As "Rough" on Bush as on Clinton?; Rather Gullible to Clinton Whoppers; More Gore Votes; West Wing to Be "Pain in Ass" to Bush?
2) Dan Rather tossed softballs and questions matching the Democratic spin to Bill Clinton in his 60 Minutes II interview, such as "you say what" to those "convinced that the Supreme Court...voted politics not the law?" Rather didn't bat an eye when Clinton offered whoppers about Whitewater, Tom DeLay, impeachment, Ken Starr...
3) Tuesday night CBS portrayed Bush's AG pick as a measure "of how willing George Bush is to break with conservatives in his effort to govern from the center." NBC allowed a conservative to push a tax cut, highlighted a newspaper's recount which found 130 more net votes for Gore and featured a graphic showing the "Gore margin of victory" in the popular vote.
4) On Today Chris Matthews argued that Bush must give Tom Ridge and Christie Whitman prominent posts and that making Dan Coats Secretary of Defense would be "a disastrous idea. That is just pandering to the far right."
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of the day. CNN's Judy Woodruff at 6pm ET Tuesday night plugging an
interview with Howard Kurtz in the third half hour of Inside Politics:
Bush already has received rougher coverage. For Bush, rough coverage came automatically from the media. For Clinton, he had to behave scandalously for any reporters to turn on him and then many of them directed more fire at law enforcers for daring to impugn a President America loved.
Dan Rather tossed softballs and questions matching the Democratic spin to Bill Clinton in his interview aired Tuesday night on 60 Minutes II and when Rather did raise uncomfortable topics, Clinton replied with baseless charges against conservatives and historical revisionism, but Rather never cast doubt on any of it.
Instead of pressing Clinton to defend Al Gore's needless prolonging of the election, Rather assumed the Supreme Court had done wrong: "To those who are absolutely convinced that the Supreme Court had a Republican majority and wanted a Republican President and voted politics not the law. As an attorney, and as our President, you say what?"
Asked to recommend a movie for incoming President Bush to see, the outgoing President suggested "High Noon," but Rather didn't burst into laughter when Clinton explained he found it relevant to being President "because Gary Cooper does the right thing, even when people leave him."
Four whoppers asserted by Clinton which elicited no reaction from Rather: a) Impeachment "was like the second big battle of the Gingrich revolution. The first was when they shut the government down. And that was the second one." b) Whitewater: "The biggest bogus issue in modern American politics. Classic, it was a fraud from the get-go, and a lot of the people that were propagating it knew it was a fraud." c) On Tom Delay: "His whole deal about how you should treat your opponents if very different from mine. I just think he's got a total scorch and burn policy....I think he thinks that's the way you're supposed to treat your political opponents. And I just don't agree with that....I never would have sent, I wouldn't let someone from the White House go to a contested state and try to intimidate vote counters. I wouldn't do that. I just don't believe that. That's just not who I am. I don't think, I think that a great country has to have some voluntary restraint on the exercise of authority."
Tell that to the impugned and then fired Travel Office workers or the residents of Western states who keep having their land appropriated by Clinton for national monuments.
And d) Unnamed forces put Ken Starr "in there
because Fiske was a fair, balanced man. And he was, the whole thing was
going be over before the '96 election and they didn't want that. So they
put him in there to drag it out."
-- Rather: "The country's still in the midst of an almost eight-year boom. The country's at peace. You've had by many measurements, if not most, reasonably successful presidency. Why are we having a Republican President come in behind you?"
-- "To those who are absolutely convinced that
the Supreme Court had a Republican majority and wanted a Republican
President and voted politics not the law. As an attorney, and as our
President, you say what?"
-- Rather: "As one who taught law, as an
attorney, were you surprised that this Supreme Court ever took the
-- Rather: "Do you agree or disagree, that some
of your failures, policy as well as personal failures, in the White House
had an impact on Al Gore's losing?"
-- Rather: "Your finest hour as
-- Rather: "Your darkest hour?"
-- Rather: "Impeachment had to be a dark
-- Rather: "Do you expect to be indicted after
your, after you leave the presidency by the current independent counsel,
the successor to Kenneth Starr?"
-- Rather: "Do you think President Bush will
pardon you to keep, possibly prevent an indictment or in case an
-- Rather: "Let's talk about the economy. The incoming Bush administration is trying to position the economic picture, in the following way: The economy has started downward, maybe towards a recession. 'Whatever happens on the downside, particularly if we have a recession, don't forget, it's the Clinton, Gore administration, not this new, incoming administration.'"
-- Rather, repeating Clinton's assessment of the economy: "Quite a bit of life left in it, you say. Mr. President, with respect, you know as I know that in politics a lot of it is trying to pin the tail on somebody else. This economy goes down even a little, fairly clear, that the tail is going to at least going try to pin the tail on you."
-- Dan Rather: "Let's have some fun. If you
could recommend one book that the incoming President, George Bush, read,
what would it be?"
-- After asking about whether Hillary will run for
President in 2004 or 2008, Rather inquired: "Now, the First Lady,
going to be paid, now go to my notes here, because this figure is a
whopping figure, $8 million for her memoirs. What's she going to say about
you in that book?"
That ended part one, after an ad break Rather noted how Clinton is "subdued," aware his time in office is almost over. Then the interview resumed with Rather asking Clinton for "first impressions" of names he announced:
-- Rather: "George Bush."
-- Rather: "Al Gore."
-- Rather: "Newt Gingrich."
-- Rather: "The National Rifle
-- Rather: "Going on down the list. Janet
-- Rather: "Your mother."
-- Rather: "Hillary
-- Rather: "Chelsea Clinton."
-- Rather: "Whitewater."
-- Rather: "Special prosecutor Ken Starr.
-- Rather: "The Republican leadership on
-- Rather: "Tom Delay."
-- Rather: "At the end of my list, and you
expected it, Monica Lewinsky."
Rather wrapped up by asking if Clinton might run for Mayor of New York City or Governor of Arkansas and whether he's been offered a TV job? "No."
For a transcript of the entire interview, go to:
The transcript has no relation to the order of topics raised in the edited version shown on TV and it contains quite a few errors, but I did catch a gem from Rather which did not make TV. Following up on his question about whether Bush might pardon Clinton, Rather opined: "I mean, there are those who say, 'It'd be a great, unifying thing for the country,' quote, unquote, for him to do that."
Noteworthy stuff in Tuesday night broadcast network coverage of Bush meeting separately with Clinton and Gore: CBS's John Roberts proposed that whether Bush picks Marc Racicot or Frank Keating for Attorney General "may be an indication of how willing George Bush is to break with conservatives in his effort to govern from the center" and NBC's David Gregory actually allowed a conservative to suggest the argument for a tax cut is boosted if there's any economic downturn.
Plus, NBC Nightly News highlighted as newsworthy how the Orlando Sentinel did a recount "in conservative Lake County and the net gain for Gore there was 130 votes." NBC also featured a graphic of showing the "Gore margin of victory" in the popular vote.
-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts previewed how Bush
was expected to soon name Don Evans as Commerce Secretary, Al Martinez for
HUD, Paul O'Neill for Treasury and Tommy Thompson for HHS. Roberts
-- NBC Nightly News. David Gregory on the
Clinton-Bush meeting in the Oval Office: "Behind the smiles and
hearty handshake, Bush appears hesitant sitting beside the man he'll
succeed, especially when asked whether he'll inherent a recession from
Anchor Tom Brokaw set up the next story by noting how the news media and a "conservative advocacy group," Judicial Watch, are doing recounts in Florida. Kerry Sanders concluded the subsequent report: "For those still questioning Florida's official result there is this: The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has already finished its count in conservative Lake County. And the net gain for Gore there was 130 votes, with 66 more counties still be reviewed in this the latest unofficial vote recount."
Going into the first ad break, NBC Nightly News put
some numbers of the screen. First, the percent of the vote won:
Then, below that, NBC added a graphic headlined
"Gore margin of victory" with this line below:
No matter how anti-Clinton or anti-Gore Chris Matthews may be, it's good to remember that at heart he's a liberal who once toiled for Speaker Tip O'Neil. That sentiment came through clearly in a Monday appearance on Today caught by MRC analyst Paul Smith as Matthews argued that Bush must put Northeastern liberal Republicans into high posts and that making Dan Coats Secretary of Defense would be "a disastrous idea. That is just pandering to the far right."
On the December 18 Today, Katie Couric asked the
CNBC/MSNBC Hardball host: "It was interesting to hear Trent Lott on
Meet the Press kind of demur when it came to people like Christie Todd
Whitman and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. They're both pro-choice Republicans
and he basically said I don't want to see them in certain positions. I
sort of assumed he meant secretary, you know, Health and Human Services,
things like that where their abortion views might come into play,
NBC's The West Wing returns tonight with the new episode that was bumped last week to make room for the Gore and Bush speeches. (For those scoring at home, contrary to television guides, Law & Order and Ed are new too tonight.)
And how does the creator/writer of The West Wing feel about Bush's win? A bit angry it sounds like. CyberAlert reader Steve Allen alerted me to what Aaron Sorkin told the syndicated TV show Extra! last week. When asked about the impact of Bush's victory on his show, Sorkin shot back: "I hope we're a real pain in the ass."
I'm sure they will be if Martin Sheen has anything to say about it. -- Brent Baker 
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