2. Cokie Roberts Notes Ticket to Left of Public, a "Real Problem"
3. Borger Claims Cheney Got as Glowing a Reception as Did Edwards
4. CBS's Pitts Touts "Sincerity Sells" Kerry's "Passion and Caring"
5. Fox News Sunday Gave a Few Seconds to How Kerry Cut Into Lines
6. NY Times Public Editor Lambastes His Paper's Liberal Skew
7. Actor Matt Damon Boasts: "I'm Voting for John Kerry"
8. "Top Ten Ways Bill Clinton Can Sell More Books"
The vast majority of Democratic delegates, a CBS News/New York Times poll discovered, hold extremely liberal positions, positions to the left of most Democratic voters, but since the majority of delegates described themselves as "moderate," John Roberts inexplicably claimed on Sunday's CBS Evening News that "liberals will again take a back seat here in Boston." Roberts proceeded to show how the delegates are well to the left on abortion, the death penalty and believe government should do more. Plus, nine in ten don't think Bush was elected "legitimately."
In addition, the CBSNews.com summary of the poll noted that 89 percent of the delegates "would repeal most if not all of the Bush tax cuts, and just 7 percent say the U.S. did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq. What it comes to the doctrine of preemption, something that even John Kerry thinks might be necessary sometimes, only 17 percent of delegates said the U.S. should be able to attack any country it thinks might attack the U.S."
For the Sunday, July 25 CBS Evening News, anchored by Dan Rather inside the Fleet Center, John Roberts checked in from the podium: "For the second convention in a row, a CBS News/New York Times poll has found that the majority of delegates who will be here on the floor describe themselves a 'moderates.' Only 41 percent lay claim to the mantle of 'liberal,' and while that's more than in the year 2000, by historic standards liberals will again take a back seat here in Boston."
(Roberts didn't convey the specific numbers, but a PDF of the poll results posted on the New York Times Web site revealed that 52 percent of the delegates called themselves "moderate" and 3 percent said "conservative," in addition to the 41 percent which Roberts noted had identified themselves as "liberal." That liberal number was up from 36 percent at the 2000 convention when 56 percent of Democratic delegates described themselves as "moderate.")
Roberts went on to acknowledge that "while individual delegates believe they represent the party at large-"
For the CBSNews.com rundown of the poll: www.cbsnews.com
For the July 25 news story, with a link to the full findings: www.nytimes.com
Some reporters are able to recognize the liberalness of the Kerry-Edwards ticket. ABC resurrected Cokie Roberts for convention week and she quizzed John Edwards about how he could "explain politically to the people in Seneca, South Carolina, votes against partial birth abortion ban, or against banning flag burning, or on gun shows?" Then, during This Week's roundtable, she pointed out how "the vast majority of the country is for banning the procedure called partial-birth abortion," yet Kerry and Edwards "voted against it. They've got a real problem there."
Over on CBS's Face the Nation, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz recounted how "Republicans say there's a political makeover underway here, that Senator Kerry is going to use this convention to distance himself from 19 years of votes in the Senate, which is a pretty liberal record of voting that he has."
(On that same program, after Convention Chairman Bill Richardson pledged a positive atmosphere with limited Bush-bashing, Schieffer pleaded to Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, for Democrats to make an exception in the case of Dick Cheney: "Governor, you and I have been around for a long time, and you keep talking about putting the accent on the positive here. Will you not talk about Vice President Cheney? I mean, he seems to be, and we've been hearing all these things about the Vice President, how he's now a drag on the Republican ticket. Will we hear anything about him at this convention?" Richardson disappointed Schieffer: "Well, the accent is on the positive. Yes, there are gonna be some partisan statements here, but..."
Now, more complete transcriptions of the Roberts and Balz comments:
-- ABC's This Week aired a taped interview with Ted Kennedy which George Stephanopoulos did at the Kennedy home in Hyannis. Stephanopoulos asked: "Is John Kerry a liberal?" Kennedy provided the usual "labels don't have much meaning today" response, leading Stephanopoulos to note that conservatives are not reticent about being labeled conservative.
Up next in the July 25 show produced from its usual Washington, DC studio: Excerpts from an interview Cokie Roberts conducted on Saturday with John Edwards. Amongst her questions: "Your ticket is already being beaten up as a very liberal ticket. And talking about the people you just mentioned, where you come from -- born in Seneca, South Carolina, right? How do you explain politically to the people in Seneca, South Carolina, votes against partial birth abortion ban, or against banning flag burning, or on gun shows? How do you explain that politically?"
Later, during the roundtable, which also provided some rare ABC News TV time for Sam Donaldson, Roberts observed: "When you talk about trying to bring people together on an issue a divisive as abortion, there are some areas where people come together. The vast majority of the country is for banning the procedure called partial-birth abortion. These two gentlemen voted against it. They've got a real problem there."
-- CBS's Face the Nation, was done from a stage on the convention floor, with reports and guests sitting in director's chairs. Washington Post reporter Dan Balz inquired of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm: "When you all say you want to introduce Senator Kerry, the Republicans say there's a political makeover underway here, that Senator Kerry is going to use this convention to distance himself from 19 years of votes in the Senate, which is a pretty liberal record of voting that he has. What are the two or three things that you think people ought to know about Senator Kerry that they may not, that you hope they come out of this convention with -- other than the fact that he was a Vietnam veteran and has spent a lot of time working on foreign policy in the Senate?"
Granholm answered that she wanted to stress "his personal values. He is a man of faith. He is a person of conviction. He has stood up for people, and for policies that are important to average citizens. Between he and John Edwards, it's a dynamo team that will stand up for average citizens, and that's what people need to get a sense of."
Balz followed up: "When you say he's a man of conviction, I want to ask you about one thing that he said recently. Senator Kerry, as you know, is strongly pro-choice on abortion. He said recently he believes life begins at conception. How do you square those two statements?"
Granholm pretended there was no contradiction: "That's the whole point, choice. I have the exact same position as that. I am a Catholic, as is he. We believe life begins at conception. We also believe that it's not government's role to step into the doctor's office, that different faiths believe differently about when life begins..."
Media's favoritism toward Edwards over Cheney four years ago acknowledged and denied. On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Howard Kurtz raised how John Edwards "has gotten remarkably good press since he got the nod from John Kerry. Conservatives say the media don't cover Republicans like that." When pressed, CBS's Bob Schieffer conceded the media "like" Kerry, but Gloria Borger of U.S. News and CBS News took on the contention of any bias, hilariously citing how when Bill Clinton picked Al Gore, the media portrayed it as "a double date" and ate up their bus tour together. So, any media bias in favor of the 2004 Democratic VP choice is disproven by how the media fawned over the 1992 Democratic ticket!
Borger credited the glowing coverage to a "honeymoon" period for Edwards and contended: "I think the same thing happened when Dick Cheney was chosen." That was too much for Kurtz, who shot back: "I don't remember coverage that was anywhere near as gushing when Dick Cheney was chosen, compared to this Kerry/Edwards rollout."
During the July 25 Reliable Sources, broadcast from Boston, Kurtz observed: "Bob Schieffer, John Edwards, who speaks at the convention on Wednesday night, has gotten remarkably good press since he got the nod from John Kerry. Conservatives say the media don't cover Republicans like that."
Phoney Bush versus sincere Kerry? CBS's Byron Pitts gushed on Friday's CBS Evening News about how "the passion and caring" that John Kerry "does display seems strongest when he's with children, especially his own daughters. It's a familiar scene for the Kerry campaign: loving father and doting daughters. In politics, sincerity sells." Pitts offered his admiration, for how "sincerity sells" for Kerry, in a story about how Kerry wants voters to see the person behind the politician. Pitts highlighted how Kerry described himself as "incredibly loyal, a fighter, passionate, caring," the second time the CBS Evening News has showcased that comment Kerry made to Dan Rather. For good measure, Pitts tossed in how "no one doubts his bravery or his smarts."
Pitts also took a shot at President Bush's phoniness. Over video of Bush chain-sawing a log and driving a pick-up truck, Pitts asserted: "The images defy the reality. The President's bloodline is even bluer than Kerry's, and he too is a multi-millionaire."
Dan Rather set up the July 23 CBS Evening News story caught by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry launched a pre-convention tour today where it all began for him -- the Denver suburb where he was born. CBS's Byron Pitts reports the final journey toward Boston is designed to get voters to look beyond Kerry, the politician, to see Kerry, the person."
Pitts began: "Today, Senator John Kerry went back to his birthplace in Colorado, where the speech was less policy and more personal."
Fox News Sunday gave a few seconds to oft-told stories in Boston about how over the years John Kerry has pompously cut into lines and "then when you call him on it," Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr relayed, "he says, 'Do you know who I am?'"
Chris Wallace featured Carr, a Boston Herald columnist and talk show host on WRKO, in his end of show "Power Player" segment.
Howie Carr's Web page: www.wrko.com
The liberal bias of the New York Times lambasted in the New York Times, by one of its own. "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" asked the headline over the Sunday column by the paper's Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, who answered in his lead sentence: "Of course it is." Okrent contended that "if you think The Times plays it down the middle on" social issues such as gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, "you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed."
Okrent chronicled how the editorial page is "thoroughly saturated in liberal theology," how in the "Sunday magazine, the culture-wars applause-o-meter chronically points left," and how for those who "believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it's disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading." On that issue, "this implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn't appeared," Okrent argued, noting how the "potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter."
The Times created the Public Editor slot, their version of an ombudsman, in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal, but he doesn't get a lot of space -- just room for a "Week in Review" section column every other week.
An excerpt from Okrent's July 25 column:
....I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.
But if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world.
Start with the editorial page, so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right....
In the Sunday magazine, the culture-wars applause-o-meter chronically points left. On the Arts & Leisure front page every week, columnist Frank Rich slices up President Bush, Mel Gibson, John Ashcroft and other paladins of the right in prose as uncompromising as Paul Krugman's or Maureen Dowd's. The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in other places....
In the Sunday Styles section, there are gay wedding announcements, of course, but also downtown sex clubs and T-shirts bearing the slogan, "I'm afraid of Americans." The findings of racial-equity reformer Richard Lapchick have been appearing in the sports pages for decades ("Since when is diversity a sport?" one e-mail complainant grumbled). The front page of the Metro section has featured a long piece best described by its subhead, "Cross-Dressers Gladly Pay to Get in Touch with Their Feminine Side."...
Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn't think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper's viewpoint "urban." He says that the tumultuous, polyglot metropolitan environment The Times occupies means "We're less easily shocked," and that the paper reflects "a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility."
He's right; living in New York makes a lot of people think that way, and a lot of people who think that way find their way to New York (me, for one)....
But it's one thing to make the paper's pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional.
The gay marriage issue provides a perfect example. Set aside the editorial page, the columnists or the lengthy article in the magazine ("Toward a More Perfect Union," by David J. Garrow, May 9) that compared the lawyers who won the Massachusetts same-sex marriage lawsuit to Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King. That's all fine, especially for those of us who believe that homosexual couples should have precisely the same civil rights as heterosexuals.
But for those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it's disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading. So far this year, front-page headlines have told me that "For Children of Gays, Marriage Brings Joy," (March 19, 2004); that the family of "Two Fathers, With One Happy to Stay at Home," (Jan. 12, 2004) is a new archetype; and that "Gay Couples Seek Unions in God's Eyes," (Jan. 30, 2004). I've learned where gay couples go to celebrate their marriages; I've met gay couples picking out bridal dresses; I've been introduced to couples who have been together for decades and have now sanctified their vows in Canada, couples who have successfully integrated the world of competitive ballroom dancing, couples whose lives are the platonic model of suburban stability.
Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause....
This implicit advocacy is underscored by what hasn't appeared. Apart from one excursion into the legal ramifications of custody battles ("Split Gay Couples Face Custody Hurdles," by Adam Liptak and Pam Belluck, March 24), potentially nettlesome effects of gay marriage have been virtually absent from The Times since the issue exploded last winter.
The San Francisco Chronicle runs an uninflected article about Congressional testimony from a Stanford scholar making the case that gay marriage in the Netherlands has had a deleterious effect on heterosexual marriage. The Boston Globe explores the potential impact of same-sex marriage on tax revenues, and the paucity of reliable research on child-rearing in gay families. But in The Times, I have learned next to nothing about these issues, nor about partner abuse in the gay community, about any social difficulties that might be encountered by children of gay couples or about divorce rates (or causes, or consequences) among the 7,000 couples legally joined in Vermont since civil union was established there four years ago.
On a topic that has produced one of the defining debates of our time, Times editors have failed to provide the three-dimensional perspective balanced journalism requires. This has not occurred because of management fiat, but because getting outside one's own value system takes a great deal of self-questioning....
Taking the New York out of The New York Times would be a really bad idea. But a determination by the editors to be mindful of the weight of its hometown's presence would not.
END of Reprint
For Okrent's column in full: www.nytimes.com
Check the MRC's TimesWatch.org site later today. I trust that TimesWatch Editor Clay Waters will write more about this and how some of the articles and themes cited by Okrent match subjects which have been addressed in TimesWatch. Plus, Clay should have some biographical info up about Okrent. After noon EDT, check: www.timeswatch.org
Dozens, if not hundreds, of celebrities will be in Boston this week to support the Kerry campaign. On Thursday's Late Show with David Letterman, Matt Damon, a native of the Boston area, got a head start. Though he warned that "you gotta be careful nowadays" about what you say politically, he boasted: "I'm voting for John Kerry."
After Damon bragged about how in Boston, "everyone's really excited about" the Democratic convention, Letterman asked him: "Are you active politically?"
Damon appeared on the July 22 CBS program to promote his new movie, The Bourne Supremacy. For Damon's Internet Movie Database page: www.imdb.com
From the July 23 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the news that sales have plummeted for Bill Clinton's book, the "Top Ten Ways Bill Clinton Can Sell More Books." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Two millionth copy sold will contain a free commemorative subpoena
9. Smaller words and pictures so current presidents can read it
8. Try to work in some crap about Da Vinci and his codes
7. Just admit that a good 85% of it is lies
6. Cut the chapter analyzing the white castle menu
5. Focus more on Clinton's alter-ego, the meek young student who's bitten by a radioactive spider
4. Ask Al Gore to talk it up at the Barnes and Noble where he works
3. Maybe release another version that's 700 pages shorter
2. Hilarious Mad magazine-like fold-in that turns Hillary into Paula Jones
1. Add visual aids to the Monica section
# I was away for the weekend in Hamilton, New York to attend a wedding, so I missed much of the news from over the weekend, but I'm back just in time to launch the MRC's twice-daily reports on coverage of the Democratic convention. Expect another CyberAlert this afternoon, covering the morning shows, compiled by the MRC's Rich Noyes.
-- Brent Baker