From San Diego***
Below is the full text of today's
four-page Media Reality Check '96 newsletter on network coverage of the
Republican convention. It's being distributed today in San Diego.
This is a very long document, but
I thought it would be a lot easier to put it all in one place than send
several e-mails. So, below:
- Quote of the Day
- Page One story summarizing the
- Page Two story on TV analysts
calling conservatives "mean-spirited" and hateful.
- Two stories from Page Three on
coverage of abortion.
- Page Four story on CBS
worrying about an ominous party takeover by the Christian right.
Quote of the Day:
"Governor, looking at this
platform writing the last week, what in the world is good in there for a
moderate Republican or an independent voter in this country?" -- CBS
correspondent Phil Jones to Texas Governor George W. Bush, August 11 Face
Front Page story, Monday, August
Call GOPers Mean, Intolerant
& Hard Line Media's Unwelcome Greeting
Republicans and conservatives
came under media assault in the days and hours before they assembled at
the San Diego Convention Center. The intolerance of conservatives, their
hard line stance on abortion and mean-spirited nature were the dominant
themes of weekend coverage on the networks. Though VP nominee Jack Kemp
largely escaped condemnation, network analysts used praise of him as an
opportunity to impugn conservatives overall.
Inside today's edition:
Mean-spirited and hateful
Republicans. CBS, CNN and ABC all refer to "mean-spirited"
conservatives. The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt tagged the platform as
"mean-spirited." CNN's Bill Schneider charged that "they're
supposed to be haters" as "most conservatives these days,"
such as House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "come across as mean."
CNN's Judy Woodruff said that at least Kemp does not like the idea of
"yanking money away from welfare mothers with small children."
See page 2.
Intolerant Republicans Bar Wilson
from Speaking. On four Sunday network mornings shows Republicans were
pounded with 22 questions about why pro-choice Governors Pete Wilson and
Bill Weld were not going to be allowed to speak. That's a dramatic
contrast to what happened in 1992 when the networks virtually ignored the
Democratic Party decision to bar pro-life Governor Bill Casey from
speaking to their convention. Wilson apeared on ABC, but the network
didn't interview Casey in 1992. See page 3.
"Rogue Elephants" Take
Over GOP and Spell Sure Defeat. Using labels to paint delegates as
extremists, CBS aired several stories about the ominous takeover of the
Republican Party by, in Dan Rather's words, "the hard right."
CBS reporter Linda Douglass worried that if Bob Dole appears to be
"under the thumb of religious conservatives" he'll go down to
defeat. See page 4.
Page Two story, Monday, August
GOP Called "Mean"
& Conservatives Dubbed "Haters" TV Analysts Turn Nasty
A "mean-spirited" and
"divisive" convention attended by "haters" is how some
network reporters and analysts, especially CNN s Bill Schneider, have
described the Republican convention and conservatives over the past few
days. Often, the comment came in backhanded insults in stories praising
Jack Kemp s tolerance. Here, in date order, are some specific examples:
CBS s Russ Mitchell. On Friday s
CBS This Morning, co-host Russ Mitchell asked RNC Chairman Haley Barbour:
"Now the 1992 convention was called, even by some Republicans,
divisive and mean-spirited. How will this convention be different?"
CNN's Bill Schneider. Hours later
on Inside Politics Bill Schneider, CNN s polling analyst, praised Jack
Kemp by impugning conservatives: "He is a rare combination a nice
conservative. These days conservatives are supposed to be mean. They re
supposed to be haters. Bob Novak talked a minute ago about the frowning
face of the Republican Party. Jack Kemp is buoyant, he s effusive, he s
inclusive of everybody in the country, not just in the Republican Party.
He puts a different face on that ticket."
ABC s Cokie Roberts. Then on
Friday night's World News Tonight Cokie Roberts also insulted Republicans
while calling Kemp a good choice: "He s very optimistic, but he's
also very inclusive, reaching out to minorities, to women, being for
immigration, for affirmative action. And I think that s very important for
this particular convention, Peter, and this party, which is seen somewhat
dour, and somewhat mean in its ways to have someone with a big smile on
his face saying you all come, and I m going to cut your taxes while I m at
it is not a bad thing for the Republicans."
CNN s Al Hunt. On the August 10
Capital Gang Saturday night Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of The
Wall Street Journal, disparaged the platform while praising the Kemp pick:
"But, you know, privately the Democrats know that this is an
enlightened choice, whatever Chris Dodd may say publicly. Jack Kemp is
gonna not only excite this convention, but he cuts across regional, racial
and generational lines, across all of America, and I think that he and his
incredibly attractive family are going to add lustre and intellectual
firepower. Now there are some risks. He has a few flaky views, the gold
standard for one, and more important, Jack Kemp is a can-do optimist who
cares about all people and that s going to put him at odds with a platform
that is protectionist, mean-spirited, anti-immigration, insensitive to
CNN s Judy Woodruff: During live
coverage Saturday of the VP announcement in Russell, Kansas, Judy Woodruff
declared: "On welfare, up through the last few years, he s advocated
more moderate policies than those that were passed this month by the
Republican-controlled Congress. Jack Kemp does not like the idea of taking
money yanking money way from welfare mothers with small children."
CNNs Schneider. On Saturday s
Inside Politics Schneider again impugned conservatives as he praised Jack
Kemp s tolerance: "Kemp also has a rare combination of qualities. He
s a nice conservative. There haven t been too many of those since Ronald
Reagan. Most conservatives these days come across as mean [video of Newt
Gingrich] or intolerant [video of Pat Buchanan]. Kemp is tolerant and
inclusive. He has an excellent relationship with minorities. He showed
real courage two years ago when he came out against Proposition 187, the
punitive anti-illegal immigration measure in California. Kemp is not a
So most conservatives are? Sounds
like a bit of mean-spirited name calling on behalf of the media.
Page 3 story, Monday, August 12,
Networks That Ignored Casey Dive
Into GOP Controversy The Fascinating Wilson Flap
ABC's Cokie Roberts asked Dole
adviser Donald Rumsfeld on This Week with David Brinkley yesterday:
"We just heard Jim Wooten talking about [California Gov.] Pete Wilson
not talking at this convention. Governor Weld is also not talking at this
convention. Republicans for years have been talking about the Democrats
not allowing [then-Pennsylvania Gov.] Bob Casey to talk at their last
convention. What s different here?" What s different is that the lack
of speaking assignments for Weld and Wilson are spurring major media
Just during the Sunday morning
interview shows, the networks asked 22 questions about exclusion of
pro-abortion Republicans. During the entire Democratic convention week in
1992, Casey s predicament drew absolutely no mention from Cokie s network,
nor any attention from CBS; NBC aired just one interview with Gov. Casey,
as did CNN, which added four other mentions of the underplayed controversy
in prime time. Yesterday, 11 questions about the GOP s exclusion of
moderates were posed on CNN s Late Edition, compared to five on NBC s Meet
the Press, four on ABC s This Week, and two on CBS's Face the Nation.
If pro-choice forces cannot
prevail, then why even hold a convention asked one morning show host last
week. Today co-host Matt Lauer asked Gov. Wilson on August 8: "You
said a second ago that the majority of Republicans across the country are
on your side on this issue, but the majority of people who ll attend this
convention are not. Why then even hold the convention if it doesn't
express or represent the views of the majority of people in the
Page Three, Monday, August 12,
Sixty TV Stories on the GOP to
One for the Democrats Abortion Plank Imbalance
As the surf arrives on San Diego
s beaches, once again the national media are hanging ten on their favorite
convention story: Republican fratricide over the platform s abortion
plank. Since April 30, when Governors Weld, Wilson, Whitman, and Pataki
declared their intention to challenge the platform s traditional pro-life
plank, the networks have focused like a laser beam on the story, while
ignoring any debate within the Democratic party:
>From April 30 to August 9,
the Big Three networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have favored the Republican
side of the story by 60 to 1. They aired 30 full stories on the evening
newscasts, to only one ABC World News Tonight story on the Democratic
abortion debate on June 12. The network morning shows have aired another
30 full stories or interview segments on the GOP abortion debate, to
nothing on the Democrats. (That doesn t include five anchor briefs on the
evening shows and 34 anchor briefs on the morning shows.)
CNN's evening newscast The World
Today aired seven full stories and ten anchor briefs on the GOP pro-life
plank, to only one anchor brief on the Democrats. CNN s Inside Politics
was intensely interested in the story, with 38 full stories or interview
segments on the GOP to two segments on the Democrats.
Perhaps the dramatic imbalance of
stories will change when the Democrats hold their platform hearings?
Wrong. The Democrats already held their platform hearings (on July 10 and
11, then concluding on August 5) with absolutely no notice from ABC, CBS,
or NBC. You also couldn't read about them in Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News
& World Report. Even daily newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times
and USA Today, with hundreds of pages of newsprint to fill every week,
spiked the story.
Judd, June 12: "An ABC News
survey shows that a third of Democrats oppose all or most abortions, but
centrists and liberals have no intention of surrendering any ground."
Judd dismissed the threat of pro-lifers actually leaving the party:
"The issue of abortion has not splintered the Democratic party
because those who couldn t live with the party's position bolted years
ago." She concluded: "So given their reluctance to publicly
fight with the party mainstream, abortion opponents will probably be seen,
but not heard at their party's convention this summer."
Page Four, Monday August 12,
1996, page 4
Networks Worry About Ominous
Party Takeover by Christians "Rogue Elephants" No More
Colin Powell and Susan Molinari
are set to deliver major speeches to the Republican convention, but
network news reporters over the weekend portrayed the Republican Party as
a wholly owned subsidiary of the Christian Right, painting that as an
On Friday, August 9, Dan Rather
introduced a CBS Evening News piece by asserting: "For many
self-described Christian conservatives and other members of what is
generally known as the hard right of the Republican Party, they ve been
pretty much having their way at the San Diego convention, and the Jack
Kemp news late today was one more cause for celebration. But there could
be pitfalls ahead for the party, as we hear now from Linda Douglass."
Douglass began: "It already
has been a triumphant week for religious conservatives, led by the
Christian Coalition. Then came word of another victory, the prospect of
Jack Kemp as Bob Dole's running mate." Following a soundbite from
Ralph Reed, she continued: "The Christian Coalition has gotten what
it wanted here, even forcing Dole to back down from his offer of tolerance
to supporters of abortion rights. Religious conservatives say they now
hold the key to a Dole victory in November."
After a soundbite from the
Christian Coalition s Ralph Reed, Douglass continued: "But veterans
of past Republican presidential campaigns warn Dole runs the risk of
appearing to be under the thumb of religious conservatives. Some analysts
believe Gerald Ford was hurt in 1976 by giving in to a conservative
faction. Doug Bailey, who advised Ford then, said Dole must be
careful." The same night on PBS s Washington Week in Review host Ken
Bode claimed that "it turns out that this platform committee that met
is a far more conservative group of delegates, than we've seen even in
Republican conventions of the past."
On Sunday s Face the Nation, CBS
correspondent Phil Jones seemed obsessed with the topic. Jones asked
Governor George Bush, "There are a number of Republicans who are very
uncomfortable with what they feel is the power, the control that the
conservative Religious Right has. Are you concerned about that?"
Jones also accused Pat Robertson of swallowing the Republican Party:
"A lot of moderate Republicans have watched what s going on here in
the last week in the writing of the platform, and they say you people,
you, Pat Robertson and your wing of the Republican party, Christian
conservatives, have taken over."
"Delegates are pursuing
their own agendas and forcing party leaders, including Dole, to fall into
line behind them," warned Dan Rather on last night s CBS Evening
News. Taking a look at the Texas delegation, reporter John Roberts found
that "so far the rogue elephants seem to be calling the shots:
winning the platform battle over abortion and heavily influencing Bob Dole
s choice for Vice President."
Employing some extremist
labeling, Roberts said that "hardline anti-abortionists" tried
to keep Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from becoming a delegate. But
in the end, Roberts assured viewers, the conservatives really won't win:
"This exercise in gaining political influence may turn out to be just
that: an exercise. Bob Dole says he has not yet read the party platform
and even if he does he says he will not feel bound by it. And it could be
a case for the Texas delegation of winning the battle but losing the war.
Their views against abortion are in contrast with the majority of
Americans who support a woman s right to choose. That could turn out to be
a contentious issue come November."
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