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Gushing Over Bill and Hillary, the Democratic "Rock Stars" --7/27/2004


1. Gushing Over Bill and Hillary, the Democratic "Rock Stars"
Gushing about the "rock star" quality of Bill and Hillary Clinton, network reporters declared the first night of the Democratic convention a success. "People were juiced like I don't think I've seen at a convention ever before," enthused ABC's Charles Gibson. CBS's Hannah Storm was even more ecstatic: "It was like the Celtics were playing in a championship game here at the Fleet Center last night. It was absolutely electric." As for Bill Clinton's speech last night, NBC's Katie Couric insisted that "almost everybody, even the opposition, agreed last night that he was masterful." CBS's Cynthia Bowers cheered Clinton's "dynamism," worrying that for John Kerry the former President is "still a tough act to follow."

2. Teresa's Free Pass Over "Un-American" Blast at GOP Continues
The networks' free pass for Teresa Heinz Kerry's refusal to apologize or concede incivility over her "Shove It!" gaffe continued this morning. The aspiring First Lady did a "No Regrets Tour" on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC, but ABC and CBS didn't follow up on her claim that she was dishonestly quoted. CNN and NBC did prompt her to fuss she said "un-American traits," not "un-American activities," as if "traits" and "activities" were the incendiary words. None asked why liberals -- but not conservatives -- are allowed to use the word "un-American," or about Teresa's refusal to release her tax returns until she feels she's ready.

3. MSNBC Puffs Hillary Clinton and Michigan Governor Granholm
MSNBC's Chris Jansing offered puffball coverage of New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Michigan Governor Jennifer Grahnolm in a Tuesday morning story about women in the Democratic party. Jansing was most enthralled with Hillary's celebrity: "Like a pop star, she's known by just her first name: Hillary."

4. Gibson Rues Small Role for Gore, "Who Won the Popular Vote"
Poor President Gore. ABC's Charles Gibson took a moment on Tuesday morning to regret the fact that former Vice President Al Gore, "who won the popular vote" in 2000, was "really relegated to almost a minor speaking spot on the podium last night."

5. CBS and NBC Complain About Circulating Kerry Safe Suit Pictures
This morning, both CBS and NBC rejected any good-natured ribbing of John Kerry for appearing in a "safe suit" during a tour of a NASA facility in Florida on Monday, garb that made him look slightly ridiculous as he was wrapped head to toe in turquoise with just a small opening for his face to peek through. Katie Couric scolded "Rupert Murdoch publications" that "actually put this photo up," as if they should have squelched the embarrassing picture. CBS's Byron Pitts sniffed how "there is no detail too small to criticize."


Correction: "Creeping," not "creepy." Yesterday afternoon's CyberAlert incorrectly stated what Teresa Heinz Kerry told the Pennsylvania delegation in the speech in which she decried "un-American traits" in politics. Mrs. Kerry said "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics," not "creepy un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits...."

Gushing Over Bill and Hillary, the Democratic
"Rock Stars"

Bill Clinton Gushing about the "rock star" quality of Bill and Hillary Clinton, network reporters declared the first night of the Democratic convention a success. "People were juiced like I don't think I've seen at a convention ever before," enthused ABC's Charles Gibson. CBS's Hannah Storm was even more ecstatic: "It was like the Celtics were playing in a championship game here at the Fleet Center last night. It was absolutely electric."

As for Bill Clinton's speech last night, NBC's Katie Couric insisted that "almost everybody, even the opposition, agreed last night that he was masterful." CBS's Cynthia Bowers cheered Clinton's "dynamism," worrying that for John Kerry the former President is "still a tough act to follow."

The celebratory atmosphere was most evident on CBS's The Early Show. Hannah Storm introduced the program by announcing that "former President Bill Clinton brought down the house last night at the opening of the Democratic national convention." After the opening credits, Storm continued to crow about the Democrats' wonderful night:

"In this sports mad town, it was like the Celtics were playing in a championship game here at the Fleet Center last night. It was absolutely electric. Good morning to all of you. It was just rocking here last night. Of course, many big names in the party taking center stage, among them former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Al Gore, both of them with featured roles. But of course, it was the Clintons, Hillary and Bill, who really roused the party faithful. CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers is right here in the CBS News booth at the Fleet Center with more. Good morning, Cynthia."

Bowers shared Storm's enthusiasm: "Good morning, Hannah, it's nice to see you. You know, even as he urged Democrats last night to send John Kerry to Washington, it was clear Bill Clinton is still the best man to send out to the stump. He not only managed to rock the Fleet, as you mentioned, he also managed to give life to a convention that sorely needed it."

After running a couple of clips of Clinton's speech, Bowers proclaimed: "Channeling that same charisma that powered him to two terms in office, although now just a self-proclaimed foot soldier in this campaign, Clinton rallied troops that the party hopes will make the difference in a race that's riding on a razor's edge."

Bowers concluded by theorizing that Clinton's "dynamism" was a danger to Kerry: "The Democrats purposefully scheduled Clinton on Monday to give time for memories of his dynamism to fade before John Kerry takes to the stand on Thursday. Hannah, he is still a tough act to follow."

During CBS's 8am news update, Storm was still gushing about both the Clintons and tonight's main speaker, Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama: "It was unbelievable in here after Bill Clinton spoke and it really started when Hillary Clinton took the podium. It was as if she was a rock star coming in here. And speaking of rock star, a guy that they are projecting to be a next big star in the Democratic party, he's already being called a rock star, little known state senator from Illinois, he was hand-picked by John Kerry, he's going to make the key note address tonight. So can you imagine the nerves that he's feeling?"

Across the dial, ABC's Good Morning America began with Charles Gibson proclaiming his excitement: "As you know, it is exciting to come to conventions. I've been coming to conventions now since 1968, and I know they're controlled and they're scripted, but you can tell a lot about how energized a party is. And Monday night, for a convention, was rocking here. People were juiced like I don't think I've seen at a convention ever before. This place really was moving last night."

On NBC's Today, reporter Campbell Brown was also impressed by the delegates' reaction to Clinton: "From the moment he took the stage, to a thunderous standing ovation, the headliner Bill Clinton had the crowd in his hand, selling them on John Kerry."

A few minutes later, Tim Russert told Katie Couric that Clinton was "very shrewd" to cite his lack of military service in Vietnam as a way to praise Kerry: "Oh, it is very shrewd," Russert told Couric. "He's inoculating himself by saying that you know Bush, Cheney, and Clinton, none of us stepped forward, only one of us did, John Kerry. Therefore he should be the commander-in-chief."

Couric agreed: "He's getting huge marks for being a master orator. This was sort of quintessential Bill Clinton, in front of a huge crowd, his own political party, and that's where he does the best job. Almost everybody, even the opposition agreed last night that he was masterful."

Teresa's Free Pass Over "Un-American"
Blast at GOP Continues

The networks' free pass for Teresa Heinz Kerry's refusal to apologize or concede incivility over her "Shove It!" gaffe continued this morning. The aspiring First Lady did a "No Regrets Tour" on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC, but ABC and CBS didn't follow up on her claim that she was dishonestly quoted. CNN and NBC did prompt her to fuss she said "un-American traits," not "un-American activities," as if "traits" and "activities" were the incendiary words. None asked why liberals -- but not conservatives -- are allowed to use the word "un-American," or about Teresa's refusal to release her tax returns until she feels she's ready.

Just days ago, the networks spent two days looking amazed that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "won't apologize" for calling Democratic legislators in California "girlie men" in a speech. But the spouse of the Democratic nominee can call Republicans "un-American" and they just move along to the softer personal questions.

ABC was the weirdest, since reporter Jake Tapper revealed a "newly uncovered 1976 Boston newspaper article" that quoted Mrs. Heinz Kerry as saying then that "I don't trust" Ted Kennedy, and that if he stayed in his marriage for political reasons, he's a "perfect bastard." She called the Democratic Party machine "putrid." But Charlie Gibson's interview must have come before that old story, because he never brought it up.

He quickly jumped over the "shove it" story this way: "Mrs. Kerry, that I know of, I have never been told to shove it. Do you regret it?" She said: "Nope." He then flipped over and asked: "Are we too polite in politics?" and then asked "What adjectives about yourself -- because you get characterized a lot of ways -- do you like and which ones don't you like?" In a bucket of soft personal questions, including what's her husband's favorite food and rock album, the only other notable Gibson question suggested one "evolves" out of the Republican Party: "You were married to a very prominent Republican at one point. Has your thinking evolved, changed significantly given the different circumstances you're in now?"

On CBS, Hannah Storm waited until question number seven: "This incident with the journalist where you told him to 'shove it,' is that something that you've thought back on and thought 'well, maybe I would have handled it differently' or would you do the same thing?"

Mrs. Heinz Kerry replied: "No, I wanted him to back off because he was trying to trap me with words that I hadn't said and I think that's my right. And I think you would do that too if someone attacked you and intended..." Storm broke in: "Just the choice of words 'shove it,' you know, people made a big deal about that. Because-"
Heinz Kerry: "Back off, back off."
Storm: "Because everything you do and say is going to be scrutinized."
Heinz Kerry: "Yeah."
Storm: "Is that hard? It's got to be hard."
Heinz Kerry: "You know what? None of us are perfect."
Storm: "Right."
Heinz Kerry: "You know, and if someone is really attacking your honor or trying to really be dishonest, being dishonest really, to try to get you, I think most Americans, most people would say, you know, 'defend yourself'. And that's what I did."

Just like her Hillary interview yesterday, Storm started pounding the feminist drums: "How does one reconcile being a strong, smart, independent, accomplished woman with maybe what is perceived to be proper decorum for a first lady? How do you bring those two worlds together?" She did not ask Mrs. Heinz Kerry to explain what she meant by un-American or insist on an apology.

On CNN's American Morning, co-host Bill Hemmer uniquely took Mrs. Heinz Kerry through the entire quote.

Hemmer: "Take me back to Sunday night. Do you regret telling that reporter to 'shove it'?"
Teresa Heinz Kerry: "No, no. I respect reporters and I respect anyone who does their job well. I don't, like anybody else, want to be trapped or be misrepresented intentionally by someone. That's what happened and I defended myself."
Hemmer: "The quote I have is that you said 'un-American traits.'"
Heinz Kerry: "No, 'un-Pennsylvanian.'"
Hemmer: "Okay, back up a little bit then. 'We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian-"
Heinz Kerry: "Traits."
Hemmer: "'-and sometimes un-American traits that are creeping into some of our politics.'"
Heinz Kerry: "Correct and that's absolutely correct. I would say that again."
Hemmer: "And what did the reporter say to you then?"
Heinz Kerry: "'Un-American activities' which has a very different connotation. It's a political connotation of McCarthy implications which I would not use unless it was very specific. And I would use it if it was correct but that's not what I was taking about."
Hemmer: "Why not just walk away?"
Heinz Kerry: "Because this person was trying to trap me and I was not going to let them."

NBC's Katie Couric asked if Teresa regretted her "Shove it" moment, and she replied: "No, I don't. I think I say what I believe...I defended myself, wouldn't you? If someone attacked you like that?" Couric followed up: "Apparently, you said we have to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian, and sometimes un-American traits that are coming out into some of our politics." Heinz Kerry insisted: "And that's very different from un-American activities."

Later, in the second part of the interview, Couric inquired: "You run the Heinz Foundation, and you are responsible for giving millions of dollars to various causes and organizations. If someone said to you, what do you care dearly about, in terms of causes and issues, what would you say?" (She said medical "wellness.")

Couric then added: "If your husband is elected, you have said that you'll continue to run the foundation. Will that be hard to do, given some of the demands of - on a First Lady in this country?"

This reminds us that no one asked about Mrs. Heinz Kerry's refusal to release her tax returns until she's ready, a claim no multi-millionaire Republican spouse could make for a day and a half with the national media elite. Conflicts of interest would abound if Mrs. Heinz Kerry tried to run foundations from the White House. Few TV reporters have done anything on the Heinz foundations - and the national print reporters often portray her philanthropy as saving the city of Pittsburgh more than funding the left, especially ultraliberal environmental groups. Mrs. Heinz Kerry is chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation and the Howard Heinz Endowment, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Vira I. Heinz Endowment. Together, these philanthropies have assets of more than $1.2 billion dollars, and gave away more than $66 million in 2002. For more on that, see the Capital Research Center's reporting at www.capitalresearch.org

MSNBC Puffs Hillary Clinton and Michigan
Governor Granholm

MSNBC's Chris Jansing offered puffball coverage of New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Michigan Governor Jennifer Grahnolm in a Tuesday morning story about women in the Democratic party. Jansing was most enthralled with Hillary's celebrity: "Like a pop star, she's known by just her first name: Hillary."

Shortly after 11am EDT this morning, Jansing related: "I was on the floor when Hillary Clinton took to the podium and the place absolutely went wild. She is without a doubt the most influential women in American politics, and of course if John Kerry doesn't win in November, she's expected to run for President in 2008, but she is just one of a growing number of Democratic women in power positions.

"Like a pop star, she's known by just her first name, Hillary. At first, the former First Lady turned senator wasn't even invited to speak at the Convention, but an uproar ensued and no surprise. Hillary Clinton is, without a doubt, the most recognizable woman in the Democratic Party, a prolific fundraiser, and - love her or hate her - a ratings grabber."

Viewers then saw a sound bite from the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood: "Hillary Clinton is a national brand name, she's very well liked by liberal activists, by women activists in the Democratic Party."

Jansing: "A recent survey found that more than 25 percent of delegates here would support Clinton four years from now should Kerry lose. And there are other Democratic women increasingly in the spotlight, many of them appearing on the Convention stage. Jennifer Granholm is governor of the battleground state of Michigan."

Jansing found Granholm just as wonderful as Hillary, but fretted that the foreign-born governor could not become President some day: "Centrist politics and movie star good looks have put her on the political fast track, but unlike Hillary Clinton, there will be no presidential dreams for Granholm - the Canadian-born American citizen is constitutionally ineligible."

Gibson Rues Small Role for Gore, "Who
Won the Popular Vote"

Poor President Gore. ABC's Charles Gibson took a moment on Tuesday morning to regret the fact that former Vice President Al Gore, "who won the popular vote" in 2000, was "really relegated to almost a minor speaking spot on the podium last night."

Gibson's observation came as he was wrapping up a 7am re-cap of the first day of the Democratic convention: "You heard so much about John Kerry's military record, you began to think at times he was running for admiral rather than President, but it shows that the Democrats want to portray him as a strong leader who can do a better job of combating terrorism, something they, a point they feel they need to make. And the other thing, it was strange to see Al Gore, who won the popular vote by half a million four years ago, really relegated to almost a minor speaking spot on the podium last night."

CBS and NBC Complain About Circulating
Kerry Safe Suit Pictures

John Kerry This morning, both CBS and NBC rejected any good-natured ribbing of John Kerry for appearing in a "safe suit" during a tour of a NASA facility in Florida on Monday, garb that made him look slightly ridiculous as he was wrapped head to toe in turquoise with just a small opening for his face to peek through. Katie Couric scolded "Rupert Murdoch publications" that "actually put this photo up," as if they should have squelched the embarrassing picture. CBS's Byron Pitts sniffed how "there is no detail too small to criticize."

For their part, Democrats teased back, releasing old photos of President Bush at an Asian summit looking somewhat silly wearing a patterned silk jacket, a picture both morning programs also displayed. ABC's Good Morning America did not show either the new Kerry photo or the old Bush photo.

(ABC's regular "Picture of the Morning" segment featured Al and Tipper Gore's on-stage kiss last night, re-enacting their famous smooch from 2000.)

On NBC's Today, Katie Couric seemed most bothered by the teasing, blaming media outlets for starting the ruckus: "John Kerry was in Cape Canaveral and several newspapers actually put this photo up, Rupert Murdoch publications, that showed John Kerry in a space man outfit, saying Boston we have a problem, saying is this his Dukakis moment, of course everyone remembers Michael Dukakis in the tank photo from the previous election. Then the Democrats went to George Bush in a kimono, and said well look at this. I mean, what are they going to do next, call each other sissies? Isn't this so juvenile?" she asked Tim Russert.

Russert responded with some political trivia: "Yeah, yeah, Katie, President Kennedy, John Kennedy would never put a hat on, because there's that famous picture of Calvin Coolidge wearing the Indian headress. All politicians, stop getting in outfits! Stop it!"

Over on CBS's The Early Show, Byron Pitts also showed the pair of silly pictures, but he accused the Bush-Cheney campaign, not "Murdoch publications" for roasting Kerry:

Pitts: "Also this morning, there's a new battle over photo-ops. The Bush-Cheney campaign was quick to criticize this photo (head shot of Kerry in suit) of Senator Kerry in a space suit during the tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida yesterday. Comparing it to that infamous photo of past presidential candidate Mike Dukakis riding in a tank in 1988. For their part the Kerry campaign points to that photo of President Bush in a kimono at the APEC conference in Thailand last year. For both campaigns there is no detail too small to criticize. We'll see if this latest criticism has any legs."

-- Rich Noyes and Tim Graham, with the daytime team of Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd and Megan McCormack.