Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, PM Edition
1) Page one article: CBS Asks How
An African-American Could Support Cheney; "Warm and Fuzzy" With No
"Red Meat." Jane Clayson to J.C. Watts: "I have to ask you, as
an African-American, if you have any difficulty supporting a man who voted
against releasing Nelson Mandela from prison?"
2) CNN Looks For Party Splits;
MSNBC Shows Viewers "T&A"; Where Are All the Floor Fights?
3) Four Campaigns, Eight
Conventions...But Just One Spin; Study Documents Sixteen Years of Liberal Bias
4) What Part of "No"
Don't You Understand? And, Cokie's Socialist Sisterhood
>>> This week the MRC is producing
a twice-daily Media Reality Check analysis of network coverage of the
Republican convention. Below is the text for the two-page Monday
Afternoon, July 31 edition. For the MRC's latest analysis, go to www.mrc.org
and click on "Campaign 2000." At that location you can also
access an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of these reports as sent by fax.
Asks How An African-American Could Support Cheney "Warm and
Fuzzy" With No "Red Meat"
Despite the fact that
you'll see little of the GOP convention in their prime time line-up
tonight, all three of the broadcast networks' morning news shows -- ABC's
Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, and NBC's Today -- spent most
of their first half-hour talking about the Republicans.
But don't actually pay
attention to the convention, CBS warned. "What you should expect to
see from here," correspondent Bill Plante told viewers, "is a
sort of warm and fuzzy infomercial, which they hope will have no surprises
and which they plan to have no partisan attacks." Plante then showed
a clip of what he called "divisive red-meat rhetoric," Pat
Buchanan's 1992 convention address.
Plante was more
respectful when reporting about the so-called "shadow
convention," which Plante neutrally described as an "alternative
gathering...devoted to making fun of both parties."
Later on The Early Show,
CBS's Jane Clayson interviewed GOP Reps. Henry Bonilla and J.C. Watts, and
insinuated that both were party window-dressing. "There are
unprecedented numbers of women and minorities who are speaking at the
convention in prime time this year...[but] the delegate count still
reflects a very white population," she told them." Then Clayson
asked Watts how he could possibly support Dick Cheney for Vice President.
"I have to ask you,
as an African-American, if you have any difficulty supporting a man who
voted against releasing Nelson Mandela from prison," she demanded of
Watts, adding "Is that kind of vote acceptable under any
Reality Check: 32
Democrats joined Cheney in casting that 1986 vote, which would not have
freed Mandela. At issue was whether the U.S. should support the African
National Congress, an anti-apartheid group that had several Communists in
story on page two: CNN Looks For Party Splits; MSNBC Shows Viewers
"T&A" Where Are All the Floor Fights?
CBS's Bill Plante stood
in the convention hall and told viewers of The Early Show this morning
they'd hear "nothing out of here but the Bush message." CNN's
Jeanne Meserve, however, tried her best to generate some acrimony over
abortion during this morning's coverage. Three times, Meserve asked
Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson if the party wasn't sweeping its
unfinished business under the rug.
"Some people say
the party is not, in fact, so unified, that what the platform does is
gloss over differences," she informed Thompson. When he wouldn't
agree with her, she tried again: "Is the party, for the moment,
failing to grapple with some of the serious issues that divided it --
A couple of hours later,
CNN's Candy Crowley tried out a similar theme on New York Governor George
Pataki. "You and others who are for abortion rights in the Republican
Party were frozen out of the platform," Crowley told the Governor.
"What does that say, if anything, about compassionate conservatism
and the broad tent?"
During their morning
coverage, MSNBC correspondents also contemplated an abortion floor fight,
and repeatedly told viewers that convention delegates were much whiter
than the speakers being showcased at the podium. At noon, however, the
cable news channel suspended its convention coverage, and broadcast a
repeat episode of Time and Again, a clip show featuring highlights of
actor Harrison Ford's career.
story on page two: Four Campaigns, Eight Conventions...But Just One Spin;
Study Documents Sixteen Years of Liberal Bias
In 1984, Prof. Bill
Adams found unequal treatment of the two parties during the CBS and NBC's
prime time convention coverage. Since 1988, MRC analysts have used Adams's
methodology to examine ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC's convention news. The
results are compiled in a new MRC Special Report (available at www.mrc.org)
and they show that what Adams found 16 years ago wasn't just a one-time
-- During every
convention cycle, Republicans were more likely to be confronted by
reporters with their opponents' talking points: 393 liberal or Democratic
questions posed to GOP spokesmen, vs. 109 Republican questions asked of
-- Regardless of their
nominees' views, Democrats were more likely to be portrayed by network
reporters as "moderate" than Republicans. In 1984, CBS's Dan
Rather even labeled a speech by then-Rep. Geraldine Ferraro "pretty
-- The networks have
always given more time to GOP controversies. In 1988, for example, TV
reporters highlighted VP nominee Dan Quayle's service in the National
Guard, but in 1992 and 1996 spent almost no time on Bill Clinton's various
To read this Special
Report, go to:
stories on page two:
What Part of "No" Don't You
Four times on today's Good Morning America, ABC's
Charles Gibson pushed Laura Bush to disagree with her husband on two of
GMA's pet social issues, but she refused to take the bait.
"Of course, he is
the person that would be elected and his decision in the long run is the
one that counts," Gibson admitted on his third attempt. "But in
this day of very independent females as well as males, isn't it important
to know where you stand on issues, for instance like abortion, like the
On Sunday's This Week, ABC's Cokie Roberts implored
Lynne Cheney to accept a higher mandatory minimum wage as an act of
fairness to women.
yourself as an equity feminist, someone who believes in equal pay for
equal work," she told Cheney. "But on something like the minimum
wage, you said on Crossfire, ‘The idea of raising the minimum wage is
just part of the liberal union problem. You raise the minimum wage, you're
going to put more people on the unemployment rolls.'"
"Two-thirds of the
people on minimum wage are women," Cokie added. "Is there a
disconnection there between equal opportunity for women and not raising
the minimum wage?"
END Reprints of Media
Reality Check articles.
This Conventions 2000
Media Reality Check compiled by Rich Noyes with the assistance of MRC
analysts Brian Boyd, Ted King, Ken Shepherd and Michael Ferguson. -- Brent Baker