Not Knocked on "Nudge"; Gore Gaffe Delay; CBS Pounced on "Racist" Pro-GOP Ad; Focused on Whitewater Probe Costs & Timing
-- Extra Edition
1) Days after promising to use
federal power to crack down on the entertainment industry, at a Hollywood
fundraiser Al Gore and Joe Lieberman promised to only "nudge" them.
ABC, CBS and NBC ignored the hypocrisy as ABC focused on the popularity of
2) Two days after the disclosure that Al Gore fabricated an
anecdote about how a drug costs more for his mother-in-law than for his dog,
the CBS Evening News became the first broadcast network show to touch the
gaffe. Gore "was almost under assault" over the issue, MSNBC noted,
but the media didn't pounce.
3) CNN and FNC, but not the broadcast networks or MSNBC,
showed how Al Gore sang a union lullaby he heard "as a child," but
pointed out the slogan wasn't created until 1975 when he was 27.
4) CBS jumped on a pro-GOP independent ad in Missouri that
liberals say is racist because, over video of a white teen pulling out a gun,
it complains about too much "diversity" in schools. But two years
ago CBS failed to utter a word about an official Missouri Democratic Party
radio ad which claimed voting Republican would lead to more church and cross
5) NBC's Tom Brokaw rued: Whitewater "may never die in
the hearts and minds of hard-core Clinton-bashers." ABC and CBS worried
about the length, cost and pre-election timing of the Whitewater report. CNN,
FNC and NBC noted how Ray blamed Clinton for delays.
6) "With winter coming," a 72-year-old woman
"fears having to cut back on medicine and food to pay for oil." But
ABC's anecdote wasn't aimed at heartless conservatives.
reports Wednesday revealed how Al Gore and Joe Lieberman kissed up to the
Hollywood elite at a Monday night fundraiser, promising to only
"nudge" them, days after publicly rebuking the industry and
threatening a legal crackdown. Both FNC and CNN picked up Wednesday on
George Bush and Dick Cheney's criticism of the hypocrisy, but not the
broadcast networks Wednesday morning or evening. (As noted in the
September 18 CyberAlert, last Friday morning ABC and CBS picked up on
Gore-Lieberman hypocrisy over Hollywood and on September 13 NBC Nightly
News addressed it, but ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News
have yet to focus on it.)
Instead, Wednesday night ABC plugged the
effectiveness of Gore's business-bashing: "Anti-big business
rhetoric may play particularly well this season. Endless airline delays,
sky high electric bills, and the massive tire recall have corporate
America on the ropes."
In a story in the September 20 Washington Post, Mike
Allen reported from Beverly Hills:
Gore and his running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, sought to
placate the entertainment industry at a $4.2 million fundraising dinner
held a week after the ticket excoriated Hollywood for marketing raunchy
products to teenagers.
"'Al and I
have a tremendous regard for this industry,' Lieberman said late Monday
to an audience that had contributed $10,000
a couple to the Democratic National Committee. 'We're both fans of the
products out of the entertainment industry -- not all of them, but a lot
of them. And the industry has entertained and inspired and educated us
over the years.'"
Allen later quoted Lieberman: "'It's true
from time to time we have been, will be critics -- or nudges -- but I
promise you this: We will never put the government in the position of
telling you by law, through law, what to make,' Lieberman said. 'We
will nudge you, but will never become censors.'"
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings introduced
the show's campaign story of the day: "ABC's Betsy Stark has been
looking at this question of Al Gore identifying himself with the little
people against big business."
business is a favorite target of the Gore campaign. Before the
Al Gore: "The
big polluters, the big drug companies, the HMOs."
Stark: "At the
tobacco, big oil-"
since the convention:"
telling you, it is time to take 'em on-"
Stark gave ammunition to Gore's cause, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The Vice President has
hammered American industry. Americans are historically suspicious of big
companies. An ABC News poll finds that 63 percent think large corporations
have too much power. And anti-big business rhetoric may play particularly
well this season. Endless airline delays, sky high electric bills, and the
massive tire recall have corporate America on the ropes. The Gore campaign
says the Vice President is not targeting corporate America. He's
targeting specific industries. He's not anti-business, he's
Citing their support for NAFTA, China trade and a
ban on Internet taxation Stark declared: "Gore and his running mate
actually have solid pro-business records."
Stark then picked up on concerns from the business
community: "But business groups comforted by that record in the past
say all voters are hearing now is anti-business rhetoric, and it's
Bruce Josten, US
Chamber of Commerce: "I think you get pretty close to pitting workers
against employers with that kind of rhetoric."
W. Bush calls it 'a return to class warfare.' You can't love
employees and hate employers business leaders say. Politicians did not
create 22 million jobs in the Clinton-Gore years. Businesses did."
National Association of Manufacturers: "Business ought to be treated
as heroes given that extraordinary historical achievement and not beat up
on as some guys in the black hats."
Stark concluded: "Al Gore may need big business
if he wins, but it's working families he thinks will get him elected.
And for the moment, anti-business populism is selling well."
after the Boston Globe disclosed how Al Gore fabricated an anecdote about
how an arthritis drug costs more for his mother-in-law than for his dog,
the CBS Evening News became the first broadcast network program to mention
the gaffe, but only in the context of using it as an example of how it
almost drove Gore off message. MSNBC picked up on it the night before.
To read an excerpt from the Globe story, to link to
the full piece and to see a RealPlayer clip of Gore uttering the made up
numbers, go to:
Wednesday night John Roberts looked at how Gore has
implemented a "front runner strategy" in which the campaign
message is tightly controlled and he rarely talks with reporters.
Roberts warned, however: "But the defense broke
down yesterday, as Gore scrambled to rebut accusations that he fabricated
a personal anecdote, comparing costs of an arthritis drug for his dog with
those of his mother-in-law."
Gore, back on August
28, though CBS did not date the clip: "And it costs her $108 per
was forced to admit that the price wasn't what she actually paid, it was
taken from a congressional study."
Instead of detailing
the incorrect information, Roberts played a soundbite of Gore spinning his
larger point: "The issue is not her, the issue is what seniors around
the country are paying and the wholesale price is between two and three
times as much as what is charged for pets."
Roberts then concluded: "It took the Gore
campaign two days just to come up with that response. It was the closest
that the Vice President has come to being pulled off message in the last
month and giving the Bush campaign just the kind of opening they're
looking to pounce on."
Yeah, and it took CBS News two days to report on the
Monday Globe story. And Gore only came close to "being pulled off
message" because unlike what happened to Bush when a newspaper made
the "RATS" letters in an ad into a story, not every broadcast
network show pounced and made it the top story.
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams arrived on
the Globe discovery a day late but still a day before the CBS Evening
News, but only by accident as Chris Matthews mentioned it in responding to
a question about how Gore is avoiding the media.
On the September 19 show, MRC analyst Paul Smith
noticed, Brian Williams asked Chris Matthews live from California:
"Let's talk about the availability of the Vice President. There
have been complaints that he is in the bubble to use a worn phrase and
that is kept a safe distance from media and shouted questions."
Matthews, who is serving as a MSNBC reporter while
Hardball is dumped for the Olympics, replied from Sunnyvale, California
where he was traveling with the Gore campaign: "Well, I'd compare it
to Dean Smith's old UNC four corner offense. He is continuing to play
offense, staying on message, but avoiding the press. He is moving the ball
and he doesn't want to get into the situation that happened last week to
Governor Bush where Bush was attacked both by the Gore people and by the
press over mispronunciation of words, over ad copy, over all kinds of
things. Gore was almost under assault today on the question of whether he
was wrong when he compared the price of medicine that his mother in law,
Tipper's mother, paid for some arthritis medicine compared to the amount
that is normally paid for dog medicine of that type. He spent a good, his
people, rather Chris Lehane his press spokesman spent a good part of today
defending that. But as I said, the Vice President stayed in the bubble,
stayed out of the action, stayed on message."
Yes, "Gore was almost under assault today"
as the networks decided to let him off.
lullabies at age 27? Another Gore gaffe went unnoticed by the broadcast
networks Wednesday morning and night as well as by MSNBC's The News with
Brian Williams, despite the fact the September 20 USA Today caught it.
Both FNC and CNN showed it to viewers of their
FNC's Jim Angle explained on Wednesday's Special
Report with Brit Hume: "As Gore finished his West Coast swing there
was one little embarrassment to put aside. Gore of course depends on union
members to fill the audiences at his events and to be the foot soldiers
for his campaign. So it was natural when he told the Teamsters this week a
story from his early childhood."
Gore on Monday in
Las Vegas, breaking into singing for the lyrics: "You know I still
remember the lullabies that I heard as a child, [singing] 'Look for the
Angle pointed out: "The problem is that song is
not an old labor lullaby. It's a jingle from an ad campaign written in
1975 when Gore was 27-years-old. Gore aides say what he actually meant was
an old 1901 labor song, which has the refrain 'don't forget the union
A hour earlier on CNN's Inside Politics, Bernard
Shaw observed: "The Gore campaign is admitting to a musical misstep
that occurred when the Vice President was formally endorsed by the
Teamsters on Monday."
Gore on Monday:
"My father was one of the first commissioners of labor in the state
of Tennessee and our family came into public service by that route. And,
you know, I still remember the lullabies that I heard as a child:
[singing]: 'Look for the union label.'"
Shaw corrected Gore: "But the problem, as USA
Today points out, that 'look for the union label' was not written
until 1975, when Al Gore was 27-years-old. Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway
says the Vice President misstated, and he was actually sung an older song,
'Don't forget the union label.' That song was written in 1901."
+++ Watch Gore sing the lullaby he could not really
have recalled from childhood. Late Thursday morning MRC Webmaster Andy
Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of CNN's brief item quoted above. Go
So full credit is given, in Wednesday's USA Today,
both reporter Laurence McQuillan and columnist Walter Shapiro caught and
pointed out Gore's misstatement.
Evening News jumped Wednesday night on a pro-Republican independent
expenditure ad in Missouri which liberals claim is racist because in it a
mother complains, over video of a white student pulling out a gun, that
her son's public school has "a bit more diversity than he could
handle." But two years ago CBS failed to utter a word about an
official Missouri Democratic Party radio ad which claimed voting
Republican would lead to more church burnings: "When you don't
vote, you let another church explode. When you don't vote, you allow
another cross to burn....When you don't vote, you let the Republicans
continue to cut school lunches."
In fact, back in 1998 only FNC and Fox News Sunday picked up on the
race-baiting Democratic ad.
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer intoned on the
September 20 show: "A televised campaign commercial in Missouri has
led to charges tonight that racist tactics are being used in an effort to
sway voters to vote Republican."
Bill Whitaker opened his piece with a clip of the TV
ad with a woman on a sofa saying: "When Jason started hanging with
the wrong crowd, we had to act fast."
"It's a controversial ad by an independent conservative group
running in Missouri, a crucial swing state. The controversy?"
Woman in ad:
"That was a bit more diversity than he could handle."
Whitaker relayed the liberal complaint: "A
disparaging remark about diversity. Democrats call it 'race-baiting.'
The ad's sponsor says it's not about bad kids but good Republican
policy on school choice."
Republicans Ideas Committee: "I'm absolutely not a bigot. These ads,
this whole series of ads are about capital issues. They make serious,
substantive points, and they do so without any slur upon any group
whatsoever, except possibly liberals."
"It's the kind of help the Bush campaign says it doesn't
"So Governor Bush is very concerned. He strongly disagrees with the
sentiments in this commercial."
Whitaker used the ad as a launching point about how
there's just too darn much free speech: "He rejects it but says
it's protected free speech. It's part of an exploding, some say out of
control, political trend, election year issue ads, more and more by
outside groups. Most, like this by the Sierra Club for the Democrats, are
welcomed by the parties. According to a report out today, so far this
year, more than 125 organizations have spent more than $342 million on
issue ads, more than in the last two elections combined."
Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania: "In the contest over competing
ideas, we are more likely in the contested states to hear the voices of
the issue advocates on these issues then we are the voices of our two
Over video of the 1988 Willie Horton ad, Whitaker
concluded by lamenting: "And ugly or not, they can work. The
controversial Willie Horton ad by an outside group helped George W.
Bush's father win the presidency by painting Michael Dukakis soft on
crime. And the trend is clear. Expect campaigns with more outside ads and
Now compare the ad which so outraged CBS with one
they ignored two years ago, as recounted in the November 16, 1998 MRC
When the Missouri Democratic Party targeted blacks with a race-baiting
ad in the St. Louis area, it only made it into the national spotlight on
Fox News Sunday and FNC's Fox Report.
Running on local black radio stations, the ad tried to scare minority
voters to the polls: "When you don't vote, you let another church
explode. When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn. When you
don't vote, you let another assault wound a brother or sister. When you
don't vote, you let the Republicans continue to cut school lunches and
Despite such inflammatory tactics, the ad didn't make a single ripple
among other news shows. But Tony Snow on the November 1 Fox News Sunday
challenged guest Rep. Barney Frank about the appropriateness of the ads:
"Congressman, the President said that one of the hallmarks he wants
to make is in civil rights, and I know that you've been actively
involved in a number of civil rights issues. What I want to do is to play
for you an ad that's been running in the St. Louis area, and there are
also some counterparts around the country, and I want to get your reaction
to it....Congressman, is that fair play?" Snow again brought up the
ad in a segment with guest Paul Begala, a presidential counselor: "Is
it part of the Democratic strategy to scare black voters
into going to the polls?"
During the show's final roundtable discussion, Snow asked Juan
Williams of The Washington Post what he thought about the ad, and Williams
responded by calling it "scandalous," "incendiary,"
and "patronizing" to black voters.
The day before the election, Jim Angle's piece on FNC's Fox Report
about President Clinton's efforts to get out the black vote included
White House accusations of Republicans trying to intimidate black voters.
After clips from White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and President
Clinton making this claim, Angle turned to RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson for
a response: "Nicholson pointed to Democratic ads that he said equate
voting Republican with racism, such as
this radio ad from the Missouri Democratic Party."
So, does the mention of "diversity" make
the current pro-GOP ad racist? Judge for yourself. Tuesday's Special
Report with Brit Hume played it in its entirety. Except for one scene, the
whole ad is of a woman sitting on a couch as she advocates educational
savings accounts. As she bemoans how her son started "hanging with
the wrong crowd" in a public school and "we didn't want him in
a place where drugs and violence were fashionable, that was a bit more
diversity than he could handle," viewers see a white teen unwrapping
cloth around a gun. He's in front of an Asian teen as on a nearby
stairwell sit a white teen and a black teen.
By early afternoon ET Thursday, or maybe a little
later, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul should have, in RealPlayer format, the ad
up as shown by FNC. Go to the posted version of this item:
CBS worried about the length, cost and pre-election timing of the
Whitewater investigation in reporting on how independent counsel Robert
Ray ended the probe after concluding not that there was no wrongdoing but
that "the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that either the President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in
NBC's Tom Brokaw snidely referred to how
Whitewater "may never die in the hearts and minds of hard-core
CNN, FNC and NBC all noted how White House
obfuscation and appeals delayed the process. NBC's Andrea Mitchell
relayed that Ray's report "accuses both Clintons of delays,
including the 18 month disappearance of Hillary Clinton's law firm
billing records, part of the investigation, and what the prosecutor calls
'unmeritorious litigation.' Translation: White House appeals." But, she later scolded: "Was it necessary
for Ray to make the critical comment if there was no reason to prosecute?
Was that a political statement?"
Good Morning America's Antonio Mora set the tone
for the media's reporting later in the day Wednesday. MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson picked up on this news brief: "Independent Counsel
Robert Ray is releasing his findings today on Hillary Clinton's role in
Whitewater. He's not expected to seek an indictment, but he is expected to
be critical of the First Lady's actions. Critics have questioned the
report's timing, coming just weeks before the Senate election Mrs. Clinton
is contesting in New York."
Wednesday night on Special Report with Brit Hume
FNC's David Shuster stressed how Ray did not say the Clintons did
nothing improper: "Ray repeatedly used the words 'insufficient
evidence' instead of 'no evidence'" for matters such as hush
money given to Web Hubbell. Shuster also noted: "In fact 12 people
were convicted in the Whitewater probe, including former Arkansas Governor
Jim Guy Tucker and te Clinton's former business partners, the McDougals.
Robert Ray claimed the investigation was slowed down by the refusal of
Susan McDougal to testify, the delay by the White House in turning over
documents and the various claims of privilege by the Clintons, most of
those claims rejected by the courts."
But the broadcast networks honed to the Clinton spin
on Wednesday night, September 20:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
announced, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"One of the
lingering nightmares of the Clinton presidency has finally ended or
appears to have ended, the Whitewater affair. What a run it had, six years
of investigations, millions of dollars spent, and the independent counsel
has finally decided he does not have enough on the Clinton's to charge
them. ABC's Jackie Judd is in Washington. Jackie, you covered this story
from the very beginning."
Judd: "From the
beginning, Peter, and here we are tonight with the independent counsel
beginning an investigation that began long ago with a land deal in Little
Rock and a long defunct Savings and Loan in Little Rock. It ended today
with a terse statement."
"The investigation in connection with the Madison Guaranty Whitewater
matter is now closed."
Judd quoted Ray as
using the term "insufficient" but she went on to say he
"cleared" the Clintons: "Independent Counsel Ray concluded
the evidence was 'insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
the Clintons knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.' The
President cleared of lying under oath about various financial matters. The
First Lady cleared of lying under oath and of withholding subpoenaed
documents. Both cleared of arranging payments to her former law partner
Webb Hubbell to buy his silence.
probe set in motion events leading to the Lewinsky investigation and the
President's eventual impeachment. Even so, there was no gloating today.
Mr. Clinton ignored reporters' questions. Mrs. Clinton, whose Senate
campaign could have been knocked off stride by a critical report, also was
"You know, this has gone on a long time, and it's cost more than
$50 million, and I am just glad it's over."
"It is not over yet though for the President, Peter. A grand jury
meeting now may yet be asked to decide if he should be indicted for lying
in the Lewinsky matter."
-- CBS Evening News opened with the Whitewater case.
Phil Jones began his piece with a soundbite from Ray: "The
investigation in connection with the Madison Guaranty Whitewater matter is
Jones picked up:
"And with that, Robert Ray, the last of three independent counsels
who spent a total of more than $50 million issued a six-page statement
concluding: 'The evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that either the President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in
criminal conduct' in the Whitewater land deal. Nine times the statement
used the word 'insufficient' to describe the evidence on whether the
Clintons gave false testimony about their knowledge and involvement in the
Arkansas land savings and loan scandal. For Senate candidate Hillary
Clinton, the independent counsel's surrender was better than one of
those big campaign contributions."
"I'm confident that not only have New Yorkers and Americans made up
their minds but that there's nothing there to report."
Jones failed to mention how Ray pointed out how the
White House delayed the probe, but he highlighted someone who thought Ray
and Starr took too long: "Even Michael Chertoff, who was the
Republican legal counsel for the Senate Whitewater investigation that
ended four years ago, was critical of the independent counsel's office
taking so long."
Michael Chertoff: "I
think the time perhaps to officially cut bait on this was back in 1997 and
1998. I don't know that much was gained by going on for two more years.
I'm sure that there was a lot of uncertainty and pain that was caused by
protracting it, and it may be that the lesson here is that the result was
too late in coming."
Starr, the former counsel who spent most of the money, was asked today to
justify the cost. He passed the buck to the man who replaced him."
"I think you should address those questions to the independent
"After six years, there's still one big decision left, whether to
seek an indictment against Bill Clinton after he leaves the presidency for
criminal charges in the Lewinsky sex and perjury scandal. Bob."
-- NBC Nightly News.
From Sydney, Tom Brokaw snidely intoned:
"And although it may never die in the hearts
and minds of hard-core Clinton-bashers, tonight Whitewater as a legal
issue is officially dead, killed by the special prosecutor. Robert
Ray, who is Ken Starr's successor, issued his report today with some
Andrea Mitchell explained: "Hillary
Clinton, campaigning today, learns that after six years, three
prosecutors, three congressional investigations and at least $46
million, the investigation into the Whitewater land deal is finally
After a clip of Hillary, Mitchell relayed how
Ray decided there was "insufficient evidence" to prove to a
jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the Clintons "knowingly
participated in criminal conduct."
Mitchell then acknowledged what ABC and CBS
ignored: "But the report also accuses both Clintons of delays,
including the 18 month disappearance of Hillary Clinton's law firm
billing records, part of the investigation, and what the prosecutor
calls 'unmeritorious litigation.' Translation: White House
Mitchell ran a clip of Joe Lockhart and one of
Ray maintaining he ended the probe in a "responsible and cost
effective manner." Mitchell retorted: "But was it necessary
for Ray to make the critical comment if there was no reason to
prosecute? Was that a political statement?"
Stephen Saltzburg, George Washington University Law School:
"It's unusual and I think a lot of people would say improper
for a prosecutor to render findings of any sort in a case in which
there is no prosecution."
Mitchell concluded with good news for Hillary:
"Political or not, this removes a major worry for Hillary Clinton
only six weeks before New Yorkers vote on her Senate bid. In fact her
Republican opponent, Rick Lazio, didn't even want to talk about it
today, the best evidence to the Clinton campaign that Whitewater is no
longer a political problem."
a network used a heart-rending anecdote, about an elderly person
having to choose between the subject of the day and food, for a cause
other than to supply evidence to bolster the justification for another
huge new liberal spending program. Wednesday night on ABC's World
News Tonight, John Cochran actually relayed an anti-Clinton-Gore
Cochran began his lead piece on rising home oil
prices: "Thelma Dicksen, a 72-year-old Democrat, says she may
vote Republican if the price of heating oil remains high. With winter
coming to her West Philadelphia home, she fears having to cut back on
medicine and food to pay for oil."
-- Brent Baker
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