6/02: NBC Suggests Bill O'Reilly Fueled Murder of Dr. George Tiller
  6/01: NBC's Williams Cues Up Obama: 'That's One She'd Rather Have Back'
  5/29: Nets Push 'Abortion Rights' Advocates' Concerns on Sotomayor
  5/28: CBS on Sotomayor: 'Can't Be Easily Defined by Political Labels'

  Notable Quotables
  Media Reality Check
  Press Releases
  Media Bias Videos
  Special Reports
  30-Day Archive
  Take Action
  Gala and DisHonors
  Best of NQ Archive
  The Watchdog
  About the MRC
  MRC in the News
  Support the MRC
  Planned Giving
  What Others Say
MRC Resources
  Site Search
  Media Addresses
  Contact MRC
  MRC Bookstore
  Job Openings
  News Division
  NewsBusters Blog
  Business & Media Institute

Support the MRC


 CyberAlert Weekend Edition

CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday September 1, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 155) |

Bush's "Negative" & "Nasty" Ad Condemned and Falsely Corrected; "Independent" Geraldo for Mayor

1) Bush's new TV ad came under fire Thursday night. ABC's John Cochran charged "negative campaigning is nothing new" for Bush. CBS and CNN contrasted it with Bush's call for a "clean" campaign while CNN twice corrected an error the ad did not make: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted."

2) "So while Governor Bush is essentially correct the military is in decline, the Pentagon insists it is ready to fight today's wars," NBC's Jim Miklaszewski concluded.

3) ABC relayed only Clinton's spin about how the estate tax cut would "help only the richest two percent of people." But FNC's Jim Angle noticed how all the Democratic Congressmen from Tennessee voted for it, even the keynoter at the Democratic convention.

4) Bryant Gumbel this week challenged Henry Kissinger to disprove charges in a new book that Richard Nixon beat his wife, but eleven years ago Gumbel condemned an author for daring to write about Martin Luther King's womanizing: "When the truth collides with a legend, print the legend."

5) "I wouldn't be a Republican or a Democrat," but an independent, Geraldo Rivera told Matt Lauer of his run for Mayor which he'd make because Giuliani's "policies have exacerbated a feeling where minority mothers worry now about their children being hurt by the cops." Sunday night NBC will run his anti-death penalty special.


The RNC on Thursday released a mild and humorous TV ad meant to point out Al Gore's hypocrisy on fundraising and to remind viewers of how he once claimed to have taken "the initiative in creating the Internet," but while NBC Nightly News didn't mention it, Thursday night ABC and CBS pounced on its negativity and CNN repeatedly corrected an error not made in the ad. CBS's Web site declared: "RNC Gets Really Nasty."

    On ABC's World News Tonight, John Cochran referred to the Bush campaign's "negative turn" and, without noting how the Gore campaign had already run negative ads which made false claims about past votes by Dick Cheney, recalled how "negative campaigning is nothing new for Governor Bush" since he went negative on John McCain. CBS's Phil Jones contrasted the ad with Bush's call for a "clean" campaign, but also reminded viewers of how Joe Lieberman once condemned the Buddhist temple fundraising. CNN showed how the ad played a clip of Gore claiming "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." But then Brooks Jackson inexplicably implied the ad was somehow misleading, correcting an error it did not make: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted."

    Here's how the networks handled the new ad on Thursday night, August 31:

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story: "In campaign news, for two weeks now, George W. Bush has kept trying to talk about education, and then he and others keep changing the subject. Today a new Republican ad was released, and the party is gonna spend millions putting it on the air. All of a sudden, that ad today became the centerpiece of political discussion."

    Reporter John Cochran began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The Bush campaign took a new turn today, a negative turn, giving the go ahead to an ad attacking Al Gore as a hypocrite."
    Clip of woman's voice as announcer in the ad: "Well, there's Al Gore, reinventing himself on television again, like I'm not gonna notice. Who's he gonna be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple or the one who now promises campaign finance reform?"
    Cochran asserted: "Until now, Bush has said he would avoid negative campaigning."
    George W. Bush on Tuesday: "If we want to get something done in Washington, we have to change the tone of the discourse."
    Cochran: "Today the Gore campaign was quick to jump all over that."
    Joseph Lieberman: "It seems to me today that Governor Bush has sadly changed his tune about changing the tone."
    Cochran continued: "The Gore campaign hopes Bush has also inadvertently changed his nice guy image, which has been a big plus for him. But with Gore doing well in the polls, Bush's aides felt they had to come up with a tough ad."
    Stuart Rothenberg, political analyst: "They've decided they had to do something, and they had to do something sooner rather than later."
    Cochran made sure viewers remembered how Bush played unfair with McCain: "Negative campaigning is nothing new for Governor Bush. That's what he turned to in February when John McCain got too close for comfort.
    Anti-McCain ad: "On taxes, McCain echoes Washington Democrats."
    Cochran warned in conclusion: "Attacking worked, but Bush was trying to win conservative Republicans then. Now Bush needs independents, swing voters, the ones who often say they hate negative campaigning. But the Bush campaign decided to take a chance, figuring that voters prefer a fighter to a punching bag."

    -- CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts announced: "Sixty-eight days now until America elects a new President. With George W. Bush trailing in the polls, the Republicans are unleashing an attack ad that openly mocks Al Gore. And as Correspondent Phil Jones reports, Democrats quickly returned fire."

    Phil Jones started by trying to show how the ad contradicted Bush's promises: "On the very day Governor Bush was talking clean politics to young people in Kentucky."
    George W. Bush: "Politics doesn't have to be ugly and mean. It doesn't have to be a system that downgrades people to try to lift somebody up."
    Jones: "He allowed the Republican National Committee to start running tomorrow the most negative direct attack yet on Vice President Gore."
    Clip of ad, woman's voice: "Well, there's Al Gore, reinventing himself on television again. Like I'm not gonna notice. Who's he gonna be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple or the one who now promises campaign finance reform?"
    Unlike ABC, CBS also showed viewers the part of the ad dealing with Gore's Internet boast as Jones noted: "And the 30-second ad ridicules Gore's claim about the Internet."
    Al Gore in the ad replay of Gore in a 1999 CNN interview: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
    Woman's voice in ad: "Yeah, and I invented the remote control, too."

    Jones picked up: "The Gore campaign immediately seized on the ad."
    Joseph Lieberman: "Governor Bush's promise to change the tone of American politics has run into the reality of a troubled Bush-Cheney campaign."
    Jones then pointed out: "Those words from the same Senator Lieberman who in a 1997 hearing lectured three nuns who were involved in the Buddhist temple fundraiser that Gore attended."
    Lieberman at the time: "This testimony today, I must say, I've found in large part very perplexing and troubling."
    Jones also showed how Gore took a shot a Bush earlier this week: "This has turned into the nastiest week of the campaign. Vice President Gore has gotten in Bush's face for not having a detailed prescription drug plan."
    Gore: "It's kind of put up or shut up time"
    Jones: "And Bush has responded in kind."
    Bush: "It just doesn't sound very presidential to me."
    Jones concluded: "The Republican ad comes at a time when Governor Bush has dropped in the polls and when he's struggling to get off the defensive. Democrats had planned to release their own new ad attacking Bush's record in Texas, but now they've decided to hold off, hoping the Republican ad backfires on Bush."

    Much of the media will do what they can. "RNC Gets Really Nasty: Attacks Gore's 'Reinventions' Of Himself Over The Years," declared the headline over an August 31-posted CBS News Web site analysis of the ad. To read it, go to:

    -- CNN. Bernard Shaw opened Inside Politics by showing the supposed contradiction between Bush's words and deeds: "Just a few hours ago, George W. Bush told Kentucky voters that, quote, 'politics doesn't have to be ugly and mean.' At about the same time, the Republican National Committee was unveiling its new ad attacking Al Gore and his credibility. Our Brooks Jackson has more on the spot due to begin airing tomorrow, including its tone and whether it's truthful."

    Brook Jackson played most of the ad and then went through it to check its truthfulness. On the line, "the Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple?", Jackson quibbled: "Well, to be perfectly accurate, Gore himself never asked for money at the Hsi Lai Temple during that 1996 event. But Gore's friend, Maria Hsia, was later convicted of campaign finance violations relating to $60,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee. And Gore does split hairs by insisting that it was a finance-related event and not a fundraiser. Altogether embarrassing."

    Jackson replayed the other half of the ad. Ad announcer: "Al Gore, claiming credit for things he didn't even do." Gore in interview clip from the ad: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
    Jackson: "Wait, play that again."
    Gore clip a second time: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

    Jackson then corrected a non-error: "Gore never said he invented the Internet, as he's widely misquoted, and, in fact, he did push government support for computer networking as far back as 1986, and he's widely credited with coining the term 'information superhighway.' But he's still taken a ribbing for saying he took 'the initiative,' when his contribution was one of many."

    Actually, Gore in the 1980s pressed for a government-run, non-commercial Internet system, hardly the free-flowing and dynamic commercial opportunities presented by the graphical World Wide Web.

    Later on The World Today, after a solid piece by Candy Crowley which featured a soundbite from Karen Hughes about how Gore has already gone negative, anchor Wolf Blitzer also felt obligated to correct the non-error: "In the interview I conducted with Gore that was used in the ad he said quote, he 'took the initiative in creating the Internet,' not inventing it." Blitzer added: "By the way, CNN has registered a protest with the Republican National Committee for unauthorized use of that Late Edition/Prime Time interview. It's CNN's policy that its video not be used for political purposes."

    You can't win with CNN. You use their clip of Gore so you present an accurate depiction of what he really said and they still confuse viewers by correcting your non-error and then complain about how you used their video in your attempt to not mislead.

    To see a RealPlayer excerpt of Gore's March 1999 Internet comment to Blitzer in full context, and to see how the outlandish claim did not faze Blitzer, go to:


NBC skipped the ad Thursday night and actually came to Bush's defense on the decline of the military. In an "In Depth" segment on NBC Nightly News, David Gregory reviewed the claims and counter-claims of Bush-Cheney and Gore. He concluded:
    "Tonight, both the Gore campaign and the administration say Bush's attacks demonstrate he doesn't truly understand what's happening in the world and is not prepared to be commander in chief."

    But in a second piece, Jim Miklaszewski explored the accuracy of Bush's concerns: "After a decade of fighting regional wars in places like Iraq and Kosovo, while at the same time suffering steady cutbacks in its budget, senior military officials say there's no question the U.S. armed forces are in a state of decline. But how bad is it and does it mean the military is not ready to fight? No, the Pentagon's latest report on readiness, released today, reveals that 'most major combat forces are ready, but 'there are some shortfalls' raising questions about whether U.S. forces can meets America's national military strategy."

    Miklaszewski targeted the Air Force as the least prepared, noting how only 67 percent of fighter jets are operable. He concluded: "So while Governor Bush is essentially correct the military is in decline, the Pentagon insists it is ready to fight today's wars while both candidates -- Gore and Bush -- promise to spend even more to meet any future threats."


President Clinton's veto of the estate tax cut went unmentioned Thursday night by CBS and NBC and ABC relayed only Clinton's spin about how it would "help only the richest two percent." But FNC's Jim Angle alerted viewers to how all the Democratic Congressmen from Tennessee voted for the bill, even the keynoter at the Democratic convention.

    On ABC's World News Tonight, Charles Gibson relayed: "At the White House today, what happens when a Democratic President vetoes a tax cut in an election year? Bill Clinton did just that today when he rejected a bill that would have repealed the federal tax on money inherited when someone dies. He said the tax would help only the richest two percent of people in this country."

    Wrapping up his piece on Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Jim Angle informed substitute anchor Tony Snow: "You had a number of Democrats who voted in favor of this, including the entire Tennessee delegation, including all of the Democrats, including Harold Ford Jr., who was a keynote speaker at the Democratic convention."


Bryant Gumbel this week challenged Henry Kissinger to disprove charges in a new book that Richard Nixon beat his wife, but eleven years ago Gumbel condemned an author for daring to write about Martin Luther King's womanizing. He argued then: "When the truth collides with a legend, print the legend."

    On Thursday the MRC distributed a Media Reality Check, "Nixon, the Wife Abuser and Drug Addict? Networks Promote Anti-Nixon Author As Credible, But They Dismissed Anti-Clinton Authors." In it, the MRC's Tim Graham showed how the networks this week eagerly promoted the new book, The Arrogance of Power by Anthony Summers, but had refused to give such air time to anti-Clinton books, such as Gary Aldrich's or the book earlier this summer which quoted Hillary Clinton as once calling someone a "fucking Jew bastard."

    Referring to the August 28 show, Graham wrote in the latest Media Reality Check: "The Early Show put the worst charges on screen in capital letters." On screen:

    The Media Reality Check continued: "John Roberts interviewed John Dean (who was supportive of the book) and Bryant Gumbel interviewed Henry Kissinger. Gumbel asked of the wife-beating charge: 'If it's impossible, how do you account for such a wide variety of charges from so many people over so many different years?' He asked: 'What about claims that he had a drinking problem and on more than one occasion ordered bombing missions while intoxicated?' Gumbel placed no responsibility on the author to prove his charges. He only forced Kissinger to rebut them."

    Now compare that to how Gumbel reacted on NBC's Today back in 1989 to a book which took on the pure image of a Gumbel hero, as recounted in the November 1989 MediaWatch, an MRC newsletter:

GUMBEL'S FUMBLE. NBC's Today co-host Bryant Gumbel, in the Dan Rather tradition of respectful interviewing, recently assaulted Rev. Ralph Abernathy for his new book, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. Attempting to downplay Abernathy's revelations of Martin Luther King's sexual adventures, Gumbel first taped, but never used, an Abernathy interview without once discussing the sex controversy. Then, after black leaders began renouncing Abernathy as the 'Judas' of the movement, Gumbel conducted a live interview on the October 17 show which focused entirely on those four pages. He repeatedly tried to get Abernathy to renounce or apologize for his accounts, running over the next two planned segments in order to get enough time to continue his line of questioning.

When Abernathy noted that King's exploits were "common knowledge," Gumbel retorted, "It would better stated, perhaps, to say that it was common accusation." He claimed that those pages "just as easily could have been left out...one could argue that your writings prove nothing." Abernathy explained that he included the unflattering sections because, "our Bible tells us very, very clearly, 'he shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'...I was trying to tell the true story that would not diminish the authenticity of my book." Gumbel chose instead to quote a movie line:
"When the truth collides with a legend, print the legend." When Abernathy criticized his detractors, such as Jesse Jackson, Gumbel sputtered incredulously, "I don't think I'm hearing all this." Gumbel's hearing likely would have been fine had Abernathy fed him the traditional liberal "civil rights" fare.

    END Reprint

    To read the August 31 Media Reality Check, go to:


NBC News, at Geraldo's service. Thursday morning on Today Geraldo Rivera came aboard to promote his Sunday night NBC News special on the death penalty and it soon became clear it will not provide a balanced presentation but a platform for Geraldo's latest liberal crusade. Matt Lauer also asked him about rumors he may run for Mayor of New York City. Geraldo confirmed he is "seriously" looking at the possibility because Rudy Giuliani's "policies have exacerbated a feeling where minority mothers worry now about their children being hurt by the cops."

    Lauer prompted Geraldo to plug his special, Geraldo Rivera Reports: Deadly Justice, which will run at 7pm ET/PT Sunday night on NBC. Rivera's reply, which MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down, proved NBC News does not hold Rivera to any journalistic standard for balance:
    "The emotion has always been over the moral debate. Whether or not it was moral for the state to take a life, no matter how vicious the crime or how horrific the criminal. But this is no longer a debate over an eye for an eye. This is a debate over the competence of the legal justice system itself. Too often, this is the condemned are defined by their race and by their class. Too often, we have found many, many examples where people have been condemned to die because of inadequate representation of counsel, because they were convicted based on the basis of the testimony of jailhouse snitches, confessions coerced by torture. And it's, it's the kind of situation where now we wonder, are we truly executing the guilty or the innocent?"
    Lauer: "So what we're saying is here's the ultimate penalty that society can hand down and because we have flawed human beings involved in the system and sometimes a flawed system itself it could be a flawed penalty."
    Rivera: "We are always talking about the incompetence of the government when it comes to picking up the garbage or filling out income tax. Why should the government administer and apply the death penalty any better than it does anything else?"
    Lauer: "Well you'd hope they would. I mean you think they'd pay more attention to that."
    Rivera: "Well I don't believe that's the case. In the state of Illinois for example, more condemned prisoners have been exonerated than have been executed. It is an appalling situation and we have to take a timeout. We have to see that this system is working and working foolproof."
    After a clip from the special, Lauer raised the presidential campaign: "No state has executed more people than Texas. Governor Bush obviously running for President. How much impact do you think it's gonna have on the presidential race."
    Rivera initially demurred, but soon criticized Texas policy: "I don't know. And I don't want it to be about politics. I think Democrats and Republicans both play the death penalty game. Bill Clinton in 1992 went back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a mentally retarded person. So Bush isn't alone. But Huntsville, Texas is by far the busiest death chamber in the modern world, you know, it's almost a 150 people under George Bush's regime. If they don't think they need a timeout, I think they have to reassess their thinking."

    Of course, while Rivera and the media are condemning Bush this year, in 1992 Clinton went unscathed by reporters over the case referred to by Rivera. Check out the MRC's June 23 Media Reality Check, "Gary Graham vs. Ricky Ray Rector: Networks Gave 30 Stories to Texas Capital Case vs. Two for 1992 Arkansas Execution." Go to:

    Prompted by Lauer to explain stories about how he might run for Mayor of New York City in 2001, Rivera answered:
    "You know it's a dream I've had, a real dream I've had, another dream. This is something since I was a child really. You know being from a Puerto Rican-Jewish background growing up, being born in New York City. You know this is a city that' has suffered terrible ethnic and racial divisions over the last eight, twelve years. And I think that the Mayor, he may be a good man, but his policies have exacerbated a feeling where minority mothers worry now about their children being hurt by the-"
    Lauer: "This sounds like a stump speech here."
    Rivera: "-hurt by the cops more than the crooks."
    Lauer: "I mean are you taking this seriously?"
    Rivera: "I'm taking, I am taking the exploration, the possibility of doing it seriously. I have a great job at NBC News, I don't want to do anything to put that in peril. But I think that the city needs someone from the outside. I'd be an independent. I wouldn't be a Republican or a Democrat. I would finance the campaign myself if I choose, choose to do this. And my whole campaign would be to bring the city back together. We're one city, we're one people. We're not the black and the brown and the white. We're New Yorkers, we've been in this together from the beginning. Let's bring it, let's heal the divide."

    Not a Democrat? Maybe not officially, but in his heart. On CNBC the Monday after the Democratic convention, Rivera yearned for a third Clinton term. Over a clip of Bill Clinton walking down the hall alone to give his convention speech, Rivera hummed the theme from Rocky as he insisted: "You're gonna miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not gonna miss this guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue but he is an artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm gonna miss the guy."

    Geraldo added on the August 21 show that Bill Clinton "should've been vice presidential candidate."

    Not sure why Rivera would fear that actually running for office would put his NBC job "in peril." He's been using CNBC and NBC News as left-wing platforms for years. -- Brent Baker


     >>> Support the MRC, an educational foundation dependent upon contributions which make CyberAlert possible, by providing a tax-deductible donation. Use the secure donations page set up for CyberAlert readers and subscribers:

     >>>To subscribe to CyberAlert, send a blank e-mail to: mrccyberalert-subscribe
. Or, you can go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters. Either way you will receive a confirmation message titled: "RESPONSE REQUIRED: Confirm your subscription to mrccyberalert@topica.com." After you reply, either by going to the listed Web page link or by simply hitting reply, you will receive a message confirming that you have been added to the MRC CyberAlert list. If you confirm by using the Web page link you will be given a chance to "register" with Topica. You DO NOT have to do this; at that point you are already subscribed to CyberAlert.
     To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to: cybercomment@mrc.org.
     Send problems and comments to: cybercomment@mrc.org.

     >>>You can learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: cybercomment@mrc.org. Or, go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters.<<<


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314