CBS: Bush’s Rush to "the Hard-Right"; Improper Hillary Query; Post’s Oops
1) In just three nights over this past weekend the CBS Evening
News used the labels "conservative," "right" or
"hard-right" an incredible 20 times, but did not once issue a
liberal label. CBS tagged not only Bush and other Republicans, but the Supreme
2) NBC applied labels to Republicans, but just two. Avoiding
the word "liberal," ABC’s Jackie Judd referred to "the big,
bold government envisioned by Bradley." ABC aired two news stories over
the weekend narrated by George Stephanopoulos.
3) On Fox News Sunday Tony Snow asked a Gore supporter about a
new book "that says that Al Gore used marijuana right up until the time
he ran for the House of Representatives in ‘76."
4) On the question to Hillary Clinton about Vince Foster,
CBS’s Bob Schieffer relayed: "I haven’t talked to a single reporter
who thinks that was a proper question." Meanwhile, he and the Today show
5) "I feel very strongly that you are the best Republican
candidate for President," former Kennedy Press Secretary and ABC News
reporter Pierre Salinger proclaimed of Orrin Hatch.
6) To illustrate media sympathy for John McCain, in Newsweek
George Will recalled a MRC-highlighted question on GMA.
7) Washington Post correction to poll story which stated Gore
seen as strong a leader as Bush and that more said Gore will "bring
change to Washington." Poll really found neither to be true.
8) Eleanor Clift’s prediction: "Hillary Clinton will be
beating Rudy Giuliani in the polls by Spring."
of times the CBS Evening News over three nights, from Friday January 21
through Sunday January 23, used the terms "liberal,"
"left" or "hard-left": Zero. Number of times the CBS
Evening News, over the same three nights, employed the labels
"conservative," "right" or "hard-right": 19
times. That’s an average of 6.33 times a night. And that’s just in stories
on the Republican presidential contest so it doesn’t even count Dan
Rather’s bizarre assertion that the Supreme Court's "new majority"
may be showing a "shift to the right."
Amongst the 20 ideological tags assigned by CBS in a
mere three newscasts: Dan Rather claimed "George W. Bush’s talking the
right talk, as in Republican hard-right." Rather also highlighted
"Bush's sudden rush to the right." Reporter Bill Whitaker warned,
"Political observers say Iowa is a treacherous road for candidates to
veer to the right without losing the middle." Another night Whitaker
asserted: "George W. Bush today ratcheted up the rhetoric on a tried and
true right-wing issue: abortion."
Bush’s comments about abortion fueled most of the CBS
labels as the network portrayed conservatives as a ruinous force driving the
campaign, but CBS’s own Bob Schieffer reported that Bush had not changed his
position. While Dan Rather exclaimed on Friday that "George W. Bush
punched to the right with more anti-abortion talk," the next night
Schieffer told viewers: "Bush says he will not use abortion as a litmus
test in appointing federal judges. He hasn’t backed down from that so I
think he has not changed his position a bit on all of this."
CBS didn’t find anything about the Gore or Bradley
campaign worth labeling, and neither did ABC or NBC over the weekend. But ABC
was at least consistent in not labeling either party’s candidates. NBC’s
David Bloom couldn’t refrain from applying two conservative tags on
Republicans. (See item #2 below for more on ABC and NBC.)
To best illustrate the spree of ideological tags from
CBS News, I’ve upper-cased them in the transcripts recited below, which run
through the Friday, Saturday and Sunday editions of the CBS Evening News.
-- Friday, January 21. Setting up two campaign stories,
starting with the piece of the Democrats, anchor Dan Rather declared:
"In the U.S. presidential campaign, it's the final
weekend before the sometimes influential Iowa caucuses. On the Republican
side, George W. Bush PUNCHED TO THE RIGHT with more antiabortion talk, trying
to position himself as the anti-abortion candidate, aiming to take out Steve
Forbes. John McCain split for South Carolina to show he's in the race for the
long haul. Democrat Bill Bradley tried to shrug off news of the latest
irregular heartbeat episodes, arguing they should not be an issue. Al Gore is
working hard not to look complacent amid talk, but no proof, that he's pulling
away from Bradley."
After a report from John Roberts on Bradley and Gore,
Rather introduced the Republican story: "Now Bill Whitaker, covering
Bush's SUDDEN RUSH TO THE RIGHT."
Whitaker began his piece: "To lay to rest fears his
compassion means he's NOT CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH, George W. Bush today ratcheted
up the rhetoric on a tried and true RIGHT-WING issue: abortion. Campaigning in
Iowa, he said the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion should have been
left to the states."
Bush: "I've got a pro-life record as Governor of
Texas. I'm a pro-lifer. I ran as a pro-life Governor, I've got a pro-life
Whitaker continued: "He defined himself early on as a
new kind of CONSERVATIVE, but he's finding here in Iowa it's the old bedrock
issues that fire up the faithful: THE CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, the most
devoted caucus attendees."
Gary Bauer: "Thirty-five million American children
have been destroyed."
Whitaker: "Sensing a Bush Achilles' heel, his
challengers on the RIGHT have been hammering him on abortion. And for
publisher Steve Forbes, the hard line has brought some upward movement in the
Later in the show Rather delivered an odd analysis of
the Supreme Court. Though the only changes in its composition over the past
seven years have been the additions of two liberal justices named by President
Clinton, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, Rather discovered that the court
has a "new majority" which may be moving it "to the
right." Here’s the whole item, as read by Rather:
"A possible new sign today of the U.S. Supreme Court's
new majority and shift to the right. The court said it will decide whether
states can be sued in federal court for discrimination against disabled
workers. Two weeks ago, the justices barred state employees from suing in
federal court for age discrimination. Many legal scholars say the current
Supreme Court is systematically whittling away federal power over the states
on key issues."
-- Saturday, January 22. Reporter Bill Whitaker focused
on George Bush’s ideological positioning:
"Like front running Republican candidates here before,
he’s being pressured to prove HIS CONSERVATIVE CREDENTIALS, declaring again
his opposition to Roe v Wade."
Bush: "I think the Republican Party ought to keep its
Whitaker: "But he still refuses to make abortion a
litmus test for a running mate or judges, leaving himself open for sharp
attacks from his challengers on the RIGHT."
Forbes: "We will settle for nothing less than the
overturn of this misbegotten, murderous decision."
Whitaker: "A RIGHT TURN makes sense in Iowa where
forty percent of Republican caucus-goers are CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, but
today in Los Angeles President Bill Clinton made it clear it will be used
against Bush in pro-choice states."
After a soundbite from Clinton, Whitaker warned:
"Political observers say Iowa is a treacherous road for candidates to
VEER TO THE RIGHT without losing the middle."
Following a supporting bite from Hugh Winebrenner of Drake
University, Whitaker concluded: "And something else for Bush to worry
about. There’s often a caucus surprise, a candidate from the RIGHT who does
better than expected, and that’s often at the expense of the
Next, John Roberts managed to avoid labeling Gore or
Bradley in his story on their days.
Bob Schieffer, however, contradicted the CBS reporting
which clearly stated Bush had moved right on abortion, telling anchor Thalia
Assuras: "You have to say this, George Bush is pro-life. He’s been that
way all his life, he makes no secret about that. What’s happening out here
is his opponents -- Forbes and Bauer -- are trying to show they’re MORE
CONSERVATIVE on this abortion issue because Bush says he will not use abortion
as a litmus test in appointing federal judges. He hasn’t backed down from
that so I think he has not changed his position a bit on all of this."
-- Sunday, January 23. Dan Rather anchored the show from
inside the state Capitol building in Des Moines, and he went immediately to
the campaign. First John Roberts, as usual, handled Bradley and Gore and did
not tag either one ideologically.
Then Rather announced: "Now to Bill Whitaker
covering George W. Bush’s TALKING THE RIGHT TALK, as in REPUBLICAN
HARD-RIGHT, to try to take out Steve Forbes in Iowa and focus on eliminating
John McCain in New Hampshire."
Bill Whitaker opened by explaining how the Des Moines
Register endorsed Bush and that he was campaigning like an underdog. Whitaker
then issued some more labeling as he again portrayed conservatives as driving
"So in these final hours a final appeal to CHRISTIAN
CONSERVATIVES, the biggest block, forty percent of caucus-goers. Hoping to
deny Bush this vote, his challengers from the RIGHT made a pilgrimage to one
of the largest evangelical churches in Iowa last night...."
Following a clip of Steve Forbes, Whitaker led into another
soundbite, this one from Alan Keyes: "Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes branded
Bush a false CONSERVATIVE."
Up next, after having delivered liberal spin in claiming
Bush was appealing to the GOP’s "hard-right," with a straight face
Dan Rather seriously intoned: "For more about the political realities,
without the spin doctors and the expectations games, chief Washington
correspondent Bob Schieffer is with us here in Iowa with the cold hard facts
and some analysis."
and NBC refrained from such blatant bias as CBS displayed over the weekend,
though NBC did label Republicans on Sunday night. On Saturday night ABC’s
Jackie Judd did point out how polls show the public is not enthralled with big
government programs advocated by Bill Bradley, but instead of describing his
plans as liberal she referred to them as "the big, bold government
envisioned by Bradley." Playing "reporter" again, former
Clinton enabler George Stephanopoulos provided stories for ABC on both
Saturday and Sunday nights.
Here’s how the ABC and NBC evening shows handled the
campaign over the weekend:
-- Friday, January 21. ABC’s World News Tonight only
gave the campaign a few seconds as the network devoted nearly all of the show
to "Latinos in America." NBC Nightly News ignored the Republicans as
the show ran a story on Bradley’s health followed by a piece on how the
Bradley and Gore campaigns are faring.
-- Saturday, January 22. NBA basketball bumped the NBC
Nightly News in all time zones. ABC’s Jackie Judd ended a World News Tonight
story on Bill Bradley’s status:
Judd: "Just as Franklin Roosevelt gave the country
Social Security and Lyndon Johnson gave it Medicare, he says it is time to
think big again and give the country universal health care coverage."
Bradley: "And I’m not going to settle for anything
less. I’m not running for President of the United States to settle. I’m
running for President to lead on big things."
Judd concluded: "Bradley likes to tell voters he is
running on a radical premise: If he says what he believes, he will win. It is
not that simple, of course. Polls show most voters want small steady steps
from the government, not the big, bold government envisioned by Bradley."
Linda Douglass checked in on the McCain campaign in
South Carolina before George Stephanopoulos examined "one of the most
persistent myths in American politics, that plowing through the political
fields of Iowa can propel an under-funded underdog to the presidency."
-- Sunday, January 23. ABC opened with a series of
campaign stories (Dean Reynolds on Bush, John Yang on Gore and Jackie Judd on
Bradley) before George Stephanopoulos reappeared for a story on the political
power of the elderly.
Over on the NBC Nightly News, John Seigenthaler handled
the overall anchor duties, but from Des Moines Tom Brokaw anchored the
campaign stories. Claire Shipman looked at the Democrats and then David Bloom
checked in on the Republican race. He tossed in a couple of ideological tags
in framing the campaign:
"Here in Iowa where the religious right’s grip on
Republican politics is only somewhat weakened, where 60 percent of Republican
caucus-goers are anti-abortion, Texas Governor George W. Bush today
worship’s at Des Moines’ First Assembly of God church, insisting afterward
that he did not buckle under pressure from conservative rivals in speaking out
so strongly this past week against legalized abortion."
News Sunday moderator Tony Snow raised the latest story about Al Gore and
marijuana, but NBC’s Tim Russert did not. The Fox and NBC Sunday interview
shows on January 23 both brought aboard representatives of the Gore and
Bradley campaigns, but only Fox asked Gore’s spokesman to respond to the
fresh marijuana allegation.
As relayed by the Drudge Report last Thursday and noted
in The Washington Times’ "Inside Politics" column on Friday,
DRCNet, a Web site for an organization opposed to the drug war, stated that a
new book by Newsweek’s Bill Turque reports that Gore smoked marijuana longer
than previously admitted.
That prompted Snow to ask Senator John Kerry, a Gore
supporter: "A while back there was a little bit of a dust up. One of the
things that happens in campaigns, you try to figure out what the people are
like, there were rumors of George W. Bush having drug use. Now, evidently a
new book is going to come out that says that Al Gore used marijuana right up
until the time he ran for the House of Representatives in ‘76. Do you think
Kerry appeared with Bradley backer Paul Wellstone. On
Meet the Press, Tim Russert interviewed Gore supporter Tom Harkin and Bradley
supporter Bob Kerrey, but he avoided the drug use issue.
totally "improper" and "out of bounds" question to Hillary
Clinton, but CBS News keeps raising it. As detailed in the January 20 and 21
CyberAlerts, last Wednesday night and Thursday morning CBS condemned Buffalo
radio talk show host Tom Bauerle’s question to Hillary Clinton about her
But if it was such a rude and awful question, then why
does CBS keep highlighting it? The ABC and NBC evening shows ignored it and in
the morning ABC only gave it a few seconds. Friday morning NBC’s Today
devoted a whole segment to condemning the subject matter.
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Thalia Assuras
asked Bob Schieffer: "What about the New York Senate race. Hillary
Clinton had been asked some pretty shocking questions about her personal life,
had she been faithful to her husband, for example. Is it going to stay this
Schieffer’s reply showed that he still considers her to
be First Lady over a Senate candidate: "It’s going to be rough,
campaigns in New York are always rough. But I think even a lot of veteran
political reporters, myself included, were very uncomfortable to hear the
First Lady being asked such a personal question as have you been faithful to
your husband. She was just asked it out of the blue. She said that kind of
thing is out of bounds. She went ahead and answered. I must say, amongst the
reporters I’ve talked to, they all seem to agree with her it was out of
bounds. I haven’t talked to a single reporter who thinks that was a proper
question and in a funny kind of way, Thalia, it may kind of moderate this
campaign from here on in."
If none thought that question was proper, how about some
probing of her Rose law firm records and involvement in procuring FBI files?
Friday morning, January 21, NBC’s Today dedicated a
whole segment with Chris Matthews and Jonathan Alter to dissecting the Buffalo
interview which, Matt Lauer asserted, "raised a lot of eyebrows."
As noted by MRC analyst Mark Drake, Lauer played both
the question about her involvement with Vince Foster and a subsequent one
about past drug use and then asked Alter: "Let me start with you and
let's split the question up. Is it fair for a member of the press to ask the
First Lady and a candidate for Senate if she has been unfaithful to her
husband, just that part of the question?"
Newsweek’s Alter answered: "I don't think so. I
just think it's out of bounds. It really isn't necessary. It's one to ask you
know, are you going to stay married, something that's kind of relevant to the
future and it's a little bit of a tacky question you can understand it but to
go way back into the past sniffing bed sheets, it's just ridiculous. I mean
where does this end? Is every candidate for county commissioner going to have
to answer these questions?"
Lauer followed-up: "So if it's out bounds for a
member of the press to say were you unfaithful to your husband, you must have
really squirmed in your seat when it got more specific and it said what about
with Vince Foster?"
Alter: "Yeah, it's just real, real low."
Hatch has earned the endorsement of former ABC News chief foreign
correspondent Pierre Salinger, the Washington Post recounted on Friday. The
Post story reported that the former Press Secretary to President Kennedy, who
later served briefly as a U.S. Senator from California, donated $144 to Hatch.
Here are the opening paragraphs of a January 21 Washington Post
"Style" section piece by Dana Milbank:
MASON CITY, Iowa -- A blizzard has blown into northern Iowa with 40mph
winds and sub-zero temperatures. Trucks are jackknifing on the highways, and
cars lie abandoned in ditches. But one Chevy Blazer barrels along at breakneck
speed, a former race car driver at the wheel. In the passenger seat, in suit
and tie, sits a presidential candidate, zipping between meetings with the
Marshalltown Times-Republican and the Mason City Globe-Gazette. Neither snow
nor wind nor gloom of polls can stay the presidential quest of Orrin Hatch.
How could they? For, in his breast pocket, the senator from Utah carries a
letter from Pierre Salinger that he quotes to audiences. At the moment he is
reading it into his cell phone, for a reporter from the Kansas City Star.
"I feel very strongly that you are the best Republican candidate for
President," wrote President Kennedy's press secretary. "You have
done incredible work in the Senate for years, something that makes me feel
that you would be an important president."
It's hard to picture George W. Bush or John McCain bragging about a letter
from a Democrat famous for spinning plane-crash conspiracy theories on the
Internet. But Hatch will take support wherever he can get it. "I thought
it was pretty neat," says Hatch, who called Salinger to thank him for his
Don’t count on any ABC News figures endorsing any
conservative who has a chance to win.
Gore not quite as strong as Bush and the public doesn’t really think Gore
will "bring change to Washington." Never mind what we told you last
month. Here’s a Washington Post "Corrections" box item I bet many
missed. It ran as one long paragraph on page two of the January 20 newspaper:
A computer programming error by TNS Intersearch, the research firm that
conducts telephone interviewing for Washington Post-ABC News polls, produced
faulty survey results that were reported in a Dec. 17 article. Specifically,
the December data incorrectly suggested that roughly the same proportion of
Americans viewed George W. Bush and Vice President Gore as strong leaders. In
fact, a substantially larger proportion of the public interviewed for the
December poll viewed Bush as a strong leader. The data also incorrectly
suggested that the proportion of adults who viewed Gore as a candidate who
would bring "needed change to Washington" had risen since a Post-ABC
survey in October; in fact, views of the vice president on this measure had
not changed substantially and Bush still has an advantage over Gore on this
trait. Corrected results are available at www.washingtonpost.com.
Results from the latest Post-ABC News survey, reported Tuesday, were
unaffected by the programming error."
END Reprint of entire "Corrections" item.
The original, incorrect, story was bannered across the
top left of the front page.
Notable Quotables don’t go away, they come back sometimes when columnists
want proof to illustrate liberal bias. A case in point caught by the MRC’s
Tim Graham: George Will’s column in the January 24 Newsweek out last week.
Making the case for how the media favor John McCain because of his liberal
stands, Will recited a quote from Good Morning America which the MRC
publicized last fall:
McCain favors campaign-finance reforms opposed by most Republicans. And he
criticizes Bush's large proposed tax cut in language (the cut, he says, puts
Social Security at risk) that borders on plagiarism from President Clinton and
congressional Democrats. Which goes far to explain media sympathy for McCain.
For example, this was a question to him on "Good Morning America"
from Diane Sawyer: "However brave a stand campaign-finance reform may be,
members of your own party have rejected it. What's the matter with them? Why
don't they get it?" A New York Times story on McCain's tax proposal began
this way: "After decades in which Republican presidential candidates have
reflexively promoted tax cuts as the key to prosperity and electoral success,
Senator John McCain of Arizona is betting that there is a more potent issue
this time around: Social Security." Note the word
"reflexively." A reflex is a nonrational response to stimuli. People
who act reflexively are not acting thoughtfully. In contrast, McCain...
The GMA interview took place on September 27. The MRC
recounted the question in the September 29 CyberAlert and October 4 edition of
Clift’s hope or a goal for the media? Here’s the prediction delivered at
the end of this past weekend’s McLaughlin Group by the Newsweek contributor:
"Hillary Clinton will be beating Rudy Giuliani in
the polls by Spring."
That gives Clift and her media colleagues a few months
of biased reporting to sway public opinion.