Crusading for Campaign Finance "Reform"; Democrat Ray; Rivera on Starr
1) CBS and NBC exploited
Elizabeth Dole's decision to quit as a chance to take up a liberal
cause. Dan Rather: "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush
allies...killed the latest attempt at campaign finance reform."
NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented how the money race hurt "Elizabeth
Dole's dream of running for President."
2) ABC jumped on dangerous
"microwave" cell phones and CBS's Dan Rather found a
"related situation" to spying at the nuclear weapons labs:
3) Robert Ray, who replaced
Kenneth Starr, was a registered Democrat until 1998, but none the networks
noted that and instead relayed the White House attack on his supposed
4) NBC's Geraldo Rivera on
Ken Starr's legacy: "The most overblown political persecution since
5) Eleven days until Gumbel
returns to morning TV. In #7 of the MRC's Top Ten "Gumbel
Stumbles," Gumbel finds an upside to riots.
6) Sam Donaldson recalled
assuring a Washington media colleague that his "heart" is
"in the right place" since Donaldson favors liberal policies
like raising taxes.
October 18 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 Web site thanks to Sean Henry and Kristina Sewell. Quote
topics include: "W. Fans: Geraldo, Eleanor, and Al"; "Ted
Turner: I'm a Socialist"; "Bush vs. The 'Harsh Hard
Right'"; "Good Morning, Liberal America";
"'Intelligent' Catholics Like Dung"; and "Celebrating
Communist China." To read all the quotes, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/nq19991018.html.
For back issues: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/1999/welcome.html
CBS and NBC on Wednesday night exploited Elizabeth Dole's decision to
drop out of the Republican presidential race as an opportunity to crusade
for restrictions on spending, portraying Dole as a victim of big money in
politics. "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush allies, among
the Republican congressional leaders, killed the latest attempt at
campaign finance reform," declared Dan Rather. CBS's Bob Schieffer
provided a one-sided story revolving around how John McCain "calls
the influence of money disgraceful."
NBC anchor Tom
Brokaw lamented how the money race hurt "Elizabeth Dole's dream of
running for President," claiming, without citing any proof, that
there's a rising tide of anger at too much money in politics:
"It's gotten to be so big and so controversial there's a growing
demand to change the system, but that demand died again today when it hit
the U.S. Senate."
On ABC's World
News Tonight John Cochran relayed Dole's reasoning that she didn't
have enough money to compete and allowed as to how McCain "blames the
system," but refrained from campaigning for more regulation. Cokie
Roberts then told anchor Peter Jennings what she thinks will happen to
Dole's voters, arguing the other party is the "more natural
home" of many:
"She did energize women and young women in
particular came to her rallies in large numbers and were very
enthusiastic. I think some of them will now stay home. Some of the women
will go to their more natural home, which is the Democratic Party and some
will certainly go to some of the other candidates."
Later, on 20/20,
Diane Sawyer assumed Dole's gender prevented her from raising money, not
that her message failed to excite many, asking her: "What will it
take to level the playing field for a woman candidate on this pernicious
issue of money?"
Now to how CBS and
NBC crusaded for campaign finance "reform" on Wednesday night,
-- CBS Evening
News. Dan Rather opened the show by stressing the "larger
implications" of Dole's dropout:
"Good evening. Elizabeth Dole is out. The
only woman running for the presidential nomination of either major party
said today she was done in not by a clash of ideas, but a losing scramble
for cash. Dole says she was outspent at least 75-to-one by fellow
Republicans George W. Bush and Steve Forbes. Bush gets a lot of his money
from big business, Forbes spends a lot of his own. Against this Dole said
she had no chance. CBS's Phil Jones reports the larger implications of
Dole's complaint about how her opponents could outspend her and how she
believed she had paved the way for the first woman President
Though George W.
Bush has tried to separate himself from congressional Republicans, Dan
Rather then linked him to what he clearly implied was a bad Senate
decision: "The Dole dropout comes one day after Bush allies, among
the Republican congressional leaders, killed the latest attempt at
campaign finance reform, underscoring yet again how big money special
interests can turn an election or even who's able to run."
began his subsequent story: "Well Dan, as you know, money's always
been a factor in politics but lately its become virtually the whole ball
game and there is a reason."
As if the world
the cost of TV ads as the culprit and explained that Dole realized she
couldn't win when outspent 20-to-one by Bush. Schieffer then picked up
and promoted, without bothering with a retort, the pet cause of McCain:
"Republican John McCain, who has made
campaign reform the core of his presidential campaign, calls the influence
of money disgraceful."
McCain: "John Kasich, Lamar Alexander, Dan
Quayle, now Elizabeth Dole have all left the presidential campaign before
a single ballot was cast. Why? Because they didn't have sufficient
Schieffer: "Even the Democratic President
who was out fundraising for his party last night professed sympathy."
After a soundbite from Clinton, Schieffer
continued his crusade to limit the speech of others but not of CBS News:
"Current law limits contributions to
candidates to a thousand dollars, but frontrunner Bush has still managed
to raise nearly $60 million. An astounding number, but chicken feed
compared to the quarter billion dollars expected to flow to the political
parties, which are bound by no limit on contributions. Where does it
McCain: "There'll be more money and more
scandals and finally those scandals will grow to a point where the
American people will absolutely demand we clean it up."
Without addressing how more rules will solve
anything when the Clinton team violated the current rules, Schieffer
concluded: "But not yet. Yesterday it was the fourth time that Senate
Republican leaders had blocked a vote on McCain's reforms, even though a
majority of the House and Senate now favor them."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened not with a
standard introduction to a lead story, but with a personal pleading:
"Good evening. Tonight we begin with what
has been called the mother's milk of politics: Money, tons of money. So
much money these days it is spilling into the billions. How it affects
those who have it and don't want to give it up and how it effected
Elizabeth Dole's dream of running for President. We begin with what is
called soft money, but it's hard cash, hundreds of millions of dollars
in political cash funneled to political parties to help members of
Congress already in office. It pours in from large corporations and other
special interests with big stakes in how those members vote. It's gotten
to be so big and so controversial there's a growing demand to change the
system, but that demand died again today when it hit the U.S.
NBC then ran three
stories to support Brokaw's political cause. First, Lisa Myers on the
plight of the "reform" bill blocked by Republicans in the
Senate. She did at least note that an "unusual coalition from the
Christian Coalition to the ACLU" opposes the "reform"
proposal. Second, trying to be bipartisan, Jim Avila profiled a big
Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, but on the policy issue he didn't
bother to be balanced, giving unrebutted airtime to a Common Cause hack
who claimed only those with money are heard. Third, NBC ran an "In
Their Own Words" segment from Elizabeth Dole complaining about how
her lack of money doomed her campaign.
Check: Not a word in any of these stories about a conservative
reform proposal: Deregulate campaign finance and require full disclosure.
That way, a couple of wealthy friends of Dole could have given her plenty
of money, something the $1,000 per person limit now prevents.
On soft money, if
parties are not allowed to raise and spend all they want then the media
will gain influence. What's the value to liberals of the CBS and NBC
stories crusading for their new regulatory scheme?
As for "big
money" and "tons of money" being spent on elections, the
U.S. actually spends very little on campaigns compared to advertising
other products. And, as noted by George Will, George W. Bush's current
fundraising is no greater than what a certain candidate popular with the
media raised way back in 1968. Here's an excerpt from Will's October
....If fundraising continues at the current
pace, candidates for the House, Senate and presidency will spend $3
billion in the 1999-2000 cycle, an $800 million increase over the 1995-96
presidential election cycle. But to put that $800 million -- in eight
quarters -- in perspective: $655 million was spent on advertising on the
Internet in just the last quarter of 1998.
That $3 billion would come to $14.60 per
eligible voter for political communication about the determination of
public policy -- about the presidential contest, 435 House contests and 34
Senate contests. Too much? By what standard?
If today's fundraising pace is maintained,
the two-year total for congressional races could be $1 billion. But before
In a single year, 1998, the nation's largest advertiser, General Motors,
spent almost $3 billion communicating about its products. The 14th-largest
advertiser, McDonald's, spent more than $1 billion in 1998 communicating
The Senate debate takes place after the
Bush campaign's announcement that it has raised $56 million in seven
months. However, Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of the Wall Street Journal reports
that in 1967-68 Eugene McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign against
President Johnson for the Democratic presidential nomination lasted about
seven months, raised $11 million. In current dollars, that is almost $53
million. And most of it came from five people. Under the political-speech
regulations put in place since then, it is impossible -- it is illegal --
to mount a McCarthy-style insurgency against the political status quo. The
political class, which is the status quo, wants it that way.
It is indeed wrong that the political class
must spend so much time raising money. It also is that class's fault: It
has not repealed the $1,000 limit on contributions imposed, unindexed to
inflation, 25 years ago. That limit has created an artificial scarcity of
something -- money -- that is stupendously plentiful in booming
On other matters Wednesday night, dangerous cell phones on ABC and CBS
found something more dangerous than spying at he nuclear labs: racism
ABC's World News
Tonight opened with a preview of a 20/20 story by Brian Ross on how a
scientist hired by the cellular industry now claims cell phones cause
genetic damage and a rare type of brain tumor. Ross set back his
credibility with me, however, when he referred to how "microwave
radiation from phones" penetrates the head and on 20/20 to the
"microwave signal" from the phones -- as if he were trying to
get viewers to think of a microwave oven which penetrates solid objects.
Cellular phones in the U.S., both analog and digital, operate in the
800MHz range with some new PCS licenses just above 900MHz.
"Microwave" is defined as 1Ghz, or 1,000MHz, and above. It's
direct line of sight communication used by satellites and uplinks from TV
station mobile units back to a fixed point receiver at a high-level
location. Cell phones do not transmit a "microwave" signal.
On the CBS Evening
News Dan Rather, without naming a charge, predicted Wen Ho Lee "will
be indicted in the next week or two. Lee flatly denies any wrongdoing.
CBS's Sharyl Attkisson has been investigating a related situation at the
weapons labs. In this case it goes beyond alleged spying to alleged
Attkisson focused on how more than a dozen Asian
scientists at the Lawrence Livermore lab "claim that behind the walls
guarding the nation's most secret nuclear weapons technology lies
another secret. Not espionage. Racism."
All three evening
shows touted a federal appeals court ruling overturning a jury verdict for
fraud in ABC's hit piece on Food Lion.
Robert Ray, the independent counsel who replaced Kenneth Starr, is a
lifelong Democrat, the Associated Press disclosed. But in reporting his
appointment, none the networks noted which side of the aisle he comes
from, though several happily relayed the White House attack on him for a
supposed anti-Clinton bias.
In an October 19
AP dispatch, Washington reporter Peter Yost revealed:
"Based on his work in the Espy probe,
Clinton supporters began questioning Ray's impartiality as soon as word
leaked out last week that he was to finish up Starr's five-year probe of
the president and his wife and other matters.
"But Democrats may have trouble using the
same argument that they used with Starr -- that he is a right-wing zealot
out to get the President.
"Until January 1998, Ray was a registered
Democrat in New York City. He ran twice for the school board in New York
City in nonpartisan elections, losing both times. He now is a registered
voter in New Jersey unaffiliated with any political party."
have any trouble impugning Ray since the networks followed their game
plan. Below are some examples of how the networks described Ray, as
collected by MRC analysts Jessica Anderson and Paul Smith:
-- CNN's Inside
Politics, October 15. Jeanne Meserve: "And also from the White House
today, criticism of the man tapped to replace independent counsel Ken
Starr. Sources say a special three-judge panel will unseal an order next
week, naming Starr assistant Robert Ray to finish Starr's investigation of
the President and Mrs. Clinton. White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart
called the choice of Ray 'dubious,' since Ray also had worked on the
independent counsel probe of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy."
Joe Lockhart: "There is, you know, a concern
that, you know, that we're continuing to keep going and keep going and
people are moving up. You know, it's sort of part of the process of, you
know, getting ahead in the independent counsel game is, you know, being
involved in a series of these investigations. We think they ought to find
a way to wrap this up."
-- ABC's World
News Tonight, October 18. Peter Jennings: "As we reported last week,
a career prosecutor named Robert Ray is replacing Kenneth Starr as the
independent counsel investigating the President. Mr. Ray took his oath of
office today and he promised to finish Mr. Starr's work promptly. Now the
White House has suggested that Mr. Ray is biased against the
-- NBC Nightly News, October 18, played a
soundbite of Ray followed by Tom Brokaw relaying the White House hit.
Ray: "We shall do our best to be thorough
and fair, to discharge the weighty matters and mandates that have been
given our office, and to continue the work of this investigation in a
prompt, responsible and cost-effective manner."
Brokaw: "A White House spokesman said it was
quote 'dubious' to give someone who's worked on the Starr team and
the Espy investigation a promotion."
-- MSNBC's The
News with Brian Williams the same night played the same soundbite before
Williams added: "Asked to react to all of this, a White House
spokesman said it was quote 'dubious' to give someone who has worked
on the Starr staff a promotion like this."
One last shot at Starr from NBC's Geraldo Rivera. On Monday's Upfront
Tonight on CNBC, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Rivera fired away:
"He gave a lot. He gave a lot of heartache.
He gave five years of right wing zealotry and he gave the most overblown
political persecution since Joe McCarthy, at least in this
Number 7 in the MRC's Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles, a quote countdown to
Bryant Gumbel's return to morning TV on November 1 as co-host of CBS's
The Early Show, is now up on the MRC home page in RealPlayer format.
In this latest
highlight from Gumbel's career as a liberal advocate, on the April 30,
1992 Today show Gumbel found an upside to the Los Angeles riots: "We
keep looking for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in
putting race relations back on the front burner after they've been
subjugated so long as a result of the Reagan years."
To watch this
quote and #6 as picked by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey, which
will be posted Thursday morning, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/gumbel/gumbelvideos.html
The Top Ten "Gumbel Stumbles" quote cited in the October 20
CyberAlert was misidentified as #7. It was #8. Number 7 is listed above in
Caring = liberal policies to the Washington media establishment. Catching
up on an anecdote caught by MRC analyst Paul Smith last week, on the
October 9 Reliable Sources ABC's Sam Donaldson recalled how a prominent
Washington reporter worried that Donaldson's wealth made him "out
of touch." Donaldson assured him he was not, citing as proof his
advocacy of higher taxes and a hike in the minimum wage.
Donaldson relayed in his appearance on the CNN show to discuss his new
Mon-Wed-Fri abcnews.com Webcast, SamDonaldson@abcnews.com:
"Once a good friend of mine -- you'd know
his name, I'm going to tell you, he's a good reporter in Washington --
many years ago wrote me a blistering letter along the lines that you just
said: Well, you've got too much money now, and you're out of touch and all
of this, and you don't care about the working America. And I wrote him
back and said, well, what are the issues that I am for on the roundtable
every Sunday? I'm for an increase in the minimum wage. I'm for higher
taxes on the wealthy. I mean, I went down the whole list of things that
were there. I said, that's what I stand for. What does it matter what my
bank account is if my actions, my words and my heart are in the right
place, according to you?"
The "right place" for the media is on
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