Pro-Bush "Politicization" of Military; Gore Not Asked About E-Mail & Fabrications; Geraldo Popped Out of Cake for Walters
1) Policy night on ABC and CBS
with stories on the Gore and Bush plans for Medicare and education. ABC failed
to criticize the tone of Al Gore's charge that Bush "supported Newt
Gingrich's assault on Medicare."
2) Instead of exploring why so
many retired military officers have rejected Gore and are backing Bush, CBS
News saw the military's political preferences as a nefarious development.
Dan Rather warned about the "increasing politicization of the
3) FNC's Brit Hume on Monday
night highlighted how two network evening shows on Friday skipped the release
of the White House sleepover list. "Sleepovers List Caught CBS and ABC
4) E-mails confirmed that Gore
staffers knew that money would be raised at the temple, but other than 24
seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday morning Today
landed Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to ask about the disclosure
or mention any of Gore's fabrications from last week.
5) Did George Stephanopoulos say
"I sure hope not" after George Will suggested Bush could win by
running on the issues? Back in 1992, Stephanopoulos recalled, Warren Beatty
urged Bill Clinton to lace his speeches with a swear word that rhymes with
6) Geraldo Rivera popped out of a
cake on Monday's The View to celebrate the birthday of Barbara Walters. He
recounted his attempted conquest of Walters, extolling: "To me Barbara
was always a sensual, sexual woman."
>>> All the
media's campaign bias, all in one place. The MRC has redesigned the
presentation of material on our "Campaign 2000" page to enable quick
and easy access to all of our campaign coverage analysis. Under the guidance
of MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey the main campaign page now lists all
of the MRC's campaign coverage articles in one place, whether a CyberAlert
item, a Media Reality Check fax report, a syndicated column or a MediaNomics
analysis. If it's about the campaign, it's listed in date order on one
page. Go to:
night on ABC and CBS Monday night as both ran stories outlining the Bush
and Gore proposals on education and Medicare reform. NBC Nightly News held
itself to a few seconds on the campaign day before Claire Shipman looked
at the controversy over Joe Lieberman running simultaneously for Vice
President and Senator.
It doesn't take
much to be chided by an ABC reporter. "Vice President launched
one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in weeks,"
insisted ABC's Terry Moran before a clip of Al Gore claiming:
"The other side has called Medicare a government HMO. I'll take
Medicare over the real HMOs any day of the week." But Gore's
claim that Newt Gingrich "assaulted" Medicare went
adopting a considerably tougher tone" reporter Dean Reynolds
maintained after showing a clip of Bush suggesting, to a question
about how to get young people involved in politics, "tell the
truth for starters."
In a refreshing
spin, FNC's Carl Cameron actually took on Bush from the right,
pointing out on Special Report with Brit Hume: "The irony for
Bush, a conservative advocate of local control attacking the federal
government for not doing enough on education is not lost on the Texas
Governor, but he defends his plans as conservative, saying he will
demand accountability and measurable success."
Tom Brokaw was back
in New York City to anchor the NBC Nightly News after a week in
Sydney, but the Olympics still dominated the show which opened with
controversy over drug testing.
summarized how Bush claimed the nation is in an "education
recession" as he advocated aggressive testing. Al Gore, Brokaw
relayed, spent the day in Florida: "He told seniors that Governor
Bush's plan would force some of them to get their prescription
medicine through local welfare offices." Brokaw then introduced a
piece on Lieberman, noting his decision to not drop out of the
Connecticut Senate race has "some critics saying he's hedging
his bets in a self-serving way."
-- ABC's World
News Tonight opened with the Yugoslav election before getting to the
campaign. Peter Jennings meandered into ABC's coverage, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, it's Monday,
and now it is six weeks until election day. We can anticipate with
some justification that the presidential candidates will try to jack
up the rhetoric another notch or two. The campaigns have already said
this another week which begins with emphasis on a single issue.
Governor Bush on education and Mr. Gore on Medicare. Let's start
with Medicare, or as it is sometimes called in a political campaign,
From Florida Terry
Moran checked in: "Once again, Al Gore is here in Florida. This
is the ninth time he's visited the state since he wrapped up the
Democratic nomination last spring, and once again he is taking aim
squarely at the state's two-and-a-half million senior citizens.
Appearing with his wife Tipper in St. Petersburg, the Vice President
launched one of his sharpest attacks on his Republican rival in
Al Gore: "The other side has called Medicare a
government HMO. I'll take Medicare over the real HMOs any day of the
Moran: "The only new proposal Vice President
Gore offered today was a modest one -- stricter penalties on insurers
who pull out of communities without warning. The real purpose of
today's event: Draw the sharpest possible differences between the
candidates on the crucial issue of Medicare."
Moran summarized the
Gore and Bush proposals for Medicare and allowed Gore to denounce
Bush's idea for vouchers to allow the elderly to buy private
insurance: "Gore blasted that approach today and tried to link
Bush to a very unpopular Republican."
Gore to Moran: "When they say reform they
sometimes mean dismantle the program. He supported Newt Gingrich's
assault on Medicare."
concluded: "Peter, some health care policy experts are struck by
how this year's campaign echoes the original debate on Medicare
thirty-five years ago, and they say, that given the intense financial
pressures the program faces, the very nature of Medicare is the
Peter Jennings moved
on to the Bush campaign: "For his part, George W. Bush has
produced what amounts to a book on education in which he says that the
Clinton-Gore administration has neglected education to the point where
there has been an 'education recession,' in his words."
Dean Reynolds began:
"The Texas Governor attacked the Democratic administration for
letting America's public schools drift toward mediocrity or
George W. Bush: "America today is in the midst
of an education recession that can threaten our very future."
through the basic points of the Gore and Bush approaches to education,
ending with a Bush quip about Gore's three R's of
"relationship," "resilience" and
"readiness": "That sounds nice, but what happened to
"While education was the main point of attack today, the Governor
also assailed the Vice President on a range of issues, from the
environment to health care to military preparedness and to
truthfulness. That last point came up when one member of the audience
today asked Bush the best way to get young people involved in the
Man in audience: "-and how could I help?"
Bush: "Well, tell the truth for
Reynolds concluded: "With the election fast
approaching and the first debate just a week away, the Texas Governor
is adopting a considerably tougher tone."
-- CBS Evening News
led with doping at the Olympics followed by a look at more thorough
drug testing methods.
reviewed Bush's charges on education, running this soundbite from
Bush: "There are too many of our schools not meeting the
challenge, expectations are not high enough, performance is not strong
enough, and our leaders are not bold enough to reverse this
the Gore and Bush plans, Whitaker reported: "In big city schools,
like in Los Angeles where Bush goes tomorrow, there's no doubt help is
needed....But there is doubt about what any president can actually do.
Federal money accounts for only seven-percent of school funding.
Educators doubt post-election reality can match the candidates'
"With other Democratic issues Bush is trying to seize like Social
Security, Gore beats him in the polls. But on education, people think
Bush can do as good a job."
John Roberts checked
in from Florida with Gore: "Campaigning in the Sunshine State
today, Al Gore reached out to voters in the twilight of their
Roberts went on to
show how middle class families with kids are also swing voters key to
winning the state. He concluded: "Gore will turn the heat up here
next week. His campaign plans to pump millions of advertising dollars
into this fourth largest prize in the election -- a state the Vice
President doesn't need so much to win as one the Texas Governor
can't afford to lose."
week the Joint Chiefs of Staff will tell Congress the military needs
more money to meet the commitments made by the Clinton administration,
but instead of exploring the state of the armed forces, on Monday
night CBS News contrived a story about concerns retired military
officers have crossed a politicization line in supporting George W.
Bush for President. The wholesale rejection of Al Gore by so many
military experts would seem a logical focus for a story, but not for
CBS reporter David
Martin intoned: "There's no law against it, but the sight of so
many former admirals and generals throwing their prestige behind a
candidate causes concern among other retired officers."
CBS Evening News
anchor Dan Rather introduced the September 25 story by reaching deep
into a Sunday New York Times "Week in Review" story about
how Al Gore would be only the fourth enlisted man to become President.
Quoting from the 13th and 14th paragraphs of the 15 paragraph story
which ran on page 5 of the section, Rather asserted:
"Reporting on changing times and traditions in
the U.S. military, the New York Times says, and I quote, 'In recent
years, people in uniform, particularly in the officer corps, have
tilted increasingly toward the Republican party,' end quote. The
tradition of American military leaders, especially generals and
admirals considering themselves independent, is weakening, the Times
reported. Adding, and again quote, 'A trend that has raised concerns
about the increasing politicization of the military.' With that as
background, CBS's David Martin has a report on the involvement of
high military officers in the presidential campaign."
Not quite the flavor
of the New York Times piece by Steven Lee Myers, which began:
"Much has been made in the presidential campaign about Vice
President Al Gore's stint with the Army in Vietnam, but one striking
fact has gone largely unnoted: If elected, Mr. Gore would be the first
President in a century to have served as an enlisted man and one of
only four ever."
Back to Monday's
Evening News diatribe, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth,
reporter David Martin opened his story: "The Joint Chiefs of
Staff like to do their talking in this secure conference room, but
their message to Congress this week that the military needs billions
more dollars will be heard loud and clear on the campaign trail, the
last place Chairman Hugh Shelton wants to be heard."
Hugh Shelton, Joint Chiefs Chairman: "We in
the military have been for many, many years, since the beginning of
this nation, had a policy of not, of being apolitical, making sure
that we in fact did not get caught up in the politics-"
Martin lamented: "But that has not stopped
scores of retired military officers from Colin Powell on down from
endorsing the Bush-Cheney ticket."
After a clip of Bush
introducing a retired officer, Martin warned: "There's no law
against it, but the sight of so many former admirals and generals
throwing their prestige behind a candidate causes concern among other
General Wesley Clark: "I think this is
dangerous for the country and harmful for the armed forces."
Martin: "General Wesley Clark, the now retired
commander of the war against Serbia, says endorsing candidates throws
a shadow across the active duty military."
Clark: "I think the shadow is to encourage
people who are still wearing the uniform to align themselves, or
consider aligning themselves politically."
Martin pointed out: "Some of those who have
endorsed Bush, like the former Chief of Naval Operations, served until
very recently under President Clinton."
Lieutenant General Terry Scott: "Former
generals and admirals should know the complexities that they're
involved in, and should be very careful about oversimplifying and
making it sound like a bumper sticker."
concluding the piece Martin gave a clause in defense of the retired
generals: "To those who say the nation's defense is too important
to be left to campaign slogans, the retired generals say they are
doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights --
after a lifetime spent defending the Constitution."
David Martin is usually out of place at CBS News as
he normally files straight-forward and balanced pieces, so I'll
attribute the politically-charged premise of this story to him
following orders from Dan Rather Central in New York. After all, a bit
more than a week ago Martin was the only network reporter to highlight
how a top Navy commander complained his forces are overstretched.
In a September 15
CBS Evening News story Martin looked at the high number of Naval
accidents, suggesting: "It's impossible to pinpoint a single
cause for these accidents, but they have occurred at the same time
Navy admirals are becoming increasingly vocal about being asked to do
too much with too little money. The latest is Vice Admiral John
Nathman, commander of Naval Air Forces in the Pacific."
Vice Admiral John Nathman, Commander, Pacific Naval
Air Forces, on August 23: "The fact is that we have reached such
a low level of funding, it will soon be impossible to meet the
expectations of this nation in executing our operations in completing
Martin added: "That has now become ammunition
for Governor George Bush, who quoted Nathman today as further evidence
of declining military readiness. Readiness has been declining, but
most Pentagon officials say it is still at acceptable levels...."
Brit Hume on Monday night highlighted how two network evening shows on
Friday skipped the release of the White House sleepover list. Over a
graphic of the White House with the words "Sleepovers List Caught
CBS and ABC Napping?" beneath, Hume picked up on an observation
made in Saturday's CyberAlert about the networks:
"That list of hundreds of people who have
stayed at the White House and donated to the Clintons and the
Democratic Party was front page news in the New York Times and
Washington Post and elsewhere but there was not a word about it on the
CBS Evening News or on ABC's World News Tonight. NBC Nightly News
did carry a report by correspondent Andrea Mitchell and anchorman Tom
Brokaw said quote, 'it appears the Lincoln bedroom has been busier
details about Friday night coverage, go to:
released late Friday confirmed that Gore staffers knew well in advance
that money would be raised at the Buddhist temple, but other than 24
seconds on the CBS Evening News the story went unnoticed. Monday
morning Today landed Al Gore for an interview but Matt Lauer failed to
ask about the disclosure or mention any of Gore's gaffes from last
World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News on Friday touched the
e-mail revelations and I didn't see anything in a quick scan of
Friday's The World Today on CNN or The News with Brian Williams on
MSNBC. Saturday's Today, MRC analyst Paul Smith noted, didn't
utter a word about it.
On Friday night,
September 22, Dan Rather took 24 seconds to announce: "Some just
recovered White House e-mail dealt with what Vice President Gore has
long-acknowledged are past mistakes in fundraising activities. This
includes the fundraiser he attended in 1996 at a Buddhist temple in
Los Angeles. The new e-mails suggest Gore staffers, at least, were
well aware it was a fundraiser. The Gore campaign says the e-mails
contain quote, 'nothing new.'"
On Monday morning
Today co-host Matt Lauer pressed Gore about his flip-flops on the
strategic oil reserve but failed to raise the e-mail disclosure or ask
about his fabrications with regard to the dog versus in-law drug costs
and the union jingle.
Here are all of
Lauer's inquiries posed from Sydney via satellite to Gore in
Washington DC, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
-- Matt Lauer:
"Let me start, Mr. Vice President, by talking about oil. The
President, last week made a decision that he is going to dip into the
strategic reserve in this country for some 30 billion gallons over the
next several months. He's concerned about home heating prices. It's
always been my understanding that, that reserve was meant for cases of
national security. Do you think we're in a situation where national
security is being threatened now?"
-- "But you were not in favor of doing
something similar about 10 months ago when oil prices were high,
production was low, gas prices in this country were going through the
roof. Yet you urged the President to take this course of action this
time. And you know what the critics are saying. They are saying this
is very convenient, Mr. Vice President. We are six weeks away from a
presidential election and this is gonna help you curry favor with
people in the northeast and the north."
-- "Is this going to give the appearance
though, Mr. Vice President, of you riding in on a white horse or the
President riding in on a white horse, when over the past eight years
crude oil prices have doubled during this administration? Our
dependence on foreign oil has increased and our production here at
home has decreased. What do you think the Clinton administration
record on oil has been?"
-- "When you say the apologists for big oil
are you talking about Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney?"
-- "I think you're saying you'll extend it
[Medicare trust fund] to 2030. One of the elements of this Medicare
plan from what I've read in advance is that you're gonna take the
Medicare surplus, Mr. Vice President. You're putting it in that
lockbox that everybody likes to talk about and you're saying it will
not be touched. Do you foresee any situation, financial disaster,
energy crisis that would force you to dip into that lockbox?"
-- "Mr. Vice President let me ask you briefly
about the polls. And I know you like to say the only poll that counts
is election day. But about a week and a half ago you were leading by
double digits. In the last several days Governor Bush has closed that
gap substantially according to major national polls. Is he doing
something right or do you think that maybe you've gotten off-message a
George Stephanopoulos say "I sure hope not" after George
Will suggested Bush could win by running on the issues of Medicare and
Social Security reform and tax cuts? Judge for yourself by playing the
video now posted on the MRC Web site by Webmaster Andy Szul.
I'm catching up on
an event caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson two weeks ago. On the
September 10 This Week roundtable George Stephanopoulos asked George
Will: "Do you believe that if there is a debate, let's say on
three issues -- Medicare, Social Security and tax cuts -- that George
Bush can win that debate with the American people?"
Will replied: "I do."
To which Stephanopoulos blurted out: "Boy, I
sure hope not."
Or did he? That's
what Jessica thought she heard Stephanopoulos say and it's what the
Burrelle's transcript on abcnews.com listed him as retorting, but
other panelists talked over the second half of what Stephanopoulos
said so it's hard to decipher.
To check for
yourself, play the RealPlayer clip. Go to:
You'll see the
video in the top right corner of the page.
And while we're
talking about Stephanopoulos, three days after the above exchange he
appeared on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien where predicted
Gore will win and revealed some very strange advice Warren Beatty
offered the Clinton campaign in 1992.
Asked on the
September 13 show for a prediction, Stephanopoulos forecast:
"It's going to be really, really close. If you put a gun to my
head and said, 'You had to bet right now,' I say Gore, this close
[holds thumb and index finger up close together]."
O'Brien also asked
about Warren Beatty: "Do you have any idea, does he have sharp
political instincts because he's always been interested in politics,
he's thought about running. Do you know what this-"
Stephanopoulos: "He's played with it. I
mean, he thinks about politics a lot. I'm not sure he's got it cut
out to be a political strategist. He actually tried to give Clinton
some advice when Clinton was running way back in '92, and this was
when we were in third place. And his big idea -- Clinton went out to
Hollywood -- his big idea was that Clinton should start using swear
words in his speeches."
O'Brien: "And I hear that George W. has
stolen his talent, yeah."
Stephanopoulos: "He makes it four or five
syllables longer, right? Subliminally."
O'Brien: "What word did he want Clinton to
Stephanopoulos: "Not going to say it on
national TV, but it rhymes with 'truck.'"
O'Brien: "He wanted a presidential candidate
to start using that word, throwing it around?"
Stephanopoulos: "He did, he did, and you saw
O'Brien: "It's probably where he got the
didn't take Beatty's advice. We've learned since that Clinton
prefers to do it, not say it, at least not publicly.
Rivera popped out of a cake on Monday's ABC show The View to
celebrate the birthday of Barbara Walters.
After giving her
flowers and a hug she proclaimed: "Geraldo is the one who always
says that I'm sexy and I love you for that darling." He repaid
the compliment: "To me Barbara was always a sensual, sexual
woman." Indeed, he recounted his failed conquest attempt in
Panama in the 1970s when she rebuffed him.
Turning serious for
a moment, he told the group of women who host the ABC daytime show
along with Walters that he's thinking of running for Mayor of New
York City because Rudy Giuliani has "emotionally segregated the
city and I want to bring the city back."
+++ See a shot of
Geraldo kissing Walters and a video clip from earlier as Geraldo
emerged from the big fake cake. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted a
RealPlayer clip on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mrc.org
Okay, this has
nothing to do with campaign coverage, but it's so surreal it's
-- Brent Baker
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