"Enormous Waste" to Not Use Clinton; "Top Ten" Bias?; Rosie's Rosy Embrace of Gore; Bush's Commercial Break Activity
1) ABC and CBS Friday night acknowledged Clinton's liability to Gore, but ABC's Terry Moran highlighted how "some Democrats feel Clinton, a superb campaigner, could help Gore." CBS's John Roberts warned: "For some Democratic strategists, it's an enormous waste of talent that could jeopardize Gore's chances."
2) Bias in picking which Letterman "Top Ten" items to showcase? ABC's Diane Sawyer was upset by Bush's "Give Oval Office one heck of a scrubbing." ABC's GMA and CBS's The Early Show both showcased the most derogatory entry about Bush while CBS had played only positive ones about Gore and ABC ran a balanced selection from Gore's list.
3) "I hope to see you in the White House come November," exclaimed Rosie O'Donnell at the end a laudatory interview of Al Gore in which she posed only questions which matched his agenda: "How are you going to continue to help lower-income families afford quality child care?" and "What rights could be at risk" from Supreme Court retirements? She was baffled by why Clinton's behavior "sort of tarnished you when it has nothing to do with you?"
MRC on public radio Monday. Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis at
the MRC, will appear as part of a panel of guests on Monday's Diane
Rehm Show to discuss campaign coverage. Her Washington, DC-based show
airs on WAMU-FM (88.5) from 10am to noon and on public radio stations
around the country at various times. Graham will appear during the
first hour. For a list of stations which carry the show, but without
the air times, go to:
Correction: The October 19 CyberAlert confused the whole point
about how the "Dr. Laura" character remained sitting when
the President on The West Wing entered the room. It stated:
"'President Bartlet' walked into the large room where most
people were standing and talking, but 'Dr. Jena Jacobs' who was
played by a blond women prettier and younger than the real Dr. Laura
(though with the same hair style), remained standing, the relevance of
which you'll soon see." Actually, she remained sitting. The
relevance was that Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, ended his diatribe
against her: "One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for
your monthly meeting of the ignorant tight-ass club, in this building
when the President stands, nobody sits."
Clarification: George Bush and Al Gore did tape on Thursday spots for NBC's Saturday Night Live, as noted in an October 19 CyberAlert Special. Friday's USA Today, however, reported the taping was not for tonight but for a special to air on November 5, the Sunday night before the election.
Not utilizing Clinton, "an enormous waste of talent." The rare appearance of Bill Clinton and Gore together Friday for the Mel Carnahan memorial service combined with a New York Times story on how Clinton feels slighted by the Gore campaign, led to full stories Friday night, October 20, on the three broadcast networks.
All three included in their stories the soundbite of Clinton saying he "almost gagged" at how Bush answered a debate question. ABC and CBS acknowledged Clinton's liability, but stressed how his popularity could help Gore. ABC's Terry Moran highlighted how "some Democrats feel Clinton, a superb campaigner, could help Gore and the President himself is clearly raring to go." CBS's Dan Rather introduced a story by stressing the opposite of reality: "Vice President Al Gore said today he quote, 'welcomes' President Clinton's help in the final days of the campaign." John Roberts warned of not employing Clinton: "For some Democratic strategists, it's an enormous waste of talent that could jeopardize Gore's chances."
Only NBC's Claire Shipman explicitly laid out the numbers behind the Gore separation strategy: "Polls tell the Gore team that Clinton is still liability for the Vice President, quote 'ice on their wings' on the issue of trustworthiness, especially with undecided voters."
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran marveled
at how the Carnahan service brought Clinton and Gore together for the
first time since the "passing of the torch" rally in Michigan
during the Democratic convention. Moran reported:
Moran asserted Clinton has volunteered to help Gore,
"but the Vice President, speaking to reporters on Air Force II, made
it clear he doesn't want the President's help."
ABC followed up with just over two minutes worth of clips of Bush and Gore jokes told during Thursday night's Al Smith dinner, an event ignored by CBS and NBC. Peter Jennings set up the highlight reel: "Which brings us to the question asked in every presidential campaign: Will Americans vote for a man they like or an unlikeable man whom they prefer on the issues? And how much of a difference does a sense of humor make?"
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather introduced CBS's campaign story of the day with a backward lead: "Vice President Al Gore said today he quote 'welcomes' President Clinton's help in the final days of the campaign. So what's going on here? CBS's John Roberts reports the context and why this was even raised as a question."
John Roberts stressed Clinton's worthiness:
"With polls tilting toward George W. Bush, the Democrats, desperate
for a breakout, have called in their big gun."
Roberts then outlined the risk Gore is taking by not
linking himself to Clinton: "For some Democratic strategists, it's an
enormous waste of talent that could jeopardize Gore's chances."
Sort of like signing a welfare reform bill you oppose so you can get the credit and then undermine it later?
Roberts picked up: "That criticism, aides say,
was also aimed at the Vice President. Mr. Clinton is frustrated that Gore
has let the Governor off easy, failed to defend the record and articulate
the differences between himself and Bush."
Roberts concluded: "Republicans are already crowing that Al Gore can't win this on his own and even a former Clinton strategist says that bringing in the big man 'trivializes' the Vice President by making Gore look like the younger brother, just when he's emerged from the shadow."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw briefly noted how the latest MSNBC/Reuters tracking poll found a tie at 44 percent each for Bush and Gore.
Claire Shipman reported: "There's word tonight that in the final days of this cliffhanger campaign, Bill Clinton is feeling underutilized. And far from denying it, the Gore campaign says it wants him to keep his distance."
After showing them together at the St. Louis
airport, asserting that Clinton denied he's feeling left out, and
running a soundbite of Gore saying he's running on his own, over video
of Gore at the Democratic convention, Shipman intoned: "Gore aides
say their campaign polling shows voters prefer to see him like this."
Shipman suggested Clinton can help at boosting get-out-the-vote rallies without Gore as "polls tell the Gore team that Clinton is still liability for the Vice President, quote 'ice on their wings' on the issue of trustworthiness, especially with undecided voters."
A third Clinton term? FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Friday delivered evidence of why Gore wants Clinton far away from him. Anchor Tony Snow read the answer to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics question: "Would you want a third Clinton term?" Yes, replied just 25 percent; no said an overwhelming 73 percent.
Bias in picking which Letterman "Top Ten" items to showcase? On Friday's Today David Gregory highlighted how one of George Bush's "Top Ten Changes I'll Make in the Whiter House," included: "Give Oval Office one heck of a scrubbing." But CBS's The Early Show didn't play that anti-Clinton one and on ABC's Good Morning America Antonio Mora referred to it well into the show, but Diane Sawyer scolded him for mentioning it.
A comparison of which entries ABC and CBS chose to highlight the mornings after the Gore and Bush appearances on Letterman found both shows showcased the most derogatory one about Bush while CBS played only positive ones about Gore and ABC ran a balanced selection from Gore's list.
-- CBS's The Early Show on Friday ran only a clip of Bush reading a single self-derogatory entry: "Make sure the White House library has lots of books with big print and pictures."
But the morning after Gore's Letterman appearance, The Early Show played clips of Gore reading two self-promotional items from his "Top Ten Rejected Gore-Lieberman Campaign Slogans." Viewers saw Gore announce, "With Lieberman on the ticket you get all kinds of fun new days off" and "We know when the microphone is on." Bill Plante added on the September 15 show: "And number one, quote, he'd be twice as cool as that President guy on the West Wing."
-- ABC's Good Morning America. Back in September GMA opened with Gore's self-deprecating entry ("Remember, America: I Gave You The Internet, And I Can Take It Away. Think About It") and in a segment with George Stephanopoulos, played Gore announcing one unfavorable and two favorable to him: "Vote For Me Or I'll Come To Your Home And Explain My 191-Page Economic Plan To You In Excruciating Detail"; "With Lieberman on the Ticket, You Get All Kinds of Fun New Days Off" and "I'll Be Twice As Cool As That President Guy on 'The West Wing.'"
Five weeks later, however, GMA led at 7am, straight from the station ID, with Bush announcing the one about getting books with big pictures. GMA later showed Bush reading this one: "Will not get sick on Japanese leaders like other President Bushes I know."
At about 7:50am, after running some clips of Bush
and Gore jokes at the Al Smith dinner, with some trepidation, news reader
Antonio Mora raised the anti-Clinton item in Bush's Top Ten: "Bush
did a Top Ten List yesterday on Letterman also, and my favorite, I don't
know if I can say this on morning television, it's about what Top Ten
things he'd do when he became President, and he said he'd give the
Oval Office a very good scrubbing. Sorry, Diane, couldn't resist."
For the record, here are the complete lists from which networks producers had to select:
-- George Bush's October 19 "Top Ten Changes I'll Make in the White House."
10. To save taxpayer dollars, calls to winning sports teams will be
-- Al Gore's September 14 "Top Ten Rejected Gore-Lieberman Campaign Slogans."
10. "Vote For Me Or I'll Come To Your Home And Explain My 191-Page Economic Plan To You In Excruciating
For Letterman's Top Ten archive, go to:
To watch a RealPlayer clip of how David Letterman
badgered Bush politically, something he did not do to Gore, go to the
October 19 CyberAlert item about Bush's appearance where MRC Webmaster
Andy Szul has added a video:
Rosie's rosy embrace of Gore. Rosie O'Donnell not only tossed softball questions to Al Gore which matched his political agenda, during his Friday appearance on her Warner Brothers-produced daytime TV talk show she complimented and endorsed his answers. Gore could not have dreamed of a more amiable showcase.
O'Donnell didn't hide her hope he wins as she
introduced him on the October 20 program:
At the end of the first segment, which mainly consisted of small talk about Gore's family, O'Donnell trumpeted the Clinton-Gore record: "A lot has been said about what's been done in the last eight years. A lot of good if you ask me."
For the next two segments, interspersed with her own liberal comments, such as denouncing school vouchers, O'Donnell posed questions to Gore selected from ones submitted on her Web site and by fax. Every inquiry matched a Gore agenda point. Amongst her topics: "How to you plan to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors?"; "How are you going to continue to help lower-income families afford quality child care?" and "What rights could be at risk" from Supreme Court retirements?
The only thing approaching a negative question was about Clinton's behavior, but O'Donnell only wanted to know why it "sort of tarnished you when it has nothing to do with you?"
MRC intern Ken Shepherd painstakingly went through Gore's appearance to take down excerpts of O'Donnell's admiring approach:
-- "Here's question number one: 'As a parent, I'm concerned about violence my kids are exposed to on TV and movies and video games and the Internet. What do you propose to be done to protect kids from these dangerous influences?'"
After Gore claimed he's taken a tough line with a
crackdown on marketing to kids, O'Donnell observed: "You know, when
I was a kid, it seemed that all the violent shows or the cop shows had to
be on after 10 o'clock. So that, you know, if you were up then, if you
were a kid, you shouldn't be up then, that's bad parenting. But, you
know, it's not like a kid can come home from school and see violence on
TV like they can now, which is sad."
-- O'Donnell: "Here's another question for ya, 'How to you plan to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors?' We seem to get that question a lot."
After Gore outlined his plan, O'Donnell chipped
in: "That's simple and easy. You know, we had some issue in our
family, my nephew was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis."
-- O'Donnell: "That seems sensible enough to
me. How do you plan to make schools accountable for quality."
-- O'Donnell: "How are you going to continue to help lower-income families afford quality child care which is a huge problem for most of the women watching TV here?"
O'Donnell: "Some of my friends are working so
that they can pay for the daycare. Like, you know a married couple and the
wife is working just to pay for the daycare."
-- O'Donnell: "...A lot of people were writing in questions that would try to like incorporate into one question about, you know, their disappointment in the lack of morality from President Clinton and how they feel that's an important issue and why has that sort of tarnished you when it has nothing to do with you?"
O'Donnell: "I definitely think the last eight years the country has been a much better place than it had been in a long time."
-- O'Donnell: "This is my passionate issue as you might know. 'You've done so much to advance the cause of gun control. How do you plan to make schools gun free and will you be able to really stand for gun control when it seems that the forces against it have so much power.'"
O'Donnell: "There was a question at the
debate the other night where someone said they saw an ad that the NRA had
claimed that if George Bush is elected they would have an office in the
White House. They did in fact make that statement."
-- O'Donnell: "'There's been some talk this campaign that Texas ranks low in health care for women and children. It didn't seem to be answered in the debate, true or not true?"
-- O'Donnell: "'Okay, one of the
President's most important functions is to appoint Supreme Court
justices. What rights could be at risk now that three or four appointments
are on the verge."
-- O'Donnell: "'What do you plan to do for
working parents whose children may not have someplace safe to go after
O'Donnell ended her love fest: "It is thrilling to have you here sir. I hope to see you in the White House come November. Thank you very, very much."
Gore should be thanking her very, very much.
And one last Bush on Letterman development: On Friday night David Letterman showed what Bush did with his glasses during a commercial break during Thursday's appearance. As Late Show producer Maria Pope leaned over the front of the desk to talk to Letterman, with her back to the audience, Bush leaned forward in his chair, grabbed a corner of her lightweight cloth jacket, and wiped his glasses with it.
She didn't even notice, but Letterman played the tape back twice.
Maybe the campaign could provide Bush with a Kleenex or two to keep in his pocket. -- Brent Baker 
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