CyberAlert - October 25, 1996 - Dole Lashed Out

Five items today:

1. In an address at the National Press Club on Thursday, Ross Perot rejected the Dole campaign's overture to endorse Dole and he criticized Bill Clinton's character. The three evening shows highlighted the first, but ABC's World News Tonight failed to report Perot's anti-Clinton comments. Both ABC and NBC charged that Bob Dole "lashed out" at Clinton." NBC's Gwen Ifill complained that "Perot barely mentioned Republican Bob Dole, even though he also accepts contributions from overseas." On CBS, Phil Jones said the Perot gambit demonstrates that Dole is "determined to try anything."

2. After Wednesday's order proved fruitless, on Thursday a federal judge issued another order demanding the DNC to produce John Huang. Of the broadcast network evening shows, only ABC's World News Tonight reported the effort to locate him.

3. On CBS, Dan Rather offered an uncritical look at video of Bill Clinton hugging a "devout Catholic" after convincing her that it was okay for him to veto the partial birth abortion bill.

4. NBC's Lisa Myers contended on MSNBC that tax cuts are incompatible with balancing the budget. By promising a tax cut, she charged, Bob Dole "seems to have cast aside the most enduring commitment of his 35 year career - balancing the budget."

5. Republican House freshman Helen Chenoweth told Tom Brokaw that she's "just a plain spoken Western woman." Brokaw countered on Thursday's Nightly News: "Not exactly. In her first term Chenoweth was a cheerleader for the New Right."

1) Thursday night (October 24) ABC's World News Tonight made no mention of Perot's comments about Clinton's character. Instead, ABC emphasized Dole's attack, saying he was "livid" when he criticized the media. Anchor Diane Sawyer announced: "In a speech in Florida Mr. Dole lashed out at the President and a lot of other people too."

Reporter Jim Wooten began: "Clearly frustrated by his stalled campaign, Senator Dole was fiercely critical today not only of the American media, but of the American public as well for not recognizing his virtues and the President's vices....As for the press, he was practically livid, telling an audience of the faithful in Pensacola that the sins of the Clinton administration are being concealed by partisan newspapers and networks."
Dole: "Now we know the liberal media's not going to report on all these things because they want him re-elected. They like it the way it is. We need the media to tell the American people the truth and the truth is Bill Clinton ought to be voted out of office in a landslide."

NBC Nightly News did run clips of Perot's attacks on Clinton, but in trying to lessen the damage to Clinton Gwen Ifill failed to distinguish between accepting money from foreign nationals, which is illegal, with getting money from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies or from naturalized citizens, which is legal:
Gwen Ifill: "Ross Perot attempted to blast his way back into contention today with a scathing indictment of President Clinton and the Democratic party's fundraising tactics, which includes accepting money from abroad."
Perot: "If you love this country and your children, how could you even consider voting for a candidate that has huge moral, ethical and criminal problems facing him as our country has problems to solve."
Ifill: "Perot barely mentioned Republican Bob Dole, even though he also accepts contributions from overseas."

Next, David Bloom reported in from the Dole campaign. His piece began:
"Spurned by Ross Perot, an admittedly frustrated Bob Dole lashed out today at voters"
Dole: "Wake up America."
Bloom: "At President Clinton's ethics."
Dole: "This is a disgrace."
Bloom: "And especially at the liberal media, who Dole blamed for trying to engineer his defeat."
Dole: "We need the media to tell the American people the truth, and the truth is Bill Clinton ought to be voted out of office in a landslide."
On the CBS Evening News this is how Phil Jones concluded his story on Perot and Dole: "Perot says he finds the whole Dole request to be weird. Was it an act of desperation? No says one top Dole aide. He calls it determined, determined to try anything."

2) Last Sunday, DNC General Chairman Chris Dodd promised that John Huang would be made available to the media. So far, no one's been able to find the DNC fundraiser (and former Commerce Department official) responsible for bringing in the illegal $250,000 from South Korea and hundreds of thousands of dollars in other questionable donations from overseas. On Thursday, a federal judge took action. As reported by Brian Ross on Thursday's World News Tonight (October 24):

Brian Ross on John Huang: "In Washington today, a federal judge ordered Democratic Party lawyers into court and told them to produce John Huang to testify in a civil lawsuit alleging favoritism at the Commerce Department for big Democratic contributors. The judge's unusual action came after Huang could not be found at his home in Glendale California or when U.S. Marshall's went to an address yesterday in Washington that the judge had ordered the Commerce Department to provide..."

Reporter Mark Litke followed with a dispatch from Jakarta on the Lippo conglomerate's Asian empire and ties to Clinton.

While ABC thus updated viewers on the Indonesian scandal, neither CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News mentioned the scandal or Huang's name. (CNN's Inside Politics did offer an anchor-read brief.)

3) Over video of Bill Clinton along a rope line talking with a teenage girl who at first is crying, then is smiling and, finally, is hugging Clinton, Dan Rather announced on the October 24 CBS Evening News:
"In Louisiana President Clinton had this tearful encounter today with a teenager. She said she was a devout Catholic and was upset with the President's veto of a bill banning late-term abortions. The President spoke with her awhile, saying he had vetoed that bill after talking with women who might have died without the procedure. As you see, this seemed to satisfy the teenager who said she felt better and would tell her mother 'it's okay to vote for President Clinton,' unquote."

Of course, Rather didn't bother telling viewers that the bill Clinton vetoed had a life or health of the mother exception.

4) MSNBC's News with Brian Williams on Tuesday night (October 22) ran a profile of Dole by Lisa Myers. It began:

Lisa Myers: "The heart and soul of Dole's agenda is his economic program, built around the bold, some say extravagant, promise."
Bob Dole: "We'll have a President who will cut taxes 15 percent across the board for every taxpayer in America."
Myers: "With that promise, that half a trillion dollar tax cut, Dole seems to have cast aside the most enduring commitment of his 35 year career - balancing the budget."

5) Thursday night Tom Brokaw narrated an "In-Depth" segment exploring big money from special interests pouring into congressional races. His case study: The Idaho race of GOP freshmen Helen Chenoweth (targetted by labor unions) vs. Democrat Dan Williams.

Brokaw asserted: "Helen Chenoweth, a controversial first term Republican Congresswoman."
Chenoweth: "I don't have a clue why they would target me. I come from an innocuous state. I'm just a plain-spoken Western woman."
Brokaw: "Not exactly. In her first term Chenoweth was a cheerleader for the New Right. Voting against an increase in the minimum wage, trashing traditional environmental organizations. She was a hardliner on gun laws. So, she is a target of big labor and conservationists."

Brokaw didn't make any negative comments about the views espoused by the Democratic candidate. He concluded by noting that the two candidates have debated, "But their campaigns are trapped in a cloud of money, saturating the air, polluting the political process, and that's a loss for everyone."

So is a campaign trapped in a cloud of media distortion, polluting the fair and balanced dissemination of political views.

- Brent Baker