Bush's "Negative" & "Nasty" Ad Condemned and Falsely Corrected; "Independent" Geraldo for Mayor
1) Bush's new TV ad came under fire Thursday night. ABC's John Cochran charged "negative campaigning is nothing new" for Bush. CBS and CNN contrasted it with Bush's call for a "clean" campaign while CNN twice corrected an error the ad did not make: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted."
3) ABC relayed only Clinton's spin about how the estate tax cut would "help only the richest two percent of people." But FNC's Jim Angle noticed how all the Democratic Congressmen from Tennessee voted for it, even the keynoter at the Democratic convention.
4) Bryant Gumbel this week challenged Henry Kissinger to disprove charges in a new book that Richard Nixon beat his wife, but eleven years ago Gumbel condemned an author for daring to write about Martin Luther King's womanizing: "When the truth collides with a legend, print the legend."
5) "I wouldn't be a Republican or a Democrat," but an independent, Geraldo Rivera told Matt Lauer of his run for Mayor which he'd make because Giuliani's "policies have exacerbated a feeling where minority mothers worry now about their children being hurt by the cops." Sunday night NBC will run his anti-death penalty special.
The RNC on Thursday released a mild and humorous TV ad meant to point out Al  Gore's hypocrisy on fundraising and to remind viewers of how he once claimed to have taken "the initiative in creating the Internet," but while NBC Nightly News didn't mention it, Thursday night ABC and CBS pounced on its negativity and CNN repeatedly corrected an error not made in the ad. CBS's Web site declared: "RNC Gets Really Nasty."
On ABC's World News Tonight, John Cochran referred to the Bush campaign's "negative turn" and, without noting how the Gore campaign had already run negative ads which made false claims about past votes by Dick Cheney, recalled how "negative campaigning is nothing new for Governor Bush" since he went negative on John McCain. CBS's Phil Jones contrasted the ad with Bush's call for a "clean" campaign, but also reminded viewers of how Joe Lieberman once condemned the Buddhist temple fundraising. CNN showed how the ad played a clip of Gore claiming "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." But then Brooks Jackson inexplicably implied the ad was somehow misleading, correcting an error it did not make: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted."
Here's how the networks handled the new ad on Thursday night, August 31:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story: "In campaign news, for two weeks now, George W. Bush has kept trying to talk about education, and then he and others keep changing the subject. Today a new Republican ad was released, and the party is gonna spend millions putting it on the air. All of a sudden, that ad today became the centerpiece of political discussion."
Cochran began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The
Bush campaign took a new turn today, a negative turn, giving the go
ahead to an ad attacking Al Gore as a hypocrite."
-- CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts announced: "Sixty-eight days now until America elects a new President. With George W. Bush trailing in the polls, the Republicans are unleashing an attack ad that openly mocks Al Gore. And as Correspondent Phil Jones reports, Democrats quickly returned fire."
Phil Jones started
by trying to show how the ad contradicted Bush's promises: "On
the very day Governor Bush was talking clean politics to young people
Jones picked up:
"The Gore campaign immediately seized on the ad."
Much of the media
will do what they can. "RNC Gets Really Nasty: Attacks Gore's
'Reinventions' Of Himself Over The Years," declared the headline
over an August 31-posted CBS News Web site analysis of the ad. To read
it, go to:
-- CNN. Bernard Shaw opened Inside Politics by showing the supposed contradiction between Bush's words and deeds: "Just a few hours ago, George W. Bush told Kentucky voters that, quote, 'politics doesn't have to be ugly and mean.' At about the same time, the Republican National Committee was unveiling its new ad attacking Al Gore and his credibility. Our Brooks Jackson has more on the spot due to begin airing tomorrow, including its tone and whether it's truthful."
Brook Jackson played most of the ad and then went through it to check its truthfulness. On the line, "the Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple?", Jackson quibbled: "Well, to be perfectly accurate, Gore himself never asked for money at the Hsi Lai Temple during that 1996 event. But Gore's friend, Maria Hsia, was later convicted of campaign finance violations relating to $60,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee. And Gore does split hairs by insisting that it was a finance-related event and not a fundraiser. Altogether embarrassing."
Jackson replayed the
other half of the ad. Ad announcer: "Al Gore, claiming credit for
things he didn't even do." Gore in interview clip from the ad:
"I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
Jackson then corrected a non-error: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted, and, in fact, he did push government support for computer networking as far back as 1986, and he's widely credited with coining the term 'information superhighway.' But he's still taken a ribbing for saying he took 'the initiative,' when his contribution was one of many."
Actually, Gore in the 1980s pressed for a government-run, non-commercial Internet system, hardly the free-flowing and dynamic commercial opportunities presented by the graphical World Wide Web.
Later on The World Today, after a solid piece by Candy Crowley which featured a soundbite from Karen Hughes about how Gore has already gone negative, anchor Wolf Blitzer also felt obligated to correct the non-error: "In the interview I conducted with Gore that was used in the ad he said quote, he 'took the initiative in creating the Internet,' not inventing it." Blitzer added: "By the way, CNN has registered a protest with the Republican National Committee for unauthorized use of that Late Edition/Prime Time interview. It's CNN's policy that its video not be used for political purposes."
You can't win with CNN. You use their clip of Gore so you present an accurate depiction of what he really said and they still confuse viewers by correcting your non-error and then complain about how you used their video in your attempt to not mislead.
To see a RealPlayer
excerpt of Gore's March 1999 Internet comment to Blitzer in full
context, and to see how the outlandish claim did not faze Blitzer, go
skipped the ad Thursday night and actually came to Bush's defense on
the decline of the military. In an "In Depth" segment on NBC
Nightly News, David Gregory reviewed the claims and counter-claims of
Bush-Cheney and Gore. He concluded:
But in a second piece, Jim Miklaszewski explored the accuracy of Bush's concerns: "After a decade of fighting regional wars in places like Iraq and Kosovo, while at the same time suffering steady cutbacks in its budget, senior military officials say there's no question the U.S. armed forces are in a state of decline. But how bad is it and does it mean the military is not ready to fight? No, the Pentagon's latest report on readiness, released today, reveals that 'most major combat forces are ready, but 'there are some shortfalls' raising questions about whether U.S. forces can meets America's national military strategy."
Miklaszewski targeted the Air Force as the least prepared, noting how only 67 percent of fighter jets are operable. He concluded: "So while Governor Bush is essentially correct the military is in decline, the Pentagon insists it is ready to fight today's wars while both candidates -- Gore and Bush -- promise to spend even more to meet any future threats."
President Clinton's veto of the estate tax cut went unmentioned Thursday night by CBS and NBC and ABC relayed only Clinton's spin about how it would "help only the richest two percent." But FNC's Jim Angle alerted viewers to how all the Democratic Congressmen from Tennessee voted for the bill, even the keynoter at the Democratic convention.
On ABC's World News Tonight, Charles Gibson relayed: "At the White House today, what happens when a Democratic President vetoes a tax cut in an election year? Bill Clinton did just that today when he rejected a bill that would have repealed the federal tax on money inherited when someone dies. He said the tax would help only the richest two percent of people in this country."
Wrapping up his piece on Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Jim Angle informed substitute anchor Tony Snow: "You had a number of Democrats who voted in favor of this, including the entire Tennessee delegation, including all of the Democrats, including Harold Ford Jr., who was a keynote speaker at the Democratic convention."
Bryant Gumbel this week challenged Henry Kissinger to disprove charges in a new book that Richard Nixon beat his wife, but eleven years ago Gumbel condemned an author for daring to write about Martin Luther King's womanizing. He argued then: "When the truth collides with a legend, print the legend."
On Thursday the MRC distributed a Media Reality Check, "Nixon, the Wife Abuser and Drug Addict? Networks Promote Anti-Nixon Author As Credible, But They Dismissed Anti-Clinton Authors." In it, the MRC's Tim Graham showed how the networks this week eagerly promoted the new book, The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers, but had refused to give such air time to anti-Clinton books, such as Gary Aldrich's or the book earlier this summer which quoted Hillary Clinton as once calling someone a "fucking Jew bastard."
Referring to the
August 28 show, Graham wrote in the latest Media Reality Check:
"The Early Show put the worst charges on screen in capital
letters." On screen:
The Media Reality Check continued: "John Roberts interviewed John Dean (who was supportive of the book) and Bryant Gumbel interviewed Henry Kissinger. Gumbel asked of the wife-beating charge: 'If it's impossible, how do you account for such a wide variety of charges from so many people over so many different years?' He asked: 'What about claims that he had a drinking problem and on more than one occasion ordered bombing missions while intoxicated?' Gumbel placed no responsibility on the author to prove his charges. He only forced Kissinger to rebut them."
Now compare that to how Gumbel reacted on NBC's Today back in 1989 to a book which took on the pure image of a Gumbel hero, as recounted in the November 1989 MediaWatch, an MRC newsletter:
GUMBEL'S FUMBLE. NBC's Today co-host Bryant Gumbel, in the Dan Rather tradition of respectful interviewing, recently assaulted Rev. Ralph Abernathy for his new book, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. Attempting to downplay Abernathy's revelations of Martin Luther King's sexual adventures, Gumbel first taped, but never used, an Abernathy interview without once discussing the sex controversy. Then, after black leaders began renouncing Abernathy as the 'Judas' of the movement, Gumbel conducted a live interview on the October 17 show which focused entirely on those four pages. He repeatedly tried to get Abernathy to renounce or apologize for his accounts, running over the next two planned segments in order to get enough time to continue his line of questioning.
When Abernathy noted that King's
exploits were "common knowledge," Gumbel retorted, "It
would better stated, perhaps, to say that it was common
accusation." He claimed that those pages "just as easily
could have been left out...one could argue that your writings prove
nothing." Abernathy explained that he included the unflattering
sections because, "our Bible tells us very, very clearly, 'he
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'...I was
trying to tell the true story that would not diminish the authenticity
of my book." Gumbel chose instead to quote a movie line:
To read the August
31 Media Reality Check, go to:
NBC News, at Geraldo's service. Thursday morning on Today Geraldo Rivera came aboard to promote his Sunday night NBC News special on the death penalty and it soon became clear it will not provide a balanced presentation but a platform for Geraldo's latest liberal crusade. Matt Lauer also asked him about rumors he may run for Mayor of New York City. Geraldo confirmed he is "seriously" looking at the possibility because Rudy Giuliani's "policies have exacerbated a feeling where minority mothers worry now about their children being hurt by the cops."
Geraldo to plug his special, Geraldo Rivera Reports: Deadly Justice,
which will run at 7pm ET/PT Sunday night on NBC. Rivera's reply,
which MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down, proved NBC News does not
hold Rivera to any journalistic standard for balance:
Of course, while
Rivera and the media are condemning Bush this year, in 1992 Clinton
went unscathed by reporters over the case referred to by Rivera. Check
out the MRC's June 23 Media Reality Check, "Gary Graham vs.
Ricky Ray Rector: Networks Gave 30 Stories to Texas Capital Case vs.
Two for 1992 Arkansas Execution." Go to:
Prompted by Lauer to
explain stories about how he might run for Mayor of New York City in
2001, Rivera answered:
Not a Democrat? Maybe not officially, but in his heart. On CNBC the Monday after the Democratic convention, Rivera yearned for a third Clinton term. Over a clip of Bill Clinton walking down the hall alone to give his convention speech, Rivera hummed the theme from Rocky as he insisted: "You're gonna miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not gonna miss this guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue but he is an artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm gonna miss the guy."
Geraldo added on the August 21 show that Bill Clinton "should've been vice presidential candidate."
Not sure why Rivera would fear that actually running for office would put his NBC job "in peril." He's been using CNBC and NBC News as left-wing platforms for years. -- Brent Baker 
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