CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Monday May 22, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 88) |
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Lazio’s "Nasty" Campaign; Baffling Lack of Hillary Backing; Evil Eastwood

1) ABC’s Cokie Roberts to Rick Lazio: "If you get the Conservative Party nomination can you describe yourself as a moderate?"

2) Rick Lazio and his allies scolded by ABC News for being "nasty" and employing "political hardball" in criticizing Hillary. CBS lectured: "Lazio claimed he would not run a negative campaign."

3) Friday night, the networks avoided adopting the liberal spin of Lazio as an extremist, though George Stephanopoulos volunteered on ABC that Hillary’s camp will "move hard and fast to define Lazio as a Gingrich clone." Instead, they focused on how he’s "pro-choice." ABC and CBS tagged him "tougher" to beat than Rudy.

4) Nina Totenberg baffled by why more New York women don’t support Hillary and Eleanor Clift resurrected an old distortion to prove Rock Lazio is no moderate: "He voted with the Gingrich Congress to shut down the government."

5) Bryant Gumbel tried to discredit the NRA’s jump in membership and demanded the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre respond to the Million Mom March. But, a week earlier before that march, Gumbel pressed organizers from the left about not going far enough.

6) On the McLaughlin Group, Eleanor Clift, James Warren and Mort Zuckerman sided with the pro-gun control marchers. Time conceded that Donna Dees-Thomases got "perfect, puffy press for protest."

7) The State Dept. lodged a protest and a Democratic Congressman sent Bill Clinton a letter complaining about how Elian is being indoctrinated on U.S. soil, but only FNC cared Friday night.

8) Friday night only FNC aired a story on the revelation that FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo in 1996 on how Justice was under outside pressure to not pursue fundraising.

9) Dan Rather on Clint Eastwood’s complaint about unscrupulous lawyers filing lawsuits: "A man who made a name for himself pretending to punch out opponents" is "taking on the disabled."

     >>> See what they really look like. The MRC Web site now features Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) versions of the last couple of editions of Notable Quotables and Media Reality Checks, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul. Acrobat files provide a picture image of documents. The HTML versions remain, but now you can enjoy the better-looking hard copy versions as they were designed to be seen. Well, almost. NQ is really blue, but since we can only use primary colors in PageMaker, it’s cyan in the Acrobat version. And there’s a small conversion problem from WordPerfect with the stars at the top of the Media Reality Check, so they appear bigger than they really are. But otherwise, both are identical to how they are originally produced before being converted to the less graphically appealing HTML. To see the last two Media Reality Checks via PDF, go to:
    For the most recent two NQs, go to:
    Then, click on the "PDF" icon. Of course, you’ll need the Acrobat Reader to view PDF files and you can download it for free from Adobe. The two above listed pages feature a link. <<<

Correction: The May 18 CyberAlert quoted Fred Barnes as saying on FNC that if Elian’s Miami relatives had dressed him up in a certain way "the American press corps would have been in high dungeon." The MRC’s Tim Graham pointed out the last word should have read "dudgeon."


Dumbest Question of the Weekend. Cokie Roberts on ABC’s This Week to New York Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio:
    "If you get the Conservative Party nomination can you describe yourself as a moderate?"

    Of course, the Conservative Party was willing to accept Giuliani’s many liberal views and only wanted him to oppose partial-birth abortion in order to be their candidate, a position he refused to take. In Lazio’s case, he’s anti-partial-birth abortion, but otherwise he wants abortion to remain legal, supports gun control, backed mandated family leave and favors many liberal environmental initiatives, so is hardly a traditional conservative.


Scolding Rick Lazio for being "nasty" and employing "political hardball." The Hillary Clinton campaign team hit Lazio for being a "Gingrich Republican," clearly meant as a negative attack, but the networks focused their ire over the weekend on Lazio and his allies for daring to say anything negative about Hillary.

    -- CBS’s Face the Nation, May 21. Hillary operative Harold Ickes blasted away at Lazio as an extremist, but Face the Nation hosts Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger didn’t question the appropriateness of his tone. Then, while interviewing New York Governor George Pataki, Schieffer demanded:
    "Have we seen the tenor of what this campaign is going to be, because he [Lazio] came out with all barrels firing yesterday when he accused her, he said she's no more a New Democrat than she is a New Yorker. Is this what this campaign's going to be about?"

    -- ABC’s This Week, May 21. Following Cokie Roberts’s taped interview with Lazio, in which she ran through several issues raised by the Hillary camp to show Lazio as right-wing extremist, she asked Pataki: "The Daily News today has a quotation from one of yours, here it is, a fundraising letter of yours: ‘We cannot allow Hillary Clinton and her friends to destroy everything we worked so hard for.’ Is this going to be a nasty campaign against Hillary Clinton?"

    -- ABC’s World News Tonight, May 20. Terry Moran began his piece on Lazio’s Senate bid announcement: "On day one of the post-Rudy Giuliani Senate race, the understudy took center stage."
    Lazio at announcement: "Well this is fun."
    Moran pounced: "And right away, as Congressman Rick Lazio jumped into the race against First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, he made clear that his idea of fun is political hardball."
    Lazio: "My opponent is a liberal and a proud one and I respect her for that. But make no mistake about this, she is no more a New Democrat than a New Yorker."
    Moran: "Lazio is a 42-year-old native New Yorker, a former prosecutor and practicing local attorney who is married with two young daughters. He is also considered a moderate Republican, opposing those in his party who call for a ban on all abortions and supporting some gun control, affirmative action and environmental protection measures. He also supported much of the GOP’s Contract with America and voted to impeach President. Clinton...."

    -- CBS Evening News, March 20. Diana Olick acknowledged: "His pro-choice stand and clean cut character make him tough to attack, but Hillary insiders say they’ve got something on him."
    Craig Crawford, Hotline: "Their argument is going to be that he was a foot soldier for Newt Gingrich when Gingrich was Speaker of the House."
    Olick: "And is Lazio ready to attack back?"
    Lazio at announcement: "I can’t call on Air Force One whenever I need a ride. But New Yorkers and count on me and call on me whenever they need something to get done."
    Olick then tried to show how he went against his promise: "In an interview with CBS News in February, Lazio claimed he would not run a negative campaign."
    Lazio in February: "I think you have to be decent and being decent doesn’t mean you’re a pansy. It doesn’t mean that you can’t point up the shortcomings of your opponent."
    Olick concluded: "Lazio said today he would set a new tone for this race, but he needs to invent himself first and he’ll likely have plenty of help with that. Republicans may have been on hold for the last few weeks, but they’re not going to give up easily. For them a Hilary Clinton victory would validate her husband’s legacy and they’ll do anything to avoid that."


Viability and popularity defined by view of abortion. ABC, CBS and NBC on Friday night, May 19, avoided adopting the liberal spin of Rick Lazio as a conservative Gingrich extremist, but they did introduce him to their audiences by focusing on how he’s pro-choice, as if that’s the only issue which matters. CBS’s Diana Olick suggested Lazio could be the "most dangerous opponent of all" for Hillary and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell tagged him "tougher" that Giuliani.

    On ABC, George Stephanopoulos did volunteer how Hillary’s camp is "going to move hard and fast to define Lazio as a Gingrich clone," a spin Stephanopoulos called "a tough sell." CNN’s John King supplied evidence to support the attack on Lazio as a "radical," but also gave equal time to Lazio’s contention he’s a "mainstream moderate."

    -- ABC’s World News Tonight. Terry Moran introduced Lazio: "The likely GOP candidate who will replace Giuliani, four-term Congressman Rick Lazio, who supports some abortion rights and gun control measures and voted to impeach President Clinton."

    Anchor Charles Gibson asked George Stephanopoulos: "Some are saying, however, that this could make the race even tougher for Mrs. Clinton, why?"
    Stephanopoulos: "Lazio is untested, but as one Democrat said, this could be Hillary’s worst nightmare. He doesn’t have Giuliani’s baggage. He’s likeable, he’s from the suburbs, he’s got a moderate voting record, an attractive family. He’s a more natural fit with upstate voters. And he doesn’t enrage African-American voters in the city the way Giuliani did."
    Gibson: "So how does she run against him?"
    Stephanopoulos: "No surprise, Charlie. They’ve already done the polling, they’ve already done the research. And one told me they’re going to move hard and fast to define Lazio as a Gingrich clone. One Hillary strategist pointed out he voted 83 percent of the time in 1995 with Newt Gingrich, voted against the Department of Education. They’re going to try to make him a stereotypical conservative Republican, but it’s a tough sell."

    -- CBS Evening News. Diana Olick filled viewers in about Lazio: "Even before the Mayor’s announcement, four term Congressman Rick Lazio was rushing from his Capitol Hill office to New York. The pro-choice Republican is expected to be Governor Pataki’s pick..."
    She concluded with an upbeat spin for Republican prospects: "And so this Senate race, once a heavy-weight bout, will now be fought by one relative unknown. But some Republicans aren’t as worried as one might think. Rick Lazio carries a lot of support and little personal baggage. For a First Lady who still suffers very high negatives, the Congressman could be the most dangerous opponent of all."

    But CBS’s Bob Schieffer was more impressed with Hillary’s electablility, declaring seconds later: "After all this recent turmoil, I think Giuliani recognized the obvious: It was going to be very hard to beat Mrs. Clinton."

    -- NBC Nightly News. Andrea Mitchell acquainted viewers: "Whom will she face? The most likely, an even tougher opponent, Long Island Republican Congressman Rick Lazio. He is 42-years-old, elected in 1992, Catholic. Says he favors abortion rights, but opposes late-term abortions and has none of Giuliani's personal baggage."

    -- CNN’s The World Today. John King highlighted the spin forwarded by both sides: "Her [Hillary] staff is already hard at work, and hopes to label Lazio a radical by noting he supported Newt Gingrich for House Speaker, signed the GOP's conservative 1994 Contract with America, voted to eliminate the Department of Education, opposes federal funding of abortion in most cases, and voted to impeach the president in 1998....Lazio, on the other hand, will present himself as a mainstream moderate in the mold of Governor George Pataki. The Congressman's overall record is fairly middle of the road, and includes votes for the Brady handgun control law, supporting a ban on assault-style weapons, and in favor of the federal family leave law."


NPR’s Nina Totenberg baffled by why more New York women don’t support Hillary and Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift resurrected an old lie to prove Rick Lazio is no moderate: "He voted with the Gingrich Congress to shut down the government."

    Three quotes from the weekend talk shows:

    -- On Inside Washington NPR’s Nina Totenberg ruminated: "What’s overpowering to me when you go to New York and you talk to people, many of whom should be her natural allies, is this enormous intestinal animus toward her."
    Moderator Gordon Peterson: "Why? Where’s it come from?"
    Totenberg: "I don’t really understand it. It has nothing to do with carpetbagging. It has to do with the idea of the chutzpah of her walking in-"
    Jack Germond: "That is carpetbagging."
    Totenberg: "Well it is partly carpetbagging, but it’s much more, it’s the wife shtick."

    -- McLaughlin Group. A giddy Eleanor Clift suggested: "The Republicans ought to reconcile themselves to the fact that Hillary Clinton is most likely going to be the next Senator from New York and they ought to use her as a fundraising tool. With Ted Kennedy getting on in years, who better to rally the Republican faithful around than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton?"

    Later, she asserted: "Mr. Lazio presents himself as a moderate and he has that reputation chiefly because he’s pro-choice, but he voted with the Gingrich Congress to shut down the government. He voted, I believe, to abolish the Department of Education. So she could tie him to the Republicans in Washington in a way that she couldn’t tie Rudy Giuliani."


Tale of two Fridays with Bryant Gumbel. Interviewing the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre on May 19 before the group opened its convention, Gumbel argued that the NRA’s increase in membership does not show concern for infringement on gun rights and demanded LaPierre respond to the concerns of those in the Million Mom March. But, a week earlier before that march, Gumbel pressed organizers from the left, asking one woman why they weren’t pushing "for a total ban."

    Gumbel set up the May 19 interview on The Early Show, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Despite increased public cries for stricter gun control, the National Rifle Association claims to be gaining strength, boasting more members today than ever, 200,000 new members in the last six weeks alone. Wayne LaPierre is the Vice President of the NRA. He's in Charlotte, North Carolina, for his group's annual convention. Mr. LaPierre, good morning. Just how much of a membership increase are you seeing and to what do you attribute it?"

    After LaPierre answered that they are up a million in the last year to 3.6 million because the NRA is standing for "fundamental American values," safety and enforcement, Gumbel discounted LaPierre’s reasons: "Don't you regularly see an increase in your membership roles prior to elections?"
    Gumbel followed up: "Would you allow, Mr. LaPierre, the possibility the increased debate over gun control has hardened positions on both sides and encouraged activists on both sides?"
    Gumbel soon asserted: "Your critics see your membership drive in a wholly different light. They attribute much of it to your $30 million new media campaign and say that your new memberships haven't even come close to offsetting that figure. Have they a point?"

    Gumbel eventually moved on: "Let me talk to you about Sunday's Million Mom March. It brought a lot of mothers together as you well know in the name of stricter gun control. As you sit there this morning, how concerned are you about the influence that mothers might yet exercise if they remain united and committed as they seemed on Sunday?"
    LaPierre: "You know, Bryant, we all have moms. I mean we all know moms. I mean, I asked my mom what she thought. She said the answer is parents need to love their children more. I mean, I don't see moms around the country saying 'hey the most important thing is register every firearm.'"
    Gumbel: "That's what these moms were saying."
    LaPierre: "Well, but that's the point. That's what the organizers of the marchers are saying. That's their agenda, no doubt. But I think moms around the country, they trust their husbands, they trust their sons, they trust themselves. They're not saying 'hey, boy in order to stop crime let's register every gun in our house with Al Gore and the federal government."
    Gumbel: "Is all this to say you're unconcerned about those moms on Sunday?"
    LaPierre: "Well, I think moms are on our side. We have a million moms."
    Gumbel: "Those moms on Sunday certainly weren't on your side."

    And Gumbel’s not on the gun rights side either. As detailed in the May 15 CyberAlert, on the May 12 Early Show pushed a Million Mom March representative: "Why are you only focusing on licensing and registration, why aren't you going for more than that, why aren't you going, for example, for a total ban?"

    Next, Gumbel interviewed a woman whose daughter was killed in the Dunblane, Scotland shooting. He wanted to know: "Following the tragedy in your country, you were able to get a total ban on all handguns. How’d you do it?"


The Million Mom Marchers went three-for-three over the NRA with reporters on the McLaughlin Group and Time conceded march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases got "perfect, puffy press for protest."

    Wrapping a segment on the march, on this past weekend’s McLaughlin Group, John McLaughlin asked: "Which side has the more defensible position on guns, the NRA or Handgun Control Inc.?"
    Lawrence Kudlow answered the NRA, but the other three panelists, all reporters, picked the anti-gun group:

    -- Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift: "Handgun Control Inc. with some pretty powerful spokesmen like James Brady, Sarah Brady."

    -- James Warren, Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief: "Handgun Control. There are 200 million guns in this country and common sense leads you down to the path irrevocably of deciding that more guns, more violence."

    -- Mort Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and U.S. News: "I’m in favor of the million moms on this one. I gotta tell ya I think that licensing and registering guns is not the biggest deterrent in the world, it’s something that I think would provide much more protection for the country and is something we could all live with. We do it with cars...."

    Indeed, even Time magazine realized the media’s tilt. As recounted in the MRC’s latest MagazineWatch: "Basking in the afterglow of the so-called ‘Million Mom March,’ Time’s ‘Winners & Losers’ feature found a winner in march organizer Donna Dees-Thomases: ‘Million Mom March founder gets perfect, puffy press for protest. John McCain advising you?’"

    Other items in the May 16 MagazineWatch compiled by the MRC’s Paul Smith and Tim Graham:
1. The previously infidelity-phobic magazines reveled in the unfolding marriage of Rudy Giuliani. Newsweek tabbed Rudy as "cruel" and a "benevolent dictator." U.S. News drags out the hoary old line about the Clintons being "blessed by their enemies."
2. Time essayist Roger Rosenblatt equated the NRA with the KKK. Newsweek hit Bush’s funding support from the NRA, which "could make more than a few moms his enemy." U.S. News owner Mortimer Zuckerman complained "if water pistols can be regulated by the federal government, so, too, can real pistols."
3. Time took on George W. Bush, including a Michael Weisskopf investigation of how planned Texas sales restrictions on dietary supplements with the herb ephedrine were weakened in "a case study of politics, policy and money in George W. Bush’s Texas."
4. Author Francis Fukuyama explored the future of socialism and suggested in Time that "Karl Marx's exhortation ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ has never seemed more apt."

    To read these items, go to:


The State Department lodged a protest and a Democratic Congressman sent Bill Clinton a letter complaining about how Elian is being indoctrinated at the Wye River Plantation, but of the networks, only FNC cared Friday night.

    On Saturday’s Capital Gang CNN viewers finally got to see the photo of Elian in the outfit of the Pioneers, Cuba’s communist youth group, as CNN displayed it during Kate O’Beirne’s Outrage of the Week. On Fox News Sunday Brit Hume raised the issue of the Elian photo, but the other Sunday shows ignored it, even Sam Donaldson in an interview with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He asked her about China, Israel, Putin and Sierre Leone.

    Friday night, in a piece FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Rita Cosby disclosed:
    "This communist youth league uniform worn by Elian and his four classmates and their schooling at the Wye Plantation in Maryland are sparking more tensions between the U.S. State Department and Cuban diplomats. State Department officials say they personally told Cuban officials that they have concerns about a communist curriculum being taught on U.S. soil and question if Elian's Cuban teacher, who's here on a tourist visa and not licensed to teach in the U.S., should be instructing him. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made only brief comments about the situation."
    Albright: "Everyone is obviously concerned about Elian's welfare, and the case of Elian is in the courts, where it belongs. You asked about Cuban -- we have called in the head of the Cuban interests section yesterday."
    Cosby: "But the State Department's position is at odds with the INS and Justice Department, who say no one should expect Elian to remain in the U.S. for a prolonged period of time without receiving an education, and it's up to the father's discretion. They say their job is to enforce the law, and so far no laws have been broken, and attribute the difference of opinion with the State Department as a case of different jobs, different perspectives."

    Cosby added: "Democratic Congressman Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American, wrote a letter to President Clinton demanding the administration review the current schooling conditions, saying, quote, ‘I urge you to immediately intervene to end Castro’s attempt to carry out his maligned social experiment on U.S. soil and to ensure that Elian and the Gonzalez family are not further manipulated by the Castro regime.’"

    In the roundtable segment on Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume argued: "What appears to have happened is that the Castro government has succeeded in creating within the United States, under the Justice Department’s supposed supervision, a little mini Cuban school with mini Cuba indoctrination and all that would go on down there. Now this is the same Justice Department that found it necessary to seize this boy at gunpoint because it alleged that psychological damage was being done to him by his Cuban-American Miami relatives. Now they’re saying gee, there’s nothing we can do about this, it’s all up to his father. This is a citizen of a nation, his father, is the citizen of a nation where the parents do not have ultimate control and this is once again the Clinton Justice Department denying the obvious truth."

    To see the photo and for more information on coverage, go to:


Update on the May 19 CyberAlert report on how FBI Director Louis Freeh wrote a memo in December 1996 recounting how he learned that Justice Department public integrity chief Lee Radek was under White House pressure to not pursue a fundraising because it could cost Janet Reno her job. As noted in the May 19 CyberAlert, the AP story breaking the news late Thursday, May 18 earned some time on that night’s The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC as well as 20 seconds each on Friday’s Today and Good Morning America.

    Now to Friday night: Zilch on ABC’s World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News or CNN’s Inside Politics and The World Today. ABC made room for a UCLA study on how women handle stress better than men and NBC looked at how Disney created the dinosaurs for its new movie.

    Only FNC bothered to tell viewers about the development, running a full report by David Shuster, pegged to Reno’s denial of the charge, on both Special Report with Brit Hume and the Fox Report.

    For an excerpt of the AP story, go to:


Actor Clint Eastwood, owner of a hotel in California, testified before a House committee on Thursday about how lawyers sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act before owners have a chance to fix any alleged building problems, but CBS portrayed it as a case of Eastwood "taking sides against people in wheelchairs."

    CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather introduced the May 18 story: "On the face of it, it might not seem very fair, a mismatch to say the least: a man who made a name for himself pretending to punch out opponents taking on the disabled. What is this about? Let's get the real deal from CBS's Bob Schieffer. Go ahead, Bob, make my day."

    Schieffer continued the same snide tone: "Well, Dan, you had to wonder why rich, popular movie star Clint Eastwood would be at the Capitol today taking sides against people in wheelchairs. But there he was, in a hearing room crowded with the disabled."

    Schieffer did eventually get around to relaying Eastwood’s point of view: "Eastwood says he speaks for many business owners who believe a loophole in the law is making victims of them. Congress passed the act 10 years ago after a moving lobbying campaign by disabled people, and it's been universally praised for giving the disabled access to public places. But business owners say unscrupulous lawyers cruise shopping malls looking for violations, then sue before owners can correct them."

    The ADA may have done many good things, but its license to lawyers to drag people into costly lawsuits means it has not been "universally praised" as Schieffer contended. -- Brent Baker



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