Harris "Completely Inflexible"; Norton's States' Rights Distorted; Ashcroft "Opposed by Every Group"; Pro-Ashcroft Groups Labeled
1) Diane Sawyer demanded of
Katherine Harris: "Do you think you won this election for George
Bush?" On Primetime Thursday Sawyer portrayed her as an impediment to
the truth: "She seemed completely inflexible, insisting on the narrow
letter of the law ...enforced strict deadlines....tried to block the hand
2) Without quoting a single word she said, ABC's Terry
Moran claimed Gale Norton "defended the states' rights arguments of
the Confederacy during the Civil War and characterized the battle over
slavery and states rights in a way some found racially insensitive."
3) ABC's Linda Douglass insisted the "very
conservative" Senator Ashcroft is "opposed by every group."
Every? Douglass also claimed Gale Norton's states' rights
"remarks are likely to be seen, at best, as insensitive to
4) Thursday night CBS and NBC made sure viewers realized
pro-Ashcroft groups were "conservative," but when liberal groups
had denounced him on Tuesday the two network evening shows avoided
applying any ideological tags.
5) NBC's Today devoted 13 minutes to Senator Jean
Carnahan as Katie Couric praised her qualifications. When Carnahan refused
to denounce Ashcroft, Couric fired back: "Do you have some concerns
though...given some of the things you know about his record on civil
rights, on abortion and on gun control?"
6) Margaret Zwisler, the neighbor who squealed on Linda
Chavez, is "the sister of ABC News correspondent Terry Moran,"
FNC's Brit Hume disclosed.
7) The latest edition of MediaNomics: "Shriveling
Network News Shows Shocked By Shrinking Snack Chip Bags!";
"Media Spin Bush Tax Cut as Huge and Ineffective" and
"Journalists Blame 'Deregulation' for California Shortages, But
Electricity Rules Are Plentiful"
Harris, an inflexible Bush hack. In her Primetime Thursday interview with
the Florida Secretary of State, ABC's Diane Sawyer pressed her: "Is
it possible that Al Gore did win this election?" Sawyer complained:
"From Day One she seemed completely inflexible, insisting on the
narrow letter of the law. She enforced strict deadlines even when one
county asked for just two hours more."
The top of the January 11 show started with Sawyer
suggesting: "Do you think you won this election for George
Sawyer soon portrayed Harris as the impediment to
the truth: "As everyone knows, George Bush was ahead by only a few
hundred votes. At the request of Al Gore some counties were launching hand
recounts which were gaining votes for him. So what did she do? Well from
Day One she seemed completely inflexible, insisting on the narrow letter
of the law. She enforced strict deadlines even when one county asked for
just two hours more. And she tried to block the hand recount of those
punched but disputed ballots. The Bush team was thrilled, the Gore team
Sawyer presented the Gore case: "Did it worry
you that for two hours it would look like an extremely rigid thing you
were doing." Harris explained that
the county, apparently Palm Beach but never said, took not two hours but
days more to determine its final count.
Returning to her original theme, Sawyer soon tried
again to get Harris to admit Gore really won: "But given the
uncertainties is it possible that Al Gore did win this election?"
know I can't speculate. I have no idea."
Sawyer: "Is it possible? Possible?"
"Anything's possible in this. I can't say it is or not. I mean
there's simply no way I can know. Many times there were statisticians on
both sides. One said that based on their early counts of the precincts in
highly Democratic areas, at the end of the day Al Gore would not have
Sawyer then reminded viewers of how the Florida
Supreme Court overruled Harris and Sawyer asked Harris to defend herself
against their finding that she had "summarily disenfranchised
Moving on to ridicule of her, Sawyer noted how
Democratic partisans like Paul Begala called her "Cruella de Vil"
and showed some clips of Jay Leno and David Letterman making fun of her
After a rundown of her family background and
political career, Sawyer wondered about pressure from Austin and the Bush
camp. Harris denied any, but Sawyer wasn't satisfied: "Jeb Bush
recused himself. Do you think that maybe there should be some rule by
which, in a situation like this, somebody completely from the outside is
"Absolutely not. The people of Florida elected me to serve as their
chief elections officer."
even if you are Gandhi himself, you've got to be worried at some level
that this thing is starting to roll toward Gore."
you're Diane Sawyer or Mahatma Gandhi you have to follow the law. You
can have your preferences, but you're not going to do something illegal
or go around the law."
Sawyer next brought up how Harris received death
threats and had to deal with very negative attacks on her, such as a
Saturday Night Live skit. Harris recalled a particularly vicious attack:
"Perhaps the most difficult moment was when one person said they were
disappointed the Ryder truck, that everyone was watching on TV, that OJ
Simpson hadn't murdered me, or something like that."
ABC played a brief
clip of Bill Maher: "And for a few brief moments, America held the
hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris."
"That was not pleasant...."
The MRC at the time publicized the "joke"
aired on the November 30 Politically Incorrect on ABC, the very same
network with which Harris chose to favor with the exclusive interview. The
joke in full: "Now earlier today, a rental truck carried a half a
million ballots from Palm Beach to the Florida Supreme Court there in
Tallahassee. CNN had live helicopter coverage from the truck making
its way up the Florida highway, and for a few brief moments, America held
the hope that O.J. Simpson had murdered Katherine Harris."
Back to ABC's Primetime Thursday, Sawyer wrapped
up on the up side by showing how Harris got many positive e-mails and
deliveries of flowers and on November 21 she also earned a standing
ovation from both parties at a State House ceremony.
Terry Moran picked up on a weakly premised front page Washington Post
story about a speech Interior Secretary Gale Norton gave several years ago
and turned it into something nefarious. Without quoting a single word she
said, on ABC's World News Tonight on Thursday Moran claimed "she
defended the states' rights arguments of the Confederacy during the
Civil War and characterized the battle over slavery and states rights in a
way some found racially insensitive."
Earlier in the day, at President-elect Bush's
announcement of a new Labor Secretary pick and his first choice for U.S.
Trade Representative, Moran challenged Bush: "Your Secretary of the
Interior designate Gale Norton made a speech a few years ago in which she
lamented the loss in the Civil War by the Confederacy because she said
'too much was lost,' referring to states' rights. What do you say to
citizens who might hear that and are concerned that your nominee defending
the states' rights position of the Confederacy may mean a retreat from
federal protections through federal power of minority rights?"
After outlining on World News Tonight Bush's two
new picks, Moran warned: "There are other storm clouds over Interior
Secretary designate Gail Norton, already opposed by environmentalists who
discovered a speech she gave in 1996 in which she defended the states'
rights arguments of the Confederacy during the Civil War and characterized
the battle over slavery and states' rights in a way some found racially
insensitive. Bush blasted those critics."
Bush at the nominee
announcement: "I'd say that's just a ridiculous interpretation of
what's in her heart. She in no way, shape or form was talking about any
value to slavery."
On CNN's Inside Politics Jonathan Karl explained
how two liberal groups worked to plant the anti-Norton hit in the
Washington Post, but even a reading of the hyped-up Post story reveals she
was simply regretting how much power the federal government has over
states and how the 10th amendment is not properly followed. Here's an
excerpt from the January 11 Washington Post story by John Mintz:
In a 1996 speech to a conservative group, Interior Secretary-designate
Gale A. Norton likened her struggle to preserve states' rights to the
cause of the Confederacy, saying, "We lost too much" when the
South was defeated in the Civil War.
Norton, then Colorado's attorney general, described slavery as the kind
of "bad facts" that can undermine an otherwise powerful legal
case. She made the speech to the Independence Institute, a conservative
think tank in Denver on whose board of directors she has served.
Norton did not endorse slavery, but rather used the comparison to the
Confederacy to make a more fundamental point -- endorsed by a number of
conservative legal activists and scholars -- about the importance of
states' rights against the federal government. Norton spoke of being on
the receiving end of what she considered intrusive orders from the federal
government as state attorney general.
In the situation of the Confederacy, "we certainly had bad facts
in that case where we were defending state sovereignty by defending
slavery," she said in the speech. "But we lost too much. We lost
the idea that the states were to stand against the federal
government gaining too much power over our lives."....
To read he entire news story, go to:
not just unlabeled liberal groups which oppose the awful Ashcroft pick,
Thursday morning on GMA, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, ABC's
Linda Douglass insisted the "very conservative" Senator is
"opposed by every group." Douglass made her preposterous
over-generalization after highlighting the same attack on Gale Norton
detailed in item #2 above as Douglass asserted the "remarks are
likely to be seen, at best, as insensitive to African-Americans."
On the January 11 Good Morning America Douglass
reported on Norton: "She is very much opposed by the environmental
groups. Gale Norton is a passionate believer in the right of states to
govern themselves with as little interference as possible by the federal
government. Environmental groups worry that'll lead to more mining,
drilling and logging in pristine areas, but now it's been reported that in
1996, she made a speech to a conservative group in which she lamented the
fact that states lost a lot of their power to govern themselves when the
Confederacy lost the battle to have slavery be legal in Confederate
states. So she said that, she called slavery a set of 'bad facts,' hard to
defend in that case, and she said, 'We lost too much,' meaning that the
states lost too much power to govern themselves. These remarks are likely
to be seen, at best, as insensitive to African-Americans."
News reader Antonio Mora asked: "Now, could
this balloon into a bigger problem?"
brought up Ashcroft and how "every group" opposes him:
"Well, absolutely, because this comes in the midst of the battle over
the Attorney General nominee, John Ashcroft, a former Senator who's very
conservative, opposed by every group, especially civil rights groups.
Civil rights groups say he's opposed to affirmative action, he tried to
block the nomination of a black judge, and they appoint, they point to an
interview that he gave to a pro-Confederacy magazine in which he praised
Confederate generals as heroes and said it was wrong to see their agenda
as perverted. So there's a lot of controversy over all of these and Mr.
Bush is having trouble making the case to African-Americans that he does
want to be inclusive."
No thanks to this kind of distorted reporting. Which
party was the segregationist one which controlled the South for about 110
years after the Civil War?
efforts unlabeled, pro-Ashcroft groups immediately tagged. Thursday night
CBS's John Roberts noted how "conservative groups today launched a
counter-attack" on behalf of Ashcroft and NBC's David Gregory
stressed how "Ashcroft's conservative supporters, worried that
opposition from liberal activists is taking a toll, fan out across
Washington to defend his record."
But on Tuesday night, there wasn't a liberal in
sight as the two networks described a press conference by a "Stop
Ashcroft" coalition. CBS's Phil Jones referred to "groups
who've been on the front lines for years fighting over civil and human
rights, the environment, gun control and, especially, women's
rights." NBC's Lisa Myers saw "an unprecedented coalition of
some 45 interest groups representing women, gays, minorities, labor -- all
condemning Ashcroft as too extreme." For details, see the January 10
CyberAlert, which noted how neither network applied any labels until much
later in their January 9 stories: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010110.asp#3
(ABC's World News Tonight remained consistent as
it ignored both the liberal groups on Tuesday night and the conservative
ones on Thursday night.)
On the Thursday night, January 11, CBS Evening News
reporter John Roberts noted the pick of
Elaine Chao for Labor, but soon moved on to Ashcroft's situation:
"With as many as 30 Democratic Senators prepared to vote Ashcroft
down, conservative groups today launched a counter-attack. On Capitol Hill
victims of violent crime lined up in support."
A woman unidentified
by CBS but who was Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America: "We
are the mainstream of America."
Roberts picked up on
LaHaye's event: "At the same time a coalition of women's groups
rushed to Ashcroft's defense. They praised his passionate stand against
abortion, underlined by this scene of Ashcroft displaying a sonogram of
30, 1998, at CPAC: "If the Supreme Court saw this picture 25 years
ago would they have allowed this life to be taken?"
Roberts, applying a
label two days late, continued: "And in sharp contrast to liberal
groups they applauded his record on civil rights."
American Legislative Exchange Council: "Senator Ashcroft has done
more to champion equality, diversity and racial harmony than Jesse
Jackson, Kweisi Mfume and Louis Farakhan combined."
with another swipe at Ashcroft: "But Democrats aren't giving up on
allegations that Ashcroft has been racially insensitive. The Chairman of
the Senate Judiciary Committee today demanded a videotape of a 1999 speech
that Ashcroft gave at Bob Jones University which at the time had a policy
against inter-racial dating."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, David Gregory ran a
clip of Bush insisting Ashcroft would enforce all laws. Gregory labeled
the liberals, but only after first applying a conservative tag:
"Today, Ashcroft's conservative supporters, worried that opposition
from liberal activists is taking a toll, fan out across Washington to
defend his record."
Family Research Council: "We're about to go back to the rule of law
where right is right and wrong is wrong and we're not going to raise a
moistened finger in the air, check the polls and find out how we're
playing in Peoria."
That 18 seconds was it for the conservative case as
Gregory moved on to updating his Wednesday night claim about how five GOP
Senators were possible no votes on Ashcroft. He reported that the five --
Chafee, Jeffords, DeWine, Snowe and Specter -- are behind Ashcroft and he
ran supporting soundbites from Senators Specter and DeWine before
concluding, as had Roberts, by noting the request for the Bob Jones
Today on Thursday morning devoted an incredible 13 minutes to appointed
Senator Jean Carnahan whom Katie Couric praised as fully qualified:
"You've worked very hard on child immunizations in the state of
Missouri....you worked very hard for schools....So is it safe to say
issues involving children and education will be high on your agenda?"
Couric also pressed Carnahan to denounce Ashcroft,
the Senator her dead husband beat, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed.
Couric inquired: "Is it safe to say that Senator Ashcroft will not be
getting your vote?" When Carnahan said she wanted to give Ashcroft
the benefit of a hearing, Couric fired back: "Do you have some
concerns though, Senator Carnahan, given some of the things you know about
his record on civil rights, on abortion and on gun control?"
Couric set up the January 11 segment which consumed
most of the 7am half hour: "On Close Up this morning Senator Jean
Carnahan. Being sworn in as one of a record 13 women in the Senate is not
how she expected to be welcoming in this new year. But out of her own
personal tragedy Jean Carnahan found the strength to fulfill the dream of
her late husband Mel, the former Governor of Missouri."
After a taped piece by Joe Johns on how Carnahan
ended up in the Senate, Couric introduced the live interview:
Carnahan. Good morning it's so nice to meet you. Thanks so much for coming
up to New York. You know in recent months I have to tell you I have just
marveled at your stoicism and grace under the worst possible and saddest
circumstances. And I'm just curious where you have found such incredible
strength to conduct yourself in this way?"
Couric proceeded to pose a series of questions about
how she dealt with and learned of her husband's death in a plane crash.
Couric then walked Carnahan through her decision to accept the
appointment: "As you were, were wrestling with this one thing that
must have been extremely helpful was the fact that the entire state of
Missouri really reached out to you. It was quite extraordinary the
reaction to your husband and your son's death. I mean little children
waving flags. 10,000 letters. What did some of those letters say and how
were they hopeful to you?"
Without ever even raising the point that at least
some think it was inappropriate for her to take political advantage of her
husband's death to become a Senator when she has absolutely no
qualifications, Couric argued she was well qualified: "You know you
did a lot, I mean, as the person in the piece said, that Joe Johns did
it's not as if these women are staying at home and knitting and doing
nothing. You were a defacto campaign manager for your husband, you wrote
speeches, I mean you're pretty self-effacing when you say the only office
you ever had was your dining room table because you have been quite
active. You've worked very hard on child immunizations in the state of
Missouri. Bringing Missouri from 49th to 10th in that area. As you
mentioned you worked very hard for schools. You did a, lobbied for the
Outstanding Schools Acts, Act, rather. That created smaller classrooms and
more computers. So is it safe to say issues involving children and
education will be high on your agenda?"
Couric soon pressed her to denounce Ashcroft:
"Let's talk about the upcoming confirmation hearing of your former
adversary Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri for Attorney General. Is it
safe to say that Senator Ashcroft will not be getting your vote?"
want Senator Ashcroft to have the benefit of a full and fair hearing. He
"Do you have some concerns though, Senator Carnahan, given some of
the things you know about his record on civil rights, on abortion and on
course. A lot of people have concerns. But that's why this process, the
confirmation process, is so important, because it gives him a chance to
address those and we should do that. That's the fair thing to do."
Couric finally asked one tough question:
"Republicans have accused your campaign staff of supplying research
to opponents of Ashcroft's nomination. What's your response to this
criticism?" Carnahan said she had
nothing to do with it as it involved a former campaign worker.
Stephanopoulos may not be the ABC News connection to the Chavez hit.
Another ABC News reporter, the same one whose biased reporting against
another Bush nominee was detailed in item #2 above today, just happens to
be the brother of the former neighbor who probably betrayed Chavez,
FNC's Brit Hume revealed Thursday night. Hume explained during the
"Political Grapevine" segment on the January 11 Special Report
with Brit Hume:
"ABC News broke the
story of Linda Chavez's sheltering an illegal immigrant for two years a
decade ago, a story that led to her withdrawing as the Bush nominee for
Labor Secretary. Some have detected the fine hands of former Clinton aide
George Stephanopoulos, now with ABC News, and former Clinton White House
lawyer Neil Eggleston, who represents a Chavez neighbor named Margaret
Zwisler, for whom the immigrant worked. Zwisler, a Democrat
and a trial lawyer, is thought to be the likely source of the Chavez
story. And it turns out that Zwisler is also the sister of ABC News
correspondent Terry Moran."
It really is a small world.
January 11 edition of MediaNomics,
from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), is now online. The three new
articles by FMP Director Rich Noyes:
-- Shriveling Network News Shows Shocked By
Shrinking Snack Chip Bags!
It's not exactly
arms to the Ayatollah or nuclear secrets to the Chinese, but all of the
broadcast networks pounced on a January 2, 2001 New York Times story
revealing that some manufacturers, faced with increased production costs,
have switched to smaller packages as an
alternative to direct price hikes. Network correspondents indignantly
branded the downsizing of the snack food containers as duplicitous, but
those same networks have been quietly trimming the news content of their
own evening news programs for years, with more and more valuable seconds
of airtime devoted to advertising and promotion....
-- Media Spin Bush Tax Cut as Huge and
After the Federal
Reserve's Open Market Committee cut rates by a half percent on January
3, ABC, CBS and NBC refused to call it vindication of George W. Bush's
warnings of a weak economy. Instead, journalists pushed the idea that Fed
Chairman Alan Greenspan had acted to undermine the pitch for Bush's tax
reduction program and that tax relief wouldn't matter in the current
economic climate. At the same time, the networks continued to represent
the proposed tax cut as either "big" or "huge" - an
insupportable statement if the tax cut is placed in its proper context....
For the remainder of the story, go to:
-- Journalists Blame "Deregulation" for
California Shortages, But Electricity Rules Are Plentiful
As winter has
settled over the nation, it has become a media mantra: the current crisis
in California is the result of the state's deregulation of the electric
power industry. The implication, of course, is that the powerful and
uncaring forces of the free market have been loosed to wreak havoc on
citizens who now lack government's "protection." And, with
many other states at various stages of deregulation, some journalists seem
to think that what is now a regional crisis could soon be a national one.
After blaming deregulation "in part" for California's
troubles, Dan Rather warned viewers of the January 4 CBS Evening News that "residents of many other states could be
For the rest of this
analysis, go to:
This last piece is especially timely as Dan Rather
opened Thursday's CBS Evening News: "Millions of Californians face
rolling power blackouts tonight after a powerful storm piled natural
disaster on top of the state's manmade deregulation disaster."
As the MediaNomics article shows, the only disaster
is the accuracy of CBS News reporting.
-- Brent Baker
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