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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday December 29, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 277) |

The Last CyberAlert of the Millennium

Clinton Outsmarted Racist GOP; MRC More a "Guard Dog" Than a "Watch Dog"; 3rd Runners-Up in the Awards for the Worst Reporting

1) ABC and CBS portrayed Clinton's recess appointment of a black judge as a virtuous act to overcome racist Republicans. CBS's John Roberts effused about how Clinton "moved to make the federal court system more reflective of the population," as "for five years Mr. Clinton has attempted to appoint a minority judge to the Fourth Circuit, but was blocked by the Republican-led Senate."

2) FNC's Fox News Watch discussed the MRC's nominations for the year's worst reporting. FNC's Eric Burns observed: The MRC is "not really a 'watchdog' group so much as it is a 'guard dog' group....The MRC does not bark; it bites, and the sounds that catch its attention, although often disguised as innocent, often have deeper meaning."

3) Third runners-up in the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Plus, the list of the judges.

4) Letterman's "Top Ten George W. Bush Vacation Fun Tips."

     >>> CyberAlert Countdown Calendar to the 1,000th edition. Today's is the 998th numbered issue, so 2 more to go. <<<

Correction: The December 28 CyberAlert reported that actress Uma Thurman appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman "to plug a new movie titled, I think, The Tell, or something like that." I've since learned the name of the movie is "Vatel."


Clinton's recess appointment painted as a virtuous act to overcome racist Republicans. Wednesday night, in describing President Clinton's move to put a black judge onto the Fourth Circuit bench, CBS and ABC didn't bother with any mention of why Senate Republicans had opposed the confirmation of the judge, such his liberal views or lack of qualifications. Instead, they left the clear impression conservatives opposed the nomination of this and previous candidates just because they were black.

     CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts effused about how "President Clinton today moved to make the federal court system more reflective of the population it serves," but Roberts intoned, "for five years Mr. Clinton has attempted to appoint a minority judge to the Fourth Circuit, but was blocked by the Republican-led Senate." ABC anchor Aaron Brown reflected the same assumptions: "The President has nominated four African-Americans to the Fourth Circuit, but Republicans in Congress would not hold confirmation hearings."

     MRC analyst Jessica Anderson reviewed the December 27 ABC, CBS and NBC evening shows and determined that NBC didn't touch the subject while CBS and ABC ran short items. Here they are in full:

     -- CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts: "President Clinton today moved to make the federal court system more reflective of the population it serves. With the 106th Congress adjourned, Mr. Clinton took the dramatic step of a recess appointment today to name Virginia attorney Roger Gregory to the Fourth District U.S. Court of Appeals. Serving the Virginias, Maryland and the Carolinas, the Fourth Circuit encompasses the largest minority population in the country, yet Gregory will become just the first African-American in the court's history to sit on the bench."
     Bill Clinton: "I am compelled by the facts and history to do what I can to remedy an injustice that for too long has plagued the Fourth Circuit, and that I have tried for too long to remedy in the established way."
     Roberts: "For five years, Mr. Clinton has attempted to appoint a minority judge to the Fourth Circuit, but was blocked by the Republican-led Senate. First nominated six months ago, Gregory's recess appointment today will allow him to serve for one year. It's the first time in 20 years that a President has used a recess appointment to fill a judicial opening. Mr. Clinton will challenge the Senate to leave Gregory on the bench by resubmitting his name for confirmation in January."

     -- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Aaron Brown: "At the White House today, President Clinton bypassed Congress and appointed lawyer Roger Gregory to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Gregory will be the first African-American on the court. The President has nominated four African-Americans to the Fourth Circuit, but Republicans in Congress would not hold confirmation hearings. Now that Congress is not in session, Mr. Clinton used his powers to make what's called a recess appointment."

     With this kind of reporting, which assumed racism was behind the Republican position, no wonder fewer than ten percent of blacks voted for George W. Bush.


Last weekend, thanks to a topic idea suggested by panelist Cal Thomas, FNC's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to discussing the MRC's "Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." (The December 22 CyberAlert noted that the show "normally airs three times over the weekend on the Fox News Channel." The key word was "normally" since special holiday programs replaced its usual two repeat airing, but it did run at 7pm ET on Saturday.)

     Host Eric Burns also wrote an online column this week in which he maintained the MRC is "not really a 'watchdog' group so much as it is a 'guard dog' group."

     Burns introduced the December 23 FNC show segment: "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 at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting...."

     Picking up on the conflict between two Lesley Stahl quotes, Burns read them. First, the Stahl quote which won the "I Am Woman Award (for Hillary Rodham Worshiping)": "I'm endlessly fascinated by her....She's so smart. Virtually every time I've seen her perform, she has knocked my socks off." Second, her quote uttered a couple of months later which won the "Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis)": "I had my opinions surgically removed when I became a network correspondent."

     Burns quipped: "Apparently the surgery was a failure."

     Panelist Jim Pinkerton brought up a recent NQ in which NBC's Andrea Mitchell claimed Hillary's life story reflected "a modern fairy tale," before Cal Thomas told viewers his favorite quote was Margaret Carlson's complaint the day after the election, before overseas ballots from the military had been counted, that because Florida has no income tax, "here we will have possibly a bunch of tax dodgers deciding the election." The comment won the "Aiding and Abetting in an Election Theft Award."

     Burns next highlighted the first runner-up in the "Good Morning Morons" category, Bryant Gumbel telling Hadassah Lieberman how "family values...as you know, was a code word for intolerance." That prompted Pinkerton to recall what won Gumbel the "Damn Those Conservatives Award," saying to "a fellow from the Family Research Council" that he was "a bleeping idiot."

     +++ Watch this segment via RealPlayer. Thanks to the MRC's Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul, a just under three minute-long clip from the show was posted Thursday on the MRC home page. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

     Eric Burns also pens a weekly online column for the Fox News Channel Web site. This week's entry took up the MRC's awards issue quotes as Burns offered some kind words for the MRC's efforts:
     "The Media Research Center is a conservative watchdog group that sides with the majority when it comes to media bias. It's not really a 'watchdog' group so much as it is a 'guard dog' group. Watchdogs are stupid little creatures who run around the house in the middle of the night barking at innocent sounds and waking everyone up. The MRC does not bark; it bites, and the sounds that catch its attention, although often disguised as innocent, often have deeper meaning."

     To read his entire online column, go to:


On Tuesday the winning quotes, on Wednesday the first runners-up, on Thursday the second runners-up and today the third runners-up in the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." The annual end of the year special 8-page edition of NQ is based upon the votes of 46 judges -- radio talk show hosts, columnists, editorial writers, magazine editors and media observers -- who evaluated and ranked quotes in 18 award categories. A list of the judges appears below after the third runners-up.

     To view all the winning quotes as well as the two or three top runners-up and, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul, RealPlayer video clips for over two dozen of the quotes from TV shows, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq2000.html

     To see the 8-page issue typeset as snail mail subscribers saw the newsletter, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version. Go to:

     Below are the third runners-up quotes, as well as some fourth runners-up. The printed issue did not have room for a third runner-up in all categories while space allowed for or close (or tie) votes required a fourth runner-up in a few categories. Point totals are in brackets after each quote. First place picks by the 46 judges were assigned three points, second place choices were given two points and third place selections were allocated one point.

Quote of the Year, third and fourth runners-up

"Communism Still Looms as Evil to Miami Cubans."
-- Headline over April 11 New York Times story. [39 points]

"Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. And now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton. The story is that Republican-backed special prosecutor Robert Ray, Ken Starr's successor, has a new grand jury looking into possible criminal charges against the President growing out of Mr. Clinton's sex life."
-- Dan Rather opening the August 17 CBS Evening News from the Democratic convention. A federal judge appointed by President Carter admitted the next day that he had inadvertently leaked the news. [39 points]

Aiding & Abetting in an Election Theft Award, third runner-up

"There is no question, or very little question, that Al Gore won the votes cast in the state of Florida. The question is: Will he win the votes counted? Look at the statistics. In the rest of the state of Palm Beach County [that's what he said, strike "of Palm Beach County" to make sentence accurate] Buchanan was strongest in the precincts where Bush was strongest. In Palm Beach he was strongest where Gore was strongest because they were right next to each other on the ballot. Even more important, in the rest of the state Buchanan got the same percentage of votes on the ballots as he did in absentees, in Palm Beach County he got four times more votes on this butterfly ballot than he did on absentees. Listen, if this race is counted fairly, Al Gore won more votes in Florida."
-- ABC analyst and reporter George Stephanopoulos on This Week, November 12. [34]

Kiss Me, Too, Al Award (for Gore Gushing), third runner-up

"This one [Winnie Skinner] was spontaneous and wow, is it resonating. It was a very powerful moment in that room and if you thought Tipper got the kiss treatment from the Vice President at the convention, she got five from the Vice President! And it wasn't just political. I think most of us in the room thought that he and the entire room really were moved by her very compelling story. There have been a lot of people we've seen out there who really struggle to pay for their prescription drugs, but her story really resonates."
-- NBC's Chip Reid describing the woman who claimed she had to collect cans to pay for medicine, September 27 The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC. [36]

Kosher Kiss-Up Award (for Lauding Lieberman), SECOND runner-up (The December 28 CyberAlert erroneously ran the third runner-up instead of the second runner-up quote)

"Lieberman is a true centrist, a moderate who can build coalitions. You know how the Republicans in Philadelphia kept trying to show how moderate they were? Well, this trumps anything the Republicans had to say."
-- CNN analyst Bill Schneider, August 7 Inside Politics. [60]

I Am Woman Award (for Hillary Rodham Worshiping), third runner-up

"I think a lot of women will read that and see an underlying sexism to that, to that tone....And I think this serves Hillary Clinton well. That, 'see, these guys don't want a, don't like powerful women. They don't like to see someone like me who challenges their power.'"
-- Steve Roberts of U.S. News & World Report reacting to a GOP direct-mail letter which described Hillary Clinton as "a fraud, a phony, and a pretender...She's hard-core, hardline, hard-nosed ultra-liberal who uses people and hates Republicans," July 16 CNN Late Edition. [38]

Media Hero Award, third runner-up

"We all know now that you can be, rest assured that will be the bookend on Janet Reno's tenure as Attorney General, that and Waco on the other end. It is appalling from her perspective because of the true compassion she has for children. If you've ever seen her around children, you know how much she truly cares for them, and this has got to be tearing at her."
-- CBS reporter Jim Stewart during live coverage of the INS raid to seize Elian, Saturday morning, April 22. [42]

Flirting with Disaster Award (for Proximity to Conservatives), third and fourth runners-up

"How does that broaden the appeal of the party? You're talking here tonight about being more inclusive, yet 59 percent of the people here describe themselves as conservative."
-- Andrea Mitchell asking New York Governor George Pataki about Dick Cheney, July 31 MSNBC prime time coverage of the Republican convention. [29]

"Well, you put Tom Ridge out there for example, the Governor of Pennsylvania, big and important state, a guy with a great record, pro-choice, immediately the Catholic Church and Jesse Helms said no way."
-- Tom Brokaw to George W. Bush on potential VP picks, July 24 NBC Nightly News. [26]

The Galloping Ghost of Gingrich Award (for Chiding Cheney), third, fourth and fifth runners-up

"Cheney's politics are of the hard-right variety. He's opposed to abortion and gun control and favors both capital punishment and school prayer."
-- Bryant Gumbel on CBS's The Early Show, July 25. [31]

"But Bush is portraying himself as a compassionate conservative. If he's running with somebody who voted for all the Reagan budget cuts, for example, wouldn't that prove a bit of a problem?"
-- Gloria Borger to Karl Rove, July 23 Face the Nation. [30]

"[T]he official announcement and first photo-op today of Republican George Bush and his running mate Richard Cheney. Democrats were quick to portray the ticket as quote 'two Texas oilmen' because Cheney was chief of a big Dallas-based oil supply conglomerate. They also blast Cheney's voting record in Congress as again quote, 'outside the American mainstream' because of Cheney's votes against the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, against a woman's right to choose abortion -- against abortion as Cheney prefers to put it -- and Cheney's votes against gun control. Republicans see it all differently, most of them hailing Bush's choice and Cheney's experience."
-- Dan Rather on the July 25 CBS Evening News introducing that night's story on the Bush-Cheney debut. [30]

W is for Woeful Award (for Bashing Bush), third runner-up

"On one bit of campaign meanness and nastiness in particular, George Bush now says he's sorry his gutter language and personal attack was picked up by a microphone at a campaign stop yesterday, but he refuses to apologize for the substance of his comment. Bush's remark was about Adam Clymer, a New York Times reporter whose coverage he doesn't like."
-- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, Sept. 5. [31]

If He Didn't Sink, Send Him Back to the Clink Award (for Portraying a Cuban Paradise Awaiting Elian), third runner-up

"Part of what the children talked about was their fear of the United States and how they felt they didn't want to come to the United States because it was a place where they kidnap children, a direct reference, of course, to Elian Gonzalez. The children also said that the United States was just a place where there was money and money wasn't what was most important. I should mention, Peter, that, you know, as you talk about the global community, Cuba is a place, because of the small number of computers here -- in the classrooms we visited yesterday there was certainly no computers and almost no paper that we could see -- this is a place where the children's role models and their idols are not the baseball players or Madonna or pop stars. Their role models are engineers and teachers and librarians."
-- ABC's Cynthia McFadden referring to her visit to elementary-school-age kids, live from Havana during ABC 2000 coverage, December 31, 1999. [43]

Little Havana Banana Republic Award, third runner-up

"Elian and his family will spend the next three weeks in a seaside Havana house....ostensibly to let Elian get caught up in school so he can enter the second grade in September. But critics in the U.S. warn that the quarantine is meant to deprogram Elian. (If so, he'll be used to it: the private school he attended in Miami, owned by a right-wing Cuban-exile leader, was just as dogmatic)."
-- Time Miami correspondent Tim Padgett, July 10. [48]

Damn Those Conservatives Award, third runner-up

"No matter what George Curry accomplishes during the remainder of his journalistic career, he will be remembered for one thing: he was the editor who slapped a portrait of Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-style handkerchief on a 1993 cover of Emerge magazine. That shocking image outraged Thomas supporters, of course, but it crystallized the disgust that many African-Americans had begun to feel about the ultraconservative legal philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court's only black member....That's the uncompromising voice that made Emerge the nation's best black news magazine for the past seven years."
-- Time national correspondent Jack E. White's "Dividing Line" column on what will be lost with the demise of the liberal black magazine Emerge, June 12 Time. [31]

Good Morning Morons Award, third runner-up

"Americans are working more and getting less vacation time than people in any other industrialized nation....I feel strange saying, I never stopped to think about the fact there is no official U.S. policy on vacation time."
-- Today co-host Matt Lauer to Escape magazine's Joe Robinson, a proponent of mandated vacation, June 12. [32]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis), third and fourth runners-up

"You may want to note that Cheney is referring to Clinton Gore, not Clinton and Gore, in effect making Clinton Al Gore's first name: Clinton Gore."
-- Dan Rather during Dick Cheney's acceptance speech after Cheney said "We're all a little weary of the Clinton-Gore routine...it is time for them to go," August 2 CBS News Republican convention coverage. [30]

"We begin by going right to the hotel that houses the winner of the Iowa poll tonight. Governor George W. Bush of Texas, and with him is his lovely wife Laura. George is on the right. Laura is on the left."
-- Larry King hosting his CNN show, January 24. [28]

     END Reprint of third runners-up in the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

     Now, a reprise of the list of the judges who gave generously of their time to complete our extensive ballot and return it to us in under two weeks:

     -- Chuck Asay, editorial cartoonist, The Gazette in Colorado Springs
     -- Brent Baker, Editor of MRC's CyberAlerts and Notable Quotables
     -- Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN in Milwaukee
     -- Neal Boortz, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
     -- L. Brent Bozell III, Chairman of the Media Research Center
     -- David Brudnoy, talk show host, WBZ in Boston; adjunct professor at Boston University
     -- Priscilla Buckley, Contributing Editor of National Review
     -- Tucker Carlson, Weekly Standard writer; co-host, CNN's Spin Room
     -- Bernadette Malone Connolly, editorial page editor, Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader
     -- Mark Davis, talk show host, ABC Radio and WBAP in Dallas-Ft. Worth; columnist, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
     -- Midge Decter, writer and critic, New York City
     -- Jim Eason, KSFO in San Francisco talk show host, emeritus
     -- Don Feder, syndicated columnist and Boston Herald writer
     -- Eric Fettmann, columnist and editorial board member, New York Post
     -- Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis, Media Research Center
     -- Kirk Healy, Executive Producer, Cox Radio, Orlando
     -- Quin Hillyer, editorial writer, Mobile Register
     -- Marie Kaigler, radio talk show host, Detroit
     -- Cliff Kincaid, President, America's Survival
     -- Mark Larson, talk show host and general manager at KCBQ/KPRZ in San Diego}
     -- Jason Lewis, talk show host, KSTP in Minneapolis/St. Paul
     -- Tony Macrini, talk show host, WNIS in Norfolk, Virginia
     -- Don Markwell, talk show host, WACV in Montgomery, Alabama
     -- Patrick McGuigan, Editor, editorial page, The Oklahoman
     -- Jan Mickelson, talk show host, WHO in Des Moines
     -- Gary Nolan, national radio talk show host, Radio America
     -- Jane Norris, talk show host, WHAS Louisville & WLAP Lexington
     -- Robert Novak, syndicated columnist and CNN commentator
     -- Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project
     -- Kate O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review
     -- Marvin Olasky, Senior Fellow, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty; Editor of World magazine
     -- Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
     -- Henry Payne, editorial cartoonist, The Detroit News
     -- Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Executive Editor, The American Spectator
     -- Michael Reagan, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
     -- Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA in Denver; columnist, Denver Rocky Mountain News
     -- William Rusher, Distinguished Fellow, Claremont Institute
     -- Ron Smith, talk show host, WBAL in Baltimore
     -- Ted J. Smith III, Professor of journalism, Virginia Commonwealth U.
     -- Philip Terzian, nationally syndicated columnist
     -- Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist; panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch
     -- R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator
     -- Armstrong Williams, nationally syndicated columnist
     -- Dick Williams, columnist; host of Atlanta's Georgia Gang
     -- Walter Williams, Professor of economics, George Mason University
     -- Thomas Winter, Editor-in-Chief of Human Events

    END list of judges.


From the December 27 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten George W. Bush Vacation Fun Tips." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. When grilling, discarded Gore ballots make handy charcoal-starters
9. As President, you can veto "last call"
8. Stay on vacation for next four years -- let Dick Cheney worry about running the country
7. Send post card to friends and family who helped rig the election
6. Waterslide parks are a great way to "accidentally" tumble into girls in bikinis
5. If the lines are too long at Disney World, see if Jeb can pull a few strings for you
4. Want an inexpensive yet tasty sunblock? Try mayonnaise
3. If it rains, no problem -- you'll love "Dude, Where's My Car?"
2. Take a riverboat down the mighty Mississippissippi
1. If you don't like the resort, electrocute your travel agent

    Adios until the next millennium. -- Brent Baker


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