CyberAlert -- 10/21/1999 -- Crusading for Campaign Finance "Reform"
Crusading for Campaign Finance "Reform"; Democrat Ray; Rivera on Starr
1) CBS and NBC exploited Elizabeth Dole's decision to quit as a chance to take up a liberal cause. Dan Rather: "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush allies...killed the latest attempt at campaign finance reform." NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented how the money race hurt "Elizabeth Dole's dream of running for President."
>>> October 18 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 Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell. Quote topics include: "W. Fans: Geraldo, Eleanor, and Al"; "Ted Turner: I'm a Socialist"; "Bush vs. The 'Harsh Hard Right'"; "Good Morning, Liberal America"; "'Intelligent' Catholics Like Dung"; and "Celebrating Communist China." To read all the quotes, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19991018.html. For back issues: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/welcome.html <<<
CBS and NBC on Wednesday night exploited Elizabeth Dole's decision to drop out of the Republican presidential race as an opportunity to crusade for restrictions on spending, portraying Dole as a victim of big money in politics. "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush allies, among the Republican congressional leaders, killed the latest attempt at campaign finance reform," declared Dan Rather. CBS's Bob Schieffer provided a one-sided story revolving around how John McCain "calls the influence of money disgraceful."
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw lamented how the money race hurt "Elizabeth Dole's dream of running for President," claiming, without citing any proof, that there's a rising tide of anger at too much money in politics: "It's gotten to be so big and so controversial there's a growing demand to change the system, but that demand died again today when it hit the U.S. Senate."
On ABC's World
News Tonight John Cochran relayed Dole's reasoning that she didn't
have enough money to compete and allowed as to how McCain "blames the
system," but refrained from campaigning for more regulation. Cokie
Roberts then told anchor Peter Jennings what she thinks will happen to
Dole's voters, arguing the other party is the "more natural
home" of many:
Later, on 20/20, Diane Sawyer assumed Dole's gender prevented her from raising money, not that her message failed to excite many, asking her: "What will it take to level the playing field for a woman candidate on this pernicious issue of money?"
Now to how CBS and NBC crusaded for campaign finance "reform" on Wednesday night, October 20:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather opened the show by stressing the "larger
implications" of Dole's dropout:
Jones summarized Dole's complaint about how her opponents could outspend her and how she believed she had paved the way for the first woman President
Though George W. Bush has tried to separate himself from congressional Republicans, Dan Rather then linked him to what he clearly implied was a bad Senate decision: "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush allies, among the Republican congressional leaders, killed the latest attempt at campaign finance reform, underscoring yet again how big money special interests can turn an election or even who's able to run."
Bob Schieffer began his subsequent story: "Well Dan, as you know, money's always been a factor in politics but lately its become virtually the whole ball game and there is a reason."
As if the world began yesterday.
the cost of TV ads as the culprit and explained that Dole realized she
couldn't win when outspent 20-to-one by Bush. Schieffer then picked up
and promoted, without bothering with a retort, the pet cause of McCain:
NBC then ran three stories to support Brokaw's political cause. First, Lisa Myers on the plight of the "reform" bill blocked by Republicans in the Senate. She did at least note that an "unusual coalition from the Christian Coalition to the ACLU" opposes the "reform" proposal. Second, trying to be bipartisan, Jim Avila profiled a big Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, but on the policy issue he didn't bother to be balanced, giving unrebutted airtime to a Common Cause hack who claimed only those with money are heard. Third, NBC ran an "In Their Own Words" segment from Elizabeth Dole complaining about how her lack of money doomed her campaign.
Reality Check: Not a word in any of these stories about a conservative reform proposal: Deregulate campaign finance and require full disclosure. That way, a couple of wealthy friends of Dole could have given her plenty of money, something the $1,000 per person limit now prevents.
On soft money, if parties are not allowed to raise and spend all they want then the media will gain influence. What's the value to liberals of the CBS and NBC stories crusading for their new regulatory scheme?
As for "big money" and "tons of money" being spent on elections, the U.S. actually spends very little on campaigns compared to advertising other products. And, as noted by George Will, George W. Bush's current fundraising is no greater than what a certain candidate popular with the media raised way back in 1968. Here's an excerpt from Will's October 10 column:
....If fundraising continues at the current pace, candidates for the House, Senate and presidency will spend $3 billion in the 1999-2000 cycle, an $800 million increase over the 1995-96 presidential election cycle. But to put that $800 million -- in eight quarters -- in perspective: $655 million was spent on advertising on the Internet in just the last quarter of 1998.
That $3 billion would come to $14.60 per eligible voter for political communication about the determination of public policy -- about the presidential contest, 435 House contests and 34 Senate contests. Too much? By what standard?
If today's fundraising pace is maintained,
the two-year total for congressional races could be $1 billion. But before
The Senate debate takes place after the Bush campaign's announcement that it has raised $56 million in seven months. However, Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of the Wall Street Journal reports that in 1967-68 Eugene McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign against President Johnson for the Democratic presidential nomination lasted about seven months, raised $11 million. In current dollars, that is almost $53 million. And most of it came from five people. Under the political-speech regulations put in place since then, it is impossible -- it is illegal -- to mount a McCarthy-style insurgency against the political status quo. The political class, which is the status quo, wants it that way.
It is indeed wrong that the political class must spend so much time raising money. It also is that class's fault: It has not repealed the $1,000 limit on contributions imposed, unindexed to inflation, 25 years ago. That limit has created an artificial scarcity of something -- money -- that is stupendously plentiful in booming America....
On other matters Wednesday night, dangerous cell phones on ABC and CBS found something more dangerous than spying at he nuclear labs: racism against Asians.
ABC's World News Tonight opened with a preview of a 20/20 story by Brian Ross on how a scientist hired by the cellular industry now claims cell phones cause genetic damage and a rare type of brain tumor. Ross set back his credibility with me, however, when he referred to how "microwave radiation from phones" penetrates the head and on 20/20 to the "microwave signal" from the phones -- as if he were trying to get viewers to think of a microwave oven which penetrates solid objects. Cellular phones in the U.S., both analog and digital, operate in the 800MHz range with some new PCS licenses just above 900MHz. "Microwave" is defined as 1Ghz, or 1,000MHz, and above. It's direct line of sight communication used by satellites and uplinks from TV station mobile units back to a fixed point receiver at a high-level location. Cell phones do not transmit a "microwave" signal.
On the CBS Evening
News Dan Rather, without naming a charge, predicted Wen Ho Lee "will
be indicted in the next week or two. Lee flatly denies any wrongdoing.
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson has been investigating a related situation at the
weapons labs. In this case it goes beyond alleged spying to alleged
All three evening shows touted a federal appeals court ruling overturning a jury verdict for fraud in ABC's hit piece on Food Lion.
Robert Ray, the independent counsel who replaced Kenneth Starr, is a lifelong Democrat, the Associated Press disclosed. But in reporting his appointment, none the networks noted which side of the aisle he comes from, though several happily relayed the White House attack on him for a supposed anti-Clinton bias.
In an October 19
AP dispatch, Washington reporter Peter Yost revealed:
Democrats didn't have any trouble impugning Ray since the networks followed their game plan. Below are some examples of how the networks described Ray, as collected by MRC analysts Jessica Anderson and Paul Smith:
-- CNN's Inside
Politics, October 15. Jeanne Meserve: "And also from the White House
today, criticism of the man tapped to replace independent counsel Ken
Starr. Sources say a special three-judge panel will unseal an order next
week, naming Starr assistant Robert Ray to finish Starr's investigation of
the President and Mrs. Clinton. White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart
called the choice of Ray 'dubious,' since Ray also had worked on the
independent counsel probe of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy."
-- ABC's World News Tonight, October 18. Peter Jennings: "As we reported last week, a career prosecutor named Robert Ray is replacing Kenneth Starr as the independent counsel investigating the President. Mr. Ray took his oath of office today and he promised to finish Mr. Starr's work promptly. Now the White House has suggested that Mr. Ray is biased against the President."
-- MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams the same night played the same soundbite before Williams added: "Asked to react to all of this, a White House spokesman said it was quote 'dubious' to give someone who has worked on the Starr staff a promotion like this."
One last shot at Starr from NBC's Geraldo Rivera. On Monday's Upfront
Tonight on CNBC, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera fired away:
Number 7 in the MRC's Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, a quote countdown to Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on November 1 as co-host of CBS's The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format.
In this latest highlight from Gumbel's career as a liberal advocate, on the April 30, 1992 Today show Gumbel found an upside to the Los Angeles riots: "We keep looking for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in putting race relations back on the front burner after they've been subjugated so long as a result of the Reagan years."
To watch this quote and #6 as picked by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, which will be posted Thursday morning, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/gumbel/gumbelvideos.html
Correction: The Top Ten "Gumbel Stumbles" quote cited in the October 20 CyberAlert was misidentified as #7. It was #8. Number 7 is listed above in this item.
Caring = liberal policies to the Washington media establishment. Catching up on an anecdote caught by MRC analyst Paul Smith last week, on the October 9 Reliable Sources ABC's Sam Donaldson recalled how a prominent Washington reporter worried that Donaldson's wealth made him "out of touch." Donaldson assured him he was not, citing as proof his advocacy of higher taxes and a hike in the minimum wage.
Donaldson relayed in his appearance on the CNN show to discuss his new
Mon-Wed-Fri abcnews.com Webcast, SamDonaldson@abcnews.com:
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