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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday January 21, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 12) |


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"Squeezed by the Right" into Abortion Hardline; "Below the Belt" Questions

1) CBS and NBC zoomed in on George Bush's, as Dan Rather juxta-posed it, "tougher line against abortion rights." CBS reported Bush was "squeezed by the right." NBC's David Bloom castigated Bush for negative campaigning. Tom Brokaw will miss Bob Kerrey.

2) Only after NBC's Claire Shipman gushed about Donna Brazile's "passion for justice," did NBC Nightly News, 13 days after ABC and CBS, come close to quoting her insult that the GOP would "rather take pictures with black children than feed them."

3) Peter Jennings was fascinated by Jesse Helms's visit to the UN and the night before Jennings had to be corrected by his reporter when he described a missile defense test as a "massive failure."

4) CBS's The Early Show devoted a whole story to media outrage over the Buffalo radio host's question to Hillary about Vince Foster. Jane Clayson stressed: "Veteran political reporters...say the latest questions hurled at Mrs. Clinton are below the belt."

5) "Why Should Hillary Hate the Press?" asked the MRC's fax report. "Reporters Plugged Letterman Stunt, Protested Buffalo Interview, and Downplayed Meeting with Racists."

6) Sally Quinn, who last year insisted Clinton is "our first woman President," now thinks "Michael Jordan will never have the stature of a Ted Kennedy or a Madeleine Albright inside the Beltway."

7) Liberal bias at ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? A question asked about the stunt of an obscure radical environmentalist.


1

cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes)Thursday night the CBS Evening News managed to avoid issuing any ideological labels in a full report on the Gore-Bradley race, but then in the next story applied two conservative labels to Republicans in the very first sentence. They came in Bill Whitaker's story on how George Bush took "his hardest line so far on abortion" because he's "squeezed from the right in Iowa by his most socially conservative opponents."

    Similarly, NBC's David Bloom stressed how "under pressure from religious conservatives," Bush in Iowa "acknowledges for the first time today that the conservative judges he would appoint" might overturn Roe v. Wade. ABC's World News Tonight ignored Bush's abortion comments and ran only a piece about Iowa's Latino vote.

    ABC and CBS briefly noted Senator Bob Kerrey's announcement that he would not run for another term, but NBC Nightly News ran a full story from Andrea Mitchell. Anchor Tom Brokaw's introduction displayed some angst over the loss of Kerrey:
    "There's a chill running through the Democratic side of the U.S. Senate tonight with the announcement today that one of its brightest stars is leaving, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former presidential candidate has decided two terms are enough. As NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports, that will make it all the harder for Democrats to win back the Senate."

    Now on to Bush and abortion. On the January 20 CBS Evening News John Roberts checked in on the battle between the two Democrats in Iowa, focusing on Bradley's hope to not lose too badly in Iowa and Gore's latest counterattacks on him. Then anchor Dan Rather announced:
    "On the Republican side, George W. Bush has gone negative in television campaigns against John McCain and Steve Forbes now, and today he took a tougher line against abortion rights. This as his differences with McCain over who has the best tax cut plan got sharper and louder."

    Reporter Bill Whitaker began his story, transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by portraying Bush as a victim of a demanding right-wing: "Squeezed from the right in Iowa by his most socially conservative opponents, George W. Bush moved to fend them off today by taking his hardest line so far on abortion and the Supreme Court decision legalizing it."
    George W. Bush: "Roe v. Wade was a reach, overstepped the constitutional bounds as far as I'm concerned. I wanna remind you I'm not a lawyer."
    Whitaker relayed the standard "pro-choice" analysis: "That might help him with Iowa Republicans in the caucus Monday, yet hurt him with women voters down the road."

    Whitaker moved on to Bush's battle with John McCain over taxes, before concluding from Bedford, New Hampshire with a bit of advocacy for another issue agenda: "While the candidates are going on about abortion and taxes, voters are saying they wanna hear about other things, like health care."

    NBC also zoomed in on abortion as anchor Tom Brokaw intoned:
    "As NBC's David Bloom reports tonight, on the Republican side, Texas Governor George W. Bush is stepping up his rhetoric on abortion, trying to hold off any late surges by his opponents."

    David Bloom began: "Under pressure from religious conservatives here in Iowa, who say Bush has not taken a forceful stand against abortion, the Texas Governor acknowledges for the first time today that the conservative judges he would appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court might try to overturn the landmark abortion rights decision, Roe versus Wade."
    George W. Bush: "Roe v. Wade was a reach, overstepped the constitutional bounds as far as I'm concerned."

    Bloom looked at how while Steve Forbes is tanking nationally, in Iowa he's a real threat to Bush. Bloom returned to the usual media mantra against any negative campaigning:
    "With Forbes a threat in Iowa and Arizona Senator John McCain an even bigger challenge in New Hampshire, Bush promises again today that he'll run a positive campaign."
    Bush: "John McCain is my friend, and he is darn sure gonna be my friend after the campaign."
    Bloom countered: "But in truth, Governor Bush and his Republican establishment allies are playing hardball, running an arguably misleading ad against Senator McCain in New Hampshire, attacking rival Steve Forbes here in Iowa, trying to knock McCain off the Republican ballot in New York. Today Bush charges that McCain's tax cut plan is so short on details that the numbers just don't add up. And he refuses to pull this new anti-McCain TV spot off the air in New Hampshire."
    Bush in ad video: "I don't agree with leaving money in Washington, D.C."
    Bloom to Bush: "But now that your friend is saying it's false and misleading, will you stop running the ad?"
    Bush: "I'm waiting for my friend to explain what his plan is. How is he gonna pay for his tax cuts? And I'm still awaiting the answer, David."
    Bloom concluded: "From abortion to taxes, the Republican fight is growing increasingly contentious and the Bush-McCain friendship increasingly strained."

2

cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)Finally, thirteen days after ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS evening News quoted Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile's race-mongering insult of Republicans and Colin Powell, NBC Nightly News quoted it, sort of. But only after reporter Claire Shipman gushed about Brazile's "spiritual...sense of right and wrong" and "passion for justice."

    Back on January 7, ABC and CBS reported how Brazile charged, in an interview with Bloomberg.com, "Republicans bring out Colin Powell and J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They'd rather take pictures with black children than feed them." The next night, as recounted in the January 10 CyberAlert, NBC finally got to the story, as Claire Shipman gave it a few seconds in the middle of a January 8 piece on the Democratic debate earlier in the day in Iowa, but she failed to quote Brazile and thus deprived viewers of an understanding of her hostility:
    "....Gore was also forced to explain remarks by campaign manager Donna Brazile. In an interview she accused Republicans of using black members of their party, like General Colin Powell and Representative J.C. Watts, to send a positive image while offering no real support for African-Americans."

    Thursday night, January 20, as part of the "Women to Watch" in the campaign series on NBC Nightly News, Shipman profiled Brazile. Over video of Brazile by a stove as she recounted a Psalm, Shipman began:
    "Donna Brazile is the product of her Louisiana passions. There's the pot of gumbo always simmering on the stove and there's her spiritual, often vocal, sense of right and wrong. Her passion for justice forged early in a childhood of rural poverty. The third of eight children, Brazile learned quickly to speak her mind."

    Just after Brazile explained that Gore hired her in order to implement a "lean, mean, aggressive campaign machine," Shipman got to her earlier remarks. Though she more fully conveyed them, Shipman still failed to quote them exactly:
    "But Republicans complain she took that too far when she said that the GOP would rather hold photo-ops with black children than feed them. And that the party uses Colin Powell and Representative J.C. Watts as props to hide a lack of concern for poor blacks."

3

cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes)The visit by Senator Jesse Helms to the UN on Thursday fascinated ABC's Peter Jennings and the night before, though he had an anonymously attributed source as cover, Jennings had to be corrected by one of his reporters when he described a missile defense test as a "massive failure."

    -- Thursday night, CBS and NBC only briefly mentioned Helms's UN appearance at the invitation of US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, but World News Tonight featured a whole story, which Jennings introduced:
    "It was a very interesting, even an exciting day at the United Nations. All the tension and anticipation in the air today had to do with a visitor from Washington. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina is as outspoken critic as the United Nations has ever had in the United States and because he is so powerful in the Congress he all but controls the American financial contribution to the UN."

    Later, Ted Koppel devoted Nightline to the Helms address to the UN delegates.

    -- On Wednesday night, January 19, Jennings turned to John McWethy to explain what happened in the unsuccessful test of a missile defense system. After McWethy relayed that "the flight went just perfectly" until the last six seconds, Jennings inquired: "Yesterday somebody said if this was regarded as a massive failure, this program might not be going forward. How's it being described today?"
    McWethy assured Jennings: "It's not a massive failure."

4

cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes)Today and Good Morning America each ran short items Thursday morning, read by the hourly news reader, about Hillary Clinton being asked by a Buffalo radio talk show host about her faithfulness. Wednesday night on MSNBC's new 6p ET show, Decision 2000, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed, Andrea Mitchell denounced the "rather rude question from some reporters about her, first of all, whether she'd been faithful to her husband, whether she'd ever had drug use."

    But on Thursday morning only CBS's The Early Show devoted an entire piece to the "below the belt" questions as MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted that Diana Olick extended the outrage expressed the night before on the CBS Evening News where Dan Rather lamented how "Mrs. Clinton came under a barrage of very personal questions about her personal life."

    News reader Julie Chen painted Hillary Clinton as a victim:
    "Hillary Clinton is learning how tough a run for the New York Senate can be. Some of the questions she's being asked have even longtime political watchers shaking their heads."

    From Washington, Diana Olick bemoaned: "Well, the gloves are off but some veteran political reporters here in Washington say the latest questions hurled at Mrs. Clinton are below the belt. In the past few days she's been asked about the future of her marriage, her own fidelity, and if she's ever smoked pot or used cocaine. But what does all that have to do with being a Senator from New York? Not much, but it seems to have everything to do with campaigning today. It all started with a Marist College poll last week which showed a majority of New Yorkers wanted Hillary Clinton to go on the David Letterman show. The campaign took the cue. Then, in an apparent effort to be more media accessible she hosted an Internet chat room and took the leap into Buffalo talk radio."

    Olick played the audio of the offending radio exchange. WGR Radio's Tom Bauerle asked Hillary: "Mrs. Clinton, you're going to hate me, you were on television last night talking about your relationship with the President, Bill Clinton. Have you ever been sexually unfaithful to him and specifically the stories about you and Vince Foster. Any truth in those?"
    Hillary Clinton: "I do hate you for that, because you know, those questions I think are really out of bounds and everybody who knows me knows the answers to those questions."
    Bauerle: "Is the answer no?"
    Hillary "Well yes, of course it's no, but it's an inappropriate question."

    Olick picked up: "So why did she answer it? Here's what her likely opponent's campaign manager told us just before that radio interview."
    Bruce Teitlebaum, Giuliani campaign: "When you run for the Senate from New York you have to reach out to the people, you have to answer the tough questions, you have to subject yourself to kinds of questions that people want answers to."
    Olick concluded: "But even Teitlebaum thought these questions were out of line. Mrs. Clinton said later she didn't know if the questions were fair or unfair, simply that they were on some people's minds."

5

cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes)It took a liberal columnist to point out what the media could not see through their biased prism. In a column run in the January 20 Washington Post, Richard Cohen asserted:
    "On the day Democrats were lambasting George W. Bush and John McCain for having no opinion on South Carolina's official use of the Confederate flag, Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and Hillary Clinton faced a flag of their own: Al Sharpton. Asked what they thought of this dapper demagogue, they all -- either in words or in action --responded with sharp salutes. Like their GOP counterparts, it turns out their allegiance is to whatever gets them the most votes."

    The media's beneficial treatment of Hillary was the topic of Thursday's MRC Media Reality Check fax report written by Tim Graham. He highlighted how the networks either ignored Hillary's appearance with the race-baiting Sharpton, or gave it a positive spin. But none condemned her.

    This fax report can also be read online by going to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2000/20000120.html

    The January 20 Media Reality Check:

Why Should Hillary Hate the Press?
Reporters Plugged Letterman Stunt, Protested Buffalo Interview, and Downplayed Meeting with Racists

Steve Roberts of U.S. News suggested a new method of dismissing the "conservative canard" of liberal bias on Sunday's Late Edition on CNN. "The two people in Washington who hate the political press the most are Bill and Hillary Clinton, which is a reflection of the fact that the coverage has been pretty tough on them."

But other than doing the cruel work of reciting her nine-point deficit in the latest poll, the press have hardly earned the hatred. Last week, all the networks publicized her staged CBS appearance on David Letterman's Late Show. "The very serious candidate for the New York Senate was funny," CBS's Diana Olick raved. No one asked the question: When is she going to do serious interviews with real journalists instead of sending out aides?

-- Hillary's Hate. Yesterday morning, Hillary agreed to a radio interview on Buffalo radio station WGR, and host Tom Bauerle asked: "Mrs. Clinton, you're going to hate me, you were on television last night talking about your relationship with the President, Bill Clinton. Have you ever been sexually unfaithful to him and specifically the stories about you and Vince Foster. Any truth in those?"

Hillary replied: "I do hate you for that, because you know, those questions I think are really out of bounds, and everybody who knows me knows the answers to those questions." When Bauerle asked, "Is the answer no," she answered: "Well yes, of course it's no, but it's an inappropriate question."

While ABC and NBC skipped the exchange last night [January 19], CBS got angry. Bob Schieffer complained the interview "underlines just how rough modern politics has become, says Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz." Kurtz called the quiz "completely salacious, appalling, and shouldn't be part of what we call journalism." Schieffer testily concluded: "There is an old saying among reporters that there are no bad questions, just bad answers. But today even some veteran reporters are shaking their heads and wondering what will someone ask next?"

CBS ignored Bauerle asking Hillary if she used drugs, "rough politics" they tried out on George W. Bush. CBS didn't explore Hillary's own standards, such as her asking in 1992: "Why does the press shy away from investigating rumors about George Bush's extramarital life?"

-- Slumming with Sharpton. Then there's Hillary's Monday meeting with racist demagogue Al Sharpton, best known for falsely accusing white men of raping black teen Tawana Brawley, later exposed as a hoax. Sharpton has also been cozy with anti-Semitic blacks, and on Monday an associate ran down Jews while Hillary and Sharpton were in another room. CBS and NBC totally ignored the meeting. On CNN's Inside Politics, Maria Hinojosa gave it positive spin: "Mrs. Clinton even shared the stage with Reverend Al Sharpton, once the controversial outsider, now the consummate African-American insider."

On ABC Tuesday, Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson interviewed Sharpton and former New York Mayor David Dinkins. He asked Dinkins: "You sit next to Reverend Sharpton, and I don't know whether he would accept the characterization of himself as somewhat controversial, but does she cost herself Jewish votes, white votes, by coming to meet with him?"

If Steve Roberts were right, all the media would be asking that.

    END Reprint of fax report

6

cyberno6.jpg (1848 bytes)Washington's priorities. The Washington media figure who last year maintained that Bill Clinton is "our first woman President," now thinks Ted Kennedy and Madeleine Albright will always outshine Michael Jordan.

    MRC analyst Paul Smith caught this sentence from CNN reporter Kate Snow in a January 19 The World Today story on NBA legend Michael Jordan taking and executive slot with the Washington Wizards basketball team:
    "According to [Sally] Quinn, a noted Washington hostess, Michael Jordan will never have the stature of a Ted Kennedy or a Madeleine Albright inside the Beltway."

7

cyberno7.gif (1643 bytes)A liberal bias at ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire quiz show? Who but a liberal following the stunts of left-wing environmentalists would think to formulate this question posed on the show this past Sunday: "Until mid-December 1999, where did protester Julia 'Butterfly' Hill live full-time for two years?"

    The answer, for $16,000: "In a redwood tree." But the contestant needed to use his audience survey "lifeline" to come up with the correct answer.

    Of course, network news viewers are also forced to be plugged into the latest liberal cause celebre. At least ABC viewers since World News Tonight ran a full story last month on Hill's mission. -- Brent Baker


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