Car Dealer Gun Giveaway Denounced; Ray Awaiting Rather Apology; Bush Tax Cut Will Hurt "Health and Education"
1) Matt Lauer pounded away at a Tennessee car dealer who planned to giveaway a gun to anyone who bought a car: "If you give someone a CD player, they can't go out and kill someone with it." On giving water pistols to kids, Lauer complained: "Some people say that's just going too far."
3) Convention contrasts in the news magazines: The Republicans' "Bubba-bashing... blowtorch" was matched by Joe Lieberman's "rye sense of humor." Time and U.S. News promoted the Gore-Lieberman ticket as "just plain folks." Why, "Did you know the Veep can body surf, make igloos, and chase coon dogs?" Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "Bush's massive tax cut does overwhelmingly favor the wealthy at the expense of health and education."
Correction: An August 25 CyberAlert citation referred to "Clinton lawyer William Bennett." That should have read Robert or Bob.
A Tennessee car dealer held his own Friday morning on Today when a disgusted Matt Lauer took him on, demanding he defend his "Second Amendment Saturday" giveaway of a voucher for a free gun to any adult who would buy a car. "If you give someone a CD player, they can't go out and kill someone with it," Lauer argued before insisting that the dealer answer Handgun Control Inc. criticism. Lauer complained about a harmless toy: "Even children who come to your dealership are going to get a free water pistol. And some people say that's just going too far."
Lauer set up the first interview segment of the August 25 7am half hour, as transcribed by MRC intern Ken Shepherd: "On Closeup this morning, buy a car get a rifle free. That is the deal you'll get tomorrow at Advantage Auto Sales in Powell, Tennessee, and needless to say, the promotional campaign has raised a few eyebrows."
Lauer then interviewed via satellite dealer Greg "Lumpy" Lambert. After asking "Why'd you come up with this?" Lauer contended: "Now, obviously, if you're pro-guns and you want people to own guns that's one thing but why give them away free, aren't you just asking for trouble there?"
Lambert pointed out that they are not being given away free since you have to buy a car to get one and then you only get a voucher for a gun store where you still must pass the background check. But Lauer pressed on with his liberal arguments: "Let's say I come down to your dealership, I buy a car tomorrow, I get my voucher, I go out and get my gun and then in a week or so I decide that I don't want it, what's to stop me from selling it to anyone I want to sell it to?"
Lambert acknowledged: "It's a free country, it's your property and you have a right to sell it if you choose to."
To which Lauer followed
up: "And so if then the person that buys that gun from me goes out
and commits a crime with it, or God forbid takes a life with it, how are
you going to feel at your auto dealership?"
Lauer then made Lambert listen to an anti-gun group's political spin: "We talked to the people at Handgun Control in Washington, they said this: 'Gun violence is too serious of an issue to make guns the subject of a promotion. Ironically, you have to be licensed to drive a car and to register your car when you buy one. But we don't have such regulations for owning guns. There's nothing to stop a person who gets a gun from Mr. Lambert's promotions from turning around and reselling it to someone who should not have one.' What's your response to that?"
Lambert explained how you don't have to register a car if you keep it on your private property and while all firearms require a background check, DUI records are not checked before someone is allowed to buy a car.
Lauer then turned silly: "From what I understand, Mr. Lambert, you're taking the promotion a little bit further. Even children who come to your dealership are going to get a free water pistol. And some people say that's just going too far."
That line befuddled Lambert who pointed out they just wanted to give something to kids and they first get parental permission.
Lauer then got to the
obvious: "This promotional idea has raised eyebrows, in particular,
Mr. Lambert, in big cities across the country, in urban areas where we
deal with gun violence everyday. Do you think that in the cities we just
are missing something that we aren't getting what's happening in places
like Powell, Tennessee?"
+++ Watch Lauer scold the Tennessee car dealer. The MRC's Andy Szul and Kristina Sewell will post an excerpt from this interview by early Monday afternoon. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Independent Counsel Robert Ray is still waiting for an apology from Dan Rather for linking him to the leak about how he had empaneled a grand jury to look at Bill Clinton's Lewinsky-related statements, the New York Post reported Friday.
In an August 25 item highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews and brought to my attention by the MRC's Tim Graham, "Page Six" writer Richard Johnson, with Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson, relayed:
Last Thursday, when AP broke the anonymously-sourced story that Ray had empaneled a new grand jury to hear evidence against President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, hours before Al Gore was scheduled to accept his party's nomination at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, the CBS News anchor went on the air to rail against the "leak" from "Republican-backed" Ray's office.
"Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee," Rather said on the air. "And now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton."
Another correspondent quoted a "top Gore advisor" calling the leak part of a "grand Republican strategy to tie Al Gore to President Clinton" and likened it to "the political equivalent of a hand grenade being rolled onto the floor of this convention." In his "Rather's Notebook" column on CBS' web site the same day, Rather went even further.
"You don't have to be a cynic to note that this has all the earmarks of a carefully orchestrated, politically motivated leak," Rather wrote. "So you ask yourself -- what group has the motive to see that such a leak would occur at such a time...None of which is to say that George W. Bush is behind the leak, either directly or indirectly."
But the next day, when Ray confirmed the report, U.S. Appellate Court Judge Richard D. Cudahy, a Democrat and one of three federal judges on the panel that supervises Ray, released a statement that he was accidentally the source for the story....
Ray is still waiting for Rather to follow suit. "We considered [Rather's reports] to be unbalanced," Keith Ausbrook, senior counsel in Ray's office told The Post. "Except for Judge Cudahy, we haven't received any apology."
He shouldn't hold his breath. Rather doesn't seem in any hurry to make amends. Rather's spokesperson, Kim Akhtar, was out of the office and unavailable for comment, but another CBS staffer said Rather is off fishing in some remote locale.
Here's how Rather
opened the August 17 CBS Evening News from the Staples Center:
To listen and watch, via
a RealPlayer clip, to that misleading reporting, go to:
The latest MRC MagazineWatch compares and contrasts coverage by Newsweek, Time and U.S. News of he two conventions. Below are excerpts of four items in the August 22 edition about the August 28-dated magazines as compiled by the MRC's Tim Graham:
1. Convention contrasts:
the Republicans' "Bubba-bashing... blowtorch" was matched by
Joe Lieberman's "rye sense of humor" and the Liebermans'
inspiring "versions of the American Dream."
Now the text for those four pieces of analysis:
1. Now that the "Stay Out The Bushes" convention in Los Angeles is over, we can compare and contrast post-convention issues. There were similarities (in U.S. News, editorialist David Gergen praised George W. Bush, while editorialist Mortimer Zuckerman praised Al Gore), but more contrasts. In Time's "Winners and Losers" feature two weeks ago, Dick Cheney was a loser for his "Clinton-bashing red-meat speech." The only Democratic losers this week were targets of friendly campaign advice: "Gore consultants: Guys, put a cork in it (except to Time). You keep making your client look like a mere pawn." The winners included Karenna Gore Schiff ("Advice to Al: Keep her onstage as well as behind the scenes") and of course, lip-locking Tipper ("'80s music scold; now Joe's the prude. H-wood, America digs you. And that dance, that kiss.")
In Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom," Bush and Gore both drew up arrows. But Bush drew half-praise ("Passes key test with 52 smirkless minutes. But will Bubba-bashing be enough?") while Gore's thumbs-up was unencumbered ("Finally, his own man. No 'lift of a driving dream,' but a bigger bounce than Bush.") Would anyone watching these two speeches conclude, as these entries suggest, that Bush did more "bashing"? Two weeks ago, Lynne Cheney got a down: "Wigs out at questions about (openly) gay daughter. Get used to it, Lynne." But Joe Lieberman got a rave review: "Bakery-truck driver's son's rye sense of humor goes over big. Bonus: He looks like a VP."
Two weeks ago, Newsweek's two-page spread of pictures before its convention story carried one caption which read, "Cheney, with wife Lynne, roused the delegates with a red-meat attack on Gore." Newsweek also headlined one set of photos, "The Republicans' 'Inclusion Illusion': The faces on the stage were diverse, but the delegates were still overwhelmingly white." By comparison, this week's Lieberman photo is buried under the Gore lip-lambada, but the caption read "Joe and Hadassah Lieberman spoke for the New Democrats and told their versions of the American Dream." In the former "Illlusion" column, Newsweek celebrated "The Place to See and Be Seen," over pictures of ten celebrities on site.
Two weeks ago, U.S. News writer Terrence Samuel suggested Dick Cheney's "quiet blowtorch of a speech aimed at the Clinton-Gore administration" blew up "all the early talk that having Cheney on the ticket would evoke memories of a more grown-up, less partisan Washington." This week, he never mentioned Lieberman's attacks on Republicans (although the magazine matches his article with excerpts titled "Now, a little Bush bashing"). Instead, Samuel reported on liberal unease over Lieberman by playing the usual reporter's Democratic party game: liberals were identified by these labels: the "party faithful," "party purists," "traditional Democrats," a "diehard Democrat," "blacks," and in the case of radical troublemaker Maxine Waters, the "voluble African-American congresswoman."
2. The magazines split on the post-convention analysis: Newsweek celebrated the bounce of a "Gladiator of Government," while Time and U.S. News wondered if Gore had the skills to woo both liberals and moderates. In "Picking a Fight," Time scribe Nancy Gibbs asserted: "The secret code of the Bush campaign is that politics doesn't really matter, the country is at peace, the market is up, so you can afford to vote for the guy you like because we're all happy centrists now...Gore heard the music and read the polls and saw that this was a contest he could not win. He is sharper when he's in a fight, but Bush has not played by the Gore rules...So last week Gore picked a different fight," picking on faceless corporations. "He may not win a popularity contest against George W. Bush, but he might win one against, say, Exxon." Gibbs wasn't totally sold, forwarding the fears of Democrats: "Why does Gore have to use the word fight 20 times in his speech when every survey shows many swing voters want all the partisan fighting to stop?"
Gibbs saw a candidate in trouble, with a shaky base. "Even the right wing wants victory enough to do anything and say nothing. You didn't see Charlton Heston in Philadelphia.; you couldn't miss Jesse Jackson in Los Angeles." Gore "is threading a fine needle: he picked a centrist running mate and shaped a centrist platform, all the while calling for the workers in the hall to unite. He's offering Clintonism in populist garb, centrism in a union suit." Gibbs suggested "some Democrats - and some Republicans - say Gore is making a huge miscalculation." Gore aides made their case to her: "In some ways, it's role he has been comfortable with, as the son of a waitress and a Senator known for his fiery defense of Tennessee farmers."
In "On his own at last," U.S. News reporters Roger Simon and Kenneth Walsh explained: "Ignoring advice to veer to the center, where campaigns are often won or lost, ignoring advice to go more for the heart than the head, Gore delivered a populist address of the old school."
At their most sympathetic, Simon and Walsh proclaimed: "The frustration for the Gore forces has been that when people are asked who shows the greatest leadership ability, an area where the seriousness and long record of Gore should shine through like a beacon, they pick Bush by wide margins." Like Gibbs, Simon and Walsh [worried] about the effects of Gore's risky populism scheme on voters in the middle, and will have to thread a needle between the party's liberal and centrist wings.
Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Bill Turque took a different tack. In "How Al Got His Bounce," they focused on average voter reaction: "Ken Kinter and his fiancee, Kirsten Held, nodded approvingly when Gore promised to defend abortion rights. They liked his potshots at Big Tobacco, Big Drugs, and Big Oil. Kinter voted for Bob Dole in 1996 and remains undecided, drawn to George W. Bush's 'bubbly,' upbeat style. But the Vice President impressed him. 'Al Gore is dry, but with both feet planted firmly on the ground.' he declared."
They continued by explaining what won a "big" convention bounce: "It was the newest and, his supporters said, the innermost Al Gore: a bull-market populist vowing to use prosperity (and the big budget surplus) for programs the benefit 'working families'...If that's so, then this is who Gore really is: a back-to-the-future liberal with a tinge of Southern populism, a Gladiator of Government and the political heir to his own dad, the late Sen. Albert Gore Sr. of Possum Hollow, Tenn. This presumably final release of the new Al Gore was also notable for what he didn't say...He did not pay much homage to the centrist New Democrat cast, of which running mate Joe Lieberman is a leading member." Fineman and Turque completely slid past the question of the very prominent liberal base at the convention, spending most of their space previewing possible fall strategies and tactics.
3. Time's Eric Pooley and U.S. News & World Report's Kenneth Walsh promoted the Gore-Lieberman ticket as "just plain folks."
Two weeks ago, Pooley was picking on George W. Bush's economic program as too cheap. But image, not substance, was his beat this week. Pooley's article was headlined: "Al Gore, Regular Guy: Did you know the Veep can body surf, make igloos, and chase coon dogs?" He dutifully began: "One big goal of the Democratic convention was to prove that Al Gore has the experience to be President. Not executive experience, but the really important stuff -- body surfing and mountain climbing, making igloos and cocoa and a dinosaur diorama with the kids, shooting pool and watching Star Trek with Tommy Lee Jones, chasing through the woods with coon dogs in the middle of the night, wrapping a turkey in aluminum foil and roasting it in the fireplace. At this convention, Gore's image was the thing being cooked inside the shiny wrapper."
Pooley found Gore more intense than easygoing, but he played along: "The biographical film narrated by Tipper Gore was effective because it showed Gore as a loving family man, and he is that. Best of all, it was a chance to show off photos of Al and Tipper as young marrieds in the 1970s -- a scruffy hunk and his blond babe. As a 30-year-old woman sitting in the hall was heard to say, 'Gore was hot -- who knew?'"
Now that Gore had been eroticized, Pooley ended by praising his double-time convention address: "The convention offered a thousand opinions about who Gore is. But his speech suggested a simple one: He's a man who knows that he and the system are flawed but who might just be smart and tough enough to get things done. Gore came out of his shiny foil wrapper."
Under the headline "The families are just plain folks: Tipper and Hadassah stand by their men," Walsh argued: "Excitement or no, the Lieberman family seems to make a lot of sense as a paradigm of simple, straightforward normalcy after nearly eight years of the dysfunctional and vastly complex marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Ditto Al and Tipper Gore, who were portrayed last week as doting parents and political lovebirds at the Democratic National Convention." In case you didn't get the point, Walsh concluded: "Says a friend of both the Liebermans and the Gores, 'These are two strong and tranquil marriages by today's standards.' It may be just what the country wants to see in the White House after the storm-tossed Billary years."
Walsh didn't explore whether the Bush marriage would just as easily accomplish this task.
4. Pounding home the usual party line, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter felt the earth move for Albert: "Gore connected with the kitchen-table concerns of ordinary Americans and at long last developed his own political profile. If the underlying motivation for those leaning to Bush is 'change for change's sake,' the average voter's bottom line on Gore is increasingly: 'He'll do.' That's the living-room view. Out in Campaignland, a spirited debate is underway about Gore's populist theme...But on balance, it should work. Bush's massive tax cut does overwhelmingly favor the wealthy at the expense of health and education. When that becomes widely known, it will hurt Bush."
Alter on Bush, damned if he does: "AFTER CONVENTION, BUSH CHIDES GORE FOR DIVISIVE TONE, read the lead headline in The New York Times. This is not a winning theme for Bush. 'Chiding' can itself be 'divisive'; you can't easily go negative on someone's negativity. And voters don't go for aggrieved victimhood. They want candidates to punch back."
Alter on Bush, damned if he doesn't: "For Bush to hit hard on Gore's 1996 visit to the Buddhist temple might also seem like old news - and too negative. As for litigating the last eight years, this is a total loser for Bush."
If Alter's view held sway, Bush would be advised to quit now and avoid the hassle.
The MagazineWatch also features two more items:
-- Newsweek's Michael Isikoff
played the new Clinton-Lewinsky grand jury story straight, while U.S.
News concluded with Barney Frank bluster and Time urged
independent counsel Robert Ray to "Give up: you can't catch that
To read the August 22 MagazineWatch about the August 28 issues, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/magwatch/mag20000822.asp  -- Brent Baker 
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