CyberAlert - October 8, 1996 - Harsh & Negative Dole

Three items today:

  1. By sticking to a moderate course in the debate and avoiding scandal topics that would enrage the media, Bob Dole largely avoided media condemnation and earned praise for his humor. But, not from everyone. NBC's Lisa Myers tagged him as "harsh," CBS reporter Phil Jones said Dole failed to explain how we can "afford" his tax cut and CNN's Judy Woodruff asked Al Gore if Dole was "too negative."
  2. This past weekend Al Hunt labeled three conservatives from the South as representing "hate," a "hatemonger," and an "extremist," but he doesn't have such a mean-spirited attitude toward all Southerners. He thinks one should get the Nobel Prize.
  3. The New York Times finally gets around to reporting the latest FBI files revelations, but it's far from the front page.

1) In an amazing break out of balance, Monday night both ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News ran post-debate "fact check" stories that took on assertions made in Sunday night's debate by both Dole and Clinton.

In post-debate banter, Bob Dole largely avoided condemnations for being too negative or too harsh, but there were some exceptions:

- On Monday's Today (October 7) NBC's Lisa Myers raised the "harsh" theme. Here's the quote caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

"I think he was strongest when he talked about his proposals, tax cuts, opportunity scholarships for poor children. He showed the wit and humor that those of us who have covered Bob Dole know. The problem, I think, is that he may have been a little bit harsh at times and that I don't think that he really did enough to bring home a lot of undecided voters."

- During a special midnight (ET) Inside Politics after the debate CNN brought on Jack Kemp and Al Gore. CNN's Bernard Shaw did not ask Kemp negative questions about Bill Clinton's performance, but Judy Woodruff did pose two such questions to Al Gore about Bob Dole. As transcribed by MRC analyst Clay Waters, here are two of her inquiries:


"Bob Dole, as I mentioned a moment ago, among other things, repeatedly again referred to the President as being liberal. I mean, just, it seemed to come up throughout the debate. Do you think the President was able to adequately respond to what has apparently become a negative label?"
Al Gore responded: "I think the American people want to hear about ideas and don't want to hear candidates insulting each other and hurling accusations and personal charges."
To which Woodruff asked:"Well, do you think Bob Dole was too negative tonight?"

- Minutes after the debated ended, reporter Phil Jones made it clear he was not satisfied with Dole's performance. MRC analyst Steve Kaminski took down his reaction:

"I think that if I had to say probably where he was the weakest and where he really needed to score was, he needed to explain to the American people how this country can afford that 15 percent tax cut, the centerpiece of his campaign, without these draconian cuts. I don't think he has done that yet."

2) In Sunday's CyberAlert I reported how on Saturday's CNN Capital Gang Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, had disparaged three conservatives. He said Jesse Helms represented "hate," Pat Robertson was a "hatemonger" and Woody Jenkins was an "extremist."

MRC analyst Clay Waters reminded me of what Hunt uttered the week before, on the September 28 Capital Gang:

"Whatever you thought of Jimmy Carter as President, he has been a great ex-President, helping to avoid bloodshed from North Korea to Haiti, bringing health care to children in Africa and Latin America. Even Bob Novak has lauded some of these efforts. The outrage? The Nobel Peace prize for years has given President Carter the back of its hand. It can make amends next week and give him what he deserves: the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize."

3) Sunday's CyberAlert also reported how The Washington Times and Washington Post led page one with the news that an aide to Craig Livingstone contradicted his story on the FBI files. On Sunday, The New York Times finally got around to reporting the revelation, but on the bottom of page A30 under this vague headline: "New Testimony Given on Republicans' Files."

But at least The New York Times reported the news. I'm still waiting to see the first broadcast network story.

- Brent Baker