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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday September 11, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 161) |

Cheney Hit at Emmy Awards; Clymer on Bush; Cheney = Bull Connor?; Ban SUVs

1) During the Emmy Awards, of the presidential tickets, only Dick Cheney was hit with a biting joke. A look back at the political agenda of best drama winner The West Wing, as chronicled in past CyberAlerts.

2) Best Line of the Weekend: Cal Thomas's advice to George W. Bush: "He should have said it was unfair to just single out one reporter: 'I think all of you guys are this.'"

3) Adam Clymer revealed his take on George Bush's insult of him: "Using bad language while promising to restore dignity to the White House is a contradiction."

4) Equating it with how Mississippi once had "whites-only toilets," Time columnist and reporter Margaret Carlson took Dick Cheney to task for how his former employer provides separate restroom facilities abroad for U.S. and local employees.

5) In featuring Colin L. Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, the New York Times reported Bush showcased "two of the most prominent figures of his father's administration." But with Robert Rubin, Al Gore tied himself to "the administration's economic superstar."

6) Mystery of Bill Clinton's career: "Why should a centrist politician, whose first instinct is to try to get along with everyone, inspire such hostility?" Baffling to the Washington Post.

7) Time's Margaret Carlson blamed the Firestone tire blowouts on Reagan budget cuts; Al Hunt gratuitously demanded of those who back tort reform, "I hope they'll tell that" to families of those killed by the tires; Evan Thomas called for SUVs to be banned.

8) Geraldo Rivera "spoke passionately about uniting the city and pushing mostly liberal causes" during a restaurant sit-down with Al Sharpton to explore Rivera's run for New York City Mayor.

9) Areola alert. A final note about see-through dresses at the Emmy Awards during the family hour.


Despite the domination of the Emmy Awards Sunday night by NBC's The West Wing, viewers of the awards broadcast on ABC only heard two presidential campaign jokes. Naturally, the biting one was aimed at the Republican ticket. Neither the name Bush or Gore were uttered. (Emcee Garry Shandling did open the show with some anti-Bill Clinton barbs.)

    Presenting the award in the "variety or music program" category, Bill Maher, host of ABC's Politically Incorrect, walked out on stage in a tuxedo and cracked: "How you doing? Like the tux? It's a Dick Cheney. The pockets are lined."

    Later, Shandling referred to The West Wing, quipping: "I read for the part of Vice President. They said 'too Jewish.'"

    And speaking of The West Wing, now that it has won the Emmy for the best drama series, maybe there's some renewed interest in past CyberAlert critiques and excerpts from the Wednesday night show starring Martin Sheen as Democratic "President Josiah Bartlet." Below is a rundown of some West Wing plot lines from the past season, its first. Several of these articles feature RealPlayer clips of the political agenda promoted by the series.

    -- May 17 CyberAlert: The West Wing took a bizarre twist into very tolerant social liberalism with President Bartlet offering to order the Attorney General to help a prostitute, who just earned a law degree, gain admittance to the bar. Go to:

    -- May 10 CyberAlert: The show continued the campaign finance reform cause and added replacing "mandatory minimums" for drug convictions, which were repeatedly called "racist," with more funding for drug "treatment." Go to:

    -- May 3 CyberAlert: After some dialogue backing school vouchers, NBC's West Wing went left wing on campaign finance and gays in the military. Go to:

    -- March 22 CyberAlert: Left and Right West Wing. NBC's The West Wing delivered scenes linking census sampling opponents to the Constitution's definition of blacks as 3/5ths a person and aired a candid admission that liberals don't trust people to spend their money correctly. Go to:

    -- January 27 CyberAlert: NBC's liberal dream State of the Union. On The West Wing the President abandons "the era of big government is over" theme and agrees "government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind....an instrument of good." Go to:

    -- September 29, 1999 CyberAlert: In the premiere, viewers saw how the Hollywood Left views conservatives as the show concocted a preposterous plot and series of scenes which portrayed leaders of the Religious Right as anti-Semitic buffoons. The show culminated with an angry Democratic "President Josiah Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, indignantly telling ministers: "You can all get your fat asses out of my White House." Go to:

    The season finale repeats this Wednesday night at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT, with a dramatic shooting outside the Newseum in Rosslyn, Virginia. We have to wait until after the Olympics to see who lives and dies.

    But the new season will bring a conservative character, USA Today reported back on August 28 in an item I now have a hook to which to peg it. The "Inside TV" column reported:
    "Emily Procter (Body Shots, Guinevere) is joining the cast of NBC's The West Wing in a guest-starring role but may well become a permanent character. She'll play a conservative Republican added to the White House staff after sparring with Rob Lowe's character on a talk show. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan recently became a consultant to the series, so creator Aaron Sorkin may be hedging his bets for a possible Bush administration."

    Now that makes a lot of sense. A liberal Democratic President hires a conservative Republican for a policy position. And forget suggesting this matches Clinton hiring David Gergen. He was and is no conservative.


Best Line of the Weekend. In a segment on FNC's NewsWatch about George Bush calling New York Times reporter Adam Clymer "a major league asshole," syndicated columnist Cal Thomas suggested:
    "I think the real problem with Bush is that he singled out Adam Clymer. He should have said it was unfair to just single out one reporter: 'I think all of you guys are this.' That would have been much more accurate."


If the New York Times assigned Adam Clymer to report on George W. Bush's assessment of him, he'd adopt the liberal spin that the "asshole" comment picked up by a microphone contradicts his promise to "restore dignity to the White House."

    Clymer was a guest on CNN's Reliable Sources over the weekend. He claimed he voted for Bob Dole in 1996, though he didn't say why. Clymer also maintained:
    "If I could cover this story, which obviously I can't, I think probably using bad language while promising to restore dignity to the White House is a contradiction that he -- you know, that will hurt him in a tiny, modest way. And I don't think, I mean, you know, picking on reporters is either going to help him or hurt him."


Dick "Bull Connor" Cheney? Time columnist and reporter Margaret Carlson took Dick Cheney to task for how his former employer, Halliburton, provides separate restroom facilities abroad for U.S. and local employees. She equated the defense of the policy with how Mississippi once had "whites-only toilets."

    Carlson's overwrought blast came in her "Outrage of the Week" Saturday night on CNN's Capital Gang:
    "This week we learned that citizen Dick Cheney didn't vote in 14 of the last 16 state elections in Texas. His excuse? He was, quote, 'focused on global concerns.' Was part of his concern Halliburton's policy abroad of segregating bathrooms for Americans only? Halliburton's excuse was they were providing for, quote, 'cultural needs.' Didn't they say something like that in Mississippi in defense of whites-only toilets?"

    The restroom policy sounds quite reasonable, if Cheney even knew about it, when outlined in the context of preferred defecation positions, as the Washington Post did on Saturday. Reporter Edward Walsh explained:
    "The Cheney campaign referred questions about Halliburton to the company. The firm said in a statement that two former employees of Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary that works for the U.S. Army in Kosovo, had complained that it maintains separate bathrooms there for westerners and for Kosovo inhabitants.
    "'Brown & Root makes available the same basic style of portable toilet for all employees in Kosovo,' the Halliburton statement said. 'However, because the company recognizes the cultural differences in how each group uses the facilities [standing or sitting], the facilities are designated for use by either 'Western' or 'HCN' ['Host Country Nationals']. This practice is not an attempt to demean any employee, but rather, recognizes and provides for cultural needs.'
    "Halliburton spokesman Cindy Viktorin said that the company follows the same practice in a number of the 100 other countries where it operates, and that many other companies do the same. Cheney would not have known anything about the firm's overseas commode policies, she said. In any case, Viktorin added, 'we haven't had any complaints from the HCNs.'"


"Prominent" versus "superstar." Not the most glaring instance of bias, but a subtle one picked up from Friday's New York Times by MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey. Compare and contrast these September 8 descriptions of those brought along to bolster the two party nominees:

    -- From a story headlined, "Bush Planning a Tighter Focus on Real People," by Alison Mitchell:
    "Mr. Bush used the military analogy on a day when he campaigned with two of the most prominent figures of his father's administration, Colin L. Powell, the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and J. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded United States troops during the Persian Gulf war of 1991."

    -- From a piece headlined, "Gore Gets Powerful Help From Cabinet," by Katharine Q. Seelye:
    "At his side was Robert E. Rubin, who, as Mr. Clinton's former treasury secretary and one of the most respected figures who have played a role in the current prosperity, is regarded as the administration's economic superstar."


Bill Clinton breaks promises he makes in meetings and demonizes his opponents, turning policy disagreements into vendettas with lies -- recall Medicare and school lunch "cuts" -- yet the Washington Post wondered why would the "centrist" Clinton, "whose first instinct is to try to get along with everyone, inspire such hostility."

    The wonder of it.

    This formulation was delivered to readers on the seventh page of a Sunday Washington Post Magazine treatise, "His Final Run: Bill Clinton's Frenzied Bid for Redemption." Just after recounting how friends say "it is nearly impossible to overstate the sense of victimhood he feels," reporter John Harris relayed:
    "Clinton said his sense of grievance is abating, in part because of the spiritual counseling sessions he attends. And he is becoming philosophical about one of the abiding mysteries of his career: Why should a centrist politician, whose first instinct is to try to get along with everyone, inspire such hostility? 'It's not the dislike, it's the intensity factor,' says Blair, recalling the pattern established when Clinton was first elected in Arkansas. 'He does not understand it, and it has always bothered him.'" [Blair is Jim Blair of Hillary commodity futures fame.]

    It probably didn't help "to get along wit everyone" to blame Republicans for inspiring the Oklahoma City bombing.

    To read the entire article, go to:


Some more media bashing of Reagan prompted by the Firestone situation, along with some bashing of tort reform and SUVs. On weekend talk shows, Time's Margaret Carlson blamed the Firestone tire tread separations on Ford's Explorer SUV on Reagan cutbacks of the National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA); Al Hunt gratuitously demanded of those who back tort reform, "I hope they'll tell that" to the families of those killed by Firestone tires; and Evan Thomas declared SUV's "awful," insisting: "It amazes me that no one even contemplates getting rid of them."

    -- Time's Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang, September 9:
    "You know, it's not that the regulators were asleep, it's that the legs were cut out from the regulators. We went through that whole period, get government off our backs. Remember the competitive council? Let the corporations voluntarily regulate themselves and come up with safety standards, so that the Carter administration could come up with new standards for tires, the Reagan administration came in and cut them out, abolished them and cut the budget of that very agency that the Republicans are now criticizing by 50 percent. And it's never come back. It's never come back.
    "The standards aren't there, they don't have the enforcement personnel. So you're relying on Firestone and Ford to voluntarily, first of all, improve the safety and then report the defects. And they haven't done it, and 88 people are dead. Somebody should be charged with criminal negligence."

    -- Al Hunt, Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor, on the same Capital Gang: "I tell you something else this does. I hope those politicians who rant and rave about personal injury lawsuits and personal injury lawyers and all that, I hope they'll tell that to the family of people like Kelly Gilmore and people like Kathy Jackson who lost their lives or lost their legs because of this corporate misconduct."
    Bob Novak retorted: "That's no excuse for the trial lawyers becoming billionaires."

    -- Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, on Inside Washington shown on many PBS stations:
    "The larger point here is how awful SUVs are. It amazes me that no one even contemplates getting rid of them, in a serious way, getting rid of the things. They're gas guzzlers in a big way that are going to hurt us -- our long term dependence on foreign energy. They're very unsafe, they roll over. If you're in a small car they'll crunch you. Everything about them is bad, yet Americans gleefully buy them and nobody talks about banning them."

    Oh, the terrible price of freedom.


Geraldo Rivera "spoke passionately about uniting the city and pushing mostly liberal causes" during a restaurant sit-down with Al Sharpton to explore Rivera's run for New York City Mayor, "Rush & Molloy" relayed in a Friday New York Daily News item highlighted by Hotline and Jim Romensko's MediaNews.

    MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens first alerted me to this item in the September 8 Daily News:

Geraldo Rivera is getting serious about this City Hall thing. The talk-show host who would be mayor of New York says he's buying an upper East Side townhouse to satisfy the residency requirement. (He's lived in New Jersey for the past 10 years.)....

Wednesday night at Elaine's, he held his first debate. The topic was who'd be better at running New York, and his opponent was the Rev. Al Sharpton, his buddy....

Calling himself a "fusion candidate," Rivera promised to set aside $5 million of his own money to finance his potential run as an independent, adding that he would not run if Fernando Ferrero won the Democratic primary.

Rivera spoke passionately about uniting the city and pushing mostly liberal causes, such as ending racial profiling and police brutality.

He added that, if he does nothing more than register voters, especially Hispanics, he would have done something good, reports The News' Scott Shifrel.

At one point, Rivera's passion got the better of him as he accidentally spilled a glass of water onto Sharpton. "Hey, I'm the only one who does the baptizing around here," snapped the Rev....

"I'm not asking people to marry me," said Rivera, a reference to his three failed marriages, the latest of which is in the final stages of divorce. "You may not like me or you may love me, but everybody knows who I am."

    END Excerpt


Back to the Emmy Awards, an areola alert. Why did Halle Berry and Geena Davis bother with a dress? The ones they wore were quite obviously transparent and neither believes in undergarments. Davis, star of a new ABC sit-com, first appeared during ABC's 7pm ET/6pm CT pre-show, so ABC can no longer claim it hasn't displayed bare breasts in the family hour. Another barrier broken. -- Brent Baker


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