CyberAlert -- 10/28/2000 -- Daisy Ad Over Anti-Bush Scare Call
Daisy Ad Over Anti-Bush Scare Call; 2.7% GDP Good News This Year But Bad News for President Bush in 1992
1) As they played it Friday night, ABC conceded the creator of the "Daisy II" ad designed it to get media attention without having to buy any spot time. Like NBC, ABC gave it far more prominence than an official Democratic scare call against Bush. CNN and FNC gave equal time to each. On FNC, Fred Barnes marveled at how the networks have ignored the DNC's phone call scaremongering.
5) The 2.7 percent 3rd quarter GDP growth announced Friday was identical to the rate announced on the same date in 1992. Dan Rather suggested this year's number may be "good for the economy to keep it from overheating." ABC and NBC ignored the plunge, but eight years ago when it represented the sixth quarter of growth, all three stressed bad news. "That is more than economists had projected, but in many cases, less than meets the eye."
A guy in Texas produced an anti-Gore TV ad designed, ABC's Aaron Brown conceded Friday night in a story which fulfilled the producer's plan, "to get attention for nothing" spent money-wise. ABC, CNN, FNC, MSNBC and NBC Friday night all ran clips and condemnations of the so-called "Daisy II" ad made by a man working out of a mail drop in a strip mall while ABC and NBC gave far less attention to officially-sanction Democratic Party scare phone calls placed into Michigan which blame Bush's policies for causing a man to die in a nursing home. The CBS Evening News avoided the campaign altogether -- see item #4 below.
On Friday's World News Tonight, ABC's Aaron Brown admitted that on the "Daisy II" ad: "We've been able to confirm only four stations that have actually run the ad at a cost of about a thousand dollars. Nevertheless, the ad has received extraordinary attention." Attention the networks decided to give it while continuing to ignore the ad produced by the NAACP, a group closely aligned with the DNC, which features James Byrd's daughter claiming of Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill: "It was like my father was killed all over again."
NBC Friday night failed to credit the scare phone calls to the Democratic Party, as David Gregory referred only to "phone calls being made to Michigan voters," but Claire Shipman falsely described the "Daisy II" commercial as a "new Republican attack ad," only later noting that it was not produced by the Bush campaign.
CNN's Candy Crowley gave equal time to both the anti-Bush phones calls and anti-Gore ad and properly identified who was responsible for each, though she also passed along the unsubstantiated Democratic charge that the Daisy II "ad comes from friends of their favorite enemy: Newt Gingrich."
Only FNC's Jim Angle pointed out how Gore was issuing blame for the "Daisy II" ad without evidence: "The Gore campaign gave it plenty of publicity on its own and with no particular evidence, blamed it on Bush cronies." On FNC, Fred Barnes marveled at how the networks hyped an independent ad that has never aired while ignoring official party phone calls which are ongoing.
MSNBC played the "Daisy II" ad numerous times during the day Friday.
Now the details from Friday night, October 27, coverage:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Over ad video of a
girl plucking flower pedals in the new "Daisy II" ad, labeled
on-screen as "Anti-Gore Ad," Aaron Brown began ABC's only full
campaign story of the night: "Every ad is designed to get your
attention. This one attacks Al Gore. It says he sold out to China for
No one forced ABC News to give it publicity.
Brown continued, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth: "We've been able to confirm only four stations that have
actually run the ad at a cost of about a thousand dollars. Nevertheless,
the ad has received extraordinary attention. It was the subject of an
article in today's New York Times. It aired in part on Good Morning
America and on cable channels, and it's all part of a plan by its
producer, Carey Cramer, to get attention for nothing."
Whose fault is that?
Brown turned to the always annoying Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dean of Annenberg School for Communication: "It's hoping that by getting aired without commentary about its inaccuracy and its hyperbolic nature, that the ideas will seep through in news and thus have an impact."
Brown then finally got to the official Democratic
calls against Bush: "Here is another way voters are being
Seeing no difference between some guy on his own in Texas and an officially party-sanctioned effort, Brown concluded: "You can expect more of this as we get closer to election day as groups with political agendas see how much they can get away with."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced the latest MSNBC/Reuters poll now had Bush up 44 to 43 percent over Gore. He then went to back-to-back reports from his correspondents with Bush and Gore.
David Gregory in South Bend ran through Bush's
travel itinerary before getting to how "both campaigns and their
parties are also stepping up the attacks. In a highly unusual move,
Republicans now showcase an opponent -- Ralph Nader featured in a new ad
to air in Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin -- where the consumer advocate
now threatens the Vice President."
Gregory then offered a very mild description of the
anti-Bush phone call, failing to mention how it blames Bush for a death or
credit it to the Democratic Party: "And the Bush campaign today
complains about phone calls being made to Michigan voters accusing the
Governor of weakening nursing home standards in Texas."
Up next, Claire Shipman in Pittsburgh outlined
Gore's appearance strategy to concentrate on Pennsylvania, Michigan and
Florida. Shipman then arrived at the new ad for which she falsely
attributed the source: "And as they plot their strategy, the Gore
campaign also loudly complaining today about this new Republican attack ad
accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of giving China nuclear
-- CNN's The World Today. Candy Crowley gave equal time and weight to the anti-Bush and anti-Gore tactics and properly labeled the source of each, though she also gave air time to the Gore campaign's unsubstantiated speculation blaming the anti-Gore ad on "shadowy special interests" tied to Newt Gingrich.
Crowley reported that Bush's "aides are
steaming over a series of taped phone calls the Democratic Party is making
across Michigan. One features a Texas woman whose husband died four years
ago in a nursing home."
CNN's on-screen graphic properly attributed the ad
to "Aretino Industries." CNN played a clip of the ad narrator
and video of girl plucking flower pedals: "In exchange for campaign
contributions, Red China was given access and sold vital technology that
will now give China the ability to threaten our homes with long-range
-- FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. Jim Angle
played a bit of the "Daisy II" ad, properly attributed to "Aretino
Industries," before highlighting how the Gore camp had no evidence
for its charges: "The Gore campaign went nuts over this amateurish ad
reminiscent of a famous one LBJ ran against Barry Goldwater. It isn't
even clear if the ad has run anywhere, but the Gore campaign gave it
plenty of publicity on its own and with no particular evidence, blamed it
on Bush cronies. Gore himself just talked about how 'they' use special
Angle noted how Bush's campaign had asked the ad maker to cancel it and that they suggested Gore's complaints are meant to distract attention from Gore's anti-Bush phone calls. FNC played a clip of the phone call: "My husband passed away nearly four years ago from an illness that his nursing home attendants failed to notice. He could be alive today if it weren't for the neglect he experienced."
Later, in the panel segment, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, marveled at media fixation on the "Daisy II" ad: "I'm amazed that that is the issue today and not these three taped phone messages that are being phoned, particularly to voters in Michigan, that are sponsored not by somebody that neither campaign has any control over but by the Democratic National Committee and thus Al Gore has control over them."
Barnes listed the three scare calls as the nursing home one plus two which have yet to get network attention: One in which a woman claims Houston is so smoggy her kid can't go outside to play and another one taped by Ed Asner which falsely charges that "George W. Bush has a proposal that would undermine Social Security, even threatening current benefits."
Barnes argued the media have no excuse for not denouncing the phone calls: "The Bush campaign has taped all of these messages. They deliver the tapes to reporters and so reporters are whipped up about some ad that has never appeared? These phone calls are going on. I would think if there's going to be any indignation about dirty pool by any of these campaigns, the indignation of the press ought to be geared towards these phone calls rather than some ad that hasn't even been on television yet."
So you'd think, but the media's guy seems to be losing.
As a public service, since it's being talked about so much but largely only being shown in part, here's a complete rundown of the so-called "Daisy II" commercial produced by some enterprise calling itself "Aretino Industries." I have no idea who they are and they did not provide me with a transcript. I produced this one myself off a complete running of the ad on Friday's Equal Time on MSNBC.
Male narrator voice over white text on black screen
"The Republicans Ended the Cold War": "Under Republican
leadership and vision the Cold War was ended, securing our children from
the threat of a nuclear confrontation."
The NAACP ad finally got a bit of non-FNC cable attention Thursday night, but only because a guest raised it and MSNBC still didn't show it. Jesse Jackson suggested there would not be an NAACP anti-Bush ad if he had just "embraced" the Byrd family.
MRC analyst Paul Smith caught the exchange on Thursday's The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC between Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and Jesse Jackson over the NAACP ad in which, over video of chains being dragged behind a pick-up truck, James Byrd's daughter claims of Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill: "It was like my father was killed all over again."
Keating: "That NAACP ad was a disgrace. I'm
the former counsel to the NAACP in Oklahoma and it was a libel on
George Bush, a wonderful, decent, honorable person that doesn't have
one ounce of prejudice, one ounce of racism in him and I hope that
Jesse Jackson tonight calls Al Gore and tells him to pull that awful,
disgraceful, unfair and inaccurate ad.
To see the NAACP ad as played and evaluated by
FNC, view the RealPlayer clip at:
ABC's Peter Jennings on Friday night highlighted Al Gore's condemnation of special interest groups for "scaring people into believing that he wants to take away their firearms." CBS ignored both the "Daisy II" ad and the phone calls Friday and touched on the campaign only to explore the impact of a smaller surplus on campaign promises.
Leading into the Aaron Brown ad story detailed
in item #1 above, World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings offered a
brief summary of the candidate themes of the day:
On the CBS Evening News, John Roberts picked up on the Concord Coalition's forecast that spending now being approved by Clinton and Congress could cut the surplus by up to 60 percent. If they fulfill their campaign promises Roberts warned, "both candidates would drown in a sea of red ink." So they'll have "tough choices: raise taxes, go back to the days of running deficits, or renege on some of those remarkable campaign promises."
The 2.7 percent 3rd quarter GDP number announced Friday was identical to the number announced on the same date in 1992, but the three broadcast networks treated the news quite differently eight years apart I found by pulling some tapes from the MRC's video archive.
The 2000 number represented a drop of more than half from the previous quarter, but Friday night, October 27, Dan Rather assured viewers: "There is a school of thought that says this is overall good for the economy to keep it from overheating." ABC's World News Tonight and the NBC Nightly News ignored the plummeting GDP report.
But back on October 27, 1992 when an identical
2.7 GDP number for the 3rd quarter represented the sixth straight
quarter of economic growth under President George H. W. Bush, all
three networks led with the number but quickly dampened the good news
for the senior Bush:
No doubt fueled by this kind of reporting.
-- CBS. Friday night, October 27 this year, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather asserted: "The government reported today a slowdown in the U.S. economy. New figures indicate the economy was growing in the just ended third quarter at an annual rate of 2.7 percent. That is less than half the rate of the red hot second quarter [5.6 percent]. There is a school of thought that says this is overall good for the economy to keep it from overheating, but many analysts disagree with that."
Eight years ago, on October 27, 1992, which was
the Tuesday before election day, Rather opened the CBS Evening News:
In the subsequent story Susan Spencer cautioned that Bush "crowed today at upbeat news of a third quarter growth rate of 2.7 percent, though some economists warn that rate may not hold."
In fact, it soared in the next quarter, jumping 5.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 1992.
Don't take any stock tips from Spencer.
My source: The Web site for the Department of
Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis. Its table lists
quarter-by-quarter growth rates in something called "chained 1996
dollars." For the 3rd quarter of 1992 it shows a 3.1 percent
growth rate, but this same column lists the 2.7 percent growth rate
for 3rd quarter 2000 announced Friday, so I think it's the correct
table to cite and probably just means a later revision or mathematical
recalculation upped the 1992 figure a bit. For this table, go to:
-- ABC's World News Tonight didn't utter a
word about the GDP Friday night, but back in 1992 Peter Jennings led
the broadcast by defining GDP and
Reporter Bob Jamieson followed: "The increase in economic growth was driven by a surge in consumer spending. The best news came from spending for big appliances and furniture, which rose by nearly nine percent. But many economists say the report is not proof the economy is taking a sharp turn for the better."
As if that were not enough, Jennings returned the next night to further dampen the good news: "The President may complain about the news media, but the economic growth figures which he is so pleased about are not that definitive, according to a great many independent economic analysts...The government reports that personal income and consumer spending were up in September, but orders for durable goods, for such long-lasting items such as cars and household appliances, were down for the third straight month. And all over the country, millions of people hardly need any statistics to tell them what is happening."
-- NBC Nightly News. Like ABC, zilch Friday
night. Tom Brokaw started the October 27, 1992 show by explaining away
the relevance of the GDP growth:
Another example of why viewers should have little confidence in network consistency. -- Brent Baker
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