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CyberAlert -- 01/02/2001 -- Can Bush "Get Away With That?"

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Can Bush "Get Away With That?"; Norton an Evil "Protege" of James Watt; Newspaper Editorials & Columns on Best of NQ

1) Appalled by a Washington Post story on how George Bush has eschewed bi-partisanship by naming "thoroughbred conservatives" to his cabinet, CBS's Bob Schieffer demanded: "Do you think he's going to be able to get away with that?" ABC and NBC also raised the same story Sunday morning while ignoring how the New York Times realized Bush has largely "shunned" conservatives.

2) CBS and NBC pounced Friday night on Interior pick Gale Norton, giving environmentalists an unchallenged platform. CBS's Eric Engberg relayed how Norton "portrayed herself today as a friend of the environment," but, he countered, "the fact that she was a protege of Interior chief James Watt in the Reagan administration will be enough to draw heavy fire from environmentalists."

3) The New York Post, Denver Rocky Mountain News and Daily Oklahoman all featured pieces on the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."


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1

Will George Bush "be able to get away with that?" Sunday's Washington Post and New York Times featured conflicting front page stories about the make-up of Bush's cabinet with the Post complaining about how in contrast to promises of bi-partisanship, Bush is naming "thoroughbred conservatives" as he has "delighted the party's right wing with a string of nominations," while the Times asserted that "Bush has shunned champions of conservative causes" and instead "has favored can-do managers with low-key styles."

Naturally, on the Sunday morning interview shows, ABC's Sam Donaldson and NBC's Tim Russert demanded Republican guests respond to the Washington Post spin while they ignored the Times angle.

CBS's Face the Nation went the furthest as Bob Schieffer made the Post story his show's theme. He opened: "Today on Face the Nation, George W. Bush and his Cabinet: How diverse is it? All the President-elect has left to appoint now are the secretaries of Energy, Labor and Transportation. A cornerstone of his campaign was his promise of bi-partisanship. But now his advisers say he'll try to govern as if he had a strong mandate."

An appalled Schieffer asked Democratic Senator Carl Levin: "Do you think he's going to be able to get away with that?" Gloria Borger followed up with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel: "This Washington Post piece makes it sound as if George W. Bush is going to try and cherry-pick a few Democrats here and there in order to get his programs passed, rather than going for complete bi-partisanship. Do you think he can get away with that in the United States Senate?"

On Meet the Press, Tim Russert pressed Republican Senator Don Nickles: "Let me show you what The Washington Post wrote today and, Senator Nickles, bring you in the conversation: 'President-elect Bush is defying predictions of a bi-partisan government and instead is naming a Cabinet that is little different from one he would have chosen if he had won a resounding victory, Bush advisers said. These advisers said Bush has determined the best way to establish his legitimacy despite his messy victory is to lead as if had a mandate. So he is nominating thoroughbred conservatives to his Cabinet instead of appeasing Democrats with moderates, and is vowing to take his campaign platform to Capitol Hill undiluted even though his allies there are urging him to start with chewable bites.' Is that fair?"

Over on ABC's This Week, Sam Donaldson put the Washington Post headline on screen as he raised it with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who responded by informing viewers of the contrary take in the New York Times:
Sam Donaldson: "Now, let's take a look first at a headline in this morning's Washington Post. It says: 'Bush's choices defy talk of conciliation. Cabinet is diverse, but not politically.' Senator Hatch, do you think that's an accurate statement?"
Hatch: "Well, I read the article and I thought they were wrong. I think The New York Times got it right when they said, they're not only diverse, they're experienced, they're prepared, they're producers, they're people who get things done. I thought The New York Times article was a far superior article to The Washington Post. Washington Post seemed to say unless you have a Democrat in the Cabinet, you're not going to get anywhere. I know Bush has tried, Governor Bush has tried to get some Democrats into the Cabinet. He hasn't been successful so far."
Donaldson steered the conversation back to his concern: "Well, Senator Schumer, let's not have a, you know, conflict between newspapers here, but what do you, what do you think of the headline we just saw?"
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer: "Well, I think that the issue more than having a Democrat in the Cabinet or the positions that the Cabinet members take, they tend to be conservative. They tend to be, mostly, mainstream conservative with experience. The real question is what they do. Are they willing to reach out and meet Democrats halfway and have some kind of bi-partisan government? Or is bipartisanship simply, 'Well, you do what we want,' which, of course, will not work."

Here's an excerpt of the beginning of the December 31 Washington Post front page story by Mike Allen headlined, as Sam Donaldson quoted, "Bush's Choices Defy Talk of Conciliation: Cabinet Is Diverse, but Not Politically."

President-elect Bush is defying predictions of a bipartisan government and instead is naming a Cabinet that is little different from one he would have chosen if he had won a resounding victory, Bush advisers said.

These advisers said Bush has determined that the best way to establish his legitimacy despite his messy victory is to lead as if he had a mandate. So he is nominating thoroughbred conservatives to his Cabinet instead of appeasing Democrats with moderates, and is vowing to take his campaign platform to Capitol Hill undiluted even though his allies there are urging him to start with chewable bites.

"The feeling is that the country deserves governance and if you don't assert the sovereignty and legitimacy of your administration from the outset, you undermine your ability to achieve your goals later," an adviser said. "A touchstone of the Bush governing style is inclusiveness, but with a very strong philosophical compass."

Bush's approach has become increasingly bold since his address on Dec. 13, the night Vice President Gore conceded. Back then, Bush called on the nation to "rise above a house divided," and added, "I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation."

Since then, all 12 of Bush's Cabinet selections have been Republicans. Bush delighted the party's right wing with a string of nominations that continued Friday with his selection of Gale A. Norton, a former Colorado attorney general and ardent advocate of property rights, as interior secretary. The week before, he nominated defeated Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), one of the most vocal Christian conservatives in public life, to succeed Janet Reno as attorney general.

"The journey from Reno to Ashcroft is a journey from utter darkness to brilliant light," said Jerry L. Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority.

The choices of Ashcroft and Norton stunned Democrats after Bush's pledge that he planned a period of "reconciliation and unity."....

END Excerpt

Two makes a "string of nominations"?

In contrast, New York Times reporter Joseph Kahn opened his story the same day: "President-elect George W. Bush's choices for top posts in his administration signal that he intends to run a government by cabinet, delegating more authority than usual to seasoned executives whose reputations were made years before Mr. Bush first ran for office."

As far as their ideological make-up, Kahn observed: "With the notable exception of John Ashcroft, the former Missouri senator and governor who is Mr. Bush's choice for attorney general, and to an extent Gale A. Norton, the Coloradan selected as interior secretary, Mr. Bush has shunned champions of conservative causes. Instead, he has favored can-do managers with low-key styles."

2

Network coverage Friday night of Cabinet picks again illustrated how Bush can avoid negative publicity by not picking conservatives. Exactly a week after media ire was raised by the John Ashcroft choice, CBS and NBC again gave prominence to liberal outrage over Bush's pick for Interior Secretary, though the two networks never employed the word "liberals," favoring instead "environmentalists." (ABC's World News Tonight only ran a short item read by the anchor.)

CBS's Eric Engberg relayed how Gale Norton "portrayed herself today as a friend of the environment," but, Engberg countered, "the fact that she was a protege of Interior chief James Watt in the Reagan administration will be enough to draw heavy fire from environmentalists." CBS followed up with an entire story dedicated just to the concerns of liberal environmentalists. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how "environmentalists are mounting...stiff opposition to Norton" and he reminded viewers: "Norton worked at Interior for the Reagan White House, where controversial James Watt was forced to resign after trying to sell off public lands."

Engberg began his December 29 CBS Evening News story with Norton: "It was George Bush's biggest day yet of government-building, as he trooped in a diverse quartet of Cabinet choices. The most controversial is likely to be his pick to head the Interior Department, Gale Norton. She portrayed herself today as a friend of the environment."
Norton: "The public lands of the United States are amazing places."
Engberg: "But the fact that she was a protege of Interior chief James Watt in the Reagan administration will be enough to draw heavy fire from environmentalists. As Colorado's attorney general, she defended the state's anti-gay rights law before it was struck down by the courts. She is pro-abortion rights."

Ah, a silver-lining at the end there for the media.

Norton is so out of bounds to CBS that the network followed up with a whole story dedicated to the views she holds which liberals find objectionable. Anchor Russ Mitchell warned: "As Eric reported, of the nominations announced today, the choice for Interior Secretary is likely to stir up the most opposition. The head of one environmentalist group said, 'We're hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.' Jerry Bowen takes a look at Gale Norton and the policies she endorses."

Bowen began: "Introduced as the Interior Secretary designate today, Gale Norton quickly expressed her love for the great outdoors."
Norton: "The public lands of the United States are amazing places."
Bowen: "But the former Colorado attorney general signaled that one of the most amazing and controversial places, ANWR, Alaska's 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, may be opened to oil and gas exploration."
Norton: "I do support the President in the positions that he has taken during his campaign."
Bowen: "During the campaign, candidate Bush said the pristine home to migrating caribou could be explored with little harm to meet America's energy needs."
Bush, October 3: "You bet I want to open up a small part of, a part of Alaska, because when that field is online, it will produce a million barrels a day."
Bowen: "Now President Clinton is under pressure to use his remaining days in office to add ANWR to the long list of national monuments he's declared, wild lands off limits to any development. Outgoing Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who just last week recommended five other wilderness areas for protection, said the move isn't needed."
Babbitt: "The incoming President cannot allow oil exploration in ANWR. Only the Congress can do that. So it has the same level of protection as a national monument right now."
Bowen: "Still, with a Republican edge in Congress, environmental advocates are uneasy."
Gail Ruderman Feuer, Natural Resources Defense Council: "And we are very concerned that with Ms. Norton, if she is confirmed, that we will see a big change and we will see a lot of these public lands going to private interests."
Bowen concluded his one-sided story: "Republicans believe recent spiking energy costs may sway public opinion, while environmental groups vowed neither ANWR nor the confirmation of the new Interior secretary will be a walk in the park."

Over on Friday's NBC Nightly News, Jim Miklaszewski noted how "abortion rights groups" have pledged to fight the choice of Governor Tommy Thompson for HHS Secretary, before he observed:
"Environmentalists are mounting equally stiff opposition to Norton for Interior. Norton says today she fully supports opening Alaska's wildlife refuge to oil and gas exploration."
Norton: "The belief is that there are huge amounts of oil available in that area."
Miklaszewski: "Norton worked at Interior for the Reagan White House, where controversial James Watt was forced to resign after trying to sell off public lands."
NBC then offered a soundbite to Williams Meadows of the Wilderness Society: "She comes out of the James Watt background. We are not ready for a James Watt era again."

Of course, like CBS, NBC didn't bother with a positive word about the Norton pick from any conservative, though Miklaszewski later let a Heritage Foundation official point out how Bush's transition is ahead of where Clinton was eight years ago.

3

Thanks to several of our judges, in recent days the New York Post, Denver Rocky Mountain News and Daily Oklahoman have all featured pieces on the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." In addition, the awards quotes have also been cited in recent days in larger articles or sidebar editorial page items in the Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Las Vegas Review Journal.

The three full newspaper articles I've come across:

-- December 31: New York Post editorial titled, "Hoist on Their Own Petard." It set up a collection of quotes: "This year's crop tellingly reveals the media's contemporary spirit and obsessions -- which revolve, as usual, around sycophancy for the Clintons and contempt for all things Republican." To see the quotes chosen by New York Post editorial writer Eric Fettmann, who served as one of the 46 judges who completed our ballot, go to:
http://www.nypostonline.com/12312000/postopinion/editorial/20098.htm

-- December 29: Denver Rocky Mountain News column by Mike Rosen, a radio talk show host on KOA-AM, who also served as a judge. Rosen announced: "Just out: the Media Research Center's 13th annual awards for the most biased, manipulative or downright goofy quotes uttered by liberals in the 'mainstream' news media. Once again, I'm honored to have served on MRC's distinguished panel of conservatively biased judges." To read the whole column, titled "Liberal media's notable quotes," go to: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/rosen/1229rosen.shtml

-- December 27: Daily Oklahoman column by Patrick McGuigan, the paper's editorial page editor and one of our judges. In his column titled, "News media bias: It all adds up," McGuigan observed: "This year America's 'mainstream' news media was about as mean-spirited in proving its pervasive bias as in any 12-month period since the Media Research Center began meticulously monitoring American journalism. This was the 13th annual 'best notable quotables' -- capturing for posterity 'the year's worst reporting.'" To read the entire column, go to:
http://oklahoman.com/cgi-bin/show_article?ID=611483&pic=none&TP=getarticle

As a reminder, to view all the winning quotes as well as the two, three or four top runners-up in each category and RealPlayer video clips for over two dozen of the quotes from TV shows, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq2000.html

To see the 8-page issue typeset as snail mail subscribers saw the newsletter, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/pdf/bestofnq2000.pdf

If you see or have seen the Best of NQ awards issue cited anywhere, please let me know and if it's in print, if possible, send along a hard copy or the original. E-mail: cyber@mediaresearch.org

Snail mail:
Brent Baker
Media Research Center
325 South Patrick St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

Can't offer you any great prizes, but we should be able to get you a "Don't Believe the Liberal Media" magnet and bumper sticker.

-- Brent Baker


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