Bush Hit "Boulder," But Don't Go Right; Pro-McCain Press; GumbelAid 2000
1) Did Bush hit "a boulder" or "a big chug
hole"? Newsweek's Howard Fineman warned that he'll be hurt in the
fall if he goes right. Carl Bernstein vilified McCain's "reactionary
record" but asserted "everybody knows" he's right about
2) "McCain is riding media momentum," noted CNN's
Bill Schneider. CNBC's Chris Matthews pointed out how "the press seems
to be totally pro-McCain." Two reporters for major media outlets agreed.
3) Dan Rather: "A lot of reporters...made the
mistake of saying, 'oh, well, Clinton fatigue is going to be a very big
factor in the race.' Hasn't proved to be the case so far."
4) ABC's GMA provided an election morning gift to the Gore
team, a softball interview with mother/daughter Tipper and Karenna. Diane
Sawyer explored what mother told daughter about Mighty Mouse.
5) CBS News maintained that the GOP's "hard line"
against abortion put it out of touch with New Hampshire independents who are
pro-choice by two-to-one, but the poll found 53 percent want abortion either
banned or more strictly controlled.
6) News judgment at the New York Times. Action on offensive
words from an athlete showcased on the front page. News that an athlete
stabbed two people to death buried inside.
7) In filing for separation from Bryant Gumbel, his wife June
claimed the $5 million-a-year star only pays her $250 a month. That prompted
radio's Don Imus to initiate "GumbelAid 2000."
Correction: Number 3 in the February 1 table of contents plugged an item on
how Tim Russert pressed John McCain "from the left about how he wants to
return to 'back ally abortions.'" Ally should have read
"alley," as it did in the subsequent item.
appears, you might say, that the Straight Talk Express has rolled through New
Hampshire and left Texas Governor George W. Bush in its wake," assessed
Judy Woodruff during CNN's prime time coverage Tuesday night of the New
Hampshire primary. At about 9:20pm ET on MSNBC Tim Russert told Brian
Williams, in reference to Bush: "Tonight was a little bit more than a
bump, it was a boulder put in the way of the frontrunner." About thirty
minutes later on CBS's 60 Minutes II Bob Schieffer employed his own unique
vernacular: "It may be more than a bump in the road, it may be a big chug
hole in the road here, it seems to me."
Most cable coverage stuck to horse race assessments, but
some noteworthy and biased analysis came through and was documented by the
MRC's analysts who stayed late to monitor coverage: Mark Drake, Jessica
Anderson, Geoffrey Dickens and Brad Wilmouth.
CNN's Bill Schneider attributed Bush's loss to a
vote drain caused by Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, Time's Margaret Carlson
argued tax cuts don't resonate any more, Newsweek's Howard Fineman warned
that Bush will now be hurt in the fall by having to go to the right in South
Carolina, Geraldo Rivera conceded that even with him McCain's attacks on
Clinton's "truth-twisting" actually "resonated" and Carl
Bernstein both denigrated McCain's "rather reactionary record" and
asserted "everybody knows McCain is right about" campaign finance
Before getting to the cable quotes, a note about the
broadcast networks which offered little coverage, but more than there would
have been if not for regularly scheduled news magazine shows. ABC delivered
only a two-minute update at 8pm ET. CBS squeezed in interviews by Dan Rather
with George W. Bush and John McCain at the end of the 9pm ET 60 Minutes II,
but couldn't get the sound to work with Bill Bradley so had to dump him and
Rather assigned Gore's absence to Gore running behind schedule. NBC had
better luck as Tom Brokaw got all four live simultaneously for a few minutes
of MSNBC's coverage which popped up in the middle of the 10pm ET Dateline
NBC. As usual, Nightline provided analysis from two former Clintonites: David
Gergen and George Stephanopoulos.
Now to some interesting quotes from Tuesday night,
February 1, cable coverage:
-- Forbes and Keyes hurt Bush and tax cuts just don't
resonate anymore. Both themes were pressed on MSNBC and CNN as shown in these
representative remarks on CNN taken down by the MRC's Jessica Anderson.
Bernard Shaw: "Bill, why is Bush in this fix
CNN analyst Bill Schneider: "Well, we have some
evidence about this, and first of all, let me say that the Republican voters
were split. About half of them were moderates. Well, today to call a
Republican a moderate is an insult. Moderates went two-to-one for John McCain,
but look at how conservatives voted. McCain carried conservatives, four points
over George Bush. Why did Bush lag among conservatives? Because a lot of their
votes went for Forbes and Keyes. As long as Forbes and Keyes stays in this
race, stay in this race, Bush is going to have problems with his hard-core
Time's Margaret Carlson opined during a mini Capital
Gang segment: "Nine percent of people thought it [tax cuts] was
important. It was way below the other issues, Social Security for one, which
McCain is emphasizing, paying the debt. It just doesn't have the resonance
it used to have. Now congressional Republicans have learned that it doesn't
sell. Even in New Hampshire it doesn't sell. And, you know, it's not
'live free or die' anymore. It's New Hampshire dot com. It is a new New
Hampshire and they don't feel the way they used to feel. It's not as
conservative a state. It is a state that cares about issues that,
Independents, moderate Republican issues."
-- Going right will hurt Bush. During much of MSNBC's
8pm ET hour viewers were treated to a panel moderated by Brian Williams of
Newsweek's Howard Fineman and liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin joined
by ex-Clintonite Dee Dee Myers and Democratic activist Lawrence O'Donnell,
with a brief appearance by conservative Laura Ingraham.
During this time, MRC analyst Mark Drake noticed,
Fineman forecast dangers ahead for Bush:
"I think what McCain's campaign manager said is
correct, which is that George W. Bush is in something of a box here. Going to
South Carolina, he's going to have to attack McCain from the right. He's
going to have to make himself, that is Bush, more conservative and more of an
attacker, which may help him in South Carolina but won't help make him a
better general election candidate in the fall."
Of course, no such fears were expressed about Bradley
going to the left to attack Gore.
-- McCain has even swayed Geraldo, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noted while watching the special two-hour 9 to 11pm ET Rivera Live on
CNBC. Geraldo Rivera admitted: "Here you have a man who said the
'truth-twisting politics of Gore and Clinton.' If any other Republican had
said that over the last couple of years I might have gagged. Yet this man,
this noble man, who is indeed a truth-teller. It resonated even with me."
-- Don't ever forget, McCain is really a reactionary
conservative, though there may be hope as he's "evolving." On
Rivera Live, veteran reporter Carl Bernstein declared: "Something is
going on. I mean I wrote about McCain, as you know, in the December issue of
Vanity Fair and he has this remarkable appeal. He's a down the line
conservative. He's voted for every item in the Contract for America and yet
he has this appeal to centrists and even some liberal Democrats despite a
rather reactionary record in many ways. He is evolving."
-- On target on campaign finance reform. An exchange
from Rivera Live.
Rivera: "Is that why liberals love him, just because
conservatives hate him or at least the establishment does?"
Bernstein: "Well part of McCain's appeal has to do
with the issues he's chosen. He's chosen campaign finance reform
Rivera: "Good issue! My son can relate to that. He's
Bernstein: "Not only a good issue the fact remains the
Congress in the United States is governed by money today. Not by real
politics. Everybody knows McCain is right about that."
At least everybody in the media.
the media candidate? Tuesday night CNN's Bill Schneider acknowledged McCain
is "riding media momentum." A night earlier on CNBC, Chris Matthews,
NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter all agreed the press
is "totally pro-McCain."
-- During CNN's February 1 prime time coverage, CNN
analyst Bill Schneider assigned credit for McCain's success:
"Remember: McCain is riding media momentum. There is a
reason why he has spent about 12 hours a day talking to every reporter in
sight. It's because he doesn't have a lot of money. Of all the four major
candidates, he's the least well funded. He's depending on the free media
-- they call it the earned media -- to carry his message, a big sensation,
covers of news magazines, going into South Carolina and Michigan."
-- Monday night two reporters for major outlets admitted
their profession is in the tank for McCain. Here's an exchange from the
January 31 Hardball on CNBC as observed by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens.
Host Chris Matthews: "First of all the press seems
to be totally pro-McCain, totally pro-McCain. Everybody I know seems to be
NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell: "Completely."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "There's a lot of
Mitchell: "I mean we have a race and we love the
straight talk bit."
before New Hampshire voters almost dealt Al Gore a surprise defeat and did
give John McCain a huge upset win, in an election in which exit polls found
personal qualities of trustworthiness and honesty ranked high, Dan Rather
concluded "Clinton fatigue" would not be a factor in voting this
Making an appearance on the Imus in the Morning radio
show from New Hampshire on February 1, Dan Rather asserted, as transcribed by
MRC analyst Mark Drake:
"For better or for worse, we Americans are a forward
looking people. Americans always have their eye on the far horizon. Clinton
and what happened to him in his personal life and elsewhere is near history.
People are not voting on that basis. A lot of reporters, including this one,
made the mistake of saying, 'oh, well, Clinton fatigue is going to be a very
big factor in the race.' Hasn't proved to be the case so far and I'll be
amazed if it's much of a factor in the race this fall. A lot of people want
it to be and therefore they will be talking it up but people are concerned
about their future. They want to know what will happen with them, that is to
say their pocketbook, and what's going to happen to their kids, their
grandkids and that's the basis on which they make their vote."
When's the last time you heard Gore boasting of his
close ties to Clinton?
Morning America delivered an election morning gift to the Gore campaign, a
nice softball mother/daughter interview with Tipper and Karenna Gore. In the
February 1 segment Diane Sawyer provided Karenna with an opportunity to shore
up her feminist credentials by recalling how while watching Mighty Mouse
cartoons as a child her mother supposedly taught her to be independent.
Here are most of the questions from the interview, as
taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
-- Diane Sawyer: "Well, in this election season, Al
Gore, the Vice President, has a couple of secret weapons. Some secret. They
are his wife, Tipper, and 26-year-old daughter Karenna, who somehow, between
law school and the birth of her first child, has also became a key advisor in
her father's campaign. And we are so happy to welcome Tipper Gore and Karenna
Gore Schiff this morning, joining us from Nashua, New Hampshire, their first
network television interview together, mother and daughter. It's great to see
you both. Mrs. Gore, after all these months, in a sense, today is the day it
begins, the first primary in New Hampshire. What did you and the Vice
President say to each other last night about your expectations of today?"
-- Sawyer: "Karenna, every family has an intense
optimist and a pessimist. Which are you?"
-- Sawyer: "Mrs. Gore, Bill Bradley, Senator Bradley
has said recently that the Vice President has a pattern of misrepresentations,
which is troubling. Do you think he believes this and why would he be saying
it if he didn't believe it?"
-- Sawyer: "Karenna, how angry is the family at
-- Sawyer: "Well, Karenna, I've got a question for
you, as well, just a family question because I was so interested to read when
you were growing up, your mother was instrumental in a couple, in more than a
couple of ways, but one was, you said, from early on, when you would sit and
watch Mighty Mouse cartoons, she was there leaning over your shoulder, telling
Karenna Gore Schiff: "Oh, well, she wanted me to
recognize that although Mighty Mouse always rescued the girl mouse in the
cartoon, that women could get themselves out of any situation and could stand
up and act on their own. And she wanted her daughters to have that feeling
themselves, and I appreciated it."
-- Sawyer: "And Mrs. Gore, when you were
campaigning to make sure there were parental advisories on some music, were
you ever worried that Karenna would be, I guess, isolated at school? Did the
two of you talk about that?"
-- Sawyer: "Alright, a quick question to both of
you. We've read that you are both key advisors to the Vice President. Have you
disagreed on anything ever and which one wins?"
week CBS News reporter Bill Whitaker asserted that a CBS poll found that by
two-to-one New Hampshire women rejected the "hard line"
anti-abortion position espoused by Steve Forbes, but the poll actually
determined that most either wanted abortion banned are more strictly limited
than it is now and so are at least as much out of alignment with the
Democratic Party position.
In his January 27 CBS Evening News story Whitaker
stressed that Forbes's "hard line may secure Forbes a third place
finish here and end up hurting the Republican Party. Why? According to a CBS
News poll out today, for every woman in New Hampshire who says this:"
Woman: "I am definitely pro-life."
Whitaker: "Two or more disagree."
Second woman: "I'm very pro-choice."
Whitaker concluded: "The most pro-choice segment of
the votingpopulation: independent voters, and most of those are and youcan't
win here without winning them over and right now, most ofthem are moving
toward McCain. No wonder he'd like this abortion issue just to go away."
In fact, as the MRC's Tim Graham noticed, though the
CBS poll found that 43 percent of independent voters in the Granite State
agreed "abortion should be generally available to those who want
it," an identical percentage said "abortion should be available but
under stricter limits than it is now." Another ten percent thought
"abortion should not be permitted," for a total of 53 percent in
conflict with the liberal abortion-on-demand position espoused by Al Gore and
To see all the questions and answers in the CBS News
poll, go to: http://www.cbs.com/network/htdocs/cbs_news/hs~janbindb.htm
don't kill and knives do, but at the New York Times saying some impolite
things about people is more newsworthy than stabbing a couple of people to
death. Just check the paper's placement of two stories on February 1.
On the bottom half of the front page, this headline:
"Baseball Suspends Rocker Till May for Comments."
On the bottom of page C-29, the front page of the sports
section tucked inside the "Business Day" section, this headline
appeared over an AP story: "Police Accuse Ravens' Lewis of Two
Times reporter Murray Chass outlined the latest
development in the Rocker case:
"Commissioner Bud Selig, saying John Rocker had
dishonored Major League Baseball by disparaging many groups of society with
his harsh comments in a magazine interview, suspended the Atlanta Braves' No.
1 relief pitcher yesterday for 73 days, marking the first time a baseball
player has been disciplined for speech."
His offending words appeared in Sports Illustrated in
December, the Times explained: "Talking about playing for a New York
team, he said: 'Imagine having to take the 7 train to the ballpark, looking
like you're riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to
some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the
fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's
Hardly enlightened, but not deadly as in the case the
buried AP story outlined. The January 31-datelined AP dispatch began:
"Ray Lewis, the Pro-Bowl middle linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, was
charged by the Atlanta police with murder tonight in the slayings of two
people outside a nightclub hours after the Super Bowl ended."
The Rocker story may have a local New York angle, but it
still seems an odd news judgment. In contrast, USA Today managed to showcase
both sports stories while giving higher priority to the double murder.
"Ravens' Lewis Charged in Murder" announced the headline across
the top of the sports section -- above the Rocker story which ran below it:
"Baseball Suspends Braves' Rocker."
Gumbel's divorce fight jumped into New York's gossip columns late last
week when the lawyer for his angry wife went public, asking a judge to order
Gumbel to make some payments to his wife larger than the paltry $250 a month
the $5-million-a-year network star supposedly pays her now.
Gumbel's alleged stinginess prompted morning radio
talk show host Don Imus, whose show is simulcast on MSNBC, to send staffers on
Friday to the sidewalk outside The Early Show studios to hold "GumbelAid
2000." At one point, as shown on MSNBC, they sang a Gumbel-oriented
parody of the We Are the World song.
While his wife, June, remains in their suburban house,
Gumbel now lives in Manhattan with another woman. Below are excerpts from
recent USA Today and New York Daily News articles relaying conflicting charges
from June and Bryant, followed by the lyrics to the song sung by Imus's crew
and a New York Post story on how CBS had the police remove the pranksters.
-- Jeannie Williams in her USA Today Life section
column, January 27:
After two years of estrangement, June Gumbel has filed for a separation
from husband Bryant Gumbel and today will ask for emergency financial relief
in Westchester Supreme Court in New York.
"The poor woman is in my office; she's practically destitute,"
her lawyer, Barry Slotnick, said Wednesday. Slotnick portrays June, 51, wed 26
years to the CBS Early Show co-host, as maxed out on credit, getting just $250
monthly from Gumbel, and having depleted her savings. He says that while
Gumbel has been paying college costs for their son, Bradley, 21, the son's
phone was shut off recently for non-payment....
The former Today show star, who reportedly makes some $5 million annually,
currently lives with former Goldman Sachs staffer Hilary Quinlan.
June Gumbel filed this month for the separation, but Slotnick explains,
"she was at her wits' end. When the (CBS) show started (last fall), she
would not allow us to file anything. She didn't want to hurt his career. She's
a very decent woman. Revealing all she has to tell about him in open court
will hurt him as a TV personality. She didn't want to do that. And he looked
at that as some sort of weakness."....
June lives in the Westchester home she owns with her husband, Slotnick
says. She met Gumbel, now 51, when she was a flight attendant and he "had
a broken-down pair of sneakers" and was seeking work. June, a deeply
religious Roman Catholic, has been in touch with the New York archdiocese
about an annulment, "but it doesn't look good," Slotnick says....
-- "Rush & Molloy's" column in the
January 28 New York Daily News ran through the same charges from June, but
then relayed Bryant's view:
Bryant Gumbel's lawyer, Stanley Arkin, tells us that his client "will
follow the court's order," but that he has been "sumptuously"
supporting June Gumbel and their children, Bradley, 21, and Jillian, 16, in
the four years since he began asking for a divorce.
"June has cars, trainers, hairdressers, vacations," Arkin said.
"She would go out and charge gobs of jewelry and cases of wine."
Arkin also said that even though his client gave June Gumbel and their two
children primary use of homes in Manhattan and Westchester County, she made
his life "miserable" by "locking him out" of the
Arkin also disputed the claim of June Gumbel's attorney, Barry Slotnick,
that the newsman was a "Scrooge" who gave his kids nothing more than
"trinkets" for Christmas....
-- Friday morning, to mock Gumbel's situation, New
York City radio host Don Imus sent his producer, Bernard McGuirk, and some
staffers over to the sidewalk outside The Early Show studios. They held up
signs urging people to contribute to what Imus dubbed "GumbelAid
Just before 8am, MRC analyst Mark Drake observed, the
group sang a take-off on "We Are the World" with lyrics geared to
Gumbel's situation. The lyrics:
We Are the World
Let's Help the Gumbels
Bryant's the One Who Dissed His Mom in the Projects
Where She Was Living
Hey, Bryant Gumbel
Help Out Your Family
You Are the One Who Makes a Lot of Pay
So Let's Start Giving
There's a Choice You're Making
You Want a Hot Blonde Wife
That's Cool but Buy Your Mom Some Teeth
And Feed Your Children
You Are a Turd
A Cheap Chubby A-Hole
Just What You Spent on Jeri Curl Alone
Could Feed a Nation
We Are the World
Let's Help the Gumbels
This Crew Will Make the Bastard Pay Some Day
Just You and Me
Okay, not the most high-minded comedy, but you
couldn't have a better target than Gumbel and it is pretty funny to see this
going on just in front of a big picture of Gumbel above an Early Show window.
So, Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer video
clip of the Imus gang singing this song parody.
Gumbel's CBS colleagues didn't take kindly to the
stunt, as Don Kaplan reported in a January 29 New York Post story caught by
Pranksters from the Don Imus radio show were threatened with arrest outside
CBS's Early Show yesterday after they tried to collect money to help support
co-host Bryant Gumbel's estranged wife and kids....
"Bryant Gumbel is a hideously unlikable person so [we'll do] anything
[we] could do to [mess] with him," Imus told The Post yesterday. "We
saw a need, and we thought we'd try to address it."....
They waved white plastic buckets with Gumbel's picture on them at
passersby, asking for donations of canned food and money to help the $5
million-a-year TV host pay child support for his 16-year-old daughter and
Gumbel had taken the day off and did not see the episode.
About 10 police officers showed up around 8:30 a.m. after Early Show
Executive Producer Steve Friedman called 911. The pranksters were ordered to
leave because Imus in the Morning did not have a permit to park its
broadcasting truck on the street, Friedman said....
In her lawsuit, June Gumbel calls Gumbel a "serial adulterer."
June Gumbel's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told a reporter that a therapist has
been helping the family cope with the Early Show host's relationship with
Hilary Quinlan, a blond bombshell with whom he now lives.
He's living Bill Clinton's dream life. --
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