Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, PM Edition
1) NBC's Today Skeptical of
"Made-for-TV" GOP: Powell Quizzed on Mandela, Confederate Flag and
Abortion. Katie Couric to Colin Powell: "Only four percent of the
delegates in the convention hall are African Americans. Do you feel troubled
at all by this, and do you feel used by your party?"
2) "He Did Vote Against Head
Start": Journalists Continue Cheney-Bashing For Seventh Day. Couric
again: "Do you have any problems with the fact that he did vote against
Head Start -- because you care so deeply about education -- and against a
resolution that would have allowed Nelson Mandela to be released from
prison?"' CBS's Jane Clayson: "If you are trying to be inclusive,
why a Dick Cheney pick?"
3) A Republican or Democratic
Convention? Monday's Speeches Leave Many Journalists Confused.
4) "Star Attraction" For
Pro-Abortion GOPers: Early Show Profiles Doctor Who Conducts Partial-Birth
5) "We Can't Justify This
Amount of Coverage": CBS's Schieffer Rues Lack of Coverage; Boss Says
6) Sidebar stories: The White
Stuff?; Anti-Gore Bias?; Laura's Negative Attacks; Is Laura
7) Quote of the Morning.
page story. NBC's Today Skeptical of "Made-for-TV" GOP: Powell
Quizzed on Mandela, Confederate Flag and Abortion
NBC didn't show Colin
Powell's speech or provide any other coverage of the first night of the
Republican Convention, but the gang on Today spent its first half hour
questioning the sincerity of the GOP's Monday night program. "It's
the face of the new GOP, or at least it's the made-for-TV image
Republicans want to project: women, blacks and Latinos taking center stage
in Philadelphia," reported David Bloom.
Matt Lauer wondered
whether conservatives could even tolerate the convention program.
"You're listening to a more moderate message from speakers on the
floor, yet the delegates on the floor, the people listening to those
speeches are more conservative than ever. So how is the message playing to
them," Lauer demanded of Tim Russert." Russert had to remind him
that "the Democrats have done the same thing, that the Democratic
delegates are to the left of their party leadership."
In an interview, Katie
Couric challenged Powell several times. "Speaking of inclusion,"
she told the retired general, "much has been made of the face the GOP
is trying to put on and African Americans, as you are well aware, were
very much in evidence last night in the program and at the podium, yet
according to a poll, only four percent of the delegates in the convention
hall are African Americans. Do you feel troubled at all by this, and do
you feel used by your party?"
Couric pressed Powell on
every hot-button social issue she could. "You said last night that
race still casts a shadow over society," she said, "Does that
include the Confederate flag, and if so would you like Gov. Bush to
suggest the Confederate flag come down everywhere?" Then, "Does
the call for a ban on abortion in the Republican Party, in the Republican
platform, rather trouble you?" She also wondered how Powell could
support Dick Cheney, since the latter voted "against a resolution
that would have allowed Nelson Mandela to be released from prison."
No NBC coverage is planned for tonight, either.
Top of page two article. He Did Vote Against Head Start": Journalists
Continue Cheney-Bashing For Seventh Day"
One week after Dick
Cheney was announced as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee,
journalists continue to paint his conservative record as controversial.
This morning, as Colin Powell made the rounds he was asked about his
former boss. "If you are trying to be inclusive, why a Dick Cheney
pick," CBS's Jane Clayson asked. "A man with such a conservative
Congressional voting record?"
NBC's Katie Couric
pushed Powell even harder. "Let me ask you briefly, if I could Gen.
Powell, about your former colleague Dick Cheney, the vice presidential
candidate. Of course, he was Secretary of Defense when you were chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and much has been made of his conservative
voting record. I'm just curious, do you have any problems with the fact
that he did vote against Head Start -- because you care so deeply about
education -- and against a resolution that would have allowed Nelson
Mandela to be released from prison?"'
Cheney wasn't Mandela's
jailer, despite the persistent media buzz to the contrary. And in
Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, former Assistant Secretary of Education
Chester Finn writes that "Head Start doesn't narrow the achievement
gap. Study after study has found any academic gains vanishing after a
child's first few years in school."
But if you care deeply
enough, maybe results don't matter.
Article on the bottom half of page two. A Republican or Democratic
Convention? Monday's Speeches Leave Many Journalists Confused
The liberal media were
befuddled by Monday night's convention festivities, which undermined their
stereotype of a bigoted, intolerant GOP.
looked more like a Democratic convention here," CBS's Jane Clayson
said on Tuesday's Early Show, "with a podium full of blacks,
Hispanics, and Asians, even a Baptist choir, Bryant, at one point."
Even a Baptist choir.
"If I closed my
eyes, I would have imagined I was at a Democratic convention in many parts
of [Colin Powell's] speech," former Clinton aide (and ABC News
analyst) Dee Dee Myers told Charles Gibson on Tuesday morning's Good
"You could have
switched the channel and been watching 'Who Wants to Be a Democrat,'
because it sounded exactly the same themes," Time's Margaret Carlson
insisted on CNN during a special Capital Gang late last night. "It
turns out that the Republican Party has morphed for this week into such a
compassionate party that it does look like the Democratic Party."
One strains to consider
what would the Democrats have to do at their convention to make reporters
think they were at a GOP meeting.
Top of page three story. "Star Attraction" For Pro-Abortion
GOPers: Early Show Profiles Doctor Who Conducts Partial-Birth Abortions
The Early Show offered a
sympathetic profile of a notorious abortionist this morning. "It
might not have been the hot ticket this week, but hundreds of Republicans
turned out for a Planned Parenthood reception to promote abortion
rights," reported CBS's Jon Frankel this morning. "The star
attraction: not a Hollywood celeb or a GOP heavy-hitter, but a soft-spoken
Frankel meant Leroy
Carhart, the late-term abortionist who was at the center of the recent
Supreme Court decision overturning Nebraska's ban on partial-birth
abortions. After Frankel reported how overworked Carhart is as one of only
three abortionists in Nebraska, the doctor told him, "The first thing
we have to do as providers is be proud of what we do, make it a legitimate
part of medicine, make it a fundamental part of medicine, and I don't
think we can do that if we're uncomfortable talking about what we
Frankel offered no
criticism of Carhart, nor did he quote any opponents of
partial-birth abortion. Instead, he portrayed Carhart as brave for risking
his own safety to promote his cause on the national stage. "Are you
willing to give your life?" Frankel asked. "If I have to,"
expected, abortion-rights advocates lost the platform battle,"
Frankel concluded, "but they hope the defeat re-energizes supporters
for the long-term war."
Watch a RealPlayer clip
of Frankel and the abortionist. Go to http://www.mrc.org
and click on Campaign 2000.
Story in the bottom half of page three. "We Can't Justify This Amount
of Coverage": CBS's Schieffer Rues Lack of Coverage; Boss Says
In an interview with
PBS's Terence Smith that aired last night on NewsHour, CBS News President
Andrew Heyward said "we all walked away from the '96 convention
saying, 'it's really never going to be this way again.' I think what's
happened, Terry, is that the conventions themselves have changed. There's
less at stake. It's no longer a nomination process, it's really a
coronation." CBS carried about thirty minutes of last night's
convention, packaged inside a regularly-scheduled episode of 48 Hours.
"From the journalistic point of view, we simply can't justify this
amount of coverage of something that -- without using the pejorative word
'infomercial' -- really is a political pep rally."
But on Tuesday's Imus in
the Morning, CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer said that while he agreed
that gavel-to-gavel coverage was undesirable, "I sort of wish we had
done a little more last night because I think a lot of people would have
liked to have seen and heard Laura Bush's speech in its entirety."
Instead of Mrs. Bush's
speech, 48 Hours ran a story on alleged abuses in using human test
subjects in medical experiments.
Sidebar stories down the sides of pages two and three. The White
Stuff?"; Anti-Gore Bias?; Laura's Negative Attacks; Is Laura
The White Stuff
In this week's Newsweek, Howard Fineman described how "Democrats saw
the GOP ticket as Central Casting villains -- wealthy white males from
upper-income America -- in the us-versus-them psywar they were already
preparing to run. 'They represent the men's club view of the world,' said
[Gore advisor Bob] Shrum. 'They couldn't be more out of touch.'"
But in the magazine's
up-front item "The Buzz," Newsweek pitched the names of
potential Gore running mates, but they only mentioned wealthy white males:
John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Bob Graham, George
Mitchell, Evan Bayh and John Edwards.
But Central Casting
would hardly cast a trial lawyer like Edwards as a villain.
Margaret Carlson thinks the media are out to get Al
Gore. "[Bush's] Big Tent will be the biggest ever," she writes
in this week's Time. "Why should a little disagreement over abortion
make us all tense and angry with one another? The ideology-lite candidate,
Bush was able to change from compassionate conservative to Bob Jones
conservative and back again inside six weeks with near impunity, while Al
Gore was ripped apart for changing the color of his clothes."
Laura's Negative Attacks
"Republicans say they'll stress positive politics
over these four days," Charles Gibson said on Tuesday's Good Morning
America, "and for the most part on Day One, they did -- for the most
So who went negative, at
least in Gibson's eyes? None other than Laura Bush, who at one part in her
speech Monday night said that parents she and her husband meet campaigning
"say to George, I'm counting on you. I want my son or daughter to
respect the President of the United States of America."
"The verbal shots
at President Clinton, pretty obvious," said Gibson.
Later on Tuesday's GMA, Gibson asked ABC Political
Analyst George Stephanopoulos whether Laura Bush was "the antithesis
of Hillary Clinton?"
"By her bearing, I
mean the whole tone is that she's anti-Hillary, but what struck me is what
a Hillary-like speech it was," responded Stephanopoulos.
"If you go back to
the 1996 convention and Hillary's speech to the 1996 convention, it was a
merging of biography, policy and philosophy, exactly what Mrs. Bush did
last night from the podium. So that was quite striking to me."
He probably meant it as
Quote of the Morning: "Speaking of inclusion....only four percent of
the delegates in the convention hall are African Americans. Do you feel
troubled at all by this, and do you feel used by your party?" --
NBC's Katie Couric, interviewing Colin Powell, August 1 Today.
END Reprints of
Conventions 2000 Media Reality Check
2000: Media Reality Check" compiled by Rich Noyes with the daytime
work of MRC analysts Brian Boyd, Ted Smith, Ken Shepherd and Michael
Ferguson. Plus Eric Pairel and Brandon Rytting loading up the Web page. In
Philadelphia: Tim Graham, Liz Swasey and Joyce Garczynski. -- Brent Baker