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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| January  6, 1997 (Vol. Two; No. 1) |


Gumbel: Blacks Can't Be Right; Cronkite Wants Censorship Bryant Gumbel Countdown Calendar: Zero! Bye-bye

1.  Bryant Gumbel insists that a black cannot be a conservative.

2.  Gumbel is gone, but his successor calls him "fair" and a "terrific example" to follow.

3.  Confronted with the MRC's Quote of the Year, the Chicago Tribune's James Warren offers a baffling response.

4.  Margaret Carlson charges that Gingrich's actions were "just as bad" as what Jim Wright did. A CBS reporter insists that Wright "never broke the law."

5.  In a year-end review the AP says Clinton "acknowledged" welfare reform had flaws and suggests it will lead to starving.

6.  Walter Cronkite claims to oppose censorship, but he advocates "banning" anonymous information on the Internet.

7.  The daughter of a Today show regular says her parent has "enormous breasts" -- and she's not referring to Katie Couric.

8.  Update on the "Apparently To" problem.

1) "Conservatives dislike Gumbel so much that he's a regular in the Media Research Center's bi-weekly Notable Quotables, a compilation of comments by the 'liberal media.'" So noted USA Today's Peter Johnson in a January 2 front page story. After a quote from the MRC's Brent Bozell on Gumbel's ideology, Gumbel defended himself but in so doing more than confirmed that he's a dedicated liberal:
"I don't know if I have a liberal bent,' Gumbel says. 'But if it is fair to say it's very difficult for a black man in this country to be of a conservative bent. That's a fair statement. It's very difficult to be an African-American male, and have an African-American son who is going to be 18 years of age, and hear things like cops want to crack down and send more to prison, to hear calls for tougher statutes, less welfare, less programs for the poor, and less things for people of color. If that says I'm not conservative, so be it."
One wonders how welfare reform or arresting criminals will personally impact a millionaire and his law-abiding family.
The compilation of Gumbel quotes sent with the last CyberAlert has led to some significant play for the quotes, including a Washington Times editorial on Friday and a column Sunday in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram by WBAP's Mark Davis.

2) In the midst of NBC's Friday morning (January 3) Today tribute to Bryant Gumbel (which featured a lot of kissing among men), Gumbel's replacement, Matt Lauer, offered some effusive praise. As caught by MRC analyst Jim Forbes, Lauer asserted:
"I'm gonna tell you that in my opinion and many other opinions you are the best interviewer on television, you are fair, you are compassionate, you're probing, you always do the right thing. You have shown me and created such a terrific example and set such high standards for me. But most importantly beside from the professional things you've done for me, I thank you for your friendship. You have been my best friend over these past four years and I'll miss working with you every day but I know we'll see each other a lot."

3) Clueless in Chicago. James Warren, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune appeared on C-SPAN's December 27 Washington Journal, by coincidence the same day The Washington Times ran MRC Chairman Brent Bozell's column on the Best Notable Quotables on 1996. MRC intern Joe Alfonsi transcribed the exchange.
Brian Lamb observed: "Chicago Tribune again is in the news this morning in Brent Bozell's column. Now if you knew that, do you know Brent Bozell?" James Warren: "I know who he is, yeah." Lamb: "Do you know what side of the political fence he comes down on?" Warren: "Yes." Lamb: "What?" Warren: "Yes. Very, very, very right of Brian Lamb." Lamb: (Laughter) "Anyway, he has a column in the Washington Times and the headline is, 'Quotes of note for the past year' and I just want to read you the first paragraph. 'On September the 5th the Chicago Tribune issued this remarkable correction. Quote, In her Wednesday commentary column, Linda Bowles stated that President Clinton and his former campaign adviser Dick Morris both were guilty of callous unfaithfulness to their wives and children. Neither man has admitted to being or been proven to have been unfaithful. The Tribune regrets the error.' It goes on to say, 'Now if that strikes you as just about the dumbest quote you ve heard all year, then you would be agreeing with the panel of 57 judges who bid adieu to 1996 by selecting the Media Research Center's ninth annual Best Notable Quotables, noting the years worst reporting.'"
Warren then responded, but confused Bozell with Bowles and missed the whole concept that the quote of interest was the Tribune correction, not the Bowles column: "If that's the best Mr. Bowles could come up with, slow year. Linda Bowles is a syndicated columnist who runs in the Tribune occasionally. That's one I missed."
Since that last CyberAlert, the "Best of" quotes were the focus of a December 29 Ray Archer column in the Arizona Republic, and the entire editorial space in the December 31 New York Post and January 1 Manchester (NH) Union Leader. Plus the topic on many radio talk show hosts.

4) On the December 28 Capital Gang on CNN Time's Margaret Carlson asserted "If we didn't have Newt Gingrich having brought down Jim Wright on, on, I think, picayune, as picayune as this, then I think there would be less hostility towards him at this moment."
Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard countered: "Jim Wright was trying to line his own pockets in the most sordid, squalid sort of way...."
Referring to Gingrich, Carlson shot back: "But he was lining his own personal power pockets, which is just as bad."
A bit later Carlson said: "Jim Wright sold books to, you know, people coming to his speeches and Newt Gingrich took money for needy children and used it for his college course."
The next day on Face the Nation, CBS reporter Rita Braver asked U.S. Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT): "Not just maybe from a technical point of view, but you had the Speaker, somebody who led the assault on Jim Wright, he never ended up getting prosecuted, he never broke the law. Doesn't the Speaker's credibility kind of get diminished by this and doesn't he become a symbol of somebody who broke the rules as opposed to somebody who followed the rules? Doesn't this give you a credibility problem?"
As Robert Novak pointed out last week, the "took money from needy children" charge is preposterous. To avoid the lengthy process of creating a foundation to produce a television show, Gingrich simply took control of a foundation aimed at helping children, but which was inactive and had no money.
Wright may not have gone through the criminal system, but he resigned when his pocket-lining was revealed. As a December 30 Washington Times editorial explained, "To get around a House limit on honoraria for speaking engagements, Mr. Wright and a long-time crony set up a phoney book publishing deal in which Mr. Wright got an astonishing 55 percent royalty...The Speaker's office then encouraged organizations to buy the book in bulk as a quid pro quo for an appearance...The committee found that Mr. Wright improperly pocketed $54,600 from 1984 to 1987 from this ruse."

5) As they always do at the end of the year, the Associated Press surveyed newspaper editors and broadcast news directors to determine the top 10 stories of the year. Number 6 on the list: "Welfare Ends." In AP's story on the poll reporter Helen O'Neill began the welfare item: "Acknowledging that the new law was 'seriously flawed,' President Clinton signed it anyway, ending welfare as we know it." After summarizing the key changes, O'Neill provided this less than balanced assessment of its impact:
"Supporters said the new law would get people on their feet, but criticism came from many quarters: from states that said they couldn't meet the deadlines, from social workers who said the new system will plunge more people into poverty, from three top federal officials who resigned in protest. 'I think a lot of people will start starving,' said Shawn Cornett, a 22-year-old welfare recipient in Kentucky."

6) CBS News can report whatever it wants, but Walter Cronkite doesn't think the First Amendment should apply to everyone. Asked in the December 28 TV Guide "What do you think of the Internet?" Cronkite offered this contradictory response (Read this all the way through, especially the last sentence):
"It's at the moment highly dangerous; I hope that we pacify it in the near future. A three-page, very slickly done presentation alleged that I was drunk in an Orlando restaurant and spit in a man's soup. And no way to trace it whatsoever. It seems to me that these sources of so called information should have to identify themselves. There should be a sense of responsibility placed upon them to stand behind what they report. I just abhor any form of censorship, but I do not think there's anything wrong at all with banning anonymous information."
Hey, we're not all as gullible as Pierre Salinger.

7) In the James Brady "In Step With" interview in Sunday's (January 5) Parade magazine Brady profiled Today weather reader Al Roker. Brady related what prompted Roker to lose weight: "Let's get down to the real news: losing all that weight. 'I'm 5 feet 8 and weight 255 right now, down from 310,' said Al. 'Last February I was dressing one morning, and my daughter came in and said, 'You have enormous breasts.' So I went to a gym."

8) Update: The "Apparently To..." problem many of you are experiencing is caused by a "bug" in CompuServe's new mail software that we were switched to in mid-December. I have had conversations with Customer Service about trying to rectify this inability to blind copy outside of CompuServe, but they are unable to tell me how soon this will be resolved. In some cases the BC names are being listed as CC. On the bright side, this is not a problem with all e-mail software and some services, like AOL, bury the list so most on AOL have probably never noticed it.
Thanks to the over 100 of you who made me aware of the problem and provided examples which I was able to forward as evidence to CompuServe Customer Service. For those concerned about the security of their e-mail address I am sorry and I delayed this CyberAlert hoping the problem could be resolved. But, keep in mind that it's the same group of 40 to 50 recipients who are seeing your address each time, not new names each time or the whole 1,200 name list.

  -- Brent Baker





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