Unlike Dad, W's No "Race-Baiter"; Rather Can't Say Gore's Wrong
1) Bush "made little news" insisted ABC Monday night, but Dan Rather maintained "Bush made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." FNC noted the press corps likes his "compas-sionate conservatism" and is giving him a pass on policy details.
2) Unlike other conservatives, Newsweek's Howard Fineman told Today, Bush cares about the poor. On GMA Time's Micheal Duffy admired how "he's not taking the extreme positions that some in his party have taken," such as his father's "race-baiting."
3) NBC's Tom Brokaw declared as "simply wrong" Al Gore's claim that 18 to 20 year-olds can buy a handgun, but Dan Rather made it sound like a partisan political dispute: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself today."
4) ABC highlighted how Lawrence Walsh opposes Starr writing a report critical of Hillary, then admired how the First Lady, who has been a public policy advocate, "is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining at the White House."
Monday night reporters marveled over the crowds of potential voters and hordes of reporters who followed George W. Bush around New Hampshire. "It feels more like a coronation than a campaign," suggested NBC's David Bloom.
"Bush did have a press conference today. He made little news and no mistakes," asserted ABC's Dean Reynolds, but CBS's Dan Rather found the press conference quite newsworthy: "CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." Of the broadcast network stories only NBC's Bloom allowed a conservative to criticize Bush's abortion position.
The media's free
ride for Bush became a topic of discussion on FNC's Special Report with
Brit Hume. From Manchester, NH Fred Barnes found: "While some
conservatives may not like the compassionate conservative theme, the press
does." Reporter Carl Cameron agreed:
(For evidence of how the Washington press love W's compassionate conservatism, which they see as a rejection of the Reagan and Bush senior's years, see today's item #2.)
Here's how the
three broadcast networks handled Bush on Monday night, June 14:
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather announced: "Bush is on his first big campaign swing.
Today, New Hampshire. CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made some
attention grabbing comments on abortion policy but generally stuck to
After playing a
Bush answer about Kosovo at his press conference, McNamara pointed out:
"No litmus test issues, like would he appoint anti-abortion judges to
the federal bench."
I don't recall any questions to Clinton in mid-1991 about such matters.
After noting how Bush's popularity is hurting the fundraising ability of the other candidates, McNamara concluded: "Today the Bush campaign is in no hurry to be anything more than symbols over substance and so far it appears to be working and protecting a big early lead."
-- NBC Nightly
News. David Bloom opened his piece:
Bloom then arrived
at abortion: "Today Bush said there will be no litmus test on
abortion, meaning he might appoint pro-choice justices to the Supreme
Court. Conservative rivals pounced."
Bloom showed some
Democratic protesters who called Bush an "empty vessel." Bloom
Up next, Lisa Myers assessed Bush's war chest, reporting that he's bringing in $750,000 a week as the other candidates complain they are starved for cash.
The Monday morning shows discussed the Bush phenomenon, highlighting how he cares so much more about people, unlike "extreme" conservatives and his "race-baiting" father.
-- On NBC's
Today, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed,
marveled at how unusual it is for a conservative to care about education
and the poor:
-- Never mind
that, on Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson first wanted to know
about Bush's dialect, asking reporter Dean Reynolds: "One thing
that I'm sort of curious about. The Bush family are New Englanders who
transplanted to Texas, but George W. is governor of Texas, was raised
there, and there's that Texas twang in his voice. Does it go away when
he's up in New England, in New Hampshire campaigning today, or do you
think it stays?"
GMA brought aboard
Michael Duffy of Time magazine and their own Cokie Roberts to assess Bush.
Gibson asserted: "Alright, talk to me a little bit about where this
guy stands on issues, and Michael let me start with you. He talks about
himself as a compassionate conservative. That sounds a little bit like one
from Column A, one from Column B. I don't know what it means. Does
 Vice President Al Gore on Monday falsely claimed that there is no law barring 18 to 20 year-olds from buying a handgun. NBC's Tom Brokaw showed Gore making the assertion and then declared: "That's simply wrong." But CBS's Dan Rather downplayed the gaffe, instead first highlighted how "Gore sees gun control as one way to define himself and his differences with Bush." Rather couldn't bring himself to call Gore wrong, making it sound like a partisan political dispute instead of a matter of fact: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself today."
On the June 14 NBC
Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced:
But CBS Evening
News viewers heard a gentler correction for Gore as anchor Dan Rather
first stressed how Gore is out front on the issue of juveniles and guns:
So if his "critics" didn't point this out Dan Rather wouldn't have?
(ABC's World News Tonight did not mention Gore's false claim.)
+++ Watch this Rather item on Gore. The MRC's Jessica Anderson and Sean Henry have posted it in RealPlayer format on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Hillary Clinton, SuperWoman: "The First Lady, who has been everything from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a supportive wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining at the White House," oozed ABC's Andrea McCarren on Sunday night.
On Sunday's World News Tonight ABC first warned off Ken Starr about taking on Hillary and then delivered a glowing piece about how many roles Hillary plays in her life.
Prompted by a New
York Times story on how Starr is considering a tough report on Hillary
Clinton's activities, ABC reporter Tim O'Brien assessed his record and
let Lawrence Walsh urge he restraint: "Starr's efforts did lead to
Mr. Clinton's impeachment and at least one former Independent Counsel
today counseled against anything further."
Starr's reputation can and has been trashed by the media, but the same cannot be said about Hillary Clinton who much of the media continue to admire.
Immediately after O'Brien's June 13 story, anchor Aaron Brown declared: "Whatever Mr. Starr chooses to do, it will be but a part of the changing public perception of Mrs. Clinton. And just when you thought you knew everything about her, there is something new and unexpected in the works. More from ABC's Andrea McCarren."
As transcribed by
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Andrea McCarren opened: "Hillary Rodham
Clinton is about to don yet another hat. The First Lady, who has been
everything from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a
supportive wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on
entertaining at the White House."
McCarren did allow
as to how critics find the new interest ironic, but soon countered with
evidence she's always cared about the traditional: "The First
Lady's critics find the irony of such a book palpable, especially after a
year in which things on the homefront were anything but cozy, and since
long ago, she claimed to be anything but a typical homemaker."
+++ A video clip of Hillary Clinton's warm reception on the Today show last week in which Katie Couric asked about the Knicks and let Hillary blast Republicans on guns, is up on the MRC home page. Just click on the "Media Bias Videos" icon that is in the upper right corner and then scroll down to June 10.
The Clintons are in psychotherapy, but the media yawn? The MRC's Tim Graham passed along to me a June 14 Slate "Chatterbox" item by Timothy Noah about how the media failed to pick up on Monday on a very interesting nugget at the end of the Washington Post's Monday excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.
Here is the passage in question, which ends the second Post excerpt. Its implications went unmentioned in the summary stories in both the Post and Newsweek, and appear not to have yet caught the attention of the news wires:
"By fall 1998, as the House moved toward impeaching her husband, Hillary was still uncertain about her own course. A close friend told her about a high-profile, public couple. They had been married 40 years, the friend told Hillary. The man had lots of affairs and the woman finally caught him. 'She was devastated,' the friend said, 'but she thought hard about it. They had a great friendship, and she decided he is worth fighting for, and it would be unwise to turn him out or to give him to someone else. Her decision was that it was better to fight for him and to fight for the relationship.'
"'Man,' Hillary said, 'that's exactly what I'm thinking now.'
"A therapist can stop the bleeding, Hillary's friend said. That was the key to making progress and saving the marriage. Hillary said she and Bill knew that counseling was the right thing to do. 'We are doing the right thing.'"
What is Woodward suggesting? He is clearly suggesting that the Clintons are in couples therapy. Chatterbox, who is a great believer in (and consumer of) psychotherapy, would never criticize -- indeed, would heartily praise -- the first couple's decision to seek help from a psychotherapist, which they obviously need. At the same time, however, Chatterbox thinks that the first instance in which a President is found to receive psychotherapy, especially if it's while holding office, merits some public attention, if only to mark the passing of a taboo. (Remember the grief Candidate Dukakis suffered in 1988 when false rumors circulated about his seeing a shrink?)
For now, though, it's hard to escape the impression that Woodward wants readers to think the President and his wife are seeing a psychotherapist -- or rather, wants to take credit for breaking that story if it pans out -- but also wants to duck responsibility for suggesting this if it turns out not to be true.
To read Chatterbox and other features of Slate, edited by Michael Kinsley, go to: http://www.slate.com 
Tuesday's part three of the three-part excerpt from Woodward's book, on Ken Starr, as well as Sunday's part one and Monday's part two cited above, can be read by going to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/shadow061599.htm 
Catching up on a humorous item from just over a week ago, on the Sunday, June 6 World News Tonight ABC's Tim O'Brien explored the controversy over minor league baseball teams giving an admission discount on Sunday's to patrons who arrive with a church or synagogue service bulletin.
O'Brien looked at how Carl Silverman, joined by the ACLU, is suing the
Hagerstown, Maryland Suns. They claim the team's discount policy
discriminates against non church-goers.
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