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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| August 28, 1996 (Vol. One; No. 68) |


***MRC CyberAlert: From Chicago***

Quote of the Day | Networks Concede It was a Liberal Night, But Hillary asked to Respond to "Bitter Attacks" | Kay Bailey Hutchison's speech vs. the praise for the "stirring" Cuomo and Jackson though their speeches were laced with personal attacks | Most economists do not blame the Reagan tax cuts for the rising deficit in the 1980s. | Voices in favor of welfare reform vetoed by networks | Sidebites


"This has been a difficult couple of years for you. Did that applause, the way you've been treated here, the way people have been reacting to you, kind of make it all go away?"

-- NBC's Maria Shriver in an exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton after her August 27 speech >

Networks Concede It was a Liberal Night, But... Hillary Asked to Respond to "Bitter Attacks"

On Tuesday night the networks declared that speakers Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson, and Hillary Clinton were liberals, but instead of castigating Cuomo and Jackson for their negative speeches, as they did with speakers in San Diego, they praised their eloquence. Like Monday night, the Democrats again escaped any scrutiny of their intolerance on abortion as the three broadcast networks each aired stories on the disastrous impact of welfare reform.

-- Hillary portrayed as the victim of unwarranted Republican attacks and given plenty of opportunities to fire back. Just after she left the podium, NBC's Maria Shriver asked her nine softball questions. See quote of the day below. For instance, "You are credited with really redefining the role of First Lady and for doing that, you've taken a lot of heat, a lot of criticism. As you look back, do you wished you'd redefined it a little less?" On CBS, Bob Schieffer asked her: "Weren't you a little offended when he [Bob Dole] made the reference he did [to your book]?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer inquired of her: "What goes through your mind when you hear some of these bitter attacks against you?"

-- The three big speakers were tagged liberal by all but CBS. Peter Jennings called Cuomo and Jackson the "senior liberals in the party," and ABC's Jeff Greenfield described Hillary Clinton's speech as "liberalism lite." Tom Brokaw referred to Cuomo's "traditional liberal litany." CNN's Bill Schneider noted Hillary Clinton's "liberal policy agenda." Whitewater was mentioned twice by NBC last night; CNN's Judy Woodruff mentioned it Monday night.

-- The wealth of Democratic delegates and the quota system that selected them have gone unmentioned in prime time so far. A graphic on last night's NBC Nightly News reported 35 percent earn over $100,000. In San Diego, 38 percent fell in that category, prompting CBS, CNN and NBC to ask if the GOP delegates were out of touch. Some reporters have noted that Democrats are split 50-50 male-female, but none has wondered if the quota system might contradict party rhetoric about opposing quotas.

-- Abortion, the focus of the networks in San Diego, has been blown aside in Chicago. Kate Michelman, head of the National Abortion Rights Action League and a supporter of partial birth abortion, addressed the convention. But her early evening speech failed to spur any talk about extremism. The Democrats at the last minute also allowed pro-life Rep. Tony Hall to speak, but that action didn't generate any media interest in why the Democrats felt compelled to make the move. Abortion came up only on CNN, but before prime time, as Judy Woodruff interviewed former Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey on the 7pm ET Inside Politics.

-- Welfare reform reported from the viewpoint of potential victims on ABC, CBS and NBC without any voices in favor of the new law.

Slashing Attacks on GOP Never Scorned As Negative Reporters Swoon Over Cuomo, Jackson

On Tuesday night in San Diego, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rep. Susan Molinari made jokey remarks about President Clinton and were tagged as "attack dogs." Last night, Jesse Jackson declared: "President Clinton has been our first line of defense against the Newt Gingrich contract, America's right-wing assault on our elderly, our students, and our civil rights." Mario Cuomo announced: "The Republicans are the real threat. They are the real threat to our women. They are the real threat to our children. They are the real threat to clean air, clean water, and the rich landscape of America...in the end, Bill Clinton spells hope and Republicans spell disaster." Did the media see "slashing partisan attacks"? Hardly. Note each network's contrast:

-- CNN's Ken Bode oozed: "Convention rhetoric has not been much better than it was tonight, particularly with Jesse Jackson. And of course, no one's going to forget for some time the First Lady's speech, which was also terrific." Farai Chideya gushed: "Jesse Jackson's speech was extraordinary in its sense of hope, purpose, and vision." Bob Franken asked Andrew Cuomo: "It was quite a scene watching as they listened to the speech. You really are a fan of his speaking style. It's amazing, isn't it?" In San Diego, CNN's Judy Woodruff declared: "Well, they said it was going to be a Clinton-bashing night at the Republican convention, Bernie, and I think that is just what we heard from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison." Bernard Shaw replied: "And the bashing will continue when the keynote speaker, Susan Molinari, steps up there."

-- Last night, ABC's Peter Jennings asserted: "Just a little earlier this evening going out of their way, the Democrats were, to show they embrace the differences among them or between them, they put forward to speak two of the senior liberals in the party who did more than anything else on this day to energize this crowd."

In San Diego, Jennings began: "Expect tonight to see very much the attacks on President Clinton ratcheted up to a much greater degree than they have been so far." Sam Donaldson added: "Tonight, as you say, Peter, they are expecting red meat...Tonight they want to hear President Clinton bashed."

-- Last night, Dan Rather suggested on CBS: "Mrs. Clinton received a ringing defense during what was clearly the most stirring speech of the convention so far." Bob Schieffer added: "The man who made that speech was Jesse Jackson, who can make a speech when he sets his mind to it. But his biggest applause line came when he said that Democrats must set up a line of defense to protect the old and the young from the Republican assault, and then he said, and to set up a line of defense against their vicious attacks on the First Lady. The place just went wild when he said that."

In San Diego, Rather said Hutchison "is expected to hit President Clinton rhetorically with everything short of a tire tube." Schieffer asked the Senator: "I must say it's Attack Dog Hutchison tonight. How do you feel in this new role?"

-- Last night, Tom Brokaw noted: "The old lion has not lost its roar. There are very few speakers left in America who can switch on a hall like Jesse Jackson. He has done it so many times in the past. He began tonight in more muted tones, but of course,it's almost irresistible for him, and it grows out of a very deep passion." Tim Russert added: "The crowd is letting loose a little bit because the passion and the philosophy of Jesse Jackson is something they very much ascribe to, and by him bridging the gap and endorsing Bill Clinton so wholeheartedly, it's a plus for Bill Clinton."

In San Diego, Brokaw told NBC viewers: "The party knows better than anyone else it has to lower the threshhold of perceived meanness on the part of the country." Russert underlined the point: "Key words: mean-spirited and extremist. They want to avoid those labels...I think the speech by Senator Hutchison is dangerous, Tom, because she uses words that could be interpreted by some people as mean."

"Most Economists" Blame Spending, Not Tax Cuts for Deficit New Survey Proves Dole Tax Cut News Wrong

A just released survey of 700 economists found that "52 percent blame the growth of the federal deficit in the 1980s on increased government spending more than on the Reagan tax cut," which was blamed by 48 percent. The fact that economists are about evenly split contradicts many recent media reports.

"Most economists say the Reagan tax cuts did worsen the budget deficit and many are skeptical of Dole's plan," announced reporter David Bloom on the August 5 NBC Nightly News. Colleague Mike Jensen insisted a few minutes later that "most analysts say it's not good economics."

The next morning a headline over a Washington Post news story declared: "Economists Question Dole's Plan." The headline over a Boston Globe news story asserted: "Economists Cool to Dole's Tax-Cut Plan: Candidate Speaks of Growth, but Analysts See No Big Payoff."

The poll of 700 members of the American Economics Association discovered that 81 percent agreed that the Reagan tax cuts increased economic growth. A plurality of 42 percent "want to see the next Congress put a high priority on both restraining government spending and cutting taxes," matching the Dole-Kemp promise.

William Adams, a public administration professor at George Washington University, directed the poll conducted August 19-21. Though reported in this week's Weekly Standard and in Tuesday's Washington Times, none of the above-mentioned outlets have yet bothered to revise their claims.

Voices In Favor of Welfare Reform Vetoed by Networks Welfare-State Television Sells the Liberal Line

All three networks featured stories last night critical of the new welfare reform law:

-- On NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw presented his view: "There are serious questions about what happens to these people after they're taken off the welfare rolls. Andrea Mitchell went to Indiana to look at the conflict between fixing the system and doing the right thing by people." Mitchell featured no welfare reform proponents, just social workers, Jesse Jackson, and impending victims: "Kimberly Gilbert will get benefits for two years. After that, she's cut off, whether or not she finds a job. That deadline is near for Charla Milton. Unable to find work, she is terrified."

-- On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings suggested: "Maybe if he is reelected, Mr. Clinton will do something to reverse himself on welfare reform. Many of these delegates hope so." Reporter Erin Hayes asked where the jobs would come from to support welfare recipients: "An Urban League study found in Chicago there are six times as many people who need work as there are entry-level jobs available." Hayes aired no voices favoring welfare reform, and concluded: "There is another concern as well: the young children. When their mothers are made to go to work, who will take care of them? Right now, no one really has an answer. With so much still uncertain about welfare reform, it is no wonder there is fear out there."

-- On the CBS Evening News, reporter Harry Smith also ignored taxpayers and focused on victims: "We talked to four welfare moms from across Chicago. They feel like they are this year's political target...President Clinton seemed deaf to protests last week when he signed the new welfare cuts into law. Cuts many Americans support, but cuts these women think go too far." Smith concluded: "Neighborhoods like Cabrini-Green have more than their share of misery. Folks around here think misery is only going to grow. Their long faith in the Democratic Party has been shaken, and the actions of President Clinton confirm their fear that the poor just do not count."


Jack E. White Hot

Time's Jack E. White exemplified the media's left-wing anger against welfare reform in the September 2 issue: "Did anyone else find it unnerving that only days before Bill Clinton signed a welfare-reform law that will plunge more than a million children into official poverty, he marked his 50th birthday with glitzy celebrations in New York City that added $10 million to his party's bulging campaign war chest? Shades of Marie Antoinette, Newt Gingrich, and Jesse Helms." White complained: "As Jesse Jackson has repeatedly and unavailingly pointed out, it makes little sense to elect a Democrat if he governs like a conservative Republican."

Harshly Negative Attack

In the same issue, Time columnist Margaret Carlson lit into the marriage of Bob and Elizabeth Dole: "Any time the Doles play the family-values card, they are betting that divorce and remarriage wipe the slate clean and stop the questions -- that suddenly leaving your marriage and asking for an `emergency divorce,' as Dole did from his first wife (when his daughter was 17), is morally equivalent if not superior to sticking out the pain in your marriage and keeping a family together, as the Clintons did...Now being divorced gives you a political pass, and staying married gets you an inquisition."

No Liberal Bias

CBS News reporter Bob Schieffer told freelance newsman Marc Morano in Chicago on Tuesday that the media don't tilt left: "I think the media pretty well reflect American society. You know, it's like when we had a draft army. You'd find one example of everything there."

Bayh vs. Molinari

Tom Brokaw put GOP keynoter Susan Molinari on the defensive when he interviewed her two weeks ago on the NBC Nightly News, but last night he took a more deferential approach in interviewing Democratic keynote speaker Gov. Evan Bayh. Molinari faced seven straight questions about abortion and women: "So they look at the platform. It's pretty rigid in its language on abortion. Then people like Susan Molinari and Jack Kemp and Bob Dole say don't pay attention to the platform, pay attention to what we do."

Brokaw also pressed Bayh from the left, but only made him answer one hostile question: "If there is a debate in the party at the moment, it is about welfare reform. A lot of Democrats, in Congress especially, think we have gone too far, too fast, that a lot of children, more than a million, could be put below the poverty line."

Unlike with Molinari, Brokaw played up Bayh's rising star status: "When you walk out tonight to deliver that keynote speech, all over this hall and in the television booths and in the print section, people are going to be saying `Evan Bayh, future candidate for President of the United States. This is a big moment for him.' You can't completely erase that from your thinking?"

Calling J.C. Watts

Two weeks ago, ABC, CBS, and NBC carried none of Rep. J.C. Watts' speech, which occurred during their live 10pm ET hour, though GOP delegates loved it. Last night, ABC ran excerpts of the pre-10pm ET addresses of Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo (and on Nightline). CBS showed some Jackson clips.



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