McCain Pronounced "Conservative"; Worried Bradley-Gore Fight Could Hurt
1) ABC focused on how Bush went to a "place that's so
conservative interracial dating is still banned." While NBC’s David
Bloom noted how Bush charged McCain "sounds more like Al Gore than Ronald
Reagan," Tom Brokaw pronounced McCain "a conservative
2) ABC’s Cokie Roberts admonished George Bush about the
dangers of going right. Gore and Bradley not asked about policy, but two
morning hosts pressed McCain on the Confederate flag. CBS and NBC worried the
Gore-Bradley fight may harm the Democrats in November.
3) "McCain has worked the press constituency just
brilliantly," Newsweek’s Howard Fineman admitted and so Bush
shouldn’t count on the media turning on McCain. As for Forbes, he should get
out: "It’s too bad that he wasn’t the guy who fell off the
4) For the first time in February, but for at least the fourth
time this year, Dan Rather proclaimed: "The U.S. government climate
experts do believe global warming is real."
5) Bryant Gumbel has offered to up his monthly payment to his
estranged wife from $250 a month to $31,000.
6) What happened Wednesday that hasn’t occurred in about
and NBC led Wednesday night with the consequences of the New Hampshire primary
results while the CBS Evening News went first with a supposed
"exclusive" about a "stunning breach of national security"
by former CIA Director John Deutch.
On ABC’s World News Tonight Dean Reynolds focused on
how George W. Bush campaigned at Bob Jones University, "the kind of place
that's so conservative interracial dating is still banned." NBC’s David
Bloom looked at how Bush charged "McCain is out of step with South
Carolina's conservative Republican voters" as he claimed McCain
"sounds more like Al Gore than Ronald Reagan." Bloom allowed McCain
to maintain he’s "a proud conservative Republican." NBC Nightly
News anchor Tom Brokaw came down on McCain’s side, soon declaring McCain
"a conservative maverick." NBC’s Lisa Myers uniquely noted one
driving force behind McCain’s victory: "In New Hampshire, at least,
McCain made himself the anti-Clinton."
Of the broadcast evening shows, only ABC picked up on
Bill Bradley’s charge that Gore backers hurled mud at Bradley-backer Senator
Bob Kerrey and called him a cripple.
Here’s a rundown of some noteworthy aspects of
February 2 broadcast network evening show coverage of the campaign made
possible by the transcribing efforts of MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Peter Jennings provided
the most colorful opening of the night:
"Good evening. The presidential campaigns and the
hordes of reporters following them might have choked on road salt and jet fuel
as we bailed out of New Hampshire last night and this morning. Now that New
Hampshire voters have given politics 2000 a political concussion, it is time
to exploit victory if you can or avoid another defeat."
After Linda Douglas checked in on McCain in South
Carolina, where she found that he "appeared stunned by the jubilant
crowds that met him at 3am," Dean Reynolds caught up with George W. Bush:
"George W. Bush went to one of the most conservative
spots in South Carolina today, the rigidly fundamentalist Bob Jones
George W. Bush at the university: "We conservatives,
we who stand on conservative principles, have got compassionate hearts."
Reynolds stressed: "This is the kind of place that's
so conservative interracial dating is still banned, and though Bush disagrees
with that policy, he is not reluctant to go after supporters here. To make the
point he laced his remarks with the word conservative, repeating it six times
in less than a minute."
Bush: "I look forward to publicly defending our
Reynolds went on to note how Bush attacked Clinton on
ethics and played a soundbite of Bush on McCain: "I wouldn't call John a
liberal. I would just say on key points he has taken the Democrat
Up next, Jackie Judd informed viewers of an incident the
networks ignored over the weekend and which CBS has yet to highlight and NBC
only briefly mentioned Sunday night, though Judd soon downplayed its
"Bill Bradley demanded Gore take responsibility for an
incident that occurred last weekend in New Hampshire, an incident that got
very little attention at the time. Senator Bob Kerrey, a Bradley supporter and
a Vietnam veteran who lost his leg in the war, said Gore backers hurled mud at
him and called him a cripple."
Bill Bradley: "When his campaign demeans a medal of
honor winner like Bob Kerrey, there should be an apology from Al Gore to Bob
Kerrey. He should take responsibility."
Judd: "Gore has said there was no proof his people
were responsible for anything that may have happened. And today a spokesman
said such behavior would never be condoned. Even Kerrey himself, when asked
about the name calling incident a couple of days ago, seemed to shrug it
Bob Kerrey: "This is a young person carried away in
the moment. No, the Vice President would never say that to me. I know
Judd concluded: "In other words, Kerrey gave Gore a
pass and so may have undermined Bradley's attempt to put the Vice President on
the defensive the first day after New Hampshire."
For ABC’s fourth and last campaign story, John Cochran
examined how Gore flew back to Washington to be ready to cast a tie breaking
vote on an abortion protest liability bill, but enough Republicans backed it
in order to ensure Gore’s vote was not needed. Cochran concluded by scolding
"No one came out of this looking good. Gore's dash
back to Washington raised suspicions that he was pandering to abortion rights
supporters, and Republicans looked as though they were willing to do anything,
even switch votes, just to spite him."
-- CBS Evening News. "A CBS News exclusive.
Accusations that then CIA Director John Deutch visited high risk web sites on
a home computer full of sensitive information," Dan Rather breathlessly
announced in teasing CBS’s top story, going on to refer to a "stunning
breach of national security" by Deutch. Without any video, Lesley Stahl
sat at the anchor desk and outlined CBS’s story about how Deutch supposedly
made his top secret computer files vulnerable by using the computer which
housed them to browse unsecured Web sites, including pornography sites.
Later in the show, after a story on the Air Alaska
crash, Rather got to the campaign, issuing this Ratherism about the New
Hampshire results: "Democrat Bill Bradley came close enough to Al Gore to
crack his tail lights."
CBS aired two uneventful campaign stories: Bill Whitaker
in South Carolina on the Republicans and John Roberts on how Democrats Gore
and Bradley filled their day.
-- NBC Nightly News. Up front, David Bloom explored
Bush’s new strategy of describing McCain as more Clinton Democrat than
Reagan conservative: "Today John McCain celebrates his eighteen point
trouncing of George W. Bush in New Hampshire. And the suddenly vulnerable
Texas Governor levels his most pointed attack yet on the Arizona Senator.
Bush’s argument: After eighteen years in Washington, McCain is out of step
with South Carolina's conservative Republican voters."
George W. Bush: "And he's done a pretty good job of
trying to get the area codes that we live in confused. I'm 512. That's Texas.
He's 202. That's Washington, D.C. The people of this state and South Carolina
aren't gonna fall prey to that. They know I'm a Texas governor. I come from
outside of Washington, D.C."
Bloom: "But McCain argues his victory in New
Hampshire, where independent voters favored McCain three to one over Bush,
proves he's more electable than the Texas governor. Today McCain tells
Republican Party leaders to listen up. 'We can win,' he says."
John McCain: "I am a proud conservative Republican,
and my views are conservative. Less government, lower taxes, stronger
Bloom: "But Bush, far more aggressive now, claims that
on everything from the size of tax cuts to McCain's support for campaign
finance reform, the Arizona Senator sounds more like Al Gore than Ronald
Bush: "I wouldn't call John a liberal. I would just
say on key points he has taken the Democrat position."
McCain: "I can give him lots of lessons about being a
conservative, including not spending all the surplus on tax cuts."
So, is McCain a conservative or not? Tom Brokaw came
down on McCain’s side. Introducing a profile piece, Brokaw declared as fact:
"McCain is an unconventional Republican Party candidate, a conservative
maverick given to irreverent comments and self deprecating humor. More tonight
on the McCain, the man and his style, from NBC's Lisa Myers."
Interlaced with clips of McCain, Myers explained:
"One hundred fourteen thousand voters in New Hampshire, men and women of
all ages, say there is something about John McCain. He's edgy,
irreverent....Rebellious....Seemingly straightforward, even when his integrity
is questioned on his key issue: money in politics....Even as he runs for the
highest office in the land, the man once nicknamed John Wayne McCain,
regularly tweaks the rules of politics. The atmosphere on his campaign bus
sometimes is more Saturday Night at the Improv than the Road to the Oval
Reporter on bus: "So right now on the Straight Talk
Express, are you living la vida loca?"
McCain: "Absolutely, surrounded by communists."
Myers soon added: "Even when the humor doesn't
work, and it can seem harsh, McCain's direct unvarnished style seems to appeal
to voters wary of packaging and polish. His five years in a Vietnamese prison
also seems to give voters confidence that this is a man who means what he
says. In New Hampshire, at least, McCain made himself the anti-Clinton, saying
voters may not always agree with him but-"
McCain: "As President of the United States, I will
always tell you the truth no matter what."
Myers: "It touched voters who say they never before
cared about politics."
Next, NBC’s Claire Shipman checked in on the two
Democrats, outlining how Bradley attacked Gore again on his truthfulness and
how Gore took a trip to Washington, DC to be ready to break a tie on the
abortion bill vote.
morning after the New Hampshire primary ABC’s Cokie Roberts admonished
George Bush about how he’ll be hurt in the general election if he goes to
the right now in order to win in South Carolina. The CBS and NBC morning show
hosts didn’t raise any policy questions in interviews with Democratic
primary victor Al Gore, but demanded Republican primary winner John McCain
take a position on the divisive issue of the Confederate flag flying over
South Carolina’s state Capitol building. CBS’s Jon Frankel did gush to
McCain: "I'm not sure if you're a rock star or politician on the
Neither CBS or NBC asked McCain about whether his
ongoing battle with Bush will hurt Republican chances in the fall, but both
networks worried about how the Gore-Bradley fight might harm the Democrats in
November. On NBC’s Today Matt Lauer acted like he has a stake in the
campaign, fretting to Al Gore: "How much longer can the Democratic Party
stand by and watch you two guys go at each other like this before some serious
damage is done to a general election candidacy?"
(Gore and McCain appeared on all three morning shows on
Wednesday with The Early Show and Today also interviewing Bradley. Bush turned
down interview requests.)
Here are some highlights from the Wednesday, February 2,
-- ABC’s Good Morning America. George Stephanopoulos,
appearing with Cokie Roberts, marveled at the sweep of McCain’s victory:
"He carried moderates, liberals and conservatives. The
only group that George W. Bush carried was religious conservatives, and you
see now he's going to try to build on that going forward. Where is George
Bush's first stop in South Carolina today? Bob Jones University, essentially
the spiritual center of the fundamentalist Christian movement. What he is
going to try to do in South Carolina is get those religious conservatives to
rally behind him and save his candidacy, just as South Carolina did for George
Bush in '92 and Bob Dole in '96."
Roberts jumped in to warn: "Of course, that can be
a problem for him going into the general election, if in fact he gets the
Interviewing Al Gore from a train station in Manhattan,
co-host Diane Sawyer, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted, pressed him twice
about why independents preferred Gore before inquiring: "To wrap up this,
this overnight campaign anyway, for the people who say to you and want to know
personally what you feel, what would you say to George W. Bush this
-- CBS’s The Early Show went first with a taped
interview with John McCain conducted earlier in the morning in South Carolina
by Jon Frankel. His questions, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"After this welcoming party here I'm not sure if
you're a rock star or politician on the move."
"Governor Bush said you ran a good race, he called it
merely a bump in the road. Do you think he describes it that way to boost his
own morale, or to knock you down and does that offend you?"
"You spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, you're not
going to be able to do that over the next three weeks, strictly in South
Carolina, you got the rest of the country to deal with. So how are you going
to get the message out?"
"When you look at what voters really liked about you,
they said it was your character, your leadership, your outspokenness, the idea
that you wanted to fight the establishment. They don't mention issues, they
don't mention taxes and education. Is that going to carry you enough on
Then Frankel demanded an answer on a divisive policy
"Part of that leadership is telling the truth. People
in New Hampshire asked you for it, you said you would give them the truth. So
in that regard, here you are in South Carolina, you've got the Confederate
flag flying over the state Capitol. People say tell me your opinion, and
you've said I'll give you my opinion even if it's not always what you want to
hear and it's politically costly. So what’s your opinion about the
Frankel’s last question: "This is going to get
tougher for you, even though you had this big push in New Hampshire. The
establishment is not going to embrace you, and in fact, they're going to come
down on you even harder. So how do you fight that."
Jane Clayson then talked to Al Gore from the same train
station as had ABC: "Well, it was a victory for you in New Hampshire, but
not an overwhelming win, were you hoping for a knockout?"
"Mr. Vice President, a lot of people made up their
minds in this race in the last few days when Bill Bradley went on the attack.
You called it 'personal vilification,' but our exit polls show that 60 percent
of voters approved of Bill Bradley's attacks. That can't be good news for
Clayson’s last question: "Let me ask you quickly,
he's got a lot of money and he promises to stay in this for a while, how and
when can you shake him?"
Finally, Clayson, not Bryant Gumbel, also handled
CBS’s interview with Bill Bradley: "You had a strong second place
showing. It was better than expected, but Senator, is better than expected
really good enough to stay in the race and ultimately win the
Clayson followed up: "Well, among Democratic
primary voters in New Hampshire, our exit polls show that only 33 percent
believe that you can beat a Republican nominee, 63 percent believe that Al
Gore is more likely to win in November. What do you say to those who doubt
And: "Exit polls show that when you went on the attack
over the last week or so, voters seemed to approve of that, they seemed to
support you more. You made a promise to avoid that sort of negativity. Are we
seeing that you've broken your promise?"
Clayson drew concerned about the impact of the battle:
"But there is concern among Democratic officials that if you continue
this way and if Al Gore continues to win primaries and caucuses, that you're
going to weaken him. What is your response to that?"
Clayson pressed: "You lost in Iowa, you've now lost in
New Hampshire, you've got a lot of money, you can continue for a long time,
but when do you decide to call it quits?"
-- NBC’s Today. David Bloom checked in from South
Carolina with a taped interview of John McCain. His first question: "You
said last night that a great national crusade has just begun. The Bush people
say this is no national crusade. You're a one state wonder, you won the
presidency of New Hampshire, you can't win the presidency of the United
States. What do you say to that?"
Bloom’s next two inquiries: "But how do you
counter the argument that you don't have the money, you don't have the
national organization to win in primaries across the country."
"The Bush people say John McCain won decisively
because independents crossed over in large numbers to vote for him in a
liberal state. But here in South Carolina conservative Republicans they are
not gonna buy his message."
Bloom then bore in on the Confederate flag issue:
"You make a point in your stump speech of saying, 'I'll always tell you
the truth.' An issue that's very divisive here in South Carolina is the issue
of the Confederate flag. So is the truth in your estimation that it's a racist
symbol and it ought to come down or is it a symbol of state pride?"
Bloom followed up: "It's not your place as a moral
leader to say, 'Look either this is the right thing to do or it's the wrong
thing to do?'"
Handling the Bill Bradley interview, Katie Couric
avoided policy issues and stuck to campaign strategy in these questions
transcribed by the MRC’s Geoffrey Dickens:
"You lost by five points despite the fact that you
held a commanding lead just about a week ago. So are you slightly
"When you started your candidacy you said you wanted
to run a different kind of campaign. One built on ideas and yet last week you
got very tough on Al Gore. You questioned his integrity and his honesty. Any
"So in terms of attacking Al Gore we can expect to
hear and see more of the same as the campaign continues?"
"And finally you've invited Al Gore to debate with you
every week until March. He wants as a condition for those debates you to drop
your TV advertising. You've refused to do that in the past. Can you reach some
compromise with him now?"
"Well could you drop your TV ads as a condition?"
Finally, Matt Lauer probed Al Gore, starting with this
query: "Let's talk about that five point margin. I mean obviously the
message here. You got one, another one in the 'w' column but 47 percent of the
voters in New Hampshire say they're not sure they want you to be President.
Does that worry you?"
Lauer next asked Gore to react to Bradley’s attacks:
"There were a lot of charges that went back and forth over these last
couple of weeks between your camp and the Bradley camp. Do you think that Bill
Bradley succeeded in raising some doubts about your candidacy?"
David Bloom didn’t ask McCain about hurting Republican
chances in the fall, but the Bradley-Gore fight concerned Lauer, who asked
"You talked about personal vilification a second ago.
Obviously the attacks have been stepped up in recent times. Mr. Bradley called
you ‘tricky.’ He called you, he almost came right out and called you a
liar on your record on abortion and campaign finance. How much longer can the
Democratic Party stand by and watch you two guys go at each other like this
before some serious damage is done to a general election candidacy?"
Lauer then pressed about holding regular debates with
Bradley: "Let me get you before you go and ask you. Bill Bradley has
challenged you to a series of debates. One a week for the next several weeks.
Will you accept that challenge?"
media’s admiration for John McCain is so obvious that journalists don’t
deny it like they do liberal bias. Wednesday morning Newsweek’s top
political reporter, Howard Fineman, told Don Imus that George Bush better not
count on the media to ever "turn on John McCain and treat him
rough." Asked about Steve Forbes, Fineman said he hopes he drops out
soon, adding: "It’s too bad that he wasn’t the guy who fell off the
platform at the pancake flipping thing."
By phone on the February 2 Imus in the Morning radio
show simulcast on MSNBC, Fineman conceded: "McCain has worked the press
constituency just brilliantly. He really has. And the Bush people keep waiting
for the press to turn on John McCain and treat him rough, and I don’t know
when it’s gonna happen, but if they keeping waiting for that, they’re
gonna be in trouble."
A few minutes later Imus asked about Forbes: "Will
this persuade Forbes now to just give it up?"
Fineman: "I certainly hope so."
Imus: "Ah, just get out."
Fineman, referring to how Gary Bauer fell off the back of
the platform while trying to catch a pancake, sputtered: "It’s too bad
that he wasn’t the guy who fell off the platform at the pancake flipping
night, after another cold winter day in New York City, Dan Rather returned to
his January mantra, telling CBS Evening News viewers:
"The CBS Weather Watch includes an update tonight on
the story CBS's Jim Axelrod broke in January, namely that the U.S. government
climate experts do believe global warming is real, is under way, and that
President Clinton would seek funds to fight it. Tonight CBS News has learned
the President wants to earmark almost two and a half billion dollars over time
to fight global warming, also tax breaks to spur development of electric and
fuel cell vehicles."
separation update. As detailed in the February 2 CyberAlert, Bryant Gumbel’s
estranged wife June, in asking for increased payments from him, charged that
he’s only giving her $250 a month.
In Wednesday’s USA Today, Life section columnist
Jeannie Williams provided this update:
"Bryant Gumbel has told a Westchester, NY, court he
would pay his estranged wife, June Gumbel, $31,000 per month, plus expenses
for their two children. Bryant’s lawyer, Stanley Arkin, made the offer after
June asked the court for $4,000 a week in emergency financial relief, saying
Bryant had not been giving her enough money...."
Guess he doesn’t really need Don Imus’s "GumbelAid
fun fact of the day, courtesy of Paul Harvey: Wednesday, February 2, 2000 was
the first day in almost 1,112 years that all the numbers in the date were
even: 2/2/2000. That last occurred on August 28, 888, or 8/28/888. Of course,
now that for the first time since 888 we’re in a year with all even digits
this will happen frequently, as it will again on Friday, 2/4/2000.