Stephanopoulos Delivers Dem Attack Strategy on Schwarzenegger --8/7/2003
2. Couric on Schwarzenegger: "He's the Son of a Nazi Party Member"
3. NY Times Contrasts Nuclear Proliferation with Arnold's Bikini Wax
Good morning, America, here's the Democratic spin of the day. On today's Good Morning America, instead of conveying the reaction of both Republicans and Democrats to Arnold Schwarzenegger entering the gubernatorial contest, George Stephanopoulos returned to his roots as a liberal Democratic operative for Dick Gephardt and Bill Clinton, and devoted nearly all of his analysis to how Democrats will undermine Schwarzenegger.
Diane Sawyer set him up on Thursday morning by asking him only about Democratic reaction, maybe because she knew all his old contacts that he would have called are Democrats: "Okay, George, you've been working the phones all night, I know you. What are the Democrats saying?"
Stephanopoulos reported that those he called "point to a couple of hopeful signs in this election." First, that since Schwarzenegger announced "on the same day that Gary Coleman of Diff'rent Strokes got into the race as well, just points up the whole freak show nature" of the race. And second, Democrats "did some focus groups over the last few weeks and they found out when they presented the idea of Arnold to voters, they laughed."
Stephanopoulos proceeded to relay additional Democratic talking points: "He's generally thought to be a moderate Republican, which could help him in California, but Democrats are hoping that they're going to be able to go at some weaknesses. For example, they point out last night at his press conference, Arnold said that California was in junk bond status. That's not true. They said if a Governor said that, the state would be in chaos."
As if it's not now in chaos?
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down most of the Stephanopoulos segment on the August 7 Good Morning America:
Sawyer: "Alright let's turn now to Washington and This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos for the real deal here. Okay, George, you've been working the phones all night, I know you. What are the Democrats saying? Do they think this is a stunt? Are they scared?"
Stephanopoulos, via satellite from Washington: "They are stunned, they are scared. I guess the word I would use to describe them, Diane, is punch drunk. They've been through so much in this recall election so far. They know that Arnold is going to be an 800-pound gorilla. At the same time, they point to a couple of hopeful signs in this election. First of all, they say the entrance of Arnold on the Tonight Show, on the same day that Gary Coleman of Diff'rent Strokes got into the race as well, just points up the whole freak show nature, joke nature of the race.
Sawyer: "Well, I wanted to ask you about this. This is an election on hyper speed, just two months to campaign. What do we know about how he'll fair substantively and does it help him that it's short and so many candidates?"
Before the Stephanopoulos segment, new ABC reporter Jake Tapper had profiled Schwarzenegger and noted how "one Davis adviser faxed around a magazine article alleging all sorts of personal indiscretions in his past."
Stephanopoulos elevated that vague reference in response to Sawyer's next question, "How fast is this going to get ugly?"
Stephanopoulos cited another angle of Democratic attack, but then praised Schwarzenegger for how he handled it: "It's already getting ugly. People were putting out press releases last night and they'll be pointing to Arnold's past, that Premiere article that Jake talked about, and look at how Arnold handled it last night on the Tonight Show. He did a classic political strategy of inoculation."
Stephanopoulos, who knows something about working for a womanizing politician, admired how that shows he will fight back. The segment ended with Sawyer asking Stephanopoulos to comment on Schwarzenegger's use of the Tonight Show as his venue.
In the second hour of GMA, as recounted in today's CyberAlert sent a few hours ago, actress Jamie Lee Curtis suggested Schwarzenegger is the kind of Republican that Hollywood liberals can accept, even if journalists cannot. She declared of Schwarzenegger the morning after he announced he's running in the recall election for Governor of California: "I think he will make a fantastic Governor." She soon revealed her rationale: "I actually believe he's really, at his heart, even though he pretends to be a Republican, I think he's a social Democrat at heart." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Journalists normally fret about negative campaigning and condemn attacks that dig out personal baggage in a candidate's background. Just as long as the candidate doesn't threaten a Democrat, apparently, since on this morning's Today Katie Couric didn't hesitate to beat Democratic operatives to the punch and remind viewers that Schwarzenegger's father was a Nazi.
She began a question to a California Democratic strategist Darry Sragow: "Let me ask you about his, his baggage, if you will. He's admitted smoking marijuana, using steroids during his body-building career. He's the son of a Nazi Party member..."
Quite the morning greeting from NBC News.
Couric proceeded to prod Sragow: "Through his publicist he's denied allegations published in Premiere magazine, in March 2001, that he sexually harassed women and committed infidelity. All those things, are they gonna be front and center, Darry, if you, do you think in this campaign?"
They are now!
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens alerted me to Couric's Nazi take and transcribed all of her questions. Couric introduced the segment: "On Close Up this morning, Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking to terminate the competition. He's boffo at the box office but how will he do at the ballot box. Darry Sragow is a Democratic strategist and Sheri Annis worked as a press secretary for Schwarzenegger on a ballot initiative in California last year. Good morning to both of you."
-- "Alright Darry and Sheri. Darry let me start with you right now. Is, is Arnold Schwarzenegger, in your view, Gray Davis' worst nightmare?"
-- Couric: "Well let's talk about Gray Davis and the Democrats strategy Darry, because I know you have felt strongly all along that it's very important that Democrats do field a candidate. Even though the strategy, I guess, until yesterday was not to field a candidate so people would keep Gray Davis in office. But now his Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante, announced that he was going to put his name on the ballot. So how does this change the equation?"
-- "Alright Sheri Annis I haven't forgotten about you. Apparently this announcement took everybody by surprise. What was your reaction?"
-- "And he does seem to have quite a, quite a sense of humor. On the Tonight Show last night he had several funny one-liners. Let's take a look at one of them right now."
-- Couric to Sragow: "Let me ask you about his, his baggage, if you will. He's admitted smoking marijuana, using steroids during his body-building career. He's the son of a Nazi Party member. He said he was prejudiced before overcoming those feelings by working with the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles and the Dean of the Center said an investigation of Schwarzenegger's late father, conducted at the actor's request, found no evidence of war crimes. Through his publicist he's denied allegations published in Premiere magazine in March 2001, that he sexually harassed women and committed infidelity. All those things, are they gonna be front and center, Darry, if you, do you think in this campaign?"
-- "And, and Sherri, Arnold himself said on the Tonight Show that he expected a dirty campaign. How do you think he's going to handle that?"
A reprint of a posting today on the MRC's TimesWatch.org site dedicated to tracking bias in the New York Times: The Times story on California's recall vote noted Senator Dianne Feinstein is out, while action-hero Arnold and "populist" Arianna are in, and offered its readers snob appeal: "Instead of talking about issues like nuclear proliferation and appropriations, as Ms. Feinstein did, Mr. Schwarzenegger made light of his decision to run..." And is Arianna Huffington really a populist independent or just another left-winger?
The article in full by TimesWatch.org Editor Clay Waters:
An August 7 front-page story by Dean Murphy and Charlie LeDuff, "Movie Star In, Senator Out For Recall Race in California," noted that action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger has jumped into the race for the California governorship, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein has declined to run.
Times reporters Dean Murphy and Charlie LeDuff first offered their readers a little snob appeal: "As extraordinary bookends on a day of fast-moving events, the two decisions could not have been more dissimilar in style and substance. Public opinion polls have identified Ms. Feinstein, a Democrat, and Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, as among the most popular alternatives to Mr. Davis, who faces a recall vote on Oct. 7....Instead of talking about issues like nuclear proliferation and appropriations, as Ms. Feinstein did, Mr. Schwarzenegger made light of his decision to run while joking with [Jay] Leno that it was the toughest one that he had made since deciding to get a bikini wax."
Since Feinstein was at an Aspen Strategy Group seminar on foreign policy, perhaps her mention of proliferation wasn't all that newsworthy.
Arianna Huffington, who also entered the race Wednesday, was positioned by the Times between the Democrats and Republicans: "Earlier in the day, [Arianna] Huffington, a populist author and syndicated columnist, officially announced her candidacy for Governor. Ms. Huffington said she would not have entered the race if Ms. Feinstein had decided to present herself as the Democratic alternative. 'I'm not interested in splitting the vote,' she said. An independent, Ms. Huffington made no bones about her disdain for both the Republicans and Democrats, calling them fanatics and fools. 'California is in deep, deep trouble,' she said. 'Its citizens deserve more than the partisan, petty and pathetic leadership it's getting at the moment.'"
It may suit Huffington's political positioning (and that of the Times) for people to think of her as a "pox on both their houses" populist. Yet her supporters are on the left, and so is her rhetoric. On Tuesday Huffington was interviewed by John Moyers, Editor-in-Chief of the left-wing website TomPaine.com (and son of liberal PBS ubiquity Bill Moyers). In it, the "independent, populist" Huffington sounds suspiciously like a garden-variety liberal: "I will work to nationalize this election, and connect the dots between the disastrous economic policies of the Bush administration and the plight of California. I will actually expose how laughable is the critique of my Republican opponents, who are going to focus on Davis' fiscal irresponsibility while justifying the outrageous fiscal irresponsibility that Bush and his cronies have unleashed on America."
For the TomPaine.com interview: www.tompaine.com
For the rest of the Times article on the California scheming: www.nytimes.com
END Reprint of TimesWatch.org article.
For the latest on bias in the New York Times, check: www.TimesWatch.org
# Just when I figured out how to spell Stephanopoulos, I need to memorize how to spell Schwarzenegger, or at least add it my word list in WordPerfect's Spell Checker.
-- Brent Baker