CBS & NBC Led with Clinton's Retort to "Ugly" GOP Ads; Bye-bye Keith?
1) CBS and NBC played
Clinton's response to the new GOP ads before even showing an ad clip.
NBC's Tom Brokaw called the ads "an October Surprise" as NBC
argued they "could backfire."
2) Geraldo Rivera denounced
the ads as "ugly" and insisted the probe of Clinton is
"unprecedented in the annals of American jurisprudence."
3) MSNBC's Keith Olbermann
complained the ads are part of the coarsening of politics and impugned
Senator Faircloth as one of "the junior Grand Wizards of the vast
4) Tuesday night CBS and NBC
ran with one-sided takes on Bill Clinton's event about women on Social
Security; NBC looked at how a Christian Right candidate is losing; ABC
delivered a one-sided report on how the Slepian murder is boosting pro-choicers.
5) USA Today revealed:
"Big Show host headed for the door at MSNBC."
>>> "Antidotes to Climate
Hype: Five Important Points for Global Warming Stories," a new
special report is now up on the MRC Web site thanks to Webmaster Sean
Henry. The report's overview: "As international negotiators meet in
Buenos Aires for another round of discussions on climate change, reporters
should keep in mind that critics of global-warming policies exist, and
balance requires including their arguments. Timothy Lamer, Director of the
MRC's Free Market Project, assembled five important points that should
be part of press reports on global warming:"
1) Many scientists are skeptical of climate change theories.
2) A warmer Earth may be a more prosperous Earth.
3) The Kyoto Protocol will not substantially reduce greenhouse gas
4) Global warming policies would harm the U.S. economy and American
5) The Kyoto Protocol could undermine U.S. national security and global
Corrections: The October
27 CyberAlert misspelled two names. First, the last name of a CNBC
reporter. It's Jane Wells, not Welles. Second, the first name of
assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin. It's Yitzhak, not Yitzak.
Only ABC's World News Tonight led Wednesday night with the National
Republican Congressional Committee's "$10 million campaign
advertising attack," as Peter Jennings put it. But the three
broadcast networks all ran full stories on it focused not on the ads but
on Clinton's reaction and how he wants voters to look at the real
issues. CBS and NBC were so anxious to get Clinton's response that they
played it before showing a clip of a new ad. CBS didn't even include any
soundbite from a Republican official as Scott Pelley began with
Clinton's spin: "With six days to go before the election the
President today declared he has rededicated to his presidency and atoned
for the Lewinsky scandal. Mr. Clinton suggested that voters should go to
the polls to vote on the issues, not his fitness to be President."
NBC's Tom Brokaw
called the ads "something of an October Surprise" before David
Bloom highlighted how "a new NBC News poll suggests the abrupt change
in tactics could backfire on Republicans." CNN and FNC ran more
balanced stories featuring both reaction from Clinton and a DNC official
as well as an explanation from a Republican official about the reasoning
behind the ads, though FNC analyst Dick Morris dismissed them as
topped FNC's Fox Report while CBS, CNN and NBC went first with John
Glenn's impending space shuttle trip. FNC's Jon Scott as well as
CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw anchored from Titusville,
Florida. Both ABC and NBC ran pieces on he Mercury women astronauts never
allowed to fly. Over video of the shuttle, Rather glowed: "The
towering Discovery launchpad the night before scheduled blastoff to
history and publicity."
Here are some
highlights from the Wednesday, October 28 evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, the $10
million campaign advertising attack. The Republicans go after the
Democrats using the Lewinsky scandal."
lead story Jennings warned: "...After being quiet on the subject for
most of the campaign the Republicans have unleashed $10 million of
political ads designed to move the President's affair and his lies about
it, right to the center of the final week's political debate."
John Cochran began
his story which is a model of balance compared to what CBS and NBC
delivered: "After heated arguments among Republicans on whether to
make Bill Clinton the issue, they decided to take a chance, to juice up a
campaign that has left so many voters indifferent."
After a quick ad clip Cochran observed that
"the ads do not specifically mention the Lewinsky scandal. One of
them uses a sly reminder: a picture only of the finger wagging moment when
the President denied he had sexual relations with that woman."
Following another brief ad clip Cochran went to
Clinton's comments at a White House welcoming ceremony for a foreign
"The President said Republican have the
right to run any ads they want, but"
Clinton: "I believe that it's always best
if the elections are about the American people, and their families and
Cochran: "As for himself and the
Clinton: "The American people have had quite
a decent amount of exposure to that. I hope very much they have seen I'm
doing my best to atone for it. I think what they should tell their
children is that when someone makes a mistake they should admit it and try
to rectify it."
Noting that Republicans know a backlash is
possible, Cochran reported the toughest ad is running in just three
southern districts. He allowed the NRCC's Bill McInturff to explain that
the ads are designed to give swing voters a rationale for GOP Congress,
"What finally convinced Republican officials
was the feeling that although using the Clinton scandal was risky if they
didn't use it and then did badly in the election they would feel even
Chase checked in on how the incumbent Republican Governors of Alabama and
South Carolina are in trouble: "In the deep South Republicans and
religious conservatives regularly preach against the evils of gambling,
but Democrats have discovered that gambling, if it is a state lottery, can
be a winning issue." Chase gave time to both sides, explaining that
Democrats have figured out that a lottery is "a popular way to put
more money into schools without raising taxes."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather decided the
biggest news was not what the ads said but what Clinton said about them,
"The Republicans have just launched a new
advertising blitz attempting to make the elections a referendum on
President Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair. CBS News White House
correspondent Scott Pelley has the President's response to that."
"With six days to go before the election the President today declared
he has rededicated to his presidency and atoned for the Lewinsky scandal.
Mr. Clinton suggested that voters should go to the polls to vote on the
issues, not his fitness to be President."
Clinton: "I hope very much that they have
seen that I'm doing my best to atone for it. I hope they can sense the
rededication and the intensified efforts I'm making for the cause of
peace around the world, for the cause of prosperity at home."
Pelley noted the ads will only run in some areas
and then ran brief clips of all three ads, starting with one asking
"Should we reward Bill Clinton?" Second, in the longest excerpt
viewers saw the one with two women:
Women A: "What'd you tell your kids?
Woman B: "I didn't know what to say."
Woman A: "It's wrong. For seven months he lied to us."
Woman B: "But aren't there other things to do?"
Woman A: "And say it's okay to lie?"
And third, a few
words from an ad ending with "For balance, vote Republican."
CBS went right to Clinton's retort: "It
wouldn't be very persuasive argument to me if I were a citizen out there
because I would always be trying to think as a citizen what is best for my
family, for my children, for my community and for my country."
Pelley concluded: "Both parties are
desperate to motivate their core voters. There are 51 close congressional
elections next week and the turnout is expected to be low, but the White
House will keep Mr. Clinton from campaigning for the most part because
there's a fear his presence on the campaign trail would do many
candidates more harm than good."
-- CNN's The World Today. About 36 minutes into
the show, after lengthy segments on Glenn and Hurricane Mitch, CNN got to
Brooks Jackson on the ads. He ran clips and allowed the NRCC's John
Linder to explain why they decided to run them. Only then did CNN get
Clinton's response, running a full report from Wolf Blitzer who featured
soundbites from Clinton, Gore, and Roy Romer.
-- FNC's Fox Report. Carl Cameron handled the
ad story, allowing viewers to see clips followed by reaction from Clinton,
Gore, the DNC's Steve Grossman and NRCC's John Linder as well as RNC
Chairman Jim Nicholson.
Next, Dick Morris
told co-anchor Jane Skinner that the ads "are incredibly stupid"
since they will motivate Democrats and remind voters why they like
FNC then ran a
full report from Julie Kirtz on how Clinton lawyer David Kendall has asked
a court to delay a lawsuit filed by Dolly Kyle Browning, who says she had
a 30 year affair with Clinton and was defamed by his denial. Rita Cosby
checked in with a piece on odd initiatives on the ballot, like one in
Missouri to ban cock-fighting.
-- NBC Nightly News. On the ads, Tom Brokaw
intoned: "Well it's less than a week to go now before the mid-term
congressional elections and the Republican Party has unveiled something of
an October Surprise: hard-hitting new television ads that raise the issue
of Monica Lewinsky."
David Bloom began by arguing they won't work:
"Tom, the White House tonight confronts a surprise, a final week $10
million Republican advertising blitz aimed at making Mr. Clinton's
trustworthiness the number one issue in many tight congressional races,
but a new NBC News poll suggests the abrupt change in tactics could
backfire on Republicans."
Bloom played an ad clip: "Should we reward
not telling the truth? That is the question of this election. Reward Bill
Clinton or vote Republican."
Bloom then jumped to Clinton's retort: "At
the White House President Clinton argued he should be judged quote 'on
his whole record' and accused Republicans of trying to distract
attention away from real issues, such as Social Security."
Clinton: "I'm not trying to sugar-coat the
fact that I made a mistake and that I didn't want anyone to know about
Bloom: "Vice President Gore called the
Republican ad blitz an act of desperation."
Gore: "Attacking the President and
investigating the President has apparently become an obsession with the
Bloom got to his poll numbers, which did not deal
with the ad content: "Nervous Republicans do admit privately
there's a danger the new ads could drive scandal-weary voters to the
polls to vote Democrat. For example, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal
poll out tonight, 68 percent disapprove of the way congressional
Republicans have handled the Lewinsky matter and 71 percent now believe
Mr. Clinton should not be impeached."
Bloom concluded by
acknowledging the ads could work in some close races, citing positive
reaction from Republican candidate Michael Burkhold in South Carolina.
The new Republican ads have angered Geraldo Rivera as he continues this
week to portray Clinton as persecuted by unforgiving enemies who conspired
to appoint Ken Starr. Though Ted Koppel Wednesday night described the ads
as "tame," on CNBC's Upfront Tonight for October 28 Rivera
tonight, the election campaign has just taken a turn to the ugly. We'll
tell you about the new attack ads that make the President the issue and
you'll hear Clinton's quick response."
MRC news analyst
Geoffrey Dickens caught a couple of other Riveraisms this week worth
noting. On the October 27 Rivera Live on CNBC he whined:
"I think the better analogy is how many
times do you offer the guy a situation where he can commit a crime and
finally you get him on one and what is it? It is perjury in a dismissed
civil case for which you bring federal prosecution. Unprecedented in the
annals of American jurisprudence."
October 26 on CNBC's Rivera Live he argued to Bill Bennett:
"I think that when you examine Whitewater,
as I have in depth, you see that so many of his purported lies were not
lies at all but rather were wishful thinking on the part of his pursuers.
I also think, you know you make a great analogy in your book to one of the
rivers in Hades where the souls of the dead....Right. That's the, and
the Greek mythology and if you spin forward into the middle ages to Dante
and the Inferno you see that the second level of Hell is for the
adulterers and the seventh level is for those who would betray their
friends, or you know those who would pursue in a way that is hypocritical.
And it seems to me that this man has really been hounded for years by his
partisan enemies and I don't believe that you believe that Ken Starr was
appointed independent counsel by coincidence."
Jumping amongst the NBC networks as hours passed Wednesday night a viewer
heard the new GOP ads portrayed as ineffective on NBC Nightly News at
6:30/7pm ET, then denounced as "ugly" at 7:30pm ET on CNBC.
Making it a trifecta of rebukes, on the 8pm ET Big Show MSNBC's Keith
Olbermann played the entire ad which ended with the line: "Should we
reward Bill Clinton?" He then demanded of RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson:
"Mr. Nicholson, it's been said that the
political climate and discourse in this country has been coarsened to a
great degree by what Bill Clinton has done this year. Is there not a sense
that this kind of advertising continues the process rather than puts
Republicans on a higher road than Mr. Clinton himself?"
Olbermann's pontificating, another sign that all great NBC cable minds
think alike. On the October 26 Big Show, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed,
Olbermann raised the liberal conspiracy of Senators Faircloth and Helms
having lunch with a judge on the panel which later picked Starr. In a
question to Democratic consultant Pat Caddell about the South Carolina
Senate race he used terminology to mark Faircloth with racism:
"I know you
want to talk about New York but I've got to know, Pat, why is this John
Edwards/Lauch Faircloth race so important to the Republicans, other than
the obvious that Senator Faircloth is considered to be one of the junior
Grand Wizards of the vast right-wing conspiracy?"
Every network led Tuesday night, October 26 with Hurricane Mitch's
approach to Central America. ABC featured a story on how the Barnett
Slepian murder is being used by abortion advocates to mobilize support.
The piece featured two abortion-rights promoters, but no one on the other
side. (Wednesday's Today featured a similar story, but at least included
a soundbite from the RNC's Jim Nicholson.)
how George W. Bush is courting Hispanic voters while both CBS and NBC
picked up and ran with Bill Clinton's photo-op event about his plans to
help women who depend on Social Security. NBC added a look at how voters
are rejecting the Christian Right-backed Governor of Alabama. FNC uniquely
examined how the White House is using delaying tactics to impede the House
Here are some
highlights from the Tuesday, October 27, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. John Cochran, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson, began: "Abortion rights activists believe the doctor's
murder can mobilize opposition to anti-abortion candidates, such as New
York Senator Al D'Amato. D'Amato voted against a 1994 law making it a
federal crime to use force to interfere with abortions. It gave federal
agents the authority to investigate in such cases."
Following a soundbite from Kate Michelman of the
National Abortion Rights Action League, Cochran marveled: "In a
bizarre coincidence, two days before the murder, the abortion rights group
NARAL produced a commercial about a woman who was badly injured in a
bombing at a Birmingham abortion clinic. Now NARAL plans to buy more air
time to give it greater prominence....D'Amato has deplored anti-abortion
violence, but advisors to his opponent, Chuck Schumer, believe the ads and
news coverage of the murder help emphasize their differences on abortion.
Many Democrats hope the abortion issue will also become pivotal in other
close races around the country, including California."
After a clip of California Senator Barbara Boxer,
Cochran continued: "Consultants and pollsters say the abortion issue
may help Democratic candidates ignite enthusiasm among supporters, who
until now, have been apathetic," but he cautioned in conclusion:
"Democrats know this is a card they must
play carefully. If voters think they are using a murder for political
gain, it could backfire on them."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced:
"President Clinton today courted a key constituency" with
"proposals for improving retirement security for women." Bill
Plante enthusiastically relayed the latest White House gimmick:
"Dan, with just a week to go now before the
election, Mr. Clinton today challenged the Republican congressional
leadership to fix Social Security next year before cutting taxes and he
proposed more generous benefits for women, who tend mostly to vote more
for Democrats than Republicans." Plante ran soundbites from
participants in the event as well as Clinton, but no contrary views.
Later, Rather did
give a Republican some positive press:
"Tonight a look at one of the more
intriguing election contests coming up next week. It is in fact no
contest. Republican Governor George W. Bush of Texas is widely expected to
win by a substantial margin over Democrat Gary Morrow (sp?). But, simply
put, Governor Bush has gone where few Republicans have gone before, he has
seen the future. By presidential election year 2000 Americans of Hispanic
heritage, traditional Democrats, could be this country's largest
-- FNC's Fox Report. Before a story on how some
Democrats are using the Lewinsky scandal to motivate their voters, David
Shuster highlighted how White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart refused
to promise testimony to the House Judiciary Committee from any staffer.
Shuster added that the White House will also claim executive privilege for
Bruce Lindsey, observing: "The White House strategy is simple:
Despite asking Congress to move the investigation along, the
administration will not commit to taking steps that would help, such as
dropping claims of executive privilege."
-- NBC Nightly News. Like CBS, NBC ran with the
Social Security event, making it the In Depth segment. Anne Thompson
began: "Thirty-two million baby boomer women in their thirties,
forties and fifties went to work this morning but less than 1 in 5 came
home tonight with their retirement financially secure."
After a soundbite
from Clinton, Thompson continued: "At today's White House tele-conference
President Clinton pledged to protect Social Security and told women at a
dozen sites around the country he wants to make taking time off from a job
to care for children or elderly parents count towards your retirement
Geoffrey Dickens counted four soundbites from Clinton, but not one from
anyone else in this story on how Clinton will save soccer moms.
turned to how the Christian Right may be losing influence: "Election
day is just one week away and one of the most powerful forces in American
politics these day is the Christian conservative movement. Motivated,
organized and well financed. The Christian Right should expect to do very
well in a state like Alabama where the incumbent Governor is one of their
own -- but surprise!"
reported that incumbent Republican Fob James is behind because "local
experts say the bottom line here is not conservative Christian values but
economics." Francis concluded: "That's no secret to James'
opponent, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Don Seigleman who proposed a
state lottery to fund education. And in a state where one out of every
three adults is functionally illiterate that's a political idea which if
successful could spell the last stop for Governor Fob James and the first
meaningful loss for the Christian Right."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on the way out? Yes, according to USA Today's
Peter Johnson who reported on October 27:
"Olbermann has made no secret that he wants
out. He's griped on the Big Show that executives make him focus on the
Clinton sex scandal, which gave his show a big ratings bump....Neither
Olbermann nor MSNBC will comment. MSNBC, not looking to prolong a public
fight, and Olbermann are both looking for a way to extricate him from the
cable channel, probably by year's end but perhaps sooner. That said,
this is a touchy internal issue: Olbermann still has two years left on his
three-year deal, and NBC hasn't been so accommodating when others have
tried to get out of deals."
We'll miss his
comparisons of Ken Starr to Nazis, but maybe we'll get a Geraldo repeat
hour on MSNBC. -- Brent Baker
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