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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| June 3, 1996 (Vol. One; No. 24) |

Children, Israel, & Media Poll

Today's e-mail is pretty long, but I think you'll find a lot of good stuff:

1) Who could oppose a march for children? Evil conservatives who insist upon inserting politics and ruining such a wonderful event.

2) More bashing of Benjamin Netanyahu, including quotes from Rather, Gumbel and a morning show co-host with an angle fresh from liberal analysis of Oklahoma City.

3) A new survey shows White House correspondents have voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1976. Not one voted for Reagan in 1984, but the survey-taker claims they're just a bunch of moderates.


On Saturday the Children's Defense Fund held it's Stand for Children march. Here are two examples of how the networks covered up its real agenda:
     -- On the May 30 (Thursday) Good Morning America, co-host Joan Lunden interviewed the CDF's Marian Wright Edelman. Here's an excerpt in which Lunden acts like a PR flak:
     Joan Lunden: "But it seems like there's more money being spent for the environment or for the gun lobby, there are a lot of different groups together, not always in agreement, the federal government's talking about turning over a lot of the social programs to the states. What kind of programs. What do you think is the best way to approach this?"
     Marian Wright Edelman: "Well the first thing is we've got to make a commitment and that's why...
     Lunden, simultaneously: "Yea, yea."
     Edelman: "...I've never seen 35 hundred groups come together across race and class to say we will no longer tolerate the neglect and abandonement of our children or the massive budget cuts or the dismantlement of safety net. We will not permit it. And secondly, it hasn't happened. And third, citizens, parents, grandparents can make sure that our government leaders, our  government leaders do better and invest in, rather than cut our health care and child care and jobs."
     Lunden: "Gotta get the message out there and get people to rally around one of our most important problems. Mary, thank you so much. We'll be right back."

     Having endorsed Edelman's false charge about destroying the safety net, the next day (May 31) GMA had the gall to claim conservatives were inserting politics into the march! From the top of the 8am ET hour:
     Charlie Gibson: "There is some controversy about this rally. One of the directors of the Heritage Founadion, a conservative group in Washington, is calling the march a continuation of the strategy to expand the welfare state. I don't know if this is, Elizabeth Vargas, if it's a innocent march for children or if it's a political, political motives behind it."
     Vargas, news anchor: "You would think that anything having to do with the welfare of kids would be purely apolitical. But even this has turned into sort of a debate on whether or not the groups who are organizing this might even stand to gain financially from government programs that are being promoted through this march. So, politics even in this."
     Gibson: "Can't have anything in Washington without controversy.  Weather, from Spencer this morning."
     Of course, GMA never told viewers any more about Heritage's point. Instead, they proceded to interview a group of marchers, including one teenage girl who thought it would be a great idea to have kids elected to the House of Representatives.

     -- Friday night (May 31) NBC's Andrea Mitchell also had contempt for the idea that the "politics" of the march be considered. From NBC Nightly News as transcribed by MRC intern Jessica Andersan:
     Mitchell: "They are America's future, and all too often, America's forgotten people. Too young to vote, too small to be heard, now coming to Washington with a message: America, listen up."
     After clips of a couple of marchers, one of whom asseted that "Children do mean something and we do need money, like, to have programs," Mitchell continued: "From Miami, Ava and Jerra McDonald are heading to the nation's capital, joining thousands of families from around the country, all coming to talk facts, alarming facts. Every 32 seconds, a child is born into poverty; everyday, three children die from abuse or neglect; everyday, six children commit suicide, 13 are murdered; today, 100,000 are homeless."
     Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Harvard University: "Children are suffering because in this country we have had public policy over the last decade and a half which has literally been mean to children."
     Mitchell: "In Washington, D.C., elementary school teacher Mark Lewis sees the results. An arrest right outside the yard where second- and third-graders are learning to play baseball."
     So Reagan's to blame for urban violence?
     Back to Mitchell: "This class, part of a special program, tutoring in math, reading, geography, for kids who play in a baseball league.
....The federal government kicks in $50,000 [video of kids playing baseball], exactly the kind of spending critics think is a waste of tax dollars."
     Newt Gingrich: "But those solutions we think have to start with balancing the budget and not crushing these young people with a generation of having to work to pay off our debt."
     Mitchell: "You might wonder why marching for children would be controversial. But critics think rally organizers are using the kids to try to prevent cuts in welfare and other big government programs. That's politics. To a lot of the children coming here this weekend this rally is about something far more important: survival. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington."


If a conservative wins, something must have gone wrong and someone or something must be blamed. Friday brought more examples of reporters treating Benjamin Netanyahu just like they portrayed Gingrich: an extremist, a threat, a radical, and a man whose rhetoric inspired a murderer. Examples:

     -- May 31 Today:
     Reporter Ron Allen: "The transition seems already underway. This morning Netanyahu continued talks that could create the most right-wing Orthodox religious government here ever. During the count Netanyahu has been silent, leaving aides to offer reassurances that nothing radical is about to happen."
     Bryant Gumbel to James Baker: "It seems certain that Benjamin Netanyahu will prevail and become Israel's new Prime Minister. How big a blow to the peace process is his victory and that of the Likud Party?"

     -- May 31 CBS This Morning:
     Harry Smith to CBS News consultant Fouad Ajami: "Let's talk about his words for a second. Because it's not that many months ago that a lot of people were accusing Bibi Netanyahu of fanning the flames of the Isaeli right, of setting the rhetorical tone for Rabin's assassination."

     -- May 31 Good Morning America:
     Charlie Gibson to "The God Squad" (Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman): "What we were all talking about yesterday was whether terrorism wins. We had a situation where the peace process seemed to be going along well in Israel. Then an assassin kills Prime Minister Rabin. Then there are bus bombings, well publicized, many many people dead in Israel. And there is so much talk of fear in the election, and the candidate talking the most about it, Benjamin Netanyahu, gets elected. The question is, does terrorism work?"

     -- May 31 CBS Evening News:
     Dan Rather opening the show: "Right-wing hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu is declared Israel's new Prime Minister."
     Then Rather introducing the story: "...On the one hand was the incumbent Shimon Peres, offering daring new deals for peace. On the other, Benjamin Netanyahu, promising, what he called, national security first."
     Rather to reporter Bob Simon in Israel: "Bob, how, if at all, will life change in Israel now?"
     Simon: "Dan, the real revolution on Wednesday was the enormous power gained by the ultra-religious parties. That could effect the very nature of life here. They're bound to get crucial ministries such as education. They'll want to promote legislation to close roads and theaters and restaurants on the sabbath. They'll want to maintain their total control over events, such as marriage and divorce, and conversion. It looks like the secular state of Israel may be joining the rest of the Middle East, Dan, and moving toward fundamentalism."


Survey says White House reporters voted for Carter, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis and Clinton.
     On Fox Morning News here in D.C. on May 10, U.S. News & World Report White House reporter Kenneth Walsh claimed: "I think what you have now in the mainstream media is a bias against power almost. It's a sense of anti-incumbency that we in the media always zero in on people who have power and try to hold them up to scrutiny and I think many times we focus on only the negative and I think that's what the politicians object to. In a book I've just written about the presidency and the press I talk about this. And I do criticize the media for being too cynical in dealing with politics and public life but I don't think it's so much a liberal bias I think it's more just an engine of anti-incumbency....I did a survey of the White House press corps. And I found that the overwhelming number of reporters in that press corps identify themselves as moderates."
     So, for whom did these anti-incumbent moderates vote? Let's go to Walsh's new book for which he personally polled 28 of his White House colleagues. On page 263 of "Feeding the Beast: The White House Versus the Press" Walsh writes:
     "In 1992, nine respondents voted for Clinton, two for George Bush, and one for independent Ross Perot. Three said they had not voted for anyone, and one reporter wrote in the name of former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. In 1988, twelve voted for Democrat Michael Dukakis,  only one for Bush, and three did not vote for a presidential candidate.  In 1984, ten voted for Democrat Walter Mondale, no one admitted voting for Ronald Reagan, and four said they had not voted for a presidential candidate. In 1980, eight voted for Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter, two voted for Ronald Reagan, four voted for independent candidate John Anderson, and three did not vote. In 1976, eleven voted for Carter and two for Republican incumbent Gerald Ford."
     But if they are "anti-incumbent" why'd they support Carter in 1980?
     In the notes section at the back of the book Walsh provides some details about his poll: "I surveyed the 64 reporters who are regulars at the White House -- the journalists who consider their principal assignment the coverage of the presidency. I sent a detailed questionaire to all 64. Their employers included the television networks ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN; the newspapers The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post; the newspaper chains Copley, Cox, Hearst, Knight-Ridder, and Scripps Howard; and the magazines Business Week, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report. I received 19 written responses, and I interviewed an additional nine White House correspondents in person, bringing the total number of responses to 28."

     The June 3 Notable Quotables mailed Friday.

  -- Brent Baker



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