Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, Wednesday AM Edition
-- Visit Convention 2000 Media Bias (More) --
1) Lieberman "Too
Conservative"? Tom Brokaw: "There's Not Very Much Talk About Poverty
in America." Reporters portrayed the party as being led by a
"centrist" ticket and asked liberals if they are distressed by
Lieberman's "socially conservative" positions.
2) Only FNC Noticed Extreme
Position: Democrats' Hardline Pro-Abortion Plank Ignored
3) Rather Swooned Over Kennedys,
Tied to Gore: "Al Gore...Will Lead the Country in the Tradition" of
4) Mislabeled as
"Moderate" & "Conservative"; Joe Lieberman Really
"A Conventional Liberal"
5) Sidebar stories. MSNBC Snubbed
Keynoter ("I wanted to watch the convention but my TV only gets
MSNBC"); Rather Saw No Liberals, referring only to "Nostalgia
Night" and "Kennedy Night"; Democrats Too Far Right for Tim
Robbins; A Dead LBJ Channels to an NBC News Analyst?
6) Quote of the Night: Ted Kennedy
may be verb-challenged, but Dan Rather dubbed him the Democratic Party's
"best orator" from the pre-Clinton era.
page story. Lieberman "Too Conservative"? "There's Not Very
Much Talk About Poverty in America"
All but Dan Rather
(see page two sidebar) realized the Democrats presented a liberal slate of
speakers on Tuesday night, but unlike how they approached the Republicans
in Philadelphia, with the exception of FNC, network correspondents never
pressed Democrats about whether their hardline liberal positions on many
issues might turn off independent voters. Instead, reporters portrayed the
party as being led by a "centrist" ticket and spent the night
asking liberals if they are distressed by Joseph Lieberman's supposedly
"socially conservative" positions.
proud old stallions of the Democratic Party's left wing thundered from the
podium," ABC's Chris Bury pointed out on Nightline. But earlier in
prime time when Peter Jennings interviewed Gore campaign chairman Bill
Daley he did not pose any question about the convention's leftward tilt.
On MSNBC Andrea
Mitchell hit George Mitchell from the left: "Joe Lieberman...He is a
centrist, and there was some concern in the Congressional Black Caucus
about his opposition to affirmative action in the past. He tried to
clarify it today. Do you think that, that is a problem for him?"
Jackson Jr., Tom Brokaw asked: "Today Joe Lieberman had to go before
the Black Caucus because there were members of that caucus, the
Congressional Caucus, who had some reservations about his social
conservatism. Did he persuade you and the others that he's the right kind
of vice presidential running mate for this ticket?" Brokaw made a
plea for liberalism: "But in fact Congressman you don't hear Al Gore
talking very much about the hot button issues for the liberal wing of the
party anymore. There's not very much talk about poverty in America. Not
very much talk about affirmative action, not very much talk about the
later moped to Bill Richardson: "You worry that he might be too
conservative? There was concern in the Black Caucus that he had spoken out
against affirmative action in the past. That perhaps he's not as embracing
as the more liberal wing of the party."
Top of page two article. Only FNC Noticed Extreme Position: Democrats'
Hardline Pro-Abortion Plank Ignored
were pressed about turning off women with their hardline anti-abortion
plank, Tuesday night, despite the prime time slot for Kate Michelman of
the National Abortion Rights Action League, only FNC noted the Democrats'
hardline on abortion.
Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Brit Hume observed: "Polls continue to
show that a majority of Americans continue to support the general right of
an abortion, but they don't support it quite to the extent that, for
example, Kate Michelman does, which is virtually no exceptions and no
parental notification, where the public feels differently about that. Is
it possible that her role here and the view that she takes alienates
The other networks
ignored the subject, or in the case of CNN's Judy Woodruff, approached
from the left. Woodruff asked for reassurance from Hadassah Lieberman that
she is pro-choice: "Your husband is seen as a centrist on a number of
issues including abortion rights. You have done volunteer work with an
organization in Washington called the Best Friends Foundation which
promotes abstinence for adolescent girls. Where are you on the question of
a woman's right to choose?"
Bottom half of page two story. Rather Swooned Over Kennedys, Tied to Gore:
"Al Gore...Will Lead the Country in the Tradition" of JFK
CBS dedicated a
Tuesday CBS Evening News interview segment to Dan Rather and Gloria Borger
gushing over Caroline Kennedy and then hours later Rather wrapped up prime
time coverage by delivering the Gore-scripted spin.
-- CBS Evening
News: Gloria Borger's first question to Caroline Kennedy: "Why do you
feel particularly that it's so important for Al Gore to get elected?"
Rather followed up: "You care about some things in particular. You
mentioned the Supreme Court. Tell me more about that." Rather got
emotional: "It's been forty years, one month and one day to the day
when your father made his acceptance speech here in Los Angeles. Now you
were too young to remember that. Did the family talk about it at any time.
Anything you remember from your youth?" Rather next wondered:
"We all talk about the Kennedy legacy, which began with your father.
What is the Kennedy legacy?" Rather ended the interview by pleading:
"Forever's a long time, particularly in politics. Can you ever see a
time when you might run for public office?"
-- Prime time:
Rather never wrapped up GOP convention coverage by adopting their spin on
the night's events as his own, but Tuesday night he delivered that gift to
Democrats: "The Democrats reached back into the past, trying to rein
down the echos, invoking the memory and legacy of Democratic Party hero
John F. Kennedy, nominated here in Los Angeles forty years ago. Ted
Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy portrayed Al Gore as a leader who will lead
the country in the tradition of the slain President. Gore is hoping this
convention will give him a boost, start him back on the comeback trail for
a fight-back, come-back win in November. Tonight he hitched his horse to
the star power of the Kennedys."
three article. Mislabeled as "Moderate" &
"Conservative"; Joe Lieberman Really "A Conventional
ADA liberal rating: 95%
ACU conservative rating: 0
NTU pro-taxpayer: 8%
Abortion rights: 100%
on describing Joe Lieberman as a "centrist," a
"moderate" or "a conservative," but a review of his
actual voting record proves otherwise. As columnist Bob Novak wrote last
week, "the news media description this week of a centrist, moderate
or even conservative misrepresented a party regular who more often than
not is a conventional liberal."
pointed out that "while Lieberman's comments occasionally infuriate
the National Education Association, the teachers' union rated his 1999
voting record at 90 percent. That compares with a 100 percent report card
by the National Abortion Rights Action League."
earned a lifetime "Liberal Quotient" of 77 from Americans for
Democratic Action (ADA). As a way of comparison, House Majority Leader
Dick Gephardt has 71 percent lifetime approval from the liberal group. In
1999, Lieberman garnered 95 percent from ADA while the American
Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a zero. His lifetime ACU: just 19
percent. The National Taxpayers Union found Lieberman is "a
card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal" who in 1999 voted for spending
and regulation more than "Senate liberals" such as Paul
Wellstone and Barbara Boxer.
Gore's selection of Lieberman was revealed on August 7, Terry Moran
declared on ABC's Good Morning America: "He's known as a moderate
Democrat, who has demonstrated fiscal conservatism in the Senate and a
kind of hawkishness in foreign policy." On The Early Show, CBS
reporter John Roberts tagged him "a real sort of centrist
That night on
ABC's World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson dubbed him "a centrist
Democrat." CBS Evening News anchor Steve Kroft maintained
"Lieberman is noted for his moderate voting record and high moral
standards." NBC's Claire Shipman, who on Imus in the Morning called
Lieberman a "conservative Democrat," on NBC Nightly News
referred to him as "a political moderate, a hawk on foreign policy, a
critic of sex and violence on TV."
Forrest Sawyer tagged him "the socially conservative, politically
moderate Senator." On CNN's Inside Politics Bill Schneider asserted:
"Lieberman is a true centrist, a moderate who can build
coalitions." Jeff Greenfield agreed: "Joe Lieberman is a
The next morning
the distorted labeling continued. "Politically a centrist,"
declared Bryant Gumbel on the Aug. 8 Early Show. "There's no doubt
about it. Joe Lieberman is a centrist, moderate Democrat," stated Tim
Russert on Today.
just as inaccurate. 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." One Washington Post headline announced: "Gore
Chooses Centrist Conn. Senator as Running Mate." Another read:
"Lieberman Mixes Moderate Politics, Moral Imperative."
stories along the sides of pages two and three. MSNBC Snubbed Keynoter;
Rather Saw No Liberals; Democrats Too Far Right for Tim Robbins; LBJ
Channels to NBC News Analyst?
In the ongoing saga that might be dubbed, "I
wanted to watch the convention but my TV only gets MSNBC," Tuesday
night just before 11pm ET MSNBC joined the keynote address by Congressman
Harold Ford Jr. in progress and carried it for exactly two minutes before
going to an interview segment in the booth with Caroline and Ted Kennedy.
ABC and CBS ended
coverage at 11 and so also missed Ford, but CNN, FNC and PBS found it
worth showing in its entirety.
Rather Saw No
The word "liberal" never left Dan
Rather's mouth Tuesday night despite the addresses from Jesse Jackson,
Kate Michelman, Ted Kennedy and Bill Bradley. Instead, Rather described it
as "nostalgia night" and "Kennedy night."
showing Caroline Kennedy on 60 Minutes II, Rather announced: "This is
nostalgia night here at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles
and they're bringing out two of the party's biggest names. The names are
Kennedy - Caroline and Ted."
Later, after an
unrelated repeat of a 60 Minutes II story, CBS re-joined the convention
for a wrap-up from Rather, who told viewers: "We're back live at the
Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Kennedy night for all
intents and purposes."
Democrats Too Far
Right for Tim Robbins
Last night during MSNBC's 5pm ET hour actor Tim
Robbins dropped in to tell why he backs Ralph Nader:
"I think what we've gotten out of voting for
the lesser of two evils in the past eight years has been a farther and
farther shift to the right in the Democratic Party and I, for one, am kind
of tired of it, so this year I'm going to vote for Nader. As Nader says
himself, the really only fundamental difference between the Democratic and
Republican Party is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when
corporate donors come knocking."
LBJ Channels to
NBC News Analyst?
Doris Kearns Goodwin, NBC's omnipresent liberal
historian, let MSNBC viewers know late Tuesday afternoon that in a dream
the late Lyndon Johnson talked to her about social justice:
"This is the night when the liberal wing of
the Democratic Party is getting, finally, its moment in the sun and to the
extent that a lot of liberals feel that the Democratic Party has gone too
centrist, bringing up John Kennedy is kind of safe. You won't hear them
talking about Lyndon Johnson. You know, I had a dream the other night that
Lyndon came to me in a road [robe?] and said, 'You better talk about me
at this convention. I'm the social justice man.' And he is!"
Quote of the Night: "Now center stage, Ted Kennedy, whom before
Bill Clinton came on the scene, many thought was the Democratic Party's
best orator." -- Dan Rather on the Senator known as verb-challenged,
just as Kennedy began his speech, during August 15 60 Minutes II
"Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check" compiled by me with the
MRC's overnight analyst team: Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson, Paul
Smith and Brad Wilmouth. Plus, Kristina Sewell taping the coverage and
sending the fax, Andy Szul loading up the Web page at sunrise and Liz
Swasey trying to get the media to pay attention to our analysis. -- Brent Baker
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