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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| October 11, 1996 (Vol. One; No. 91) |


Six items today:

1.  CBS highlights conservative criticism of Jack Kemp's debate performance.

2.  Profiling a House race, CBS reporter Bob Schieffer says GOP shut government down and endorses view that House Republicans are extremists.

3.  Unlike 1992, the networks fail to run fact checking stories on VP debate claims. The Washington Post does, but its correction of Kemp needs correcting.

4.  The PBS Frontline special on Dole and Clinton included a cheap shot at Reaganomics.

5.  MSNBC's InterNight looked at presidential character. Host Bryant Gumbel found "true character" in Bill Clinton, but with Reagan, Gumbel believed "his policies caused enormous suffering for those who were least able to afford it."

6.  A producer for NBC News is scared by Bob Dole and "his little pen," NBC's Brian Williams recounted on Thursday's Tonight Show.

1)On Thursday's CBS Evening News, reporter Phil Jones concluded his piece on the Dole campaign with a conservative spin on Kemp's debate performance: "In private, off the record discussions, with both Dole and Kemp aides there's a strong sense of disappointment in Kemp's debate performance. They talk about missed opportunities, the feeling that Kemp let the Vice President take credit for issues like welfare reform. As one Dole aide asked cynically, 'Did he study much?'"

2))Later in the October 10 CBS broadcast, Bob Schieffer traveled to Ohio's 6th CD which encompasses the southern part of the Buckeye state. For the House seat, Republican freshman Frank Cremeans faces his 1994 opponent, Democrat Ted Strickland. Schieffer stated as fact that the Republican House shut the government down, ignoring the at least equal role of the President in refusing to sign continuing resolutions or appropriation bills.

Here's the second half of the story:

Schieffer: "Now the two are back for a re-match that typifies the predicament many Republican freshmen are finding. The revolution and its talk of changing things like Medicare backfired with some voters. Just ask the Republican county chairman here."
Roger Bennett, Clinton County Republican Chairman: "I think they've lost confidence in Newt Gingrich."
Schieffer: "Remember, he's the Republican, not the Democratic chairman. Why is that? Did you just go too far?"
Bennett: "I think he went too far and I think if you make a mistake you back up and say, 'darn it I made a mistake,' and you go back and do it over again the right way."
Schieffer: "Where did he make the mistake? In shutting down the government."
Bennett: "I think that is the big thing because it involved all the older people They were really concerned. It scared the Dickens out of them."

Having established the GOP as the culprits for the shutdown, Schieffer concluded by endorsing the Democratic candidate's view that House Republicans are extremists:
Schieffer: "One reason Republican Cremeans, a Gingrich stalwart in Washington, stresses the local angle here. Is your opponent running against Newt Gingrich or is he running against you. Cremeans: "Well, you'd have to ask him that. What I've tried to do is represent the district."
Schieffer: "For sure, his opponent promises the same. He's learned a lesson too."
Strickland: "And that lesson is that people want moderation and when extremes are presented, whether they be from the left or from the right, I think people have a tendency to turn away from that."
Schieffer: "Obvious perhaps, but as Fall comes to the heartland and the election draws near, dozens of Republican freshmen are running scared, wondering if it's a lesson they learned in time. Bob Schieffer, CBS News, Chillicothe Ohio."

3) After the 1992 VP debate, both ABC's World News Tonight and CNN's Inside Politics ran fact checking stories which were dominating by corrections of Dan Quayle. This year, The Washington Post ran a piece October 10 citing errors made by Kemp and Gore. The Post identified five errors made by Gore. But, this year neither ABC or CNN ran a reality check piece.

Of course, you can't always trust the fact checkers. Post reporter Michael Weisskopf offered this "correction" on Kemp: "Kemp...defended the tax proposal by arguing that every tax cut in the 20th century has produced higher government revenue. But many economists disagree. The huge Reagan tax cut in 1981 resulted in a tripling of the budget deficit over a dozen years."

Talk about apples and oranges. Taxes were cut, but as the numbers show, tax revenue grew faster than inflation in the 1980s. Spending soared even faster, leading to higher deficits.

4) Speaking of Reagan bashing, MRC associate editor Tim Graham caught some in Tuesday night's PBS Frontline special, The '96 Choice. Actress Blair Brown, who narrated the show, stated: "By 1985, Reagan's economics had plunged the country into debt. Dole's all-out fight to lower the deficit became the defining battle of his career."

5) With several presidential biographers as guests, on Thursday's (October 10) MSNBC InterNight Bryant Gumbel explored presidential character. Much of the show was devoted to defending Bill Clinton's character. Here are a few of Gumbel's questions:

-- Talking about Clinton, Gumbel asked The Washington Post's David Maraniss: "In the first two years this is a man who tried his best to balance the budget, to reform health care, to fight for gay rights, to support personal freedoms. Couldn't those be considered doing the right things, evidence of true character?"

He tried to balanced the budget?

-- "Do any of those things of which Bill Clinton is charged, when it comes to character, have much to do with governing effectively, or with leading?"

Having failed to mention anything about lying and Clinton, Gumbel moved on to Reagan.

-- To Reagan biographer Lou Cannon: "Lou, I know you feel as if Reagan had few, if any, character flaws. But let me ask you this. When one sidesteps, or refuses to acknowledge the consequences of their policies or actions, why shouldn't that be viewed as a character flaw? Or when one lies. For example, let me roll a clip and then we'll come back. This one deals with Iran-Contra."

-- A segment later, he returned to Reagan, asking Cannon if it was true "that while he appeared to be empathetic, his policies caused enormous suffering for those who were least able to afford it?"

6) Appearing on NBC's Tonight Show Thursday night (October 10), NBC and MSNBC reporter/anchor Brian Williams told Jay Leno the following anecdote (ALL CAPS = Williams impersonating Bob Dole yelling):

Brian Williams: "I was watching his acceptance speech in San Diego, which was really the speech of his life, it was a very dramatic event. And I'm standing there with one of our younger producers at MSNBC. She's 24 or something and I said 'What do you think?' She said, 'You know, he scares me.' And I said, 'What do you mean he scares you?' She said 'It doesn't matter what he's trying to say, it doesn't matter what the speech says or how well he's doing it, all I hear him say is GET OFF MY LAWN! I have this mental image. I'm playing with my friends on the rich guy's lawn and the guy comes to the door, with his little pen, you know, and says GET OFF MY LAWN!'"

Talk about image over substance. And not much sensitivity toward the disabled.

  -- Brent Baker



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