Bush’s Tactics Cost Him; Avoiding Sharpton; "Ultra-Conservative" McCain
1) MSNBC’s analysis of the Michigan vote: Bush lost because
of his South Carolina "tactics," but there’s still time for him to
move from "right wing conservative" to "compassionate
conservative." McCain must connect with the "far right" in the
2) Howard Fineman: High number of non-Republican voters shows
"Democrats and independents...are looking for somebody who can take on
the Democratic Party." But George Stephanopoulos asserted that the
numbers proved "mischief-making" by Democrats.
3) In stories on the Democratic debate featuring Al Sharpton,
CBS skipped over his role while NBC only called him "controversial."
Yet NBC’s Tim Russert maintained that Bush won’t be able to "shake
off Bob Jones University and the anti-Catholic bigotry."
4) Gore challenged from the right at the Apollo Theater
debate. It may have featured Al Sharpton, but reporters for Time and CNN
pressed Gore on his hypocrisy in sending his kid to private school while
opposing vouchers to allow poor parents to do the same.
5) After John McCain delivered his concession speech Saturday
night CNN stressed its tough tone, but MSNBC’s panel focused on how he read
it, how good his wife looked and how by picking Bush Republicans
"screamed ‘we want to stay on the far right.’"
6) Time magazine’s Jack White insisted that John McCain is
really "a Western ultra-conservative."
7) CBS’s Bob Schieffer took on Bush for being so upset at
being compared to Clinton by McCain. "How ironic," he lamented, that
"invoking the name of a President who has presided over one of America's
great economic booms....becomes a political insult."
8) The latest MediaNomics: "As Oil Prices Rise, Free
Market Ideas Are Left Out in the Cold" by the networks and U.S. News
owner Mort Zuckerman urged the GOP to drop tax cuts and embrace Clintonomics.
9) Dan Rather: "The Michigan Republican primary
apparently is tighter than Willie Nelson’s headband."
>>> Newsweek on Bush: "He had been
forced to run far to the right -- and deep in mud." Now online: The
February 22 MagazineWatch about the February 28 editions of the three news
weeklies. The items detailed in the analysis compiled by the MRC’s Tim
1. Newsweek displayed the most revulsion at the South Carolina election
results, with anti-Bush hits from Jonathan Alter, Howard Fineman, and the team
of Evan Thomas and Martha Brant. "He had been forced to run far to the
right -- and deep in mud."
2. Time’s Eric Pooley and the U.S. News team of Kenneth Walsh and Roger
Simon concurred with the mudslinging-extremist line of analysis, with Pooley
claiming Bush’s "slashing tactics" were "ferocious even by
South Carolina’s down-and-dirty standards."
3. Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen chided those liberals who would place hope
in McCain, who is "combative, caustic, and conservative" -- and gets
better press than Clinton?
4. Time’s Margaret Carlson trumpeted Al Gore’s military service over
George W. Bush. "Gore is fully grown. Unlike the breezy George W. Bush,
who was on a career respirator much of his adult life, Gore has worked up a
sweat getting to where he is."
To read these, and for
links to the quoted magazine articles:
relayed in prime time Tuesday night by MSNBC’s analysts and anchor: George
W. Bush lost in Michigan because of the "tactics" he employed in
South Carolina, but there’s still time for him to recover by moving from a
"right wing conservative" back to a "compassionate
conservative." McCain’s challenge is to connect with the "far
right" in the party.
-- At about 8:45pm ET Newsweek’s Howard Fineman
announced on MSNBC: "The voters in Michigan decided to stick with John
McCain, in part, I think because of a backlash against the Bush tactics in
South Carolina. George Bush had no choice but to win in South Carolina,
evidently by whatever means necessary. Enough information about how he won
there got out in Michigan to hurt him."
If true, no doubt thanks to harping by the media. But
were non-Republicans who so overwhelmingly cast their ballots for McCain
really motivated by wanting to punish Bush and not by a desire to promote
McCain? Bush’s tactics didn’t upset Republicans as exit polls showed Bush
captured 65 percent of the Republican vote compared to just 28 percent won by
-- About a half hour later, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth
noticed, NBC’s Tim Russert ran through all that Bush did in South Carolina
which supposedly hurt him in Michigan:
"...He’s had to
say that he doesn’t have a position on whether the flag should fly over the
Capitol in South Carolina, which is anathema to minority voters across
America. And he’s associated with Bob Jones University, which has been known
for its anti-Catholic bigotry. It’s not the kind of thing that George Bush
had wanted to deal with in this primary. He now realizes he has to retool his
campaign in a general election, if he’s fortunate enough to be the nominee,
to try to once again be the compassionate conservative and not just the plain
right wing conservative."
-- A few minutes earlier, at 9:07pm ET, anchor Brian
Williams had turned to analyst Laura Ingraham and demanded: "What do you
do to convince, if you are John McCain, to convince the far right ‘no,
really, you have to listen to my point of electability.’?"
Funny, I don’t recall after the New Hampshire primary
MSNBC analysts reciting Al Gore’s liberal positions to show how they’ll
hurt him in some places, nor wondering what Gore must do to "convince the
far left" to support him over Bradley.
(At midnight ET Tuesday night MSNBC delivered another
in-kind contribution to the McCain effort: Another showing of the Headliners
& Legends program profiling McCain’s life. MSNBC played the same show
the night McCain won in New Hampshire.)
interpretations of the exit poll finding that only 47 percent of voters in the
Michigan Republican primary were actually Republicans with the rest either
independents or Democrats. On MSNBC Newsweek’s Howard Fineman suggested that
showed "Democrats and independents...are looking for somebody who can
take on the Democratic Party," a vehicle to end the Clinton years. But on
ABC’s Nightline, George Stephanopoulos asserted that the numbers proved
"mischief-making" by Democrats.
-- Fineman on MSNBC at about 8:30pm ET: "I think
this is about searching for the antidote to Bill Clinton. And those Democrats
and independents who are voting are looking for somebody who can take on the
Democratic Party. I don’t agree with those who say that Democrats and
independents who are voting in this race are doing so only to mess up the
George W. Bush campaign. They’re looking for a vehicle and they see John
McCain as a vehicle and the more George Bush says I won the Republicans, but
didn’t win these other people, the more he undercuts his argument that he is
the guy who can take on Al Gore. This is a referendum on who is the vehicle to
take on Al Gore and the Clinton years."
-- Stephanopoulos on Nightline: "Never before have
you seen so many Democrats, I think, in the last ten years vote in a
Republican primary. Even more interesting to me, seven percent of the
electorate were liberal Democrats, six percent were African Americans. These
are not voters who are going to vote for the Republican nominee in November.
This was definitely a mischief-making vote in Michigan and it’s going to
ensure that there’s mischief throughout the Republican nominating
morning CBS and NBC ran stories recounting how Al Gore and Bill Bradley faced
a question about racial profiling at their debate the night before, but
CBS’s The Early Show failed to mention who posed the question and NBC’s
Today referred only to the "controversial Reverend Al Sharpton."
While Today failed to condemn the close alliance between the Democratic
candidates and Sharpton, nor outline his race-baiting history, Tim Russert
stressed how George Bush won’t be able to "shake off Bob Jones
University and the anti-Catholic bigotry."
For more details on Sharpton’s appearance and the
debate shown by CNN, including how moderator Bernard Shaw credited him for
having "played an instrumental role in bringing about this
dialogue," and a video clip in RealPlayer format of Sharpton being
introduced, go to:
-- On CBS’s The Early Show on February 22 reporter
John Roberts skipped over Sharpton, observed MRC analyst Brian Boyd. Roberts
relayed: "It was quite a spectacle last night at the Apollo Theater in
Harlem. From the word 'go,' the gloves were off with the very first question
on what the candidates would do to end the practice of racial profiling and
curb police brutality."
"White Americans can no longer deny the plight of black Americans."
Al Gore: "If you
entrust me with the presidency, the first civil rights act of the 21st century
will be a national law outlawing racial profiling."
Roberts picked up:
"Racial profiling is a sensitive topic in New York following two recent
high profile cases of police brutality and use of excessive force. As he did
in Iowa, Bradley again challenged Gore to pressure President Clinton to
-- Over on NBC’s Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens
noted, reporter Claire Shipman mentioned Sharpton but did not rebuke
participants for featuring him: "The gloves were off at the legendary
Apollo Theater in Harlem as Al Gore and Bill Bradley squared off in an angry
debate on racial issues. The first question from the often controversial
Reverend Al Sharpton: What the candidates would do about racial profiling.
Bradley immediately said Gore should have pushed President Clinton to outlaw
Later, co-host Katie Couric asked Tim Russert about
Bush’s knowledge of anti-McCain phone calls being placed which featured Pat
Robertson’s voice: "So his claim that he knew nothing about this you
think is not plausible?"
Russert replied by once
again raising Bush’s visit to Bob Jones University and listing a specific
sin they espouse:
"Well maybe the
candidate did not technically know about these phone calls. But the fact is he
does know that Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed are supporting his candidacy. The
difficulty is if you become the nominee, because you just can't shake off Bob
Jones University and the anti-Catholic bigotry it stays with you because these
people remain visible within the country. So too with John McCain. Those ads
about Catholic Voter Alert directly appealing to Catholic voters are obviously
someone who is extremely sympathetic to the John McCain campaign."
Of course, Bob Jones University only remains
"visible within the country" to the extent the media decide to
unusual event, two reporters pressed Al Gore from the right on his hypocrisy
for sending his kids to private schools while he opposes vouchers to allow
poorer parents to do the same. The two questions came in the midst of
Monday’s joint Time/CNN production of the Gore-Bradley debate at the Apollo
Theater in Harlem which featured race-baiter Al Sharpton posing the first
question, the one about racial profiling by police cited in item #3 above.
In between questions from the audience about reparations
and ending the death penalty, Tamala Edwards and Karen Tumulty of Time and
Jeff Greenfield of CNN were able to pose two questions each.
Edwards told Gore at the February 21 event:
"A majority of the
African-American community supports vouchers, 60 percent. However, one thing
that you're proud of is you like to say you always have opposed vouchers. And
you've criticized Senator Bradley for even wanting to experiment with them.
However, you, yourself, are the product of private institutions, as are all
your children. In fact, your, the only child you still have at home, your son,
Albert, is a junior at Sidwell Friends, a very expensive Washington, D.C.,
private school. Is there not a public or charter school in D.C. good enough
for your child? And, if not why should the parents here have to keep their
kids in public schools because they don't have the financial resources that
A while later Jeff Greenfield followed up, zooming in on
the influence of teacher unions:
"You and Mrs.
Gore, Senator Bradley and his wife, me, any parent of means has the choice.
You can send your child to public or private school, but when the public
schools fail our children we don’t wait for new legislation. We protect our
kids’ future by pulling them out of those public schools. There are tens of
thousands of parents, disproportionately black and brown, who do not have that
choice. And I would put on the table one of the staunchest opponents of choice
are the two major teachers unions that happen to supply one in nine of the
delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The question is, after 35
years and a $100 billion in Title I money, with SAT scores that gap no
narrower, why shouldn’t these parents conclude that the Democratic Party’s
opposition to choice is an example of supporting a special interest rather
than their interest?"
Not the kind of questions Gore, or Bradley for that
matter, faced at earlier Democratic debates.
night after John McCain delivered his combative concession speech CNN’s team
remarked on its toughness, but MSNBC’s panel instead focused on style and
image. One MSNBC analyst raised how he stumbled as he read the address,
another panelist countered that "the look of him with his wife there is
going to overcome any...notice of the fact he read his script" and a
third analyst jumped on how McCain’s loss showed the Republican Party is
"not ready for a moderate" as they supposedly "screamed ‘we
want to stay on the far right.’"
In his comments McCain declared: "I am a uniter,
not a divider. I don't just say it, I live it. I'm a real reformer. I'm a real
reformer. I don't just say it, I live it. And I'm a fighter for this country.
And I don't just say it, I live it. As this campaign moves forward, a clear
choice will be offered: a choice between my optimistic and welcoming
conservatism and the negative message of fear, between Ronald Reagan's vision
of exclusion and the defeatist tactics of exclusion so cherished by those who
would shut the doors to our party and surrender America's future to Speaker
Gephardt and President Al Gore, a choice between a record of reform and an
empty slogan of reform, a choice between -- a choice between experience and
Afterward, CNN’s Judy Woodruff decided: "Well, if
anybody thought that John McCain was going to go out of South Carolina with
his tail between his legs, he has just fired a cannon to the states of
Michigan and Arizona, and the rest of the country. This is some of the
toughest language we have heard from John McCain: ‘I want the presidency in
the best way, not the worst way. I'll never dishonor the nation I love and
myself by letting ambition overcome principle.’ Jeff, this is very tough
Jeff Greenfield agreed: "You know, I'm a little
stunned, because it is some of the toughest language that a defeated candidate
has used. Now, we all remember Bob Dole in 1988 snapping at Governor Bush's
father ‘to stop lying about my record.’ He certainly didn't go that far,
but the implicit message of this concession speech is, George Bush won
But MSNBC viewers at the same time didn’t hear these
kinds of assessments. Instead, they heard goofy comments about style, plus a
blast at Republicans for being "far right."
At 8:17pm ET anchor Brian Williams turned to GOP
pollster Frank Luntz, who offered: "I’m the only individual up here
who’s going to make this comment, but here’s a guy who is one of the most
articulate individuals in politics today and he read his speech -- and in fact
he stumbled over it. I know you’re all going to talk about the words, about
the fighting and America and all of that, but people watching, whether they
see it tonight live, or tomorrow or Monday repeated, they’ll notice that he
read it, they’ll notice that he stumbled over it. John McCain wins when he
speaks from the heart. When he reads a text he fails. And if you’re talking
about style, which we know matters, this was not a successful speech."
Williams then moved along: "Paul Begala, valid
The liberal Clintonista
agreed: "Valid point, but more fundamentally he used those words fight
and country and he wants to run as a patriot, but I think he’s got the wrong
audience. The Republican Party, at least in South Carolina tonight, told me
they’re not ready for a moderate. The Democrats in ‘92 were ready for Bill
Clinton to the part move back to the center, here Republicans tonight screamed
‘we want to stay on the far right.’"
Finishing out the three man panel, CNBC host and former
Tip O’Neill aide Chris Matthew argued: "He mentioned as I said I
thought he might do tomorrow, but he hasn’t waited for Tim Russert, he said
he’s running against ‘the defeated tactics of exclusion.’ He’s
accusing, I’m sure Tim will ask him to go further on it, he’s accused his
opponent of joining an anti-Catholic cause. I have to say something very
cosmetic: The look of him with his wife there is going to overcome any looking
or notice of the fact he read his script. There’s a beautiful person next to
him . She loves him. It’s a great picture. I think most people seeing that
picture in tomorrow morning’s paper are going to like what they see."
Not exactly penetrating analysis, but it happened on a
network which really isn’t quite up to the efforts of CNN and FNC. While
those two stayed live until 11pm ET, after just two hours of coverage and
before George Bush’s victory speech, at 9pm ET MSNBC went to Weekend
Magazine, a show made up of repeats of Dateline stories, followed by Special
Edition and Time & Again, another clip show. The Time & Again subject:
Leonardo DiCaprio. And unlike FNC, which runs news updates on the hour,
everybody at MSNBC went home at 9pm so anyone tuning in after 8:58pm ET would
not have had a clue a primary even occurred.
McCain’s voting record may not support the charge of Bush backers that
he’s a liberal, but is he really an "ultra-conservative"? Yes,
maintained Time magazine national correspondent Jack White on Inside
Washington over the weekend.
White asserted, as transcribed by the MRC’s Jessica
amazing here to me is that this is one of the great acts of political alchemy
we’ve seen in a long time. They’ve taken a Western, ultra-conservative
like John McCain, and they’ve turned him into, in the eyes of some voters at
least, sort of a liberal centrist."
I bet that’s a preview of what we’ll be hearing soon
from many in the media. If it looks McCain might actually beat Bush, liberals
in the media not enamored of McCain will make sure their readers and viewers
are scared about his conservative voting record.
installment of utterances from Clueless Bob Schieffer (CBS). Now he doesn’t
understand why George W. Bush was so upset at being compared to Bill Clinton
by John McCain. "In Republican circles anyway, calling someone
‘Clinton’ turns out to be this year's version of ‘your mama wears combat
boots,’" Schiefffer bemoaned before pointing out how "ironic"
it is to be upset by a comparison to a man who "has presided over one of
America's great economic booms."
Ending Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, Schieffer
delivered this commentary:
nobody expected a game of beanbag, but when John McCain compared George W.
Bush to President Clinton, Bush exploded, called it over the line, an assault
on his integrity, even took out an ad on television to complain about it.
McCain shot back that Bush's people had been trying to compare him to Clinton,
too, but when McCain's charge seemed to backfire, he took his ad off
television and said he'd go back to the high road. In Republican circles
anyway, calling someone 'Clinton' turns out to be this year's version of 'your
mama wears combat boots.' Exit polls also suggest that voters did hold it
against McCain when he made that charge.
"Well, sure it's a
campaign and sure they're Republicans, but how ironic, when invoking the name
of a President who has presided over one of America's great economic booms at
a time when the nation was at peace, becomes a political insult. It's only a
footnote, perhaps, but for Bill Clinton, who is said to worry these days about
his legacy, it is one more reminder of the price he paid for that 'personal
mistake,' as he called it."
edition of MediaNomics, the bi-weekly report from the MRC’s Free Market
Project (FMP), is now up on the MRC Web site. Here are summaries of the two
pieces written last week by FMP Director Rich Noyes:
-- As Oil Prices Rise, Free Market Ideas Are Left Out in
For a while this week,
the nightly news could have been "That ‘70s Show," as consumers
griped about skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices, and TV journalists wondered
what the Democrat in the White House would do to fix the situation. But
unmentioned by any network was the fact that the Clinton administration had
welcomed OPEC’s decision to slash production last spring, the move which led
to depleted inventories and higher prices this winter. )
-- The 1980s, According to Mort:
In this week’s issue,
U.S. News owner and editor-in-chief Mort Zuckerman advises Republicans to drop
their advocacy of tax cuts and embrace Clintonomics. That’s not an argument
likely to persuade GOP tax-cutters to change their minds, nor is Zuckerman’s
assertion that the Republican Party "is
still hooked on nostalgia for Ronald Reagan and the sense that he won in 1980
by promising tax cuts."
To read these stories, which were posted February 18, go
television always brings out Dan Rather’s wacky side and his rhymes, better
known as Ratherisms. Here are two of the latest:
-- Rather opening a February 19 special report on South
Carolina at 7pm ET: "This is a Campaign 2000 special report. Dan Rather
reporting from Charleston, South Carolina. Southern comfort for Bush. The
McCain surge going south in South Carolina."
-- Rather opening the February 22 CBS Evening News, at
least the version seen in the ET and CT time zones before the polls closed in
"Good evening. The
Michigan Republican primary apparently is tighter than Willie Nelson’s
headband. George Bush and John McCain locked tonight in the political
equivalent of sudden death overtime...."
An analogy no one else could possibly have thought of.