Media Reality Check

- The pre-taped post-debate morning show interviews today revealed dramatic differences in interviewing styles among the three networks. - CBS. On The Early Show , Bill Plante stuck to style over substance: "Did you find a happy medium between the first debate and the second debate...Was this the real Al Gore?...Did the format make it easier for you?...Do you get the sense that your opponent is trying to make this a personality contest, as opposed to an issues contest... Why?...He might put it that if you want somebody who is not a career politician, a Washington guy, then he's your... continue reading
Are the networks really trying to help George W. Bush? That was the preposterous concern on last night's CBS Evening News, as correspondent Bill Whitaker fretted that heavy international news coverage has aided the GOP. "Bush has already benefited from the foreign flare up," Whitaker stated. "Last Thursday, the day after the second joint appearance, all eyes were on the Middle East, not on the candidates' mistakes." What mistakes? Whitaker only related the claim of a trio of Texas Democrats that Bush was wrong when he stated last Wednesday night that "we spend $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured... continue reading
Will the networks take the opportunity today on the occasion of Louis Farrakhan's "Million Family March" to explore vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman's declaration that he "respects" and would meet with Farrakhan, who's called Judaism a "gutter religion"? Nearly every Lieberman conflict with Jewish groups and religious figures has been ignored. August 7 : Lieberman's first problem with fellow Jews came on CNN's Larry King Live . King asked: "Wouldn't most Orthodox Jews be pro-life?" Lieberman dodged: "And like everything else in Judaism, ultimately, it's up to each of us to decide what we think is right." Network coverage? Zero... continue reading
The Washington Post "fact check" on the second debate this morning was almost entirely about the facts of George W. Bush. TV coverage this morning also focused on Bush's claims, but ignored Gore's claims. Blur, Blur, Blur . On Good Morning America , ABC's Jack Ford pointed out to Bush that he had erred in asserting that the three assailants in the death of James Byrd in Texas are not all getting the death penalty, since one got life in prison. "The question people now ask is, is that, however, the kind of error you've criticized the Vice President for... continue reading
The media snapshot out of last night's second debate: George W. Bush was "surprisingly sure-footed on foreign policy," as Ted Koppel announced, but Al Gore gained a footing in attacking Bush's record in Texas on health care, "hate crimes," and the environment. The moderator, PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, asked more liberal questions last night, mostly by repeating the most liberal questions CNN's Bernard Shaw asked at the vice presidential debate last Thursday: Lehrer asked Gore, "would you support or sign as president a federal law banning racial profiling by police and other authorities at all levels of government?" For balance,... continue reading
On this morning's Today show, Newsweek writer and MSNBC/NBC talking head Jonathan Alter insisted that tonight's roundtable format will aid Vice President Gore because a more "thoughtful" exchange will showcase that the Democratic nominee "has a greater depth of understanding of some of these issues." "He's shown he's the master of the material," Alter gushed to host Matt Lauer. "Now he has to be the master of the moment." Maybe Alter and other journalists who think Gore is a "master" of the issues are just displaying their own ignorance of crucial policy details. Here's one claim the Vice President made... continue reading
Do TV news stars really believe that everything they do is fair and balanced? Two weeks ago, ABC's Diane Sawyer used Good Morning America to preen over Winifred Skinner and her sob story of having to scavenge for cans to afford her prescriptions, an imploding story promoted by the Gore campaign. But today Sawyer was shocked Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly forwarded opinions on television in an interview to promote his new book The O'Reilly Factor . (See box.) Sawyer explained: "He has said, by the way, that the elite media - you hate us, right, basically? -... continue reading
Before last night's vice presidential debate, CNN anchor and moderator Bernard Shaw suggested in an Associated Press story: "I'm an old-fashioned journalist who believes in being fair, balanced and accurate, and those principles color everything I do." That promise was not kept last night. Shaw displayed more liberal bias during the debate in the agenda of his questions about gender pay, gay rights, and how Social Security is sacrosanct, than the networks did afterward. Shaw posed no explicitly conservative agenda questions while he posed at least three questions explicitly from the left. Just 15 minutes into the 90-minute session Shaw... continue reading
On September 27, eight days ago, the first press reports revealed that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman said he would be willing to meet with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has called Judaism, Lieberman's faith, a "gutter religion." In an interview with April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks, Lieberman said, "Look, Minister Farrakhan said a few things earlier in the campaign that were just not informed. But I have respect for him, and I have respect for the Muslim community generally." Where's the furor? The story first came on Wednesday from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jodi... continue reading
Washington Post reporter John F. Harris claimed this morning that in the Bush-Gore debate, "Neither fulfilled the negative stereotypes about himself." But Harris hadn't heard of the Al Gore tall tales that emerged within 12 hours of the debate. Gore's campaign admitted Gore did not travel to a Texas disaster area with Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt as he boasted last night. The Gore camp didn't return calls for's story that Gore was wrong about over crowding in a Sarasota, Florida school (see box). CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today failed to raise these stories... continue reading