MRC Alert: Today's
Gore Journey; ABC Exec on Bias; Latest NQ
1. The Today show
finally presses Al Gore about his tobacco hypocrisy, but Katie Couric
contradicts some 1996 NBC reporting.
2. ABC News
political editor Hal Bruno on the public perceiving liberal bias:
"The truth is that I don't care anymore."
Bonnie Erbe scared of House "extremists." Is income inequality
rising or falling? Don't ask the New York Times.
4. January 27
edition of Notable Quotables. Dick Armey spews "hot-headed
rhetoric," but Al Gore "aspires to membership in the American
Academy of Arts and Letters."
[Correction: The January 27
CyberAlert twice quoted members of the media citing Nellie Bligh as a
model for undercover reporting. It's Bly, not Bligh. Nellie Bly was the
byline for Elizabeth Cochrane, a crusading reporter in the late 1800s for
Joseph Pulitzer's The World newspaper in New York City.]
NBC's Today on Friday (January 24) devoted the first half hour to a
glowing profile of Vice President Al Gore, concentrating on his humor and
dancing skills. In an interview segment, however, Katie Couric got serious
and recalled how Gore had cited his sister's death from lung cancer as why
he is so opposed to smoking:
Katie Couric: "You're aware that you were criticized for the speech
because your family was involved in the growing and selling tobacco until
the late '80s. Correct?"
Gore: "That's true."
Couric: "So wasn't it hypocritical in a way."
Gore: "No, I don't think that's a fair charge at all because we, my
family, quit growing tobacco."
Couric: "I noticed that your mom seemed to be in visible pain as you
were talking about this, and, led me to wonder if you felt you were
exploiting your sister's death for political gain at all?"
Gore: "They and my brother in law encouraged this when the time
This is quite a
U-turn for Today which repeatedly heaped praise on Gore's speech last
summer and fall. First, some background. The New York Times reported July
3, 1996 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."
Now, fast forward
to Chicago. The morning after Al Gore's convention speech Bryant Gumbel
opened the August 29 Today:
"The hall fell silent as the Vice President recalled his sister's
death from lung cancer after more than three decades of smoking. It was an
emotional attempt to build support for the administration's anti-smoking
Gore: "And that is why, until I draw my last breath, I will pour my
heart and soul into the cause of protecting our children from the dangers
A few minutes
later reporter Jim Miklaszewski asserted: "Gore was most effective in
his shot at Dole's record on tobacco. Political but poignant, Gore invoked
the memory of his sister, a cigarette smoker who had died of lung cancer.
With his parents looking on, Gore recounted her agonizing death."
Gore: "And in a very short time her breathing became labored, and
then she breathed her last breath. And that is why, until I draw my last
breath, I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of protecting our
children from the dangers of smoking."
Miklaszewski: "It's a recurring theme, to put a human face on Clinton
administration politics and policy."
Then, on October
9, Today featured an interview with Gore. But interviewer Ed Gordon of
MSNBC did not broach the tobacco hypocrisy topic. Instead, he posed
questions such as: "Many can see that you have indeed been the most
powerful Vice President in our history. You satisfied with the role that
you played for four years?"
The January issue of Dateline, the newsletter published by the Washington
chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recounted the comments
by Hal Bruno at the SPJ's Christmas party. Bruno, political editor for ABC
News, dismissed concern that the lack of excitement in the election fueled
talk about liberal bias:
"What were we going to do differently? Pretend that it wasn't static?
Take up the slack for Dole? And we certainly can't do anything about the
perception that we're too liberal. I thought David Brinkley [in his on air
anti-Clinton diatribe] struck a pretty good blow against the feeling that
all reporters are liberal Democrats, but it doesn't seem to have changed
anything. The truth is that I don't care anymore."
But Bruno is no
fan of the Clinton Administration. Dateline newsletter editor Willie
Schatz quoted Bruno: "I've never seen anything like the Clinton White
House. It's got the arrogance of JFK and the meanness of Nixon with none
of the charm and incompetence of Carter."
Item #4 today is the latest Notable Quotables, but here are a couple of
things that didn't make it but are worth noting.
First, writing a
point/counterpoint column (with Washington Times Managing Editor Josette
Shiner) Bonnie Erbe of NBC Radio/Westwood One news and host of To the
Contrary on PBS declared:
"My Walter Mitty fantasy for 1997 is the same as it was for 1996: an
end to extremism in American politics. Perhaps the 1996 elections were an
indication that we are getting there. The year 1995 was one of extremism
at its worst from the slash-and-burn attitude of the Republican
congressional 'revolution' to the rise in activity by militia groups, to
that horrendous outburst of terrorism in Oklahoma City. As bad as 1995
was, I take solace in the fact that in 1996, Americans appeared to begin
to disavow extremists and extremism in all its forms."
Second, MRC news
analyst Clay Waters noticed a bit of a contradiction in two New York Times
stories. In a January 7 story headlined "Clinton Seeks Help for the
Nation's Spirit," reporter Alison Mitchell wrote: "Mr. Clinton
noted that recent statistics showed crime rates falling, pregnancy rates
among teenagers dropping and wage inequalities narrowing."
Two days later the Times ran a piece on Labor Secretary Robert Reich's
departure, headlined "The Last Liberal (Almost) Leaves Town."
Reporter David Sanger began: "One of the lonely liberals of the
Clinton Administration, Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich, leaves Washington
this week declaring that the government must lead a campaign to narrow a
growing gap between rich and poor..."
But I thought
Clinton already solved the income gap problem.
-- Brent Baker
(Notable Quotables below)
The latest edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation
of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.
Many of these quotes have already appeared in previous CyberAlerts, but I
urge you to check out the quotes beneath the "U.S. News Under Jim
Fallows: More Liberal Bias More Often" heading. It's a very
illuminating contrast caught by MRC news analyst Jim Forbes.
January 27, 1997
(Vol. Ten; No. 2)
Spoiled Spin on
jury in North Carolina ordered ABC television today to pay the Food Lion
supermarkets five and a half million dollars in punitive damages. That's
in connection with an undercover news investigation that proved to be
true...Important to note that the truth of the report was never at issue
in the lawsuit, not even challenged, only the journalistic
-- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, January 22.
"Food Lion claimed 'the unedited footage provides an extraordinary
look at how a network news magazine can create false impressions,' and
that 'ABC producers and editors used a combination of staged events and
selective editing to fit a preconceived story line and systematically
fabricate a story to deceive the public.' In one specific instance, Food
Lion claims that when ABC used hidden-camera footage of a Food Lion
employee talking about how she had cooked a batch of out-of-date chicken,
it edited out the part where she says she brought the matter up with her
manager, who directed her to throw the chicken away."
-- New Republic media columnist William Powers, January 20.
U.S. News Under
Jim Fallows: More Liberal Bias More Often
another reason why all but nine of the 225 House Republicans backed
Gingrich: deep reservations about the man next in line, the hard-right
majority leader, Dick Armey. Just as Dan Quayle's lack of gravitas led
many Republicans to pray for the health of George Bush, Armey's
ideological stubbornness and hot-headed rhetoric inspire in his colleagues
protective optimism about Gingrich....In a House brimming with
mean-spirited rhetoric, Armey stands out."
-- U.S. News & World Report Senior Writers Kent Jenkins Jr. and Paul
Glastris, January 20 issue.
"Gore's commitment to the world of big ideas is no pose. Unlike John
F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, who became darlings of the highbrow set
without fully earning the honor, Gore is truly engaged in the life of the
mind...Had the younger Gore not become a Congressman at 28, a Senator at
36, and Vice President at 44, he might have become the sort of essayist
who aspires to membership in the American Academy of Arts and
-- U.S. News Senior Writer Timothy Noah, January 27 issue.
been a lot of talk lately, as you know, printed and so forth, about the
Lincoln Bedroom and the people who stay here. And obviously a lot of them
are your friends. And I don't think anybody would begrudge somebody having
guests in their own house. Some of them, though, it seems apparently you
didn't know quite as well. And we're wondering if you might feel let down
a little bit by your staff or by the DNC in their zeal to raise
--Question from Washington Post reporters in interview published Jan. 19.
Martha Teichner: "Health care was just the beginning. She has been
the subject of a non-stop, ceaseless litany of investigations. Three at
the moment being conducted by Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr.
Speculation she may be indicted continues."
Hillary Clinton: "I expect this matter to drag out as long as it is
to anyone else's advantage to drag it out and then it will end. I mean no
one likes to be accused of having done anything improper or wrong. It
becomes frustrating when you know that people are saying things that
aren't true, but you just learn to live with it and you just go on day
after day and..."
Teichner: "But how do you do that though in the climate of a non-stop
four- or even eight-year bashing?" -- January 19 CBS Sunday Morning.
Teichner and Hillary were classmates at Wellesley College.)
Don't Let It Distract from Nailing Newt
trying to minimize the offense here, though I would have to suggest that
the ones of Speaker Gingrich look considerably more severe than Mr.
-- Chicago Tribune reporter Ellen Warren on CNN & Company, January 16.
political matter, the Republicans managed brilliantly on the last two
weekends of television talk shows to keep the focus where they
wanted....Of course, they could not have done it without the Democrats'
giving them a clear field. The first weekend the Democrats had available a
Time magazine article suggesting that the leadership, possibly waving
campaign money, put pressure on two ethics committee members to write an
extraordinary letter telling colleagues to vote for Mr. Gingrich for
Speaker. The Democrats hardly brought it up. Then last weekend the
Democrats effectively failed to make their case that the taped
conversation, whatever its ancestry, showed that Mr. Gingrich had broken
his promises to the ethics committee."
-- New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, who first reported the contents of
the GOP cellular phone conversation, in a January 16 "news
Republic points out this week that the book [To Renew America] leans
heavily on copyrighted materials developed for Newt's college course by
the tax-exempt group that is at the center of his current problems. That
could well be a violation of IRS rules that prohibit tax-exempt
organizations from transferring assets to private individuals. It also
calls into question Gingrich's claim that he's no Jim Wright -- the
Democratic Speaker whose ouster he spearheaded -- because he never sought
to line his own pockets. After taxes, his royalties would have stuffed his
pockets with something like $300,000 -- the amount of his fine. Maybe he
should hand it over. If nothing else, it would prove that even when you
can't count on the rule of law in Washington, there's always poetic
-- Conclusion to Time Senior Editor Richard Lacayo's story, January 27
very special day for this President when you recall that four years ago he
came to this city, he was expecting so much. His mother was at his side
there at the Inaugural. She passed away a year later. And when you look at
what was besetting the United States, a four trillion dollar deficit,
budget problems, foreign policy problems. The budget deficit now has
decreased. There seems to be relative peace in Bosnia. The Middle East,
the breakthrough of the Hebron agreement, a lot has gone on in four short
-- Bernard Shaw during CNN Inauguration coverage, January 20.
God, I Admire You
detractors think his arrogance is finally catching up with him. 'He was
his usual glib self,' one veteran practitioner sniffed after the argument.
But Tribe has a lot to be arrogant and glib about. There is still no one
better on his feet, no one better able to respond to questions from the
justices with a fully developed and usually persuasive response. But
sometimes he seems too nimble, too cerebral, too able to see contradiction
and ironies and nuances light-years before the justices and other mere
mortals are able to. Especially coming in the last quarter of a two-hour
argument, he seemed to make the justices' heads hurt. Baryshnikov probably
has had the same effect on dance aficionados -- too much dazzle to take
all at once. Maybe Tribe needs to slow down and simplify his routine the
next time out -- and dance the macarena instead of Swan Lake."
-- USA Today reporter Tony Mauro in the January 13 Legal Times.
"I'm told by our producers, that a lot of calls, so rather than make
it microscopic here, are complaining about advocates being hired by
television stations. [Robert] Shapiro was on one side in the Simpson
trial, he's hired. [George] Stephanopoulos is now at ABC -- that we're not
Dan Rather: "I think that's a valid criticism. I'm concerned about
it. Look, a Bill Moyers came out of the Lyndon Johnson White House and
became one of the great journalists of all time."
King: "But a major liberal, self-confessed."
Rather: "Ah, is he? I don't want to get into that, but he was
terrific. I do think, personal opinion, it's gone too far."
--Exchange on Larry King Live, January 13.
-- L. Brent
Bozell III, Publisher; Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham, Editors
Dickens, Gene Eliasen, James Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media
-- Kathy Ruff,
Marketing Director; Carey Evans, Circulation Manager; Brian Schmisek,
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe