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Election 2002 Coverage

Coverage of the 2002 Congressional election was marred by the media's penchant for subtly and not-so-subtly supporting liberals and slamming conservatives. Provided below are a series of links demonstrating the media's biased coverage.

Items related to the 2002 election can also be found in the Celebrities on Politics and War section.

Pre-Election Coverage

Castigating GOP for Politics “Even Before Wellstone is Buried”

When Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) died tragically in a late October plane crash, Democrats selected former Vice President Walter Mondale to replace him. The day after the crash, CNN’s Judy Woodruff asked loaded questions about the Republican campaign against Mondale in an interview with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
CyberAlert, October 29)

Morning Shows Downplayed Memorial Turned Liberal Rally
Wellstone’s memorial attracted 20,000 people including former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y), former Vice President Al Gore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) went to pay his respects and was roundly booed. Initial network reports downplayed the partisan nature of the event.
(CyberAlert Extra Edition, October 30)

Speak No Evil of Mondale
Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Walter Mondale was described in glowing terms by network correspondents, who even praised his 1984 pledge to raise taxes.
(Media Reality Check, October 30)

CBS: A Little Help for Our Friends
Dan Rather scolded Republicans for a Georgia ad and claimed both sides in the Minnesota race were getting “dirtier and nastier.”
(CyberAlert, October 31)

A more detailed look at Rather and CBS’s slanted, pro-Democrat coverage was provided in a Media Reality Check.
(October 31)

Schieffer Calls Bowles a Conservative
CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer gave viewers a glimpse into his liberal worldview when he called North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles, a former chief-of-staff for Bill Clinton, “fairly conservative.”
(CyberAlert, November 4)

60 Minutes Does a Texas One-Step
The Sunday before the election 60 Minutes ran a story on the Texas senatorial and gubernatorial elections. The only “expert” interviewed for the segment was liberal columnist Molly Ivins, who predictably castigated Republicans and praised Democrats.
(Media Reality Check, November 4)

Another Double Standard:
Democratic Gay-Bashing No Big Deal

South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alex Sanders blasted former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don’t think so,” Sanders said. The comment was followed by media silence. Giuliani told George Stephanopoulos on This Week that if Sanders had been a Republican, a media firestorm would have erupted.
(CyberAlert, November 4)

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Election Night Coverage

Baffled By Republican Victories
The media wondered why the economy didn't help Democrats.
(CyberAlert, November 6)

Dems Lost Because They Weren’t Liberal Enough
Journalists and pundits looked at the election results and came to a startling conclusion. The Republican victories weren’t an indicator of the country’s conservative mood but proof that Democrats weren’t liberal enough.
(CyberAlert, November 6)

The message was even clearer by the following afternoon. The Republican victory meant that the country wanted both parties to move left, the media said.
(Media Reality Check, November 6)

And Because Their Patriotism Was Questioned
Time’s Margaret Carlson claimed “Democrats were shy of saying too much about Iraq” because the Republicans would attack with an ad “questioning their patriotism.”
(CyberAlert, November 7)

Media Theme: Don’t Pursue a Divisive, Conservative Agenda
CNN’s Jeff Greenfield and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews warned Bush not to carry out a conservative agenda.
(CyberAlert, November 6)

It’s not right to govern from the right, CBS’s Harry Smith suggested to Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott the day after the elections.
(Media Reality Check, November 6)

ABC’s Terry Moran claimed President Bush’s aggressive conservative agenda in 2001 pushed Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) out of the party. Plus, Bush wants to use his power to appoint “deeply conservative” federal judges.
Example 1
Example 2

Jennings Worried About Senate, Rather About the Supreme Court
Jennings, Rather and Brokaw held forth on the Republican wins. Jennings was concerned, asking Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) early in the night: “If the Republicans do end up with control of the Senate, what would worry you most?”
(CyberAlert, November 6)

CBS’s Extremist Labeling
Leslie Stahl called women gubernatorial candidates moderates and their opponents “ultra-conservatives.” Later that night Bob Schieffer labeled Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), one of the few moderate-to-conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill, as “very, very conservative.”
(CyberAlert, November 6)

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The Election Aftermath

Pundit Scorecard
Television’s talking heads made a ton of predictions. How did they do?
(CyberAlert, November 12)

Conservative Media Bias Beat Democrats
Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt claimed “conservative media bias” defeated Democrats. Really, they did.
(CyberAlert, November 14)

Hunt and Time weren’t the only ones. Newsweek also joined the chorus as the MRC noted in a Media Reality Check.
(November 14)

Media Ignore Historical Aspects of GOP Victory
Networks focused on the disarray among Democrats and ignored the historic victory by President Bush and his party.
(CyberAlert, November 7)

Bill Moyers: We’re All Gonna Die!
Moyers’ reaction to the Republican victory was marked by fear, anxiety and panic. The Party of Lincoln will use “the power of the state” to enforce “their radical ideology,” the former Lyndon Johnson aide said on his PBS show Now. This ideology includes banning abortion, destroying the environment and taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich, Moyers claimed.
(CyberAlert, November 11)

Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift defended Moyers on the November 12 Hannity & Colmes. “I think Bill Moyers is taking Republicans at their word,” she said.
(CyberAlert, November 14)

Liberals Should Cover Conservative Administration
William Powers of the National Journal suggested that since Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, media outlets should designate liberal reporters to cover the government from a “frankly liberal point of view.” 
(CyberAlert, November 18)

A Labeling Comparison: Post Applies Tags to GOPers but not Dems
Washington Post applied ideological labels to 11 of the 13 Republican Senators who will become committee chairmen in the new Senate. Just 17 months earlier, when the Democrats took control after Sen. Jim Jeffords defection from the GOP, the paper applied the liberal tag to only one incoming Democratic chairman.
(CyberAlert, November 12)


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