Moderator Shaw's Agenda; Rather Raved Over Debate Tone; Cheney Bested Bush; Winnie Doesn't Need to Collect Cans to Pay For Drugs -- Extra Edition 
1) VP debate moderator Bernard Shaw of CNN did not press the nominees from the right but did pose several questions from the left, including a liberal canard about unequal pay for women. He oddly propounded: "Imagine yourself an African-American."
2) Dan Rather raved over the tone of the debate, describing it as "the best vice presidential joint appearance" in "the television era." Viewers were also treated to a Ratherism: "He looked at him like he was a hitchhiker with pets."
3) ABC's George Stephanopoulos called it "a model debate." ABC, CBS and NBC analysts praised both candidates, but Cheney got more nods for gaining the most. Tom Brokaw noted how Cheney and Lieberman "articulated the positions of their campaigns more effectively than did the tops of the ticket."
5) Sam Donaldson did not join the media pack thrilled about the civil tone. He wondered "where were the sharp differences?" Why were the candidates so timid? Donaldson seemed to blame the media for demanding candidates not be "mean."
8) FNC's Brit Hume learned Winnie Skinner, the 'can lady,' is "not in such dire straits as Mr. Gore's words might have suggested." FNC located her son and determined she "could can the can routine if she wanted" but has turned down her son's offers of help.
Vice presidential debate moderator Bernard Shaw displayed more liberal bias during the debate, in the liberal agenda of his questions about gender pay, gay rights and how Social Security is sacrosanct, than the networks did afterward.
In an AP story distributed before the debate, CNN anchor Shaw promised: "I'm an old-fashioned journalist who believes in being fair, balanced and accurate, and those principles color everything I do." But as debate moderator Shaw posed no explicitly conservative agenda questions while he posed at least three questions explicitly from the left, plus an inquiry with the odd premise of making Cheney and Lieberman imagine they were black. Specifically:
-- Just 15 minutes into the 90-minute session Shaw forwarded as fact a liberal canard: "Gentlemen, this is the 21st century. Yet on average an American working woman in our great nation earns 75 cents for each dollar earned by a working male. What do you males propose to do about it?"
(The Independent Women's Forum published a study last year documenting how women with equal years in the work force and comparable qualifications as men make 98 percent as much. To read "Women's Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic Progress of Women in America" by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba, go to: http://www.iwf.org/pubs/figures.shtml )
-- "We all know Social Security is the backbone of the retirement system in our nation. Can either of you pledge tonight, categorically, that no one will lose benefits under your plans?"
-- "Senator, sexual orientation. Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all, all the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?"
At another point he formulated a very odd premise for a question: "Dick Cheney, Joe Lieberman: You are black for this question. Imagine yourself an African-American. You become the target of racial profiling either while walking or driving. African-American Joseph Lieberman, what would you do about it?"
When he did raise a Clinton-Gore policy failure he offered Lieberman cover by including Republican administrations in his question: "Senator Lieberman, this question is to you. Many experts are forecasting continuing chaotic oil price on the world market. Wholesale natural gas prices here in our country are leaping. Then there are coal and electricity. Have previous Republican and Democratic Congresses and administrations -- including this one -- done their job to protect the American people?"
He did do a balanced job in raising the hypocrisy charge against each nominee. To Cheney: "Your congressional record. You sponsored a bill that said no to oil and gas exploration in Wyoming wilderness areas, your own state. However, you co-sponsored a bill that said yes to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Your explanation?"
Later he set up Cheney: "Have you noticed a contradiction or hypocritical shift by your opponent on positions and issues since he was nominated?"
The CBS News team, led by Dan Rather, was ecstatic about the tone of Cheney-Lieberman VP debate. "Give it a rave," exclaimed Dan Rather immediately after it ended Thursday night. He argued: "This may well go down as the best vice presidential joint appearance on television since the television era in presidential and vice presidential campaigns began." Phil Jones gushed that it was "probably the best vice presidential discussion that we've had so far in the history of these discussions."
Bob Schieffer suggested Gore and Bush could learn a lot from their VPs since "these two men talked in ways that people could understand."
Rather delivered a fresh Ratherism during his post-debate analysis. He suggested that at one point Cheney looked at Lieberman "like he was a hitchhiker with pets."
Picking up on Rather's post-debate remarks quoted
in the first paragraph above, he continued his gushing:
Bob Schieffer saw the VP candidates as a model:
"The thing that I come away from this is I hope that their bosses --
Al Gore and George Bush -- were watching tonight because I think both of
them could learn a great deal from their running mates. This was not a
case of people who seemed to be trying to work in soundbites that they had
memorized, but two men who have been dealing with these issues for a long,
long time and seemed to be able to get to the second and third paragraph
on these issues...."
Rather then chipped in: "Well the humor came, what about three-quarters the way through? Joe Lieberman, Senator Lieberman, used the phrase 'big time.' Cheney shot him back a look as if to say, looked at him like he was a hitchhiker with pets. He didn't like it at all."
From Danville, reporter Phil Jones was even more enthused than Rather: "You said that this was probably the best vice presidential discussion that we've had so far in the history of these discussions, or debates. I think you could probably go on to say it may be one of the best presidential kind of debates too because I think both of these people needed tonight to look like they deserved to be a heartbeat away from the presidency and I think they both accomplished that."
The VP debate impressed ABC's George Stephanopoulos almost as much as it did Dan Rather. Stephanopoulos predicted: "This debate is going to be played in college debate classes for years as a model debate. Both candidates were solid and substantive and funny."
ABC, CBS and NBC analysts all praised both candidates, as NBC's Tim Russert referred to them as "two class acts," but Cheney got more nods for gaining the most. Tom Brokaw went so far on NBC as to ruminate about how "there is no clause in the Constitution to allow us to flip the ticket." Brokaw also noted how "they articulated the positions of their campaigns more effectively than did the tops of the ticket" at the first debate.
-- ABC News. Dean Reynolds, MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson observed, delivered a positive assessment of Cheney's
Terry Moran approved of Lieberman's effort: "As for what Joe Lieberman accomplished for Al Gore, what was surprising in a way is that he didn't mention once Governor Bush's record in Texas. That was something that Joe Lieberman has made a specialty of out on the campaign trail. He didn't do that. The tone tonight was not appropriate, and I think just as Dean mentioned, Dick Cheney does credit to Governor Bush, Joe Lieberman showed why Al Gore's selection of him did so much for Gore in the polls from the moment he made the choice. It was a good night for them."
George Stephanopoulos assessed: "I think they both have elevated their tickets' position, which means it's a wash. I think that, Peter, this debate is going to played in college debate classes for years as a model debate. Both candidates were solid and substantive and funny. Both were what debate coaches call appropriately aggressive on policy, and I think they both shored up -- Cheney shored up one of Bush's weaknesses, a sense of gravitas. Joe Lieberman warmed up Al Gore a little bit."
-- CBS News. Bob Schieffer opined: "I think Dick Cheney helped himself. You know Joe Lieberman was so good tonight. I don't think you can say either one of them won, but up until this point Dick Cheney in a way has sort of looked like he was at the dentist or something while Lieberman seemed like he was having a lot of fun. Tonight Dick Cheney showed that he too has kind of a wry sense of humor."
-- CNN. Bill Schneider conceded: "It's gonna be very hard to depict Dick Cheney as radical, some sort of a smug fat cat oil man who's completely out of touch. I mean he was relaxed, he was communicative, I thought he connected with voters just as we saw tonight. And this caricature of him that's been promoted mostly from his rather far right voting record, it's gonna be hard for Democrats to sell that."
-- NBC News. Tom Brokaw judged: "It was highly civilized. In many ways they articulated the positions of their campaigns more effectively than did the tops of the ticket when they met in Boston, it seems to me. Neither will be gold medal winners in the excitement Olympics, which you can see based on how they had command of their language and their positions tonight, why they are both so highly regarded within their parties and have been effective in Washington, in the highest reaches of the nation's capital."
Tim Russert contended: "There are very clear distinctions between the Bush/Cheney ticket and the Gore/Lieberman ticket. I think the American people watching tonight will say, 'Two class acts, two solid performers,' and the expectations for Dick Cheney, I think, were rather low because of his uneven campaign performance. He did quite well tonight, but so did Joe Lieberman. I think the effect on the election will practically be non-existent because of tonight's debate, but the American people will feel quite secure knowing that whoever is elected, there will be a very strong Vice President. But underscore your point, there are big differences -- big time, as Dick Cheney would say -- on education, Social Security and taxes."
Near the end of NBC's post-debate half hour, Brokaw offered his thoughts: "First of all, about Dick Cheney -- a lot of people have been saying good for governance, bad for campaigning. But this is why George Bush picked him. Tonight everyone had a chance to see that: small group, articulate, strong positions, an effective debater and a reasonable man....And in case you're wondering, there is no clause in the Constitution to allow us to flip the ticket tomorrow morning, at this time."
One wonders how much less the media admiration for Cheney would have been if Cheney had taken a strict pro-life position on RU-486 and abortion, blasted away at Gore's fabrications, raised impeachment and fundraising scandals, or really gone after Lieberman as a phoney because of all his changed positions.
relayed post-debate poll results Thursday night. Peter Jennings assured
viewers the ABC News quickie poll was indeed scientific despite its speed.
Just before 11pm ET he announced how it determined more thought Cheney won
than were impressed by Lieberman:
Sam Donaldson stood out for not joining the media pack thrilled about the civil tone. He wondered "where were the sharp differences?" Why were the candidates so timid? Donaldson seemed to blame the media for demanding candidates not be "mean."
Donaldson contended, as taken down by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson: "Well, Peter, you know, it may be hard
to find something wrong with this debate, but I'm going to try. It
was friendly -- as you've said, convivial. It was responsible. Both
these men are heavyweights and they displayed it tonight, but maybe
that's what was wrong in a sense. You know, the first law in trying
to sell the goods is you've got to get the customer's
Jennings wanted an explanation: "Well, Sam,
let me ask you this question. I said at the beginning that vice
presidential candidates often have a greater license to attack. Why do
you think they didn't?"
NBC hit Cheney for not including "payroll taxes" when he claimed the Bush tax cut would cut taxes for everyone who pays taxes, though obviously he meant income taxes.
Of the broadcast networks, only NBC offered a
fact-checking report Thursday night. Lisa Myers provided the
"Truth Squad" update, starting with this exchange:
Myers reviewed the claims: "Well, it's not clear whether it's actually 50 million taxpayers who get no relief under Gore's plan or 30 million, but tax experts tell us many Americans get little or no tax cut from Al Gore. Who are they? Single taxpayers, married couples who itemize and retired couples."
Myers then added a strange twist caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "But Cheney was wrong when he says Bush cuts taxes for everyone who pays taxes. In fact, millions of low-income Americans who pay payroll taxes, but don't earn enough to owe federal income taxes, get no help from Bush."
That's a rather cheap shot since he obviously was talking about taxes in the context of an income tax cut.
CNN gave air time Thursday night to former Senator Alan Simpson to walk viewers through how Al Gore in 1991 based his decision, on whether to vote for against the Gulf War, on how much TV time he would get from each side.
Simpson recalled at about 11pm ET:
A bit later, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, Jeff Greenfield raised a conservative concern, asking Bob Novak: "There have been those on the right who have been urging the Bush-Cheney campaign to run harder on the issues of social conservatism. Clearly, that didn't happen tonight. Dick Cheney was at pains to move, as you pointed out, much more toward a kind of middle ground. Is that a strategic mistake on the part of Bush and Cheney?"
The "can lady" could "can the can routine if she wanted," FNC's Brit Hume demonstrated Thursday night. Instead of just letting the Gore campaign tale remain unverified, FNC did a little investigation and located her son who, it turns out, is quite wealthy and has offered his mother money and housing. Reporter John Du Pre learned from him that Gore was wrong: "Fact is Winifred doesn't have to collect cans to pay for her medication."
Hume introduced the October 5 Special Report with Brit Hume story, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In Tuesday's presidential debate, George W. Bush not only had to contend with Al Gore, he had to deal with the Vice President's unlikely cause celebre, 79-year-old retiree Winifred Skinner. But the woman who has now gained national fame as the 'can lady' is not in such dire straits as Mr. Gore's words might have suggested. As Fox News' John Du Pre tells us, turns out Mrs. Skinner could can the can routine if she wanted."
Over video of Gore hugging Skinner last week in
at an event in Iowa, Du Pre reminded viewers: "Ever since the two
met at an Altoona, Iowa, campaign rally Al Gore has used Winifred
Skinner as a sort of campaign prop."
+++ See and hear from Skinner's son. On Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer excerpt from FNC's story. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
FNC's angle is quite a contrast to the
broadcast network presentations last week which turned Skinner into
the poster senior for a new entitlement program. Tom Brokaw, for
instance, introduced a September 28 NBC Nightly News piece:
Avila pushed the liberal cause: "By the end
of the month, her checking account down to a couple of dollars, her
pantry down to cereal."
For more on this NBC story, go to:
For September 28 morning show coverage of
Skinner, go to:
For September 27 evening coverage, go to:
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