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 Magazine Watch

Tuesday September 26, 2000 (Vol. 2; No. 38)

Newsweek Hates Whitewater; What Gore Gaffes?; Longshot Bush?

1. Newsweek’s Conventional Wisdom hits the "vast right wing conspiracy"over Whitewater. "Six years, $50 mil, forests worth of WSJ editorials and W’water’s just a dumb land deal."

2. Gore’s exaggerations on his arthritic dog’s prescription dogs and the union lullaby ignored by U.S. News but briefly mentioned in Newsweek and Time.

3. U.S. News declares Bush needs a "flawless campaign", "a killer debate performance" and a "little luck" to win the election. Newsweek polls show a much closer race.

4. George Will to Al Gore: "Do you favor passage of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act...or that a woman who seeks an abortion has an indefeasible right to a dead baby, no matter what."

On the covers of this week’s newsmagazines, dated October 2: Newsweek asks the question, "Who Will Teach Our Kids?"; U.S. News has George W. Bush on its cover with the caption, "Can Bush Bounce Back?" and Time features "What’s Next for Napster."


Newsweek’s "Conventional Wisdom" box is still upset over Whitewater. With the independent counsel releasing the final Whitewater report this past week, CW took one last opportunity to vent its frustrations. The only silver lining in CW is that it is the only mention of the recent disclosure of White House sleepovers for donors to the Hillary campaign. Gore receives a sideways arrow with the caption, "Bad sign for front runner: When he sees oil pandering op, he’s there. Slow learner?" Bush receives an up arrow but CW can’t resist another jab at his language difficulties, "First decent week since Philly: Survives Oprah and Susan Hawk. Repeatablable?" Bill Clinton receives a sideways arrow, "Good news: Whitewater is over. Bad: Its ripples still got him impeached." Hillary gets a sideways arrow (noticing a trend here?), "Stalling on soft money, hurt by W.H. sleepovers, but Little Ricky fading with women." Lastly, CW reserves its scorn for the "Wing Nuts"giving them the only down arrow, "Six years, $50 mil, forests worth of WSJ editorials and W’water’s just a dumb land deal."

In case that wasn’t obvious enough, Newsweek’s "Perspectives" page is led with independent counsel Robert Ray’s declaration of insufficient evidence, followed by felon Susan McDougal clucking: "It takes a real man to step forward and say, ‘We found nothing,’ but these are not real men." Instead of their usual gag cartoons, the page’s lead cartoon by Mike Luckovich shows evil grinning elephants in suits with the caption: "Investigation of the Clintons: $52 milllion. The joy of tormenting Bill and Hillary for six years: Priceless."


All three magazines featured extensive coverage of the tightening presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush, but there was little explanation of last week’s Gore gaffes: the fabrications/exaggerations in the case of the mother-in-law/arthritic dog story, followed by his tale of the union lullaby he was put to sleep with at the age of 27. Gore gaffes drew no mention in U.S. News. In Newsweek, Howard Fineman threw in a sentence in his article analyzing how the two candidates are competing for the Oprah voters. "Bush went on the offensive last week, selling his tax cutting ‘blueprint’ and needling Gore for a series of tall tales (about the cost of dog medicine and the lullabies he knew as a child) and flip flops (on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and gas prices)."

The only mention of these Gore gaffes n Time came in its "Winners & Losers" section. In a departure for Time, it actually referred to Gore as a Loser this past week, citing how the "questionable tales of pro-union lullabies and arthritic dog slow that spring in his step."


Bush the longshot candidate or nipping at Gore’s heels? Depends on which magazine you are reading. Roger Simon of U.S. News paints a bleak picture for Bush while Howard Fineman in Newsweek uses poll analysis to show Bush narrowing Gore’s lead. Roger Simon writes, "As he faces the decisive stretch of the campaign, Bush looks into the abyss and sees the bones of his party's fallen, those men, however smart and decent, who will always carry the label of loser. But he looks across the chasm and sees the promised land. He will not get there because of Al Gore's mistakes; he knows that now. He will only get there through his own hard work, culminating in a killer debate performance next week, a flawless campaign from there on, and a little luck come Election Day."

Howard Fineman, however, has a completely different analysis using the latest Newsweek poll. "It was Bush’s best week since the Republican convention, and it appears that the race has narrowed. The newest Newsweek poll found that Bush has whittled Gore’s lead to 46-43 in a four way race with Ralph Nader and Patrick J. Buchanan. Among likely voters the race was even closer, with Gore leading 47-45 percent."


George Will posed a powerful question to Al Gore that we can only dream the media would put before him. In his Newsweek column, Mr. Will begins his article with this, "Mr. Vice President, do you favor passage of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, or do you believe, as your supporters at the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) do, that a woman who seeks an abortion has an indefeasible right to a dead baby, no matter what?" He ends the column this way and it gets right to the heart of the issue, "Some pro-choice people cast their opposition to Canady’s bill almost as a matter of protecting consumer rights–a woman purchasing an abortion is entitled to a dead baby. Does Al Gore agree? If not, why not?"

Roger Simon should acknowledge that this issue would make a killer (no pun intended) debate question.

-- Paul Smith




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