Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, Friday AM Edition
1) "Presidential" Bush Won Over Media, But...;
"I'll Tell You the Surprise, I Thought It Was a Very Good Speech."
Cokie Roberts: "To talk about tearing down the wall between poverty and
wealth in America, something you're not used to hearing at a Republican
convention." NBC: How can he "afford" tax cuts "for the
2) ABC & CBS Run Own Bush Bios: "1st in Capital
Punishment, 2nd in the Number of Uninsured Children." Bill Whitaker:
"Is George W. Bush prepared to lead the most powerful nation on earth? A
question compounded when he failed a reporter's pop quiz at the start of the
3) GOP Crossed the Line from Inclusion to Pandering. ABC's
Michel Martin: Republicans can't judge of they went too far because they
"are still predominantly Caucasian."
4) "Compassion...Obscures the Conservative"; CBS:
Cheney" Rigid-Right" But Kerry Just "Liberal." Thursday's
CBS Evening News reflected the liberal view that conservative political
positions contradict compassion.
5) Sidebar articles along the sides of pages two and three:
Rather's Parting Shot: Convention "Excess"; "Cheney Attack
Speech"; D-PA vs. R-PA: Brit Hume noted how GOP showcased abortion
dissenter; Letterman's GOP Top Ten: "Top Ten Announcements that Would
Cause a Panic at the Republican National Convention."
page article. "Presidential" Bush Won Over Media, But...;
"I'll Tell You the Surprise, I Thought It Was a Very Good
George W. Bush earned rave reviews Thursday
night for his speech, though some were most impressed with its
un-Republican aspects and NBC trotted out the usual liberal mantra about
paying for tax cuts.
ABC's Cokie Roberts: "I think a very
successful speech. Anybody seeing at the beginning George W. Bush's
parents watching their child stand up there and accept the nomination was
bound to be moved. Even my colleagues here in the press felt that
way.....And I think that his echoing that Reagan line of 'tear down this
wall,' from Berlin, to talk about tearing down the wall between poverty
and wealth in America, something you're not used to hearing at a
CBS's Bob Schieffer: "Well, I'll tell you
the surprise, I thought it was a very good speech. I'm not sure I've ever
heard George Bush deliver a speech in quite the way he did this one
tonight. I thought he struck just the right tone. It was very
presidential. No real cheap shots in it, but some very good lines."
CNN's Jeff Greenfield: "The most
surprising part of this speech, one I must say I would not have expected
necessarily in a Republican convention, was his expression of empathy and
sympathy for a 15-year-old juvenile felon."
NBC's Tom Brokaw: "This speech, it seemed
to me was a pretty skillful weaving of campaign hot buttons, and a higher
calling." Tim Russert agreed, with a caveat: "It was an
extremely well written speech. George W. Bush tonight was politician,
preacher. But I think Democrats, Republicans, independents would
acknowledge he was presidential. There is no doubt about that in terms of
stepping up and giving an outline, a vision of where he wants to lead the
country....He'll have to explain how he can afford to reform or privatize
part of Social Security and still afford tax cuts."
A half hour later on MSNBC Jim Miklaszewski
demanded of Phil Gramm: "He left himself wide open on one particular
issue when he talked about tax breaks or tax cuts for every tax bracket.
Nobody should pay more than one third of their income. Doesn't that
translate into tax breaks for the rich?"
Top of page two story. ABC & CBS Run Own Bush Bios: "1st in
Capital Punishment, 2nd in the Number of Uninsured Children"
While CNN, FNC, NBC/MSNBC and PBS carried the
RNC's Bush biography film, ABC and CBS instead showed viewers their own
take. Both raised questions about his military service, stressed the
plight of the poor in Texas and resurrected the foreign leader pop quiz.
ABC's Dean Reynolds suggested his lack of
interest in a liberal cause demonstrated his lack of leadership abilities:
"But is he all handshake and not much else? The same people who
recall the friendliness can point to little in the way of leadership
qualities they perceived. For example, the 1960s were a turbulent time at
Yale. Rebellion and anti-war sentiment were palpable. To many perhaps, but
not to Bush." Reynolds soon added: "What about his military
obligation in the Texas Air National Guard? He says he fulfilled it, but
is hazy in his recollections."
Reynolds soon got to the infamous pop quiz,
showing Bush unable to name the President of Chechnya or Prime Minister of
Over on CBS, Bill Whitaker asked: "Did
his father pull strings to get him a coveted spot with the Texas National
Guard while less fortunate sons of Texas went off to Vietnam?"
Whitaker asserted: "Though Texas air is some of the dirtiest in the
country, he allows polluters to voluntarily comply with environmental
regulations. Texas is first in capital punishment, second in the number of
uninsured children.....But the Texas constitution grants the Governor
limited power, which raises the question is George W. Bush prepared to
lead the most powerful nation on earth? A question compounded when he
failed a reporter's pop quiz at the start of the campaign."
Bottom of page two article. GOP Crossed the Line from Inclusion to
ABC's Peter Jennings asked Michel Martin if
the GOP crossed the line between inclusion and pandering. Martin, who is
black, disqualified Republicans: "I'm not sure that the floor of this
convention is the place to ask that question because, I mean, Peter, look
around. I mean, the fact of the matter is that....the delegations all over
the country are still predominantly Caucasian..."
Jennings wondered Thursday night if Martin's
friends and colleagues "think that there's been an overreaching this
week?" Martin's friends are not impressed with the GOP: "In my
unscientific survey of friends, family that I've been talking to, some
people really do think that they've crossed the line."
Just before midnight on CNN, Bruce Morton
contended conservative views contradict inclusion: "But inclusion is
not universal here. On Powell's affirmative action, the GOP platform says
'we will attain equal opportunity without quotas or other forms of
preferential treatment.' The platform would ban all abortions, going
further than Bush. It opposes sex education in schools except for teaching
abstinence and it opposes laws protecting homosexuals from
discrimination....For all the black faces on the podium, how inclusive was
this convention? The Joint Center for Political Studies, a Washington
think tank, says 4.1 percent of the delegates here were black, up from
1996, but about the same as in 1992 when Pat Buchanan made that cultural
Page three story. "Compassion...Obscures the Conservative"; CBS:
Cheney "Rigid-Right" But Kerry Just "Liberal"
In airing a story about how Bush's
"compassion" image "often obscures the conservative"
Bush really is, followed by a piece on Gore's potential VP options,
Thursday's CBS Evening News not only reflected the liberal view that
conservative political positions contradict compassion, but also displayed
a double standard on labeling.
-- Bush's Compassion vs. Conservative Reality.
Previewing Bush's speech, reporter Bill Whitaker noted: "Staffers say
he'll make the compassionate conservative case for change he's stressed
for months." Viewers saw a clip of Bush: "I'm not running just
to say I've held the office. I'm running because I want to lead this
country to a more generous day, a more hospitable day for everybody."
Whitaker then adopted the liberal line, countering: "It's a feel-good
message with something for everybody. The compassion often obscures the
conservative, but it's there. When Dick Cheney's rigid-right congressional
votes came under attack, Bush embraced the man and his record."
Whitaker listed Bush's supposed areas of
conflict: "He's a master of mixed signals. He refused to challenge
this platform's call for a total abortion ban, yet he insists he'd allow
them for rape and incest. With diversity [video of J.C. Watts] hogging the
spotlight here, hardline conservatives are almost invisible, but when
former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed endorsed Bush he told CBS News
the conservative agenda hadn't changed, just the style....Bush says there
should be no confusion. He's both compassionate and conservative."
-- VP Labeling Contrast. The networks,
especially CBS, haven't hesitated to go beyond just
"conservative" and have burdened Dick Cheney with labels which
paint him as an extremist, such as "hardline conservative,"
"far right," and "hard right." So if Al Gore picks
Senator John Kerry as his running mate will CBS apply matching tags, such
as "hardline liberal" and "hard left"? After all,
while Cheney earned a lifetime 91 percent rating from the American
Conservative Union, Kerry has a 93 percent lifetime approval rating from
the liberal Americans for Democratic Action.
Thursday night CBS demonstrated its bias. A
few minutes after Whitaker referred to "Dick Cheney's rigid-right
congressional votes," reporter John Roberts looked at how Gore's VP
list is "down to four so-called 'new generation' candidates,"
Senators Evan Bayh, John Kerry, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman. But though
Kerry is as liberal as Cheney is conservative, Roberts could only muster
the "liberal" label: "What Gore hopes to do is avoid the
potshots that the Bush campaign took over George W.'s pick of Dick Cheney
for running mate. Bayh is a former Governor of a state that usually votes
Republican, but his vote to ban late-term abortion has angered women's
groups. Kerry is a Vietnam vet with three purple hearts, but he's a
liberal from a state Gore should already win..."
It's the media which took the
"potshots" at Cheney and the media which will decide whether to
take them at Gore's pick.
Sidebar articles along the sides of pages two and three: Rather's Parting
Shot: Convention "Excess"; "Cheney Attack Speech";
D-PA vs. R-PA: Brit Hume noted how GOP showcased abortion dissenter;
Letterman's GOP Top Ten: "Top Ten Announcements that Would Cause a
Panic at the Republican National Convention."
Rather's Parting Shot: Convention
"Excess" Dan Rather signed off CBS's coverage at 11:10 pm ET
with this pontificating: "When the Founding Fathers met in this city
in the late 1700s and wrote the rules for electing the President they
could not have foreseen what we have seen here this week and what we will
pretty much see again when the Democrats convene in Los Angeles. The
process has gone from James Madison to Madison Avenue. Conventions are now
political marketing operations, all about big money, power and influence.
Just over 200 years ago another George W., George Washing-ton, left
Philadelphia after two terms as President. In his farewell address
Washington warned about the excesses of political parties. He was not
talking about conventions, but he could have been."
"Cheney Attack Speech"
Two more hits Thursday on Dick Cheney's speech.
On MSNBC's Newsfront, anchor Lester Holt asked Tom Brokaw: "What is
thefeeling among Republicans today? Any morning after regrets from the
tone of the attack?"
Dan Rather introduced a CBS Evening News
preview of Bush's speech: "It is an opportunity for Bush to define
his vision of where he would take the country and say why he should be the
one to lead it. The context includes the Dick Cheney attack speech here
last night on the Democrats."
D-PA vs. R-PA
A speaking role at the con-vention contrasts with
how Democrats suppress dissent on abortion, FNC's Brit Hume observed
Thursday night: "It's probably worth noting the contrast here
between the two parties on the issue of Pennsylvania Governors who
disagree with the party majority on the issue of abortion...Governor Bob
Casey...was not allowed to speak at the 1992 Democratic convention in New
York, though he very much wanted to. Now we have Tom Ridge...holds a
minority position in the Republican Party, being pro-choice, and he's a
Letterman's GOP Top Ten From the August 2
Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Announcements that Would
Cause a Panic at the Republican National Convention."
10. "Stop by the concession area and pick up Barbara Bush's
9. "At the conclusion of his speech, George W. Bush will execute some
8. "Run for your lives! Dick Cheney's heart's gonna 'splode!"
7. "Because of the convention, 'Becker' will not be seen
6. "Please welcome a completely naked Jesse Helms"
5. "And now to sing our national anthem, David Letterman"
4. "Former President Bush, your son's head is stuck in the podium
3. "Richard Nixon is out in the parking lot and he's pissed"
2. "If anyone finds an appointment book filled with names of
prominent Republicans, please return it to the hooker in the lobby"
1. "The caterer forgot the scotch"
END Reprints of Media Reality Check articles
This "Conventions 2000: Media Reality
Check" compiled by me
with the late night work of MRC analysts Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica
Anderson, Paul Smith and Brad Wilmouth. Plus Andy Szul loading up
the Web page at sunrise. In Philadelphia: Tim Graham, Liz Swasey
and Joyce Garczynski. -- Brent Baker
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