Only GMA Confronted Gore With Gaffes; Lehrer Scolded For "Pro-Life"; Gore "Most Positive I Have Seen"; Letterman Top Ten
-- Back to today's CyberAlert
1) Wednesday morning only ABC's Charles Gibson asked Gore
about his make-believe Texas trip, while NBC's Tom Brokaw tripped himself up
trying to question Bush's budget facts.
2) MRC Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check: "Tall-Tale Al
Gets Ignored or Excused on TV; Only ABC Asked About Witt, and Stephanopoulos
Found 'No Big, Big Lies or Grand Distortions.'"
3) Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales scolded debate
moderator Jim Lehrer for using the phrase "pro-life," which he
claimed no "reputable journalistic organization" would allow.
4) Tim Russert complimented Gore's debate demeanor.
"When you look at the Al Gore of last night he was much more disciplined,
much better behaved, if you will, in terms of staying on message and avoiding
any kind of condescension or in any way being impolite to his opponent. Quite
5) GMA's Antonio Mora seemed surprised that voters had a
different take on the debate than the liberal media, whom he called
6) Actor Martin Sheen, who plays "President Josiah
Bartlet" on NBC's The West Wing, is starring in a new anti-George Bush
TV ad for Handgun Control, Inc. just as his show returns to NBC with a
two-hour season premiere tonight.
7) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways To Make The Gore/Bush
Debate More Exciting."
Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today all ran
interviews with George W. Bush that were taped after last night's
presidential debate, and all interviewed Al Gore live this morning. Most of
the questions focused on the two candidates' personal reactions to the
debate, not following up on the policy statements each made.
By morning, a number of Gore misstatements had been
discovered, but none of the interviewers raised them with the Vice President
save ABC's Charles Gibson, who seemed to blame Republicans when he asked the
Vice President: "They're already indicating that they're going to go
after you today for, for revising history in ways, saying that you have
questioned his [Bush's] qualifications in the past, not just his policies,
and also questioning whether you actually went with James Lee Witt down to
Texas to go to those fires in Parker?"
Last night, Bush had answered a question about meeting
unexpected challenges in office by relating how he visited regions of his
state that had been devastated by fire. Although the discussion had moved on
to intervention in financial markets, Gore re-visited the topic with this
gratuitous pat on his own back: "I want to compliment the Governor on his
response to those fires and floods in Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down
to Texas when those fires broke out. And FEMA has been a major flagship
project of our reinventing government efforts. And I agree, it works extremely
That wasn't true, it turned out, but neither NBC nor
CBS bothered to ask Gore about why he would go so far out of his way to make
such a statement, although Today's Katie Couric twice asked Gore what Bill
Clinton told him in a post-debate phone call.
Today also showed an interview with Bush conducted by
NBC's Tom Brokaw last night in Boston. Brokaw tried to challenge Bush's
facts, but only showed his own lack of expertise with federal budget
"Almost everyone who's an authority in this area
says that both you and the Vice President are way too optimistic when we talk
about this $25 trillion surplus," Brokaw demanded. "That there is a
very good possibility we'll never get to that number."
Projections are for a $4 to $5 trillion surplus; $25
trillion is the total projected revenues for the next ten years, of which Bush
wants to return $1.3 trillion to taxpayers. So Brokaw's right when he says
"there is a very good possibility we'll never get to that number."
The text of
the MRC's Campaign 2000 Media
Reality Check report distributed by fax this afternoon. The MRC's
Tim Graham compiled the issue titled, "Tall-Tale Al Gets Ignored or
Excused on TV: Only ABC Asked About Witt, and Stephanopoulos Found 'No Big,
Big Lies or Grand Distortions.'"
"Gore's Vanishing Class Size Crisis" read
the headline over the pull-out box quote:
"I would not permit
any students to stand. We have 2,480 students on a practically brand-new
campus. In my opinion, it's one of the top high schools in the nation right
now. We don't have any portable classrooms. All of our students are in regular
classes and we have 900 computers, 600 Internet sites. We'd never allow a
student to have to stand up during class." -- Sarasota, Florida principal
Daniel Kennedy refuting Gore's tale of overcrowding to CNSNews.com.
Now the text of the rest of the afternoon Media Reality
Check for October 4:
Washington Post reporter John F. Harris claimed this morning that in the
Bush-Gore debate, "Neither fulfilled the negative stereotypes about
himself." But Harris hadn't heard of the Al Gore tall tales that
emerged within 12 hours of the debate.
Gore's campaign admitted Gore did not travel to a Texas disaster area
with Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt as he boasted
last night. The Gore camp didn't return calls for CNSNews.com's story that
Gore was wrong about over crowding in a Sarasota, Florida school.
CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today failed to raise these
stories with Gore or anyone else this morning, although ABC's Charles Gibson
asked Gore about Witt on Good Morning America. (The CBS News Election Unit
noted the Witt tall tale last night in an "Accuracy Report Card" on
Gibson blamed the Republicans for the emerging falsehood: "They're
already indicating that they're going to go after you today for, for
revising history in ways, saying that you have questioned his qualifications
in the past, not just his policies, and also questioning whether you actually
went with James Lee Witt down to Texas...?"
Gore looked away and mumbled: "Well, I was there in Texas. I think
James Lee went to the same, went to the same, uh, fires, and I've made so
many trips with James Lee to these disaster sites. I was there, in Texas, in
Houston, with the head of the Texas Emergency Management folks, and with all
of the Federal Emergency Management folks. If James Lee was there before, or
after, then [shrugs shoulders], you know, I got that wrong then, but uh, it
was basically a compliment to the way our FEMA team had handled things, and it
was in the context of a compliment to the Governor for the way he handled it
for the state of Texas."
Later, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos discussed the ABC "truth
squad" on the debate. Despite Bush telling Gibson that Gore was wrong to
claim Bush's tax cut would "spend" more on the top one percent of
taxpayers than on health, prescription drugs, education, and national defense
combined, Sawyer claimed, "We heard Governor Bush just say that Vice
President Gore was right on the amount that he'd be spending for the richest
After Stephanopoulos explained how "the facts bear out Vice President
Gore" on his claims against Bush's prescription drug plan, Sawyer
asked: "Major issues about truth, then, from our truth squad?"
Stephanopoulos claimed Gore's invented Texas story was no big deal:
"Gore exaggerated a little bit. You saw him backtrack on whether or not
he was really with James Lee Witt in Texas last night. He also misstated when
he said that more than half of Bush's tax cut went to the top one percent in
the country, when in fact, the Bush campaign came back and said it was about
44 percent, but there were no big, big lies, or grand distortions."
Exaggerated a little bit? How about made up out of whole cloth? How do you
"backtrack" on an event that didn't happen?
END Reprint of Media Reality Check
Post TV critic Tom Shales scolded debate moderator Jim Lehrer for using the
phrase "pro-life," which he claimed no "reputable journalistic
organization" would allow.
In his October 4 review of debate coverage, Shales was
especially peeved that Jim Lehrer broke out of the media's politically correct
paradigm on abortion: "Lehrer committed another blunder when he said to
Bush, 'You're pro-life.' Generally, reputable journalistic organizations do
not use this term to refer to those opposed to abortion. Would Lehrer have
turned to Gore and said, 'You're anti-life'? He should know
The liberal Shales also displayed disappointment with
Gore: "Al Gore did 'win' in terms of points made and impression
presented. He conveyed more stature, authority and poise than Bush and had a
better grasp of a wider range of material. And yet he also, at times, came
across as his own toughest opponent with his tendency toward hauteur,
superciliousness and the condescending tone he sometimes uses when speaking to
viewers. Someone should play Madonna's old song 'Papa Don't Preach' for Gore
before each of his presidential appearances. He can be as prissy and bossy as
a cranky granny."
NBC's Tim Russert refrained from issuing broad assessments, but on this
morning's Today show he called Gore's performance the "most
positive" he has ever seen from the Vice President this year, and
defended the Vice President's irritating interruptions and audible sighs,
saying "that's just a tendency he has."
Co-host Matt Lauer brought up the question of Gore's
demeanor, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, telling Russert:
"Pundits and voters, Tim, are gonna pick apart every little aspect of
this from the clothing to the body language to what you heard. And what you
heard a lot from Al Gore were these audible sighs. When George Bush, Governor
Bush was talking. Was that a mistake for Al Gore? Does he have to be more
careful of that in the next two debates?"
Russert responded: "I do think so. He did the same
thing in December with Bill Bradley. It's just a tendency he has. Some people
interpret it as being condescending and almost being so much above his
opponent. But when you look at the Al Gore of last night he was much more
disciplined, much better behaved, if you will, in terms of staying on message
and avoiding any kind of condescension or in any way being impolite to his
opponent. Quite the contrary. It is the most positive I have seen Al Gore in
any debate setting, certainly during this campaign debate cycle."
If that's really the case, we'd hate to see Al
Gore's dark side.
America's news reader Antonio Mora noticed that the voters who were brought
together for the media's focus groups didn't have the same reaction to the
debate as did the network all-stars.
In a conversation shortly before 8am with Mora and
co-host Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer brought up that "you know, we've
had a lot of people criticizing the press for leaning one way or the other in
this campaign, and you were saying that you noticed a difference last
night," she said, turning to Mora.
Mora explained: "I noticed last night, as we were
listening to all of the different pundits on different channels -- I was
flipping around, don't tell Peter that -- but I noticed that everybody
seemed to think that Al Gore had dominated the debate and had sort of been the
stronger presence. And then you start listening to the focus groups, and it
seemed as if they were hearing something different than what the professional
observers were hearing. I found that very interesting."
For his part, Gibson argued that "Antonio's right
about the focus groups, but yet some of the instant polling last night also
had people saying that Vice President Gore had won, so I don't know."
Yes, it's certainly "interesting" that
voters don't have the same pro-Gore sympathies that pundits like
Stephanopoulos put on display last night, but it's even more interesting
that a network personality would acknowledge that he and his colleagues are
out of step with the public they claim to represent.
premiere of NBC's drama The West Wing airs tonight, Wednesday October 4,
just days after actor Martin Sheen, who plays Democratic "President
Josiah Bartlet," debuted in a new anti-George Bush TV ad produced by
Handgun Control, Inc.
In a September 28 Associated Press dispatch, Laura
Meckler of the AP's Washington bureau, reported: "In a new TV ad, a
pretend President weighs into a real-live campaign. And like his character,
Martin Sheen is siding with the Democrats."
She explained: "Handgun Control Inc. is spending
about a half million dollars to air a new campaign commercial featuring Sheen
talking about Republican George W. Bush's record on gun control."
Sheen is in it for the political as Meckler learned he
"donated his time" and "also made a second Handgun Control spot
that does not mention any candidate."
With an American flag as the backdrop, in the ad Sheen
speaks into the camera and announces:
Martin Sheen. Between now and election day at least 2,000 Americans will die
from gunfire. Should the next President be the candidate of the gun lobby?
Should he have signed a bill that allows hidden handguns in churches,
hospitals and amusement parks? Should he be someone of whom the NRA has said,
that if he is elected they'll be working right out of the Oval Office?
That's Governor Bush's record."
Sheen then directs viewers
to this Web address:
Mecker noted that "Sheen's commercial will air in
Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis, all large cities in states that are
important to the presidential election." But I've seen, it in either
local or national buys, on Washington, D.C. TV stations, including during
Tuesday's The Early Show on CBS affiliate WUSA-TV.
The West Wing will pick up tonight with the outcome of
the season-ending shooting of the presidential party outside the Newseum. The
two hour premiere will air at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT/MT.
For a RealPlayer video and a rundown of a plot line from
near the end of the season, on how the show took a bizarre twist into very
tolerant social liberalism with "President Bartlet" promising to
help a prostitute gain admittance to the bar, yet in the same episode he fired
an ambassador for having an affair, go to:
For a summary of another liberal plot on an earlier and
links to several other episodes with liberal themes, as well as one with an
anti-liberal sub-theme, go to:
October 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top
Ten Ways To Make The Gore/Bush Debate More Exciting." Copyright 2000 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc. Late Show Web page address:
10.Replace pitchers of water with pitchers of gin
9.Extra points awarded to candidate who gets in best "your mama is so
8.Large screen behind candidates shows baseball playoff game in progress
7.Two candidates, one suit
6 .When George W. Bush mispronounces a word, a Texas prisoner gives him an
5.The loser spends a week in boot camp for troubled teens
4. Candidate's answer must match what Charles Nelson Reilly wrote on his card
3.Give 'em a pair of nunchakus and let them settle it like men
2."Name the world leaders" is good, but strip "Name the world
leaders" -- even better
1.Are you kidding -- it couldn't be more exciting
And from the Late Show Web page, a few of the "Top
Ten Extras," entries that didn't make the final cut:
-- Have them discuss real issues that matter, like what happened
to the McDonald's McDLT?
-- After every correct answer, Gore gets to make out with Tipper
-- Have Gore say he invented the electric chair, watch Bush go nuts
-- Before every answer, candidates must take a big hit of helium
At least that would give
Gore something to do other than sigh and grunt.
-- Brent Baker
with morning show analysis by Rich
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