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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday October 23, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 209) |

Pro-Gore Audience Parodied by SNL; ABC's NRA vs. NAACP Disparity; Katie Couric's Sister Starring in Liberal TV Ad

1) Saturday Night Live parodied the pro-Gore agenda of debate questioners: "I'm wondering about Governor Bush's risky tax scheme to steal the trillion dollar surplus from Social Security...waste it on a tax cut for the rich, and take us back to those awful times when his father...caused AIDS and homelessness."

2) Sunday night ABC and CBS relayed fresh poll numbers which have Bush slightly ahead while ABC, catching up with CBS, dedicated a whole piece to Bush's supposed indifference to a confession to a murder for which two other men are serving life sentences.

3) On ABC' This Week Cokie Roberts scolded the NRA's Wayne LaPierre for its tone as she played an anti-NRA ad. With the NAACP's Kweisi Mfume, however, she read their ad and advised Mfume on how he is not emphasizing the right issues to get out the maximum black vote.

4) Newsweek's Eleanor Clift: "You talk about Gore's little white lies while Governor Bush gets away with 'the big lies.'"

5) Katie Couric's sister Emily is starring in Virginia TV ads produced by Voters for Choice. She extols: "Chuck Robb will protect our rights, George Allen won't."

6) ABC's Diane Sawyer began an interview with actress Bo Derek by harassing her for attending the GOP convention: "I saw you at the convention, and I have to confess, my mouth sort of dropped open for a minute because I knew you're pro-choice."


Saturday Night Live's opening skit picked up on how the supposedly "undecided" voters who posed questions at the third presidential debate came at the candidates from the left with questions which reflected Gore's agenda, but were not bright enough to realize it. The CyberAlert the morning after the debate pointed out how eight audience questions assumed a liberal premise while only two matched the conservative agenda.

    The October 21 opening skit on the NBC show parodied the citizen questions, interspersed with Dana Carvey playing George H. W. Bush butting in and pretending to be an undecided voter.

    Up first, a woman identified as "Lesley Doss." She asked: "Governor Bush, I've been following the campaign very closely but I need to know more about where the candidates stand on the issues I really care about: protecting a woman's right to choose, dealing with global warming, and fighting the big oil companies and HMOs. Do you and the Vice President have any differences on these issues that would help me to decide which of you to support? Right now I have no idea."

    Next, a guy named "Dan McGrath" wondered: "Mr. Vice President, I've been following this campaign, I've seen the first two debates, but I still haven't made up my mind. To be frank, if you or Governor Bush want my vote I have some questions that have to be answered. Have either you or Governor Bush ever held elected office? Have you reached the age of 35 years as required by the Constitution? And are you an American citizen?"

    Finally, "Roger Clyman" posed the most loaded question of all three: "Mr. Vice President, as an undecided neutral voter not committed to either candidate, trying to make up my mind, I'm wondering about Governor Bush's risky tax scheme to steal the trillion dollar surplus from Social Security and Medicare, waste it on a tax cut for the rich, and take us back to those awful times when his father nearly brought our economy to its knees and caused AIDS and homelessness. Tell me how would your plan differ so I can decide which of you to vote for?"

    Nice to see that while the political slant of the questions may not have been noticed by ABC, CBS or NBC immediately after the debate, it was obvious enough for some comedy writers to pick up on it.

    To compare the parody to reality, check out the MRC Media Reality Check which listed all of the liberal questions, "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:
    To view it as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, go to:

    Speaking of the debates, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed that last Wednesday on CNN's Larry King Live, debate moderator Jim Lehrer maintained "nobody has accused me of being unfair." He told king on the October 18 show: "Unless I've missed it, nobody has accused me of being unfair. That was the bottom line for me. And I believe that I can be fair, if I can be fair, that everything else will take care of itself."

    Actually, the MRC did accuse him. "Lehrer Repeated Shaw's Liberal Questions: Why Didn't the PBS Anchor Balance Questions from the Left with Questions from the Right?" To read the October 12 Media Reality Check, go to:
    To see it as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, go to:


Sunday night ABC and CBS relayed fresh poll numbers which have Bush slightly ahead while ABC, catching up with CBS, dedicated a whole piece to Bush's supposed indifference to a confession to a murder for which two other men are serving life sentences.

    October 22 CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts reported how a new CBS News/New York Times poll put Bush at 44 percent and Gore at 42 percent. He moved on to some other findings, such as how 54 percent of Bush backers were "enthusiastic" compared to just 39 percent of Gore supporters, how "issues matter most" to 47 percent of Gore supporters but only 38 percent of Bush voters, but "personal characteristics matter most" to 55 percent of those backing Bush and just 35 percent of those planning to vote for Gore.

    Roberts introduced a story from Bill Whitaker: "There were some uncomfortable moments on the campaign trail this weekend over foreign policy just as the Bush campaign prepares to barnstorm America." Whitaker looked at how 28 Governors will "barnstorm" for Bush and how Gore operatives are attacking Condoleeza Rice for saying troops should be pulled out of the Balkans.

    Over on ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday, anchor Carole Simpson highlighted how a new ABC News poll found an "extremely tight" race with Bush leading 48 to 45 percent. She later set up a story on a hardly breaking news subject: "In Texas, a prisoner has confessed to a murder that two other men are serving time for. He put his confession in a letter and sent it to Governor George W. Bush. That was more than two years ago."

    Reporter Jami Floyd reviewed the same case as had the CBS Evening News on the night of the third debate. On October 17 CBS's Bob McNamara proclaimed: "Critics say Governor Bush's repeated claim that the Texas criminal justice system is fair and failsafe has been undermined." For details, go to:


ABC's Cokie Roberts is afraid too many pro-gun voters will go to the polls and worried not enough pro-Democratic African-Americans will make the trek. On Sunday's This Week she conducted back-to-back interviews with the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and the NAACP's Kweisi Mfume, but she hit each with quite a contrasting agenda.

    She scolded LaPierre for the NRA's claim that Bush would let the NRA work out of the Oval Office, as well as the tone of a Charlton Heston comment and an NRA ad. She even played an anti-NRA ad to show how the NRA is turning off mainstream voters. With Mfume, however, Roberts read their ad under the guise of proving the NAACP's partisanship, but without scolding its tone, and then advised Mfume on how he is not emphasizing the right issues to get out the maximum black vote: "The African-American community, the vote turnout has been low. What are you going to do to turn that around this year?"

    Roberts opened the October 22 interview with LaPierre by nailing down how the NRA agrees with Bush on on instant background checks and trigger locks, but disagrees on raising the minimum age to own a gun.

    Roberts then launched her non-stop attack:

    -- "It was not you, but it was a member of your organization who did say if George Bush is elected President the NRA will be working out of the Oval Office."

    -- When LaPierre suggested they will have some access after Clinton gave access to anti-gun groups, Roberts fired back: "Some access is a little different from we'll be working out of the Oval Office."

    -- Let me show something that your leader Charlton Heston said the other day in reference to the fact Gore was saying he supports hunters and all of that. 'Now Al Gore is saying 'I'm with you guys on guns.' In any other time or place you'd be looking for a lynching mob.' And then people in the crowd said I've got the rope. Now is this appropriate language?"

    -- "But my question is, is this being counter-productive? If he says something about a lynching mob, if Bush says these people must be against me if they're putting this ad on, let me show you another ad now that is running in Kentucky. And this is Scotty Baesler running and you've been campaigning against him and here's an ad he has on of a young woman who was hurt in that shooting incident in Paducah Kentucky."

    In the ad, a girl in wheelchair asserted in part: "We need strong leaders to take on the gun lobby...."

    -- "That ad is having a big effect in that race. Is it possible you're turning off voters instead of turning out voters?"

    -- "Tell me how many voters you think you'll be able to turnout?"

    -- "How much are you spending? I've heard $20, $25 million."

    After an ad break, she turned to NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Without any condemnation of its tone or effectiveness, she read "an advertisement that you are running that has James Byrd's daughter saying that when George Bush refused to support hate crimes legislation that she felt like her father had been killed again. You also ran an ad in the New York Times that I'd like to put up here and take a look at. 'I went to Governor George W. Bush and begged him to help pass a hate crimes bill in Texas. He just told me no.' Our community will be dragged down.' Now that pretty much looks like an ad against George Bush."

    -- Roberts only challenged him on how the ad betrays his partisanship: "But your organization is supposed to be not supporting one candidate or another. That looks like it's pretty much supporting Al Gore."

    -- "Well it has Republicans clearly upset. A member of the Republican National Committee was quoted as saying that it's now clear the NAACP is now a partisan organization."

    That was the extent of any tough questions. She never asked LaPierre about how to best motivate his constituency, but she worried how to best motivate Mfume's:

    -- "As you know, there's been some debate within the Gore campaign about whether Bill Clinton should be involved in this race. If he's involved in this race what does that mean in terms of turnout in the African-American community."

    -- "The fact is that after those struggles for civil rights in the African-American community the vote turnout has been low. What are you going to do to turn that around this year?"

    -- But are those issues, the issues you've been talking about, hate crime, that kind of thing, is that's what's really on people's minds or is it the economy and in some cases is it guns for instance?"

    -- "What's going to get out those voters? We just have a little time here, but is it hate crimes or is it a job?"


Eleanor Clift of Newsweek once again came to Al Gore's defense on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, excusing the seriousness of his misstatements and elevating the importance of ones by George Bush:
    "You talk about Gore's little white lies while Governor Bush gets away with 'the big lies' -- the missing trillion in Social Security, the notion that he takes credit for a patients health care bill in Texas hen when vetoes it and then let it pass without his signature because he was going to be overridden. He's the one who's telling the lies and cliche city, one vacuous cliche after another. The notion that he will come to Washington, 'bring people together,' The Texas legislature meets every other year for four months."


Katie Couric's sister is now starring in anti-George Allen ads for Gloria Steinem's Voters for Choice group.

    Last week Voters for Choice launched a TV ad campaign starring Emily Couric, Katie's older sister and a Democratic State Senator in Virginia from the Charlottesville area who was considering a run for Lieutenant Governor in 2001 until being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It's been a heavy buy on Washington, D.C., TV stations and probably around the commonwealth of Virginia. It ran, in fact, on WUSA-TV Thursday night seconds before George Bush walked onto David Letterman's stage.

    In the Virginia Senate race Republican former Governor George Allen is challenging incumbent Democrat Chuck Robb.

    In the ad, Emily Couric, in a blue suit, sits on a red couch with a bookcase and a window behind her. "Emily Couric, State Senator" appears briefly on-screen before she announces:
    "I'm Emily Couric. As a woman in public life, I've always supported a woman's right to make her own reproductive health care decisions. That's why I hope you'll pay special attention to the candidates for U.S. Senate. Chuck Robb has been a champion for a woman's right to choose, but his opponent George Allen has said he could roll back Roe versus Wade and restrict that right -- even in the first months of pregnancy. Check the record. Chuck Robb will protect our rights, George Allen won't."

    On screen at the end of the ad:
"For more information:

    To imagine what Emily looks like, conjure up an image of Katie, and just make her hair a bit longer and grayer. Her voice is even similar.

    The Voters for Choice Web site features a mission message from Gloria Steinem as well as a RealPlayer file of the Couric ad. The direct address to play the ad:

    An interior page (http://www.voters4choice.org/candidates/) calmly proclaims their goals:


Katie Couric's morning competitor Diane Sawyer is also disturbed that anyone would support the anti-choice George Bush. Last Friday morning Sawyer began in interview with actress Bo Derek, ostensibly about her new line of pet care products and upcoming movie appearances, but harassing her for attending the Republican convention.

    MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down the start of the October 20 interview.

    Sawyer: "You're traveling for the Republican presidential candidate."
    Derek: "Yes."
    Sawyer: "I saw you at the convention, and I have to confess, my mouth sort of dropped open for a minute because I knew you're pro-choice."
    Derek: "Yes."
    Sawyer: "Your candidate is not. So how did you end up in the Republican Party?"
    Derek: "Because I really believe there's so much more to our country and what makes our country great and there's so much, I think, that needs to be done, and I think it's an issue, that it shouldn't a government issue at all, I mean, I really don't believe it should be. And I'm comfortable being a woman, being a Republican, and I really don't think our right to choose is going to be threatened ever again."
    Sawyer: "You just think it will stick no matter what?"
    Derek: "I think a woman's resolve is a woman's resolve, and I think we've evolved to a place where it's never going to be taken away again."

    So much for "tolerance." In media land pro-lifers must tolerate and grow to accept pro-choicers, but it's considered peculiar for a pro-choicer to associate with anyone who might be pro-life. -- Brent Baker


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