Media Reality Check

The New York Times and other media outlets reported this morning that the Justice Department has opened a preliminary investigation into whether Al Gore solicited Texas trial lawyers for six-figure contributions in 1995 with the understanding that President Clinton would veto a Republican tort-reform bill in exchange. NETWORK COVERAGE? Zero on today's morning shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC. All the shows covered the Hillary Clinton-Rick Lazio debate, and ABC and NBC devoted full stories to how Gore friend Tom Downey mysteriously received Bush debate preparations and turned them over to the FBI. Two days ago, The New York Times... continue reading
As reporters take out the microscopes to scrutinize one-thirtieth of a second of GOP ads and hail Al Gore's great momentum, the public should note how the press is leaving the embarrassing Gore news stories behind, according to a review of ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC evening and morning news programs. Let My People Go? In a front page article August 28, The Washington Post reported that Joe Lieberman declared in a black church that Clinton and Gore were comparable to Moses: "You might say the Red Sea finally parted, and more Americans than ever before walked through behind President... continue reading
When tax cut fever sweeps the nation, network news reporters always reach for the aspirin. Dazzled by polls showing Al Gore with a tiny lead, network reporters are telling voters that George W. Bush's tax cuts have failed as a campaign issue. But a review of evening news coverage by the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP) shows audiences have been told almost nothing about either Bush's or Gore's tax programs, other than the political analysis that Bush's plan "hasn't caught fire," in the words of reporter-turned-firefighter Bill Whitaker on the August 30 CBS Evening News . Since July 24, one... continue reading
ABC and NBC led off with the big news last night that an open microphone caught George W. Bush telling Dick Cheney that New York Times reporter Adam Clymer was a "major league a-hole." All three networks returned to the subject this morning. Newsweek's Howard Fineman announced on NBC's Today "there goes the newsroom vote." On CBS, Bryant Gumbel declared "Bush may have taken yet another step backwards by sticking his foot in his mouth with a vulgar comment." This from the man recently caught calling a conservative a "f-ing idiot." Network stars used the Clymer story to tweak Bush's... continue reading
With ferocious prompting from the Clinton White House, the national media quickly picked apart and dismissed author and former FBI agent Gary Aldrich in 1996 for his book on the Clinton White House, Unlimited Access, denouncing it as badly sourced. Several networks canceled their interviews after Aldrich was grilled on ABC's This Week . But author Anthony Summers, perhaps best known for charging that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a secret cross-dresser (using a source convicted of perjury), is being welcomed by network bookers for his new book The Arrogance of Power , which charges without much evidence that... continue reading
The Washington Post reported this morning that the Republican National Committee withdrew an ad featuring footage on an Al Gore interview on the November 6, 1994 Meet the Press . NBC reporter Lisa Myers questioned Gore on his campaign-trail comments that then-Senate candidate Oliver North was a "pathological liar" who was unfit for elected office. When Myers asked if he or Clinton had told lies since taking office, Gore replied "None that spring to mind." Let's refresh Gore's faulty memory with a few Clinton whoppers of that vintage: 1. "Clinton began with what had become his rote reply - that... continue reading
Network TV stars love to run down the Internet as a mud pit of unverified allegations that no one should take seriously unless vetted by the professionals. On July 19, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer warned that "unlike other media, much of the information is unedited, meaning it's not necessarily accurate, and in some cases flat-out wrong and potentially damaging. Tonight, Wyatt Andrews reports the new electronic rumor mill in Eye on America ." When the Associated Press reported last Thursday that independent counsel Robert Ray had empaneled a grand jury to explore indicting Bill Clinton for lying under oath, the... continue reading
Al Gore earned mostly upbeat assessments for his Thursday night acceptance speech, though there were some notable exceptions, such as ABC's Sam Donaldson who suggested Gore looked like he "was on speed tonight." (See below for negative comments.) ABC. George Stephanopoulos: "I think one of the most effective moments in the speech was when he tied those specific promises and those specific values to the faces of people in the crowd....Style? No stiff Al Gore tonight. He was afire, he was fierce. I think the question will be will it come off as maybe a little bit too hot for... continue reading
Political analyst Michael Barone reported on FNC Wednesday night that "by my count" Joe Lieberman's VP acceptance speech featured "35 positive lines about issues describing the Gore-Lieberman position" and "30 lines of negative attacks on the Republicans, some of them administered with kind of a fairly light deft hand." But unlike how the networks described Dick Cheney's speech two weeks ago, none used the term "red meat." ABC: "Tonight the red meat, and the crowd here loved it," related George Stephanopoulos on August 2. Ted Koppel noted "how they wanted a little bit of red meat on the convention floor... continue reading
Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman's speech to the Democratic convention got a mere 48 seconds on CBS's The Early Show , which spent nearly 19 minutes recapping last night's episode of Survivor. But ABC and NBC loved Lieberman; Today 's Tim Russert said, "He came across as a regular Joe, had a conversation with the American people. His low-key style, I think, is a winning one and one that people respond to." On Good Morning America , host Charles Gibson allowed while "the Senator did take a swipe or two at Republicans...for the most part, he talked of the American... continue reading