Nets Pushed McCain "Holy War"; "Nothing Liberal" About McCain
1) GOP "holy war" led ABC, CBS and NBC Monday night
as all showed McCain equating Pat Robertson with Farrakhan. Dan Rather eagerly
passed along how "McCain said George Bush is now aligned with, in
McCain’s view, peddlers of intolerance, division and smears."
2) ABC relayed how a father credited Al Gore with
"saving" his baby’s life, but ABC’s Terry Moran soon noted:
"Gore's critics say he goes too far in exploiting personal
3) "There is absolutely nothing liberal or moderate about
John McCain," ABC’s Ted Koppel declared in marveling at his support
from liberals. Frank Rich credited his being "the anti-Starr."
4) Jane Fonda stopped Ted Turner from running for President,
he credited sports with preventing him from becoming a "right-wing
nationalist" and stopping "clitorectomies" is a priority.
5) Whatever happened to Kathleen Willey? She found John
6) Jesse Ventura embarrassed Tim Russert by pulling out a
vintage photo of Russert with long hair and big sideburns.
online, the February 28 edition of MediaNomics, a report from the MRC’s Free
Market Project (FMP) written by FMP Director Rick Noyes. The latest two
-- Who Runs the American Economy?
The bad news is that the news media just can’t shake the myth of the
all-powerful central planner, whose decisions mean either boom or bust for the
whole economy. But the good news is that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan
Greenspan doesn’t seem to buy it -- not even when the media are singling him
out for credit for the long-running economic expansion.
-- Kudos... to the Washington Post’s Curt Suplee
It's worth paying attention when the Washington Times praises a story
published by its longtime nemesis, the Washington Post -- and even protests
the fact that the story wasn’t splashed on the Post’s front page.
To read these, go to:
the broadcast networks delighted in John McCain’s attack on Pat Robertson
and Jerry Falwell, leading with his equating of both with Louis Farrakhan and
Al Sharpton. "It’s now a holy war, with the role of the religious right
in play between John McCain and George W. Bush," remarked NBC’s Tom
Brokaw. CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather declared: "This could be a
defining day in an election year battle for the soul of the Republican Party.
John McCain said George Bush is now aligned with, in McCain’s view, peddlers
of intolerance, division and smears."
All three evening shows featured this soundbite from
McCain uttered at an appearance at a Virginia Beach high school: "Neither
party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics
and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton
on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right." But while
ABC’s Linda Douglass characterized that as an attack on how Robertson and
Falwell "are pulling the GOP toward the fringe," CBS’s Phil Jones
led into the clip by pointing out: "It’s an attack that went beyond the
The networks allowed Bush to play defense, with ABC and
CBS looking at how he’s pulling away from the religious right. Inadvertently
conceding how misleading much of CBS News coverage has been, Bob Schieffer
recalled how Bush donors saw him as "a fresh face with a strong appeal to
moderates and minorities" so "the last thing they envisioned was
Bush as the candidate of the far right."
Here’s a rundown of how the three broadcast network
evening shows treated McCain’s attack and Bush’s reaction on Monday,
-- ABC’s World News Tonight. Leading into McCain’s
blast at Robertson and Falwell, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica
Anderson, Linda Douglass intoned: "John McCain came to the hometown of
the Christian Broadcasting Network and declared political war on its leader,
TV evangelist Pat Robertson. He said Robertson and the Moral Majority's Jerry
Falwell are pulling the GOP toward the fringe."
Following McCain’s comparison of the conservatives to
Farrakhan, Douglass continued: "McCain is furious at Robertson's
bare-knuckled efforts to turn Christian Conservatives against him. He
suggested that Robertson has lured George Bush too far to the right. Example,
his speech to Bob Jones University."
After another soundbite
from McCain, Douglass noted: "Bush shot back that it is McCain who is
being divisive." Bush asserted that McCain is playing on religious fears
before Douglass outlined the justification for McCain’s attack:
are describing this speech in dramatic terms. They are calling it the defining
moment of the campaign and perhaps the defining moment of the entire election
year. GOP strategists say many Republicans have been looking for a way to get
Robertson off center stage."
Scott Reed, Republican
consultant: "There are a whole lot of folks that believe Pat Robertson
has been the chief spokesman for the Republican Party for a number of years,
and what John McCain did today was say, that's not true."
"McCain's aides say that in order to bring more moderates into the party,
he took the chance of alienating Christian Conservatives. But that might not
be such a big risk for McCain because Christian conservatives have not been
voting for him anyway."
Next, Jim Wooten looked at Bush’s campaign: "He
looks the same and he sounds the same." After a clip of Bush saying
"I’m a uniter not a divider," Wooten picked up: "But the
Virginia version of Governor Bush is distinctly different from the one who won
South Carolina and lost in Michigan. This is a candidate very careful not to
be seen again as the darling of religious conservatives, an image that could
hurt him among more moderate voters here and elsewhere. Pat Robertson, a
Virginia resident, has neither been seen nor heard this past week -- he's out
of the country -- and Bush has gone nowhere near Jerry Falwell or his Liberty
Wooten maintained: "No one admits that Bush has
purposely kept his distance from the Religious Right, but even the Republican
hierarchy, led by Governor James Gilmore, is not only backing Bush, but
scrupulously avoiding any mention of that agenda. Still, Gilmore isn't oozing
confidence for Bush."
"We'll do everything we can do for him in Virginia, but I do not predict
any outcomes because it's an open primary and you can't tell what's going to
"But you can tell what has happened. Governor Bush has campaigned here
without the visible presence of the religious conservatives. Since they're
already in his corner, it probably hasn't cost him a single Virginia
Wrapping up Republican coverage, anchor Peter Jennings
relayed how an ABC News poll found McCain beating Gore by 17 points while Bush
would beat Gore by just six points.
-- CBS Evening News.
"The Republican presidential contenders find religion. McCain gives
leaders of the Religious Right holy Hell while Bush tries to mend fences with
Roman Catholics," Dan Rather announced in teasing the CBS Evening News.
He opened the show by breathlessly declaring McCain on the offense and Bush
lost on defense:
This could be a defining day in an election year battle for the soul of the
Republican Party. John McCain said George Bush is now aligned with, in
McCain’s view, peddlers of intolerance, division and smears. McCain flat out
called Bush a quote ‘Pat Robertson Republican.’ McCain said so in Virginia
on the eve of the primary there. For his part, Bush’s latest image makeover
and message adjustment today included his quote ‘regrets’ about not
challenging Bob Jones University’s anti-Catholic views during his appearance
there. CBS’s Phil Jones begins our coverage of McCain-Bush and the thunder
over the Religious Right."
Jones began: "John McCain took dead aim at the
leaders of the conservative religious right, right on its own turf,"
though as noted above Jones uniquely characterized the attack as one on both
parties: "It’s an attack that went beyond the Republican Party."
After playing McCain’s soundbite about how Robertson
and Farrakhan are both "agents of intolerance," Jones noted how Bush
offered his regrets about not speaking out against anti-Catholic views held by
Bob Jones University and Bush’s criticism of McCain for not espousing
inclusion. Bush charged that McCain "plays upon people’s religious
fears." Jones concluded with an analogy which would be considered racist
if uttered about someone black:
"A Bush campaign
strategist, with close ties to the Religious Right, told CBS News today quote,
‘Robertson is back in the cage. He’s been told no more phone
Dan Rather, who works for a group calling itself
"CBS News," then wondered: "So what’s behind Bush’s sudden
reversal from cozying up to the political groups that are in or aligned with
those who call themselves the Christian Coalition?"
Bob Schieffer credited "growing
disillusionment" from Bush financial supporters, explaining: "One
reason Bush was able to raise so much money in the beginning was that many of
his financial backers saw him as a Big Tent Republican, a fresh face with a
strong appeal to moderates and minorities who could broaden the party base.
With Washington mired in partisan gridlock, Bush impressed them with the
moderate course that he had steered as Governor and his smooth working
relationship with Texas Democrats. The last thing they envisioned was Bush as
the candidate of the far right, which he seemed in danger of becoming after
They obviously didn’t envision the role of media
Rather then cited a CBS News/New York Times poll showing
Bush leading McCain in New York by 46 percent to 36 percent but losing among
Catholic Republicans in New York with McCain at 44 percent to 36 percent for
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom
Brokaw opened the show:
"Good evening. The
fight for the Republican presidential nomination, already bitter, moved to a
new stage today. It’s now a holy war, with the role of the religious right
in play between John McCain and George W. Bush. McCain made sure of that today
in his appearance in Virginia, a state with another of those open primaries
Anne Thompson, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth, began her report: "Virginia Beach, the new battleground in the
Republican holy war. McCain today making a bold attack on the leaders of the
religious right, comparing them to the lightning rods of the left."
Following the McCain blast, Thompson explained:
"Aides describing the assault as the defining moment in McCain’s
campaign, aimed at moderate Republicans."
political tactics of division and slander are not our values."
Thompson outlined the
obvious: "Appealing to voters going to the polls tomorrow in Washington
state and in the Super Tuesday states of New England, New York, Ohio, and
California. The goal: To tie George W. Bush to the extreme right."
Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore."
Thompson allowed McCain
to portray himself as some kind of risk-taker: "McCain tells NBC News
today’s strategy is a risk.
Thompson to McCain:
"But by attacking their leaders aren’t you essentially attacking the
people who follow them as well?"
McCain: "Of course
not, because the people that follow them are good and decent people who
don’t practice the politics of exclusion."
Thompson continued: "The speech, in the works for a
week, delivered here in Robertson’s back yard, met with silence. Robertson
out of the country, Falwell declining an interview request. And the Christian
Coalition saying it will rise up above this transparent effort to divide one
American from another on the basis of religion. As the race heats up, religion
playing a bigger role. McCain today still hammering Bush for his appearance at
Bob Jones University, whose founder likened Catholicism to a Satanic
Pollster John Zogby
pitched in: "It has given McCain an edge among Catholic voters as high as
double digits in a state like New York, which is enough translated to give him
a lead overall."
"But at what price?"
Conservative Cal Thomas
then got a few seconds, but a soundbite so short that it was unclear whether
he was criticizing McCain’s latest comments or the involvement of Robertson
in explicit politics, an activity of concern to Thomas, or both: "I think
a lot of it is going to come back to haunt Republicans regardless of who the
Thompson concluded: "McCain’s not concerned with
that now. His first goal to win more primaries, even if it means rejecting the
most conservative element of his own party."
Up next, "Lisa Myers with the Bush campaign in
Washington state, where George W. Bush accuses McCain of quote, ‘needless
name-calling,’ and ‘playing the religious card.’"
Reagan didn’t point fingers. He never played to people’s religious fears
like Senator McCain has shamelessly done."
In contrast to the
theme pushed by ABC and CBS, Myers stressed how "Bush declined repeated
invitations to distance himself from Pat Robertson and the religious right,
saying he isn’t going to play that political game, but he emphasizes his
record in Texas is one of tolerance and inclusion..."
But Myers soon noted how "some pollsters say Bush
himself needs to do more to separate himself from the religious right and
reassure moderates religion will not guide his political decisions."
Pollster Linda Divall
asserted: "These voters very much see a distinction between religion and
politics, and they will very much disavow Pat Robertson politics. That is a
huge albatross that George Bush wears across his neck at this point in
So, was McCain’s blast at Robertson and Falwell
similar to Clinton’s 1992 distancing of himself from Sister Souljah and are
Falwell and Robertson the equivalent of Sharpton and Farrakhan? National
Review’s Washington Bulletin e-mail report on Monday afternoon explained the
differences. Ramesh Ponnuru and John J. Miller wrote:
denunciation of Robertson and Falwell is supposed to serve the same purpose as
Bill Clinton's denunciation of Sister Souljah in 1992 -- to reassure the
public that he will stand up to his party's unpopular core constituencies.
comparison work in this case? It is certainly true that Republican leaders
refuse to criticize Robertson and Falwell when they say or do foolish things,
just as Democrats indulge Farrakhan and Sharpton. But Robertson and Falwell
haven't done as much worth criticizing. Neither man has incited murder or
falsely charged someone with rape for political purposes, as Sharpton has;
they do not urge their followers to stop paying taxes, tell them to stop
thinking of themselves as Americans, or preach that their opponents are
subhuman, as Farrakhan does.
"In 1992, meanwhile, Clinton didn't trash Benjamin
Hooks or Jesse Jackson; he took on Sister Souljah, who had suggested that
black murderers take a break from killing other blacks for a week and kill
whites instead. Robertson and Falwell have said nothing so outrageous. The
equivalent action by McCain would be to attack the folks who advocate bombing
abortion clinics -- although this gesture would not be terribly newsworthy,
since Republicans have never tolerated them...."
miracle worker of personal exploiter? The day before Bill Bradley’s
attempted comeback in Washington State, on Monday night CBS and NBC ran
stories on his campaign’s troubled status. ABC, however, focused on Al Gore
as reporter Terry Moran began a story by looking at how a father credited Gore
with saving his baby’s life, but Moran soon turned the story around to
examine whether Gore exploits personal tragedies for political gain. In so
doing, ABC gave a few seconds to a 1996 incident the network ignored at the
Moran began: "The Malone family of Everett,
Washington, got good news today."
Mr. Malone: "Al
Gore saved Ian's life. Simple as that."
Moran: "Thanks to
Vice President Al Gore, his penchant for political melodrama. At a Seattle
campaign stop yesterday, the Vice President highlighted the plight of the
Malones, whose 6-month-old son Ian was born with brain damage. Aetna insurance
cut off coverage, saying the parents could handle 24-hour nursing care. That
gave Gore an irresistible political opening."
Gore: "But let me
also say to this insurance company: don't do this. Don't do this. Don't cut
this child's coverage."
Aetna backed down and agreed to continue paying for Ian's nursing. Al Gore is
hardly first politician to make the personal political. Bill Bradley did it
Clip of Bradley
campaign ad: "Thanks to Senator Bradley, my third daughter is alive
Moran: "But Gore's
critics say he goes too far in exploiting personal tragedies. In New
Hampshire, arguing for more Internet security, Gore introduced a couple whose
daughter was murdered after her killer tracked her down using the Internet.
Gore has done this before, as in this emotional speech at the 1996 Democratic
Convention, where he used his sister's death from lung cancer to attack
Gore: "And then
she breathed her last breath."
Not a point ABC News made at the time, nor even fully
here as Moran did not note the hypocrisy as Gore took tobacco money long after
his sister died.
Moran then allowed Gore's press secretary, Chris Lehane,
to defend his boss before Moran concluded: "The Vice President's campaign
this year is built on the theme that Gore is a populist scrapper, fighting for
real people, but all the melodrama on the trail sparks a question: Is he
fighting for people or using them?"
he has certainly positioned himself to the left, stressing liberal issues and
attacking the moderate Bush from the left, Friday night ABC’s Ted Koppel
marveled at how John McCain has attracted liberal support when "there is
absolutely nothing liberal or moderate about John McCain."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that Koppel began
the February 25 Nightline by asking:
presidential candidate for years scored a perfect 100 percent with the
Christian Coalition? Which candidate never got more than a 20 percent rating
from liberal Americans for Democratic Action, and during two recent years got
a resoundingly negative zero percent? Who, during the mid '90s, got a perfect
rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? And who was the National Rifle
Association talking about when its spokesman said, 'He's somebody we've always
had a good relationship with'?
"Could that be the
darling of the establishment media, the magnet for Democratic and independent
voters in Michigan? Could that really be John McCain? You bet it could.
Indeed, one of the great mysteries of this primary campaign, the issue that is
driving George W. Bush's people and Bill Bradley's supporters equally nuts, is
the question of why so many moderates and even liberals find themselves so
attracted to such a dyed-in-the-wool conservative as the feisty senator from
Arizona. One answer, and were not guessing here -- ABC News has taken a brand
new poll and we have the underlying evidence -- one answer appears to be that
a huge percentage of the voting public knows little or nothing about John
McCain's voting record. Now, when they find out, it may or may not make a
difference. But when it comes to most of the issues, there is absolutely
nothing liberal or moderate about John McCain."
Later, left-wing columnist Frank Rich of The New York
Times, suggested that McCain is popular because he’s the
"anti-Starr." Rich argued:
"Certainly McCain is the anti-Clinton in terms of
character. That's not the whole story. A lot of these same people, as tired as
they may be of Clinton, or disapproving of Clinton's personal character, also
did not like the Republican inquisition, did not like Ken Starr, did not like
the House managers, did not like the 'holier than thou' sort of sex life
policing aspect of the Starr operation. I think that, in a way, McCain is also
the anti-Starr, the anti-Henry Hyde. He's not pious, he's not sanctimonious,
for the most part."
saved us from a presidential run by Ted Turner, he credited sports with
preventing him from becoming a "right-wing nationalist" and the
founder of CNN listed AIDS, landmines, nuclear proliferation and
clitorectomies as his top concerns.
Catching up with a February 17 USA Today sports section
profile of Turner which coincided with his little-noticed Winter Goodwill
Games, reporter Jill Lieber passed along these interesting quotes from Turner:
-- Turner told her: "I started developing my
international understanding and my love for the whole planet through sports,
the contacts that I made racing sailboats around the world.
"If it hadn't been
for international sports, who knows? I might have been the right-wing
nationalist and believed in isolation, that we just ought to build a big wall
around the United States and wall the rest of the world out and we could live
in glorious prosperity while everyone else is starving and in misery around
-- "Ask him if he's upset that for the first time
in almost 150 years an American boat won't be sailing in the America's Cup,
and he'll go ballistic.
"’Am I sad about
it?’ he bellows. ‘I'm much more concerned about the AIDS epidemic,
landmines, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the status of women and
clitorectomies that are still going on in the world!’"
"Then, why not run
"‘I came close
to running this time, but Jane put the kibosh on it,’ he says. ‘She said
that if I ran she'd leave me. It's too late now, fortunately. Honestly, my
nerves are too shot for the job.’"
ever happened to Kathleen Willey? A photo caption in Monday’s Washington
Post answered where she was Sunday afternoon: At an outdoor McCain rally in
Under a photo of her clapping in a crowd in front of a
man holding up a McCain sign, the February 28 caption read: "Kathleen
Willey, a witness during the investigation of President Clinton, cheers
McCain, with her husband holding a sign behind her."
I guess she’s decided he really is the
Russert, Meathead? Was Russert really the actor who played "Archie
Bunker’s" son-in-law on All in the Family? On Sunday’s Meet the
Press, after Russert held up a Republican flyer featuring an unflattering
photo of Jesse Ventura, the Governor of Minnesota, a guest on the show, pulled
out a vintage picture of Russert.
As the camera zoomed in on it, Ventura explained:
"By the way, since you pulled that one out, just to show how everyone can
change through the years -- can we get a shot of this. Who’s that? There’s
Tim Russert in his heyday. Don’t ever judge my intel. The ex-Navy SEAL
Frogman, we have great intel."
Viewers saw a black and white photo of Russert, with
long hair and big sideburns, standing by a mural quoting Robert Kennedy:
"Some men see things that are and say: Why? I dream things that never
were and say: Why Not?"
I think he looked a lot like the "Meathead"
character played Rob Reiner on All in the Family, though without the receding
hairline. Judge for yourself. Late Tuesday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul
will post, on the MRC home page, a RealPlayer clip of Ventura showing the
picture. But you don’t need RealPlayer to see it as we’ll also post a
still shot of the camera zoomed in on the picture. Go to: http://archive.mrc.org
Final Note: With David Letterman back on the air three
times a week, after successfully landing Hillary Clinton before his departure
for surgery, the Late Show is now pursuing other candidates. Monday night
Executive Producer Rob Burnett announced that George Bush will appear
Wednesday night, though via satellite.