Bush Spins; Christian Coalition = Inquisition; Anchorman Stephanopoulos
1) ABC found support in Iowa
for Bush's "call for compassionate conservatism," NBC
determined they are only backing "a Republican who they think is
going to win," while CBS insisted "the Texas Governor is still
more curiosity than candidate."
2) Suggesting that Democrats
will paint George W. Bush as a "hardline conservative," CNN's
Jeanne Meserve asserted they will only be following what his father did to
the "moderate" Dukakis.
3) Newsweek's Evan Thomas
compared the Christian Coalition's activities to the Spanish
4) CNN/USA President Rick
Kaplan complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the
best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had
5) Geraldo Rivera: "I
think Bill Clinton has to take a lot of credit for healing the racial
divide. He's the first President ever to be comfortable with black
6) Bob Woodward disclosed that
Clinton lawyer Robert Bennett really feared Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a
post-election Clinton liaison.
7) George Stephanopoulos
anchors ABC's World News Now this week and with his three-year deal
almost up, USA Today revealed "There's talk that anchoring is in his
8) A Cliche Attack from Dan
Rather as he referred to "a Trojan Horse sent by e-mail, a gift
bearing a killer computer virus inside....how even Microsoft got caught
with its portals down."
One candidate in one trip to one state on Saturday, but conflicting spins
from the three broadcast networks. Saturday night, June 12, the ABC, CBS
and NBC evening shows all provided full stories from Iowa on George W.
Bush's first presidential foray, but while ABC found support for his
"compassionate conservatism," NBC attributed support to his
father and hatred of Clinton while CBS asserted Iowans have yet to make up
their minds about him. Specifically:
-- Leading into
two glowing assessments of Bush's policies from two Iowans, ABC's Dean
Reynolds asserted: "Bush is banking on his call for compassionate
conservatism to play well here in the cornbelt and in other contests next
-- Referring to those in the crowds, NBC's
David Bloom decided it's not his policies which they support:
"Asked why they're backing Bush, these supporters say they like his
father, the former President; they don't like Bill Clinton. Mostly, they
say, they want to back a Republican who they think is going to win."
-- But CBS's Bob McNamara found they haven't
even decided whether to support him yet: "To most Iowans today the
Texas Governor is still more curiosity than candidate."
In a second piece
from Iowa Saturday night, NBC's Lisa Myers looked at all the other
Republicans and featured this soundbite from Elizabeth Dole: "I think
they want people with the courage of their convictions and that's what I
call courageous conservatism and that's what I'm bringing to the
Here are more
details on how each June 12 evening show characterized Bush's trip.
(CNN's The World Today held the item to a few seconds read by the anchor
and on FNC's Weekend Report Carl Cameron uniquely relayed the only real
news of the day: Bush will participate in the August straw poll in Iowa.)
-- ABC's World
News Tonight. From Cedar Rapids Dean Reynolds reported:
"Bush is banking on his call for
compassionate conservatism to play well here in the cornbelt and in other
contests next year."
Older woman: "This guy's for real. I like
the way he talked."
Older man: "He's calling for responsibility
and I think this is what's been missing in society over the past number of
After some bites
from Bush, Reynolds concluded: "For the most part it was a successful
first day on the stump for Bush befitting his position as frontrunner in
the Republican Party race. But now as a candidate he occupies a perilous
place in American politics: he is riding so high he has almost nowhere to
go but down."
-- CBS Evening News. Filing from Amana Iowa, Bob
McNamara opened: "With the security detail, seasoned campaign
organizers and media coverage of papal proportions, Bush displayed the
hand-to-hand campaign style of his bloodlines..."
comment from David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register and a clip of Bush
before a crowd, McNamara got to what those in attendance thought and found
them less enthused than did ABC: "To most Iowans today the Texas
Governor is still more curiosity than candidate."
Loretta Prostine, Iowa voter: "It looks good
for him, I'll say that, but I think he has to prove himself, I think he
has to tell us more what his policies are."
concluded: "His job today was to make his first impression a good
one. He seemed to succeed, but the road to the White House is a long one
and good days can often be few and far between."
-- NBC Nightly News. "Like a Texas twister
George W. Bush stormed into Iowa today, wife Laura at his side as he
stepped off his campaign plane and into the fray," David Bloom began
his piece from Des Moines.
Following a soundbite from Bush, Bloom relayed:
"Asked why they're backing Bush, these
supporters say they like his father, the former President; they don't like
Bill Clinton. Mostly, they say, they want to back a Republican who they
think is going to win."
Middle-aged man: "If he's anything like his
dad, I'll support him."
Woman next to ten year or so old boy: "He's
for family values, he's there for the kids."
Younger man: "I believe I can trust what he
says. I mean as simple as that."
As they walked
side-by-side in one of the short one-on-one interviews granted each
network, Bloom asked a question a supporter of any of the other candidates
would appreciate: "Your critics, lots of Democrats, a few
Republicans, say that if your last name wasn't Bush you wouldn't be the
Republican frontrunner, that you're untested and not ready for the job.
How do you answer that?"
answered that he's not part of the DC political scene and knows he's
ready to be President, Bloom concluded with the toughest, but probably
most on target, conclusion of the day:
"Bush, the self-described compassionate
conservative, promised to cut taxes but offered few specifics. The ten
point plans, he said, will come later. For now, even many Bush supporters
acknowledge, they don't really know what he stands for but they're backing
Up next, Lisa
Myers looked at the other Republicans in the field, starting with
Elizabeth Dole who attacked Bush for not taking solid positions. Dole told
Myers: "I think they want people with the courage of their
convictions and that's what I call courageous conservatism and that's what
I'm bringing to the table."
Memo to Dole:
Before you can be "courageous" in your conservatism you have to
have conservative views. (On this point, I would recommend picking up a
copy of the June American Spectator to read James Bovard's piece titled,
"Liddy Dole's Regulatory Ride: Her passion for big government and
aversion to free-market solutions make her the perfect presidential
candidate. For the Democrats.")
Myers ran though
the status of Alexander, Dole, Kasich and McCain, before implicitly saying
they are not conservative: "On the right, six candidates are vying
for the votes of religious and social conservatives [on screen: photos of
Keyes, Buchanan, Smith, Forbes, Bauer, Quayle] The most prominent: Former
Vice President Dan Quayle, commentator Patrick Buchanan and publisher
-- While on George W, Saturday night on CNN's
Capital Gang Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal took a swipe at the
Americans for Tax Reform anti-income tax hike pledge he agreed to:
"Well, for GOP nominating politics, it was
smart. It was smart politics. For governing, it's neither credible nor
smart, as his father learned, Mark. Look, there is no case for increasing
taxes right now, but circumstances could change."
Hunt's opposition to a tax hike won't last long.
CNN: Dukakis was really a moderate. Suggesting that Democrats will paint
George W. Bush as a "hardline conservative," CNN's Jeanne
Meserve asserted they will only be following what Republicans did to the
"moderate" Dukakis in 1988. MRC analyst Paul Smith picked up on
this bit of analysis from Meserve on the June 8 Inside Politics last week:
"In 1988, campaign strategists for the
senior Bush decided to change Dukakis' image to define him for the
voters themselves. While Dukakis had been regarded as a moderate, the Bush
forces succeeded in portraying him as a liberal elitist out of touch with
average Americans. Today George W. Bush is considered a centrist by many
Republicans but Democrats and activist groups are already starting to
portray him as a hardline conservative."
a moderate" by whom? The media?
The Christian Coalition is religious just like the Spanish Inquisition,
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas declared over the weekend
on Inside Washington.
In a brief
discussion about how the IRS revoked the Christian Coalition's
tax-exempt status, this exchange ensued:
Host Gordon Peterson: "You are not persuaded
that this is religious organization?"
Syndicated columnist Jack Germomd: "Well it
may be a religious organization as well and that's their business. The
part we know about is very political."
Newsweek's Evan Thomas, talking over Germond
and referring to how the Christian Coalition is religious: "So was
the Spanish inquisition."
NPR's Nina Totenberg: "Geez Evan! You get
to answer your own mail."
You've got to go
pretty far left to outrage Totenberg.
Several University of Chicago students refused to shake President
Clinton's hand on Saturday, which reminded me of a commencement address
from CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan shown over the Memorial Day weekend by
C-SPAN. Kaplan complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead
of the best interests of the nation" and while he conceded the
Lewinsky affair tarred Clinton he maintained that Clinton has had
Saturday, June 12, CBS and FNC noted how, as CBS anchor John Roberts put
it in a brief item about what happened to Clinton at the University of
Chicago: "About a dozen graduate declined, for various reasons, to
shake the hand of guest speaker President Bill Clinton. Some appeared to
oppose his actions in Kosovo, others wore stickers protesting U.S. free
trade policies." The NBC Nightly News included a full report from
John Palmer about Clinton's Chicago commencement speech in which he
called for an end to child labor around the world, but Palmer didn't
bother to mention the unpleasantness.)
Now to Kaplan's
May 16 commencement address at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign transcribed by MRC analyst Paul Smith. Kaplan recalled
his early days as a liberal political operative:
"I got a precinct job in Richard J.
Daley's Democratic Party. By the way, it was there I learned the
practical use of new math, but I don't want to digress. In 1968 I went
on to be a twenty year old speechwriter and advance man for Senator Eugene
McCarthy in his challenge to President Lyndon Johnson. But the turbulence
of the times and the assassinations of Dr. King and Robert Kennedy
saddened me and soured me....But my year in the McCarthy campaign gave me
a great appreciation of what journalists did and what they could mean to
Going through some
of the challenges the students will face, including how the media have
coarsened society and how Milosevic shows man's inhumanity to man as
does the Columbine shooting, Kaplan got to "hypocrisy." Kaplan
rebuked Starr, and while acknowledging Clinton misdeeds, the CNN chief
stood by his friend, Bill Clinton:
"In the past eighteen months, we have seen a
Congress damage itself in the shameless partisanship of the House. We have
seen a Senate run from the light to debate the future of a President in
secret. The independent counsel law seems destined to die but Ken Starr is
still around and many believe still putting obsession ahead of the best
interests of the nation. And then there is the President, who if not
guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, well, it may have been because our
Founding Fathers never thought a President would get caught acting in such
"Is there a lesson here? We have learned
more about perjury and fidelity in the presidency of Andrew Johnson than I
ever thought imaginable. Our young children learned more about sex than I
may know right now. But if in the wake of this national tragedy, how many
of you now believe that with the right connections, you can get away with
anything. The President got impeached but he didn't lose his job so did
he get away with it? I'm here to tell you that there is always a price
to be paid. Not always paid on demand but paid in the end, always.
"As many of you may know, I've been
privileged to be a friend of Bill Clinton's for more than twenty years
and like many, I had high expectations for his presidency. His intellect
and his heart and his drive to help people should have guaranteed his
success, his greatness. But as it stands now, when history writes this
President's story, his accomplishments, while noteworthy, even
extraordinary at times, will be listed after an explanation of who Monica
Lewinsky was. He kept his office, but at a very high price and I'm only
talking about his public life. Well, before it's all over others will
pay, I trust, as well. But remember there is always a price. You are not
going to be perfect. We all make mistakes." (He went on to discuss
+++ See what Kaplan looks and sounds like.
As the power behind CNN and the man behind the Tailwind show, as well as
the Executive Producer of ABC's Prime Time Live when it produced the hit
piece on Food Lion, Kaplan is a major media player -- but off-camera. Just
last week he was cited in news reports about the departure of Lou Dobbs.
So, to allow you to get a gander at him, on Monday morning MRC Webmaster
Sean Henry will post a still shot and a clip of his commencement address.
To see an image of him or hear him via RealPlayer, after 10am ET, go to: http://www.mrc.org
Geraldo Rivera also admires Clinton's "extraordinary"
achievements. Last week on Today when he appeared as the guest expert on
police brutality Rivera credited Clinton with "healing the racial
divide." MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this from Rivera on the
June 9 show:
"I think we're changing and I think Bill
Clinton has to take a lot of credit for healing the racial divide. He's
the first President ever to be comfortable with black people. Black people
look at him and they say 'My goodness this is someone who respects our
dignity as human beings? And maybe we can fix this thing.' Louima's
verdict is a very positive indication also that maybe we are getting
beyond justice for one, injustice for the others."
Clinton's post-election basement liaisons revealed. Sunday's
Washington Post carried the first of a three-part excerpt from Bob
Woodward's new book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of
Watergate. The first installment began by outlining the story of a woman
Robert Bennett feared would be more trouble than Willey or Lewinsky:
Robert S. Bennett, leaning close to his
client in the private study off the Oval Office, announced his suspicion
in an aggressive baritone. "Mr. President," he said, "I
find your explanation about one of the women frankly unbelievable."
"This is what impeachment is made
of," said Bennett, President Clinton's lawyer in the Paula Jones
sexual harassment case. "Your political enemies will eat you alive if
there's anything in that deposition that isn't truthful."
There can be no fudging or finagling,
Bennett said. It would be better to have to deal with the first lady if
there is a problem. "If..." Bennett said, stopping for effect,
making it clear there could be no evasion. He shook his head, almost
feeling electricity in the air. "You are dead. You are dead!"
"I hear you," the President said.
Every case, every witness, every client has
a point of greatest vulnerability -- an Achilles' heel. Locating it is a
lawyer's, and ultimately the client's, insurance policy.
It was Jan. 16, 1998, the day before
Clinton was to give his deposition in the Jones case, and Bennett believed
he had located the real problem Clinton faced the next day. It was not
Kathleen Willey, the former White House volunteer who claimed Clinton
groped her in 1993, because that had never been a relationship. It was not
Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern. It was totally improbable
that the president had taken up with a young woman, age 23 or 24, who
apparently brought pizza and mail to the Oval Office.
No, Bennett believed, he had smoked out the
real liability -- Marilyn Jo Jenkins, a beautiful marketing executive whom
Clinton had known for more than a decade. Jenkins was a longtime employee
of the Arkansas Power and Light Co. Her name had been linked to Clinton in
published reports, but only in vague references.
She had met with Clinton in his basement
office in the Arkansas governor's mansion four times in the less than
three months between his election in 1992 and his inauguration in 1993.
Three of the meetings took place about 5:15 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. Phone
records showed that from 1989 to 1991 Clinton had placed 59 calls to
Jenkins's home or office. Arkansas state trooper Danny Ferguson had
brought gifts from Clinton to Jenkins.
Clinton had denied to Bennett that he had a
sexual relationship with Jenkins. Bennett was not buying it. He noticed
that Clinton reacted differently when Jenkins's name came up. The
president paused in a forlorn and wistful way. Bennett couldn't quite put
his finger on it, but Clinton's manner seemed to be a definite tip-off.
Bennett reminded the President that the
judge would make a final ruling the next day at the deposition about the
questions relating to women. Supposedly, Clinton was going to be asked
only about women who had been state or federal employees, and Jenkins had
never worked for either government.
He was going to object, but the judge could
rule either way, Bennett said....
At the deposition, the Jones lawyers spent
the morning asking primarily about Lewinsky. After lunch, they asked the
president about his relationship with Jenkins, but the judge ruled that
they could not ask further questions about her -- a victory for
END Excerpt of the
I bet many
reporters knew about this pre-Inauguration behavior, so they really had no
reason to doubt later charges of reckless behavior.
To read the
Woodward book excerpts in full, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/shadow061399.htm
George Stephanopoulos, anchorman. The day after Memorial Day former
Clinton hack George Stephanopoulos co-hosted Good Morning America with
Diane Sawyer. This week he'll spend three days anchoring ABC's
overnight show, World News Now. Imagine journalistic indignation if a
Reagan or Bush aide got a tryout as a network anchor while their former
boss was still in office.
In the June 10 USA
Today Peter Johnson revealed ABC's current plans and long term hope to
make him a permanent anchor:
"....ABC has tapped Stephanopoulos to
co-anchor the overnight newscast World News Now with JuJu Chang for three
days next week, starting Tuesday. His answer? Sure.
"I'm easy, right?" Stephanopoulos
laughed Wednesday, saying it makes him feel like Mikey in the old Life
In that one, two kids are challenging each
other to try Life. Get Mikey to do it, one kid says to the other. Mikey
ends up doing what they ask -- and liking Life.
So exactly what's going on here, Mikey?
"It's always good to learn new
things," says the former White House communications chief. "I'll
be there for the insomniac set." Between sitting in on GMA and doing
World News Now, "I'm trying to have my sleep patterns irrevocably
ABC is talking to Stephanopoulos about a
new contract; his three-year deal is almost up. There's talk that
anchoring is in his future, and viewers should expect to see more of him.
Before you dismiss
World News Now, which airs for various lengths of time on ABC affiliate
between 1 and 5am, remember that more people watch it than tune in to CNN
during prime time. Amongst the World News Now vets who went on to greater
network prominence: Aaron Brown (ABC reporter and fill-in WNT and
Nightline anchor), Thalia Assuras (co-host of CBS's This Morning) and
Lisa McRee (former co-host of GMA.)
Dan Rather's Attack of Cliches. In a 24-second introduction to a story
on the June 11 CBS Evening News, Dan Rather managed to squeeze in six
cliches, plus a gratuitous bit of hype about the reporter. Over a graphic
reading "Virus Attack," Rather announced:
"One of the oldest battle strategies in the
book is up and running today for a hack attack in cyberspace. The FBI is
warning of a Trojan Horse sent by e-mail, a gift bearing a killer computer
virus inside. One of our best writers, Richard Schlesinger, has the
'you've got mail' story and how even Microsoft got caught with its
its portals down" may sound cute, but it makes no sense and probably
few CBS Evening News viewers know what an Internet portal even is.
Leading into an
end of show piece on how people in the town of Livermore, California
cannot locate their buried time capsule, Rather refrained from cliches but
delivered a silly rhyme and another plug for a staff member:
"There's something of a scavenger hunt
going on in Northern California, a search for lost time. Another of our
very good writers, John Blackstone, reports on this great history
Sounds like Dan had one too many cocktails before
Friday's show. --
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