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CyberAlert -- 11/01/2000 -- Bush's "Harsh" & "Scare Tactic" Ad

Bush's "Harsh" & "Scare Tactic" Ad; Couric Took on Lieberman's Spin; Matt Lauer as Jennifer Lopez -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) Morning shows on the new Bush ad questioning Gore's claim he's never said anything "untrue" during the campaign: Diane Sawyer asked if it goes "too far?" CBS's Diana Olick warned that Bush had unleashed "Halloween scare tactics." NBC's David Gregory argued the ad contradicted Bush's pledge "to unite and inspire."

2) Media Reality Check. "NBC's Slavish Social Security Spin Specialists: Claire Shipman Applauded Effective Gore Scare Ad, But Bush's Defense Spun As 'Harsh Attack Ad.'"

3) Katie Couric took on Joe Lieberman's spin this morning. She pressed him about how "Bush says you're trying to scare people into the voting booths" and pointed out how "Woodrow Wilson had less experience in government than George W. Bush."

4) Halloween treat: Check the MRC home page to see a picture from Tuesday's Today of Matt Lauer dressed as Jennifer Lopez as he/she was escorted from a limo by Al Roker dressed as "Puff Daddy."


>>> The latest Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online. Actually, it's been online for a few days thanks to Kristina Sewell and Andy Szul, but I forgot to plug it. Some of the quote headings in the October 30 edition: "Poor, Mistreated Al Gore"; "'Dastardly' George Bush vs. 'Cunning' Al Gore"; "Clinton Abandonment Anxiety?"; "President Bush? Get Scared Now"; "Lovable Gus Hall, Rest in Peace"; "Republicans Loved Lying Reagan"; "Clinton's Lies: A Shining Moment" and "Bush, Gore Not Liberal Enough."
To view the issue in HTML format, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/nq20001030.asp
To see a replication of the hard copy format, call up the Adobe Acrobat PDF file:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2000/pdf/oct302000nq.pdf <<<

1

Picking up where this morning's CyberAlert left off, all three morning shows today played a clip of the new Bush/RNC ad which shows Al Gore proclaiming: "There's never been a time when I've said something untrue." The ad narrator then asks: "Really?"

ABC's George Stephanopoulos raised the possibility it will be seen as "too harsh" and Diane Sawyer asked Jeb Bush if the ad goes "too far?" On CBS's The Early Show, Diana Olick warned that Bush unleashed "some Halloween scare tactics in the form of a new Republican attack ad." NBC's David Gregory argued the ad contradicted Bush's pledge: "Governor Bush promised earlier this week that he was going to unite and inspire and not attack during the final week."

-- ABC's Good Morning America. After ABC played a portion of the ad, George Stephanopoulos reported the Gore campaign showed it last night to a focus group: "What they're wondering is, does it go over the line, does it seem too harsh?" If so, they will produce a counter ad, if not they will go with an ad questioning Bush's capacity.

Next, Diane Sawyer interviewed Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Her second question: "We just heard that ad which ends, 'Really?' about Vice President Gore. Does that go too far for you?"
Jeb Bush answered no, and informed GMA viewers of a Democratic strategy ignored by the morning show, how they are placing taped phone calls from Ed Asner which falsely assert George Bush's Social Security plan will cut benefits for current retirees.

-- CBS's The Early Show. Diana Olick, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noted, scolded in her news story: "George W. Bush wrapped up his tour of the West coast with some Halloween scare tactics in the form of a new Republican attack ad."
Clip of ad: "Remember when Al Gore said his mother-in-law's prescription cost more than his dog's, his own aides said the story was made up. Now Al Gore is bending the truth again."
Olick followed up: "While Gore's camp calls the negative ad a desperate move, Bush continues his advance on states which traditionally vote Democratic, pushing his message of bringing America together."

-- NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, played the entire new Bush ad:
Narrator: "Remember when Al Gore said his mother-in-law's prescription cost more than his dog's. His own aides said the story was made up. Now Al Gore is bending the truth again. The press calls Gore's Social Security attacks, 'nonsense.' Governor Bush sets aside $2.4 trillion to strengthen social security and pay all benefits."
Al Gore in the ad: "There has never been a time in this campaign when I have said something that I know to be untrue. There's never been a time when I said something untrue."
Ad narrator: "Really?"

Today didn't show the Gore ad as Matt Lauer asked Tim Russert: "The Gore campaign also his its own attack ad. What does history tell us about the impact of ads like these, late in a tight race?"
Russert replied: "It depends on the messenger, Matt. And that's why the Bush people are believing that the Governor's positive rating will allow them to get away with simply repeating Al Gore's words to the public. But there's no doubt it's a risk. That's why that ad is being coupled with another one called 'Trust,' where Governor Bush looks into the camera and talks directly to the American people about accountability and responsibility. One other quick point, Florida has the most seniors of any state in the country. Pennsylvania, Matt, has the second most seniors of any state in the country per capita. That's why this emphasis on Social Security and why Governor Bush feels compelled to try to respond to the Gore attack ad, that Claire mentioned."
Lauer: "You used the word risk a second ago. The risk you're talking about being a backlash against a negative ad hurting the campaign as opposed to helping it?"
Russert: "Absolutely. As David mentioned Governor Bush had talked about changing the tone. It's very important for him to stay consistent on that message. Will viewers who see this say, 'Gee is he deviating or is he simply defending himself?' It's a very difficult road, one the Bush campaign decided to take."

Just before Lauer talked with Russert, David Gregory checked in from the Bush campaign where he emphasized how the new Bush ad contradicts Bush's promises to "unite and inspire." Gregory asserted:
"He's got a new ad up in the battleground states that challenges Gore's credibility, suggests really that he's been lying for political gain. Specifically on Social Security which is a message they hope resonates in Florida. They want to do this. They want to remind voters on the stump that Al Gore will say anything to scare them to get them into the voting booth. All of this as Governor Bush promised earlier this week that he was going to unite and inspire and not attack during the final week."

2

Also on this morning's Today, Claire Shipman positively assessed a new Gore ad attacking Bush on Social Security: "This ad in particular they think has been very effective." But last night on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Paul Smith observed, Campbell Brown denounced the tone of Bush's anti-Gore ad: "In stark contrast to the warm and compassionate message on the road, on the air the Bush Campaign today released this harsh new attack ad that accuses Vice President Gore of lying about Bush's Social Security plan."

That contrast anchored a Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check written this afternoon by Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project. The title of the report distributed by fax this afternoon, "NBC's Slavish Social Security Spin Specialists: Claire Shipman Applauded Effective Gore Scare Ad, But Bush's Defense Spun As 'Harsh Attack Ad.'"

To see the report online as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2000/pdf/fax1101.pdf

First, the text of the pull-out box in the middle of the page:

Where Are the Network Fact Checkers?

"The independent Wall Street Journal shows that the Bush plan drains money that is needed now to pay our current benefits." -- Liberal actor Ed Asner, in a Democratic taped phone message.

"We believe no such thing and no story we've published has asserted it." -- Wall Street Journal editorial, October 25.

Now here's the text of the November 1 Media Reality Check:

NBC's Claire Shipman marveled this morning at the effectiveness of Al Gore's misleading, fear-pushing, anti-free market Social Security TV spots. "Who would have thought it, Katie?" Shipman chirpily exulted to Today's Katie Couric. "[His aides] now believe that Florida could be the centerpiece of a Gore win. They think that's largely because of message: heavy on Social Security, heavy on ads on Social Security."

To let viewers know why she was so darned impressed, Shipman showed a clip of what she touted as a "very effective" ad: "So what happens when Bush promises the same money to young workers and to seniors? Answer: One promise gets broken," the Gore announcer darkly intoned.

"Now, they're gonna keep hitting Social Security hard," Shipman promised, never once criticizing or otherwise even attempting to balance the Democratic ad's message.

More than the other broadcast networks, NBC made a big deal out of its post-debate "Truth Squads." Now with just six days left, all that seems to matter is whether a commercial moves voters. Gore's ad charges that the Republican plan jeopardizes "current" benefits, as if pension checks will stop the moment Bush is inaugurated. But Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman, writing in the same Wall Street Journal whose independence was recently blessed by the Democrats, demonstrated that the claim that Bush jeopardizes old folks' retirement checks is bogus.

"Under the Bush plan, $1 trillion of those assets will instead be held in the form of securities in personal retirement accounts. Does replacing government IOUs with private securities weaken Social Security? Quite the opposite," Friedman explained. "The Bush plan does not affect the benefits of current retirees," he continued. "In effect, the establishment of personal retirement accounts would convert an unfunded liability of $1 trillion into a fully funded liability, which strengthens rather than weakens Social Security."

The media's applause for Gore's scare-the-hell-out-of-senior-citizens campaign drowns out questions about the ethics and accuracy of his TV ads. When Bush slides in one of those ubiquitous tracking polls, the spin is that deficiencies in Bush's plan, not Gore scare tactics, are at work. "Governor, it does appear that your plan to privatize Social Security, in part, is beginning to perhaps hurt you in states like Florida and Pennsylvania," NBC's Tom Brokaw lectured Bush last night.

So far this year, none of the three broadcast networks have informed audiences that several other countries have already implemented even bolder privatization programs. In Chile, which fully privatized its version of Social Security 20 years ago, the result has been higher pensions, a higher savings rate, the increased availability of private investment capital, and much higher economic growth. But that's apparently not news as the networks understand the term.

NBC's Campbell Brown offered still more "fairness" last night on MSNBC's News with Brian Williams: "In stark contrast to the warm and compassionate message on the road, on the air the Bush campaign today released this harsh new attack ad that accuses Vice President Gore of lying about Bush's Social Security plan." But scaring the elderly into thinking their checks will disappear isn't harsh at all?

END Reprint of Media Reality Check

3

Lieberman challenged on today's Today. Interviewing the Democratic VP candidate via satellite from Florida, Katie Couric pressed him about how "Governor Bush says you're trying to scare people into the voting booths" and pointed out how "Woodrow Wilson had less experience in government than George W. Bush."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down Couric's questions to Lieberman in what she called his last Today appearance before the election. (She noted that Dick Cheney had declined Today's invitation.)

-- "Well you are in the sunshine state and as the old ad campaign used to say, 'You need it bad.' What are you doing down there?"

-- "Well you know there are a lot of senior citizens down there so it's no big surprise that you're hammering away at Social Security. You've said that the Bush plan doesn't add up. Governor Bush says he'll put aside $2.4 trillion from the budget surplus, surplus, to protect social security. So what's wrong with that?"

-- "But Senator Lieberman, Governor Bush says you're trying to scare people into the voting booths."

-- "In recent days you've been very forceful, questioning George W. Bush's readiness to be President. Are years of experience in the government really a necessary prerequisite for the presidency? Because some people might say experience outside government in the private sector can be invaluable and a political or a strictly political career can be quite limiting."

-- "Senator, we were looking back in history, you know, Woodrow Wilson had less experience in government than George W. Bush, who was Governor of New Jersey for just two years before being elected President and is really considered a good President by many."

-- "Let, let me move on to another individual, Ralph Nader. You have said a vote for Nader is a vote for George W. Bush. But you're widely considered a man of principle. Why shouldn't people vote their conscience if they feel very, very strongly that they want to make a statement or that Ralph Nader is their pick? Why not say, you know, vote, vote your conscience?"

4

Halloween treat online. Check the MRC home page to see a picture from Tuesday's Today of Matt Lauer dressed as Jennifer Lopez as he/she was escorted from a limo by Al Roker dressed as "Puff Daddy." So you can get the full effect, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul even posted a RealPlayer clip of Lauer's entrance via limo and walk down a red carpet. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org

Enjoy. -- Brent Baker


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