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The Early Word on The Early Show: Biased

Gumbel's Soft on Clinton, Wants Toughness on Mel Gibson, Pushes Gun Control and Bush Drug Rumor

Bryant Gumbel told Tim Russert last weekend that complaints about his liberal bias reminded him "of someone who once told me that our Founding Fathers guaranteed everyone the right to be heard. It said nothing about being taken seriously." But the early word on The Early Show is it's seriously biased to the left.

img.gif (3663 bytes) Gumbel's Monday interview with the President was very soft: "The two people who have been closest to you for seven years are about to get out there on the campaign trail while you stay at home and deal with the issues. Is that terribly frustrating?" And: "Are you going to miss being President?"

Gumbel asked about Clinton's legacy. When Clinton said he "turned the economy around and prepared America for a new century," Gumbel replied: "You'd be satisfied if your legacy was erasing the nation's red ink?"

Gumbel also pushed unproven rumors of drug use by George W. Bush: "Before I leave the subject of Governor Bush, what's your take on the demarcation line he's drawing on past drug use for his personal life?" When Clinton said it was "up to the public," Gumbel wasn't satisfied: "Let me rephrase. In your opinion, do you believe previous cocaine use should disqualify someone from sitting in this office?"

Gumbel's co-host Jane Clayson interviewed George W. Bush on Tuesday and asked him: "Let me ask you about a question that's dogged you for many weeks, this question of your alleged drug use. How do you make this question go away, Governor, or at least answer the question and resolve this once and for all?"

She also asked: "During the Clinton administration, Americans have enjoyed an unprecedented economic growth. How could a George W. Bush administration even top that?...Can it get any better, Governor?"

On Monday, Gumbel praised Mark McEwen for asking Mel Gibson about his views (against abortion and for capital punishment) standing out in Hollywood: "I was glad to see you ask him about it, because he's said some pretty outrageous things over the years and nobody seems to ever call him on it. They kind of think 'oh, that's cute, he's a movie star.' But some of the stuff he's said is..." McEwen came to Mel's defense: "Well, he speaks his mind, and if you ask him, he backs up everything that he's said."

On Tuesday, Gumbel asked CBS reporter Diana Olick: "Diana, given the amount of juvenile bloodshed we've seen over the past year, why aren't legislators feeling more pressure to at least get something done during this session?" Olick answered from Capitol Hill: "Well, believe it or not, they actually rank gun control pretty low on the scale. Americans really are much more interested in education, health care and Social Security." Gumbel summed up: "So it's easier for them to just pass on it?" Olick: "Yup." Gumbel: "It's unfortunate."

On Wednesday, Gumbel interviewed Al Gore. "You have detailed, Mr. Vice President, more specific policy ideas than all the others combined," Gumbel claimed, without any mention of proof. "Yet, would you admit to me that voters haven't gravitated to one central theme?" Gumbel did ask a question Gore didn't want to hear: "Last December, on the day that Bill Clinton was impeached, you said he'd be remembered as one of this country's greatest Presidents. You're now a candidate. Do you still believe that?" Gumbel's the one who thought it plausible that Clinton would be remembered primarily for erasing the nation's red ink. - Tim Graham