McCain-Bradley = "Virtue"; "Divisive" Pope; FNC Showed Broaddrick Q to Gore
1) Networks jumped on the
McCain-Bradley liberal campaign finance stunt. CBS led with it, ABC's
Peter Jennings admired it: "So what does this handshake in New
Hampshire mean? A demonstration of public virtue." ABC, CBS and NBC
all painted Bush as the villain.
2) Bryant Gumbel identified a
troubling world figure who is spreading "very divisive" thinking
as he keeps "coming down on the side of conservatism."
Gumbel's target: The Pope.
3) A Boston Globe writer
gushed about Bryant Gumbel: "When the camera flickers to life, he
makes just about whatever he's doing better because he's doing it."
4) Of all the networks, only
FNC has shown the video of a woman at a New Hampshire town hall session
asking Al Gore if he believes Juanita Broaddrick's rape charge against
Voting extended until Monday morning. Our Dishonor Awards dinner put us a
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like a stunt promoting a liberal cause to excite the networks. The
Republican presidential candidates have participated in three debates this
month, but after the first two none of the three broadcast evening news
shows ran a story the next night and after the third only CBS bothered to
tell viewers about it.
The networks, however,
eagerly jumped on Thursday's Bill Bradley-John McCain joint appearance
to promise they would not accept soft money if nominated and to promote
more regulation of campaign speech. ABC, CBS and NBC all ran full stories,
with the CBS Evening News making it the lead of the night and running two
stories on it. (Nightline later gave the cause 30 free minutes, the kind
of speech McCain-Feingold would not limit, as Ted Koppel moderated a taped
town meeting with Bradley, McCain and voters, the first of whom, a
right-to-lifer, actually did challenge McCain on limiting the free speech
of citizen groups.)
In a top of the show
tease Thursday night, ABC's World News Tonight showed McCain and Bradley
shaking hands as anchor Peter Jennings asked: "So what does this
handshake in New Hampshire mean?" His answer: "A demonstration
of public virtue." ABC's Cokie Roberts declared that the promise of
clean campaigns is "music to the ears of New Hampshire's
independent voters" which only the nomination of George W. Bush could
Dan Rather opened the
CBS Evening News by marveling: "Two presidential hopefuls crossed
party lines today trying to fight the influence of big special interest
money on American political campaigns." Diana Olick concluded a
piece, on the unlikely passage of McCain's ideas, by fretting: "How
do you change the system from within when the parties and the politicians
are all addicted to it?" Only NBC's Lisa Myers noted how McCain
ripped "Vice President Gore for his role in '96, including his
infamous fundraiser at a Buddhist Temple."
Bottom line for the
night on the three evening shows: All assumed more regulation of campaign
finance is a noble cause. Neither ABC or NBC aired a contrary word and CBS
didn't get to its opposing soundbite until its second story. None raised
the point that maybe soft money is growing so fast because of regulation
of hard money that limits donations to a mere $1,000, an amount set in
1974 and not since adjusted for inflation. None of the networks balanced
the two candidates advocating more rules with someone expressing the
concept of deregulating campaign finance.
Here's a rundown of
how the three broadcast evening shows on December 16 approached the
-- ABC's World News
Tonight. Peter Jennings was in awe:
"There was an unprecedented political event in New
Hampshire today. Never before have two presidential candidates, from
opposing parties, come together to promise that if they're chosen as
their party nominee, they will not allow any so-called soft money to be
spent on their behalf."
From Claremont New
Hampshire, where Bradley and McCain used the same senior citizens center
venue as had Clinton and Gingrich in June 1995, Cokie Roberts recalled how
that broken pledge died, "leaving behind skeptical voters."
After clips of McCain and Bradley disavowing soft
money, Roberts showed Bradley proclaiming: "Above all, we need a
sense of bipartisanship that puts nation above party and that's what
this meeting today is all about."
Roberts chimed in: "That's music to the ears of
New Hampshire's independent voters who make up more than a third of the
electorate and can cast a ballot in either party's primary and seem to
care more about campaign finance reform than most other voters.
Nationwide, only one percent put the issue at the top of the list in an
ABC poll. That's why politicians have played fast and loose with this
issue and even today's well-staged event includes an asterisk on the
pledge: McCain says he won't take unregulated money period. Bradley says
he won't only if the Republican nominee refuses soft money. Al Gore says
the same thing."
Roberts then concluded by warning: "It's a
promise they won't have to keep if the Republicans nominate frontrunner
George W. Bush."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather opened the show by
using the loaded liberal language of campaign finance "reform"
"Good evening. Two presidential hopefuls crossed
party lines today trying to fight the influence of big special interest
money on American political campaigns. They crossed party lines to do it.
Republican John McCain and Democrat Bill Bradley tried to focus attention
on what's called quote, 'soft money' -- the unlimited, unregulated
money shoveled into campaigns by special interests."
As opposed to the
"unlimited, unregulated liberal advocacy in the guise of news
shoveled into America's homes by CBS News."
From New Hampshire Phil
Jones began: "In New Hampshire today, it was a case of presidential
politics making strange bedfellows: a Republican, John McCain, and a
Democrat, Bill Bradley, signing a pledge not to allow use of big
corporate, unregulated money if they become the nominees."
Jones played dueling soundbites of each candidate
attacking the other party. McCain charged: "The scandal of 1996 was
not Monica Lewinsky. The scandal was the debasement of the institution of
government by the Clinton-Gore campaign. The President of the United
States rented out the Lincoln bedroom. He rented it out like Motel 6 and
he was the bellhop."
Bradley asserted: "I personally think that the
Governor of Texas will demonstrate that you can raise too much money in
recalled: "It was only four and a half years ago, at this same site,
that President Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich also shook hands and
promised campaign finance reform in response to a question from a local
citizen, Frank MacConnell. It never happened, and MacConnell has since
Jones to Joan MacConnell, Frank's widow: "Did your
husband become cynical?"
Joan: "He was very disappointed because he felt
that a handshake meant a lot, especially up here in New Hampshire and New
"Both Bradley and McCain denied that this was just another campaign
stunt that would only fuel cynicism around the nation, here where there's
already a memorial bench marking the site of the historic last unfulfilled
Next, CBS had Diana
Olick explain what is blocking the wonderful idea of more regulation of
campaign spending. Olick intoned: "They can preach reform and sign
away the system, but the candidates of Campaign 2000 are set to run the
most expensive political race in history, fueled by soft money."
Olick turned to the former Democratic Attorney General
of Massachusetts, Scott Harshbarger, who is now President of Common Cause,
for some expert analysis. He reported: "It's unregulated and it's
a huge amount of money. We estimate over half a billion dollars in 2000
Olick ran through some
numbers from the Center for Public Integrity about how through June
Democrats had raised $26 million in soft money and the Republicans had
gathered $31 million.
After again turning to Harshbarger for a soundbite
about how AT&T gives to both parties since its business is influenced
by congressional decisions, Olick pointed to George W. Bush as the
"But while McCain and Bradley were vowing to rid
their campaigns of that kind of special interest money, frontrunner George
W. Bush today gave little hope he would jump on their bandwagon anytime
Bush video press release: "We cannot afford a
version of campaign finance reform that unilaterally disarms our
Republican Party and our conservative principles."
Olick: "And the Chairman of the Republican Party
today defended soft money as a right of free speech."
Jim Nicholson: "I think parties have a right to
express themselves as well as citizens and any other organizations and
that's what we do."
Olick concluded regretfully: "McCain's crusade
to reform the system has cost him support from his own party leadership
and that's just the problem. How do you change the system from within
when the parties and the politicians are all addicted to it?"
-- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers opened her more
reasonable piece: "Whether you see it as grandstanding or a breath of
fresh air, it's a rare moment in presidential politics -- two underdogs
reach across party lines..."
Myers explained the
goals set by Bradley and McCain and cited the same soft money numbers as
had CBS's Olick before uniquely getting to McCain's hit on Gore:
"Today McCain and Bradley take turns blasting each other's
opponent. McCain rips Vice President Gore for his role in '96, including
his infamous fundraiser at a Buddhist Temple."
McCain: "The Vice President of the United States
had monks pay thousands of dollars and violate their vows of poverty so
they could spiritually commune with him."
Myers: "Bradley accuses Governor George W. Bush,
who's raised $60 million so far, of thumbing his nose at campaign
Bradley: "The Governor of Texas will demonstrate
that you can raise too much money in politics."
Myers noted that Bush
won't match the McCain pledge and ran a clip of him saying McCain's
plan would hurt the Republican Party. Myers then praised them for
"speaking the truth," asserting:
"Both McCain and Bradley are getting heat from
their parties for consorting with the enemy, but here in New Hampshire
where both men are leading and must win, renegades play well. So does
speaking the truth."
Myers at event: "Can both of you honestly say that
you have never ever been influenced by a campaign contributor?"
Bradley: "I can say quite honestly there has never
been a decision I've made that's been influenced by money."
McCain: "I can tell you that I cannot say that's
the case. In fact, I believe that there have been times when I have
probably been influenced."
Myers concluded: "An unusual statement on a day
that is anything but politics as usual."
conservative values makes you "divisive" in Bryant Gumbel's
mind, even if you are the Pope and supposed to believe that your religion
is the correct one. Thursday morning Gumbel proposed that the Pope has
been "very divisive," offering this as evidence: "I mean
coming down on the side of conservatism in almost all cases."
Gumbel's hit on Pope
John Paul came during an 8am half hour interview on The Early Show with
Greg Burke, author of An Invitation to Joy, a collection of the Pope's
letters and homilies. After asking Burke about how the Pope views the
millennium and what is "least understood" about the Pope,
viewers of the December 16 show heard this exchange, as taken down by MRC
analyst Brian Boyd:
Gumbel: "He is the
first non-Italian Pope in almost 500 years, he's the longest serving Pope
of the 20th century. Is there any evidence that Catholics are in any way
better off for his stewardship?"
Burke: "I think in a way yes. He has brought
clarity. The church after Vatican II was very confused in many ways. There
were a lot of things out there and I think in a way, he hasn't made
everyone happy, but at least he's said this is what we believe, this is
where we're going."
Gumbel: "But he's been a very, in that sense he's
been a very divisive Pope, hasn't he?"
Burke: "He has,"
Gumbel: "I mean coming down on the side of
conservatism in almost all cases."
Burke: "No, no that's true. And yet at the same
time he's convinced that unity is key, clarity is key..."
The Early Show's ratings are lower than the program it replaced, but
don't blame Bryant Gumbel. Doing that would be racist, Boston Globe
"Living/Arts" section writer Renee Graham implied in relating
Gumbel's complaint that Ted Koppel isn't cited for arrogance. Graham
decried how Gumbel has become a "scapegoat" for the show's
In fact, she argued
Tuesday, he's The Early Show's "greatest asset" since
"when the camera flickers to life, he makes just about whatever he's
doing better because he's doing it. There hasn't been anyone better on the
morning shows for the past two decades." And he delivers "sharp,
Of course Gumbel's
arrogant attitude toward his co-workers isn't what's turning away
viewers. As illustrated by item #2 above it's that, as a seemingly
CyberAlert-inspired letter-to-the-editor suggested the next day, "Gumbel
is so biased to the left." Below are excerpts from both Globe items
passed along to CyberAlert by an occasional CyberAlert reader in the
First, Renee Graham's
December 14 piece on the front page of the Living/Arts section:
Did Gumbel stumble, of is he simply the
It's time to get off Bryant's back.
That's Bryant as in Gumbel, as in the
co-host of CBS's "The Early Show," which is staggering on the
ropes like a punch-drunk fighter. After a mere seven weeks, the program
intended to turn CBS into a contender again in the morning-show
sweepstakes, and make NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning
America" flinch, is sinking faster than the Patriots' playoff
So now, it's scapegoat time, and some eyes
have quickly turned to the man in the Joseph Abboud suits -- Bryant Gumbel.
For several weeks, there have been ominous
whispers about the so-called "Gumbel factor." It usually goes a
little something like this: He's a smart newsman, a talented interviewer,
but he's also an arrogant and abrasive egomaniac whose mere presence, for
some viewers, is reason enough to reach for the remote.
Of course, none of this is new. For much of
his career, Gumbel has been dogged by stories about his mercurial nature
and less-than-gracious manner toward co-workers. Everyone remembers the
field day the tabloids had when a leaked memo found Gumbel, then co-anchor
of "Today," dissing the morning show's weatherman Willard Scott.
There was so much hoopla one would have thought Gumbel cursed the pope
(who, by the way, he met without incident while with "Today")
rather than a goofy weatherman who once dressed on-air as Carmen Miranda.
Let me interrupt this
excerpt to submit that Gumbel now has "cursed the Pope."
Back to the Graham
And more recently, Gumbel didn't help his
own cause when he made what some believed to be veiled swipes at his
former "Today" co-host Katie Couric in a New York Times Sunday
These sorts of things, coupled with
Gumbel's healthy self-confidence bordering on smugness, have led some to
see the man as some sort of unholy cross between Ted Bundy and Dennis
Rodman. Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report tracks network news shows,
told USA Today just two weeks after the premiere of "The Early
Show," that it's "a well-known fact that Gumbel alienates a
portion of the audience. Certain people cannot stand him. But CBS knew
that going in, and figured his strengths outweighed his weaknesses."
Funny how no one seemed concerned about
Gumbel's so-called "weaknesses" when he was co-anchoring
"Today," and the show was handily beating any and all comers.
And, while we're on the subject, what "weaknesses" might those
be? Would it be his reputation for exhaustively researching interview
subjects and topics? Would it be the sharp, incisive interviews he
conducts whether he's talking to comedian Chris Rock, baseball exile Pete
Rose, or Lieutenant Steve May, an Arizona congressmen and gay Army
Reservist challenging the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy?
Perhaps those "weaknesses" refer
to Gumbel's inability to be an insubstantial Ken doll feigning giggles and
gravity for two hours each weekday morning.
Or, it could be something more insidious,
which Gumbel, 51, himself addressed in a USA Today profile a few years
ago. Asked about being labeled arrogant, he said, "I do think there
are a great number of Americans who are more comfortable with blacks [as]
comics, jokesters, always laughing, never taking the world or themselves
too seriously. I can think of very few, if any, African-American men in
this business who were not accused of arrogance. Do I think it's a
"I do think it is less than amusing
that Ted Koppel runs his shop in a tight fashion and is concerned about
the graphics, concerned about who his producer is, gets tough with his
director, and that shows his professionalism, his attention to
detail," Gumbel added. "But if I do that, suddenly I'm a
meddler, or I'm arrogant, or I'm conceited, or I make enemies. I don't get
Neither do I.
Gumbel has long been one of television's
best and brightest. He may not be great to work around or for, but when
the camera flickers to life, he makes just about whatever he's doing
better because he's doing it. There hasn't been anyone better on the
morning shows for the past two decades, and that's why he was wooed by a
host of network suitors when he chose to leave NBC....
Make no mistake, the program has its
weaknesses, one of which is being the newest kid on the fiercely
competitive morning-show block. But whatever his peccadilloes, Gumbel
isn't one of them. In truth, the "Gumbel factor" may be
"The Early Show"'s only and greatest asset.
The next day, December
15, the Globe published a response from William Bromstedt of Needham:
Renee Graham's article on Bryant Gumbel
misses the point of why many people like myself are tuning in other
morning shows. Like Dan Rather, Gumbel is biased to the left.
A perfect example is the Bill Clinton
interview. Gumbel fawned and acted unprofessional. In response to the
question what was the one thing about his administration people would most
remember, Clinton replied that he had made everyone's life better.
Gumbel must have had his mind on golf, because he uttered not a word about
the year of lies and impeachment, just a follow up about a round of golf.
If I was the CBS executive planning
Gumbel's next assignment, I would send him to the sports division as a
golf commentator. There he would have a built-in audience and it would be
a job where his political bias would not show.
END reprint of letter
I wouldn't count on
it. He managed earlier this year to work a blast at conservatives into his
HBO show, Real Sports.
For a transcript and
video excerpt of Gumbel's Clinton interview, go to:
For a collection of
Gumbel material, go to:
woman stood up Tuesday night live on television and confronted Al Gore
about Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Bill Clinton had raped her. Gore
hemmed and hawed, but never denied the allegation, during a town meeting
shown live on WNDS-TV, channel 50, an independent station in Derry, New
So far all the networks
but FNC have ignored the raising by the woman of a subject media outlets
either had never picked up or long ago dropped. Despite available video of
Gore struggling to offer a reply, zilch on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning
and evening shows Wednesday morning through Thursday night.
Not even CNN or MSNBC
have broached it on their evening shows. Wednesday's Inside Politics on
CNN, MRC analyst Paul Smith observed, ran a short item on remarks Gore
made about medical marijuana at the WNDS event, but the show failed to
mention the Broaddrick question. And not a word Wednesday night on
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Mark Drake noted.
[Web Update: Thursday night, December 16, The News with Brian Williams
showed the same video of the exchange as had FNC the night before. For
updated coverage information.]
Wednesday night FNC
played the video on several of its evening shows, including Special Report
with Brit Hume and Hannity & Colmes. On Thursday FNC located the
questioner and featured her on the 9pm ET Hannity & Colmes show. Her
name is Katherine Prudhomme and she explained that she was a dedicated
Paul Tsongas supporter, and even attended his funeral, but switched to the
Republican Party after a 40-minute phone conversation with John McCain a
few months ago.
People in New Hampshire
get that kind of attention.
But she was not a plant,
FNC's Sean Hannity stressed, as she was invited by WNDS-TV to be part of
the studio audience.
question: "When Juanita Broaddrick made the claim, which I found
quite credible, that she was raped by Bill Clinton, did that change your
opinion about him being one of the best Presidents in history? And do you
believe Juanita Broaddrick's claim? And what did you tell your son about
Gore replied: "Well, I didn't know what to make
of her claim, because I don't know how to evaluate that story, I really
Prudhomme soon bore in:
"So you didn't believe Juanita Broaddrick's claim."
Gore: "No, I didn't say that. I think I said I
don't know how to evaluate that, and I didn't see, uh, the interview. Uh,
but I must say something else to you about this....I think that, uh, I
think that whatever mistakes he made in his personal life are in the minds
of most Americans balanced against what he has done in his personal life
Gore took more than two
more minutes to deliver a meandering four point explanation of why
Prudhomme's concern was misplaced.
For a complete
transcript, go to the Drudge Report page:
+++ Check out the December 14 exchange for
yourself as run on the December 15 Special Report with Brit Hume. MRC
Webmaster Andy Szul has the tape and will post it on the MRC home page, in
RealPlayer format, by 10am ET Friday. Go to: http://www.mrc.org. --
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