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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday February 15, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 27) |

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Pro-Lifers Put Money Before Babies; Kneepad Nina Backs Hillary

1) CBS looked at how Bush is trying to appeal to the religious right, but Bill Whitaker relayed an attack on pro-lifers from a McCain backer who claimed they're more interested in raising money "than saving babies." ABC reviewed McCain's legislative record.

2) Two Columbine students were shot dead at a fast-food place, prompting CBS's Sandra Hughes to remind viewers that gun control bills in Colorado were "defeated last week under heavy pressure by the National Rifle Association."

3) NBC's Andrea Mitchell highlighted how Hillary Clinton "blasted" Rudy Giuliani for accusing her of "hostility towards America's religious traditions." But on CNN Kate O'Beirne pointed out how her litmus test for judges discriminates against those traditions.

4) More of NBC's analysis of China: "The future of the Communist Party may be in doubt if it can't ease the pain felt by the once pampered work force."

5) "Kneepad Nina" Burleigh is back. She recalled that in 1992 it "was hard...to stay objective and not become enchanted by the promise of Hillary." She declared Hillary has her vote so that "Trent Lott doesn't get another foot soldier for his holy war."


Pro-lifers more concerned with making money than saving lives. Monday night CBS focused on how George W. Bush is trying to appeal to South Carolina's religious right by attacking John McCain's abortion stand, but CBS News reporter Bill Whitaker highlighted a McCain backer who "says the anti-abortion establishment, grown powerful from all the soft money it raises, is more concerned about McCain's campaign finance reforms than saving babies."

    On ABC's World News Tonight John Cochran reviewed McCain's legislative record, concluding both supporters and critics are correct: "McCain's critics say he is not very good at playing the Washington game. His supporters say the same thing and are proud of it."

    Over on NBC Nightly News David Bloom checked in with a story about how Bush is drawing bigger crowds as a Los Angles Times poll found that in South Carolina Bush is up 2-to-1 among Republicans while McCain leads 2-to-1 among independents. Bloom added: "Today Bush, trying to rile up Republicans, claims Democrats here are siding with McCain only to hurt the GOP."

    Next, Tom Brokaw talked with Tim Russert who said winning South Carolina was "key" to both men and he agreed independents are the "key" vote. Picking up on a development uncovered by columnist Bob Novak, but without citing him, Russert noted that there are "talks tonight" about how McCain is open to accepting the Reform Party nomination if he wins the GOP nod.

    Here are some more details about the February 14 CBS and ABC evening show coverage:

    -- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer told viewers how polls show a "dead heat" in South Carolina as the race is now "meaner than ever too." He illustrated: "When Bush claimed that McCain had an inconsistent voting record in the Senate, McCain said a Senator had to make compromises to get things done and shot back with this."
    McCain: "This kind of savagery is not necessary in American political campaigns."
    Bush: "It's not savagery, it's what we call full exposure, full disclosure."

    Wow. That's "mean."

    Up next, Bill Whitaker explained: "With independents and Democrats leaning toward John McCain in this open primary, Bush believes his salvation depends on the Christian Right, a third or more of Republican voters here."

    After recalling how Bush was criticized for his "pilgrimage to Bob Jones University" where interracial dating is banned, Whitaker noted:
    "Almost every conservative leader and group in the state has endorsed him. McCain said today he's not concerned, but his aides are, especially about the religious right's main issue -- abortion -- and these commercials by Bush's anti-abortion backers airing all over the state."
    Viewers then heard the audio of a Bush radio ad.
    Woman's voice: "I'm pro-life."
    Man's voice: "Then don't vote for John McCain."
    Woman again: "I won't. I'm voting for George Bush."

    Whitaker countered: "Barbara Leonard, chair of the Republican National Coalition for Life here, is bucking the trend and voting for McCain because of his anti-abortion record. She says the anti-abortion establishment, grown powerful from all the soft money it raises, is more concerned about McCain's campaign finance reforms than saving babies."
     Leonard: "I do know that they are upset about campaign finance reform. This pro-life business has become a money-making business. It keeps the money in the pro-life movement circulated."

    Without giving any time for a pro-life spokesperson to give their viewpoint and explain how limitations on their free speech could lead to fewer babies being saved, Whitaker concluded:
    "With the race so tight the key is motivating supporters to get to the polls. Now in past elections firing up the religious right has made the difference and George W. Bush for one is hoping they'll do it again."

    -- ABC's World News Tonight did not air a full report from the campaign trail and instead turned to John Cochran for an assessment of how McCain fared on Capitol Hill. As transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, he opened:
    "John McCain tells crowds he is the one with the experience to make reforms and cut spending, even military spending so popular with South Carolina voters."

    After a clip of McCain, he continued: "Actually, McCain has had little impact on cutting government spending. His biggest success was a ten-year fight to pass the line item veto, giving Presidents the power to kill specific spending projects. But later the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. McCain failed again last fall to kill $13 billion in what he called wasteful spending, in part because he attacked a ship building project proposed by his own party's leader, Trent Lott."

    Viewers heard Senator Robert Bennett note that McCain's not a team player before Cochran moved on, picking up on an incident that showed him as a man with great insight: "McCain has been trouble for his party from his first days as a Congressman when he stunned Republicans by urging President Ronald Reagan to withdraw Marines from Lebanon. Reagan kept them there and 241 Americans were killed in a terrorist bombing."

    Cochran continued: "McCain's confrontational style has resulted in a mixed record as a legislator. He helped to pass laws preventing Senators from accepting expensive gifts, putting new restrictions on Washington lobbyists and giving Native Americans more power to govern themselves. McCain also helped pressure the TV networks into accepting ratings for violent and sexually explicit programs, but McCain has also had failures, especially his attempts to pass a big tobacco tax and campaign finance reform. All McCain succeeded in doing was to infuriate fellow Republicans."

    Cochran concluded: "McCain's critics say he is not very good at playing the Washington game. His supporters say the same thing and are proud of it."

    A nice way to turn a negative into a positive. And not a word from any critics of how he used his committee chairmanship position to play with business lobbyists.


It's never too soon after a tragedy for CBS to tie it into gun control. At the end of a Monday night CBS Evening News story on how two Columbine High School students were found shot dead inside a Subway sandwich shop in Jefferson County, Colorado, reporter Sandra Hughes helpfully pointed out:
    "Though the Colorado legislature has considered several gun control measures, spawned by the Columbine massacre, some voted on today, the toughest measure which would have required background checks on gun sales at gun shows was defeated last week under heavy pressure by the National Rifle Association. It would have closed a loophole in a law that allowed the Columbine killers to get at least one of their weapons."


Reviewing Hillary Clinton's first week as a Senate candidate Saturday night, NBC's Andrea Mitchell pointed out, without refutation, how she "blasted" Rudy Giuliani for a fundraising letter which accused Clinton of "hostility towards America's religious traditions." But less than an hour later on CNN's Capital Gang, Kate O'Beirne pointed out how her pro-abortion litmus test for judges "rules out anyone with traditional religious beliefs."

    Mitchell began her February 12 NBC Nightly News piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst Mark Drake: "Hillary Clinton working the crowd at an upstate diner between Rochester and Buffalo, a Republican area where resentment against anything connected to New York City runs so deep even a Democrat named Clinton has a shot against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani."

    Mitchell picked up on a damaging story about Mrs. Clinton, but treated her as a victim: "But even here the neophyte politician is subjected to extraordinary scrutiny. The First Lady orders breakfast and is tagged for not leaving a tip for a waitress who is a single mom with no benefits, exactly the kind of voter Clinton is trying to win over."

    Later, Mitchell asserted: "But the most noticeable thing about this Senate race is how quickly it has gone negative, both candidates armed with sophisticated rapid response teams ready to spring into action." But she only relayed an example from one side: "So when Giuliani, in a fundraising letter, accused Clinton of 'hostility towards America's religious traditions,' the First Lady blasted him."
    Hillary Clinton: "You know I am outraged that he would inject religion into this campaign in any form whatsoever."

    Mitchell moved on, but less than an hour later east coast viewers heard a counterpoint from National Review Washington Editor Kate O'Beirne on CNN's 7pm ET Capital Gang. For her "Outrage of the Week," she picked Hillary, noting that earlier in the week Mrs. Clinton declared "her refusal to vote in the Senate for any Supreme Court nominee who opposes abortion. Hillary's intent to black-ball any anti-abortion candidates, regardless of their judicial views, rules out anyone with traditional religious beliefs, an outrageous discriminatory litmus test that even Al Gore rejects."


The February 14 CyberAlert highlighted this sentence from a Sunday NBC Nightly News story on unemployment in China: "In the good old days, the Communist Party found a job for everyone. Now young people have to fend for themselves."

    The story from Chris Billing in Beijing ran at the end of the February 13 show and my VCR at home cut off just before his last sentence which, it turns out, was another noteworthy sentence which MRC analyst Mark Drake observed: "The future of the Communist Party may be in doubt if it can't ease the pain felt by the once pampered work force."

    "The once pampered work force?" Ah, the joys of working in a communist paradise back in "the good old days."


"Kneepad Nina" Burleigh is back! This time with her thoughts about her disappointment in how Hillary Clinton has changed over the years. In a February 14 New York Observer opinion piece, which the MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to last week, and from which Rush Limbaugh quoted on Monday, she recalled that while with People magazine in the summer of 1992 it "was hard...for a young woman to stay objective and not become enchanted by the promise of Hillary," especially compared to the "dark age of Reagan-Bush."

    After expressing regrets for ever questioning Hillary about Whitewater, Burleigh declared: "I'll be voting for her just to make sure Trent Lott doesn't get another foot soldier for his holy war."

    As a reminder, Nina Burleigh is the reporter who after years as a Time magazine reporter and while still a contributor to it, wrote a piece in 1998 for Mirabella magazine recounting her joy at playing cards with Bill Clinton on Air Force One and how she'd like to be "ravished" by him. Asked about this by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, she told him what she'd really like to do for Clinton, an answer she recounted in the July 20, 1998 New York Observer:
    "When he [Kurtz] called back, I decided my only defense would be to give him a quote that would knock his socks off. I also wanted to test the Post's new 'sizzle' -- the paper's post-'We Broke the Lewinsky Story' advertising hook. So when Howard asked whether I could still objectively cover the President, having found him so attractive, I replied, 'I would be happy to give him a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.' I recognized Howard's visceral response to my words by his sudden intake of breath and the spurt of pounding fingers of keyboard. I'd never been on that side of a good quote before. It was better than sex!"

    That quote inspired and won the MRC's "Presidential Kneepad Award for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky" in our "Dishonor Awards for the Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Media Bias." For a rundown of all the winners and video highlights of the December 1999 awards banquet, check out our newly updated Dishonor awards page where you can find a picture of Burleigh. Go to:

    Now to some excerpts from Nina Burleigh's latest New York Observer diatribe:

You've Changed, Hill. How Much Have We?

Did anyone else cringe watching Hillary announce for the Senate? The moment that made me want to click the channel changer in embarrassment was, I think, meant to be a joke. Acknowledging the hard road ahead, she ducked her head and did a Hillary version of a New York accent: "Buddaaay, this is New Yawk!"

As a fellow Illinois native who's finally almost comfortable in my New York disguise, I've been watching uneasily as Hillary progresses into a metropolitan woman. Where Mandy Grunwald and Harold Ickes see the candidate they can mold into a reasonable facsimile of a New Yorker (black pantsuit, and weren't those Prada boots in The New York Times?), I see the apparition of an H.R.C. I met on a few occasions back in the beginning, when the reflexive Midwestern niceness was still apparent and there was still a Park Ridge nasal twang audible behind the practiced Arkansas drawl....

In the summer of 1992, I was assigned by the Midwest bureau of People magazine to follow Hillary around and get some color for a nice, friendly piece on the feminist phenom who had "first woman to (fill in the blank)" all over her résumé and who was still talking about her husband's candidacy as a 2-for-1 deal. When I later interviewed her, two things stayed with me: that she seemed very personable and warm and that her accent was exactly that of the girls I had gone to high school with in a suburb not far from Park Ridge.

It was hard in the summer of 1992 for a young woman to stay objective and not become enchanted by the promise of Hillary. I had spent my formative professional years undercover in the dark age of Reagan-Bush. Those were the days when women were not allowed to wear pants in the White House. Anita Hill had just been whomped. Anti-abortion judges were packing the Supreme Court. And here was a woman who had kept her own name!

That afternoon, I ran into her in the bathroom. An aide was combing out her hair (long, with the headband, remember?) and Hillary asked where I'd bought my shoes. She was, I knew then, just a nice girl with guts, out doing battle for us....

Later, I was assigned to go along on a White House interview she'd consented to, following some early Whitewater crisis. I twitchily asked all my scripted questions about lost billing records and cattle-future windfalls, and she answered deftly, without giving up a thing. By this time, I was a junior member of the National Hunt Club, and she was big game. I thought her stuffed carcass in a pastel pantsuit would look pretty cool on the fireplace mantel of my rented D.C. town house.

Not long after, I found myself buying steak, wine and an expensive cigar on Time Warner for a guy named Dave Bossi, who had quit his job as a Maryland fireman to scour backwoods courthouses in Arkansas for Clintonian abuses. Mr. Bossi was motivated by his concern for the nation's embryos and a visceral hatred for Hillary.

I followed him to his lair in a South Carolina senator's office (marveling at how this thug breezed into the Capitol at midnight), where he plied me with documents and showed me a closet piled to the ceiling with cartons of Salem Lights and Kools -- the South Carolina delegation's version of an official souvenir.

The last time I spoke to Hillary was in a rope line at one of the White House press Christmas parties. It was early in the second Administration, pre-Monica. She shook my hand and smiled automatically, but her eyeballs were ice cubes. Did she know about my transformation, my betrayal? Or was I just investing meaning into this small encounter with an impossibly famous person who had forgotten all about me?

My participation in the big-game hunt ended when I moved to New York in 1997. I missed the final blooding and the kill. And when I heard rumors Hillary was considering a run for the Senate, I assumed she was heading back to Illinois and was happy for that.

Instead she's here. And when she can finally unleash her sarcasm on voters who might appreciate it, she murmurs that half-assed little "Buddaaay, this is New Yawk." Timidly, with an embarrassed duck of the chin.

Hillary might win (I'll be voting for her just to make sure Trent Lott doesn't get another foot soldier for his holy war), but it's going to be sad to watch her try. Aside from recalling the epic tragedy of her personal life, I will have to bear witness to the final eradication of whatever it was in her that seemed so endearing that summer day back in 1992.

Even worse, we'll all have to be reminded of how far women have not come, baby (isn't that what's really bothering New York women about her?). Her disastrously retro marital history, her vaunted "firsts," her portrayal as the feminazi of feminazis, her ongoing transformation and fundamental insecurity and her feeble lashings at right-wing conspirators -- all remind us of where women are now: just eight years and one President away from the day when a woman keeping her own name was national news. I can't speak for the rest of New York's female residents, but I'd rather not be reminded of that particular truth.

    END Excerpt

    For a couple of more days you should be able to access this opinion piece at:

    And I think David Bossi's last name is really spelled "Bossie." -- Brent Baker


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