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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday July 25, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 121) |

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Rather's Specious Powell Scoop; Cheney Praised & Tagged "Ultraconservative"; "Lick Bush"

1) Though Dan Rather's scoop, about how George W. Bush and his father were in "deep negotiations" with Colin Powell for VP, had been proven fallacious, Rather wasn't dissuaded. In an interview with Bush he pressed the candidate to concede he pursued Powell.

2) Tom Brokaw lamented how Tom Ridge, "a guy with a great record," was rejected "immediately [by] the Catholic Church and Jesse Helms." Claire Shipman passed along charges, from unnamed sources, that Bush used "inappropriate maneuvering" to pass his tax cut.

3) "Republicans and Democrats agree the 59-year-old Cheney is one of the most competent, most respected, most liked men in his party," NBC's Lisa Myers asserted. ABC and CBS also ran approving profiles, but all also made sure viewers knew he's conservative.

4) Bush's "compassionate" conservatism is in conflict with Dick Cheney's votes "for all the Reagan budget cuts," Gloria Borger argued on Face the Nation. She also tagged Cheney as an "ultraconservative."

5) "Lick Bush." That's the bumper sticker on Chevy Chase's BMW spotted in the Hamptons, the New York Observer reported.

6) "How much better could we spend $60 billion in this country than on an iffy missile shield? How about providing health insurance for the 44 million Americans still not covered?" So argued ABC's Carole Simpson in a quote featured in the latest NQ.

7) FNC's Brit Hume suggested an example of liberal bias: "There was a lot of reporting...that suggested Elian Gonzalez's life in Cuba might really be better than the life he would be offered here in the United States."

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Shocking Facts About Dick Cheney."


Dan Rather and CBS News refused to concede Monday night that their afternoon story, on how George W. Bush and his father were in "deep negotiations" to make Colin Powell the running mate, had been proven false.

     Instead of ignoring the discredited story CBS News had posted on its Web site and trumpeted on its hourly radio news, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts asserted the news about the selection of Dick Cheney came "after the Bush camp made one last failed attempt to get Colin Powell on the ticket." From Austin, Dan Rather, in order to salvage some part of his scoop, then misrepresented what he had reported earlier to suggest that he had only revealed how Alma Powell no longer opposed her husband accepting the position. In an interview with Bush, Rather seemed to try to wish his scoop true as he pressed Bush: "True or untrue, that you wanted General Colin Powell, and you made a real effort to get him to run with you?" Rather was unfazed by Bush's denial.

     Ironically, CBS's embarrassment occurred just five days after the CBS Evening News featured a piece on the unreliability of Internet stories. As Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project reminded me, on July 19 anchor Bob Schieffer warned: "The Internet is a tremendous resource. You can find information on just about everything. But unlike other media, much of the information is unedited, meaning it's not necessarily accurate, and in some cases flat-out wrong and potentially damaging. Tonight, Wyatt Andrews reports the new electronic rumor mill in Eye on America." Andrews ran through canards about how the FCC wants to ban religious broadcasts, a plan for a five-cent tax on e-mails and how a Navy missile shot down TWA 800.

     Let's take the day's CBS News reporting in sequence, starting with the early afternoon posting of this story which was also highlighted on the hourly CBS Radio news, complimented by comments from Dan Rather. Here's an excerpt, preceded by the headline and three subheads:

Bush Woos Powell For VP Slot
Texas Governor Makes Last-Minute Pitch
General Has Long Expressed Lack Of Interest In Job
Cheney Waits In The Wings If Powell Declines

Is a big surprise in the works in the GOP Veepstakes? CBS News Anchor Dan Rather has learned that George W. Bush and his father, former President Bush, are in "deep negotiations" with Colin Powell, trying to convince the Gulf War hero to accept the number two spot on the Republican ticket.

Powell has repeatedly said he is not interested in the job, due in part to his wife Alma's reluctance to have him run. But the sources tell Rather she has given her permission and if he wants to run she would not be opposed to it.

But Powell's office has denied that have been any talks between the retired general and the Texas governor regarding the vice presidency. "There is absolutely no substance to Mr. Rather's report. Gen. Powell's position remains unchanged. There have been no conversations of the kind suggested by Mr. Rather," Powell's office said in a statement.

The sources stress that while no deal with Powell still has been struck, the discussions have intensified over the past 48 hours....

     END Excerpt

     This story was posted, but may have been pulled down by CBS: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,218136-412,00.shtml

     At 2:44pm ET Reuters discredited Rather's scoop in this dispatch by Alan Elsner:

A wave of dizzy speculation flashed through Republican ranks on Monday that Texas Gov. George W. Bush might pick retired Gen. Colin Powell for vice president but the story quickly died after Powell shot down the rumors.

CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported that Bush and his father, former President George Bush, were trying to persuade Powell to join the ticket and that Powell's wife, Alma, had dropped her long-held objections.

But Powell's office issued a statement denying the report. Powell would have been the first black American to run on the presidential ticket of one of the two major parties.

"There is absolutely no substance to Mr. Rather's report. General Powell's position remains unchanged. There have been no conversations of the kind suggested by Mr. Rather," said Powell spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino.

     END Excerpt

     But that didn't deter CBS. Anchor John Roberts opened the July 24 CBS Evening News by insisting the Cheney decision came only "after the Bush camp made one last failed attempt to get Colin Powell on the ticket."

     From in front of the Governor's mansion in Austin, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, Dan Rather then tried to salvage his scoop, not mentioning the Powell camp's rejection of his report:
     "Very obvious right straight the way through that both Governor Bush and his father the former President believe that Colin Powell would be the best running mate on a Bush-Powell ticket. Efforts were made right up to the very end, at least through intermediaries, to try to make that happen. One report broadcast on CBS News was that Colin Powell's wife Alma had finally and reluctantly in effect said, 'Well, if he wants to do it, okay.' But Colin Powell never changed. Consistently he said, 'I'll serve if asked perhaps in a Bush administration, but I'm not interested in elective politics and don't make me say no,' so in the end it was no deal. I talked to Governor Bush in a candid one-on-one conversation just a few minutes ago back here in the Governor's mansion."

     After some perfunctory questions ("What can you tell me about your selection of Vice President? Anything at all?"; "Have you made up your mind?" and "Give us an insight. When did you make your decision?"), Rather bore in to prove Bush really did pursue Powell: "Well, true or untrue, that you wanted General Colin Powell, and you made a real effort to get him to run with you?"
     Bush answered that Powell made it clear early on that he didn't want to be VP, but if he hadn't Bush would have given serious consideration to him.

     Rather followed-up: "Governor, I have to believe if it isn't true, tell me it isn't true, that somewhere along the line that you said to Colin Powell one way or the other, 'You know, you and I together could change the country.'"
     Bush replied: "I never quite got that far. That would have been definitely part of the conversation. I got to tell you Dan he made it clear, and when this fellow makes it clear he makes it clear."

     +++ Watch Rather press Bush about Powell. Tuesday morning the MRC's Eric Pairel and Brandon Rytting will post a RealPlayer clip of this portion of the interview. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented the political infeasibility for Bush to pick a "pro-choice" VP. Before George W. Bush sat down with Dan Rather in Austin he spent some time with Brokaw at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Brokaw praised Tom Ridge, "a guy with a great record," but who was rejected "immediately [by] the Catholic Church and Jesse Helms." Soon after Brokaw's interview aired on the NBC Nightly News, the show featured a piece by Claire Shipman on how sources told NBC that Bush used "inappropriate maneuvering" to pass his tax cut and to pay for it "hundreds of millions of federal welfare dollars were shifted, against regulations, to a state program."

     Amongst Brokaw's queries to Bush:
     -- "A lot of people are going to say if you pick Dick Cheney, well he had to pick somebody who knew something about foreign policy and defense matters and running the White House because that's where he's weak."

     -- "Isn't it a political reality if you chose a vice presidential candidate who is pro-choice you would have a revolt on your hands in Philadelphia?"
     Bush: "Not necessarily, but there's a lot of political choices I've got to make."
     Brokaw: "Well you put Tom Ridge out there for example, the Governor of Pennsylvania, big and important state, a guy with a great record, pro-choice, immediately the Catholic Church and Jesse Helms said no way."

     Following a profile piece on Cheney, Claire Shipman checked in with Gore's latest attack on Bush's Texas record. She summarized his claim about a budget shortfall and allowed the state comptroller to insist there is still a surplus. Shipman declared that there was some overspending, but it will be covered by the surplus.

     Then, without any substantive retort, she launched into a recitation of charges from unnamed sources: "And new charges tonight: NBC News has talked with a group of current and former state officials who have asked not to be identified. They claimed inappropriate maneuvering last year to get George Bush's $1.7 billion tax cut through. And they say that hundreds of millions of federal welfare dollars were shifted, against regulations, to a state program for children in order to pay for the tax cut. Republicans insist there was no impropriety and Bush says he welcomes the scrutiny."
     Bush: "We've got a good record in Texas. My answer is bring him on."
     Shipman concluded: "But Gore is hoping that the issue of the Texas budget will reinforce what advisers think is his best shot at victory -- casting doubt on Bush's ability to mange the economy."


Likely Bush VP pick Dick Cheney earned approval on Monday from the networks as all delivered positive profile pieces. Each made sure viewers realized Cheney's conservative record. ABC referred to him as "reliably conservative" and a "strong conservative," CBS tagged him an "intellectual conservative" while NBC labeled him "very conservative." Nothing necessarily wrong with these labels as long as the networks are equally vigilant next month during speculation over Gore's VP and regularly describe candidates like John Kerry as a "strong liberal" and "very liberal."

     -- ABC's World News Tonight, July 24. Joining Morton Dean's profile just after he reported Cheney's election to Congress from Wyoming: "From a reliably conservative state his voting record was reliably conservative. Opposed abortion and gun control, supported prayer in the schools."

     Dean later delivered this upbeat assessment: "Colleagues and friends say he is not only comfortable in high places, but is basically an unpretentious person."

     -- ABC's Good Morning America, July 24. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this line from Diane Sawyer: "For 11 years, Congressman on Capitol Hill, famous for a strong conservative voting record and being king of understatement."

     -- CBS Evening News, July 24. Bob Schieffer with the "Real Deal" on Cheney. Schieffer began: "He may not be a household name, but I cannot think of any segment of the Republican Party that would be offended by Dick Cheney. He is an intellectual conservative and, first of all, he is a very safe choice."

     Schieffer wrapped-up: "Some will say that because he is so safe, so conventional and so solid he is just not very exciting."

     -- NBC Nightly News, July 24. Lisa Myers delivered the most glowing review of Cheney: "He's known as the quiet man from Wyoming. And today Republicans and Democrats agree the 59-year-old Cheney is one of the most competent, most respected, most liked men in his party."

     Myers later noted that in the House "his moderate manner softened a very conservative voting record and enabled him to work well with Democrats."


Reaganism and compassion in conflict? Dick Cheney an "ultraconservative"? Two more examples from over the weekend, to add to those cited above and in the July 24 CyberAlert, of network reporters and analysts describing potential Bush VP pick Dick Cheney as too conservative.

     Here are two question from July 23 Face the Nation substitute host Gloria Borger. She asserted to Bush campaign manager Karl Rove: "But Bush is portraying himself as a compassionate conservative. If he's running with somebody who voted for all the Reagan budget cuts, for example, wouldn't that prove a bit of a problem?"

     And later to guest Bill Bennett: "He's very conservative. George W. Bush is not portraying himself as an ultraconservative. Wouldn't that be a problem?"


"Lick Bush." Letting it all hang out in the Hamptons, the swank summer retreat on Long Island for the celebrity crowd. The New York Observer last week spotted the risque anti-Bush bumper sticker on the back of Chevy Chase's car, a sticker the liberal comedian/actor commanded the reporter not mention.

     Former MRCer Clay Waters, now with Bridge News, alerted CyberAlert to the relevant passage in the story in the July 17 edition of the New York City weekly headlined, "The Perfect Swarm: A Hamptons Weekend." Reporters Andrew Goldman, George Gurley, Deborah Schoeneman and Rebecca Traister related their observations from their day in the resort area on July 7. Here's the key excerpt:

6:17 p.m.: Bridgehampton train station

Chevy Chase, the comic actor and Maidstone Club member, stood by the pay phones as the Bridgehampton train station platform became a chaotic mass of people swinging luggage and looking for their rides. Mr. Chase, dressed in shorts, a polo shirt and sunglasses, was waiting for his own house guests. When asked if he noticed that the Hamptons seemed to be an angrier place these days, he said: "I've been coming out here since 1949. I've been angry since 1960."

Mr. Chase walked through the parking lot to his BMW 735i and opened the trunk to stow his guests' luggage. "When we're at our house, nobody bothers us, we stay inside with our kids." Before he got behind the wheel, Mr. Chase called attention to his pro-Al Gore bumper sticker. "Don't mention that," he said, quite seriously. The bumper sticker read, "Lick Bush."

     END Excerpt

To read the entire story, go to:


A world without missile defense but with even more taxpayer money spent on new entitlements and other liberal pet projects in urban areas. That's the dream of Carole Simpson, anchor of ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, and is one of the quotes featured in the just-posted latest edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

    MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught Simpson's July 9 ABC News Web site-posted commentary, which advocated in part:
     "How much better could we spend $60 billion in this country than on an iffy missile shield? How about providing health insurance for the 44 million Americans still not covered? Or helping the elderly pay for their prescription drugs? How many children could be immunized against childhood diseases?
     "Couldn't it be used to completely reform public education? How many crumbling public schools could be renovated? Could that money find a cure for cancer, heart disease and stroke? Could it be used to build affordable housing? Could it ease poverty and homelessness? Wouldn't the money go a long way to repairing the infrastructures of our aging Northeastern cities? Proponents of NMD say the system is an insurance policy to safeguard the nation's security. But like every other form of insurance, if it doesn't pay the dividend, what good is it?"

     By that short-sighted reasoning, virtually all insurance is a rip-off.

For her complete commentary, go to:

     Amongst the other quote headings in the July 24 Notable Quotables: "A Warning About Media Bias?"; "Quicksilver Spin of the Day"; "Clinton: Horny Man of Peace"; "Celebrating Another Entitlement"; "Criticizing Hillary: Implicitly Sexist"; "Caring vs. Conservative"; "Let's Take the Surplus and Apply It to Our Liberal Wish List"; "Fear the Soviets? Ha Ha Ha!"; "Heartwarming Democratic Unity vs. Nasty Republican Fratricide" and "See the Slums! Become a Liberal."

     To read the issue as posted by the MRC's Eric Pairel, go to:

     For a the PDF version which matches the layout of the hard copy edition, go to:

For a link to Adobe's download page for a free copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader so you can view PDF files through your browser, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/notablequotables/2000/archive.asp


Coverage of Elian demonstrated liberal media bias, FNC's Brit Hume told television critics during last week's summer press tour in Pasadena, California.

     In a July 24 New York Post story pegged to Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes telling the Television Critics Association that Fox broadcast stations will carry Fox News coverage on election night, reporter David Li noted the presence of Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume to promote FNC. Li relayed:
     "Answering a question about alleged liberal bias in news media, Hume took a shot at journalists who covered the Elian Gonzalez story, claiming reporters, editors and producers sugar-coated Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's brutal human rights record.
     "'There was a lot of reporting...that suggested Elian Gonzalez's life in Cuba might really be better than the life he would be offered here in the United States,' Hume said.
     "'I think that reflects a bias,' he added. 'It's unmistakable. And I think millions of people see that and are offended by it.'"

     The MRC and CyberAlert provided plenty of examples. For the three most on Hume's point about portraying life as great in Cuba, check out the transcripts and RealPlayer video for these three examples:
     -- June 30 CyberAlert: Dateline NBC painted a glowing picture of what awaits Elian. Keith Morrison insisted: "Elian is more likely to become a healthy adult in Cuba than in any other Third World country." Elian will enjoy Cuba's "universal free education" and the Pioneers are "very much like the Cub Scouts, camping trips and all." Go to:

     -- April 19 CyberAlert: NBC marveled at how the house where Castro will put Elian is "a mansion by Cuban standards" while CNN marveled at how "even by American standards" it's "luxurious." Both portrayed the placement as benign. Only FNC raised the issue of communist re-education. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000419.asp#1

     -- April 5 CyberAlert: The "Cuban good life" awaits Elian, promised NBC's Jim Avila who predicted his family would get "perks like five free gallons" of gas and a monthly bag full of beans, shampoo and deodorant. Go to:

     -- Plus, for a compete overview of media coverage of the Elian case, check out the MRC's Special Report by Tim Graham, "Back to the 'Peaceable' Paradise: Media Soldiers for the Seizure of Elian." Go to:


From the July 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Shocking Facts About Dick Cheney." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. To make himself more appealing to Bush, executed 47 people in Wyoming
9. Once dressed up as a bellhop to meet 'N Sync
8. Recently caught scribbling "George + Cheney" during strategy meeting
7. Accused of conflict of interest after voting in favor of tax cut for bald guys
6. For brief 6-month period in 1974, known as Rita Cheney
5. As Secretary of Defense, approved "Arms For Gyros" deal with Greece
4. He's fat
3. Told Bush only place he plans on campaigning is "Margaritaville"
2. Spends 17 hours a day at "Big Brother" website looking at exotic dancer
1. Picks up chicks by claiming to be Alan Greenspan

     Okay, a somewhat lame list, as it probably must be to be understood by most in the audience who have no idea who Cheney even is, but certainly topical. -- Brent Baker


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