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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lieberman at the time: "This testimony today,
I must say, I've found in large part very perplexing and
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
Jones: "And Bush has responded in kind."
Bush: "It just doesn't sound very presidential
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.
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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:
"Former California Governor Pat Brown: WE GOT
WORD AT ONE STAGE OF THE  CAMPAIGN THAT HE KICKED THE HELL OUT
OF HER, HIT HER." And: "Reporter Bill Van Petten: Nixon BEAT
PAT SO BADLY...SO BADLY THAT SHE COULD NOT GO OUT THE NEXT DAY."
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
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.
To read the August
31 Media Reality Check, go to:
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."
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
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
Rivera: "-hurt by the cops more than the
Lauer: "I mean are you taking this
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
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
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