Sudden Wealth Syndrome; NRA Out of Context; Admiring Bradley; "Chug-a-Lug" Bush
1) The upcoming campaign "could be the most expensive,
nastiest presidential campaign yet," warned Dan Rather. Forget the
campaign, NBC Nightly News explored "Sudden Wealth Syndrome."
2) Network stories left out the support for NRA claims that
Clinton is "willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his
political agenda" and "when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake.
When you know it's wrong, that's a lie."
3) On Today Matt Lauer demanded that the NRA's Wayne
LaPierre justify his criticism of Clinton but asked Clinton aide Joe Lockhart
if he agreed with Al Gore's claim that LaPierre's comment showed "a
kind of sickness at the very heart of the NRA."
4) On MSNBC Newsweek's Jonathan Alter admired Bill Bradley
for prodding the Democratic Party to "focus more on issues like health
care, child poverty, campaign finance reform." If we don't, he quoted
Bradley, "future generations will judge us harshly."
5) "He's got a lot of chug-a-lug contests he's got to
get to," Tom Brokaw joked on the Late Show about George Bush who he
seriously maintained had moved toward "the harder-right."
6) Letterman's "Top Ten Headlines During a George W.
Super Tuesday Two having fizzled, of the broadcast networks on Tuesday night
only the CBS Evening News even ran a full story directly related to the
presidential campaign while NBC Nightly News found time to explore the latest
menace in the land: "Sudden Wealth Syndrome."
The March 14 World News Tonight on ABC led with cloned
piglets and used the balloting in Florida as a peg for a piece about how in
states like Florida, which ban voting by those convicted of a crime, nearly
one in three black men are barred from voting.
The matching piglets also topped the CBS Evening News on
which anchor Dan Rather warned the upcoming campaign "could be the most
expensive, nastiest presidential campaign yet." Bill Whitaker examined
the themes emerging from each camp. Gore, he related, is hitting what Whitaker
described as Bush's "massive tax cut" and Gore claims Bush does
nothing to save Social Security or Medicare. Bush, Whitaker relayed, accuses
Gore of hypocrisy over campaign finance reform and reminds audiences of
Gore's transgressions. Whitaker asserted that they are the same is some
ways: "Both are well-born sons of big name politicians, with no aversion
to the political down and dirty."
Escalating violence in Kosovo led the NBC Nightly News
which used a Florida judge's ruling against a voucher program as a hook for
a piece on how Gore and Bush view vouchers and school choice. Anchor
Tom Brokaw soon got to NBC's big scoop of the day, a dangerous new syndrome
spreading from California:
"It is no secret,
of course, that this economy has generated enormous new wealth in America,
sudden wealth that changes lives dramatically, but having it all can generate
some unexpected problems that send many of the newly rich running for the
Reporter Jim Avila explained the alleged disease, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "It's an unusual virus with
unusual symptoms. The hot zone, California's Silicon Valley, where experts
say sixty new millionaires created every day. Symptoms: Too much money, too
much loneliness. After treating many patients, psychologists have a name for
it: 'Sudden Wealth Syndrome,' and a center of study."
Joan Di Furia, of
something called the "Money, Meaning and Choices Institute," which
could only be based in California, listed the indicators: "An array of
symptoms may be that they are embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, sometimes in
denial of their money."
Avila added: "A
sense of isolation, imbalance, brought on by sudden riches and nothing
meaningful to do."
Continuing to treat the "syndrome" as a
serious subject Avila proceeded to showcase as a victim the current CEO of
Northern Light, an Internet search company, who before accepting his current
position was bored at being part of the "idle rich."
I have a better syndrome for NBC to explore:
"Stupid News Priorities Syndrome." Case in point: NBC Nightly News
producers who decided "Sudden Wealth Syndrome" deserved an entire
story but have allocated just four seconds to Maria Hsia's conviction.
between the NRA and Bill Clinton generated full stories on the ABC, CBS and
NBC evening newscasts Monday night focusing on the ugly tone of the battle.
The argument had gained a "personal note of nastiness," maintained
Dan Rather. But in quoting in isolation NRA Executive Director Wayne
LaPierre's soundbite about how Clinton is "willing to accept a certain
level of killing to further his political agenda," they failed to tell
viewers how LaPierre preceded his assertion by explaining how Clinton had
rejected a deal on many issues over his disagreement in one area.
The stories also all played a clip from NRA President
Charlton Heston asserting in an NRA TV ad: "Mr. Clinton, when what you
say is wrong, that's a mistake. When you know it's wrong, that's a lie."
ABC's John Cochran insisted that shows how "the NRA continues to make
its fight personal." But only NBC's Pete Williams explained the
justification for Heston calling Clinton a liar, noting what preceded the
Heston soundbite: "The NRA is running TV ads claiming that trigger locks
would not have prevented the first grader shooting because that gun came from
a house authorities say was used by drug dealers." CBS's Bill Plante
did note how the NRA blamed Clinton's refusal to compromise, but offered no
details on which laws were therefore not enacted.
Below is a rundown of the
March 13 ABC, CBS and NBC stories on the NRA and Clinton followed by the full
quote from LaPierre and complete text of the NRA's new TV ad.
-- ABC World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson intoned:
today, the unusually bitter feud between President Clinton and the National
Rifle Association grew even uglier. The White House called the NRA's attacks on
the President outrageous and disgusting. At issue, the insults both sides
hurled at each other yesterday when the NRA went so far as to hint that the
President didn't mind gun violence because he could use it for political
John Cochran, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson, began with Clinton's retort: "The President said the gun lobby
is using smear tactics, especially a claim by an NRA official implying that
Clinton refuses to enforce current gun control laws so he can use tragic
shooting incidents to argue for more gun control."
Clinton: "He said,
'I have come to believe that Clinton needs a certain level of violence in this
country. He's willing to...'"
ABC jumped to Wayne
LaPierre from This Week on Sunday to complete the quote: "He's willing to
accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda."
Viewers then heard from Al Gore: "Mr. LaPierre's
comment reveals a kind of sickness at the very heart of the NRA."
LaPierre told Cochran:
"You know, people shouldn't be scared of tough talk, John. What they ought
to be scared of is presidential dishonesty, and sometimes it takes tough talk
to make people look at what's really going on."
"But today, even Governor George Bush seemed to think the NRA had gone too
Bush: "You know, I
think we can have a civil discussion on emotional issues without
Cochran put the burden on the NRA: "Behind the
name-calling on both sides is a bitter fight over gun legislation, especially
over how much time should be required to make background checks on anyone who
tries to buy a gun at a gun show. The gun lobby has distributed fliers on
Capitol Hill urging members to vote against a measure that would only force
discussion of gun control. And the NRA continues to make its fight
Charlton Heston, in NRA
TV ad: "Mr. Clinton, when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake. When
you know it's wrong, that's a lie."
"Privately, many Democrats are overjoyed that the NRA has gone on the
attack. Most Democrats believe anything that highlights the gun battle will
bring them votes this fall."
-- CBS Evening News.
Dan Rather: "The battle over gun control has taken on a new and personal
note of nastiness. Among other things, President Clinton today accused the gun
lobby, and by inference its Republican allies, of quote 'political smear
tactics.' and that was just for starters. CBS's Bill Plante at the White House
reports what the NRA said and did to draw such a sharp presidential
Plante started his piece, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Brian Boyd: "The long running feud between the Clinton administration and
the National Rifle Association has escalated to new levels of bitterness. The
President wants new gun controls, the NRA charges that the administration fails
to enforce the laws already on the books. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre
suggested over the weekend that Mr. Clinton cares more about playing politics
than about gun violence."
LaPierre from ABC's
This Week: "I mean I've come to believe he needs a certain level of
violence in this country. He's willing to accept a certain level of killing to
further his political agenda."
Plante picked up:
"The President's spokesman called LaPierre's remarks sick and disgusting.
Today Mr. Clinton read them to an audience in Cleveland and delivered his
Bill Clinton: "Well
he can say that on television, I guess. I'd like to see him look into the eyes
of little Kayla Rollins mother and say that. Or the parents of Columbine, or
Springfield, Oregon; or Jonesboro, Arkansas."
Plante noted: "In a TV advertising campaign, NRA
President Charlton Heston charges that is was not the NRA but President Clinton
who blocked tougher gun laws, because he was unwilling to compromise and he all
but calls the President a liar."
Heston in TV ad:
"Mr. Clinton, when what you say is wrong it's a mistake, when you know
it's wrong that's a lie. Remember?"
Plante moved to a larger
political point: "One reason each side blames the other for gun violence,
they believe that recent shootings have turned more suburban women toward
tighter gun controls."
After a supporting soundbite from a political analyst,
Plante concluded: "And the Congress could yet give the public some action
on gun control before the election. But the White House and the NRA are
fighting over who gets the blame at the polls the next time there's a gun
rampage in a school."
-- NBC Nightly News.
Tom Brokaw stressed the Clinton-Gore reaction: "Tonight President Clinton
and Vice President Al Gore with some of their strongest comments ever about the
NRA, the National Rifle Association. This after the Executive Vice President of
the NRA charged over the weekend that President Clinton is willing to accept a
certain level of violence to further his own political agenda. Well that
brought heated and pointed responses today from the President and from Vice
President Gore whose making gun control a primary theme of his own presidential
Pete Williams opened, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens: "The President who wants to make more gun control part
of his legacy today answered back at the National Rifle Association as the
debate takes on an unusually bitter tone. Responding to the NRA's accusation
over the weekend that the President is willing to accept some killing to help
push for more gun laws the White House called that quote, 'outrageous and
disgusting.' And Mr. Clinton dared the NRA spokesman to repeat the statement
to the parents of recent shooting victims including the Michigan first
"I'd like to see him look into the eyes of little Kayla Rolland's mother
and say that. Or the parents at Columbine or Springfield, Oregon or Jonesboro,
"The Clinton White House has been saying for two weeks now that the recent
shootings help make the case for laws requiring background checks for sales at
gun shows and trigger or safety locks for new gun sales. In response the NRA is
running TV ads claiming that trigger locks would not have prevented the first
grader shooting because that gun came from a house authorities say was used by
Heston in TV ad:
"His solution is to give crack house drug dealers safety locks? Mr.
Clinton when what you say is wrong that's a mistake. When you know it's wrong
that's a lie."
Williams moved on: "As the President attacked the
gun lobby today in a speech in Cleveland the NRA refused to repeat its
accusation made over the weekend while continuing to say that the White House
is playing politics. Failing to work harder at enforcing gun laws already on
"This administration has provided, presided over a shameful and
disgraceful lack of enforcement of any of those existing federal gun
Williams: "But Vice
President Gore says today that by using such harsh rhetoric the NRA has lost
Al Gore: "I believe
that Mr. LaPierre's comment reveals a kind of sickness at the very heart of the
Williams ended with the
same point made by ABC's Cochran: "Tonight some White House aides are
actually welcoming the NRA's attacks, believing they'll help draw even more
attention to the gun issue."
-- ABC's Good
Morning America on Monday ran a piece by Andrea McCarren, which began: "It
was the most contentious battle yet between the National Rifle Association and
"I just think that their kneejerk reaction to any gun safety measure is
"I've come to believe he needs a certain level of violence in this
country, he's willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his
heated exchange follows a series of new NRA ads which assault the President's
Charlton Heston, in ad:
"Mr. Clinton, when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake. When you know
it's wrong, that's a lie."
-- The full quotes.
Now compare the implications and meanings you gathered from the shortened
soundbites above with what you learn from reading the context for the words
extracted in the network story soundbites:
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson tracked down from the March
12 edition of ABC's This Week the full context for LaPierre's criticism of
"I mean, Cokie, let
me define the level of dishonesty that this man is capable of. And I've been
in this town for 20 years through the political storms. He could have had a
bill last summer that included mandatory safety locks with the sale of every
gun; included checks at all gun shows on all gun sales with a 24-hour delay;
included juvenile Brady, where violent juveniles would be forever prohibited
from owning guns; would even have included Dianne Feinstein's import ban on
high-capacity magazines; and he killed it all over the issue of a 72-hour wait.
I mean, I've come to believe he needs a certain level of violence in this
country. He's willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his
As for daring to suggest Clinton is a liar, here's the
context for that ending line in one of at least two NRA ads running in the
Washington, DC media market which feature Charlton Heston:
"When a six-year
old in a crack house finds a stolen gun and shoots a schoolmate, the President
doesn't demand gun theft prosecution or busting drug dealers. He demands
safety locks. Don't get me wrong. Nobody supports safety locks more than the
NRA. But his solution is to give crack house drug dealers safety locks? Mr.
Clinton, when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake. When you know it's
wrong, that's a lie."
LaPierre, setting up Lockhart. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre and White House Press
Secretary Joe Lockhart appeared in the same segment on Tuesday's Today, but
while interviewer Matt Lauer demanded that LaPierre defend NRA claims he asked
Lockhart if he agreed with Gore's attack on the NRA.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed the contrast and
took down the March 14 questions:
-- Matt Lauer to Wayne LaPierre: "Let me read you
what you said, quote where you said, President Clinton is quote, 'willing to
accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda.' Do you
really believe that?"
"But the statement,
let me go back to the statement, though Mr. LaPierre. Do you think he accepts
the killing to further his political agenda?"
"Let me play you
what the President said in response to your comment Mr. LaPierre. Here it
After a clip of Clinton
challenging LaPierre to make his criticism to the parents of the child killed
in Michigan: "What would you say, Mr. LaPierre, to the parents of those
who've been killed by gun violence in this country?"
-- Lauer then moved to Lockhart: "The Vice President
said recently that Mr. LaPierre's comments quote reveal 'a kind of sickness at
the very heart of the NRA.' Would you agree with that?"
"So what you are
saying is there isn't a sickness at the heart of the NRA that there is just
this verbal attack or verbal barrage taking place now because of political
-- Back to LaPierre: "Let me go back to Mr. LaPierre.
What about that? You fought tooth and nail to stop the Brady Bill and now
you're complaining the Brady Bill is not being enforced."
-- And over to Lockhart: "Let's let the White House
answer that. Mr. Lockhart go ahead."
-- Finally, back to pressing LaPierre: "Mr. LaPierre
let me ask you real quickly. Do you think the President is lying when he talks
about the NRA's record. In a new ad Charlton Heston says, he's the President of
the NRA, that when you say something wrong that's a mistake, when you know it's
wrong that's a lie. Referring to President Clinton's comments about the NRA. Is
the President lying?"
reporter and NBC News analyst Jonathan Alter criticized the mechanics of how
Bill Bradley ran his campaign, but admired his liberal goals. Catching up with
an item from last Thursday when Bill Bradley dropped out of the presidential
contest, MRC intern Ken Shepherd took down Alter's words as uttered on MSNBC
just after Bradley's 11am ET announcement.
In his March 9 analysis Alter praised Bradley for
prodding the Democratic Party to "focus more on issues like health care,
child poverty, campaign finance reform." Alter admonished: "In his
speech today he indicated something very important -- that future generations
will judge us harshly if we don't use this prosperity more aggressively to
deal with some of these long range problems."
Here's the full quote from Alter: "He didn't
have the nimbleness that you sometimes need on one of these campaigns to be
kind of loose on the court which he was in basketball but wasn't as much in
this campaign. But Chris, I think that that and his failure to fight back early
and the other tactical mistakes that he made kind of obscure some of the larger
issues that he was trying to raise and he's a decent man who was trying to
change the Democratic Party in a more compassionate way. And I think in the
larger sweep of history his tactical mistakes will seem smaller than the fact
that he tried to get the Democratic Party to focus more on issues like health
care, child poverty, campaign finance reform and in his speech today he
indicated something very important -- that future generations will judge us
harshly if we don't use this prosperity more aggressively to deal with some
of these long range problems."
Anchor Chris Jansing wondered: "But realistically
how much influence can he have? I mean the general perception is that the two
Democratic candidates in truth were not that far apart on most of the
Well, he won't have as much influence as Alter would
like, as he regretted: "That is correct. I don't think that he will have
any profound influence on the party platform. But what he will do is he will be
a kind of a constant prod I think even after, if Al Gore is elected President,
a prod saying there from the sidelines, hey can't we move a little more
aggressively on poverty, can't we move a little faster on children's health
and to say, look, aim higher. That was really the point of his whole campaign
was to try to have us do better. And even though he messed up the mechanics of
his campaign, he made a lot of mistakes, that basic message I think will be a
part of the debate from here on in."
W. Bush was lucky he won on Super Tuesday because "it's the keg season,
he's got a lot of chug-a-lug contests he's got to get to," Tom Brokaw
joked on the Late Show with David Letterman last Friday night. He later took a
milder poke at Al Gore for being "like one of those kids who believes
everything that his parents wrote about him in the Christmas newsletter."
In between, Brokaw very seriously assessed the campaign
and naturally didn't see anything liberal about Gore but insisted Bush had
moved toward "the harder-right within the Republican Party and get
identified as a Pat Robertson Republican." Yeah, "identified"
that way by NBC News.
In the middle of talking about the John McCain-Maria
Shriver confrontation in which McCain told her to "please get out of
here," Brokaw joked: "And it was important for George Bush to have
won on Super Tuesday to put that behind him because the Spring is coming on,
it's the keg season, he's got a lot of chug-a-lug contests he's got to
Returning to McCain on the March 10 show, Letterman
wondered what all the fuss was about over McCain's comment. Brokaw also came
to McCain's defense: "In fact it was understandable that he would behave
that way. In fact you don't want your leaders to be all milquetoast, you want
them to have honest emotions and he'd not had an easy day, they'd been
campaigning a long time. They knew that it was over..."
Letterman next queried: "What do you think about the
guys we are left with now. It looks like it will be Gore, it looks like it will
be George W. for sure I guess. And a friend of mine, a friend of your's told
me on the phone the other day that Al Gore would beat George W. like a
Brokaw offered a political
assessment which matched liberal conventional wisdom: "I think it's too
early to say that. I think that one of the advantages that Al Gore has right
now is that he's a unified Democratic Party and George Bush to get the
nomination had to move in a direction that he didn't want to, which was to
move to the harder-right within the Republican Party and get identified as a
Pat Robertson Republican. John McCain was out there picking off the
independents and the moderate Democrats in the crossover primaries. Now Bush
has got to find a way to get McCain into his tent and get those people back if
he's going to have an even start against Al Gore.
"But you know the
thing about Al Gore, I described him earlier this year, he's like one of
those kids who believes everything that his parents wrote about him in the
Christmas newsletter. I mean you know, he has the most revised sense of
++ See Brokaw's pokes at Bush and Gore and hear the
audience's reactions. Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a
RealPlayer clip of Brokaw on Letterman. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
March 8 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Headlines During a
George W. Bush Presidency." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "President Streaks Supreme Court"
9. "President Fails In Shoe-Tying Bid"
8. "President To Nation: 'Do These Non-Prescription Eyeglasses Make Me
7. "Bush To Hussein: 'I'm Telling My Daddy On You'"
6. "President Cancels Meeting With Pope After Discovering He's
5. "Bush Remembers Setting Nuclear Football Down At The Mall, Doesn't Know
What Happened To It"
4. "America Under Siege: Day 16 of President's Head Stuck In
3. "Even Dumber George Bush III Preparing For 2012 Election"
2. "President Completes 3 Month 'Goodwill Tour' Of Amsterdam"
1. "President Trades America For 'Magic Dog'"
If you're wondering why I
featured this list, other than the fact that it's humorous and the MRC is a
non-partisan foundation which has run past Letterman Top Tens on Gore, it's
to illustrate the public perception of one of the two major party candidates.
Comedians like Jay Leno and David Letterman may strengthen public opinion by
portraying a public figure in a certain way, but they never tell jokes they
don't believe match already formed images of persons or events. The fact that
Letterman would showcase a Top Ten list about Bush as a lightweight and a
bumbler demonstrates that is how much of the public now sees him.
The question for the next few months will be is that more
because of reality or media bias.
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