2. Hillary Skips FNC, Gets Softballs from ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC
3. CBS Crowns Teddy the "Grand Marshal" of Dem. Convention
4. NBC's Mitchell: Kerry Not as Liberal as Delegates
5. Since 1972, Democrats Always Gain More from Convention Coverage
Cameras were rolling last night when Teresa Heinz Kerry falsely claimed she'd never called Republicans "un-American," telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Colin McNickle to "shove it" when he persisted in asking her to elaborate. All of the networks thought Mrs. Kerry's saying "shove it" was more newsworthy than either her calling opponents "un-American" -- a way she also described the GOP during an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Sunday -- or her lying about it when caught.
After months of the media indulging Democratic whining about how any GOP criticism of liberal positions amount to questioning their patriotism, it's astonishing that reporters showed no interest in a Democrat's blatant labeling of Republicans as "un-American." Or maybe it's not so astonishing, just a sign of how the networks don't want to let a liberal's controversial statements ruin Democrats' chances for a big convention bounce.
Of the three broadcast networks this morning, only ABC's Good Morning America showed enough of the videotape for viewers to actually see how Heinz Kerry first decried "some of the creeping un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics," only to tell McNickle a few moments later that she did not say "un-American," -- although reporter Dan Harris made no comment about Mrs. Kerry's obvious falsehood. On The Early Show, CBS held itself to just playing the words "shove it," while on Today NBC's Campbell Brown would only go so far as to say that "she reportedly told the reporter to, quote, 'Shove it!'"
On cable, CNN's American Morning ran a lengthy excerpt of Mrs. Kerry's outburst, and uniquely noted how she only told McNickle to "shove it" after "conferring with Democratic advisors." On FNC's Fox & Friends, the trio of hosts talked about the incident but did not play the videotape, which was made by ABC's Pittsburgh affiliate, WTAE-TV Channel 4, whose anchor Scott Baker attended the event. As the day wore on, CNN, FNC and MSNBC all covered the incident as a Heinz Kerry gaffe.
To watch WTAE-TV's exclusive video of the encounter between Teresa Heinz Kerry and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Colin McNickle, go to: www.thepittsburghchannel.com
MRC's Brian Boyd caught how CNN's American Morning provided more complete details about this embarrassing incident than any of the broadcast networks or the FNC. Anchor Bill Hemmer introduced the story, which aired at 7:17am EDT: "Last night here in this city some controversy after a speech given by Senator John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, talking to delegates about how uncivil and downright vicious American politics has become in her words. Listen."
CNN then played a long excerpt of the tape, showing both Heinz Kerry's attack and her refusal to accept responsibility: "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics. I remember a time when people in political parties in Pennsylvania talked to one another and actually got things done."
Hemmer explained: "Mrs. Kerry then was asked by a reporter there in Pennsylvania about what she meant by the term 'un-American,'" and CNN then showed Colin McNickle, the editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asking, "What did you mean un-American?"
Heinz Kerry denies she said what she just said: "No, I didn't say that," but McNickle persisted: "What did you mean?"
CNN showed more jousting between Heinz Kerry and McNickle, then Hemmer noted how she talked to some of her husband's staffers: "After conferring with Democratic advisors Heinz Kerry confronted the journalist as you saw there, an editorial editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune Review. She was angry that he apparently tried to put words into her mouth. Listen again."
Heinz Kerry demanded, "Are you with the Tribune Review?" McNickle replied, "Yes, I am."
Heinz Kerry retorted: "Of course. Understandable....You said something I didn't say, now shove it."
Hemmer concluded by noting how "Kerry's spokeswoman, releasing a statement after that incident last evening regarding that and saying quote now, 'This was sheer frustration, aimed at a right-wing rag, that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Mrs. Kerry and her family.' There has been no further response from the paper."
ABC ran a much shorter piece of the videotape, which Dan Harris introduced after talking about John Kerry's surprise visit to the Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson transcribed the story, which aired just after 7am EDT: "Before Kerry had his Fenway photo op, his wife got involved in a dispute after making these comments to delegates from Pennsylvania, her home state."
Harris then played the same soundbite as CNN, with Heinz Kerry insisting: "We need to turn back some of the creeping un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics."
"Afterward, Colin McNickle, an editorial writer from a conservative Pennsylvania newspaper, questioned her," Harris narrated. "Mrs. Heinz Kerry moved away briefly, then came back." ABC then showed her asking if McNickle was from the Tribune Review, and then her "shove it" outburst.
Harris concluded as did Hemmer: "Here's what a spokesperson for Mrs. Heinz Kerry had to say about this incident: quote, 'It was a moment of extreme frustration aimed at a right-wing rag that has consistently and almost purposefully misrepresented the facts when reporting on Mrs. Heinz Kerry.' Still, quite a moment."
Neither CBS nor NBC let viewers know that the cameras had caught Mrs. Kerry in a fabrication. The only mention on Today came at the beginning of the 7am hour as reporter Campbell Brown was concluding a taped report: "So far at least, the convention is starting on a positive note."
Back live, Brown added a contradictory postscript: "Or maybe it's not starting on a positive note after all. Last night, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the candidate, told her delegation from Pennsylvania she wanted to hear a more civil tone, not some of the un-American things she'd heard before. When a reporter asked her about it, she reportedly told the reporter to, quote, 'Shove it!'" Neither the 8am nor the 9am news updates gave viewers any further information about the controversy.
Over on CBS, Cynthia Bowers mentioned the outburst in reports shown at both 7am and 8am: "Democrats intend to make this a kinder, gentler convention has already been undone a bit by of all people the candidate's wife, caught on video tape last night just moments after making a speech to state Democrats. The topic: civility." Without any further context, Bowers then showed Heinz Kerry telling McNickle to "shove it."
In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews shown in a special 7pm EDT Hardball last night, Matthews asked Mrs. Kerry whether she became a Democrat out of loyalty to her husband or out of any grievance with the Republicans. Citing a widely-circulated Democratic myth about the 2002 Senate race in Georgia, Mrs. Kerry erroneously said Republican ad called incumbent Max Cleland "not patriotic," a tactic she blasted as "not American."
"I stayed a Republican for about eight years until Max Cleland's race and I was so upset at the way the party treated Max Cleland and Jeanie Carnahan and others. But they had an ad in Georgia that showed Max Cleland, Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and called him, like them, dangerous and unpatriotic. And you know Max Cleland is a happy warrior, he's a good human being. He doesn't feel sorry for himself, he left three limbs in Vietnam, takes him two hours to get dressed every morning to go to the Senate as he did. And I found that just not American, just not good enough. And I thought irrespective of positions I don't want to be associated with that kind of politics, period. And so I left."
Back in February, National Review Editor Rich Lowry exposed the Democratic myth-making regarding Cleland's defeat, explaining how the disputed GOP ad in no way resembles the mean-spirited smear that Democrats now claim: "The ad didn't morph Cleland into either of these figures or say that he supported them." Instead of being the victim of dirty politics, Lowry concluded Cleland "lost fair and square."
For Lowry's entire article, go to: www.nationalreview.com
Hillary Clinton made the rounds on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC -- but not on the Fox News Channel. All four networks focused on her presidential ambitions and whether the Kerry camp is nervous about being overshadowed. None asked about other potential problems for Kerry: whether he's too liberal, his flip-flops, his stiffness as a candidate, or whether he's soft on national security. Only CBS and CNN brought up the "shove it" controversy. (See Item #1.) CBS's Hannah Storm worried it was "a very fine line that a strong woman walks." On CNN, Hillary praised Teresa's moxie: "You go, girl."
NBC went first in the Hillary tour at 7am. MRC analyst Megan McCormack noted that after four questions on how fast the 9/11 commission's recommendations can be passed into law, Katie Couric asked Hillary if she could be civil: "Senator Kerry has asked that there not be a lot of Bush bashing at this convention. Will you hold to his request when you speak tonight?" She did not ask Hillary about Mrs. Kerry's "shove it" remark.
Couric also asked the inevitable White House question: "You were not originally on the list of speakers, and many people sort of theorized that the Kerry-Edwards campaign feared that you might overshadow them, and particularly given, what many political observers view as your political ambitions to run for president in 2008." She finished by asking if Hillary would campaign actively for Kerry.
CNN was next at 7:20. American Morning anchor Bill Hemmer began with the Teresa problem: "I don't know if you have much of a comment based on what Teresa Heinz Kerry said last night. If you do, I'll give you the platform here." Despite the aspiring First Lady's hard-to-justify claim that she did not say something that was captured on tape, Senator Clinton stressed Teresa's openness and honesty:
Hemmer followed up with two more questions about scrutinizing spouses. "At what point, if you go back to '91, '92, did you realize that everything you say would be looked at closer than you ever had before?" And: "A tough line to walk, how easy or difficult is it to step over that line at times and have your remarks being taken and turning off people, essentially?"
To that one, Hillary replied: "I think a lot of American are going to say, good for you. You go, girl. And that certainly is how I feel about it." So much for Civility Time. Hemmer then asked two inevitable White House/overshadowing Kerry questions.
At 7:42, MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, CBS Early Show co-host Hannah Storm threw softballs. She first asked Hillary: "You will have a great opportunity to set the tone for this convention. What are your goals tonight?" She then asked the usual heir-apparent questions: "There was a big flap about your participation, you weren't initially invited to speak here at the convention. There continues to be all this speculation about your own presidential ambitions and how they might play. How do you set all of that aside and portray the fact that you are solidly behind getting this team into the White House?" She followed up: "And if you never got the opportunity to run for president, would you be at peace with that?"
Like CNN, Storm brought up the "shove it" story: "I want to talk a little bit about Teresa Heinz Kerry and what happened as she was with the Pennsylvania delegates last night and she told a reporter to quote 'shove off' [sic]. It is a very fine line that a strong woman walks as her husband is campaigning for the highest office in the land. What sort of challenges does she face from your perspective and what advice would you give her?"
Storm then asked three questions allowing Hillary to explain how rapidly the country needs to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, especially more federal spending on New York City.
Just after 8am, ABC took its turn, beginning with a video montage of Hillary at the last three conventions to the music of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)," adopted in 1992 as the Clinton campaign theme song. MRC's Jessica Anderson took down how Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson began with her speaking gig, originally left off the schedule: "Was that an oversight, or do you think it was a deliberate move by the Kerry people?" He then underlined her presidential ambitions by showing a clip of Bill Clinton saying Hillary is "where I was in 1988," explicitly talking about her plans for the White House: "If John Kerry wins, are you shut out for some period of time?"
Gibson finished this way: "Handicap this election for me. You know presidential politics very well. In some sense, is this an election between George Bush and not George Bush? To what extent is this John Kerry's to win, or do you think it's really a referendum on the President?"
Liberal Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and his niece Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC this morning but, like Hillary Clinton, they skipped FNC's Fox & Friends. Most of the questions were about the Boston greenway bearing the name of the family matriarch Rose Kennedy. CBS asked only softballs, calling Teddy the "grand marshal" of the convention. CNN and NBC each asked Senator Kennedy if John Kerry appeared too liberal to the voters. ABC aired a treacly tribute to the Kennedy "dynasty," but ABC's Diane Sawyer did break the mood by recalling Ted's remarks about the Iraq war being "a fraud cooked up in Texas," and asking if his rhetoric would be "reined in" by Team Kerry.
At 7:15, CBS's Hannah Storm asked only soft questions, taken down by MRC's Brian Boyd. She began: "Senator Kennedy, a lot of people are calling you the grand marshal of the Democratic convention. How gratifying is it for you to have your beloved party convening here in Boston and these two men that you have been so supportive of to see their nominations come to fruition this week?" Storm asked Caroline Kennedy: "Your uncle has called this the most important election of his lifetime, which is saying a lot. How important do you think it is to see a change in the administration for the future of your children?"
Twenty minutes later, the duo appeared on NBC. MRC's Megan McCormack took down Katie Couric's nice questions to both Kennedys about the Kennedy family and Boston. She asked about the convention: "Senator I know that you're scheduled to address the convention tomorrow night, can you tell us the theme of your remarks?" She added: "I know that you've played a key role so far in Senator Kerry's campaign, campaigning for him across the country, providing him with two of his key staffers, but some Republicans have used your partnership and friendship as an opportunity to characterize you both as wealthy, liberal elitists. Do you think that in any way, your connection with Senator Kerry could become a liability for him politically?"
Kennedy responded sharply: "Well, the Republicans have spent 80 million dollars in attempting to distort, misrepresent, and lie, quite frankly, about John Kerry's record, because they don't have a record of their own."
Oops, there goes the civility again.
At roughly the same time, MRC's Jessica Anderson noted, ABC's Good Morning America was airing a syrupy Kennedy-family retrospective, complete with stirring musical interludes. Reporter Claire Shipman gushed about "the images engraved in the nation's memory, classic glimpses of uninhibited fun and unbridled ambition from a family that has long made its home in our collective consciousness." Shipman touted how a "conscious, deliberate call to service inspired this family to produce a President, three senators, three congressmen, three ambassadors, and, of course, they're not only politicians; they're authors, businesspeople and environmentalists."
Sawyer repeated that line in a soft question to the Kennedys. Only one question was a hardball: "Senator, I wanted to ask you, because we keep hearing that Senator Kerry has sent out word that he wants this to be a very respectful convention, and you were throwing some flames a year ago at this time, talking about the Bush administration, the Iraq war -- I think, quote, 'a fraud cooked up in Texas,' and the administration 'telling lies.' Have you been told to rein it in and are you going to?"
At 7:43, the pair were on CNN's American Morning, where Bill Hemmer ended with two tough questions: "Republicans say John Kerry has the most liberal voting record of any senator in the US Senate today. Your own party shied away from Boston for a number of years. They felt many ways it was giving the signal that the party was too far left coming to the northeast and the city of Boston. How do you sell John Kerry from Massachusetts to the people in say Missouri?"
When Kennedy responded with the same GOP-millions-for-lies charge that he used on NBC, Hemmer -- unlike Couric -- followed up: "You mention the dollar figure spent by Republicans. My numbers tell me Democrats in five months have spent $150 million. With that dollar figure, why is it that you still find so many people in your own Democratic party still not familiar or comfortable with how they know John Kerry and who he is as a person?"
At least she acknowledged that the Democratic convention is populated by liberal delegates. On MSNBC's Imus in the Morning today, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell tried to repeat the Boston Globe line that the Democratic delegates are "a lot more liberal than John Kerry is." Imus replied: "Well, you can't get much more liberal than John Kerry is. I mean he is my candidate, but I mean come on."
Mitchell was discussing how the Kerry campaign hadn't made room for Hillary Clinton to speak, which enraged the left: "She originally wasn't scheduled, they said, well she was just a senator and she doesn't have her own role, which of course is ignoring the fact that among the very liberal delegates, because the delegates are a lot more liberal than John Kerry is or John Kerry wants the public to see. You know he wants to reshape this convention to a much more moderate electable image."
Imus replied: "Well, you can't get much more liberal than John Kerry is. I mean he is my candidate, but I mean come on."
Mitchell cited the liberal Boston Globe as her evidence: "He is not where the delegates are, according to a Boston Globe poll today. They are far more liberal on most major issues than he is."
Imus: "Well, give me an example."
Mitchell: "Gay marriage, abortion, the war... most of them were against the initial war vote, you know, completely."
But the Boston Globe story this morning only mentions that 95 percent of the delegates oppose the war in Iraq, with no mention of abortion or homosexuality. For the full article, mysteriously titled "Convention city springs to life," see: www.boston.com
More evidence that the media's liberal bias has benefitted Democrats for decades. Appearing on the Fox News Channel's Sunday night special previewing the Democratic convention, U.S. News and World Report columnist Michael Barone noted that Gallup polls show "that for every year since 1972 the Democratic candidate has gotten a bigger bounce than the Republican candidate," a perfect pro-Democratic trend that he attributes to the fact that most audiences have seen the conventions via the "old line" liberal broadcast networks.
With coverage shifting from the broadcast networks to cable news channels like FNC, the positive benefits to Democrats might be lessened, Barone suggested.
Last week, the MRC published a two-page Media Reality Check summarizing three liberal themes that the networks have pushed during conventions, as documented by our analysts in 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000. That report is available online at: www.mrc.org.
Barone, who is Editor of the invaluable Almanac of American Politics, told Hume that he doubted that either Bush or Kerry would get a big boost from their conventions before he explained how Democrats have always gotten a bigger bump out of their conventions. MRC intern Mary Fisher took down Barone's comments to FNC anchor Brit Hume about 9:25pm EDT last night: