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Fret Over Plight of GOP "Moderates" in Face of Conservative Wins --11/5/2004


1. Fret Over Plight of GOP "Moderates" in Face of Conservative Wins
Two days after several conservatives won Senate races, ABC's World News Tonight focused on the plight of a few Republican "moderates" in the Senate, starting with how Arlen Specter was forced to retreat from his warning that as the new Chairman of the Judiciary Committee he would oppose any Supreme Court nominee who would overturn Roe v Wade. Peter Jennings touted how four "moderate" Senators "put President Bush on notice that they want a say in his agenda," before Linda Douglass empathized with how Senators Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee "often find themselves torn between loyalty to the President and their convictions." Douglass concluded by fretting about how "the Senate has gotten much more conservative. One new Senator wants the death penalty for people who perform abortions" and so "some moderates say they'll have to vote with the Democrats to fight for their issues."

2. ABC Strikes Back at Idea "Moral Values" = Conservative Views
ABC struck back Thursday night at the notion that exit polls, which found that "moral values" led all other topics as the most important issue to voters, meant support for conservative positions on social issues. With "Moral Values" in quote marks over a red/blue state U.S. map, Peter Jennings treated the concept as alien as he described how "there's been a lot of buzz in the political establishment, in the country at large, about this question of quote, 'moral values.'" He complained that "the question did not ask what moral values did you have in mind?" and so he chafed that "some people now interpret this as a mandate for conservative religious values." John Cochran proceeded to highlight how "conservative activists argued their moral values were the important ones in this election," but he gave equal weight to how "in blue states...voters were more likely to feel it was immoral to deny marriage to gays and lesbians. And their definition of moral values often included opposition to the war in Iraq." In the morning, Diane Sawyer again called the role of "moral values" a "big surprises" in the campaign.

3. Reporter Admits Error in Dismissing Potency of Liberal Tag
A reporter has admitted being wrong to have dismissed the effectiveness of the liberal label. Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief Nina Easton, on CNN's NewsNight after the third presidential debate, castigated President Bush for tagging John Kerry as a liberal. She charged that Republicans had "ridden that tired horse of calling Kerry a 'liberal from Massachusetts' and out of the mainstream, which doesn't, I don't think, play that well to swing voters." On Wednesday night of this week, however, Easton acknowledged her error, recalling on the same CNN show that she had thought labeling Kerry a liberal "was kind of outdated, that that really wouldn't work, that sort of 'liberal Massachusetts' label. In fact, that turned out to be catnip for the base. And that was a very strong motivator."

4. Evan Thomas: Bush Endures Media Hostility from Blue State Media
Newsweek's Evan Thomas contended on Wednesday's Hardball that President Bush suffered from media bias against him since "most" of Thomas's colleagues in the media "don't like Bush and they do like Kerry" and he "can't believe that doesn't affect" coverage. He also asserted, from NBC's "Democracy Plaza" in Manhattan, that "the mainstream media" are out of touch "with most of America. I mean there is a red-blue divide. And most of the media types live in the blue part. They live right here."

5. "Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Celebrated His Re-election"
Letterman's "Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Celebrated His Re-election"


Fret Over Plight of GOP "Moderates" in
Face of Conservative Wins

ABC's World News Tonight Two days after several conservatives won Senate races, ABC's World News Tonight focused on the plight of a few Republican "moderates" in the Senate, starting with how Arlen Specter was forced to retreat from his warning that as the new Chairman of the Judiciary Committee he would oppose any Supreme Court nominee who would overturn Roe v Wade. Peter Jennings touted how four "moderate" Senators "put President Bush on notice that they want a say in his agenda," before Linda Douglass empathized with how Senators Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee "often find themselves torn between loyalty to the President and their convictions." Douglass concluded by fretting about how "the Senate has gotten much more conservative. One new Senator wants the death penalty for people who perform abortions" and so "some moderates say they'll have to vote with the Democrats to fight for their issues."

With "Fault Lines" beneath a graphic of the U.S. Capitol, Peter Jennings introduced the second story on Thursday's World News Tonight: "On Capitol Hill today, a number of Republican Senators, who describe themselves as moderates, have tried to put President Bush on notice that they want a say in his agenda, particularly when it comes to any new Supreme Court justices. ABC's Linda Douglass covers the Congress for us."

Douglass began her November 4 piece, as checked against the closed captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Senator Arlen Specter won re-election with the help of the President, and is now poised to become Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. But he suggests a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn the right to abortion will not be confirmed."
Senator Arlen Specter at a press conference: "When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely. And I have said that bluntly during the course of the campaign, that Roe V. Wade was inviolate."
Douglass: "Specter's comments touched off a firestorm among conservatives, who wasted no time warning him that his chairmanship may now be in jeopardy. Today, Specter backed down, insisting, 'I have supported every one of President Bush's nominees. I have never and would never apply any litmus test on the abortion issue.' Still, it is a sign that Mr. Bush's party may not give him all that he wants."
Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute: "The 95 percent vote that George Bush got from Republicans in the country doesn't mean that he can count on 95 or 100 percent support from the Republicans in the Senate."
Douglass, with "Senate Moderates" on screen over pictures of all four she named: "The fault lines in the party run far deeper than the abortion issue. Moderates Specter, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, have also clashed with the President on the environment and tax cuts. They often find themselves torn between loyalty to the President and their convictions. Today, Snowe said they will try to hang tough."
Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine: "Well, I think there'll be pressure, considerable pressure on, I think, many of the Senators."
Douglass noted that Chafee isn't much of a Republican, as she concluded: "Chafee so opposes the war in Iraq that he wrote in Mr. Bush's father's name when he voted for President. Chafee says he has not ruled out changing parties. The Senate has gotten much more conservative. One new Senator wants the death penalty for people who perform abortions. Some moderates say they'll have to vote with the Democrats to fight for their issues. Linda Douglass, ABC News, Capitol Hill."

ABC Strikes Back at Idea "Moral Values"
= Conservative Views

ABC's Peter Jennings ABC struck back Thursday night at the notion that exit polls, which found that "moral values" led all other topics as the most important issue to voters, meant support for conservative positions on social issues, as if liberal anti-war activists were equally likely to have picked "moral values" as their top issue. With "Moral Values" in quote marks over a red/blue state U.S. map, Peter Jennings treated the concept as alien as he described how "ever since the polls closed on election night, there's been a lot of buzz in the political establishment, in the country at large, about this question of quote, 'moral values.'" He complained that "the question did not ask what moral values did you have in mind?" and so he chafed that "some people now interpret this as a mandate for conservative religious values."

John Cochran proceeded to highlight how "conservative activists argued their moral values were the important ones in this election" with their positions on "conservative hot button issues" such as abortion and same-sex marriage. But he gave equal weight to how "in blue states, such as California, voters were more likely to feel it was immoral to deny marriage to gays and lesbians. And their definition of moral values often included opposition to the war in Iraq." ABC featured a man who declared: "If you've got a President who just says, you know, my daddy didn't finish the job, so I'm going to go inflict war and I'm a warmonger, you know, that's a moral issue. It's wrong. Truth is, it's wrong to kill."

Cochran relayed that since they are "worried about the split in America, some evangelicals are now working to expand the definition of moral values." Viewers next heard from Jim Wallis, but though Cochran had tagged Tony Perkins of the Family Research Center as a "conservative activist," he refrained from labeling Wallis, the Editor of a left-wing magazine, as a liberal.

In the morning, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer expressed astonishment over "one of the big surprises" of the campaign which "still has everyone talking. Voters saying that their top issue in choosing a candidate, not the economy, not terrorism, not Iraq, but moral values." Sawyer at least painted liberal Democrats as the ones out of touch, telling Paul Begala how "a woman in the newspaper this morning said something which really intrigued me. She said here's the thing about the Democrats and why she voted this way. She said, 'I've been made to feel by liberal people that my faith just makes me weird' and at the end of the day she didn't like that. Did the Democrats miss something big here?"

But Sawyer also raised how Kerry backers claimed that "moral values" is "code for something else. It's code for taking a different position about gays in America, an exclusionary position, a code about abortion, code about imposing Christianity over other faiths."

Jennings set up the November 4 World News Tonight segment:
"Ever since the polls closed on election night, there's been a lot of buzz in the political establishment, in the country at large, about this question of quote, 'moral values.' It begins, really, with a question in Tuesday's exit poll of voters. When asked what issue mattered most in deciding whom to vote for, 22 percent said 'moral values.' [on screen, bar graph with 22 percent for moral values, 20 percent for economy and 19 percent for terrorism]. That was more than for any other issue the pollsters raised. But the question did not ask what moral values did you have in mind? And some people now interpret this as a mandate for conservative religious values. So today we asked ABC's John Cochran to take 'A Closer Look.'"

Cochran began with some very broad interpretations of the term: "We asked people around the country how they define moral values."
Unidentified woman #1: "Moral values would be, like, right and wrong, what your parents instilled in you."
Cochran: "Listening to some of these people, you wonder how moral values could have become so divisive during the campaign."
Unidentified woman #2: "Treating people right and with respect, respect for ourselves, respect for others and respect for God."
Unidentified man #1: "I think moral values says that somewhere there has to be a line in society that you draw that says that this is, this is behavior or circumstances that you don't want to encourage as a policy matter."
Cochran: "But during the campaign, the so-called moral values divided many voters."
Unidentified preacher on stage: "We are going to vote our values."
Cochran: "Conservative activists argued their moral values were the important ones in this election [on screen header: "Moral Values" with "Conservative Hot Button Issues" as the subhead as each item Cochran enunciated was listed on screen]. The pledge of allegiance in schools, acknowledgment of God on public monuments, the sanctity of life for the hopelessly ill and opposition to abortion. But this year, it was the gay marriage issue that was so powerful that amendments against it were passed in all 11 states where it was on the ballot."
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: "If you look at Pennsylvania and Ohio, they have very similar demographics. Pennsylvania went to Kerry. Ohio went to President Bush. The difference being the turnout that was fueled by the marriage issue being on the ballot."
Cochran: "In blue states, such as California, voters were more likely to feel it was immoral to deny marriage to gays and lesbians. And their definition of moral values often included opposition to the war in Iraq."
Unidentified man #3: "If you've got a President who just says, you know, my daddy didn't finish the job, so I'm going to go inflict war and I'm a warmonger, you know, that's a moral issue. It's wrong. Truth is, it's wrong to kill."
Cochran: "Worried about the split in America, some evangelicals are now working to expand the definition of moral values."
Jim Wallis, identified on screen as an "evangelical pastor": "How do you bring people together? Where is the common ground? I do think that overcoming poverty may be a new common ground on which many people can stand."
Cochran concluded: "Americans overwhelmingly agree this is a moral nation. The debate at the moment is over who owns morality. John Cochran, ABC News, Washington."

Cochran failed to identify Wallis as a liberal, but he is Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners, a liberal protestant magazine. The first paragraph of the magazine's bio on him:
"Jim Wallis is a Christian leader for social change. He is a speaker, author, activist, and international commentator on ethics and public life. Wallis was a founder of Sojourners -- Christians for justice and peace -- more than 30 years ago and continues to serve as the editor of Sojourners magazine, covering faith, politics and culture. In 1995, Wallis was instrumental in forming Call to Renewal, a national federation of churches, denominations, and faith-based organizations from across the theological and political spectrum working to overcome poverty." For the full bio: www.sojo.net

Earlier Thursday, on Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer announced: "The campaign is over, but one of the big surprises still has everyone talking. Voters saying that their top issue in choosing a candidate, not the economy, not terrorism, not Iraq, but moral values. So we went out and asked the voters exactly what the word, phrase 'moral values' means to them."
Harriett Eskew, Bush voter: "I know that he is seeking to live out, in his daily life, biblical values."
Christine Michalec, Kerry voter: "We're a country founded on diversity and we have so many different, you know, religions that it might be better for him just to keep it vague, as far as that."
Maurisha Cartwright, Kerry voter: "Obviously morals are an issue, a big issue. Religion not so much."
Sawyer introduced her two guests, Paul Begala and Joe Watkins: "Many different things. A question raised in one headline, 'are we two nations under God this morning?'...I'm going to start with you, Paul, because a woman in the newspaper this morning said something which really intrigued me. She said here's the thing about the Democrats and why she voted this way. She said, 'I've been made to feel by liberal people that my faith just makes me weird' and at the end of the day she didn't like that. Did the Democrats miss something big here?"
Begala conceded: "I think they did, Diane. I think that my party often suffers from cultural elitism. Every -- not every, well, yeah -- every liberal wants to believe that he's intellectually superior, every conservative wants to believe that he's morally superior, and they each look down their nose at the other...."
Bush campaign adviser Joe Watkins asserted: "I'm a person of faith. In addition to my business life and my political life, I'm also a minister -- I pastor a church -- and I clearly don't feel morally superior to anybody. I mean, what my faith has taught me is that I'm forgiven, and so I don't have the right to feel superior to anybody morally."
Sawyer, the MRC's Jessica Anderson noticed, countered: "Yes, but let me ask you something, because there's a definite sense this morning on the part of the Kerry voters that perhaps this is code, 'moral values' is code for something else. It's code for taking a different position about gays in America, an exclusionary position, a code about abortion, code about imposing Christianity over other faiths."
Watkins: "I don't think so. I think that the truth of the matter is, Diane, that faith really does matter to a lot of people in America and they aren't carrying signs necessarily, they're not standing on the street corner somewhere."

The November 4 CyberAlert documented the initial media surprise at the role of moral values: Out of touch media. Many in the media admitted their "surprise" at how the exit poll discovered that, at 22 percent, more called "moral values" the "most important issue" than any other in determining their vote. On Wednesday's Good Morning America, ABC's Diane Sawyer asserted that the exit poll had "some surprises" and Robin Roberts began with the "moral values" answer. Over on CBS's Early Show, Julie Chen asked: "What was the surprise of the day?" John Roberts replied that the "moral values" finding was "the real surprise of the day." Dan Rather teased the CBS Evening News, "Moral values. We'll give you a look at the surprise issue that trumped the war, terror and the economy..." ABC's Peter Jennings insisted that "this question of moral values is a surprising one to show up on exit polls" and George Stephanopoulos described it as "an amazing result." Just before John Kerry's concession speech, ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin acknowledged how many journalists "are out of touch with a lot of America and with a lot of America that supports George W. Bush." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Reporter Admits Error in Dismissing Potency
of Liberal Tag

Boston Glob Washington Bureau Chief Nina Easton A reporter has admitted being wrong to have dismissed the effectiveness of the liberal label. Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief Nina Easton, on CNN's NewsNight after the third presidential debate, castigated President Bush for tagging John Kerry as a liberal. She charged that Republicans had "ridden that tired horse of calling Kerry a 'liberal from Massachusetts' and out of the mainstream, which doesn't, I don't think, play that well to swing voters." On Wednesday night of this week, however, Easton acknowledged her error, recalling on the same CNN show that she had thought labeling Kerry a liberal "was kind of outdated, that that really wouldn't work, that sort of 'liberal Massachusetts' label. In fact, that turned out to be catnip for the base. And that was a very strong motivator."

In the second hour of a two-hour NewsNight on Wednesday night, November 3, Easton appeared, via satellite from Washington, DC, during anchor Aaron Brown's "Brown Table" segment. He began by asking each panelist who they had predicted would win. Easton answered, as tracked down by the MRC's Ken Shepherd:
"I picked Kerry. But look, last night's election was a clear victory for George Bush. Three million plus popular votes. This is a vote that you have to go back to 1988 to get a majority that looks like what George Bush won last night."
Brown: "Why did you pick Kerry, then?"
Easton: "Well, I think, I think at the time the undecideds looked like they were, they were very much the type that would lean towards Kerry, more secular, more moderate. I expected that there was so much anger towards George Bush. But what I didn't see, and what I think a lot of us didn't recognize was that there really is a conservative embrace of George Bush in this country. So that a lot of this, when the Bush machine labeled John Kerry as a 'liberal' and we sort of -- I thought that was kind of outdated, that that really wouldn't work, that sort of 'liberal Massachusetts' label. In fact, that turned out to be catnip for the base. And that was a very strong motivator. And in a lot of the exit polls, we saw people saying that moral issues were what they were voting on. It wasn't just terrorism, and it wasn't just the economy. It was moral issues."

The October 14 morning edition of CyberAlert recounted: Following the debate, during the "Brown Table" segment on CNN's midnight EDT NewsNight, Nina Easton of the Boston Globe picked Bush as the winner, but chided him for applying the liberal label:
"Well, first of all, it's unclear how many people, Aaron, actually turned off Pedro Martinez to watch the debate tonight, so it really will be up to the spinners and kind of how that goes in the next few days. And I have to say, I'm going to be a contrary voice on your show. I thought George Bush did very well. I thought he came off very much as the compassionate conservative that he was in 2000. He also opened up a new front against Kerry. For a long time, they've ridden that tired horse of calling Kerry a 'liberal from Massachusetts' and out of the mainstream, which doesn't, I don't think, play that well to swing voters."

Evan Thomas: Bush Endures Media Hostility
from Blue State Media

Evan Thomas on MSNBC's Hardball Newsweek's Evan Thomas contended on Wednesday's Hardball that President Bush suffered from media bias against him since "most" of Thomas's colleagues in the media "don't like Bush and they do like Kerry" and he "can't believe that doesn't affect" coverage. He also asserted, from NBC's "Democracy Plaza" in Manhattan, that "the mainstream media" are out of touch "with most of America. I mean there is a red-blue divide. And most of the media types live in the blue part. They live right here."

On Inside Washington in July, Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, acknowledged that the media "want Kerry to win" and "that's going to be worth maybe 15 points" for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Then in mid-October he reaffirmed his belief that most reporters "absolutely" want Kerry to win, but on CNN's Reliable Sources he argued that his 15 point estimation was a "stupid thing to say." When host Howard Kurtz wondered if it is worth five points, Thomas acceded, "maybe."

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this exchange, on the November 3 Hardball on MSNBC broadcast from an outdoor set at Rockefeller Plaza, dubbed "Democracy Plaza," between Chris Matthews and Thomas:

Matthews: "You're a media critic now. You made some comments recently. Do you think there was a skewing of the coverage, any kind of, any kind of negative bias of the press toward the President?"
Thomas: "Yeah. I can't prove it. I think it's subtle."
Matthews: "Where do you see it?"
Thomas: "I think it's subtle. I mean I'm a lousy media critic, because I ought to be able to give you chapter and verse. I just know a lot of people in the media, and they're, most of them don't like Bush and they do like Kerry. And I just can't believe that doesn't affect-"
Matthews: "Do you think they work it? Do you think they work it? They work their beliefs in at the job, in other words, try to nail the President and push up Kerry whenever possible?"
Thomas: "Well, of course they deny it. And then these are a lot of excellent journalists, who do try. But, inevitably, some of this is gonna creep in. And where it shows I think is how out of touch the mainstream media is with most of America. I mean there is a red-blue divide. And most of the media types live in the blue part. They live right here. And they went to fancy schools and they dress a certain way, look a certain way. And, and they're not terrifically in touch with the rest of us."

More on the earlier comments by Thomas on how the press would skew coverage in Kerry's favor:

-- The July 12 CyberAlert reported: Recognition of the obvious. The media "wants Kerry to win" and so "they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic" and "there's going to be this glow about" them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, "The Sunshine Boys?" Inside, an article carrying Thomas' byline contrasted how "Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine." The cover story touted how Kerry and Edwards "became a buddy-buddy act, hugging and whispering like Starsky and Hutch after consuming the evidence."

The full Thomas quote on the July 10 Inside Washington, a weekend discussion show taped at and run by the Gannett-owned CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, WUSA-TV, and carried by many PBS stations across the country:
"There's one other base here: the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards -- I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but -- they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."

For a RealPlayer video clip of Thomas making his comment: www.mediaresearch.org


-- October 19 CyberAlert: On the October 17 Reliable Sources on CNN, host Howard Kurtz asked Thomas: "Well, it is a tight race. But do you believe that most reporters want John Kerry to win?"
Evan Thomas: "Yeah. Absolutely."
Kurtz: "Do you think they're deliberately tilting their coverage to help John Kerry and John Edwards?"
Thomas: "Not really."
Kurtz: "Subconsciously tilting their coverage?"
Thomas: "Maybe."
Kurtz: "Maybe?"
Thomas: "Maybe."
Kurtz: "Including in Newsweek?"
Thomas, nodding: "Yeah."
Kurtz reminded him: "You've said on the program Inside Washington that because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as 'young and dynamic and optimistic,' that that's worth maybe 15 points. So that would suggest-"
Thomas: "Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do think that, I do think that the mainstream press, I'm not talking about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors Kerry. I don't think it's worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing to say."
Kurtz: "Is it worth 5 points?"
Thomas: "Maybe, maybe."

For that CyberAlert item with a shot on Thomas on CNN: www.mediaresearch.org


-- August 2 CyberAlert, another bias admission flashback:
By a one-party state-like overwhelming margin, political reporters who are covering the presidential campaign think John Kerry would make the better President, New York Times reporter John Tierney discovered in overseeing an informal survey of 153 journalists at a press party during the Democratic convention last week in Boston. "When asked who would be a better President," Tierney relayed in his Sunday news section "Political Points" column of tidbits from the campaign trail, "the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1." For details: www.mrc.org

For a look at how Tierney, appearing on FNC's O'Reilly Factor, maintained that "most reporters are driven not by ideology," see the August 4 CyberAlert which features a picture of Tierney: www.mrc.org

"Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Celebrated
His Re-election"

From the November 4 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways George W. Bush Celebrated His Re-election." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Eliminated tax cut for 55 million Americans who voted for Kerry.

9. Went trippin' on a handful of Cheney's heart pills.

8. Thanked voters from all 59 states.

7. Splurged on the endless shrimp special at Red Lobster.

6. Pretended not to notice his father's envious weeping.

5. Dug out tapes of some of his favorite Texas executions.

4. You know, the usual -- watching wrasslin' and eating yodels.

3. Immediately started planning his 2008 re-election bid.

2. Told prison guards to give Saddam an extra tasering.

1. Asked for Laura's help with a very different bulge under his suit.


# Tonight (Friday) on the Late Show: Al Franken. He should be really angry about the election results. And David Letterman will be making a rare media appearance Monday morning on Live with Regis and Kelly.

-- Brent Baker