Cheney Event = Gore's Temple; Nets Equated GOP Fundraising with Clinton's; Andrea Mitchell Had Night on the Town with Tipper & Al
1) ABC, CBS and NBC equated the GOP Presidential Gala and
a reception at Dick Cheney's house with Clinton-Gore fundraising. Peter
Jennings: "You shouldn't be surprised if the Republicans in this
next report remind you of the Democrats they so recently criticized."
CBS's John Roberts: "Critics complain that President Bush is
selling the White House the same way President Clinton did." NBC's
Campbell Brown went so far as to make a comparison with Gore's Buddhist
temple event: "Political watchdog groups" charged "the
Cheney reception is no different than the Clinton White House coffees or
Vice President Gore's events."
2) FNC's Brit Hume picked up Tuesday night on how Howell
Raines, set to take over the New York Times as Executive Editor in
September, claimed the Reagan years "oppressed" him and that
Ronald Reagan "couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on
it." The MRC has posted video of Raines in 1993 making his
"Reagan years oppressed me" comment. [See item below for a
clarification about the "shoelaces" comment]
3) Three weeks after Andrea Mitchell produced a NBC News
story about how Bush's policies have caused "permanent damage to
the environment," she and her husband joined Al and Tipper Gore in a
wedding anniversary trip to New York City to see a Broadway play.
Correction: The May 22 CyberAlert inaccurately reported that Howell
Raines, named Monday to become the new Executive Editor of the New York
Times starting in September, "was the Washington Bureau Chief during
the Reagan years." Actually, just during one year. As the item later
stated accurately, he "headed the Washington bureau from 1988 through
1992" and covered Reagan as a correspondent. His bio on the New York
Times Web site states: "From 1985 to 1987, Mr. Raines served as
deputy Washington editor. Before that he was a national political
correspondent in 1984, the White House correspondent from 1981 to 1984,
and Atlanta bureau chief from 1979 to 1981."
equivalence to an extreme. Tuesday night ABC, CBS and NBC all equated the
GOP Presidential Gala at the D.C. Armory that night, and a thank you
reception at the Vice President's residence for previous donors the
night before, with Clinton-Gore and DNC fundraising practices.
Though Bush, Cheney and the RNC have not set
prices for overnight White House stays, not set up coffees in the White
House with the President for minimum donation levels, not held fundraisers
at Buddhist temples and not solicited illegal foreign donations from
Chinese operatives, ABC's Peter Jennings, nonetheless, warned: "You
shouldn't be surprised if the Republicans in this next report remind you
of the Democrats they so recently criticized."
CBS's John Roberts asserted: "For eight
years, Republicans pounded Bill Clinton for his role as the
fundraiser-in-chief. Tonight George W. Bush steps into the spotlight with
a $20 million gala, the first mega-fundraiser of his presidency." By
that standard, all fundraising is dirty, which certainly means CBS News
follows the McCain speech regulation line.
All three broadcast network evening shows
highlighted the view of Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger, the
former Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts. Roberts segued to
him: "Critics complain that President Bush is selling the White House
the same way President Clinton did with his fundraising coffees and sleep-overs
in the Lincoln bedroom."
None labeled him as liberal and NBC's
Campbell Brown elevated him to the status of "watchdog groups,"
though he's only one left- wing guy: "Both Democrats and watchdog
groups are calling it more of the same. And tonight the President is under
fire for abusing a system he promised to fix." Brown went so far as
to compare the reception at Cheney's residence with Gore's Buddhist
temple event which involved foreign money and bundling to avoid individual
contribution limits: "Political watchdog groups joined Democrats,
charging the Cheney reception is no different than the Clinton White House
coffees or Vice President Gore's events [video clip of Gore at Buddhist
temple] that prompted an investigation."
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume provided
a different take. Asked by Hume if the Cheney reception is the same as
what Democrats did in 1996, Jeff Birnbaum of Fortune magazine, hardly a
conservative, delivered an emphatic rejection of the theme espoused by
ABC, CBS and NBC:
"No, it is not the same, but there is a
public relations problem here. The Clinton White House put out the word
that if gave or raised $50,000 you could come to one of these coffees with
the President. This is a thank you reception for people who had already
given money to the Republicans."
Here's a rundown of what ABC, CBS and NBC
reported Tuesday night, May 22:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings
put the equivalence right up front: "In Washington, it's been a big
week for fundraising, and you shouldn't be surprised if the Republicans
in this next report remind you of the Democrats they so recently
criticized. ABC's John Martin is on the money trail tonight."
Martin began his piece, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The presidential gala tonight will draw
thousands of party donors to these tables and raise millions for the
Republican National Committee. Four hundred of those donors came to a
thank you dinner last night here at the Naval Observatory, the official
home of Vice President and Mrs. Cheney. In limousines and vans and on foot
they arrived, including Edison Electric Institute President Thomas Kuhn
and his Wife Wendy."
Martin to Kuhn outside the Naval Observatory on
Massachusetts Ave. NW: "This is an event on public property for
political donors. What's your thought about that?"
Kuhn: "I don't have any comment on
Martin: "The Kuhns and the Edison Institute,
which lobbies for electric power companies, have given a total of $830,075
to both political parties since 1997. Other guests also declined to talk.
A security officer threatened arrest."
Security officer, a little too power hungry:
"The next person that walks in that you talk to, you get locked
Martin: "What has upset critics is this
letter inviting donors to tonight's presidential gala with promises of
briefings from Cabinet and sub-cabinet officials, congressional leaders,
and White House staff."
Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause:
"I think it not only doesn't look right. It's also hypocrisy
because these are the very people who criticized the Democrats for doing
Martin: "In the 2000 campaign, candidates
Bush and Cheney criticized the use of the White House for receptions and
sleep-overs for Democratic donors. Today the White House defended its
actions as proper, saying the Clinton administration sought funds on a far
more organized and broader scale."
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer:
"They used the White House for the ability to get more money out of
people. This is a way just to say thank you."
Martin concluded: "After tonight's gala,
the President and his party will be saying thank you to some of the most
powerful people in the country for about $22 million in donations."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather implied the
dirty events would be stopped if only we had "campaign finance
reform." After noting how Senate Democrats had delayed the tax bill,
he set up CBS's story: "Another piece of legislation still on hold
is campaign finance reform. And it's still no holds barred in the rush
to cozy up to big money special interests, including a huge Republicans
fundraiser tonight featuring President Bush."
John Roberts opened his piece, as transcribed
by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, by accusing Republicans of hypocrisy:
"For eight years, Republicans pounded Bill Clinton for his role as
the fundraiser-in-chief. Tonight George W. Bush steps into the spotlight
with a $20 million gala, the first mega-fundraiser of his
Scott Harshbarger, Common Cause: "It's
classic business as usual. It's exactly what the Republicans criticized
both Clinton and Gore for doing repeatedly."
Roberts: "Critics complain that President
Bush is selling the White House the same way President Clinton did with
his fundraising coffees and sleep-overs in the Lincoln bedroom. They point
to last night's party for big money donors at the Vice President's
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt: "I
guess it's rather than the Lincoln bedroom, now it's the Cheney
Senate Majority Leader, at least at that moment,
Trent Lott: "Whatever the Vice President by the name of Dick Cheney
did I'm sure is legal, ethical and appropriate. I have no doubt."
Roberts: "All day, Republicans were
deflecting accusations that money buys access. A copy of tonight's gala
program circulated by Democrats reads like a who's who of special
interest groups -- from big tobacco to energy companies that will benefit
from the President's new energy policy. A letter sent to gala attendees
talks of 'briefings with Cabinet officials, a great opportunity to get
to know' many of the people with whom they'll be working in the months
Senator Russell Feingold: "It's a real
mockery of what the presidency is supposed to be all about, which is
serving all the people, not just the few who can write out those huge
Roberts concluded by reminding viewers of how
McCain's bill would solve everything: "A bill that would ban those
big unregulated soft money contributions was finally sent from the Senate
to the House today, but prominent House Republicans have vowed to put a
bullet in it."
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw portrayed all
fundraising as bad: "And tonight in Washington there's a new
administration, but some of the old imperatives: money, called the
mother's milk of politics, is the ticket to a big Republican fundraiser
tonight starring the President after a warm up last night at the Vice
President's official residence. As NBC's Campbell Brown reports now,
Democrats are getting in their licks."
Brown began with the political spin of
liberals: "Tom, both Democrats and watchdog groups are calling it
more of the same. And tonight the President is under fire for abusing a
system he promised to fix. Busloads of top contributors to the Bush
campaign and the Republican Party wined and dined last night with the Vice
President at his residence, government property."
Dick Gephardt: "Rather than the
Lincoln bedroom, now it's the Cheney bedroom."
Brown: "Today the White House defends
the event, saying it was not a fundraiser but a free reception for donors
in town for tonight's $20 million GOP fundraising gala."
Ari Fleischer: "It was a way just to
say thank you for all their efforts, to have, to elect officials across
the country who support the Republican vision and President Bush's
Brown, over video of Clinton at one of the
coffees: "But political watchdog groups joined Democrats, charging
the Cheney reception is no different than the Clinton White House coffees
or Vice President Gore's events [video clip of Gore at Buddhist temple]
that prompted an investigation."
Scott Harshbarger, Common Cause:
"Business as usual and it's exactly the reason we need campaign
Brown: "Hammering Clinton and Gore
during the campaign for fundraising abuses-"
George W. Bush during October 3, 2000
debate: "The buck stops here on the Lincoln bedroom."
Brown: "-while raising a record $100
million for himself. President Bush has said he will sign campaign finance
reform legislation now moving through Congress, a bill that would ban most
of the money he is helping the Republican Party bring in tonight. Who was
invited for horse radish crusted beef tenderloin? The head of the American
Petroleum Institute, who raised $50,000; a lobbyist for Reliant Energy,
another $50,000; and an executive for the American Gas Association, who
raised $250,000 -- all big beneficiaries of the President's new energy
Brown concluded: "Now Republicans say
these are donors who support the President's agenda, who do not expect
anything in return, and until campaign finance reform becomes a reality
they are forced to play by the rules as they exist."
Earlier in the day, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens noticed that Today news reader Ann Curry gave a bit of air time to
the Democratic spin: "George W. Bush attends his first big fundraiser
as President tonight. The gala dinner expected to bring in more than $20
million for the Republican Party. Last night 400 Republican donors
attended a reception at the residence of Vice President Dick Cheney,
something critics say is reminiscent of the Clinton White House
Brit Hume on Tuesday night highlighted quotes in Tuesday's CyberAlert
from Howell Raines, set to take over the New York Times as Executive
Editor in September, in which he claimed the Reagan years
"oppressed" him and that Ronald Reagan "couldn't tie his
shoelaces if his life depended on it."
Hume relayed in the "Grapevine"
segment on the May 22 Special Report with Brit Hume:
"The New York Times has named as its new
Executive Editor Howell Raines, described by the Times's Publisher as
being the paper's quote, 'fire-breathing, take no prisoners Editorial
Page Editor.' Raines now has charge of the newspaper's news coverage
as well. Presumably the promotion will make him a happier man than he was
during the Reagan years, a period he has said quote, 'oppressed him,'
because of the quote, 'callousness and the greed' of the
administration. As for Reagan himself, Raines said quote, 'he couldn't
tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'"
[Clarification, November 2003: It has come to our attention that while the sentence, "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it," appeared on page 84 of the book by Raines, it came in the midst of a multi-paragraph quote in a chapter in which he favorably recited the comments on things great and small (during a fishing venture to Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland), from his companion on the trip, Dick Blalock.
The paragraph in full from which the quote came: "'See that pool?' said Dick. 'That was Jimmy Carter's favorite pool when he was President We're only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'" We regret the confusion.
The other quotes from the book attributed to Raines, in various MRC articles, are accurate: "Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work -- which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me." And, recalling 1981: "My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness."]
home page now features, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul, a RealPlayer
clip of Raines making that self pitying "Reagan years oppressed
me" comment. It occurred during a November 17, 1993 appearance on
Charlie Rose's PBS interview show to discuss the then-new book by
Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.
The video clip features this quote from
Raines: "I don't shield my politics in this book, as I do in much
of my journalism, as I've been disciplined to do. The Reagan years
oppressed me because of the callousness and the greed and the hard-hearted
attitude toward people who have very little in this society, so all of
that came together at around age 40 for me."
Notice how he "shields my politics"
in only "much," not all, of his journalism.
To watch the video clip and for more about the
liberal views espoused by Raines, including the full context of the Reagan
can't tie his shoelaces insult, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010522.asp#3
reporter Andrea Mitchell a buddy of Al Gore's? Just weeks after she
provided a one-sided and distorted story for the NBC Nightly News
delivering an Al Gore-like criticism of Bush's environmental policy, she
and her husband, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, accompanied Al and Tipper
Gore to a Broadway show to celebrate the Gore's wedding anniversary.
As detailed in the May 1 CyberAlert, on the
April 30 NBC Nightly News, Mitchell relayed how "Bush's decision to
suspend and probably relax new standards Bill Clinton set for arsenic in
water outrages environmentalists." Mitchell did not challenge an
environmental extremist who made the preposterous claim that "the
Bush administration is really risking millions of lives by not
implementing the new standards." Instead, Mitchell found a "past
supporter" of Bush's who has decided that "his policy is
bad." She concluded by relating how some "Republicans worry Bush
may have already lost pro-environment Republicans and independents,"
but she ominously added, that's "to say nothing...of the more
permanent damage to the environment." For more, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20010501.asp#1
The May 22 "Reliable Sources" column
in the Washington Post relayed this exclusive story by Lloyd Grove:
Al, Tipper, Alan and Andrea
Last week we nearly published our scoop that Al Gore was planning to
celebrate his 31st wedding anniversary by taking wife Tipper to the
Broadway hit "The Producers," along with Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan and his wife, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell.
But Gore got wind of our scheme and phoned to plead: "It's a
On the theory that even former Vice Presidents who almost became
President have the right to surprise their spouses on odd-numbered
anniversaries, we agreed to kill the item -- and yesterday Gore made good
on his promise to give us an exclusive on the foursome's Saturday night
And was Tipper surprised? "Well, I got her to the airport by
telling her I was taking to her to some unknown destination," Gore
said. "She did the same thing to me last year, and took me to the
beach for a couple of days. Anyway, she knew we were going to New York
City as soon as we got to the gate" -- this time, for the 3:30 p.m.
Delta Shuttle, as compared with last year's Air Force Two. A few weeks
earlier, the Gores had run into the Greenspan-Mitchells and they tossed
around the idea of taking in the Mel Brooks classic together....
"She was thrilled," Tipper's husband said, adding that after
the show, the foursome shared dinner at La Grenouille. "I hope you
make the point that the only reason I'm giving you this long interview is
that you blackmailed me: It was either that or ruining the surprise."
We're sure he was joshing.
Tuesday morning on MSNBC Don Imus asked
Mitchell about the jaunt: "How'd you and Al end up going with Al
and Tipper Gore to this thing? What's that all about?"
Mitchell replied: "We had just been talking
about the reviews of the show and how it sounded great, and Gore decided
to surprise his wife for their 31st wedding anniversary and said, 'Would
you guys want to come?' So we met them up there and had a great
Al Gore certainly knows which reporters are
sympathetic to his causes.
-- Brent Baker
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