CyberAlert - November 11, 1996 - House Freshmen Punished?

Six items today:

1. Republicans don't want to take on entitlement reform, a NBC reporter charged. But isn't that what they did in 1995?

2. Time magazine insisted that in ousting six House freshmen the voters were sending a message. But over 91 percent won.

3. Larry King called talk radio hosts "wacko," he and Ted Koppel listen to public radio, and Brinkley has the class to apologize.

4. Bill Clinton promises to "cut out" his enemies and calls them "a cancer," but his Nixonian side fails to excite media.

5. Tom Brokaw believes the country wants governance "from the sensible center" and doesn't want investigations "tying up Congress in these expensive hearings."

6. Massachusetts is a "conservative" state, yes Massachusetts. So asserted a guest on Today last week.

1) On Friday's PBS Washington Week in Review NBC News reporter Gwen Ifill offered her view on what the Republican congressional leaders and Clinton will do next year:

"I don't see any of them talking about entitlement reform in any real way other than to brand the other guy someone who's interested in cutting your own mother off."

Entitlement reform, as in Medicare? Where has Ifill been? Isn't that an issue the Republican Congress tried to "reform" in 1995 only to be hammered by the media for non-existent "cuts"?

2) MRC analyst Steve Kaminski caught the loaded spin from Time magazine on how Republican House members fared in Tuesday's election. Writing the cover story for the November 18 issue that was released last week, Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs asserted:

"Nearly half the casualties came from Gingrich's militant class of 1994, who had pushed the Speaker hardest to the right and demanded the deepest cuts in popular domestic programs in their zeal for a balanced budget. Gone are at least six of 71 GOP freshmen, including Dan Frisa of New York, who was defeated by Carolyn McCarthy, the widow of a victim of the Long Island Rail Road shooting, who ran on a single-issue platform: gun control."

I think 17 House Republicans lost by the latest count, so really only about a third were freshmen. But let's do a little math based upon Time's numbers. Six of 71 lost. That's 8.5 percent, meaning 91.5 percent of the House freshmen won. Quite a repudiation of those "extremists."

Also among the Republicans who lost on Tuesday: Peter Blute and Peter Torkildsen, two moderates who abandoned Gingrich on some key votes and were gun control advocates.

3) As mentioned in the last CyberAlert, on Thursday's Larry King Live King said David Brinkley's election night remarks reminded him of "wacko talk radio." Here's the complete transcript of that November 7 exchange with guest Ted Koppel. (Diane Rehmm is host of a 10am to noon talk show on a Washington public radio station and her show is heard on NPR stations around the country.)

Larry King: "How about the part where he said 'he's a bore, always will be a bore.'? That sounds, someone called Diane Rehm's radio show the other day, and this was the first I'd heard of it, and I was driving along."

Ted Koppel: "I was listening to the same show, heard the same call."

King: "And it was a lady."

Koppel: "Very nice lady."

King: "And she was disappointed, very nice lady, a fan of David Brinkley. She was very disappointed. And when I heard the quote it sounded to me like it was Limbaugh or Liddy or Ollie North. It was like wacko talk radio. It didn't sound like Brinkley. In other words, Brinkley's always been irreverent, but always kind of classy."

Interesting to learn that while both King and Koppel listen to a talk show, it's a public radio talk show.

On Friday David Brinkley taped an interview with Bill Clinton for airing on Sunday's This Week, his last show as host. Brinkley, who had called Clinton "a bore" and said his election night speech was full of "goddamn nonsense," began the interview: "Before we begin I am reminded of something I wrote years ago. 'It may be impossible to be objective,' I said. 'But we must always be fair.' Well after a long day election day, and seven hours on the set, what I said at the end of our election night coverage was both impolite and unfair. And I'm sorry. I regret it."

Brinkley had the class to apologize for interjecting his opinion into a newscast. I await Bryant Gumbels's apology for insults against Republicans over the years.

4) Reminding one of Nixonian thinking, last week Bill Clinton promised to "cut out of American politics" his enemies. The comment has hardly generated any media outrage. I've only seen it on one TV show: CNN's Late Edition, and then only thanks to Bill Bennett. On Sunday, November 10 host Frank Sesno raised it during an interview with Bennett and Mario Cuomo:

Frank Sesno to Mario Cuomo: "Mario Cuomo I need to ask you about this, because amid all this hugging and this 'vital center' and this other nonsense that we hear about that will soon fade away as we actually get down to the reality, there is this item that Bill Bennett actually caught in USA Today a couple of days back that's a pick up from the Associated Press quoting Bill Clinton as telling political supporters in Arkansas that he 'will devote a lot of time,' I am quoting from the paper here, 'going after detractors who pursued him on Whitewater and other ethical questions.' He called political attackers, quote, 'a cancer,' and vowed, quote 'to cut them out of American politics.'"

Cuomo: "Excuse me, that was President Clinton?"

Sesno: "Yes. That is remarkable stuff. What do you make of that?"

As Bennett observed, if the President were Republican such a remark would cause "a firestorm" in the media.

5) Speaking of what Sesno termed "nonsense," on the Don Imus radio show on Thursday, November 7, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw urged the Congress to forget doing anything conservative and avoid investigations. Here are some of Brokaw's comments, as transcribed by MRC intern Joe Alfonsi:

Though voters kept the Congress in Republican hands Brokaw saw no endorsement of the 1994 switch: "I don't think it is a status quo election. I think there is a kind of command, if you will, from the public to move to the sensible center and let's get some things done....I don't think that you can say that there's any ideological revolution as the Republicans claimed two years ago nor do I think this President can now say that he has this overwhelming mandate. I think what people have cried out for is some return to common sense in American politics. And I think that you see that reflected already in Alfonse D'Amato, his evil twin, Skippy, apparently has vacated his body and now he says we no longer need these investigations of Bill and Hillary. I mean it's really one of the remarkable turnarounds in contemporary politics."

Imus: "Isn't that really from Senator D'Amato covering his own situation because he's got to run for reelection here in '98 and a lot of these exit polls here in New York suggest that people well, hate him.

Brokaw: "....I think that's what people want. I think that they want politicians in Washington to solve the real problems that are going on and when they make an assignment to a special prosecutor or to the Justice Department, let them do that kind of investigation....

"And you must remember, a lot of these new Republican leaders, Trent Lott and others, have their own presidential aspirations four years from now. They'll want to get things done because I think that's the underlying message from the country here - solve the problems. And yes there are some real problems within the administration that need to be investigated, but there are agencies and ways of doing that without tying up Congress in these expensive hearings."

6) Finally, on the humorous front, here's a bit of what Senator John Kerry told Katie Couric on Today Wednesday morning after his re-election over Bill Weld:

"The fact is that out of the last five Governors of Massachusetts, four of them have been Republicans. People forget that about Massachusetts. We are a reflection of the rest of the country. We're fairly conservative, people want the same things people want in the rest of the country."

Massachusetts conservative? Reflection of the country? This the morning after Bob Dole got just 28 percent in the state. He did worse only in Rhode Island. And, the day after the state's two GOP House members were turned out.

As for Republican Governors, current Governor Weld is a Republican. Before him Democrat Michael Dukakis held the office for eight years and he succeeded Ed King, another Democrat who beat Dukakis in the 1978 primary. That means two of the last three have been Democrats.

- Brent Baker