Media Reality Check

All but Dan Rather (see page two sidebar) realized the Democrats presented a liberal slate of speakers on Tuesday night, but unlike how they approached the Republicans in Philadelphia, with the exception of FNC, network correspondents never pressed Democrats about whether their hardline liberal positions on many issues might turn off independent voters. Instead, reporters portrayed the party as being led by a "centrist" ticket and spent the night asking liberals if they are distressed by Joseph Lieberman's supposedly "socially conservative" positions. "Tonight the proud old stallions of the Democratic Party's left wing thundered from the podium," ABC's Chris Bury... continue reading
Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.'s post-prime time "keynote address" was ignored by the broadcast networks and MSNBC last night, a blackout that was continued by the networks this morning. Instead, they highlighted Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's convention speech, an excuse to reprise the syrupy Kennedy hagiography of last summer. "Here in Los Angeles, Caroline Kennedy stirs the echoes and rekindles Camelot with memories of her father," ABC's Charles Gibson waxed at the start of Good Morning America , dropping her married name. "There were tears in the eyes of a lot of the delegates," his partner Diane Sawyer seconded. "Last night's was... continue reading
In prime time two Monday's ago, opening night of the Republican convention, MSNBC pounded Republicans with about 20 questions from the left about how their conservative positions would turn off voters, especially on abortion. Tom Brokaw argued there "ought to be more tolerance for abortion," and Claire Shipman asked a Congresswoman what she would say "to women who are worried that George W. Bush will appoint people to the Supreme Court who might try to take away that right?" But last night, despite the Democratic Party's hard line pro-abortion position, no attendees were queried if their opposition to banning partial-birth... continue reading
Last night, Bill Clinton was bumped from prime time by his wife. This morning, CBS and ABC bumped him from the top of their shows in favor of a trapped Russian submarine. NBC led with Clinton - correspondent Claire Shipman called it "a very successful evening" for the President. "It was classic Clinton," Shipman told viewers. "The show started half an hour late but the room full of revved-up Democrats hardly noticed. Cheering for a full five minutes as the President took a rock star-like televised walk through the back corridors and into the convention hall." "It is not easy... continue reading
Two weeks ago Republican VP pick Dick Cheney was portrayed on ABC's This Week and CBS's Face the Nation as too conservative to attract independent voters or women and was quizzed about past votes on everything from fighting gun control to voting against the Older Americans Act to opposing abortion. But this Sunday, while network hosts on all five interview shows pressed Democratic VP nominee Joe Lieberman about his policy differences with Al Gore, none demanded he explain his positions on issues where he is just as far to the left as Cheney is to the right. Back on the... continue reading
Gore campaign chief Donna Brazile suddenly appeared today on the networks' morning shows, but faced mostly soft questioning. No one was rude enough to mention that she hasn't been interviewed on network TV in seven months, since she implied in January that Gen. Colin Powell was a token: "Republicans bring out Powell because they have no program, no policy. They would rather take pictures with black children than feed them." By contrast, her white subordinate, consultant Bob Shrum, has appeared for six network interviews, including four Sunday morning shows. On CBS, Bryant Gumbel complained to Brazile, "You're an unapologetic liberal... continue reading
When George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney as his running mate, reporters soon began using extremist terms to describe him, placing him on the "hard right," the "far right," someone who was "very, very conservative." But when Al Gore selected Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate this morning, they placed him squarely in the mainstream: On ABC's Good Morning America , Terry Moran said: "He's known as a moderate Democrat, who had demonstrated fiscal conservatism in the Senate and a kind of hawkishness in foreign policy." On The Early Show , CBS reporter John Roberts explained "He has been... continue reading
George W. Bush earned rave reviews Thursday night for his speech, though some were most impressed with its un-Republican aspects and NBC trotted out the usual liberal mantra about paying for tax cuts. ABC's Cokie Roberts: "I think a very successful speech. Anybody seeing at the beginning George W. Bush's parents watching their child stand up there and accept the nomination was bound to be moved. Even my colleagues here in the press felt that way.....And I think that his echoing that Reagan line of 'tear down this wall,' from Berlin, to talk about tearing down the wall between poverty... continue reading
Even before Dick Cheney spoke Wednesday night, Tom Brokaw relayed the opposition's attack. On the NBC/MSNBC simulcast he announced: "Already the Gore campaign is out with a rebuttal to Dick Cheney's speech...They're saying, 'The mask is off the GOP masquerade ball. It's the most negative Republican convention speech since Pat Buchanan.'" Afterward, Brokaw assessed: "Richard Cheney tonight, borrowing a phrase from Al Gore in 1992, 'It is time for them to go.' He proved himself an unflappable, if not a dynamic speaker tonight." Tim Russert chimed in: "You could feel this audience, they've been pent up for three days, with... continue reading
At least NBC showed the entire speech Wednesday night. This morning, Today 's Katie Couric called Dick Cheney's speech to the Republican convention "nasty" and commented to Tim Russert, "Mild-mannered Dick Cheney. Who knew?" Russert was forced to remind her that one of Cheney's most stinging lines ("It's time for them to go") matched word-for-word a put-down of Republicans from Al Gore's 1992 convention address. A review of the July 17, 1992 Today show revealed no complaints about Gore's negativity following that speech. Instead, NBC's Margaret Larson called Gore "impassioned," while reporter Kenley Jones joshed that Gore would have to... continue reading