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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday September 12, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 162) |

Gore's Flip on FTC Not Recalled; Gore Ogled by Oprah; Lee "Witch Hunt" GOP's Fault; Clymer's Mischief Revealed

1) The networks highlighted how though Al Gore has benefitted from entertainment money, he endorsed an FTC study on how Hollywood is marketing adult-oriented fare to kids. But only FNC recalled: "Gore initially distanced himself from this study, telling potential Hollywood donors that he had nothing to do with it."

2) "Bush today road-tested his latest image and message make-over in a state that was supposed to be a big sure thing for him," Dan Rather intoned about Florida.

3) Al Gore's failure to give her a kiss on the lips disappointed Oprah, but she sure gave him a warm treatment with an adoring audience applauding his promises of more drug coverage and day care. Oprah played the "kiss" video twice, adding her own play-by-play: "Notice the hug, it's a full body pull me in...whoa baby."

4) "Republicans demanding action" led to "a government witch hunt" for Wen Ho Lee, NBC maintained. ABC made the case for anti-Chinese racism as the networks found culprits for the Wen Ho Lee fiasco.

5) Adam Clymer outed himself as the one who added this sentence -- "There may never have been a 'serious' candidate who needed it more" -- to a 1999 New York Times story on how George Bush was getting tutored by experts on national and foreign policy.

6) ABC and CBS on Monday morning, but not NBC, picked up on how U.S. Open champion Venus Williams pressed Bill Clinton about cutting taxes.

     >>> Now online, or actually online for a few days now, the September 7 MagazineWatch about the September 11 issues. The topics in the edition compiled by MRC analyst Paul Smith:
1. Newsweek and Time took Bush to task over his latest ad criticizing Al Gore's integrity. Jonathan Alter: "I'd like to see the Democrats attack Bush as a lightweight in hock to polluters. "Margaret Carlson: "Bush wails like a cheap car alarm over the most minor incursion -- and attacks at the same time."
2. U.S. News, contrary to the other news magazines, reported on two independent studies that support conservative arguments: one showing a significant media bias towards Gore following the conventions and one finding black students vastly improving test scores through school voucher programs.
3. Newsweek's "Wisdom" czar attacked Bush as untrustworthy and Cheney as an "option-holding fat cat" while still waxing poetic over Al and Tipper's mandible-mash: "the Kiss still lingers."
For the details, go to:
http://archive.mrc.org/magwatch/mag20000907.asp <<<

Correction. The September 11 CyberAlert referred to Bull "Conner." The MRC's Tom Johnson since informed me that should have read "Connor."


The FTC study on how movie, music and computer game producers market their adult-oriented fare to children, topped the ABC and CBS evening shows Monday night and NBC ran a full story after leading with the Wen Ho Lee case.

    All reported how Al Gore had picked up on the study and used it to suddenly demand accountability in Hollywood. "Al Gore jumped on this violence in entertainment report faster than a ninja warrior in a video game," Peter Jennings suggested. The networks also allowed George W. Bush to label Gore a hypocrite as reporters explained how much support Gore has received from Hollywood. But only FNC's Jim Angle reminded viewers of a fact not even mentioned on CNN's Inside Politics: A 1999 newspaper story disclosed "that Gore initially distanced himself from this study, telling potential Hollywood donors that he had nothing to do with it."

    Here's how the broadcast network Monday, September 11 evening shows handled the candidate reactions to the FTC report:

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Following the lead story on the FTC report findings, anchor Peter Jennings delivered the most colorful analogy: "In the presidential campaign today, Al Gore jumped on this violence in entertainment report faster than a ninja warrior in a video game. Clearly there is political milage to be had here. However, this week alone the Vice President is scheduled to attend three fundraisers headlined by prominent entertainers, which is exactly why Mr. Gore has been accused today of hypocrisy."

    Terry Moran showed Gore claiming "it's about protecting the children of this country" as he threatened regulation if producers don't improve within six months. Moran allowed a First Amendment attorney to argue Gore is simply "pandering" for votes as Moran later noted that Gore is popular with Hollywood and featured a clip of Bush asserting Gore has received $13 million from Hollywood. Moran concluded: "The Vice President has seized on the issue of violence in the media just as the battle to win over independent voters, especially women, is heating up. Gore's new position is tailor made for them."

    -- CBS Evening News. John Roberts handled the FTC report as well as candidate reaction. After an industry shill argued there's no need for regulation, Roberts observed, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
    "But regulation is exactly what Al Gore proposed on the campaign trail in Illinois today. He warned that if he were President the industry would have six months to clean up its act or else....The report's release just happened to be timed with Gore's appearance on Oprah, the perfect forum for an issue of interest to moms across the country."
    Gore on Oprah: "Well it's not about censorship, it's about citizenship."
    Roberts then arrived at the Bush counter-argument: "The Bush campaign today ridiculed the Vice President's sudden concern and reminded voters that Gore has taken plenty of money from the very industry he seeks to attack. That, says the Texas Governor, leaves a credibility gap."
    George W. Bush: "I think they've received about $13 million of campaign funding, and as I recall, there was a report last year that came out where he had an opportunity to stand up and take the same position but chose not to."
    Roberts concluded: "In Hollywood and Washington, no one really expects that there will be new laws to govern content. Just the pressure may be enough to lead industry to act. But with millions of concerned parents on the line, both candidates know this is a hot button issue they can take into November."

    -- NBC Nightly News. Lisa Myers provided NBC's story on the FTC study and she only allocated a few sentence to the candidate reaction: "Today, politicians of all sides tried to capitalize politically."
    Gore: "I call on these industries for an immediate cease-fire. Stop targeting advertising for adult material to young children."
    Myers: "However, Republicans challenge Gore's credibility. He's expected to raise $8 million this week alone from fundraising concerts featuring a who's who of the entertainment industry."

    -- FNC. Jim Angle on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume uniquely reminded viewers of how Gore had earlier disavowed any responsibility for the FTC's ongoing probe. Angle recalled:
"The Los Angles Times reported last year that Gore initially distanced himself from this study, telling potential Hollywood donors that he had nothing to do with it, that it was the President's idea. But now, he heartily embraces it."
    Gore: "If you entrust me with the presidency, I will address this matter...Parents need help."

    Indeed, an August 10, 1999 Los Angeles Times story by Marc Lacey began:
    "Al Gore was quick to join the chorus of politicians who, after the Colorado school shootings, decried Hollywood's role in desensitizing young people to violence. But when he huddled with industry executives last month at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, the Vice President was gushing with film friendliness.
    "At the private meeting with potential donors, Gore distanced himself from the federal inquiry into Hollywood's marketing of violent movies launched recently by President Clinton. Participants said Gore made clear that the government study -- disparaged by some in Hollywood as a witch hunt -- was the President's idea, not his, and was initiated without his input."


Bush's "latest image and message make-over" in Florida garnered some attention on Monday's CBS Evening News. Dan Rather announced, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Bush today road tested his latest image and message make-over in a state that was supposed to be a big sure thing for him but where Al Gore now at least appears to be highly competitive. It's Florida, where Bush's younger brother Jeb is Governor."

    Interspersed with clips of Bush talking to the elderly, Bill Whitaker reported: "At a critical time George W. Bush came to a critical state where he once was far ahead and where he desperately needs the elderly vote to win....Pushing his prescription drug plan and knocking Al Gore's to seniors in Clearwater....The new Bush slogan is 'Real Plans for Real People,' but it could be 'Less is More.' Bush strategists calculate he can win a close national election by narrowly targeting swing voters like the elderly and middle class women in a few swing states..."

    Whitaker continued: "This state, Florida, is now up for grabs when just two months ago is was solidly behind George W. Bush. And national polls show them swinging toward Al Gore, so Bush will spend the next two months fighting to pull them back hoping his education and tax plans will appeal to struggling middle class women."

    Whitaker concluded with some doubts: "The Bush folks are convinced it's a winning strategy, and so is the Gore campaign, which is targeting the same swing voters in the same key states."


"No kiss? I was hoping for something!" So rued Oprah Winfrey after Al Gore walked onto her Chicago set Monday morning at 9am CT and just gave her a peck on the cheek. But she, nonetheless, delivered a one-hour wet kiss to Gore. He couldn't have dreamed of a more adoring audience or host before which to appeal to Oprah's millions of viewers.

    Monday's show marked the first time Oprah has featured a presidential candidate, so there's nothing to which to compare her treatment of Al Gore, but with George W. Bush scheduled for Tuesday, September 12 we'll soon know if she offers him equally fawning treatment.

    The female-dominated Chicago audience loudly applauded Gore's proclamations of support for pre-school day care, tax cuts for mothers who stay home and defiant claim that senior citizens "should not have to choose between medicine and food."

    Late in the show Oprah posed a little quiz, asking about such weighty topics as what's his "favorite cereal" and 'favorite time of the year?'"

    Oprah maintained she wanted to avoid politics and explore Gore's values and what makes the "real man" tick. Naturally, she spent a long segment of the showing admiring his kiss of Tipper at the Democratic convention. Wrapping up the first segment of the program, she promised: "When we come back we'll break down more of that wall and go beyond Al Gore the politicians and get to Al Gore the man. And you know we have to talk about that kiss, we have to talk about the kiss."

    The bumper leading into the subsequent segment played the "kiss" scene and Oprah soon insisted: "For all the people who said that was fake, everybody knows that you cannot even get your jaw to move that way if you are not accustomed to doing it."

    But playing it once wasn't enough. Oprah ran it again, adding her own play-by-play: "Notice the hug, it's a full body pull me in, pull me in, whoa baby."

    Playing to the audience, Gore generated huge applause by pandering: "This was a great moment in our lives. I mean it's not as if I got there by myself. This has been a partnership and she is my soul mate."

    Plugging the next segment, Oprah asserted: "We'll talk to the Vice President about personal challenges he's faced as a father and as a husband."

    Later, Oprah gave Gore a little quiz:

    -- Favorite movie? Answer: "Local Hero."
    -- Favorite cereal? "Wheaties."
    -- Favorite book? "In addition to the Bible, everybody has to say that, maybe The Red and the Black."

    Of course, when some people say "the Bible," they actually mean it.

    End of tangential point, back to the scintillating quiz:

    -- Favorite subject in school? "Science."
    -- Favorite quote? "Bob Dylan, 'those who are not busy being born are busy dying.'"

    Especially if you're the victim of a partial-birth abortion the Gore-Lieberman team refuses to restrict in any way.

    End of second tangential point, back to the scintillating quiz:
    -- Favorite time of year? "Spring time."
    -- Favorite thing to sleep in? "A bed."
    -- Favorite musical group? "Beatles."
    -- Favorite childhood memory? "Playing baseball with my Dad."

    That answer prompted Oprah to ooze: "Nice."

    But it grew even sappier as Oprah proclaimed: "Coming up, between running for President and raising a family how the Gores stay connected to the spirit of their marriage."

    That plug preceded a vacuous three-minute video, with music, of Tipper and Al holding hands as they talked about falling in love and loving each other.

    Every network but NBC on Monday night noted Gore's Oprah appearance, but only FNC's Jim Angle, on Special Report with Brit Hume, corrected a Gore distortion. Angle played this soundbite from Gore to Oprah: "My number one proposal is to have high quality universal pre-school for every child, in every family, in every community."
    Angle admonished: "Actually, Gore's plan would cover only four-year-olds, not all pre-schoolers."

    +++ Watch a RealPlayer clip of Oprah gushing over Gore's convention kiss. Late Tuesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a bit of the Oprah show. Go to: http://www.mrc.org


"Republicans demanding action" led to "a government witch hunt" for Wen Ho Lee, NBC maintained and ABC made the case for anti-Chinese racism as the networks identified culprits for the Wen Ho Lee fiasco. The impending plea bargain for accused spy Wen Ho Lee, though delayed until a Wednesday hearing, generated full stories on all the networks Monday night about how the case had fallen apart. Federal prosecutors have apparently agreed to just one charge of improper handling of nuclear secrets.

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. In his afternoon e-mail plugging his show, an item brought to my attention by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, Peter Jennings claimed the detention of Lee had been "arbitrary." Jennings charged: "The case against Lee has been
reduced to a mere shadow of what the Justice Department had intimated. Washington so often castigates other nations for their arbitrary detention of suspected criminals; why was this man jailed as long as he was?"

    Of course, a federal judge was convinced at more than one hearing that holding Lee was appropriate and reasonable.

    Jennings set up the actual World News Tonight story by lamenting: "In New Mexico today the formal end to what many people in the country, certainly government, believe is a very sad chapter."

    Barry Serafin handled the story and featured soundbites from those who called the prosecution a "disgrace" and "scandalous," though Serafin also showed Senator Arlen Specter denouncing the "incompetence" of the Department of Justice.

    Next, Judy Muller took up the racism angle: "For the last year and a half the reaction of Asian-Americans to the case of Wen Ho Lee has been, in a word, outrage....Many in the Chinese-American community believe the Wen Ho Lee case uncovered institutionalized racism and they wonder why the rest of the country seems so apathetic."

    -- NBC Nightly News led with Wen Ho Lee as George Lewis ran through the details of the delayed plea deal and history of the case. Andrea Mitchell then asked, "The question tonight: How does Wen Ho Lee go from being a man prosecutors called quote 'an unprecedented security risk' who allegedly stole the crown jewel of America's nuclear secrets, to a free man, a symbol to many of a government witch hunt. Legal experts on espionage cases say it's classic example of prosecutors, under political pressure, overreaching to nail a suspect and singling out a Chinese-American."

    Mitchell soon identified the troublemakers -- Republicans who demanded accountability for illegal Democratic fundraising: "What was the political climate? Charges and counter-charges about Chinese espionage, illegal campaign contributions, more than a dozen congressional hearings, Republicans demanding action. But some senior law enforcement officials are still calling it a victory because they have won Lee's cooperation for what happened to any nuclear secrets in his files..."

    I guess it would be too much to ask that a reporter might mention Clinton administration incompetence in allowing such loose rules which led to the concern in the first place about nuclear information getting into the wrong hands.


In a Sunday "Week in Review" piece Adam Clymer, of "major league asshole" fame, outed himself as the one who added this sentence -- "There may never have been a 'serious' candidate who needed it more" -- to a 1999 New York Times story on how George Bush was getting tutored by experts on foreign policy and national issues he hadn't dealt with as a Governor.

    The revelation occurred in the 19th paragraph of a 20 paragraph September 10 piece titled, "A Bush-League Aside Vaults an Onlooker Into the Campaign's Glare."

    Clymer wrote: "Newspaper reporters aren't immune from talking into an open mike either. About 18 months ago, I was editing an article describing how hard Mr. Bush was working to study national issues. With feeble gallows humor, I suggested that perhaps he needed the tutorials more than others. But while my comparable slurs of President Clinton, to cite one prominent example, stayed private, a spectacular typesetting blunder got my wisecrack printed. Through an Editors' Note, The Times apologized, sort of."

    Quite a coincidence that only the Bush crack actually made it into print. Makes you wonder if there really have been any against Clinton.

    To read Clymer's entire piece, go to:

    The article from 18 months ago to which Clymer was referring was a March 15, 1999 story by Richard Berke and Rick Lyman, headlined: "Training for a Presidential Race."

    Here's how it began, with the miscreant sentence Clymer cleverly added marked by **:

He is the early favorite for the Republican Presidential nomination, but even Gov. George W. Bush of Texas concedes that his foreign policy experience goes no farther than Mexico. Kosovo? Not even on the radar screen. And he has never had to worry about the future of Social Security.

Rushing to fill in his blank slate on pressing issues of the day before the campaign swings into full gear, Mr. Bush has embarked on a cram course that could be titled "What you need to know to run for President."

After winning a second term last November, Mr. Bush began summoning dozens of the nation's brightest thinkers around a table in the Governor's Mansion for sober-minded tutorials. Politicians in both parties said they had never seen such a comprehensive and elaborate undertaking, particularly this early in a campaign. **There may never have been a "serious" candidate who needed it more.**

The endeavor is intended to counter what are widely seen as among Mr. Bush's biggest vulnerabilities: that he lacks experience beyond Texas and that he has not articulated a grand view of what he would do in the White House. It was no accident that in their announcement speeches last week, Elizabeth Dole and former Gov. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee emphasized their credentials on national issues....

    END Excerpt

    Four days later the New York Times ran an "Editors' Note." It read: "An article on Monday about the prospect of a presidential campaign by Gov. George W. Bush of Texas described a series of tutorials aimed at helping him study issues he would face. As published, the article included an opinionated sentence casting doubt on his mastery of those issues.
    "The sentence was sent as a message between editors after the article was written, and the reporters were never aware of it. The comment was typed in a nonprinting computer script, but converted into print through a command error."

    I guess that's an apology, "sort of," if you define an apology as something other than an apology.

    After I caught Clymer's buried admission and tracked down the March 1999 story, the MRC's Tim Graham informed me that Mickey Kaus had too and written about it on slate.com. To get his take, "Clymer Blows His Cover!", go to:


Venus Williams, tax cut advocate. The three morning shows on Monday featured taped interviews with Venus Williams, the women's champion of the U.S. Open, and both ABC and CBS, but not Al Roker on NBC's Today, asked her about her plea to President Clinton to cut her taxes.

    Sunday's Los Angles Times relayed part of the phone conversation between Williams and Clinton after she won Saturday night:

"Can you lower my taxes, please?"

Clinton, as politicians are known to do, tried to laugh off the issue, but Williams was relentless.

"So what can you do about it?" she asked.

"Not much, right now," Clinton responded.

"We're working on it."

He said he'd like to have a special exemption for athletes, all but placing the next question on a tee for Williams.

"Should I read your lips?" she asked.

    END Excerpt

    -- Good Morning America, September 11. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this exchange:
    Antonio Mora: "What did you say to him when he called you on the phone?"
    Williams: "I just asked him about lowering my taxes a little bit."
    Mora: "So what did he say when you told him he should lower your taxes?"
    Williams: "He said, 'What state do you live in?'"
    Mora: "He's throwing it on the state government."
    Williams: "Basically, he didn't cut me a deal."
    Mora: "He didn't cut you a deal, huh?"
    Williams: "No."

    -- CBS's The Early Show, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
    Jane Clayson: "I heard that you spoke to President Clinton on the phone after you won, and you had a conversation about your taxes-"
    Williams: "It's been tough, it's uh-"
    Clayson: "You wanted to know if he could do anything to help you out with your tax bracket now. That's a good thing, that's a good thing Venus."
    Williams: "I'm trying to help all Americans."

    Williams is lucky she escaped Bryant Gumbel who would have lectured her about being so greedy.-- Brent Baker


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