Gilmore Beats Beyer - and Liberal Reporters
by L. Brent Bozell III
November 6, 1997
Virginia's political pundits ought to be sued for false
advertising. After suggesting for months the statewide campaign was a dull
affair without a clear message or a compelling candidate, a lightning bolt of
public opinion struck on Election Day. Three new Republicans swept into office
on a wave of opposition to the punitive personal-property tax on cars. If the
groundswell against the oppressive tactics of the IRS didn't send a message,
these results do: Tax relief wins elections.
What's more interesting to close readers of the media is
that once again, campaigning liberal media outlets, led in northern Virginia
by The Washington Post, once again found themselves rejected by the
Despite early polls showing the popularity of GOP
gubernatorial nominee James Gilmore's car-tax cut, the Post lined up local
developers and other pro-tax businessmen against it, and ran contrarian
articles like the September 5 front page story headlined "Families Worry
Tax Cuts Now Will Cost Them Services Later." Reporter Spencer Hsu
interviewed five people opposed to tax cuts, and only one person who in favor.
When the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, proposed a car-tax cut of his
own, both Post reporters and editorial writers disparaged the tactic and
quoted many Democrats calling it "a horrendous mistake," implying
that Beyer's original stance of favoring tax hikes would have been a winner
Hsu and The Post "truth squad" demonstrated yet
again why media "Ad Watch" features need their own accuracy checks.
Beyer ran an ad asserting "Gilmore supported a ninety million dollar cut
in education." On September 2, Hsu analyzed the ad and concluded Beyer
"accurately states Gilmore's position, including his support of fellow
Republican Gov. George Allen's 1995 $2.1 billion tax cut plan that would have
trimmed $90 million in increases in state spending for public health and
higher education." But Hsu missed the contradiction in his own analysis.
Gilmore's putative "cut" in education was indeed, a trim in proposed
Two weeks later in the September 15th "Ad
Watch"column, Hsu corrected the contradiction by getting all of it wrong:
"Beyer accurately states that Gilmore, as attorney general, backed
Republican Gov. George Allen"s failed 1995 tax-cutting budget, which
would have reduced education spending by $90 million."
Another important bellwether in the Gilmore race was Beyer's
failure to impair Gilmore by linking him with Pat Robertson and the Christian
Coalition, an attack the Posties took up with relish. "Christian
Coalition Forum Fuels Debate Over Partisanship," said reporter Mike
Allen's story on September 28. Allen underlined that the group "is being
investigated by federal officials who are questioning its push for tax-free
status as a nonpartisan voter-information group." Allen referred to a
videotape of state Del. Jay Katzen rallying a seminar to Republican
candidates, "provided to The Washington Post by a Democratic
activist," of course. Post reporters also tried to trip up Gilmore by
creating controversies over his views on parental consent (favored by 81
percent of the public nationwide) and spousal notification for abortions,
regularly citing Beyer's claims Gilmore was an "extremist." Reporter
Ellen Nakashima also slyly used this tactic in an October 7 article on GOP
Attorney General candidate Mark Earley headlined "Earley Casts Net Into
Virginia's Political Mainstream."
Of course, Beyer was endorsed by the National Abortion and
Reproductive Rights Action League, which supports abortion on demand, funded
by the taxpayer when possible. So if Gilmore and Earley, with pledges to abide
by Roe v. Wade, are "extremists," what are Beyer and NARAL? Post
reporters called Beyer a "moderate" and had no labels for NARAL, and
never questioned their tax-exempt status.
Post coverage of the race took a big pivot on October 23
when they published their own poll showing Gilmore pulling away with the car
tax - and 74 percent of voters opposing Beyer on parental consent for
abortion, a supposedly controversial issue for Gilmore.
When Gilmore won, the Post was forced to give it prominent
play, but the rest of the media worked hard to avoid it, focusing on liberal
Republicans Christie Whitman and Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani appeared on two
network morning shows the next day, but Gilmore was nowhere to be found.
Giuliani was favored all along to win in a landslide, but
the pundits labeled the Gilmore race as too close to call until the final two
weeks. Thus the far bigger Election Day story was found in the Old Dominon,
where Gilmore received virtually the same landslide margin as Giuliani and
an unprecedented GOP sweep in all three statewide campaigns. So why the
network disinterest? Because to do otherwise would be acknowledging the
continuing popularity of tax cuts, something the liberal press refuses to
Voice Your Opinion!
Write to Brent Bozell
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe