"Softer" Daley, "Harsher" Baker; "Kennedyesque Photo-Op"; Rather Pressed Lieberman; Alec Baldwin Condemned GOP Hypocrisy
1) Friday night NBC's Claire Shipman referred to how Gore's team was "using a softer tone" while David Gregory described Bush's James Baker as delivering a "harsher tone." CBS's John Roberts dubbed the video of Al Gore playing touch football a "Kennedyesque photo-op." Plus, Dan Rather: "Lawyers and lawsuits popping up like toadstools after a thunderstorm."
2) Dan Rather, surprisingly, pressed Joe Lieberman about pressure on him and Al Gore to concede the race and under what scenarios they might decide to drop their delaying tactics. "Give me your strongest brief for why this is good for the country to have this stretch on for even another week?"
4) On Rosie O'Donnell's TV talk show actor Alec Baldwin denounced the Republican reaction the Florida vote and urged George Bush to show "leadership" by requesting a re-vote. Baldwin also argued Republicans are hypocrites for saying they were following the rule of law during impeachment while resisting it now.
5) "There is good reason to believe that Vice President Gore has been elected President by a clear constitutional majority of the popular vote and the Electoral College," argued an ad in the New York Times, which demanded a re-vote, and was signed by Robert DeNiro, James Fallows, Paul Newman and Rosie O'Donnell.
6) Al Gore is up about 200,000 in the popular vote, but CNN's Brooks Jackson pointed out that could change in the final tabulations of all votes, including absentees. In 1996, Clinton's winning margin grew by 440,000.
Election Night Became a Sit-Com," an analysis by the MRC's Rich Noyes,
appears in the November 17 edition of Human Events. Rich opened his look back
at network election night goofs:
The networks on Friday night pointed out how, in the words of ABC's Erin Hayes, "the Democrats' tone had dropped several octaves from yesterday." NBC's Claire Shipman referred to how Gore's team was "using a softer tone," but though colleague David Gregory reported George W. Bush staged "a presidential-style photo-op with top advisers," he offered a tougher description of James Baker's approach: "Bush leaves the harsher tone to his man on the ground in Florida."
The photo-op of Al Gore playing touch football with his family was picked up by all three broadcast network evening shows. CBS's John Roberts dubbed it a "Kennedyesque photo-op."
NBC's Shipman assured viewers that Gore aides promised he "is not a politician who would insist on a long, damaging legal process if it is determined that's what going to court would mean."
The ongoing election story showed one sign of losing media interest Friday night as MSNBC, which had remained live until midnight ET Wednesday and Thursday night, ended live coverage at 7pm ET to run an Imus clip show followed by an 8pm repeat of the 5pm Hardball, though the staff returned for a one-hour News with Brian Williams at 9pm before a 10pm re-run of the Imus re-run. But, MSNBC was back on live again Saturday morning for all day coverage. FNC stayed live until 11pm ET Friday night as CNN remained live until midnight ET after a 90 minute town meeting at 10pm ET. ABC's Nightline was extended to 80 minutes for a town meeting from Georgetown University.
Friday night, Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News by delivering the spins of both sides, though he took longer to outline Gore's than Bush's: "The Bush message to Gore: It's over. Give up, time for you to concede. The Gore message to Bush: Asking for the rule of law, rather than of men and machines, is legitimate. The election is not over and it should be decided by quote, 'the will of the people, not a computer glitch.'"
From Austin, Bill Whitaker presented the Bush view: "Today the Bush campaign toned the rhetoric but turned up the pressure on Al Gore. It's part of their new battle plan devised because, one staff member told CBS News, the campaign fears the Democrats are trying to steal the election."
After video of Bush meeting with advisers, Whitaker contrasted it with a scene in Tallahassee: "While Bush played the statesman, his Florida front man, James Baker, was fighting trench warfare, trying to block the hand re-count, threatening possible retaliation," meaning a re-count in Wisconsin.
Then, from Washington, DC, John Roberts asserted:
"In a high stakes contest of politics and public relations, the Gore
campaign today cast itself as the defender of the democratic process."
Byron Pitts in Tallahassee revealed he's not too happy with the people's right to redress grievances as he opened a report on the re-count process: "It was democracy's dark side on display in Tallahassee as Bush and Gore supporters exchanged angry words."
Rather put one of his odd analogies, usually reserved for live events, into the Evening News as he introduced a story by marveling at "lawyers and lawsuits popping up like toadstools after a thunderstorm."
In the subsequent piece, Jim Axelrod picked up on a disclosure I saw better explained on FNC but which was not mentioned Friday night by ABC or NBC: "It appears the Democratic Party may have fanned the flames of the ballot controversy here in Palm Beach County as early as election day afternoon. The Democratic National Committee now confirms it paid a tele-marketing firm to start spreading the word about the bad news. The next morning Democrats nationwide woke up and started talking about how the ballots were illegal."
In other words, Democrats were calling supporters on Tuesday to tell them they may have voted wrong and encouraged them to complain even though neither the DNC or the called voters really knew if they voted incorrectly.
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced: "The Governor today was trying out his presidential style." David Gregory used the same language in relating, in NBC's always confusing present-tense verbiage, how Bush "today stages a presidential-style photo-op with top advisers."
Following video of Bush with Condoleeza Rice, Larry
Lindsey and Andrew Card, Gregory contrasted Bush's image with what his
operatives were doing in Tallahassee: "Bush leaves the harsher tone
to his man on the ground in Florida, former Secretary of State James
Baker, who today criticizes re-counts by hand in the state, saying
they're error-prone and practically calls on Al Gore to concede."
Claire Shipman opened her piece, on Gore, with the touch football video: "Al Gore, in a deliberate attempt to publicly relax in the midst of tension of the highest order."
She stressed the
"softer tone" of the Gore team: "The Gore Florida team
today asserting that there is still a lot of work to be done before naming
the President-elect, but using a softer tone."
Shipman concluded by relaying assurances that in the end Gore will do whatever is proper: "Friends point out that the man that was so quick to concede the first time to George W. Bush when he thought he'd lost, and who told aides 'we have to do this right,' is not a politician who would insist on a long, damaging legal process if it is determined that's what going to court would mean."
In a Friday night exclusive interview, Dan Rather, surprisingly, pressed Joe Lieberman repeatedly about pressure on him and Al Gore to concede the race and under what scenarios they might decide to drop their delaying tactics.
Rather's questions to Lieberman in the interview
excerpted on the November 10 CBS Evening News:
-- "It's my understanding that the overseas absentees ballots cannot and will not be completely all in and counted before about a week from today. Can you see any reasonable scenario in which before than time Vice President Gore and yourself say we're convinced it's Bush and we concede?" ("No.")
-- "Give me your strongest brief for why this is good for the country to have this stretch on for even another week, never mind beyond that?"
-- "When is the last time you saw Vice President Gore?"
-- "True or untrue that he's just crushed?" ("Untrue.")
ABC and NBC made brief mentions Friday night of the charge that Democrats traded cigarettes for voting with the homeless in Milwaukee, an allegation reported on election day by FNC and by the other cable networks on Friday.
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings noted: "In Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman wants an investigation into allegations that Democratic workers encouraged homeless people to vote by offering them cigarettes."
Lisa Myers began an NBC Nightly News story on voting irregularities around the nation: "In Wisconsin, which Gore won by only 6,000 votes, Republicans asked the local prosecutor to look into complaints of possible fraud and irregularities, including Gore supporters allegedly giving cigarettes to homeless people in exchange for votes."
Friday on Rosie O'Donnell's daytime TV talk show actor Alec Baldwin denounced the Republican reaction to the Florida vote and urged George Bush to show "leadership" by requesting a re-vote. Baldwin appeared the very day a full page ad ran in the New York Times, signed by O'Donnell, demanding a new election in Palm Beach County, O'Donnell's voting residence. (See item #5 below for details.) Baldwin also argued Republicans are hypocrites for saying they were following the rule of law during impeachment while resisting it now.
MRC analyst Paul Smith took down Baldwin's comments made on O'Donnell's November 10 show.
Baldwin: "Gore is not doing anything that Bush
wouldn't be doing if the situation were reversed. If the situation were
But she's cancelled out by fellow Palm Beach County resident Rush Limbaugh.
How much did Baldwin believe in the "legal process" during the impeachment effort? Recall how on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien on December 11, 1998 he jumped up from his chair and shouted: "I'm going to stone Henry Hyde to death!"
To view it via RealPlayer, go to:
Click on "for more details" to read a transcript of his outburst.
"The Election Crisis" cried the headline over a full page New York Times ad on Friday from the "Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens 2000," a group which included several celebrities as well as a former Editor of U.S. News & World Report.
MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey brought the
ad, organized by the same group of professors who put out an
anti-impeachment ad, to my attention. It argued:
Amongst the listed signers: actor Robert DeNiro, former U.S. News Editor James Fallows, actor Paul Newman and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, as well as actress/talk show host Rosie O'Donnell.
Did Al Gore really win the popular vote? So far yes as he's up about 200,000 votes nationwide, but as CNN's Brooks Jackson pointed out on Thursday's Inside Politics, later-counted absentees votes, and the official final tabulations released by the states, substantially changed the final numbers in past elections.
Jackson noted in his November 9 report: "Gore does lead in the unofficial tally of the popular vote, but by a narrow and changing margin. On election night, he was running behind by half a million votes. The next day he led by a quarter-million. Thursday afternoon his lead over Bush had shrunk to less than 200,000 votes out of more than 100 million counted for all candidates. But those are just unofficial totals gathered by the news media, subject to change due to recounts or late tallied absentees."
He disclosed: "In 1996, the unofficial totals being reported the morning after election day showed a total of nearly 93 million votes cast for President. But weeks later the final, official vote tally showed well over 96 million votes were actually cast. That's nearly 3.5 million additional votes."
Jackson explained the impact: "President Clinton's winning margin changed significantly when all the votes were counted. Morning-after totals had him beating Bob Dole by just over seven million -- 7,760,000 votes. His official winning margin turned out to be more than 8 million, a change of more than 440,000 votes. But this time, a change could go either way."
> The New York Post picked up on some
post-election network reporting quoted in CyberAlert and used it in a
"MediaWatch" piece on Friday's op-ed page: "Prejudice and
Pride." To read it, go to:
If there's anything interesting on the TV talk shows tonight (McLaughlin Group, Inside Washington, Capital Gang), I'll try to put together another CyberAlert late tonight/early Sunday with what I see and hear. -- Brent Baker
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