Bush Scolded for Not Embracing McCain; NBC Quoted LaBella; Geraldo's Back
1) "McCain's friends and advisors were stunned" by Bush's failure to kowtow to McCain, NBC's Tom Brokaw intoned in embracing the loser's spin. David Gregory asserted that "it's the tone of Bush's interview, considered by some dismissive of McCain...that set off a firestorm." But few care about campaign finance reform.
2) Though she didn't utter the name Charles LaBella, NBC's Lisa Myers used his memo as the peg for a full NBC Nightly News story on his charge that the Justice Department went easy on Gore and to recount Gore's changing story on what he did when.
4) Playing John Madden as he used a football field tele-strator, on MSNBC, Jonathan Alter maintained Gore "doesn't have to turn that far toward the center" but "Bush has a bigger problem. He had to run way to the right, almost out of bounds in South Carolina."
5) A new book by two left-wing journalists, The Hunting of the President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, had Geraldo ranting about the mainstream media's complicity in the right-wing conspiracy to destroy the Clintons.
George Bush beat John McCain soundly in the primaries, but Bush's failure to adopt McCain's losing issues and show a media-like level of admiration for McCain angered NBC News. "John McCain's friends and advisors were stunned this morning when they read a lengthy interview in the New York Times with George W. Bush," NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw intoned Thursday night. Brokaw grouched: "The Texas Governor was not exactly conciliatory." Reporter David Gregory asserted that "it's the tone of Bush's interview, considered by some dismissive of McCain, even arrogant, that set off a firestorm." Gregory also highlighted the charge that Bush rewarded donors with overnights at the Governor's Mansion.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows led Thursday night with the surge in the Dow with ABC touching politics only in an "It's Your Money" segment on how Speaker Hastert diverted more Medicare money to a hospital in his district. The CBS Evening News also avoided the campaign but did run a 20-second item on the independent counsel's report on Filegate while NBC allocated 18 seconds to making what I believe was the first broadcast evening show mention of an effort in Arkansas to disbar Bill Clinton.
On Filegate, CBS Evening News anchor Ed Bradley relayed:
Over on the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw announced:
Next, Brokaw discovered controversy in Bush's interview with the New York Times as he let "John McCain's friends" set the news agenda for NBC: "On the presidential campaign trail, John McCain's friends and advisors were stunned this morning when they read a lengthy interview in the New York Times with George W. Bush, the man who beat McCain for the nomination. The Texas Governor was not exactly conciliatory."
In a piece which also ran on MSNBC's The News with
Brian Williams, reporter David Gregory asserted: "Worried that his latest
comments about Senator McCain will set back any chance of the Arizona Senator
endorsing him, Governor Bush, on a fundraising trip in Illinois today, reaches
out to his former rival."
Trying to equate Bush with
Clinton, Gregory argued: "But is Bush vulnerable on campaign finance? His
staff has released a list of guests who slept over at the Governor's Mansion
during the last five years. A government watchdog group now questions the more
than $2 million donated or raised by Bush's guests."
The New York Times reporters who interviewed Bush were
just as baffled as Brokaw over how Bush failed to realize the compelling
nature of McCain's campaign. Check out the fourth and fifth paragraph's of
the March 16 story by Richard Berke and Frank Bruni:
So just how many McCain supporters is Bush really alienating by not adopting McCain's liberal anti-free speech campaign finance "reform" plan? Not many. Just one in six McCain voters called campaign finance the most important issue, ABC News polling analyst Gary Langer showed in a story posted on the ABC News Web page. He also documented how far from media hype for the "millions" McCain drove to the polls, he actually only generated fewer than one million new voters.
Here's an excerpt from Langer's March 14 piece titled, "The Myth of Footprints. McCain's New 'Millions': Time for a Recount."
It has become fashionable to report that Sen. John McCain bought "millions of new voters" to the polls this primary season, that many of his supporters just might jump to Al Gore this fall, and that McCain's millions are on fire for campaign finance reform.
The numbers say: Whoa.
First, the new voters: In the Super Tuesday exit polls, 20 percent said it was their first time voting in a Republican primary....Fifty-five percent of those voters went for McCain. These are the new voters McCain brought in: Fifty-five percent of 20 percent of all GOP voters.
ABCNEWS estimates that 12,453,466 warm bodies voted in Republican nominating events -- primaries and caucuses alike -- through last Friday....Twenty percent of all GOP voters as new voters -- that's 2.49 million souls. And new McCain voters were 55 percent of that -- 1.37 million.
At best then, we cannot say that McCain brought in "millions of new voters," but fewer than 1.5 million. Looking to November, that is less than seventh-tenths of one percent of the voting-age population....
Finally, campaign finance reform. Was it the burning issue behind McCain's support? Apparently not. Among all McCain voters on Super Tuesday, 16 percent cited campaign finance reform as the most important issue in their vote -- tying it for second place, behind "moral values" and even with Social Security/Medicare.
Look at it this way: Just one in six of McCain's own voters said campaign finance reform was their main motivating issue. Eighty-four percent picked something else.
Langer is the Director of the ABC News polling unit, but MRC analyst Jessica Anderson informed me this analysis hasn't made it yet onto World News Tonight, GMA or Nightline.
To read Langer's entire analysis, go to:
Thursday night NBC became the first broadcast network, on a weekday edition of its evening show, to quote the charges made by Charles LaBella which the Los Angeles Times revealed last Friday in a front page story on his long-suppressed memo about Clinton-Gore fundraising. The intrepid Lisa Myers provided a nearly three-minute-long piece on Gore's fundraising history in which she also noted Maria Hsia's conviction, a March 2 verdict NBC Nightly News skipped at the time.
The story by Myers was also picked up Thursday by MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, which had ignored the LaBella memo's disclosure last week. (Monday night on the NBC Nightly News Claire Shipman made a cryptic six-second reference to the memo and delivered a four-second mention of Hsia's convictions.)
As noted in previous CyberAlerts, last Friday, March 10, the memo's unveiling was highlighted by CNN and FNC but ignored by ABC, CBS and NBC. ABC News has yet to acknowledge it, though its play on the front page of the Saturday, March 11 New York Times generated a story on that night's CBS Evening News, a broadcast bumped by basketball off most ET and CT affiliates. The morning shows have yet to mention LaBella's name.
Lisa Myers opened her March 16 NBC Nightly News piece by
getting right to one of LaBella's contentions, an issue put in play by a
question put to Janet Reno earlier in the day but still ignored Thursday night
by ABC and CBS:
After a clip of Reno claiming that a thorough probe
found no instance of a false statement by Gore, Myers quoted from the LaBella
memo though she did not say his name:
Following a soundbite of Gore's infamous "no
controlling legal authority" remark, Myers recounted his changing story,
as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Myers moved on: "Issue #2: Gore's notorious visit
to that Buddhist temple in April 1996. Gore insists he didn't know it was a
fundraiser. First he says he thought it was community outreach, later that it
was finance-related, then this:"
Lewis got another soundbite as did Gore before Myers
concluded her piece. The LaBella memo revealed there are photos of Gore
reviewing documents about how he was being asked to make hard-money calls from
a federal building. Myers made reference to that in wrapping up her story:
-- The power duo of me and
the Wall Street Journal? The March 15 Journal carried an op-ed piece by me
documenting how the broadcast networks skipped the LaBella memo last week. The
day after the column appeared NBC produced a story pegged to LaBella's memo.
Reporters are condemning the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Charlton Heston for the tone and substance of their attacks on Bill Clinton, but many reporters haven't hesitated in the past to hold conservatives accountable for bloodshed. Last year after the Columbine tragedy Time's Margaret Carlson asserted that those who oppose gun control consider "schoolyard massacres an acceptable cost for its right to be armed to the teeth." Following the Oklahoma City bombing another Time reporter held culpable conservatives who advocated government budget cuts: "The inflamed rhetoric of the '90s is suddenly an unindicted co-conspirator in the blast."
These and other quotes were gathered by the MRC's Tim Graham for a March 16 Media Reality Check fax report titled, "Media to LaPierre: Only Conservatism Kills. Same Outlets Shocked by NRA Leader's Clinton Quotes Routinely Let Liberals Find Malice on the Right." Here's the text, in full:
Charles Gibson warned on Wednesday's World News Tonight: "The national debate over gun control became even more vicious today. The head of the National Rifle Association accused President Clinton of having quote, 'blood on his hands.'" Gibson referred to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who declared on ABC on Sunday that President Clinton is "willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda."
As ABC's John Cochran explained, yesterday LaPierre used a specific example: in the death of former college basketball coach Ricky Birdsong, the killer illegally tried to obtain a gun at a gun store, but was not prosecuted, part of a pattern of lax gun law prosecution.
Is it fair to blame Clinton? Should political players be blamed for crimes they did not commit? Probably not, but the same outlets insisting LaPierre has crossed a line of incivility have regularly crossed the line or held the door for line-crossers indicting conservatives.
Vicious Margaret. In the May 10, 1999 Time, columnist Margaret Carlson gave the mirror image of LaPierre's Sunday statement: "Republicans are betting that this too [Columbine] will pass, that as with Jonesboro and Paducah, Pearl and Springfield, once the white coffins are in the ground and the cameras gone, the outrage will subside. But maybe not this time. In town meetings and talk radio, the public has had its fill of politicians talking resignedly about our gun culture, as if there's nothing to be done about a subgroup that finds schoolyard massacres an acceptable cost for its right to be armed to the teeth."
Vicious Katie. On October 13, 1998, NBC's Katie Couric asked Elizabeth Birch of the gay-left Human Rights Campaign: "Do you believe this [Truth in Love] ad campaign launch by some conservative groups really contributed somehow to Matthew Shepard's death?" Birch quickly replied "I do, Katie...this ad campaign has been pumped out all summer presenting gay and lesbian people as defective, as less than, as not fully human."
Vicious Richard. When abortionist Barnett Slepian was killed on October 26, 1998, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger pushed blame on the whole pro-life movement: "Abortion rights activists now believe some leaders of the mainstream anti-abortion movement are inciting supporters on the fringe to violence."
Vicious Jane. On the January 3, 1995 Dateline NBC, host Jane Pauley broke for a commercial: "Still ahead, the latest round of violence and bloodshed at abortion clinics. The anti-abortion movement has been creeping to the edge of bloody fanaticism for a decade."
Vicious Richard II. In the May 8, 1995 Time, Richard Lacayo found bombers on the radio: "In a nation that has entertained and appalled itself for years with hot talk on the radio and the campaign trail, the inflamed rhetoric of the '90s is suddenly an unindicted co-conspirator in the blast."
Vicious Michael. In the May 1, 1995 Time, then-Senior Political Correspondent Michael Kramer blamed the right: "If the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing really view government as the people's enemy, the burden of fostering that delusion is borne not just by the nut cases who preach conspiracy but also to some extent by those who erode faith in our governance in the pursuit of their own ambitions."
Before national media stars huff and puff over the pitch of LaPierre's rhetoric, they ought to look in the mirror.
For more examples of
the media's hate, check out the MRC's post-Oklahoma bombing edition of
Notable Quotables, our "Special Purveyors of Hate & Division
Issue." Go to:
All the media attention to the NRA-Clinton battle, as
detailed in the previous two CyberAlerts, reminded me to give a plug for the
MRC's big gun coverage study by Geoffrey Dickens which we released in
January: "Outgunned: How The Network News Media Are Spinning the Gun
Control Debate." Key points in the study of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC from
July 1, 1997 to June 30, 1999: Evening News Shows Favored the Anti-Gun
Position by 8 to 1; Morning News Shows Favored the Anti-Gun Position by 13 to
1; News Programs Are Twice as Likely to Use Anti-Gun Soundbites; News Programs
Are Twice as Likely to Feature Anti-Gun Guests; Pro-Gun Themes Were Barely
Covered. To read the executive summary and the full report, go to:
Catching up on an illustrative item from back on Super Tuesday, less than thirty minutes after John McCain told Maria Shriver live on MSNBC to "please get out of here," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter provided a liberal's forecast for the Bush-Gore race. His analysis is worth reviewing since it graphically laid out how members of the media perceive the two candidate's and the power of their issues.
Just like the football commentators, Alter drew lines of motion on a football field graphic, a tele-strator, to illustrate his points, including how Bush "had to run way to the right, almost out of bounds in South Carolina."
Below is what MSNBC viewers heard from Alter at about
11:45pm ET on March 7, but they had the benefit of seeing what Alter was
referring to as he drew his lines. So, Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul
will post a RealPlayer clip of Alter with his tele-strator. In the meantime,
here's the text:
Alter then assessed Gore's issues as more compelling
and convincing than those he predicted Bush would push:
Life is fun again for Geraldo Rivera. The release of a new book by left-wing journalists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, The Hunting of the President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, has given Rivera an opening to rant some more about the right-wing conspiracy to destroy the Clintons. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that Wednesday night Rivera asserted: "The book...convincingly proves that there was a right-wing conspiracy."
Rivera gloated about how the book proved him correct about the evils of Clinton's enemies and trumpeted how the book features the "stunning story of how much of the mainstream media actually colluded knowingly or through laziness with these fringe wackos."
Setting up the March 15 Rivera Live segment on CNBC,
Rivera reminded viewers:
What will Geraldo do when Clinton leaves office and he can't spend his life bashing those who dare pursue his heroic President and First Lady?-- Brent Baker 
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