CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday August 22, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 133) |
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"Race-Baiting" Helms; And He Fought "Help for AIDS Patients"; Gumbel: Helms Quitting Good News for All But "Hard Right"

1) Bryant Gumbel on the expected announcement from Senator Jesse Helms that he will not run for re-election: "Helms is, let me pick my words here, an unapologetic right-wing conservative....Is his departure good news for all but hard-right Republicans?"

2) Broadcast network viewers heard negative caricatures on Tuesday night of Jesse Helms. CBS’s Bob Orr stressed how he "has opposed abortion rights, AIDS funding, and even the Martin Luther King holiday" and "opponents have accused him of using race to win elections." NBC’s Lisa Myers highlighted his "race-baiting" and insisted his willingness to " for AIDS patients" made "him a hero to many conservatives." ABC’s Claire Shipman called him "unrepentant about his support for American segregation."

3) CBS’s Bill Plante noted that the 2001 budget surplus will be $158 billion, but before highlighting a Democratic ad campaign, he declared that since most of it comes from Social Security, "only $2 billion is available for other spending."

4) The text of the August 20 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

Not surprisingly, Bryant Gumbel is pleased to see Senator Jesse Helms retire from the Senate, assuming his departure is "good news for all but hard-right Republicans."

     During an interview with the Hotline’s Craig Crawford at the top of the 8am hour on this morning’s Early Show on CBS, Gumbel wondered if this is Elizabeth’s Dole’s "green light to run?" and "how prepared are Democrats to oppose him?" When Crawford replied "not well prepared," a disappointed Gumbel demanded: "Why not?" Crawford explained that strong candidates like ex-Clintonista Erskine Bowles and former Governor Jim Hunt had taken themselves out of the race.

     Gumbel then let loose on the August 22 CBS show with his disgust for Helms: "Helms is, let me pick my words here, an unapologetic right-wing conservative, I guess we could say. Is his departure good news for all but hard-right Republicans?" (Between saying "right-wing" and "conservative" Gumbel hesitated for a second as he frowned.)

     Crawford dampened Gumbel’s enthusiasm as he argued it’s bad news for Democrats since Helms was a "poster boy" for their direct mail fundraising.


The nearly 30-year Senate career of Jesse Helms as summarized by Bob Orr on Tuesday’s CBS Evening: "He fought the Panama Canal treaties and has opposed abortion rights, AIDS funding, and even the Martin Luther King holiday. His opponents have accused him of using race to win elections."

     In reviewing the political career of Senator Helms of North Carolina, the broadcast networks saw him through a liberal prism, raising charges of "race-baiting" or support for "segregation" and emphasizing the issues which upset liberal the most instead of highlighting any good that he’s done which made him a hero to conservatives.

     Just check out how NBC’s Lisa Myers encapsulated his work: "He’s been known as ‘Senator No’ because of his willingness to fight everything -- from civil rights bills to help for AIDS patients. That makes him a hero to many conservatives and a favorite boogeyman of liberals with whom he so loves to do battle." Yup, that’s right, conservatives like him because he fought any "help" for AIDS sufferers. That issue could just as easily have been summarized as how he fought to "help" those suffering from heart disease or cancer by making sure their disease received a proportionate slice of federal medical research dollars.

     ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas tagged Helms as "a magnet for controversy" before Claire Shipman argued: "On racial issues, he was a lightning rod, unrepentant about his support for American segregation, firmly opposed a Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday." But, he showed signs of good sense, she contended, when after holding up UN dues "he softened...allowing himself to be wooed and charmed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright."

     Not one word on ABC, CBS or NBC about his championing of a balanced budget, his efforts to improve lives by letting people keep more of their own money or his battles to support policies to free people from the tyranny of communism, to name just a few of the things which made conservatives proud of him.

     (On Tuesday some colleagues an I traveled to Paramount’s Kings Dominion in Hanover, Virginia to investigate the accuracy of ABC reporter Elizabeth Vargas’s insistence that federal regulation is needed of amusement parks to prevent roller coaster accidents. See the August 1 CyberAlert for a rundown of her liberal crusading:
     We rode seven roller and/or "blast" coasters, some of them twice, and are still alive to talk about it despite the lack of federal oversight for the rides.
     All this is to get to this credit line: In my absence, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth pitched in and reviewed the August 21 network evening shows and provided the transcripts recited below.)

     -- ABC’s World News Tonight. Speaking of Vargas, as anchor she announced: "Also in Washington today, news that will change the face of American politics. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina is expected to announce tomorrow that he is retiring. During his five terms in the Senate, Senator Helms has been a magnet for controversy. He is one of the country’s foremost conservative leaders, a towering figure. Rumors of his retirement have been swirling for months, even years. ABC’s Claire Shipman is in Washington. Claire, why retire now?"

     Shipman answered: "Well, Elizabeth, he is 79, and in recent years, he’s had a number of health problems, including prostate cancer, but political experts are also noting that his re-election might not have been easy. North Carolina is a politically divided state, and remember, while Helms is a conservative icon, he’s long been a nemesis to liberals. One of the most powerful conservative voices in the nation, Jesse Helms’ politics were his convictions, and they were always plain."
     Helms on the Senate floor: "There’s a great big odor rising from the manner in which Congress is falling all over itself to do what the homosexual lobby is almost hysterically demanding that Congress do."
     Shipman: "Democrat John Edwards now takes over as the state’s senior Senator."
     Senator John Edwards: "Senator Helms has played an important role in the history of North Carolina, but North Carolina and the South, in general, have changed, and it’s time for a new generation of leadership in North Carolina and the South."
     Shipman ran through his bad views: "Helms was first elected in 1972 from a small North Carolina town. Early on, he crusaded fervently for what he considered traditional family and religious values and against abortion. On racial issues, he was a lightning rod, unrepentant about his support for American segregation, firmly opposed a Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday. Dubbed ‘Senator No’ by his colleagues, the combative politician reached the height of his political power as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He taunted the Clinton administration, warning the President not to set foot in North Carolina, and locking horns on foreign policy. He was once asked if he thought Clinton was fit to be Commander-in-Chief."
     Helms on CNN’s Evans & Novak: "I, you know, you ask an honest question, I give you an honest answer. No, I do not, and neither do the people in the armed forces."
     Shipman saw an upside: "And Helms was an unrepentant U.N. basher, holding up U.S. dues to the international organization for years, but he softened recently, allowing himself to be wooed and charmed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Just last year, the long-standing enemy of world government was welcomed as a guest of honor at the U.N. Security Council."

     Shipman concluded by noting how "the Democrats have a number of strong contenders" to replace Helms and "Republicans are hoping to counter with a big name, Elizabeth Dole."

     -- CBS Evening News. Bob Orr started his piece with seeming balance: "He is one of the most polarizing forces in American politics -- reviled by the left-"
     Helms at a re-election celebration: "If the liberal politicians think I’ve been a thorn in their sides in the past, they haven’t seen anything yet."
     Orr: "And revered by the Christian Right."
     Helms: "Trying to be on God’s side."

     Orr explained how Helms decided to retire at age 79, a decision he hinted at it in an April interview on CBS’s Sunday Morning in which he said leaving Senate would not be easy.

     But then Orr looked at Helms only from the left: "Over three decades, Helms has championed his own unbending agenda, earning the nickname ‘Senator No.’ He fought the Panama Canal treaties and has opposed abortion rights, AIDS funding, and even the Martin Luther King holiday. His opponents have accused him of using race to win elections."
     Clip of 1990 campaign ad with white hands crumpling up a piece of paper: "For racial quotas, Harvey Gantt."
     Orr: "Helms, who reached the height of his power as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could be brusque, but Helms has always seen himself as a true conservative."
     Helms in the April interview: "He’s a fellow who believes, as we always say, in limited government, but the conservative I admire also respects the moral and spiritual principles on which this country was founded in the first place."
     Orr concluded the relatively short story: "Love him or hate him, Helms has been a giant here on Capitol Hill, and now, as speculation turns to possible candidates to replace him, Helms supporters and opponents can finally agree the next Senator from North Carolina won’t be quite as big."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams noted: "From Capitol Hill tonight, Senator Jesse Helms, one of the country’s most powerful and best known conservatives has decided to bring down the curtain on his legendary career."

     Lisa Myers began the subsequent report: "Now 79 and slowed by a nerve disease that forces him to use a scooter, news that Helms won’t run again marks the end of an era. For almost 30 years, he’s been known as ‘Senator No’ because of his willingness to fight everything -- from civil rights bills to help for AIDS patients. That makes him a hero to many conservatives and a favorite boogeyman of liberals with whom he so loves to do battle."
     Jesse Helms: "The radical feminists, the homosexual crowd all participated in the attacks."
     Myers conceded his success in one area, but soon added a caveat: "Through sheer doggedness, Helms has at times conducted his own foreign policy, kept the U.S. from paying its U.N. dues for years, and terrorized many administrations."
     Helms in a hearing: "When in the hell, Mr. Secretary-?"
     Myers: "Waging a cultural war against what he saw as immorality in this country."
     Helms on Senate floor: "Now, if artists want to go in a men’s room and write dirty words on the wall, let’em furnish their own crayons."
     NBC did allow some general praise of Helms for his character, as former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot asserted: "Come hell or high water, you can count on that man to stand up for the truth as he sees it. That, to my mind, is the true meaning of a giant."
     But Myers countered: "Others saw Helms as mean-spirited and accused him in close elections of race-baiting."
     Clip of 1990 campaign ad: "You needed that job, and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota."
     Myers concluded with hope for a less conservative replacement: "Helms’ retirement clears the way for another Republican star, former Cabinet secretary Elizabeth Dole, encouraged by the White House to return to her home state and run for the Senate. Tonight, those close to Mrs. Dole say there’s a much better than even chance she’ll run, but as a moderate unifying figure, a sharp departure from the legendary Jesse Helms."

     As if that’s a good thing.


For decades, as the federal government ran an overall deficit, any money collected for Social Security in excess of the amount paid out that year was spent on other programs. But now, with the federal government running an overall surplus, the media are matching the bizarre bi-partisan mantra that the money received from the FICA tax cannot be spent on anything but Social Security, even though if it is not spent on other things it will not be spent on Social Security.

     The latest example: Bill Plante on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, the only one of the broadcast network evening shows to run a story on President Bush’s Tuesday speech in which he warned Congress to avoid excessive spending.

     After a soundbite from Bush, Plante noted that on Wednesday the White House will predict the 2001 budget surplus will be about $158 billion, the second highest ever. But, Plante cautioned as he launched into a look at the liberal spin: "Most of that surplus, however, covers Social Security. Only $2 billion is available for other spending. Democrats dispute that forecast and say the surplus has all but evaporated. Today they attacked on the airwaves with a political commercial accusing Mr. Bush of tapping Social Security and Medicare accounts."
     Clip of ad: "The Bush budget raids the Medicare trust fund. Now he’s using gimmicks to hide a raid on Social Security."
     Plante added: "The Democrats’ leader in the House said Mr. Bush should start from scratch with a new budget."
     House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt: "The President said we could do everything, we could have it all. Now we find out we can’t, so it’s up to him to get us out of the mess that we’re in."


The text of the August 20 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media.

     All of the quotes have appeared in previous CyberAlerts, but Notable Quotables provides a compact collection of the most egregious bias from the previous two weeks.

     For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, which because of a printing error is actually better than the hard copy version snail mail recipients saw, go to:

     Now, to the text of the August 20 NQ (Vol. Fourteen; No. 17), put together by Rich Noyes, the MRC’s Director of Media Analysis:

Sick and Dying vs. Abortion Foes

"In just a few hours, the nation will hear President Bush’s decision on an issue that’s pitted Republicans against Republicans and the sick and dying against abortion opponents."
-- MSNBC news reader Monica Novotny, previewing Bush’s speech on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, during a 3pm EDT news update on August 9.

Be Brave, Destroy Embryos

"Some thoughts as the President decides whether or not the government should back stem cell research. History’s longest argument has been over what to do about the mountain. One group has always wanted to cross the mountain, to explore and see what is on the other side. The other group, no less sincere, has always been willing to let well enough alone. That group worries there might be things on the other side of the mountain we didn’t want to know. They were the ones who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. They already knew all they needed to know about the moon and the sun and the stars....The President says it is the hardest decision he will ever make, but if he reads history, he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown."
-- Bob Schieffer’s closing commentary on CBS’s Face the Nation, August 5.

Dubya’s Disappointing Decision

"Any decision that leaves Jerry Falwell feeling pleased and happy is a decision that you need to be skeptical about, and he was very happy with this decision."
-- Time magazine national correspondent Jack White on Inside Washington, August 11.

"We keep forgetting this guy is a conservative. I thought he was going to go further than this."
-- Newsweek’s Howard Fineman commenting on MSNBC following Bush’s speech on August 9.

"To understand the potential for stem cells, you can visit the lab of Dr. Evan Snyder at Children’s Hospital in Boston. The cures so far with mice only, but amazing nonetheless....These results indicate stem cells might cure many nerve diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. What effect will President Bush’s new regulations have on the effort to translate these and similar animal results to humans? Dr. John Gearhart, a pioneer in the field, fears they will be severe."
-- NBC’s Robert Bazell, August 10 Nightly News.

Bush’s "Clintonian" Speech

"When I heard he was giving his first national prime time address on this, that perhaps this was going to be the bold, defining moment of his presidency -- Nixon goes to China -- I have to say I came away from it, and after also re-reading the transcript, feeling more Clintonian in its nature. There was so much compromise and ‘on one hand’ and ‘the other hand.’"
-- Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly on PBS’s Washington Week, August 10.

"Fascinated" By Dazzling Clinton

Charles Gibson: "Good evening. He’s been out of office six months now, but Bill Clinton is just as fascinating as ever. At least that’s what the book industry is betting. The former President has struck what is said to be the largest non-fiction book deal in the history of publishing to write his memoirs...."
Jackie Judd: "Charlie, we’re also being told Mr. Clinton will write this himself -- no help from a ghostwriter, and the book will be in bookstores in 2003. I’'s a good time, probably the best of Mr. Clinton’s post-presidency. Last week he dazzled Harlem, today Park Avenue publisher [Alfred] Knopf."
-- ABC’s World News Tonight, August 6.

"I remember the great thing on Saturday Night Live where the fellow who does President Clinton said, ‘You’re going to miss me.’ And indeed people miss him, he’s still a fascinating man even six months out of the White House."
-- Gibson, the next day on Good Morning America.

Eager For Socialist Good Life

Keith Miller: "Break out the band, bring on the drinks. The French are calling it a miracle. A government-mandated 35-hour work week is changing the French way of life. Two years ago, in an effort to create more jobs, the government imposed a shorter work week on large companies, forcing them to hire more workers....Sixty percent of those on the job say their lives have improved. These American women, all working in France, have time for lunch and a life."
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox: "More Americans should be more aware that an economy as successful as the French one managed to be successful without giving up everything else in life."
Katie Couric, following the end of Miller’s taped piece: "So great that young mother being able to come home at three every day and spend that time with her child. Isn’t that nice? The French, they’ve got it right, don’t they?"
-- NBC’s Today, August 1.

Another Opportunity to Promote a Liberal Agenda Item Wasted

"Well, certainly the weather has been the headline, but what’s troubled me is that the press hasn’t gone beyond the headline very much. This was such a great opportunity to talk about global warming and climate change. I mean, it couldn’t have been on our minds more as we were perspiring through the heat....That would have been the starting point to talk about why we are in this place, why do we have 100 degree temperatures and what can we do about it?"
-- PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell, on CNN’s Greenfield at Large on August 10, after being asked to name the most under-covered news story of the week.

"Centrist" -- Like Barbara Boxer

"It’s not just a media love fest, though. Important party operatives and contributors are getting aboard Edwards ‘04....[Democratic Senator John] Edwards’s slight drawl, his centrism, his humble origins as the son of textile workers, his populist ideals (slogan: ‘The People’s Senator’), his skill at simplifying things without seeming patronizing -- all this stirs memories of Clinton without the seamy side."
-- Washington Post reporter Richard Leiby in an August 14 Style-section profile of Edwards, who last year earned an 85 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, the same rating as Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Brokaw’s Been Off Since June

Katie Couric: "Howard, I know by the time President Bush returns to the White House he’ll have spent 54 days at his ranch. This is since his inauguration. Four days in Kennebunkport, 38 full or partial days at Camp David. According to The Washington Post, that’s 42 percent of his presidency either at vacation spots or en route. Does that sound excessive compared to other Presidents in the past or not?"
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman: "Well, when you add it all up, it sure does."
-- Exchange on NBC’s Today, August 8.

...But Bush Was Warned

"President Bush may have made a major political mistake by deciding to spend August on his ranch in broiling, parched Crawford, Texas. The press corps likes a cool ocean breeze and maybe even a cold beer. Presidents Reagan, Kennedy, and Clinton all vacationed near the sea, and thus spared themselves a churlish press corps. But Jimmy Carter and LBJ punished the press with Dixie summers and were denied second terms. A full month of Texas dust, heat, and alcohol-free meals could spell big trouble for George W."
-- Mark Shields on CNN’s Capital Gang, August 4.

Not Enough American Liberals?

"[President Bush’s vacation is] four weeks to forget the mess he’s left behind right ‘round the world: his abandonment of the Kyoto agreement that’s bequeathed our children another decade of dangerous greenhouse gases; his unilateral rejection of the chemical weapons treaty which the rest of the world was ready to sign up to; his obsession with the so-called Son of Star Wars, despite the fact that his untested proposals break a raft of international agreements and threaten to launch a new arms race in space....He’s down on the ranch, thousands of miles from the devastating effects of his disastrous presidency, talking to his cows."
-- British radio host Simon Bates in his weekly commentary for the overnight CBS News show, Up to the Minute, August 7.

Hostage-Taker Bush

"I was wrong when I said last week he was going to cave on this issue, but I didn’t know he was going to take, to turn Charlie Norwood into the Patty Hearst of the House of Representatives -- take him up to the White House, hold him hostage long enough for him to start getting a case of political Stockholm Syndrome and go with the other side."
-- Time national correspondent Jack White on the Aug. 4 Inside Washington, referring to the deal on a Patients’ Bill of Rights Bush made with the Georgia Republican.

If Chandra’s Dead, Blame Starr

Bill Maher, host of ABC’s Politically Incorrect: "I do think, if it turns out that this beautiful young girl is gone, I think, and he [Condit] is responsible in some way, you have to look to Ken Starr for a little bit of guilt."
Larry King: "Why?"
Maher: "Because, you know, Ken Starr made it so that you, in the old days, you had an affair with somebody, and you know, okay, you had an affair. The press didn’t report it. They didn’t make a political criminal case of it. Now, it’s almost like you have to get rid of them."
-- Exchange on CNN’s Larry King Live, July 27.

Experience, CBS News -- Not!

"Obviously, this is a very complicated subject. It’s the kind of subject that, frankly, radio and television have some difficulty with because it requires such depth into the complexities of it. So we can with, I think, impunity recommend that if you’re really interested in this you’ll want to read in detail one of the better newspapers tomorrow. This has been a CBS News Special Report."
-- Dan Rather concluding CBS’s coverage of President Bush’s August 9 stem cell speech after only 53 seconds of analysis right before his network aired Big Brother 2.

PUBLISHER: L. Brent Bozell
EDITORS: Brent H. Baker, Rich Noyes
MEDIA ANALYSTS: Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson, Brian Boyd, Brad Wilmouth, Ken Shepherd, Patrick Gregory
INTERNS: Lindsay Welter, Clinton Bonelli

     END Reprint of Notable Quotables -- Brent Baker



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