Bush’s "Black Eye"; Rather Admired
McCain’s Appeal; Puppet Sang to Sawyer
1) CBS’s Bill Whitaker insisted Bush embraced "the far
right" in SC, which "gave him a black eye in Michigan." Only
NBC noted how McCain’s camp admitted anti-Bush calls and how liberals are
"euphoric" over McCain. ABC found Democratic "meddling."
2) In a CBS News Web site-posted analysis Dan Rather ignored
Al Sharpton and asserted that Al Gore "has not moved as far to the left
as Bush has to the right." Rather admired how John McCain appeals to the
"vital center," a skill that’s a "special thing."
3) CBS’s The Early Show pressed George W. Bush to repudiate
phone calls placed by Pat Robertson, but did not ask McCain about phones calls
which denounced Bush. ABC asked Bush to react to a McCain backer’s claim he
went "a little too far to the right."
4) NBC’s Tim Russert assessing Bush: "Antagonizing
blacks over the Confederate flag issue. Antagonizing women over the issue of
abortion..." ABC’s Charles Gibson cited only anti-McCain calls in
tagging the race "nasty."
5) Watch as Bryant Gumbel dropped his pen in disgust when his
co-host guessed historians rated Ronald Reagan the best President.
6) ABC’s priorities: Interviewing the woman married on the
now infamous Fox TV show and the pets.com "Sock Puppet" considered
"breaking news" which bumped David Letterman’s mom.
>>> February 21 edition of Notable
Quotables, the MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous,
sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online thanks to
Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul. Some of the quote topics included in this
issue: "Hillary, Victim of Venomous Bias"; "Gore’s a Boaster,
Not A Liar"; "Ken Starr = POW Torturer"; "We’re
Pro-McCain: Deal With It"; "Pampered Under Communism?";
"Birthday Shot at Reagan"; "CBS: Clueless Bob Schieffer"
and "Victims of Delayed Buffalo Wings." To read these quotes and
others, go to:
>>> MRC job opening. Find the bias documented
in CyberAlerts. The MRC, located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, has an
opening for a News Media Analyst. Those in this position must work at the MRC’s
headquarters and, therefore, should live in the Washington, DC area. News
Media Analysts review network television news shows and major print
publications to track coverage and identify biased stories for quoting in our
publications which document liberal bias. Qualified applicants should have a
good understanding of current events, be able to write clearly and be
interested in politics and the news. The starting pay for the position is
$22,000. Those interested should send a resume via fax to Brent Baker at (703)
night ABC and NBC stressed how John McCain was appealing to traditional
Republicans, whom ABC called "insiders," while ABC and CBS
highlighted how being too conservative supposedly hurt George Bush.
"After veering to the right," ABC’s John Yang asserted, Bush is
returning to "compassionate conservatism." CBS’s Bill Whitaker
employed an extremist label, insisting: "The strategy that seemed so
brilliant in South Carolina, embracing the far right, snapped back and gave
him a black eye in Michigan."
Tuesday night both CBS and NBC had reported on anti-Bush
phone calls accusing him of being anti-Catholic. Wednesday night only NBC’s
David Bloom acknowledged that while McCain’s top aides had denied any
involvement, they later admitted directing the calls. Bloom also pointed out
how top Democrats are "euphoric" over how McCain is weakening likely
eventual nominee Bush and ABC’s Jim Wooten uniquely looked at how Michigan
Democrats conceded "meddling" in the Republican primary.
Here are highlights of campaign coverage Wednesday
night, February 23, on the three broadcast networks:
-- ABC’s World News Tonight opened with Mike Von Fremd
with McCain in Washington State: "He is still appealing to outsiders
....but he has now added a direct appeal to insiders, the core of the
McCain: "I am a Reagan Republican...."
John Yang then checked in from the Bush campaign in
California, noting how Bush is "smarting" over calls saying he’s
anti-Catholic. Yang added: "After veering to the right in South Carolina,
Bush came to this inner-city community center to return to his theme of
ABC next showed tapes of quick interviews by anchor
Peter Jennings with McCain and Bush before Jim Wooten explored the growing
lack of party loyalty. Wooten began by recalling what occurred in Michigan:
"It was the only game in town of course, and Democrats
and independents by the thousands decided to play, including many clearly
motivated by mischief. This Democrat said yes, her McCain vote was meddling,
Woman: "I think that the system usually manipulates
Wooten: "This independent also chose McCain, but she
Second woman: "I voted against Engler."
-- CBS Evening News. Phil Jones summarized McCain’s
day but did not mention his new appeal to Republicans. Jones showed a clip of
him interviewing McCain on a plane flight. His first question: "You’re
riding pretty high today. Are you dreaming about this being Air Force One or
worried about being shot down?"
While CBS failed to note how the McCain camp admitted
involvement in anti-Bush phone calls accusing him of being anti-Catholic,
Jones portrayed McCain as the victim: "McCain continues to struggle over
campaign strategy. He holds to his promise of no negative advertising, but he
told me today he will continue to make an issue out of the negative attacks on
him by Governor Bush and the so-called religious right."
Next, Bill Whitaker looked at Bush. As transcribed by
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, he began: "He called Michigan a glancing blow,
but the truth is George Bush is stepping into the biggest primary ring of all,
California, battered and bruised and on the ropes."
Whitaker applied some loaded labeling: "The
strategy that seemed so brilliant in South Carolina, embracing the far right,
snapped back and gave him a black eye in Michigan, allowing John McCain to
paint him as anti-Catholic and in the pocket of the Christian Right. So today
the original compassionate conservative was back on display, visiting
disadvantaged children at the L.A. Dream Center. But is his plan to reposition
himself back in the middle just California dreaming?"
Following a soundbite from Bush, Whitaker took a shot at
the entire California GOP: "And California is so much bigger and more
diverse than even Michigan. He must appeal beyond his conservative base to win
here and attract Latinos who fled the GOP because of the anti-immigration
policies of former Governor Pete Wilson..."
-- NBC Nightly News went right to Anne Thompson on
McCain’s plan to show Republicans they should support him because of his
popularity among independents. She added: "Today John McCain trying to
convince Republicans he is one of them."
McCain: "I am a proud, conservative Republican. I am a
Reagan Republican. Have no doubt about that. And I have to convince and tell
our Republican establishment it’s great over here, come on in."
Thompson explained how he is now stressing cutting taxes
and spending in order to expand his GOP support beyond just the 29 percent who
voted for him in Michigan.
Thompson concluded: "Tonight the battle of attack
faxes continues. Late this evening McCain charging the Bush campaign of
launching a new round of negative phone calls, this time in Virginia where
primary will be held there next Tuesday, using the same phone calls taped by
televangelist Pat Robertson that accused McCain campaign chairman Warren
Rudman of being a vicious bigot."
From the Bush camp reporter David Bloom summarized Bush’s
case that McCain cannot win since true GOP voters rejected him and Bush
"portrays himself as the real Republican."
Bloom then uniquely pointed out: "And many
Democrats are euphoric, believing a weakened Bush forced to the right by
McCain, will still prevail, but as a less formidable threat to Gore. Senate
Democratic Leader Tom Daschle today."
Tom Daschle: "I’ll just say that John McCain is
doing the country a real service."
Bloom: "But Bush is furious with McCain. Didn’t even
call to concede last night."
Bush: "He can hear. I congratulate him."
Bloom highlighted what CBS ignored: "The Texas
Governor livid that in Michigan McCain’s campaign made tens of thousands of
phone calls to Catholic voters, suggesting Bush is anti-Catholic because he
gave a speech at South Carolina’s fundamentalist, some say anti-Catholic,
Bob Jones University. McCain’s top aides spent much of yesterday denying to
reporters that they’d made any such calls, only to admit last night that
they had and continue to do so even while they were denying it."
Bush: "After the polls had closed, after you all had
to put up your notebooks, after the cameras were off, they admitted that they
were making those calls into that state. I don’t accept any of that kind of
campaigning. And I don’t appreciate it one bit."
Bloom concluded: "But if Bush is angry, so too are
many of his own supporters. They are critical of the Texas Governor’s
campaign, for his stop at Bob Jones University, for wasting millions of
dollars in McCain’s home state of Arizona, and for not recognizing, perhaps
until too late, just how serious a threat John McCain poses."
CBS’s on-air reporting quoted in item #1 above, in his weekly "Rather’s
Notebook" report on the CBS News Web site, Dan Rather complained that in
South Carolina Bush "rode the Republican hard-right’s
organization" to a big win which "moved the image of himself pretty
far to the right."
Rather maintained that "Gore has not moved as far
to the left as Bush has to the right." Citing Bush’s speech at Bob
Jones University as an example of going to the far right, Rather ignored Gore’s
pursuit of Al Sharpton’s endorsement, insisting Gore "hasn't had to do
make any comparable move in the other direction."
Rather’s dream candidate: John McCain, who appeals to
the "vital center." If McCain does not win, Rather warned, "the
Republican Party may have ample opportunity in the months ahead to wonder if
they should have better recognized this talent for the truly special thing it
is." He impugned the motives of conservatives, suggesting they oppose
McCain just because they wish "to preserve a campaign finance system that
helps to keep them in powerful positions."
Here are some excerpts from the February 22 edition of
Whether or not the underdog Straight Talk Express runs out of gas on its
way to the Republican nomination, all the other candidates -- Republicans and
Democrats -- would do well to take a page from the McCain campaign playbook.
John McCain has accomplished something we haven't seen in some time --
appeal to the vital center while running in his party's
primary elections. This is the sort of feat for which Ronald Reagan is
And if McCain does not emerge as the GOP nominee, the Republican Party may
have ample opportunity in the months ahead to wonder if they should have
better recognized this talent for the truly special thing it is....
Folks who are willing to overlook the label of Republican or Democrat,
liberal or conservative, for a candidate they like on the basis of character,
personality, style or even on the issues -- or just plain old "gut
Again, for emphasis, it must be underscored that this generality applies
more to general elections than to primaries. The party and ideological
faithful, usually the people furthest from the center, can be and often are
decisive at the polls in the nominating process.
It wasn't true in New Hampshire, where John McCain fashioned his blowout
triumph over George Bush. It was true in South Carolina, where Bush rode the
Republican hard-right's organization, money and messages to a big win.
The self-described "Religious Right" -- including conservative
preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson -- are part of the deep core of the
Republican Party, one that runs deeper in South Carolina than perhaps anywhere
else in the country. And they delivered big-time for Bush in the Palmetto
Yes, it's true they acted partly out of self-interest, to preserve a
campaign finance system that helps to keep them in powerful positions and
allows them to spend freely and make their influence felt. But it's also true
that Bush worked especially hard and effectively to get out their vote after
New Hampshire. He went to the right places, said the right things the right
way. He got the Religious Right's all-out support the old-fashioned way: He
earned it. But now he owes them.
Which is part of the point of this writing. Bush has moved the image of
himself pretty far to the right, giving up, at least temporarily, some of the
middle ground he will need to win in November, if he's the nominee.
No doubt Gore liked what he saw out of South Carolina. In the general
election, Bush won't be running right the way he did in South Carolina. But
Gore -- or Bradley, if by some miracle he becomes the nominee -- would turn
that George W. Bush into a target in front of the voting public....
And Bradley has succeeded in pushing Gore further to the left than he would
ideally like to be. Such is the price of winning the core Democratic Party
voters in the nominating contests.
But, by any reasonable analysis, Gore has not moved as far to the left as
Bush has to the right. He hasn't had to. Bradley's threat to Gore's nomination
has not been nearly as substantial as the challenge McCain has posed to the
An example is Bush's appearance at South Carolina's Bob Jones University.
Rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, that school is widely viewed as having
not only anti-black, but also anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic roots.
By going there and not clearly disassociating himself from the worst of the
school's image and reputation, Bush helped himself with the hard-right
necessary to win the South Carolina primary. But he also handed the Democrats
a club with which they will pound him.
Gore, as yet, hasn't had to do make any comparable move in the other
In 1988, George Bush the elder claimed the center by making
"liberal" a dirty word. We remember it as one of the nastier
elections in recent years, but not a close one....
Naturally, whenever the more conservative candidate wins
it must be a tainted victory.
To read the entirety of Rather’s analysis, go to:
post-Michigan primary interviews run on the Wednesday morning shows, George W.
Bush was pressed by CBS to repudiate phone calls placed by Pat Robertson which
called McCain campaign chairman Warren Rudman an anti-Christian bigot, but the
network did not press McCain about phones calls which denounced Bush as
anti-Catholic. ABC’s John Yang asked Bush to react to a McCain backer’s
claim that Bush went "a little too far to the right in South
ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas expressed concern to McCain
about whether his independent and Democratic supporters "know about"
his conservative stands on issues like abortion.
On the February 23 Good Morning America, ABC’s
Elizabeth Vargas posed these questions to McCain, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson:
-- "Congratulations, Senator, on your victories
tonight in Michigan and Arizona. As they say, what a difference 72 hours
makes. Do you feel back on top?"
-- "Voter turnout today and in the previous primaries
was exceptionally high. To what do you attribute this? I mean, we're talking
record turnouts in some cases. Why are people coming to polls in droves as
-- "They're not just voters who have not voted before.
You're attracting record numbers of Democrats and independents. You have been
on the record as being anti-abortion, except in cases of rape and incest.
You're in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade. You were against the assault weapons
ban and you are for voluntary prayer in schools. Do you think all the
independents and Democrats who are voting for you in these primaries know
about your stands on those issues?"
-- "You have very, some significant victories chalked
up now under your belt, however many say you still have yet to really win the
heart of the Republican Party....How are you going to get more Republicans to
join the McCain movement?"
-- "Your opponent continues to say, yeah, he might be
winning a lot of Democrats and liberals, but I'm winning with the Republicans,
and in fact, some of his supporters tonight were call your appeal and your
victory with the help of Democrats and liberals a, quote, 'hostile
-- "After a very dirty campaign in South Carolina,
according to everybody involved in it, you had taken a vow never to go
negative again in this campaign. Is it a fine line sometimes between defining
your opponent versus yourself, and what is perceived as going negative?"
-- "Is it unusual, you started out calling yourself,
you're for reform, and then after New Hampshire, we had Bush saying 'a
reformer with results,' and now it's 'a real reformer.'"
But Bush only got two questions from ABC’s John Yang
in an interview taped aboard a plane:
-- "Is this sort of a testing period? Do you think
it's good for you?"
-- "Former Senator Dan Evans in Washington, the
Secretary of State in California, expressed concern about maybe, they thought,
you might be going a little too far to the right in South Carolina."
Over on CBS’s The Early Show, during an interview
taped on a plane, Phil Jones asked: "I get the sense that a lot of
bitterness has built up because of campaign tactics. Tell me about this."
Amongst his other questions: "What's your message to Pat Robertson, Jerry
Falwell, and the so-called Christian right?" McCain replied, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "I guess my message to them is
that I've never known them very well, but the display that I saw in South
Carolina and then the phone calls that Pat Robertson made in Michigan, I just
think they should be ashamed of themselves."
While Jones never asked McCain about the anti-Bush
calls, in a taped interview shown a few minutes later Bill Plante demanded
that Bush repudiate Pat Robertson’s tactics:
"You may not want the kind of help that you got from
Pat Robertson and John McCain may say he doesn't want the kind of help that he
got from whoever called you anti-Catholic, but that stuff is there."
Bush: "Yea, and I understand why people don't like
that, and I don't particularly care for it either. But it is America."
Plante: "How do you respond when that kind of stuff
Bush: "Well of course that hurts, and you wouldn't
like it. People who know me, know my heart. And when I heard they were running
these ads saying I was an anti-Catholic bigot, it hurt."
Plante: "Don't you have to repudiate what Pat
Robertson did for you too, then?"
Bush: "Well, I don't know what he did, I didn't ask
him to do it."
On NBC’s Today David Bloom raised the anti-Bush calls
with Bush, but quickly moved on to pressing Bush about how he should have
denounced Bob Jones University’s racist policies. Bloom told Bush: "The
phone calls in Michigan touched a raw nerve with you. The ones accusing you of
being anti-Catholic. Why?"
Bloom next asked: "Those allegations stem from the
speech you gave at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. You said that you
don't regret having spoken there. But do you regret not having at the time
during the speech spoken out against their supposedly segregationist and
Talking with John McCain, in a taped interview played
earlier in the show, David Gregory cited how McCain had allies criticizing
Bush, but did not outline the specifics or demand that McCain retract the
the campaign with Katie Couric on Wednesday’s Today, NBC’s Tim Russert
claimed Bush is "antagonizing" women and blacks. On ABC’s Good
Morning America co-host Charles Gibson argued that McCain is conservative
because he "succeeded" Barry Goldwater and in arguing how
"nasty" the campaign has become Gibson cited only anti-McCain phone
-- February 23 Today. As noted by MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens, Russert contended:
"George W. Bush wanted to be the compassionate
conservative. Run this nomination from the right of center. But be a broad
tent representative of his party. He now has been positioned as the
conservative candidate. Embraced by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell. Antagonizing
blacks over the Confederate flag issue. Antagonizing women over the issue of
abortion. Antagonizing Catholics over Bob Jones. If he wins the nomination
Katie he has a lot of work to do to get back to the center to try to broaden
his appeal across the whole political spectrum."
Couric: "What might have helped him in South Carolina
might have hurt him in Michigan in other words."
Russert: "Absolutely right."
Do you think we’ll ever hear a network analyst suggest
a liberal is "antagonizing Catholics over support of partial-birth
-- Good Morning America, February 23. Gibson told George
Stephanopoulos: "George, this is the Senator who succeeded Barry
Goldwater in the United States Senate. His record on traditional Republican
issues, very solid. He does want to shake up things on campaign finance
reform, which may scare a lot of lobbyists in Washington, but why are so many
Republicans running away from him?"
Later Gibson asserted: "It was nasty. There were
calls being made on behalf of both candidates. They say they don't know where
they came from, but calls being made on behalf of both candidates charging
religious bigotry on the other side. A call by Pat Robertson calling one of
McCain's main supporters a vicious bigot, former Senator Warren Rudman. This
is really nasty and tough."
now online: Gumbel flinging his pen down on the desk in disgust at the idea
that Reagan was the best President. In Wednesday’s Washington Times
"Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce picked up on the February 22
CyberAlert item about an interchange Monday between Early Show co-hosts Bryant
Gumbel and Jane Clayson.
As detailed in Tuesday’s CyberAlert, plugging an
upcoming interview about C-SPAN’s survey of historians to rank Presidents,
Gumbel asked Clayson: "Who would you think finished first?"
Co-host Jane Clayson deferred: "Hmmm. Good
Gumbel: "Of all the Presidents when they did first to
worst. Oh c’mon, you would know."
Clayson: "Ronald Reagan."
Gumbel, appalled, exclaimed: "First?!?!"
Clayson: "Who was it?"
Gumbel chastised her: "No! Reagan wasn’t even in the
top ten. Abraham Lincoln. Maybe you’ve heard of him."
Watching this again on Wednesday I noticed that Gumbel
dropped his pen the second Clayson said "Reagan." I thought many
might like to see the video, so Wednesday afternoon Webmaster Andy Szul posted
it in RealPlayer format. It’s now up on the MRC home page, or go directly
Good Morning America devoted an amazing 16 minutes of air time to Diane Sawyer
interviewing Darva Conger, the woman married on the Fox show, Who Wants to
Marry a Multi-Millionaire? She got the entire 7:30 half hour, plus the first
interview segment in the 8am half hour. Conger uttered the understatement of
century: "I committed an error in judgment." She didn’t think
getting married meant anything: "Maybe we’ll like each other and get
along, maybe even date. I never in a million years ever thought it was an
actual marriage in my heart and before God."
Well she may be onto something there as I doubt Fox is
God’s favorite network.
In the second half of the 8am half hour Sawyer
interviewed Elizabeth Taylor. GMA started the 8:30am half hour with Sawyer and
Charles Gibson spending over five minutes with the "Sock Puppet"
from Pets.com TV ads, a guy behind the sofa with a sock on his hand. The
puppet sang "once, twice, three times a lady" to Sawyer.
After all of this, as the show ended, Sawyer told
viewers: "I want to tell everybody because of our breaking news this
morning, David Letterman’s mom, who was going to be on the broadcast, is
going to be on tomorrow."
What "breaking news"?
This morning, Thursday, in the 8:30am half hour
Letterman’s mom got as much time as the Sock Puppet and she revealed that
weather grounded her flight from Indianapolis so she was unable to make it to
last Friday’s taping of her son’s first post-heart surgery show which
aired Monday night.
That made me feel a little better as I suffered her same
plight. My brother arranged a ticket for me to see that Late Show taping but I
spent over three hours in the air Friday flying to New York, circling
LaGuardia and then returning to Dulles Airport because LaGuardia was closed.