Gore's "Teeny-Weeny Exaggerations"; More Bush/Big Oil; Columnist Documented Bias; Ex-Reporter Suggested How to Avoid Bias
1) Al Gore has recently "been
caught embellishing personal stories," ABC News acknowledged Sunday
night, but World News tonight has yet to tell viewers about those incidents.
2) Media too tough on Gore? Nina Totenberg of NPR and ABC:
"I don't actually think Gore has told any whoppers at all, they are the
minor-est kind of factual, teeny-weeny exaggerations."
3) CBS promised an examination of the energy policies of both
candidates, but only hit Bush: "Al Gore called it mostly a short-term
fix, a long-term environmental threat and evidence, he said, of Bush's deep
ties to big oil." CBS added that a Bush donor has been indicted for clear
4) Bush and Gore didn't get the same standardized test on
education from GMA. Unlike Gore, Bush was pressed with follow up questions and
pestered about not wanting to spend enough money, but the show did not make
Gore address the expense of his plans.
5) As one of the hosts of MTV's Tuesday night Choose or Lose
2000 special with Al Gore, Time's Tamala Edwards pressed Al Gore to satisfy
the demand for universal health care as soon as possible.
6) Columnist Charles Krauthammer documented the bias in the
New York Times. "'Gore Offers Vision of Better Times For Middle
Class.' It's the kind of headline Pravda used to run for Brezhnev's
7) If you believe the media are biased, cancel your
subscriptions and rely on C-SPAN and the Internet. So recommended in USA Today
the former reporter who oversaw the survey which found 89 percent of top
Washington reporters voted for Bill Clinton in 1992.
"Where is the Balance? How the TV Networks are Covering Up for Al
Gore." That's the heading over an ad produced by the MRC's Bonnie
Langbourgh which appears in today's New York Post. To view it as a
quick-loading HTML reproduction, go to:
To view a
graphic of the actual ad, complete with a subliminal message, go to:
the presidential debate in Boston, the same ad will run in Tuesday's
Boston Herald. <<<
World News Tonight has yet to inform viewers of Al Gore's fabrications
about hearing as a child a union lullaby not created until he was 27 or of
how a prescription drug costs more for his mother-in-law than for his dog,
but ABC knows about them.
In a Sunday World News Tonight story previewing
Tuesday's debate, John Yang acknowledged: "As a debater, Gore is
known for having a command of the issues, but recently he's been caught
embellishing personal stories. Another pitfall could be his aggressive
Caught by everyone but ABC News.
Nina Totenberg of NPR, who also contributes stories to ABC's Nightline,
had an influence on ABC's news judgments. By her reasoning, all Al Gore
has done is pass along "teeny-weeny exaggerations."
On Inside Washington over the weekend, she
maintained the media are holding Gore to too high a standard:
"This is one of
those areas where I really think Gore does suffer from Clinton. I don't
actually think Gore has told any whoppers at all, they are the minor-est
kind of factual, teeny-weeny exaggerations, if that. Very human things
that we wouldn't jump on people normally for, but we've just had a
President who looked right in the camera and lied to us and he was his
Vice President for eight years and I think this really does rub off in
doubts about him."
proposed, Gore deposed and CBS helped out. Friday night Dan Rather
loaded up his introduction to the Evening News campaign story with Al
Gore's criticism of Bush's energy policy. Ending the subsequent
report, Bill Whitaker noted how a Bush donor has been indicted for
clean air violations.
Rather declared: "It's 39 days to Election
Day, and energy policy became a hot topic again today as an early
frost overnight hit parts of the Northeast and the Midwest. In
Michigan today, George Bush put out a plan that would allow oil
drilling in a US wildlife refuge. Al Gore called it mostly a
short-term fix, a long-term environmental threat and evidence, he
said, of Bush's deep ties to big oil. CBS's Bill Whitaker looks past
the rhetoric on both sides to their real substantive policy
But Whitaker only really looked at Bush. He
began his September 29 piece by relaying Bush's charges: "With
oil prices high and the election fast approaching, George W. Bush
today blasted Vice President Al Gore as an environmental extremist
without a clue and, most critically, part of an administration without
Bush: "They have had seven and a half years
to develop a sound energy policy. They have had every chance to avoid
the situation that confronts us today."
Whitaker elaborated: "Seeking to capitalize
on consumers' oil anxiety, the Texas governor and former Texas oilman
went to the upper Midwest to lay out his supply-side energy plan. He
called for more money for low-income Americans to buy home heating oil
and for a home heating oil reserve for the Northeast. He said he'd
streamline regulations so industry would build more pipelines,
refineries and boost electric production. And he said he'd work with
our oil-producing allies to boost production. His most controversial
proposal: to open up a portion of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge to oil exploration. The spectacular, 19-million-acre preserve
was put off limits to oil drilling by Congress two decades ago."
Vice President says he would rather protect this refuge than gain the
energy, but this is a false choice. We can do both, taking out energy
and leaving only footprints."
Whitaker turned to the other side: "Al Gore
and running mate Joe Lieberman responded quickly."
think we should protect our environmental treasures and, instead,
focus on new kinds of energy sources."
"It's an old, but bad idea: allow big oil companies to drill for
new oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Give me a break."
Without a word about the Gore proposals,
Whitaker concluded with a jab at Bush: "Meanwhile, a federal
grand jury indicted one of Bush's major contributors for clean air
violations. Koch Industries, which has given hundreds of thousands of
dollars to the GOP and Bush, was charged today with emitting hazardous
benzene from one of its Texas oil refineries. The Bush campaign said
if the company is found guilty, it should be punished."
and Gore were held to unequal standards on education last week by
ABC's Good Morning America. Inaugurating a series of separate
interviews with Bush and Gore about just one subject, George W. Bush
appeared on GMA last Monday to discuss education and on Friday the
show talked about the same topic with Al Gore.
But they didn't get the same standardized
test, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed. Bush was pressed with
multiple questions, and made to defend himself, while Gore was just
where he stands on certain issues, only having to defend himself on
school vouchers. While Bush was pestered about not wanting to spend
enough on education, the show did not make Gore address the expense of
his education package.
And having asked Bush, "Was school hard for
you, any part of it?", four days later the show posed the same
question to Gore.
Here's how the two interviews unfolded, in
Diane Sawyer handled the September interview
with George W. Bush on education:
-- "There are a lot of people who think
that it's going to take a revolution to fix the American public
education system. Are you a revolutionary and is that what it's going
"Vice President Gore has said from the ages of three and four to
six, there should be universal preschool, and he's putting money on
it. He's going to put $50 billion toward it."
universal preschool hurt? Because people say, 'Oh, if you've got the
money, I mean how can it hurt three- and four-year-olds that extra
Democratic campaign says that the tests should be voluntary and among
the other questions that have been raised about testing in Texas, as
you know, is that teachers end up teaching to a test, which doesn't
necessarily translate in being able to go into college and do college
work, and that you end up taking kids who are not going to do well and
put them in special education, so that they don't count toward the
teachers have said in some schools that, yes, there is money being
spent on consultants to help pass the test instead of on
big difference is if you do have one of these failing schools based on
the testing, you have said that after three years you would give the
parents $1,500 a year to spend on even private schooling if they want
to. You don't call it vouchers."
-- "What about the Gore campaign's proposal
that after a certain amount of time, you bring in a whole new
administration, but you keep the money inside the public education
"But Gore has no accountability. First of all, there's no
mandatory testing, so if there's no accountability and no measurement,
that means there's going to be no consequence. And so to the extent
we're spending federal money, we're going to say that, fine, if you
can't meet standards -- you're given a period of time, a reasonable
period of time -- something else must happen. I happen to think the
best decision-maker at that point in time is going to be a
"Even if that money goes into a private school and out of the
-- Sawyer: "In Texas, you increased teacher
salaries 33 percent, you reduced the size of rooms. A lot of things
that you're not proposing nationally, and the Gore campaign, again,
says they're giving money, a lot of money to teachers' salaries -- $8
billion over 10 years -- and that they're going to ensure that room
sizes are smaller, and yet you're not doing something that worked in
"That's not a federal responsibility and it's just typical of
focus group-type politics....I subscribe to helping schools with some
federal funding -- as I said, I increase the budget by $47 billion --
but if this campaign comes down to who's going to promise to spend the
most taxpayers' money at the federal level, I'm probably not going to
his $115 billion, as opposed to your $47 billion."
outspends me, but he outspends all across the board on every
"And $47 billion is plenty?"
-- Sawyer: "On a personal level, what did
you learn about education that you are acting on now, when you were in
school hard for you, any part of it?"
was your hardest subject?"
"Alright, so what's the hardest question that should be asked Al
Gore about education?"
don't you hold people accountable for results?"
At the end of the week on Friday, September 29,
Jack Ford questioned Al Gore, but he got a lot fewer follow ups.
-- "Do you think we're in the midst of an
education recession in this country, as Governor Bush has
have been improvements made, and yet you look out there -- we have 30
percent of our students don't read at grade level, some three million
students are trying to learn in buildings that are literally falling
down around them, some 25 percent are in overcrowded classrooms, some
are being forced to learn in trailers."
-- "Give me
a list of what the most important steps that President Gore would take
immediately upon taking office to improve the quality of education in
the United States."
one of the most striking differences between Vice President Gore and
Governor Bush is the issue of school vouchers, a coupon students can
use to pay for private school. You have said, your words, 'I will
never, ever support private school vouchers.' Why not?"
Senator Lieberman, and others in your party, such as Senator Bradley,
have said in the past, 'Let's at least try the voucher system. Let's
at least experiment with it. We can't lose anything by trying. Maybe
it'll help.' Why not just try?"
-- "There are some that would look at your
position on vouchers and they'd say, your parents had the luxury of
choice, deciding whether to send you to private school or public
school. You had the luxury of choice with your children. Why then
should a family with a child in a failing school not have that same
luxury of choice?"
"Governor Bush, in his proposal, has said that he would test
every student every year, from grades three through eight, in order to
establish some sense of accountability on the part of the schools. You
would not do that. Why not?"
back to your own school days, was there a particular area or a subject
that you found was the most difficult for you to deal with as a
question for you, and it's the same question we posed to Governor
Bush, so I'm going to give you the same opportunity here. What do you
think is the hardest question that should be posed to Governor Bush
about his educational policies?"
like to ask him why he won't consider supporting the proposal I've
made to make college tuition mostly tax deductible up to $10,000 a
year? Why not help middle class families with the burden of college
one of the hosts of MTV's Tuesday night Choose or Lose 2000 special
with Al Gore, Time reporter Tamala Edwards held a microphone so
audience members could pose questions, but she couldn't resist
herself, pressing Al Gore to satisfy the demand for Hillary-style
universal health care as soon as possible.
The MRC's Tim Graham caught the exchange which
began with student Sam Dobson asking on the September 26 broadcast:
"I spent the last year studying in Spain, and something I noticed
there is that every citizen has access to health care. And I got to
thinking, that we're a superpower, and we're a world leader, why can't
we do the same thing?"
Gore then listed all the liberal health
initiatives he would support: "I think we should. I think we
should move step by step toward universal health care for all of our
people. And there's a difference between the step-by-step approach and
just trying to tear down what he have and start over from scratch. 85
percent of our people do have health insurance, and the majority of
them like what they have. I think that means for one thing, we should
build on some of the good things we have, the highest quality of
health care in the world, and then reach out to the ones who do not
have health insurance, and make sure they get it. I would start by
giving every single child in America full health insurance within the
next four years. And then the parents of those children, when the
family is poor, or when the family income is up to two and a half
times the poverty rate. I'd give business owners in the small business
sector big tax credits to make it easier for them to give their
employees health insurance. I think we need to help families that are
dealing with long-term care. I think mental health care needs to be on
an equal basis with other diseases, just because it's a behavioral
disorder or rooted in the brain, instead of some other part of the
body, that discrimination should not be allowed. I think that these
are the kinds of steps that can get us to universal health
Edwards jumped in and insisted: "But Mr.
Vice President, a lot of these kids are working part-time jobs or
creative fields, they're on their own, maybe married, so they don't
have kids, ultimately getting covered themselves, and I think they
wonder, how long before they get some coverage?"
Gore: "Right. I know, and the big challenge is
when you graduate, then right away, you're in the soup, and some kids
are able to get riders on their parents' policies, but you know, many
aren't, and that's not your best option. That's why the 25 percent tax
credit for small business employers is important. That's why
initiatives to beef up community health care services are important,
and when we get large numbers of new people insured, then we'll be
close enough to take those extra steps to go to universal health
impatient: "How many years do you think we are away from
think that it will happen within this decade."
columnist Charles Krauthammer took up the issue of liberal media bias
in his latest offering, serving up New York Times front page headlines
on the campaign as his evidence.
Here's an excerpt from his column as it ran in
Friday's Washington Post:
When the subject of liberal bias in the media is brought up,
particularly during an election campaign, journalists tend to roll
their eyes and groan "there you go again" at this
recrudescence of an old right-wing shibboleth. This pose, while
convenient, was shaken by a famous
Roper poll of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and correspondents. It
found that in 1992 they had voted 89 percent for Clinton, 7 percent
for Bush. Regular Americans had voted Clinton over Bush, 43 percent to
38 percent. The country went marginally for Clinton; the journalists
went for him 13 to 1.
In other words, for every seven Bush voters among the American
people, there were eight Clinton voters. But for every seven Bush
voters in the Washington media, there were 89 for Clinton. Margins of
victory that lopsided are rarely seen this side of Syria.
Party registration numbers were just as impressively lopsided: 50
percent Democratic, 4 percent Republican.
The standard response is that these affiliations or predilections
do not influence coverage. For some journalists with superhuman self-control, I'm sure this is true. Most
journalists, alas, are not superhuman. Which is why the bias issue
The most notorious example occurred in the New York Times. It has
been widely cited...for its astonishing editorial decision to put on
the front page a two-week-old story about the RATS commercial. On the
other hand, the Times relegated Gore's concoction about his
mother-in-law, arthritis medicine and his dog -- part of his anti-Big
Pharm demagoguery -- to Page A18. And that story opens: "The
Republicans continued a sharp assault yesterday on Vice President Al
This is no isolated case. Here are the Times' Gore-Bush front-page
headlines of the first two weeks of September:
Sept. 1: "Bush Approves New Attack Ad Mocking Gore; Democrats
Say G.O.P. Has Turned Negative."
Sept. 2: "Bush Defends Ad That Assails Gore; Governor
Maintains He's Only Engaging in Self-Defense."
Sept. 4: "Bush Adapts and Goes On the Attack." "A
Confident Gore Sets Off on a Grand Tour." "Bush Puts Forth
Alternative Plan for 3 TV
Sept. 5: "TV Networks Jilted By Bush; Won't Take Part in 2
Sept. 6: "Bush Spells Out Major Overhaul in Medicare
Sept. 7: "Gore Offers Vision of Better Times For Middle
Class." "G.O.P. Leaders Fret at Lapses in Bush's Race."
Sept. 8: "Bush Planning to See Voters, And to Be Seen."
Sept. 9: "A Populist Pitch Helps Gore Woo Back His Party's
Sept. 11: "Gore Takes Tough Stand on Violent
Sept. 12: "Democrats See, and Smell, Rats in G.O.P. Ad."
Sept. 13: "Poll Shows Gore Overcoming Voter Concerns on
Sept. 14: "Bush Tax Cut Loses Appeal for Republicans in
It would take a mollusk to miss the pattern. Particularly striking
is the front-page echo of the substance of a Gore charge (the RATS
ad) vs. the front page portrayal of the "negativity" of
My favorite is the headline of Sept. 7: "Gore Offers Vision of
Better Times For Middle Class." It's the kind of headline Pravda
used to run for Brezhnev's presidential campaigns.
Why is this important? Because the Times front page is the
epicenter of the media echo chamber. It is the primary text for those
who compose the evening news on the three networks. The night that the
Times put the RATS commercial on page one, the story
-- dormant for 15 days since first revealed on Fox News Network -- ran
on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news. What are
The Times does not determine election results. If it did, we'd be
looking back fondly on the Mondale and Dukakis administrations. But
because it both reflects and affects general media coverage of
campaigns, it matters. It tilts the playing field. This year, the
angle is particularly steep.
To read the whole column, go to:
of the survey cited by Charles Krauthammer in item #6 above, which
found 89 percent of Capitol Hill correspondents and Washington bureau
chiefs voted for Clinton in 1992, the man who oversaw the project for
which the poll was commissioned has recommended that the public avoid
the bias by relying on C-SPAN and the Internet for their news.
"Does reporters' work reflect their
personal biases?" read the headline over a September 28 op-ed in
USA Today by Don Campbell, a former Gannett and USA Today reporter,
editor and columnist.
Campbell began by summarizing how an Editor
& Publisher poll "found that 44 percent of regular newspaper
readers perceive bias in news coverage. More than half of those who
identified themselves as George W. Bush supporters said they detected
bias, and four of five said the bias favored Gore. About three in 10
Gore supporters also said they detected bias, and more than a third of
those agreed that the bias was in Gore's favor."
For more on the E&P survey, go to:
Campbell then lamented: "It's a subject
that intrigues me because I bear some responsibility for giving
credibility to the complaint that mainstream journalists are
He explained: "In 1995, while directing a
study by The Freedom Forum, a journalism foundation, of how the media
cover Congress, I proposed some survey questions that would probe the
political leanings of several groups important to the study, including
journalists assigned to cover Congress.
survey, conducted by the Roper Center at the University of
Connecticut, was a self-administered questionnaire sent to 323 Washington
print and TV journalists identified as either congressional
correspondents or bureau chiefs. The latter were included because they
either covered Congress or made decisions about how their staffs
covered it. This produced a sample of 139 respondents, with a margin
of error of less than 3 percent."
He ran through some of the discoveries:
"The findings about political persuasion were these: 89 percent
of the correspondents and bureau chiefs said they voted for Bill
Clinton in 1992, 7 percent voted for President Bush, 2 percent for
Ross Perot and 2 percent for 'other.'
place themselves on the political spectrum, the congressional
journalists divided this way: 61 percent said liberal' or 'liberal
to moderate,' 30 percent said 'moderate,' and 9 percent said
'moderate to conservative' or 'conservative.'"
The exact number: Two percent said
Campbell recalled how "when our report was
issued in 1996, conservative columnists and talk-show hosts spotted
those numbers and went nuts. Everything else in this million-dollar
piece of careful research virtually was ignored. So you can blame --
or credit -- me for confirming long-held suspicions about where
Washington journalists are coming from."
Campbell contended "that those convinced
that they see political bias in mainstream reporting should act on
their convictions." His suggestions:
-- "First, stop reading the coverage. This
brings instant gratification, even if it doesn't solve the larger
-- "If you
want to confront the larger problem, organize your like-minded friends
and take your complaints to the people who hire, fire and assign the
political writers who offend you: editors. But don't go without solid
evidence to support your grievances, whether it's a pattern of
language or emphasis used by a reporter, or a carefully compiled
summary of news space or headlines devoted to one candidate or
another. Be prepared for a speech about how subtleties in the English
language are subject to many interpretations.
there, ask the editors whether their much-vaunted commitment to staff
'diversity' on race, gender, religion, age, disability and sexual
orientation extends to political diversity in the newsroom. Watch them
"Finally, after getting a respectful hearing and not much else,
take the last step, one made exceedingly attractive by the rise of the
Internet and the availability of C-SPAN: Cancel your subscription and
tell everyone on the planet why you did it."
"That's the marketplace at work. Even liberal Democrat editors
To read the entire op-ed, go to:
I especially like the third idea. By reading
CyberAlert you're already following his fourth suggestion. -- Brent Baker
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