Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, Monday PM Edition -- Visit Convention 2000 Media Bias (More ) --
Front page story. Invisible Donna Brazile Reappears on Morning Shows; CBS Host Praises Political Ascent of "Unapologetic Liberal"
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. Al Gore is a self-described centrist. Why doesn't that disconnect disturb you?" He praised her political ascent: "You were a story in and of yourself, the first African-American woman to head a major presidential campaign. What's the significance of that for you?" He added: "At the risk of embarrassing you, you're a more considerable story than that. Your mother was a maid, your father was a janitor, yet here you sit running a presidential campaign. What's that say about you?" Without citing examples, Gumbel did tell Brazile that "you have gained a reputation as someone who leads with their mouth. Do you regret some of the things you've said?"
-- On ABC, Charles Gibson trumpeted Gore's strengths, asking: "Here's a guy running with an economy that's humming along, a foreign policy that's in great shape, no foreign crises, and you're down significantly in the polls. Why hasn't he been able to connect?" Then he gave Brazile the chance to run down the opposition: "Your sense about the Republican convention and its image of inclusiveness."
-- At 7:30 a.m., CNN's Carol Lin asked Brazile a pile of puffy questions, except for one about CNN's latest poll: "Nearly half of the likely voters polled say that there is no chance whatsoever...that they would vote for Gore under any circumstances...What creates that resistance?"
Two Mondays ago, CBS 's Jane Clayson pressed GOP Reps. J.C. Watts and Henry Bonilla about how "the [GOP] delegate count still reflects a very white population," but this morning none of Brazile's interviewers pressed her about the rigid quotas for Democratic delegates.
Top of page two article. Gumbel Deplores Democratic "Centrism;" Early Show Anchor Pleads for Return to Kennedy Era.
CBS's Bryant Gumbel showed just how much he admires the Democrats' old liberal roots. In an interview this morning with Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on The Early Show this morning, he pressed her as to whether the modern Democrats have lost the faith. "Is this your father's party, your uncle's party philosophically?" he asked. "Is this the same party?"
When Townsend said the Democrats were offering new solutions, Gumbel seemed mournful. "It's much more of a, we're using labels here, much more of a centrist party than it was," Gumbel said, "which begs the question, why is it more of a centrist party when the needs are just as great as they ever were?"
In contrast to media grumblings that George W. Bush's nomination was rooted in nepotism, Gumbel summoned positive images of the liberal Kennedy dynasty: "The Kennedy name will be front and center here. You'll be speaking on Tuesday, your cousin Caroline will be speaking Tuesday night. Your Uncle Ted will be speaking. Is it just for nostalgia purposes?" He asked Townsend whether it was "a burden" to be viewed "as the most promising of a new generation of Kennedys."
Three times Gumbel pushed Townsend about her political future. "[DNC Chairman] Ed Rendell said ten years from now he could see himself being chief of staff to President Kathleen Kennedy Townsend," Gumbel told his guest. "Possible?"
Bryant Gumbel -- always subtle.
Bottom half of page twp story. Democrats Embrace "Centrist Policies;" Morning Shows Have Little to Say About Democratic Platform
In contrast to their negative comments about the "hard line" GOP platform, none of the morning shows paid much attention to the Democratic platform, although both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times labeled it a "centrist" document.
According to Janet Hook, writing in today's Los Angeles Times, "The Democratic platform, the party's election-year statement of its agenda for the nation, this year continues a march from liberal orthodoxy to the political center that has been the hallmark of the Clinton era. Despite some modest concessions to the party's traditional liberal interests, the platform that will be approved by the convention Tuesday is a monument to how much the Clinton administration has shifted the party on key issues."
The headline on Hook's story: "Democratic Platform Set in the Middle of the Road," while this morning's New York Times carried a similarly-titled story, "Platform is Centrist, Like GOP's, but Differs in Details," in which James Dao wrote that the Democratic document "warmly embraced the centrist policies of the Clinton administration and lavishly credits them for the prosperity of the last seven years."
Odd that today's headline would label the GOP platform as "centrist." On July 28, the New York Times's subhead on its GOP platform story stressed that "Influence of Rightists Holds Firm."
Top of page three story. Clinton Gains From Time's Distorted History; Who Deserves Credit for Longest Economic Boom Ever in U.S.?
In the August 14 edition of Time, Eric Pooley scolded George W. Bush for allegedly tampering with history. "To deny Democrats credit for the prosperity and accuse them of driving the country 'downhill,' he backdates the boom and pretends it began before Clinton took office," Pooley wrote.
But Pooley's the one fooling around with history -- not even the liberal New York Times buys into the idea that economic prosperity began on Jan. 20, 1993. "Though unrecognized at the time, the current recovery began in March 1991, long before Bill Clinton defeated President George Bush on the assertion that he did not know how to manage the economy, concluded the Times in a February 7, 2000 editorial.
Actually, as Rich Noyes, Director of MRC's Free Market Project wrote in the August 11 edition of MediaNomics, the positive growth "was recognized at the time -- President Bush tried to draw attention to that fact, but few in the media noticed."
The MediaNomics article also noted "The Times, not normally considered a conservative newspaper, also pointed out in February that 'except for a mild recession at the beginning of the 1990s, the American economy has enjoyed uninterrupted growth for almost 18 years.'" Let's see if the networks point any of this out tonight, as the Democrats attempt to claim credit for historic growth that began 21 months before they arrived in the White House.
To read the entire
report from the MRC's MediaNomics, "Be Wary of the News Media's
Election-Year Economic Lessons," go to:
Bottom of page three article. CNN: Business-Bashing Delegates "Principled"; Democrats "Have the Interests of the Workers In Their Souls"
There wasn't a trace of skepticism in a report from CNN's Maria Hinojosa this morning about Democratic delegates who joined in anti-business protests in Los Angeles. Instead, the delegates were given free airtime to promote their party as a haven for workers' rights.
"From politics to protests," introduced anchor Daryn Kagen at 10:35 this morning, "some delegates to the Democratic convention join street demonstrations protesting corporate excesses. CNN's Maria Hinojosa says that for some delegates, it's a matter of principle." Of course, if GOP delegates embraced a leftist cause, CNN might say they were principled, too.
Hinojosa quoted four Democrats who were part of a protest targeting what she termed "the excesses of the corporate establishment." The delegates all relayed positive comments about their party and the cause of workers' rights, one saying, "We need a counterweight to the privileged and the powerful in this country."
"Some of the Democratic delegates may have the interests of the workers in their souls," Hinojosa applauded. Balance? Her story included no quotes from business sources -- not even from the hotel targeted by the protests -- nor did it include any hint that the Democrats' embrace of the protesters strategically echoes the recent Gore campaign theme of "whose side are you on?"
Sidebar stories along the sides of pages two and three. GOP Response to Lieberman; No Sense of Humor?; CBS: "Least Liberal Convention"; Russert: "Very Liberal" Convention
No GOP Response to
But yesterday, Russert had no Republican around to talk about Lieberman running from his record.
Two weeks ago, Carville also claimed that military service was important: "Look at what Al Gore was doing during the Vietnam War and what Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were doing during the Vietnam War....Where was Dick Cheney during the Vietnam War?" Yesterday, Russert did not ask Lieberman about his lack of military service.
No Sense of Humor?
Schieffer reported: "Dan, the main difference is this is the least liberal collection of Democrats that's been assembled in almost a quarter of a century. CBS News/New York Times started polling these delegates back in 1976. Well, for the first time, a clear majority -- 56 percent -- call themselves moderates. Only 36 percent call themselves liberals -- that's the smallest number ever."
"Much more liberal than the average American," Russert told host Matt Lauer. "These are very liberal activists, Matt. Half the group are women, more than a third minority. They are very much anti-death penalty, anti-voucher schools [sic]. It's a very liberal constituency."
Makes you wonder if they're at the same convention.
Quote of the Morning: "You talked about Hollywood squares. You could have been talking about Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. They don't really fit. How's Hollywood viewing the ticket?" -- CBS's Bryant Gumbel to the Hotline's Craig Crawford, The Early Show, August 14.
END Reprint of Media Reality Check newsletter
This "Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check" compiled by Rich Noyes and Tim Graham with the assistance of daytime shift analysts Brian Boyd, Ken Shepherd and Ted King. Plus, Kristina Sewell sending the fax and taping the coverage with Eric Pairel and Brandon Rytting loading up the Web page. -- Brent Baker 
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