Surprised by Bush's Knowledge; Gore Exposed Bush Vulnerability; "Hidden Hand" President Cheney; Lehrer's Liberal Push
-- Extra Edition
1) ABC praised Bush's knowledge
of foreign policy. Peter Jennings cracked that Bush named nations "which
his critics have said in the past he couldn't even pronounce, or perhaps
spell." Gore did not show his "smarty pants" side, CBS's Bob
Schieffer noted. NBC's Tom Brokaw thought Gore "had his behavior under
2) "Governor Bush seemed surprisingly sure-footed in the
area of foreign policy," an astonished Ted Koppel announced on Nightline.
David Gergen argued that Gore "was undercutting his credibility by coming
out as a different person."
3) Two NBC analysts insisted that the blurring of policy
differences in the debate will benefit Bush since he's on the wrong side of
4) ABC's Dean Reynolds and CBS's Gloria Borger told
viewers that Bush failed to adequately answer Gore's charge about Bush's
bad record in providing health coverage for Texas kids. CNN pressed Colin
Powell and Dick Cheney about how Bush will have to provide a better answer.
5) CBS highlighted one error each by Bush and Gore. NBC cited
one by Gore and two by Bush.
6) The ABC, CBS and CNN snap polls all discovered that most
thought Bush won the debate. Despite warning that as "a snap poll"
it "may or may not be worth anything," CBS's Dan Rather took the
time to detail his network's findings.
7) Dan Rather took a backhanded shot at Bush's foreign
policy qualifications as he asked Dick Cheney how voters can be sure
"that you wouldn't be...the hidden hand President?"
8) Bush missed an opportunity to hit Gore on his unpopular
position of favoring the same immigration rights for gay partners as are given
married couples, NBC's Tim Russert suggested. But NBC never reported
Gore's leftward policy shift.
9) Moderator Jim Lehrer repeated a couple of VP debate
moderator Bernard Shaw's liberal agenda questions, and then added his own
about what can be done for those without health insurance.
10) Clueless undecided voters. A man on NBC was impressed
that Gore wants smaller government, adding: "They both had beautiful
points tonight." A woman on CNN heard Bush say that "healthy
children don't need insurance."
11) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways Ralph Nader Can Still
12) Ratherism: "...a little like saying it's the
highest mountain in Kansas."
MRC on TV Thursday. MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell is scheduled to appear
today on the 700 Club to discuss campaign coverage. The 700 Club airs at
10am and 11pm ET on the Fox Family Channel as well as at various times on
local stations around the country. It airs at 9am in Washington, DC on
reporters and analysts declared George W. Bush the winner of Wednesday
night's second presidential debate, though Al Gore earned acclaim for
his dissection of Bush's health care record in Texas. Gore also earned
some praise from network analysts for, as NBC's Tom Brokaw put it,
having taken "his anti-sigh pills. He had his behavior under
Going toe-to-toe with the incumbent Gore "is an
achievement in and of itself," declared ABC's Peter Jennings who
argued that Gore "succeeded" in turning "the country's
attention to Governor Bush's record in Texas." Jennings snidely
quipped that Bush cited "crises and challenges in parts of the world
which his critics have said in the past he couldn't even pronounce, or
George Stephanopoulos declared it "a very
strong night for Governor Bush" who "was able to look like a
statesman by agreeing with the administration on the Middle East and
CBS's Dan Rather recalled the VP debate as he
suggested Bush and Gore "came off as vice presidential, you might
say." Before criticizing Bush for two foreign policy points, Bob
Schieffer asserted "this was not Al Gore the smarty pants that we
sometimes saw in the first debate."
NBC's Tim Russert decided that after the debate
the choice still remained one of "capacity versus character."
Now the full quotes from October 11 ABC, CBS and NBC
-- ABC News. Peter Jennings immediately after the
debate ended, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
"Certainly more cautious than the first
debate....But whenever the challenger, as Mr. Bush certainly is, stands --
or in this case sits -- toe to toe with his incumbent and holds his own,
that is an achievement in and of itself, and there's no question, I
think, in the minds of colleagues immediately surrounding me that Mr. Bush
certainly did that. Mr. Bush, about whom people worry on foreign policy,
introduced issues and substance in several places where some of his
critics would least expect it.
certainly succeeded, as he wanted very much to do, to turn the country's
attention to Governor Bush's record in Texas, or what he says is
Governor Bush's record in Texas, and there were, as you could see, some
contentious moments about that."
George Stephanopoulos was impressed by Bush's
performance: "I thought it was a very strong night for Governor Bush.
I mean, Al Gore did do fine; he lowered down the ticks. But the fact that
the first 40 minutes of the debate was on foreign policy, I think, really
helped Bush. He was able to look like a statesman by agreeing with the
administration on the Middle East and Kosovo. He was able to look strong
by taking a hardline against Saddam Hussein and corruption in Russia, and
he didn't appear obviously less experienced, less capable or less
informed than Vice President Gore. Finally, even though Gore did get to
wedge in education at the end, he didn't get to talk about Social
Security or progress in the last eight years, which he wanted to do."
Jennings then quipped: "I confess that the
foreign policy was one we very much noticed here, with Governor Bush on
occasion introducing crises and challenges in parts of the world which his
critics have said in the past he couldn't even pronounce, or perhaps
-- CBS News. Dan Rather pronounced afterward:
"No hits, no runs, a few errors. The kind of Superbowl of soundbites,
conversational and cordial, if not always coherent. Vice President Gore
and Governor Bush came off as vice presidential you might say, taking a
page from their running mates' play books. Even their disagreements were
polite. Both agreed that they believe in the golden rule. That was, of
course, very good to hear."
Bob Schieffer found errors in Bush's presentation:
"Clearly on foreign policy this was a much kinder, gentler Al Gore.
This was not Al Gore the smarty pants that we sometimes saw in the first
debate. But I must say I thought Bush made a tactical mistake when said he
could handle Saddam Hussein better than the Clinton administration had
done, because that just opened the door very wide for Al Gore to come back
and make the point your dad's the one who left him in place. And I think
Gore took very good advantage of that. I think Bush also made a mistake in
not explaining what he meant about not using the military for 'nation
Schieffer added: "I think Bush got his footing
better later on when they turned to domestic affairs, but in foreign
policy discussion it seemed to me that Al Gore was much more comfortable
talking about it tonight."
-- NBC News. Anchors Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, who
were the only broadcast network anchors actually at the debate site,
refrained from offering much in the way of broad assessments.
Brokaw's first remark after the debate: "Tim,
the Vice President tonight obviously took his anti-sigh pills. He had his
behavior under control and it's clear that Governor Bush and President
Bush share the same gene-pool when it comes to the vision thing. They just
don't care for it very much."
Russert contended: "Going into this debate it
was an issue of capacity versus character. I think we leave the debate
with the same issues."
Bush seemed surprisingly sure-footed in the area of foreign policy,"
Ted Koppel announced on Wednesday night's Nightline. David Gergen argued
that Gore "was undercutting his credibility by coming out as a
An astonished Koppel conceded: "If there was
any surprise in that initial segment, it came with the sense that Governor
Bush seemed surprisingly sure-footed in the area of foreign policy -- that
has always been regarded as one of his weakest areas -- and Vice President
Gore appeared to be holding back."
Later, Gergen outlined the downside of Gore's calm
demeanor: "I think he recovered his voice in the last half of the
debate, but in the first half, you weren't quite sure what happened to the
Al Gore of last week and who is the real Al Gore, and I think that he was
undercutting his credibility by coming out as a different person. I
thought he was so far removed from the one of last week that I think he
of policy differences will benefit Bush since he's on the wrong side of
most issues, two NBC analysts insisted.
Near the end of NBC's post-debate half hour,
liberal presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin maintained: "They
both blurred the distinctions between the two sides and that may help Bush
in a funny way since the issues tend, according to the polls, to be more
on the Democratic side."
Tim Russert soon agreed: "I think the point
that Doris is making is that blurring the differences was something that
benefited Bush because if people don't agree with him on the issues, and
they see that he's in sync with Al Gore, then they'd say well maybe it
can be a personality race."
Texas record, a target-rich environment for Gore, network analysts argued.
ABC's Dean Reynolds and CBS's Gloria Borger told viewers that Bush
failed to adequately answer Gore's charge about Bush's bad record in
providing health coverage for Texas children, but NBC's Tim Russert
found both Gore and Bush were accurate in their battling numbers. The Gore
attack so intrigued CNN that Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield pressed
Colin Powell and Dick Cheney about how Bush will have to provide a better
During ABC's prime time coverage, Bush beat
reporter Dean Reynolds lectured: "I thought it was interesting that
the Governor who has spent maybe a year and a half trying to get the
country confident in his leadership was very confident of himself tonight.
His demeanor was one of great confidence. He brushed aside a lot of the
criticism that Vice President Gore directed at him, and he was doing fine
for about the first hour, and then when the record in Texas came up, his
responses became more halting and he began to talk about the mathematics,
questioning Gore's mathematics without actually challenging the
conclusions that the Vice President was making."
Over on CBS, Gloria Borger made the same point:
"Gore managed to get George Bush a little bit on domestic policy. He
said look, your state is dead last in insuring families and Bush did not
respond with any numbers of his own. That was a problem."
But NBC's Tim Russert portrayed a draw: "When
Al Gore said that Texas ranks 49th he's correct. But when George Bush
says he's making progress, more than the country, he's correct
CNN failed to pose policy questions to Gore Chairman
Bill Daley or Democratic Senator Chris Dodd but, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth
noticed, the network demanded two pro-Bush spokesman provide an answer for
Gore's attack line on health insurance for children.
Greenfield asked Colin Powell: "Your current
passion is children, kids. You heard Vice President Gore say that Texas
ranks last or next to last in health care for kids, women and families,
and that money was diverted from a tax cut instead of for health care, and
to which Governor Bush did not give a specific answer. Do you think
Governor Bush now has to address that specific charge soon to lay to rest
that charge about the Governor's priorities?"
Minutes later Judy Woodruff raised the same concern
with Dick Cheney: "What I want to ask you about were the questions
that were posed, the statements that were put by the Vice President about
the record in Texas when it comes to health care and children, women and
families. It didn't seem as if Governor Bush addressed this. What will
he say about the Texas record on these issues?"
NBC, but not ABC, took time to address supposed factual errors by both
Dan Rather hit each candidate for one error. For Gore, he cited his
misidentification of Milosevic as President of Serbia instead of
Yugoslavia. For Bush, he pointed how Bush said all three men convicted of
murdering James Byrd were given the death penalty, but actually one
received a life sentence.
Lisa Myers manned "The Truth Squad" desk
for NBC. She highlighted the same two errors caught by CBS, but added
another for Bush. She maintained that while Bush was correct in saying the
situation had deteriorated nationally, he erred in implying Texas has
improved its health coverage for children since the number of children
without health insurance has increased during Bush's tenure.
CBS and CNN snap polls, though they offered widely varying numbers, all
discovered that most thought Bush won the debate. CBS's Dan Rather took
the time to detail his network's findings despite his warning that as
"a snap poll" it "may or may not be worth anything."
The ABC News post-debate poll found 46 percent
thought Bush won while 30 percent favored Gore's effort. The
CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll picked Bush as the winner by 49 to 36 percent
while the CBS News poll came up with a close contest as 52 percent called
Bush the winner compared to 48 percent who said Gore.
Wrapping up ABC coverage, Peter Jennings outlined
what ABC's pollsters learned: "We always say that a poll is only an
instant snapshot of a moment in time, but in an ABC News poll of
registered voters tonight, we asked them, first, who they thought had won
the debate. Thirty percent thought Mr. Gore had won, 46 percent thought
Mr. Bush had won and 18 percent called it a tie. We also asked them
whether the debate actually had affected their choice, and here you can
get a quick look at support for Gore among viewers. Forty-two percent
supported him before the debate, 41 percent after the debate. For Mr.
Bush, 52 percent supported him before the debate and 54 percent after the
debate. Now that support for Bush may simply mean that more Republicans
are tuning in, but that is the way we see it in a scientific poll of
registered voters this evening, one of those snap polls, as we call
On CBS Dan Rather cautioned: "CBS News
interviewed a nationwide, what we think representative sample of
registered voters. This is a quick poll, it's a snap poll, may or may
not be worth anything but here it is."
In addition to the 52 to 48 pick of Bush as the
winner, the "CBS News/Knowledge Networks" survey asked if
respondents were "confident in ability to handle foreign
crisis." For Gore 56 percent said yes, 44 percent no. For Bush, 52
percent answered yes, 48 percent no. "Did anything in tonight's
debate change your vote?" Yes replied just 10 percent while 90
percent said no.
Rather conceded: "You may want to note that the
last time they had a face-off, our quick poll showed that Vice President
Gore had won. He then immediately went down in the polls."
question of the night, naturally from Dan Rather who took a backhanded
shot at Bush's foreign policy qualifications as he suggested a nefarious
scheme might be in the works. He asked Dick Cheney how voters can be sure
"that you wouldn't be...the hidden hand President?"
Interviewing Republican VP nominee Cheney via
satellite from Kildeer, Illinois, Rather queried: "When pressed about
his experience, Governor Bush repeatedly, and he did so tonight, points to
his circle of advisers and knowledgeable people such as yourself. How can
the voters be sure, that if he's elected President that George Bush
would in fact be in charge and that you wouldn't be, if you will, sort
of the hidden hand President?"
Cheney chuckled and assured Rather "that
there's no question who the top man is" and it's Bush, not him.
missed an opportunity to hit one of Gore's unpopular positions, NBC's
Tim Russert suggested Wednesday night, but NBC News had never bothered to
report Gore's change of position on the cutting social issue.
Russert told Tom Brokaw: "When gay rights came
up, the Vice President made a very controversial proposal last week when
he said that a partner in a civil relationship should be given a green
card to come join another partner over here. Again Governor Bush took a
pass on that or didn't recall it."
Maybe he didn't recall it because he relies on NBC
Gore's policy pronouncement on MTV actually took
place two weeks ago, but his apparent adoption of an expansion of
immigration rights for same-sex partners was reported at the time only by
FNC, as noted in a CyberAlert and a Media Reality Check. For
details about FNC's story, which reported that Gore operatives said the
candidate misspoke, go to:
For more about the issue and coverage, check out the
Media Reality Check titled, "Media Out to Lunch on Gore's Big Gay
Shift." Go to:
Jim Lehrer repeated a couple of VP debate moderator Bernard Shaw's
liberal agenda questions, and then added his own about what can be done
for those without health insurance. As
detailed in the October 6 CyberAlert, Shaw posed several liberal agenda,
but no conservative agenda, questions. Go to:
Wednesday night Lehrer pressed the men at the top of
the ticket about two of the same subjects raised by Shaw. Lehrer asked
Gore and Bush if they would sign a federal law banning racial profiling by
police and, given how Cheney and Lieberman said they were rethinking their
views on same sex relationships, what are their views on the subject and
should gay people "have the same rights as other Americans?"
Lehrer soon posed his own liberal agenda question:
"Both of you have talked much about Medicare and health care for
seniors. What about the more than forty million younger Americans who do
not have health insurance right now. What would you do about that?"
Lehrer also tossed nice set up topic sentences to
Gore: "How do you see the connection between controlling gun sales in
this country and the incidence of death by accidental or intentional use
President Gore, on the environment. In your 1992 book you said quote,
'We must make the rescue of our environment the central organizing
principle for civilization and there must be a wrenching transformation to
save the planet.' Do you still feel that way?"
Wrapping up the debate, Lehrer asked each candidate
to defend the personal argument being pressed by their campaign against
their opponent. He asked Bush if Gore's exaggerations should be a
"serious issue" for voters and he made Gore explain his
campaign's labeling of Bush as "a bumbler."
incredible ignorance of the "undecided" voters showcased by CNN
and NBC Wednesday night after the debate should alarm knowledgeable
voters. But their cluelessness is also amusing.
In a group if six assembled by NBC in Tampa a man
named Bill Fisher offered this insight into his thinking: "I
especially liked what Gore said about government being a little smaller.
At one time I thought it was going to be bigger government his side and a
smaller government on Governor Bush's side. I'm still struggling with
it. They both had beautiful points tonight."
CNN gathered a large crowd for its CNN/Time town
meeting hosted by Wolf Blitzer in Missouri. Not letting facts get in her
way, a woman who clearly misunderstood Bush's point on how many people
who are young and healthy choose not to buy insurance, screeched:
"I was a bit
outraged by Governor Bush's comment that healthy children don't need
insurance, and I'm sure that his children have insurance, and his
grandchildren have insurance, and what he really meant was that poor
children don't need insurance. I think that it showed an insensitivity
and kind of cancelled out that 'leave no child behind' cliche that
he's been using."
he did say that he would encourage young healthy people to go ahead and
but he said that he felt that healthy children, all healthy children,
didn't need insurance and that the money could be put into some kind of
other plan, and all children need insurance. There is no healthy child
that does not get ill at some point or the other."
you're leaning towards Gore now."
Woman: "Yes, I
As if she wasn't
the October 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways
Ralph Nader Can Still Win." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants,
10. Change name to "Al Gore,"
win on technicality
9. Promise if he wins to spend 5% of nation's budget on massive kegger
8. Two days before the election, pray every other politician in the
country gets stuck in a well
7. Amend Constitution so candidate getting fewest votes wins, like
6. Promise to use full power of presidency to get Joan and Melissa
Rivers to shut the hell up
5. Get endorsement from Pat Buchanan, locking up his vital 0.8% of the
4. Promise to capture, prosecute and imprison whoever let the dogs out
3. The same way everyone wins: start lying his ass off
2. Point out that since he's kind of goofy-looking, no chance of sex
1. Focus all his energy on the 2056 election
of the night. After Gloria Borger asserted, during CBS's prime time
post-debate coverage, that both candidates uttered fewer focus group
approved "canned lines," Dan Rather promulgated: "When
you say that there weren't as many canned lines as the last time, a
little like saying it's the highest mountain in Kansas because there
were a lot of canned lines, no doubt about that." -- Brent Baker with the night team of
Jessica Anderson and Brad Wilmouth
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