Bush's "Hard Right Edge"; Temple Event Attack Skipped; Lifetime's Gift to Hillary
1) CBS's Bill Whitaker on Bush's strategy: "Soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina." Jimmy Breslin on ABC: "We don't come from a low IQ state." NBC's Tom Brokaw compared the campaign to TV wrestling: "Let's get ready to rumble."
4) "Unfortunately that was defeated," complained the co-host of a new ABC News-produced Lifetime show, about Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Other topics raised in the interview with her: Grocery shopping and what she'll do "to help women" get day care.
online, the March 6 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC's bi-weekly
compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the
liberal media. Amongst the quote headings: "Kamikaze
Conservatism'; "No Compassionate Conservative"; "McCain No
Moderate"; "Bush Makes McCain Fans Cry"; "Disgusting Whiff
of Cold War"; "Gore: A Better Son Than Bush"; "Poisonous
Free Speech" and "Bryant's Reagan Double Take." To read these
quotes, go to:
Clarification: The March 6 CyberAlert quoted NPR's Nina Totenberg as saying on Inside Washington, in defense of Al Gore's affiliation with Maria Hsia, that he didn't know the event at the Buddhist temple was a fundraiser. She added: "But that's undoubtedly true of Bob Dole and one of his top campaign people last time, in the middle of the campaign, had to plead guilty to major campaign finance abuses but there's no film in that case. In this case there's film at 11." The MRC's Tim Graham suggested that Totenberg was referring to Simon Fireman. The October 24, 1996 CyberAlert relayed: "Dan Rather announced that Simon Fireman, a former Dole fundraiser, had been ordered to pay $6 million in fines for laundering money to avoid contribution limits. NBC's Tom Brokaw also mentioned Simon as he introduced a piece by Lisa Myers on soft money fundraising by both parties." Hmmm. Nothing there about being a foreign agent or arranging money from monks.
Corrections: The March 6 CyberAlert said Anne Heche "claimed she's both male than female." The "than" should have been "and." The same issue quoted NBC's Matt Lauer, in an interview of John McCain, referring to "you're challenges to Pat Robertson." That should have read "your."
George W. Bush's strategy on the day before Super Tuesday: "To soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina," insisted Bill Whitaker on the CBS Evening News. In a story looking at how John McCain must win New York, ABC's John Cochran also raised the Bob Jones issue, allowing New York columnist Jimmy Breslin to take a swipe at those in South Carolina: "We don't come from a low IQ state." Even if McCain loses big on Super Tuesday he may not go away as CBS Bob Schieffer reported that some Republicans have "concluded Bush-McCain may be the strongest ticket Republicans can field."
Opening the March 6 NBC Nightly News, anchor Tom Brokaw
compared the presidential contest to wrestling:
NBC's David Bloom looked at how McCain spent the day complaining about Bush's ads while Bush touted his education plans with his wife at his side. Bloom noted that in New York women were reacting badly to Bush's anti-McCain ads on breast cancer funding as they are "irate that the issue's being politicized." Claire Shipman checked in on the Gore/Bradley battle before Tom Brokaw examined how Hispanics are the key to who wins California.
Here's more on how the March 6 ABC and CBS evening shows approached Super Tuesday:
-- ABC's World News Tonight ran back-to-back pieces on
McCain and Bush. Linda Douglass began her take on McCain's day:
Dean Reynolds looked at Bush, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Twenty-four hours before the most critical day of
voting in his campaign, George W. Bush addressed his strengths and weaknesses.
In San Diego this morning, the Governor stressed public education and his
desire to improve it. The campaign thinks education is his strongest issue,
and today Bush's wife Laura helped out."
Next, John Cochran showed how McCain must win New York
if he wants his campaign to continue, but he too soon arrived at Bob Jones
University: "To win McCain must get big help from Catholics, who comprise
half of the state's Republican voters. Columnist Jimmy Breslin, a Catholic,
believes Bush's visit to Bob Jones University will hurt him here."
Later, World News Tonight dedicated "A Closer Look" segment to a piece by Terry Moran taking on Al Gore from the left. Moran outlined the complaint by far-left environmentalists, naturally unlabeled, about how they claim that because Gore controls his father's estate, which includes $500,000 in Occidental Petroleum stock, he is not taking the side of Indians in Colombia who are fighting plans by the company to drill on their land.
-- CBS Evening News. Up front, Phil Jones uniquely reported that McCain has already spent $40 million, putting him just a few hundred thousand short of the total candidates who accept matching funds are allowed to spend during the entire primary season.
Bob Schieffer then told Dan Rather about conflicting
advice being delivered to McCain: "Dan, the McCain campaign is all smiles
out front, but behind the scenes, some key supporters now believe his quest
for the Republican nomination is all but over, and how to end it could explode
into a nasty fight. Here is why. One group of advisors is so angry about the
Bush team's tactics, they want McCain to continue his campaign for the
presidency as an independent, something McCain has always said he'd never
do. But these same supporters hope a new poll showing McCain could get a
quarter of the vote as an independent might help to change his mind.
Next, Bill Whitaker checked in on Bush and applied some loaded labeling: "His strategy, to soften the hard right edge he sharpened in South Carolina. Labeled intolerant there, in Los Angeles today he visited the Museum of Tolerance, dedicated to Holocaust victims. He's wooing women and Latinos, stressing issues like education and as much as possible he's ignoring John McCain."
On the campaign trail on Monday George W. Bush attacked Al Gore over the Buddhist temple fundraising event, but though it was organized by Maria Hsia who was convicted for it last Thursday, Bush's citation still didn't prompt a word about her on ABC or NBC Monday night. Only the CBS Evening News picked up on Bush's attack, but failed to mention Hsia.
As noted in the previous two CyberAlerts, last Thursday ABC's World News Tonight gave Hsia's conviction, for illegal funneling of straw donor money, just 19 seconds while it got 23 seconds on the CBS Evening News. NBC Nightly News skipped it then and again Monday night and all three morning shows ignored it Friday morning.
In a March 6 CBS Evening News story on Gore reporter
John Roberts focused on how Gore is already employing "the nasty tone
usually reserved for general elections." After playing a soundbite of
Gore claiming Texas is the 50th state in health insurance for women and
attacking Bush for having a donor pay for ads bashing McCain on the
environment, Whitaker noted:
Lesson #1: If the networks are on your side you don't have to worry about them making the conviction of a fundraiser into a big issue.
(Clarification: The last two CyberAlerts have featured a headline including the words "Hsia Shunned" in reference to the networks ignoring the conviction of Maria Hsia. I failed to note how her last name is pronounced: "Shaw," thus creating a headline rhyme.)
Speaking of Hsia shunned, the Republican National Committee (RNC) made sure Monday that network staffers who handle calls and e-mail weren't shunned. Monday morning Cliff May and Mike Collins, of the RNC's communications office, sent an e-mail message under the name of RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson to RNC activists around the country urging them to call or e-mail the networks to complain about the lack of coverage of Hsia's conviction.
In his Tuesday "Inside Politics" column for the Washington Times, Greg Pierce summarized the result:
The Republican Party yesterday gave out the phone numbers of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and urged Republicans to call the network anchors to protest coverage of a Democratic fund-raising trial.
Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson told the Associated Press that the evening news programs didn't devote enough time to Thursday's conviction of Vice President Al Gore's former fund-raiser for arranging illegal contributions to Democrats during the 1996 campaign.
Maria Hsia was convicted of five felonies over more than $100,000 in illegal contributions. The "CBS Evening News" devoted 23 seconds to the story Thursday evening, Mr. Nicholson said, while ABC's "World News Tonight" logged 19 seconds. NBC's "Nightly News" did not mention the story at all, he said.
Both The Washington Times and The Washington Post put the story on the front page. "I think it's neglect," Mr. Nicholson said. "If she had been a Republican operative who had brought money to a Republican candidate, there would have been an absolute uproar."
Network representatives say Mr. Nicholson's protest was unusual in including the office phone numbers of the anchors and their bosses and, in some cases, their e-mail addresses. His call to arms was issued via e-mail to about 10,000 Republican activists and radio talk show hosts across the country.
Yesterday, Mr. Nicholson said the networks had responded to the protest by disconnecting their anchors' e-mail accounts. "The callers who can actually get through to Peter Jennings' office are being hung up on -- right after they mention Maria Hsia," Mr. Nicholson said.
The information the RNC distributed:
-- ABC News
News Chairman -- Roone Arledge -- 212/456-4000
News President -- David Westin -- 212/456-6200
-- CBS News
News Executive Vice President -- Jonathan Klein -- 212/975-2730
-- NBC News
News President -- Andrew Lack -- 212/664-4611
Empathizing with Hillary. On Monday the Lifetime cable network debuted a new 12pm ET/PT one-hour talk show co-produced with ABC News called Lifetime Live. Hillary Clinton was the first guest but she hardly got a grilling from co-hosts Dana Reeve and Deborah Roberts, a veteran of NBC News and ABC News who has frequently filled-in on Good Morning America.
Reeve sympathized with Hillary: "You had major efforts to reform, major reform of health care in this country, and unfortunately that was defeated." The next question from Roberts: Tell us about your grocery shopping experience. Later Roberts wondered about how much Hillary will do to solve day care problems: "Have you thought much about what you want to do to try to help women in this area?"
Early on in the interview Deborah Roberts set up Hillary
with this softball, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
Reeve soon shifted topics to health care and how much Hillary cares: "Let's talk a little bit about health care because we know in '94, you had major efforts to reform, major reform of health care in this country, and unfortunately that was defeated. We're also aware, of course, that you have new ideas. What did you learn from your experience in '94 and how has that affected your policy now?"
Reeve moved on, gushing: "And we're sort of neighbors now, and what is it like to be, after all these years, in civilian life, somewhat?"
Hillary claimed it's "really exciting for me and for Bill to have our own home again."
ABC News veteran Roberts didn't ask when they had their first one, since they've always lived in government housing or rented, but instead asked about grocery shopping: "Now I heard you say the other day that you were going grocery shopping. Now is that really possible? Can you go grocery shopping?"
Hillary assured her she does go to the grocery store, though she feels like Rip Van Winkle, adding it's neat to see the new stuff and meet her neighbors.
After an ad break, Reeve told Hillary: "You might
be interested to know that actually we sent some cameras out on the street,
and the vast majority of the people, of course, were interested in your
personal life, as I think they are with any kind of public figure. And
you've described a little bit of how you've not let that get in the way.
Now that you've seen that in your life and your career and how people really
delve into personal life, what about Chelsea? Would you recommend the same
kind of career for Chelsea? Is Chelsea at all interested in politics? Is it
something - we're so protective of our children."
Later in the interview Roberts set up Hillary: "Mrs. Clinton, so many women are concerned about child care. Sixty-nine percent of the women in this country who are -- 69 percent of the mothers in this country are working. And so obviously child care and affordable child care is bound to become an issue. Have you thought much about what you want to do to try to help women in this area?"
Very late in the interview Roberts did get around to some mildly challenging questions about why women don't seem to be flocking to her candidacy.
In 1992 Bill Clinton used MTV to bring his message to a new audience. This year it looks like Lifetime has put itself at Hillary's service.
++ See a video excerpt of Hillary Clinton on Lifetime. Tuesday afternoon MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer clip. Go to: http://www.mrc.org 
Bush did better Monday night with Leno live and in person than he fared last week on Letterman via satellite. His sit down chat with Leno on the Tonight Show went at least as well as McCain's session last Thursday on the same show.
In Tuesday's Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce recounted some of the interview banter and an earlier show-opening bit involving Leno, Bush and another celebrity:
Less than a week after he bombed with David Letterman, George W. Bush sought a comedic rebound Monday on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."
The comedian asked the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate about his family and his courtship of his wife, but also made light of Mr. Bush's conceded partying past. "When you were out at a frat party, having a good time at Yale, partying with the boys, were you ever thinking, 'You know, I don't want to have that beer. I might be running for President.' Did that ever cross your mind?" Mr. Bush deadpanned: "No."
The late-night talk show opened with a skit making fun of Mr. Bush's
performance on a pop quiz earlier in the campaign. Mr. Leno was filmed
searching the studio before finding Mr. Bush in his dressing room.
"All right governor, once again the category is foreign leaders. Who was the prime minister of Israel from 1996 to 1999?" said the host of "Jeopardy." Mr. Bush replied: "Who is Benjamin Netanyahu?" Thrilled with the correct answer, Mr. Leno pumped a fist and said, "Yes."
To read Pierce's Monday through Friday columns of
political items, go to:
From the March 6 Late Show with David Letterman, the first political Top Ten list since Letterman's return two weeks ago: "The Top Ten Signs Your Campaign Is Doomed." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. Campaign bus adorned with catchy slogan "Greyhound"
Since CyberAlert last ran a Letterman Top Ten list the Late Show has debuted a new Web page with access to video clips from the show, a complete Top Ten archive and the Wahoo Gazette: http://www.cbs.com/lateshow/  -- Brent Baker 
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