Big Bounce Trumpeted; Clancy Hit as "Simplistically Conservative"; Gore's Kiss Celebrated
1) "Al Gore has not just pulled even in the presidential race, our poll says he is ahead," ABC trumpeted Monday night. Tuesday night NBC ignored the campaign while CBS reporter David Martin supported the military readiness claims of both Bush and Gore.
2) Today's Matt Lauer hit Tom Clancy with a review: "Clancy insists on subjecting readers to a simplistically conservative political philosophy, whether or not they want it. For long stretches in this book it reads like the transcript of a Rush Limbaugh talkathon." Lauer followed up: "You too conservative?"
3) CBS's Jane Clayson to Al Gore: "People say though there is a new Al Gore, whatever that means, that you're looser, that you've lightened up. Do you feel it?" NBC's Matt Lauer to Gore in reference to the kiss: "Mr. Vice President: Way to go!"
All three broadcast network evening shows aired full stories Monday night on campaigning by the two party candidates with lead-ins about Al Gore's big bounce back in weekend polls, but Tuesday night NBC Nightly News didn't utter a word about the campaign, ABC's World News Tonight held itself to a 30-second item and only the CBS Evening News aired a full story with a "Reality Check" on charges about military readiness.
Monday night ABC spent the most time celebrating Gore's new poll numbers. "We have a new ABC News/Washington Post poll this evening. It indicates that Al Gore has not just pulled even in the presidential race, our poll says he is ahead. George W. Bush got a good bounce out of his convention; Mr. Gore got a better one out of his," announced anchor Charles Gibson.
He elaborated: "Following the Republican gathering, Governor Bush had a commanding lead in our polling, 54 to 40 percent. But in polling over the weekend after the Democratic convention, Vice President Gore now leads 50 to 45 percent. In two weeks, a 19 point swing. The polling indicates how Mr. Gore did that by separating himself from President Clinton. Is Gore too close to Clinton? Thirty-nine percent say 'Yes,' 58 percent, 'No.' The first time a majority has said 'No.' By identifying with working families, Republicans may call it class warfare, but when asked 'Does he understand your problems?' 62 percent of those polled said 'Yes' for Gore, 50 percent say 'Yes' for Bush. That's an 11 percent improvement for Mr. Gore from the last time we asked. And he did it by being specific on issues. For the first time in our polling, more people say they trust Al Gore on the economy than George W. Bush."
Deep into the Tuesday newscast, which led with more about the Firestone tires, Gibson read this short item: "Al Gore spoke to the VFW in Milwaukee today and contradicted George W. Bush who had told the same group yesterday that readiness and morale in the military have declined under Bill Clinton. Mr. Gore said he'll keep U.S. forces the best in the world and to help the Clinton administration said today it would seek a six year, $16 billion increase in military spending. Also in the Midwest today, George W. Bush said he's got to do a better job explaining his plan for tax cuts, much larger than those called for by Mr. Gore."
Over on the August 22 CBS Evening News, David Martin explored the military debate: "George W. Bush says there's a morale problem in the military, but he hasn't been on the flight deck of the Harry S. Truman and watched bomb crews at work. Hardly the picture a dispirited military, but it is a picture of an overworked military. These crews will be loading bombs for 12 hours at a time, which is why Bush could tell the Veterans of Foreign Wars the U.S. military has been stretched too thin."
After a soundbite of
Bush proclaiming "the next President will inherit a military in
decline," Martin countered and then supported Bush's point:
"But still the strongest by far in the world today, even though
military leaders like Gen. John Jumper have been warning for some time
they are being asked to do too much with too little."
without reminding viewers of how the Cold War ended during the elder
Bush's years: "Taking inflation into account, the defense budget
has gone down in 14 of the last 15 years, beginning in the Reagan
administration through the Bush and all but one of the Clinton years.
Still, there was plenty for Vice President Al Gore to brag about when he
went before the same veterans audience today."
Martin backed him up too, but with a but: "38,000 missions flown, only two planes shot down -- and both pilots were rescued. But it was an effort that drained the U.S. Air Force of everything from spare parts to cruise missiles. Bush says help is on the way. He mean of course, if he becomes President. But the truth is no matter who is elected, help is on the way, beginning with promises of a military pay raise."
Following clips of Bush and Gore both promising higher pay, Martin concluded: "Just last week, the Clinton administration promised the Pentagon an extra $16 billion. But the bomb crews on the Truman may not stick around long enough to see it. A recent survey of nearly 4,000 aviation crew members found the working conditions so onerous three-quarters of them were thinking of getting out."
In the midst of a friendly chat on Tuesday's Today with Tom Clancy about his new novel, The Bear and the Dragon, co-host Matt Lauer started quizzing Clancy about whether it is appropriate to put his conservative political views in his novels. Lauer demanded that Clancy respond to a critic's claim that his books feature Rush Limbaugh-like "simplistically conservative political philosophy" and followed up by asking: "You too conservative?" But Clancy easily defended himself and made clear the irrelevance of Lauers's points.
Here's the August 22 exchange, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
Matt Lauer: "Does
the public, do the people who buy your books share your political
philosophy, do you think?"
If only Today were as in step with its viewers.
You can read an excerpt
of Clancy's new novel by going to:
+++ Watch Clancy's comebacks to Lauer's ideological attack. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the above exchange. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Jane Clayson is even softer on liberals than Bryant Gumbel. Al Gore made appearances Monday morning on all three morning shows and while Jack Ford on ABC's Good Morning America and Matt Lauer on Today at least pressed him a bit on his anti-Bush tax plan claims in his convention speech, on CBS's The Early Show Jane Clayson avoided any policy questions. Lauer did, however, applaud Gore for his kiss: "Well after watching that kiss I know how you survived 30 years, Mr. Vice President. Way to go!"
Here are all of Clayson's August 21 questions, transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
-- "You got that
post convention bounce in the polls that you were hoping for, are you
worried now about sustaining it?"
Over on NBC's Today Matt Lauer raised some challenges to Gore tax claims and even noted how Republicans say his spending plans will "eat up the surplus," but he too swooned over "the kiss." Here are all of Lauer's inquiries, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
-- "Let's talk
about how you're doing and about these latest polls. They've been coming
out fast and furious since the convention and now it appears that you and
Governor Bush are in a statistical dead heat with about 46 or 47 percent
of the vote. How do you feel about that?"
George W. Bush hasn't done an Early Show interview since the primaries and has not gone on Today since May when he was quizzed about the Million Mom March and gun control. Maybe it's because he knows he would not get the same kind of warm reception. -- Brent Baker 
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