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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday August 9, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 136) |

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Lieberman's Praise of God Minimized; Gumbel Raised GOP Anti-Jewish Plot

1) Dan Rather Bias 101: The night of the official Dick Cheney VP announcement Rather relayed the negative Democratic spin against the GOP ticket. Tuesday night Rather highlighted the Democratic ticket's boasts about themselves with a sly dig at Bush-Cheney.

2) "Sing to God and make music to God and...give glory and gratitude to God from whom all blessings truly do flow," declared Joseph Lieberman, but CBS gave his religious comments just two seconds and NBC only referenced it in a clause.

3) FNC's Brit Hume wondered about the reaction if George Bush had said a prayer. Well, when Bush did mention Jesus during a debate NBC's Tim Russert demanded to know if non-Christians should "feel excluded from George W. Bush because of his allegiance to Jesus."

4) Bryant Gumbel slyly impugned Bush-backers, asking Mario Cuomo if Republicans, "however quietly," will "try to make" Lieberman's Jewish faith "an issue?" MSNBC's Forrest Sawyer suggested the "Christian Right" might use Judaism against Lieberman.

5) Despite his overall liberal voting record and that the National Taxpayers Union labeled him "a card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal," major newspapers joined the networks in tagging Lieberman a "centrist" or "moderate."

6) "At the Republican convention people who were inclined toward choice...were not allowed to say anything," complained Tom Brokaw. Al Gore then assured him the late Bob Casey's family will be allowed to make "anti-abortion" comments in Los Angeles.

7) Contrary to Al Gore's claim to Tom Brokaw, he did not agree at the time with Joseph Lieberman's admonishment of Bill Clinton, FNC's Brit Hume pointed out.

     Corrections: First, the August 7 CyberAlert reported: "Republican Senator William of Delaware, at 73 percent, earned a slightly lower rating from ACU than Lieberman got from ADA, but have you ever heard Roth dubbed as a centrist or moderate?" The last name "Roth" was missing from the beginning of the sentence. Second, an article in the Thursday Morning, August 3, edition of "Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check," contained an error the MRC's Tim Graham belatedly noticed. The sidebar item titled "NBC Resurrected the 'Little Brown One,'" quoted George H. W. Bush as saying, as he pointed out his grandchildren to the Reagans, "That's Debbie's kids from Florida, the little brown ones." In fact, he did not say "Debbie's" but "Jebby's," as in son Jeb's kids.


Dan Rather is consistent, if consistently biased in only highlighting the Democratic attacks on the Republican team. The night of the official announcement of Dick Cheney as George Bush's VP Rather relayed the derisive and negative Democratic spin against the GOP ticket. Exactly two weeks later on the night of the official unveiling of Joe Lieberman as Al Gore's number two, Rather relayed not Republican criticism of the new Democratic team but the Democratic ticket's boasts about themselves which included a sly dig at Bush-Cheney.

    Compare the two quotes below. Bias doesn't get much more obvious or easy to see than this:

    -- Here's Rather on the July 25 CBS Evening News introducing that night's story on the Bush-Cheney debut:
    "In the presidential campaign, the official announcement and first photo-op today of Republican George Bush and his running mate Richard Cheney. Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote 'two Texas oilmen' because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney's voting record in Congress as again quote, 'outside the American mainstream' because of Cheney's votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, against a woman's right to choose abortion -- against abortion as Cheney prefers to put it -- and Cheney's votes against gun control. Republicans see it all differently, most of them hailing Bush's choice and Cheney's experience."

    -- Rather introducing the August 8 CBS Evening News piece on the Gore-Lieberman announcement event:
    "Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America."

    As I said, evidence of liberal bias doesn't get much better than that.

    Later in Tuesday's show Rather distorted Cheney's record as he claimed Cheney voted "against freeing Nelson Mandela." See the CBS Evening News detail in item #2 below for the full quote.


Never mind castigating the mixing of religion and politics, CBS and NBC Tuesday night almost completely avoided Senator Joseph's Lieberman's religious comments praising God uttered during his remarks at the Nashville event at which Al Gore named him his VP pick.

    Citing Chronicles, Lieberman remarked: "Give thanks to God and declare His name and make His acts known to the people. To be glad of spirit, to sing to God and make music to God and most of all to give glory and gratitude to God from whom all blessings truly do flow. Dear Lord, maker of all miracles, I thank you for bringing me to this extraordinary moment in my life..."

    The CBS Evening News gave it a four word soundbite while NBC's Claire Shipman ran two Lieberman soundbites on other matters, including his anti-Bush "veterinarian" and "taxidermist" joke, as she said only: "Lieberman quoted from the Bible." ABC's Terry Moran at least provided a full-sentence soundbite as did FNC's Jim Angle on Special Report with Brit Hume. Angle noted:
    "Lieberman, a deeply religious man, repeatedly gave thanks God for having been selected."
    FNC then played this clip from Lieberman: "Dear Lord, maker of all miracles, I thank you for bringing me to this extraordinary moment in my life and Al Gore I thank you for making this miracle possible for me."

    (Firestone's tire recall topped both ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night with only the NBC Nightly News going first, for the second day in a row, with the Lieberman choice.)

    Here's a rundown of the Tuesday night, August 8, broadcast network stories on the Lieberman announcement:

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran opened with an upbeat assessment: "The new Democratic ticket took center stage under a scorching sun and riding a wave of enthusiasm and emotion that seems to have galvanized the Gore campaign. The Vice President heralding the significance of his groundbreaking choice."

    After a Gore soundbite Moran acknowledged Lieberman's religious comments: "Senator Lieberman was moved to share with the crowd and the country his deep religious commitment, saying the historic moment was a time for prayer, a time-"
    Lieberman: "To be glad of spirit, to sing to God and make music to God and most of all to give glory and gratitude to God from whom all blessings truly do flow."

    Moran noted the ticket's goal of moving to the center and played another Lieberman soundbite about restoring the moral center of the nation before Moran led into Lieberman's big joke line: "For all the centrist talk, however, Lieberman tried to counter the Republicans' efforts to try to portray him as closer to Governor Bush on the issues than to Vice President Gore."
    Lieberman: "I think that's like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business because either way you get your dog back!"
    Moran then concluded: "All the talk about values and character here showed how important it is for the Gore-Lieberman ticket to distance themselves from the man whose name was not even mentioned today, President Clinton."

    -- CBS Evening News. After Dan Rather's intro recited above in item #1, John Roberts handled the Lieberman announcement. He began by reporting how Gore evoked the memory of John Kennedy as Gore claimed he had torn down "an old wall of division."

    CBS ran a clip of Lieberman praising Gore for his courage in picking the first Jew, before Roberts allowed how Republican analysts claim the pick reinforces Gore's vulnerability on character, a point made in a soundbite by pollster Linda DiVall.

    Finally, Roberts got to the religious aspect, barely: "Today's announcement was part showbiz, part religious revival-"
    Lieberman, in full, for barely a second: "Maker of all miracles."
    Roberts moved right along: "-and part endurance event as a thousand people braved temperatures that passed the century mark, but perhaps the most poignant moment belonged to Lieberman's wife Hadassah whose parents, the audience was told, survived the horrors" of the Holocaust.

    After a comment from Hadassah, Roberts concluded by repeating the Gore team's spin: "Campaign sources say the buzz created by Lieberman has exceeded their expectations and contrary to recent elections, they hope that this year the running mate may actually influence which candidate Americans vote for."

    Up next, Rather introduced a review of Lieberman's voting record by observing how he has a "reputation for speaking his mind and voting his conscience." Unlike the network policy with Cheney, Bill Plante did not pick out votes to portray as extreme, which he could have with Lieberman's vote last year against banning partial-birth abortion, a vote just as hardline as were Cheney's in the opposite direction.

    Instead, Plante noted how Lieberman disagreed with the Bush campaign claim that he's closer to Bush than Gore on many issues, and played Lieberman's taxidermist joke. Then he ran through areas of Lieberman disagreement with Gore, listing partial privatization of Social Security, experimental voucher programs, affirmative action. Plus, how Lieberman criticized Clinton for using the White House as a fundraising marketing tool.

    Following Plante's piece, Rather delivered a cheap shot at Cheney with this distortion of his record: "By the way, Democrats counter some of the Republican attack by pointing out that Bush and his running mate haven't always agreed, pointing to Cheney's votes against freeing Nelson Mandela and against Head Start."

    As Dan Rather well knows, Cheney never voted "against freeing Nelson Mandela," only against a resolution which included recognizing the communist-influenced African National Congress.

    -- NBC Nightly News led with Lieberman as anchor John Seigenthaler delivered an inspiration spin:
    "Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore made it official today. During a rally on a steamy Nashville afternoon, Gore introduced his running mate, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, the first of his faith to ever run on a major party ticket. Lieberman told the crowd he never dreamed he would have the opportunity before him now. And Gore called the selection a step toward tearing down a mighty 'wall of division' for all Americans."

    Claire Shipman went through Lieberman's gratitude and Gore's boasting about breaking a barrier before playing a clip of Hadassah saying she was moved to be standing in a place which honors soldiers who liberated her parents.

    Shipman then allocated five words to the religious content of Lieberman's address: "Lieberman quoted from the Bible, praised Al Gore as a man of character and took a jab at George Bush and his suggestion that Lieberman's conservative Democratic views are close to Bush's."
    Lieberman: "I think that's like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business because either way you get your dog back!"


God okay, Jesus not. Or at least God is okay when praised by a "centrist" Democrat, but if a conservative mentions Jesus...

    FNC's Brit Hume wondered Tuesday night: "What does one suppose the reaction would have been had George W. Bush, a declared born-again Christian, on the platform when he had been nominated, had said a prayer of thanks?"

    Well, let's go to the videotape. During the January 6 Republican presidential debate sponsored by MSNBC, moderator Tim Russert grilled George W. Bush about his intolerance in citing, at a previous debate, Jesus as a role model. As recounted in the January 7 CyberAlert, here's how Russert engaged in a personal debate with Bush:
    Russert: "Governor Bush, in the last debate when you talked about Jesus being the most philosopher thinker that you respected, many people applauded you, others said what role would religion have in the Oval Office with George W. Bush. Fifteen million atheists in this country, five million Jews, five million Muslims, millions more Buddhists and Hindus. Should they feel excluded from George W. Bush because of his allegiance to Jesus."
    When Bush answered that it's "my life, it's part of me," Russert came back: "Would you take an expression like 'What would Jesus do?' into the Oval Office?"
    Bush joked: "I would take an expression into the Oval Office of 'Dear God help me.'"
    Russert pressed ahead with his intolerance theme: "In 1993 you suggested that unless you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you couldn't go to heaven."
    Bush insisted all he said was that his religion says you must accept Christ go to heaven and God decides who goes, not him.
    Russert demanded: "Even non-Christians?"

    After the debate ended Russert wasn't done with his effort to push the GOP away from religion, telling Gary Bauer during a post-debate interview: "Every Republican debate seems to have discussion about abortion, gay rights, Jesus Christ. Fairly or unfairly are you concerned that many people in the country are watching that exchange and saying, 'you know, that's a little bit more about religion than it is about politics and that concerns me.'?"
    Bauer's retort: "Well Tim, in all due fairness, you guys brought those issues up."


Bryant Gumbel suggested on Tuesday's The Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, that Republicans will employ underhanded tactics to get people to vote against the Gore-Lieberman ticket because of Lieberman's Judaism. Interviewing liberal former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Gumbel slyly inquired: "Do you fully expect Republicans, however quietly, however strategically, to try to make it an issue?"

    Gumbel's question to Cuomo in the 7:30am half hour aired after a 7am half hour interview co-anchor Julie Chen conducted with the Bush campaign's Ari Fleischer in which she suggested anti-Semitism will benefit the GOP: "Do you believe that the Gore-Lieberman ticket will face anti-Semitism and perhaps push some swing voters to the Bush-Cheney camp?"

    Back to the Cuomo segment, in the midst of Cuomo ruminating about how John F. Kennedy overcame anti-Catholic bigotry but Italians are still burdened with being tainted as affiliated with the Mafia, Gumbel jumped in:
    "But in much the same fashion, you and I are both old enough to remember when John F. Kennedy ran and people were wondering, well is he going to check with the Vatican, or are his loyalties to the Vatican or to Washington. Do voters not have a, do they not have some justification for wondering if his true loyalties could be with Israel or with Washington?"
    Cuomo shot back: "That's ridiculous." After a long-winded oratory about how hard it will be for anyone to justify opposing Lieberman on religious grounds, Cuomo asserted: "I think America will not be bigoted against him and the ones who are wouldn't vote for Gore anyway."
    Gumbel argued: "We all hope you're right, we all hope you're right, we'd love to sit around the camp fire and say yeah we embrace everybody, we embrace our differences. You and I both know that's not generally true."
    Cuomo pointed out: "They voted for Kennedy."
    Gumbel impugned the motives of Bush-backers: "Yes, they did. Do you fully expect Republicans, however quietly, however strategically, to try to make it an issue?"
    Cuomo: "No, what I expect is some cynical Republicans, there are cynical Democrats too, to sit there and smirk and say, 'man, wait til he gets down South, wait til he gets to the Middle West.' I think there are some who are saying that. I hear it now from some of my friends and I have a lot of friends who are Republicans -- too many."

    At this point, both chuckled.

    +++ Watch Gumbel take his shot at the GOP and Bush. Wednesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of the above exchange with Cuomo. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

    As for what group may be most likely to tear down Lieberman because he's Jewish, it's not conservative Christians but blacks. In a story on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about reaction to Lieberman, Lisa Myers began by reporting: "For neo-Nazis and hate groups that operate on the Internet, the Lieberman announcement is a call to arms. Today, chat rooms overflowing with hateful words." She soon led into a soundbite from Jerry Falwell by noting how "Christian conservative applaud the choice of this Orthodox Jew."

    But not all are so accepting. Myers recalled a Pew Research Center survey: "Polls show there are still tensions between Jewish and black Americans. A 1997 poll finds 24 percent of blacks say they have a mostly or very unfavorable view of Jews."

    The media, however, remain obsessed with conservative intolerance. On Monday's News with Brian Williams on MSNBC, the MRC's Paul Smith noticed, anchor Forrest Sawyer demanded of the Bush campaign's Ari Fleischer:
    "If members of the extreme, let us say, Christian Right or extreme right were to begin making that an issue you would probably smack it down?"


Despite Senator Lieberman's much more liberal than conservative voting record, network reporters and newspapers continued on Tuesday to refer to him a "moderate" and a "centrist." As detailed in the August 8 CyberAlert, Lieberman has earned a lifetime "Liberal Quotient" of 77 from the Americans for Democratic Action. In 1999, Lieberman was assessed 95 percent from the liberal group while the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a zero for that year, making him one of the Senate's eight most liberal Senators in 1999. His lifetime ACU rating: a piddling 19 percent.

    Monday night the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) put out a press release which asserted Lieberman is "a card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal." An excerpt of the August 7 release:

Lieberman's Fiscal Record Falls Short of Rhetoric, Tax Group Study Finds: Gore's VP Pick "Votes More Consistently for Big Government" than Image Suggests

...."When it comes to taxing and spending policies, Joe Lieberman's record falls short of the rhetoric surrounding it," said NTU President John Berthoud. "Several of his stances on high-profile issues -- such as capital gains taxation and welfare reform -- have led to a national image as a fiscal moderate, but the details of his record reveal he is a card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal." For example:

-- In 1999 Lieberman posted a pro-taxpayer score of just 8% on NTU's annual Rating of Congress, which includes every roll call vote affecting taxes, spending, debt, and regulation (144 Senate votes that year).

-- 19 of the Senate's 45 Democrats compiled NTU Ratings that were stronger than Lieberman's in 1999. The Connecticut lawmaker actually fared worse than well-known Senate liberals such as Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, and Chuck Schumer.

-- In 1992, NTU began issuing grades in relation to the scores reported in its Rating. In the past eight years, Lieberman has earned 6 "F" grades and 2 "D" grades.

-- From 1992 through 1999, Lieberman has voted against lower taxes and spending and for higher taxes and spending 3/4 of the time (an average of 76%).

    END Excerpt

    For the full press release, go to:

    Nonetheless, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, Claire Shipman referred to "Lieberman's conservative Democratic views."

    Other examples:
    -- Tuesday morning on CBS's The Early Show Bryant Gumbel repeated a claim made by Democratic pollster Mark Penn: "As you noted, politically a centrist."

    -- Tim Russert on Tuesday's Today: "There's no doubt about it. Joe Lieberman is a centrist, moderate Democrat."

    -- Anchor Forrest Sawyer on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams on Monday night, August 7: "The socially conservative, politically moderate Senator is being lauded by both Democrats and Republicans for his integrity."

    -- The lead paragraph in the August 8 USA Today front page story by Laurence McQuillan tagged Lieberman "a political centrist."

    -- The subhead over the August 8 Los Angeles Times story declared: "The political moderate is the first Jew on a major U.S. party ticket."

    -- "Gore Chooses Centrist Conn. Senator as Running Mate," announced a jump page headline in Tuesday's Washington Post. The headline over another article read: "Lieberman Mixes Moderate Politics, Moral Imperative." But deep in the latter story reporters Mike Allen and Amy Goldstein acknowledged Lieberman's doctrinaire liberal views on key issues: "He has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights, gun control, environmental protection, minimum wage increases and other causes espoused by party liberals. But two issues -- school vouchers and tort reform -- have put him at odds with major constituencies within the Democratic Party, teachers and trial lawyers..."

    -- "Senator Often Stands To Right of His Party," declared a Tuesday New York Times headline. But, as MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey observed, reporter David Rosenbaum's article noted how Lieberman has not actually made any specific proposal on an issue that supposedly showcases his moderate views: "On Social Security...Mr. Lieberman has never been faced with a vote on the matter and never made explicit what kind of investments he would allow and in what circumstances."


The Democrats will be so much more tolerant than were the Republicans. Tuesday's Today played this excerpt from Tom Brokaw's interview with Al Gore, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed:

    Brokaw: "In any presidential election women have become vitally important. Well at the Republican convention people who were inclined toward choice on the abortion question were not allowed to say anything, either on the floor or at the podium."
    Gore: "That's right."
    Brokaw: "At the Democratic convention we know that there will be delegates and others in the Democratic Party who are anti-abortion. They have not been allowed to speak out as well."
    Gore: "That's not true, they will be."
    Brokaw: "They'll speak from the podium?"
    Gore: "Absolutely, absolutely."
    Brokaw: "Who will they be?"
    Gore: "I have invited the representatives of former Governor Bob Casey's family to speak. We're not afraid of discussion, we're not afraid to have differing opinions. I am strongly pro-choice."

    Not sure why Gore decided to do this since the media never would have made suppression of pro-life views an issue. After all, in 1992 they ignored the censoring of Bob Casey.


Speaking of Brokaw's interview with Gore first shown on Monday's NBC Nightly News, Tuesday night on his FNC show Brit Hume picked up on a claim by Gore quoted in Tuesday's CyberAlert but which did not faze Brokaw.

    On Special Report with Brit Hume, the anchor of the same name pointed out:
    "In his interview with Tom Brokaw, Al Gore was asked about Senator Lieberman's famous statement in September 1998 that President Clinton's conduct in the Lewinsky case had been 'immoral.' 'Did you agree with Joe Lieberman when he said that,' Gore was asked. 'I did and said so at the time,' Gore answered. But a search of records reveals no such thing. Indeed, the first Gore statement critical of Clinton's behavior did not come until June of the following year."

    If NBC employed some people with FNC's ability to recognize bogus claims maybe Tom Brokaw could have pointed that out during his show. -- Brent Baker

[Web Update: Wednesday night, August 9, on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume corrected an item from Tuesday's show which the August 9 CyberAlert had quoted: "Last time we reported that despite Al Gore's insistence in an interview with Tom Brokaw that he agreed at the time with Joe Lieberman's famous speech calling President Clinton's behavior with Monica Lewinsky quote 'immoral,' we could find no such agreement. Further research, however, has shown that he called the President's conduct, said Mr. Gore, quote 'indefensible' in September, even before Lieberman's speech, and that he called it quote 'wrong' the next month. We stand corrected." So does CyberAlert and we withdraw our quip about Tom Brokaw.]


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