"Controversial" Abortion Order; But 8 Years Ago Clinton Just Fulfilling "Promise"; "Ought to be Ashamed" of Ashcroft Portrayals
1) Monday night ABC, CBS and
NBC characterized Bush's abortion order as a "controversial"
decision in which he "did something to quickly please the right
flank." But eight years ago to the day Clinton's executive orders
on abortion reflected how he had "delivered on his campaign
promise" by taking non-ideological action which demonstrated how he
"keeps his word."
2) A reporter lectured Ari Fleischer: "You're not
really saying that you believe that the way to build the spirt of
bi-partisanship is by wading into the issue of abortion on day one are
3) "Pretty well clued in" is how ABC's Charles
Gibson assessed 3rd and 4th graders who he wished to could vote after they
urged Bush to do liberal things, such as: "Get rid of guns,"
tell companies to "stop cutting down the trees," give the
homeless the "chance to go to college" and "just be nice to
4) Even George Stephanopoulos was outraged by Clinton's
pardon for fugitive Marc Rich, prompting ABC to first highlight the story
on Sunday night. NBC caught up on Monday night.
5) The national media "ought to be ashamed" of
how they portrayed John Ashcroft "as some sort of right wing
radical," Brit Hume scolded on Fox News Sunday.
6) During the Golden Globe Awards ceremony broadcast on
NBC Sunday night, actor Martin Sheen praised Jesse Jackson: "You're
still our hero, and we need you now more than ever." Actor George
Clooney used his air time to take a shot John Ashcroft.
7) The Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush appearances on
CBS's Late Show with David Letterman will be re-run on Tuesday and
Wednesday nights this week.
Correction/Clarification: A table of contents listing in the
January 22 CyberAlert stated: Peter Jennings empathized: "It's been
a very difficult last 24 hours for him, having to make a deal with the
"independent counsel..." The second quote mark before the word
independent should not have appeared. The same issue speculated that
ABC's Tom Jarriel might be spelled Jariel. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul
checked the ABC News Web page and confirmed that "Jarriel" is
the accurate spelling.
the difference between a "controversial" decision by a new
President "wading into controversy" with an action
"designed to appeal to...conservatives" as he "did
something to quickly please the right flank in his party" and a new
President having "delivered on his campaign promise" by taking a
non-ideological action which shows how he "keeps his word"?
President Bush re-instituting the ban on U.S.
funding of groups promoting abortion overseas versus President Clinton
exactly eight years earlier signing several executive orders which pleased
abortion activists by lifting bans on funding for overseas aid programs
that include abortion, abortions at U.S. military installations, fetal
tissue research and federally funded clinics telling women about the
Check out the incredible contrast in how ABC, CBS
and NBC reacted on January 22, 2001 versus January 22, 1993 to new
Presidents issuing opposite executive orders on abortion. I managed to get
some of this off Nexis, but also employed the MRC's tape library to go
back and watch the 1993 shows in order to locate the missing stories as
well as plugs and teases.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. This year, anchor
Peter Jennings plugged the upcoming story: "President Bush begins by
taking a tough line on abortion."
In the subsequent story Terry Moran reviewed
Bush's activities during his first work day. When he got to the abortion
decision he stressed the ideological component of it as a payoff to a
segment of supporters:
"One of the
President's first actions was designed to appeal to anti-abortion
conservatives. The President signed an order re-instating a Reagan-era
policy that prohibited federal funding of family planning groups that
provided abortion counseling services overseas. Press Secretary Ari
Fleischer was peppered with questions about the order at his first daily
(Indeed he was "peppered" by bewildered
reporters. See item #2 below for examples.)
Eight years ago, on Friday January 22, 1993,
Jennings trumpeted Clinton's action in this plug for the upcoming story: "In a moment, President Clinton keeps his
word on abortion rights."
("President Clinton keeps his word." My,
how gullible were the media in Clinton's early days.)
Jennings introduced the report by emphasizing how
Clinton had fulfilled a promise: "President Clinton kept a promise
today on the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing
abortion. While tens of thousands of abortion opponents marched from the
White House to the Supreme Court, Mr. Clinton signed presidential
memoranda rolling back many of the restrictions imposed by his
In the subsequent piece, Jackie Judd delivered no
formulation even close to something like how Clinton's action "was
designed to appeal to pro-abortion liberals." She never uttered the
-- CBS Evening News. This year, Dan Rather delivered
this plug: "Up next here on the CBS Evening News, President Bush's
fast anti-abortion action."
Rather set up the story by painting Bush's
decision in ideological terms: "This was President Bush's first day
at the office and he did something to quickly please the right flank in
his party: He re-instituted an anti-abortion policy that had been in place
during his father's term and the Reagan presidency but was lifted during
the Clinton years."
John Roberts began his story by reporting how Bush
contrasted himself with the previous President by urging his staff to
follow high ethical standards. Roberts then emphasized how abortion placed
Bush in "controversy":
"But in a sign
that not everything has changed, the President waded into controversy on
his first day. In a nod to anti-abortion groups on the anniversary of Roe
v. Wade, he announced he'll cut federal funding to organizations that
provide family planning and abortion counseling overseas. Abortion rights
activists fear there's more to come."
CBS ran a soundbite
from Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood. The CBS video gave her a nice
free ad as it prominently showed a poster plugging this Web site: "RoevBush.com"
Eight years ago Rather teased at the top of the
January 22, 1993 CBS Evening News: "On the anniversary of Roe versus
Wade President Clinton fulfills a promise, supporting abortion
Rather made that the show's lead, again stressing
how Clinton had "delivered" on a campaign promise: "Good
evening, Dan Rather reporting. It was 20 years ago today, the United
States Supreme Court handed down its landmark abortion rights ruling and
the controversy hasn't stopped since. Today, with the stroke of a pen,
President Clinton delivered on his campaign promise to cancel several
anti-abortion regulations of the Reagan-Bush years. CBS News correspondent
Rita Braver has our report."
Of course, neither Rather or Braver made any
allusions to how Clinton "did something to quickly please the left
flank in his party."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw opened Monday's
broadcast by noting how it was Bush's first day and the capture of some
of the Texas escapees. He then returned to the new Bush White House, as he
highlighted how it started "on a controversial note." Brokaw
announced: "We'll be covering all of this tonight. We'll begin
with the new President's very active day, which started on a
controversial note. NBC's David Gregory is at the White House tonight,
Lisa Myers on Capitol Hill. David, you begin please."
Gregory reported: "Well Tom tonight, even as
the President vows to move quickly on his agenda, including education
reform and tax cuts, on his first day of official business Bush decides to
send his strongest message on the issue of abortion. 28 years to the day
since the Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion, Bush today issues an
executive order banning federal funding for international groups that
offer abortions or abortion counseling abroad, a ban President Clinton had
After a soundbite from White House Press Secretary
Ari Fleischer, Gregory noted: "The decision, which aides say is
simply the fulfillment of a campaign pledge, came as thousands of abortion
foes marched in Washington...."
Eight years earlier, Brokaw did not attribute to
"aides" the idea that Clinton was fulfilling a campaign pledge.
He said it straight out as a fact as he introduced a story after a report
on how Zoe Baird has withdrawn her name from consideration for Attorney
General: "At the same time today President Clinton kept a campaign
promise and it came on the 20th anniversary of Roe versus Wade legalizing
abortion. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski tonight on the changes in the
Washington environment on this emotional issue, Jim."
Miklaszewski repeated the approving
"keeping" a campaign promise spin: "Tom, today President
Clinton started to undo 12 years of Republican anti-abortion policy here
at the White House. Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators staged their
annual march past the Supreme Court down to the White House, but for the
first time in 12 years their voice fell on deaf ears. In fact, significant
gains they made in the Reagan and Bush administrations were wiped out with
the stroke of a pen. Keeping a campaign promise, President Clinton lifted
restrictions on abortion."
END of contrasts.
Now that's one for the file of fantastic contrasts
proving liberal bias.
reporters. As noted in item #1 above. On Monday night ABC's Terry Moran
reported how "Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was peppered with
questions about the [abortion] order at his first daily briefing."
Indeed he was and I took down a few of the questions
that I noticed, starting with an inquiry from a voice I recognized, John
Roberts of CBS News. (C-SPAN's camera remained focused on Fleischer.)
Roberts warned: "Ari, I don't want to say
this abortion executive order might be your gays in the military because
it's unlikely that the Joint Chiefs of Staff will march in here and
oppose it, but do you not risk being distracted in your legislative agenda
by doing his right out of the box?"
I think it's something that everyone expected."
Apparently it took out of touch reporters by
Helen Thomas, now with Hearst Newspapers, was
dumfounded: "It is the top of the President's agenda? He takes over
a country and this is the top and of all the issues-"
Fleischer cut her
off and explained it was just one of a series of executive orders Bush
issued during the day.
Fleischer tried to convince reporters that the order
has bi-partisan support since both Republicans and many Democrats don't
believe in using taxpayer money to promote abortion, but a male reporter,
whose voice I did not recognize, didn't buy it: "But you're not
really saying that you believe that the way to build the spirt of
bi-partisanship is by wading into the issue of abortion on day one are
I hope no one really believed that the White House
press corps would treat Bush as nicely as they did Clinton eight years
need more voters who want President Bush to "get rid of guns,"
"give" more federal money to schools, tell companies to
"stop cutting down the trees," give the homeless the
"chance to go to college and get a diploma," "just be nice
to the Democrats" and "treat them like they're your
After some 3rd and 4th graders made those
suggestions in a taped segment on Saturday's special Good Morning
America, Charles Gibson recommended lowering the voting age "to
include third and fourth graders, because those young people, pretty well
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught the segment
toward the end of the 7am hour on the special January 20 ABC show before
the inaugural. Gibson set it up: "Out of the mouths of babes oft
times come the most astounding statements. We wanted to know what young
people thought George W. Bush should accomplish in the next four years,
and so we went to the Placentia Elementary School in Los Angeles and asked
Boy #1: "I
think that he should get rid of guns, 'cause it ain't fair to kill the
animals, and not fair to kill the people either."
Boy #2: "Not
destruction, war, but peace and life for the animals."
Boy #3: "Dear
Mr. President, I would want you to give more money to, like, replace the
school, like, put newer things and help the school get a new coat of
Girl #1, in what
might be a plug for vouchers: "A lot of kids can't go to school
'cause their parents don't have enough money to, like, send them there, so
maybe he could help them out and, like, send them there so they could get
a better education."
Boy #4: "I
would make the White House bigger and move it to another state."
Boy #1 again:
"I really need to tell George Bush to get rid of the drugs, 'cause
that's how people die."
Boy #2 again:
"Talk to the companies and tell 'em to stop cutting down trees."
Girl #2: "I
would ask if he could give the homeless people on the streets a second
chance to go to college and get a diploma."
Girl #3: "Mr.
Bush, I hope you could just, like, be nice and just move on with your
presidency, and like, just be nice to the Democrats, and like, treat them
like they're your friends."
Gibson then gushed: "Maybe we should have
lowered the voting below 18 to include third and fourth graders, because
those young people, pretty well clued in."
They are the journalists of the future, pretty well
clued in to repeating liberal cliches.
things Bill Clinton does even outrage George Stephanopoulos. A couple of
weeks ago it was suggested that he may have been behind why ABC News first
reported the Linda Chavez illegal alien story, though Chavez's former
neighbor is also the sister of ABC News reporter Terry Moran, but on
Sunday Stephanopoulos's disgust may have led ABC to first highlight the
Marc Rich tax evasion case.
On Sunday's This Week Stephanopoulos praised
Clinton's pardon of Susan McDougall: "She spent 18 months in prison
because of what President Clinton did. It was the decent thing to
But then he complained: "There's at least one
outrage from what I can tell. He pardoned a man named Marc Rich. You may
not remember Marc Rich but he was a banker, a commodities trader who was
trading with Iran while they were holding terrorists [actually the U.S.
hostages of 1979-80] and trading with South Africa under the apartheid
regime. Indicted by Rudy Giuliani. Instead of facing trial he went on the
lam. He's lived in Switzerland for 17 years. His ex-wife has given
$600,000 almost, over $500,000, to the Democratic Party over the last two
years. This is outrageous."
Sunday night ABC's World News Tonight featured a
whole story from Josh Gerstein on those upset by the Rich decision.
On Monday night, the NBC Nightly News caught up with
a piece by Pete Williams on how Clinton's decision is "sparking
outrage from people familiar with the case." Both ABC and NBC pointed
out how his ex-wife is a large donor to Democrats and that Rich's
lawyer, who appealed to Clinton, is former White House counsel Jack Quinn.
Sunday and Monday nights the CBS Evening News
ignored the story.
national media "ought to be ashamed" of how they portrayed John
Ashcroft, Fox News Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume argued on Fox News
During the January 21 roundtable segment, NPR's
Juan Williams complained that while Bush's "rhetoric is so
inclusive, here's a guy who puts Ashcroft up!"
Hume soon proposed: "I think it needs to be
said here that the portrait of John Ashcroft, a man who comes from about
as middle of the road, middle of the country a state as one can imagine,
who has been elected repeatedly to high office, including Attorney General
and Governor in that state and the Senate, being portrayed as some sort of
right wing radical is a ludicrous, outrageous caricature that is unfair to
him, it was unfair to Governor Bush and it was aided and abetted, I think,
by an extraordinary performance by the national media that they ought to
be ashamed of."
For evidence to support Hume's contention, check
out these recent CyberAlert items:
-- On Ashcroft, Newsweek's Evan Thomas whined and
impugned: "Why can't they buy off the right wing with unimportant
jobs? I mean, this is a sop...to buy off the wing nuts." ABC's
Linda Douglass decided that while "Bush's rhetoric is very
inclusive," the "fact is he's proposed no federal programs for
-- CBS's Jim Stewart delivered a one-sided look at
how "black leaders have vowed revenge" against John Ashcroft
"for what they consider a racially biased vote." Stewart
didn't bother to point out, as did FNC, that Ashcroft voted to
"confirm 23 of the 26 African-American federal court nominees. As
Missouri Governor he appointed eight African-American judges."
-- Margaret Carlson
complained how the Attorney General "post should be the secretary of
uniting, not dividing" and she claimed: "Ashcroft is way to the
right....we have a history in this country of appointing moderates to that
-- Bush could have avoided
opposition to Ashcroft "by choosing someone for that post who was a
little more acceptable to all people," argued NBC's Matt Lauer as
Tim Russert agreed the problem is that Ashcroft comes from the "far
-- "Do you think that
John Ashcroft is a racist?" CBS's Bob Schieffer asked Senator
Barbara Boxer in a story prompted by her opposition. Schieffer relayed,
without any label, how "groups representing everything from civil
rights to consumer advocates" are against Ashcroft and are upset by
his Christmas card.
-- CBS News reporter
John Roberts peppered Ari Fleischer with questions from the left over
Ashcroft: "As somebody who is charged with executing the laws that
are on the books, is it prudent for their ideology to be at odds with some
of those laws?" And Bush's nominees have ruined the "spirit of
-- ABC's Linda Douglass insisted the "very
conservative" Senator Ashcroft is "opposed by every group."
-- 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
-- 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
-- On Dateline Tom Brokaw put the burden on Bush for
how his picks will make it hard to show how he's a "uniter not a
divider." Brokaw highlighted how Ashcroft "is a divisive gesture
within the African-American community" because he supposedly
"said he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E.
Lee." Clinton's popularity proves "the country likes what
he's been doing."
critics say he is "too conservative," ABC"s John Yang
stressed Sunday night. But Yang couldn't bring himself to label any of
his opponents as liberal. Instead he referred to "former Democratic
colleagues in the Senate," "civil rights advocates" and
"more than a dozen groups."
-- "Chief Foe
as Chief Defender? Ashcroft Critical of Laws, Decisions He Would
Enforce." Saturday's Washington Post gave front page play to a new
liberal ploy to undermine Ashcroft. The Post warned that Ashcroft's
views "put him at odds with current law, government practice,
prevailing court opinions and members of the Republican-appointed majority
on the Supreme Court."
For these three items, go to:
-- Tom Brokaw marked Martin Luther King Day by
promising "race will be a major issue in the contentious
hearings" for John Ashcroft, "especially since Ashcroft defended
the Confederate agenda of Robert E. Lee."
Go to: http://archive.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010116.asp#3
-- Bryant Gumbel to a pro-Ashcroft guest: "Can
you deny that he distorted Mr. White's record and basically engaged in
what some would kindly call character assassination?" To an Ashcroft
basher: "What troubles you the
most about the nomination of John Ashcroft?" And: "What's his
nomination say about George W. Bush and his claims of compassionate
Go to: http://archive.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010117.asp#3
actors adjusting to life without their buddy Clinton in the White House.
During the Golden Globe Awards ceremony broadcast on NBC Sunday night,
actor Marin Sheen praised Jesse Jackson: "You're still our hero,
and we need you now more than ever." Actor George Clooney used his
air time to take a shot John Ashcroft.
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth tracked down and
transcribed these two liberal outbursts from the January 21 event:
-- Martin Sheen, who plays "President Jeb
Bartlet on NBC's The West Wing, as he accepted the award for best actor
in a TV drama:
"Jesse, if you're
watching in Chicago, you're still our hero, and we need you now more
than ever. And finally, to the incoming administration, I want to assure
you of our continued support on the West Wing. And despite recent events
in Florida, I want to remind you that, the good Lord willing, you're
going to have Jeb Bartlett and company to kick around for four more
-- George Clooney, star of Oh Brother Where Art
Thou?, accepting the award for best actor in a movie. Clooney joked about
how the film's producers, the Coen brothers, "aren't really
brothers. That's a lie. That's all a lie, and I, while we're
confessing, I am actually the illegitimate love child of John Ashcroft. I
want that out there. I don't want that to effect any kind of voting
that's coming up, but that's it."
Show political star repeats. CBS's Late Show with David Letterman is in
repeats this week and amongst the re-runs will be the shows with Hillary
Clinton and George W. Bush, whom Letterman treated much harsher than he
did Hillary or Al Gore.
Tonight, Tuesday January 23, CBS will re-run the
January 12, 2000 show with Hillary Clinton. On Wednesday night, January
24, you can catch the re-run of Bush from October 19, 2000.
That one includes musical guest James Brown, which
shows how diversity seems to naturally surround W. -- Brent Baker
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