Unlike Dad, W's No "Race-Baiter"; Rather Can't Say Gore's Wrong
1) Bush "made little
news" insisted ABC Monday night, but Dan Rather maintained "Bush
made some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." FNC noted
the press corps likes his "compas-sionate conservatism" and is
giving him a pass on policy details.
2) Unlike other conservatives,
Newsweek's Howard Fineman told Today, Bush cares about the poor. On GMA
Time's Micheal Duffy admired how "he's not taking the extreme
positions that some in his party have taken," such as his father's
3) NBC's Tom Brokaw declared
as "simply wrong" Al Gore's claim that 18 to 20 year-olds can
buy a handgun, but Dan Rather made it sound like a partisan political
dispute: "You may want to note that critics say Gore misspoke himself
4) ABC highlighted how
Lawrence Walsh opposes Starr writing a report critical of Hillary, then
admired how the First Lady, who has been a public policy advocate,
"is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining
at the White House."
5) Bob Woodward suggested Bill
and Hillary Clinton are in psychotherapy, but the media so far have
6) In an ABC story about a
lawsuit against a baseball team for giving discounts to those with a
church bulletin, the plaintiff suggested the team "broaden the
promotion" to include Satanists.
Monday night reporters marveled over the crowds of potential voters and
hordes of reporters who followed George W. Bush around New Hampshire.
"It feels more like a coronation than a campaign," suggested
NBC's David Bloom.
have a press conference today. He made little news and no mistakes,"
asserted ABC's Dean Reynolds, but CBS's Dan Rather found the press
conference quite newsworthy: "CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made
some attention grabbing comments on abortion policy." Of the
broadcast network stories only NBC's Bloom allowed a conservative to
criticize Bush's abortion position.
The media's free
ride for Bush became a topic of discussion on FNC's Special Report with
Brit Hume. From Manchester, NH Fred Barnes found: "While some
conservatives may not like the compassionate conservative theme, the press
does." Reporter Carl Cameron agreed:
"He has shrugged off talking about specifics
of his tax cut and he's sort of beaten around the bush, pardon the pun,
on a lot of the specifics on a variety of issues but the media and a lot
of the voters here in New Hampshire, saying 'well, for now it's a
enough.' As if it's only his first trip and he's at least touching
on some of the things that he thinks are important and we'll give him an
opportunity down the road to sort of flesh it out and when you hear
reporters saying, 'Well it's enough for now.' That is a courtesy
that the national political media has in my memory never offered anyone
(For evidence of
how the Washington press love W's compassionate conservatism, which they
see as a rejection of the Reagan and Bush senior's years, see today's
Here's how the
three broadcast networks handled Bush on Monday night, June 14:
-- ABC's World News Tonight focused on Bush's
popularity. Dean Reynolds opened his report from New Hampshire:
"It is truly remarkable. George W. Bush is
turning into a political phenomenon for reasons almost no one can explain.
Here is the Governor of Texas, who acknowledges talking about issues in
only the broadest of terms with no specifics, but a huge press corps is
hanging on his every word and no one seems to know why."
"Bush did have a press conference today. He
made little news and no mistakes. And that may be the truth about why his
Republican opponents and reporters, even reporters covering reporters, are
watching him so closely: To see who he is, why he's so popular and
whether he will stumble."
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather announced: "Bush is on his first big campaign swing.
Today, New Hampshire. CBS's Bob McNamara reports Bush made some
attention grabbing comments on abortion policy but generally stuck to
McNamara began: "It looks like a made for
the movies campaign. George W. Bush in the clutch of a crowd and
cameras...an image maker's image a man for America backdrop, the
After playing a
Bush answer about Kosovo at his press conference, McNamara pointed out:
"No litmus test issues, like would he appoint anti-abortion judges to
the federal bench."
Bush: "I am not a lawyer. My job is to pick
judges who are qualified to sit on the bench and that would be my
McNamara: "And no details about youthful
McNamara: "I made mistakes, 20 or 30 years
ago but I've learned from my mistakes."
I don't recall
any questions to Clinton in mid-1991 about such matters.
After noting how
Bush's popularity is hurting the fundraising ability of the other
candidates, McNamara concluded: "Today the Bush campaign is in no
hurry to be anything more than symbols over substance and so far it
appears to be working and protecting a big early lead."
-- NBC Nightly
News. David Bloom opened his piece:
"It feels more like a coronation than a
campaign, Texas Governor George W. Bush stumping for the first time in New
Bloom showed Bush at his news conference
promising to uphold the dignity of the office. Bloom attributed Bush's
popularity to the family name and the bandwagon effect, marveling that
polls show he has more support than all the other candidates combined.
Bloom then arrived
at abortion: "Today Bush said there will be no litmus test on
abortion, meaning he might appoint pro-choice justices to the Supreme
Court. Conservative rivals pounced."
Gary Bauer: "I am shocked that compassionate
conservatism does not include protections for the most defenseless among
Bloom showed some
Democratic protesters who called Bush an "empty vessel." Bloom
"Bush refuses to talk specifics and makes no
apologies. Details he said today will come on my timetable. 'Let's get
to know one another,' Bush seems to be saying to voters, 'I'll tell
you more about myself later.'"
Up next, Lisa
Myers assessed Bush's war chest, reporting that he's bringing in
$750,000 a week as the other candidates complain they are starved for
The Monday morning shows discussed the Bush phenomenon, highlighting how
he cares so much more about people, unlike "extreme"
conservatives and his "race-baiting" father.
-- On NBC's
Today, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed,
marveled at how unusual it is for a conservative to care about education
and the poor:
"He's giving a general election message now,
Katie. He's telling the Republicans at the grassroots, 'Look you want to
win here's how you do it.' Yes tax cuts, yes less government, yes decency
back in the Oval Office but also we've got to be concerned about educating
every American child and helping out the poor. It's an unusual message
really to hear from a Republican rostrum but the people clapped if only
because they think this is how to win."
-- Never mind
that, on Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson first wanted to know
about Bush's dialect, asking reporter Dean Reynolds: "One thing
that I'm sort of curious about. The Bush family are New Englanders who
transplanted to Texas, but George W. is governor of Texas, was raised
there, and there's that Texas twang in his voice. Does it go away when
he's up in New England, in New Hampshire campaigning today, or do you
think it stays?"
Reynolds assured Gibson: "That's one thing
we're going to be looking at very closely. I'm also going to try to see
whether he's wearing his cowboy boots, which were very prominent in Iowa,
and his sort of wrangler-style belt buckle that says 'Governor George
Bush.' That kind of stuff works in some parts of the country. The Texas
twang hasn't always been a favorite up here in Yankee-land."
GMA brought aboard
Michael Duffy of Time magazine and their own Cokie Roberts to assess Bush.
Gibson asserted: "Alright, talk to me a little bit about where this
guy stands on issues, and Michael let me start with you. He talks about
himself as a compassionate conservative. That sounds a little bit like one
from Column A, one from Column B. I don't know what it means. Does
Michael Duffy, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson
noted, answered by insulting conservatives as well as Bush's father, two
groups normally seen as separate:
"Well, what he says it is is, essentially,
is he's not taking the extreme positions that some in his party have taken
for the last four or five years. He said on Saturday, you know, I'm not,
I'm conservative, but I'm not uncompassionate. I believe in education, I
believe essentially in the environment, I'm not going to say the kind of
race-baiting things that perhaps my father or others in the party have
said. He's going to be much more, I think, moderate on health and safety
issues, things that appeal particularly to suburban women, that have run
away from this party in the past."
Vice President Al Gore on Monday falsely claimed that there is no law
barring 18 to 20 year-olds from buying a handgun. NBC's Tom Brokaw
showed Gore making the assertion and then declared: "That's simply
wrong." But CBS's Dan Rather downplayed the gaffe, instead first
highlighted how "Gore sees gun control as one way to define himself
and his differences with Bush." Rather couldn't bring himself to
call Gore wrong, making it sound like a partisan political dispute instead
of a matter of fact: "You may want to note that critics say Gore
misspoke himself today."
On the June 14 NBC
Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced:
"Vice President Al Gore was addressing the
U.S. Conference of Mayors today, talking about gun control and how young
people between the ages of 18 and 20 commit almost a quarter of all gun
murders. And then he said this:"
Gore: "Right now they can walk into any gun
shop, any pawn shop, any gun show, anywhere in America and buy a
Brokaw: "That's simply wrong. The Gun
Control Act of 1968 made it illegal to sell a handgun to anyone under the
age of 21 and other laws make it illegal for anyone under 18 to posses a
But CBS Evening
News viewers heard a gentler correction for Gore as anchor Dan Rather
first stressed how Gore is out front on the issue of juveniles and guns:
"Governor Bush said nothing today in New
Hampshire about his gun control views, but the Democrat who'd like to
run against him did in New Orleans. Vice President Al Gore sees gun
control as one way to define himself and his differences with Bush. Today,
addressing a Mayor's conference, Gore noted almost a quarter of gun
murders are committed by young people under age 20."
Gore: "Incredibly, while these 18 to 20
year-olds cannot legally buy a beer, cannot purchase a bottle of wine and
cannot order a drink in a bar, right now they can walk into any gun shop,
any pawn shop, any gun show, anywhere in America and buy a handgun."
Rather: "You may want to note that critics
say Gore misspoke himself today. Handgun sales to those under 21 are
forbidden by federal law though other firearms are available."
So if his
"critics" didn't point this out Dan Rather wouldn't have?
News Tonight did not mention Gore's false claim.)
+++ Watch this
Rather item on Gore. The MRC's Jessica Anderson and Sean Henry have
posted it in RealPlayer format on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
Hillary Clinton, SuperWoman: "The First Lady, who has been everything
from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a supportive
wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on entertaining
at the White House," oozed ABC's Andrea McCarren on Sunday night.
World News Tonight ABC first warned off Ken Starr about taking on Hillary
and then delivered a glowing piece about how many roles Hillary plays in
Prompted by a New
York Times story on how Starr is considering a tough report on Hillary
Clinton's activities, ABC reporter Tim O'Brien assessed his record and
let Lawrence Walsh urge he restraint: "Starr's efforts did lead to
Mr. Clinton's impeachment and at least one former Independent Counsel
today counseled against anything further."
Lawrence Walsh: "All you're doing is
prolonging a very expensive operation, torturing a person who served the
country. You have to decide for your, is it worth it?"
O'Brien concluded: "Sources report there is
some debate in Starr's office over whether he should say anything about
Hillary Clinton if a decision is made not to indict her. With his own
investigation criticized by some for being overzealous, a badly-timed
attack on the First Lady could be more damaging to Ken Starr's legacy than
reputation can and has been trashed by the media, but the same cannot be
said about Hillary Clinton who much of the media continue to admire.
O'Brien's June 13 story, anchor Aaron Brown declared: "Whatever
Mr. Starr chooses to do, it will be but a part of the changing public
perception of Mrs. Clinton. And just when you thought you knew everything
about her, there is something new and unexpected in the works. More from
ABC's Andrea McCarren."
As transcribed by
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Andrea McCarren opened: "Hillary Rodham
Clinton is about to don yet another hat. The First Lady, who has been
everything from a public advocate of women's rights and health care to a
supportive wife, is taking on an additional role, as author of a book on
entertaining at the White House."
Lisa Caputo, former press secretary for the First
Lady, got time for this glowing assessment: "Hillary Clinton is the
sum of many parts: She's a wife, a mother, a daughter, an advocate, a
White House hostess, a lawyer, a public policy champion, an advisor to her
husband. So she's the sum of many parts."
McCarren continued: "The book is expected to
be released this fall, but skeptics have already emerged."
Columnist Arianna Huffington got time for a
comment, but ABC picked a soundbite that hardly countered the story theme:
"Nobody's thinking that she's really seriously going to sit down and
work out the 30 recipes and they're going to be included in the
McCarren did allow
as to how critics find the new interest ironic, but soon countered with
evidence she's always cared about the traditional: "The First
Lady's critics find the irony of such a book palpable, especially after a
year in which things on the homefront were anything but cozy, and since
long ago, she claimed to be anything but a typical homemaker."
Hillary Clinton in 1992: "You know, I
suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what
I decided to do was to fulfill my profession."
McCarren: "But one White House historian
points out she has had a fervent interest in entertaining and decorating
at the White House from the very beginning of her husband's
administration. She completed the sculpture garden and created a
collection of American arts and crafts."
Carl Anthony, First Lady historian: "This
more traditional side of her, which perhaps people haven't paid attention
to, is as strong an urge in her as it was in Jacqueline Kennedy."]
McCarren concluded with this set of words which
really didn't say anything: "So as Hillary Rodham Clinton appears
to be stepping out from behind her husband's shadow, it is clear this time
she's writing herself a leading role."
+++ A video clip
of Hillary Clinton's warm reception on the Today show last week in which
Katie Couric asked about the Knicks and let Hillary blast Republicans on
guns, is up on the MRC home page. Just click on the "Media Bias
Videos" icon that is in the upper right corner and then scroll down
to June 10.
The Clintons are in psychotherapy, but the media yawn? The MRC's Tim
Graham passed along to me a June 14 Slate "Chatterbox" item by
Timothy Noah about how the media failed to pick up on Monday on a very
interesting nugget at the end of the Washington Post's Monday excerpt
from Bob Woodward's new book, Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of
....Chatterbox hasn't read Shadow, so he can't say for certain what if any
particular revelation is likely to define this book in the public
imagination. But he is struck by the uncharacteristic way the press, and
Woodward himself, are soft-pedaling what, based on Chatterbox's reading of
the first two excerpts, is probably a strong contender: Namely, Woodward's
suggestion that Bill and Hillary are in psychotherapy!
Here is the passage in question, which ends
the second Post excerpt. Its implications went unmentioned in the summary
stories in both the Post and Newsweek, and appear not to have yet caught
the attention of the news wires:
"By fall 1998, as the House moved
toward impeaching her husband, Hillary was still uncertain about her own
course. A close friend told her about a high-profile, public couple. They
had been married 40 years, the friend told Hillary. The man had lots of
affairs and the woman finally caught him. 'She was devastated,' the
friend said, 'but she thought hard about it. They had a great
friendship, and she decided he is worth fighting for, and it would be
unwise to turn him out or to give him to someone else. Her decision was
that it was better to fight for him and to fight for the relationship.'
"'Man,' Hillary said, 'that's
exactly what I'm thinking now.'
"A therapist can stop the bleeding,
Hillary's friend said. That was the key to making progress and saving the
marriage. Hillary said she and Bill knew that counseling was the right
thing to do. 'We are doing the right thing.'"
What is Woodward suggesting? He is clearly
suggesting that the Clintons are in couples therapy. Chatterbox, who is a
great believer in (and consumer of) psychotherapy, would never criticize
-- indeed, would heartily praise -- the first couple's decision to seek
help from a psychotherapist, which they obviously need. At the same time,
however, Chatterbox thinks that the first instance in which a President is
found to receive psychotherapy, especially if it's while holding office,
merits some public attention, if only to mark the passing of a taboo.
(Remember the grief Candidate Dukakis suffered in 1988 when false rumors
circulated about his seeing a shrink?)
For now, though, it's hard to escape the
impression that Woodward wants readers to think the President and his wife
are seeing a psychotherapist -- or rather, wants to take credit for
breaking that story if it pans out -- but also wants to duck
responsibility for suggesting this if it turns out not to be true.
To read Chatterbox
and other features of Slate, edited by Michael Kinsley, go to: http://www.slate.com
three of the three-part excerpt from Woodward's book, on Ken Starr, as
well as Sunday's part one and Monday's part two cited above, can be
read by going to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/shadow061599.htm
Catching up on a humorous item from just over a week ago, on the Sunday,
June 6 World News Tonight ABC's Tim O'Brien explored the controversy
over minor league baseball teams giving an admission discount on
Sunday's to patrons who arrive with a church or synagogue service
O'Brien looked at how Carl Silverman, joined by the ACLU, is suing the
Hagerstown, Maryland Suns. They claim the team's discount policy
discriminates against non church-goers.
O'Brien took note of what Silverman thinks
should be done: "Silverman maintains the team could promote all kinds
of values without using religion as a means to discriminate."
Silverman suggested: "All they needed to do
was to broaden the promotion to allow not only church bulletins but any
non-profit organization bulletin, such as the Audubon Society or say a
Satanist group bulletin."
Would you seat the Satanists side-by-side with
the church-goers, or would each get their own seating section? --
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