Pro-Bush "Politicization" of Military; Gore Not Asked About E-Mail & Fabrications; Geraldo Popped Out of Cake for Walters
1) Policy night on ABC and CBS with stories on the Gore and Bush plans for Medicare and education. ABC failed to criticize the tone of Al Gore's charge that Bush "supported Newt Gingrich's assault on Medicare."
2) Instead of exploring why so many retired military officers have rejected Gore and are backing Bush, CBS News saw the military's political preferences as a nefarious development. Dan Rather warned about the "increasing politicization of the military."
4) E-mails confirmed that Gore staffers knew that money would be raised at the temple, but other than 24 seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday morning Today landed Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to ask about the disclosure or mention any of Gore's fabrications from last week.
5) Did George Stephanopoulos say "I sure hope not" after George Will suggested Bush could win by running on the issues? Back in 1992, Stephanopoulos recalled, Warren Beatty urged Bill Clinton to lace his speeches with a swear word that rhymes with "truck."
6) Geraldo Rivera popped out of a cake on Monday's The View to celebrate the birthday of Barbara Walters. He recounted his attempted conquest of Walters, extolling: "To me Barbara was always a sensual, sexual woman."
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Policy night on ABC and CBS Monday night as both ran stories outlining the Bush and Gore proposals on education and Medicare reform. NBC Nightly News held itself to a few seconds on the campaign day before Claire Shipman looked at the controversy over Joe Lieberman running simultaneously for Vice President and Senator.
It doesn't take much to be chided by an ABC reporter. "Vice President launched one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in weeks," insisted ABC's Terry Moran before a clip of Al Gore claiming: "The other side has called Medicare a government HMO. I'll take Medicare over the real HMOs any day of the week." But Gore's claim that Newt Gingrich "assaulted" Medicare went unremarked.
Bush "is adopting a considerably tougher tone" reporter Dean Reynolds maintained after showing a clip of Bush suggesting, to a question about how to get young people involved in politics, "tell the truth for starters."
In a refreshing spin, FNC's Carl Cameron actually took on Bush from the right, pointing out on Special Report with Brit Hume: "The irony for Bush, a conservative advocate of local control attacking the federal government for not doing enough on education is not lost on the Texas Governor, but he defends his plans as conservative, saying he will demand accountability and measurable success."
Tom Brokaw was back in New York City to anchor the NBC Nightly News after a week in Sydney, but the Olympics still dominated the show which opened with controversy over drug testing.
Brokaw briefly summarized how Bush claimed the nation is in an "education recession" as he advocated aggressive testing. Al Gore, Brokaw relayed, spent the day in Florida: "He told seniors that Governor Bush's plan would force some of them to get their prescription medicine through local welfare offices." Brokaw then introduced a piece on Lieberman, noting his decision to not drop out of the Connecticut Senate race has "some critics saying he's hedging his bets in a self-serving way."
-- ABC's World News Tonight opened with the Yugoslav election before getting to the campaign. Peter Jennings meandered into ABC's coverage, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, it's Monday, and now it is six weeks until election day. We can anticipate with some justification that the presidential candidates will try to jack up the rhetoric another notch or two. The campaigns have already said this another week which begins with emphasis on a single issue. Governor Bush on education and Mr. Gore on Medicare. Let's start with Medicare, or as it is sometimes called in a political campaign, 'Medi-scare.'"
From Florida Terry
Moran checked in: "Once again, Al Gore is here in Florida. This
is the ninth time he's visited the state since he wrapped up the
Democratic nomination last spring, and once again he is taking aim
squarely at the state's two-and-a-half million senior citizens.
Appearing with his wife Tipper in St. Petersburg, the Vice President
launched one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in
Moran summarized the
Gore and Bush proposals for Medicare and allowed Gore to denounce
Bush's idea for vouchers to allow the elderly to buy private
insurance: "Gore blasted that approach today and tried to link
Bush to a very unpopular Republican."
Moran then concluded: "Peter, some health care policy experts are struck by how this year's campaign echoes the original debate on Medicare thirty-five years ago, and they say, that given the intense financial pressures the program faces, the very nature of Medicare is the issue."
Peter Jennings moved on to the Bush campaign: "For his part, George W. Bush has produced what amounts to a book on education in which he says that the Clinton-Gore administration has neglected education to the point where there has been an 'education recession,' in his words."
Dean Reynolds began:
"The Texas Governor attacked the Democratic administration for
letting America's public schools drift toward mediocrity or
Reynolds went through the basic points of the Gore and Bush approaches to education, ending with a Bush quip about Gore's three R's of "relationship," "resilience" and "readiness": "That sounds nice, but what happened to reading?"
"While education was the main point of attack today, the Governor
also assailed the Vice President on a range of issues, from the
environment to health care to military preparedness and to
truthfulness. That last point came up when one member of the audience
today asked Bush the best way to get young people involved in the
-- CBS Evening News led with doping at the Olympics followed by a look at more thorough drug testing methods.
Bill Whitaker reviewed Bush's charges on education, running this soundbite from Bush: "There are too many of our schools not meeting the challenge, expectations are not high enough, performance is not strong enough, and our leaders are not bold enough to reverse this slide."
After summarizing the Gore and Bush plans, Whitaker reported: "In big city schools, like in Los Angeles where Bush goes tomorrow, there's no doubt help is needed....But there is doubt about what any president can actually do. Federal money accounts for only seven-percent of school funding. Educators doubt post-election reality can match the candidates' rhetoric."
Whitaker concluded: "With other Democratic issues Bush is trying to seize like Social Security, Gore beats him in the polls. But on education, people think Bush can do as good a job."
John Roberts checked in from Florida with Gore: "Campaigning in the Sunshine State today, Al Gore reached out to voters in the twilight of their lives."
Roberts went on to show how middle class families with kids are also swing voters key to winning the state. He concluded: "Gore will turn the heat up here next week. His campaign plans to pump millions of advertising dollars into this fourth largest prize in the election -- a state the Vice President doesn't need so much to win as one the Texas Governor can't afford to lose."
This week the Joint Chiefs of Staff will tell Congress the military needs more money to meet the commitments made by the Clinton administration, but instead of exploring the state of the armed forces, on Monday night CBS News contrived a story about concerns retired military officers have crossed a politicization line in supporting George W. Bush for President. The wholesale rejection of Al Gore by so many military experts would seem a logical focus for a story, but not for CBS News.
CBS reporter David Martin intoned: "There's no law against it, but the sight of so many former admirals and generals throwing their prestige behind a candidate causes concern among other retired officers."
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather introduced the September 25 story by reaching deep
into a Sunday New York Times "Week in Review" story about
how Al Gore would be only the fourth enlisted man to become President.
Quoting from the 13th and 14th paragraphs of the 15 paragraph story
which ran on page 5 of the section, Rather asserted:
Not quite the flavor of the New York Times piece by Steven Lee Myers, which began: "Much has been made in the presidential campaign about Vice President Al Gore's stint with the Army in Vietnam, but one striking fact has gone largely unnoted: If elected, Mr. Gore would be the first President in a century to have served as an enlisted man and one of only four ever."
Back to Monday's
Evening News diatribe, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth,
reporter David Martin opened his story: "The Joint Chiefs of
Staff like to do their talking in this secure conference room, but
their message to Congress this week that the military needs billions
more dollars will be heard loud and clear on the campaign trail, the
last place Chairman Hugh Shelton wants to be heard."
After a clip of Bush
introducing a retired officer, Martin warned: "There's no law
against it, but the sight of so many former admirals and generals
throwing their prestige behind a candidate causes concern among other
concluding the piece Martin gave a clause in defense of the retired
generals: "To those who say the nation's defense is too important
to be left to campaign slogans, the retired generals say they are
doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights --
after a lifetime spent defending the Constitution."
In a September 15
CBS Evening News story Martin looked at the high number of Naval
accidents, suggesting: "It's impossible to pinpoint a single
cause for these accidents, but they have occurred at the same time
Navy admirals are becoming increasingly vocal about being asked to do
too much with too little money. The latest is Vice Admiral John
Nathman, commander of Naval Air Forces in the Pacific."
Brit Hume on Monday night highlighted how two network evening shows on
Friday skipped the release of the White House sleepover list. Over a
graphic of the White House with the words "Sleepovers List Caught
CBS and ABC Napping?" beneath, Hume picked up on an observation
made in Saturday's CyberAlert about the networks:
details about Friday night coverage, go to:
E-mails released late Friday confirmed that Gore staffers knew well in advance that money would be raised at the Buddhist temple, but other than 24 seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday morning Today landed Al Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to ask about the disclosure or mention any of Gore's gaffes from last week.
Neither ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News on Friday touched the e-mail revelations and I didn't see anything in a quick scan of Friday's The World Today on CNN or The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC. Saturday's Today, MRC analyst Paul Smith noted, didn't utter a word about it.
On Friday night, September 22, Dan Rather took 24 seconds to announce: "Some just recovered White House e-mail dealt with what Vice President Gore has long-acknowledged are past mistakes in fundraising activities. This includes the fundraiser he attended in 1996 at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles. The new e-mails suggest Gore staffers, at least, were well aware it was a fundraiser. The Gore campaign says the e-mails contain quote, 'nothing new.'"
On Monday morning Today co-host Matt Lauer pressed Gore about his flip-flops on the strategic oil reserve but failed to raise the e-mail disclosure or ask about his fabrications with regard to the dog versus in-law drug costs and the union jingle.
Here are all of Lauer's inquiries posed from Sydney via satellite to Gore in Washington DC, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
-- Matt Lauer:
"Let me start, Mr. Vice President, by talking about oil. The
President, last week made a decision that he is going to dip into the
strategic reserve in this country for some 30 billion gallons over the
next several months. He's concerned about home heating prices. It's
always been my understanding that, that reserve was meant for cases of
national security. Do you think we're in a situation where national
security is being threatened now?"
Did George Stephanopoulos say "I sure hope not" after George Will suggested Bush could win by running on the issues of Medicare and Social Security reform and tax cuts? Judge for yourself by playing the video now posted on the MRC Web site by Webmaster Andy Szul.
I'm catching up on
an event caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson two weeks ago. On the
September 10 This Week roundtable George Stephanopoulos asked George
Will: "Do you believe that if there is a debate, let's say on
three issues -- Medicare, Social Security and tax cuts -- that George
Bush can win that debate with the American people?"
Or did he? That's what Jessica thought she heard Stephanopoulos say and it's what the Burrelle's transcript on abcnews.com listed him as retorting, but other panelists talked over the second half of what Stephanopoulos said so it's hard to decipher.
To check for
yourself, play the RealPlayer clip. Go to:
You'll see the video in the top right corner of the page.
And while we're talking about Stephanopoulos, three days after the above exchange he appeared on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien where predicted Gore will win and revealed some very strange advice Warren Beatty offered the Clinton campaign in 1992.
Asked on the September 13 show for a prediction, Stephanopoulos forecast: "It's going to be really, really close. If you put a gun to my head and said, 'You had to bet right now,' I say Gore, this close [holds thumb and index finger up close together]."
O'Brien also asked
about Warren Beatty: "Do you have any idea, does he have sharp
political instincts because he's always been interested in politics,
he's thought about running. Do you know what this-"
Bill Clinton didn't take Beatty's advice. We've learned since that Clinton prefers to do it, not say it, at least not publicly.
After giving her flowers and a hug she proclaimed: "Geraldo is the one who always says that I'm sexy and I love you for that darling." He repaid the compliment: "To me Barbara was always a sensual, sexual woman." Indeed, he recounted his failed conquest attempt in Panama in the 1970s when she rebuffed him.
Turning serious for a moment, he told the group of women who host the ABC daytime show along with Walters that he's thinking of running for Mayor of New York City because Rudy Giuliani has "emotionally segregated the city and I want to bring the city back."
+++ See a shot of Geraldo kissing Walters and a video clip from earlier as Geraldo emerged from the big fake cake. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted a RealPlayer clip on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Okay, this has nothing to do with campaign coverage, but it's so surreal it's worth seeing. -- Brent Baker 
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