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CyberAlert -- 08/03/2000 -- Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, Thursday PM Edition

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Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check, Thursday PM Edition

1) "Nasty" Speech, "Religious Right" Assailed; Couric Amazed: "Mild-Mannered Dick Cheney. Who Knew?"

2) Stephanopoulos Touts Gore's Advantages; "Charlie, You Make A Good Political Strategist" Stephanopoulos suggested after Gibson recommended Democrats say the next four years under Gore would "be the same as the last eight -- prosperity, full employment, no international problems."

3) Quote of the Morning: David Bloom says Cheney threw "red meat to the lions"


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Front page story. "Nasty" Speech, "Religious Right" Assailed; Couric Amazed: "Mild-Mannered Dick Cheney. Who Knew?"

At least NBC showed the entire speech Wednesday night. This morning, Today's Katie Couric called Dick Cheney's speech to the Republican convention "nasty" and commented to Tim Russert, "Mild-mannered Dick Cheney. Who knew?" Russert was forced to remind her that one of Cheney's most stinging lines ("It's time for them to go") matched word-for-word a put-down of Republicans from Al Gore's 1992 convention address.

A review of the July 17, 1992 Today show revealed no complaints about Gore's negativity following that speech. Instead, NBC's Margaret Larson called Gore "impassioned," while reporter Kenley Jones joshed that Gore would have to restrain himself so he wouldn't upstage Clinton.

But that was then. "After days of syrupy rhetoric," David Bloom intoned, "Cheney's attack was like throwing red meat to the lions, and Republicans on the convention floor loved it." Bloom also warned that "a focus group of swing voters...did react negatively."

"Despite promises from Republicans to avoid a night of partisan attacks," added David Gregory, "Cheney let loose, directing shot after shot at Bill Clinton and arguing Al Gore would forever remain in his shadow."

Today also took aim at the "religious right." Lisa Myers accused social conservatives of toppling New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman. "Four years ago," Myers asserted, "Whitman was one of the Republican Party's biggest stars. Today, her strong pro-choice views have isolated her from many in her party....This one-time darling of the party is something of an outcast, considered politically radioactive because of her strongly pro-choice views on abortion."

Interviewing Whitman, Myers told her, "You've been demonized really by the religious right. Does that upset you?" Despite her thesis that Whitman's career had been torpedoed, Myers still proclaimed that "many political observers" think Whitman would be "an ideal" presidential or vice presidential candidate in the future.

+++ Watch a RealPlayer video of the Today show's July 17, 1992 reaction to Gore's negative 1992 speech. Go to the MRC's home page early this evening ET.

Web/e-mail bonus: Something we didn't have room for in the hard copy edition, Katie Couric's use of the term "nasty" in a discussion with Tim Russert on the August 3 Today:
Couric: "It was interesting to hear Dick Cheney use the phrase 'it's time for them to go,' because as Yogi Berra would say, it's deja vu all over again from 1992."
Russert: "Well, you see, it inoculates them because when Al Gore says it's the most negative speech since Pat Buchanan in 1992, Republicans say excuse me, Mr. Vice President, there you go again, we're simply using the words you used in 1992 about George Bush, Sr."
Couric: "When they talk about how nasty the speech was in other words, that protects them in a way."
Russert: "Yeah, sure, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's why you'll see this give and take but the fact is Cheney went out there last night with the stated purpose of revving up the base. Saying, we know what you want to hear, it's that Bill Clinton must go, and Al Gore is inseparable from him and I'm going to get it to you right now. But the whole country was watching it too so you have to calculate it into your political calculation that the American people are going to respond to the same message."

END Web/e-mail bonus

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Page two article. Stephanopoulos Touts Gore's Advantages; "Charlie, You Make A Good Political Strategist."

ABC's Charles Gibson seemed incredulous that Dick Cheney would question Bill Clinton's record, and he told former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, now an ABC analyst, that "I would think the Democrats would throw that right back at him."

Discussing Cheney's speech during the first half-hour of Thursday's GMA, Gibson turned to Stephanopoulos. "Well, one line that he delivered I want to ask you about. 'Does anyone,' he said, 'Republican or Democrat, seriously believe that under Mr. Gore, the next four years would be any different from the last eight?' Well, I would think the Democrats would throw that right back at him: 'Yeah, it would be the same as the last eight -- prosperity, full employment, no international problems.'" (None at all?)

"Charlie, you make a good political strategist," Stephanopoulos assured him. "I was talking to the Gore campaign last night. They see that line, and another line where Cheney talked about the last eight years as a 'wasted opportunity,' as a real wedge for them to come in and say 'what are you talking about, wasted opportunity? The Dow has tripled, we've gone from deficit to surplus,' and that this will give Al Gore a chance to talk about the economy, a new chance to talk about the economy."

An hour later, leading a roundtable discussion with Stephanopoulos, the Weekly Standard's Tucker Carlson, and another former Clinton aide (former press secretary Dee Dee Myers), Gibson again declared the Clinton presidency to be a policy success. "We have a stock market, as George pointed out earlier, that has tripled over the Clinton administration, we have nominal full employment in this country, we don't have any foreign policy crises, things seem to be humming along," Gibson asserted, asking, "Has the party presented a reason to change, other than talking about integrity in the White House, or do they think that's enough?"

Later Stephanopoulos told him that the insiders in the Gore camp were "pretty complacent." He told Gibson, "If you look over the course of history, the person in Gore's position has never lost. Five percent economic growth, a President with 58% approval ratings last month, it's never happened before, and they think eventually -- they're kind of Marxists on this, not in the pejorative sense -- just that the basic structure of the economy will carry them along."

Stephanopoulos offered the same spin right after Cheney's speech last evening. "How do you convince the country it's time for a change when the average voter says 'Hey, I've never had it so good?'" he asked Jennings. "It's a tough argument to make, but without that substance, [the Republicans'] convention bounce could collapse like a bad souffle when the Democrats strike at their convention." A fair analyst would talk about the GOP's advantages at the Democrats' convention. We'll see.

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Quote of the Morning: "[Cheney] went straight for the jugular....After days of syrupy rhetoric, Cheney's attack was like throwing red meat to the lions, and Republicans on the convention floor loved it." -- NBC's David Bloom on Cheney's convention speech, Today, August 3.

END Reprints of Media Reality Check articles

This "Conventions 2000: Media Reality Check" compiled by Rich Noyes with the daytime work of MRC analysts Brian Boyd, Ted Smith, Ken Shepherd and Michael Ferguson. Plus Eric Pairel and Brandon Rytting loading up the Web page. In Philadelphia: Tim Graham, Liz Swasey and Joyce Garczynski. -- Brent Baker

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