of the Day | Ignoring Al Gore's Inaccuracy,
Nastiness | No Snarling Partisan Negativity in Chicago?
| Where Are Welfare Questions from the Right | Labor's
Political Intolerance, Mob Ties Surface on TV | Sidebites
these guys coming [Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo], it was kind of like
your young love coming back and oh, I remember when I was, you know, young
and in love with this guy who was totally unacceptable, and I did the
right thing by marrying the right guy -- but gee, he was kinda cute."
-- ABC's Cokie
Roberts discussing Tuesday night speeches, August 28 Good Morning America.
The networks delivered praise for
Al Gore's speech last night, ignoring his factual inaccuracies and failing
to note how he had boasted of growing tobacco as recently as 1988, four
years after the death of his sister from lung cancer. After Gore's talk,
in which he explained that his sister's death motivated his anti-tobacco
views, the networks did talk to tobacco-state delegates. NBC's David Bloom
spoke to a Tennessee delegate who "does not agree with this
demonization of this industry."
"Well, Dan, in a word it was
a barnburner," gushed Bob Schieffer on CBS last night. Though Gore
said Republicans wish to allow "more poison in our air and drinking
water," Schieffer didn't find him nasty: "This was an
old-fashioned poli- tical speech, the kind of speech that politicians used
to give before politics turned so nasty with all those commercials on
television." Though Peter Jennings noted the "attack dog"
role of a VP, no one mentioned how Gore falsely accused the GOP of
"cutting" Medicare, of wanting it to "wither on the
vine," or his claim of 100,000 new cops on the street. Last Sunday
Scripps-Howard pegged the number at 12,000.
The New York Times reported July
3 that in 1988, Al Gore told an audience of tobacco farmers:
"Throughout most of my life, I raised tobacco. I want you to know
that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and
transferred it. I've hoed it. I've dug in it. I've sprayed it, I've
chopped it, I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped
it and sold it." No network mentioned this boast, but ABC, NBC and
CNN did suggest hypocrisy. Jennings noted that "tobacco companies are
here in Chicago wining and dining the hierarchy of the Democratic
Party." NBC's Tom Brokaw recalled that "the Gore family were
tobacco farmers." On CNN, Judy Woodruff suggested that Gore "was
responding to what was said in San Diego," where his tobacco roots
-- Clinton's week of new spending
promises hasn't generated a flurry of questions about how his plans will
be paid for, but Dole's tax cut plan led to concern in San Diego about its
impact on the deficit. One exception: Early in prime time last night CNN's
Charles Bierbauer reviewed Clinton's spending plans and noted
"Republicans say that is the road back to big government."
-- In stark contrast to San
Diego, the networks failed to describe Tuesday speeches as harsh or mean
attacks. The morning shows didn't raise the idea in interviews with
-- The power of unions within the
Democratic Party finally gets highlighted as ABC's World News Tonight and
CNN in prime time examine their role. See page 3. But for CBS the problem
isn't union influence moving the party left, but how President Clinton is
too conservative for the rank and file.
Wednesday marked Day Two of
ignoring negativity from the podium in Chicago:
-- On ABC's World News Tonight,
Peter Jennings argued: "There was a rather personal attack on
President Clinton by Mr. Dole." In the ABC clip, Dole said:
"Tonight they'll bash Republicans. Tomorrow night the President will
sound to everybody 'If you're for it, I'm for it. If Bob Dole's for it,
I'm for it. If Jesse Helms is for it, I'm for it. Whoever is for it, I'm
for it, and that's why you should re-elect me, because I don't have any
philosophy, I don't have any beliefs, I don't have any commitments."
Sounds a lot like network complaints about welfare reform.
Jim Wooten raved over Jackson and
Cuomo: "For a quick moment, deja vu...That old-fashioned voice,
full-throated, fierce, raising the rafters worth of Chicago
conventions...This was a glimpse of conventions past, when liberals were
still the lions of the party and rhetoric roared....And the delegates,
most of them much more liberal than their convention projects of their
party, celebrated this little touch of yesterday." Wooten said
Hillary "answered Republican sniping at her book on raising
-- CBS Evening News correspondent
Bob Schieffer echoed Wooten: "During the Republican convention, the
Doles disparaged Mrs. Clinton's book It Takes A Village, saying instead it
takes a family to properly raise a child."
-- NBC's Tom Brokaw called Jesse
Jackson "The father who began on the outside looking in, the fiery
liberal voice of protest and change...The old lion still has his
roar." The Wednesday morning shows took the same approach to
-- CBS This Morning co-host Jose
Diaz-Balart suggested: "Mrs. Clinton, you know, has been the target
of a lot of attacks by the Republican Party. She decided not to answer
them, although she did say it takes a village."
-- On NBC's Today, Jim
Miklaszewski proclaimed: "This was the night for the liberals. Jesse
Jackson electrified the delegates, exhorting them not to abandon
Democratic liberal traditions." Bryant Gumbel asked: "Would it
be fair to say she wasn't as strident, as hard-edged last night as
usual?" Miklaszewski dissented from the media's party line: "If
you listen closely, I thought she was just as hard-edged as ever."
-- ABC's Good Morning America
co-host Charles Gibson explained: "Mrs. Clinton expressed the core
idea of the evening, that government ought to be a proactive positive
force, that idea given forceful voice by two liberal icons who opposed
President Clinton's signing of welfare reform...the First Lady relied not
on her legal experience -- there would be no harsh edges on this night --
but on her experience as a mother to push for new legislation."
ABC interviewed Leon Panetta, and
NBC interviewed the First Lady, but asked no questions about negativity.
Two weeks ago, the morning shows all decried "bashing":
-- CBS This Morning co-host Jane
Robelot reported August 14: "It was unofficially Bash Bill Night last
night in San Diego...Speaker after Republican speaker went after the man
with a vengeance, including the keynoter, Susan Molinari."
-- "Congresswoman Susan
Molinari took on the role of attack dog last night, using her keynote
address to attack the President," Bryant Gumbel led off NBC's Today.
-- Good Morning America anchor
Elizabeth Vargas asserted: "Some of the harshest words were from Kay
Bailey Hutchison, who tried to paint the President as a tax-and-spend
liberal." Charles Gibson added: "Polls will tell you these days
that people do not want much partisanship in their politics, but they got
it at the Republican convention last night. There were attacks on
President Clinton's credibility, integrity, even his eating habits."
Sounds A Rare Skeptical Note on Clinton, Welfare Fixer Where Are Welfare
Questions from the Right?
Clinton officials assured
conventioneers that he will "fix" welfare reform after the
election. That prompted The Washington Post's David Broder, on CNN Tuesday
night, to explain that Democrats will be "the slickest sales people
in the country" if they cast Clinton as welfare's savior:
"That's as logical as saying that the guy who fumbled the ball on the
two-yard line ought to be put back in because he's the one who might carry
it through the next time." The networks have yet to suggest that his
welfare fix assurance might mean he really hasn't moved right on the
issue. Instead, liberal questions on welfare reform continued on Wednesday
-- CBS reporter Ed Bradley asked
Rep. John Lewis: "It's going to be difficult, given the positions
he's taken, particularly on welfare, to get some people out?"
-- CNN's Gene Randall inquired of
NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume: "Do you think the President's signature on
the welfare rights bill will do him any harm politically in the
-- On CNN Bob Franken asked Sen.
Daniel Moynihan: "You of course are very angry about the President
signing the welfare legislation. But you haven't talked about it here.
Why?" She followed up: "Can the President, as many people
suggest, fix the welfare legislation in a second term?"
-- At the top of Tuesday's
Nightline on the plight of Chicago's poor, Ted Koppel warned: "They
live literally in the shadow of the convention in Chicago, but with their
benefits now in doubt, many feel betrayed by the President and the
Democrats, and look forward only to uncertainty."
Political Intolerance, Mob Ties Surface on TV ABC, CNN Touch on Unions'
While the labor unions have yet
to receive the sort of Darth Vader treatment reserved for Republican
interest groups like the Christian Coalition or the NRA, some reporters
have presented critical looks at the exercise of union power.
-- Last night, CNN became the
first network to address the issue of the unions' political intolerance,
taking dues money from Republican union members to elect Democrats.
Reporter Wolf Blitzer asked AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney: "Many of your
members are Republicans. How do you explain to them that you're using, in
effect, their dues to help elect Democrats?"
-- CNN campaign finance reporter
Brooks Jackson delivered a story last night on the unions' political
campaign in which he observed: "So Bill Clinton says the era of big
government is over? Not at the Democratic convention, where unionized
government workers are suiting up for battle against Republicans."
-- On Tuesday's World News
Tonight, ABC's Brian Ross reported: "In the world of big money and
Democratic politics on public display this week in Chicago, this man holds
a special place. His name is Arthur Coia, who despite being president of a
labor union the FBI says has long been controlled by the Mafia, the
Laborers International has become one of the Democrats' top money people,
raising millions and gaining him special access to the Clinton White
House....In the last two years, the Clinton administration has gone all
out to court Coia and his union money with invitations to the White House
and an appearance by the First Lady at a big union conference."
Ross added detail: "In an
abrupt change of plans that raised questions about whether the union's
money to the Democrats had bought it some kind of sweetheart deal,
prosecutors dropped the allegations and instead quietly negotiated a deal
with Coia that let him keep his job and put him in charge of cleaning up
CBS Evening News is taking two
different approaches to the passionate poles that create each party's
base. The day before the Republican convention, CBS reporter John Roberts
suggested "hard-line anti-abortionists" controlled the
Republican Party: "Delegates are pursuing their own agendas and
forcing party leaders, including Dole, to fall into line behind them...so
far he rogue elephants seem to be calling the shots."
But on last night's broadcast,
reporter Harry Smith's piece on unions didn't talk about ideologically
extreme unions pushing around the party, but how Bill Clinton has failed
to be liberal enough for them:
"It still takes steel to
make America's cars. It still takes labor to get a Democrat elected
President. But talk to the union rank and file, and you'll find that their
enthusiasm is less than red hot.... We talked with United Auto Workers in
Dearborn, Michigan this week. Their biggest gripe: Bill Clinton's support
of the North American Free Trade Agreement...Organized labor will invest
millions of dollars to get Bill Clinton elected this fall. These
dues-paying members wonder if they are still getting their money's
Tom Brokaw didn't ask about harsh
negativity during a Tuesday night interview with former Texas Gov. Ann
Richards, who "delivered that rollicking keynote speech against
George Bush not so long ago." Brokaw asked about strong women:
"You paid the price to some degree. You lost the governorship of
Texas because this country still is a little bit schizoid, isn't it, about
the role of women in American politics?"
Brokaw: Right is Wrong
Tom Brokaw was hit Tuesday with
an anti-GOP comment he made in San Diego. Freelance newsman Marc Morano
showed him a quote, cited in Media Reality Check '96, in which Brokaw
asked rape victim Jan Licence after her speech: "Do you think this is
a party that is dominated by men and this convention is dominated by men
as well...Do you think before tonight they thought very much about what
happens in America with rape?"
Brokaw read the quote, admitted
"I did ask her that, which I think is a fair question," then
walked away. Earlier, Morano asked why GOP delegates distrusted the media
but Democrats don't. Brokaw asserted that it's just because conservatives
don't like change: "I think a lot of reporters in fact, come from
working class, activist backgrounds. But I don't think that it really
colors the way that they report things and the conservatives generally
stand for the status quo and news is about change."
Here's My Room Key!
Great publicity isn't the only
thing Bill Clinton picked up on his train trip. Reporting on crowd
reaction to Clinton's stop at Michigan State University, NBC Nightly News
on Wednesday found one very giving student. Answering what she could give
the President, she yelled, "I'll give him my room key!"
Used to Double Standard
Reporters complained about the
lack of hard news in San Diego, but aren't doing so in Chicago. Radio host
Don Imus asked CBS's Bob Schieffer Wednesday morning why. Talk Daily
reported his response: "I guess we kind of got used to it."
-- Brent Baker with Tim
Graham, Steve Kaminski, Gene Eliasen, Clay Waters, Geoffrey Dickens, Jim
Forbes and Matt Turosz.
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