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 CyberAlert Weekend Edition

CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday December 22, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 273) |

Bush Worsening Christmas Sales; FNC to Take Up MRC Awards; Vicious Attack on Thomas by ABC's Simpson; Dan Rather as Gladiator Warrior

1) ABC, CBS and NBC led Thursday night with how the White House castigated Bush for hinting an economic downturn may be ahead. Dan Rather scolded: "Is talk of a recession responsible?" Some in the White House "accuse the Bush team of economic fear-mongering." Rather even blamed Bush for exacerbating slow holiday sales. Only FNC recalled how Clinton acted similarly in 1992.

2) Words seldom, if ever, heard before from a network reporter: "Reagan's big across-the-board tax cut helped pull the economy out of recession and...helped trigger the bull market for stocks."

3) FNC's Fox NewsWatch this weekend will discuss the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Tune in Saturday at 7pm EST.

4) Clarence Thomas viciously denounced by ABC's Carole Simpson for voting "against black voting rights." In her online column she endorsed the attacks on him as "the beneficiary of the biggest example of unmerited affirmative action" and the "cruelest" justice "because he has consistently voted against human rights." If Bush names more like him, she groused, "God help us."

5) Contrary to media reports, the Heritage Foundation insisted, Virginia Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, "has not been receiving resumes. She has not been recruiting potential appointees for a Bush administration."

6) "I'm worried about the kind of cuts" Bush "might make in domestic programs that mean something to...people in my family who depend on certain things from the government," whined millionaire actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

7) "Would I like to think of myself as commander of the Northern Armies? You bet," boasted Dan Rather who reported seeing the movie Gladiator five times. This item isn't a joke.

8) Letterman's "Top Ten Questions George W. Bush Asked President Clinton."

     >>> CyberAlert Countdown Calendar to the 1,000th edition. Today's is the 994th numbered issue, so 6 more to go. <<<


The revised 3rd quarter GDP was lower than the 3rd quarter rate back in 1992 when Bill Clinton ran on the poor economy (2.2 versus 2.7 percent), but instead of pointing that out the broadcast networks all led Thursday night with how the White House castigated George W. Bush for daring to suggest an economic downturn may be ahead. All the December 21 newscasts ran a soundbite from Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling warning the talk may be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    CBS's Dan Rather scolded: "Is talk of a recession responsible?" Some in the White House, Rather relayed, "accuse the Bush team of economic fear-mongering." Rather soon even blamed Bush for depressing Christmas sales: "The talk from the Bush team of a possible recession could not come at a worse time for the retail industry. The stores are afraid all this talk is encouraging consumers to close their wallets." Reporter John Roberts aired a clip of Bill Clinton claiming, "we are now in the longest economic expansion in our history." Roberts called that "a pointed lesson in economic history," but failed to point out how the expansion started well before the 1992 election.

    Only FNC's Steve Centanni, in a piece run on both Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report, reminded viewers of how "if, as some say, Bush is playing politics with the economy, he wouldn't be the first. Eight years ago candidate Bill Clinton campaigned on the economy, ignoring signs that an economic recovery was already underway. And as President-elect, Bill Clinton convened a Little Rock summit to talk about mending a broken economy that he claimed to be inheriting from George Bush."

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. John Martin began the lead story: "This particular argument is over whether George W. Bush is deliberately low-balling the prospects for economic growth for political gain."

    After a soundbite from Bush defending himself against the charge of playing politics about the slowdown, Martin explained: "All this has blown up in the wake of Bush's comment yesterday that he saw signs of slowdown just ahead and his suggestion that his tax cut plan could soften the impact."

    Martin went on to relay the complaint from Sperling that Bush's talk itself could hurt the economy, a charge Dick Cheney denied, and while Wayne Ayers of Fleet Boston agreed negative forecasts from leaders could impact the economy, he didn't think Bush had yet stepped over the line.

    -- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather's up front tease: "Where will the economy go? There are some new signs the economy is slowing some, but is talk of a recession responsible? We'll talk to the Treasury Secretary as some others in the White House accuse the Bush team of economic fear-mongering." Rather then opened the program, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Good evening. The outgoing Clinton administration put out new numbers today showing the U.S. economy is cooling somewhat after growing at a red hot pace earlier this year. The Commerce Department says economic growth slowed in the third quarter to an annual rate of 2.2 percent. That's less than half the rate of the second quarter. Economists are hoping the economy will come in for what's called a 'soft landing.' That's defined as slower growth without a recession. But the incoming Bush administration continues to talk about the possibility of a recession, and the Clinton White House accused the President-elect today of talking the economy down for partisan political reasons -- among other things, to make his big tax cut plan more attractive, say the Democrats."

    John Roberts began the lead story: "Dan, at a time when the President-elect should be focused on transition, he finds himself embroiled in a fight with the outgoing administration, a fight he feels he had to pick if he hopes to survive past his first four years...The President-elect today tried to beat back criticisms that by saying the economy could be headed for a recession, he just might make it happen."
    George W. Bush: "I, in all due respect, have said that there are some warning signs on the horizon. I think that people are gonna find out that when I'm sworn in as the President, I'll be a realist, and if there are warning signs on the horizon, we need to pay attention to them."
    Roberts: "Earlier in the day, it was Dick Cheney on Capitol Hill for a conciliatory meeting with Senator Joe Lieberman, who rushed to counter charges that he and Bush were playing politics."
    Dick Cheney: "We don't want to talk down the economy, clearly, and I think both President-elect Bush and myself have tried to be cautious in that regard."
    Roberts: "The dust up has pit the incoming administration, anxious to avoid any blame for a downturn, against President Clinton, who today issued a pointed lesson in economic history."
    Bill Clinton: "We are now in the longest economic expansion in our history. A critical part of our strategy to get there was to put our fiscal house in order, to replace record deficits with record surpluses."

    Without pointing out how the expansion started in early 1992, Roberts continued: "White House officials acknowledge that the economy has slowed to its lowest level of growth since 1996 but say no one thought the blistering pace of the last few years could be sustained."
    White House Press Secretary Jake Siewert: "We're not trying to muzzle anyone. I think we're just urging a measured tone, one that is line with the facts -- 2.2 percent is higher than the average rate of growth during the last Bush administration."
    Roberts: "On his last day as Governor of Texas, Bush trumpeted his record of spurring growth through bipartisan cooperation and tax cuts, a model he said he will take to Washington and the nation."

    After a clip from Bush, Roberts concluded: "Democrats have accused Bush of acting more like a candidate than an incoming President, but Bush is all too well aware that if the economy goes south on his watch, Democrats will beat him over the head with it for the next four years just like they did his father."

    Rather then introduced the next story by suggesting Bush is in danger of exacerbating poor Christmas sales: "The talk from the Bush team of a possible recession could not come at a worse time for the retail industry. The stores are afraid all this talk is encouraging consumers to close their wallets at the peak of an already disappointing holiday shopping season."

    -- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw was far more direct than Dan Rather in acknowledging how the economy is slowing. He opened the show: "Good evening. Everyone agrees the American economy is slowing, it's moving directly from the fast lane to the right hand lane. Now the question is will it keep on going right into the ditch? President-elect Bush says this is a dangerous time and his massive tax cut, he believes, is the best course correction. But the White House and Democrats countered that scenario is too radical. They think it will bring only more trouble."


Words seldom, if ever, heard before on network television: Reagan's tax cut "worked" since it "helped pull the economy out of recession."

    In a December 21 NBC Nightly News piece on Bush's proposed tax cut, Lisa Myers allowed Reagan OMB chief James Miller to argue for the benefits of an immediate tax cut and then she offered evidence: "Experts say tax cuts have worked in the past. In 1981 Reagan's big across-the-board tax cut helped pull the economy out of recession and, many say, helped trigger the bull market for stocks."

    Myers went on to describe the Bush proposal as similar to the Reagan cut. After running a soundbite from Robert Hormats of Goldman Sachs saying a tax cut could boost the economy and help avoid a recession, if it goes into effect soon, Myers turned to former Clinton economic adviser Laura Tyson for the anti-tax cut view.

    Myers concluded, however, by returning to the usual media form of tagging the Bush tax cut as "big," "enormous" or "massive." She offered a different adjective: "Key Republicans and Democrats say Bush definitely can get some kind of tax cut, maybe even an across the board reduction in tax rates. But nothing close to the trillion dollar mega-tax cut that he's pushing."


FNC's Fox NewsWatch this weekend will discuss the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Specifically, the show's Web site features this plug:
"The Media Research Center, a right-of-center media watchdog group, has picked its worst moments in journalism for the year 2000. So have two associates of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-of-center media watchdog group. We'll take a look at some of the 'winners.'"

    The half-hour Fox NewsWatch, hosted by Eric Burns and featuring NQ awards issue judge Cal Thomas on its panel, normally airs three times over the weekend on the Fox News Channel. By time zone:

EST: 7pm Saturday, 11am Sunday and 5am Monday
CST: 6pm Saturday, 10am Sunday and 4am Monday
MST: 5pm Saturday, 9am Sunday and 3am Monday
PST: 4pm Saturday, 8am Sunday and 2am Monday

    Bonus time zones:
Atlantic: 8pm Saturday, 12pm Sunday and 6am Monday
Alaska: 3pm Saturday, 7am Sunday and 1am Monday
Hawaii-Aleutian: 2pm Saturday, 6am Sunday and 12am Monday

    To view all the winning quotes, top runners-up and video clips of the quotes from TV news shows, go to the online version of the awards issue: http://archive.mrc.org/bestofnq2000.html

    To see the 8-page issue in the format snail mail subscribers will see the newsletter, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version: http://archive.mrc.org/news/nq/pdf/bestofnq2000.pdf


Carole Simpson, ABC News reporter and anchor of World News Tonight on Sundays, is consumed by hatred and anger toward Clarence Thomas, a disgust most recently triggered by his supposed vote "against black voting rights" in last week's presidential election case. She concluded her rant: "I have heard many women and minorities say, 'God help us' if Bush appoints any more judges like him."

    MRC analyst Jessica Anderson on Thursday alerted me to Simpson's weekly online column posted this past Sunday. She cleverly attributed all of her points to others, but since she cited no contrasting views they obviously matched her own. She relayed how during the campaign Democrats warned Bush court appointees "would no doubt rule in favor of rights for whites, males, and the wealthy, and against the rights of blacks and browns, females, and the poor." She quoted a judge who claimed Thomas "has done more to turn back the clock of racial progress than has perhaps any other African-American public official." Simpson passed along how the New York Times called him the "cruelest" justice "because he has consistently voted against human rights and civil rights."

    "Simpson Reflects on the Role of Justice Thomas" read the headline above her December 17 "On My Mind" online commentary. An excerpt:

....Democratic campaign activists warned that if George W. Bush became President he would most likely appoint justices who would make the high court more conservative than it is now.

They predicted that a second Bush court would overturn Roe v. Wade and affirmative action laws. Bush appointees, they argued, would no doubt rule in favor of rights for whites, males, and the wealthy, and against the rights of blacks and browns, females, and the poor.

If anybody needed a wake-up call on how important the "Supremes" are it came loudly and clearly last Tuesday night.

That's when we heard the historic news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against Gore in the Florida vote recount case, in effect guaranteeing that Bush the 43rd Presidency of the United States. The future of the Court is now in his hands.

Will he follow in his father's footsteps? President Bush picked former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Clarence Thomas to fill the enormous shoes left on the high court by the death of Justice Thurgood Marshall, one of history's greatest civil rights lawyers and jurists.

At the time, President Bush said Thomas, with his remarkably limited experience, was the most qualified judge in the nation for the job. Others thought Thomas was the beneficiary of the biggest example of unmerited affirmative action ever undertaken.

    Suspend excerpt. Sarcastic comment: Simpson must be excluding herself.

    Resume excerpt:

In 1998, former U.S. Appeals Court Judge Leon Higginbotham, Jr., an outstanding black jurist -- now deceased -- said Justice Thomas, after eight years on the Supreme Court, "has done more to turn back the clock of racial progress than has perhaps any other African-American public official in the history of this country."

Florida African-Americans raised one of the major issues in the controversial vote there. They charged they had been disenfranchised, that casting votes was made particularly difficult for them, and that their ballots were undercounted. Some charged, their votes were "stolen." In the Tuesday ruling, which brought the long national nightmare to an end, I was anxious to see which justices voted how. Sure enough, the split was along partisan lines. Republican appointees went with Bush, Democratic ones with Gore.

Suspend excerpt. Two comments. First: As the Washington Times reported Wednesday and was briefly summarized in the December 21 CyberAlert, Florida's Democratic Attorney General has found no evidence of anything aimed at blocking blacks from voting. Second: In the 5-4 split two of the four, Stevens (appointed by Republican Ford) and Souter (named by Bush the elder), voted for the Gore position. In the 7-2 split, the two were Clinton-appointed Ginsburg and Ford-nominated Stevens.

    Resume excerpt:

This was an issue about voting rights. Yet, Justice Thomas voted with the conservative majority. His vote could have changed history. But it was not to be. He is firmly entrenched on the Court's right. In fact, during this term, of 45 cases decided, Thomas voted 90 percent of the time with his arch-conservative colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia.

How could Justice Thomas vote against black voting rights? This is a man who has experienced much of the worst of growing up black and poor in America....

He was an excellent student at Holy Cross and received his law degree from Yale. He attracted the attention of the Republican right wing when he criticized his only sister for being on welfare. (She wasn't lucky enough to be sent to grandmother's house like her brother.) Under the Reagan Administration, Thomas served as head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and after only a year on that bench Bush and the U.S. Senate gave him a life-time appointment to the highest court in the land. This, in spite of the Anita Hill sexual harassment scandal.

Because he has consistently voted against human rights and civil rights, a New York Times editorial called him the "cruelest" justice on the court. In five major cases involving civil rights and liberties, he voted against minorities every time, including rulings against job discrimination and voting rights. He's only 52 years old and could conceivably spend another 30 years on the Supreme Court.

If, during his tenure, President-elect Bush ends up making a couple of more appointments like Justice Thomas to the Supreme Court, I have heard many women and minorities say, "God help us."

    END Excerpt

    God help us that someone, so filled with such hatred and disrespect for a man who dared stray from the liberal race spoils system, is a reporter for a major news network.

    To read her entire diatribe, go to:

    Think Simpson can separate her personal vitriol from her reporting? Check out her December 20 story on why blacks voted against Bush, as detailed in the December 21 CyberAlert: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20001221.asp#1


Speaking of media slams against Clarence Thomas, the Heritage Foundation is trying to correct media misinformation about his wife, Virginia, which supposedly demonstrated a conflict of interest for him.

    Relaying without attribution a hit on her in the New York Times, in a December 12 NBC Nightly News story on conflicts of interests by Supreme Court justices, Andrea Mitchell asserted: "Clarence Thomas's wife, Virginia, a former top Republican aide to Majority Leader Dick Armey, now doing a talent search at a Washington think tank for a possible Bush administration."

    Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce on Thursday passed along a Heritage memo attempting to correct the media. An excerpt from Pierce's December 21 item:

The Heritage Foundation this week felt it necessary to send out a letter to journalists to correct "baseless stories insinuating some sort of impropriety about Virginia Thomas working at the Heritage Foundation while her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled on the contested election in Florida."

James R. Weidman, director of media relations at Heritage, wrote: "Alas, the erroneous reports of this non-story have taken on a life of their own. In the absence of basic fact-checking, they continue to be rehashed -- and even more fancifully embroidered -- among much of the media." He went on to describe "the facts of the matter."

"As Heritage's senior fellow in government studies, Ms. Thomas oversees our government-oversight project. Among her many activities in this area this year, she coordinated an eight-week training seminar for congressional staffers on how they can better prepare their members of Congress to conduct productive oversight hearings."

On Dec. 4, while the election was still in doubt, Mrs. Thomas learned that Mary Rose, a staffer in another department at Heritage, "had been designated as our resume 'point person,' the one who would ride herd over the resumes being sent to us by people interested in working for the next administration," Mr. Weidman said. "Ms. Thomas then e-mailed House and Senate staffers with whom she had been working to acquaint them with this fact.

The e-mail went to both Republican and Democratic staffers." Mr. Weidman added: "Ms. Thomas has not been receiving resumes. She has not been recruiting potential appointees for a Bush administration. She is not affiliated with the Bush transition team in any way, shape or form."

    End Excerpt

    For Pierce's daily political items, go to: http://www.washtimes.com/national/inpolitics.htm


A millionaire movie star is "very worried about the Bush presidency" because she's "worried about the kind of cuts he might make in domestic programs that mean something to...people in my family who depend on certain things from the government." The star in question, Sarah Jessica Parker, let loose with her advocacy of government dependence during a chat with a Washington Post reporter to promote her new movie, State and Main.

    Here's an excerpt from the item in the December 21 Washington Post's "The Reliable Source" column by Lloyd Grove and Beth Berselli:

If it were up to Sarah Jessica Parker -- star of HBO's "Sex in the City," wife of Matthew Broderick -- President-elect George W. Bush should just forget the honeymoon.

"I'm very, very concerned about the Bush presidency," the 35-year-old actress told us during a conversation that was mostly about her role in "State and Main," the new David Mamet movie opening tomorrow. "I'm worried about the kind of cuts he might make in domestic programs that mean something to a lot of people, including people in my family who depend on certain things from the government. When someone has to qualify themselves as a 'compassionate' conservative, I think it's kind of interesting that the compassion can't just be assumed."

Parker said she has been politically active since her child-actress days in Cincinnati, meeting with George McGovern when she was a precocious 7-year-old and he was the Democratic standard-bearer of 1972. But politics aside, she plays a Hollywood diva in the Mamet movie -- a tart comedy about a movie production company that descends on a quaint New England village, only to corrupt the flinty residents....

    END Excerpt

    For the remainder of the item and/or to see a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker, go to:

    When did Bush ever propose any "cuts" and what social spending program has ever been cut? Instead of whining about how some relatives might get a smaller handout you'd think someone as wealthy as Parker could toss them a few bucks, but I guess she'd rather have people who make a lot less than her have part of their income transferred via taxes to her relatives.


What does Dan Rather do between newscasts other than develop liberal agenda story angles? He imagines himself as a military commander of yesteryear and goes to see the movie Gladiator. Five times so far, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister reported on Thursday.

    In her December 21 column the TV reporter disclosed:
    "CBS's Dan Rather, 69, who's fought more than his share of battles in the TV coliseum, is nuts for Gladiator. At last count, he'd seen the Russell Crowe epic five times.
    "'Would I like to think of myself as commander of the Northern Armies? You bet,' Gunga Dan says. 'Would I like to think of myself as somebody who lives with a code of strength and honor? You bet.'"
    "Alas, 'life is not like that. Maximus just keeps coming in a way that none of us can do.'
    "As for Rather's armor, 'I think it's rusty, and the hinges are beginning to come apart.' (Courage, Dan.)"

    Courage for us all.


From the December 20 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions George W. Bush Asked President Clinton." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. "What's the name of that big building shaped like a pentagon?"
9. "Where do you want me to forward your subpoenas?"
8. "Can I buy your '92 inaugural speech from you?"
7. "Who does a guy have to execute to get a drink around here?"
6. "Lemme get this straight -- you won an election without a brother as Governor?"
5. "How can I tell Cheney to start wearing a shirt to meetings without hurting his feelings?"
4. "Dude, where's my car?"
3. "In that movie 'Independence Day' did the Martians really blow up the White House?"
2. "Do you think the young lady could stop that until we're finished talking?"
1. "Which one of these is the Bat-Phone?"

    All the Bush-bashing is worth it just to hear #2. And even #9. -- Brent Baker


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