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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday August 7, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 134) |

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Confounded by Gore's Troubles; Bay State Not Liberal; Kerry Not Labeled; Gumbel Not Impressed by Bush

1) Time's Margaret Carlson confounded by "how Monica could attach to Al Gore and not prosperity."

2) Talking about Sen. John Kerry, Newsweek's Evan Thomas scoffed at how the public "still thinks" of Massachusetts "as being Northeastern liberal." He insisted it's "moved to the middle."

3) The Washington Post described Dick Cheney's "bedrock conservatism...in step with militants" and referred to his "hard-right votes," but applied no ideological tag to the left-wing John Kerry, calling him only "a handsome, decorated war hero."

4) George W. Bush's actual record contradicts any claims about compassionate conservatism, Time's Jack White and The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt maintained. White insisted that Cheney "was straight out of the red meat, right-wing part of the party."

5) Friday morning Bryant Gumbel was not impressed with Bush's speech, claiming it earned "mixed grades"; ABC's Michel Martin whined again about how many delegates were millionaires; George Stephanopoulos claimed voters at home were turned off by attacks on Gore and were saying "oh come on. Let's move on to the issues"; Charles Gibson referred to Gore as a "straight-arrow."

6) Last Wednesday night Newt Gingrich took Tom Brokaw to task for his bias after Brokaw kept complaining about the GOP's lack of inclusion or tolerance.

7) NBC will be repeating the first five episodes of West Wing this week, starting with the premiere in which actor Martin Sheen, as the President, told leaders of the Religious Right to get their "fat asses out of my White House."

     >>> MRC Chairman Brent Bozell discussed convention coverage Friday afternoon on the Fox News Channel with anchor David Asman. Watch a clip of the interview via RealPlayer after MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted it Monday morning. Go to: http://www.mrc.org <<<


Quote of the Weekend: Time's Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday: "One of the mysteries of this campaign is how Monica could attach to Al Gore and not prosperity. It just confounds me."


Quote of the Weekend runner-up: Massachusetts is no longer a liberal state, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas preposterously claimed on Inside Washington over the weekend.

    In a discussion about possible VP picks for Gore, the name of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry came up, prompting this from Thomas: "Kerry, he's a Massachusetts Democrat, which yes Massachusetts has moved to the middle, but the country doesn't know that, the country still thinks of that as being Northeastern liberal, the Republic of Taxachusetts and all of that kind of stuff."

    Imagine, the people across the country are so clueless that they still think a state with two left-wing Democratic Senators and all ten House seats held by liberal Democrats is a liberal state. What naifs! The state which has supposedly "moved to the middle" ousted its two moderate GOP Congressmen who won seats in 1994 (Blute and Torkildsen). Sure Massachusetts has a Republican Governor, hardly a conservative guy, but the state House and Senate are overwhelmingly controlled by liberal Democrats who also hold the other key statewide offices: Attorney General and Secretary of State.


Another example of the bias which awaits if Al Gore chooses John Kerry as his running mate, this time from the Washington Post. As noted in the August 4 Media Reality Check distributed as a CyberAlert, Kerry has earned a lifetime rating of 93 percent from the liberal Americans with Democratic Action while Dick Cheney got a lifetime 91 percent from the American Conservative Union. Yet it's Cheney who gets the extremist-sounding tags.

    Here's the second paragraph of an August 5 front page story by Matthew Vita and Dan Morgan, headlined "A Hard-Liner With a Soft Touch." I've put in ALL CAPS the relevant labels:
    "A STAUNCH ANTI-COMMUNIST who shared the BEDROCK CONSERVATISM of his Wyoming constituents, Cheney was philosophically in step with MILITANTS such as fellow freshman Newt Gingrich (Ga.). With them, and sometimes even without them, he cast a series of HARD-RIGHT votes that have been seized on by Democrats as evidence that Cheney, the Republican vice presidential nominee, is at odds with the 'compassionate conservatism' of his running mate, George W. Bush."

    Now compare that to the description of Kerry provided by reporter Ceci Connolly in a story the day before:
    "Kerry, a handsome, decorated war hero, is a fierce campaigner with an appealing story to tell."

    ABC's Linda Douglass offered a similar ideologically-bereft description in an August 6 World News Tonight/Sunday story: "Gore campaign sources say the other leading contender is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam vet, a three-term Senator who considered running for President himself."


Two liberal reporters/pundits weren't fooled by the convention facade of compassion and inclusion as both maintained that George W. Bush's conservative record contradicts the ideas of inclusion and compassion.

    -- Jack White complained on Inside Washington:
    "Every time he's had a choice, he has gone in the opposite direction of what you're talking about. When he picked a running mate he picked a running mate who was straight out of the red meat, right-wing part of the party. When he was asked about who he wants, everybody's talking about how he's not making a litmus test about abortion for Supreme Court nominees, but he says his two favorite Supreme Court nominees are Scalia and Clarence Tomas, hardly people that most blacks or Hispanics think are ideal candidates for the court. There's still some kind of a disconnect between this wonderful public face, comfortable with Hispanics or whatever, and the decision's this guy has actually made."

    -- Al Hunt declared on Saturday's CNN Capital Gang:
    "This was a guy who tried to deny health care coverage to people, for children of working people making between $25 and $33,000 a year. That is not compassionate conservatism. Some of his ideas are interesting, but there's no public policy framework behind them and that's a problem."


Wrapping up his week as Afternoon Editor of the MRC's "Conventions 2000 Media Reality Check" newsletters, Rich Noyes filed a report on the Friday morning shows which generally offered positive reviews of George W. Bush's Thursday night convention speech. But...

    -- The only naysayer about Bush's speech was CBS's Bryant Gumbel, who told Early Show viewers that the speech was "getting mixed grades coming out of there." Here's the exchange between Gumbel and substitute co-host Thalia Assuras at the start of Friday's Early Show, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:

    Bryant Gumbel: "Did you watch W. last night?"
    Thalia Assuras: "I certainly did, most of it, almost got right to the end. I missed the balloons falling."
    Gumbel: "And?"
    Assuras: "And, um, he appears potentially more presidential than I've ever seen him before."
    Gumbel: "Well that's good."
    Assuras: "Missing a bit of pizzazz. What did you think?"
    Gumbel: "Getting mixed grades coming out of there, getting mixed grades. He didn't have to do much, and he did about as expected."

    -- Greedy Republicans. Meanwhile, ABC's Michel Martin took one last crack at the demographics of the GOP convention delegates, telling Charles Gibson:
    "The biggest applause line of the night for that delegation was not the line about abortion, it was the line about taxes. Just a reminder that this audience is not representative of the country on a whole. The delegates out here, one survey said that 25 percent of them are millionaires and this is a very big deal to them. But what plays in the hall isn't always what plays in the living room. I'll be very interested to see whether the rest of the country is as excited about cutting estate taxes as this crowd was last night."

    -- Anti-Gore cracks not appreciated, insisted former Clinton-Gore adviser turned ABC News analyst George Stephanopoulos during the same GMA segment. He argued: "The crowd loved all the jokes about Al Gore. My guess is that most voters watching at home said 'oh come on. Let's move on to the issues.'"

    -- "Straight-Arrow Gore." ABC's Gibson also seemed to declare that Gore was scandal-free. In an interview with Bush strategist Karl Rove, Gibson -- apparently trying to be helpful -- suggested that Republican speeches about honesty and character were unnecessary since Clinton wasn't running.

    He asked: "Karl, one other thing, though. Your lines are directed at Clinton, you know I hear that from every other speaker that, you know, 'we'll bring integrity back to the White House,' but you're not running against Bill Clinton. You're running against Al Gore -- Mr. Straight Arrow."

    More like "Mr. No-Controlling-Legal Authority."


Catching up with one of the many events I did not have room to fit into Media Reality Check last week, on Wednesday night Newt Gingrich took Tom Brokaw to task for bias after Brokaw kept complaining about the GOP's lack of inclusion or tolerance.

    Here are the August 2 questions from Brokaw and an answer from Gingrich during an interview which took place just past 8:40pm ET on MSNBC as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens, only a clause of which made it into the August 3 Media Reality Check:

    Brokaw: "Reporting from right beside me right now is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, a man who has been pivotal in Republican Party politics for a long time: Newt Gingrich. But you will not be appearing at this podium this year and we've seen almost no members of the so-called Republican Revolution who will be up there in prominent roles as well."

    Brokaw: "Well let the record show we're not hearing from Tom DeLay who's the Whip or Dick Armey who have been really out front..."

  Brokaw: "You've always loved a vigorous exchange of ideas in this setting or in the House or wherever you are. Do you think that the country is poorer for the fact that we've had so little dialogue this time about the issues that divide many of the delegates on this floor to say nothing of the country. They're there in the platform but the platform got wrapped up and put away and it was never talked about again."

    Brokaw: "But speaking of inclusiveness, in the platform it tolerates no other point of view except anti-abortion. There were people who tried to say that we welcome other points of view. When an openly gay of member Congress spoke here last night members of the Texas delegation decided that they would bow their heads and turn away."
    Gingrich: "Oh you guys! C'mon. I mean the whole country, I just want the whole country to understand the difference between your view of reality and normalcy. You had 20 people in Texas bow their head in prayer out of a convention of 2000 delegates, the rest of whom applauded Kolbe. Now we're not a police state. If 20 people want to pray, unlike the Democrats, we let 'em pray. I mean what's the big deal here? Kolbe spoke. He spoke exactly as most Republicans would think he should without regard to his sexual preferences, without any kind of quota. Jim Kolbe is a great trade person and yet you're not gonna find any news interview today that lets him talk about trade."


Left Wing West Wing All Week. NBC will be repeating the first five episodes of West Wing this week, starting with the premiere in which actor Martin Sheen, as the President, told leaders of the Religious Right, who are called anti-Semitic, to get their "fat asses out of my White House."

    That episode airs at 10pm ET/PT, 9pm CT/MT on Monday night. Additional episodes will air at 10pm ET/PT Tuesday, back-to-back at 9pm and 10pm ET/PT Wednesday and at 10pm ET/PT on Friday.

    To see a RealPlayer clip of the "fat asses" scene, go to:

    Very telling that NBC decided to run West Wing five times in the week leading up to the Democratic convention. -- Brent Baker



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