Anchor to Clinton: "How Does It Feel Talking to Me?"; Focusing on Bush Quiz, Not Gore or Wolf
1) Monday night the networks focused on how
Microsoft's stock fared. ABC found a culprit for malaria: "Some
scientists say one reason for these unusual outbreaks is global
2) Usually reporters credit Mikhail
Gorbachev with bringing down the Berlin Wall. CNN's Christiane Amanpour
blamed him, citing how "the unbridled capitalism that followed
communism has unleashed misery on citizens who had all their social needs
taken care of."
3) Fox's Brit Hume quipped that the
Microsoft judge "is not the sharpest knife in the legal drawer
here" and Charles Krauthammer joked about who doesn't know the
leaders Bush couldn't name.
4) It's all about me. Look at me! ABC
anchor Carole Simpson put herself front and center, equating her
professional success with President Clinton's rise, asking him: "How
does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I
wouldn't be able to?"
5) Last Friday night ABC's World News
Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush could not identify some obscure world
leaders, but the show has yet to utter a word about Naomi Wolf and never
noted Gore's missed answers to a farm quiz on 20/20 back in June.
6) Last week the Norwegian media
highlighted how long Clinton shook the hand of a Monica Lewinsky
>>> The Media Research Center has moved its
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Monday night the three broadcast network evening shows, as well as CNN's
The World Today, led with the announcement by the second largest HMO,
United HealthCare, that reviewing decisions costs more money than they
saved so they are switching decision-making to doctors. NBC Nightly News
unveiled new a new opening sequence, graphics and desk for Tom Brokaw, but
the show still played the same music.
The ABC, CBS and NBC shows all
ran pieces on the Microsoft monopoly ruling, but not about its soundness.
Instead, all followed how the stock performed during the day. CBS's
Anthony Mason stressed how a breakup of the company could even help
investors as they'd get stock in both halves of any new entities. NBC's
Mike Jensen pointed out how well investors have done with the stock as
$100 of Microsoft stock bought 1989 would now be worth $65,000. NBC added
two "In Depth" reports. First, a look at arguments about whether
Microsoft's dominance has helped or hurt consumers and then a piece on how
many in Microsoft's home base in the Seattle area are worried while those
in Silicon Valley who compete with Microsoft are happy about the ruling.
ABC's World News Tonight
delivered another panic story, as they did in August, about how
"global warming" is causing an outbreak of malaria in North
America. Citing recent cases in New York, California, Texas, Michigan and
New Jersey, reporter Deborah Amos asserted:
"Some scientists say one reason for these
unusual outbreaks is global warming, which can cause extreme weather.
Prolonged droughts followed by heavy rains have helped provide the right
conditions in which mosquitos thrive."
Though she conceded only
"some scientists" believe this, she didn't bother with conveying
the majority view. Instead, she only relayed the claim of Harvard
University's Dr. Paul Epstein, who said: "In order for there to be
local transmission of malaria, one needs a lot of mosquitos and enough
warmth to increase the transmission."
Amos elaborated: "When it is cold it can
take thirty days for the malaria parasite to mature. But a mosquito only
lives for fourteen days, so no transmission. But when it's hot the malaria
parasite can mature rapidly, ready to infect someone before the mosquito
Marking the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, CNN's
The World Today on Monday featured an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Christiane Amanpour followed the usual media pattern of crediting
Gorbachev with bringing down the wall, but she also blamed him for it.
After opening her November 8
piece by asserting that some say Gorbachev should get a statue in every
eastern European capital, she asked him: "How did you feel yourself
watching that wall come down?"
Later, after Gorbachev praised
socialism and noted how Western Europe is led by social Democrats,
Amanpour replied by raising the dark side of the end of communism:
"Indeed, ten years later, many are saying
the unbridled capitalism that followed communism has unleashed misery on
citizens who had all their social needs taken care of, especially in the
former Soviet Union."
To Gorbachev: "Mr. President, you are
regarded by many people in this world as a hero for causing the end of
tyranny and the collapse of communism. But you are also criticized heavily
by those who say you opened a pandora's box. And they say look at the
strife now, look at the economic chaos, look at the Mafia structure, look
at the corruption. They say that you opened and started a plan that you
did not know how to finish."
Amazing. Hitting a communist
from the left.
Two best lines of the weekend on the interview and talk shows: Fox's Brit
Hume didn't pretend Microsoft is some heroic, benign company as he
questioned the legal mind of federal judge Thomas Penfield Jackson and
syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer put into perspective George W.
Bush's inability to name the leaders of three places.
-- Brit Hume on Fox News
Sunday: "Microsoft is a big, rough, mean, ruthless company. And it
has dealt ruthlessly in many instances with its competitors. Does that
translate into violations of the law? That is the question. And I think
that it is a big leap and the judge made it completely, almost, it seems
to me, suggesting that he is not the sharpest knife in the legal drawer
-- Charles Krauthammer on
Inside Washington: "That was ridiculous. Chechnya, India and
Pakistan. The people who live in those countries have no idea who their
Forget about focusing on your news subject and not yourself. In an
interview of President Clinton shown on Sunday's World News Tonight ABC
anchor Carole Simpson put herself front and center, recalling how she
"grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a
pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you." Incredibly,
she then asked: "How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too,
when people said I wouldn't be able to?" Even Clinton seemed
surprised by her hubris.
Earlier, Simpson, who is black,
had told Clinton: "You're the first black President. How does that
make you feel?" And, she worried: "Aren't you going to suffer
great post-partum depression after you leave office?"
Simpson's November 7 piece was
pegged to Clinton's visits to poor areas. Simpson explained: "For
millions of Americans the booming economy and bull market have been all
but meaningless, because they've had no share in the prosperity. This past
week President Clinton called attention to this gap in his second New
Simpson explained his proposal
and allowed Clinton to promote it before showing excerpts from her
interview aboard Air Force One. Simpson complained: "The poverty
issue is, of course, tied somewhat to race. And blacks are still
disproportionately poorer, Latinos are. Today we were in Newark, and we
saw Latinos in Hartford. Your race commission was to come out with a
report. Where is it?"
Clinton answered: "Of all
the issues that I deal with, this is one that I have perhaps the strongest
feelings about, and the longest years of experience with, and the, and the
clearest ideas about the future of our country and the future of our
To that, Simpson responded:
"You want to do it right. You joke about it, so I don't see why I
can't joke about it: You're the first black President. How does that make
Clinton began a long answer by saying "I
think it's a compliment, and I take it as such."
Simpson's piece then moved to a
new venue and the sucking up moved up a notch. "Later, in an Arkansas
tomato factory, I chatted with President Clinton about his future."
She told him: "I've watched you the past few days and how the crowd
responds to you, and how you respond to them." And: "You've got
the big plane, you've got the big house, you've got the cars, the
protection. Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after
you leave office?"
Clinton answered: "I don't know, I hope not.
I'll hate to give up Air Force One. You know, air traffic has gotten a lot
tougher since, in the last eight years. And I've really tried to help
other airline passengers get a better deal, so I kind of dread that. And
I'll miss the job. The work is what I'll miss. I love living in the White
House. I love Camp David. I love working in the Oval Office." (What
has he ever done to "help other airline passengers get a better
Now we get to the hard to
believe part. But this is all accurate. Simpson then showed video of her
standing in front of Clinton as she proclaimed: "I have to bask in
this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful
man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas..."
Clinton jumped in: "A place like this."
Simpson continued: "Place like this. I am an
African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of
Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to
you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said
I wouldn't be able to?"
Clinton: "It's a great country. You know, we
should never get discouraged, we should never give up on America, we
should never, it's okay to be mad at things that happen, it's okay to be
frustrated. But, just look at it, I mean, both of us, yeah we worked hard
to get here, but we had a lot of help along the way. And we had a country
capable of continuing improvement. The founders were smart people, and we
have been very lucky for over 200 years now, and I would hope the American
people would always believe that."
That ended the taped story and
viewers then saw Simpson back in the anchor chair saying: "President
Clinton said that when he leaves office, he will divide his time between
homes in New York and Little Rock."
"reporting" is really hard to believe until you see it, but
unfortunately we can't let you see it for at least a few more days.
Because of our office move our computer equipment and computer phone lines
are not yet all up and running, so we can't post new video clips on our
Web page. But as soon as we can, we will post this exchange between
Simpson and Clinton.
Last Friday night ABC's World News Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush
could not identify the leaders of Chechnya, India or Pakistan when quizzed
by a reporter for NBC's affiliate in Boston, but the show has yet to utter
a word about Al Gore trying to hide the hiring of controversial feminist
author Naomi Wolf -- despite the fact Gore was asked about it on ABC's own
This Week on October 31 and the show brought Wolf aboard a week later.
And, back in June, when Gore could not answer some farm questions posed by
Diane Sawyer on 20/20, World News Tonight failed to note it.
Picking up on the Wednesday
WHDH-TV interview highlighted on the front page of the Friday, November 5,
Washington Post, that morning ABC's Good Morning America dedicated an
entire segment with George Stephanopoulos to assessing the damage from the
quiz, but in all of last week the Wolf hiring earned only this joking
exchange on Wednesday's show:
Diane Sawyer: "So, what is the Vice
President going to do? We read that he has brought in Naomi Wolf, who is
an author and who has analyzed, among other things, what it takes to be an
alpha male as opposed to a beta male."
George Stephanopoulos: "Yeah, I think he
probably regrets that decision right now, and that's all about taking on
President Clinton and separating himself from the President. What's
troubling about this is that every time Gore gets a move on, some staff
snafu trips him up."
Sawyer: "All right. George Stephanopoulos,
following this race carefully. And what kind of male are you, George? Just
checking." Stephanopoulos: "Well, you know, Charlie is the only
alpha male on this program, Diane."
This past weekend all the
interview and debate shows featured this type of joking about Wolf's
assessment that Gore is the beta male to Clinton the alpha male, with
panelists asking each other if they are alpha or beta males. All the shows
also looked at the Bush quiz. But only the Bush story last week earned a
broadcast network evening show story.
On Friday's World News Tonight
ABC anchor Peter Jennings intoned: "In political circles throughout
the country, and among quite a number of normal people, too, the
Republican candidate for President George W. Bush was getting something of
a roasting. Yesterday Mr. Bush found himself in one of those interviews
with a reporter that turned out to be more than he counted on. He was
asked to name the leaders of four places which have been pretty
consistently in the news: Taiwan, Chechnya, Pakistan and India. He got one
out of four."
Aaron Brown opened with Bush
defending himself in a taped interview with Sam Donaldson to be shown two
days later on This Week. Brown then played an excerpt from the exchange
with WHDH-TV's Andy Hiller, emphasizing how "he also showed a flash
of temper and defensiveness" and how "there were questions of
policy, too, as Bush seemed to suggest he supports the military coup in
Bush on WHDH: ""It appears he is going
to bring stability to the country, and I think that's good news for the
Brown: "It was that answer that Vice
President Gore jumped on. In a statement, Gore said, 'I find it troubling
that a candidate for president in our country, the world's oldest
democracy, would characterize this military takeover as good needs.' Pat
Buchanan, as you would expect, was more direct."
Buchanan: "There's a gnawing concern that
Mr. Bush does not know the world."
Brown argued: "And that's why this might
prove so dangerous for Governor Bush, because it feeds a persistent
criticism that in this important area of foreign policy he is not by
experience or temperament up to the job."
Howard Kurtz, Washington Post: "What's made
news is not this little game of Jeopardy! but the fact that Governor Bush
couldn't answer the questions and seemed a little off balance as he
attempted to provide the names of these foreign leaders."
Bill Kristol, ABC News analyst: "I think it
was a cheap shot at Governor Bush, but sometimes cheap shots do
Brown concluded: "And, fair or not, for a
candidate like Bush, in many ways still unknown, these little moments can
develop a life of their own."
Certainly if the media want
As the Washington Post's Mike
Allen noted on Sunday, on Friday morning "Bill Bradley, perhaps the
nation's most famous scholar-athlete, refused to take a quiz on world
leaders like the one that flummoxed another presidential candidate, Texas
Gov. George W. Bush. During a long-scheduled interview, Andy Hiller,
political reporter for WHDH-TV, the NBC station in Boston, asked, 'Can you
identify the leader of North Korea?'
"'I'm not going to get into this -- I'm not
going to play this game," Bradley answered. 'I think these are pop
questions, and I don't think they illustrate, really, the qualities that
are important to be President.'"
The MRC's Tim Graham reminded
me of how back on June 16 Diane Sawyer tested Al Gore's knowledge of farm
issues, since Gore claimed to have been raised on a farm. GMA showed his
responses in a preview of the upcoming 20/20 interview, but did not focus
on his inability to answer two questions. World News Tonight, MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson confirmed, did not choose to inform its viewers of Gore's
missed answers -- and nor did any other major network show.
Sawyer: "All right. My
cousins are all tobacco farmers and cattle farmers. So I have a test for
you. Ready for a pop quiz?"
Gore: "All right."
Sawyer: "How many plants of tobacco can you
have per acre?"
Gore: "Oh, I don't know. I don't know. I
don't know. I'll flunk that test."
Sawyer: "What is brucellosis?"
Gore: "I know that there are five to seven
on a stick when you put them in the -- in the barn."
Sawyer: "And what are cattle prices roughly
Gore: "Too low."
Sawyer: "What was the other thing?
Gore: "Oh, that's hoof and mouth
Tipper Gore joked: "Not confined to
Sawyer: "And this is my mother's question.
My mother says when a fence separates two farms, how can you tell which
farm owns the fence?"
Gore: "It depends on what kind of fence it
is. I mean, which -- if the poles are on the inside, that's the -- the
side where the farm is."
Sawyer, to the audience: "So he got two out
of four. Not bad."
Not a bad escape of media
scrutiny for Gore in this instance.
Catching up on an item from last week that I do not believe got any wider
attention, a November 3 Washington Post story revealed that while in Oslo
President Clinton zoomed in on a Monica Lewinsky look-alike, shaking her
hand so long, according to the local media, that she "blushed
brighter than ever before in her life."
Here's an excerpt from the
Washington Post story by T.R. Reid, headlined: "Norwegian News Media
Are Smitten by Clinton."
OSLO, Nov. 2--Presidents, prime ministers and
dignitaries from a dozen countries gathered in Oslo this week, but to
judge from the Norwegian media, you'd think there was only one man in
town: Bill Clinton.
Newspapers and TV networks here have focused almost
totally on the
President since Air Force One touched down here early
Monday -- with the arrival covered live on every channel. Since then, the
media have provided inordinately detailed coverage of the first visit by a
U.S. President in Norway's history.
The papers have reported what Clinton wore (three
different ties in one day!); what he drank (Diet Coke); what he read (Sue
Grafton's "'O' Is for Outlaw," spotted on his lap in the
limousine); and how long he shook the hand of fourth-grade teacher
Ingeborg Heldal (so long that she "blushed brighter than ever before
in her life," according to the tabloid newspaper Verdens Gang)....
To a degree, this kind of response is standard operating
procedure for any U.S. President in almost any country. People everywhere
are fixated on the military, political and cultural might of the only
remaining superpower. And Norway may be even more smitten than other
places, because virtually every Norwegian family has relatives in the
But the intense response to Clinton's visit also says
something about this particular President. Clinton's impeachment and his
history of sex scandals makes him an object of fascination wherever he
Thus, it was probably inevitable that the Norwegian
media would come upon something during this week's visit to remind them of
last year's White House turmoil. Sure enough, they found it Monday when
the President shook hands for a second or two outside the royal palace
with Heldal, the 26-year-old teacher -- a woman whom Verdens Gang
described as a "Monica Lewinsky look-alike."
"A pretty, dark-haired girl in the crowd catches
the President's eye and extends a hand to him," the newspaper said.
"Haven't we seen something like this before?"
END of Excerpt
If Hillary moves to Chappaqua
maybe Clinton can move to Oslo and move in on the teacher. It sounds like
that in Norway he may have an even more worshipful media than in the U.S.,
though it's hard to beat Carole Simpson who both worships herself and Bill
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