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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday November 3, 1998 (Vol. Three; No. 178)

CBS: Clinton Broadcasting Service; Jefferson "Clintonized"; Predictions Scorecard

1) Monday night CBS featured soundbites from Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, but none from a Republican. ABC stressed a "voter backlash" against the GOP ads and how Republicans have been "too hard" on Clinton.

2) NBC: If Jefferson "could end up on Mount Rushmore and the $2 dollar bill despite being sexually active with a subordinate, it might put Mr. Clinton's conduct...in a different light."

3) CEPAS: CyberAlert Election Prognosticator Accuracy Scorecard: Race by race predictions from Capital Gang, McLaughlin Group and Fox News Sunday. Margaret Carlson predicting Faircloth's loss: "It's a great moment because you want the Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth people out of there."

>>> November 2 Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now up on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Webmaster Sean Henry and research associate Kristina Sewell. Topic headings include "Tripp the Terrorist"; "Ken Starr is Jezebel?"; "Kneepad Nina Blows GOP Away"; "Conservatives Incite Murder"; "NBC Touts President Peacemaker"; and "A Limbaugh Parody Far Beyond Larry King's Grasp." <<<

Correction. An October 29 CyberAlert item on Keith Olbermann referring to Senator Lauch Faircloth as "one of the junior Grand Wizards of the vast right-wing conspiracy," misidentified his state. It's North Carolina not South Carolina.


hrc1103.jpg (25123 bytes)cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Election eve concerns and hopes as seen by Democrats are what broadcast network viewers saw Monday night. (Every network but CNN, which led with the impending election, went first Monday night with the storm-caused disasters in Central America.)

     The CBS Evening featured soundbites from Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who excoriated the "extremist" Republican agenda, but found no time for a syllable from a Republican. ABC's World News Tonight stressed a "voter backlash" against the GOP ads and how a new poll found most think Republicans have been "too hard" on Clinton. NBC focused on the plight of Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold: "Wisconsin has become a national test case for campaign finance reform." (NBC Nightly News also featured a full report on the Thomas Jefferson news, arguing that it might help Clinton's cause. Details in item #2.)

     FNC highlighted some Democratic nastiness, the charge that Republicans plan to intimidate black voters, and also showed how Democrats are running ads equating Republicans with racism. CNN's The World Today checked in on four Senate contests and provided an inside look at the Christian Coalition's efforts to inform voters.

     Here are some highlights from the Monday, November 2, evening shows:

     -- ABC's World News Tonight displayed some of the problems caused by the walk-out by the unionized technicians. The show opened with the World News Tonight logo in the middle of the screen over Peter Jennings' face and Jennings' microphone was not always on during the show, so he had an echo. But that's nothing compared to the constant problems on Monday's GMA observed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, including the inability to run the on-screen graphics system.

     John Cochran checked out the last day of campaigning and how both sides are trying to turn out the vote. Cochran asserted:
     "...Everywhere campaigns were still trying to gin up voter interest in an election where so many Americans are turned off and may not turn up at the polls tomorrow. For weeks Newt Gingrich has traveled around the country trying to ignite voter turnout for Republicans. He will finish with a rally tonight. The latest ABC poll shows there may be a small voter backlash at Republicans because of their new anti-Clinton ads. Fifty percent of likely voters say Republicans in Congress are too hard on the President. That's up five percent from a week ago."

     Cokie Roberts then told Jennings: "As we look, we at ABC look, at the House races right now, we are seeing a tiny Republican pick-up of maybe two seats."

     -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather delivered this less than upbeat assessment:
     "The first-ever, billion-dollar mid-term congressional election is snarling to a close. Voter turnout tomorrow, especially in a few crucial tight contests, could tip them to Republicans or Democrats and that in turn could effect Congress's impeach the President investigation."
     Bob Schieffer predicted: "With one day to go our best estimate is that the Republicans will pick up one to three new Senate seats and four to nine additional House seats...."
     After running through a list of close races Schieffer allowed Al Gore to predict a "good, big and strong turnout" that "will exceed expectations."
     Schieffer concluded: "Look for Republicans to make very modest gains, but to come no where near the kind of sweep being talked about in the wake of Ken Starr's report on the President's problems."

     Next, from the White House Scott Pelley focused on how the scandals kept Clinton from public rallies as he only attended fundraisers this campaign season. He spent Monday, Pelley explained, trying to get the black vote out. Pelley illustrated with a clip of Clinton on BET: "Do they want more of the last eight months of partisanship or would they like more progress? Do they want us to have more Washington politics as usual or would they like the people of America to be the center of our focus?"

     Hillary is more in demand this year, Pelley reported, before playing a clip from her appearance Monday for Chuck Schumer in New York: "So when he fights he's not fighting for some extremist Republican agenda. He's fighting for a New York agenda that will improve the quality of life of people."

     Incredibly, after three straight Democratic soundbites and not one syllable allowed from a Republican, Rather nonetheless promised: "CBS News's clear, understandable, in-depth coverage of the election results will start when the polls begin closing..."

     In depth on one side.

     -- CNN's The World Today led with election eve stories from Gene Randall on the D'Amato/Schumer battle and Candy Crowley on the Boxer/Fong contest. Anchor Joie Chen played a soundbite of Bill Clinton on the importance of voting before John King in Indiana provided an inside look at how the Christian Coalition distributes voter guides, places computer-generated phone calls, and targets direct mail.

     Later in the hour, Jonathan Karl checked in on North Carolina's Faircloth/Edwards Senate race and David Ensor looked at Kentucky's fight between Bunning and Baesler.

     -- FNC's Fox Report. Jim Angle provided a piece on how Clinton is trying to get blacks to vote, completing five interviews on Monday. Angle then warned: "But just when you thought this election couldn't get any nastier the White House suddenly accused Republicans of trying to keep black voters from the polls through intimidation."
     Following clips of Joe Lockhart and Clinton Angle turned to RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson, and then added: "Nicholson pointed to Democratic ads that he said equate voting Republican with racism, such as this radio ad from the Missouri Democratic Party."
     Ad clip: "When you don't vote you let another church explode."

     Next, Carl Cameron examined all the factors involved in Tuesday's election and Eric Shawn highlighted the D'Amato/Schumer race: "It's the race that gives mud wrestling a good name." Co-anchor Jane Skinner mentioned the Jefferson/Hemings findings before Heather Nauert and Ellen Ratner delivered their predictions.

     -- NBC Nightly News featured two reports in its In Depth segment. First, Kelly O'Donnell on the Boxer/Fong Senate race in California. O'Donnell actually described Boxer as "one of the Senate's most liberal Democrats."

     Second, Gwen Ifill focused on the media's campaign finance reform hero, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin whom, she asserted, may lose because he won't accept any soft money. Ifill propounded: "Wisconsin has become a national test case for campaign finance reform. If Feingold doesn't win tomorrow the Democrats will lose a Senate seat and any chance of ending the political money chase, a money chase that once would have seemed unseemly in Wisconsin, the land of clean campaigns."
     To her credit, unlike ABC's Dean Reynolds on October 22, Ifill pointed out that Feingold has benefitted from $779,000 in outside money spent against Neumann, mostly from environmental groups.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Thomas Jefferson was one wild and crazy guy and that should help Clinton by making people realize Clinton's just like a Founding Father. All three Monday morning shows featured stories and interview segments, which linked the revelation to extricating Clinton, on the study in the journal Nature showing that DNA tracking proves it very likely that Jefferson fathered a son with his slave, Sally Hemings. On a CBS's This Morning historian Joseph Ellis maintained: "I think he's going to help Bill Clinton in his impeachment hearings." He told Today's viewers: "There might be some conservative Republicans that call for us to tear down the Jefferson Memorial and say that Jefferson's been Clintonized." But Today's Matt Lauer pointed out that Ellis signed a petition to end the impeachment process.

     Monday night NBC's Bob Faw argued that if Jefferson can be on Mount Rushmore "despite being sexually active with a subordinate, it might put Mr. Clinton's conduct with a certain intern in a different light." On CNBC's Upfront Tonight Geraldo Rivera promised: "We'll expose Thomas Jefferson's Sallygate."

     First, the November 2 NBC Nightly News story and then on to the morning shows. Bob Faw explained how the test results showed that Jefferson is the father of Hemings' youngest son, Eston. Faw then ruminated about how the disclosure might help Clinton:
     "Jefferson's defenders say the tests merely show a mortal who sinned, a great man with ordinary weakness, a real human being.... And if the test results mean Jefferson is now regarded as what one scholar calls 'a '90s kind of guy,' the White House must be smiling. After all, if Bill Clinton's favorite President could end up on Mount Rushmore and the $2 dollar bill despite being sexually active with a subordinate, it might put Mr. Clinton's conduct with a certain intern in a different light."
     Joseph Ellis, historian: "It gives Clinton additional cover and makes it more difficult to be as critical of this kind of behavior."
     Faw concluded: "It might not explain how someone who owned slaves could write the Declaration of Independence, but historians agree it does reveal another self-evident truth: that heroes, even Presidents, aren't saints. They're flesh and blood."

     After the same story ran on CNBC's Upfront Tonight, Geraldo Rivera added: "Amen."

     -- ABC's Good Morning America. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted this joking opening from Kevin Newman: "Now a story about a President, a woman young enough to be his daughter, and DNA tests that show they probably had an affair. In this case, the President is Thomas Jefferson. DNA evidence now concludes that America's third President probably fathered at least one child with a slave named Sally Hemings. Now that has shocked some historians, but not our guests this morning."

     -- CBS This Morning. Thalia Assuras interviewed Jefferson descendant Julia Jefferson Westerinen and historian Joseph Ellis, who tied the finding to Clinton, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Well, I think Jefferson has impeccable timing. He always has, he emerges at moments. I think he's going to help Bill Clinton in his impeachment hearings. I think this news suggests that the kind of personal sexual relationships of Presidents has a long pedigree. But I also think, I agree with Julia, I think that he is coming back to us to tell us that we have always been and are again now one people."

     -- NBC's Today. Matt Lauer allowed Ellis to go at length about the similarities between Jefferson and Clinton, but he also highlighted the liberal politics of the historian in this interview excerpt transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:

     Matt Lauer: "Let's fast forward to 1998 and what's going on in Washington right now. Obviously Thomas Jefferson is the favorite Founding Father of our current President for namesake. How does it impact the way we view the past transgressions of Bill Clinton?
     Joseph Ellis: "I think there are some rather stunning comparisons between Jefferson and Hemings and Lewinksy and Clinton. The age difference between them is about the same. They both were Presidents at the time. And I think that this is going to land on Clinton and the impeachment hearings in a way that's going to make impeachment less likely."
     Lauer, in a point not mentioned later in the day by Faw, observed: "Let me just point out one was married at the time the other was a widower at the time."
     Ellis: "Right. Jefferson would not be accused of adultery at all."
     Lauer: "But why do you think it's going to help Bill Clinton on the eve of impeachment inquiries?"
     Ellis: "There might be some conservative Republicans that call for us to tear down the Jefferson Memorial and say that Jefferson's been Clintonized. But most people are gonna say Jefferson is more human. President's have been doing this for as long as American history. And whenever anyone in American history has bet against Thomas Jefferson he's eventually lost."
     Lauer: "William Safire in the New York Times this morning writes an article and says that guys like you, the timing of this historical spin on this scientific evidence is intended simply to help Bill Clinton."
     Ellis: "Well not for me. I'm not necessarily a Bill Clinton fan. I'm trying to tell you that Bill Clinton happens to be one of the luckiest American politicians in the late 20th century."
     Lauer: "Were you one of the people over the weekend though that signed something based on a group called Historians in Defense of the Constitution calling for people not to go forward with impeachment hearings?"
     Ellis: "Yes. I believe that this impeachment does not meet the threshold that the Constitution requires."
     Lauer: "So you do have an agenda on the side that is, that could look, be seen as parallel to this situation."
     Ellis: "But I certainly didn't generate this DNA study at this time and neither did Bill Clinton."
     Lauer: "So in the long run though you think that Bill Clinton now may be seen as a more human leader in comparison, especially, when we look at Thomas Jefferson as being 'human' and not a god."
     Ellis: "I think it gives Clinton additional cover and it makes it more difficult to be as critical of this kind of behavior."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The first bi-annual CyberAlert Election Prognosticator Accuracy Scorecard. With the assistance of MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens and Paul Smith, below I've put together a list of predictions issued this past weekend on the three shows with panelists who were willing to risk humiliation: the October 31 Capital Gang on CNN, November 1 Fox News Sunday and the McLaughlin Group of the past two weekends, though the numbers and predictions below are based on how the McLaughlin panelists revised their predictions for their October 31 broadcast.

     So, print this out and Tuesday night as you watch the election returns you can grade each political prognosticator. (Not all panelists are listed for each race since the three shows did not all look at the same races.)

     Capital Gang panelists: columnist Bob Novak, Time reporter and columnist Margaret Carlson, National Review Washington Bureau Chief Kate O'Beirne, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt and columnist Mark Shields.

     McLaughlin Group panelists: Host John McLaughlin, Newsweek reporter and columnist Eleanor Clift, Reader's Digest editor Michael Barone, columnist Pat Buchanan, and former Gingrich Press Secretary and current George columnist Tony Blankley.

     Fox News Sunday panelists who made predictions: Washington Post-affiliated writer and FNC analyst Juan Williams and Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes.

     First, the overall Republican gains predicted on Capital Gang and McLaughlin Group:

Novak: +8
Carlson: +8
O'Beirne: +7
Hunt: +7
Shields: +5 or fewer
McLaughlin: +13
Clift: +6
Blankley: +7
Barone: +8
Buchanan: +12


Novak: +5 GOP
Carlson: +2 GOP
O'Beirne: +3 GOP
Hunt: +2 GOP
Shields: 0/no net change
McLaughlin: +5 GOP
Clift: +2 GOP
Blankley: +4 GOP
Barone: +3 GOP
Buchanan: +7 GOP


Shields: +3
Novak: +4
Carlson: +2
O'Beirne: +4
Hunt: +2 or fewer
McLaughlin: +3
Clift: +2
Blankley: +2
Barone: +3
Buchanan: +4

     Second, some predictions in the tight Senate races. (I know the X's below won't necessarily line-up in your e-mail, but this should provide a graphically easy to scan look at who predicted who, even if the columns are not even. Actually, if you put it into 12 point "Courier New" it should look perfect.) Democrats in the first column, Republicans in the second.




O'Beirne   X
Hunt X  
Shields   X
Novak   X
Carlson X  
McLaughlin   X
Clift X  
Barone X  
Blankley   X
Buchanan X  
Barnes X  
Williams X  





McLaughlin   X
Clift   X
Barone   X
Blankley   X
Buchanan   X
Williams X  
Barnes   X


  Reid Ensign
McLaughlin X  
Clift   X
Barone X  
Blankley   X
Buchanan   X


New York
  Schumer D'Amato
Carlson X  
O'Beirne   X
Hunt X  
Shields X  
Novak X  
McLaughlin   X
Clift X  
Barone   X
Blankley   X
Buchanan   X
Barnes   X
Juan Williams   X


North Carolina



O'Beirne X  
Hunt X  
Shields X  
Novak   X
Carlson X ("It's a great moment because you want the Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth people out of there."  
McLaughlin   X

X ("I think Faircloth loses. He's been a terrible Senator, out of touch with the voters.")

Barone X  
Blankley X  
Buchanan   X


South Carolina
  Hollings Inglis
McLaughlin X  
Clift X  
Barone X  
Blankley X  
Buchanan   X


  Murray Smith
McLaughlin   X
Clift X  
Barone   X
Blankley X  
Buchanan   X




O'Beirne   X
Hunt   X ("Neumann, and I regret that.")
Shields X  
Novak   X
Carlson   X
McLaughlin   X
Clift   X
Barone   X
Blankley   X
Buchanan   X


     Third, two gubernatorial contests:

  Davis Lungren
Carlson X  
O'Beirne X  
Hunt X  
Shields X  
Novak X  


  Glendening Sauerbrey
O'Beirne   X
Hunt X  
Shields X  
Novak X  
Carlson X  

     Do you see a pattern here amongst all the shows? Those in the news media predict fewer Republican wins than do the conservative commentators.  -- Brent Baker

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