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CyberAlert -- 06/17/1999 -- Gore Concern for Clinton Behavior Undisputed; Hillary's Religious Side

Gore Concern for Clinton Behavior Undisputed; Hillary's Religious Side

1) Wednesday night the networks all highlighted how Al Gore emphasized "family values" and is distancing himself from Clinton, but only CBS challenged him about standing by Clinton until now.

2) Gore now called Clinton's behavior "inexcusable," but Gore once boasted: "I feel extremely privileged to have been able to serve with him as his partner for the past six years....America's great President, Bill Clinton."

3) In her interview with Gore Diane Sawyer showed him praising Clinton, but in allowing him to recall his sister's death from smoking she failed to note how he had boasted of tobacco growing.

4) Tom Brokaw recalled that last year Hillary Clinton "retreated to her religious and spiritual convictions," and worried: "Is this a side of Hillary that we don't know very well?"

5) Tom Brokaw fretted about a Congressman targeted by the gun lobby: "How high a cost will he have to pay?" On Today Matt Lauer warned there's "fear" that "now that school is out...there's gonna be some momentum lost on gun control."


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cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) All the stories run Wednesday night on Al Gore's presidential campaign announcement emphasized the same themes, how he's distancing himself from Clinton's scandals and promoting family values. Only FNC's Wendell Goler cited specific policies Gore will pursue if elected.

None of the network profiles contrasted Gore's sudden decision that President Clinton's behavior was "inexcusable" with how just after impeachment on December 19 Gore declared: "What happened as a result does a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents." And: "I feel extremely privileged to have been able to serve with him as his partner for the past six years and I look forward to serving with him for the next two years." (See item #2 today for details of what Gore said.)

CBS's Bob Schieffer came closest to raising the contrast: "In the White House he says he wants to champion family values, so I asked him how does that square with his vociferous defense of the President during the Lewinsky scandal." NBC's Claire Shipman worried that Gore could become a victim: "Are you worried that you will pay the ultimate price for Bill Clinton's impeachment."

Here are highlights from the Wednesday evening, June 16, pieces on Gore's announcement to give you a flavor of how the networks treated him:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. John Cochran opened his story from Carthage, Tennessee:
"Al Gore's own pollster calls him famous but unknown. So today he re-introduced himself to America. He wants you to know he is a family man with family values and if you think that makes him different from Bill Clinton that's fine with him."
After showing Gore yelling about bringing his values to the presidency and working "to build an America that is not only better off but better," Cochran pointed out: "Seventeen times in his speech Gore spoke of defending family values. Only twice did he mention Bill Clinton, and then only in referring to the economy and Kosovo. This was his chance to say I am not Bill Clinton as he also did in talking to Diane Sawyer about the sex scandal."
Gore in excerpt from upcoming 20/20: "What he did was inexcusable. And particularly as a father I felt that it was terribly wrong, obviously."

Cochran showed some soundbites of people in Carthage warning Gore to separate from Clinton before running a clip of Gore talking in Spanish, just like George W. Bush, as Cochran explained in concluding his report: "He also reminded Hispanic voters Bush isn't the only one who can speak Spanish, an attempt to reassure worried Democrats he is ready to take on Bush if he has to. In the months ahead Gore will try to convince voters that with him they can have the things they like about the Clinton years, especially economic prosperity, but without the heavy baggage of scandal."


-- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer began: "As the fiddlers fiddled and the home folks cheered, Al Gore made it official. His theme:"
Gore: "To build an America that is not only better off but better..."
Schieffer proceeded to note that while he made his announcement in a town where he spent summers on a farm, "as a Senator's child Gore has always been more a man of politics than a son of the soil" as he grew up in Washington, DC. Schieffer picked up on Gore's theme of the day:
"In the White House he says he wants to champion family values, so I asked him how does that square with his vociferous defense of the President during the Lewinsky scandal."
Gore: "I made a commitment. He's my friend and he's co-worker and I keep my commitment and take them very seriously."
Schieffer: "But he turned out to be a liar."
Gore: "Let me finish my answer if I could."
Schieffer: "He went on to suggest Americans needed to know the government wasn't falling apart."
Gore: "I felt that it was even more important at a time of stress and uncertainty for the country, to show up for work every day committed to making things stable, to emphasizing continuity, to making sure problems got solved and things got addressed."
Schieffer: "But the President and an intern? Didn't it make him uncomfortable?"
Gore: "Well if you've ever been disappointed in a friend and surprised at something they did."


-- CNN's The World Today. Jeanne Meserve opened: "Al Gore introduced himself and his candidacy to the nation by drawing distinctions between himself and his rivals, between himself and his President."
Following a clip of Gore, Meserve stressed family values: "With his own mother, wife and children on prominent display, the vice president talked about turning around what he called, 'a crisis in the American family,' with gun control, less media, and more parental responsibility. Gore said economic prosperity isn't everything, but promised to keep the good times rolling....Gore never named Texas Governor George W. Bush, but criticized those who offer 'crumbs of compassion.'..."
Meserve concluded: "The vice president never said the words Monica Lewinsky or impeachment, and his staff intends he didn't intend to make a swipe at the President, but when he talks about restoring morality and values to the Oval Office, even his aides admit the contrasts and comparisons are hard to ignore, and maybe that was exactly the point."


-- FNC's Fox Report. Wendell Goler started:
"Al Gore came back to the home he spent much of his life away from, to step out of Bill Clinton's shadow and into his own spotlight. A family man promising moral leadership to distance himself from the President's scandal and impeachment."
Goler concluded by outlining issues where Gore differs with Republicans: "Those issues, his aides say, include gun control in the wake of the Littleton Colorado shootings, universal pre-school and an expanded family medical leave act and especially abortion. Gore says some politicians try to duck the issue but he strongly asserts his belief in a woman's right to choose."


-- NBC Nightly News. Claire Shipman asserted: "He's one of the most recognized men in America, but he believes that even after 25 years in public life, voters still don't really know him. So today Vice President Al Gore went home to Tennessee to offer a passionate re-introduction."
Gore: "I will take my own values of faith and family to the presidency to build an America that is not only better off but better..."
Shipman showed Gore calling Clinton's behavior "inexcusable," explaining: "New tougher words about the President and the Lewinsky scandal intended to create distance. It's all part of the Al Gore makeover, creating a new image for a candidate widely described as boring. Image #1: Moral Leader surrounded by family, devoted to his wife of 29 years, an implicit contrast to Clinton."

Shipman then portrayed Gore as a victim, asking him: "Are you worried that you will pay the ultimate price for Bill Clinton's impeachment."

Shipman's other "images" Gore is trying to create: "Engineer of the Nation's Prosperity" and "Not Just a Wooden Politician" as he's a Vietnam veteran, divinity school attendee and one-time journalist.

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gore0617.jpg (11711 bytes)cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Clinton's behavior was "inexcusable." Not quite what Al Gore thought back on December 19 a couple of hours after the House voted to impeach Clinton. Back then it was the Republicans who were guilty of "a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents."

Prompted by the lack of media attention on Wednesday night to these comments, though Diane Sawyer did briefly raise them on 20/20 (see item #3), I went back and dug out what Gore said on the White House lawn at about 4:30pm ET on Saturday, December 19, 1998. His remarks concluded: "I'm proud to present to you my friend, America's great President, Bill Clinton."

Here's the relevant portion of Gore's words:
"Republican leaders would not even allow the members of the House of Representatives to cast the vote they wanted to. They were not allowed to vote their conscience. What happened as a result does a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents. There is no doubt in my mind that the verdict of history will undo the unworthy judgment rendered a short while ago in the United States Capitol. But we do not have to wait for history. Instead, let us live up to the ideals of this season...."
"I feel extremely privileged to have been able to serve with him as his partner for the past six years and I look forward to serving with him for the next two years. I have seen him close at hand, day after day, making the most important decisions about peace, prosperity and our future and making them always by asking what is right for the American people? What is right for all of the American people? I know him. I know his wonderful First Lady. I know his heart and his will and I have seen his work. Six years ago he was left with the highest budget deficit in history and he ended it. Six years ago he was handed a failing economy. Today, because of his leadership, we are on the verge of the longest period of peacetime prosperity in all of American history. And I know nothing will stop him from doing the job that the American people sent him here to do. I say to you today: President William Jefferson Clinton will continue and will complete his mission on behalf of the American people. I'm proud to present to you my friend, America's great President, Bill Clinton."

+++ Watch and listen to Gore's effusive praise. MRC Webmaster Sean Henry has posted a RealPlayer clip of these comments. Go to: http://www.mrc.org

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cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) ABC dedicated three-fourths of Wednesday's 20/20 to Diane Sawyer's interview with Al and Tipper Gore. She did at least ask him about the December 19 event: "At the celebration after he has been impeached you were there saying:"
Gore, December 19: "What happened as a result does a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents."
He avoided the issue and talked about how most Americans didn't want Clinton impeached.

Earlier in the interview Sawyer raised other criticisms of Gore, such as how much his "Global Marshall Plan" would cost, how he was really raised in a Washington hotel room, not a Tennessee farm, and how he exploits personal tragedies for political gain. But on this subject, she ignored how in one famous incident his anecdote was part of a larger lie.

Sawyer showed Gore at he 1992 convention talking about how his son was hit by a car and then Gore at the 1996 convention recalling how his sister died from cancer: "In a very short time her breathing became labored and then she breathed he last breath."
Sawyer added: "And most recently he's become very public about his personal religious life. In our second interview at his home in Washington we asked about what the skeptics say."
Sawyer to Gore: "Are you uncomfortable with the fact that in speaking about your sister and your son at the conventions, speaking about your religion now, people say this is using private life for political gain."

Gore maintained it's hard to separate private from public life when you are a public figure. Sawyer moved on without telling viewers that his 1996 anecdote about his sister was the core of his claim that her death motivated him to fight tobacco. But in 1988, four years after she died, he was still accepting tobacco money and boasted: "I've put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've suckered it. I've sprayed it."

That's just one of the video clips you can watch on our Gore Gaffes page: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/goregaffesvideo.html

After Al Gore told Sawyer that what Clinton did "was inexcusable," she pressed them about whether they believed Clinton's January 1998 denial. He claimed he didn't know Clinton had lied "until he acknowledged it in his statement to the American people much later in that terrible year," meaning his August address. An incredulous Sawyer pressed: "You had no idea? You really believed him?" Gore: "I did." Tipper agreed, saying she too believed Clinton's denial.

These two are either lying now or are incredibly stupid.

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cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) We don't know enough about Hillary Clinton's religious and spiritual side, Tom Brokaw worried.

Interviewing Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward about his new book on scandals, on Wednesday's Dateline Brokaw asked him about what Hillary told Press Secretary Mike McCurry about her feeling in August, 1998. Woodward asserted that she answered with a series of questions reflecting her feelings: "Do I feel angry, do I feel betrayed, do I feel lonely, do I feel exasperated and humiliated?"
Brokaw then pointed out to Woodward: "You write in the book that at one point Mrs. Clinton said to her friend, as she retreated to her religious and spiritual convictions, 'I've got to take this, I have to take this punishment. I don't know why God has chosen this for me but he has and it will be revealed to me God is doing this and he knows the reason. There is some reason.' Is this a side of Hillary that we don't know very well do you think?"
Woodward: "Indeed. And that inner life has, of course, given her some strength."

Woodward proceeded to raise how he thinks the Clintons are in counseling.

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cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) The network's reflexive recoil on gun control: Hit from the left, assuming it's a wonderful idea no rational person could oppose. Wednesday night Tom Brokaw fretted about a Democrat supporting gun control in a conservative district: "How high a cost will he have to pay?" In the morning on Wednesday Good Morning America's Charlie Gibson pressed Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder about whether the House is "on its way to gutting the bill." Over on NBC's Today, Matt Lauer demanded that Republican Congressman Bob Barr defend the changes to the Senate bill, assuming all changes are bad, but instead of hitting Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy with doubts about gun control he tossed her softballs as he took her side: "There is some fear among some people that now that school is out and parents aren't sending their children off into what they may view as harm's way everyday that there's gonna be some momentum lost on gun control."

-- NBC Nightly News, June 16. Tom Brokaw introduced a piece on Democrat Bart Stupak who went back on campaign promises and now supports gun control:
"One Congressman says the Columbine massacre did cause a change of heart for him on gun control. That's put him right in the cross-hairs, however, of the powerful gun lobby and some of his friends. How high a cost will he have to pay?"
Jim Avila began his story: "Lake Michigan's northern shore. Gun country USA. Michigan's first congressional district, the upper peninsula, population 580,000, an NRA stronghold where gun dealers outnumber fast food restaurants...."

-- ABC's Good Morning America, June 16. MRC analyst Mark Drake took down this series of agreeable questions from Charlie Gibson to Eric Holder, none of which challenged the assumption that the more gun control the better:

Gibson: "The Senate bill that's already been passed does extend it to gun shows and would have background checks on people buying guns at gun shows. But there are critics who say that the House has weakened this. There is a critical amendment to come that would make a period of time for a background check so short that it really wouldn't catch anyone. There are also people who saying that this bill redefines gun shows in such a way that really won't call for background checks on people who buy guns at gun shows. In other words, that the House on its way to gutting the bill."
After Holder claimed gutting what the Senate passed will put children "at risk," Gibson prompted Holder: "So it sounds to me that the Justice Department is worried about where the House is going?"
Gibson: "There are people who say that the NRA has written significant portions of what the House is about to pass."
Gibson: "There are a lot of political points made in debates on gun control but you're in a situation where you have a Democratic administration in Washington and it may be Democrats who will provide the marginal votes that will weaken gun control in the House. It is John Dingell of Michigan, a Democrat, who is leading the forces proposing this amendment which would significantly weaken what the Senate passed."

-- NBC's Today, June 16: MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens documented Matt Lauer's pro-gun control slant. Lauer opened the segment:
"On Close Up this morning. Gun control. The House of Representatives begins debate today on stricter gun laws and curbing youth violence. Issues that have heated up in the wake of the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Democratic New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy supports stricter gun control measures. Republican Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia does not. Good morning to both of you.
"Congressman Barr let me start with you and ask you about a question of timing. You'll start debate on the youth violence bill today. That of course comes up with tougher punishments for youths who commit crimes with guns. But then you will deal with the actual gun bill. Why talk about the penalties for guns before you talk about the guns themselves?"

Lauer: "So what would you say to a critic who says that Congress, the Republicans in Congress are trying to stall a little bit even if for only a day to build momentum to weaken gun control laws, especially the gun control bill that came out of the Senate."
Lauer: "Congresswoman McCarthy in the youth violence bill that will be debated today one of the big provisions that's going to draw a lot of controversy is something you've been supporting very strongly all along. That is expanding the waiting period so that law enforcement officials can conduct background checks on people who buy guns at gun shows. What kind of support do you have?"
Lauer: "But the issue is how much time? You're supporting three days of a waiting period. Congressman John Dingell is a Democrat from Michigan says 24 hours is enough and he says he has enough support from fellow Democrats to get that through."
Lauer: "In other words if they vote against that, if they vote for a longer waiting period the NRA will target them in the next election."

Carolyn McCarthy: "Oh the NRA will definitely target them. They're already doing radio commercials and everything else against those members that are even mentioning that they might be supporting this particular bill. And that's too bad because the American people do want us to do something. We should be doing something. The debate from the Senate should have taught the House something that the American people want this, we should be working on this."
Lauer: "Right. Congressman Barr you're on the board of the NRA where do you come down on the waiting period? 72 hours or 24 hours?"

Lauer: "Do you think that Congressman Dingell's proposal makes it easier for your colleagues, either Republicans or Democrats to vote for the shorter waiting period without appearing to be weak on gun control?"
Lauer: "Congresswoman McCarthy there is some fear among some people that now that school is out and parents aren't sending their children off into what they may view as harm's way everyday that there's gonna be some momentum lost on gun control. Do you agree with that?"


This is one issue the networks find too important to risk jeopardizing with balanced reporting. -- Brent Baker

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