Flashback: In Backhanded Bias, Kemp Choice Spurred Talk of 'Haters'

Sad news tonight of the passing, at age 73 following a battle with cancer, of Jack Kemp. (Washington Post's obituary.)

Back in 1996, Bob Dole picked him as his vice presidential running mate, and some in the news media exploited the selection of Kemp to deliver backhanded insults about the “haters” who comprised the rest of the Republican Party. CNN's Bill Schneider: “He is a rare combination -- a nice conservative. These days conservatives are supposed to be mean. They're supposed to be haters.” And:
Most conservatives these days come across as mean --> or intolerant --> or grouchy -->. Kemp is tolerant and inclusive. He has an excellent relationship with minorities. He showed real courage two years ago when he came out against Proposition 187, the punitive anti-illegal immigration measure in California. Kemp is not a hater.
ABC's Cokie Roberts: “He's also very inclusive, reaching out to minorities, to women, being for immigration, for affirmative action. And I think that's very important for this particular convention, Peter, and this party, which is seen somewhat dour, and somewhat mean in its ways.”
 
From the August 1996 edition of the Media Research Center's now defunct MediaWatch newsletter:
Bob Dole's choice of Jack Kemp as a running mate drew praise from a number of reporters and analysts, but sometimes that praise accompanied backhanded insults about the “haters” who comprise the rest of the Republican Party.
 
CNN polling analyst Bill Schneider touted the choice on the August 9 Inside Politics, praising Kemp as he impugned other conservatives: “He is a rare combination -- a nice conservative. These days conservatives are supposed to be mean. They're supposed to be haters. Bob Novak talked a minute ago about the frowning face of the Republican Party. Jack Kemp is buoyant, he's effusive, he's inclusive of everybody in the country, not just in the Republican Party. He puts a different face on that ticket.”
 
On the August 9 World News Tonight, ABC's Cokie Roberts also played backhand with Kemp: “He's very optimistic, but he's also very inclusive, reaching out to minorities, to women, being for immigration, for affirmative action. And I think that's very important for this particular convention, Peter, and this party, which is seen somewhat dour, and somewhat mean in its ways to have someone with a big smile on his face saying 'you all come,' and 'I'm going to cut your taxes' while you're at it, is not a bad thing for the Republicans.”
 
During live coverage August 10 of Kemp's vice presidential announcement in Russell, Kansas, CNN anchor Judy Woodruff declared: “On welfare, up through the last few years, he's advocated more moderate policies than those that were passed this month by the Republican-controlled Congress. Jack Kemp does not like the idea of taking money -- yanking money away from welfare mothers with small children.”
 
Hours later on CNN's Capital Gang, Woodruff's husband, Al Hunt, Executive Washington Editor of The Wall Street Journal, disparaged the platform while praising the Kemp pick: “Jack Kemp is gonna not only excite this convention, but he cuts across regional, racial and generational lines, across all of America, and I think that he and his incredibly attractive family are going to add lustre and intellectual firepower. Now there are some risks. He has a few flaky views, the gold standard for one, and more important, Jack Kemp is a can-do optimist who cares about all people and that s going to put him at odds with a platform that is protectionist, mean-spirited, anti-immigration, insensitive to racial minorities.”

On that day's Inside Politics, Bill Schneider proceeded to repeat the previous day's slur: “Kemp also has a rare combination of qualities. He s a nice conservative. There haven't been too many of those since Ronald Reagan. Most conservatives these days come across as mean --> or intolerant --> or grouchy -->. Kemp is tolerant and inclusive. He has an excellent relationship with minorities. He showed real courage two years ago when he came out against Proposition 187, the punitive anti-illegal immigration measure in California. Kemp is not a hater.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center