Gush Over Edwards, Pitts: Now Up to Kerry to Give Party "Soul" --7/29/2004
2. Jennings: If Edwards Upbeat "Who's Going to Attack" Bush/Cheney?
3. NBC's Brown Presses Vet to Say Bush Lessened Pride in Military
4. Jennings Hails How Conclave "Energized" By "Turned-On Preacher"
5. FNC Notes Questions About Whether Kerry Vietnam Film Re-enacted
6. CBS: GOP Commits "Foul" With "Nasty" Video on Kerry's Iraq Views
7. CNN: Will GOP "Get Away With" Calling Democrats "Too Liberal"?
8. Matthews: Seeing Son Campaign for Dean "One of Happiest Moments"
9. "Top Ten Things Overheard During Teresa Heinz Kerry's Speech"
Correction: Item #3 in the July 28 Morning Edition quoted a comment by Bill Kristol about stem cell research, but gave a wrong time. Kristol made his remark on FNC at 10:15pm EDT, not 10pm. The same item recounted comments Michael Reagan made a "half hour later." Reagan actually appeared earlier, at about 9:30pm EDT.
The moment Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards finished his Wednesday night speech, the ebullience for Edwards and John Kerry could certainly be felt from some network reporters. CBS's Byron Pitts gushed: "He took this massive convention center and turned it into a courtroom, some 15,000 people into 12 jurors, and he spoke to each one. If John Edwards put the face on the Democratic Party, youthful and hopeful, it will be Senator John Kerry's job tomorrow night to give it its soul." John Roberts passed along how one delegate told him they'd "fallen in love with John Edwards."
"Bingo!" exclaimed MSNBC's Chris Matthews before Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham favorably compared Edwards to Reagan: "He talks about the best and the bravest who won't be left behind. He talks about 'this great shining light.' He says, 'tomorrow is better than today.' Those are all Ronald Reagan's lines."
On NBC, Tom Brokaw described it as "a spirited and swiftly paced speech." On MSNBC, however, in looking back at the whole night, Brokaw cautioned that the delegates are "liberal" and "they were cheering tonight the rolling back the tax cut, the health care proposals, those kinds of things. That's not the audience that these two candidates have to reach."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer called the Edwards effort "a powerful speech for about a half an hour that has clearly electrified this group in this room." Judy Woodruff championed how Edwards said "we are going to fight the war on terror. It's a message that, you know, the country has not heard from the Democrats."
Over on FNC, Bill Kristol pointed out some Democratic maneuvering since the usual "Edwards' stump speech had nothing about foreign policy, literally nothing, never mentioned the war in Iraq," yet "one-third of this speech was a very strong statement...about destroying al-Qaeda, but also a statement that we will win the war in Iraq, a statement that the Kerry-Edwards administration would increase the military budget." Kristol contended: "This was, I bet, the most hawkish foreign policy speech given by a presidential and vice-presidential nominee at a Democratic convention since John Kennedy in 1960."
A rundown of post-Edwards speech comments on Wednesday night, July 28:
-- CBS News. Rather announced: "51-year-old John Edwards, with his acceptance speech of the vice presidential nomination which will be made official tomorrow. His acceptance speech, 'hope is on the way.' Now on the stage with his family. Bob Schieffer, over the years, we've heard any number of vice presidential acceptance speeches. Generally speaking, the world little notes nor long remembers what these vice presidential candidates have to say. By any objective analysis, this was a well delivered speech."
Rather jumped to John Roberts, who admired how "just the personality that Edwards exudes when he comes to these events is something that's pretty infectious with these delegates. And I talked to one delegate yesterday who says 'you know, I'm coming to like John Kerry but I haven't yet fallen in love with him, but I will tell you this, I have fallen in love with John Edwards.' It's obvious the charisma out there gets to everybody here in the Fleet Center."
"Everybody" must include the journalists.
Rather concluded his network's 10pm EDT, hour-long broadcast by passing along the Democratic spin on the night and the night upcoming: "With the rhetorical echo of 'hope is on the way,' John Roberts [oops] tonight sounded the theme to hope, optimism, strength and a time for change. Democrats now rally behind a campaign slogan that says in effect, Kerry and Edwards are at home and abroad, uniters while Bush and Cheney are at home and abroad, dividers. The Democrats hope for victory in November rides on whether voters, especially independents and swing voters in key states and within that, especially women, agree or disagree.
-- CNN. The MRC's Ken Shepherd grabbed a couple of reaction quotes before CNN went to an 11pm EDT NewsNight:
Wolf Blitzer: "This was a powerful speech for about a half an hour that has clearly electrified this group in this room."
Judy Woodruff: "It has, Wolf. I think John Ker-, John Edwards did several things tonight. He put a good face on John Kerry, his running mate. He described his bravery in wartime. They needed that to be done desperately, they needed to tie John Kerry to a stronger image as a stronger leader. But beyond that, he brought up the war on terror. He said, you know, we are going to fight the war on terror. It's a message that, you know, the country has not heard from the Democrats. And one of the things he did, he talked about how, you know, he papered over, I think, the problems that we've heard with the Democratic Party, and that is, that this is a party of flip flops."
-- FNC, as tracked by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
# Morton Kondracke: "I thought it was an enormously effective speech, and it was terrifically well delivered. It was 95 percent positive. The only big dig, to use a Boston expression, that he had against the Bush administration was that they were, that they were taking the lowest possible road to achieve the highest office in the land. I mean, that's, that's a falsehood. The lowest possible road has been taken by Democrats like Whoopi Goldberg and other people who have delivered-"
# Bill Kristol: "Look, I think, with all due respect to Fred and Mort, they're missing something. This was not Edwards' stump speech. Edwards' stump speech had nothing about foreign policy, literally nothing, never mentioned the war in Iraq. We used to go to that speech in Iowa and see would he even mention the fact they were fighting a war in Iraq. One-third of this speech was a very strong statement, as you said, about destroying al-Qaeda, but also a statement that we will win the war in Iraq, a statement that the Kerry-Edwards administration would increase the military budget. Almost nothing, I mean, very little of that liberal pabulum about foreign aid, fighting AIDS, I mean, all these worthy causes that you usually hear all about at Democratic conventions. This was, I bet, the most hawkish foreign policy speech given by a presidential and vice-presidential nominee at a Democratic convention since John Kennedy in 1960. And I think, in that respect, it's a big moment. The Kerry-Edwards ticket is not going to let itself be defined as at all soft on the war."
# Hume: "Now, in terms of the reception that that got in the room, Bill, I believe you noted that while the line that he spoke about destroying al-Qaeda and the rest of the terrorists evoked a tremendous roar in the room. That was not the case when he talked about the goal in Iraq."
# Fred Barnes: "Remember four or five months ago when the Bush campaign had an ad that had a little bit of 9/11 in the movie, and all these Democrats were furious about, because 9/11 and the attack that had been mentioned in a Bush ad. Now, John Edwards and many of the speakers here have dwelled on 9/11 over and over again. What happened? Why is it all right now?"
-- MSNBC, as watched by the MRC's Geoff Dickens:
# 10:55pm EDT, Chris Matthews to Newsweek's Jon Meacham: "Jon, my only answer to that speech tonight was bingo!"
# Chris Jansing, on the floor: "Hey I'll tell ya the idea here was to fire up the base and in that regard John Edwards hit a home run. This place is packed absolutely up to the rafters Chris. In fact it was quite a while ago that the fire marshal closed down the doors. This is a smaller hall than Democrats usually have and there is not an inch to move around. And I have to tell you I'm not seeing people leaving. They're staying here. I spent a good bit of the day in the North Carolina delegation, people who know John Edwards well and who have talked to him over the last several days say he felt great. And I saw most of the speech with your good buddy Ben Affleck sitting next to me and he said, pretty much what you said, this guy is on!"
# Meacham contended most can relate to the millionaire Edwards family: "I think the Edwards family, when you look at these, this family, this tableau tonight. These are self-made people."
If John Edwards stays positive, Peter Jennings worried on Wednesday night following the VP nominee's address, then "who's going to attack the President and Vice President Cheney?"
Just before 11pm EDT, Jennings asked ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin: "A tactical question for you. If John Edwards is going to go around the country talking enthusiastically, optimistically even blithely about the Democratic Party, who's going to attack the President and Vice President Cheney?"
NBC's Campbell Brown pressed a Vietnam veteran, who seemingly has been called upon to serve stateside on behalf of the Iraq effort, to denounce President Bush, but he twice demurred. From the Fleet Center floor a few minutes after NBC began its 10pm EDT hour of coverage, Brown asked the man if he's "as proud today" as he was during Vietnam, or "is it a struggle today for your family, for you to be doing this? Do you think it would happen if John Kerry were President?" Brown exhorted him a second time: "Do you have concerns about the way that the President is dealing with the military situation with regard to Iraq?"
Brown checked in from the floor: "I'm with 56 year old vet Mike Medeiros who was with John Kerry in Vietnam and yet now, Mike as you know, under the Bush administration, an example of some of the challenges the military faced, you've been called on to serve again at Fort Bliss as a drill sergeant. Are you as proud today, is it a struggle today for your family for you to be doing this. Do you think it would happen if John Kerry were President."
Though Al Sharpton implied President George W. Bush would have been a racist segregationist 50 years ago ("I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school"), Peter Jennings launched ABC's 10pm EDT hour by hailing how the Democratic convention was "energized...in no more effective way than the old-fashioned Democratic way by a truly turned-on preacher." Following an excerpt from Sharpton's rant, Jennings trumpeted how "the crowd absolutely loved it" and relayed how Sharpton said he went over his allotted time because "the spirit came over him."
In contrast, CNN, FNC and MSNBC on-air talent suggested Sharpton's tone would turn off a lot of viewers. "Probably scared the hell out of a lot of people," argued MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who added: "Very angry speech. Very much off message." Matthews also questioned Sharpton's impact on the Democratic Party's effort to attract first responders, wondering if they "are ready to vote for a party that showcases a guy who's made his reputation while accusing police officers of raping a woman," a false allegation.
Jennings announced a bit past 10pm EDT on Wednesday night: "So far, this convention hall tonight has been energized in many ways, but in no more effective way than the old-fashioned Democratic way by a truly turned-on preacher. In this case, it was the Reverend Al Sharpton talking about Republicans and Democrats."
That wasn't the spin heard by MSNBC viewers. The MRC's Geoff Dickens collected these takes on Sharpton:
-- At 8:40pm EDT, Chris Matthews asked Newsweek's Howard Fineman: "Well we're back watching Reverend Al Sharpton. You have to remember that this man basically began his career, as charming as he is, on a lie. He said that a young woman in New York had been raped and beat up by police. It turns out there was no truth to that story. I've got to wonder tonight, Howard and Doris, if this is doing any good for the Democratic Party? They're trying to reach those middle twenty percent. This fire-burning speech here tonight which is as close to rabble-rousing as you're gonna hear at this convention was certainly not on message tonight."
-- At 9:10pm EDT, during a segment with Ralph Reed, Matthews asserted: "We had the Reverend Al Sharpton deliver a convention speech which I think was a barn-burner for a few. Probably scared the hell out of a lot of people. Very angry speech. Very much off message."
-- In the 9:30pm EDT half hour Mathews was joined by Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert. Matthews raised with them: "Well there is a lot of cops and firemen out there. I just wonder, Tim, with all the police and firemen out there voting and all the people that care about them, especially their families in this time after 9/11 are ready to vote for a party that showcases a guy who's made his reputation while accusing police officers of raping a woman, a young woman and it didn't happen and we know it didn't happen. How does that help them build a base of support among the first-responders?"
For the text of Sharpton's diatribe: www.cnn.com
Before prime time, FNC took note of how filmed scenes of John Kerry in Vietnam which have been featured in political ads and which will be showcased in the Thursday night video biography of Kerry, were shot at a later time. "Kerry and his crew mates would often return to the scenes of the battles and film themselves," Carl Cameron explained, adding that "critics say they were re-enacting Kerry's heroism for future political use." A bit past 8pm EDT, CNN's Jeff Greenfield made a passing reference to the controversy, citing how the Drudge Report had posted a story "about John Kerry's staged re-enacting his combat in Vietnam."
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, as he stood inside the Fleet Center, Cameron outlined the little-covered subject:
A couple of hours later on CNN, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, Jeff Greenfield announced: "Very quickly, twelve generals and admirals will testify to John Kerry's military record. And if you don't think the Bush/Cheney campaign is paying attention, they released counter-argument already. Twenty-one medal of honor winners have attacked Kerry. Independent, so-called, swift boat veterans have attacked Kerry, and on the Drudge Report, a story apparently overwrought about John Kerry's staged re-enacting his combat in Vietnam. So the counterattack from outside this hall will be underway simultaneously with the attempt to tell us John Kerry is indeed a military hero who will keep America strong."
It will be interesting to see if the networks on Thursday night raise questions about the filming of Kerry in Vietnam and how, while there are many Vietnam veterans who served with Kerry and back him, there are also many detractors who oppose him.
For the Drudge item, which plugs an upcoming book by John O'Neill, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, see: www.drudgereport.com
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has a neat Web page with a photo from Vietnam of Kerry and 19 of his colleagues. Put your curser over it and all but Kerry and two of the men disappear. The two are the only ones of the 19 who are supporting Kerry. Go to: www.swiftvets.com
CBS's Byron Pitts fretted on Wednesday night that despite the "picture-perfect photo-op of Senator Kerry and his boat-mates" cruising into Boston aboard a water taxi, "it's what's happening behind the scenes on land that symbolizes just how nasty this campaign is going to be." Specifically, Pitts was annoyed by the RNC releasing a video with clips illustrating John Kerry's various positions on the Iraq war. Pitts echoed Democratic spin as he lectured: "Historically, the opposing party lays low during convention week, but not this year. Democrats are crying foul, and today released a counter-attack."
Over video of Kerry and his Vietnam colleagues in the front pf a boat, Pitts asserted on the July 28 CBS Evening News:
The RNC ad is hardly "nasty," but it seems that to many network reporters any criticism of an opponent or pointing out of his or her hypocrisy is "nasty." To watch the video packed with clips from appearances by Kerry on TV shows: rnc.org
To watch the DNC's anti-Bush video: www.democrats.org
The RNC offers a choice of RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, but the DNC isn't pro-choice in this area, providing only a Windows Media Player option.
Recalling for George McGovern how when he ran for President 32 years ago the Republicans called him "too liberal" and "they're still accusing the Democratic Party of being too liberal" today, CNN's Judy Woodruff suggested it was and is an unfair attack as she wanted to know if they're "going to be able to get away with that argument this year?"
The MRC's Brian Boyd tracked down the exchange from the 3:30pm EDT half hour of Wednesday's Inside Politics. Woodruff asked McGovern, who was with her at CNN's convention floor-side space: "Senator, when you ran for President, we mentioned 32 years ago, the Republicans were criticizing you and the party of being too liberal. They're still accusing the Democratic Party of being too liberal. Are they going to be able to get away with that argument this year?"
Like father, like son? MSNBC's Chris Matthews boasted Wednesday night to Howard Dean how "one of my happiest moments of the campaign was watching my son Michael, who goes to Brown, out campaigning for you."
The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this bit of information in a question Matthews posed on MSNBC, at about 6:50pm EDT, to Howard Dean: "Personally, as a father, one of my happiest moments of the campaign was watching my son Michael, who goes to Brown, out campaigning for you when we were, when we were covering New Hampshire primary. I went by that movie theater downtown, the Palace or whatever it's called, and there he was out there waving a big sign for you. You got a lot of young people excited about politics. What do you feel about that?"
From the July 28 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard During Teresa Heinz Kerry's Speech." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "I'm feeling 57 varieties of boredom"
9. "She's opinionated, loud and rude -- sort of like a female Dick Cheney"
8. "The accent's pretty thick, but her English is still better than Bush's"
7. "Thank God the networks decided not to broadcast this"
6. "Pretty impressive -- she can spew obscenities in several languages"
5. "You know what's good? That Heinz gravy"
4. "Can someone ask Michael Moore to eat his Doritos more quietly?"
3. "After the speech, I hear she's going to be out in the parking lot rasslin' reporters"
2. "Ten bucks says Bush will have her deported by September"
1. "Hey, that's the bitch who told me 'to shove it'"
-- Brent Baker, with the night/overnight team of Geoff Dickens, Brad Wilmouth and Ken Shepherd; plus Mez Djouadi on the early morning posting shift