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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday September 6, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 157) |

Gore's Non-Negative Attack Ad; Rather Upbraided Bush; More of Clymer's Liberal Crusading -- Read today's Extra edition

1) ABC referred to the DNC's anti-Bush ad as "dirty work." CBS's Dan Rather hit both sides as he complained about how the campaign "is growing more negative," but NBC Nightly News, which tagged the RNC's anti-Gore ad as "negative," didn't use the term last night.

2) Dan Rather, who has yet apologize for suggesting that Bush operatives were behind a leak about the "Republican-backed special prosecutor," Tuesday night upbraided George W. Bush for not apologizing for the "meanness and nastiness" of the "gutter language" in his "personal attack" on a reporter.

3) CBS's David Martin learned an IG report found lack of training is hurting the Navy's ability, but Dan Rather didn't mention how the report supports the assessment made by Bush and Cheney.

4) CBS put anecdotes ahead of facts. Just before letting a liberal analyst assess both prescription plans, Bill Whitaker offered up an anecdote about the needs of an elderly couple: "In this house it's not a campaign issue, it's a matter of survival."

5) Only Fox News Channel bothered to look at whether Adam Clymer may have an anti-Bush bias. They highlighted some examples of his anti-conservative and pro-Ted Kennedy reporting. Investor's Business Daily caught Clymer referred to conservative Congressmen as "the turkeys who got elected in the '94 Gingrich sweep."

6) Dork, and proud of it. NBC's Lisa Myers found an undecided woman voter proud of her ignorance and inability to assess: "Quite frankly I'm going to be making my decision on November 6th."

     >>> Now online, thanks to the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul, the September 4 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "Gore Kiss: Way to Go, Sexy Man"; "Clancy Out of Touch...or Lauer?"; "Bush Tax Cut: Let's Repeat the Gore Press Release as 'News'"; "Kick the Killer Car Dealer"; "Post-Convention Liberal Guilt"; "Red Meat Right Wing Bush"; "How Could Al Be So Unlucky?" and "Geraldo's Premature Nostalgia."
    To read these quotes, go to:
    To view it as laid out in the hard copy version sent by snail mail, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:
    You'll need Acrobat 3.2 or newer to view it properly. To download a free copy of the latest version from Adobe, go to:
    You can also get it on a CD for $14.95. Go to:
http://www.adobe.com/store/products/reader.html <<<


ABC managed to refer to the DNC's new anti-Bush ad as "dirty work" and CBS's Dan Rather hit both sides as he complained about how the campaign "is growing more negative, punch and counter-punch, with use of attack ads increasing." But NBC Nightly News, which tagged the RNC ad against Gore released last week as "negative" and relayed how Gore's team called it a "personal attack," offered no such judgments last night.

    All three broadcast network evening shows opened Tuesday night with Bush's unveiling of his prescription drug plan and all three also relayed Gore's retort and clips of the DNC's new ad attacking Bush's record in Texas.

    Here's how each addressed the new DNC ad on Tuesday night, September 5:

    -- NBC Nightly News. The show opened with David Gregory's story on Bush's plan followed by Claire Shipman on Gore's reaction. Here, in total, is how she handled the ad:

    Shipman: "And a second line of attack on health care from the Democratic Party, a new ad released today questioning Bush's record."
    Ad announcer: "Texas ranks 49th out of 50 in providing health coverage to kids. It's so bad a federal judge just ruled Texas must take immediate corrective action."
    Shipman: "Gore aides insist today that his prescription drug plan is much more comprehensive..."

    Now compare that to how the same program assessed the RNC's ad last week. Anchor John Siegenthaler opened the September 1 NBC Nightly News by noting how a poll found Bush down ten points, so "the Republican Party is out with a new TV ad to try to turn those numbers around by going negative."

    David Gregory proclaimed: "Today, in the face of fresh evidence that Al Gore is widening his lead over Governor Bush as Labor Day approaches, the Republican Party goes on the offensive, unveiling an ad the Gore campaign labels a personal attack."
    Clip from RNC ad: "Who's he going to be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist Temple or the one who now promises campaign finance reform? Really."
    Gregory: "Bush advisers say the ad, which airs in 17 key states, is designed to remind voters of what they don't like about the vice president. Specifically, Bush says that Gore will say anything to get elected."
    Bush: "Well, I thought it was tongue-in-cheek. This ad came up after about $30 million in advertisements that have been attacking me and my record."
    Gregory: "Today, the Vice President in a conference call with reporters promises never to launch a personal attack, and his running mate tells NBC News."
    Senator Joe Lieberman: "I'm afraid that it's a response to the fact that the Bush-Cheney ticket has been having some trouble lately. But you know, that's when our values are tested."
    Gregory warned: "Some question the ad's timing, saying it makes Bush appear defensive after two weeks of missteps, aides admit, over issues like taxes and prescription drugs for seniors."

    -- ABC's World News Tonight, September 5. After Dean Reynolds summarized the Bush plan, Terry Moran explained how Gore claimed Bush would have no money left after his tax cuts to pay for the plan and that it would still leave half of seniors uncovered.

    Moran continued: "That was how the candidate responded, but the real dirty work against Bush was left to this Democratic Party TV ad which begins airing in nine battleground states this week."
    Ad announcer: "George W. Bush says he has a plan for children's health care, but why hasn't he done it in Texas?"
    Moran: "And which seeks to undermine the Texas Governor on the whole issue of health care by slamming what the Democrats say is his record in office."
    Ad announcer: "Texas failed to inform families of health coverage available to a million children. The Bush record, it's becoming an issue."

    -- CBS Evening News. Immediately after CBS's story on Bush's plan, anchor Dan Rather intoned: "The context of real and substantive differences between the Gore and Bush prescription drug plans also includes the overall tone of the campaign. It is growing more negative, punch and counter-punch, with use of attack ads increasing."

    John Roberts relayed Gore's response, then got to the ad: "Sensing an advantage on one of this fall's preeminent issues, Gore is hammering the Governor mercifully. He even approved the release today of an ad he'd held back, skewering the Governor's record on children's health care."
    Ad announcer: "It's so bad a federal judge just ruled Texas must take immediate corrective action."
    Roberts: "Until Labor Day, the traditional kick-off to the fall campaign, Gore was happy to let Bush do the attacking, hoping the Governor would look negative and desperate. The tone changed when Bush mocked Gore for retreating on his promise to debate anytime, anywhere."

    Roberts concluded with an upbeat spin for Gore: "Gore will take his substance over soundbites theme to a new level tomorrow when he lays out the specifics of his economic plan, hoping his command of the issues will dazzle voters and bury his opponent in detail."


Dan Rather, who has yet apologize for suggesting more than two weeks ago that Bush operatives were behind the leak that "Republican-backed special prosecutor" Robert Ray had empaneled a new grand jury, Tuesday night upbraided George W. Bush for not apologizing for the "meanness and nastiness" of the "gutter language" in his "personal attack" on New York Times reporter Adam Clymer.

    Just after the above quoted John Roberts piece concluded, Rather lectured:
    "On one bit of campaign meanness and nastiness in particular, George Bush now says he's sorry his gutter language and personal attack was picked up by a microphone at a campaign stop yesterday, but he refuses to apologize for the substance of his comment. Bush's remark was about Adam Clymer, a New York Times reporter whose coverage he doesn't like."
    Bush clip from Monday: "There's Adam Clymer, a major league [bleep]hole from the New York Times."
    Cheney: "Yeah, he is, big time."

    On screen, viewers saw this text simultaneously:
    Bush: "There's Adam Clymer, a major league ass**** from the New York Times."
    Cheney: "Yeah, he is, big time.

    Rather went on with his diatribe: "You may want to note there's a long history of politicians attacking the press and Bush did not apologize for what he said about the Times reporter. Reactions to Bush's comment included this one today from Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa [with ellipses as shown on screen]: 'It would be better if no person...spoke about others in that fashion.' By the way, several major newspapers today quoted the Bush comment directly [Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today logos on screen.]. The New York Times itself did not, saying only that Bush quote, 'used an obscenity to describe a New York Times correspondent.'"

    End of Rather's item, but once again Grassley demonstrated a lesson for any conservative: If you want to get quoted by the mainstream media, say something the media can use against another conservative. It would not surprise me, however, if Grassley's quote is out of context.

    Despite Rather's consternation over Bush's remark and suggestion that it's improper to not have apologized, Rather has yet to apologize for his false August 17 insinuations about Republicans and a grand jury leak. In fact, a judge appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter inadvertently leaked the development.

    On the August 17 CBS Evening News, in a formulation he repeated during CBS's prime time convention coverage, Rather intoned:
    "Timing is everything. Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. And now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton. The story is that Republican-backed special prosecutor Robert Ray, Ken Starr's successor, has a new grand jury looking into possible criminal charges against the president growing out of Mr. Clinton's sex life. CBS' Jim Stewart in Washington has that story and the context."

    In prime time and on the Evening News Gloria Borger then passed along the Gore spin with a warning about Ken Starr: "One top Gore adviser portrayed it as what he called a quote 'grand Republican strategy to tie Al Gore to President Clinton.'" She added: "The hope of the Gore campaign is that this leak will fire up their troops and backfire against the Republicans. How? By tying George W. Bush to Kenneth Starr."

    The CBS News Web site featured Dan Rather's Thursday "Notebook" essay titled "Low-Road Politics: Clinton Grand Jury Leak Carefully Orchestrated"

    Part of his diatribe:
For all the talk by both parties and major candidates about keeping this presidential campaign on the high road, it seems low-road politics remain very much in fashion. Once again, we are reminded that with politicians, especially, you need to watch their feet as you listen to their words.

All of which comes to mind in light of the leak revealing that Ken Starr's successor, Independent Counsel Robert Ray, has empaneled a new grand jury to look at evidence that President Clinton broke the law while giving testimony on his relationship with Monica Lewinsky in the Paula Jones lawsuit.

You don't have to be a cynic to note that this has all the earmarks of a carefully orchestrated, politically motivated leak. The Republican-backed Robert Ray is sponsored by a three-judge panel that must periodically decide whether Ray's investigation should continue. This panel features two federal judges backed by the Jesse Helms wing of the Republican Party.

Any reporter who's spent time on the police beat learns to look for motive. So you ask yourself -- what group has the motive to see that such a leak would occur at such a time, hours before Gore is set to accept his party's nomination in the most important speech of his political life?

None of which is to say that George W. Bush is behind the leak, directly or indirectly. We certainly have no information that he is. But candidates themselves hardly ever are, as their hands must remain clean and their deniability plausible. (You may want to review some of the more unpleasant tactics used by Bush backers against John McCain in South Carolina earlier this year.)....

    END Excerpt

    The day after this reporting Rather went on vacation for two weeks. Tuesday night was his first night back, so now he has no excuse to not issue an apology for his flawed reporting which falsely impugned reputations.

    +++ Watch Rather upbraid Bush. An hour after this e-mail is sent, MRC Web master Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of Rather's harangue. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


Later in Tuesday's CBS Evening News Rather introduced a David Martin exclusive on how a Navy Inspector General's report found Navy aviators miss their targets at a high rate because of a lack of training, but Rather didn't mention which presidential candidate this fact supports: "There is no disputing that the U.S. military is by far the most powerful force on Earth, but there are new questions tonight about how well members of the military are being trained and prepared for combat."

    David Martin also never uttered the names Bush or Cheney.


ABC and NBC Tuesday night pretty much stuck to the Bush and Gore claims about each other's prescription drug plans, but CBS loaded up its story with a standard anecdote about a desperate elderly couple.

    Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News: "Sixty-three days now until the United States elects a new President. With health care one of the top concerns of voters and under attack for being too slow and vague, Republican George Bush today at last gave details of his plan for shoring up Medicare and for helping older Americans pay for prescription drugs. The Gore camp immediately branded it too little too late and quote 'inadequate.'"

    Bill Whitaker asserted: "....While Al Gore proposes an expanding government plan, Bush turns to the private sector. In this house it's not a campaign issue, it's a matter of survival.
    David Welch, elderly man: "We need help from somebody."
    Esther Welch, elderly woman: "Somebody better help us."
    Whitaker: "Esther and David Welch spend more than $300, almost 20 percent of their income each month on prescription drugs for his high blood pressure, for her cancer treatment."
    David: "If it continues at this rate, nobody will be able to afford medication."

    If ever-expanding government services continue at this rate without any challenge from the media, it's taxpayers who won't be able to afford anything.

    Whitaker then had a liberal analyst, naturally unlabeled, assess both plans: "One analyst says the basic difference between the two plans: Gore's offers people like the Welch's few choices but is likely to keep prices lower, the Bush plan:"
    Marilyn Moon, Urban Institute: "That sounds pretty good in terms of it allow people to have choice, but the problem is that it makes the prescription drug option very expensive and potentially prohibitively expensive over time."
    Whitaker concluded: "Now voters have a real choice, but no matter who wins it seems America's seniors could finally get some relief from spiraling prescription drug cost."

    Marilyn Moon sure is popular with the networks. She was also the only expert quoted by NBC's David Gregory: "Critics of the Bush approach say seniors choosing private plans for prescriptions could actually end up paying more than they do now."
    Marilyn Moon, Urban Institute: "If you cover the sickest folks, because they're the ones who sign up for the high-option plans, it's going to be a very expensive benefit and it's going to rise rapidly in costs over time."


While Dan Rather scolded Bush over his "Major league asshole" assessment of New York Times reporter Adam Clymer and the other networks looked at the political implications of the comment, only Fox News Channel bothered to consider if Clymer may have an anti-Bush or anti-conservative bias. FNC highlighted some examples of biased reporting.

    Today's Investor's Business Daily also features an editorial recounting how at a panel discussion just on Saturday Clymer referred to vulnerable Republican Congressmen as "the turkeys who got elected in the '94 Gingrich sweep." Clymer, who has praised Ted Kennedy in reporting and in a gushing book, also took a shot at how GOP Congressman Phil Crane "has finally dried out."

    On Special Report with Brit Hume Tuesday night Carl Cameron recounted an April New York Times story by Clymer, which began:
    "Texas has had one of the nation's worst public health records for decades. More than a quarter of its residents have no health insurance. Its Mexican border is a hotbed of contagion. The state ranks near the top in the nation in rates of AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis and teenage pregnancy, and near the bottom in immunizations, mammograms and access to physicians.
    "But since George W. Bush became governor in 1995, he has not made health a priority, his aides acknowledge. He has never made a speech on the subject, his press office says."

    That April 11 story was among a few linked by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews on Tuesday (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) To read it, go to:

    Romenesko also provided a link to Clymer's story from last August on Bush and past drug use:

    And to Clymer's piece claiming Bush's ad on prescription drugs had "zero" accuracy:

    Back to FNC, Brit Hume later pointed out:
    "Apart from his reporting on the George W. Bush campaign, New York Times reporter Adam Clymer may be best known for his quite favorable biography of Sen. Edward Kennedy. In it Clymer said Kennedy's quote, 'achievements have towered over his time,' and he said that Kennedy quote, 'deserves recognition not just as the leading Senator of his time, but also as one of the greats in the history of this singular institution.'"

    John Berlau of Investor's Business Daily alerted me to an editorial he researched for today's Investor's Business Daily. It's based what he heard Clymer and other New York Times reporters say on Saturday at a forum held at the American Political Science Association's convention in Washington.

    Here's an excerpt from the September 6 editorial:

George Bush's vulgar remark about Adam Clymer, political reporter for The New York Times, has roiled the pundit class into its usual self-righteous frenzy. But intemperate as Bush's name-calling might have been, it's understandable....

The panel started with political reporter Richard Berke, who talked about Al Gore's recent surge in the polls. Berke said right now it was hard to tell if Gore would win, and then said that later on "I think I'll be more confident." Berke paused, and then quickly added, "for him."

But Berke's colleague Clymer showed no such restraint. He referred to vulnerable Republican Congress members as "the turkeys who got elected in the '94 Gingrich sweep." This is objective analysis? Then Clymer, in praising moderate Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., took a left-handed jab at Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and long a demon to the elite press. "On a committee headed by Jesse Helms, he's (Lugar) the soundest voice on foreign policy.".... [I]t was Clymer who went the furthest. He showed not only bias but a lack of taste. On Rep. Phil Crane, R-Ill., who revealed he was seeking treatment for alcoholism, Clymer made this snide remark: "I've heard that Crane has finally dried out."

This from a man who wrote a fawning biography of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., whose thirst is legendary in Washington circles. But not only was alcoholism fair game for Clymer. So was gall-bladder surgery. "Pat Buchanan just had his gall bladder removed, so Pat Buchanan without bile will be interesting," Clymer smirked.

Clymer's bias is clear to others.

"Certainly I detected more criticism (at the forum) of Republicans and conservatives than of Democrats, at least on the part of Clymer," said David Conradt, a professor of political science at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. "And I'm a Democrat," he added.

The New Republic Contributing Editor Mickey Kaus, not a raging right-winger, had this to say in his Sept. 4 online column: "Clymer maintains a veneer of objectivity by using sympathetic experts to make his point, but like the NYT's R.W. Apple he seems so convinced that all civilized men would agree with him that he doesn't really bother to hide his viewpoint."

Neither did Bush. But, given Clymer's open contempt for Republicans, Bush's reaction is easy to see.

    END Excerpt

    For the whole editorial, pick up a copy of today's IBD. Their Web address, which does not include editorials:


Dork, and proud of it. On the September 5 NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers explored how a mere one million undecided voters in ten battleground states will determine the winner of the presidential race. At one point Myers showed an example, a middle-aged woman in Ohio, noting: "Many undecideds, like Kelly Mooney, who saw Gore speak at her company today, pride themselves on being a tough sell."
    Mooney proudly boasted: "And quite frankly I'm going to be making my decision on November 6th."

    There you have it. People who are proud that they can't figure out who would be a better President are the ones who will decide who becomes President. A depressing thought. -- Brent Baker


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