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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday July 12, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 114) |

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Gore's "Quick-Silver Intelligence"; Whitman's Racist Photo; Jennings Mocked Fear of Soviet Union

1) Al Gore jumping from issue to issue trying to find a winning one? CNN relayed the spin from his aides that he's really flaunting the "breadth" of his "quick-silver intelligence."

2) CBS devoted a whole story to the photo of NJ Governor Whitman frisking a black suspect during a ride-along. Jim Axelrod lectured: "No matter how many speeches George Bush makes at NAACP conventions...angry African-Americans in New Jersey say this is why they have problems with Republicans."

3) The Washington Post complained Bush refrained from "explicitly acknowledging his party's failure to support much of the 1960s-era civil rights agenda." But National Review pointed out how a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats backed civil rights.

4) FNC's Brit Hume ran an item Tuesday night on his show about the plight of conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby who was suspended by the Boston Globe.

5) Helen Thomas on Bill Clinton: "I think he is a man of peace" and as for all his scandal troubles, "I feel that his heart was in the right place. He's done a lot of good things."

6) More on Gumbel's "What a f***ing idiot" blast: FNC's Hannity & Colmes enlarged the video and went frame by frame; Cal Thomas suggested "it reveals a deeply-held perspective"; and Capitol Hill Blue insisted Mark McEwen was Gumbel's actual target.

7) FNC's Jim Angle uniquely revealed that while Al Gore is denouncing ads by drug companies, he employs as his ad guru a man who just months ago tried to land that corporate image account.

8) Peter Jennings used news that the Soviet Union gave up on making gas-powered boots as a hook to mock Cold War concern about the Soviet Union: "Ah, yes, we used to take the Soviet Union so seriously."

    >>> Now online, thanks to the MRC's Andy Szul and Kristina Sewell, the July 10 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "Hillary Plus Bill's 'Expertise'"; "No Liberals on Supreme Court"; "Can't Spend Enough for ABC"; "Perhaps It's Jim Avila Who Needs Deprogramming"; "Is Cuba Bad or Good? It's a 'Complicated Question'"; "Elian, Free at Last from Miami"; "'Barbaric' Death of a Killer? And "Fighting Cocks of Clinton High?"
    To read this issue, go to:
    To see it in PDF format which shows the layout of the hard copy, go to:
    You'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view the PDF, and the non-PDF address above features a link for the free download from Adobe. <<<

Correction: The July 11 CyberAlert referred to "Jim Romanescu's MediaNews." His name is spelled "Romenesko." But the Web address was correct: http://www.poynter.org/medianews/


Gore Spin of the Day, Week, Month....? On Tuesday's Inside Politics CNN reporter Bill Delaney looked at the state of the Gore campaign. First he gave the view of detractors: "What's really going on, say critics of the Gore campaign, is that it continues to fragment, like mercury on a table, with each shudder of an unsympathetic focus group."

    At this point, after that unusual science analogy, Delaney added what must be considered the spin of the day, week, month and maybe even the quarter: "To which Gore supporters respond, what you're seeing is the natural reach and breadth of a candidate with a restless, quick-silver intelligence."


"No matter how many speeches George Bush makes at NAACP conventions," CBS's Jim Axelrod warned, "angry African-Americans in New Jersey say this is why they have problems with Republicans." The "this" was a four-year-old blurry photo of New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman patting down a black man during a ride-along with a New Jersey state trooper.

    ABC and CBS led Tuesday night with the Middle East peace meetings at Camp David and both CBS and NBC ran full stories, prompted by a Senate hearing, about downloading music from Web sites. Other than CBS's piece on Whitman, no campaign-related stories appeared. Progress on vaccines for AIDS and Alzheimers topped the NBC Nightly News.

    Axelrod began his July 11 piece: "It's a four-year-old picture now working its way center-stage in America's debate about race." Axelrod led into a soundbite from an ACLU lawyer by admonishing: "Tonight, one person's photo-op is another's example of glaring insensitivity."

    Kind of a strange definition of a photo-op since the photo, obviously taken by an amateur, did not become public until four years after it was taken. CBS did not explain that the photo was released as part of discovery in a lawsuit.

    Axelrod reminded viewers of how New Jersey has had a problem with racial profiling, which he defined in Al Sharpton-like terms: "The police practice of stopping minorities for being minorities." Actually, it's more like determining the age and race of those who commit the preponderance of crime in a particular area and then checking matching people more closely.

    A few years ago New Jersey state troopers shot three unarmed black men, Axelrod recalled, adding: "Whitman's probe ruled the troopers did engage in the practice [of racial profiling], but now her critics say this picture sends another message: Strong but wrong."

    After a clip from Democratic State Senator Wayne Bryant, Axelrod worried the revelation could hurt the VP chances of the pro-choice Republican Governor. Over video of Bush at the NAACP meeting Monday followed by a freeze-frame of the still shot of Whitman behind the black suspect, Axelrod stressed:
    "No matter how many speeches George Bush makes at NAACP conventions, or how many black hands Whitman shakes, angry African-Americans in New Jersey say this is why they have problems with Republicans."
    Bryant: "She would never have been in Somerset County where she lives doing this in the white suburbs."
    Whitman: "It didn't matter who that person was, he was a suspect."
    Axelrod concluded: "Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words, but which story it tells depends on who's looking at it."


The Washington Post reported Tuesday that during his NAACP address George W. Bush refrained from "explicitly acknowledging his party's failure to support much of the 1960s-era civil rights agenda." But as National Review pointed out, there's nothing to "acknowledge" as a higher percentage of Republican House and Senate members than Democratic ones supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    In a July 11 front page story, headlined "Bush Vows Better Ties to Blacks," reporters Terry M. Neal and Michael A. Fletcher asserted:
    "In his 15-minute address, Bush quoted Jackie Robinson and W.E.B. DuBois and invoked his religious convictions to make his case before the NAACP supporters. And without explicitly acknowledging his party's failure to support much of the 1960s-era civil rights agenda, he chastised the GOP, saying that 'there's no escaping the reality that the party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln.'"

    In their July 11 Washington Bulletin, National Review's Internet update, John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru quoted the Post passage about failing to acknowledge, and countered:
    "Perhaps that's because there's no failure to acknowledge. In fact, Republicans in both the House and Senate were more likely than Democrats to favor, say, the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (In the Senate, Republican support was 82 percent, compared to 69 percent among Democrats; in the House, it was 80 percent and 63 percent, respectively.) Many conservatives voted against the legislation on federalist or libertarian grounds. And yes, many Southern Democrats who also opposed it (Vice President Gore's father, for instance) later drifted toward the GOP. But the truth of the matter, contra Neal and Fletcher, is that Republicans did in fact support much of the 1960s-era civil rights agenda."

    Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru asked and answered their own question: "So why is that Democrats never do the apologizing at NAACP conventions? Well, Bush himself essentially asked for the Post's rebuff, however erroneous it is, when he said that 'there's no escaping the reality that the party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln.' It's not clear what this is supposed to mean."

    Indeed, as noted in the July 11 CyberAlert, ABC also picked up on that line from Bush as Dean Reynolds suggested: "Bush's speech here today was, in many ways, a political act of contrition."


FNC's Brit Hume ran an item Tuesday night about the plight of Jeff Jacoby. During the "Political Grapevine" segment of the July 11 Special Report with Brit Hume, he announced:
    "Conservatives are outraged about the Boston Globe's suspension of its only conservative columnist, Jeff Jacoby, over a column he wrote based on material that had first appeared on the Internet and elsewhere. Jacoby did some research of his own to check the facts in his July 3rd column about the fates of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. But because he failed to inform readers the column was not entirely original, he was suspended without pay for four months for what the paper called quote, 'serious journalistic misconduct.' For the record, information in this item is not entirely original either."

    For the record, nothing in this CyberAlert is entirely original.


"I think he is a man of peace" and as for all his scandal troubles, "I feel that his heart was in the right place. He's done a lot of good things." So declared former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas in a Monday night appearance on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams to promote her new gig as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. (Whichever ones are still left other than the Houston Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, though I'm sure her pieces will be syndicated by Hearst's King Features.)

    On the July 10 show Williams got her assessments of several of the Presidents she covered. After Kennedy, he asked: "What about his successor, Lyndon Johnson?" She gushed: "Great. He was incredible on domestic affairs. He got through more in his first two years of office than anyone perhaps except for FDR, New Deal. He got through Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, voting rights for blacks for the first time. Federal aid to education at all levels, public housing, you name it."

    Williams soon arrived at Clinton, and MRC analyst Paul Smith picked up on her praise of his policies too. Williams queried: "How much talent, pure political talent, does this President have compared to others you've covered?"
    Thomas showed her admiration for Clinton: "Well I think he certainly has a lot of talent. I think that he gets no credit for the prosperity but he certainly deserves a lot of credit along with Greenspan and Rubin, Secretary Rubin, former and so forth. I think that the President has really created an atmosphere, I think he is a man of peace and I think the American people wanted him to remain in office."

    Williams followed-up: "And yet others, especially his critics in the other party, say he's cheapened the office you covered for seven Presidents."
    Thomas deferred: "I don't, I don't say that."
    Williams: "How do you feel about that charge?"
    Thomas rejected it: "I feel that his heart was in the right place. He's done a lot of good things."
    Williams: "Do you think the news media were the problem. Was it an overzealous prosecutor? Was it an overzealous news media? Was it a combination of the two that made for his troubles in office?"
    Thomas then at least said Clinton had to blame himself: "No, I think that he will have to admit that he was the cause of a lot of his own troubles. I don't think the news media or his critics but when, you ought to know where you are and you ought to know that you are being watched."


Some developments on the Bryant Gumbel vulgar slam front. [Warning, this item contains a vulgarity. Skip to item #7 if you wish to avoid it.] First, Monday night FNC's Hannity & Colmes brought aboard the Family Research Council's Robert Knight, the presumed target of Gumbel's June 29 "What a fucking idiot" outburst, and went frame by frame so viewers could read his lips. Second, last week the Capitol Hill Blue Web site ran a story, based on unnamed sources, which insisted Gumbel's comment was really aimed at weatherman Mark McEwen.

    (Saturday's Newswatch show on FNC first devoted a segment to the Gumbel outburst. Panelist Cal Thomas argued: "It reveals a deeply-held perspective that is typical of this man when it deals with Republicans, with moral issues, with conservatives.")

    On the July 10 Hannity & Colmes the FNC show enlarged the video clip as co-host Sean Hannity narrated what Gumbel's lips showed him saying: "F-ing idiot. Watch. There it is. There's the F-word, and now idiot, there's the I, okay."

    On the June 29 show you could hear Gumbel say "What a" but then the audio dropped out as he got out of his chair, which is why reading his lips is key.

    Hannity and partner Alan Colmes went on to discuss the incident with Knight and talk show host Conrad Muhammad. As evidence of Gumbel's history of slamming conservatives, Hannity read three Today-era quotes from Gumbel which Hannity credited to the MRC.

    +++ If you found the MRC's original posting of the Gumbel video too small to be able to read his lips, especially in the small RealPlayer screen size, check out FNC's enlarged screen in which they zoomed in so it's easier to see. Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the enhanced Hannity & Colmes version. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    For the original clip as posted by the MRC, which includes a couple of minutes of hostility from Gumbel toward Knight leading up to the slam, go to the June 30 CyberAlert Extra:

    To see from where Hannity culled his examples of Gumbel's bias, go to videos and text of the Top Ten Gumbel Stumbles:

    Or, an anthology of Gumbel's bias gathered by the MRC's Liz Swasey:

    Last Wednesday the Capitol Hill Blue Webs site ran an item which claimed Mark McEwen was Gumbel's real target. Here's an excerpt:

Gumbel uttered the insult on camera shortly after finishing an interview with Family Research Council spokesman Robert Knight about the Supreme Court decision upholding the right of the Boy Scouts to exclude gays as members or scout leaders (a decision Gumbel openly despises).

The FRC has demanded an apology from Gumbel and CBS and wants the hotheaded morning host fired. CBS has, so far, refused comment on the incident.

CBS insiders, however, tell us that neither Gumbel nor the network has any intention of apologizing to Knight or the FRC because those close to the turbulent morning show say Gumbel was not hurling the epithet at Knight, but at Early Show weatherman Mark McEwen.

"Bryant considers Mark a lesser talent and finds it harder and harder to hide his lack of respect for him," says one former Early Show insider. "He was upset over Mark's crowing about picking one of the participants to be ousted in the Survivor series."

Gumbel has just finished a contentious interview with Knight and had introduced McEwen's weather forecast. McEwen, however, used the time to brag about correctly picking one of the ousted contestants on the Survivor series.

The camera switched briefly back to Gumbel, who apparently did not know he was on the air when he muttered "What a f-----g idiot."

Most watchers who saw the gaffe thought the host was referring to the interview with Knight, but Early Show staffers knew immediately that the remark was directed at McEwen.

"It wasn't the first time Bryant used that particular term to describe Mark and I suspect it won't be the last," one CBS staffer said. "He considers everyone on the show to be beneath him and shows nothing but contempt for everyone around him."...

Some on the show belief the switch of the camera back to Gumbel was anything but an accident.

"More than one person on the control room would like the public to see just what a horse's ass Bryant Gumbel really is," said the ex-producer. "What the public got to see was just who the real f-----g idiot was on the Early Show."

    END Excerpt

    To read the whole story, go to:

    While it's heartwarming to think that those around Gumbel have such a lack of respect for him, I don't buy this argument. I think that Gumbel threw the show to McEwen, didn't even hear what he said, and then the camera cut back to Gumbel as he was still focused on his just ended interview. But judge for yourself. Read a transcript of what occurred including McEwen's comment, as well as view the incident in context via RealPlayer:


While Al Gore is denouncing ads by pharmaceutical companies fighting Medicare prescription coverage, he employs as his advertising guru a man who just months ago tried to land that corporate image account, FNC's Jim Angle uniquely revealed last Friday night.

    In a July 7 piece on Special Report with Brit Hume, Angle pointed out: "For days, Al Gore has been railing against the pharmaceutical industry and its lobbyists and blasting an ad campaign sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies, which he calls 'scurrilous and misleading.'"
    Al Gore: "They're on TV, fighting against my prescription drug benefit plan. And they say that these ads are funded by Citizens for a Better Medicare.' Well, what a lot of baloney that is."

    Angle then disclosed: "Gore asked the group to make public where their money is coming from, but Gore must already know the answer because Fox News has learned that one of his closest advisers tried to get the contract to run the very ad campaign Gore criticizes. Carter Eskew, the man in charge of Gore's message, predicted ads would be needed to counter political attacks on the drug industry. He didn't get the job, but that's what the current ad does."

    Angle elaborated: "The group is running the ads, financed largely by drug companies, out of fear the Democratic plan would lead to price controls. Ironically, Gore adviser Eskew expressed the same concerns. His four-page pitch for the ad campaign warned that a presidential candidate might make this an issue. And the ads, he wrote, should create 'an understanding of the down-side risks of price controls -- that would dampen enthusiasm for making prescription drugs the spark used to ignite the 2000 elections.' And Eskew wrote that, 'In whatever debate materializes, the industry's most potent asset will be its deep reservoir of respect,' which Gore and Eskew are now busy trying to tear down, a move that leaves campaign ethics analysts shaking their heads."
    Charles Lewis, Center for Public Integrity: "When you're railing against an industry and you're found out that some of your people were trying to work for that industry, it looks -- it looks stupid. Let's be honest. You look really stupid. You look like you don't know what you're doing, at the very least. And at the very most, you look like a blatant hypocrite."


Ha, ha, all those fools who once worried about a threat from the Soviet Union. What a joke.

    Friday night ABC's Peter Jennings used the revelation that the Soviet Union gave up on a project to make gas-powered boots, which enabled the user to take huge strides and move along at 25 miles per hour, as a hook to mock Cold War fears of the Soviet Union: "Ah, yes, we used to take the Soviet Union so seriously."

    Jennings set up his one-minute long July 7 item: "There are some of you, I'm sure, who remember the days when we in the West were afraid that the Soviet Union would outdo the West technologically. They had been first into space. The CIA was pretty impressed, remember? And then the Soviet Union fell apart and we discovered how far behind they really were -- not that they weren't trying."

    Then, over video of a guy running as he wore big metal boots in which he stood on top of foot-high pistons, Jennings mocked: "This is the latest example of their top secret technology revealed: gas-powered boots, so the wearer could take enormous strides and run up to 25 miles an hour. This way, of course, Soviet soldiers could outrun tanks and police could outrun criminals, provided criminals didn't have the boots. The project failed in the 1980s, but we hear they're gearing up again. We did wonder how you stop. Ah, yes, we used to take the Soviet Union so seriously."

    Those in the nations the Soviet Union invaded and then enslaved for 40-plus years while media figures like Jennings undercut the Cold War effort, knew they had to take the Soviet Army and nuclear weapons quite "seriously."-- Brent Baker


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