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CyberAlert -- 11/05/1998 -- Rivera Jubilant

Rivera Jubilant; Brokaw: Public Disgusted with Attacks on Clinton

1) Geraldo Rivera rejoiced that "now it's Newt Gingrich who's looking over his shoulder" and linked D'Amato's loss to his attacks on Hillary.

2) Only CNN and FNC ran soundbites from conservatives on the GOP loss. ABC and NBC contended moderation is the way to go and Tom Brokaw found a "clear message: disgust with Republican attacks on the White House scandal."

3) Like Brokaw, Donaldson saw the vote as a plea to cease the impeachment inquiry, but Lynn Sherr corrected Donaldson.

4) Dan Rather called the South Carolina Senate race "nasty enough to gag a buzzard." He used the same analogy in 1996. And 1990.


>>> The November 2 MediaWatch is now up on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Webmaster Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. Articles include a front page piece "Shut Up Before You Kill Again! Violence Tied to Pro-Life Advocates, But Not to Green Groups"; a Review by the MRC's Tim Graham on the Matthew Shepard murder and how the "networks promote gay left's guilt by association"; a Back page story by MRC analyst Clay Waters on how the networks refuse to cover the scandal of missile technology going to China while complaining about the sex scandal; and an On the Bright Side piece by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson titled "No Prying About Limo Talk: Only FNC Corrects Hit on Starr." Plus, Newsbites: "Walt's Love Boat" by MRC analyst Brian Boyd on Cronkite denigrating Ken Starr, "Feingold's Medal" by MRC analyst Mark Drake on ABC's tribute to Senator Feingold, and "Hawks Shut Out," an item by analyst Geoffrey Dickens on how neither ABC or CBS ever told viewers that many conservatives opposed the budget deal. <<<

1

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Geraldo Rivera is the happiest man on TV. He opened the November 4 Rivera Live on CNBC by rejoicing in the election results:

"Appalled by the hard-right's grossly inept handling of zippergate, yesterday the voters hurt the Republican Party in historic fashion. They made them pay for their obsession with punishing the President. From Faircloth to D'Amato he voters pounded some of the President's most vocal critics. For the first time since the roaring '20s, the party in the White House gained strength at mid-term. While last week the world wondered whether Clinton would survive, now it's Newt Gingrich who's looking over his shoulder...."

His first question to a guest: "Tony Blankley, I love you but you got your ass kicked last night."

On election night, November 3, Rivera celebrated D'Amato's loss and, MRC news analyst Ross Adams noticed, tied it to his attacks on Hillary Clinton: "D'Amato going down. A big, big win for the Democrats. D'Amato hurt by who knows what, maybe his participation in those Whitewater hearings in which he practically pilloried Hillary Clinton and hung her out to dry. Whatever it was New Yorkers have voted and they have voted Al D'Amato out of office."

A bit later on his CNBC show Rivera trumpeted: "Listen up. There is no Monica mandate. There is no mandate for impeachment."

2

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Network message to Republicans: Go moderate. Every network led Wednesday night with the election results. ABC and NBC stressed how moderates won and the voters rejected the GOP strategy of pushing impeachment. NBC's Tom Brokaw proclaimed that moderation was "the preferred passage of both successful moderate Democrats and pragmatic Republicans" as the public sent a "clear message: disgust with Republican attacks on the White House scandal."

CBS focused on how Republicans must learn "that in tight races minorities matter" and Bob Schieffer highlighted Newt Gingrich's change in spin from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. CNN led with rumblings about dumping Gingrich. Only CNN and FNC aired soundbites from any conservative saying the Republicans lost because they had no agenda. Both featured clips of the Christian Coalition's Randy Tate and the Family Research Council's Gary Bauer.

Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, November 4, evening shows:

-- ABC's World News Tonight led with John Cochran, who began: "White House aides say that privately the President was ecstatic over the results. Publicly, he would say only that voters chose practical issues over partisanship."
Cochran ran a clip of Clinton and of Gingrich acknowledging the party should have pushed cutting taxes and saving Social Security. Cochran then hit on the impeachment theme.
Cochran: "Republicans admit their last minute ad campaign reminding voters of the Lewinsky scandal was not the brightest idea they ever had."
Gingrich: "We didn't understand that people would just frankly get fed up with the existence of the topic."

Viewers then saw a clip of Michael Pappas on the House floor singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Starr" as Cochran noted that he lost. Cochran concluded with this lesson:
"Today Republicans realized that many of their successive candidates are pragmatic Governors concerned with getting results. Congressional Republicans say they've learned their lesson, that the first thing the new Congress will focus on is something that people care about: tax cuts."

Next, Lynn Sherr summarized the exit polls: "What voters across the country had to say was: simply enough. Forget about impeachment Ms. or Mr. Lawmaker and get back to work."

Jennings then talked with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Donaldson reported that the White House is pleased and hopes the Republicans back off on impeachment. Roberts explained that the process will go on since no one knows how to get out of it and that many Republicans are disgruntled about their leaders.

Following an ad break Dean Reynolds looked at how Texas Governor George Bush has been thrust into the 2000 presidential race with what Bush calls "compassionate conservatism." Reynolds portrayed him as the kind of conservative even media liberals can tolerate: "And while the Governor opposes abortion and favors the death penalty and school prayer, he doesn't sound strident."


-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's top of the show tease:
"Far reaching ripples from the election '98 stunner. Democrats gain and buck mid-term election history against the backdrop of Congress's impeach the President inquiry."

Rather then opened after the theme music:
"What a difference a day makes. Now it's the Republican congressional leadership facing political jeopardy from unhappy GOP ranks. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde of Illinois said today that the November surprise dealt to Republicans will not affect Congress's impeach the President inquiry."

Bob Schieffer ran through the winners (Boxer, Schumer, Murray, Edwards, Hollings, Fitzgerald and Bunning.) Then he highlighted changing spin from Gingrich: "Last night the House Speaker was trying to spin the whole thing as good news for his side."
Gingrich: "This will be the first time in 70 years that Republicans kept control of the House for a third term."
Schieffer: "Today it was a different Gingrich."
Gingrich: "I take responsibility. I'm Speaker of the House. I led the Republican team in the House. We in the House should have been more consistent, more aggressive."
Schieffer: "Gingrich has good reason to worry. Today some House Republicans openly blamed him."
Steve Largent: "I mean the Speaker said himself prior to the election, you know if we don't pick up more than five seats, in fact if we lose seats, then you know perhaps I should be replaced. And I think that that's a serious and viable consideration at this point."

Scott Pelley next told viewers: "Dan, at the White House last night there was literally cheering out loud." Pelley delivered the White House reaction and read a statement from Henry Hyde about the duty to proceed with the impeachment inquiry as the allegations have not changed: "This was just as true before the election as it is today. Our duty has not changed because the Constitution has not changed."

Dan Rather introduced a piece of the role of minorities by declaring: "Three of the most important factors on election night were turnout, turnout and turnout, especially with labor, blacks and older people."
Sandra Hughes explored the power of the Hispanic vote, reporting that in California it constitutes 12 percent of electorate. Three-quarters backed Gray and Boxer, Hughes relayed, but in Texas Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote. Blacks were the key in New York and South Carolina she added, concluding: "Nationwide African American and Hispanic voters sent a loud wake-up call to the GOP, that in tight races minorities matter."


-- CNN's The World Today opened with Bob Franken on talk of unseating Gingrich. Franken also played soundbites of Gary Bauer and Randy Tate on the lack of an agenda. Wolf Blitzer delivered the White House reaction before John King looked at the impact on the 2000 presidential race, specifically Al Gore and Dick Gephardt.

CNN also ran a piece on Ventura and Brooks Jackson highlighted how the GOP ads on Lewinsky did not work.


-- FNC Fox Report began with an overview story from Carl Cameron which included Randy Tate. Anchor Jon Scott interviewed Larry Klayman about the lack of a Republican message. Jim Angle summarized the White House reaction. Later, Eric Burns reviewed television coverage on election night and FNC aired a panel discussion with Heather Nauert, Harry Shearer and Larry Sabato.


browkaw115.jpg (26796 bytes) -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw delivered the most politically slanted spin, contending moderation was the key to success:
"Good evening. However you feel about politics, a national election after all defines who we are at any given time. Now that all the votes have been counted, the victories declared, the concession speeches made, the American political landscape looks a good deal different tonight than it did just 24 hours ago. It now has a broad middle road running through it -- the preferred passage of both successful moderate Democrats and pragmatic Republicans. The American public sent some very strong messages through the ballot box. The day after the first-ever billion dollar election, a clear message: disgust with Republican attacks on the White House scandal. The results, Democrats win in surprising numbers, capturing important seats in the House...."

Claire Shipman relayed Clinton's reaction about getting back to business before Anne Thompson explained how woman, blacks and Hispanics were the winning coalition for Democrats. Supporting Brokaw's spin, Gwen Ifill then asserted that those who won were "Governors who bill themselves as problem-solvers." Same with the new ones: "Governors elected in Florida, South Carolina and Alabama -- all elected emphasizing education, health care and modest tax cuts."

(Catching up on Wednesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed that Newsweek's Jonathan Alter pushed the line that Republicans were too conservative and moderation wins, ignoring the conservative analysis that Republicans had no agenda:
"You know there's this old line that the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow line and a dead armadillo. But now everybody is running to the middle of the road. And the faster that you get there the better you do at the polls. So this is a bad election for extremists in both parties and a bad night I think for the Christian Coalition and those who want to pull the Republican party to the right. The centrist, pragmatic Republican Governors did very well.")

3

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) A Reality Check on Tom Brokaw's "a clear message: disgust with Republican attacks on the White House scandal." The VRS exit poll shows otherwise. As detailed in the November 4 CyberAlert, only 5 percent of voters considered the scandal the most important issue and 59 percent said "Clinton was not a factor" in casting their ballot while 19 percent said they voted to express support, matched by a nearly identical 20 percent who said they wanted to show opposition.

During ABC's election night coverage, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Sam Donaldson repeated the media's off-base assessment. He asked Trent Lott: "Senator, the voters seem to be saying they don't want the impeachment process to go forward. Are you going to try to short circuit it now?"

But just a few minutes later ABC corrected he record.
Peter Jennings: "On the subject of impeachment, it is naturally a question that we wanted to ask people in our exit polls. ABC's Lynn Sherr is with us. Lynn, what's the general take been on impeachment hearings from here on out?"
Lynn Sherr: "Well, Peter, Senator Lott is quite right, the Lewinsky matter was not the reason that voters say that they cast their ballots for House members today."

Barely 20 hours later, as noted in #2 above, Sherr seemed to contradict herself, asserting on the November 4 World News Tonight:: "What voters across the country had to say was: simply enough. Forget about impeachment Ms. or Mr. Lawmaker and get back to work."

4

cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) One more Ratherism, caught on CBS election night coverage by the MRC's Brian Boyd:
Rather: "The call is just in for the South Carolina Senate race. This was one of the cardiac arrest time races. This thing was nasty enough to gag a buzzard. But it turns out that Fritz Hollings the veteran Democratic Senator has held on to win."

Buzzard-gagging is a favorite image for Rather. On election night in 1996 he intoned: "Our CBS News estimates is in one of the nastiest, smelliest campaigns of them all -- a lot of people thought the stench from this would gag a buzzard -- Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Attorney General, has beaten back the effort of state senator Roger Bedford, to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Howell Heflin."

And in 1990: "Let's go down to Texas and let me show you actual votes in and tabulated. This was a race considered so nasty it would gag a buzzard....This race is so close that everybody's having a 4,000-calorie attack down there."

Rather needs to expand the range of his analogies. -- Brent Baker

5


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