Gumbel Goes Tab; Ted's Sorry He Had 5 Kids; Nets vs. Letterman
- Bryant Gumbel
promised that his show would avoid tabloid topics. But when low
ratings hit what did he do?
- Ted Turner
wants the U.S. to adopt China's one-child rule. "Voluntary,
of course." He had five kids, but back then he "didn't
know" the harm they'd cause the environment.
questions to Hillary Clinton. Have the fundraising hearings
"gotten in the way" of initiatives like child care?
"Top Ten Ways Hillary Clinton Celebrated Her 50th
Birthday." It's tougher on her than the network news
1) Gumbel won't resort to tabloid topics? In Monday's USA Today
(October 27) Peter Johnson reported: "Bryant Gumbel's fledgling
CBS newsmagazine Public Eye took another rating hit in its fourth
outing Wednesday, placing last in its time slot behind NBC's World
Series, ABC's Drew Carey and Fox's Party of Five."
Back on September 25 USA
Today carried a story by Johnson on Gumbel's then-upcoming show.
"Since joining CBS
News this spring, for a reported $5 million-plus a year, Gumbel has
been spreading his gospel: Eye won't become a 'bottom-feeder' -- a
newsmag that chases the latest scandal or tabloid story for
"What if CBS execs -- eager to rebuild their network -- put the
arm on you to go for sensational stories that'll draw big numbers?
Won't happen, Gumbel insists. CBS 'knew what they were getting.
Before I came over I made a point of telling them things I didn't
want to do, and I was assured, 'No, that's not what we want to
"Gumbel's boss, CBS
News President Andrew Heyward, backs him up 'We can't go the tabloid
route for a couple of reasons: 1) It doesn't square with CBS
tradition and 2) too many other people do it. We could never be as
tabloid as the tabloid people are.'"
Really? Let's see what
topics Public Eye went with last week. Here's the rundown of stories
for the October 22 show, as noted by MRC news analyst Steve
The nanny murder trial in
Massachusetts. A re-cap of the events and trial so far.
Police officers who commit
A woman who disappeared
from a small town in Wyoming. Body never found, but did her husband
The misreading of
Profile of and interview
with singer Celine Dion.
All very high brow.
2) Ted Turner
wants to be on the side of the angels, but last week he urged
Americans to adopt China's forced abortion policy. Monday night on
Dateline NBC, in a comment caught by the MRC's Tim Graham, Turner told
"I want to be one
of the good people. I'd like to be, if I'm going to be remembered I
don't want to be remembered like a Adolf Hitler or just some bad
person, I want to be on the side of the angels."
Let's compare that wish to
some remarks he made last week to the American Magazine Association
convention in Scottsdale as reported by Abraham Kwok in the October 25
Arizona Republic. (I came across this by accident while looking at
Zwok summarized the remarks
of the Vice Chairman of Time-Warner:
- "American media
need to take a more active role in saving the planet. Reporters,
editors and executives must lead the charge on protecting the
environment and rally different cultures together to improve the
lot of the have-nots. Turner said.
- "In a 30-minute
talk titled 'My Vision for the Future,' Turner evoked Hitler,
China's one-baby-per-family policy, billionaire 'nerds,' the
United Nations, King Arthur, the Titanic, and compared people to
chimps and weeds -- all tied to a theme he once stamped on
bumper stickers: 'Save the Humans.'
- "'We have a hard
time looking 100 years ahead, or even 50 years ahead,' said the
man who launched CNN, which in turn help launch Turner as a
visionary and garnered him such honors as the title of Time
magazine's Man of the Year in 1991.
- "'We're a
year-to-year species, like squirrels, stocking up wheat and corn
for the winter...All we are are advanced monkeys. 'We're good at
responding to crises, like when the Titanic sank and it led to
lifeboat drills across the world,' he said. 'But we're not good
at problems that grow over time,' such as overpopulation.
- "Population growth
harms air quality and depletes the world's food supply, he said.
Turner said the United States and other countries should convene
a global conference and look hard at family planning, perhaps
adopting China's policy of one child per family.
- "'Voluntary, of
course,' he said. 'I had five kids,' Turner added in one of the
many asides Friday that typify his speeches, 'but I had them 30
years ago -- I didn't know.'"
Better idea: Instead of
adopting China's one child per family policy, which is definitely not
voluntary in China, let's adopt China's 'government must pre-approve
everything broadcast' rule so CNN doesn't air any
"non-constructive" news. Voluntary, of course.
post-child care conference questions to Hillary Rodham Clinton. The
October 28 CyberAlert listed all the questions posed to the First Lady
on the three morning shows.
Here are those delivered in
an interview taped later in the day and shown on CNN's Prime News at
8pm ET on October 23. Like her broadcast network colleagues, instead
of challenging Hillary Clinton's liberal assumptions, CNN reporter
Eileen O'Connor prompted her. Late in the interview O'Connor did raise
fundraising, but not to get at what really happened but to wonder if
it's distracting and if the President might just stop all fundraising
so the Republicans would too.
"You've said that
75 percent of the families in the United States are using some form
of day care, yet it's taken government and the nation as a whole a
long time to focus on this issue. Why do you think that is? Is it
"How do you think you
can actually work to improve day care? What were the things you
heard today at this conference?"
"Some of this is going
to cost some money. Where do you think the money should come
"The President laid
out some recommendations -- a working group chaired by the Secretary
of Treasury, Robert Rubin, to provide incentives perhaps for
business and some other things. He hinted an initiative that he'll
be coming out with in January, perhaps a legislative
"In terms of some of
these legislative initiatives, will you be personally also trying to
help push those? And in the past, you had this experience with the
health care reform debate. What did you learn from that experience?
And how would you do things differently in pushing for these new
"This is your second
term as First Lady and your husband's second term as President. How
would you like to see his legacy written and your own?"
"....But there's still a lot to be done. Yesterday on global
warming the president spoke about what needed to happen, and today
on child care. We addressed that important issue. So I'm more
focused on what is left to be done, rather than looking backwards.
I'm still pretty much focused on today and tomorrow."
O'Connor: "But in the
recent months there have been these hearings on Capitol Hill on
campaign fundraising activities. Do you think that the focus on that
has taken away from this second term and has perhaps gotten in the
way of some of the initiatives?"
"Do you think, though,
now that the campaign finance reform legislation actually failed on
the Hill, that perhaps it's time for the President to perhaps take a
stand that would force the Republicans by leading in a unilateral
ending of fundraising?"
"Next week you have a
birthday...Does it bother you everyone knows you're going to be
4) From the
October 27 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways
Hillary Clinton Celebrated Her 50th Birthday." Copyright 1997 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Drank too much beer,
passed out on bathroom floor at Fuddruckers.
9. A lively game of
8. Blew out candles, then
hid them and denied they ever existed.
7. Enjoyed Mark Russell's
hilarious new song: "Happy Whitewater to You."
6. Watched with mixture of
horror and nausea as Janet Reno popped out of cake.
5. Wrote thank-you note to
Queen Elizabeth for the $40 gift certificate to the Gap.
4. Hired clown to twist
balloons into shapes of Asian campaign donors.
3. Held intimate gathering
for close friends who aren't in prison yet.
2. Gave Gore $50 and
demanded he show her "The Full Monty."
1. Jell-O shots with
- With five of those ten
referring to a Hillary-related scandal I'd observe that the
"Clintons as corrupt" theme is considered widely
accepted enough for a popular culture show to feel comfortable
that its audience will understand jokes about the subject. It's
also clear Letterman's writers don't rely on the television
network news where none of the matters they raised were even
hinted at by any of the four network interviews with the First
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