Gore Ignored; Mother Teresa Crushed by Diana
obsession with Diana meant that the networks on Saturday skipped
Al Gore's e-mail and Janet Reno's dereliction.
Carlson contended that the system "corrupted" an
innocent Al Gore as a New York Times headline spun for the VP.
- Just one
network led with Mother Teresa over Diana Friday night. NBC
dedicated seven times more time to Diana while Peter Jennings
compared both but only raised criticisms of Mother Teresa.
morning only Meet the Press explored Mother Teresa, but for just
one-fourth as much time as NBC gave to Diana.
Diana's death couldn't have come at a better time for Al Gore. Just as
the fundraising hearings focused on him the media were in the midst of
obsessing on Diana. Saturday's newspaper's conveyed three developments
on the Gore front:
During Friday's hearing a
former top aide to Al Gore defended his boss, but as the Saturday
Washington Times reported, he may have broken the law: "Vice
President Al Gore's former Deputy Chief-of-Staff told a Senate
committee yesterday he 'staffed' four of the fundraising calls Mr.
Gore made from his White House office, prompting concern from some
Senators that the aide may have violated federal law."
Saturday's Washington Post,
reviewing the Republican contention that Gore knew the Buddhist temple
event was designed to raise money, reported that "their strongest
evidence was an elliptical memo written by Gore himself weeks before
the event, on March 15, 1996. Gore was replying to an aide's query
about a scheduling conflict. The aide wrote that since Gore had
'fundraisers' set for April 29 in California, could he attend a Jewish
group's event in New York the night before? Gore replied
electronically that 'if we've already booked the fundraisers,' then
decline the New York event."
The most explosive news of
the day came on page one of the Washington Post. The headline
announced: "Justice Did Not Review Legality of Gore White House
Solicitations: Report of Hard Money Deposits Prompted Reno to
Act." The Post discovered that in the five months since Gore
claimed in March that his calls were legal, the Justice Department
never looked into the matter -- not until Bob Woodward did their job
for them with his September 3 story. Saturday's Post quoted
Republicans who said this contradicted Reno's claims that Justice was
aggressively investigating all fundraising-related charges.
Coverage: Zilch on the
broadcast networks. Friday night on CNN's The World Today anchor Leon
Harris briefly mentioned that Gore aide David Strauss denied the
temple event was a fundraiser. But nothing Friday night on ABC, CBS or
NBC nor on Saturday's NBC Nightly News, the only broadcast network
with an evening show in the east. Diana obliterated Saturday's Today
on NBC and CNN aired a Diana special from 8 to 11pm ET on Saturday
night. Diana consumed virtually the entire Today and Good Morning
America on Sunday.
weekend talk shows delivered two examples of top journalists
forwarding either the "system is the problem" or the
"everybody does it" defense for VP Al Gore:
Time columnist Margaret
Carlson on the Saturday, September 6 Capital Gang:
"What we've done is we've got a face on a corrupt system and
we're doubting the probity -- who would ever have thought that you
would doubt the probity of Vice President Al Gore and three nuns. So
it seems to me you've got to look at the system when the system is
corrupting people that you would not otherwise think."
An exchange from the
September 5 Washington Week in Review on PBS:
Time magazine reporter Michael Duffy on Gore: "He's applied the
same defense there [on calls] as he has in the temple. He said didn't
know the temple was a fundraiser and what his aides have told me today
is that he didn't know this money was going to go into the hard money
account. So, the I was out of the loop defense is what is currently
operative in the Office of the Vice President."
Moderator and CNN reporter
Ken Bode jumped in: "Originating in the Bush
Speaking of giving the most
positive spin possible, look at how the New York Times headlined its
The Los Angeles Times told
readers: "Buddhist Nuns Admit Misdeeds in Fundraising."
USA Today announced:
"Nuns Admit Destroying Documents."
But the New York Times
headline declared: "Nuns Say Temple Event With Gore Was Not a
3) All the
networks but one led Friday night with Diana-related events over the
passing of Mother Teresa. And neither the CBS or NBC remembrances
mentioned her opposition to abortion. Here's a Diana vs. Mother Teresa
rundown of Friday, September 6 shows:
The CBS Evening News led with
Diana in stories lasting nearly nine minutes. Richard Threlkeld got
2:40 for a review of Mother Teresa's life, but he never noted her
pro-life stand. Dan Rather ended the broadcast by saying that Diana
and Mother Teresa were incomparable, but introduced a two-and-a-half
minute story doing just that:
"They could not have been move different. One lived in a
privileged world of glamour and media hype, the other in a world of
illness and poverty. Yet, as CBS's Harry Smith reports, the lives of
Princess Diana and Mother Teresa intersected on the common ground of
Diana vs. Mother Teresa index (not counting last story): 3 to 1.
NBC Nightly News began with
Diana and devoted nearly 13 minutes of a 22 minute show to her, her
upcoming funeral and the status of the Royal Family. And that's before
counting an end of show 2:30 piece on whether the media went
"overboard" on Diana coverage. NBC squeezed in a profile of
Mother Teresa by reporter Richard Roth that lasted just over two
Diana vs. Mother Teresa index: 7 to 1.
ABC's World News Tonight was
the only network Friday night to put Mother Teresa at the top of the
show. In the second of two pieces, Bill Blakemore raised abortion near
the end of his story, which concluded:
"...On her travels she also frequently spoke out against abortion
and birth control, backing up the position of her great admirer, Pope
John Paul II. For years Catholics have talked of sainthood in this
tiny, quick woman. For everyone, she proved the old saying, that the
most powerful form of leadership is example."
Those pieces took 5:45 but
were followed with nine minutes on Diana, plus another 2:40 in two
items that compared and contrasted the two women.
Diana vs. Mother Teresa index (not counting comparison time): 1.5
World News Tonight did not
pick a Person of the Week on Friday night, but instead closed with
Peter Jennings saying "it is not possible to compare" Diana
and Mother Teresa. Then he did so. Below is the entirety of the story
by Jennings. Notice about whom of the two women he decided to relay
"Finally this evening, the great irony that two such
extraordinary woman should die in the same few days. It is not
possible to compare them -- there were so many obvious differences.
But there are certainly connections. In June this year Diana went to
call on Mother Teresa who was staying at the time with her
Missionaries of Charity in New York's South Bronx. Diana had visited
her in India as well. And each was to say that they'd drawn some
strength from the other's goodness.
"They were both so very famous and each would use their celebrity
to advance the causes in which they believed. But whereas Diana has
this week been seen by some as a unique example for her generation,
Mother Teresa has always been absolutely clear that her work is God's
work. It is not I who count, she once said, I am but a small pencil in
the hand of God. Mother Teresa was not immune from criticism for using
her Nobel acceptance speech to speak out against abortion, for
accepting honors from dictators and money without always questioning
"Tonight, here in London, when Princess Diana's coffin was moved
from one palace to the other we are struck again by what a shock her
death was. She was so young, so vibrant. Mother Teresa's death after
such a long life of service seems somehow understandable. And she was
so familiar with death. It was Mother Teresa who often said, in death
everyone is the same."
CNN's The World Today not
only cited Mother Teresa's opposition to abortion, but provided the
only soundbite by her on abortion aired on any network. In a
three-and-a-half minute retrospective on her life, Richard Blystone
personality and unswerving beliefs put her in conflict with several
Western liberal ideals. Among them, the notion that feeding the poor
only perpetuates poverty and hunger should be attacked at its root
with seeds and hoes and population control. Not her job she said. Her
calling was to serve not theories but individual humans. And her
opposition to contraception, divorce and abortion drew active and
vocal criticism but she was not to be turned."
Mother Teresa: "Abortion is a terrible evil and if you do not
want the child, I want it. Give it to me."
Teresa did not move up the news agenda by Sunday as two of the Sunday
shows allocated time to a music video and the only show which dealt
with Mother Teresa allocated four times as much time to Diana.
Of the five Sunday morning
interview shows (Fox News Sunday, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This
Week and CNN's Late Edition and NBC's Meet the Press) all dedicated at
least one interview segment to post Diana funeral analysis, but only
NBC's Meet the Press brought anyone on to discuss Mother Teresa's
legacy. Following sixteen minute and seventeen minute segments on
Diana, host Tim Russert spent eight minutes talking with two Catholic
leaders about Mother Teresa.
That's a four-to-one ratio before Russert took 3:52 to close the
program by playing Elton John from the funeral singing "Candle in
the Wind." Viewers heard John over a video montage of Diana
scenes with some shots of Mother Teresa mixed in.
ABC's This Week also ended
with a full rendition of the Elton John song, but its video montage
stuck to Diana.
For the record, This Week
devoted most of the show to Diana, but also interviewed Bill Weld.
CBS's Face the Nation took up Diana followed by the fundraising
hearings. CNN's Late Edition looked at the Middle East, followed by
Diana. Fox News Sunday proved the most substantive, running lengthy
segments on the Middle East and fundraising after a short opening talk
with Brit Hume about Diana.
The question is, how much
coverage will the networks devote to Mother Teresa's funeral on
Saturday? I'm betting very little compared to Princess Diana, unless a
pop singer creates a song for her.
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