ABC's GOP Analyst: Stephanopoulos; NRA Doesn't Care If Kids Die
1) Overhype of the straw poll?
Not on Monday. Just seconds in the evening for Alexander's withdrawal.
The morning shows focused on Columbine with Today spending more time with
a teen who mowed state capitol lawns than on analyzing the straw poll.
2) ABC's one and only straw
poll analyst: ex-Clinton dissembler George Stephanopoulos who insisted
"George W. Bush seemed acceptable across the board to all of the
straw poll goers."
3) NBC's David Bloom came to
Bush's defense: "Bush's basic positions are well-known. He's a
tax cutting, anti-abortion, pro-business, pro-school vouchers
4) Monday night NBC's Brian
Williams argued: "There is evidence worldwide that severely
restricting guns can and does cut way down on violent crime." Last
week MSNBC's Gregg Jarrett impugned gun rights advocates: "Do
Congress people care more about perpetuating personal power than they do
about saving the lives of children?"
5) Democrat Bob Kerrey
reaffirmed that Clinton "is an unusually good liar,"
maintaining: "What I said was entirely deserved."
6) You've got cancer?
That's great news. So implied an odd Seattle Times headline that ignored
the news revelation of the day.
7) Letterman's "Top Ten
Questions on the Russian Prime Minister Application."
8) ValcanoCam: Check out Mt.
St. Helens live on the Web.
I'm back from vacation and managed to put this CyberAlert together from
home before returning to the MRC's offices. Last week the MRC's Tim
Graham put together a few issues, but with both he and I scheduled to be
out on trips much of the next few weeks expect CyberAlerts to be
intermittent until after Labor Day.
Disconnect between complaints about media overhype of the Iowa Republican
straw poll and network television reality. While the straw poll did
dominate or fully consume the Sunday morning talk shows, by the time the
much more widely-watched Monday morning and evening shows rolled around
the networks had moved on to a new topic: opening day at Columbine High
broadcast evening shows led Monday night with multiple Columbine-inspired
stories, but only the CBS Evening News provided a full story on the
withdrawal of Lamar Alexander from the presidential race. ABC's World
News Tonight fill-in anchor Charlie Gibson gave the news 15 seconds while
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took 24 seconds to relay the
development -- and neither ran a soundbite of Alexander.
In the morning,
Iowa was buried by Columbine. ABC's Good Morning America, MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson reported, allocated all the 7am interview segments to
Columbine. Not until the 7:30am half hour did co-host Charlie Gibson talk
with George Stephanopoulos and John McCain about the straw poll.
eight stories or interview segments about Columbine, but MRC analyst Mark
Drake counted just three straw poll items including one interview segment
in the 7am half hour which came only after two Columbine interviews: Matt
Lauer talking with Newsweek's Howard Fineman. Length of this straw poll
interview: Three minutes and 30 seconds. In the 7:30am half hour Today
allocated 4:20 to Ryan Tripp, the teenager who has mowed the lawn around
every state capitol building.
Morning: MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted that the show stuck to Columbine and
didn't produce a straw poll interview segment. Normal CBS News watchers
may have missed the straw poll entirely. The PGA golf tournament bumped
the CBS Evening News in the east on Saturday and Sunday and the NFL
pre-season game bumped it in the west on Saturday.
George Stephanopoulos, independent and neutral observer of the Republican
presidential candidate picking process? He is to ABC News, or he's not
and they don't care.
All weekend he
served as ABC's lone analyst of the Iowa straw poll. MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson noticed that he appeared solo, without Bill Kristol, on both the
Friday and Monday Good Morning America as well as live from Iowa on
Saturday's World News Tonight. In addition, Sunday's This Week opened
with a live report from him, though Kristol later joined the roundtable
discussion on the show. Can you imagine the outcry if ABC News had
forwarded Kristol or George Will as the solo analyst of Democratic Party
events in 1996? But, as the July 26 CyberAlert noted, the New York Post
reported that "ABC is feverishly trying to turn" George
Stephanopoulos "into a reporter or news personality."
August 14, anchor Aaron Brown assumed Stephanopoulos was an expert on
internal Republican Party factions, asking him about supporters of the
socially conservative candidates like Gary Bauer: "They're not top
tier candidates, they're not George W. Bush. Do the social conservatives
pack up their tent and go someplace else, or do they stay within the party
and do what they can do?"
Stephanopoulos replied: "I don't think so,
Aaron. More than anything else, these guys want to win, they want to take
the White House back. They'll vote for their candidates today, but in the
end, I think they'll be for Bush."
At the top of
Sunday's This Week he insisted that everyone really likes George W.
"I think that the Bush people would have liked, you know, a real
breakthrough, something like when they raised the $37.5 million. They
didn't get that, but it was solid, and when you talk to the people here in
Ames yesterday, Cokie, the voters, even if they voted for someone else,
say Dan Quayle or Gary Bauer, George W. Bush was still their clear second
choice. The Republicans here in Iowa, like Republicans everywhere else,
want a winner and they think George Bush is probably that man."
Cokie Roberts: "So there wasn't a rejection
Stephanopoulos: "Doesn't, did not feel like
it yesterday. George W. Bush seemed acceptable across the board to all of
the straw poll goers, even if they didn't vote for him yesterday."
party regulars like every candidate would be to those who are loyal
Republicans, but are Buchanan and Bauer and Forbes backers really that
satisfied with Bush?
Inoculating Bush from attacks from the right. Liberal media observers are
upset by the media's soft coverage of George W. Bush, calling it a sign
of the media's rightward slant, but I'd suggest it more likely is
because journalists find him a lot less scary than many of the other
How else to
explain this Saturday, August 14, NBC Nightly News defense of Bush by
reporter David Bloom? He took on and countered the case made against Bush
by the conservative candidates:
"....And so today, even as his well-oiled,
well-financed political machine goes to work, busloads of Bush supporters
and Bikers for Bush rolling into Ames, the rap on Bush is that he
doesn't stand for anything."
After a man said he doesn't know what Bush
stands for, Bloom sounded like his press secretary: "In truth,
Bush's basic positions are well-known. He's a tax cutting,
anti-abortion, pro-business, pro-school vouchers conservative, a
compassionate conservative he likes to say. But until a credible
challenger emerges, and it could happen tonight, Bush is not forced to
debate specifics. And so, not wanting to alienate swing voters and
moderate Democrats he'd need in order to win next fall, Bush is selling
not a particular plan or a specific idea, but himself."
Over the weekend the networks used Elizabeth Dole's third place finish
in the Iowa straw poll, the day care shooting and the first day of classes
at Columbine to advocate more gun control.
-- Elizabeth Dole
was the most liberal candidate to participate in the Iowa straw poll, but
instead of pressing her from the right CBS's Bob Schieffer and NBC's
Tim Russert hit her Sunday for not being liberal enough.
On CBS's Face
the Nation host Bob Schieffer asked: "Let's talk a few specifics.
What would Elizabeth Dole do if she were President? The Attorney General
this week came out for licensing hand guns, said they ought to be
registered. You have separated yourself from some of the other Republicans
calling for stronger gun control measures than some of the others. Would
you go that far? License handguns?"
Dole: "No, I really wouldn't. I think my
position clearly is what I consider a reasonable common sense position.
I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms,
but I see no reason whatsoever that a family needs an AK-47 or an Uzi to
defend themselves. So I would continue that ban. And then you know I've
been traveling with police officers"
Schieffer demanded: "Let me just interrupt.
Why not go ahead and license handguns while you're at it?"
Dole: "No, I don't think that's necessary
Bob. I really don't. I'm a believer in the instant background check and I
think that law is an excellent law that will keep guns out of the hands of
felons, mentally incompetent, other categories of people who should not
have a gun. But the problem is the Clinton administration cut the funding
for that law. And we need to fully fund, automate the court records at the
On the August 15
Meet the Press Russert was bewildered:
"You've been outspoken on gun control. Why not advocate the
registration of all guns just like we register automobiles?"
-- CNN's Wolf Blitzer hit both Janet Reno and
Colin Powell from the left on gun control, MRC analyst Paul Smith
L.A. shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, in the
aftermath -- aftermath of that shooting this week, you once again
suggested that registering guns in the United States would be a good idea.
But is that realistic?"
Reno: "Not registering guns, but licensing
the people who use guns on the common sense principle that you shouldn't
bear a gun, use a gun, unless you know how to safely and lawfully use it,
and unless you have evidenced the capacity and willingness to do so."
Blitzer: "Well, others have called for
registering guns, firearms. Vice President Gore said that's a good idea.
The President says that's a good idea, but politically unrealistic in the
current climate. Would you think it would be a good idea to go ahead and
register the nearly 200 million privately owned firearms in the United
Later in the same
interview Blitzer did ask: "Given the sheer number, though, of
privately owned guns, rifles, firearms, in the United States, would any of
this kind of gun control, stricter gun control legislation if enacted into
law, do you think it would really have the kind of impact that you and
others would want?"
And: "What do you say to those who are
active supporters of the National Rifle Association who cite the Second
Amendment to the Constitution, what they call an absolute right to bear
Powell later in the show Blitzer argued: "There's been a lot of
controversy in the aftermath of the shootings at Columbine High School;
other shootings around the United States at high schools -- troubled
youth, kids at risk. What, if anything, is America's Promise doing? What
can it do, should it be doing, on this issue of gun control? For example,
guns being made available to young people and they shouldn't be made
available presumably to them."
-- Monday night, August 16, all three broadcast
network shows ran gun policy stories with both ABC and NBC promoting
liberal pro-gun control solutions.
On ABC's World
News Tonight anchor Charlie Gibson noted an "unusual occurrence
today" as Newsweek ran a pro-gun control editorial. ABC then aired a
piece on Los Angeles high school students who raised money to buy back
guns but were impeded by a state law that requires the identity of gun
sellers. Then ABC picked up the liberal agenda, focusing on how one Los
Angeles County Supervisor is upset that the county rents out its
fairgrounds for gun shows. Brian Rooney concluded "At least one
politician is saying government shouldn't be in business with people
whose business is selling guns."
NBC Nightly News
led, as did all three, with Columbine. After a story on the week-old day
care shooting, anchor Brian Williams relayed the liberal cause with a
Japanese flag waving behind him:
"A lot of Americans these days are fond of
saying if you took away the guns in America this wouldn't happen. There
is evidence worldwide that severely restricting guns can and does cut way
down on violent crime. With one example, here's NBC's Ned Colt in
Colt did explain how in Japan where handguns
outlawed and rifles severely restricted there are far fewer gun deaths.
Over on the CBS
Evening News Diana Olick outlined the results of a new CBS News poll which
found that the plurality, 22 percent, don't think anything can be done
to prevent shootings while 20 percent suggest "better parenting"
and only 14 percent said "gun control."
stricter gun laws reduce violent crime?" No said 50 percent, yes said
46 percent. Yet 67 percent still say Congress should pass more guns laws.
Olick concluded: "The poll also reveals there are now guns in about
half of America's households and that may be why, despite all the mass
shootings, Americans still don't consider gun control a top priority. In
fact, guns [4 percent] came in sixth, far behind Social Security [10
percent], taxes [9 percent] and health care [8 percent] when people named
the issues government should address and even a summer of violence
didn't change that."
Remember that the
next time liberals push gun control. Earlier this month Olick and other
network reporters demanded that Republicans defend their tax cut advocacy
given the lack of public support. (Back on July 21, for instance, Dan
Rather pointed out how tax cuts are "not a top priority of the
public".) But the CBS poll found tax cuts ahead of gun control, so an
unbiased media would cast the same doubts on the desirability of gun
control. Don't count on it.
Indeed, MRC intern
Ken Shepherd noticed that MSNBC anchor Gregg Jarrett was upset last week
by the lack of a congressional action to enact more gun control.
August 12 News with Brian Williams, Jarrett plugged an upcoming segment:
"Still ahead, the politics of guns. Why politicians don't appear to
be hearing the latest calls for gun control."
In the subsequent
segment Jarrett pressed Newsweek's Howard Fineman: "Is there any
reason, Howard, to believe tragic attack on children, for goodness sakes,
will trigger any movement by this Congress to enact tougher meaningful gun
know, Howard, I asked Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Denver, who certainly
has had to wrestle with this, about why her colleagues consistently reject
gun control measures. She said two things, they're too afraid of the NRA
and they're too beholden to the NRA. Does it really come down to that? Do
Congress people care more about perpetuating personal power than they do
about saving the lives of children?"
That was too much for even Fineman, who began his
answer: "That's a tough way to put it. I'm sure they would all answer
no. But it's also true that the NRA is perhaps the most effective lobby,
single lobby, on Capitol Hill..."
Catching up with a pre-vacation item I didn't quite get to which did not
earn wider media coverage, a Democratic Senator reaffirming that Bill
Clinton is a liar. From a July 31 National Journal story by reporter Kirk
Victor on Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska:
"When asked about his oft-cited line that
Clinton 'is an unusually good liar,' Kerrey said, 'It was an
unguarded moment to a writer who was doing a story for Esquire.' But
Kerrey really can't help himself; he quickly added: 'What I said was
entirely deserved -- make no mistake.'"
Wacky upbeat newspaper spin: You've got cancer? That's great that
nothing will change. If you think USA Today picks up on the upbeat side of
bad news, check out a headline I came across in the Seattle Times last
week during my vacation.
appeared over these opening paragraphs from an AP dispatch:
"Herb Kelleher, the flamboyant chief
executive of Southwest Airlines, said yesterday that he has prostate
cancer, which his doctor said was caught in the early stages.
"Kelleher, 68, who pioneered no-frills,
low-cost air service and built Southwest into one of the country's top
airlines, began radiation treatment yesterday.
"Analysts were reassured by an upbeat
prognosis from doctors, though they remain concerned about who will
succeed the colorful, 68-year-old executive. Kelleher relishes his image
as a heavy-smoking workaholic with a penchant for Wild Turkey bourbon and
an evangelical zeal for a friendly workplace....
The headline over
this in the August 12 Seattle Times: "Southwest CEO won't change his
burying the actual news development.
From the August 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten
Questions on the Russian Prime Minister Application." Copyright 1999
by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Are you or have you ever been a member
of the Democratic party?
9. Is it okay if you don't get your salary for a few years?
8. Who currently seems more lifelike, Boris Yeltsin or the mummified
corpse of Lenin?
7. How many lies per minute can you type?
6. What do you plan on doing after Boris cans your ass in two weeks?
5. Name all 200 former Soviet republics that end in "-stan."
4. If you're so qualified, why haven't you already defected to the U.S.?
3. Are you skilled at computers? If so, why do you think that would matter
2. Could you deal with Madeleine Albright without getting a
"breakaway republic" in your pants?
1. Commodore or Pip?
VolcanoCam. As part of my travels last week I went to the Johnston Ridge
Observatory in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwestern
Washington, better known as the location of the Mt. St. Helens National
Volcano Monument. On the day I went it was quite foggy up there and hard
to actually see the top of Mt. St. Helens, but I learned you can see it on
clear days via the Internet.
I can't thrill
you by showing you my vacation photos, so instead here's my Web site
pick of my vacation week for you to check out. During daylight hours
Pacific time, go to:
actually live, but a new photo is uploaded every few minutes of the
mountain which erupted in May of 1980. --
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