Russert Took on Gore; Lauer Scolded Matthews; Sheen Wants to Be "Pain in the Ass" to Bush; ABC's In-Kind Contribution to Gore
-- Back to today's CyberAlert
1) Tough questions for Gore from
NBC's Tim Russert, but softballs from Good Morning America. ABC's Terry
Moran to Gore: "You've spent a quarter century in public service and
have worked on a lot of these issues, obviously have mastered a lot of the
details of them. When you look across the stage, are you frustrated at
2) NBC's Matt Lauer scolded a fellow journalist for saying
critical things about the Democratic nominee. "Al Gore irritates you. Al
Gore irritates you!" he bellowed at MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
3) ABC's George Stephanopoulos celebrated the 8-to-2 slant
in favor of liberal questions during last night's debate: "Three cheers
for the citizen questions."
4) In addition to FNC, MSNBC's Chris Matthews pointed out
the agenda of the debate questioners: "These are all special pleaders for
5) Martin Sheen, the President on NBC's The West Wing, would
be "enormously disappointed" if Bush won, but then, Sheen hoped, his
show would be a "royal pain in the ass." Sheen called Bill Clinton
"terrific and heroic."
6) "Dems to Get Barb Boost on ABC," the New York
Post disclosed. The Friday before the election 20/20 will feature an interview
conducted by Barbara Walters with Barbra Streisand. Neal Travis learned
Streisand "insisted" she get time "to explain why she is
supporting Al and Hillary and the Democratic platform."
7) Letterman's "Top Ten Election Issues Important to
Correction: A table of contents item in this morning's CyberAlert flipped
the direction of the debate questions. It stated "conservative agenda
questions outnumbered liberal ones by 8-to-2." It should have read, as
the subsequent article accurately outlined, "liberal agenda questions
outnumbered conservative ones by 8-to-2."
the New York-based morning shows were all giddy about the upcoming Mets-Yankees
"subway series," the third and presumably final presidential debate
of Campaign 2000 led each program. All three shows once again featured taped
interviews with George W. Bush and Al Gore, along with wrap-up reports and
punditry. ABC and CBS tossed softballs to Gore, but not NBC's Tim Russert.
-- ABC's Good Morning America. Terry Moran, who covers
the Gore campaign for World News Tonight, kissed up to the Vice President
shortly after the debate. Among his questions, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson: "Why did you feel so good out there? Because it seemed
like you just wanted to seize the moment tonight?"
And: "You've spent a quarter century in public
service and have worked on a lot of these issues, obviously have mastered a
lot of the details of them. When you look across the stage, are you frustrated
-- CBS's The Early Show. Bill Plante wondered to Gore:
"Do you get the sense that your opponent is trying to make this a
personality contest, as opposed to an issues contest." Gore replied:
"Seems that way, yeah."
-- NBC's Today. Tim Russert interviewed Gore for the
first time since a July 16 Meet the Press appearance in which Russert's
first question was to ask Gore what he meant when he told a woman in Michigan
that being Vice President was a lot like being "the woman behind the
This morning, he pressed Gore on his opposition to
school vouchers, and Gore at one point accused Russert of bias. "I know
you're in favor of vouchers," Gore defensively told Russert, prompting
Russert to respond: "No, I have no view on it. I have no view on it. But
I went to a private school, you went to a private school. Your children go to
private school, mine goes to a private school....Why not, as you said
[before], if I was the parent of a child that went to an inner city school
that was failing, I might be for vouchers, too. Why not give it a shot?"
Gore said he preferred a program in which failing
schools are shut down and re-opened by a team of "specialists."
"Governor Jim Hunt of North Carolina has put a plan
just like that into effect and it works great," Gore exuded. "We
called his office tonight," Russert informed the Vice President. "He
has not shut down any schools."
"Well, he has turned around a bunch of schools that
were failing schools," Gore insisted, "and he has sent specialists
in. Whether the terminology used is 'shut down' or whether it's 'a
take over,' you know, that's something that you ought to-"
"He says he hasn't had to do that yet."
Gore argued: "Well,
he turns around the failing schools by bringing in new personnel and turning
them around dramatically and, you know, the terminology that you use is not
In his interview with Bush, Russert also repeatedly
quizzed the candidate about school vouchers, challenging the Texas
Governor's contention that his voucher plan did not involve a federal
mandate on states. "When you talked about vouchers, you said that the
federal government would not mandate vouchers. And yet, in your own plan, in
your own proposal, it says very clearly, quote, 'The state will be required
to offer parents [a] $1500 per year voucher they can use."
Bush explained that the provision was not a general
mandate, but one that would only take effect if the state had fallen below new
federal standards on education. "Are you comfortable in having that
federal mandate," Russert followed up. "I wouldn't have said it if
I didn't believe it," Bush responded.
Prediction: Whether he wins or loses next month, Al Gore
will do everything he can to avoid another interview with Tim Russert.
expressed concern his CNBC/MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews has an anti-Gore
bias. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange between the two this
morning, in which Lauer implied Matthews can't get past his dislike of Gore.
Lauer started off by baiting Matthews, who once worked
for former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill: "Before you
tell me who won, and I know who you think won, just tell me how you rate the
debate. Was it the best of the series?"
Later in the interview, Matthews referred to public
opinion polls, saying: "It's interesting. People keep saying, even the
Bush people say Gore won the debate, but I like Bush."
Lauer scolded: "Be
honest here. You've been saying that all along. Al Gore irritates you. Al
Gore irritates you!"
Matthews: "The public's been saying that,
"But, but you just don't like Al Gore's style and it's very hard
for you to look past it....The American people also haven't clearly taken to
George W. Bush."
A few minutes later, Matthews maintained he was among
the ranks of still-undecided voters: "I think they have to decide this on
who do you trust. And I think that people are going to see Gore as a Clinton
guy, as a government man, as the incumbent. And they're gonna look at the
other guy as not the most trained guy to be President, and probably not the
perfect candidate, but they do want a change. And I think it's about a
50-50, that's why it was a draw last night and the American people are going
to have to make the decision. And there's about 10 percent of the people
that are gonna make that decision, including people like me that haven't
made up their mind, yet."
Lauer was disbelieving. "Yeah, right," he
Lauer fired back:
"Yeah, you have. You made it up four years ago."
Matt Lauer, poster-boy for open-minded journalists?
morning's CyberAlert noted, eight out of the fifteen questions posed by
"undecided" citizens at last night's debate reflected a
left-liberal agenda, while only two could be construed as reflecting a
conservative point of view.
On ABC's Good Morning America, an obviously pleased
George Stephanopoulos congratulated the questioners for what he considered
fine lines of inquiry. Host Diane Sawyer asked him: "So, George, what did
Stephanopoulos exulted: "I think, three cheers for
the citizen questions, Diane. These real people last night produced the most
revealing debate of the series, showing sharp differences between Gore and
Bush, both on questions of style and on substance; between Bush's philosophy
of smaller government and the policy specifics that Gore is going to fight
for, and I think it really sets the ground, the strategic ground for these
final three weeks."
But not everyone agreed with Stephanopoulos's
assessment. "Did you think those people in that room last night were
undecided?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews wondered in his interview with
Today's Matt Lauer. "I thought that they were all pro-Gore."
For a complete rundown of all eight liberal questions
posed, check out today's Media Reality Check complied by Tim Graham titled,
"Lehrer Picks Pile of Liberal Questioners: PBS Anchor Stacked the Deck
for Gore With Eight Questions from the Left, and Two from the Right." Go
To view it as an Adobe Acobat PDF file, go to:
After the debate FNC "uniquely acknowledged" the liberal slant of
the questions, this morning's CyberAlert reported. That declaration of
uniqueness applied to the half hour of post-debate analysis on ABC, CBS and
NBC (simulcast on MSNBC) from 10:30 to 11pm ET.
In addition, during the 12am ET News with Brian Williams
re-cap of the October 17 debate, Chris Matthews pointed out the pro-Gore
agenda of the questions. MRC analyst Paul Smith took down his early morning
comment: "Will somebody please admit that these are not bipartisan
audience selections. These are all special pleaders for Democratic causes.
There was a teacher in the union. There was somebody talking about
prescription drugs. They wanted the Democratic bill. There was somebody for
gun control. Were there any conservatives in the audience that were against
big government anywhere? I didn't hear one."
would be "enormously disappointed" if Bush won, but then, Sheen
hoped, The West Wing would be a "royal pain in the ass" to Bush.
Sheen, who plays Democratic President "Josiah Bartlet" on the NBC
series, let loose with his liberal opinions on Rivera Live Monday night and on
today's Today. Sheen called Bill Clinton "terrific and heroic" and
revealed his character is a melding of the best of Presidents Kennedy, Carter
Thanks to the American League Championship Series ending
before a seventh game, The West Wing returns tonight to NBC at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm
CT/MT. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down these exchanges from Sheen's
-- October 16 Rivera Live on CNBC:
"What happens if George Bush wins, will it change the tempo in the West
Sheen: "I, I
don't even want to think about that possibility. But if it became a
Rivera: "Well what
do you mean sir?"
Sheen: "Well if
[Bush] himself ended up in the Oval Office I would be enormously disappointed
for the republic and the American people frankly, as well as Mr. Gore. I would
be heartsick frankly. But I would hope that our show would continue and that
we'd be a royal pain in the ass frankly."
Later, Sheen proclaimed of Bill Clinton: "I think
he's terrific and heroic and, and we're gonna miss him."
Rivera: "Could you
play the other side? Could you? You're a great actor?"
Sheen: "You know I
was asked about that. I don't think one, they would've asked me to do it.
And I was only asked that...I never even gave it a thought until I was
shooting for about six months and a British journalist asked me if the
character were Republican, would I have done it? Not could I, but would I have
done it? And my first instinct was no. That I wouldn't have been able to
give it my heart and something behind the eye would have given me a way. I
don't know. The only Republican I ever worked for, voted for, supported and
very strongly became a Democrat after he got in office and that was John
Lindsey in New York in 1965."
-- October 18 Today:
Matt Lauer: "Do you
use some of the real people as a composite?"
Sheen: "The sitting
President of course, Bill Clinton."
there's a big part of Clinton in here?"
Carter. The heart, the, the morality of Jimmy Carter. That committed person
who is above politics really. And of course John Kennedy. I think if you took
those three Presidents and you kind of said, if would could reflect the very
best of these men, how would we do it? And I think that Bartlett might be
based on that."
in-kind contribution to the Gore-Lieberman effort. The Friday before the
election ABC's 20/20 will feature an interview conducted by Barbara Walters
with Barbra Streisand, Neil Travis disclosed in Tuesday's New York Post.
Travis learned Streisand "insisted" that in the interview "she
would be given room to explain why she is supporting Al and Hillary and the
MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey alerted me to the
item titled "Dems to Get Barb Boost on ABC" in the October 17
"Neal Travis' New York" column. Here's an excerpt:
Yesterday in Manhattan, Barbara Walters began taping an interview that
could become the Democrats' "November surprise." The ABC ace spent
several hours chatting with uber-liberal Barbra Streisand for a 20/20 show
that will air on the Friday before the Nov. 7 election.
Make no mistake: Diva Streisand, who has an enormous following, is using
this nationwide forum to promote the candidacies of Democrats Al Gore and
Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her remarks could be enough to push both of them over
the top in what are shaping up as very close races....
I understand that, as a quid pro quo for doing the interview at a time when
she has nothing personal to promote, Streisand insisted that she would be
given room to explain why she is supporting Al and Hillary and the Democratic
platform. It could be the most important political performance the star, who
has raised many millions of dollars for the party, has ever given.
"Babs is enormously popular in Middle America, where the election will
be decided," says one person who claims to know why she's doing the
Walters show at this crucial time. "All those undecideds out there -- if
they can hear one idol telling another what a great guy Gore is, you know it's
going to swing a lot of votes."
Travis added that he's "heard" that
"Gore has been granted a walk-on role on Saturday Night Live (a show that
has pilloried him and GOP rival George W. Bush) within the next two
The address for the latest column by Neal Travis:
October 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Election Issues
Important to Dumb Guys." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Medicare coverage for swallowing a billiard ball
9. Use part of budget surplus to buy everybody a free hat
8. If you lose your wallet the government should help you find it by using a
satellite or laser or something
7. Sure waffles are delicious now...but will they always be?
6. Why don't people on TV wave back at you?
5. We've got to be prepared for an invasion by Canexico
4. Finding the one-armed man to finally clear The Fugitive's good name
3. The next President gets to appoint, like, three new regulars to "The
2. Strengthening military so space monkeys can't blow up White House
1. Candy/soda (tie)
And from the Late Show Web
page, some of the "also ran" nominations which didn't make the
-- Send someone up to fix the ozone layer with duct tape and a caulking gun
-- Whether "Three Stooges" marathons should include episodes with
-- There's such a short amount of time between soup being too hot and soup
being too cold
-- New law requiring thumbtacks to have pointy end clearly labeled
George W. Bush is scheduled to appear Thursday night on
Letterman's show.-- Brent Baker
with morning show analysis provided by Rich
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