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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| 5:15 pm ET, Wednesday October 11, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 196) |

Bush Lead "Sobering"?; Couric: Reagan Fibbed Too; Gore Alaskan Oil Error Skipped -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) "Pretty sobering," ABC's Diane Sawyer remarked of a poll which put Bush ahead of Gore by 48 to 45 percent. NBC's Katie Couric recalled how Reagan confused movies with reality and wondered: "Why was it charming then and not presidential now?"

2) Media Reality Check Quick Take: "Networks Have Yet to Question Gore's Error on Alaskan Oil: Why Do Reporters Keep Insisting Gore Is 'The Master of the Material'"?


Two items from Wednesday's morning shows: "Pretty sobering," ABC's Diane Sawyer remarked of a poll which put Bush ahead of Gore by 48 to 45 percent; NBC's Katie Couric recalled how Reagan confused movies for reality and wondered: "Why was it charming then and not presidential now?"

    -- Opening the October 11 Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Diane Sawyer called a new poll result, which has Bush ahead, "sobering," though her exact meaning was unclear:
    "What will both candidates do differently in tonight's debate? For one, Al Gore acknowledged yesterday he's going to sigh a little bit less, and our George Stephanopoulos is with us this morning to take us behind the scenes about what else they're doing to prepare for what turns out to be a truly important night for both candidates. And by the way, we have a new poll out as well, and that's pretty sobering, too."

    She later relayed the poll source and finding: "Our new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows George W. Bush has now opened up a small lead over Al Gore, 48 to 45 percent in this roller coaster campaign."

    -- Interviewing Bush campaign Communications Director Karen Hughes on NBC's Today, Katie Couric argued as she wrapped up:

    "And in closing, all this week you all have made much of Al Gore's exaggerations but the same things were often said about Ronald Reagan who would pass off as true stories things he had seen in the movies. You know Republicans brushed that off as part of Ronald Reagan's charms or charm but now you cite it as a major character flaw when it comes to Al Gore. Why was it charming then and not presidential now?"

    Because one was confusion over an anecdote to make a political point, the other a self-promoting effort to deceive.

    To be fair to Today, it should be noted that MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens also noted that Matt Lauer hit Gore campaign Chairman Bill Daley with a contradiction in his campaign:

    "Mr. Daley, over the last couple of weeks things have gotten a little bit testy with the Al Gore campaign starting to criticize Governor Bush personally about some of the bloopers and blunders he's made, some of the misuse of the English language. Is this the kind of campaign that Al Gore promised the American people?"

    Pointing out how Gore has sent Joe Lieberman to Texas to denounce Bush's record, Lauer followed up: "You don't see a problem with, with, you know, not framing this in a positive way by calling it a 'Failed Leadership Tour?'"


The text of a Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check "Quick Take" compiled by the MRC's Rich Noyes and distributed this afternoon. You can read this online as an Adobe Acrobat PDF document:


On this morning's Today show, Newsweek writer and MSNBC/NBC talking head Jonathan Alter insisted that tonight's roundtable format will aid Vice President Gore because a more "thoughtful" exchange will showcase that the Democratic nominee "has a greater depth of understanding of some of these issues."

"He's shown he's the master of the material," Alter gushed to host Matt Lauer. "Now he has to be the master of the moment."

Maybe Alter and other journalists who think Gore is a "master" of the issues are just displaying their own ignorance of crucial policy details. Here's one claim the Vice President made last week that has yet to be refuted by anyone at ABC, CBS or NBC:

"Another big difference is, Governor Bush is proposing to open up some of our most precious environmental treasures, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to the big oil companies....I think that is the wrong choice. It would only give us a few months worth of oil," Gore said in the October 3 presidential debate.

FACT: The portion of the Arctic Coastal Plain contains an estimated 16 BILLION barrels of oil, or about equal to 30 YEARS worth of imports from Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The CBS Evening News admitted as much on October 8, when reporter John Blackstone described the region as "a place of rugged beauty and perhaps billions of barrels of oil." But neither Blackstone nor any other network correspondent was rude enough to let the facts get in the way of the idea that Gore is a policy "master."

If he makes the same bogus claim in tonight's debate, TV's self-appointed "truth squads" should tell their audiences that Gore is playing fast and loose with the facts, not hype him as a policy genius whose only flaw is an annoying sigh.

    END Reprint of Media Reality Check Quick Take -- Brent Baker


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