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 Media Reality Check

For Immediate Release: Katie Wright (703) 683-5004
Wednesday Morning, August 2, 2000 

Good Morning!

     Welcome to the Media Research Center's continuing examination of Republican convention coverage delivered by fax, e-mail and posted on our Web site. This edition concentrates on coverage from Tuesday night.
     This afternoon a second daily edition will look at today's morning shows.
     For the latest analysis, check out the MRC Web page:
     For the complete collection of these issues as they are published, go to the above address and click on "Campaign 2000" where you'll also find our review of liberal bias at past conventions. Click on "Convention History."

Tom Brokaw: "Isn't It About Intolerance?"

"Inclusive Party"? Networks Say No

     Convention organizers may have designed a conclave geared toward showing off an inclusive party, but Tuesday night the networks made sure home viewers realized the charade.

Claire Shipman & Gov. Whitman     "Inclusive"? No way, CBS's Bill Whitaker assessed as he even raised the ghost of Willie Horton. "When you see the faces on the stage and hear the rhetoric," Whitaker asserted over video clips of Bush on the campaign trail, "you get the message of a party of inclusion, but turn the camera and the sea of faces sends a different message." In his CBS Evening News piece, Whitaker contended: "It's the rare crowd with more than a handful of faces of color and most of those seem strategically placed within camera range." Whitaker suggested Bush has taken "a page from President Bill Clinton's play book: seize the middle and smooth the party's rough edges. So while his father ran on Willie Horton...George W. Bush is reaching across the color line in words and photo ops."

     MSNBC's prime time team, with a few exceptions from Lisa Myers, again pounded away at interviewees from the left. See "Quote of the Night" below.

  • Andrea Mitchell to Gerald Ford: "You had made a very public appeal to your party to choose a pro-choice running mate. And Dick Cheney does not meet that test. Are you at all disappointed on that score alone?"

  • Maria Shriver to gay Congressman Jim Kolbe: "So many gays and lesbians in this country find a better home, they say, in the Democratic Party. They think it is more inclusive. They look at the platform...that the Republican Party only views marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, and they say that is not a home for me, that is not an inclusive party. Why do you feel differently?" Back up in the booth Tom Brokaw scolded Jerry Falwell: "But ultimately isn't it about intolerance, not about homosexuality?"

  • Brokaw to Karl Rove: "This is the convention of inclusion, so-called. The platform, however, represents the ideology of these convention delegates. It is very conservative. Especially on issues like abortion."


Quote of the Night

"It's very clear that the Republican Party is trying to and needs to reach out to women. Do you think that the party ought to have a more inclusive position on abortion? Do you feel that's getting swept under the rug?"
-- NBC's Claire Shipman on MSNBC to NJ Gov. Christie Todd Whitman


DNC Chief's Spin Relayed By CBS's Schieffer

     DNC Chairman Joe Andrew on Tuesday's CNN Inside Politics: "Americans of all races are very cynical about what's going on here at the Republican National Convention because they recognize that there's more Hispanic and African
-American speakers on this stage than there are delegates to this convention."

     CBS News reporter Bob Schieffer to John McCain in a taped interview shown an hour later on the CBS Evening News: "Senator, one thing I was struck by last night, there were more African
-Americans on the stage than there were among the delegations that came to that convention last night. Did you think that accurately reflects the Republican Party today, what we saw last night?"


Become Transsexuals?

     The GOP is not inclusive enough for Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. At a "Shadow Convention" panel Tuesday night in Philadelphia attended by MRC staffers, the moderator said the convention displayed "political cross-dressing."

     Alter agreed: "What they did last night with the cross dressing, I guess the best face you could put on it, is that we really want them to be a more rational party that actually embraces inclusiveness, of the practice as opposed to just rhetorical. Over the years, cross-dressers do sometimes become transsexuals."


McCain Offered "Honest Dialogue" On Campaign Finance Reform
Brokaw & Rather: McCain in 2004

     Network reporters made clear Tuesday night how they regret McCain's demise. On MSNBC Tom Brokaw suggested: "John McCain is 62 years old. There are already those who are speculating that if George W. Bush doesn't make it this time, will John McCain be back in the hunt in four years? He certainly was an electrifying figure in this campaign and a welcome addition in terms of the honest dialogue that went on about campaign finance reform."

     Earlier, on the NBC Nightly News, Lisa Myers looked at how big corporations are "paying to play" in Philadelphia. Myers concluded by ruing: "Critics say it's hardly a surprise that campaign finance reform is not high on the Republican agenda. Even the champion of reform, Senator John McCain has fallen silent and has no plans to specifically mention it in tonight's speech."

     Tuesday's CBS Evening News devoted a long segment to a panel of Dan Rather, Gloria Borger and Bob Schieffer interviewing McCain. Instead of challenging McCain's liberal proposal, they bemoaned his failure. Rather sighed: "Senator, is campaign finance reform, for all practical purposes, dead?" Borger charged: "Here you are at this convention that is essentially bought and paid for by special interests. We see the signs all over the convention hall, the parties that are going on...Do you find that unseemly?"

     Back to Rather, he hoped: "Senator, you've made it very clear that you're supporting George Bush, you've come full for him, and you expect him to win. If he doesn't win, you'd make another run, wouldn't you?" Schieffer tried to transfer his disappointment: "But won't you be a little wistful, though, when George Bush is up there making that speech? Because after all, I mean, you're a human being, that could be you, that could have been you standing there." Schieffer and his colleagues certainly wished so.


Rather, Brokaw & Jennings Attended Dinner Hosted by McCain
McCain Has Now "Released" the Press?

     Numerous news media stars attended a dinner over the weekend hosted by John McCain, Fred Barnes reported in the August 1 The Daily Standard. Barnes recalled a campaign bias anecdote: "When aides of George W. Bush groused last winter about John McCain's habit of currying favor with the national press, McCain strategist Mike Murphy delivered a half-serious response. 'Look,' he said, 'Bush is playing to his base,' the Christian Right. 'We're playing to ours.'"

     Barnes relayed fresh evidence: "Now, his race for the Republican presidential nomination over, McCain is still courting the media. Hours after arriving at the Republican National Convention, he hosted a private dinner not for his donors or advisers or family, but for national press bigwigs. The guest list included TV anchors Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings, Sunday talk show hosts Tim Russert and Bob Schieffer, writers (and talking heads) Joe Klein, R.W. Apple, David Broder, Al Hunt, Mark Shields, Margaret Carlson, and Anthony Lewis, and CNN honcho Rick Kaplan. 'Sunday afternoon McCain released his delegates,' an aide said. 'Sunday night he released the press.'"


Will Labeling Cheney As An Extremist Continue Tonight?
Back in 1992 Gore Tagged as "Conservative"

     The networks spent much of last week making sure viewers realized how far out of the mainstream Dick Cheney really is, but back in 1992 they not only avoided labeling Clinton's VP pick, Al Gore, as a liberal, they described him as "moderate" or even "conservative." Cheney earned a lifetime 91 percent from the American Conservative Union while Gore was at the opposite end of the spectrum at 15 percent.

     Still, the night Gore was announced in 1992, CBS reporter Richard Threlkeld claimed: "Both Gore and Clinton are centrist, some would say conservative Democrats, and white and male." Tom Brokaw announced on NBC: "Today, Bill Clinton broke the rules. He chose someone from the same gene pool: a fellow moderate Southerner of the same generation, Senator Al Gore of Tennessee." During the convention, CBS's Susan Spencer found delegates willing to accept "such a conservative pair in hopes of winning."

     Compare that to how Cheney was described the day Bush made his selection official, July 25:

  • ABC: Linda Douglass referred to him as one of the "most conservative members" of Congress who had "a very conservative voting record." George Stephanopoulos dubbed him a "very hardline conservative."

  • CBS: Bill Whitaker managed three different adjectives, tagging Cheney "a bedrock conservative" and "a rock-solid conservative" with a "a solidly conservative voting record." Bryant Gumbel put Cheney outside the mainstream: "Cheney's politics are of the hard-right variety."

  • NBC: Anne Thompson noted his "very conservative record." Lisa Myers recalled his days in Congress: "His voting record? Very conservative."


"I wanted to watch the convention but my TV only gets MSNBC."
MSNBC Avoided Actual Speeches

     "You're watching the Republican National Convention on MSNBC," an announcer promised periodically Tuesday night on the cable channel. It would have been more accurate to say you're watching NBC News staff talk amongst themselves and with analysts. One could quip: "I wanted to watch the convention but my TV only gets MSNBC."

     CNN and FNC showed some of Jim Kolbe's address, but not MSNBC. That, however, did not prevent Maria Shriver from quizzing him afterward about the GOP's intolerance toward gays. MSNBC also shunned other speeches shown by CNN and FNC, including Norman Schwarzkopf's speech, only showed about three minutes of Bob Dole as they instead interviewed Jesse Ventura, and talked to James Carville and Bill Bennett during the video tribute to Gerald Ford, though they did play most of the Reagan tribute.

     In the 10pm ET hour MSNBC squeezed in a couple of minutes or so of Condoleeza Rice and skipped over Elizabeth Dole. But NBC maximized exposure for John McCain, showing his speech in full on MSNBC and cutting into Dateline NBC (as did CBS to end 60 Minutes II), to broadcast it.


Clinton Backs Man Who Voted Just Like Cheney

     Network interviewers have bombarded Republicans with demands they explain Dick Cheney's vote in the 1980s "against releasing" Nelson Mandela from prison.

     On Monday Bill Clinton campaigned for Florida's Democratic Senate candidate, Bill Nelson, whom, National Review Online disclosed, voted as a House member against the very same resolution. Stephen F. Hayes reported how Clinton had blasted Republicans: "An amazing vote cast by their vice- presidential nominee when he was in Congress against letting Nelson Mandela out of jail... That takes your breath away."

     Hayes observed: "If the Cheney vote took his breath away, Clinton might well be on his knees, red-faced, clutching his throat and gasping for air when he learns that 32 of his fellow Democrats voted with Cheney, against the resolution. And he might be thoroughly asphyxiated if he knew he spent all day Monday campaigning for someone who had cast the exact same vote."

     But Clinton offered no condemnation of Nelson. Instead, he gushed: "I know we ought to have people in the Senate who have the values and the judgment, and just the way of operating that Bill Nelson does."

     FNC's Brit Hume on Tuesday night noted Clinton's hypocrisy, but will anyone else in the mainstream media?



Media Reality Check Staff:
Editor: Brent H. Baker
Afternoon Editor: Rich Noyes
Media Analysts: Geoffrey Dickens, Jessica Anderson, Paul Smith, Brian Boyd, Brad Wilmouth, Ted King
Web Operations: Andy Szul, Eric Pairel
Interns: Michael Ferguson, Ken Shepherd

In Philadelphia:
Publisher: L. Brent Bozell III
Senior Editor: Tim Graham
Communications Director: Liz Swasey
Intern: Joyce Garczynski

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