Bush Drew Viewers to ABC; More on Clinton Speech; Russert to Bloomberg: GOP Too "Extreme"? Hunt's Marxism; Rather on Alligators
1) By showing President Bush's address on Thursday night ABC doubled its normal audience for the time slot and captured more than twice as many viewers as did Fox. Six million tuned in on the cable news channels, with half deciding to watch on FNC.
2) National Review and OpinionJournal.com decided Bill Clinton's speech last week, in which he had insisted, "Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless," wasn't as bad as that quote made it seem. James Taranto found the address "incoherent," but "far from seditious."
3) Michael Bloomberg is a lifelong liberal Democrat, but now that he's won the mayoralty of New York City as a Republican, on Meet the Press Tim Russert adopted the rhetoric of liberal opponents of conservatives as he asked him to evaluate the GOP: "Do you think the Republican Party has been too conservative, even extreme on some issues?"
4) On Capital Gang, Al Hunt denounced President Bush from the left: "The President gets a lot more passion about tax cuts for his rich country club friends than he does about any aid to the people who have been thrown out of work these past couple months." That prompted Bob Novak to observe: "You sound like Karl Marx when you talk about the rich class getting too many benefits."
5) Who else could say this but Dan Rather: "You don't taunt the alligator till you cross the creek, and they still have plenty of creek to cross." But only radio listeners to a Dallas Cowboys game got to hear it.
Bush a winner for ABC. Many more people watched Survivor on CBS or Friends on NBC last Thursday night, but by showing President Bush's address from Atlanta, ABC doubled its normal audience for Whose Line is It Anyway? in the time slot. The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes reported that ABC's airing of Bush also garnered more than twice the audience of the Family Guy on Fox and racked up relatively big numbers on the cable news channels -- with FNC grabbing the most viewers.
In her November 10 story, de Moraes noted how "Bush delivered ABC's best number in the time period since Bush's prime-time news conference on Oct. 11."
Noting how Fox had considered asking affiliates to carry the speech, de Moraes relayed: "Fox execs may wish they had compelled stations to carry the Fox News Channel feed of Bush's speech after all, because he might have delivered to the premiere of The Tick a better lead-in audience than did the return of Family Guy. The resuscitation of that series scored less than half the audience Bush did on ABC -- and Bush even snagged more young viewers than did the allegedly hip animated sitcom."
On the cable news channels, "Fox News Channel carried him and registered nearly 3 million; nearly 2 million preferred to watch him on CNN; and nearly 1 million caught him on MSNBC."
But most Americans preferred regular shows: "Altogether, Bush averaged an audience of nearly 19 million from 8-8:30 Thursday night. That is about as many folks as chose the fifth episode of Survivor 3 on CBS instead. But the president was no match for the lovely and pregnant Rachel: About 24 million tuned in to NBC's Friends."
I'd assume all these numbers are nationwide totals. Since Bush only got prime time carriage in the eastern and central time zones, viewership of his speech would have been a bit greater, and Friends and Survivor a little smaller, if Bush had aired opposite them on ABC at 8pm PST, 7pm MST.
More comment on the Clinton speech at Georgetown University discussed in the November 9 CyberAlert which had quoted from a Washington Times story on it and a look at it by the panel on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume. In his November 7 speech Clinton insisted: "Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless."
National Review's Washington Bulletin on Friday concluded that "Clinton didn't make excuses for terrorism," but that "real trouble with the speech is its overemphasis on the need 'to reach out and engage the Muslim world in a debate.'"
In his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto decided "the Washington Times account" was "unfair" since "Clinton expressed support for America in the war effort, and not in the equivocal I-don't-mean-to-minimize-Sept.-11-but manner that's common among the blame-America bunch." After quoting a passage, however, Taranto asserted: "This is incoherent -- Clinton manages to expand the definition of terrorism to the point of meaninglessness -- but it's far from seditious. Still, if the ex-president is going to go around giving speeches in a time of war, would it be too much to ask that he hire a tough editor so that his words will end up making sense?"
An excerpt from the November 9 Washington Bulletin e-mail from National Review's John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru:
....The main problem is not the lines for which he has been criticized -- the ones in which he was taken to be suggesting that the West had received its comeuppance on September 11 for slavery, the Indian wars, and the Crusades. In context, all Clinton appears to be saying is that 1) these events could be seen as examples of terrorism, 2) we are still paying a price for them, as when bin Laden uses the Crusades as a propaganda point against us. These points are arguable. Clinton uses a definition of terrorism so loose, for example, that he at one point suggests that it is terrorism when some drunken loser beats up a gay guy. And his version of collective historical guilt is noxious. ("Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless," he says-as though any student in today's academy could imagine otherwise.) But Clinton didn't make excuses for terrorism....
The real trouble with the speech is its overemphasis on the need "to reach out and engage the Muslim world in a debate." There is no question that the war we are in includes a cultural and intellectual component -- a propaganda war, to put it crudely. But from Clinton's speech you would think that all the war involved was talk: an international version of his "dialogue" on race. What Clinton will apparently never understand is that there are some problems you can't talk your way out of.
For NR's Washington Bulletin online, go to http://www.nationalreview.com 
-- An excerpt from the November 9 "Best of the Web" on OpinionJournal.com:
....We weren't able to get though the whole thing (it's over 7,600 words!), but we read enough to convince us that the Washington Times account, which we noted yesterday, was unfair. Clinton expressed support for America in the war effort, and not in the equivocal I-don't-mean-to-minimize-Sept.-11-but manner that's common among the blame-America bunch. And he clearly did not say, as the Times may have left the impression he did, that Sept. 11 was the "price" for America's sins. Here's the full passage in question:
"Terror, the killing of noncombatants for economic, political, or
religious reasons has a very long history as long as organized combat
itself, and yet it has never succeeded as a military strategy standing on
its own, but it has been around a long time. Those of us who come from
various European lineages are not blameless. Indeed, in the first Crusade,
when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue
with 300 Jews in it, and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was
Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of the event
describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount, a holy place to Christians,
with blood running up to their knees. I can tell you that that story is
still being told to today in the Middle East and we are still paying for
This is incoherent -- Clinton manages to expand the definition of terrorism to the point of meaninglessness -- but it's far from seditious. Still, if the ex-president is going to go around giving speeches in a time of war, would it be too much to ask that he hire a tough editor so that his words will end up making sense? If he gives muddled speeches, not only his enemies but America's can read their own meaning into them; see, for example, this Arab News account, which interprets Clinton's speech more or less as the Washington Times did. Like President Bush's unfortunate use of the word "crusade," this is the kind of thing that can feed enemy propaganda efforts.
For the "Best of the Web" column daily, go to: http://opinionjournal.com 
For a full transcript of Clinton's November 7 address, go to where Georgetown University has posted it .
To watch it via RealPlayer or Windows Media
Player, go to:
Michael Bloomberg is a lifelong liberal Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton for Senate and has been a big donor to Democratic causes, but now that he's won the mayoralty of New York City as a Republican, on Sunday's Meet the Press Tim Russert considered him to be a qualified judge of Republican Party policy: "Do you think the Republican Party has been too conservative, even extreme on some issues?"
It's one thing to inquire about how he views the policies of his new party, but did Russert really need to adopt the "extreme" term which liberals employ to discredit conservatives?
Bloomberg ran as a Republican so he could avoid the crowded Democratic primary and then go head-to-head with the winner of the Democratic primary.
Russert's question to Bloomberg on the November 11 show, taped in New York City, came after Russert played a clip of Rudy Giuliani promising after his 1993 election to work to move the GOP leftward on abortion and gay rights.
On the November 28, 1993 Meet the Press
Russert had inquired:
Russert followed up with Bloomberg: "You
are now the Republican mayor of New York. Will you be an active spokesman
trying to shape Republican Party policy, particularly on issues like
abortion rights and gay rights?"
Though Bloomberg's answer showed he is quite
liberal, he wouldn't admit it to Russert, who asked: "How do you
deal with this idea of labeling -- liberal, conservative, moderate? Where
do you see yourself?"
About the only area where Bloomberg is not a doctrinaire liberal is on taxes, where he currently opposes a tax hike for New York City. But since he backed Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, he did all he could to block Bush's tax cut.
On Saturday's Capital Gang, Al Hunt denounced President Bush from the left: "The President gets a lot more passion about tax cuts for his rich country club friends than he does about any aid to the people who have been thrown out of work these past couple months." That prompted Bob Novak to observe: "You sound like Karl Marx when you talk about the rich class getting too many benefits."
On the November 10 CNN show Hunt, the Wall
Street Journal's Executive Washington Editor, charged: "I think
President Bush's views on this are basically undistinguishable from my
friend Bob Novak, who has said on this program that war on terrorism or no
war on terrorism, we shouldn't be spending money on the unemployed and
jobless because they are just going to spend it on beer and cigarettes.
Instead, we should be giving big, permanent tax cuts to the very rich,
because they are the productive elements of society.
A few minutes later, columnist Bob Novak suggested: "If you could listen to yourself and read the text, you sound like Karl Marx when you talk about the rich class getting too many benefits."
A fresh "Ratherism" or, if you prefer, "Danism," but one only radio listeners in Texas heard: "You don't taunt the alligator till you cross the creek, and they still have plenty of creek to cross."
Back on November 4, when the Dallas Cowboys played the New York Giants, Dan Rather sat in the Cowboys radio booth in the New Jersey stadium and offered commentary on the game. Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ ), picked up late last week on a Web-posted account of Rather's performance.
An excerpt from the account by Peter King of Sports Illustrated:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Midway through the third quarter in the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network booth nine stories above the Giants Stadium turf, play-by-play man Brad Sham asked one of his analysts what he thought the Giants would do on first-and-10 from the Dallas 34.
"I think they're going long," his graying color man said. "I think they'll go for it."
Kerry Collins dropped back and threw a 34-yard strike to Joe Jurevicius.
On the next possession, three plays later, Sham wondered aloud what the Cowboys would do on third-and-7 from the Giants' 48. "Button hook," the analyst said. "Ten, maybe 11 yards downfield." Clint Stoerner dropped back. Joey Galloway streaked up the left side and curled back in, just as Stoerner fired the ball into him. Completion.
"HE'S GOT GALLOWAY ON A BUTTON-HOOK!" Sham shouted.
With five minutes left in the game and the Giants threatening to score the go-ahead touchdown at the Dallas 5-yard line, the color man said the Cowboys sure needed a turnover right now.
"Dayne, with the carry ..." Sham said. "FUMBLE!"
Dallas ball. In came Ryan Leaf for his first Dallas outing. Second down. Leaf fades back. "Turn it loose, Leaf!" yelled the analyst. Leaf, as if on cue, wound up and threw a deep bullet that Rocket Ismail, diving, caught.
Now you know about Dan Rather's NFL broadcasting debut.
"You are being wasted in news," the permanent color guy, Babe Laufenberg, said. "You've got to come over to sports!"
"Can we take you to Atlantic City with us?" Sham asked.
I listened to most of the Cowboys' 27-24 overtime loss to the Giants, with Sham and Laufenberg and their guest analyst, Rather, the 71-year-old CBS News anchor, on a wireless headset in the press box. And let me tell you: Rather was good. Very good. I'm serious when I say this: Dan Rather should do this more often. The credibility he brings with those pipes is already formidable. But he knows the game from couch-potatoing on most fall Sundays through the years, and he has an excellent sense of the flow of the game. He's not intrusive, and he knows when to shut up, two skills a lot of color men have never mastered....
For all of the posting by King, go to:
"He's not intrusive, and he knows when to shut up..." If only Rather had shown those qualities on the CBS Evening News for the last three decades.
From the November 8 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Suggestions the Public Made to Fight Terrorism." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "If you meet Osama Bin Laden -- sucker punch the bastard"
> Tonight on CBS at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST, a very PC-sounding plot on Family Law. As described in the Washington Post's TV Week: "The entire firm is placed on the case of a U.S. citizen who is arrested and charged with espionage after a neighbor reports him as a suspicious-looking Arab."-- Brent Baker