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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday December 21, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 272) |

Bush's Fault Blacks Opposed Him; No Disenfranchisement Found; Pressure From "the Far Right"; Silence Over Hillary Book Deal

1) ABC and CBS put the burden on Bush for black aversion to him, citing his visit to Bob Jones University as well as stands on the death penalty and affirmative action. CBS showcased a black Republican woman who left the GOP over Bush.

2) FNC's Brit Hume picked up on newspaper reports about how there's no evidence of any black disenfranchisement in Florida but in Philadelphia, "in some precincts, 100 percent of those registered were recorded as having voted, with 99 percent of the votes going to Al Gore."

3) ABC and NBC pointed out how Bush's Treasury Secretary nominee, Paul O'Neill, backed raising energy taxes. CBS's John Roberts instead stressed how Bush "may need to capitalize on O'Neill's friendship with Alan Greenspan" since he "has spared few words in his criticism of the President-elect's plan to cut taxes."

4) Spin you won't hear on other networks. Fred Barnes on FNC: "You have a Secretary of State who opposed...Desert Storm. You have a White House Chief-of-Staff...who endorsed the Clinton health care plan...you have a Treasury Secretary who was in favor of the carbon tax that Al Gore wanted."

5) CNN's Wolf Blitzer characterized Republicans opposed to gun control, affirmative action and abortion as "the far right" of the party.

6) "How Democrats howled when the issue was Newt Gingrich's book deal," CNN's Brooks Jackson reminded viewers in noting silence over Hillary's deal. Media silence too. Back in 1994/95 27 network stories. This time hardly a peep. Time's Margaret Carlson excused Hillary's deal since "the independent counsel impoverished her," so "let her trick some publisher into paying her legal bills."

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Chapter Titles In Hillary Clinton's New Book."

     >>> CyberAlert Countdown Calendar to the 1,000th edition. Today's is the 993rd numbered issue, so 7 more to go. <<<


ABC and CBS tried to explain Wednesday night why blacks rejected George W. Bush at the polls by 9-to-1. Both networks put the burden on Bush for being on the wrong side of the issues. CBS focused on how his visit to Bob Jones University was the "last straw" for many, including a woman who left the Republican Party over the event. ABC's Carole Simpson simply listed all of Bush's supposed transgressions, from Bob Jones to favoring capital punishment to opposing affirmative action, before she concluded: "The majority of African-Americans are worried about what the next four years will bring. Their biggest fear: that they will lose under President Bush what they gained under President Clinton."

    Other than one soundbite on CBS from Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, neither network raised any points from conservatives who could have argued it's simply a liberal-conservative split that won't change as long as the vast majority of blacks feel dependent on government programs, though ABC's Peter Jennings did point out how more blacks than whites want government to solve problems. Of course, neither story mentioned how the NAACP ran scare-mongering TV ads which clearly implied Bush was a racist.

    -- CBS Evening News. Jim Axelrod picked up on how Bush met earlier in the day with ministers, many of them black, about the role of faith-based groups in solving problems. Noting how he's already picked two blacks for top jobs, he allowed J.C. Watts to suggest people will measure Bush against his performance. Axelrod reported, however, that 87 percent of blacks don't think Bush won legitimately. Axelrod than had two liberals attack Bush: Amos Brown of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Faye Anderson, who "was a Republican for 16 years, a member of the first Bush administration before growing disenchanted. Bob Jones was her last straw too. She, and many blacks she says, will watch carefully well beyond this first flurry of appointments and meetings."
    Anderson: "It's not about the first week or two. I don't think anyone is saying that he's off to a bad start. What he has done to date does not address how we got to this point."
    Axelrod concluded with a shot at Bush's "faith-based" efforts: "She says many blacks are willing to see what changes may come, just don't ask anyone to take it on faith."

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings pointed out how blacks rejected Bush by 9-to-1 and an exit poll which asked whether "government should do more to solve problems" found 72 percent of blacks said yes compared to just 37 percent of whites. Jennings acknowledged: "While some significant change in America has occurred under Republican Presidents, some of today's most outspoken black leaders have an aversion to the Republican Party."

    Carole Simpson then laid out the Democratic case for how Republicans are wrong on every important issue, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "No matter that he calls himself 'compassionate' and 'inclusive,' George W. Bush has not made any headway with African-Americans."
    Democratic U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee: "We did not hear our voice being spoken or our words or our desires being articulated by the Republican candidate, now President-elect."
    Simpson: "Black voters are quick to point out things he did during the campaign which they say show he was not really serious about winning their allegiance. Speaking at Bob Jones University, which forbids inter-racial dating, refusing to take a stand on flying the Confederate flag over South Carolina's state Capitol, and authorizing the executions of more convicts, many of them black, than any other Governor in the country. On top of all this, George W. Bush is opposed to affirmative action. That's the policy many blacks say is responsible for their advancement in society."
    Tavis Smiley, BET Tonight: "When you come down on the wrong side of the death penalty question, when you come down on the wrong side of the affirmative action question, when you come down on the wrong side of the education question, I could go on and on, there's clearly a divide between what Mr. Bush thinks is best for black America and what black America thinks is best for itself."
    Woman on the street: "I don't really believe that he really is concerned for the blacks."
    Man on the street: "Most African-Americans feel as though if the Republicans are in, that they're not getting a fair shake."

    Simpson: "Then you remind black voters that Bush's first appointments to powerful administration jobs were blacks -- Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice."
    Woman: "We are not foolish people, and we know that he is using them as tokens."
    Man: "The issue isn't what people he puts in there. The issue is the policies."
    Simpson: "Even in Texas, only five percent of black voters, fewer than anywhere else, voted for their two-term Governor."
    Woman: "Well, I just don't trust him."
    Simpson concluded: "And so the majority of African-Americans are worried about what the next four years will bring. Their biggest fear: that they will lose under President Bush what they gained under President Clinton."

    Jennings introduced a follow up story: "How will it be when he takes office definitively. One writer asked in the Wall Street Journal today, will black Americans be eternal victims. Will Mr. Bush and millions of blacks be permanently estranged?"

    John Martin then provided a brief story on how Bush wants to build bridges to blacks and with 38 black Democrats in the House he'll have to learn to address their concerns.


While ABC and CBS were passing along complaints about Bush's policies from liberal blacks, FNC's Brit Hume let his viewers know that charges reported by all three broadcast networks, about how blacks in Florida were discriminated against at the voting booth, have come up baseless.

    During his December 20 Special Report with Brit Hume program, Hume summarized a Washington Times story:
    "Florida officials looking into charges by Jesse Jackson and others that black voters were systematically disenfranchised on election day are finding no evidence of that. The Washington Times quotes a spokesman for Florida's Democratic attorney general Bob Butterworth as saying a roadblock near Tallahassee that some blacks have complained was an effort to intimidate them was in fact a routine law enforcement effort that led to the issuance of 18 traffic warnings, two thirds of them to white motorists.
    "Complaints that police blocked access to a polling place in an African-American precinct in Tampa turned up only police looking for a robbery suspect. Only one man was detained. The statistics suggest that voting problems in Florida were likely the result of an unprecedented turnout of first-time black voters, encouraged by the NAACP in a massive get-out-the vote effort. More than 900 thousand African-Americans voted in Florida on November 7th, which represented a 65 percent increase over 1996.
    "In fact, blacks represented 15 percent of the voting population in Florida, which is two percent more than their percentage of the population at large. Many, apparently unfamiliar with voting procedures, mismarked, or double-marked their ballots."

    To read the Washington Times story by Jerry Seper, "Florida probe finding no evidence of black disenfranchisement," go to: http://www.washtimes.com/national/default-20001220225948.htm

    Hume proceeded to pick up on another newspaper report about some over-voting in Pennsylvania and a little fun fact about the St. Louis polls which stayed open late:
    "Massive turnout in other areas has raised questions of fraud. In Philadelphia, The New York Post notes that nearly every single eligible citizen -- 1,250,000 people -- registered to vote, an astonishingly high number. In some precincts, 100 percent of those registered were recorded as having voted, with 99 percent of the votes going to Al Gore.
    "In St. Louis, which had the highest black turnout in the country, polls were kept open an extra hour by a court in response to a Democratic lawsuit filed by two voters who, it was claimed, did not have enough time to vote. It turned out that one of the two was dead and the other was not registered to vote."

    Hume was citing a December 20 New York Post column by Stephen Bronars of the University of Texas and John Lott of the Yale University Law School. To read their discoveries, go to:


ABC and NBC on Wednesday night pointed out how conservatives are concerned that Bush's Treasury Secretary nominee, Paul O'Neill, backed raising energy taxes. CBS didn't mention the subject as John Roberts instead stressed how Bush "may need to capitalize on O'Neill's friendship with Alan Greenspan. The Fed Chairman has spared few words in his criticism of the President-elect's plan to cut taxes."

    On ABC's World News Tonight Terry Moran alerted viewers: "Conservatives may have concerns. In 1992 O'Neill advocated a tax on gasoline, an idea Bush has long scorned. Today O'Neill tried to make clear he knew who would make policy in the new administration."
    Viewers then saw a soundbite of O'Neill saying Bush has the right ideas on the economy.

    Over on the NBC Nightly News, David Gregory reported: "O'Neill, the 65-year-old chairman of aluminum maker Alcoa, and deputy budget director under President Ford, says he's a strong proponent of Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut plan, though he's been criticized by Republicans for supporting President Clinton's 1992 proposal to impose a gasoline tax."

    Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News with this loaded set up: "Good evening. President-elect Bush talked again today about what he sees as a U.S. economy in trouble, possibly headed for a recession. Mr. Bush says the sweeping tax cut plan he ran on is what's needed to head it off. This is part of the Bush strategy aimed at absolving himself from any blame for a possible downturn, saying in effect it didn't start on my watch. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has not favored a big tax cut. Democrats call Bush's talk of a recession unwise and his tax plan a windfall mostly for the wealthy."

    John Roberts didn't mention O'Neill's tax hike advocacy and concluded his story on O'Neill's selection: "The appointment of O'Neill to Treasury was met with mixed reviews in the financial world. Many people would have preferred that Bush pick a Wall Street insider for the job, but the President-elect may need to capitalize on O'Neill's friendship with Alan Greenspan. The Fed Chairman has spared few words in his criticism of the President-elect's plan to cut taxes."


A spin you won't hear elsewhere. Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard on FNC's FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Wednesday night:
"This is kind of a funny cabinet. You have a Secretary of State who opposed, at least in the beginning, Desert Storm. You have a White House Chief-of-Staff, Andy Card, who endorsed the Clinton health care plan. And now you have a Treasury Secretary who was in favor of the carbon tax that Al Gore wanted and that Bill Clinton wouldn't even go along with. Strange."

    And the networks spent all year warning of Bush's "hard right" stands.


Republicans who oppose affirmative action, gun control and abortion, positions taken by George W. Bush, represent the "far right" of the party CNN's Wolf Blitzer declared in a Monday night interview with Dick Cheney.

     MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth caught this question from Blitzer to Cheney in a taped interview played during the December 18 premiere of CNN's new 8pm ET show, Wolf Blitzer Reports:
     "You know, some conservatives, and you're a conservative, a proud conservative, but some conservatives are already, you know, expressing some concern that Governor Christine Todd Whitman or Governor George Pataki, you know, people who support abortion rights, affirmative action, gun control, that they may have prominent roles in the Cabinet. Do you take that kind of criticism or concern seriously from, let's say, the far right of your party?"


The Hillary Clinton book deal has a generated a few network stories, but nothing like the media apoplexy Newt Gingrich's book deal fueled back in late 1994/early 1995. A MRC Media Reality Check fax report earlier this week reviewed the network outrage back then over the Gingrich book.

    Wednesday night on CNN's Inside Politics Brooks Jackson noticed the contrast in outrage from Democratic politicians: "How Democrats howled when the issue was Newt Gingrich's book deal."
    Congressman David Bonior at the time: "But this latest $4 million book deal wades ten feet deep into the ethical swamp."
    Jackson: Now, Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton is nailing down a book deal worth $8 million. But this time, the only questions are coming from the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation, which filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee and from Ralph Nader's Congressional Accountability Project."

    (I guess Ralph Nader isn't liberal.)

    Jackson could have added the media to the contrast as they too have been comparatively silent. FNC and CNN have done stories and interview segments and ABC's World News Tonight ran one story Friday night while GMA interviewed a publishing expert about the deal on Friday morning. But that's about it from the networks that I've seen, though I have not completed an exhaustive check.

    But I do know CBS News has spiked the Hillary book deal (nothing on The Early Show or the CBS Evening News as aired in the east where it was bumped by sports on Saturday and Sunday night) and that's relevant since it is to be published by Simon and Schuster, part of CBS's parent Viacom. The alleged ethical problem with Gingrich's book, you'll recall, was that it was to be published by HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch whose media empire had regulatory policy dealings with Congress. Well, so does Viacom.

    Nonetheless, Time's Margaret Carlson was blind to the nearly identical set of conflict of interest questions. On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN she actually rationalized Hillary's deal since "the independent counsel impoverished her," so "let her trick some publisher into paying her legal bills." Her December 16 spin in full:
    "Unlike Newt Gingrich and his book deal, Hillary Clinton isn't getting her $8 million advance from Rupert Murdoch with his billions of dollars worth of legislation before the House, which unlike the Senate banned such deals. If Hillary were to utter her first spontaneous word and answer the burning question, is the Senate worth all you had to put up with, the book might be worth it. Anyway, since the independent counsel impoverished her, let's let her trick some publisher into paying her legal bills. It takes a Senator."

     Now the text of a Media Reality Check distributed by fax on Tuesday titled, "Nets Neuter Newt, Puff and Enrich Hillary: CBS News Demanded Gingrich Scuttle His Book Deal, But CBS Made Book Deal with Sen. Hillary." The MRC's Tim Graham went into the MRC's archive to demonstrate how the networks pounced on Newt Gingrich's book deal. To view this as an Adobe Acrobat PDF, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/realitycheck/2000/pdf/fax1219.pdf

    But first, the pull-out quote in the middle of the page:
CBS Hammered Newt's Deal for Months
"Until the Ethics Committee announced on Friday that they were indeed going to call you and Rupert Murdoch, there had been charges, most of them from Democrats, that the whole thing was being dragged out, that the Ethics Committee had taken no testimony under oath, that they had subpoenaed no documents. Eric Engberg, of CBS, had reported that they hadn't even gotten a briefing from any relevant agencies. Do you think the Ethics Committee has been dragging its feet on this? And would you like to tell them to speed up to at least clear up all of this?"
-- CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer to Newt Gingrich, July 9, 1995.

    Here's the text of the Media Reality Check:

On February 1, 1995, CBS reporter Eric Engberg attacked Newt Gingrich's $4.5 million book deal with HarperCollins. Engberg suggested the embattled new Speaker ought to surrender: "Speaker Gingrich, who could end the controversy by scuttling the book deal, is standing fast."

Gingrich had already given away his advance, but that didn't stop Engberg: "When Gingrich tried to end the controversy by turning down the advance, he failed to disclose he had met with Murdoch. When that came out, Gingrich did not reveal that Murdoch's top lobbyist was also at the courtesy call and that they discussed a big regulatory problem facing Murdoch's Fox TV network, the jewel of his media empire. It's a high-stakes case."

Dan Rather introduced that story: "More tonight about whether Australian-born-and-centered communications billionaire Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy influence with politically connected authors."

A February 1995 MediaWatch study found 27 network evening news stories on the Gingrich book deal from December 22, 1994 to February 2, 1995 -- seven each for ABC, CBS, and NBC, and six on CNN's World News. The networks first reported the book deal on December 22. "We'll hear more about this one," CBS reporter Bob Schieffer promised. Schieffer was still hammering Gingrich about it in July. (See pull out quote above)

Now Simon and Schuster has announced an $8 million book deal with Senator-elect Hillary Clinton. Simon and Schuster is now an arm of the CBS conglomerate. Will CBS and the other networks show the same ethical ardor in suggesting that Hillary's book deal looks like "buying influence with politically connected authors," and demand she forego any advance, and then despite that move, continue to demand more congressional investigations until every conversation between Mrs. Clinton and her corporate benefactors is parsed for every possible political impact? Don't count on it.

CBS Early Show news reader Julie Chen touched tangentially on the topic on December 15: "Book publishers are lining up to pay millions for Hillary Clinton's White House memoirs. Some say that creates an ethics problem for the future senator. Members of the House were barred from accepting book advances after then Speaker Newt Gingrich got a big money book deal six years ago."

Reporters pounced on the Gingrich deal because he tried for months to get the media to cover a September 24, 1997 Washington Post story on Speaker Jim Wright's book deal, which led to Wright's resignation in 1989.

Of the 27 Gingrich book deal stories, six mentioned the case of Speaker Wright, either by comparing Democratic attacks on Gingrich to Gingrich's attacks on Wright, or by noting that both stories involved book deals. Gingrich's comparison of his deal to Al Gore's $100,000 advance for Earth in the Balance made it into only two stories.

For CBS, what goes around comes around. When Gingrich gave up his advance, CBS Face the Nation fill-in host Rita Braver asked Bob Dole on January 1, 1995: "You don't think he'll be called The Four-and-a-Half-Million Dollar Man anymore?" The man behind Hillary's book deal is agent Bob Barnett, Braver's husband.

    END reprint of Media Reality Check


CBS News may not be interested in the Hillary book deal, but their late night comedy show gave it some publicity Monday night. From the December 18 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Chapter Titles In Hillary Clinton's New Book." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "1, 2, 3, 5-8 and 10 -- A Look At The Commandments I Broke During The Past 8 Years"
9. "Alaska and Jupiter -- The Only Things Bigger Than My Husband's Thighs"
8. "Deciding Which State Is Best For You To Pretend To Be From"
7. "Priceless White House Antiques I've Thrown At Bill's Head"
6. "Sweet Revenge: My Evening In A Windowless Corridor With a Hefty Male Intern"
5. "God Bless The Execu-Craft Model 5000 Paper Shredder"
4. "Roger Clinton: The Real Brains Behind The Whole Operation"
3. "Arafat's Wife: So-So Kisser"
2. "I Never Figured Out Who The Hell Rick Lazio Was Either"
1. Chapter 1: "Bill's A Jerk. The End. Now Where's My $8 Mil?"

    And, from the Late Show Web site, some of the Top Ten "Extras," the "also-rans" that didn't make the final cut:

-- "July 17, 1996: The Day Bill Didn't Cheat On Me!"
-- "How To Get Some Dumb Ass To Pay $8 Million For Your Book"
-- "Pictures of Bill and Me That I Was Able To Tape Back Together"
-- "Vince Foster, Jimmy Stewart and Other People I Had Killed"
-- "Thank God I'm Back in D.C.: My Four Horrifying Months In New York"
-- "Since I Feel Kinda Bad For Him, Maybe I'll Let Al Gore Be Vice President Again When I Run In 2004"
-- "Alan Greenspan: The Man Who Made Me Feel Like A Woman Again"
-- "'I'm A New Yorker,' 'I Didn't Kill Vince Foster' And Other Huge Lies I Told"

    The news media may have forgotten Vince Foster, but not one late night show, though his name didn't make it onto the air. Maybe Letterman has a conservative writer or two. -- Brent Baker


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