CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Friday August 11, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 137) |
Back to Today's CyberAlert | Free Subscription


Did Clinton "Bare His Soul"?; Cheney vs. Lieberman Contrast in AM; Anti-Semitic Bush Voters; "Snipers Wanted"

1) The networks bought Bill Clinton's supposed, in the words of Katie Couric, "candid confessional." "It's not often that you get to hear a President bare his soul," ABC's Charles Gibson heralded.

2) CBS's Bill Whitaker refused to label Ralph Nader a liberal as he tagged Lieberman a "moderate." CNN's Bill Schneider insisted Gore and Lieberman "represent the most conservative Democratic ticket in fifty years." Meanwhile, Americans for Democratic Action described Lieberman's 77 percent rating as "pretty liberal."

3) Joe Lieberman has already abandoned two of the three positions which supposedly made him a moderate, FNC's Brit Hume noted, but ABC, CBS and NBC still furthered the myth that Lieberman and Gore disagree on significant matters.

4) Unlike with Dick Cheney, morning show interviewers did not demand Joe Lieberman defend any "outside the mainstream" votes. Back on July 27 Cheney's conservative record was portrayed as a hindrance to attracting independent and women voters, a concern the same interviewers did have for Lieberman's liberal record.

5) Carl Bernstein: "Those people who would refuse to vote for a Jewish candidate probably would be vote for the Bush ticket." Newsweek's Evan Thomas agreed. But the first anti-Semitic blast came from the black far-left and CBS turned to Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson for expert comment on enlightened tolerance.

6) More media fretting over Bush and the death penalty. "One of the issues that has dogged Governor Bush throughout the campaign is the number of executions in his state," Katie Couric asserted, claiming a particular execution "has many outraged."

7) "Snipers Wanted." The Fox News Channel showed a clip of and noted CBS's apology for those words over video of George W. Bush during a joke last week on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

     >>> Post GOP Convention NQ. The August 7 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online after a bit of a production delay caused by our convention analysis last week. Among the quote headings in the issue which provides a compact collection of the worst bias from Republican convention coverage: "Mandela Imprisoned by Cheney?"; "Churlish Cheney Charges"; "Platform Failed to Please Liberals"; "Powell: GOP's Uncle Tom"; "Blacks Should Still Fear GOP"; "Tolerance Held Hostage"; "Cheney: 'Hard Right' Isn't Sexy"; "Lashing Out at Loony Lynne" and "Bush's 'Compassion' Claims Contradicted By Conservatism." To read the issue, go to:
    For the issue in life-like Adobe Acrobat PDF format, go to: <<<

Correction: Wednesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume corrected an item from Tuesday's show which the August 9 CyberAlert had quoted: "Last time we reported that despite Al Gore's insistence in an interview with Tom Brokaw that he agreed at the time with Joe Lieberman's famous speech calling President Clinton's behavior with Monica Lewinsky quote, 'immoral,' we could find no such agreement. Further research, however, has shown that he called the President's conduct, said Mr. Gore, quote, 'indefensible' in September, even before Lieberman's speech, and that he called it quote, 'wrong' the next month. We stand corrected." So does CyberAlert and we withdraw our quip about Tom Brokaw.


"It's not often that you get to hear a President bare his soul," ABC's Charles Gibson dramatically announced at the top of Thursday's World News Tonight as if Bill Clinton had really revealed some inner secrets. The substitute anchor soon explained how, at a forum earlier in the day in Illinois, Bill Clinton had exposed his "personal struggle for religious redemption."

    CBS and NBC also allocated unchallenged time to playing some of Clinton's comments before a group of ministers, though CBS held itself to a regular-length soundbite while ABC and NBC aired lengthy clips totaling about a minute and a half, an eternity in TV time. CBS's Russ Mitchell helpfully spun it to the Gore camp's delight as Clinton "taking blame and distancing Gore from the Monica Lewinsky case." Clinton delivered a "candid confessional about what he's gone through since the Monica Lewinsky scandal," insisted NBC Nightly News anchor Katie Couric.

    None suggested a political motivation behind his comments though all featured his claim that "no fair-minded person would blame" Gore "for any mistake that I made."

    Here's how the broadcast network evening shows of August 10 handled the event:

    -- ABC's World News Tonight led with it. Anchor Charles Gibson opened the broadcast:
    "Good evening. It's not often that you get to hear a President bare his soul. At DePaul University in Illinois today President Clinton made some rather incredible remarks to a large group of evangelical ministers. Mr. Clinton spoke for the first time in a long while about his mistake in the Monica Lewinsky affair. He also spoke about Al Gore's role in his administration and Mr. Clinton's personal struggle for religious redemption."

    Reporter Jackie Judd didn't get to say much as her piece showed a compilation of comments from Clinton which totaled 1:31.

    -- CBS Evening News. About half way through the newscast, which led with the wild fires in the West, anchor Russ Mitchell handled the short item:
    "In Illinois today President Clinton started doing what some in the Gore campaign hoped he would do, help Gore fend off attacks by Republicans by taking blame and distancing Gore from the Monica Lewinsky case and other troubles. Here's an excerpt from the President's 'it was me not Gore' mea culpa."
    Clinton: "I used to say this about Al Gore all the time, I used to say this when I was being criticized, it was like you know 'he doesn't get enough credit for what we did together that is good, and surely no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.'"

    Mitchell followed up: "The President also said he is still coming to terms with his failings and still seeks forgiveness for them."

    -- NBC Nightly News went first with an FAA report on how flight delays are actually declining. Later, anchor Katie Couric set up an "In Their Own Words" segment devoted to Clinton: "President Clinton visited a group of evangelical ministers outside Chicago today and his visit turned into a very personal and candid confessional about what he's gone through since the Monica Lewinsky scandal." Clinton's 1:26 of NBC airtime began: "I feel much more at peace than I used to. I'm now in the second year of a process of trying to totally rebuild my life from a terrible mistake I made. I have to come to terms with a lot of things about the fundamental importance of character and integrity...."

    That's the understatement of the year.


Joe Lieberman is a "moderate," declared CBS's Bill Whitaker as well as MSNBC's Forrest Sawyer and, asserted CNN's Bill Schneider, he makes up half of "the most conservative Democratic ticket in fifty years."

    Even as some columnists dug out more evidence about how Joe Lieberman is much more liberal than moderate, the networks have continued to distort his record. Here are some fresh examples since the ones listed in the August 9 CyberAlert:

    -- In an August 10 CBS Evening News story on George Bush campaigning in California with John McCain as a poll shows a tight race in the Golden State, Bill Whitaker asserted: "With the selection of moderate Joe Lieberman and staging the convention in Los Angeles, Vice President Al Gore is signaling he's putting up a big fight for this biggest state."

    Concluding the story, Whitaker refused to describe Ralph Nader as liberal: "And then there's the Ralph Nader factor. A recent California poll showed the Green Party candidate grabbing about ten percent of the vote here, and almost all of that siphoned away from Vice President Al Gore."

    Compare Whitaker's "moderate" tag for Lieberman with how he painted Dick Cheney. The day Bush officially announced Cheney, July 25, Whitaker managed three different adjectives, tagging Cheney "a bedrock conservative" and "a rock-solid conservative" with a "a solidly conservative voting record." Whitaker also relayed how Democrats are "planning to paint him as too far right and wrong for the country." The next night he referred to "Dick Cheney's rock solid conservative record." The night of Bush's convention address Whitaker recalled "Dick Cheney's rigid-right congressional votes."

    -- On CNN's Inside Politics on Thursday from inside the Staples Center, CNN political analyst Bill Schneider ruminated: "The most interesting thing about Clinton is he's a real hero in Hollywood. They love this guy. It has nothing to do with his politics. His politics, in a way he's betrayed liberals at every turn: welfare reform, the death penalty, balancing the budget, which they don't care much about. What they love him for is his values. He's a child of the '60s, the first President to come out of the culture of the '60s. That's why a lot of people in Hollywood love him and that's why most conservatives hate him. But in Hollywood he's a hero. Gore and Lieberman are not heroes to Hollywood. They represent the most conservative Democratic ticket in fifty years."

    I thought Clinton-Gore in '92 were the media's "conservative" ticket.

    -- MSNBC anchor Forrest Sawyer, filling in this week on The News with Brian Williams, keeps tagging Lieberman as a "moderate," MRC analyst Paul Smith noticed. Monday night he preposterously referred to "the socially conservative, politically moderate Senator." Tuesday night he observed: "Remarkably, the politically moderate Senator has entered the campaign to general praise from both parties." That led into the same Claire Shipman piece which the August 9 CyberAlert had quoted from the August 8 NBC Nightly News: "Lieberman quoted from the Bible, praised Al Gore as a man of character and took a jab at George W. Bush and his suggestion that Lieberman's conservative Democratic views are close to Bush's."

    Wednesday night Sawyer, unlike CBS's Whitaker, realized how Nader stands on the left, but still refused to apply the same label to Lieberman: "In a tight race with George W. Bush, Al Gore could lose some important swing votes to the more liberal Nader especially now that Gore has chosen a more conservative Joe Lieberman as his running mate."

    So how "moderate" is Lieberman? As detailed in the August 8 CyberAlert, he earned a lifetime "Liberal Quotient" of 77 from the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) for his votes since 1989. As a way of comparison, House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt has received 71 percent approval from the liberal group over his congressional tenure. In 1999, Lieberman was assessed 95 percent from ADA while the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave him a zero for that year, making him one of the Senate's eight most liberal Senators in 1999. His lifetime ACU rating: 19 percent.

    Picking up on that 77 percent ADA number, Washington Times columnist Donald Lambro quoted "ADA chief Amy Isaacs" on Thursday as proclaiming that rating "is pretty liberal...It's higher than Gore's."

    Robert Novak argued in his column in the August 10 Washington Post that while Lieberman talks "the moderate talk, he walks the liberal walk. The news media description this week of a centrist, moderate or even conservative misrepresented a party regular who more often than not is a conventional liberal."

    Indeed, Novak pointed out that "while Lieberman's comments occasionally infuriate the National Education Association, the teachers' union rated his 1999 voting record at 90 percent. That compares with a 100 percent report card by the National Abortion Rights Action League."

    For additional ratings data and examples of the media mislabeling Lieberman, check out all three items in the August 8 CyberAlert:

    And item #5 in the August 9 CyberAlert:


Maintaining the myth of Joe Lieberman as a "centrist" or a "moderate" requires him to appear to disagree with Al Gore on some major issues, a duplicitous effort the broadcast networks compliantly played along with Wednesday morning and night. (See item #4 below for details on the morning show interviews.)

    But, as Brit Hume pointed out on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Wednesday night, Lieberman has already switched to the left-wing position on two major issues. Hume explained on August 9: "So far Senator Joseph Lieberman appears to have abandoned two of the positions on which he disagreed with Vice President Gore. His staff is now saying he's moved away from support for experimental school vouchers. He has clearly dropped his support for partial privatization of Social Security. Lieberman claim he had already abandoned that position before Gore tapped him and aides are passing out an article by Lieberman to prove. The article, though never published, was supposedly written in June."

    Nonetheless, that same night ABC, CBS and NBC touted Lieberman's disagreements with Gore as an asset to the ticket and a tribute to Gore's political courage.

    ABC anchor Charles Gibson introduced an August 9 World News Tonight story: "In Tennessee today Al Gore and his running mate Joe Lieberman hit the campaign trail. Mr. Gore said he's not afraid to have a Vice President who disagrees with him on some issues which Senator Lieberman does."

    CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather declared that "Gore and Lieberman again stressed that their shared values, including tolerance, matter more to mainstream Americans than any differences they've had over the years on issues."

    Over on the NBC Nightly News, Katie Couric noted how Al Gore said he's "not afraid of disagreements" with his running mate.


Wednesday morning Gore and Lieberman appeared together, from a Nashville rooftop, on all three morning shows, but unlike Dick Cheney, the network hosts did not dig back into Lieberman's record and demand he defend any "outside the mainstream" votes. Back on July 27 the morning interviewers also portrayed Cheney's conservative record as a hindrance to attracting independent and women voters, a concern the same interviewers did have for Lieberman's liberal record.

    "People are talking about your conservative record while a Congressman from Wyoming and saying that perhaps that conservative record will not help to attract swing voters like minorities and women," Today's Matt Lauer told Cheney before going down a list of votes which upset liberals and demanding Cheney explain each, as if there was something wrong with holding such conservative views. Similarly, CBS's Jane Clayson hit Cheney from the left on The Early Show: "When you were in Congress you had a very conservative voting record, how will you and Governor Bush appeal to the more moderate Republicans and perhaps more importantly independents?" She tagged him "a hardline conservative."

    For more on the hostility toward Cheney, go to:

    Now compare their approach with Cheney to how they treated Lieberman on August 9. On the upside, ABC and NBC did raise the issue of a double standard on mixing religion and politics between the reaction to Lieberman citing God and what would have happened had Bush done the same:

    Jack Ford's questions on Good Morning America:
    -- "Mr. Vice President let me ask you the first question if I might. We understand that in your phone conversation with the Senator when you invited him to join you on to the ticket that he prayed after hearing that invitation. What was your response to his prayer?"
    -- "Senator there as been an extraordinary focus on your religion the last few days. What do you think the role of faith should be in pubic policy making?"
    -- "Question on the minds of some people is would your faith, the teachings of your religion ever dictate public policy decisions on your part?"
    -- "Senator what about this during the course of your speech yesterday, again being a man of strong faith you mentioned your God a number of times, you mentioned your faith a number of times but do you think that if the Republicans had chosen a Christian conservative as a Vice President and that Christian conservative had given a speech where they also mentioned repeatedly God. Don't you think that members of the Democratic party would be expressing some concern and perhaps even alarm over a possible mingling of religion with politics?"
    -- "Let me ask the Senator about some issues if I might quickly. The Vice President said you have shared values but of course you have differed with regard to certain significant issues. For instance affirmative action you have opposed it in the past, gays in the military -- you have said that you're in favor gays being able to serve openly. Will you now Senator be required to change your positions on many of these issues?"

    Bryant Gumbel on CBS's The Early Show, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
    -- "The two of you are now running mates. Talk to me about your longstanding relationship. Up to this point what have you been: peers, friends, confidants, like-minded thinkers, what?"
    -- "Senator, we know quit a bit about the man you're running with, but what do you want Americans to get to know about you between now and November?"
    -- "Senator, your wife Hadassah was visibly moved Tuesday by the week's events, how emotional have recent days been for you?"
    -- "Mr. Vice President, between now and November 7, realistically how much of a difference do you really expect Joe Lieberman to make?"
    -- "You talked about the New Guard and the Old Guard, what about the Present Guard? You haven't seen this morning's Daily News, but the headline on it is 'Bill Who?' It makes note of the fact that neither one of you even mentioned Bill Clinton's name yesterday, how come?"

    Katie Couric on NBC's Today, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
    -- "Senator Lieberman let's talk about issues first. I know that you support the notion of vouchers, using federal money for people to send their kids to private schools. That's something that Vice President Gore does not support. So how are you going to settle your differences and why do you feel that this is a good thing?" [Lieberman backpedaled.]
    -- "One other area where you two disagree is parental notification for minors who, for getting abortions at federally funded clinics. Why do you feel strongly about that Senator, why do you support that?" [Lieberman reaffirmed his hardline view: "My overall record has been pro-choice."]
-- "Moving on I wanted to ask you all. Neither of you mentioned President Clinton once, yesterday. Vice President Gore was that a conscience decision on your part?"
-- "Senator Lieberman it's been well documented that you were the first Democrat in Congress to slam President Clinton because of his behavior with Monica Lewinsky. Using words like 'embarrassing' and 'disgraceful.' How can you convince voters that it's not time for a little housecleaning? That they don't need to make a change when you were so vocal about President Clinton and his behavior?"
-- "At the same time Vice President Gore you said that Bill Clinton will be remembered as one of our greatest presidents."
-- "Senator Lieberman let's talk about religion. Of course there's been much discussion about that. You're an orthodox Jew, you prefer observant Jew, do you think there's been too much focus on your religion so far?"
-- "Senator you talked about your faith and religion yesterday and of course Governor Bush has spoken quite eloquently about the importance of Jesus in his life. And he has been criticized by some for that. I'm just curious. What role do you think religion should have in a presidential campaign?"


Journalists have been casting aspersions all week at how Gore's pick of Joseph Lieberman won't hurt Democrats because anti-Semites are Republicans who already plan to vote for Bush. The slimey shot at Lieberman by an NAACP official, however, confirms a fact noted in the August 9 CyberAlert that a poll showed how there's a large pocket of anti-Semitism among blacks.

     The last CyberAlert reported that while interviewing liberal former New York Governor Mario Cuomo on Tuesday, Bryant Gumbel slyly inquired: "Do you fully expect Republicans, however quietly, however strategically, to try to make it [Lieberman's Jewish faith] an issue?"

     The very next day Lee Alcorn, head of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP, said in a radio interview: "I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnerships between the Jews at that kind of level because we know that their interest primarily has to do with money."

    All the networks featured that soundbite Wednesday night, but only CBS followed up with the epitome of tolerance, Jesse Jackson. Immediately after the Alcorn bite, on the CBS Evening News John Roberts played this clip from Jackson: "We're going to hear more expressions of darkness but we'll also hear more expressions of light because there are some people who are not enlightened."

     Huh? Didn't he once refer to New York City as "Hymietown"? Now he's CBS's expert on enlightened tolerance.

     Tuesday night on CNBC's Rivera Live veteran reporter Carl Bernstein of assumed all anti-Semites are on the right: 
     "I think the anti-Semitism that might figure in this election is very slight because among other things I think that those people who would refuse to vote for a Jewish candidate probably would be inclined, and I don't mean to cast an aspersion here, to vote for the Bush ticket in the first place."

     Even before Lieberman was picked Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas claimed he wouldn't cost Gore any liberal votes. Check out this exchange from Inside Washington over the weekend:
     Thomas: "I thought the anti-Semites weren't going to vote for him anyway. They're not in the swing vote."
     Charles Krauthammer: "They vote Republican, right?" 
     Thomas: "Yeah, yeah. They do. They're not in the swing vote."


There's no evidence voters care about the Texas death penalty, but the media sure do. The impending Wednesday night executions of two men, the lawyer for one of whom claimed he was mentally retarded, set off another round of impassioned network segments.

      Wednesday's Today featured a story and interview segment while ABC's Good Morning America ran just an interview segment. That night, both networks aired stories tied to the Texas case while CBS ignored the whole matter.

      Katie Couric introduced the August 9 NBC Nightly News report: "One of the issues that has dogged Governor Bush throughout the campaign is the number of executions in his state, Texas. Tonight, two more inmates are scheduled to die, the 27th and 28th this year. And there's plenty of controversy."

     That morning she complained on Today, as observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "Two convicted killers are set to be put to death tonight in Texas as the nation's busiest death chamber. But the execution of one of them has many outraged."
     Reporter Jim Cummins opened his piece: "Even for the Texas death chamber it's unusual. Two inmates scheduled for separate executions by lethal injection in Huntsville tonight. The first, Brian Roberson has drawn little notice. But the case of Oliver Cruz has raised new questions about who is executed in Texas. Supporters say Cruz is mentally retarded."


FNC picked up Thursday night on CBS's apology for a very bad joke which advocated the killing of George W. Bush. It aired last Friday on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. "Snipers Wanted" read text in the bottom left corner of video of Bush delivering his convention address the night before as Kilborn made a joke about the speech during his "In the News" segment.

    The AP's Lynn Elber reported Wednesday night: "'This graphic, which was not accompanied by any remarks from Mr. Kilborn, should not have been included in the telecast and is not consistent with our broadcast standards,' CBS said in a statement.
    "The network called the display 'an inappropriate and regrettable graphic,' adding that it and program producer Worldwide Pants Inc. 'deeply regret this incident.' The company said it would take appropriate action.
    "A Bush spokesman said the candidate accepted the apology.... Worldwide Pants, David Letterman's production company, also produces Late Show with David Letterman, which airs immediately before Kilborn's daily show."

    On Thursday's Fox Report anchor Shepard Smith, over some video of the offending graphic, read a brief item on the apology:
    "A bit of convention humor that lacked a lot of it. So unfunny a major television network, CBS, issued an apology. The other night on the Late Late Show, host Craig Kilborn was doing one of his fake news segments on the Republican convention and beneath the picture of George W. Bush at the podium, a graphic with the words 'Snipers Wanted.' There you see it, right across the bottom of the screen. CBS apologized, calling the joke quote, 'inappropriate and regrettable,' a Bush spokesperson saying the candidate accepts the apology."

    +++ See the "Snipers Wanted" footage from the CBS late night program as shown by FNC. Friday morning MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip of FNC's brief report. Go to:

    (Even if you don't have RealPlayer, you can still see a picture of the footage with the "Snipers Wanted" graphic.)

    This incident reminded me of Alec Baldwin's "I'm going to stone Henry Hyde to death!" outburst on the December 11, 1998 Late Night with Conan O'Brien on NBC. To watch that video, go to:

    David Letterman is trying to get Bush agree to a debate on his show. Al Gore has already said yes. This incident on a program produced by Letterman's company certainly won't help. -- Brent Baker



Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314