"Softer" Daley, "Harsher" Baker; "Kennedyesque Photo-Op"; Rather Pressed Lieberman; Alec Baldwin Condemned GOP Hypocrisy
1) Friday night NBC's Claire
Shipman referred to how Gore's team was "using a softer tone"
while David Gregory described Bush's James Baker as delivering a
"harsher tone." CBS's John Roberts dubbed the video of Al Gore
playing touch football a "Kennedyesque photo-op." Plus, Dan Rather:
"Lawyers and lawsuits popping up like toadstools after a
2) Dan Rather, surprisingly, pressed Joe Lieberman about
pressure on him and Al Gore to concede the race and under what scenarios they
might decide to drop their delaying tactics. "Give me your strongest
brief for why this is good for the country to have this stretch on for even
3) ABC and NBC made brief mentions Friday night of the charge
that Democrats traded cigarettes for voting with homeless in Milwaukee.
4) On Rosie O'Donnell's TV talk show actor Alec Baldwin
denounced the Republican reaction the Florida vote and urged George Bush to
show "leadership" by requesting a re-vote. Baldwin also argued
Republicans are hypocrites for saying they were following the rule of law
during impeachment while resisting it now.
5) "There is good reason to believe that Vice President
Gore has been elected President by a clear constitutional majority of the
popular vote and the Electoral College," argued an ad in the New York
Times, which demanded a re-vote, and was signed by Robert DeNiro, James
Fallows, Paul Newman and Rosie O'Donnell.
6) Al Gore is up about 200,000 in the popular vote, but
CNN's Brooks Jackson pointed out that could change in the final tabulations
of all votes, including absentees. In 1996, Clinton's winning margin grew by
Election Night Became a Sit-Com," an analysis by the MRC's Rich Noyes,
appears in the November 17 edition of Human Events. Rich opened his look back
at network election night goofs:
"In a performance
that will live in journalistic infamy, television's most famous news
personalities subjected the nation to an emotional, unnecessary and
irresponsible rollercoaster ride last Tuesday night.
"The farce that
unfolded on television on election night revealed that as much as the networks
may try to pitch themselves as experienced and professional news
organizations, they are anything but. Early Tuesday evening, Dan Rather
invited viewers to 'join CBS News for what the record shows over the years
has been the most accurate presidential election night coverage.'
primetime, Rather assured his audience, "if we say somebody's carried
the state, you can take that to the bank.'..."
To read the entire story
online, go to:
Or, you can see it
on the MRC Web site:
networks on Friday night pointed out how, in the words of ABC's Erin Hayes,
"the Democrats' tone had dropped several octaves from yesterday."
NBC's Claire Shipman referred to how Gore's team was "using a softer
tone," but though colleague David Gregory reported George W. Bush staged
"a presidential-style photo-op with top advisers," he offered a
tougher description of James Baker's approach: "Bush leaves the harsher
tone to his man on the ground in Florida."
The photo-op of Al Gore playing touch football with his
family was picked up by all three broadcast network evening shows. CBS's
John Roberts dubbed it a "Kennedyesque photo-op."
NBC's Shipman assured viewers that Gore aides promised
he "is not a politician who would insist on a long, damaging legal
process if it is determined that's what going to court would mean."
The ongoing election story showed one sign of losing
media interest Friday night as MSNBC, which had remained live until midnight
ET Wednesday and Thursday night, ended live coverage at 7pm ET to run an Imus
clip show followed by an 8pm repeat of the 5pm Hardball, though the staff
returned for a one-hour News with Brian Williams at 9pm before a 10pm re-run
of the Imus re-run. But, MSNBC was back on live again Saturday morning for all
day coverage. FNC stayed live until 11pm ET Friday night as CNN remained live
until midnight ET after a 90 minute town meeting at 10pm ET. ABC's Nightline
was extended to 80 minutes for a town meeting from Georgetown University.
Friday night, Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News by
delivering the spins of both sides, though he took longer to outline Gore's
than Bush's: "The Bush message to Gore: It's over. Give up, time for
you to concede. The Gore message to Bush: Asking for the rule of law, rather
than of men and machines, is legitimate. The election is not over and it
should be decided by quote, 'the will of the people, not a computer
From Austin, Bill Whitaker presented the Bush view:
"Today the Bush campaign toned the rhetoric but turned up the pressure on
Al Gore. It's part of their new battle plan devised because, one staff
member told CBS News, the campaign fears the Democrats are trying to steal the
After video of Bush meeting with advisers, Whitaker
contrasted it with a scene in Tallahassee: "While Bush played the
statesman, his Florida front man, James Baker, was fighting trench warfare,
trying to block the hand re-count, threatening possible retaliation,"
meaning a re-count in Wisconsin.
Then, from Washington, DC, John Roberts asserted:
"In a high stakes contest of politics and public relations, the Gore
campaign today cast itself as the defender of the democratic process."
Bill Daley, in
Tallahassee: "I hope all Americans agree that the will of the people, not
a computer glitch, should select our next President."
Roberts, over matching
video from the lawn of the Vice President's official home on Massachusetts
Avenue: "At the same time, Al Gore carefully avoided any perception of
personal involvement, inviting the press to a Gore family game of touch
football. The Kennedyesque photo-op is part of a strategy to ratchet down the
intensity of the past several days and buy enough time in the court of public
opinion to complete a hand count of disputed ballots in four Florida counties.
But wary of seeming too hungry for the White House, the Gore campaign dialed
way back from yesterday's insinuation that a Bush victory would be
Byron Pitts in Tallahassee revealed he's not too happy
with the people's right to redress grievances as he opened a report on the
re-count process: "It was democracy's dark side on display in
Tallahassee as Bush and Gore supporters exchanged angry words."
Rather put one of his odd analogies, usually reserved
for live events, into the Evening News as he introduced a story by marveling
at "lawyers and lawsuits popping up like toadstools after a
In the subsequent piece, Jim Axelrod picked up on a
disclosure I saw better explained on FNC but which was not mentioned Friday
night by ABC or NBC: "It appears the Democratic Party may have fanned the
flames of the ballot controversy here in Palm Beach County as early as
election day afternoon. The Democratic National Committee now confirms it paid
a tele-marketing firm to start spreading the word about the bad news. The next
morning Democrats nationwide woke up and started talking about how the ballots
In other words,
Democrats were calling supporters on Tuesday to tell them they may have
voted wrong and encouraged them to complain even though neither the DNC or
the called voters really knew if they voted incorrectly.
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced:
"The Governor today was trying out his presidential style."
David Gregory used the same language in relating, in NBC's always
confusing present-tense verbiage, how Bush "today stages a
presidential-style photo-op with top advisers."
Following video of Bush with Condoleeza Rice, Larry
Lindsey and Andrew Card, Gregory contrasted Bush's image with what his
operatives were doing in Tallahassee: "Bush leaves the harsher tone
to his man on the ground in Florida, former Secretary of State James
Baker, who today criticizes re-counts by hand in the state, saying
they're error-prone and practically calls on Al Gore to concede."
appears that the Gore campaign is attempting to unduly prolong the
country's national presidential election through endless challenges to
the results of the vote here in Florida."
also appears to threaten the Gore campaign by suggesting they too could
prolong the process" by demanding re-counts in other close states
Claire Shipman opened her piece, on Gore, with the
touch football video: "Al Gore, in a deliberate attempt to publicly
relax in the midst of tension of the highest order."
She stressed the
"softer tone" of the Gore team: "The Gore Florida team
today asserting that there is still a lot of work to be done before naming
the President-elect, but using a softer tone."
"I hope all Americans agree that the will of the people, not a
computer glitch, should select our next President."
"I think we've pledged ourselves to try to keep the rhetoric as low
as possible given the situation and try to carry it out in a professional
Shipman concluded by relaying assurances that in the
end Gore will do whatever is proper: "Friends point out that the man
that was so quick to concede the first time to George W. Bush when he
thought he'd lost, and who told aides 'we have to do this right,' is
not a politician who would insist on a long, damaging legal process if it
is determined that's what going to court would mean."
Friday night exclusive interview, Dan Rather, surprisingly, pressed Joe
Lieberman repeatedly about pressure on him and Al Gore to concede the race
and under what scenarios they might decide to drop their delaying tactics.
Rather's questions to Lieberman in the interview
excerpted on the November 10 CBS Evening News:
-- Rather introduced
the interview: "I asked him how many high-level Democrats had asked
him and Vice President Gore to throw in the towel?" (Answer:
-- "It's my understanding that the overseas
absentees ballots cannot and will not be completely all in and counted
before about a week from today. Can you see any reasonable scenario in
which before than time Vice President Gore and yourself say we're
convinced it's Bush and we concede?" ("No.")
-- "Give me your strongest brief for why this
is good for the country to have this stretch on for even another week,
never mind beyond that?"
-- "When is the last time you saw Vice
-- "True or untrue that he's just
NBC made brief mentions Friday night of the charge that Democrats traded
cigarettes for voting with the homeless in Milwaukee, an allegation
reported on election day by FNC and by the other cable networks on Friday.
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings noted:
"In Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman wants an
investigation into allegations that Democratic workers encouraged homeless
people to vote by offering them cigarettes."
Lisa Myers began an NBC Nightly News story on voting
irregularities around the nation: "In Wisconsin, which Gore won by
only 6,000 votes, Republicans asked the local prosecutor to look into
complaints of possible fraud and irregularities, including Gore supporters
allegedly giving cigarettes to homeless people in exchange for
on Rosie O'Donnell's daytime TV talk show actor Alec Baldwin denounced
the Republican reaction to the Florida vote and urged George Bush to show
"leadership" by requesting a re-vote. Baldwin appeared the very
day a full page ad ran in the New York Times, signed by O'Donnell,
demanding a new election in Palm Beach County, O'Donnell's voting
residence. (See item #5 below for details.) Baldwin also argued
Republicans are hypocrites for saying they were following the rule of law
during impeachment while resisting it now.
MRC analyst Paul Smith took down Baldwin's
comments made on O'Donnell's November 10 show.
Baldwin: "Gore is not doing anything that Bush
wouldn't be doing if the situation were reversed. If the situation were
"Of course, it's this close."
act as if its like, you know, hey c'mon what are you doing, you know,
this is all such bad form, you know what I mean. The second thing and
somebody told me Jon Stewart said this the other day. You watch all of the
political leadership of a particular party shall we say, a particular
party that is in support of Governor Bush and they-"
"That would be Republicans!"
wasn't going to say it, I wasn't going to say that but they uh,
isn't it interesting how they're saying the legal challenge in Florida
is a bad idea. You know what I mean, to try to upset the balance of power
in this country and the orderly procession of government and I thought to
myself well what was the impeachment of Clinton?"
was the invocation of a legal process to change what people had voted
was the elected President. They wanted to remove him from the presidency
and all these guys when you watched the impeachment, all these Republican
guys would sit there and say: [Baldwin in a mocking tone] 'Well, the
legal process involved in impeachment is something that's important to
the country and needs to play itself out to its conclusion.' And I want
to go yeah like the election in Palm Beach has to play itself out to its
conclusion and the re-count."
"Exactly, exactly. And it will I think because people are not just
going to take this thing sitting down. People want the person who legally
and morally won to be in and I'm going to agree with whoever, if it goes
with Bush, I'm not going to be happy-"
"-but I'm going to support him."
Bush is the winner, what can you do? You're not going to win them all.
the last thing I think about is this you know I think to myself you know,
Bush has talked ad infinitum about leadership, leadership. I'm the
leader, I'm the leader, he's no leader, I'm a leader. And I thought
to myself the really cool thing to do if you're really a leader is to
step back and say maybe we should have a re-vote in Palm Beach county or
in the state of Florida in its entirety."
glee: "And I vote there."
But she's cancelled out by fellow Palm Beach
County resident Rush Limbaugh.
How much did Baldwin believe in the "legal
process" during the impeachment effort? Recall how on NBC's Late
Night with Conan O'Brien on December 11, 1998 he jumped up from his
chair and shouted: "I'm going to stone Henry Hyde to death!"
To view it via RealPlayer, go to:
Click on "for more details" to read a
transcript of his outburst.
Election Crisis" cried the headline over a full page New York Times
ad on Friday from the "Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens
2000," a group which included several celebrities as well as a former
Editor of U.S. News & World Report.
MRC Communications Director Liz Swasey brought the
ad, organized by the same group of professors who put out an
anti-impeachment ad, to my attention. It argued:
Gore has apparently won the popular vote for President. Voting
irregularities in Palm Beach County, and elsewhere in Florida, suggest
that as many as 19,000 Gore votes may have been nullified and thousands of
other voters may have been improperly turned away -- enough to make Al
Gore the clear winner of Florida's popular vote and 25 electoral votes.
In short, there is good reason to believe that Vice President Gore has
been elected President by a clear constitutional majority of the popular
vote and the Electoral College."
After three more
paragraphs, the signers urged: "We therefore call upon the Florida
Election Commission to explore every option, including scheduling and
supervising new elections in Palm Beach County, as soon as possible.
Nothing less, we believe, can preserve the faith of the people upon which
our entire political system rests."
Amongst the listed
signers: actor Robert DeNiro, former U.S. News Editor James Fallows, actor
Paul Newman and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, as well as actress/talk
show host Rosie O'Donnell.
Gore really win the popular vote? So far yes as he's up about 200,000
votes nationwide, but as CNN's Brooks Jackson pointed out on
Thursday's Inside Politics, later-counted absentees votes, and the
official final tabulations released by the states, substantially changed
the final numbers in past elections.
Jackson noted in his November 9 report: "Gore
does lead in the unofficial tally of the popular vote, but by a narrow and
changing margin. On election night, he was running behind by half a
million votes. The next day he led by a quarter-million. Thursday
afternoon his lead over Bush had shrunk to less than 200,000 votes out of
more than 100 million counted for all candidates. But those are just
unofficial totals gathered by the news media, subject to change due to
recounts or late tallied absentees."
He disclosed: "In 1996, the unofficial totals
being reported the morning after election day showed a total of nearly 93
million votes cast for President. But weeks later the final, official vote
tally showed well over 96 million votes were actually cast. That's nearly
3.5 million additional votes."
Jackson explained the impact: "President
Clinton's winning margin changed significantly when all the votes were
counted. Morning-after totals had him beating Bob Dole by just over seven
million -- 7,760,000 votes. His official winning margin turned out to be
more than 8 million, a change of more than 440,000 votes. But this time, a
change could go either way."
> The New York Post picked up on some
post-election network reporting quoted in CyberAlert and used it in a
"MediaWatch" piece on Friday's op-ed page: "Prejudice and
Pride." To read it, go to:
If there's anything interesting on the TV talk
shows tonight (McLaughlin Group, Inside Washington, Capital Gang), I'll
try to put together another CyberAlert late tonight/early Sunday with what
I see and hear. -- Brent Baker
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