MRC Alert: Clinton
as Victim; CBS Takes on a Grocery; Gumbel to Stay?
and CNN reporters portray Clinton as the victim of an unforgiving
opposition party in the fundraising scandal.
2. One week
after the Food Lion verdict CBS News takes on another grocery chain
for "a type of job abuse that's rarely talked about."
Gumbel will be as visible on NBC as Bill Moyers is on PBS if NBC gets
its way by offering him, as USA Today reported, a "laundry list of
Washington Post tags a mainstream conservative foundation as
During his Tuesday press conference President Clinton got some pretty
tough questions about his fundraising and all the networks aired evening
news stories on his admission that "mistakes were made." But not
from everyone took an adversarial approach. Two network reporters
portrayed Clinton as the victim.
ABC News White House reporter John Donvan asked Clinton:
"Mr. President, in your Inaugural address eight days ago you outlined
some quite lofty goals -- for example, the education proposals you were
speaking about today. But in the days since, many questions in the press
and in Congress have focused on issues like campaign fundraising. My
question is whether you are worried that the well is being poisoned even
now for the realization of these goals before you can get out of the gate,
particularly on the issue of bipartisanship?"
After the press
conference CNN anchor Judy Woodruff demanded of Senator Phil Gramm why the
Republicans were so unforgiving:
"Senator, you said that you don't think there's any comparison in any
other administration with what happened at this White House...And yet the
President acknowledged mistakes were made. He said either deliberately or
inadvertently. He said we're going to find out. He said we're going to
find out exactly which it was. How much more does the President need to
say, to apologize, to say he wants to clear the air or however you want to
Crowley posed a couple of questions before Woodruff made this query right
out of the Democratic Party talking points booklet:
"Senator Gramm, just one other question. How important is it do you
think that Senator Thompson's committee look equally or proportionately
into what may have been Republican excesses in campaign financing as well
as those on the Democratic side?"
What "chilling effect"? Last week reporters worried that the
Food Lion decision would lead media bosses to pull back from hard-hitting
investigative stories on big companies. But Wednesday's (January 29) CBS
Evening News ran a piece on the supposed misdeeds of a Food Lion
competitor: the Albertsons grocery store chain. And like ABC's Food Lion
report it appeared to rely on charges promoted by the United Food and
Commercial Workers union.
Dan Rather introduced the story with a bit of hyperbole for dramatic
"In tonight's Eye on America, a behind the scenes, under the surface
investigation. We looked into allegations of a type of job abuse that's
rarely talked about. It may cheat working people out of untold millions of
dollars. These are said to be workers who produce for and serve the
American public but are not hidden away in sweat shops overseas. Sandra
Hughes looked into allegations about the nation's fourth largest
Sandra Hughes began: "Some two thousand hourly employees claim
Albertsons grocery stores are ringing up the profits at their expense.
They say for years the company has been forcing them to work after hours
with no pay. That's why John Lee submitted this letter of
After a soundbite from Lee and another employee who was afraid of being
fired, Hughes noted: "Joe Peterson of the food worker's union is
compiling a growing list of complaints."
Hughes then talked to another employee who explained how the company duty
lists contained more duties than could be accomplished in a shift. Hughes
allowed an Albertsons spokesman to say the charges are a union organizing
tactic, before concluding with a former employee who insisted
short-changing employees was company policy.
As a salaried
employee I'm not sure how much sympathy I should have for those not paid
more for working a few extra hours. But however wrong it is to not fully
pay hourly wage earners, comparing their plight to "sweat shops
overseas" is just the kind of hype that's leading the public to
mistrust the media.
Bryant Gumbel just may stay with NBC after all. Peter Johnson reported in
the January 29 USA Today that while Gumbel had been expected to jump to
ABC or CBS, "General Electric Chairman Jack Welch has intervened,
kept Gumbel on NBC's payroll and ordered execs to make every effort to
keep him. A couple of weeks ago Welch flew Gumbel to Seattle to meet
Microsoft's Bill Gates and tour MSNBC's Microsoft-run operation in
Johnson discovered: "Word is that NBC has offered Gumbel a laundry
list of high-profile duties, along with a yearly salary well into seven
figures. Discussed: Gumbel hosting NBC's National Geographic specials five
times a year, anchoring Dateline NBC one day a week, developing a
syndicated show for NBC's local stations and having some MSNBC
Gumbel will play in a golf tournament this weekend and next week, Johnson
noted, he will meet "again with ABC News chief Roone Arledge and CBS
News President Andrew Heyward, to see what they've cooked up for
The next time you
hear someone arguing the networks are controlled by wealthy, conservative
businessmen, remember this effort by Jack Welch to maximize the visibility
of arguably the most liberal network star.
An item in Wednesday's Washington Post "Reliable Source" gossip
column, by Annie Groer and Ann Gerhart, began: "Look what Great
Society warrior is speaking before the ultra-right Heritage Foundation
today: Joseph Califano..."
How far left must
you be to consider a conservative group like Heritage, which tried to
silence critics from the right of George Bush in its ranks, an
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