Networks Hit GOP from Left: End Impeachment, Emulate Moderates
1) The network anchors and analysts scrutinized the GOP setback from the left, seeking a mandate to end impeachment but ignoring how Republican leaders failed to pursue a conservative agenda. Reality Check: Exit polls show Lewinsky not a major factor.
2) "Moderate" Governors were the media heroes contrasted with the conservative ideology of those who lost, ignoring the conservative policies of those Governors and how conservatives also won. The new model Republican for NBC's Brian Williams: Christine Whitman.
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There's no way for Republican leaders to spin their way out of the fiasco Tuesday's election results represent to the party. If most people really wanted Clinton impeached they would have voted more for Republicans and the lack of an outpouring for the GOP could be interpreted as a sign of a lack of interest. But the network anchors and analysts Tuesday night and Wednesday morning scrutinized the GOP setback only from the left, not by raising points made by conservatives. So viewers heard a lot about how the public was tired of the Lewinsky investigation and opposed impeachment, though exit polling cast doubt about how much those views impacted voting.
Notably absent from network coverage, with rare exception: the analysis from conservatives that Republicans discouraged their base and did not excite the wider voter population because they failed to develop a conservative issue agenda while caving into Clinton's liberal spending plans in the budget deal. Meanwhile, Democrats excited their base and attracted moderates by pounding away on an issue agenda, no matter how much it was just words and not policy, on health care, education and Social Security.
The questions posed to GOP leaders display the media's slant. They pressed Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich about how the Republicans ads supposedly backfired, but never once asked a question from the right about how the party had failed to really push for conservative policies as promised in 1996 or ever laid out the moral case for impeachment instead of treating it as an onerous duty and insisting it would be wrong to say they favored it.
Here are some examples followed by some exit poll data on how Lewinsky did not drive voters to Democrats:
-- Tom Brokaw's
question to Speaker Newt Gingrich during NBC's 10pm ET special also
carried on MSNBC, as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake.
Bernard Shaw, after Gingrich said the media led the fixation on Lewinsky: "If the news media were so fixated, why did your party spend millions of dollars in the eleventh hour of this campaign on ads which you were aware of?"
First, as noted by the Washington Post, asked "Was one reason for your vote for Congress today" either "to express support for Bill Clinton" or "to express opposition to Bill Clinton," 59 percent said "Clinton was not a factor" while 19 percent said they voted to express support, matched by a nearly identical 20 percent who said they wanted to show opposition.
Second, only five percent said the Clinton/Lewinsky matter "mattered most" in deciding how to vote for U.S. House. And of those people 55 percent voted for a Republican and just 44 percent for a Democrat.
This last set of numbers is on the Fox News Web page, the only place I found with a long list of the exit poll questions. Go to: http://www.foxnews.com/national/features/election98/xp/na_h00_xp.htm 
"Moderate" Governors were the media heroes contrasted with the conservative ideology of those who lost, though as noted above the Washington-based GOP has hardly been pushing a conservative issue agenda while many of the Governor's who won championed tax cuts and welfare reform.
-- During the 10pm
ET NBC special, for instance, Tom Brokaw asserted to Trent Lott:
-- Christine Todd
Whitman, media hero. MRC analyst Mark Drake caught this leading question,
from MSNBC anchor Brian Williams to the liberal Republican Governor of New
Jersey, posed at 9:35pm ET:
-- Hours later on CNN, at about 12:40am ET Tuesday night/Wednesday
morning, network veteran Bruce Morton insisted:
Of course, the thesis of Williams and Morton with is "very conservative" mantra is contradicted by a the social conservative Peter Fitzgerald winning in Illinois, the defeat of gay marriage initiatives in Hawaii and Alaska and the overwhelming vote in Washington State to end affirmative action.
Minutes later Jeanne Meserve chimed in: "It seems to be the year of the moderate. The two most ideological candidates, Fob James in Alabama and David Beasley in South Carolina, went down to defeat....You saw moderates in places like Connecticut and New York winning. Also in California, you have to look at Gray Davis, a Democrat, and say he ran a very centrist campaign stressing issues like education and crime."
REALITY CHECK. One network
analyst did suggest that the congressional Republicans's problem was
that they wavered from ideological toughness. On Wednesday's Good
Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, ABC News political
director Mark Halperin told co-host Lisa McRee:
The first bi-annual CyberAlert Election Prognosticator Accuracy Scorecard: 1 for 12! The prognosticators have a worse record than the 1-8 Redskins as only one of the panelists on Capital Gang, McLaughlin Group or Fox News Sunday accurately called a net change. None were correct in their net change predictions for Governorships and House seats. Mark Shields does get a star on the forehead: He correctly forecast no net change in the Senate and was the only one to pick Russ Feingold to win re-election.
Here's a re-cap of the Republican-gain predictions. In reality, there's no net change in the Senate, Republicans have lost one Governorship and are down at least four House seats.
Now for how they did on individual races, keeping in mind that different shows looked at different numbers of races. From best to worst:
A good day for the
liberal media figures. To read all the predictions in a neat, graphically
clean, form, go to:
They appeared in the November 3 CyberAlert, but remember that the section on North Carolina was messed up in the e-mail spacing wise, so see the subsequently e-mailed correction.
No election night would be complete without a dose of Ratherisms from CBS News anchor Dan Rather. Here are a few taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
-- Near the end on Tuesday's 7pm ET Evening News feed: "Let me point out to you that there are some tight Senate races. Georgia Senate race, Kentucky Senate race, South Carolina Senate race. Polls have closed in these states. South Carolina's Governor's race -- Democrats and Republicans are nervous as pigs in a packing plant over these returns because the polls have closed and we don't know the results."
-- Seconds later: "Now, if you're in those states where the polls are open, let me encourage you to vote. And of course, if you're in a state where the polls are closed, let me encourage you not to vote. It's illegal."
-- During the CBS News special at 10pm ET: "Charles Schumer is one of the stunners of the night. This race was as hot and squalid as a New York elevator in August."
-- Later in the special: "How sweet is must be for President Clinton. Lauch Faircloth, the man who actually was responsible along with Jesse Helms for making Ken Starr the special prosecutor who has dogged President Clinton for so long. Lauch is locked out in North Carolina."
From the November 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Jesse The Body Ventura Campaign Slogans." Copyright 1998 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. He's Already Used To Deceiving The
And, from the Late Show Web page, some of "the extra jokes that didn't quite make it into the Top Ten."
-- We Need A Governor Who Can Crush The
Skull of Other Governors.
Letterman read this Top Ten on his show taped at 5:30pm ET Tuesday. Little did he know how prescient was the topic. By the time Late Show aired on WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and nationwide Jesse "The Body" Ventura had been transformed into Governor-elect Jesse "The Mind" Ventura. -- Brent Baker 
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