CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday February 7, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 22) |
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Giuliani’s Liberalness; Celebrities Back Hillary; Hitting Reagan

1) Not since Bobby Kennedy has a candidate "so won over the press corps," Newsweek’s Evan Thomas conceded. Eleanor Clift denied Al Gore tells lies, attributing his tendency to "embellish" to his being "just so damned competitive."

2) Meet the Liberal Press. The NBC show featured an all-liberal panel. Tim Russert asked Rudy Giuliani: "Is national health care a left-wing cause?" But both Russert and ABC’s Cokie Roberts illustrated how Giuliani shares many of Hillary’s liberal views.

3) Celebrities have showered Hillary Clinton’s campaign with their money while only one actor gave to Rudy Giuliani. Amongst Hillary’s donors: Glenn Close, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman, Paul Newman, Rosie O’Donnell and Steven Spielberg.

4) "Given the Mayor's nature, given the venomous bias of some of the local papers, how ugly a race are we going to see?" Bryant Gumbel asked. A New York Post columnist pointed out media hypocrisy in denouncing personal inquiries about Hillary.

5) ABC worried Friday: "Is Bush sounding so conservative in South Carolina that he may risk the support of moderates in Michigan?" NBC actually highlighted McCain’s fundraising from lobbyists.

6) Marking Ronald Reagan’s 89th birthday, CNN’s Bruce Morton claimed his tax cuts were what "piled up those enormous deficits."

7) That darn discriminatory bad weather: "Poor, Minorities Feel Brunt of Bad Weather."

8) Bill Clinton told Roger Ebert of his affection for Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. "God I wish I’d known that woman....she’s just riveting." Hillary: "I make a mean tossed salad."

9) CBS’s Ray Brady focused on the latest victims: Victims of low unemployment. Because restaurants can’t find enough workers, a man "and his family waited for over an hour at TGI Friday’s."

Correction: The February 3 CyberAlert quoted Peter Jennings opening World News Tonight: "The presidential campaigns and the hoards of reporters following them..." The word "hoards" should have been spelled "hordes."


No candidate since Bobby Kennedy in 1968 has "so won over the press corps," Newsweek’s Evan Thomas conceded on Inside Washington over the weekend while over on the McLaughlin Group his colleague Eleanor Clift denied Al Gore tells lies, attributing his tendency to "embellish" to his being "just so damned competitive."

    -- On Inside Washington, carried on PBS stations around the nation and on Washington DC’s CBS affiliate, WUSA-TV, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted:
    "I think how well the press is responding to John McCain here is really important. I think McCain’s tactic of total openness to reporters has been unbelievable, we’re going to look back on his and see how critical that is, how different it is from the modern model of the cocoon, how well it’s served McCain and I think it will continue to."

    Later, he added: "You could argue that no candidate since Bobby Kennedy in 1968, a long time ago, has so opened himself up to the press corps and so won over the press corps. The Bobby Kennedy press corps, and Jack [Germond] was on the plane, was pretty enthusiastic about Bobby Kennedy by the end of it. The difference of course was that Bobby Kennedy was pretty much always off the record on the airplane, you didn’t report what was going on, whereas McCain, and this is an act of phenomenal political courage, will spend two, three, four hours on the record with reporters."

    -- The McLaughlin Group over the weekend looked at Bradley’s attacks on Al Gore for lying. Panelist Lawrence O’Donnell offered up his own example of a Gore lie, recalling how in Time magazine last October Gore took credit for creating the Earned Income Tax Credit though it was created by Senator Russell Long before Gore entered Congress. Tony Blankley pointed out how Gore claimed he was a co-sponsor of McCain-Feingold, but he had left the Senate before the bill was proposed.

    At this point Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift jumped to Gore’s defense, arguing: "Braggadocio is a fairly common malady among politicians. And some of this stuff he has a perfectly adequate record, he ought not to embellish. And on the abortion question he ought to say yes I anguished over this. I think he is just so damned competitive that he has to stomp out the questions. But this is such minor stuff. To call this spectacular lies is really reaching."


2Meet the Liberal Press? NBC was apparently unable to locate a single conservative-leaning journalist or analyst in the New York City area. The roundtable segment at the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press, broadcast from New York City in order to accommodate an interview with New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, featured four liberal journalists/columnists: Gail Collins and Bob Herbert of the New York Times as well as Joe Klein and David Remnick of The New Yorker. I don’t recall any shows featuring four equally conservative analysts.

    Moderator Tim Russert began the show by interviewing Giuliani who managed a "Ginsburg," -- just like the feat pulled off once by the Lewinsky lawyer, Giuliani appeared on all five Sunday interview shows: ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s Late Edition, Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet the Press.

    Russert seemed baffled by the idea someone might label "national health care" as "left-wing," but just like ABC’s Cokie Roberts, he outlined how Giuliani shares many of Hillary Clinton’s left-wing views. Russert put on screen a sentence from a Giuliani fundraising letter: "If she gets elected to the Senate, Mrs. Clinton will immediately become the champion of every left-wing cause you can imagine."

    Russert asked: "What left wing causes would Mrs. Clinton champion?"
    Giuliani answered: "...the health care plan, for example, which largely would have nationalized health care, I think would be regarded as a left-wing position. Actually, I think I’ve listened to this show and I’ve heard you point out that Mrs. Clinton was to the left of her husband, President Clinton, when he was moving toward the middle in the 1996 elections."
    To which Russert demanded: "Is national health care a left-wing cause?"

    Russert subsequently went through a list of issues with Giuliani and confirmed he favors offering prescription drugs to Medicare recipients, is for the registration of all handguns, wants to legalize gays in the military and opposes a ban on partial-birth abortions.

    On ABC’s This Week co-host Cokie Roberts offered a fuller recitation of the same fundraising letter, though her version also included an "ultra" before the "left-wing" label: "She’s the darling of the Left-Wing Elite. And if she gets elected to the Senate, Mrs. Clinton will immediately become the champion of every ultra left-wing cause you can imagine."

    Roberts told Giuliani: "I want to go through some of the causes that some conservatives would consider her left wing on: abortion, gun control, gay rights, the death penalty -- of course she’s for the death penalty -- minimum wage, Family and Medical Leave Act, campaign finance. You agree with her on every single one of those."


Hollywood TV and movie stars have lined up overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary Clinton over Rudy Giuliani for Senate in New York, judging by FEC contribution records reviewed by USA Today.

    On Friday the paper listed "celebrity Giuliani supporters" and "celebrity Clinton supporters," but to list more than one name in the Giuliani box USA Today had to stretch the definition of "celebrity," listing donations from politicians, such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Henry Kissinger, Christie Whitman, as well as William F. Buckley Jr., Mike Ditka and Richard Mellon Scaife. The only real celebrity as traditionally defined: Charlton Heston, who has pitched in $1,000 even though Giuliani hardly lines up with the NRA on gun control.

    Amongst the donors to Hillary Clinton listed in the February 4 article by USA Today reporters Martha T. Moore and Kathy Kiely are two women tied to CBS News: former CBS Morning News co-host Phyllis George and current The Early Show regular Martha Stewart, both of whom have given $1,000. Other $1,000 donor media figures on the list: TV talk show host Rosie O’Donnell and Talk magazine Editor Tina Brown, who by featuring an interview with Hillary in her premiere issue last August contributed much more to the campaign when ABC’s Good Morning America featured segments with Brown and colleague Lucinda Franks gushing over Hillary’s attributes.

    Here are the other actors, actresses and singers listed by USA Today as contributors to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign according to FEC records:

Candice Bergen, actress: $1,000
Jimmy Buffett, singer: $670
Lynda Carter, actress: $1,000
Glenn Close, actress: $1,000
Judy Collins, singer: $2,000
Sean "Puffy" Combs, rap artist: $1,000
Tom Cruise, actor: $2,000
Michael Douglas, actor: $1,000
Don Henley, singer: $1,000
Lauren Hutton, model: $1,000
Harvey Keitel, actor: $1,000
Nicole Kidman, actress: $2,000
Calvin Klein, designer: $1,000
Ralph Lauren, designer: $1,000
Paul Newman, actor: $1,000
Martin Scorsese, director: $2,000
Gail Sheehy, author: $500
Steven Spielberg, filmmaker: $2,000
Barbra Streisand, entertainer: $1,000


4Forget about any liberal bias or favoring of Hillary Clinton by the celebrity crowd, CBS’s Bryant Gumbel is worried about "the venomous bias" against Hillary from "some of the local papers." Presumably he meant the New York Post, but he didn’t say.

    Interviewing Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Bill de Blasio, on Friday’s The Early Show, Gumbel repeatedly characterized Rudy Guiliani as "volatile," worried if she’ll be able to avoid "embarrassing questions" and warned of the "venomous bias" in the New York press. After asking about poll numbers, Gumbel posed these questions to de Blasio, as taken down from the February 4 show by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:

    -- "Over the last month while Mrs. Clinton's favorable numbers have remained pretty much the same, those with a favorable opinion of New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani have dropped considerably. Can you take credit for that or is he doing that to himself?"

    -- "Do you think that's the wildcard in the race? His volatile nature?"

    -- "Another issue, numbers show that almost half of New Yorkers polled, same poll, have some concerns about the carpetbagger issue. It continues to plague her, how's she get around it? I know she's got the house in Chappaqua."

    -- "Given some of the embarrassing questions she's already been asked, pollsters were asked if they thought marriage questions of the First Lady should be off limits. A whopping 75 percent said yes. Nonetheless, are you, is she expecting such questions to continue?"

    -- "Given Mrs. Clinton's high profile, given the Mayor's nature, given the venomous bias of some of the local papers, how ugly a race are we going to see?"

    -- "You said tough, that's not what I'm asking. How ugly a race are we going to see?"

    Speaking of the local "venomous press," a couple of weeks ago New York Post columnist Eric Fettman used some quotes from the MRC’s CyberAlert and Media Reality Check to illustrate the major media’s bias in favor of Hillary. He contrasted the lack of media indignation over personal questions to George H. W. Bush with the outrage over the Buffalo talk show host’s questions to Hillary Clinton.

    Here are some excerpts from Eric Fettman’s January 26 column, titled "A Fine Time for Outrage."

Those Hillary supporters, led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who denounced those "cheap personal questions" that were thrown in Mrs. Clinton's face by an upstate radio shock jock are probably right -- albeit for all the wrong reasons....

Even within the news media, there was revulsion over Tom Bauerle's demands that Hillary Clinton answer his questions about infidelity and past drug use. CBS News veteran Bob Schieffer declaimed on-air that "amongst the reporters I've talked to, they all seem to agree that it was out of bounds. I haven't talked to a single reporter who thinks that was a proper question."

Nor was Schieffer alone in such sentiments. "It's just out of bounds, it really isn't necessary," said Newsweek's media writer, Jonathan Alter, who called Bauerle's question about Hillary and the late Vince Foster "a real, real low." NBC's Andrea Mitchell was noticeably disturbed by the "rather rude questions from some reporters" who followed up Bauerle's themes.

"Veteran political reporters...say the latest questions about Mrs. Clinton are below the belt," declared CBS correspondent Diana Olick. "In the past few days, she's been asked about the future of her marriage, her own fidelity and if she's ever smoked pot or used cocaine. What does all that have to do with being a senator from New York?"

(As always, I'm indebted to the Media Research Center for monitoring TV newscasts and compiling these quotes.)

Like Maloney & Co., Olick and her colleagues aren't wrong, of course. There is something profoundly humiliating about the political process having been reduced to a moral inquisition.

But there's no blanket rule here, either. The fact that JFK shared a mistress with the head of the Chicago mob can't be considered irrelevant to his job performance as president.

But you have to wonder why Maloney and the media have erupted in righteous indignation just now, when Hillary is on the hot seat. George W. Bush found himself besieged by reporters last year on the question of his possible past drug use, even though no one has presented any evidence whatsoever.

Yet Steve Roberts of U.S. News and World Report told us that "we in the press have an enormous obligation to help the voters understand the...morality and the character" of candidates for high office, "and there is only one way we can do that, and that is to explore the judgments that they have made in the past."

OK, so maybe when it comes to alleged cocaine use, that's a legitimate inquiry. But private, consensual sexual behavior has to be off limits, right? Tell that to Gov. Bush's father, the former President. In 1987, he was hounded by reporters investigating what turned out to be a fallacious rumor that he'd had an affair with a former staff member.

CNN's Mary Tillotson asked the president flat out about the supposed affair during a live, nationally broadcast press conference, saying she was justified "because you've said that family values and character are likely to be important in the presidential campaign." Despite Bush's denial, NBC's Stone Phillips asked the same question later that day during an Oval Office interview.

Did their colleagues tsk-tsk about rude, out-of-bounds inquiries? Of course not -- CNN Vice President Ed Turner defended Tillotson, saying "it's the role of the reporter to ask questions. What comes out of them determines the news value."

And who, by the way, was pushing reporters to probe deeply into George Bush's rumored peccadilloes? Why, none other than Hillary Clinton! Talking to her friend Gail Sheehy for a 1992 Vanity Fair profile, Mrs. Clinton complained: "I don't understand why nothing's ever said about a George Bush girlfriend." As Sheehy writes in her new biography of the First Lady, Mrs. Clinton "purposefully planted a toxic tidbit in my tape recorder."

What about the furor a few years back surrounding Mayor Giuliani's supposed affair with a top aide? Back then, reporters were taken to task for not pursuing the story: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz called it "the story that every New York reporter believes but few have dared to hint at in print."

On CNN, Kurtz added: "Ultimately, it seems to me that readers and viewers in New York were being deprived of something that was common knowledge in the journalistic community" -- although the Times' Maureen Dowd and others did their best to repair the problem.

Where was the outrage about "cheap personal questions"? Where were the demands to "stop that type of interviewing"?....

Yes, it's time to move the news media out of the bedroom -- but it shouldn't be predicated on who's feeling the heat.

    END Excerpt


5Friday night on the campaign front ABC’s Dean Reynolds raised the concern that by "sounding so conservative" George Bush might alienate moderates while NBC’s Lisa Myers actually raised a negative about John McCain, citing his special interest fundraising.

    On Saturday night NBC Nightly News ignored the campaign while on ABC’s World News Tonight John Yang looked at a new anti-McCain ad from Bush and McCain’s appearance at the Republican convention in California. CBS reporter John Blackstone focused his Evening News story on how McCain and Steve Forbes addressed Republicans in California while attendees complained that Bush did not address them. CBS also featured a piece by Sharyl Attkisson on how in the Wen Ho Lee case the FBI reversed the assessment by three poligraphers who had decided Lee was truthful in his lie detector test.

    Back to Friday night, February 4, ABC’s Dean Reynolds outlined some questions he said are facing the Bush campaign:
    "Is Bush sounding so conservative in South Carolina that he may risk the support of moderates in Michigan where he campaigned today? Are all those big name endorsements really helping or do they make Bush out to be a tool of the establishment, a famous father’s son? Is Bush working hard enough. He’s taking this weekend off for example. And why is it that McCain’s good government message seems to resonate more deeply with voters than anything Bush is saying? As one Republican strategist said to us today, the Bush message has got to be more than just ‘we can win.’"

    Introducing a story about back and forth during the day between Bush and McCain, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather rhymed:
    "The McCain camp is raising Cain and making gains, leaving the Bush people scrambling in two fast-approaching primary battleground states."

    Well in advance of a McCain fundraiser this Thursday, on the NBC Nightly News Lisa Myers noted how McCain says he will take government back from special interests, "But in fact an independent analysis finds that McCain gets a higher proportion of his campaign money from Washington, one out of every ten dollars, than any other major candidate. He’s having another big Washington fundraiser next week, and two-thirds of those listed as hosts are lobbyists, most with business before the powerful Senate committee McCain chairs."


A historical distortion by CNN in marking Ronald Reagan’s continuing impact on politics on his 89th birthday. At the end of Sunday’s Late Edition, reporter Bruce Morton began his "Last Word" segment:
    "His presidency ended more than a decade ago, but politicians, Democrat and Republican, still talk about Ronald Reagan. Al Gore has an ad noting that in Congress he opposed the Reagan budget cuts. He says that because Bill Bradley was one of 36 Democratic Senators who voted for the cuts. Gore doesn’t point out that Bradley also voted against the popular Reagan tax cuts and that it was the tax cuts that piled up those enormous deficits, a snowballing national debt."

    In fact, as detailed in previous CyberAlerts, the numbers show that tax revenue grew faster than inflation during the 1980s and that despite supposed spending "cuts," non-Defense spending soared much faster.


Remember the old joke about the newspaper headlines leading papers would employ to announce the end of the world? The Washington Post’s, for instance, went something like: "World to End Tomorrow -- Poor and Minorities Hardest Hit."

    Well, here’s a real headline I caught over an AP story in suburban Washington’s February 6 Fairfax Journal: "Poor, Minorities Feel Brunt of Bad Weather."


8One babe that Bill Clinton can’t bag and Hillary claimed: "I make a mean tossed salad." Two items about the Clintons from the weekend which don’t involve media bias, but are too delicious to pass up.

    -- Appearing on the syndicated Roger Ebert & the Movies show over the weekend, in an interview taped in late December Bill Clinton revealed he can be turned on by a woman who’s in black and white. Ebert pointed out how Casablanca is one of Clinton’s favorite movies, and wondered: "What do you think is so timeless about it?"
    Clinton proclaimed his affection for actress Ingrid Bergman in replying: "First of all, it’s a story about love and honor and courage, stuff that people care about. Secondly, [Humphrey] Bogart is fabulous in it and Bergman brings tears to your eyes. I mean I still can’t watch that movie without [saying], ‘God I wish I’d known that woman.’ You just, she’s just riveting on the screen."
    Ebert: "My favorite actress."
    Clinton: "Just riveting."

    Apparently the stuff about love, honor and courage didn’t rub off.

    -- In the new campaign video shown at Hillary Clinton’s Senate announcement Sunday afternoon in Purchase, New York, she boasts: "I make a mean tossed salad."

    I can’t think of any pithy comment that could top that.


Some in the media can find a negative angle and a victim for any trend. The latest victims in America: People who have to wait an hour to be seated at restaurants.

    For Friday night’s CBS Evening News reporter Ray Brady focused on a dire impact of America’s high employment rate: How restaurants can’t find enough workers, a problem which inconvenienced a whiner Brady showcased. Brady ominously opened his February 4 report:
    "At America’s restaurants they’re feeling those low unemployment numbers. Waiters, waitresses, even chefs are hard to find. And there’s and added price: consumers are feeling the shortage too. Ask Mike McConnell. He and his family waited for over an hour at TGI Friday’s in St. Louis."
    McConnell: "No one telling us anything, you know just telling us ‘we’re going to seat you, we’re going to seat you, we’re going to seat you’ and then-"
    Brady: "No seats."
    McConnell: "No seats."

    Brady demanded an explanation. Wallace Dooling of TGI Friday’s conceded: "We were understaffed that night in the restaurant. The manager, it sounds like, was overwhelmed."
    Brady: "Wallace Dooling runs TGI Friday’s. His company gave McConnell three free dinner coupons, company policy when people are legitimately dissatisfied with the service."

    But viewers soon inadvertently learned something else about the complainer, Mike McConnell, as Brady filled in the larger picture in an attempt to show a trend. After noting how McConnell claimed he’s encountering more and more bad service at understaffed stores, Brady stated:
    "McConnell, a book editor, makes sure they understand. He writes letters of complaint or even calls the heads of companies."
    Brady to McConnell: "And how many businesses do you think you’ve taken on?"
    McConnell: "Oh, a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty."
    Brady: "Including some really big names."
    McConnell: "Sears, CompUSA, Dillards, Holiday Inn, Mattel."

    Brady went on to report that complaints to the Better Business Bureau are up, but viewers had learned that the guy is really a professional crank. And someone with enough free time so that a little waiting shouldn’t matter.

    And you wonder why so many people are attracted to John McCain. He endured years of torture in a Vietnamese prison camp while the media now focus this on generation’s biggest problem -- having to wait a few extra minutes to eat Shrimp Scampi. -- Brent Baker



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