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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday November 6, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 230) |

Gore's Low Blows Ignored; Clinton Could've Used Bush's Excuse; Media Too Easy on Bush; Media Stars Predicted Gore Victory -- Extra Edition

1) Al Gore connected George Bush's pledge to appoint "strict-constructionist" judges to how blacks were once considered three-fifths a person and as Fox's Jim Angle put it, "suggested the election is a choice between good and evil." Both comments were raised during Sunday morning shows, but not Sunday night.

2) ABC and NBC on Sunday night relayed new poll numbers that put Bush ahead of Gore. NBC found Bush's drunk driving arrest was not considered relevant by 81 percent.

3) Bill Clinton could have used George Bush's excuse to hide the Lewinsky mess, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift opined on the McLaughlin Group: "I don't think President Clinton wanted Chelsea Clinton to know what he was doing either."

4) Tim Russert's hope for 2004. He pushed John McCain about how if McCain-Feingold is rejected by Republicans, "Would you then think about 2004, McCain-Kerrey, running as an independent ticket?"

5) The media have let "Bush get away with entirely too much," contended Al Hunt and Time's Jack White argued "the press coverage has been more favorable to Bush than it has been to Gore." Brit Hume, however, suggested the bias is in Gore's favor as the media have attacked Nader for having "no right to be in this race," but didn't do that when Perot gave Republicans trouble.

6) Pundit Prognostications. The majority of pundits on weekend shows predicted Bush will win, but most of those working for mainstream media outlets picked Gore, including Eleanor Clift, Margaret Carlson and Al Hunt. Newsweek's Evan Thomas revealed that in the Virginia Senate race: "I hope Robb wins."

7) "If Bush wins," former ABC News reporter Pierre Salinger promised, "I'm going to leave the country."


Saturday night Al Gore connected George Bush's pledge to appoint "strict-constructionist" judges to how blacks were once considered three-fifths a person and on Sunday morning Gore, as Fox's Jim Angle put it, "suggested the election is a choice between good and evil." But while Gore spokesman were asked about both comments during Sunday interview show appearances, neither low blow remark was mentioned in Sunday night news stories on either ABC or NBC. (NFL bumped the CBS Evening News in the ET and CT time zones).

    On the November 5 Fox News Sunday Angle played a clip of Al Gore proclaiming at a prayer breakfast: "Good overcomes evil if we choose that outcome." Angle added: "Gore insisted later that he did not mean that Bush is evil."

    Later on the show, Tony Snow raised another Gore jab at Bush. He asked DNC Chairman Ed Rendell: "Yesterday in Pittsburgh Vice President Gore said that if George W. Bush were selecting judges he would select strict-constructionists and, he added, it was reminiscent of the days when blacks were considered quote, 'three-fifths of a human being.' Why isn't that race-baiting?"

    On CBS's Face the Nation co-host Gloria Borger brought up the same comment with Gore campaign Chairman Bill Daley: "At a predominantly African-American congregation in Pittsburgh, he said 'when my opponent talks about strict-constructionists for the Supreme Court, I often think of the strictly constructed meaning that was applied when the Constitution was written, how some people were considered three-fifths of a human being.' Isn't that over the line?"
    Daley stood by Gore: "No, that's factual."

    Sunday night stories recounting Gore's day skipped both negative attacks on Bush as John Yang didn't mention them on ABC's World News Tonight and Chip Reid overlooked them on NBC Nightly News.


Latest poll numbers relayed Sunday night: The ABC News tracking poll put Bush ahead of Gore by 49 to 45 percent. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Bush ahead of Gore 47 to 44 percent with Nader at 3 percent and Buchanan surging to 2 percent.

    "Was Bush's 1976 DUI arrest a major factor?" No, answered 81 percent, NBC Nightly News reported in relating another poll question. But asked if he should have revealed the arrest earlier, 47 percent said yes.


Bill Clinton could have used George Bush's excuse to hide the Lewinsky mess, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift opined on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend. Citing Bush's claim that he did not earlier reveal his drunk driving arrest because he did not want his daughters to know of his poor behavior, Clift argued:
    "That is a very poor excuse. I too am a parent and frankly if you want to make the case you shouldn't drink and drive, that was a powerful bit of information that he should have divulged. Secondly, if we're going to use that as a good excuse, I don't think President Clinton wanted Chelsea Clinton to know what he was doing either."

    Not revealing something that happened 24 years before you ran for President is a bit different than covering up something that took place in the official workplace of the President while you are in office, to say nothing of how Clinton broke the law to hide it from judicial inquiries.

    National Review's Kate O'Beirne delivered the best quip on CNN's Capital Gang, one that could be directed at Clift: "The people who are upset by a 24-year-old incident and were not upset about a 24-year-old intern, I think, are having a tough one making this one sell."


Tim Russert's dream ticket: "McCain-Kerry 2004." Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey and Republican Senator John McCain appeared on Sunday's Meet the Press to represent Gore and Bush, though both disagree with their party nominees on many issues. Russert raised one with McCain as he divulged his hope for 2004:
    "What happens if you go to the floor in January and push McCain-Feingold and it gets voted down by members of your own party? Would you then think about 2004, McCain-Kerrey, running as an independent ticket?"

    McCain rejected Russert's recommendation.


The press "has let Governor Bush get away with entirely too much," contended Al Hunt and Time's Jack White argued "the press coverage has been more favorable to Bush than it has been to Gore." But even the liberal Jack Germond realized "the press coverage has pictured the guy as a dumbbell." Meanwhile, Fox's Brit Hume suggested the bias is in Gore's favor as the media have been "vituperative" in attacking Nader for having "no right to be in this race," but "somehow I don't remember that when it was Ross Perot giving a Republican trouble."

    Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, made the media's pro-Bush bias his "Outrage of the Campaign" at the end of Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN:
    "Less than eight years after the national press lamented that Bill Clinton came to the presidency with too many unresolved questions about him and his past, it could happen all over again if George W. Bush wins next Tuesday. On stories ranging from his failure to disclose his 24 year old drunk driving record to substantive matters like the $1 trillion gap in his Social Security plan, an acquiescent press, perhaps feeling guilty about being duped by Bill Clinton, has let Governor Bush get away with entirely too much."

    Nice that eight years too late he seemingly conceded the media's acquiescent 1992 coverage of Bill Clinton.

    On Inside Washington, Time magazine national correspondent Jack White asserted: "I don't think there's any question that George Bush has been held to a lower standard on veracity and capacity than Gore has had to meet -- throughout this campaign. And in that sense I think the press coverage has been more favorable to Bush than it has been to Gore."

    That was too much for even the liberal columnist Jack Germond, who shot back: "What do you mean? The press coverage has pictured the guy as a dumbbell who can't tie his shoes! I mean that's hardly favorable."

    But what about how the media have fretted over how Ralph Nader could cost Gore the election? Fox's Brit Hume, during the Fox News Sunday roundtable, recalled how his Washington media colleagues weren't so upset in 1992 by how Ross Perot hurt then-President Bush's re-election chances:
    "Do you recall any hand-wringing in the media about whether Ross Perot ought to get out of the race, or throw his support to George W. Bush, the way we've had this year with a lot of the people in the press saying 'oh Al Gore.' I mean, the attacks on Ralph Nader have been vituperative, he has no right to be in this race, it's self-indulgent, it's unreasonable, it's bad for the country and so on? Somehow I don't remember that when it was Ross Perot giving a Republican trouble."

    Neither do I.


Pundit Prognostications, a complete weekend TV rundown. As a service to those about to complete an office pool entry about tomorrow's election results, I went through the five weekend shows in which pundits offered predictions -- on the Senate, House and presidential contests -- and took them down.

    The majority of pundits thought Bush will win, but most of those working for mainstream media outlets picked Gore as the victor. On the three shows on which panelists forecast the presidential race, Inside Washington, Capital Gang and the McLaughlin Group, nine foresaw a Bush win compared to six who anticipated Gore winning. The five: Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, Time's Margaret Carlson and the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt. Plus columnists Mark Shields and Clarence Page, who saw an Electoral College/popular vote split, as well as Jack White of Time, but his prediction also comes with a asterisk explained below.

    But first, a bit of bias in the predictions as Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas revealed on Inside Washington who he hopes will win in the Virginia Senate race between incumbent Democrat Chuck Robb and Republican challenger George Allen. We join the predictions in progress:
    Jack White of Time: "I think I'd probably bet on Allen to win it."
    Nina Totenberg of NPR picked Robb: "I'm going to counter you only because I really think that the African-American vote may really turn out."
    Columnist Charles Krauthammer: "Allen ahead by 6 this weekend. He'll win."
    Columnist Jack Germond: "I'd bet on Allen."
    Evan Thomas: "I hope Robb wins."

    Not I think he will win, but "I hope Robb wins."

    > Sunday shows with predictions made by only some panelists on some things:

    -- Fox News Sunday. Morton Kondracke predicted the Democrats will gain one or two Senate seats and two or three in House seats. Fred Barnes anticipated Republicans will retain control of the House and Senate.

    Juan Williams forecast that Democrats will take control of the Senate, but Republicans will retain the House. And Jean Carnahan will win in Missouri. NPR's Mara Liasson thought Republicans will continue to hold both houses of Congress.

    Brit Hume implied he believed Bush will win the presidency: "This is the year when the Republicans, like the Democrats in 1992, benefit from the 12 year itch. They want the White House back. I suspect that their turnout will be the key to it."

    -- ABC's This Week. George Will said there "could be a stunning surprise" in the New Jersey Senate race while George Stephanopoulos predicted the Democrats will pick up two seats in the Senate.

    He and Cokie Roberts disagreed about the Virginia Senate race. Roberts asserted: "My gut says Robb pulls it out." Stephanopoulos retorted: "Boy I disagree. I think in the end this is one when Robb finally loses."

    > Complete prognostications -- shows in which all the pundits were required to offer definitive predictions.

    -- Inside Washington. In addition to the Virginia Senate race above which went 3-to-2 for Allen, the panel went 5-to-0 in predicting Hillary Clinton will take the New York Senate seat (Thomas, White, Germond, Totenberg and Krauthammer).

    In the presidential race, the panel picked Bush by 4-to-1, though Time's Jack White, who said Gore would in, conceded he really doesn't believe it: "My wife is a big Gore supporter and if I predict the other guy and say what I really think I'll be in trouble."

    Nina Totenberg forecast trouble for Bush, who she said would win "narrowly and I think that he has cast himself in this role of a moderate and he's less moderate than meets the eye and he'll have trouble in his first and maybe his only term."

    I think Totenberg and her colleagues can be counted on to cause trouble for anyone pushing conservative policies.

    -- CNN's Capital Gang, with Time's Margaret Carlson, National Review's Kate O'Beirne, the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt, columnist Bob Novak and columnist Mark Shields.

    ++ Senate, now 54 to 46 in favor of Republicans. In the panel of five, two forecast an even split in the new Senate, two thought Republicans would lose seats but maintain control and one presaged a Democratic majority Senate:
    Carlson: 50-50
    O'Beirne: 52-48
    Hunt: 50-50
    Shields: 49-51 (Democratic majority)
    Novak: 53-47

    In the New York Senate race, Carlson, Hunt and Shields anticipated Clinton would win, Novak and O'Beirne picked Lazio.

    ++ House, now 223 Republicans to 210 Democrats with two independents. Democrats need to pick up seven to take control. By 3-to-2 the panel predicted the GOP will retain the House:
    Hunt: Democrats gain 8 seats and control, 218 to 215, 2 independent.
    Shields: Democrats gain 10 seats and control, 220 to 213, 2 independent.
    Novak: Democrats gain 1 seat, Republicans maintain control 222 to 211, 2 independents
    Carlson: Democrats gain 4 seats, Republicans maintain control 219 to 214, 2 independents.
    O'Beirne: Republicans gain 2 seats, 225 to 208, 2 independents.

    ++ Presidential. By 3-to-2 the panel picked Gore as the winner, with both journalists for mainstream news outlets (Carlson and Hunt) forecasting a Gore victory. Here are their electoral college predictions, with the winner listed first:

    O'Beirne: Bush 315, Gore 223
    Hunt: Gore 277, Bush: 261
    Shields: Gore 297, Bush 241
    Novak: Bush 308, Gore 230
    Carlson: Gore 274, Bush 264

    -- The McLaughlin Group, with Michael Barone of U.S. News, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, columnists Clarence Page and Tony Blankley as well as John McLaughlin himself.
    ++ Senate. Four panelists predicted continued GOP control and one predicted an even split:

    Barone: Republican 53-47
    Clift: Republican 51-49
    Blankley: Republican 51-49
    Page: split 50-50
    McLaughlin: Republican 52-48

    Individual race picks:

    Missouri, Republican incumbent John Ashcroft versus Jean Carnahan, unseatable wife of the late candidate. 3-to-2 for Ashcroft:
    Barone: Ashcroft
    Clift: Carnahan
    Blankley: Ashcroft
    Page: Carnahan
    McLaughlin: Ashcroft

    New Jersey, open seat. All picked Democrat John Corzine.

    New York, you know who the candidates are and Hillary Clinton won the group by 3-to-2:
    Barone: Lazio
    Clift: Clinton
    Blankley: Clinton
    Page: Clinton
    McLaughlin: Lazio

    ++ House: Two anticipated a Democratic takeover while three thought Republicans would maintain control. Republicans now have a 223 to 210 majority with two independents:
    Barone: unchanged 223 to 210
    Clift: Democrats take House by 3 seats
    Blankley: Republicans lose 3 seats but maintain majority
    Page: Democrats take over House by 1 or 2 seats
    McLaughlin: Republicans expand 13 seat gap to 17 seats

    ++ Presidential. By 3-to-2 the group predicted a Bush presidency. Their picks for the vote percentages:
    Barone: Bush 50 to 44 percent
    Clift: Gore barely at 50 to 50 percent
    Blankley: Bush 51 or 52 to 43 or 44 percent
    Page: Bush 49 to 48 percent, Gore wins Electoral College
    McLaughlin: Bush 50 to 43 percent

    Finally, a tip from George Stephanopoulos on This Week on what to watch for early Tuesday night: "When the returns start to come in Tuesday night, I think voters should look at three little states in the Northeast: Delaware, New Hampshire and Maine. These are the canaries in the coal mine for Al Gore. If he sweeps them, he's got a very, very good chance to win. If he loses even one to George W. Bush, I think Bush will be our next President."


A former high-profile reporter for ABC News has announced that if George Bush wins he'll leave the country. Friday's "The Reliable Source" column in the Washington Post, by Lloyd Grove and Beth Berselli, picked up on comments in a Washington, DC weekly neighborhood newspaper from Pierre Salinger, last heard espousing wacky theories about how the Navy shot down TWA 800. Salinger was no low-level producer. For most of the '80s and through the early '90s he was the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News.

    In the November 3 Post, Grove and Berselli relayed: "'I don't want any more Bush Presidents,' the 75-year-old Salinger writes in the new Georgetowner newspaper. 'If Bush wins, I'm going to leave the country and spend the rest of my life in France."

    Please do, no matter who wins. As ABC's chief foreign correspondent, the one-time Press Secretary to President Kennedy was based in Paris and London during the Reagan-Bush years, so he managed to avoid living in the U.S. during the last GOP presidency. -- Brent Baker


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