sometimes it's unattractive in a debating."

2

The campaign "is about to take a sharp turn even lower onto the low road," Dan Rather lamented Monday night as he introduced a story on new anti-Bush ads from the DNC. But Bush has little to complain about, Rather soon added, since "Gore forces" claim "Bush has been running a consistent attack campaign, going all the way back, they say, to his primary races against John McCain."

Similarly, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw portrayed the new anti-Bush ads as the natural reaction to Bush's tactics: "The Gore campaign is going on the offensive, perhaps because after several days of attacks by the Bush camp the latest polls show this race tightening to a dead heat." Claire Shipman explained Gore decided to launch the "sudden assault" because "the Gore team believes it has to counter Bush's relentless attacks on the Vice President's credibility, which it fears are working."

Without offering any rebuttal, both networks played clips from the DNC ad which warned: "Now take a deep breath and imagine Seattle with Bush's Texas-style environmental regulation."

All three broadcast evening shows led Monday with the violence in Israel. ABC's World News Tonight held its campaign coverage to plugging ABC's prime time special on the NRA. (See item #3 below for details.)

Dan Rather set up the October 9 CBS Evening News story: "With the race entering its final four weeks it appears the competition is about to take a sharp turn even lower onto the low road."
John Roberts began: "If voters were just waiting for the day that Campaign 2000 went negative, they needn't wait any longer. With polls showing the race now a statistical dead heat the Democrats are making every attempt to try to shake something loose and that means attack, attack, attack."
DNC ad announcer: "George W. Bush has a plan to bring the policies he's used in Texas to the rest of America."
Roberts: "Democrats launched today a series of disparaging advertisements, tailored to battleground states, that assail Bush's record in Texas on child welfare, the minimum wage and the environment."
Ad announcer: "Last year Houston overtook Los Angeles as America's smoggiest city. Now take a deep breath and imagine Seattle with Bush's Texas-style environmental regulation."
Roberts: "The ad war is coordinated with two new Web sites -- one that mocks Bush's leadership qualities, calling him 'Bush Lite' -- another with the sinister title 'I know what you did in Texas.com.'"

Roberts proceeded to note that Joe Lieberman will go on a "failed-leadership tour" this week in Texas to highlight Bush's record on health care, the environment and gun control as Governor of Texas. After a clip of RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson recalling how Gore in 1991 said he'd win by "tearing the lungs out" of his opponent, Roberts concluded:
"Gore's research would indicate that there's very little risk in this type of attack. All of the new ads were run through focus groups and found to be very effective. With just 29 days left and neither side able to claim clear advantage, the ugliness may have just begun."

Rather oddly followed up with a rationale for why Bush deserves what he's getting from Gore: "The Gore side of that story also includes Gore forces claiming Bush has been running a consistent attack campaign, going all the way back, they say, to his primary races against John McCain in South Carolina and Michigan. The Bush team denies that."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw announced: "With the election now just a month away the Gore campaign is going on the offensive, perhaps because after several days of attacks by the Bush camp the latest polls show this race tightening to a dead heat. The MSNBC/Reuters daily tracking poll had Gore with a five point lead over George W. Bush less than a week ago today. Gore's lead is down to one point now, that's well inside the margin of error. For the Gore campaign there's nothing fuzzy about this kind of math. NBC's Claire Shipman begins tonight's In Depth reporting on the Gore campaign's new emphasis on what it calls Governor Bush's mistakes and missteps."

NBC's poll put Gore ahead by 43 to 42 percent.

Shipman explained how Gore's "campaign unleashes a torrent of negative firepower against George W. Bush today, pointing up his campaign bloopers as Gore's staffers call them, and attacking his record as Texas Governor on everything from health care to the environment."

She showed a clip of DNC Chairman Joe Andrew and reported how Lieberman will go to Texas for "failed leadership tour." Shipman noted that the DNC is "spending several million dollars on three biting new ads in battleground states."
DNC ad announcer: "Now take a deep breath and imagine Seattle with Bush's Texas-style environmental regulation. George Bush, before he talks about cleaning up Washington, maybe he should clean up Texas."
Shipman: "Why the sudden assault when the public says in poll after poll it's not in the mood for negativity? Because the Gore team believes it has to counter Bush's relentless attacks on the Vice President's credibility, which it fears are working."

Shipman ran a soundbite of Bush pointing out Gore's "consistent pattern of exaggerating," adding: "And the same message on the Bush Web site: 'The Gore Files, Anything to Get Elected.' The DNC counters with 'Bush Lite: Less Leadership, Less Experience, More Right-Wing Flavor.'"

Shipman concluded: "The Gore team so far is trying to have it both ways. Candidate Gore is staying positive while his running mate, his aides, and his ads do the dirty work. And Bush, doing some of jabbing himself, clearly hopes his attacks will hurt his opponent more than they hurt him."

3

ABC's fight with the NRA. Before Monday Night Football in the Eastern and Central time zones and after it in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, ABC aired a Peter Jennings Reporting special titled, The Gun Fight. I did not see the whole show, but picked some things up from part of it and stories earlier in the day on other ABC programs.

Jennings concluded the hour by suggesting Gore would win if gun owners voted their larger interests: "Four weeks from tomorrow when we look at the exit polls on election night we'll be able to see just how well the NRA did. Did enough gun owners vote only their guns? Or did they see a larger picture?"

Earlier in the day, on Good Morning America, Jennings argued the show would not be anti-gun rights, but his description of the show betrayed his agenda to paint the NRA as a negative force as he focused on one of its victims:
"This is a program about power. This is not a for or against gun control. Everybody we interviewed in the broadcast is, in fact, in favor of owning and using guns. But it is interesting to see the power of the NRA at work, and so we see them in relationship to the gunmakers and we see what happens when one Congressman, a Congressman from Michigan, Bart Stupak, votes against the NRA just once in his entire career."

He warned Diane Sawyer, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, of the NRA's power: "They're very powerful. They're much more powerful than lobbies and organizations many times their size, and as we have seen in the past, and may again, they are very powerful in a close election because they convince people, essentially -- or they have convinced people in the past -- to vote their guns. They manage to -- this is the NRA specifically -- manage to convince enough people, or enough people become convinced, that the current trend of things may lead to them having their guns registered, which they think leads ultimately to confiscation, and they vote on single issue politics."

Jennings set up a World News Tonight preview excerpt by referring to how "the controversial National Rifle Association has set its sights on defeating Mr. Gore. A lot of people who own guns are angry at Al Gore." In the excerpt, Jennings asked NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre: "Your critics accuse you of promoting fear. How do you respond to that?"

Following the excerpt, Jennings asked his campaign reporters why gun control is not an issue raised by either candidate. Bush reporter Dean Reynolds said the Bush team ignores gun rights because they feel it would turn off women and middle-of-the-road voters. Gore reporter Terry Moran replied that Gore's team thinks gun control turns off the men Gore is trying to attract.

4

By a margin of five-to-one inebriated reporters on George W. Bush's campaign plane predicted Al Gore will win the election, an Inside.com story plugged by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews and noted by Brit Hume Monday night on FNC, revealed.

Here's an excerpt of the Inside.com piece posted on Saturday by David Carr, titled: "For In-Flight Entertainment, Bush Reporters Poll Themselves on Governor's Chances." Carr disclosed:

Campaign functionaries for Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush have, on occasion, suggested that the press corps has a virulent, persistent bias against their candidate. From their perspective, Al Gore seems to speed over every pothole while their guy just can't get a break from those jackals at the back of the plane -- in part because the reporters seem to think he can't win.

As it turns out, the Bush paranoia may be right on the money.

On Friday, the Bush campaign plane was flying from Marion, Ill., to Tampa, Fla., when an enterprising reporter used a blender and a fully stocked bar to whip up some serious margaritas during the 2 hour and 15 minute flight. Once the tequila took effect -- even several Secret Service members joined in the afternoon wind-down -- NBC producer Alexandra Pelosi suggested that it was time that some of the people covering the race did their own formal handicapping.

According to a reporter who was on the plane, a straw poll ensued. The question was not who should win, but who would win -- and 26 reporters suggested Gore will be the last man standing on Nov. 7, while just 5 voted for a Bush victory....

"Everybody knew that we weren't supposed to be doing it, but it was Friday afternoon, it had been a long week, we were all drinking margaritas, so it was like, what the hell," says the reporter.

Pelosi is the daughter of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, and has a reputation for keeping the back of the plane a lively place. She did not return calls asking for comment on her role in the impromptu poll.

According to the reporter, writers from such publications as the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and three Texas papers -- the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American Statesman -- all voted....

The reporter, who described the events only after being promised anonymity, thought the vote was extraordinary. "You just don't see that kind of stuff happening, (but) even then, it's surprising that Gore won by so much. Usually reporters favor whomever they are covering, but I think the people on this race believe that Gore's going to win. He's a fighter and just will not give up."

There may be another reason that the press corps isn't feeling too kindly toward the governor of Texas. Ever since word leaked out about a possible Gore mole in the Bush campaign, officials have been very tightlipped with schedules. Pre-mole, schedules for the coming week were faxed and e-mailed to reporters. Now, the campaign won't even tell reporters where they will be at the end of the week, leaving many of them scrambling to get home for the weekend....

END Excerpt

Do you doubt the vote would have come out much differently if the question had been "who do you want to win"?

For the entire story, go to:
http://www.inside.com/story/Story_Cached/0,2770,10736_7_1_1,00.html

For Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, go to:
http://www.poynter.org/medianews/

5

Al Gore's tendency to make up anecdotes connecting him to a problem may have rubbed off on Joe Lieberman in time for the VP debate.

In the October 5 clash, Lieberman confirmed personal knowledge of racial profiling since a black friend, he asserted, was "stopped, surrounded by police, for no other cause that anyone can determine than the color of his skin." The Maryland police department in question, headed by a black police chief, denied the abuse, the Washington Times reported on Saturday, but CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not press Lieberman about it during the Democratic candidate's only Sunday morning appearance.

On CNN's Late Edition Blitzer did, however, ask Lieberman about Gore's "exaggerations," inquiring: "Speaking about exaggerations, as you know, the Republican campaign the Bush-Cheney ticket is accusing the Vice President, Al Gore, of grossly exaggerating his own achievements over these years."

But Blitzer and the rest of the media skipped over an October 7 Washington Times front page story by reporter Sean Scully. An excerpt:

Montgomery County police are sharply disputing Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's story of a friend, White House aide Bob Nash, who was "stopped, surrounded by police, for no other cause that anyone can determine than the color of his skin."

"I saw that, and I hoped he wasn't talking about Bob Nash," county police spokesman Capt. Bob O'Toole said yesterday. "The facts don't fit it....This had nothing to do with racial profiling."

Mr. Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, mentioned the case during Thursday night's debate against Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard B. Cheney. When CNN moderator Bernard Shaw asked both candidates about racial profiling, in which police target drivers for traffic stops based on race or ethnicity, Mr. Lieberman denounced the practice and promised White House action to end it.

"I mean, the law, after all, is meant to express our values and our aspirations for our society, and our values are violently contradicted by the kind of racial profiling that I know exists," Mr. Lieberman said. "And I just had a friend a while ago, Bernie, who works in the government, works at the White House, African-American, stopped, surrounded by police, for no other cause that anyone can determine than the color of his skin. That can't be in America anymore."

County police, however, say Mr. Nash was stopped because his car closely matched the description of a car stolen shortly before in the same area. Police quickly determined that they had stopped the wrong vehicle and driver and released Mr. Nash after only eight minutes, Capt. O'Toole said.

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose commented on the Nash case when it became public last month, saying, "This was not racial profiling. The officers did not know the race of the person driving the car. "From our standpoint, we were dealing with an armed suspect who had used a weapon to take a car," said Chief Moose, who is black.

Dan Gerstein, spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, confirmed that the Connecticut senator was referring to Mr. Nash's case....

Capt. O'Toole insists the Nash case can't possibly be considered racial profiling. Police say the incident began Sept. 6 when a caller reported that someone had stolen his sport utility vehicle at gunpoint in Silver Spring.

Less than an hour later in the same area, police pulled over a black Infiniti SUV with temporary tags - the same description given by the caller. They removed the driver at gunpoint and searched him.

The driver turned out to be Mr. Nash, the lawful owner of the vehicle, according to county police.

"We dispute any suggestion by anybody that the stop involved racial profiling," Capt. O'Toole said.

Officers on the scene apologized to Mr. Nash, as did Chief Moose last month.

END Excerpt

6

Fox's Brit Hume confronted Gore campaign Senior Adviser Tad Devine about how during the debate when Bush proposed "that the administration seek to get Russia to use its influence on behalf of democracy" in Yugoslavia, which was "exactly what the administration was doing, ultimately successfully," yet Gore "ridiculed that suggestion and said it was a bad idea."

When during the Fox News Sunday interview Devine charged, "I think it was obvious to anyone who saw George Bush in that debate the other night that he was ill at ease talking about international finance and foreign policy," Hume countered: "It turned out he got that one right, though, didn't he?"

CNN's Wolf Blitzer raised the same subject with Joe Lieberman on Late Edition, asking "wasn't George W. Bush proven correct on this issue?" But after the one question and Lieberman's denial Blitzer moved on. Hume stuck with it:

Hume: "Governor Bush proposed, in an answer to a question during that debate, that the administration seek to get Russia to use its influence on behalf of democracy. That's what he said. He didn't say mediate; he said use its influence. It turns out that's exactly what the administration was doing, ultimately successfully. The vice president ridiculed that suggestion and said it was a bad idea. Why did he do that? He must have known better."
Devine: "Well, because when Governor Bush was talking about this very important issue, you know, whether or not we should get involved and whether or not the Russians should get involved at this critical moment, you know, he seemed to be doing so without knowing what the Russian position would be. The Russians, at that time, as I understand it -- and I'm not a foreign policy expert, but as I understand it, you know, the Russians had not publicly stated that they support the results of that election. That was the reality at that point in time."
Hume: "But, Tad, in that moment -- and the vice president had to know this -- it would be quite something if he didn't -- the administration was doing with the Russians exactly what Governor Bush was proposing they do, exactly. Why did he then criticize him for it?"
Devine: "No, listen, we did not know what the Russians would do at that point in time. It's my understanding -- and again, I'm not here on behalf of the government and I don't have access to this information that you're pushing me about right now."
Hume: "Well, of course, we may not have known what they were going to do, but-"
Devine: "But, you know, I think that the point the vice president was trying to make is, that we should not enlist the help of Putin and the Russians without knowing the position they would take. I think it was a good point to make in the debate."
Hume: "Excuse me, you said -- you're saying they shouldn't do what exactly they were doing."
Devine: "Well, listen, you know, we didn't know publicly what their position was. At the time there seemed to be indications that they would not support results of that election. You know, that was publicly available information, the only information I would have access to, by the way. And so, you know, I think what the Vice President was trying to-"
Hume: "Is he going to apologize for that?"
Devine: "No, he will not, absolutely. The point the vice president was trying to make is a very good point, that you shouldn't go out and make these broad statements about foreign policy without understanding some of the nuances. And by the way, Brit-"
Hume: "He made no broad statement. He made a simple suggestion that turned out to be exactly what was happening."
Devine: "If Bush and his campaign want to have a debate about who can best manage the foreign policy of America for the next four weeks, we would welcome the debate. I mean, I think it was obvious to anyone who saw George Bush in that debate the other night that he was ill at ease talking about international finance and foreign policy."
Hume: "It turned out he got that one right, though, didn't he?"
Devine: "Well, no, I disagree with that, I don't think he did."

Hume won that debate about the debate.

7

Assuming facts not in evidence, or at least never reported by ABC News. Friday night ABC delivered an exclusive story by Brian Ross on how the Clintons have packed state dinners with donors. But in introducing the report, World News Tonight anchor Kevin Newman, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, referred to how "we've already heard about" a recently released list of the Democratic donors who stayed overnight in the Lincoln bedroom. World News Tonight, however, never bothered to report that revelation.

Newman introduced the October 6 story: "We're going to take a closer look tonight at the money trail that leads to the most prestigious dinner invitation in America, a seat at official state dinners at the White House. Now we've already heard about the 146 Democratic campaign contributors who enjoyed an overnight stay in the White House's historic Lincoln bedroom during the past 15 months, and now we've learned that nearly 50 percent of private citizens who attended White House state dinners this year also gave money to the Democrats, and it hasn't always been that way."

No, as reported in the September 23 CyberAlert: "ABC and CBS did not utter a word Friday night about the White House sleep-over list released Friday afternoon." For details about coverage of the list on CNN, FNC and NBC, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000923.asp#1

And World News Tonight did not mention the subject since then, well, at least not until Sunday, October 8, two days after Newman's "we've already heard" assumption, but the citation did not come from a reporter.

Reporter Dan Harris reviewed that morning's Hillary Clinton-Rick Lazio debate: "The candidates in the most expensive Senate race in history today wrangled over campaign cash, Hillary Rodham Clinton accusing Congressman Rick Lazio of breaking a recent agreement not to use outside money on TV ads."
Hillary Clinton: "And if New Yorkers can't trust him to keep his word for 10 days, how can they trust him for six years?"
Rick Lazio: "Mrs. Clinton, please, no lectures from Motel 1600 on campaign finance reform."

That was it. No follow up explanation from Harris.

Oh, as for Friday's story, Brian Ross reported: "The White House denies there's a direct connection, but an ABC News analysis of the four state dinners held this year shows an unprecedented number of Democratic donors as guests. By percentage, it's about the same as the last four dinners held by President Bush, but nowhere near the same scale. Under President Clinton, the state dinners have been vastly increased, making room for some 390 Democratic contributors representing more than $10 million in contributions."

A longer version of the Ross story aired on Friday's 20/20, but even it did not recall the Lincoln bedroom usage.

Amongst the state dinner donor/diners: Al Franken, Dick Ebersol of NBC Sports and Cheryl Mills, now with Oxygen Media. For guest lists and a RealPlayer excerpt of the Ross story, go to:
http://abcnews.go.com/onair/2020/2020_001006_statedinner_feature.html

Almost forget the most noteworthy thing in the Ross stories. At a press conference he asked Hillary Clinton if it were proper to invite donors to official state dinners when those seats have been traditionally reserved for great achievers. She replied: "I think contributing to the Democratic Party is a contribution to the country, in my view."

8

Bush won one opinion poll decisively. On Fox News Sunday Tony Snow recounted a finding of the most recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. Asked which they would prefer for President, a "candidate who stumbles" or a "candidate who makes stuff up," respondents picked the stumbler by 82 percent to a piddling four percent.

There is an up side to being subblibimal. -- Brent Baker


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