Bush Stole Election, Not Really; Bring GOP to Center; Schieffer Urged McCain Presidential Run; Nets Didn't Hesitate to ID Packwood
1) The CBS Evening News jumped on how the New York Times
would report "that the questionable counting of overseas ballots in
Florida may have gained some crucial votes for George W. Bush," a
strategy Russ Mitchell rued, "that may have been the deciding factor
in winning the White House." In fact, the paper found a less than one
percent chance the outcome would have changed.
2) Time's Michael Duffy upset by why Dick Armey and Tom
DeLay "steam ahead with a conservative approach...Is there just no,
no moderation at all? Is there something that can bring them back to the
3) Al Hunt called Clinton's 1993 tax hike the "most
successful piece of legislation" in the past 25 years.
4) NBC's Tim Russert's Sunday theme: "Who is to
blame" for Thursday's Shays-Meehan loss? Meanwhile, CBS's Bob
Schieffer squeezed in a commentary about how John McCain should run for
President. Schieffer's recommended campaign theme: "Both parties
are so beholden to the big-money interests, it will take someone else to
clean up the mess."
5) The weekday CBS Evening News has yet to mention the
Chandra Levy/Gary Condit story, but back in 1992 the weekday CBS Evening
News immediately aired a full story on sexual harassment charges against
"Oregon Republican Bob Packwood." ABC and NBC were similarly
thorough in identifying Packwood's party, in contrast to his year with
6) July 13 correction in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"Several stories in recent days about U.S. Rep. Gary Condit have
failed to mention he is a Democrat representing a district in
the CBS Evening News only gave 23 seconds to vaguely relaying how a USA
Today/Knight-Ridder hand recount in Florida found more Bush votes and in
May the show ignored the Palm Beach Post's discovery that 5,600 felons
voted illegally -- 68 percent of whom were registered Democrats. But over
the weekend, even before a New York Times story appeared which found
nothing which would have changed the outcome, the CBS Evening News jumped
to publicize insidious insinuations about what Bush operatives tried to
For details about the previous two counts
downplayed or skipped by the CBS Evening News, go to:
Saturday's World News Tonight on ABC also
ran a short item on the Times story and on Sunday's This Week ABC gave
George Stephanopoulos nearly four-and-a-half minutes to review the story
even though he conceded up front that it uncovered nothing that would have
altered the outcome: "The bottom line of this exhaustive account,
which comes it at more than 13,000 words, is that Bush won several hundred
votes which didn't comply with Florida law, but there's less than a
one percent chance that these ballots, on their own, would have swung the
election toward Gore."
The night before, Russ Mitchell led the July 14 CBS
Evening News by implying the GOP strategy discovered by the Times
"may have been the deciding factor in winning the White House,"
as if the Republican effort to count overseas military ballots was some
just uncovered secret. After a lengthy report, CBS's Bobbi Harley
admitted that even the expert consulted by the Times found "there was
only a slight chance that throwing out those questionable overseas ballots
would have put Al Gore in the White House."
Mitchell opened the July 14 broadcast by
highlighting what would appear in the New York Times the next day:
"More than eight months after election night, there's new fallout
from the presidential election of 2000. The New York Times reports in
tomorrow's edition that the questionable counting of overseas ballots in
Florida may have gained some crucial votes for George W. Bush. Bobbi
Harley has more on the war of strategy last fall that may have been the
deciding factor in winning the White House."
Harley: "Florida election law is clear
when it comes to overseas ballots. They must be postmarked, signed and
witnessed. But the six-month-long investigation by The New York Times has
found hundreds of those ballots in last year's presidential election did
not comply but were counted anyway."
Lance DeHaven-Smith, Florida State University:
"Both the letter and the spirit of the law were violated. The letter
of the law was clear that you had to have a postmark for it to be a legal
ballot, so we were counting the number of ballots here that probably were
not legal ballots."
Harley: "George W. Bush won the contested
election by only 537 votes. But The Times' investigation uncovered 680
overseas ballots that failed to meet the standard set by Florida law.
Three hundred and forty-four showed no evidence they were cast on or
before the Election Day. Others had US postmarks. Some had no signatures.
Still other voters were not registered. A few ballots came in late. And 19
voters cast two ballots, both of which were counted. Republicans reacting
to The Times article that will appear in Sunday's edition denounced the
Representative Steve Buyer, Republican Indiana:
"But Al Gore needs to have a return, so what happens? The Los Angeles
Times, The New York Times go out and they break their article somehow to
make allegations against the Bush team. You know what? It's over. Get over
Harley: "But while The New York Times found
no fraud on the part of either political party, the newspaper contends the
Republicans launched a massive behind-the-scenes political and public
relations effort to try to count as many military ballots as possible in
Bush strongholds, while at the same time trying to block those same
ballots in counties likely to vote for Al Gore, and that much of this
strategy was discussed in a so-called war room in the offices of Florida
Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who was also a co-chairperson of
Bush's campaign in Florida."
David Host, Florida Secretary of State's
office: "Secretary Harris was fair, consistent and even-handed in
every action she took. The proof of that's in the article itself, in that
both the Bush and the Gore campaigns are quoted as having complained about
the law she cited in her public statements."
Harley: "The Republican campaign to count
absentee ballots was an effective counterpoint to the Democrats' push for
manual recounts in Democratic counties in south Florida. But the
Republicans won a public relations campaign by making a challenge to
military ballots seem unpatriotic. And then one of the Democrats' own
candidates may have foiled his party's legal challenges."
Senator Joseph Lieberman on Face the Nation in
November 2000: "Al Gore and I would never countenance, would never
tolerate any specific policy by anybody representing us that was aimed at
singling out votes from our military abroad."
Harley concluded: "In the long run, none of
this may have mattered. A Harvard University expert on voter patterns and
statistical models told The New York Times that there was only a slight
chance that throwing out those questionable overseas ballots would have
put Al Gore in the White House."
If you are interested in seeing how it took
the New York Times so long so say so little, you can read their massive
July 15 story: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/15/politics/15BALL.html
House Republican leadership is just too conservative for the sensibilities
of Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy. On Friday's Washington
Week on PBS, he pleaded: "Is there just no, no moderation at all? Is
there something that can bring them back to the center?"
Just after a discussion about conservative
opposition to Shays-Meehan, on the July 13 show Duffy asked Washington
Post reporter Juliet Eilperin: "The thing I'm curious about is why
Dick Armey and Tom DeLay just seem to steam ahead with a conservative
approach. They've been like this for a couple of years. Is there just
no, no moderation at all? Is there something that can bring them back to
the center? Can George Bush do it?"
Eilperin lamented: "Well, it's hard to see
how he can. When you look at the House Republicans they're
overwhelmingly conservative. In fact, DeLay in particular saw this
election as a mandate. He basically feels like the Republican vision won
in 2000, regardless of Florida and what people might say about Al Gore,
and the fact that Republicans at that time controlled both the legislative
and the executive branch gave him carte blanche, in his opinion, to pursue
anything he wanted to do...."
I want know why Time magazine steams ahead
with a liberal tilt. Is there just no moderation at all? Is there
something that can bring them back to the center?
the "most successful piece of legislation" in the past 25 years?
By the reasoning of Wall Street Journal Executive Editor Al Hunt it
wasn't anything pushed or signed by President Reagan, or anything
somewhat right of center acceded to by President Clinton, such as welfare
reform. No, it was Clinton's 1993 tax hike.
On Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN, even
after National Review's Kate O'Beirne pointed out how "there
would be no surplus if there hadn't a Republican Congress where early in
the Republican takeover they did care about fiscal restraint," Hunt
rhetorically asked host Mark Shields:
"Mark, do you remember what the budget
deficit was in 1993? Do you remember what the unemployment rate was? Do
you remember what the stock market was? I mean. I rest the case. That's
all you have to do. You can do any measure you want but basically that is
the most successful piece of legislation, maybe in the last 25
Yes, tax cuts cause innumerable problems while
tax hikes can be credited with anything positive which occurs.
thing about the network interest in Chandra Levy is how it has not left as
much time for crusading for "campaign finance reform" and
fawning over John McCain. But on Sunday morning Tim Russert offered a hint
of the Washington press corps' concern about wanting to know "who
is to blame" for Thursday's Shays-Meehan loss while CBS's Bob
Schieffer squeezed in a commentary to put out a trial balloon about how
McCain should run for President. Schieffer recommended a campaign theme:
"Both parties are so beholden to the big-money interests, it will
take someone else to clean up the mess."
-- Meet the Press, July 15. After plugging
several segments related to Chandra Levy, Russert opened the show with an
appearance by Senator John McCain: "But first, John McCain's
crusade for campaign finance reform has been derailed. Who is to blame? In
the legislation now dead?"
-- Bob Schieffer devoted all of his Face the
Nation to Chandra Levy, except for his end of show commentary which he
dedicated to arguing that the House rejection of McCain's pet cause
gives him a good reason to run for President:
"And finally today on a totally different
subject, have I not seen this movie before? Campaign finance reform, which
would have cut off those unlimited, back-door contributions called soft
money, got derailed again last week. Neither party wants public credit for
killing it. It's better politics to blame the other party, which both
parties are doing. Republican leaders have never liked these reforms, and
Democratic support began to melt when it looked as if the reforms might
actually become law. Now by killing reform with parliamentary tactics on a
procedural vote in the House last week, they have the best of all worlds.
The money will keep rolling in, and they can blame the other side. And
they finally got even with John McCain, who has made enemies in both
parties by pushing reform for so long.
"But here's the irony. McCain has been
saying all along he has no plans to run for President as a third-party
independent candidate. But doesn't this give him the perfect excuse? The
script writes itself. Both parties are so beholden to the big-money
interests, it will take someone else to clean up the mess, and on and on
and on. Now I have no idea what McCain will do, but you could make the
case that the only person who came out of this stronger politically than
he went in is McCain because it gives him that issue to run on. I'm not
sure that's what opponents of campaign finance reform had in mind."
But it's what members of the media are
weekday CBS Evening News has yet to mention the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit
story, never mind informing viewers that he's a Democrat, but back in
1992 the weekday CBS Evening News immediately aired a full story on sexual
harassment charges against "Oregon Republican Bob Packwood."
This year, not until the fourth story on the CBS Evening News, on a
weekend, did the show identify Condit's party affiliation.
CBS certainly has no internal consistency.
During the week The Early Show regularly covers the Chandra Levy/Gary
Condit case, but not a syllable has aired yet on a weekday edition of the
CBS Evening News. But on weekends, the CBS Evening News covers the story
and this past weekend all but the final commentary on Face the Nation
dealt with the Levy situation.
Friday night the CBS Evening News under
Executive Producer Jim Murphy and anchor Dan Rather ignored Levy, but
found time for stories on how anthrax is killing deer in Texas, another
shark attack update and even 19 seconds to recount how the guy who threw a
dog into an oncoming car received a three year prison sentence.
Saturday night, July 14, the weekend editions
of the CBS Evening News arrived at their fourth story, but anchor Russ
Mitchell avoided labeling Condit as he set up the piece:
"Representative Gary Condit's attempt to quiet speculation about
his conduct in the investigation of missing intern Chandra Levy by taking
a lie detector test may have backfired..."
Deep within the subsequent story, however,
reporter Lee Cowan uttered the first CBS Evening News identification of
Condit: "D.C. police had asked to conduct their own polygraph test of
Gary Condit, a California Democrat who police sources say admitted to an
affair with Levy...."
As the MRC documented last week in a study,
from when the Levy story first broke onto the networks on May 14
"through July 11, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programs
aired a total of 179 stories about Gary Condit -- 121 full-length reports
or interviews, plus 58 brief anchor-read items. MRC researchers reviewed
each story, and found that Condit was labeled a 'Democrat' only 14
times, or in fewer than eight percent of stories."
To read the study, go to the July 12 Media
But back on Monday, November 23, 1992, the day
after a Sunday Washington Post story had first revealed claims by several
women that Senator Bob Packwood, a liberal Republican, had accosted them
with unwanted touching and kisses, all three broadcast network evening
shows ran full stories which identified Packwood as a Republican.
-- The weekday CBS Evening News has yet to
even mention the allegations swirling around Condit, but on the Monday,
November 23, 1992 show, the day after the Washington Post story, Dan
Rather introduced a report: "One of the better known names in the
U.S. Senate is caught up in accusations of sexual harassment. And with a
record number of women Senators coming into the new Congress, this could
be an early test of how much politics in the Senate is destined to change.
Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has the story."
Schieffer wasted no time in highlighting
Packwood's party, starting his piece: "For Oregon Republican Bob
Packwood, the November election was sweet. He won a fifth term after one
of his toughest campaigns ever. But suddenly, it has all gone sour over
allegations of sexual harassment..."
-- This year ABC's World News Tonight took
until its seventh story to identify Condit as a Democrat, but Peter
Jennings showed no such hesitation in 1992, intoning on the Monday,
November 23, 1992 show, after a story about Clinton campaigning for
Georgia senatorial candidate Wyche Fowler:
"Elsewhere in the country today, several
women's groups are calling for a full Senate Ethics Committee
investigation into the conduct of Republican Senator Bob Packwood of
Oregon. This weekend, The Washington Post published allegations from 10
women, most of them former members of Packwood's staff, that the Senator
made sexual advances towards them. The seriousness with which these new
charges are being taken is a pretty clear indication that this year sexual
harassment is being viewed in a different way on Capitol Hill. Here's
ABC's Cokie Roberts."
-- Not until its 12th story this year did the
NBC Nightly News call Condit a Democrat, but on November 23, 1992, after
an item about Paul Tsongas being hospitalized, Tom Brokaw announced:
"A sitting Senator meanwhile is out of sight tonight. Oregon's
five-term Republican Senator Robert Packwood issued a statement through
his office, but otherwise would not respond to a long list of sexual
+++ So you can see how the CBS Evening News is
capable of reporting on and listing the party of elected officials
involved in charges of misconduct, today the MRC's Web team will post a
RealPlayer clip of the above-quoted excerpt from the November 23, 1992 CBS
Evening News. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
of the week, brought to my attention by an alert CyberAlert reader. From
the July 13 Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Several stories in recent
days about U.S. Rep. Gary Condit have failed to mention he is a Democrat
representing a district in California."
If only the networks realized that error.
Neither Sunday's NBC Nightly News story, nor stories Saturday or Sunday
on ABC's World News Tonight, identified Gary Condit as a Democrat. -- Brent Baker
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