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CyberAlert -- October 18, 1996 -- Pardon Hypocrisy

Four items today:

1. On Good Morning America, Elizabeth Vargas asked Jack Kemp about Bob Dole's hypocrisy in opposing Whitewater pardons after having supported the pardoning of Casper Weinberger. But Vargas and others in the media have ignored some key differences.

2. To CNN's Bernard Shaw, raising ethics isn't a valid concern worthy of discussion. It's either an "attack" or an "insult."

3. The co-host of CBS This Morning, however, offered a contrarian view Thursday. He suggested that the media are wrong to consider negative campaigning off limits.

4. The text of the October 21 edition of Notable Quotables, jammed with the most biased quotes of the past two weeks, including many examples of reporters calling Dole mean and nasty.


1) MRC analyst Gene Eliasen caught a couple of interesting questions posed during Thursday's Good Morning America. Interviewing Jack Kemp and Leon Panetta, Elizabeth Vargas asked Kemp:

"Senator Dole had pledged to keep this campaign on a positive note. You, in your debate said yourself that negative attacks are, quote, 'beneath Bob Dole.' Why then the decision to launch specific, some would say negative, attacks last night?"
Her next question: "Mr. Kemp, you do know that Senator Dole also fought to get a pardon for Casper Weinberger several years ago. It would seem that many, in the eyes of some, it's a bit hypocritical to criticize the President for, for possibly considering pardons this year."

Like other reporters over the past couple of days who have highlighted the Dole pardon hypocrisy theme, Vargas failed to note some key differences between Weinberger and Whitewater. Former independent counsel Lawrence Walsh raised the issue Tuesday. But the October 16 USA Today noted that Walsh claimed that Dole had "urged pardons for crimes of constitutional dimension." Whitewater crimes hardly raise constitutional balance of power issues. There is a difference between a President pardoning business associates who committed crimes to make money for themselves and a cabinet member indicted for carrying out policies while in office.

2) After Wednesday night's debate, MRC analyst Clay Waters noticed, CNN's Bernard Shaw concluded the post-debate analysis by posing this question to the audience: "I only leave you with this question: Is a question about character and ethics a quote 'insult,' or an 'attack'?"

3) On the bright side, the media's attitude that anything negative or critical said of Clinton is "nasty" or "harsh," was noted by the co-host of CBS This Morning. Thursday morning (October 17) Jose Diaz-Balart asked CBS analyst Kevin Phillips:

"It seems like everywhere else in the world, where there is a democracy, people are allowed to talk about the other candidate's failures as a politician. Here, it seems, that many in the media call that name calling and personal attacks. Are we in the media making too much of pointing out what seemed to be just inconsistencies in a candidate?"

4) The October 21 Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. To subscribe by snail mail, send a check for $19 to the Media Research Center, 113 South West. St., Alexandria, Va. 22314.

Dole: Mean and Harsh

"Good morning, everyone. The last debate of the national political campaign is on tap for tonight in San Diego. Bob Dole is not waiting for that debate to attack Bill Clinton's ethics. With more on a campaign that is now getting meaner, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is standing by live in San Diego." -- Matt Lauer leading off his October 16 Today newscast.

"Rita, true or untrue that they're preparing for a kind of carpet bombing on character?" -- Dan Rather to Rita Braver on what the White House faced from Bob Dole in that night's debate, Oct. 16 Evening News.

"Was he borrowing the words of an over-enthusiastic supporter, or did Bob Dole lower the level of civility a notch in his contest with Bill Clinton?" -- Bernard Shaw on the "Bozo" comment, October 8 Inside Politics.

"I know that was a major goal of the Dole campaign [in the debate], to make sure people saw this compassionate side of Bob Dole. Do you think that he is in some ways paying the price for a Republican Congress that enacted, or tried to enact measures, in the views of many were simply too harsh or too draconian?" -- Katie Couric to Elizabeth Dole, October 8 Today.

"Let me just turn to the presidential campaign very quickly. As you've heard, Tim, it turned decidedly nastier in the Dole camp yesterday. He was talking about a moral crisis. He refused to answer a question if President Clinton was morally and ethically capable of being President. You heard that Bozo exchange. Effective strategy or is this going to come back to haunt him?" -- Katie Couric to Tim Russert, Oct. 9 Today.

"In his harshest, most personal attack yet on the President, Bob Dole today charged that the Clinton Administration is unethical, that Bill Clinton himself is slipping and sliding away from questions about possible illegal campaign contributions." -- NBC reporter David Bloom, October 14 Nightly News.

"Senator Dole said he wasn't going to mention Whitewater, then Whitewater did rear its ugly head last night." -- CBS This Morning co-host Mark McEwen to Fred Barnes the morning after the first debate, Oct. 7.

Phil Jones: CBS Hatchet Man

"He's got to explain how his campaign centerpiece, the 15 percent tax cut, can be paid for without draconian cuts in social programs. He wants to talk about the character issue, but he can't get personal or look mean-spirited doing it." -- Phil Jones on what Dole needed to do in the upcoming debate, October 4 CBS Evening News.

"I think that if I had to say probably where he was the weakest and where he really needed to score was, he needed to explain to the American people how this country can afford that 15 percent tax cut, the centerpiece of his campaign, without these draconian cuts. I don't think he has done that yet." -- Reporter Phil Jones on CBS after the October 6 debate.

"It's a tough speech for him to make because he runs the risk of looking desperate and mean-spirited." -- Phil Jones on Dole raising Clinton's "public ethics," October 15 CBS Evening News.

"Attacking the President could be risky for Mr. Dole because of the debate format. The candidates will be facing voters who are asking the questions, not a reporter. Mr. Dole has never been able to shed that image of a hatchet man that he got back in his 1976 vice presidential debate and the last thing he needs tonight is a boo, a hiss, or a gasp from one of the questioners who thinks he's being too mean." -- Phil Jones, October 16 CBS Evening News.

Characterwise, It's Clinton Over Reagan

"In the first two years this is a man [Clinton] who tried his best to balance the budget, to reform health care, to fight for gay rights, to support personal freedoms. Couldn't those be considered doing the right things, evidence of true character?" -- Bryant Gumbel to David Maraniss, MSNBC's InterNight, October 10.

"Lou, I know you feel as if Reagan had few, if any, character flaws. But let me ask you this. When one sidesteps, or refuses to acknowledge the consequences of their policies or actions, why shouldn't that be viewed as a character flaw? Or when one lies. For example, let me roll a clip and then we'll come back. This one deals with Iran-Contra." -- Gumbel to Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon, same show.

"While he appeared to be empathetic, his policies caused enormous suffering for those who were least able to afford it?" -- Gumbel to Cannon in discussion about Ronald Reagan, same show.

"Elections, like actions, have consequences. Sometimes it's hard to know what they might be. Did Americans know that electing Ronald Reagan would send the deficit through the roof? Do we know that electing Bob Dole would lessen drug use?" -- CNN reporter Bruce Morton on Late Edition, September 29.

Hateful Hunt Hates Conservatives, Loves Liberals

"I think North Carolina is a test in the great divide in the Republican conservative movement. There's the politics of hope personified by Jack Kemp and there's the politics of hate personified by Jesse Helms." -- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt, October 5 Capital Gang on CNN.

"Kenneth Starr, the supposedly non-partisan independent counsel investigating the Clintons, was the featured speaker yesterday at a luncheon sponsored by right wing hatemonger Pat Robertson [who runs the] Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent Law School. By pandering to Clinton-haters, Mr. Starr appears to be abandoning all pretenses of impartiality. He went into this job with a reputation as a fair-minded conservative. He now looks more like a political hit man desperately eager for a future Supreme Court appointment." -- Al Hunt's Outrage of the Week, October 5 Capital Gang.

"Whatever you thought of Jimmy Carter as President, he has been a great ex-President, helping to avoid bloodshed from North Korea to Haiti, bringing health care to children in Africa and Latin America. Even Bob Novak has lauded some of these efforts. The outrage? The Nobel Peace prize for years has given President Carter the back of its hand. It can make amends next week and give him what he deserves: the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize." -- Al Hunt, September 28 Capital Gang.

Can't Tell What Peter Thinks

"There was a study released at Penn State University today that you may hear a lot about this weekend. It purports to show a connection between women who have had abortions and the risk of developing breast cancer. And if you see it around, remember this. It is not original research, but an analysis of 23 earlier studies. And the National Cancer Institute says those individual studies were actually inconclusive, and because of that, various other scientists say today the Penn State report is flawed." -- Peter Jennings "reporting" a study which appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showing that abortion is responsible for 5,000 cases of breast cancer each year, October 11 World News Tonight.

And They Say Dole is Harsh and Nasty

"I was watching his acceptance speech in San Diego, which was really the speech of his life, it was a very dramatic event. And I'm standing there with one of our younger producers at MSNBC. She's 24 or something and I said `What do you think?' She said, `You know, he scares me.' And I said, `What do you mean he scares you?' She said `It doesn't matter what he's trying to say, it doesn't matter what the speech says or how well he's doing it, all I hear him say is GET OFF MY LAWN! I have this mental image. I'm playing with my friends on the rich guy's lawn and the guy comes to the door, with his little pen, you know, and says GET OFF MY LAWN!'" -- NBC and MSNBC anchor Brian Williams on the Tonight Show, October 10.

-- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher;
-- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
-- Geoffrey Dickens, Gene Eliasen, James Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts
-- Peter Reichel, Circulation Manager; Kathy Ruff, Marketing Director

-- Brent Baker

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