of the Day | "Nasty Little Scandal" Prompts
Some New Clinton Scrutiny. Peter Jennings annoyed by Morris story. | Ted
Kennedy's Hit Speech Goes Uncriticized for Harshness | Convention
Ratherisms | Sidebites
listened to those reports of the people turning down the dials when
negative responses were made in San Diego. He did it on the high road. He
said this was to be a campaign of ideas, not insults, no personal attacks.
And I think a final thought, Dan. This was a convention that was
well-planned and well-thought out. They had their themes and they hit the
mark every day. And the President hit the mark tonight."
-- CBS reporter Ed
Bradley, after Clinton's speech.
Little Scandal" Prompts Some New Clinton Scrutiny; Dick Morris Story
Mars Pro-Clinton Euphoria
generally praised Bill Clinton's acceptance speech last night, but earlier
in the evening coverage concentrated on the resignation of Clinton
campaign strategist Dick Morris after revelations of a relationship with a
prostitute. The Morris news forced some networks to discuss issues
suppressed the first three nights: Clinton's character and whether Morris
pushed him artificially to the right.
"Two of the best and
brightest of their political generation, both baby boomers," marveled
Tom Brokaw of Clinton and Gore. ABC's Sam Donaldson offered: "Clinton
always gives a great speech, and this was another one of them. But the
record shows that the next day he may give a different speech, change his
-- CBS and NBC evening shows led
with Morris, but ABC's Peter Jennings seemed annoyed that he had to even
mention the allegations. "Here in Chicago," Jennings began World
News Tonight, "the President has been fine tuning, as they say, the
speech he will be giving to this convention and to the country tonight.
And he has a lot to be pleased about. A very upbeat convention. A very
successful train trip here with rising poll numbers to accompany it. And a
very important set of statistics about the economy today, which he will
certainly point to as evidence that the country should re-elect him. And
then along comes a nasty little scandal to take the edge off the good news
at least for one day."
-- Questions about liberal
influences on Clinton. Tom Brokaw, on NBC Nightly News, asked Tim Russert
"Does this open the door then...to some of the President's old
friends, who are more left of center than right of center?" Dan
Rather to Ted Kennedy in prime time: "Bob Dole said today with Morris
gone President Clinton has only around him now liberal aides, and that's
going to hurt him?"
-- Character issue raised on CNN
and NBC, which were the only networks to detail the Morris story. On the
7pm ET Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff inquired of Vernon Jordan:
"Does it say anything about the President's judgment that he would
turn again and again over 20 years to a man like Dick Morris with the sort
of personal problems that he allegedly has?" As prime time began,
only CNN's Bernie Kalb and NBC's Lisa Myers noted the Star reported Morris
used a Clinton campaign hotel room and that he allowed the woman to listen
in on phone calls with Clinton.
-- The rank hypocrisy of Al
Gore's speech Wednesday night went unmentioned Thursday morning and
evening. Gore said his sister's death from lung cancer in 1984 prompted
his anti-tobacco crusade, but in 1988 he boasted of growing and selling
tobacco. The only exception came on CNN's Crossfire which showed the 1988
clip of Gore.
Orator of "Robert Bork's America" Goes Negative Again Ted
Kennedy's Hit Speech Goes Uncriticized
Reporters continued to miss the
hypocrisy of Clinton's proclamation of an "ideas, not insults"
campaign when matched with the attack-dog rhetoric of podium speakers.
Last night, Ted Kennedy used the exact same literary device that two weeks
ago fueled media criticism of Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Said Kennedy of the GOP platform:
"It is the radical wish list of the education-cutting,
environmental-trashing, Medicare-slashing, choice-denying,
tolerance-repudiating, gay-bashing, Social Security-threatening,
assault-rifle-coddling, government-closing, tax
loophole-granting....minimum wage-opposing Republican majority that
dominated the delegations in San Diego"
-- NBC's Lisa Myers asked
Hutchison in San Diego: "Do you think you went too far?" On PBS,
Tom Brokaw said last night: "Senator Edward M. Kennedy, still in full
voice after all these years in the United States Senate. The proud
champion of the liberal cause, addressing this convention hall once again
as he does every four years."
-- On CNN,Bernard Shaw asserted:
"Sixteen years ago in New York's Madison Square Garden, Sen. Edward
Kennedy rallied the Democratic Party. Tonight, he has done it again in
Chicago." Ken Bode added: "You need a partisan speech, one that
puts it to the other party. You get it at any convention. Ted Kennedy does
it as well as anybody could do it. Elder statesman of the party.
-- CNN's Bill Schneider found
code words: "What they're trying to do is take advantage of Dole's
age and portray him as sort of out of it. He's kind of irrelevant. He's
kind of a dupe. That the ideas are the sinister ideas of Newt Gingrich,
and even Jack Kemp with his supply-side ideas." But that attack theme
drew no criticism.
-- Later, CNN's Judy Woodruff
interviewed Kennedy: "Do you really believe that the Republicans are
as dangerous, that Bob Dole is as dangerous, as you described in your
remarks?" Bernard Shaw queried: "You had a who's who of names
tonight: Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, Jack Kemp, Rush Limbaugh, Ralph
Reed, Pat Robertson. What were you driving at?"
-- On CBS, where Bob Schieffer
asked Sen. Hutchison in San Diego how she felt being "Attack Dog
Hutchison," Dan Rather interviewed Kennedy last night but failed to
ask him about the speech or its tone.
Special events often inspire the
folksy aphorisms known as Ratherisms:
This is your classic case of two
pounds of politics in a one-pound bag. This hall is only a third the size
of the Houston Astrodome, where the last Republican convention was
held." -- Dan Rather, leading off Republican coverage, August 12.
-- "She's expected to hit
President Clinton rhetorically with everything short of a tire tube."
-- Rather on Kay Bailey Hutchison, August 13 convention coverage.
-- "It looks like
California's Governor Pete Wilson is out of the doghouse. You know from
his view he's been put so far back in the doghouse they had to FedEx him
daylight." -- Rather during August 14 Republican convention coverage.
-- "The Vice President of
the United States, Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee, age 48, is about to give
an address in which he is widely expected to hit Republicans with
everything short of a window weight." -- During August 28 Democratic
-- "The consensus in the
hall is that Albert Gore has scored with what Harry Caray, the famous
Chicago baseball announcer, might call a home run ball." -- Rather
during CBS Democratic convention coverage, August 28.
Dick Morris, Family Man
Just a day before the Dick Morris
prostitute story broke, USA Today ran a profile. Susan Page's front page
piece Wednesday included this line: "He is a small man and a dapper
dresser, openly devoted to his no-nonsense wife."
Wednesday's New York Times
insisted the Democratic Party defined centrism, but the story listed some
very liberal views. The Democratic "platform takes a middle ground
between the unfettered capitalism and government-enforced morality es-
poused by Republicans and the welfare-state economics and Aquarian values
that once formed Democrats' image," reported David Rosenbaum.
Four paragraphs later Rosenbaum
summarized the "middle ground" policies: "The Democrats
call for government-paid abortions for poor women, full civil rights for
homosexuals, a strong commitment to public schools, gun control, tobacco
regulations, a continuation of affirmative action programs and a greater
emphasis on environmental protection than on the development of
Clinton's promise to
"fix" welfare reform didn't prompt questions about his backing
down on a promise. Instead, reporters pressed from the left. On CBS last
night Ed Bradley cornered U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums: "I know you saw it
not as welfare reform but more as a budget cut. What does he have to do to
fix it?" And, "The President is expected to say tonight that
he's going to propose a $3.5 billion jobs program for welfare recipients,
is that enough?"
-- Brent Baker with Tim Graham,
Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters, Geoffrey Dickens, Jim Forbes, Gene Eliasen
and Matt Turosz
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe