Media Reality Check

Overall, the media suggested last night's Bush-Gore debate was a wash, but ABC News won the post-debate contest in who would spin most baldly in Al Gore's direction last night. Unpaid Shill . Four years ago, George Stephanopoulos was a paid staffer for Al Gore's election. The only difference last night was that he's now paid by ABC News. Just after the debate ended, he swooned, "Gore dominated the debate, Peter. You know, all year long he's been trailing Governor Bush on the issue of who's the strongest leader. Well, tonight Gore not only took up most of the time,... continue reading
Jim Lehrer's regular post as moderator of presidential debates is spurring a round of hosannas over his objectivity. "I really don't have any politics...I never take a stand," Lehrer claimed to the Boston Globe. This morning on Today, NBC's Bob Kur cooed: "Low-key, but above all, considered fair and impartial, his style since he started at a Dallas public TV station more than 30 years ago." Lehrer does have a "quiet, self-effacing style," as NBC reported. He is not Bryant Gumbel. But his journalism has historically followed the liberal pack. Watergate , for PBS, was a war against Richard Nixon,... continue reading
NUMBER OF SUNDAY MORNING SHOW INTERVIEWS SINCE APRIL 1999 BY RUDY GIULIANI OR RICK LAZIO vs. NUMBER OF SUNDAY MORNING SHOW INTERVIEWS BY HILLARY CLINTON IN THE SAME TIME FRAME: 19 to 0 NUMBER OF NETWORK-SPONSORED TOWN MEETINGS FOR GIULIANI OR LAZIO COMPARED TO NETWORK-SPONSORED TOWN MEETINGS FOR HILLARY: 0 to 3 (CBS's The Early Show , NBC's Today , and CNN in prime time) While Giuliani and Lazio have subjected themselves to nearly 20 interviews with network anchors, Hillary Clinton or her aides have never even promised she would show up for Sunday morning scrutiny. When CNN's Wolf Blitzer... continue reading
Media coverage of non-traditional talk-show spots by presidential candidates isn't always substantive. Al Gore's Tuesday night appearance on a joint MTV/Time magazine forum is one obvious example. Reporters were more likely to notice Gore's answer to the question "Paper or plastic?" than any news he might have made: namely, that he came out in favor of "same-sex marriage," a position he would not take during the primaries, and never advocated specifically in the Democratic platform. But the networks on Tuesday night? "No, he wasn't asked boxers or briefs," was the complete MTV report from ABC's Peter Jennings. CBS's Bob Schieffer... continue reading
The national media's willingness to serve as an unpaid propaganda arm of the Gore campaign was first tested by the weird claim that the Bush campaign had placed the word "RATS" subliminally in an ad on prescription drugs. Last night and this morning, the networks have thrown out another example of blatant, naked pro-Gore news judgment by hyping the anecdote of 79-year-old Winifred Skinner, a former auto worker who told a Gore town meeting yesterday that she scavenges cans by the side of the road to make ends meet. The TV networks not only promoted the story, they savored it... continue reading
Selectively quoting from a Sunday New York Times story about how Vice President Gore would be one of only four enlisted men to become Commander-in-Chief, CBS anchor Dan Rather darkly hinted on Monday evening that the U.S. military was assuming a more "political" role. Rather justified pushing innuendo about the military's integrity by quoting the 13th and 14th paragraphs of the 15 paragraph story. "Reporting on changing times and traditions in the U.S. military, the New York Times says, and I quote, 'In recent years, people in uniform, particularly in the officer corps, have tilted increasingly toward the Republican party,'... continue reading
Oil became the big story yesterday on the campaign trail, but reporters continued to ignore any anti-Gore background music. Last night, ABC's World News Tonight led with reporter Terry Moran on how Gore "was casting himself as the champion of beleaguered consumers and Governor Bush as a pawn of the oil industry." Gore declared: "I will not go along with an agenda that is of Big Oil, by Big Oil, and for Big Oil." Moran concluded that the Gore campaign welcomes the issue "if only to point out to voters that both Governor Bush and Dick Cheney hail from the... continue reading
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Vice President Al Gore today repeated his politically-motivated charge that oil companies are "profiteering" at the expense of U.S. consumers. The TV networks let Gore get away with that bogus claim back in June, when the public was outraged by sharp gasoline price increases in Chicago and Milwaukee. On the defensive, the Clinton-Gore EPA launched a showy investigation into oil company pricing, only to be embarrassed weeks later when an internal Energy Department memo showed that the EPA knew its own environmental regulations were to blame for the... continue reading
Vice President Gore was neither "knocked off message" nor "distracted by repeated questions from the press" about a report in Monday's Boston Globe showing that he concocted a story about his mother-in-law's drug costs as part of a pitch for his big government prescription payment plan. Instead of dogging Gore, the three evening newscasts ignored it, as did MSNBC's News with Brian Williams. CNN and FNC, in contrast, both showed viewers the videotape of Gore making the faulty claims in late August. Gore said Tipper's mother pays three times as much for her arthritis medicine as he pays for his... continue reading
Today's Good Morning America : Diane Sawyer: "Part of the Bush campaign's contention is that the media is disgraceful on all of this. Climbing on the Gore bandwagon, not calling the Gore campaign on any of its fundraising issues, including now reports that the Lincoln Bedroom and Camp David were sold by the Clinton administration to fund-raise." George Stephanopoulos: "You know, and political scientists have written about this. They talk about the bandwagon effect, that once a candidate gets in the zone, all of the coverage is good, almost no matter what happens, and when you're out of the zone,... continue reading