Networks Initially Ignore Crudity and Hate at Kerry Fundraiser --7/12/2004
2. CNN's Brown Rebukes Paper for Putting Controversy on Front Page
3. Compilation of Anti-Bush Tirades and Insults at the Kerry Event
4. AP Poll Finds Bush Up 49-45%, Headline: "Kerry Solidifies Base"
Broadcast network journalists initially didn't see anything newsworthy in the vulgar and hateful anti-Bush remarks made Thursday night by celebrities at a big Radio City Music Hall fundraising event for the DNC and the Kerry/Edwards campaign, even though Kerry boasted afterward about how "every performer tonight, in their own way, either verbally of through their music or through their lyrics, have conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."
Despite the fact that the Friday New York Post, New York Daily News and even the New York Times all quoted the comments and how while holding a wine bottle Whoopi Goldberg made crude sexual references about the President's last name and her "bush," CBS's Early Show on Friday didn't mention the fundraiser, on ABC's Good Morning America Claire Shipman simply trumpeted how "John Kerry took the stage last night at Radio City Music Hall for a star-studded fundraiser and raised a whopping $7 million," and on NBC's Today, Katie Couric touted how "John Kerry and John Edwards rocked out last night at Radio City Music Hall for big fundraiser. In as subsequent full story on the fundraising concert, NBC reporter Carl Quintanilla managed to avoid mentioning any of the crudity or hate speech.
Only after the Bush campaign complained about the "star-studded hate-fest" did the networks catch up with ABC and CBS focusing Friday evening newscast stories on the subject. But even then, resistance remained. NBC buried a brief mention in a larger Nightly News story and CNN's NewsNight ignored the antics excerpt for anchor Aaron Brown, in his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment, pointing out how the Washington Times put it on its Saturday front page, a news judgment Brown found lacking: "I don't know about this as a front page story." (See item #2 below for more on Brown and how his favorite newspaper, the New York Times, also placed the fundraiser comments on its Saturday front page.)
Other CNN programs did report on the content of the event, with Friday's Inside Politics carrying a story by Candy Crowley and Anderson Cooper 360, though sans Cooper, running a piece by Miles O'Brien. Paula Zahn Now, anchored by Judy Woodruff, also ran an item on it. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume carried a story by Carl Cameron and FNC prime time shows, including The O'Reilly Factor, hosted by Tony Snow, and Hannity & Colmes, focused segments on the matter. By late morning Friday, both CNN and FNC were citing the controversy in news updates.
The DNC and Kerry/Edwards campaign did not allow video to be taken of the celebrity performances, only of Kerry and Edwards cavorting with them at the end of the event.
The Web-posted "The Note" daily report from the ABC News political unit noticed the media's initial lack of interest in the story and suggested that if at a Bush campaign event a bunch of country singing stars attacked a President in such personal terms "it's pretty likely that the press would be in high dudgeon."
An excerpt from the July 9 edition of "The Note" posted, I believe in the late morning or early afternoon:
...And last night, after the network newscasts and right-on newspaper deadlines, KE04 did something that could fade away or could become the top political story of the day.
If a Republican presidential candidate, running against an incumbent Democrat, appeared with his newly-minted extremely conservative running mate in front of a packed house of fat cat donors in the capital of the GOP base at a fundraiser at which, say, country and western stars and conservative entertainers attacked the president in personal, mocking, and disrespectful ways, its pretty likely that the press would be in high dudgeon.
The coverage of last night's Radio City event in print has some elements of this, but not enough for the Bush campaign. And the TV coverage has largely ignored it.
Although the Kerry campaign and the DNC did not allow the event to be recorded by news organizations, the words of Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg, and others are out there for all to read.
Although a Kerry spokesman has said that the Democratic ticket doesn't necessarily agree with everything that was said, does anyone believe that the President would be let off the hook that easily if the situation were reversed?...
END of Excerpt
For the daily "The Note," by Mark Halperin, Lisa Todorovich, Marc Ambinder, Brooke Brower, Mary Hood, Anne Chiappetta, Nick Schifrin, Jan Simmonds, Alexandra Avnet, and Teddy Davis, with J. Greenberger and F. Ury, see: abcnews.go.com
It's hardly as if network producers in Manhattan didn't know what occurred. "Stars burn Bush," read the Friday New York Daily News headline. "KERKY JOKESTER WHOOPI IN DIRTY DISS AT DUBYA," declared a front page New York Post story by Deborah Orin. She began: "Whoopi Goldberg delivered an X-rated rant full of sexual innuendoes against President Bush last night at a Radio City gala that raised $7.5 million for the newly minted Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards. Waving a bottle of wine, she fired off a stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush's name in a riff about female genitalia..." For the rest of the Post story: www.nypost.com
New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren fully conveyed the mean-spirited and vulgar anti-Bush tone of the event in a Friday story headlined, "Kerry's Celebrity Fund-Raiser Is a Huge Bash." An excerpt from the top:
A star-studded salute to Senators John Kerry and John Edwards Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall slid into an unsparing skewering of the Bush administration, with actors and comedians denouncing the President as a liar, making off-color jokes about his name, and accusing him of risking soldiers' lives for political gain.
The racy Hollywood humor and harsh attacks were a sharp shift from the relentlessly positive focus on American values the new Democratic ticket has been trying to maintain this week.
"Texas Bandito, how much money did you put in your pocket today?" John Mellencamp crooned in a country ballad. "You better split from that Texas Bandito, he's made this world unsafe today. Our thoughts are not free from the Texas Bandito, he's just another cheap thug that sacrifices our young."
In a two-and-a-half hour gala that raised $7.5 million, a record for a single event, Chevy Chase poked fun at the President's pronunciation of "nuclear" and "terrorist" and said Mr. Bush had invaded Iraq "just so he could be called a wartime President." Paul Newman decried "tax cuts for wealthy thugs like me" as "borderline criminal."
The comedian John Leguizamo, who is half Puerto Rican, said the notion of Hispanics supporting Republicans was "like roaches for Raid." And Whoopi Goldberg, after joking about refusing to submit her material to campaign censors, made an extended sexual pun on the President's surname.
Then the Academy-Award-winning actress Meryl Streep asked which candidates Jesus might support.
"I wondered to myself during 'Shock and Awe,' I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our President's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad?" Ms. Streep said....
END of Excerpt
For Wilgoren's story in full: www.nytimes.com
Despite those print stories available to morning producers and anchors, ABC, CBS and NBC morning show viewers on Friday got no hint as to the vulgar and hateful content of the event.
-- ABC's Good Morning America. In the 7am half hour, the MRC's Jessica Anderson noticed, Claire Shipman made only a passing reference to the event, with video of Kerry on stage with the performers, as she gushed over the looks of the Kerry and Edwards families: "Turning now to politics, hard at work on the campaign trail, John Kerry took the stage last night at Radio City Music Hall for a star-studded fundraiser and raised a whopping $7 million. The Kerry-Edwards team will be getting a lot of help from their children, children you've seen a lot of lately, and stepchildren. They're already making a splash. We're hearing words like adorable, sexy, hunky..."
-- NBC's Today. At the top of the July 9 program, over video of Kerry, Edwards and performers on stage at end of event, Katie Couric announced: "The battle for the White House: John Kerry and John Edwards rocked out last night at Radio City Music Hall for big fundraiser. So, what are they really like when they let their hair down? We'll ask the people who know them best, their children and step children."
During the 7am news update, Ann Curry stated, over video of Kerry and performers on stage with John Fogerty singing This Land is Your Land: "The Democratic ticket, Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, are heading to West Virginia and New Mexico after attending a concert fundraiser in New York City last night."
Today didn't mention the event again until two hours later when they ran a full story by Carl Quintanilla, who managed to avoid any controversy. Curry set up the 9am news update story: "John Kerry and John Edwards are also back on the road after getting rock star treatment from their party faithful."
Quintanilla relayed: "In New York last night, a red carpet style event for the blue state party. Singer Dave Matthews helping raise more than $7 million for Democrats with an A-list crowd."
Quintanilla played a clip of Kerry: "We have Oscar winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, and John and I are just standing here, we're at the stage of our life where we're just thrilled to be nominated, folks."
Quintanilla soon explained how "it's with Hollywood that Democrats make their biggest splash. Jon Bon Jovi has campaigned with Kerry several times. Jessica Lange last night said she's ready to."
By the evening, ABC and CBS caught up:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Ted Koppel asserted: "At a fundraiser in New York City last night, John Kerry raised $7.5 million from a combination of fat cats and Hollywood stars. During the course of the evening we are told that some of the remarks made on stage about President Bush were rather derogatory. Others were off-color, if not X-rated. Which had Republicans accusing Senator Kerry of being a hypocrite when it comes to values. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."
Moran began: "Joined by his daughter Jenna, making a rare campaign appearance, President Bush set out today on a scenic bus trip through rural Pennsylvania, carefully designed to send a message. Mr. Bush, the Republicans claim, shares the values of the heartland, and Senator Kerry does not."
-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Harry Smith announced: "The Kerry/Edwards ticket came under intense fire today over what happened at a big Democratic fundraiser last night. At a time when both campaigns are stressing family values, Byron Pitts reports there was some questionable language on stage."
Pitts began: "In places like Beaver, West Virginia, the Kerry/Edwards ticket now emphasizes values."
-- NBC Nightly News buried the event in a larger story, which anchor Brian Williams introduced: "Now to the race for President, where a hot-button question we've heard before is playing out yet again on the campaign trail and on the airwaves. It boils down to this: Whose values are America's values? As NBC's Norah O'Donnell reports, both major parties and their candidates are working hard to stake a claim to that values vote."
O'Donnell began: "With his daughter Jenna joining him on the campaign trail, President Bush today rolled through the battleground state of Pennsylvania. And for the first time, the two tickets clashed over who best represents American values."
CNN's NewsNight on Friday ignored the Kerry fundraiser and the crude and hateful anti-Bush remarks made at it (see item #1 above), and anchor Aaron Brown, in his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment, criticized the Washington Times for putting the story on its Saturday front page. But maybe it's Brown's news judgment that should be in question since his favorite newspaper, the New York Times, also put the controversy on its front page on Saturday, "Campaigns Battle on Values and Celebrity Barbs," as did the Washington Post and Boston Globe.
The July 9 NewsNight, like all the newscasts on Friday night, led with the report critical of the CIA issued by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, but while Brown had no time for the vicious and crude anti-Bush hate speech, he made time for a full story on California Education Secretary Richard Riordin making a stupid joking quip to a 6-year-old girl that her name means "stupid dirty girl," as well as for a glowing profile of John Edwards from the point of view of his parents.
In his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment, Brown held up a big velox of the front page of the Saturday Washington Times, and sniffed as he read one of the headlines and subhead for it: "I don't know about this as a front page story, we could argue about whether it's news or not: 'Republicans question Kerry's "heart and soul," 'Cite vulgar remarks at concert attended by him.' There was an event in New York yesterday. Got a little crazy. Anyway, I'm not sure it's front page. But they did and it's their paper and they get to do what they want."
For that July 10 Washington Times story: www.washingtontimes.com
"Kerry camp on the defensive after celebrities bash Bush," announced the headline on the front page of the biggest paper in the city of the upcoming Democratic convention. Boston Globe reporter Glen Johnson, after going through Goldberg and other tough comments related this quote from actress Sarah Jessica Parker: "This year, a vote for John Kerry and John Edwards is a real patriot act."
For the July 10 Globe article: www.boston.com
A compilation of the anti-Bush tirades and insults made before, during and after the Thursday night Radio City Music Hall fundraiser which brought in over $7 million for the DNC and the Kerry/Edwards campaign, as collected from various print and broadcast sources:
-- Whoopi Goldberg on stage, as quoted in a July 9 AFP dispatch: "'Anybody who could wave to Stevie Wonder isn't fully there,' she said to howls from the audience. But she also produced a few embarrassed grimaces with an unsubtle anatomical double-entendre enjoining voters to 'keep Bush where it belongs and not in the White House.'"
-- John Mellancamp sang of President Bush, as quoted everywhere: "He's just another cheap thug that sacrifices young lives."
The July 9 New York Times provided a lengthier quote: "'Texas Bandito, how much money did you put in your pocket today?' John Mellencamp crooned in a country ballad. 'You better split from that Texas Bandito, he's made this world unsafe today. Our thoughts are not free from the Texas Bandito, he's just another cheap thug that sacrifices our young.'"
-- Chevy Chase, to reporters after concert, as shown during CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on Friday night: "I don't trust him, I don't like him and I think he's venal."
ABC's World News Tonight played this clip of Chase from after the event: "I'm frightened by Bush, if you want to know the truth."
AP relayed: "Actor Chevy Chase drew laughs and cheers from the Radio City Music Hall audience when he described politicians and their hobbies: 'Clinton plays the sax, John plays the guitar, and the President's a liar.'" The AP and AFP also conveyed this shot at President Bush from Chase: "This guy's as bright as an egg timer."
The New York Times quoted him: "Chevy Chase poked fun at the President's pronunciation of 'nuclear' and 'terrorist' and said Mr. Bush had invaded Iraq 'just so he could be called a wartime President.'"
-- Meryl Streep, as quoted by the New York Times, Boston Globe and others, in comments I believe were said on stage at the event: "I wondered to myself during 'Shock and Awe,' I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our President's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad?"
-- Paul Newman, as quoted by the July 9 New York Daily News: "'Tax cuts for wealthy thugs like me are criminal,' Newman said. 'I put my tax cut in my sock and buried it away. In November, let's sock it to them.'"
The AFP relayed: "Newman took off on his fiscal policies, saying, 'I think that tax cuts for worried, wealthy thugs like me are borderline criminal,' and the notion they produce trickle-down benefits for the poor is 'rubbish.'"
-- Jessica Lange, as quoted by the New York Times (AP provided same quote): "'Are we going to continue to follow a self-serving regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence?' Ms. Lange asked the crowd. 'Or are we after four disastrous years going to take a step toward our true responsibility as leader of the free world?'"
Flashback, at a film festival in Spain on September 22, 2002, Lange asserted at a press conference: "I despise him [President George W. Bush]. I despise his administration and everything they stand for....To my mind the election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man's leadership....There has to be a movement now to really oppose what he is proposing because it's unconstitutional, it's immoral and basically illegal....It is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It's humiliating."
To watch a RealPlayer clip of Lange delivering her invective: www.mediaresearch.org
Links to the newspaper/wire stories quoted above:
"Kerry Trails Bush," or "Kerry Solidifies Base"? An Associated Press poll released on Thursday found that President Bush had a four-point lead over Senator John Kerry, 49 percent to 45 percent, with three percent choosing independent Ralph Nader. Most of the poll was conducted after the networks began showering the Democrats with positive coverage following the naming of John Edwards as Kerry's running mate, but the AP poll found Bush's lead had actually grown since earlier polls.
But Friday's Associated Press story on the poll portrayed it as good news for Democrat Kerry.
[MRC Research Director Rich Noyes submitted this item for CyberAlert]
"AP Poll: Kerry Solidifies Base" was the headline on Yahoo! News posting of Friday morning's version of the story by AP political writer Ron Fournier. Fournier began the story with the same spin: "Democrat John Kerry has solidified his base, gained some ground in the South and among lower income voters and seen independent Ralph Nader's support drop, according to an Associated Press poll." See: news.yahoo.com
The previous AP-Ipsos poll was conducted about a month ago, between June 7-9, and showed Bush leading Kerry by 46 to 45 percent, with Nader at six percent, according to the archive posted at www.pollingreport.com. The last six AP polls listed all have Bush in front of Kerry, but within the poll's margin of error. See: www.pollingreport.com
Joking about the AP's bias Friday morning in an interview with MRC President Brent Bozell, Talk Radio Network host Laura Ingraham pointed out that an earlier version of Fournier's story released on Thursday afternoon actually led with the news that Bush was on top, which means someone at AP decided to change the story to make it more friendly to the Democratic campaign.
"President Bush has opened a slight lead over John Kerry while regaining the confidence of some voters on the economy and other domestic issues, according to an Associated Press poll with a silver lining for Democrats," read the earlier version of Fournier's story retrieved via Nexis. That story is listed under the headline: "Bush holds slight lead in AP poll with positive signs for Democrats."
The Friday Denver Post picked up that version, and headlined it: "Bush has slight lead over Kerry in AP poll." See: www.denverpost.com
On Thursday night, only FNC's Brit Hume noted the AP poll's existence. On his Special Report program, Hume cited the portion of the poll that directly tested Bush/Cheney against Kerry/Edwards, a question that was added to the survey after Edwards was tapped, plus a Zogby poll that was also released on Thursday. Hume cast the news as "disappointing" for the Democrats.
MRC analyst Megan McCormack took down Hume's analysis: "There's disappointing news for John Kerry today from a couple new polls. A new AP-Ipsos Reed poll shows a Bush/Cheney ticket beating a Kerry/Edwards ticket by a margin of 50 to 46 percent. And a new poll by Zogby International, whose results have recently tended to favor Democrats, shows no bounce for John Kerry after announcing his running mate. The Zogby poll, taken in the two days since Kerry's announcement, shows John Kerry edging out President Bush by two percentage points, just as he did a month ago. In addition, the poll shows twenty-somethings and elderly voters prefer the Kerry/Edwards ticket, as do female voters and single voters, while middle-aged voters, male voters, and married voters prefer the Bush/Cheney ticket."
ABC, CBS and NBC all skipped over the AP poll on Friday morning. But on CNN's American Morning, reporter Kelly Wallace pretended both the AP and Zogby polls did not even exist, as she claimed a definite "bounce" for the Democratic ticket since Edwards' selection, a lift in the polls that she said rivaled the one Bush/Cheney ticket received in 2000.
As an on-screen chart showed the numbers, Wallace insisted that "team Kerry-Edwards got a bounce, four points in one poll, nine in another. Not quite the 19 percent for Clinton-Gore in '92, or the 15 percent for Gore-Lieberman, but ironically matching the 9 percent for Bush-Cheney in 2000." Wallace did not identify which polls showed that pro-Kerry bounce, but both NBC's and CBS's polls have showed a positive movement for Kerry this week.
# John Kerry and John Edwards will be interviewed by Lesley Stahl on Sunday's 60 Minutes.
-- Brent Baker