Rivera Jubilant; Brokaw: Public Disgusted with Attacks on Clinton
1) Geraldo Rivera rejoiced
that "now it's Newt Gingrich who's looking over his
shoulder" and linked D'Amato's loss to his attacks on Hillary.
2) Only CNN and FNC ran
soundbites from conservatives on the GOP loss. ABC and NBC contended
moderation is the way to go and Tom Brokaw found a "clear message:
disgust with Republican attacks on the White House scandal."
3) Like Brokaw, Donaldson saw
the vote as a plea to cease the impeachment inquiry, but Lynn Sherr
4) Dan Rather called the South
Carolina Senate race "nasty enough to gag a buzzard." He used
the same analogy in 1996. And 1990.
>>> The November 2 MediaWatch is
now up on the MRC home page thanks to MRC Webmaster Sean Henry and
research associate Kristina Sewell. Articles include a front page piece
"Shut Up Before You Kill Again! Violence Tied to Pro-Life Advocates,
But Not to Green Groups"; a Review by the MRC's Tim Graham on the
Matthew Shepard murder and how the "networks promote gay left's
guilt by association"; a Back page story by MRC analyst Clay Waters
on how the networks refuse to cover the scandal of missile technology
going to China while complaining about the sex scandal; and an On the
Bright Side piece by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson titled "No Prying
About Limo Talk: Only FNC Corrects Hit on Starr." Plus, Newsbites:
"Walt's Love Boat" by MRC analyst Brian Boyd on Cronkite
denigrating Ken Starr, "Feingold's Medal" by MRC analyst Mark
Drake on ABC's tribute to Senator Feingold, and "Hawks Shut
Out," an item by analyst Geoffrey Dickens on how neither ABC or CBS
ever told viewers that many conservatives opposed the budget deal.
Geraldo Rivera is the happiest man on TV. He opened the November 4 Rivera
Live on CNBC by rejoicing in the election results:
the hard-right's grossly inept handling of zippergate, yesterday the
voters hurt the Republican Party in historic fashion. They made them pay
for their obsession with punishing the President. From Faircloth to
D'Amato he voters pounded some of the President's most vocal critics.
For the first time since the roaring '20s, the party in the White House
gained strength at mid-term. While last week the world wondered whether
Clinton would survive, now it's Newt Gingrich who's looking over his
His first question
to a guest: "Tony Blankley, I love you but you got your ass kicked
On election night,
November 3, Rivera celebrated D'Amato's loss and, MRC news analyst
Ross Adams noticed, tied it to his attacks on Hillary Clinton: "D'Amato
going down. A big, big win for the Democrats. D'Amato hurt by who knows
what, maybe his participation in those Whitewater hearings in which he
practically pilloried Hillary Clinton and hung her out to dry. Whatever it
was New Yorkers have voted and they have voted Al D'Amato out of
A bit later on his
CNBC show Rivera trumpeted: "Listen up. There is no Monica mandate.
There is no mandate for impeachment."
Network message to Republicans: Go moderate. Every network led Wednesday
night with the election results. ABC and NBC stressed how moderates won
and the voters rejected the GOP strategy of pushing impeachment. NBC's
Tom Brokaw proclaimed that moderation was "the preferred passage of
both successful moderate Democrats and pragmatic Republicans" as the
public sent a "clear message: disgust with Republican attacks on the
White House scandal."
CBS focused on how
Republicans must learn "that in tight races minorities matter"
and Bob Schieffer highlighted Newt Gingrich's change in spin from
Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. CNN led with rumblings about dumping
Gingrich. Only CNN and FNC aired soundbites from any conservative saying
the Republicans lost because they had no agenda. Both featured clips of
the Christian Coalition's Randy Tate and the Family Research Council's
Here are some
highlights from the Wednesday, November 4, evening shows:
-- ABC's World
News Tonight led with John Cochran, who began: "White House aides say
that privately the President was ecstatic over the results. Publicly, he
would say only that voters chose practical issues over partisanship."
Cochran ran a clip of Clinton and of Gingrich
acknowledging the party should have pushed cutting taxes and saving Social
Security. Cochran then hit on the impeachment theme.
Cochran: "Republicans admit their last
minute ad campaign reminding voters of the Lewinsky scandal was not the
brightest idea they ever had."
Gingrich: "We didn't understand that
people would just frankly get fed up with the existence of the
Viewers then saw a
clip of Michael Pappas on the House floor singing "Twinkle, Twinkle
Little Starr" as Cochran noted that he lost. Cochran concluded with
"Today Republicans realized that many of
their successive candidates are pragmatic Governors concerned with getting
results. Congressional Republicans say they've learned their lesson,
that the first thing the new Congress will focus on is something that
people care about: tax cuts."
Next, Lynn Sherr
summarized the exit polls: "What voters across the country had to say
was: simply enough. Forget about impeachment Ms. or Mr. Lawmaker and get
back to work."
talked with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Donaldson reported that the
White House is pleased and hopes the Republicans back off on impeachment.
Roberts explained that the process will go on since no one knows how to
get out of it and that many Republicans are disgruntled about their
Following an ad
break Dean Reynolds looked at how Texas Governor George Bush has been
thrust into the 2000 presidential race with what Bush calls
"compassionate conservatism." Reynolds portrayed him as the kind
of conservative even media liberals can tolerate: "And while the
Governor opposes abortion and favors the death penalty and school prayer,
he doesn't sound strident."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's top of the
"Far reaching ripples from the election
'98 stunner. Democrats gain and buck mid-term election history against
the backdrop of Congress's impeach the President inquiry."
Rather then opened
after the theme music:
"What a difference a day makes. Now it's
the Republican congressional leadership facing political jeopardy from
unhappy GOP ranks. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde of
Illinois said today that the November surprise dealt to Republicans will
not affect Congress's impeach the President inquiry."
Bob Schieffer ran
through the winners (Boxer, Schumer, Murray, Edwards, Hollings, Fitzgerald
and Bunning.) Then he highlighted changing spin from Gingrich: "Last
night the House Speaker was trying to spin the whole thing as good news
for his side."
Gingrich: "This will be the first time in 70
years that Republicans kept control of the House for a third term."
Schieffer: "Today it was a different
Gingrich: "I take responsibility. I'm
Speaker of the House. I led the Republican team in the House. We in the
House should have been more consistent, more aggressive."
Schieffer: "Gingrich has good reason to
worry. Today some House Republicans openly blamed him."
Steve Largent: "I mean the Speaker said
himself prior to the election, you know if we don't pick up more than
five seats, in fact if we lose seats, then you know perhaps I should be
replaced. And I think that that's a serious and viable consideration at
Scott Pelley next
told viewers: "Dan, at the White House last night there was literally
cheering out loud." Pelley delivered the White House reaction and
read a statement from Henry Hyde about the duty to proceed with the
impeachment inquiry as the allegations have not changed: "This was
just as true before the election as it is today. Our duty has not changed
because the Constitution has not changed."
introduced a piece of the role of minorities by declaring: "Three of
the most important factors on election night were turnout, turnout and
turnout, especially with labor, blacks and older people."
Sandra Hughes explored the power of the Hispanic
vote, reporting that in California it constitutes 12 percent of
electorate. Three-quarters backed Gray and Boxer, Hughes relayed, but in
Texas Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote. Blacks were the key in New
York and South Carolina she added, concluding: "Nationwide African
American and Hispanic voters sent a loud wake-up call to the GOP, that in
tight races minorities matter."
-- CNN's The World Today opened with Bob
Franken on talk of unseating Gingrich. Franken also played soundbites of
Gary Bauer and Randy Tate on the lack of an agenda. Wolf Blitzer delivered
the White House reaction before John King looked at the impact on the 2000
presidential race, specifically Al Gore and Dick Gephardt.
CNN also ran a
piece on Ventura and Brooks Jackson highlighted how the GOP ads on
Lewinsky did not work.
-- FNC Fox Report began with an overview story
from Carl Cameron which included Randy Tate. Anchor Jon Scott interviewed
Larry Klayman about the lack of a Republican message. Jim Angle summarized
the White House reaction. Later, Eric Burns reviewed television coverage
on election night and FNC aired a panel discussion with Heather Nauert,
Harry Shearer and Larry Sabato.
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw delivered the most politically slanted
spin, contending moderation was the key to success:
"Good evening. However you feel about
politics, a national election after all defines who we are at any given
time. Now that all the votes have been counted, the victories declared,
the concession speeches made, the American political landscape looks a
good deal different tonight than it did just 24 hours ago. It now has a
broad middle road running through it -- the preferred passage of both
successful moderate Democrats and pragmatic Republicans. The American
public sent some very strong messages through the ballot box. The day
after the first-ever billion dollar election, a clear message: disgust
with Republican attacks on the White House scandal. The results, Democrats
win in surprising numbers, capturing important seats in the
relayed Clinton's reaction about getting back to business before Anne
Thompson explained how woman, blacks and Hispanics were the winning
coalition for Democrats. Supporting Brokaw's spin, Gwen Ifill then
asserted that those who won were "Governors who bill themselves as
problem-solvers." Same with the new ones: "Governors elected in
Florida, South Carolina and Alabama -- all elected emphasizing education,
health care and modest tax cuts."
(Catching up on
Wednesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed that
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter pushed the line that Republicans were too
conservative and moderation wins, ignoring the conservative analysis that
Republicans had no agenda:
"You know there's this old line that the
only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow line and a dead
armadillo. But now everybody is running to the middle of the road. And the
faster that you get there the better you do at the polls. So this is a bad
election for extremists in both parties and a bad night I think for the
Christian Coalition and those who want to pull the Republican party to the
right. The centrist, pragmatic Republican Governors did very well.")
A Reality Check on Tom Brokaw's "a clear message: disgust with
Republican attacks on the White House scandal." The VRS exit poll
shows otherwise. As detailed in the November 4 CyberAlert, only 5 percent
of voters considered the scandal the most important issue and 59 percent
said "Clinton was not a factor" in casting their ballot while 19
percent said they voted to express support, matched by a nearly identical
20 percent who said they wanted to show opposition.
election night coverage, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Sam
Donaldson repeated the media's off-base assessment. He asked Trent Lott:
"Senator, the voters seem to be saying they don't want the
impeachment process to go forward. Are you going to try to short circuit
But just a few
minutes later ABC corrected he record.
Peter Jennings: "On the subject of
impeachment, it is naturally a question that we wanted to ask people in
our exit polls. ABC's Lynn Sherr is with us. Lynn, what's the general
take been on impeachment hearings from here on out?"
Lynn Sherr: "Well, Peter, Senator Lott is
quite right, the Lewinsky matter was not the reason that voters say that
they cast their ballots for House members today."
Barely 20 hours
later, as noted in #2 above, Sherr seemed to contradict herself, asserting
on the November 4 World News Tonight:: "What voters across the
country had to say was: simply enough. Forget about impeachment Ms. or Mr.
Lawmaker and get back to work."
One more Ratherism, caught on CBS election night coverage by the MRC's
Rather: "The call is just in for the South
Carolina Senate race. This was one of the cardiac arrest time races. This
thing was nasty enough to gag a buzzard. But it turns out that Fritz
Hollings the veteran Democratic Senator has held on to win."
a favorite image for Rather. On election night in 1996 he intoned:
"Our CBS News estimates is in one of the nastiest, smelliest
campaigns of them all -- a lot of people thought the stench from this
would gag a buzzard -- Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Attorney General, has
beaten back the effort of state senator Roger Bedford, to fill the seat of
retiring Democratic Senator Howell Heflin."
And in 1990:
"Let's go down to Texas and let me show you actual votes in and
tabulated. This was a race considered so nasty it would gag a
buzzard....This race is so close that everybody's having a 4,000-calorie
attack down there."
Rather needs to
expand the range of his analogies.
-- Brent Baker
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