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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Monday December 20, 1999 (Vol. Four; No. 190)

Jesus Goes Left; ABC's Liberal Showcases & Time Capsule; Naked Geraldo

1) To fill in for Sam Donaldson, ABC's This Week picked Mike McCurry. Cokie Roberts didn't press Laura Bush when she offered a Hillary-like endorsement of the National Endowment for the Arts.

2) Picking up on George W. Bush's "Jesus Christ" answer, Al Hunt charged: "If Jesus is a political thinker, I assume he's for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- 'blessed are the peacemakers.'"

3) Liberal promotion days at ABC. Thursday and Sunday ABC showcased McCain-Bradley and their campaign finance "reform." Friday night ABC, which refused to show a Republican debate, gave 90 uncontested minutes to Democrats Gore and Bradley.

4) On Sunday's Meet the Press Tim Russert demanded that Al Gore defend his claim that Clinton is "one of our greatest Presidents," and reminded Bill Bradley that he insisted the Gulf War would be "bloody and long." NBC Nightly News tagged the two as "moderate."

5) ABC, CBS and NBC still haven't shown Gore being asked about Broaddrick. Over the weekend Fox News Sunday talked about it and CNN mentioned it on Reliable Sources, though Howard Kurtz denied any bias is behind the media's spiking.

6) GMA welcomed Bill Clinton's wish to put into a time capsule his answer that the "meaning of life" is "to search for God and good" as the show also endorsed the idea of putting a gun in a time capsule in order to stress "the destruction they cause."

7) Geraldo Rivera naked on cable TV. He offered an NYPD Blue-type glimpse of his buttocks -- and more -- on the Travel Channel.

Correction: A sentence in the December 16 CyberAlert asked: "Diane Sawyer once Bill Bradley's boyfriend?" No gender-bending intended. That "boyfriend" should have read "girlfriend."


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Who did ABC News consider a reflective replacement for Sam Donaldson on This Week? A former lying enabler for a Democratic President. Opening the December 19 roundtable segment sans Sam, usual co-host Cokie Roberts introduced his replacement:
"Mike McCurry, thank you for being here. You get to be both Sam Donaldson and George Stephanopoulos." Right of center analysts George Will and Bill Kristol filled out the roundtable, showing that ABC knows that only a liberal a can replace Donaldson.

    Earlier in the show, Roberts interviewed Barbara and Laura Bush. One of Laura Bush's answers revealed that in a Bush W. Bush White House there won't be any pressure from her to cut spending, not even from a puny agency conservatives have long hoped to eliminate. Roberts asked "How do you feel about funding for the arts." Laura Bush replied with an answer Hillary Clinton could just as easily have given:
    "Well I think funding, national funding for the arts is important. I think that it's very important, particularly for smaller, rural areas that don't have a big funding base of their own. I think the NEA grants were announced today or yesterday, I read them, in Texas and a lot of that funding, of course, goes to the symphony orchestras, the art museums and different things that need funding."

    If she had taken a conservative position in favor of cutting such spending of taxpayer money Roberts probably would have challenged her, but in this case Roberts moved on to another area.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Jesus is a liberal Democrat, the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt suggested in sarcastic remarks on CNN's Capital Gang about George W. Bush's assertion at a debate that Jesus Christ had most influenced him.

    On the December 18 show the paper's Executive Washington Editor spewed: "The question was what political philosopher or thinker do you identify with. It was repeated to George Bush. Now if Jesus is a political thinker, I assume he's for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- 'blessed are the peacemakers' -- I assume he's pro earned income tax credit -- 'blessed are the poor.'"


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)Even if not legally obligated, on integrity grounds ABC News sure owes conservatives opposed to campaign finance "reform," and all the Republican presidential candidates, some equal time. Last Thursday night, December 16, Nightline devoted itself to a town meeting tied to the McCain-Bradley stunt to promote more regulation of campaign finance. And, just two weeks and a day after FNC had to step in to carry a debate amongst Republicans originally scheduled for ABC to show, and which ABC refused to even play on tape in the Nightline spot, Friday night Nightline expanded to 90 minutes in order to run a tape of an ABC News-sponsored town meeting debate in Nashua between Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley.

    If ABC does ever show a Republican debate I bet a major focus will be on how the candidates are too far to the right, as was the focus of Tom Brokaw's questioning at the December 13 debate shown on MSNBC. See the December 14 CyberAlert for details.

    Friday night, however, Ted Koppel never suggested the two Democrats are liberal or are too far to the left for many Americans. Koppel hardly touched them, spending the evening refining questions from the audience and urging each candidate to be more responsive. He really only posed four questions. He opened the show by asking Bradley and Gore what kind of First Lady their wives would make. He later asked each to explain their view of media responsibility for youth violence and at another time, after pointing out how few blacks excel at science, what each would do to improve education for blacks. He ended the program by offering each time to explain what as a person "distinguishes" them to make them a better President.

    Far from pressing them from the right, the audience kept asking what they and the government would do to solve problems. One guy's questions might explain why Democrats don't care much about illegal fundraising from China as he painted missile defense as "warlike" aggression toward China:
    "Senator McCain last Monday alluded to wanting an airborne missile defense system, possibly to be defending Taiwan, and given the fact that many of the business leaders of this country want favorite trade status for China, isn't that a very warlike posturing?"

    In addition to Thursday's Nightline, Sunday's This Week gave Bradley and McCain more air time to promote their liberal campaign finance "reform" ideas. Cokie Roberts handled the taped interview, but never pressed either with any argument from the right about how the last "reform" caused the current perceived problems, though she did argue that maybe it's philosophical differences and not money which has blocked health care reform. Hitting them from a Common Cause angle, she asked both about riding on corporate jets, but also wondered if they'd consider running together on the Reform Party ticket. She ended by raising Bush's "Jesus" answer and inquiring if there's "too much religion injected into this campaign?"

    While on the Thursday McCain-Bradley gimmick, on Friday the manager of the senior citizens center where the event took place told the MRC's CNSNews.com that she considered ABC News to be the "sponsor" of the event. Here's an excerpt of the December 17 story by Scott Hogenson:

The manager of the senior citizens center where presidential candidates John McCain and Bill Bradley called for campaign finance reform December 16 said the event was sponsored by ABC News and not the candidates.

The controversial meeting between McCain and Bradley has come under scrutiny because no other candidates were involved and because ABC News had exclusive broadcast rights to the event, which the network described as a town meeting "moderated" by ABC Nightline program host Ted Koppel.

But Sandy Osgood, who manages the Earl Bourdon Senior Center in

Claremont, New Hampshire, the site of the meeting, said the network did more than simply moderate the discussion between McCain and Bradley. "ABC sponsored the event," Osgood told CNSNews.com....

ABC News spokeswoman Eileen Murphy denied that the network had sponsored any part of the McCain-Bradley event and said she believes Osgood "is mistaken" in saying ABC did so. "Perhaps this woman doesn't understand what 'sponsored' means," Murphy told CNSNews.com. "No event was sponsored by ABC. It was an ABC program."

When asked if ABC had invited any other presidential candidates to participate in the program, Murphy said she was not certain. But officials with the campaigns of two of McCain's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination -- publisher Steve Forbes and Texas Governor George Bush -- said they were not invited to attend.

The questions swirling around the McCain-Bradley meeting already have prompted lawyers for the Forbes campaign to explore whether they will seek equal time on ABC....

Broadcasters are not required by the Federal Communications Commission to provide equal time for political candidates in news coverage, but lawyers for Forbes are examining the question of whether ABC's exclusion of other presidential candidates constitutes a de facto political endorsement of McCain and Bradley's candidacy....

    END Excerpt

    To read the whole story, go to:

    While ABC News technically may not have "sponsored" the event -- only appended themselves to an already planned event, just asking McCain and Bradley to stick around for another 30 minutes to tape a Nightline show -- the network owes its viewers equal time for the views of those opposed to the McCain-Bradley concept, whether presidential candidates or not.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)ABC's Ted Koppel on Friday did not challenge Gore or Bradley on policy or past statements, but on Sunday's Meet the Press NBC's Tim Russert did not let them off so easy. He pressed them both on not allowing the poor to escape bad public schools, demanded that Gore defend his claim that Clinton is "one of our greatest Presidents," and reminded Bradley that he opposed the Gulf War as he insisted at the time that it would be "bloody and long."

    Hours later on NBC Nightly News reporter Anne Thompson gave only a few seconds to these questions as she asserted Bradley and Gore are "moderate Democrats."

    Here are Russert's challenging questions posed during the joint appearance on Meet the Press by Al Gore and Bill Bradley:

    -- To both: "In the District of Columbia where we sit, one out of every three students drop out before they finish high school. A new study done: three-fourths of the nation's school children are unable to compose an organized, coherent essay. All across the country -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans -- the Catholic school system, more than half of those students are non-Catholic, most of them black, many of them with a single mom. They have decided the public schools don't work for their kid, and they want to stop the experimentation on their child. And they have chosen to send their kid to a Catholic school, even though they're non-Catholic. And 99 percent of them go on to college. Why don't those poor, minority moms with their kids, who could not possibly deal with the chaos of public school, deserve a break?"

    -- To Gore: "On impeachment day, Mr. Vice President, you said that 'Bill Clinton will be regarded in history books as one of our greatest Presidents.' Who else do you believe should be considered our greatest President?"
    Gore: "Oh. Well, we all know who are greatest Presidents are from Washington and Jefferson to Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and John Kennedy and all of the others."
    Russert: "So you put Bill Clinton in the same company as Washington and Lincoln?"
    Gore: "Listen, I think..."
    Russert, jumping in: "No, it's a very serious question."
    Gore: "No, of course not. Of course not. But I think that his accomplishments are going to be regarded by the history books as far more significant than his personal mistakes. And let me just review some of them for you. We've gone from the largest deficits to the largest surpluses. Instead of quadrupling the debt, we've paid down the debt and tripled the stock market. Instead of high unemployment, there's low unemployment. And within a month, Tim, within six weeks, we're going to have the longest and strongest economic expansion in the entire history of the United States of America. The crime rate has gone down seven years in a row. The welfare rolls have gone down by more than ever in history. Wages and real incomes are up. The wage gap has narrowed. You know, there's some people, let me just conclude..."
    Russert, cutting him off: "So this makes -- you used the word greatest. You stand by that?"
    Gore: "Let me just conclude. I do. And I know that you and some others may believe that when the historians many years from now look back on this period that all of that will be eclipsed by the President's personal mistake. Maybe you're right. None of us has a crystal ball, but I doubt it."

    -- To Bradley: "In 1991, the Persian Gulf War. This is what Bill Bradley said as he voted no, not to support the war [reading from January 23, 1991 Bergen Record]: 'The Persian Gulf War is likely to become a 'bloody and long' battle that could take up to six months and could destabilize the Middle East for decades to come, Senator Bradley said.' The ground war, as you know, lasted 100 hours."
    Bradley: "Right."
    Russert: "Was that a fundamental misjudgment on your part?"
    Bradley: "Tim, I made the call as I saw it at the time. I was not against the use of force. The question was whether we should use force at that time or continue sanctions. I voted to continue sanctions. And my sense is if they hadn't worked, there would have been a vote before us later and I would have voted for it."

    On Sunday's NBC Nightly News Anne Thompson opened her piece on the Meet the Press session: "The Democratic contenders, Bill Bradley and Al Gore, moderate Democrats whose positions are almost as similar as their wardrobe choices today, clashing on the details." (Both wore blue suits with red ties.)

    Thompson played soundbites of both squaring off on health care and Social Security, as well as Gore's gimmick about ceasing campaign advertising. Thompson held Russert's challenging questions to this one sentence which ignored the "greatest President" exchange: "Both men had awkward moments: Gore admitting mistakes were made in fundraising tactics for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, Bradley defending his vote against the Persian Gulf War."


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)Al Gore's meandering reply to a question at a town meeting last Tuesday about Juanita Broaddrick's rape charge against Bill Clinton remained unmentioned by ABC, CBS or NBC through Sunday night. Of the Sunday talk shows, only Fox News Sunday mentioned it, with a panelist noting the contrast to how the media went "ballistic" over Bush's foreign policy quiz.

    It hadn't made it onto CNN's The World Today through Thursday night or Inside Politics through Friday night, though Howard Kurtz briefly raised it on Reliable Sources over the weekend. Kurtz conceded Gore's answer was "important," but denied media bias had anything to do with why most of the media ignored the incident.

    As noted in the December 17 CyberAlert, on Wednesday only FNC played the exchange between a woman and Gore at a live Tuesday night town meeting on WNDS-TV in Derry, New Hampshire. A CyberAlert update Friday afternoon reported how MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams played the four-minute exchange. Below are more details about that, plus more on how Reliable Sources and Fox News Sunday dealt with the event:

    -- Thursday night, December 16 on The News with Brian Williams the host of the same name introduced the tape:
    "We want to return briefly to politics and a moment we want you to see that took place earlier this week. This moment is now getting a second look from a lot of people. You're about to see the Vice President on live television in an extraordinary circumstance. It was during a town hall style forum in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. He was hit out of no where by a question by an audience member about rape allegations already aired against the President. However you feel about this issue his response is fascinating to watch. Here now what may be a telling moment for Al Gore."

    Afterward, Williams suggested: "Now the editorial opinion of that moment has run the gamut from artful to disingenuous. Viewers, of course, are free to draw their own conclusions, but a striking moment there."

    Of course, viewers who missed this one MSNBC show or who don't see FNC never saw the lengthy video as the broadcast networks and CNN's key news shows have yet to show it. If you haven't seen it, you can via RealPlayer on the MRC Web site. To view the clip shown by FNC, which was almost the identical cut seen on MSNBC, go to:

    -- Reviewing media events of the week on CNN's Reliable Sources, which aired at 6:30pm ET Saturday and 11:30am ET Sunday, host Howard Kurtz played a brief 24-second clip of Gore's answer in which he maintained "there have been so many personal allegations...enough is enough, I do not know how to evaluate each one of these individual stories."

    Kurtz then noted how "most news organizations did not report Gore's answer, but the Republican National Committee faxed around a transcript to the world and it was quickly picked up by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel, Matt Drudge and so forth."

    Reliable Sources regular Bernard Kalb said he found the answer "newsworthy" and thought it should have been included in larger stories about the town meeting. Kurtz then opined:
    "Republicans suggest that somehow the press was protecting Clinton. I think, understanding the rhythms of campaign life, this happened at an evening meeting, reporters are working on other stories about Gore's remarks on gays in the military and the medical use of marijuana, but still in reading the transcript and watching just there, it struck me that this was interesting, it was important, that Juanita Broaddrick is an allegation that has not completely faded."

    Why gays in the military and Gore's view of medical marijuana are assumed to be more newsworthy Kurtz did not explain, but it would be nice if Kurtz would tell the producers of CNN's Inside Politics and The World Today that he finds Gore's comments "important."

    -- In the roundtable segment of the December 19 Fox News Sunday moderator Tony Snow told viewers what occurred and then played a 30-second or so clip, which prompted panelist Bill Sammon, a Washington Times reporter, to argue:
    "When George W. Bush flunks the pop quiz on foreign leaders, the press goes ballistic for two weeks. When Gore flunks the pop quiz on Juanita Broaddrick, it really doesn't get much play."


cyberno6.gif (1129 bytes)Friday morning ABC's Good Morning America showcased without comment President Bill Clinton's wish to put into a time capsule his answer that the "meaning of life" is "to search for God and good." GMA aired his answer at the top of the show devoted entirely to the burying of a time capsule outside their Times Square studio. Later, ABC took up the suggestion of a viewer, who wants guns "abolished," to put a gun in the time capsule to "remind" people in 100 years of "the destruction they cause."

    Just after 7am on December 17 co-host Diane Sawyer observed:
    "We thought what better way to start our special time capsule broadcast than with a quote, an entry from the President of the United States. Peter Jennings sat down with President Bill Clinton yesterday and this is what he had to say":
    Peter Jennings: "What's the toughest question that you think you can ask yourself and answer that you'd like to be put in a time capsule?"
    Bill Clinton: "What is the meaning of life? To search for God and good and love and to live by what you believe."
    Diane Sawyer, back on live: "And there it is from President Bill Clinton."

    There it is, with no connection to his reality.

    As the 7am hour neared its end, Charles Gibson highlighted some ideas with which the GMA staff agreed: "At this time yesterday we asked you to send in some suggestions of things that ought to go into our time capsule 2000 and we got some great suggestions from you and we're going to include them. Number one: Kristin from Hiram, Georgia said put in 'a gun so that in 100 years Americans will recall what a gun looks like and remind them of the destruction they cause.'"

    Gibson stopped reading her e-mail at that point, but on-screen you could see how it continued: "Hopefully, guns will be abolished."

    The other ideas ABC adopted: Put in "hope," the Diary of Anne Frank and Linus's security blanket from Peanuts. Of these ideas Diane Sawyer enthused: "These are wonderful." Gibson agreed: "These are great suggestions."

    Seeing guns as a destructive force matched a taped story that MRC analyst Jessica Anderson saw aired at another point on Friday's show. Reviewing school violence, reporter Judy Muller matched anti-gun rhetoric by predicting that either we'll agree to more gun control or else we'll have to have "magnetometers in every school." Muller intoned:
    "The end of the century will certainly be remembered as a violent time for the nation's schools. From Pearl, Mississippi, to Paducah, Kentucky. From Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Springfield, Oregon. And worst of all, the massacre in Littleton, Colorado, when two teenage boys, filled with rage, killed 13 people, leaving behind a legacy of fear.... As we bury the time capsule today, we can only wonder what Americans will make of all this a hundred years from now. Will they be appalled that weapons were once so accessible? Will there be stricter gun control laws? Or will it go the other way, with every American family armed and magnetometers in every school? And although our schools, statistically speaking, are still fairly safe places for our children, will that still be true in the year 2100?"


cyberno7.jpg (1724 bytes)Geraldo's Rivera's words are frightening enough each night when he's fully clothed on CNBC. Now imagine being confronted with him defending Bill Clinton and bashing Ken Starr while he's naked. That could happen if anyone combines his CNBC polemics with his Travel Channel nude dips. rivera7.jpg (13223 bytes)

    Sunday night at 10pm ET and PT the Travel Channel ran the first part of "Sail to the Century with Geraldo Rivera," a one-hour videography of his trip around the world with a crew on a 70-foot sailboat. He plans to cross the dateline in the Pacific as the year changes, hence the name of the show.

    Part one started with his departure from Marion, Massachusetts in early 1997 and ended in mid-1999 with the boat off the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Geraldo has conducted the trip on intermittent weekend and longer breaks from CNBC and NBC as his crew sometimes waited for him and sometimes sailed on to another port to await his joining them for a leg of the trip. His narration included repeated complaints about having to fly back to the U.S. to cover the Lewinsky scandal.

    Without warning as the boat hit a calm spot on its way across the Atlantic to the Azores, barely, shall we say, five minutes into the show, a long-haired and unshaven Geraldo doffed his clothes for a swim, forcing viewers to see his buttocks and, as he turned sideways to jump off the boat (with front side toward the camera), a bit more than even NYPD Blue has shown. Fortunately, Travel Channel editors put some of those blury blocks over key parts of his body. Other highlights of the program included Geraldo leading on-deck dancing and exercising.

    Part two will air sometime in January. But now you're warned. If he went naked in the Atlantic he'll probably do it again in the Pacific. -- Brent Baker


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