Jennings Reality Check
Three items today:
1) Peter Jennings
denies anti-GOP/conservative bias. Judge for yourself by reading over some
NQs from ABC.
2) Time magazine
advocates higher gas taxes.
3) Time's TV show
analysis not quite on target.
Peter Jennings appeared on CNN's Larry King Live Tuesday night and denied
that he or ABC are biased. After showing a clip of Newt Gingrich claiming
the media favor Clinton, this exchange (transcribed by MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens) ensued:
Larry King: "And he says you're part of a
passive conspiracy. So it's fair to ask. Are you?"
Peter Jennings: "No I don't think we're part
of a passive conspiracy and I think that if you talk to the Clintonites
they would tell you we've given them a pretty good going over. On my own
broadcast I think we've given Medicare a pretty good going over and health
care. But I think people should be mindful of the fact that in a political
season we're going to be a factor. And we're going to be. And I think
we're a factor already in America these days because I think we do
contribute sometimes to the negativity in the land and so it's not all
that difficult to pick up on our mistakes and expound on them from a
particular point of view."
Larry King: "Does he have a point?"
Peter Jennings: "In which respect?"
Larry King: "That we do make mistakes."
Peter Jennings: "Oh there's no question we
make mistakes. Oh there's no question we make mistakes."
Larry King: "But the mistakes are not
passive conspiracy mistakes."
Peter Jennings: "Well, I yes I'm uh...We get
it from the left. We get it from the right. We get it [from] Republicans.
We get it from Democrats. I don't think, however you may judge reporters,
and some people judge us by the number of minutes we give to a given
subject which I've never thought was particularly fruitful. Some people do
it on the basis of how reporters tell surveyors that they vote. I'm not
sure that' particularly effective. I think reporters for the most part,
whether they work for newspapers, television, radio, get up everyday and
go in pursuit of the story. I do agree with those people who say the
agenda tends to be set sometimes before we get on the air because we all
have, you know, political, social, cultural baggage."
quite sure what the last line means, but inspired by a suggestion from Wes
Minter of KCMO in Kansas City, I've gone back through NQ to see if
Jennings or his show have done anything that could possibly justify
Gingrich's ire. Judge for yourself.
Jennings radio commentary from November 14, 1994: "Some thoughts on
those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you
about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the
screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other
way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the
anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of
uncontrolled two- year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last
week... Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation
can't be run by an angry two-year-old."
reporter Jack Smith previewing what the Republicans will bring, on January
1, 1995: "Check out the new year. You'll probably get a tax cut --
one economists don't think we can afford. As the new Republican majority
flexes its muscle....watch for welfare reform, with the poor, who need
help most, getting less. Your local symphony orchestra and educational TV
-- both may become history if the GOP eliminates funding for the arts.
questions from Jennings' interview with Clinton, aired on the January 5,
1995 World News Tonight:
"I'd like to start, if I may, with what I
think you may think is a puzzlement. You've reduced the deficit. You've
created jobs. Haiti hasn't been an enormous problem. You've got a crime
bill with your assault weapon ban in it. You got NAFTA, you got GATT, and
50 percent of the people don't want you to run again. Where's the
"...Here's another one. In our poll today, the absolute critical
items for Congress to address. Number one, cutting the deficit. Number
two, health care reform. The two issues which were absolute priorities for
two years, and you don't get any credit for them?"
promo narrated by Jennings that aired during the July 9, 1995 This Week
with David Brinkley: "Next week on ABC's World News Tonight, a series
of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the
new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in
25 years. Is this what the country wants?"
from the December 22, 1995 World News Tonight, reporter Jack Smith:
"Monuments and national parks are shut. So are museums. A
long-awaited rare exhibit of the Dutch painter Vermeer at the National
Gallery, eight years in the making, is closed. And the shutdown now has a
human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both work for the
government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a Christmas
"Raise Gas Taxes Now!" blares the headline over a May 13 Time
magazine piece by Matthew Miller. The subhead: "The U.S. pays a huge
price for still-too-cheap gasoline. Higher fuel taxes can clean the air
and lower the deficit." Matthews asserted: "At roughly a billion
dollars a penny in annual revenue, a 50 cent gas tax would slice a quarter
off our budget deficit by 2000, while still leaving prices 20% below their
1981 high and less than half what motorists abroad pay." He
"In 1993 Americans found 4 cents on top of
$1.20-per-gal. Gas almost too much to bear, even while we bequeath our
children dirtier air, the continued risk of war over oil and a trillion
dollars in fresh debt every four years. Now Dole's trying to get that
nickel back for us.
He ought to know better."
An item caught by MRC analyst lay Waters. From page 85 of the May 13 Time
magazine: "Profit, a hot new show, joins Fox's Monday-night
Well, that's not so hot reporting about a not so
hot show. Profit didn't air Monday May 6. Fox canceled the show after four
weeks because of low ratings.
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe