ABC's GOP Analyst: Stephanopoulos; NRA Doesn't Care If Kids Die
1) Overhype of the straw poll? Not on Monday. Just seconds in the evening for Alexander's withdrawal. The morning shows focused on Columbine with Today spending more time with a teen who mowed state capitol lawns than on analyzing the straw poll.
4) Monday night NBC's Brian Williams argued: "There is evidence worldwide that severely restricting guns can and does cut way down on violent crime." Last week MSNBC's Gregg Jarrett impugned gun rights advocates: "Do Congress people care more about perpetuating personal power than they do about saving the lives of children?"
Editor's Note: I'm back from vacation and managed to put this CyberAlert together from home before returning to the MRC's offices. Last week the MRC's Tim Graham put together a few issues, but with both he and I scheduled to be out on trips much of the next few weeks expect CyberAlerts to be intermittent until after Labor Day.
Disconnect between complaints about media overhype of the Iowa Republican straw poll and network television reality. While the straw poll did dominate or fully consume the Sunday morning talk shows, by the time the much more widely-watched Monday morning and evening shows rolled around the networks had moved on to a new topic: opening day at Columbine High School.
All three broadcast evening shows led Monday night with multiple Columbine-inspired stories, but only the CBS Evening News provided a full story on the withdrawal of Lamar Alexander from the presidential race. ABC's World News Tonight fill-in anchor Charlie Gibson gave the news 15 seconds while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took 24 seconds to relay the development -- and neither ran a soundbite of Alexander.
In the morning, Iowa was buried by Columbine. ABC's Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reported, allocated all the 7am interview segments to Columbine. Not until the 7:30am half hour did co-host Charlie Gibson talk with George Stephanopoulos and John McCain about the straw poll.
Today featured eight stories or interview segments about Columbine, but MRC analyst Mark Drake counted just three straw poll items including one interview segment in the 7am half hour which came only after two Columbine interviews: Matt Lauer talking with Newsweek's Howard Fineman. Length of this straw poll interview: Three minutes and 30 seconds. In the 7:30am half hour Today allocated 4:20 to Ryan Tripp, the teenager who has mowed the lawn around every state capitol building.
CBS's This Morning: MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted that the show stuck to Columbine and didn't produce a straw poll interview segment. Normal CBS News watchers may have missed the straw poll entirely. The PGA golf tournament bumped the CBS Evening News in the east on Saturday and Sunday and the NFL pre-season game bumped it in the west on Saturday.
George Stephanopoulos, independent and neutral observer of the Republican presidential candidate picking process? He is to ABC News, or he's not and they don't care.
All weekend he served as ABC's lone analyst of the Iowa straw poll. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that he appeared solo, without Bill Kristol, on both the Friday and Monday Good Morning America as well as live from Iowa on Saturday's World News Tonight. In addition, Sunday's This Week opened with a live report from him, though Kristol later joined the roundtable discussion on the show. Can you imagine the outcry if ABC News had forwarded Kristol or George Will as the solo analyst of Democratic Party events in 1996? But, as the July 26 CyberAlert noted, the New York Post reported that "ABC is feverishly trying to turn" George Stephanopoulos "into a reporter or news personality."
August 14, anchor Aaron Brown assumed Stephanopoulos was an expert on
internal Republican Party factions, asking him about supporters of the
socially conservative candidates like Gary Bauer: "They're not top
tier candidates, they're not George W. Bush. Do the social conservatives
pack up their tent and go someplace else, or do they stay within the party
and do what they can do?"
At the top of Sunday's This Week he insisted that everyone really likes George W. Bush:
"I think that the Bush people would have liked, you know, a real
breakthrough, something like when they raised the $37.5 million. They
didn't get that, but it was solid, and when you talk to the people here in
Ames yesterday, Cokie, the voters, even if they voted for someone else,
say Dan Quayle or Gary Bauer, George W. Bush was still their clear second
choice. The Republicans here in Iowa, like Republicans everywhere else,
want a winner and they think George Bush is probably that man."
Acceptable to party regulars like every candidate would be to those who are loyal Republicans, but are Buchanan and Bauer and Forbes backers really that satisfied with Bush?
Inoculating Bush from attacks from the right. Liberal media observers are upset by the media's soft coverage of George W. Bush, calling it a sign of the media's rightward slant, but I'd suggest it more likely is because journalists find him a lot less scary than many of the other options.
How else to
explain this Saturday, August 14, NBC Nightly News defense of Bush by
reporter David Bloom? He took on and countered the case made against Bush
by the conservative candidates:
Over the weekend the networks used Elizabeth Dole's third place finish in the Iowa straw poll, the day care shooting and the first day of classes at Columbine to advocate more gun control.
-- Elizabeth Dole was the most liberal candidate to participate in the Iowa straw poll, but instead of pressing her from the right CBS's Bob Schieffer and NBC's Tim Russert hit her Sunday for not being liberal enough.
On CBS's Face
the Nation host Bob Schieffer asked: "Let's talk a few specifics.
What would Elizabeth Dole do if she were President? The Attorney General
this week came out for licensing hand guns, said they ought to be
registered. You have separated yourself from some of the other Republicans
calling for stronger gun control measures than some of the others. Would
you go that far? License handguns?"
On the August 15
Meet the Press Russert was bewildered:
L.A. shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, in the
aftermath -- aftermath of that shooting this week, you once again
suggested that registering guns in the United States would be a good idea.
But is that realistic?"
Later in the same
interview Blitzer did ask: "Given the sheer number, though, of
privately owned guns, rifles, firearms, in the United States, would any of
this kind of gun control, stricter gun control legislation if enacted into
law, do you think it would really have the kind of impact that you and
others would want?"
Interviewing Colin Powell later in the show Blitzer argued: "There's been a lot of controversy in the aftermath of the shootings at Columbine High School; other shootings around the United States at high schools -- troubled youth, kids at risk. What, if anything, is America's Promise doing? What can it do, should it be doing, on this issue of gun control? For example, guns being made available to young people and they shouldn't be made available presumably to them."
On ABC's World News Tonight anchor Charlie Gibson noted an "unusual occurrence today" as Newsweek ran a pro-gun control editorial. ABC then aired a piece on Los Angeles high school students who raised money to buy back guns but were impeded by a state law that requires the identity of gun sellers. Then ABC picked up the liberal agenda, focusing on how one Los Angeles County Supervisor is upset that the county rents out its fairgrounds for gun shows. Brian Rooney concluded "At least one politician is saying government shouldn't be in business with people whose business is selling guns."
NBC Nightly News
led, as did all three, with Columbine. After a story on the week-old day
care shooting, anchor Brian Williams relayed the liberal cause with a
Japanese flag waving behind him:
Over on the CBS Evening News Diana Olick outlined the results of a new CBS News poll which found that the plurality, 22 percent, don't think anything can be done to prevent shootings while 20 percent suggest "better parenting" and only 14 percent said "gun control."
"Would stricter gun laws reduce violent crime?" No said 50 percent, yes said 46 percent. Yet 67 percent still say Congress should pass more guns laws. Olick concluded: "The poll also reveals there are now guns in about half of America's households and that may be why, despite all the mass shootings, Americans still don't consider gun control a top priority. In fact, guns [4 percent] came in sixth, far behind Social Security [10 percent], taxes [9 percent] and health care [8 percent] when people named the issues government should address and even a summer of violence didn't change that."
Remember that the next time liberals push gun control. Earlier this month Olick and other network reporters demanded that Republicans defend their tax cut advocacy given the lack of public support. (Back on July 21, for instance, Dan Rather pointed out how tax cuts are "not a top priority of the public".) But the CBS poll found tax cuts ahead of gun control, so an unbiased media would cast the same doubts on the desirability of gun control. Don't count on it.
Indeed, MRC intern Ken Shepherd noticed that MSNBC anchor Gregg Jarrett was upset last week by the lack of a congressional action to enact more gun control.
Anchoring the August 12 News with Brian Williams, Jarrett plugged an upcoming segment: "Still ahead, the politics of guns. Why politicians don't appear to be hearing the latest calls for gun control."
In the subsequent segment Jarrett pressed Newsweek's Howard Fineman: "Is there any reason, Howard, to believe tragic attack on children, for goodness sakes, will trigger any movement by this Congress to enact tougher meaningful gun laws?"
And: "You know, Howard, I asked Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Denver, who certainly has had to wrestle with this, about why her colleagues consistently reject gun control measures. She said two things, they're too afraid of the NRA and they're too beholden to the NRA. Does it really come down to that? Do Congress people care more about perpetuating personal power than they do about saving the lives of children?"
Catching up with a pre-vacation item I didn't quite get to which did not
earn wider media coverage, a Democratic Senator reaffirming that Bill
Clinton is a liar. From a July 31 National Journal story by reporter Kirk
Victor on Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska:
Wacky upbeat newspaper spin: You've got cancer? That's great that nothing will change. If you think USA Today picks up on the upbeat side of bad news, check out a headline I came across in the Seattle Times last week during my vacation.
appeared over these opening paragraphs from an AP dispatch:
The headline over this in the August 12 Seattle Times: "Southwest CEO won't change his maverick ways."
Now that's burying the actual news development.
From the August 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions on the Russian Prime Minister Application." Copyright 1999 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Are you or have you ever been a member
of the Democratic party?
VolcanoCam. As part of my travels last week I went to the Johnston Ridge Observatory in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwestern Washington, better known as the location of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcano Monument. On the day I went it was quite foggy up there and hard to actually see the top of Mt. St. Helens, but I learned you can see it on clear days via the Internet.
I can't thrill
you by showing you my vacation photos, so instead here's my Web site
pick of my vacation week for you to check out. During daylight hours
Pacific time, go to:
It's not actually live, but a new photo is uploaded every few minutes of the mountain which erupted in May of 1980. -- Brent Baker 
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