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CyberAlert -- 11/07/2000 -- 12 of 13 Top Slate Editors For Gore

12 of 13 Top Slate Editors For Gore; Gumbel Baffled Gore Not Way Ahead; Rather Pre-Released His Spin -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) 92 percent of people in editorial/news positions at a major Web site planned to vote for Gore, not one for Bush. Amongst the Gore backers at Slate.com: Veterans of Newsweek, U.S. News and the Washington Post. Slate is challenging other journalists to also come clean.

2) Bryant Gumbel was baffled this morning by why Gore, a "better qualified and more experienced" candidate is not way ahead given the "unparalleled prosperity."

3) Dan Rather revealed the spin he plans to relay. If Bush loses it's because he picked Cheney. If Gore loses it's because he didn't wrap himself around Clinton when "policies initiated in the Clinton White House helped to produce the greatest economic boom in U.S. history."


1

A media outlet has had the courage to showcase how nearly 100 percent of its senior editorial staff planned to vote for Al Gore. Specifically, 12 of 13 people holding positions above copy editor or editorial assistant, though those lower-lever people were also near-universally in support of Gore. And the 13th guy isn't behind Bush: He's for libertarian Harry Browne.

The voting preferences have been posted by Slate.com about its staff and amongst those boasting support for Gore were Timothy Noah, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report and one-time Newsweek reporter Jacob Weisberg.

Noah admitted he's a Democrat and argued: "Bush's toxic mixture of privilege, ignorance, and resentment strikes me as far more offensive than Gore's woodenness and occasional condescension." Weisberg denounced Bush: "A Bush presidency might not be a disaster, but it would surely be an embarrassment."

Overall, 76 percent (29) of the 38 Slate.com staff members who agreed to reveal for whom they planned to pull the lever, including contributors and business-side staff, listed Gore as their candidate, 10.5 percent (4) picked Bush, 8 percent (3) supported Nader and 5 percent (2) advocated Browne.

(All of this raises the question of why conservatives care if the Justice Department harasses Microsoft a bit when virtually the entire staff of the news and commentary site, created and funded by Microsoft, support Gore or Nader, candidates in favor of the very suit against their company.)

In alphabetical order, here's the list of the 13 top editorial staff members and for whom they plan to vote:

Michael Brus, Assistant Editor: Al Gore
Josh Daniel, Managing Editor: Gore
Jodi Kantor, Associate Editor: Gore
Michael Kinsley, Editor: Gore
Timothy Noah, Senior Writer: Gore
David Plotz, Washington Bureau Chief: Gore
William Saletan, Senior Writer: Gore
Jack Shafer, Deputy Editor: Browne
Scott Shuger, Senior Writer: Gore
Judith Shulevitz, New York Editor: Gore
June Thomas, Copy Chief: Gore
Eliza Truitt, Associate Editor: Gore
Jacob Weisberg, Chief Political Correspondent: Gore

Every participant listed their reasoning. Here it is for four of them:

-- Washington Bureau Chief David Plotz offered four reasons for why Gore got his vote:
"1) The prospect of Gore negotiating with the Russians or Chinese is reassuring. The prospect of Bush doing it: terrifying.
"2) The Clinton-Gore administration has made America more prosperous, more secure, and more tolerant than it's ever been. Gore has the good sense to continue these policies.
"3) A point of personal prejudice. The Bush camp impugns Gore's trustworthiness and decency. But anyone who raises a child as smart, modest, and good-hearted as Karenna Gore Schiff has more than enough character to be President.
"4) 'Grecians.'"

-- Senior Writer Timothy Noah, who reported for the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and U.S. News during the 1990s, proclaimed:
"I voted for Gore. I can't pretend that this resulted from much mental agonizing. I'm a Democrat, and I almost always vote for the Democrat. However, I can say that my vote for Gore was more than the usual party-line pulling of the lever. I think Gore is nearly as smart in the realm of governance as he is stupid in the realm of campaigning. The Gore who wrote Earth in the Balance and presided over seminars on the decline of metaphor in American life embarrasses me. But the Gore who headed up the 'Reinventing Government' task force; who imposed some discipline on Clinton during the early, chaotic years of his administration (see Bob Woodward's The Agenda); and who dreamed up the Midgetman missile during the 1980s as an alternative to the MX, has the makings of an excellent President.
"My vote for Gore must also be counted as an affirmative vote against Bush, who lacks sufficient experience for the job. It may be rash of me to write of personal impressions, since I've met Gore but have never encountered Bush face to face. From a distance, though, Bush's toxic mixture of privilege, ignorance, and resentment strikes me as far more offensive than Gore's woodenness and occasional condescension. I really can't stand Bush, even though he's supposed to be the more likable candidate. I actually do like Gore (though I've been told that, based on what I've written, he doesn't much care for me)."

-- Chief Political Correspondent Jacob Weisberg, who toiled for Newsweek in the late 1980s, contended:
"When the race was getting started, I said I expected to be annoyed by everything Gore did in the campaign and then vote for him anyway. He's held up his end of the bargain, and I intend to hold up mine. As a politician, Gore is nearly talentless. As a President, however, I think he would be likely to build on Bill Clinton's most important accomplishments, hewing to a path of fiscal responsibility while pursuing a measured federal activism that would help rebuild public trust in government. In some respects, I think Gore could be better than Clinton. He is more engaged by foreign policy and a more principled internationalist. Gore's sophistication about environmental and technology issues is a significant plus.
"As for Bush, Christopher Hitchens summed up my view perfectly when he described him as 'unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.' A Bush presidency might not be a disaster, but it would surely be an embarrassment."

-- Marjorie Williams, a Slate contributor, so not included in my list of 13 top editors, was nonetheless a Washington Post reporter until recently. Her reasoning:
"I plan to vote for Al Gore. 1) Because I'm a Democrat, and while I can theoretically imagine voting for a Republican candidate for President, I never have; George W. Bush doesn't seem like a good reason to start.
"2) Because at heart, between re-inventions, Gore is and always has been a moderate, centrist sort of Democrat. I can't think of a major policy area in which I disagree strongly with what I take to be his core inclinations.
"3) Because I think he'd make a good President in every realm except the admittedly important one of persuasion. Reports of Gore's record within the Clinton administration suggest an impressively tough-minded guy who understands the presidency and is even prepared to take appropriate risks with his political capital. The worry about Gore, obviously, is that over time we will find him as abrasive and phony in the bully pulpit as he has seemed in this campaign-which matters not because it's the President's job to please or entertain us but because it's human nature to resist sacrificing or doing something difficult on the say-so of someone we'd like to stuff in a locker. It still beats the alternative, in my view, of having as President a man who seems as intellectually incurious as Bush."

To see the entire Slate.com list of staff responses, go to:
http://slate.msn.com/Features/howvote/howvote.asp

In an accompanying piece, Slate Editor Michael Kinsley argued:
"But -- for the millionth time! -- an opinion is not a bias! The fact that reporters tend to be liberal says nothing one way or another about their tendency to be biased. It does suggest that when political bias does creep in, it is more likely to tilt liberal than conservative. But there are so many other pressures and prejudices built into the news -- including occasional overcompensation for fear of appearing biased-that raw political bias plays a fairly small role. And any liberal bias in reporting is more than counterbalanced by the conservative tilt of the commentariat. Or so I believe.
"Of course it is not easy to persuade folks of this, and many will never believe it. No doubt it is easier just to keep your political opinions secret and imply that you don't have any. But that absurdity or dishonesty itself undermines your credibility. Or it ought to."

For the rest of Kinsley's piece, go to:
http://slate.msn.com/Readme/00-11-06/Readme.asp

Slate's Deputy Editor, Jack Shafer, the one of the 13 who doesn't support Gore but Browne, urged journalists at other outlets to also come clean and he offered a list of journalists he planned to contact to request that they reveal for whom they voted. He predicted the obvious:
"I also have a hypothesis about how the survey will turn out if people answer and answer honestly. It will confirm that the press corps is over-represented by yellow dog...well, golden ocher Democrats. Most of them are for abortion rights, against school vouchers, for government regulation, against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for national health care, against unlimited money in campaigns, for gun control, against privatizing Social Security, for higher taxes. In a word, for Al Gore. I tested my Democratic thesis several years ago by checking the public record to see how a sample of top Washington Posties had registered to vote. Almost to a one, registered Democratic. One Postie explained away the embarrassment of his Republican status this way: He and his wife wanted all the Republican and Democratic campaign literature mailed to them, so each year they tossed a coin to settle who'd register Republican and who'd register Democratic. That year he lost the toss."

To view the list of the people Shafer will "be contacting in the next 24 hours," meaning today, "to ask how they voted," go to:
http://slate.msn.com/code/PressBox/PressBox.asp?Show=11/20/2000&
idMessage=6426

Three cheers to Slate.com for its honesty and we wish Shafer luck, but bet virtually all will refuse to answer or claim they don't vote.

2

Bryant Gumbel was baffled this morning by why Gore, a "better qualified and more experienced" candidate is not way ahead given the "unparalleled prosperity."

MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that he asked Jack Kemp on today's The Early Show on CBS: "We have a name candidate, viewed as better qualified and more experienced, better able to handle key issues, linked with a period of unparalleled prosperity, against a governor with no national, no international experience. This would seem to be a mismatch, why is it still a tight race?"
Kemp replied: "You could make a case, as I think Reagan made in 1980 when President Carter was running and Reagan was a governor without experience, we were told, that the issue was how do you create prosperity, how do you bring down inflation, how do you get the economy rolling again. And I want to make a point though that's I think is important. This economy is slowing, interest rates are very high, Bush has I think the issues."
Gumbel retorted: "Jack, that's not analogous because back when Reagan was running we had a bad economy, this one's prosperous."

3

Read Dan Rather's spin ahead of time. The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to the latest posting of "Dan Rather's Notebook" in which Rather revealed what kind of spin he will push or relay from others after a Gore or Bush loss.

If Bush loses, he'll pick up on blame of the Cheney pick: "The selection of Cheney will be especially hard to justify if Bush loses Pennsylvania and that loss is viewed as a critical reason for his overall defeat. On the short list of those being considered for the veep slot last summer was Tom Ridge, the popular governor of the Keystone State. Thus it would surely be argued that with Ridge on the ticket, Bush would have carried Pennsylvania and perhaps other battleground states as well."

If Gore loses it will be because Gore didn't "wrap himself" around Clinton: "But the strongest and most severe case made by the Democratic fault-finders almost surely would center on Gore's reluctance to wrap himself in the mantle of the administration in which he has served for the past eight years. Almost from the time the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, there has been an intriguing duality in the public perception of President Clinton: Highly negative ratings in the area of personal conduct and character, but highly positive numbers in job performance.
"The question that could well haunt Gore for years to come is why he chose to throw out the baby with the bath water. Policies initiated in the Clinton White House helped to produce the greatest economic boom in U.S. history. And there were notable successes in other areas as well, and in many of them Gore played an active and critical role. Should he lose, many Democrats would never forgive him for not running vigorously on the record he helped to build and for failing to draw a strong contrast between that record and the one he and Bill Clinton inherited eight years ago."

To read Rather's entire piece, go to:
http://cbsnews.com/now/story/0,1597,246928-412,00.shtml

> Not sure when the next CyberAlert will be written. Tonight I and the MRC staff will be casually watching the network coverage, but not tracking it in detail as we go to a few parties instead. -- Brent Baker


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