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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| 5:05 pm ET, Thursday October 5, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 190) |

"Extremely Conservative" Cheney; Alter Defended Gore Gaffe; Bernard Shaw's Record -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) NBC's Today refused to describe Joe Lieberman as liberal, but this morning Tim Russert tagged Dick Cheney as "extremely conservative" while also listing specific votes he cast long ago.

2) "Oh God, man, listen to you! This is disgraceful," Don Imus upbraided Newsweek's Jonathan Alter for defending the "grain of truth" in Gore's claim he accompanied FEMA's chief to a Texas fire.

3) MRC Media Reality Check. "Lieberman Respects Farrakhan: No Story? After Eight Days, Most of the Press Still Missing, Despite Question to Clinton, Fox's Grilling of Daley."

4) VP debate moderator Bernard Shaw insisted he's "an old-fashioned journalist who believes in being fair, balanced and accurate." Check out examples of his liberal crusading and then evaluate his promise.


Here we go again with the media refusing to label Joe Lieberman as liberal but eager to tag Dick Cheney as "extremely conservative" while also highlighting specific votes of he cast long ago that they find objectionable.

    On today's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Katie Couric briefly discussed with Tim Russert how in tonight's debate Dick Cheney will probably ask why Al Gore decided to "pad his resume" with fabrications about the FEMA fire trip and the high schooler forced to stand.

    Then, after not having applied any ideological label to Lieberman, Couric inquired: "Dick Cheney's past voting record, his congressional voting record, which is quite conservative, is likely to come under fire as well."
    Russert agreed: "Absolutely. His votes against Head Start, his votes against education, against Medicare, against gun control."
    Couric piped in: "ERA."
    Russert added it to his list: "ERA, Equal Rights for Women. You'll see Joe Lieberman very delicately insert those all through the course of the debate because Dick Cheney was an extremely conservative Congressman, there's no doubt about it."

    That's right, Cheney was "against education." A pretty disappointing presentation by the usually better Russert.

    As pointed out in CyberAlerts back in August, Lieberman has a pretty liberal record. His ratings:
ADA 1999 liberal rating: 95 percent
ACU 1999 conservative rating: 0
NTU 1999 pro-taxpayer: 8 percent
(NARAL) abortion rights: 100 percent

    The August 16 CyberAlert recounted:

Journalists insist on describing Joe Lieberman as a "centrist," a "moderate" or "a conservative," but a review of his actual voting record proves otherwise. As columnist Bob Novak wrote last week, "the news media description this week of a centrist, moderate or even conservative misrepresented a party regular who more often than not is a conventional liberal."

Indeed, Novak pointed out that "while Lieberman's comments occasionally infuriate the National Education Association, the teachers' union rated his 1999 voting record at 90 percent. That compares with a 100 percent report card by the National Abortion Rights Action League."

Lieberman has earned a lifetime "Liberal Quotient" of 77 from Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). As a way of comparison, House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt has 71 percent lifetime approval from the liberal group. In 1999, Lieberman garnered 95 percent from ADA while the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a zero. His lifetime ACU: just 19 percent. The National Taxpayers Union found Lieberman is "a card-carrying tax-and-spend liberal" who in 1999 voted for spending and regulation more than "Senate liberals" such as Paul Wellstone and Barbara Boxer.

    END Excerpt

    For examples of how the networks and newspapers mislabeled Lieberman when Gore named him, go to this item in the August 16 CyberAlert and scroll down to the middle of the article:


Don Imus castigated Newsweek's Jonathan Alter this morning for defending Al Gore's claim that he traveled to Texas with FEMA chief James Lee Witt to check fire scenes.

    MRC analyst Paul Smith caught the exchange on the MSNBC simulcast of the Imus in the Morning radio show. Imus recounted how Gore "said he had accompanied James Lee Witt down there. Well, it turns out not only did Witt not go but Gore didn't go, but did go to Texas but it was for a fundraiser."

    Alter argued: "He got a briefing at the airport. It's a stretcher, you know. It's like all these other ones where there is a grain of truth to it and he really didn't-"
    Imus: "Well, there wasn't any grain of truth to that. Where was the grain of truth?"
    Alter: "Well, he got a briefing on the fires, you know-"
    Imus: "Oh God, man, listen to you! This is disgraceful."


The latest Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check titled, "Lieberman Respects Farrakhan: No Story? After Eight Days, Most of the Press Still Missing, Despite Question to Clinton, Fox's Grilling of Daley."

    In an addendum below after the text of the Media Reality Check, the MRC's Tim Graham noted how when Jack Kemp four years ago praised the Nation of Islam's "message" of economic empowerment for the black community, Democratic Jewish leaders condemned him but are silent now.

    Now to the text of the October 5 Media Reality Check researched and written by Tim:

On September 27, eight days ago, the first press reports revealed that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman said he would be willing to meet with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has called Judaism, Lieberman's faith, a "gutter religion."

In an interview with April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks, Lieberman said, "Look, Minister Farrakhan said a few things earlier in the campaign that were just not informed. But I have respect for him, and I have respect for the Muslim community generally."

Where's the furor? The story first came on Wednesday from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jodi Enda and hit the Knight-Ridder national wire. USA Today mentioned it. Ryan questioned President Clinton about it in a briefing aired live on CNN. Clinton seemed surprised: "I didn't understand. What did you say about Joe Lieberman and Louis Farrakhan?" When Ryan explained that "Joe Lieberman told me yesterday" that he would meet with Farrakhan, Clinton only said, "Well, if anybody has got the standing to do it, he certainly does."

That night, Ryan appeared on Fox's O'Reilly Factor. Host Bill O'Reilly asked if she challenged Lieberman on his statement. She said yes: "He said, but it's time for us to come together. And he's trying to win. That's basically what it is. He wants to win an election and the African-American vote is crucial."

Last Thursday, the story was picked up by UPI and the Associated Press in the tenth paragraph of a story on the upcoming "Million Family March." On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League, whose earlier criticism of Lieberman for religious talk on the stump drew all-network coverage, warned Lieberman would be "legitimizing a bigot."

It hit television on Sunday. On NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked Rick Lazio if he'd meet with Farrakhan. (He said no.) On Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow asked Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley about Lieberman. "Does he do that with the Vice President's blessing?" Daley said no, "Joe makes those decisions on his own. He obviously doesn't have to get approval from Al Gore to have meetings."

On Monday, AP reported its first full story on Lieberman's remarks, based on criticism from RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson. On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote about it, concluding, "It would be hard now for Lieberman to repudiate Farrakhan, but it would be harder still for us to respect someone who will not."

But now, eight days in, let's list who is still missing on this story: The New York Times. The Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post news pages. Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. CBS. CNN's newscasts. NBC's newscasts. ABC arrived this morning. Are the media being tough on both sides? Can a press corps that celebrated Lieberman's faith now ignore it?

    END Reprint of Media Reality Check

    The report distributed by fax this afternoon featured a pull-out quote box reciting Diane Sawyer's questions to Lieberman's wife Hadassah on today's Good Morning America, the first broadcast network morning or evening show mention of the matter:
    -- "There has been criticism from the Anti-Defamation League of Senator Lieberman's statement that he would be willing to meet with Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, and indeed he was quoted as saying 'I have respect for him.' And this is a man who several years ago called Judaism a 'gutter religion.' How do you feel about that personally?
    -- Sawyer followed up: "Again, I think of the haunting thing you have said about hearing your mother wake up in the middle of the night, crying in fear because of her experiences during the war. Is it possible for you to say you have respect for Louis Farrakhan?"
    Mrs. Lieberman supported her husband.

    Tim Graham provided this additional information for CyberAlert that was squeezed out of the print version:

    One source of this Jewish criticism of Lieberman comes from JewishWorldReview.com. Editor Binyamin L. Jolkovsky noted in his latest commentary:
    "It was only a few years ago that another vice presidential hopeful announced that he wanted to meet with Farrakhan. Republican Jack Kemp praised the Nation of Islam's 'message' of economic empowerment for the black community and said he would have liked to speak at the Million Man March.
    "At the time, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) was quick to pounce. (This is the same NJDC that was caught last week releasing a falsified transcript of Lieberman's remarks to Don Imus on the subject of intermarriage in an effort, no doubt, to work damage control for Lieberman and discredit JWR.)
    "As reported in the Sept. 13, 1996 number of Forward, a national Jewish newspaper, NJDC's executive director, Ira Forman, described Kemp's actions as making a 'deal with the devil.' "Kemp's hoped-for dialogue with Farrakhan, he added, was the 'height of political naivete.' NJDC's deputy executive director, Stephen Silberfarb, went further. According to the Baltimore Sun, he said: 'The Jewish community does not differentiate between the message and the messenger. It's like allowing Adolf Hitler to take the podium."

    Double standard, anyone?

    To read Jolkovsky's full article, go to:


For tonight's vice presidential debate, CNN's Bernard Shaw will serve as moderator. He's best remembered around debate time for asking Michael Dukakis if he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered. MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey rounded up a few of our favorite Bernard Shaw quotes, in case people might think he's a closet conservative.

    In an AP story today Shaw assured: "I'm an old-fashioned journalist who believes in being fair, balanced and accurate, and those principles color everything I do."

    Judge for yourself:

    -- May 26, 1992: On a CNN special on ozone depletion titled "Hole in the Sky," Shaw sounded like Al Gore, singling out the human race as a cancer on the planet:
    "This is a story about human folly. Mankind's attempt to engineer a better place to live, to improve upon nature with inventions such as refrigeration, foam packing, and electronics. But the man-made chemicals used in pursuit of the good life have put all life on earth in jeopardy. The chemicals have punched a hole in the sky." Shaw concluded: "Already, there's a moral to the story, and that is nature may not always be able to recover from the abuses of modern civilization."

    -- August 20, 1992: During GOP convention coverage, Shaw took exception to Dan Quayle:
    "Very frankly, I am very puzzled by one paragraph, one sentence in the Vice President's speech on page six. In a very petulant voice, and listen to the words: he said, `To Governor Clinton I say this: America is the greatest nation in the world and that's one thing you're not going to change.' Implying that Clinton is some kind of guerrilla, saboteur, or what have you. That's my reaction to that line Ken Bode, I don't know about you. It implies something that, it seems that he's saying you're not as American as I am, your blood is not as red as mine."

    -- July 19, 1994: On Inside Politics, Shaw asked Democratic consultant Bob Squier: "Have the Republicans pulled a snow job on the American voters by making them believe Bill Clinton has raised their taxes?"

    -- On election night, 1994: Shaw sounded like he needed the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" under this speech disguised as a question to Pat Buchanan: "Two years ago the American voters gave Bill Clinton a mandate for change. He went to Washington, sought to create change. He had internal problems with his staff, he had external problems. There were questions about his personality, his character, et cetera. But I don't think anyone can question that this man and his staff sought what was best for the United States. Tonight, it is clear voters coast to coast in this country have said 'We want a change.' Now Republicans had voted this Democrat to be virtually, or described him as a monster. My question is essentially this: Where did he go wrong? What did he do so wrong that was against the American body politic, considering that he loves this country as much as you and I do?"

    -- February 25, 1997: On Inside Politics, Shaw asked Rep. Dan Burton about the record use of the Lincoln Bedroom for fundraising: "How can you keep a straight face when you talk about this President, who is a Democrat, inviting people to the White House -- big, heavy rollers, contributors -- when the same thing was done by Republican Presidents?"

    -- January 25, 1998: Four days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, Shaw suggested President Clinton might be a victim like Richard Jewell:
    "A final thought on what you have seen and heard in this edition of Impact. A breaking news story is never the full picture. Remember speculation that Middle Eastern terrorists bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building? In fact, Americans did it. Remember first reports that Princess Diana was hounded to death by the paparazzi? In fact, we learned that the man driving her speeding limousine was drunk. And that investigation is not over. Remember Richard Jewell highly suspected in the Olympic park bombing? In fact, the FBI apologized for targeting the wrong man. And now we are in the middle of another breaking story; the President and his accusers. All the facts are not in.""

    -- March 28, 2000: Shaw was amazed by author Peggy Noonan and her book The Case Against Hillary Clinton. "This quote. Quote: 'She is too corrupt for New York. She is too cynical for the place that gave birth to Tammany Hall.' Now, really, Peggy!" Shaw also asked her in disbelief: "Are you saying the journalists covering her are patsies? They're not professional?"

    For more quotes from this interview and to watch a RealPlayer excerpt of Shaw arguing with Noonan, go to:
http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000329.asp#4 -- Brent Baker


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