The Network Definition of Nastiness
No amount of GOP spin control can mask the ugly
reality that they blew the elections. There's plenty of blame they should
accept, but what isn't fair is the predictable media claim that the
Republicans' last-minute anti-Clinton ad blitz backfired.
by L. Brent Bozell III
November 03, 1998
It's rather funny, all this news about this campaign having
been "the nastiest ever," to quote Dan Rather. Up until about 10
days before the vote there was barely any attention whatsoever paid to the
elections by the press that suddenly is alarmed by an avalanche of negativity.
How negative, you ask? Well, for starters Al D'Amato called his opponent a
"putzhead." Mercy! I suspect also that the famous media ad watch
patrols - the closest we'll ever get to a modern-day Holy Inquisition -
probably nailed some Republican calling a liberal a liberal, too. Forsooth!
But what's really amazing is all the attention that was paid
to the Republicans' $10 million soccer-mom-squishy ad campaign asking voters
not to "reward Clinton" by voting Democratic. Now that, that
was uncalled for, and the networks (primarily) were not going to let this
dreadful negativity go untouched. The moment the ads began to run, ABC's Peter
Jennings warned the public to take cover from the "$10 million
advertising attack." CBS and NBC were so anxious to get Clinton's
response that they played it before showing any clips of the new ads. CBS
actually set up its story as a vehicle for Clinton to respond - and didn't
include a single soundbite from a single GOP official.
NBC prepared and released an instant poll which
"suggests the abrupt change in tactics could backfire on
Republicans." Add to NBC's negative take some very predictable outrage
from CNBC's outrageous Geraldo Rivera ("a turn to the ugly") and
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann (wondering why the Republicans were out to
"coarsen" political discourse) and you have a perfect trifecta of
But they were just warming up.
The next morning, NBC returned to promoting Clinton's
response to the "Republican blitzkrieg," and ABC's Lisa McRee
wondered hopefully: "Just raising the subject again: Could everybody just
say 'Bleah! Sick of it!'" Over the weekend CNN followed Newt
Gingrich around and bugged him about his role in this nefarious plot. Monday
night ABC joined NBC in employing pollsters to help Clinton: "The latest
ABC poll shows there may be a small voter backlash at Republicans because of
their anti-Clinton ads."
It's all so hypocritical. If these oh-so-objective
journalists find it "wrong" for the GOP to run these negative ads,
and scandalous for Mr. Gingrich to participate in them - where were they three
years ago when Bill Clinton was personally directing an advertising broadside
far greater in size, and far nastier in tone against Bob Dole? (And for good
measure, let's add: At least the Republicans raised their funds a) in the
United States and b) legally.)
There was no outrage in 1995 because what Bill Clinton was
saying was not outrageous in the eyes of the press. Nor, for that matter, is
anything the Democrats are doing this year -- at the very time the
Republicans were airing their ads.
Do you want a lesson in dishonest, scandalous, obnoxious,
character assassination? Try this one:
"When you don't vote, you let another church explode.
When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn. When you don't vote, you
let another assault wound a brother of a sister?" The rest is a
continuation of this predictably ugly, predictably personal leftist attack on
the GOP by the Missouri Democratic Party.
There's nothing, nada, nyet in the GOP video
archives that come close to this wretched slur. And yet not a word was
mentioned on ABC. Nor on CBS. Nor on NBC. Nor on CNN. Only Fox found
this ad newsworthy; and pundit Juan Williams of the Washington Post was right
on the money: "When you talk about things like church burnings, when you
talk about attacking, lynch mob activity, that strikes deep and I thing the
fact that Democrats feel that that's what they have to do with the black
community, it's a little bit insulting; it's patronizing to black
How is it that something as heinous as this ad is acceptable
to the mainstream press? Perhaps because it's not really objectionable, in
their eyes, to attach blame to Republicans for church arsons, cross burnings
and the like. Just as last month, in their eyes it wasn't objectionable to
attach to pro-lifers the blame for Dr. Slepian's murder in Buffalo. Just like
the month before that it wasn't objectionable to attach to social
conservatives the blame for the murder of Matthew Shepard.
Which is why it's predictable that those same reporters will
blame conservatives for the GOP's defeat this year.
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